Herman I. May

Herman I. May


26 January 2006


In yet another example of innovation at NASA, during the upcoming spacewalk (currently planned for 03 February) ISS astronauts are scheduled to release a unique satellite into temporary Earth orbit. An obsolete Russian Orlan spacesuit will be specially fitted with radio equipment broadcasting on an amateur radio frequency and set adrift during the excursion. A feature at the NASA site contains additional information on the project as well as links to tracking utilities to determine when the SuitSat will be within range.

Several features of the experiment are targeting K-12 educators. Embedded within the periodic broadcast beacon are encoded messages which students can decipher. They can then visit a special website, enter their solutions and track the success of the entire endeavor.

21 January 2006

researchNews: Danny Joe Burnett — 1941-2005

During the course of a recent eMail exchange with my cousin, I was informed of the death of her cousin (1C1R) back in August. Thanks to the generosity and assistance of Margaret, I was able to obtain a copy of the published obituary for my records as well as those of Andrea. It is reproduced below for the benefit of any other interested parties.

from Tyler Morning Telegraph
08 August 2005, p.02B

Danny Joe Burnett
ATHENS — Services for Danny Joe Burnett, 64, Athens, are scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home, Athens, with Rev. Perry Eaton officiating.
Private burial will be in Oaklawn Memorial Park.
Mr. Burnett died Aug. 7, 2005, in Athens.
He was born July 22, 1941, in Athens to Willie Joe and Meadow Merlee Willis Burnett. He had lived in Athens most of his life, was a 30-year employee of Curtis Mathes Manufacturing Co., and five years with Dynamic Rubber, retiring in 2002. He was a member of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Freida Burnett; daughter, Lisa Burnett; and brother, Dewayne Burnett.
Survivors include his son, Brad Burnett, Athens; nieces and nephews.
Honorary pallbearers will be Bob and Quita Warren, Mike and Paula Warren, Betty and Berneill Tidmore, Warren Tidmore, Randy Skelton, Ben Chen, Bill Park and Wayne Brown.
Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.
Memorials may be made to American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 2680, North Canton, Ohio 44720, or Lighted Pathways Hospice, P.O. Box 43731 Seven Points, 75143.

This line of the Burnett Family descends from the antecedents Jeremiah W. and Juliana/Julie Ann (Coats) Burnett. Jeremiah is believed to have been born in South Carolina and migrated to Texas by way of Alabama; eventually settling near Martins Mill in Van Zandt Coutny.

Danny Joe was the first cousin of my uncle, Johnny Dean Burnett.

19 January 2006

New Horizons

Following a two-day delay, the first exploration probe to Pluto is aloft and headed on its almost decade-long trek to the outer reaches of our solar system. The New Horizons spacecraft is loaded with seven highly specialized science packages capable of measuring and imaging this mysterious Kuiper Belt resident and its satellite, Charon. Scientists hope the project not only shed light upon Pluto, but will also provide insight into the mysterious Kuiper Belt as well.

18 January 2006

Seven from Twenty-one

The final round of voting for the supposed best idea Since Sliced Bread has begun. As one might suspect, specifics on vote results are scarce. Intriguingly, all three of the proposals for which I cast a vote have made the fiinal round. In a way, it should not be too surprising as they were the only trio among the entire group which had any chance for success.

Even so, the natives are still restless. Every post attempting to rally support and inform the masses is met with hundreds of condemning comments. One has to wonder if the organizers are simply ignoring the criticism or whether they are taking it to heart. Time will tell, I suppose.

17 January 2006

Scofflaw Logic

My daily commute is a lonely endeavor. Lest anyone feel pangs of sympathy at that statement, let me assure you taht is the way I like it. Sometimes, however, I have occasion to ride about one third the distance with a colleague from work. For the most part, I set the pace and the rules of the ride. Today, I deferred to my companion and pumped him for information about his riding style. The results were at one enlightening annd disappointing.

On our past rides together, he has often commented that it is only when he rides with me that he adheres to the law of the UVC. A statement her or another there usually reveal that he is yield rather than stop or cut across the odd private property line in an effort to shave a second here or a few more there. Accompanying him today not only provided demonstration of these actions, but also some insight into the lack of logic behind them.

My belief had always been that he was simply attempting to save time and facilitate a more productive training benefit from his relatively short ride home. This is the sort of flawed logiic most so-called "recreational" and "club" riders use to justify their propensity to blow through stop signs and treat traffic lights as a yield. Arguers seem pretty consistent in their rationale that, by maintainiing their speed, they derive a more aerobic benefit. Expecting this sort of mentality, I was quite astonished to learn of an even more flawed justification.

Motorist deference is apparently his justification for breaking the law. The argument provided described his blowing through stop signs as a courtesy move. By not stopping, he claims to be removing any delay his adherence to traffic law may cause. I guess it does not dawn upon him that by acting in an illegal manner he is reinforcing prejudice against the consideration of bicyclists as legitimate users of the road.

As legally recognized vehicle operators — and we are according to the transportation code of the State of Texas — individuals like the above inadvertently provide fodder to those who consider vehicular cyclists as an unwelcome nuisance. Seeing the rider of a bicycle operating in an unsafe and privileged manner gives the average observer the impression that cyclists perceive themselves as somehow exempted from the established rules of the road. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Still, the average poorly trained cyslist gives that impression to the average, undereducated motorist.

16 January 2006


Marking another success story for NASA, the Stardust sample return capsule safely and successfully re-entered Earth atmosphere early yesterday morning subsequently landing at the Utah Test and Training Range. In and of itself, perhaps, an event of significance only to those having an interest in space science and astronomy. Someone such as myself. :-) However, in a move reminiscent of the SETI@Home project, scientists at NASA, JPL and UC Berkeley are requesting the help of the public to weedle through the gel samples to locate candidate particles for subsequent investigation.

Announced in a Press Release dated 10 Jannuary, scientists at UC Berkeley heralded the specifics of the program and provide a link to the project site. The latter provides links to various documents explaining the background, goals and other goals as well as a form for pre-registration. A more detailed overview is available at the Planetary Society.

a news report heard this morning indicated that the the lead scientist for the project considered the quality and quantity of smaple colelcted exceeded all expectation!

12 January 2006

Googling Earth

Though not news to many — especially those running the Windows OS — Google has a kick-ass cartography application which basically allows for desktop manipulation and creation of satellite maps for personal use: Google Earth. What is novel is the availlabiliity oof the client for the Mac OS.

Notice was given on 10 January via Google Blog that this much lauded application was finally available for Darwin. It had been quite a while in coming as well; the Windows version has been available since 28 June, but the Mac OS has been asked to wait patiently as a native version was written. After six months and change, a Mac OS version is finally available.

It should be noted that this revelation will not satisfy all. The system requirements are a doozy: Mac OS 10.4, a 600MHz CPU, at least 128Mb RAM, 400Mb disk space and 16Mb VRAM...and that will accommodate the barest of functionality. Nevertheless, if one has the horsepower, this application and its accompanying community are well worth the look.. Be warned, though, it is quite addicting! :-)

09 January 2006

Make Mine Toasted

The time is upon us...and the natives are restless! Following a month of evaluation and voting, the initial 22,000+ submissions to the Since Sliced Bread "contest" was whittled down to 70 candidate proposals. From that pool, the judges havve selected the top twenty-one submissions for voting by the public.

"Since Sliced Bread seeks ideas that are original and creative, have the best chance of practical success and would most effectively:
  • Grow the economy
  • Create good-paying jobs that allow people to raise a family, afford health insurance, pay for their children's college education, get additional training and save for retirement
  • Encourage existing companies to expand and entrepreneurs to start new ones."
  • The twenty-one semi-finalists espouse ideas which are neither original nor creative. Almost all of them are simply a repackaging of programs which have fallen by the wayside as this or that administration has come and gone. Others simply advocate for the Federalization of projects which have already been implemented at the state level or in the private sector. Just what we need: more control by the Federal Governmment. I am not alone in these beliefs, either.

    The natives are restless, to be sure. The SSB 'bLog is lousy with disgruntled participants voicing their disappointment or downright n disgust at how the "contest&quoot; evolved. One fellow, who identifies himself as "William H. in Idaho" has traversed the list of finalists and, for all but two, shouted his disapproval in the form of imploring others to wouldbe voters to not vote as they should be disqualified due to non-compliiance with the rules. Another, "Marilynn M. in Texas", is posting lamentations of disillusionment and threatening to report the SEUI to this or that regulatory entity.

    We had tangled once before when, in the days following the closure of the "contest" to new posts, I was making spot surveys of the submissions and offering commentary. I came across one of her proposals which lacked any semblance of compliance with the rules of the contest. She apparently took offense and suggested that I was the ghost incarnation of a competing idea upon which she had offered a critique. Browse the follow-on commentary to this thread for more information. Now, compare those thoughts with the comments she makes under this thread — or basically any 'bLog thread from 09 January forward.

    Many are calling for the "contest" coordinators to publish the list of seventy ideas from which the final twenty-one were drawn. This is a very lucid and instructive demand as it could help to alay the perception that this was a contrived endeavor from the beginning. Of course, it is likely never to happen.

    I am continuing to play along with the fiasco. I have selected the three most productive finalists and am eager to see which, if any, advance to the final round of voting. For me this is little more than a mindless diversion. None of the competing ideas will really satisfy any of the cited goals and I am enjoying all of the whining in thhe discussion threads! :-)

    06 January 2006

    Imhotep V

    My new machine arrived today, at work. Due to a catastrophic hardware failure (fried down converter board; perhaps more), it was necessary for mme to replace my primary lab computer. I chose to stick with an iMac — though I did offer to content myself with an eMac. :-)

    The replacement machine is a 1.9GHz, 17" iMac G5. It is one of the models announced back on 12 October containing integrated Bluetooth, 802.11g and iSight camera. It screams! Though I probably could have squeezed another year out of the machiine it is replacing, with its SuperDrive and other ammenities, it will be a welcome addition to my desktop.

    For the benefit of those who may be interested, here is a listing of the previous incarnations of Imhotep.

    • Macintosh IIci — Imhotep
    • Macintosh Quadra 700 — Imhotep II
    • PowerMac 7100/80AV — Imhotep III
    • iMac 700MHz DV SE — Imhotep IV


    03 January 2006

    Spirit and Opportunity

    In what can only be considered a gift beyond all expectation, the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, are poised to enter their third year of remote investigation on the fourth rock from Sol. At 10:35CST tonight, Spirit will complete its seven hundred thirtieth day of work within Gusev Crater. Opportunity will match this milestone on Meridiani Planum at 19:05CST twenty-one days from now, 24 January.

    Originally "warranteed" for a mere ninety days, the pair have far eclipsed that timeframe by a little over eight hundred percent...and show signs of continued ability. Most spectacular have been the results,, which have proven beyond almost all doubt that water once existed on Mars in relative quantities similar to those here on Gaia. Age has exposed some geriatric issues with the rovers: Spirit suffers from a gimp leg (wheel) first encountered in July 2004, while Opportunity has arthritis in its robotics arm (a condition suspected to be caused by damaged or broken wire in a motor winding). Nevertheless, they persevere and continuue to send images and science back the researchers for analysis.


    continue to the October 2005 archive

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    last BBEdited: 2006.02.01