Key to Austin Living

In the summer, get in the water.

  1. Get yourself a stock tank
  2. Get a pool pump
  3. Level some ground, put down some crushed granite
  4. (optional) build a deck around the tank
  5. Get some chlorine and administer weekly
  6. Rinse your pool filter every couple of weeks with a strong water jet to keep it clean and functional
  7. Enjoy!
stock tank pool
stock tank pool

Austin Ice Cream Festival

This seems like it might be a good way to cool down on a ridiculously hot Saturday. Or a good place to take your youngins and get ’em all sugared up. Tomorrow from 10-7 at Waterloo Park.

Me? I will be selling all my worldly possessions in a yard sale starting about 7am tomorrow. Come on out if you want to hang out on the porch with me, or you’ve always wanted to pilfer through my stuff. But I might just wrap it up around lunch time and reward myself with some ice cream.

Soaking up the sun

Holy crap! I’m leaving Texas. Flying out to England August 13th. Gonna miss just about everything about this place: the sun, the Springs, the hills, downtown, the Tex-Mex and BBQ, the weirdness, but mostly the awesome friends I have. Thanks for enriching my life. Hopefully I will be back someday.

Until Aug 13, I’m going to be doing as much fun stuff as I can, and I have vowed to take at least a weekly dip in Barton Springs. Join me on Saturdays if you like.

The Backyard is closing

I gotta admit, I’m a little sad. Austinist: Austin’s Backyard Ampitheater Announces Final Season

Direct Events and Backyard owner Tim O’Connor has announced the live oak amphitheater’s final season, calling it quits after sixteen seasons in the hill country.

The owner cited the massive Hill Country Galleria and other commercial expansion having “taken away from some of the venue’s magic” as the reasons for the closing. He’s not kidding. The last couple of times I went out there, the formerly serene hill country location was marred by bright blue and yellow Best Buy lights, as well as overall light pollution from nearby parking lots. Hopefully wherever they move it, it’ll be a little more insulated from strip malls.

Physics giant (and former UT Prof) passes away

14wheeler6001.jpg

John A. Wheeler, Physicist Who Coined the Term ‘Black Hole,’ Is Dead at 96 – New York Times

John A. Wheeler, a visionary physicist and teacher who helped invent the theory of nuclear fission, gave black holes their name and argued about the nature of reality with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, died Sunday morning at his home in Hightstown, N.J. He was 96.

He was one of the major contributors to physics of the last century:

Among Dr. Wheeler’s students was Richard Feynman of the California Institute of Technology, who parlayed a crazy-sounding suggestion by Dr. Wheeler into work that led to a Nobel Prize. Another was Hugh Everett, whose Ph.D. thesis under Dr. Wheeler on quantum mechanics envisioned parallel alternate universes endlessly branching and splitting apart — a notion that Dr. Wheeler called “Many Worlds” and which has become a favorite of many cosmologists as well as science fiction writers.

Recalling his student days, Dr. Feynman once said, “Some people think Wheeler’s gotten crazy in his later years, but he’s always been crazy.”

Scientific American posted a profile of him originally published in 1991 that contains some interesting glimpses into his personality and theories.

Hooray for Texas education!

Veteran on state education board holds own against creation backer:

Veteran State Board of Education member Pat Hardy of Fort Worth was defeating a challenger in the GOP primary Tuesday night, holding off an effort by social conservatives to gain a working majority on the politically divided board.

Social conservatives threw their support behind Cleburne urologist Barney Maddox, known for his strong support of creation science and calls to revamp textbooks used in classrooms across Texas.

Take that, Barney! Take that, Cleburne!

My day off

I’ve rearranged my work schedule to work M-Th 8-5 and get Fridays off. This is great, because now I get to sit at Spider House all day, which I had become accustomed to when ‘working from home’ for so long. So I get to catch up on my photo editing, other random computer tasks, maybe do a little contract work, or actually get back in the neuro lab once in a while.

Speaking of Spider House, I’m sitting here now. Johnny has Metallica’s “And Justice For All” playing at 9AM (which I think is great). I’m drinking a big ol’ mug of coffee, and I just discovered that Google Talk recognizes the “\m/” (metal horns) emoticon, which is totally hilarious. It works even better if you have one of the colored emoticon sets enabled. It also doubles as a “hook em horns” sign, so that’s nice.

Here’s a list of gtalk emoticons I decided to dig up, just for you.

Science loses an advocate in Texas

This is not only idiotic, it’s infuriating:

After 27 years as a science teacher and 9 years as the Texas Education Agency’s director of science, Christine Castillo Comer said she did not think she had to remain “neutral” about teaching the theory of evolution.

“It’s not just a good idea; it’s the law,” said Ms. Comer, citing the state’s science curriculum.

But now Ms. Comer, 56, of Austin, is out of a job, after forwarding an e-mail message on a talk about evolution and creationism — “a subject on which the agency must remain neutral,” according to a dismissal letter last month that accused her of various instances of “misconduct and insubordination” and of siding against creationism and the doctrine that life is the product of “intelligent design.”

I honestly can’t believe people are still having this so-called “debate.” On the one hand, you have a theory based on sound science. On the other, you have an unprovable philosophy based on reasoning and faith, having nothing to do with science. One of those belongs in a science classroom, and one doesn’t. No one should have to remain impartial about that.

Update: Appropriately scathing NYT editorial here.