Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Thoughts on 2007

For us Wilson's, 2007 was a tumultuous year. My mother suffered a heart attack on Valentine's day and had to go through open-heart surgery. One month later, my father passed away. It seemed like I spent the rest of the year in picking up the pieces.

In between all of this, I had some of the heaviest workloads I had seen in a while. I racked up a lot of overtime, which is good, especially when it's over. Then at the end of the year, business really slowed and I started to stress a little over that. Fortunately, it seemed to have been a temporary lull. While I haven't been putting in long hours, the work has been steady.

Well, most things are in order again. We found all of my Dad's important stuff and my Mom now is living comfortably 20 min. from my home. Goodbye monthly trips to Las Vegas! I won't miss them. I'm wondering what is coming next. One thing I know is that if one ever thinks he or she has a handle on things, it won't last. Something always changes. It's how we adjust that makes all the difference.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke is one a a very select few whom I would call a "hero" of mine. He celebrated his 90'th birthday today (really yesterday to me since he lives on the other side of the planet in Sri Lanka).

Clarke is primarily known as a science fiction writer, but he has been much more than that. He is one of the few sci-fi writers who really knew his subject matter really well. His stories are loaded with authenticity. There is really nothing he ever speculated about in his writings that could ever be considered impossible or even improbable. While many or really most writers conveniently ignore gravity, the speed of light, and other inconveniences of the universe so they can put their Earthbound stories in space, Clarke respects the laws of the universe and his novels and short stories reflect this respect.

Clarke will always be remembered for other things.

  • One-Time Head of the British Interplanetary Society: In the 1930's, Clarke and others, would gather in pubs and talk about real spaceflight. No Buck Rogers, but real rockets and what it would take to get to outer space from scientific and engineering viewpoints. Many of their ideas became reality 30 years later.
  • Clarke's Belt - Geo synchronized satellites that allow global communications including the Internet. Clarke drew this up in 1945 - 12 years before Sputnik. Clarke is considered the "Father of Global Communications"
  • Clarke's Three Laws - Gems that are the basis for all good science fiction.
    1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
    2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
    3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  • Oscar Nomination for 2001: A Space Odyssey (With Stanley Kubrick)
  • Predicting the Internet in the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Calling the Space Shuttle Program "A Disaster waiting to happen" in mid-1985, half a year before the Challenger disaster. Clarke never was a fan of a space shuttle designed beautifully by NASA and destroyed by Congress.

There are Clarke speculations that have yet to come to pass, but I hope they will. These include the Space Elevator from his novel The Fountains of Paradise and energy derived from ordinary air.

Happy Birthday Dr. Clarke. I share in your hope for s space-faring human race.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Streeter and Dorrell

" Over several seasons, Dorrell has won about six out of 10 games. So did his predecessors. He's doing what football coaches do at UCLA.

I've long been skeptical about the heated, heavy anger directed at Karl Dorrell. I've wondered: Where does it come from? " - Kurt Streeter, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 30, 2007

There is a very good chance that today will feature Karl Dorrell's last game as UCLA's football coach. This man was probably hired because of his skin color and will most likely, be fired because he is a mediocre coach. Kurt Streeter, in the quote above, doesn't seem to realize that Dorrell's white predecessors who performed similarly, also were fired.

Go Trojans!