Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Einstein doesn't Know Beans

Some lucky auction winner is about to own a letter penned by Albert Einstein in 1954 that sheds light on his ambivalent views about religion:

This is a good time to share one of my favorite Einstein storied, as told by Henry Eyring, who one every major prize in chemistry except the Nobel prize (because they aren't awarded posthumously) .

"...a man from the Navy and I spent the morning with Einstein talking about high explosives [that's a conversation I would have LOVED to hear, but that's not the story...]. I think he was more interested in relativity than high explosives, but he was not a bad chemist. He didn't talk sense all the time because he had been studying astronomy and physics...

"At noon we walked out into what had been a rose garden, but in wartime had been replanted as a victory garden. Now, I'm a farmer from Pima, so I guessed what the crop was, but I didn't know whether Einstein knew or not. So I picked up a plant and asked him what it was. He didn't know. I asked [the gardener] what it was. He said, "They're soybeans."

"Well, I though what you would have thought: "Einstein doesn't know beans." (Reflections of a Scientist, Henry Eyring, 1983, Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City).

To be fair, Eyring concludes, "But he knew everything else. He was just weak on beans," and, I might add, Faith too.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Inside Delta Force

Finally found time to finish "Inside Delta Force" by one of the original Delta Force operators, Eric Haney. After getting a vivid idea of what the U.S. was up against in the 70s and 80s, I can only imagine what our brave men and women in the armed forces are facing today.

It's not just the Delta Force either. A lot of young men and women are facing danger every day so we can worry about gas prices and the weather instead of shrapnel and stray bullets.

One Oregon couple got a first-hand taste of what it's like from the frontlines of Afghanistan when their son, an MP, inadvertantly called them on his cellphone in the middle of a firefight.

They weren't home, but their voicemail captured this two-minute message:

Before you get too excited, he's okay. But those weren't "sound effects" either. Remember our troops. And their families.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The New Status Symbol...

Apparently, having kids is the new way to show off. In spite of the financial odds against her, Pamela Paul at the Washington Post has defiantly declared that she and her husband are going to upgrade their family from REGULAR to DELUXE by having a 3rd child.

Does that make a family of six "super-sized"? How about my family growing up: "Jumbo?"

At any rate, click HERE for an interesting take on the 21st century upper-middle-class family in America. Really interesting perspective from outside my social bubble. Love her thoughts on the "you're not a good parent unless you buy lots of stuff and put your kids in every activity on the planet" culture that makes having a family look like a bad investment.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Adventure is Stalking You

"And it was natural that [she] should imagine that her life would always be the same as it always had been -- indeed, she felt that she could ask for nothing better than for all her days to be alike till she came to the end of them.

"But at the very moment she was thinking these thoughts, adventure ... was stalking her."

-- P. L. Travers

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Emotional Intelligence

I'm intrigued by the concept of "emotional intelligence", which is kind of a measure of your ability to get along with other people. I found a pretty interesting test here. It's even "scientifically validated", whatever that means (this assumes that social studies are actually "scientific") The trick here is that you have to answer the questions honestly, and that's kind of hard to answer questions about yourself objectively.

Anyway, I scored right in the middle, which I guess means I'm not the most sensitive guy, but I'm also not a total robot either. But then, who needs a 106 question test to tell you that about yourself?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why I had to learn chemistry...

I've been using a computer since I was 5. So, naturally, I think I'm a pretty good typer. But I think maybe I could use either a little more practice or a little less confidence here:

53 words


1000 bonus points to someone who actually types slower.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I'm going crazy! Wanna come?

I'm a sucker for puzzles. This game was used as an interview question for IT personnel in Japan. You have to get everyone across the River. Here are the rules:

1. Only 2 people can be on the boat at a time
2. Father can't be with the Daughters without the Mother
3. Mother can't be with the Sons without the Father
4. The Thief (in stripes) can't be with any of the Family without the Policeman
5. Only the Policeman, the Father, or the Mother can drive the boat

Online Games

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Question of the Week

Which would you prefer: 1) a wild, turbulent life filled with joy, sorrow, passion, and adventure -- intoxicating successes and stunning setbacks; or 2) a happy, secure, predictable life surrounded by friends and family without such wide swings of fortune and mood?

(From the very thought-provoking "Book of Questions" by Gregory Stock).

What about option 1) surrounded by family and friends? Would you still choose secure and predictable?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm IT!

Well, things got a little hectic with our recent move from Richland, WA to Evanston, IL. In one bitter twist of coincidence, WYDOT closed I-80, and we were stranded in Evanston WYOMING! for a day (24 hours longer than we wanted to be there). But we finally made it to the little city north of the BIG CITY, and the crazy madness of getting settled in a new place is winding down, so it's about time for a post.

There are a billion things to put up, but before I get to anything else (sometime in the next week or so), I should take care of some URGENT blogging business. I was just tagged by somebody special (thanks Ronni!), so you get to learn a few interesting things about me.

First, though, here are the RULES:

A. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning.
B. Each player lists 6 facts/habits about themselves.
C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog....

6 interesting facts about me:

1. I'm an overeducated chemist with a PhD from Penn State. I wrote my thesis on "CatalyticallyInducedElectrokineticsForMotorsAndMicropumps" (hopefully the space-less title will keep the wrong people from googling my webpage...). After a one year stint at PacificNorthwestNationalLab, I'm now working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University (more on that later...).

2. I have a thing about telephones. An addiction maybe? I can't explain it, but I think that it is one of the most interesting and poorly appreciated technologies. But my interest extends to technology and gadgets in general.

3. I was once assistant manager at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. I quit my job there for a job at "the Mall" selling clothes. I hated selling clothes more than selling chicken.

4. I bike to work everyday. Okay, most everyday. (I'm kind of a sissy about riding in the rain). One day I just realized that the only exercise I got was walking up and down the stairs at work, so I made it a point to bike as often as I can. Usually that's just to work and back, but I try to hit the trails a couple of times a month. Note to self: find off road "trails" in the big city.

5. I love to read. Usually non-fiction (I'm a news junkie!), but I'll get into a novel once in a blue moon. I have a collection of textbooks for reference in our "library", you know, in case I ever have a question about that one guy you sailed to that one place in 15-something...

6. Okay, I'm not proud of this one, but I have a hard time going number 2 without bringing a little reading material. I mean sometimes you gotta sit and wait, and I get bored without something to read. And I don't think I'm the only one!

I'm going to tag: