Category Archives: Education

Thomas Edison or Doc Brown?

The inimitable Christopher Lloyd as "Doc Brow" in Back to the Future

The inimitable Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in Back to the Future

I am absolutely fascinated by technology—every time I revel in the fact that I’ve learned something, I find that there is something far more interesting to learn.

I’m frequently soldering or connecting different pieces together to [fill in the blank here]. I’ve created, copied, or modified dozens of circuits, but as quickly as I build something, the next generation is available.

Thomas Edison found “a thousand ways NOT to make a lightbulb”, before he found the correct way.

Doc Brown, from Back to the Future, declared with delight that, “I finally invented something that works!”

It’s really the same—so I may be an Edison, or I may be a Doc Brown. It doesn’t matter—I’ll continue to experiment and attempt to learn. Who knows; in the process, I just might invent something that works!

Thanks, Bob, for Everything

When I was in high school, Robert Alan Gable, our assistant band director was fresh out of college and ready to rock and roll. After he finished teaching during the day, he played jazz at a night club until the wee hours. He taught saxophone, bassoon, oboe, flute, and percussion, but at the club it was sax and flute. The year I graduated, he joined Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders and we lost touch.

High school was not a particularly happy time for me, which is probably true for more teenagers than not. How did Alice Cooper put it in the song I’m Eighteen?

Don’t always know what I’m talkin’ about.
Feels like I’m livin’ in the middle of doubt.”

Bob taught me how to play tenor saxophone and bassoon, but more importantly, how to truly love music. He was a teacher and a mentor who provided encouragement that eventually grew into confidence.

Last year he was inducted into my high school’s Music Hall of Fame, and I had a chance to see him for the first time since high school; we picked up as though the hiatus had been days instead of decades. Bob’s health had failed him, which tied him to an oxygen tank and a wheelchair, and he had retired. Tom Batiuk the cartoonist graciously did a drawing of Harry Dinkle (the World’s Greatest Band Director) for the occasion. (If you don’t follow his comic strip “Funky Winkerbean,” you should.) After that Bob and I chatted on the phone every so often. We never had anything significant to talk about, but it was time shared.

The last time I called I got a recording that his number was no longer accepting calls. I expected the worst. Today I received an email with his obituary.

The journey through life is short, but we all leave footprints that mark our journey. Many of us who walked with him for part of his journey are better for it. Thanks, Bob.

That’s Not Funny—Today

Richie Pryor What more needs to be said?

Richie Pryor
What more needs to be said?

What makes us laugh changes with the times, and that’s sometimes hard to fathom. Why does something crack me up, but not my kids? (And, of course, vice-versa?)

I love Monty Python, who, at least, my daughter appreciates, and Firesign Theatre who very few appreciate—(well, I guess you had to have been there, man.)

I see so much potential with Will Ferrell, but I just…..keep….waiting….for……him…..to…..be……funny.

Adam Sandler? Enough said.

Supposedly Richie Pryor wrote most of Blazing Saddles expecting to star in it, but he was too edgy. He was too edgy because he had the courage to strip naked the bias and discrimination piled upon blacks through humor. In Silver Streak, when Patrick McGoohan (playing the bad guy) calls him the “N-word” after Pryor spills something on him (a dodge for Richie to get into position), Pryor holds a gun to McGoohan and says, “You don’t know me well enough to call me nig***!”

What a genius. He got the message through. A real genius.

Maybe, that’s what we need to laugh today, a little more genius in our comedy.

And our elected officials.

And our schools.

And on television.

Richie! Come back! We need you!

John Scalzi, Andy Weir, et al

There are certain authors whose works deliver me from the responsibilities of my reality to another plane, after which, batteries recharged, I can return and work more effectively than before.

Then there are people who create hate and discontent.

Okay, let’s figure it out. On one hand we have people who make me enjoy life.

On the other hand, we have creatures who attempt to make everybody miserable (presumably because they are).

Pick a side.

Oh, and if you’re having trouble, try this….

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3659388/

Peanut Butter

Plain Old Peanut Butter

Plain Old Peanut Butter

The standard for the entire universe is peanut butter and jelly.

Not for me.

I have always preferred peanut butter and honey.

Why? Because jelly isn’t in the Bible but honey is.

Okay, I’m kidding.

Jelly, to me, in regard to peanut butter is the same as fish to meat. Some people like Surf’n’Turf (even myself at times), but although the dish and the meat may share the same plate, they are DIFFERENT! The broccoli over at the untouched edge of the plate, same thing.

Honey enhances the flavor of peanut butter without replacing it. Jelly, in my humble opinion, tries to stake out its own claim and force out its rivals, including peanut butter.

So, in the intergalactic scheme of things, what does this mean? Why honey? Why peanut butter? Why jelly—and can jam be used as a substitute when times are rough?

Not so much. So in the giant intergalactic connectivity equation this means………………

Absolutely nothing.

So, there.

Faith vs. Fact

I have no problem with the issue of faith—as a matter of fact, I have relied on faith to get me through the tough parts of life. However, faith is based on my relationship God.

On the other hand, with most other issues, I need to know HOW something works—that pi is just a ratio between the circumference of a circle and its radius. I need to know how margins of error are calculated and what they really mean in the world of statistics.

Today, though, there are many people who accept on faith that cell phones work and always will; that the electric power, cable television, and the internet will be there with the flick of a switch, but they have no idea how they work, nor do they care.

However, when it comes to God, they demand proof that He exists.

Weird.

If There’s No Breaking News—We’ll Break Something!

Courtesy, National Geographic  (Consider joining--http://www.nationalgeographic.com/about/)

Courtesy, National Geographic
(Consider joining–http://www.nationalgeographic.com/about/)

Squeezed in somewhere among the celebrity gossip and pinup pictures, occasionally the Internet carries items that journalists once referred to as News.

News includes such boring items as wars, disasters, election results, and rarely mention the reaction from starlets, transgender humans or trans-species….whatever. In the days of journalism, the reporter listed the facts:

  1. This is what happened (not my impression of what happened).
  2. Where and when it happened.
  3. Why is this significant? (Not guaranteed to be 100% factual, but true journalists tried to be as objective as possible).

“News” today is often predictive—this COULD happen, or the media focuses on something that probably will happen, but it could be tomorrow, or it could be in 30 billion years (give or take).

[Note: I like the fact that what was once the press is now the media. It’s like admitting they only rank a grade of “C” for their work.]

Today CNN ran a story on the super-volcano that someday could, maybe erupt (or it could keep releasing pressure through Old Faithful and the other geysers like that weight on the top of a pressure cooker).

But the best thing is—they’re now adding music to news stories, and a pretty zippy bongo number (doubtlessly electronically generated) at that. Try http://www.cnn.com/videos/weather/2015/04/24/supervolcano-yellowstone-magma-reservoir-orig.cnn?iid=ob_article_footer_expansion&iref=obnetwork

What’s next for the news mesia—laugh tracks?