Pacific Northwest from Space

A very nice shot of the Pacific Northwest with minimal cloud cover.  Notice the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon.

Pacific Northwest from space
Pacific Northwest from space. Vancouver Island is prominent in the top center of the photo. In the lower center the Willamette Valley can be seen running north from southern Oregon up to Portland.
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The Final Days of Albert Einstein

This is from the Princeton University Press Blog,

November 24, 2015 by

In April of 1955, shortly after Einstein’s death, a pathologist removed his brain without the permission of his family, and stored it in formaldehyde until around 2007, shortly before dying himself. In that time, the brain of the man who has been credited with the some of the most beautiful and imaginative ideas in all of science was photographed, fragmented —small sections parceled to various researchers. His eyes were given to his ophthalmologist.

These indignities in the name of science netted several so-called findings—that the inferior parietal lobe, the part said to be responsible for mathematical reasoning was wider, that the unique makeup of the Sulvian fissure could have allowed more neurons to make connections. And yet, there remains the sense that no differences can truly account for the cognitive abilities that made his genius so striking.

Along with an exhaustive amount of information on  the personal, scientific, and public spheres of Einstein’s life, An Einstein Encyclopedia includes this well-known if macabre “brain in a jar” story. But there is a quieter one that is far more revealing of the man himself: The story in which Helen Dukas, Einstein’s longtime secretary and companion, recounts his last days. Dukas, the encyclopedia notes, was “well known for being intelligent, modest, shy, and passionately loyal to Einstein.” Her account is at once unsensational and unadorned.

One might expect a story of encroaching death, however restrained, to chronicle confusion and fear. Medically supported death was a regular occurrence by the middle of the 20th century, and Einstein died in his local hospital. But what is immediately striking from the account is the simplicity and calmness with which Einstein met his own passing, which he regarded as a natural event. The telling of this chapter is matter of fact, from his collapse at home, to his diagnosis with a hemorrhage, to his reluctant trip to the hospital and refusal of a famous heart surgeon. Dukas writes that he endured the pain from an internal hemorrhage (“the worst pain one can have”) with a smile, occasionally taking morphine. On his final day, during a respite from pain, he read the paper and talked about politics and scientific matters.

“You’re really hysterical—I have to pass on sometime, and it doesn’t really matter when.” he tells Dukas, when she rises in the night to check on him.

What did Einstein believe at the end? We can’t know, but An Einstein Encyclopedia opens with his own words,

Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose….To ponder interminably over the reason for one’s own existence or the meaning of life in general seems to me, from an objective point of view, to be sheer folly. And yet everyone holds certain ideals by which he guides his aspiration and his judgment. The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle.

http://blog.press.princeton.edu/2015/11/24/the-final-days-of-albert-einstein/

Sweden is Now Recycling 99 Percent of its Trash. Here’s how

Sweden does such a good job with recycling, they need to import trash from neighboring countries in order to fuel their existing  Waste-to-Energy Program
Sweden does such a good job with recycling, they need to import trash from neighboring countries in order to fuel their existing Waste-to-Energy Program

 Sweden is Now Recycling 99 Percent of its Trash. Here’s howhttp://themindunleashed.org/2014/09/sweden-now-recycling-99-percent- trash-heres.html

America should take note of this process considering we only recycle approximately 34 percent of the garbage we throw away:  http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/2012_msw_fs.pdf

How does Sweden do it?

  •  They have an aggressive recycling policy, which goes in an order of importance: prevention, reuse, recycling, recycling alternatives, and as a last resort, disposal in landfill.
  •  Amazingly, just 1% of Sweden’s trash ends up in landfillsMuch of the left over waste is taken care of by using “recycling alternatives”, such as the Waste-to-Energy program, which is explained in the video, “Importing garbage for energy is good business for Sweden”  http://vimeo.com/103801887
  • Waste is sorted, then remaining waste is incinerated and converted into electricity
  • 3 tons of garbage contains as much energy as 1 ton of oil
  • Sweden is so good at recycling its trash in fact, that it now has plans to import 800,000 tons of garbage from other countries in Europe in order to create heat for its citizens through its Waste-to-Energy program.

Google Converter Tool

Click on graphic above for acutal tool.  You can also use link included below this image.
Click on graphic above for acutal tool. You can also use link included below this image.

Use this tool to make easy conversions. Link:  Conversion Tool  You can change the cateogories, then select variables for the units of measurement for each category.

Click “More Info” (Green arrow in above image) for this link: Calculator and unit converter

China Successfully Launches Rover Mission!

China has launched a lunar rover, only the third country to do so after the United States and the Soviet Union.  The rover, named Jade Rabbit (called Yutu in Chinese) is solar-powered, has 6 wheels and four cameras.  It also has mechanical arms that can dig soil samples up to 30 meters deep.  It can travel up to 200 meters per hour and weighs 120 kg.

Yatu’s mission is to explore the moon’s surface and look for natural resources.  The rover was able to send photos of itself back to Earth.  A rover “selfie.”  Link

China's lunar rover, Yatu
China’s lunar rover, Yatu

 

Alaska is Huge! Also a link to the best map of USA ever made!

ReDiscover the USA / Alaska is so big that…

…if Alaska were divided into two states of equal area, Texas would be our 3rd largest state, even if it included Louisiana. –Dave Imus

179492_517400291651142_791463646_n

Russia had acquired Alaska in the mid-18th century and wanted to sell the vast territory.  In 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, after very intense negotiations, was able to help the USA to buy Alaska from Russia, for $7.2 million. This worked out to a cost of roughly two cents an acre, which is an amazing price, even back then.  However, the Alaskan purchase was ridiculed in Congress and in the press as “Seward’s folly,” and “Seward’s icebox,” and it was ratified by the U.S. Senate by a margin of just one vote!  Of course nobody could predict the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, or the wealth of the oil fields and other resources abundant in Alaska, making the purchase one of the best deals in history.   More info:  HERE

This map and info on Alaska is from a FaceBook post put out by the company that makes these maps, Imus Geographics. (I have nothing to do with the company, I’m just sharing a great map/company) My father-in-law bought me a copy of The Essential Geography of the USA,, made by company founder and owner, cartographer Dave Imus.  It is the best map I have ever seen!  I absolutely love geography and this map is at the very top of the list!  Read all about the map and even order one of your own at the website below.

“Until the publication of the Essential Geography of the USA, Americans lacked the most basic tool of geographic understanding, a general map of the place we call “home.” By allowing us to visualize the basic layout of our country, the Essential Geography, the first and only general map of the United States, has the power to increase awareness and understanding of basic US geography, and help start a new tradition of geographic literacy in America.”

Thank you,

David Imus, Cartographer

The best map ever made of the USA:  http://www.imusgeographics.com/map-of-the-usa

Links to various maps of states and regions in the USA:  http://www.imusgeographics.com/maps-of-the-states-of-the-usa

Website:  The Essential Geography of the United States of America: LINK

 

Yosemite’s Frazil Ice and Giant Snow Cone (and Horsetail Fall)

This unique phenomenon takes place in March and April, in Yosemite National Park, as a slurry of slushy, watery, snow pushes down Yosemite Creek and into the Yosemite Valley.   A giant snow cone is formed under the falls and pieces of ice fall off the cliff onto the cone. (watch at about 4:30 for the snow cone)

“Horsetail Fall looks like a glowing fire fall in February” (6:53)  See additional video below

“The Snowcone, at the base of Upper Yosemite Fall” (7:00)

Frazil Ice

Horsetail Fall – At about 4:00 watch people push coals over the edge to put on a show for spectaors below

Handicapping the Kentucky Derby- Picking the winner

derby_charismatic
31-1 longshot, Charismatic, winning the 125th Kentucky Derby on May 1, 1999

There are many strategies, techniques and angles and systems used to choose a winner  in the Kentucky Derby.  Each year brings a new crop of 3 year old horses to analyze and study.  See links and info below:

Racing form for Derby and Oaks contenders: HERE

How to use the Daily Racing Form:  HERE

2013 Daily Racing Form Kentucky Derby Top 20 (includes early odds, last race, Beyer numbers, comments and more): HERE

**Handicapping the Kentucky Derby (Information, tips and more): http://www.predictem.com/horse/kentucky-derby-betting.php

Analyzing the Top 2013 Kentucky Derby Contenders (Goldencents, Normandy Invasion and Overanalyze are picked with a point system): HERE

Derby prep race charts and videos – free from DRF HERE

Daily Barn Notes – for the Derby and Oaks HERE

Derby Horses sold at auction and the prices: HERE

Handicapping Kentucky Derby General tips article from 2004, open link for full list, shortened list below. Full article: HERE

  • Don’t pick a horse with a trainer or jockey making his first trip to the Derby. 
  • Don’t pick a horse with a new jockey. 
  • Stay away from horses with no two year old starts and/or fewer than 6 starts lifetime.
  • Your pick should have finished in the money in his last pre-Derby start. Since 1957, only Sea Hero and Thunder Gulch have broken this and they were both 4th in their final prep. A strong late move in that race is a big plus.
  • Your pick must be a stakes winner and have run in at least one 1 1/8 mile prep race.
  • He must have either 3 or 4 prep races since January 1st, no more, no less.
  • Don’t pick the post time favorite or the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner. 
  • Pay close attention to the horse’s Churchill Downs workouts. 5 furlong or longer works are important.
  • Horses with good tactical speed and the ability to stalk have preference over pure speed or rally from way back types. Proven ability to handle bad traffic situations is a plus.
  • Stay away from geldings. No gelding has won since 1929 except Funny Cide in 2003. Flip side of this is not many geldings are entered as horses good enough for the Derby are rarely gelded.
  • Dosage index of 4.0 or lower
  • At least one race on a Kentucky track is a plus. 
  • If a trainer enters more than one horse, beware the one they don’t hype. Thunder Gulch and Charismatic are perfect examples of this.
  • The Derby has a huge field, up to 20 horses, so traffic is a big problem. Remember that anything can happen with all the bumping that will go on.

How to Find a Key Horse That Can Lead to Boxcar Derby Payoffs
by Kenneth Strong, Professional Horse Handicapper of Predictem.com http://www.predictem.com/horse/kentucky-derby-betting.php

(Highlights from article, click above link for entire article) Finding your Key Horse in the Kentucky Derby- All we have to go on is history, but combining that with decent handicapping skills will give us a better shot than 90 percent of the crazies that will be betting house numbers, birthdays, names, colors and just about anything else you can think of on Derby Day, including horses that wink at people in the post parade.

  • Favorites and Speed Rarely Win
  • Poor Works Better Handicapping Angle than Fast Works
  • Watch Key Derby Prep Races Closely- Any horse that can get within four lengths in a key prep race for the Derby deserves a second look, especially if the horse made a bid to win the race. A decent late rally to get within four lengths in an important prep could mean the horse is perfectly suited to the longer distance of the Derby.
  • Beware of Romping Winners- Horses we like to avoid in the win spot in the Derby are those coming into the race off numerous romping wins.
  • Beyer Speed Figures- We’ll be looking for horses that have cracked the 100 Beyer mark at least once in their lives and preferably run 105 or higher. Keep in mind that the horse with the top Beyer Figure coming into the Derby often loses, possibly because a number of runners may still be improving. Horses that have run a lifetime best Beyer Speed Figure in their race prior to the Derby can and do improve enough to win the big prize.
  • Outside Posts Better Than Inside-  Many bettors think that outside posts can hurt a Derby runner but in fact an outside post is probably better than an inside post and is at least as good as a middle post.
  • Jockeys and Trainers – Experience Required- Don’t bet a Derby horse to win unless a top jockey is aboard. The same goes for trainers.
  • Dosage a Minor Factor-  As far as pedigree goes we’ll be looking for a horse with a dosage of 4.0 or less but won’t throw a horse out unless their dosage is over 6.0.
  • Kentucky Derby Betting Summary – Bring Your Wheelbarrow There are only two horse racing days a year in North America when you truly have an excellent chance of making a monster score for a modest outlay of cash – Breeders’ Cup Day and Derby Day. Watch the prep races closely prior to handicapping and betting the Kentucky Derby – look for courage under fire and apply the principles above. You’ll find your key horse. A horse you can wheel – all the way to the bank.

Future? Sight

Sight is a short futuristic film, which may not be that far-fetched.

In fact, Google Glass has many similarities to what is shown in Sight.

Google Glass   What It Does

The Redesigned $100 Note

Front view of the new $100 bill, which will begin circulation in October, 2013

The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday announced that the redesigned $100 note will begin circulating on October 8, 2013. This note, which incorporates new security features such as a blue, 3-D security ribbon, will be easier for the public to authenticate but more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.  Full press release: http://www.newmoney.gov/stakeholder/journalist/release_04242013.htm

The Redesigned $100 Note
The new $100 note is the latest denomination of U.S. currency to be redesigned. Over a decade of research and development went into its new security features.  Read more:  http://www.newmoney.gov/newmoney/default.aspx

New Security Features
The advanced security features offer a simple and subtle way to verify that a new $100 note is real.

  • 3-D Security Ribbon-  Look for a blue ribbon on the front of the note. Tilt the note back and forth while focusing on the blue ribbon. You will see the bells change to 100s as they move. 
  • Bell in the Inkwell- Look for an image of a color-shifting bell, inside a copper-colored inkwell, on the front of the new $100 note.

Additional Design and Security Features

  •  Portrait Watermark- Hold the note to light and look for a faint image of Benjamin Franklin in the blank space to the right of the portrait. The image is visible from either side of the note.
  • Also:  security thread, a color-shifting “100” on bill, raised printing, and more.

Security Features:  http://www.newmoney.gov/uscurrency/redesigned100.htm

Many additional features are included in the redesigned bill for added security

Volcano under Yellowstone bigger than we thought!

Yellowstone is an active volcano. Surface features such as geysers and hot springs are direct results of the region's underlying volcanism. (National Park Service)
Yellowstone is an active volcano. Surface features such as geysers and hot springs are direct results of the region’s underlying volcanism. (National Park Service)

Yellowstone National Park is actually a giant caldera, which is the large cauldron-like feature formed by a volcanic eruption.  Driving through the park is much different from what people may expect. The park is unique and amazing, with wildlife, geysers and more to thrill visitors, but it does not have the towering peaks that other Rocky Mountain parks, Like Glacier or the Tetons offer up.  The park is actually on top of a massive volcano!

  • Yellowstone’s underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, “The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged.”
  • Knowing the volume of molten magma beneath Yellowstone is important for estimating the size of future eruptions.
  • The last caldera eruption was 640,000 years ago. Smaller eruptions occurred in between and after the big blasts, most recently about 70,000 years.
  • The magma chamber seen in the new study fed these smaller eruptions and is the source of the park’s amazing hydrothermal springs and geysers.
  • Previously, researchers had thought the magma beneath Yellowstone was in separate blobs, not a continuous pocket.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/04/18/yellowstone-volcano-bigger-than-thought/?intcmp=obinsite#ixzz2RPK4MANY

 

 

Tax Day!

A Wild Story of Geologic Cataclysm

This chunk of granite, 300 feet from the Map House (near Eugene, Oregon), likely arrived embedded in an iceberg that was carried here by one of the Missoula Floods.
This chunk of granite, 300 feet from the Map House (near Eugene, Oregon), likely arrived embedded in an iceberg that was carried here by one of the Missoula Floods.
drumheller_channels near Othello, WA.   These unique landforms were created by huge floods, thousands of years ago.
drumheller_channels near Othello, WA. These unique landforms were created by huge floods, thousands of years ago.

Megafloods of the Ice Age:  About 15,000 years ago, in the waning millennia of the Ice Age, a vast lake known as Glacial Lake Missoula suddenly burst through the ice dam that plugged it at one end. In the space of just 48 hours, geologists believe, the collapse sent 500 cubic miles of water cascading across the Pacific Northwest, creating overnight such unusual landscapes as the scablands of eastern Washington State.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/megafloods-of-the-ice-age.html

Continental glaciers blocked the Clark Fork River and created prehisoric Lake Missoula. When this ice dam broke, the water flooded across present-day Eastern WA and continued to the Willamette Valley and out to the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

 

 

The Hero:   A geologist named J. Harlen Bretz,  proposed in the 1920s that the topography of eastern Washington State was the result of a massive catastrophic flood.  He named this area of eastern Washington the Channeled Scablands. The idea that sites such as the Palouse Falls Gorge were the results of floods was thought to be outrageous, and described by some as near lunacy since the area receives very little rainfall today.  It took many decades for Harlen Bretz to finally receive the credit he deserved. In fact, it was not until the area was observed from the air that many of the Scabland features were accepted as flood deposits, such as the giant ripples in the Misoulla Valley, which are up to 30 feet high and 250 feet apart.

Almost fifty years following his original proposal, Bretz was hailed as a hero, and in 1979, at the age of 96, he was given geology’s highest honor — the Penrose Medal, which rewards one researcher each year for exceptional contributions to geology. The Channeled Scablands have now been dedicated to Harlen Bretz, and it is commonly known that this area was destroyed by a massive flood catastrophe. Source: http://www.nwcreation.net/scablands.html

Giant ripple marks in the Missoula Valley, created by the megafloods
Palouse Falls- formed by the floods

Links:http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/geology/publications/inf/72-2/contents.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channeled_Scablands

Interesting stie with interactive and a video:  http://hugefloods.com/Scablands.html

NOVA interactive website:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/explore-the-scablands.html

Channeled Scablands; Scientific Bias Against Catastrophism: http://www.nwcreation.net/scablands.html

Ice Age Floods (YouTube video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Na-yPW-52I

Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

The right man, in the right place, at the right time!

Martin Luther King Jr. has now been dead longer than he lived. But what an extraordinary life it was.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
  • At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy.
  • At 34, he galvanized the nation with his “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

  • At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today

Special MLK website by the Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.com/special/mlk/
How can you help others?  MLK Day of Service: http://mlkday.gov/

2012- Year in Review

Google Zeitgeist 2012- Year in Review- What did the world search for?

The Zeitgeist- (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought which typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time. For example, the Zeitgeist of modernism  typified and influenced architecture, art, and fashion during much of the 20th century.

www.google.com/zeitgeist/  1.2 trillion searches. 146 languages. See what the world searched for.

Google’s revealed its annual list of the year’s top searches, with the death of Whitney Houston gleaning more requests than even the Gangnam Style juggernaut and site powering over 1.2 trillion searches. One Direction topped the most searched image category, while events like Hurricane Sandy and the Olympics made an impact both in the primary top ten and the people we searched for. The top searched-for gadgets saw a conspicuous absence of the iPhone 5, likely due to its launch in the second half of the year. The new iPad (well, iPad 3) claiming first place, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy S III. We’ve included Google‘s obligatory uplifting video after the break, if you’ve already started to forget what happened this year.

Top 10 Global Searches

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Gangnam Style
  3. Hurricane Sandy
  4. iPad 3
  5. Diablo 3
  6. Kate Middleton
  7. Olympics 2012
  8. Amanda Todd
  9. Michael Clarke Duncan
  10. BBB12

These were the top 10 news stories, according to the Associated Press:  Click HERE

USA today’s top stories:  HERE

Reuters 2012- Year in Review: HERE

Google “Street View” Expands

Google Street View Product Manager Ryan Falor controls the Trekker with his Android device.

In its ongoing effort to create the perfect map of the world at ground level, Google took a trek into the Grand Canyon this week. Although this is part of its Google Maps Street View project, there are of course no streets in the national park.

 

 

Read more:  http://www.technewsworld.com/story/76473.html

NASA/ISS Photographs of Earth – Where in the World Quiz

Where is this?
Example picture from quiz

Where in the World Quiz. (Very interesting and fun)  http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/quiz/quiz.pl?

Advance to next picture by clicking “Click to Refresh” near top of page.  This took me awhile to figure out.

The Gateway to Astronaut Photographs: This is a great link for any one who has a passion for geography, space, etc… http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/

This is a video of the International Space Station flyover of Aurora Australis (Southern Lights)  http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/Videos/CrewEarthObservationsVideos/#issborealis_iss_20120423

Earth Observatory: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/Coll/EarthObservatory/PostedSort.htm

Photos by map search:  http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop/clickmap/

Cities of the World:  http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/cities/

Pictured above: Puget Sound, WA, USA. Seattle is near center.

Rodney King- Interesting Individual

  Rodney King ended up playing a part in American culture, politics, violence and peace, he never intended to play.  He was a reluctant figure in civil rights, a victim, a peace-maker and an occasional criminal.  Quite a mix.  He appreciated life, yet died at the relatively young age of 47 years.

Many of us who followed the story focused on the verdict and the violence the broke out after it was announced.   The public was also concerned about who was at fault in the violent arrest, which was caught on film and played in the media over and over as we all became jurors in the case.  However, what many don’t realize, or may have forgotten, is the severity of the injuries suffered by King, or the emotional and mental anguish he dealt with following the riots which took the lives of 53 people.

Below: NPR with an interesting piece on Rodney King-

Audio with text transcript:   http://www.npr.org/2012/04/27/151526928/rodney-king-two-wrongs-dont-make-a-right

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/06/18/155270776/rodney-king-what-i-had-to-do-was-make-it-better

Smoking Humpy (pink) Salmon

Late August and early September in PNW

Walked down an alley in Everett, WA and smoke was pouring out of this little, wooden shack.  A wooden sign on it said “Smoke house.”  Every other year, the Pink Salmon (Humpy) runs are incredible in the Pacific Northwest, as the fish head back to their birthplace to spawn and keep the cycle going.  Some get caught along the way, cleaned, and hung in cool little shacks like this to be cured with smoke, a tasty way to preserve and enjoy the fish!

Man Wrestles Elephant!

This guy is tough!  He had no takers, so he had to switch species and take on an elephant!

This first link, from History.com, has volume and the commentary is good!  http://www.history.com/videos/elephant-wrestling#elephant-wrestling

Fox News Bubble Bursting?

“It’s a sad commentary on the state of American media when the battle for news dominance is between a right-wing propaganda outlet and a comedy channel.”

http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2011/06/fox-news-bubble-angry-white-men-bursting

Waiting for Superman

http://cnn.com/video/?/video/showbiz/2010/09/13/wynter.fos.waiting.superman.cnn

Why is our society so obsessed about “broken schools?”  Is is a surprise that we have troubled young people when we have so many “broken homes?”  The US divorce rate is one of the highest in the world: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_div_rat-people-divorce-rate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce

My point is, families are letting the schools down.  The family isn’t sending kids to school prepared to learn.  Many students come to school with little or no manners and have to learn social skills that should probably be learned at home.  Many students also come to school hungry and tired, and are victims of abuse and violence.  These students are difficult to teach, but public  schools in the United States do what they can, with amazing results.    These students (and their families) facing challenges are often intimidated and threatened by the school system  and are probably not even aware of charter school options and will not benefit from charter schools.  In fact, since many of the better students do choose to leave their schools and attend charter schools, the students left behind lose their peer tutors and the overall quality of their education suffers even more.

It is a shame that people with little or no experience teaching in public schools, seem to know how to fix those very schools which, in many cases, they didn’t even attend.   Bill Gates attended a private high school, then dropped out of Harvard.  This is our public education savior?  Davis Guggenheim is free to express his opinion, and he seems to dislike teachers and unions.    He admits that he drives past three public schools to take his child to a charter school, and he says “it haunts me.”  I guess it doesn’t haunt him enough to help out his local public school.

Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools say she “knows” students are getting a crappy education?  Get rid of her negative thinking, find somebody positive with energy.  Someone who can talk parents and families into fulfilling their obligations and raising their children with the support they need.

A common theme to improve public school performance seems to be to fire bad teachers and break unions.  I believe this is backwards and negative thinking, looking at the glass as half-empty.  Instead, let’s screen and hire great teachers.  Teaching is difficult to evaluate and measure.  Many of the evaluators are administrators, who were not great teachers and wanted out of the classroom.  Many great teachers just “have it.”   The current system takes new and beginning teachers and focuses on staff development in the early years.  For a teacher who doesn’t “have it,” this could be a waste of time.  Bad teachers should have never been hired in the first place.  Bad administrators hired them.  From this point on, let’s hire only the best.

Whatever we do, let’s all look in the mirror.  Are parents sending their children to school prepared?  Are they supporting their schools?  It all starts at home!

We see all this money pledged to reform schools.  Make smaller learning communities, buy more supplies, better curriculum.  If we focused some of this on parents doing a better job at home, the change would be dramatic.  If each family spent one hour per day/night on schoolwork with their children, test scores and performance would surge.  Bill Gates could stop worrying about teacher pensions.

Here is school reform;  HOME REFORM.  FAMILY SUPPORT.  Let’s be obsessed with “broken homes!”

United States Government by Administration

Nice information on United States Government by Administration

http://developer.wolframalpha.com/widgets/gallery/view.jsp?id=ab77f065607841db59736aa77a08453b

Wolfram/Alpha Widgets:  (These things are awesome)

http://developer.wolframalpha.com/widgets/index.html

GPS, London Cabbies, and Brain Swelling

Are GPS navigational devices damaging our sense of direction?

http://www.theweek.com/article/index/102501/The_last_word_This_is_your_brain_on_GPS

London cabbies must take a test called “The Knowledge” which requires them to memorize 25,000 streets and thousands of landmarks.  Here is a link to the Knowledge; http://www.the-knowledge.org.uk/main/

Apparently, the back part of the hippocampus in the brains of cabbies is enlarged compared with brains of the average person.    However, the front part of the hippocampus shrinks.

Questionnaire for Sotomayor

Next time you get stressed out filling out paperwork, forms, applications or resumes, think about the process US Supreme Court nominees must endure.  Then they have to put up with months of analysis and scrutiny, and even harassment.   Robert Bork went through it all for nothing.  The nice thing is, if you make it,  job security is rock-solid.

The background check/resume is quite extensive.   170 page.pdf file

5000+ pages with index

Drinking Urine in Space

A big accomplishment aboard the International Space Station, astronauts are drinking recycled urnine.

Very Dangerous Shuttle Mission to fix Hubble

Shuttle
Shuttle
NASA Website: http://www.nasa.gov/
This mission will fix the ailing Hubble Telescope, one of the best NASA projects.  The mission is amazing, as Hubble is in an orbit which is full of space junk. 

What is wealth?

Check out the view of wealth and luxury in Finnland.   I don’t mind the idea of high taxes.  I think college should be free in the United States.  I also think every kid should be fed at school.  We can afford to give our students free breakfast and lunch.  Many kids have parents who don’t qualify for free and reduced lunch, or they won’t fill out the paperwork, or the kids are too embarrassed.  They go hungry, and that is a crime.  While we are at it, everyone in the United States should have free health care.  It is time to face it.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20090501/cm_csm/ycorson

Skid Row

 

Sleeping on the concrete in Skid Row, Los Angeles
Sleeping on the concrete in Skid Row, Los Angeles

Skid Row is a very sad situation.   Just blocks from skyscrapers, people live in despair.  NPR has a very interesting video on their website.  Check it out:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103289221

Map Link

Eagle Cam

This is a streaming video camera of a family of Bald Eagles in a nest, in Sydney, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada.

There is a pair of eagles and a baby in the nest.  Sometimes you can see them feeding the baby.

http://www.hancockwildlifechannel.org/staticpages/index.php/20090302200021473

GET Program, good deal? For who?

Washington state has the GET program, a guaranteed tuition college savings program, where the family can save for the future student by buying future credits at current prices.  Sounds good, but in my opinion it favors the upper middle class and the wealthy.  Those who can’t afford to buy credits today will be forced to pay even more for future credits to make way for those who participated in the GET program.   I realize that maybe those diligent and responsible folks who where able to fork away the money should benefit.  But it seems to come at a high cost, even higher tuition for those who didn’t participate. 

Now it appears the program is having funding problems:

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/northwest/story/630232.html

Alabama and other states are worried they won’t be able to keep the tution promises:

http://www.oanow.com/oan/news/local/article/market_endangers_state-run_prepaid_tuition_plans/63122/