Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bad Onion?

The land of the free!?

Quoting from slashdot:
"You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda - stopping The Onion (soul sucking, life sapping, irritating, obnoxious, but still free registration), the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal." The only joke here is that our tax dollars are being spent on this.
It's great to know that the White House is keeping an eye out for abuses of our national symbols. I wish they'd ask all those people with white sun-bleached "Support Out Troops" ribbons to remove them from their cars.

Monday, October 24, 2005

To infinity and... not quite 12 meters

The space elevator project is fascinating. If you haven't heard about this idea, take a look. The basic principle is that if you can get a massive enough object into geosynchronous orbit around the earth, then you can run a cable between that "anchor" and a platform on the earth to transport materials into orbit. Great idea! Of course the physics of gravity and fuel efficiency interrupt the dream to remind us that fuel has a lot of weight and that this big strong cable is going to have a weight to. Scientific American, this month, points out that gravity may really just be an illusion anyway, but don't tell these guys who are competing in a NASA space elevator contest.

So, no one won the contest by achieving the objective of raising a light-powered platform 61 meters.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Today was Ellie's 2nd birthday party! What an amazing thing to think about. It was two years ago now that Sarahlynn spent the night laboring; two years ago that we drove down to the hospital in the morning -- despite my insisting that we should just wait until Sarahlynn's 12:00 OB appointment. (Ellie would have been born in our bed if we'd tried waiting!) Two years ago that I got to watch Ellie be born; and got to call all of our friends and family and brag about her birth.

Time really is a weird thing -- relative in more ways, of course, than Einstein tells us. It seems so long ago. Ellie's been through open-heart surgery. She's learned to eat. She's learned to say "Mom" and "Dad," among her plethora of other words! She's learned to roll over, sit up, crawl, stand, and (almost) walk. She's potty training! She's already been all over the eastern 2/3rds of the country: from Wyoming to New Orleans to Chicago to Boston and Disney World!

Well, today was Ellie's birthday party. Along with tradition (sort of), Ellie got to invite two of her friends from school. We also invited family friend, Oliver, who isn't even 1 yet.

Sarahlynn came up with the most amazing cake this year: Dora the Explorer's Backpack.
A little back story here. Sarahlynn comes from a family where birthday cakes are a big deal. They're always representative of some major event from the latest year of the celebrant's life. So, one summer, her family went on a big white water rafting trip. So, one cake, that year, was iced with blue ripples of frosting, tipped with white caps; a brown shoreline; celery stalks for trees along the banks; little rafts from Tootsie-Rolls; and half-grapes to represent little floating helmets that had fallen out the rafts! Amazing.

Sarahlynn certainly out did herself and lived up to family tradition with Ellie's cake:

My wife's amazing! It's no wonder my daughter's so great!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Parenting - Disney World Style

Well, I'm a little late in posting this story, but I do love sharing it...

I was lucky enough to get to go to a conference for work in Disney World! So, we decided to make a family vacation out of it and take Ellie to visit her favorite donkey... and that mouse guy, too. I'll leave a major post about the vacation to Sarahlynn; she'll do the trip more justice that I would.

I do need to share my favorite part of the whole vacation, though. (And it's my favorite not because I enjoyed it at the time, but because I get to tell other people the story over and over and over.)

Disney World has a wonderful deal with several of the major airlines, now. You can actually get your boarding pass and check you luggage AT your Disney resort hotel. Wonderful! All we had to do Monday morning was take our luggage to the check-in area, they check us in, tag our bags, and take them off to the airport for us. Awesome. So, we leave our carry-ons with the bell-stand and head off for a fun day at Animal Kingdom before our evening flight.

Animal Kingdom was fun.

So we arrive back at the hotel just in time to catch our Disney Express bus back to the airport. Halfway to the airport, Ellie has diarrhea. While sitting on Dad's lap. And it leaks out. On his shorts. On his shirt. Oh, was I SOOOO glad that we checked our luggage at the hotel. (ugh) We had a spare outfit for Ellie, of course.

As soon as we got to the airport, I headed straight to a bathroom to clean up. Got Ellie cleaned up. Got her spare outfit on. Mom was nice enough to go to the nearest store and buy me a new shirt... no shorts or pants to speak of at the NASA gift store in the airport, unfortunately. Well, Sarahlynn claims they had full body jumpers, like the one she bought as Ellie's new spare outfit, that were adult size. I think security might have held me up for a while, though, if I tried to walk through in a big NASA jumper with footies.

Well, I cleaned up my shorts as best I could and proudly paraded through security with a soaking wet crotch. (No, the bathrooms didn't have driers!)

If you're brave enough, here's my picture after some basic preliminary cleanup...