21 December 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

This is probably my last blog post of 2006. I'll be back in the swing of things on January 2nd, and I'll see you there!

I hope you all have a happy, safe, peaceful and joyful Christmas season!

(this painting is by John Howard Sanden)

20 December 2006

Boomers #2!

The second book in the Boomer Sisters series is now complete and ready for purchase! It's titled The Boomer Sisters Meet Champy, and you can get your copy at RoguePress.

In this story, the girls are hunting for Champy, the elusive creature rumored to live in Lake Champlain. They literally get to the bottom of the lake's mysteries (and I do mean literally). Along the way, there's comedy, peril, adventure, mystery, science, gardening, and - of course - the quirky Uncle Q. There's also a computer named Pistachio, an injured loon, and a secret elevator that takes you to a secret laboratory. Who doesn't love that!

Along with being a fun mystery / adventure story, this book is also a commentary on the nature of faith and the value of mystery... but not in a heavy-handed way (I hope).

It's generally aimed at kids in the 2nd through 4th grades, but younger kids (and older!) will probably enjoy it as well.

18 December 2006

Latest AT&L - Quaid & Ward Profile

Everyone's favorite defense acquisition magazine, Defense AT&L, just posted their latest edition (Jan/Feb 07) online. This month, instead of an article by Quaid & Ward, there's a pretty cool little "Meet The Workforce" profile of us.

An Inconvenient Truth

I watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth movie last night. I thought it was really good, despite the unnecessary (& incongruous) vignette about Gore losing the 2000 election.

The film certainly simplified some of the science and some of the data, and not entirely in a good way. This oversimplification was probably necessary, of course, given the limitations of the medium and the need to present a story in only 2 hours, but climate dynamics are actually more dynamic and mysterious than the film would indicate (although Mr. Gore did use the word mysterious once, describing climate behavior, which I thought was very good).

But, despite the oversimplification, it's still a good & important movie. The data he presents was compelling. He does have a tendency to make subjective judgments ("this is high" - but compared to what?) and weak comparisons ("Earth's atmosphere is thin" - again, compared to what?), but setting aside these and some other rhetorical flourishes, it's pretty clear we are putting too much pollution into the air. We could & should pollute a lot less. Our pollution is affecting the environment in many bad ways. Those points are hard to argue with.

I would have liked to hear more about the earth's tendency to regulate & stabilize itself. For example, increased CO2 levels & increased temperatures will lead to increased plant growth. And what do plants do? They absorb CO2 from the atmosphere - so more plants equals less CO2, which should have a cooling (& stabilizing) effect. Check out Daisy World for an interesting model that describes the impact of biodiversity on environmental stabilization.

One other point: correlation does not prove causality. That is, just because two things happen at the same time, doesn't mean one caused the other. For example, monkeys eat bananas. Monkeys have tails. Therefore, eating bananas makes you grow a tail. Silly logic, right? I'm not saying Mr. Gore fell into that trap, but in the movie, he didn't fully demonstrate that he'd avoided it. He probably did avoid it - I just would have liked to hear him mention it.

There's a lot more that could be said about the movie, positively and negatively. The bottom line is that it's a good film. You should watch it.

15 December 2006

Blogger Etiquette

I'm still sort of new to this whole blogging thing (aren't we all?). So, I'm coming to understand the still-developing etiquette about blogging, and thought I'd pass along what I've learned. Let me know if I missed anything.

1) If you're a blogger, blog. Don't post something once a month and expect people to keep checking, just in case today is the day. Post something several times a week (daily is best, of course). In other words, go big or go home.

2) If you're a reader, participate. You don't need to leave a comment on every entry of every blog you read, but please do make it a point to leave at least an occasional comment, even if it's just "Good point" (for a clever post) or "LOL" (for a funny post). Nobody likes a lurker. (def lurker: slang term for a person who reads a blog regularly but never leaves a comment").

3) If you're a blogger, reply to the comments people leave - participation works both ways. If someone leaves a comment on your blog, the polite thing to do is acknowledge that comment (Thanks to Trevor Gay for setting a great example of this).

13 December 2006

OODA Loop!

One of John Boyd's better known contributions to the world is the Observe - Orient - Decide - Act loop, also known as the OODA Loop. It's become a pretty important concept, for both business and military strategists. I ran across an actual OODA Loop while driving on Maxwell Air Force Base, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Being the Boyd fan that I am, I naturally had to turn my car around, find a place to park, walked over with my camera phone, and snapped this picture.

Finding this street sign was, hands down, the highlight of this trip.


I'm reading a book titled "Finding Serenity," about the (now cancelled) tv show Firefly. Great show, great book. One line from the director, Joss Whedon stood out in particular:

"Take characters, give them peril..."

He didn't say to put characters in peril. He said to "give them peril." I love the idea of peril as a gift. It really is. A lack of peril makes you soft, in real life as well as in fiction. Surviving peril puts a spring in your step, and makes you proud & confident. Perils strengthens people and bonds groups together.

My girls are taking ice skating lessons. This past week, they weren't quite off the ice yet when the hockey players (who have the rink after the skaters) came on. To make a long story short, the hockey boys knocked some of the skating girls down. They got pretty close to my girls. Bethany stuck close to her little sister, to help keep her safe. Afterwards, she said she stood up as tall as she could to help protect Jenna. I'm so proud (and so is she).

Yes, I'm pretty peeved at the hockey coach & the boys. Yes, I'm going to talk with the coach (I wasn't there at the time). No, I don't want this sort of thing to happen again. But the fact is, the experience wasn't all bad...

12 December 2006

A thing worth doing...

G.K. Chesterton observed "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing poorly." It's one of my favorite (and most often used) GKC quotes.

Today, I heard a new twist on that line: If a thing is not worth doing at all, it is not worth doing well.

I like that. Being good at irrelevant or pointless activities isn't something to be proud of (and yet, we so often are!).

I wonder what other observations or twists you, my faithful & well-groomed readers, might have on these quotes. How else can we finish the sentence "If a thing is / is not worth doing..."?

I await your responses...

DaNoTyMo Finished!

Whew! I've finished typing The Boomer Sisters Meet Champy. I know, I'm cutting it pretty close if I want to get it under the tree in time for Christmas. Doing the final copy editing and typo-hunting now, and plan to place my order in a few days.

I'm sure the Christmas version (for family) will have a typo or two in it... but I plan to get those all figured out before putting it in stores.

More to follow...

10 December 2006

On The Road (again)

Sigh - I'm taking a little trip to Alabama, so my blogging will be light (if at all) for a few days. I've never been to Alabama, so I'm curious to see what it's like, but I really dislike traveling, particularly so close to Christmas.

But, at least it's a short trip.


08 December 2006

Movin' On Up...

Got my official assignment notification this morning... I report to the Air Force Institute of Technology on 21 Aug 07, to begin 18 months of full-time student-ness. Very exciting!

(DaNoTyMo Update - I'm into chapter 11 now, approx 15,000 words. The end is almost in sight!)

New version of Blogger

I just transitioned to the new "beta" version of this blog. The only difference most of you will notice is the ability to add tags to the posts - which should make it easier to find stuff. I don't imagine I'll go back and tag all my previous posts (maybe just the Simplicity Cycle ones), but I'll try to add tags from here on out.

07 December 2006

Boomer Update

Book 1: I just received my first copies of the illustrated version of Meet The Boomer Sisters. It looks fantastic! They really did a great job at the printers, and I've already delivered a stack to the local toyshop. The toy store lady said my book has sold faster than any other local author's book she's seen. Cool!

Book 2: I'm nearly at 14,000 words (typed) on the second Boomer Sisters book. It's not going as fast as I'd hoped, but I'm confident I'll get it done & edited in time for Christmas (but just barely... and only because Lulu is so dang fast).


I'm baaaaaack!

Just returned from a little roadtrip to the Boston area. Had a great time, lots of meetings with fascinating people, but no internet connectivity. All in all, quite worth while.

The first guy I met, at a company called Continuum, turned out to be a Clarkson grad, just like me. He said (among other things), that he would like to do some work with the Army's Soldier Systems Center, in Natick MA.

The second guy I met is a professor at Olin College. Guess where his wife works? Yup - Natick's Soldier Systems Center. So I'm going to introduce the two of them. And the professor used to work at Disney's Imagineering shop - so he knows Danny Hillis and Bran Ferren, the two main dudes at Applied Minds, which is the company doing the development for my Aristotle project. The professor said he's looking for better software development methodologies.

The third group I met with (the next day) mentioned a programming language called Water. It's a new language optimized for rapidly prototyping XML Web services, and apparently you can learn it in about 15 minutes. Don't know for sure if it's what Olin needs, but I'm definitely going to pass it along.

The only way all these connections could have been better would be if I'd done my meetings in reverse order, and been able to establish the connections on the spot.

It's a funny world.

04 December 2006


"Fear is a form of incompetence."

True? False? Discuss among yourselves - leave comments here...

Dano's Tymo Update

Dan's Novel Typing Month (Dano Tymo) update: I got into Chapter 7 this morning. Wordcount: 9246 words.

whew, are my fingers tired...

Post-Oil Era, part 2

Based on a comment my earlier posting received, I wanted to clarify that when I talk about the "post-oil era," I'm talking about the demand for oil drying up, not the supply.

We will figure out how to run our cars on something else, whether it's batteries or hydrogen or biodiesel. My prediction is that Western countries will lose interest in oil (at least as a motor fuel) long before the middle eastern wells are empty.

And if we go the electric vehicle route, I wonder what all the gas stations will do? I suppose we could just turn them all into Starbucks...