Saturday, February 19, 2005

I hope you made it to the Iwo Jima Commemoration in Fredericksburg over the weekend. The Heroes Parade on Saturday was amazing. It wasn't the best parade I've ever seen--there was a distinct absence of fair queens and not one horse--but it ranks up there with one of the most moving.

There have been three similar parades here in the last ten years. In September of 1995, the Nimitz Musuem hosted V+50, a celebration of the end of World War II. The organizers invited any and all veterans of the war to town, loaded them up on dozens of military trucks, and drove them down Main Street so everyone could clap, cheer and thank them.

In 2001, the museum commemorated the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with another parade. Since there were only Pearl Harbor survivors, there weren't as many trucks. It brought a lump to my throat to see the folks of this town lining the street cheering for people who risked their lives for this country.

The parade started off with the band from Fort Sam, the 4th USMC Recon Battallion stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. Then came the reenactors in their vehicles.

Behind them were ROTC units from all over the state. The local high school's Navy ROTC unit marched, as did the ROTC unit from one of my alma maters, The University of Texas, and a couple of military schools.

Finally, the veterans rolled by. Once again, the crowds lining the streets cheered these real heroes. It was moving to see children being lifted up by their parents to give these guys carnations. Not even the misting rain, which had grounded the Commemorative Air Force fly-over, could dampen the spirit of the crowd.

I had to leave early, because I was helping out at the reenactment. More on that later.

Here are links to more stories:

Friday, February 18, 2005

On February 11, I posted a comment about an Arizona man crossing a swollen creek in his Hummer and getting stuck. He had to be rescued by a helicopter. I also mentioned that the Austin, Texas media would have made him appear to be an idiot or moron, and I wondered why the Arizona media didn't do that.

It wasn't until this story was published that anyone mentioned that the guy went around a barricade. Now the county will probably charge him under the new "stupid driver law" and fine him what it cost to rescue him.

Out at Enchanted Rock, eighteen miles north of town, it used to popular, though frowned upon, to hang glide off of Turkey Peak, a nearby granite hill. Every weekend, it seemed, some yahoo would crash. And even though the park in is Llano County, they don't have a hospital, so the Gillespie County EMS had to go out there, climb this rugged, craggy peak, and rescue the guy. Once they started charging these folks, they stopped hang gliding off the peak.

I like this idea. If someone thinks they're smarter than a swollen creek (or the laws of gravity), and it turns out they're not, they deserve to be ridiculed. I don't care if you're in a Hummer or a canoe. You roll your dice and you take your chances, and you pay the consequences.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

In just 100 days, the folks over at Firefox have recorded 25 million downloads in 100 days!

If you don't know about Firefox, then I have to assume you've been living under a rock for the last year. Firefox is a free browser to replace Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer is the target of every hacker and criminal that comes down the pike. And Microsoft is just a little slow in patching the flaws in the browser. As a result, Firefox's share of market has been growing!

I use Firefox as my primary browser at home. At work, since I'm not the only one using the computer, I have to keep IE. I love it. Click on the picture and take a look!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The election in Iraq is over, and the Shiite coalition that won has US officials making sure that the Iraqi Shiites are conected to Iranian Shiites, the faction in power in that country.

I have always been concerned about Dubya's plan to bring democracy to Iraq. I have expected that an election in Iraq would bring a fundamentalist to power, and we would wind up with another Iran. It's beginning to look like that will happen.

Right now, the Iraqis are denying any influence from Iran. But what happens when we invade Iraq because they have WMDs?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Last night I purchased a 12 pack of Shiner Bock that had a decidedly "fishy taste. Maybe because I've just gotten back into homebrewing, I wondered what caused it. So I Googled "beer tastes fishy."

I found one page that listed fishy as an off aroma in a brief overview. The next site had the same overview, but a bit less brief. In fact, a large part of it was the exact same thing as on the first site! I wonder who copied from whom?

I managed to choke down three or four before I went to bed. And I'll try again tonight and see if I'm just imagining things.

Monday, February 14, 2005

I have renamed my blog. "Jeff's Daily Thoughts" didn't quite pop.

Now it's called "Life in the Banana Patch." The Banana patch in the title is from a Steve Martin routine from one of his albums. In the bit, he says that it would be fun to teach kids to talk wrong. That way, when they get to school they'd raise their hand and say, "May I mambo dogface to the banana patch?"

I have used "Banana Patch" as the company name when I register software (alternating with "Fly By Night Incorporated" from a Gallagher routine), when thinking about a business name.

So if you're used to "Jeff's Daily Thoughts," sorry."

A study titled "Radiative-convective model of warming Mars with artificial greenhouse gases" by Margarita M. Marinova, now at California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA; Christopher P. McKay, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, USA; and Hirofumi Hashimoto, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan, suggests that when we finally get to Mars we might be able to use the global warming to terraform Mars to make it habitable for humans.

The researchers found that a compound known as octafluoropropane, whose chemical formula is C3F8, produced the greatest warming, while its combination with several similar gases enhanced the warming even further. They think that adding approximately 300 parts per million of the gas mixture in the current Martian atmosphere, which is the equivalent of nearly two parts per million in an Earth- like atmosphere, would spark a runaway greenhouse effect, that would slowly evaporate the frozen carbon dioxide on the planet's surface. The global warming and the ensuing release of that carbon dioxide would lead to further melting and global temperature increases that could create a thicker atmosphere to the planet.

The researchers warn, though, that this process could take hundreds, even thousands, or years to complete.

Obviously, they're wrong. Global warming on Earth will wipe out humanity in a few years, if you beleive the extremists. If we act now, and get those greenhouse gasses on Mars now, we can get have shirt-sleeve weather by the time we arrive.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Bouyed by the victory of Dubya in last year's elections, evangelical Christians have turned to the schools. Not to get more "edumacation," oh, no! But to get the theory of intelligent design taught alongside evolution.

Personally, I have always thought that the evolution was elegant enough to be proof of intelligent design. But apparently, that isn't enough. So, our kids are going to be taught that a "creator" made the universe.

I only want to know which "Creator" is going to get the credit? The Creator of the Judaeo-Christo-Islamic tradition? The Creator of the Native American tradition? The creator of the Hindu tradition? The Creator of the Greco-Roman tradition (Just because they don't have worshippers doesn't mean they didn't really create the universe.) Whose truth do we teach?

More importantly, if we have to teach intelligent design in church, do we have to teach evolution in Sunday School? It's only fair!