April 27, 2007

Hat O' Shame

The Cards are playing the Cubs this weekend. Should be good times as always. I just hope we can slaughter them :-) Maybe having them in StL will turn around our recent misfortunes playing at home. And yes... I do refer to the Cardinals as we or us. I am fully aware that I am not on the team. Deal with it.

P.S. You're going to have to click on it to be able to read it fully.

April 25, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

Some of you may have already caught wind of this story - others perhaps not. But as I've finally finished reading the entire article (it's admittedly kind of long), I felt I had to share it with you all. A few weeks ago the Washington Post ran an article about an experiment they conducted in which one of the world's most renowned classical musicians (Joshua Bell) performed in disguise at a Metro station in Washington, D.C.

The idea was to see how many people - despite being busy and on their way to work - would recognize the high quality of the music they were hearing. Would they be willing to take a few moments from their day to appreciate truly beautiful art? Or would they walk by oblivious to what they were missing?

I'm sad to say, the latter scenario is what unfolded. Over the course of 45 minutes, more than 1000 people passed by indifferent - perhaps even intentionally ignoring. Only a handful of people so much as looked his way - let alone stopped and listened. The article is truly fascinating, if sad. I'd like to think I would have been the kind of person who would stop. But then again I'm also not the kind of person who would ever live in D.C.

April 24, 2007

Don't worry, be... content?

Last week was a terribly quotable week for me. For example, the department seminar speaker regaled a story about talking with some governmental types about the future of aerospace design. He sat there listening as they belabored the idea of attempting to replicate designs seen in nature. Finally, he stood up and said, "The thing is, I've never seen - in nature - a bird with a 20 foot wing-span flying at Mach 1.2!"

But the best quotes of all - of which there are too many to count - came from the mouth of Bobby McFerrin. I was fortunate to sit in on a masterclass he gave to singers on campus this past week. It was absolutely unreal. I've never heard anyone do the things he can do with his voice. My jaw was on the floor the entire time. I had hoped to share some footage from his visit - but the person who promised to email me the video has yet to do so.

Aside from his sheer talent, his approach to performing really struck a chord with me. Bobby is about as un-pretentious as they come. He sees no distinction between the stage and life. No line. No difference between who he is off stage and who he is on. Rather, he's just there fulfilling his purpose. He spoke at length on the subject and I know I am probably mangling it, but the one quote of his I did write down was this:

"When I perform, my audience is One, and that's God."
- Bobby McFerrin

April 18, 2007

A moment of Blog silence

I intended to post earlier this week. But somehow I haven't been able to find the words.

Should I post about how UVA has reacted to the tragedy at Tech? After all, Tech is just a couple hours down the road. Many of us - myself included - have friends who go there. It's impossible to not feel the immense impact this has had at UVA - even on the grad student population. It's incredible to think how easily it could have happened here instead of there.

Should I post an engineering-oriented comedic rant about the inefficiency of straws and dedicate it to the victims? Perhaps they would have found it funny.

Should I post about how once again I am faced with the question of why the second amendment is so damned important to people in modern America? I can see how the right to own a firearm was necessary back in the days of the founding fathers. It's probably much easier to shoot your dinner with a rifle than with a bow and arrow (or worse yet, catch it with some clever rope-snare). But what on earth do we need them for now? Oh right, fun - and protection I guess. The Expert has said he wants to own one in case he is ever robbed. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I've been on this earth for 25 years and yet to have my home broken into. Personally, I'd feel much safer if the police were the only ones with the guns. I'll defend my home with a baseball bat and an imitation Albert Pujols swing.

In the end, nothing I can say will be appropriate. Nothing a fitting enough tribute to honor these lives. I hope each of you has taken the time to read the short bios of the victims. I've found I can only read a few at a time. And finally, since all I have been able to write is that I'm not sure what to write, I'll quote the only source I know that can offer peace amidst such agony.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 42:5

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalms 34:18

April 13, 2007

Up Off Ya Feet

The long wait has ended. For your viewing pleasure, the world premier of the new Boomshaka concept piece: Up Off Ya Feet.

And for those of you who would like to see more of what I got to do that eventful week in Houston, here's a video I spent way too much time editing this past week.

April 11, 2007

Baseball Picks 2007

Alright boyos, you asked for it - now ye shall receive it. In honor of the Cardinals' fourth straight win, I've decided to go ahead and post my picks for the season. I've sat by too long as Bourbon and McJew have touted their picks. Brownsox has made his opinions known even if he hasn't posted official picks. And Dubs seems to be too busy ranting about musicals and his own complicated (albeit hilarious) version of Christianity known as Catholicism to take time to stand up for the men who wear the birds on the bat. But no more. I am here to champion the cause of the defending World Series Champions - since the rest of the world will find any plausible excuse to write them off. My only disclaimer: I no longer play fantasy baseball as I've realized the time I spent doing so in the past was greater than or equal to the time spent on my own research. And research is the thing that will allow me escape this pitiable existence known as graduate school. That being said, I am much less aware of what is going on in other divisions than I used to be. So to some extent, all picks not regarding the NL Central are a crap shoot.

AL East
  1. Red Sox
  2. Blue Jays
  3. Yankees
  4. Orioles
  5. Devil Rays
I have to make surprise predictions somewhere right? So I'm saying the Big Hurt has a big year and somehow the evil empire gets brought down. Basically I just wanted to hate on the Yankees so I picked them 3rd - even if it's not likely.

AL Central
  1. Tigers
  2. Indians
  3. Twins
  4. White Sox
  5. Royals
I really wanted to put the Indians on top but I just couldn't do it. Maybe next year.

AL West
  1. Angels
  2. Athletics
  3. Mariners
  4. Rangers
Most of you know I love hating on the Cubs above all other teams. Want proof? I put the Rangers last solely because they've got Sammy playing for them now. Wait - are we supposed to predict what will happen? or what we want to happen? Ah, screw it.

NL East
  1. Mets
  2. Phillies
  3. Braves
  4. Marlins
  5. Nationals
You have to hand it to them, the Mets are a pretty solid team. Witness the beating the Cards took to open the season. (I think they'd still trade that series for a trip to last year's Fall Classic though...suck it Beltran!) And I know the Phillies have started off rough, but I think they'll turn it around.

NL Central
  1. Cardinals
  2. Brewers
  3. Reds
  4. Cubs
  5. Astros
  6. Pirates
Ok, so I agree with everyone that this division will be close once again this year. Neglecting the Pirates (a fair assumption) I'm betting around 8 games between 1-5. It's gonna be a wild one. But come on - the Brew Crew, while lovable, is not ready to take down the Cards. And I reject the theory that the division will be close because every team is mediocre. Sure these teams have holes, every team in baseball does. It drives me nuts that the NL Central gets so little respect. Never mind the fact that the 2 central divisions have supplied 5 of the last 6 WS teams. I think it boils down to three simple, perhaps controversial words: East Coast Bias. That's right, I said it. I'm a firm believer. The freakin media loves to play to the coasts. But if something exciting is going on in the Midwest they're like, let the AM radio stations cover it. I'm going to stop myself now in the interest of time.

NL West
  1. Padres
  2. Dodgers
  3. Rockies
  4. Giants
  5. Diamondbacks
Does anyone else wish Barry would just hit 20 home runs over the next 6 games so that the record - hallowed though it be - is *broken* already and we can proceed to ignore Bonds for the rest of our lives?

April 05, 2007

Picture Time

This week I have had problems getting out of bed and out of the house on time. Each day a new distraction has presented itself to keep me from getting to work at a decent hour. Could it be because my advisor is out of town? Possibly. The point being - today I finally got a peek at the pictures from the Zero G flights a couple weeks ago. I couldn't wait to download them to my computer and post a few for you all. (NU boys - you'll have to tarry for my MLB picks. But rest assured, I plan to stick up for my boys despite their manhandling by the Mets.) Click on the pictures to see larger versions.

Charlie and I working on the experimental rig during our first flight.

Arthur, Charlie, and I watching as Charlie fires the laser.

Riding that great Space Pony in the sky.... or something like that.

Taking a break to float a little during runs of the experiment. Check out the dame on the right. Who the heck is she? I have no clue.

This may prove to be one of my favorite pictures. I love the fact that I'm completely sideways in the shot.

Arthur filming the cameraman is apparently driving me up a wall.

Chuck is working hard as Arthur and I goof off.

By our fourth day of flying, zero g was a very zen experience.

April 02, 2007

Why do these girls look so good in the summer?

I've long held the belief that human beings are at their attractiveness prime during the college age years. It seems like the majority of us have developed to adult form by this time and yet - depending on how badly the freshman-15 hits us - we are generally in better shape now than we will be as we age. Incidentally, at UVA they call freshman "first years" so does that translate to the first-year-15? Anyway, you might say we're at our physical peak. Or at least approaching it. After all, it's fairly well documented that a baseball player reaches his prime around his mid to late twenties (I can't wait to see what Pujols is going to do these next few years). Still, I can't help but wonder if this is all perspective. When I was in grade school I had a crush on many a young lass. But looking at girls of that age now, they clearly appear as children to me - and thus not attractive physically. At each age, I've always been attracted to the people in my age range. But I must admit, there are not too many 40 or 50 year olds that I have the hots for. Will this change? In another decade will I look at the 20 something crowd and think of them as children? even though they're technically adults? I suppose one way to find out would be to go around asking a bunch of older women if they find me attractive. One would think a young strapping lad like myself would have his share of admirers. But perhaps not. Perhaps they'll say to me - young man you have no grey in your beard!