space-time thoughts

I just read a fascinating article that describes astronomers observing the light echoes of a supernova that appeared in our night sky over 400 years ago. For a few days, the light from the supernova was so bright that it could even be seen in the blue daytime sky.

Recently, a group of astronomers witnessed reflections of this light bouncing off a dust cloud many light years to the side and rear of the site of the original supernova. As the light from that original event which was observed on Earth 436 years ago continues to travel in space-time, it will eventually reflect off of further-off clouds, and future generations will still bear witness to the after-effects of that supernova which Tycho Brahe witnessed and wrote about in the fall of 1572.

Read the article.

A letter from my past

Tonight, I went over to Mom's for Christmas. One of the things she gave me was an envelope that contained some things I had made for my grandmother when I was a kid, that she'd kept and they found after she passed away last Christmas.

One of those items was a Collapse )

Rails, meet Merb

Today, I read a blog entry which, at first, I thought was a cruel joke. David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of the wildly-popular Ruby on Rails web application development framework, announced that the widely-perceived-as-competetitor framework Merb codebase would be merged into Rails' codebase for Rail's next major release, version 3.0.

Only half believing this announcement, and being a savvy internet user, I did my research to see who else was talking about this huge development. The first evidence I stumbled upon was on the blog of Yehuda Katz, Merb project founder and lead developer. As the day progressed, I found more and more posts by core developers on both projects acknowledging the announcement.

For several reasons, the least of which is the pending new features coming in Rails 3.0, I'm very excited about this news. What makes me most excited about this development is the human factor. Two teams of developers, often perceived as competitors in their philosophy, product quality and mindshare, realized that competition in this case was less than ideal. By taking the best ideas from both projects, and merging them into one, the entire Ruby web-development community will benefit. Instead of continuing to take jabs at one another on their blogs and twitter and in conversation at Ruby conferences, they've agreed to pool their talent and create something great. They've recognized that their "enemies" should be their friends.

I've been developing on top of the Ruby on Rails framework since January of 2005, after watching the original 'Creating a weblog in 15 minutes with Ruby on Rails' screencast. I think it's great. I'm looking forward to it being made greater.

Super-Simple Broccoli Soup

Yesterday at Dad's house in Oklahoma City, I was watching an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America. Gordon had asked the chef of the failing restaurant to make a soup using as many or as few as ingredients as he wanted. The chef made a broccoli soup with fourteen ingredients including expensive oil and cream. Gordon then showed him how to make a much simpler and way less expensive broccoli soup.

Tonight, I decided to try Ramsay's simple broccoli soup for myself. I cut the florets off of a head of broccoli and boiled them in just enough salted water to cover them for about five minutes. Next, I put the broccoli and maybe about a cup of the cooking water into the blender and ran it on high until the puree was silky smooth. Finally, I poured it into a bowl and nommed. It was delicious.

Folks, I highly recommend giving this one a try. It's almost as easy as boiling water, and the results are simple, delicious, and nourishing.
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Motorcycle class is fun. You should do it.

This weekend I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Course from local provider Moto Fun. My coworker, Denise, attended the course with me.

The MSF course is really quite fun, in my opinion. Our teachers from Moto Fun, Jude and Chuck, were great guys and great teachers. Jude was especially warm and humorous, as well as quick to compliment where appropriate. In seven hours of classroom time and ten hours on the driving range, we learned about the various motorcycle controls, how to get the bike going from a standstill, how to corner, stop, swerve safely, and so on.

Some of the exercises were substantially more difficult than others. The one I think most of us felt to be the most challenging was doing U-turns in a confined area. My first run though that exercise was nearly perfect, but as I watched everyone else botch it in varying degrees from not too bad to what-the-hell-that-sucked, I must have subconsciously convinced myself it was harder than it actually was. I was never able to pull it off perfectly after that first time through.

Overall, I felt that I did really well relative to the other students in my class, though i did make the occasional mistake. During my evaluation, I ran slightly outside the line in the U-turn exercise, and in the quick-stop evaluation, I forgot to downshift as I stopped. That last bit cost me 5 points off, so it was a really dumb mistake. 21 points off is the threshold for failure of the class. Everyone in my class passed the course with points to spare, and the mood at the end was one of excitement and relief.

I highly recommend this course. It is fun and informative. Even if you don't plan to own a motorcycle anytime soon, you will have fun, and you will gain a new respect for those bikers you see every day on the streets and highways. And you'll probably be inspired to join them.

Also, my house is for sale

Today, which turned out to be an historic day in America, with the election of the first African-American President, Barack Obama, is less significantly the day that my house got listed for sale. Today, I can quit crossing my fingers for Mr. Obama, and keep them crossed for change. Change of residence, in my case. In case you're interested, the MLS# is 6259301, though as of the time of this writing, it doesn't seem to have propagated to any of the real estate sites that I frequent.