Herman I. May

Herman I. May


30 June 2005


Having some time to kill this afternoon, I was browsing the Airbag Industries Longboard when I came across a link to this R/C vehicle. It looks like a twin huleld hydrofoil, but it can become airborne seemingly at the drop of a hat. It truly is a sight to behold and prone to induce drooling in anyone with an attraction to cool "toys". I was immediately enthralled.

Disappointment was my next emotion. Though apparently spammed across the 'net by its creator (here is another link), the machine is largely vaporware at present. The web site of the creator states that the vehicle is currently not available, which begs the question as to why he felt the need to flood the R/C sites with promotion if he is unable to deliver. perhaps something will appear within the next few days.

In the meantime, I was intrigued to learn that this is a local product...relatively speaking. The fellow who devised this interesting vehicle lives a couple of counties over, in Weatherford. Perhaps a weekend trip is in order. ;-)

update, 20050701:It would seem my disappointment was premature. The web site began offering plans and finished products earlier today.

another update, 20050705:LOL! The obvious popularity of this design has apparently taken its toll on the web host. The site is down with an internal, server error indicating the account bandwidth allocation has been exceeded...and it is only the fifth day of the month!

28 June 2005


I am not totally lacking in an accurate assessment of character and prospective intent. As of the stroke of midnight transitioning into today, we have seen two more join the ranks of our virtual reunion at Yahoo!. Both were among the five not currently members prior to the physical reunion. With any luck the other three will not be far behind! :-)

27 June 2005


The Supreme Court ended its 2004-2005 judiciary cycle with a series of decisions today. Amongst the latter were two issues dealing with the display of "Ten Commandments" monuments in a governmental setting. In the first, the court ruled (5-4) that a contemporary Kentucky installation violated the Constitution's separation of church and state because it was thinly veiled endorsement of Judeo-Christian beliefs. In the second, the high court ruled (5-4) that an historical installation here in Texas was permissible given that it was donated more than fisty years ago by a civic organization and did not seek to suggest divine influence. The deciding voice in both cases was Justice Stephen Breyer cast the pivotal vote; voting for the Texas case and against the Kentucky.

Some have likened this pair of decisions to "dividing the baby" with respect to the appearance of straddling the fence on the issue. On the one hand, I see merit in that belief. However, for the most part I am not so sure that accurately represents the situation. In permitting the Texas display, the court cited the installment as treating the commandments as history. Going further and fully considering the origins, one has to also consider the commercial bent. The Fraternal Order of Eagles (the group who donated the contentious monument and around 4000 similar around the world) has its roots in the theater industry. In fact, these monuments around which the dispute is centered were actually put in place coincidental to the release of the Cecil B. DeMille epic of the same name. I think, if anything, it is reflective of the court's recgonition of the commercial nature of the latter.

Contrast the above with the Kentucky situation wherein religious conservatives sought to have monuments to the Ten Commandments placed at two courthouses to suggest the divine origins of our judicial code. After being found unconstitutional, the group then tried to abscure the intended meaning by augmenting the display with other, secular imagery in an effort to appease the masses and still promote their agenda. The court did not buy this attempt at subterfuge and ruled that the contemporary attempt to commemorate the biblical laws was illegal.

Most interesting will be to see how similar cases are resolved in light of these two decisions. Will all attempts at contemporary recognition fail or only those which do not encompass secular symbols from the outset? Only time will tell.

26 June 2005

Tomatoes Galore

We have been inundated with little red balls! The tomatoes are beginning to ripen at a pace with which is difficult to keep ahead. Elizabeth has been on me to do something with the growing mass developing on the kitched counter. So, Friday I put up two gallons worth of the buggers (four quarts in jars; four quarts in the freezer). We also took a dozen or so to Tyler to share with Margaret and Theodore. Still there are more beacons manifesting themselves in view of the kitchen window. Later this week I will be knocking another dent in them by making a batch of marinara sauce, but more are likely soon to follow.

Otherwise, things are pretty much status quo. Cucumbers, legumes, okra and peppers continue to trickle in at a much more manageable rate. The corn is approaching harvest and I may even be able to salvage some broccoli. All-in-all a continuation of a successful planting season.

25 June 2005


Today marked one of those periodic events in one's life. The decennial march through the past when old classmates reunite to catch up, share a memory or two and vow to make a concerted effort to remain in contact. I am, of course, referring to the High School Class Reunion. My family and I returned to Tyler for the day to participate in two (of three) events organized to celebrate the twenty-first anniversary of our graduation in May 1984. The experience was at once pleasurable and disappointing.

The pleasure came from seeing and visiting with people who, in some instances, I had not seen or heard from in two decades. It was good to catch up on where our lives have led us and where they may still take us in the future. Those who chose to participate looked good. In fact, it is amazing to see how, even with the passage of time, we really do not change that much over the course of time. Oh sure, the odd wrinkle here, maybe a pound there (though not it would seem with us!), But by and large everyone was easily recognizable and seemed to have aged only a day or two; certainly not the two decades which have actually passed us.

Disappointment came with the fact that turnout was relatively meager. The TKG Class of 1984 released forty-one souls into the world at large. Of that number one was dead within two years, leaving us with two score. Between all three scheduled events, only seventeen of us bothered to return. For some, it was likely an issue of distance. I know of one classmate who is living in Thailand, while another resides in Orlando (FL). Even so, one traveled from the San Diego area and another from Philadelphia. A large majority of those who chose to pass actually still live in and around Tyler. One has to wonder: Were their adolescent years that traumatic? Have they so little care in reuniting with those with whom they spend most of the second decade (or more) of their youth?

Most of the graduates of TKG enjoy a unigue relationship. Not only did we spend four of the most important and formative years of our lives together, we spent close to a dozen of those years together. This due to the fact that we not only attended Bishop Thomas K. Gorman High School together, but also junior high/middle (TKG) and elementary (Saint Gregory) school. At thirty-eight years of age, that represents up to nearly a third of our lives at this point. To only have about twelve percent feel the call of nostalgia is somewhat demoralizing.

I cannot say the low rate of participation came as a terribly great surprise. I experienced a prescient omen a little over a month ago when, in response to an otherwise innocent request for contact information from one of the event organizers, I received a rebuke for my efforts. Basically, I was told that the information I desired would not be shared because "some people...choose not to join [the class mailing list] and others do not wish their [contact information] to be given out...so no, I'm not going to give you that information. I will respect their wishes and others will just have to deal with it." A little harsh I felt, but now suspect was born of frustration more than anything else. Frustration that, after all of the work put into organizing and coordinating the event, only a relatively small portion were confirming an intent to attend.

Lamentations aside, I am not totally convinced these individuals will not have a change of heart at some point. The TKG_Class_of_1984 has been a relative success. To date, half of the class (twenty) have found their way back to the fold. The precise math involved is left to the visitor, but of that number only five in attendance at the reunion are not already members/subscribers. Assuming their interest is genuine and lasting, we can probably expect most of them to join the rest of us. Cyberspace is both an equalizer and a unifier; hope springs eternal.

24 June 2005

myView: "Shaun of the Dead"

Unfortunately, this film fell into that disappointing category where the trailer constituted the best parts of the film and the actual experience left much to be desired. All four of us had seen previews for Shaun of the Dead for several months...(I would be hard pressed to recall precisely when and where, though)...and were much impressed with the humor conveyed. However, upon actually seeing it, I was left dissatisfied.

For all intents and purposes, it is simply a retelling of Romero's Night of the Living Dead; transplanted to the UK; moved to the daytime; and injected with intentional humor. Such being the case, it offered "Dead" fans an opportunity to revel in a novel reinterpretation. The problem with the film is that the protagonist, Shaun, is so dysfunctional that the sub-plots involving his ineptitude detract from the primary theme and disrupt the fluidity of the story. A secondary character is his buffoonish childhood friend and roommate. This individual, Ed, is both crass and impetuous. His antics detract from the enjoyment mostly because every other word out of his mouth is filth and largely unnecessary.

I enjoyed watching it for the most part, but found myself rolling my eyes at the stupidity at every turn and will unlikely add it to my list of films to watch more than once.

22 June 2005

Katie Trail Not for Commuters

The Katy Trail is a 5.63km ribbon of concrete transecting the "uptown" region of the heart of Dallas and providing a means of transit between the SMU and West End areas. It was created from the sale of an unused segment of banked Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) rail by Union Pacific to the City of Dallas in the early 1990's. A facility which is included among the inventory of bikeways making up the so-called regional "Veloweb", but which, following a personal survey, falls well short of this proposed use.

As a recreational resource, the Katy Trail is more than adequate to the task. With its generous length and the fact it cuts across an area of the city rich in cultural and historical sites as well as several parks, it is well suited to provide for leisurely and environmentally conscious transportation conduit for those wishing to avoid parking hassles and burn a few calories. However, as a high speed commuting route for cyclists it leaves much to be desired. There are several lesser reasons for this, but major limitation is perhaps the most important: access.

(For the purpose of this review, the southern end of the trail is considered the head.)

There are very few grade level, paved access points anywhere along its length. The trail "e;begins" above grade on a low bluff overlooking the main, north parking lot at the American Airlines Center. A ramp of twenty to twenty-five percent grade leads up from street level to the trail head, but there are no at grade ramps from street to sidewalk; so, one must stop and lift (or dismount) to get onto the sidewalk. Just prior to the start of the trail proper, at the top of the rise, there is a staircase leading up from the terminus of the sidewalk below. These constitute access to the trail head.

Proceeding north and east one is almost immediately greeted by the first of what will be approximately five kilometers of parallel pedestrian spurs along the length of the trail. Their purpose is laudable — to separate pedestrian traffic from that of skaters and bikers —, but practice seems to suggest they are little used byhe bulk of their intended patrons. During three survey trips over the course of this past week, perambulators were the sole users of these sidepaths.

Another notable observation is that there no...zero...nil at grade, paved access points between the West End and Knox Street. Oh there are plenty of rabbit trails branching here and there along the length as well as a few paved ramps from neighboring businesses and, more commonly, apartments and townhouses. However, these appear to be for private use and most have locks or other impeding latching mechanisms which restrict fluid transition. In fact, with the exception of the head and current terminus (the intersection of the trail and Airline Drive) the only paved access points are at Knox and Harvard — where both are at grade with stop signs for the trail and right-of-way for the crossing motor traffic.

Proponents of the trail may consider my criticism of the lack of paved access points specious given that there are access points. Being a devoted bicycle commuter for well over a decade now, I feel I am more than qualified to offer analysis of what I feel is an impediment to at least a part of the intended use. My complaint regarding inadequate access if threefold: convenience, safety and fluidity.

As I mentioned above, with the exception of the head and terminus, any and all useful access to the trail is limited to unpaved transition zones. One expects to be required to slow down and yield right-of-way in one form or another where the trail meets the road. In fact, this is precisely what is needed at the Knox and Harvard crossings. However, it is highly inconvenient to practically need to dismount in order to make the shift from trail to street. The more egregious aspects of this requirement will be covered in the next complaint. Nevertheless, at even the most diminutive of these conversion zones, the soil is loosely packed and heavily rutted. Extreme slowing is required lest one end up catching and edge and risking a spill. Not enjoyable.

The tamer of these transition zones are the exception rather than the rule. Most are not only unpaved, but they are not at grade either. In fact, within some of the parks the rabbit trails immediately beccome drops of sixty to eighty percent grades! Yes, you read that correctly — sixty to eighty percent grades...and that is not hyperbole. Add to that the fact that the intersections insert at ninety degrees and one can appreciate the need to come to an almost complete stop, dismount, and slowly descend (or ascend as the case may be) in order to transition. From a safety standpoint this is a failure. If one does not transition to a pedestrian, then there is the risk of becoming a runaway missile, injuring both self and possibly others. On the other hand, to come to a complete stop risks being plowed from behind by a runner, skater or other cyclist. A little forethought would have been nice.

Not all bicycle commuters follow the much cited formula of living within a five to seven mile radius of their place of employment. Thus time is often a heavy consideration when choosing a route. For me, the trip distance at its shortest is just over twenty-eight kilometers on the short end and usually closer to thirty-two on the average day. I lack the time and inclination to waste precious minutes dismounting my steed and pushing it up or down a hill or across a field. That is a ridiculous waste of resources. For those who live just off the trail, such may be an acceptable inconvenience. I would argue those constitute the exception; not the rule.

To the credit of the trail's governing organization are hard at work raising capital for improvements. The latter of which includes not only extension, but improvement of the access points. However, until such time as those upgrades are put in place, I feel the proponents would be well advised to avoid promotion of the resource as anything other than a closed, shuttle corridor for bicycle commuters wishing to get from the SMU area to the West End in an expressway fashion.

20 June 2005

Jack St. Clair Kilby

The father of the integrated circuit (IC) is dead. This according to news flashes which are beginning to make their way to the air. Apparently Jack Kilby died earlier today of cancer. He was eighty-one years of age.

There is no way of knowing precisely if and how these words you are reading might have been affected had he not designed and invented the integrated circuit forty-seven years ago. Certainly, the technology or something like it would have come into being regardless of his ingenuity. Coming when it did in 1958, his work heralded the coming of the Information Age. Twenty years later would bring the first consumer level computer systems and lead us directly where we are today.

From communications to entertainment; from enterprise to personal computing; the world will be forever changed by his ingenuity.

As part of my ongoing effort to document for posterity the passing of notable individuals who have had a profound effect upon my life in one way or another, I humbly submit the following addendum to my original post. This obituary for Jack Kilby appeared in the 23 June edition of the Dallas Morning News.

Kilby, Jack St. Clair, Husband, father, engineer and inventor of the integrated circuit, passed away on June 20, 2005, after a brief battle with cancer at the age of 81. His invention at Texas Instruments of the first monolithic integrated circuit in 1958 laid the foundation for the modern world of microelectronics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 for this work. A pioneer in the electronics and semiconductor industries, Mr. Kilby held more than 60 patents for a variety of electronics inventions besides the integrated circuit. Among these were the handheld calculator and the thermal printer, both of which he co-invented. Mr. Kilby was born November 8, 1923, in Jefferson City, Missouri, and was reared in Great Bend, Kansas. He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1947. Upon graduation, he worked for Centralab in Milwaukee. He earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1950. In 1958, Mr. Kilby moved to Dallas to work for TI. As a new employee without vacation that first summer, Mr. Kilby had some relatively quiet time when the idea of the integrated circuit first came to him. His invention was tested September 12, 1958, and it transformed the electronics industry. From 1960 through 1970, Mr. Kilby held several engineering management positions at TI becoming director of engineering and technology for the Components Group before taking a leave of absence from TI to become an independent consultant. He officially retired from TI in 1983, but continued to do consulting work with TI and maintained a relationship with the company until his death. From 1978 to 1984, Mr. Kilby held the rank of Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. In 1990, he lent his name to The Kilby Awards Foundation, which commemorates "the power of one individual to make a significant impact on society." In addition to the Nobel Prize, Mr. Kilby received numerous honors and awards for his contributions to science, technology and the electronics industry. He is one of only 13 Americans to receive both the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology, the highest technical awards given by the country. In 1993, he was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology. He received the first international Charles Stark Draper Prize, the world's top engineering award, from the National Academy of Engineering in 1989. In recognition of his contributions to the modern world, Mr. Kilby was the recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Miami, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Mr. Kilby was a man of exceptional personal qualities, modest, soft spoken with a dry sense of humor. His generosity, optimism and thoughtfulness lit up the lives of the people who knew him. Mr. Kilby leaves his daughters Janet Kilby Cameron of Palisade, Colorado, and Ann Kilby of Austin, Texas; five granddaughters, Caitlan, Marcy and Gwen Cameron of Palisade, Colorado, and Erica and Katrina Venhuizen of Austin; and son-in-law Thomas Cameron. His wife, Barbara Annegers Kilby; sister, Jane Kilby; and parents Hubert Kilby and Vina Freitag Kilby; preceded him in death. A memorial service will be held Monday, June 27, at 10 a.m. at SMU's Caruth Auditorium in the Meadow School of the Arts, 6101 Bishop Boulevard. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Jack Kilby Fund in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois, or to the Great Bend Foundation (Jack Kilby Statue Fund) P.O. Drawer E, Great Bend, Kansas 67530. Dignity Memorial Sparkman Hillcrest 7405 W. Northwest Hwy. Dallas (214) 363-5401

source: Dallas Morning News, 20050623

19 June 2005

Squish Squash

The bounty of the squashes has come to an end. There is now no doubt that all four plants have spent their production capital and have shriveled to near nothingness. This fact does not define the end of pour enjoyment for the near future, as there are several fruits still residing in the refirgerator.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes are ramping up their production. Handfuls are ripening each day and will soon exceed our ability to consume them. Friends and family will be the beneficiaries of this bounty; as will the freezer.

The cucumbers, legumes, peppers and okra continue to generate modest output. Certainly nothing about which to rave, but plenty to keep our table stocked and supplant the need to visit the grocer for these staples. Likewise, the lettuce has kept up with demand, but no one bu me will eat the "prickly" variety. So, some of it has ended up in the compost bin. :-(.

One dissappointment has been the carrots. I tred a different variety this year and was disappointed to see that they did not crown as indicated to represent harvestability. As a result, they stayed in the ground too long and have become somewhat woody. They are almost useless for raw consumption, but attempts will be made to use them in soups and other cooked applications. A new crop is going in the ground soon and occasional sampling will replace visual inspection as the criteria for harvest.

17 June 2005

myView: "Donnie Darko"

This one slipped under the radar of most for a host of reason; most of them lame. Nevertheless, I have heard nothing but good things about Donnie Darko and I finally had the opportunity to find out why. Believe me, it is well worth the effort to see. This film has a little bit of everything and puts at least one poser film with a similar plot device to shame.

The main protagonist is Donnie; a teenager who suffers from the usual angst, but has the added burden of being plagued with visions of apocalypse as foretold by a menacing lepine. Though primarily a character study of Dinnie, the film is perfused with a number of sub-plots which, when combined, result in a rich and thought provoking psycho-thriller. The most compelling of the threads is that of the "butterfly effect", though in this instance without the narcissism and folly of the film bearing that name. There are excellent and entertaining cameos by Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze which only add to the richness.

This film is not for those who are looking for mindless entertainment. Come prepared to think and ponder the nature of existence and sacrifce.

15 June 2005

Let it ride...please!

There are times when certain individuals are best advised to keep their mouths shut. Especially when attempting to address topics on which they have little expertise. Such is the case with Dallas Morning News sports writer, Kevin Blackistone.

This columnist has shown his ignorance on at least one other occasion recently. Back in October 2004, he pontificated upon the practice of selling horse meat to out-of-country packing houses for sale over sees. Now, he has chimed in on the subject of vehicular cycling. Of course, he does not refer to it as that due to suffering from an inferiority complex when it comes to all recognized vehicles sharing the road. However, he does rail on the subject in a manner that laments a the perception of a hostile climate for practice in the North Central Texas region.

Blackistone's comments were prompted in response to yesterday's rather lenient decision in a local assault trial. The gist can be summed thusly: Approximately one year ago last month, a law student (SMU) was riding his bike with a friend around White Rock Lake. A law professor (also SMU) became impatient at having to wait for a passing opportunity and basically ran the student down to clear the way for herself. She was convicted last week of felony assault and the jury decided upon her punishment yesterday after a one hour period of deliberation.

By and large, the columnists rant contains useful and semi-accurate information. The exception lies in what can be read between the lines and in one otherwise innocuous comment: "the government...allotted less than 1 percent of a $300 billion transportation bill to bicycle paths." with this statement, Blackistone shows his true colors. He seems to suggest cyclists would have their transportation needs better served if the government would construct more dedicated bicycle facilities. This position is flawed on many levels, greatest of which is the belief that cycling on the roadways in a competent, legal manner is any more dangerous that any other transportation choice.

As early as his second paragraph, he introduces the flaws in his argument by commenting that he "tired of packing it into the car and driving to Joe Pool Lake, or some other distant locale, for a breezy spin." This is a flaw in logic professed by many recreational cyclists. They perceive a need to drive somewhere to ride their bike; presumably in some sort of protected environment. This premise simply defies all logic. If one desires to benefit from exercise by riding a bicycle, then get it out and ride it. Ride it on the roads; ride it to the store; ride it to run errands...just ride it. If you suffer from "cyclist inferiority complex", seek training, psychoanalysis or other means of support. Please DO NOTproject your irrational fear of injury upon those of us who choose to see and make use of the bicycle as a legitimate, alternative form of transportation. A bicycle is not a toy and a bicycle is not a piece of sports equipment. It is a vehicle and in the State of Texas it is recognized as such and its operator is conveyed the same rights and responsibilities as any other vehicle operator.

13 June 2005

Amazing duct tape

It has been one those days. Thankfully, duct tape came through to assist with the temporary repair of one issue and has bought me a few days until a replacement part arrives.

Late this afternoon, I received an IM from Rebecca indicating that the temperature in the house had reached eighty-six degrees. I enlisted her help in troubleshooting the cause remotely. Diagnostics suggested what I would later prove; some component of the HVAC had failed. So, I left work a bit early to head home to make an attempt to resolve the issue. Taking the most direct route still meant that it would require a little over an hour to make it to my destination.

As I pulled into the driveway, I found that I had lost reverse. The cause was immediately known as I have been having issues with a portion of the shifter linkage for over six months. Nevertheless, I did not have time to deal with a permanent fix in light of the air conditioner issue.

After three hours of inconclusive diagnostics, I reluctantly decided to wait until tomorrow to continue corrective measures. Nothing was open at that hour anyway. However, with only two box fans to circulate air, a trip to Wal-Mart was required for additional breeze makers.

I made a preliminary attempt to repair the clutch linkage by a method used previously. It quickly failed as a piece of the encapsulating fitting appeared to have broken free and been lost. Luckily, I anticipated something like that might happen and had brought along a roll of duct tape. Limping into the Tom Thumb parking lot, I cut six to eight 15cm lengths, split them lengthwise, and proceeded to wrap the ball capture fitting.

It appears to have worked! I made it the rest of the way to Wal-Mart, across to Target (only to find they had closed fifteen minutes earlier), back to Wal-Mart and then home. The shifter and linkage functioning all the while without incident. The test will be if it can sustain this rate of success until Thursday, when a replacement part will arrive aat the VW House.

12 June 2005

Coming and going

A little over ten weeks seems to be the duration of viability for squash plants. Whether this is reflective of my gardening or programmed senescence I am presently unsure. Nevertheless, the zucchini has all but shriveled and ceased fruit production and the yellow squash is following close behind. A few developing gourds remain on each pair of plants, but they do not appear to have much of a chance of developing to a state of harvest.

Contrast that with the tomatoes, which continue to grow and set copious numbers of fruit. There are at least two dozen heavily blushed berries on the vines, which will no doubt be ready for harvest in the next couple of days. These will be the first picks of the season and are anticipated with great relish.

The remainder of the garden continues to progress status quo. Okra, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers and beans in modest quantity, are picked every few days. The second round of radishes will be ready for consumption in the next week or so. I am not sure of the carrots. The greens are quite massive, but the roots have yet to begin to crown from the soil. I may pick one or two as sacrifice to gauge the potential harvest time frame. References give no specific elapse of time, instead suggesting excavation when finger-sized.

The cruciforms continue to confound. There is ample growth of leaves with little to no sign of edible vegetable parts. However, the latter have begun to show signs of their eruption from the center and, hopefully, will continue on their way to productive harvest.

11 June 2005

myView: "Garden State"

Unlike Firefly, I had heard of Garden State and those comments were largely positive. Elizabeth and I watched this film earlier this evening and found it quite enjoyable. Some reviews I have seen suggest that it starts off slowly. I disagree as the pace is reflective of the drug induced stupor in which the main protagonist largely exists for two decades of his life. A life altering event prompts him to abandon his medication for a two week period during which he sees the world in a different light and with a newfound appreciation.

Highly recommended!

10 June 2005


In visiting the website of a friend several weeks back, I was enlightened to a now defunct Fox serial. The name seemed vaguely familiar, but any meaningful appreciation was lacking. So, based upon Ron's open recommendation, I borrowed a set of the disks and proceeded to become enamored.

This short-lived series is among the most engaging and enjoyable broadcast creations I have seen in many a year. Television shows come and go, but for the most part their departure is viewed with only passing concern. Not so with Firefly. Apparently, its cancellation after only 2.5 months led to rabid dissent amongst its fans. Petitions were drafter, eMail and letter campaigns ensued, etc. All of that is simply introductory. The show itself is excellent. In fact, some say as a direct result of the cancellation protests, a move based upon the series, Serenity, is slated for release this fall.

The show itself is an odd mix of elements. Set five hundred years in the future, it takes place after a great war between "The Alliance" and an army of insurrectionists. Another salient plot point is that the Earth appears to have been rendered uninhabitable — whether as the result of war or irresponsible stewardship is never made clear. As a result, a neighboring system of some sort has been terre-formed into a disjointed confederacy of increasingly primitive civilizations the further one gets from the "core".

What makes the series so appealing is its unique plot mechanics and witty dialogue. It is unlike anything that is currently available, or likely will be anytime soon given the climate of today's television lineup. No amount of praise can really do the show justice; it must be experienced to be appreciated.

Finding a way to realize that appreciaition proved difficult locally. None of the video rental stores carried it among their brick-n-mortar stock and I was unwilling to purchase a set of disks on word-of-mouth alone. So, Elizabeth and I joined , but that is fodder for another story. :-)

My revelation does not seem to be unique either. During a recent trip to Amazon, I noted a Firefly review by Talene. She seems to have discovered this phenomenon at approximately the same time as me. In fact, the realization there are over 1300 reviews of this series at Amazon with a perfect five-star average is testament to its popularity!

07 June 2005


Much hand wringing is being manifest in the wake of Steve Jobs' announcement at the Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday that Apple would be shifting its processor architecture to Intel CPUs. Already the fretting has begun. Talking heads are presaging the further plummet of Apple market share. (Can they get much below two percent and remain viable?) They attempt to site the shift from from OS 6.x to 7.x; the migration from the 68k processor to the PowerPC chip; and moving from the "Clasic" OS to POSIX compliant Darwin. The commonly bandied statistics related to these moves are a decline from ten percent of maret share to seven percent to five percent and, finally, the current two percent. The reality is that these declines were somewhat inevitable — regardless of the paradigm shifts involved at each step of the way.

The truth is that this move by Apple is likely to improve market share and the overall, longterm viability of the brand and name. My reasoning is simple: by moving to a chip which is more pervasive in the marketplace will open the platform to greater versatility. Unless Apple totally screws themselves (like they did by killing the clones), an Intel-based processing architecture will broaden the number of consumers who will be willing to purchase Apple hardware; whether or not they choose to use the MacOS.

Apple has already indicated it intends to maintain its primary mission as a hardware vendor by suggesting it will ensure the MacOS only runs on Apple manufactured, Intel-based hardware. They have said nothing of the intent to disable support for current Intel-based operating systems (e.g. Windows and Linux most prominently) on Apple hardware. If they are smart they will remain mute on the subject and will quietly, though perhaps unofficially, permit this functionality. Doing so will broaden the appeal of Apple hardware to include those who are required to make use of machinery currently referred to as "Wintel". Apple is known for the reliability and innovation of its hardware and this move is the perfect opportunity to bring that vicissitude to a wider audience.

Nevertheless, there are already grumblings amongst the so-called Macintosh diehards that Apple has sold-out to the "dark side". These contrarians have purposely or through ignorance misconstrued the denizens of the "dark side". It is not the hardware manufacturers or the chip makers; it is the operating system vendors. Micro$oft is the bane of aficionados of the MacOS; not Intel. The latetr simply manufactures the processor upon which the former has built its operating system.

I do have concerns about this announcement, however. Much ado was made when Apple migrated from the CISC architecture of the Motorola 68k chip to the RISC-based IBM PowerPC. The efficientcy and horsepower of the RISC system pretty much blew any comparable CISC-based system out of the water. By moving to the Intel chips, Apple is essentially taking a step backwards into the world of CISC computing. One wonders if Apple will be able to legitimately sustain their brag about "supercomputing" classification. That, of course, assumes Apple moves to a Pentium class chip. They have not indicated which chip they will be using; only that it will be Intel in origin. Intel also manufactures a few RISC chips. Perhaps that will be the basis of the Intel-based Apple hardware. At present, I do not think anyone knows.

Nevertheless, Apple's move can only mean one thing IMO: increased popularity and with it improved market share.


As predicted, both the okra and the cucumbers have begun production. In fact, a couple of the latter, which were hidden during a previous survey, had grown to harvestable size prior to our departure to Mississippi. We took them and a healthy number of squash on our trip for Jen and Christopher. Another two were ready for cutting upon our return and a half dozen okra pods were plucked as well.

The weather station showed around a quarter inch of rainfall and mostly overcast skies during our absence, which seems to have stimulated quite a bit of growth in the lettuce. Much has been trimmed and added to the compost bin as there is far more than we can consume immediately.

Otherwise, many more fruits have matured on the squash vines and the first tinges of blush are showing on more than a few of the bountiful tomato plants. More flowers have set on the legumes and the cruciforms have indeed begun to show the first signs of harvestable vegetation.

Sadly, the spinach is not doing as well as it has been. This is the first year for this crop and I assumed it would be like the lettuce — as long as it was manicured, it would produce edible leaves. However, the leaves are becoming more spindly and the plants appear to be readying to bolt reproductive organs. I am going to try to pinch these back and will do a little more research in order to determine if a second crop is feasible and warranted.

Thanks to rain and better pre-planning, our absence seems to have left the garden none the worse for the experience. Last year's planting suffered greatly due to thirst and disease during our seven day trip to New Mexico.


continue to the May 2005 archive

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last BBEdited: 2005.10.06