Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Paint your roof!

June 18, 2009

Steven Chu, President Obama’s science adviser, has suggested that it might be a good idea to encourage people to paint their roofs white– and thus reflect solar radiation back into space, helping to save us from the peril of global warming.  Here’s a story on the proposal in the British Telegraph newspaper.

I remember that in the 1970s, when there was a scare about future “global cooling”, there were proposals to sprinkle black carbon particles on arctic ice, thus having the opposite effect:  absorb more radiation and protect us from the coming Ice Age.  Of course that scare didn’t last nearly as long as the current concern about excessive warming.

I can’t help thinking about the Disney “Alice in Wonderland” movie, in which the Red Queen’s gardeners try to remedy a horticultural mistake by “painting the roses red”.

Well, I know this is different– after all, Dr. Chu won the Nobel prize in physics.  In the movie, her majesty was not amused and shouted:  “Off with their heads!”


Dancing in Philly (revised)

June 13, 2009

Just for a more cheerful note in my Philadelphia postings:  there was an Irish festival, on the riverfront, which we attended Sunday evening.

I had included a nice picture of young ladies, from some school of Irish traditional dance,  performing on the stage.  But now I’ve decided, reluctantly, to remove that picture:  I didn’t of course get any releases to use the image, and ethically I shouldn’t broadcast it.  (Not that a million people are likely to see it on this wildly popular website!).   So, goodbye to a very nice photo…

I’ll just recall a few lines from an old song:
Oh the days of the Kerry dancing,
Oh the ring of the piper’s tune;
Oh for one of those hours of gladness,
Gone, alas! like our youth too soon.

We sat beside a family (a couple with their grown son) who wore green “Fishtown” tshirts.  When I asked, they told me that was their neighborhood, not far from where we were sitting.  Fishtown must inspire a lot of local pride:  the shirts had printed on the back:

Irish by Heritage,
Catholic by Choice,
Fishtown by the Grace of God

In Philadelphia

June 10, 2009

We spent a long weekend in Philadelphia, staying in the downtown just a few  blocks from Independence National Historical Park, which includes Independence Hall and other historical sites.  So we walked around– the car stayed in a garage.  A bit expensive (even the car’s “room” in a garage cost $22 per day);  but most enjoyable and educational.  And a low-cost “Pflash” bus (free to old geezers) was handy for visiting the art museum.

Philadelphia was the nation’s capital throughout the 1790’s; in 1801 it was moved to Washington DC, after they’d cleared (some of) the wilderness.  The move was in keeping with a north-south compromise, without which the Constitution might not have been adopted.  So our capital was transferred from the largest and most sophisticated city of the new US  to a rather backward new village– one which “combined northern charm with southern efficiency”, as it’s detractors used to put it.  Well it had to be that way; and “Washington City”, as they called it, has come a long way.  But one might wonder:  how would our history have been different if the capital could have remained in Philadelphia?  The US would have certainly been a more civilized country; but on the other hand, the South — with Jefferson’s professed disdain for urban life– might have seceded even earlier.

Here’s a picture of Elfreth’s Alley, which they say is the oldest continuously-inhabited street in the United States:


The alley dates back to 1702– it’s been somewhat cleaned up since then.  Tradespeople lived there at first; in the mid-19th century the Irish came to predominate.

More on Philadelphia (and the Irish there) will follow.

Mario Acuna, NASA scientist

March 15, 2009

Today (Sunday) the Washington Post published an obituary story for Mario Acuna.  Mario was a distinguished scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center “whose scientific instruments have flown on more that 30 NASA missions to every planet in the solar system,  including the sun.”   His specialty was  designing and building magnetometers which seem to have been used in just about all the planetary missions, along with the Voyager probe to interstellar space.

I played soccer with Mario in the Goddard soccer league back in the early 1970’s, when his great scientific career was just getting started; but I never got to work with him.  He was a fine soccer player too.

First Post

March 14, 2009

My first blog!  A belated endeavor for one who worked many years in the computer software field.

Where to go with this?  Some aims:

1.  Expressing my views on issues of the day, and  (I hope) get feedback from friends & family, and even at times  from web-surfing strangers.  So if  (for example) the Washington Post does not deign to publish my brilliant(?) commentary,I can still get it off my chest!   I’ll try not to rant and rave too much; maybe even be positive, looking for the wheat among the chaff.

2.  A forum for family history & anecdotes– and here I’ll count on the family to contribute.

3.  Sharing some pictures which might be of interest.  Like this one, of a Cooper’s hawk perched on our back-yard bird feeder platform, thinking to herself:  Where are those darn birds?  I’m hungry!

Photo by Lynn Kenny

Photo by Lynn Kenny