Jump Around

After gazing through my youtube favorites, I found one that helps me explain why I just can’t bring myself to attend a CU football game (one going on as I write this).  As I walked home from work just an hour before the big Thursday night “blackout” game, I came across zero 3-story beer bongs.  For that reason and the following video, you just can’t beat Badger football games.


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3-2-1 Contact

In case you needed a clarification on the last post.  😉

My apologies for the lack of postings, I’m doing really well on knocking out paper number 3 at work, so I’m trying to avoid my laptop at home to keep the mind fresh.  Stay tuned!

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2008 Arctic Sea Ice

Summer is over in the northern hemisphere and around this time we get the reports of the melt that happened up until it stopped (mid-September).  Every summer, sea ice in the Arctic Ocean melts and retreats.  In recent history the minimum area of sea ice left at the end of the summer has gotten smaller and smaller.  2007 set the all time record and 2008 has now gone on record as the second lowest since measurements began around the beginning of the satellite era ~1979.

From the National Snow and Ice Data Center here in Boulder:  “Despite overall cooler summer temperatures, the 2008 minimum extent is only 390,000 square kilometers (150,000 square miles), or 9.4%, more than the record-setting 2007 minimum. The 2008 minimum extent is 15.0% less than the next-lowest minimum extent set in 2005 and 33.1% less than the average minimum extent from 1979 to 2000.  This season further reinforces the long-term downward trend of sea ice extent.”

Also this month, on that island northwest of Greenland, “The floating tongues of ice attached to Ellesmere Island, which have lasted for thousands of years, have seen almost a quarter of their cover break away.  One of them, the 50 sq km (20 sq miles) Markham shelf, has completely broken off to become floating sea-ice.”

I’ll give you the report on Greenland, my baby, as it becomes available.  Last year was insane, we’ll see how it did this year.

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I was trying to write an entry on a movie I watched last night, but I’ve decided to wait on it until I can do a better job at explaining it, but if you’re a Netflixer, add “Why we fight” to your queue for now.

Earlier last night, I went to my last department BBQ at my department head’s house up in the mountains.  A few of my fellow students only stayed about two hours to minimize the “awkwardness” of being at a social event with their professors/advisors.  Luckily this feeling is not one that I share.  It was great to hang out with my research group outside of the office.  My advisor and the group are some of the greatest people I know and somehow after spending our years together staring at our respective computer screens, bouncing on our exercise balls, and bumping into each other at the printer or in the hallways, or when we flat out admit that we need a break, we’ve somehow managed to meld our odd senses of humor into some hilariously nerdy conversations.  I find myself laughing most of the time I’m with them and wonder what I will ever do without them come January.

Later on in the night, although the harvest moon was very bright in the sky, we broke out the department head’s telescope to take a look at Jupiter and its moons.  His kids actually suggested it and I couldn’t help but think how lucky they are.  The department head actually was advised by THE Carl Sagan.  Carl Sagan wrote Contact, and whole slew of books that I haven’t read (I’ll get on that one of these days).  I love his thoughts on the universe and science such as:

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

When you make the finding yourself – even if you’re the last person on Earth to see the light – you’ll never forget it.

And my personal favorite, on religion:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

I will leave you to ponder that and encourage you to think about the stars tonight.

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The History Channel showed “102 minutes that changed America“, which was an eyewitness collection of videos from the morning of 9/11.  Think “Cloverfield” only rather than an imaginary monster, Islamic Jihadists.  Yeah, probably an inappropriate comparison  (sorry New Yorkers!).  Watching this history channel show was very upsetting, but I think it’s worth the heartache to remind yourself once a year of our recent history and I highly recommend that each of you go to the webpage and see the individual videos or try to figure out when it airs next, unless you actually lost someone in 9/11 or was there for it, then I’d steer clear.

Of course after watching any disturbing historical footage, I like to have a little Wikipedia session to remind myself of the facts.  Each 9/11 I find myself on the same wiki page, with my mouth wide open when I re-realize that “15 of the 19 hijackers that carried out the attacks were from Saudi Arabia“.  Others were Egyptian, Lebanese, and from the United Arab Emirates, but all al-Qaeda members.  You will notice how none of those countries that I listed are Iraq.  Of course for those of you unfamiliar with the geography of the region, educate yourself and study the nice map here:

(Click on the map for a larger version.)  Don’t forget that my brother is in Damascus, Syria (to the left of Iraq, that’s west, for you smarty pantses out there.)  He will be returning to the U.S. in a month.  For those of you following his story in my blog (which I have kept pretty vague quite on purpose), we were finally able to get him money through a friend, as he is still blocked from his own bank account due to the fact that he’s living in a t-state and our bank has a security company that blocks Americans from their own funds in these t-states, even though it isn’t mandatory.  Other Americans aren’t having problems.  Smart, small town bank, smart.  Anyway, I haven’t had a lot of contact with him while he’s there, I get the impression he spends a lot of time sleeping and sweating in the insane heat when he’s not learning Arabic or hanging out with friends.  From what I HAVE heard, it sounds like there are a lot of Iraqi refugees hanging out in Damascus.  And by refugees I mean that their country is at war and if they hung out there too long they have a chance of becoming one of the nearly 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties of war (pardon the lack of citation here, I can’t find a trustworthy number anywhere).  Brother had the opportunity to meet several of these refugees who are now in the U.S. studying at our Universities.  He tried to teach them a little bit about the U.S. before they shipped out to random states, like how to take notes in class, how to study, and a few important cultural tidbits.  It’s my understanding that they are all invited to our home for Christmas if they can’t find anywhere else to go over the break, but I can’t imagine that working logistically since none of them are going to school in WI.  Some in MI, though.  Anyway, I look forward to Brother’s arrival home.

Pardon the tangent.  Back to the map.  Of course our military friends are mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Back to 9/11.  To the 2,974 innocent people who lost their lives 7 years ago today, their families and friends, I’m sorry you had to pay for years of tension between our government and a culture of people who’s toes we have stepped on over the years, who’s extremism cannot be understood, who claims their religion demands violence against Americans.  And to the military men and women, their families and friends, thank you.  To those of you educating yourselves to become the next diplomats, rock on.  And to the rest of us, where do we go from here?  My answer to just about everything is this:  educate yourself.  Let’s not go on as a herd of mindless sheep.  And what better way to begin this process?  Here’s a few Middle-East movies from my movie history list that are approved by myself (if you’re a subtitle hater, check on that before renting).  I apologize that most of these are violent and all but one or two paint the Middle-East as a not-so-great place.  If you know of better ones, shoot me an email.

The Kite Runner: Years after fleeing the Taliban and immigrating to the United States, an Afghan man returns to his war-ravaged homeland to try to repay his debt to a childhood friend whose trust he betrayed.

Rendition:  Suspected of being a terrorist, Egyptian-born Anwar El-Ibrahim (Omar Metwally) “vanishes” from an international flight and is taken to a secret prison. Now, his wife, Isabella (Reese Witherspoon), desperately tries to uncover his whereabouts — as well as his true intentions. While she looks for answers, CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal) objects to the interrogation practices used on El-Ibrahim. Meryl Streep and Alan Arkin co-star.

The Kingdom:  (total action flick, based on real places and similar events, but not historical technically)  After a deadly bombing targeting Americans in Saudi Arabia, a rogue FBI squad travels to the crime scene to gather evidence. Once they arrive in the desert, the U.S. agents (an ensemble that includes Jamie Foxx as the group’s leader) learn that in these parts, they are the true enemy. With their investigation hampered by local bureaucracy, the team realizes they may be the terrorists’ next target. Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman co-star.

A Mighty Heart:  While in Pakistan researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) is suddenly kidnapped. His pregnant wife, Mariane (Angelina Jolie), displays great courage as she desperately tries to find her husband and rise above the bitterness and hatred that surrounds her. Versatile director Michael Winterbottom directs this poignant adaptation of Mariane Pearl’s real-life memoir.

Munich:  In this thriller based on actual events, Palestinian terrorists hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. In the tragic aftermath of the infamous murders, a Mossad agent (Eric Bana) tracks down the assassins. Ciaran Hinds and Geoffrey Rush co-star in this film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner (award-winning playwright of “Angels in America”).

Promises:  Documentarians Justine Shapiro and B.Z. Goldberg went to Israel to work on a project about children and conflict, interviewing Palestinian and Israeli kids ages 11-13 to get their views on living in a society afflicted with violence, separatism and religious and political extremism. The film culminates in an astonishing day when two Israeli children meet Palestinian youngsters at a refugee camp. A 2002 Oscar nominee for Best Feature Documentary.

Anything with the name Noam Chomsky in the title.

Others that are not approved by me, but relevant (I didn’t like them so much):  Paradise Now, Syriana.

Let the learning begin!

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Fall at the apple orchard

A drastic shift in the weather (from breaking the consecutive 90 degree days record to walking to school while it’s raining and in the 40s) has got me thinking about the season of fall (SON).  Growing up on an apple orchard, after school activities usually consisted of finding Mom in the shed sorting apples, then making carmel apples, pies, and loading the van with cider and other goodies for the Saturday farmer’s market.  We even had a huge pumpkin patch where kids could come and pick out their Halloween pumpkin, but I will resist reminiscing about Halloween until October.  Meanwhile, the smell of apples makes me miss home!

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Bork Bork Bork Meep Meep

I don’t know why I find this so hilarious, but I still laugh out loud every time I watch this (thanks Jess!):

Be sure to watch it all the way through and turn up those speakers!

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