July 20th, 1969

Houston, Tranquility base. The Eagle has landed.

There are no pictures I want to show you, no clever quips nor lists. I just want for a moment today, each and every person who reads this, every person who thinks they don’t care and that it doesn’t matter, to reflect on the fact that we landed on the moon. 40 years ago today, we ushered in an era of prosperity and achievement over the fear and hate raging through the veins of a world wracked by wars, both cold and hot. We, America, put a man on a rocket 300 feet long, pushing with the force of 250,000 car engines, all the way to the moon. We put him there and returned him safely. A feat no equaled since 1972, when Apollo 17 left the moon for the last time.

The three men chosen for this accomplishment were Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins. These three men are heroes, not for any of the very heroic flights they endured in war, not for their philanthropy since. These men are heroes because they helped the realm of science merge with the realm of imagination. I can’t imagine what focus and dedication these men would need to prove once and for all that mans dominion, his ability to explore was not tethered by the iron shackles of earth, but by the ethereal and unending bounds of imagination. Man could break free and explore a “new frontier” and he can do so still.

The moral of the story is that there is a plaque on the moon, and it does not make me proud to be an American. It makes me proud to be a man, a human, a citizen of Earth. It reads “We came in peace for all mankind” and as sure as I sit here and type this diatribe, this needlessly dramatic, and utterly rambling hero worship… it was true. It was an effort to exact a scientific community that shed the lines of country and race, and strove to find peace for all mankind. I hope one day more people read it.

12 people have set foot on the moon, 24 have orbited. The last in December 1972. Those men, those brave men are of course heroes for their own reasons. Personal and otherwise. Bravery engages them, curiosity in the leagues of great scientists and great pilots. They seek to go the distance. If not them, then who? It’s about leaving the cave and looking to the stars. It’s about making fire, the wheel, sailing across that great ocean and marking it as found. Heroes in war, heroes in peace, heroes for all of mankind. If ever another country puts another man on another celestial body, if ever the world moves beyond political distinctions, and Earth puts man on Mars. This will be why: 40 years ago today, Neil Armstrong set his foot on the moon, and proved it could be done, and in doing so he ushered in an era that could not and has not been equaled by any feat of engineering or daring since.

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”

P.S. Many of these men were Eagle scouts, war heroes, test pilots of the highest caliber, and men of heroism and mettle before ever seeing the lunar surface, but make no mistake about the severity I place toward an achievement that may help man outlast his planet, and move beyond his solar system.

P.P.S. Also, the man to really thank for sparking this imagination? J.F.K. When he wasn’t chasing women around the White Horse (that is a movie reference) he was telling us that we would put a man on a giant rocket, made out of metal that hadn’t been invented, doing something we’ve never come close to doing, and we were going to do it in 8 years. He wasn’t alive to see it, but if ever a president whipped some asses into shape, it’d be J.F.K.

Rice University and The Apollo 11 moon landing. 7 years apart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g25G1M4EXrQ


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMINSD7MmT4

Ruminations About Meat

Yeah, yeah, I haven’t written anything in a while.  I’ve been doing stuff.  No foolin’.  I really wanted to write about this rocket show I went to over Independence Day weekend, but when it comes down to it, I really don’t know much about model rocketry other than “rockets = awesome.”

For reference, that man is not a gnome.
That man is a man, and that man is not fucking around.

So, I said to myself, “Self, just stick to what you know!  Tell stories about stuff you like!”  Thus was born Ruminations About Meat:

1:  Venison serving size, 3 0z.  130 calories, 2g fat, 26g protein

Ah, deer meat.  Venison always makes me think of the Sportsman’s Lake lodge.  My grandpa – a cow-testicle eating meat badass – always used to drag us brothers there during some days we visited over the summers.  Once, we got bored of fishing, and went rifling through the cabinets and the refrigerator in the kitchen.  My grandpa found us, yelled at us, probably beat the shit out of us, and made us sit in the back of his truck until he finished playing cards.  Canasta, most likely.  Later in my childhood, we would return to this very lodge for a venison pot-luck, where we sampled home-made dishes ranging from spaghetti with venison meatballs to steaks to deer tacos.  ¡Magnifico!

2:  Swordfishserving size, 3.75 oz.   164 calories, 5.4g fat, 27g protein

When I was 19, I lived for free as the assistant manager of an apartment complex.  Sweet deal while it lasted, but one day, a 30-something resident caught me on my way home from work (no easy feat, since my total trek was about 60 yards) and asked me if I could help him move some things out of his apartment.  I figured “Hey, why not,” but before I could comply, he offered to grill some swordfish so it wouldn’t spoil in his move.  He fired up his charcoal grill, we hauled some boxes from his apartment to a trailer, and before I knew it, I was eating the juiciest, most flavorful grilled fish steak I’ve ever put in my mouth.  If only I’d had some squash.  The lesson here is, while candy is under no circumstances acceptable to take from strangers, swordfish is A-OK!

Swordfish, The Last Boy Scout, The Flinstones,
pretty much anything with Halle Berry.

3:  Bacon serving size, 1 oz.   251 calories, 28g fat, 0g protein

Oh, bacon, how you’ve saved me so many mornings.  I know it’s trendy to love bacon right now, but why shouldn’t the pinnacle of pork products always be celebrated?  The best bacon I’ve ever had in my entire life spent two days marinating in black peppercorn dressing while wrapped around a ribeye steak.  Then, it was cooked on top of the steak on a Foreman grill.  The resultant bacon was literally ineffable.  It was crispy, and tender, and it tasted like I was making out with God.  It was one of the few times I’ve had steak that had been wrapped in bacon, and come away saying, “The steak was also good.”

4:  Salmon serving size, 3.5 oz.   140 calories, 6.5g fat, 19g protein

I prefer my salmon a just a pinch rarer than my steaks, which is to say, raw.  Sure, you can cook salmon, whatever.  But why bother?  Salmon is like nature’s version of convenience food! I once watched Bear Grylls fish a salmon out of a river in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska with a spear, scale it, cut the meat out, and commence enjoying delicious fish.  It literally took him less time than it would for you to get up, walk down the hall, put 75 cents into a vending machine, and decide between the Rice Krispie Treat and the Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles.  Then again, he almost died of hypothermia on that trip, so … you know, pick your battles.  As an aside, yes, I envision the majority of you are reading this while you’re supposed to be working.  🙂

Fact:  Being a bear is fucking awesome.

I hope I’ve quenched everyone’s thirst for tombloggery.  It’s like, tomfoolery, but with bloggi – you know what, forget it.  Either you get it, or you don’t.  I’m not going to stand here and explain it to you.

PS:  The Patagonian Toothfish used to sell at local markets in southern South America for roughly $2 per 20-lb fish, and it wouldn’t even sell in America due to its lowly status.  Since fishmongers started calling it the “Chilean Sea Bass,” we’ve started paying nearly $25 per pound in some places.  Let’s hear it for fish marketing!

Elevator Music

For all of those regular blog readers out there, we are currently playing the “Girl from Iponema”. Can’t you hear that? hmmm hm hm hmm hmmm. Ah isn’t that restful?

This is wildly different, DON’T READ THIS!

I feel just plum awful not having posted. I try to but things get away from me. That aside, I’m really very uninteresting. A woman at work told me that was a lie. It seemed sweet. Of course, what do I know? We talked about this and that, and she asked me if I had a steady girlfriend. I don’t. Thanks for the salt in that wound…

Anyhow I have written a story. It’s not really an allegory. It’s an excercise in combination. My chosen field of study is folklore, so I wrote a folk tale for a friend of mine. This is the first part, and if anyone wants the second part, I’ll post the shit out of it. It’s got 5, but I’ve only written 1 and 2 out. Here goes:

PART 1

Once, in the ancient and venerable kingdom of Phaleria there lived a man named Turnico. He was a soldier by trade, but by night, and in the barracks between what silly wars the kings raged against each other at such grave costs, Turnico was a poet. No one had ever read anything he had ever written, because he was a very private man. stern, and fair, he was well acknowledged as a great soldier, a prospect to be an officer. However, had any one bothered to read his poems, they would know he was an even greater artist.

One day, a great Phalerian general named Grotticus came to see Turnico is his humbly appointed home. He was busy scrawling his effortless and beautiful thoughts on paper. He had often lamented the idea of becoming a soldier instead of a poet. But he knew, the flavor of his words came not from his mind, or his eyes. They were like anyone elses. They came from his curiosity. He was curious to put to paper his thoughts, because they might be his last, and Turnico had always known a mans last words, to be his most beautiful

Well, Grotticus had come to offer him a position as a page to another general, new and young, much younger than all the rest, this general was smart, but of noble birth. He hadn’t earned his place, he had been given it, like a trophy. This young general was keen to have the respected soldier as his page, and thought it a boon, since it was a quick way for a man of such little stature (though a rather legendary veteran he was) a chance to become an officer.

“Would you take this job, and move through the ranks? Get what it is you deserve after years of faithful service. After years of surviving?”

“Well,” said Turnico “I will do this, but, it is important to know that surviving is what one naturally does, I will only take this reward for my years of serving the king”

You know what today is?

I watching that 90’s movie the other day.  You know the one with the guy – wears those shirts?  He’s like, this cool, rebellious teenager.  And his family moves to the midwest from the west coast, and he’s all, “Whoa,” and the plain old townsfolk are all, “Huh? What?”  And hilarity ensues?  Well, I realized something today.  That story is not only applicable to the United States as we know it, but we’re actually on both sides of the coin.  Still with me?  Rock on.

This used to buy two orgies with the senate, with enough change for a leg of pork.

On one side of the coin (we’ll call it heads), there’s the US and Texas.  When we bought Louisiana in 1801, we wanted Texas, but Texas didn’t want us.  Then in 1821, it became part of Mexico.  Then, in 1835, when Texas was fighting for it’s indepence, and we tried to help, you know what they said?  “No, thanks, we got this.  Nobody messes with Texas.”  Then, in 1845, we annexed them anyway.  America, the cool new kid in town comes guns a’blazin, and sets that giant midwestern town straight.  We’re awesome.

Ever since, they, more than any other state, has asserted their uniqueness from the other 49 children.   My guess is, what with recent talk of secession by everyone from current Governor Rick Perry to professional facemelter Chuck Norris, that they may not really want to be a state.  Sure, Texas is 2nd in population among the states with 24 million people and has 3 of our 10 most populous cities.  You know how it ranks in population density?  26th, with about the same average as the whole US.  You know what that little disparity there says?  Two things: vast, and wasteland.  Basically, it has ~1/3 the population of Germany spread out across twice the space.

The only state more populous is the flip side of this argument.  Back in the 1820’s, when all them gold diggers went to California all a’hootin’ and a’prospectin’, that was the lesson that their kids took to bed every night.  And then their kids, and then their kids, who became so fixated on power and money that they elected not one, but two movie stars governor.  The only baffling part is that they were both republicans, and Cali hasn’t really been a beacon for the right wing all too often historically (except that gap in the 70’s and 80’s).

To them, we as Americans are a a firm, nubile farm girl, who practically creams herself every time our young action hero blows up a helicopter for fun and profit.  And since a majority of Californians still think that popularity is analagous to political competence, they put him in charge. Ever since the he took office, he got old, never really shed his strange accent, and now all we can do is cry after every time he screws us.

Why wouldn’t you look at me … during?

Back in the day, it too was part of Mexico, and like Texas, it also wanted to be an independent republic, but during the Mexican-American war, in all our Manifestly Destined brilliance, we decided it would look nice as a state, and it became one in 1850.  Ever since, it’s grown to house 33 million people, and it has a Gross State Product that’s higher than all but 7 countries. In fact, Texas is #2 on the list, and between the two of them, they’re responsible for ~2.5 trillion dollars in annual revenue, or roughly 18% of the US economy.  This is mostly due to A: the fact that we’ve been stuffing business down in Texas since the Industrial Revolution paved roads into it, and B: Steven Spielberg.

So, what am I getting at with all this?  Basically, it’s time to just let ’em go.  Now, like every situation, this has it’s pros and cons.  Let’s examine them:

Pro: This doesn’t really upset the balance of power in the political arena all that much.  California has 55 EV, and Texas 34.  It would maybe even look bipartisan-ish of Obama to give up part of that historically built-in 52-vote handicap (along with NY’s 31) the Republicans have to overcome every 4 years.  Sure, we’d have to get rid of our Speaker of the House, but … oh, no?  It’s not like there aren’t 12 or 15 people in those chambers just as or more qualified than the one we have now.  Nothing personal, just simple probability.  They’d only have to preside over 350 Representatives, anyway.

Con:  Sure, there’s a lot of history.  That’s how it is with any break-up.  They have a good portion of our business, and we still have all of their movies & tv (Ca.) and Tom Landry & sand (Tx.) to remember them by.  And of course, there’d be acrimony and people would suffer, both in their business and personal lives.  But again, like any break-up, we’ll start to see each other in the halls after a couple of weeks, and wonder how the other is doing, and eventually one of us will go over and talk, and everything will be fine.

Pro:  In this age of “global economic downturn,” California’s not only most vulnerable in that its main exports are culture and … airplane parts(?!), but that it hasn’t passed a feasible budget basically since the last ice age.  As a result of these two things, and the fact that the US has been handing out money hand over fist lately to failing businesses, a dangerous precedent has been set.  If we don’t bail out them out now, there’s no way it won’t backfire.  However, if we were to just suddenly to encourage our little teenager to grow up, get a job, and move out of the house, maybe it would learn the responsibility it somehow missed while we were trying to raise it right.  Or, maybe it will look to it’s responsible big brother Texas for guidance.   Texas definitely has its shit together financially.

Just because I knew you didn’t want to see it.

Con:  I’m a big fan of symmetry, so I like having 50 stars.  Of course, 48 wouldn’t look bad on a flag, but if you really want the world to know that we’re still the land-conquering badass we used to be, all we’d have to is grant statehood to two of the nine territories we already hold, and voila.  Also, did you know that in addition to being the legendary coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry was a bomber pilot in Germany during World War II, who later earned a degree in Industrial Engineering?  I suppose that doesn’t really have anything to do with the argument, does it?

Pro:  We still get to play sports games against the Cowboys and the Lakers just the same as we play the Oilers (Edm) and the Blue Jays (Tor).  In fact, it makes our so-called “World Series” claim that much more valid.  On top of that, we can deny Kobe’s visa every year when the Lakers make the playoffs.  Just because he’s a dick.

Obviously, there’s far more to it than I’m suggesting, and obviously, it probably won’t happen in my lifetime.  I merely wanted to start a discussion about the possibility of a better world.  A world where we can let California sink slowly and quietly into the ocean, and where Chuck Norris is able to run for President of Texas. What say you?

Thank goodness it’s over.

Just one long week since Carl finished finals, I’ve finally come to the end of my own gauntlet as well – and not a moment too soon.  Sure, I still have two finals to take on Thursday, but History of American Tech has kept me interested enough that the high points should come back easily, and Discrete Math is basically my bitch.  Programming was a tough cookie this quarter, but I’m all done with that, and basically, all that stands between my and summer is four hours of scrutiny.  Thank goodness it’s over.  Maybe I should rephrase that.  It’s not that I didn’t have fun – I did.  It should come as no surprise to any of our readers that I’m fairly fond of learning.  What I’m not fond of is being a full-time student, and full-time worker, all without a car.  Carl can attest to this on some level as well – it sucks. What made it even more sucktastic was my college town’s winter. In fact, I have a spectacular visual representation of our winters right here:

Bob Sapp Piledrives Rodrigo NoguieraI’m in the black trunks.  Winter’s in white.

Ah, but now … now it’s my time.  The NWS says technically spring ends at the summer solstice, but I disagree.  Today, the low was 37, and the high was 75, and it’s like this every day for the next 5 months.  So, spring basically lasts until around 11AM, when it gives way to summer, which lasts until autumn at dusk, and goes right back into winter until dawn … only without the snow.  Which I suppose I’m cool with (you see what I did there?).  I mean, it doesn’t really matter to me, because now that there’s no classes to drag me out of bed, it’s not like I’ll be waking up before noon any damn way.  That’s for the birds.  Literally.  Specifically roosters.

Oh, you’re getting out of bed.  And I’ll be damned if you’re having eggs.

So, what plans have I for summer, you ask?  Well, it’s quite simple, actually.  Instead of taking the summer off like a normal college kid, I’ll be jumping directly back into the books.  Yay!  I was the recipient of a 10-week research grant, during which time I’m going to spend 30 hours a week in my kitchen (which is roughly large enough to have either the refrigerator or the oven open) trying to identify all the quantifiable data therein, and find ways to automate its measurement.  (Speaking of which, if anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments.)

Even better than that, I know I’ll be seeing more than one of you at the Festival of the Bluegrass (only 3 weeks left!!), the one week out of the year where it’s okay for me to wear a cowboy hat and try to turn myself into a living intoxicant disposal.  Oh, and there’s bluegrass music, too – that definitely doesn’t suck.  I can’t really say I’m a huge bluegrass fan the way some of my cooler, transnational friends are, but I can safely say that wandering around from campsite to campsite by moonlight, drinking moonshine and listening to banjos, mandolins, and fiddles getting burned up gets me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Moonshine – the fuzzymaker!

I really can’t stress enough how happy I am about this summer.  Thanks for keeping the faith through our finals season, dear readers, and I’ll see (many of) you very soon!

Phew.

I’m done with finals. So there’s that. Now I have nothing but time on my hands, unless you count all those obligations and work and things. But really, whats that schwarbage? I thought I’d just come back and say “Hello”. I recently Had a travel experience I wish to share with America, no the WORLD at large. West Virginia is the most beautiful place you never want to go, and Virginia is the Old South, which means that they USED to be nice to the RICH. Don’t expect southern hospitality if you go to the great… “Mother of Presidents”. Which they seem to share as a title. With whom? Why, the creepeist cartoon to feature children with handlebar mustaches of course:

creepy

Virginia!

I went for a wedding, me and my two gigantic roommates who look like they might murder people for the government anyhow. So when our whole traveling party steps out of a giant Yukon with sunglasses and cigars and things, we look kind of like we might deal drugs, or… oh yeah, murder people for the government.

The whole trip was great. The only problem (aside from the stinkeye I needed to shower to wash off) was the pollen. I’m not even allergic to pollen. You know why my eyes watered? Because the Pollen in VA. is so big its like whole pieces of tree flew into my eyeball. I swear it was like we were in the prettiest dust storm.

dust

Virginia!

Also did you know the motto for Va.? Its the same thing John Wilkes Booth shouted as he assasinated out 16th president. Coincidence? I won’t say.

Virginia!

Virginia

I’m happy to be back home. I no longer spend my days sleeping obscene amounts in cars, and alienating bridal families. Now I’m home, to alienate my friends. I think its going to be an alright summer…