• Congratulations To The ESA

    I ended up procrastinating this post unfortunately. But this was amazing news!

    Alright, the poor Philae lander ended up in an unplanned location that is too shadowed for its solar panels. Hopefully the lander can be re-charged in the future and we get even more data. It was still an incredible accomplishment. We’re still getting some awesome science out this mission.

    I mean the possibility of organic molecules!?!? AWESOME! Sure, Jerry Coyne put a bit of a blanket on it. This is still worth exploring of course – it is a key reason for sending a probe to the comet in the first place. We need to keep pushing our frontiers when it comes to the origin of life. Because for damned sure, there wasn’t a magic man in the sky who did it!

    Oh that stupid shirt thing. I was disappointed (but not entirely surprised) when Phil Plait went on a tirade about it. There are bigger concerns for this topic as far as I am concerned. Plait went for the easy target. I am glad The Young Turks took Dr. Taylor’s side on this; especially Ana Kasparian’s points.

  • Minor Earthquake In Irving Last Night

    Last night, just as I was beginning to fall asleep – with Debug curled up beside me – a rumble shook the house. The entire structure creaked. Freaky. My first thoughts were that my furnace or water heater had broken; but the sound was not mechanical.

    Debug was on immediate alert – she was sitting at the edge of the bed and prepared to move if necessary! I managed to get back to sleep and planned to investigate in the morning.

    When I woke, it felt colder than normal. That reinforced my thoughts that my furnace had died. Everything seemed okay, there was electricity flowing and the water heater appeared to be intact. So I made breakfast.

    imageMy former trainer, Patrick, had stated on Facebook that it had been an earthquake. Why didn’t I think of that? Off to the USGS website. Confirmed!

    I live in Irving but I am actually between the words “Coppell” and “Carrollton” on this map. So the quake was south-east of me by several miles. It registered 3.3 on the Richter scale.

    There have been tremors in this area before but I had missed on those. I can remember experiencing a few tremors around Hamilton when I was kid too.

  • L.A. Misadventures And Moar Science!

    As I mentioned earlier, I was in Los Angeles, California last week. My primary purpose was the FFRF annual convention. However; one of my work colleagues lives nearby, so I came out early to meet up with him.

    What a beautiful hotel. The Millennium Biltmore was opened in the mid-20s and the first Academy Awards shows were held there. The architecture and décor blew me away. But I had showed up early and thus my room was not yet ready. So I set my luggage (just a duffel bag actually) down and continued reading my novel.

    Then things took a turn…

    I looked up and noticed my bag was gone. I had set it next to some other luggage that I had assumed was also waiting for a room to be readied. It turns out that this other luggage was now on a tour bus headed for Las Vegas. My stuff was probably with it; my camera, razor and – most importantly – my clothes for the weekend. Oooops!

    I must say though, I have nothing but compliments for the management of the Biltmore. This was entirely my own fault but they totally owned the problem. They worked around the clock to stay in touch with the tour company. First confirming that they did indeed have my bag on their bus and then afterward helping to make plans for resolution.

    I ended up going to a Macy’s store to buy clothes for the weekend. I was able to meet the tour bus and collect my bag on Sunday, just before my flight home. Close call!

    But Moar Science!

    I spent Thursday with my colleague and pal Gene. We went to the California Science Center and the Griffith Observatory. Very memorable – even if I only had a crappy cellphone camera to capture things. I’ll get my crappy pictures uploaded to Flickr and post about them later today.

  • Freedom From Religion Foundation Convention – 2014

    I was in Los Angeles, California last week for the 37th Freedom From Religion Foundation Convention. This is the fourth convention that I have attended and I am looking forward to many more in the future. FFRF is a great organization with a mission statement that all should support – even if one holds religious beliefs.

    This year’s speakers were every bit as excellent as I expected.

    Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson spoke about his discovery of the famed fossil Lucy. Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll gave a somewhat tongue-in-cheek talk about death and physics.

    Professor Anthony Pinn gave a moving and inspiring talk. Just as inspiring were Christopher Johnson and Scott Clifton. Barbara Mancini’s story was utterly heart-wrenching.

    Constitutional lawyer and scholar Erwin Chemerinsky discussed the philosophies of the current Supreme Court makeup and how this influences their (sometimes awful) decisions. Marci Hamilton showed the history of the wretched federal statute RFRA (what drove the horrid Hobby Lobby decision).

    Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens talked about their experiences with the Supreme Court and the Greece v. Galloway decision.

  • A Song Of Ice & Fire


    Last week I finally finished the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series.

    Of course, it was the HBO Game Of Thrones that got me into this. I started with season 1 from Netflix and then immediately bought seasons 1-3. I can’t wait for season 4 to become available.

    If Martin doesn’t hurry up with book six, HBO is going to catch up to him!

    Most recently, I bought The World Of Ice & Fire. This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen! It has a soft, faux-leather cover and the artwork is simply incredible. I love seeing the impressions of Westeros and its inhabitants through the eyes of others. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for any fan.

  • Nearly Back To Square One


    I’m floating around the 240 pound mark again. It’s been years since I was that heavy.

    Getting over to Texas Family Fitness regularly is a big challenge. I’ll definitely need to check with their personal training options to see if I can get myself back on track. Damn do I ever miss Patrick, Isaac and Josh.

    I may be heavier than I want to be but at least I haven’t lost my leg strength. I can still press over 800 pounds. The range of motion in my shoulders still limits what I can do with my upper body though.

    It cannot be said enough! UGH!

  • Newest LEGO Architecture

    When I last wrote about my LEGO Architecture models, I already had the Marina Bay Sands model built. Last I checked, you cannot (yet?) buy this model from the LEGO Architecture website. Amazon displayed it to me and so I bought it immediately via Japan.

    The Trevi Fountain is the most recent Architecture model to be released.

    The new Flickr site is interesting, but I have not yet found a way to easily copy the URL for specific pictures that I upload. Here is my Lego Models album. I should upload more images to it since I have bought two more Star Wars models.

  • Fitness Stumbles


    I tried to get my remaining personal training sessions refunded. What the large print giveth, the fine print taketh away…

    Barring that, I thought I would workout the remaining sessions with one of the remaining neophyte trainers. Bah again! What a wretched and miserable experience! Nobody there can hold a candle to Patrick, Isaac or Josh.

    So I quit Gold’s Gym completely.

    Yes, this has taken a toll on my health. My weight has begun to rise again. I cannot deny the convenience of how close Gold’s is to my house. But I cannot deny how angry I am with their management.

    We stumble in order to get back up. Yesterday I joined Texas Family Fitness in Coppell. It is a half-hour bike ride away instead of three minutes. But I have to get back up and get my weight back under control.