Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How much wood could a small tree have, if you cut a small tree down for wood?

If you've talked to me recently, the chances are pretty good that I mentioned that I had cut down a small maple tree in my backyard. I went about cutting it up for firewood using only standard hand tools. (i.e. no power tools)

It has been the greatest lesson in fractals I could have ever received. You would not believe how many branches upon branches upon branches even a tree as small as 20 feet or so has. It has taken me hours upon hours to cut this branch of that one, and then all the branches off that and so on to get down just to a series of straight boughs that I could then cut up into firewood sized pieces.

My wood shed is now full. I have no desire to cut down another tree and do that again. Next time, maybe I'll just rent a chipper and make myself some mulch.

Friday, September 22, 2006

First Steps

Katie took her first unassisted steps yesterday! Unfortunately, it was at daycare, so neither Vicki nor I were there at the time, but she took some more for us that evening.

It really is amazing when you think about what a miracle each of us is. We start out life as a tiny blob of cells. And we grow and grow in the womb into an actual person. And then we burst into the world, crying, and unable to do too much for ourselves. And we continue to grow, and our brain goes on a years-long marathon of activity in learning to understand and interact with world.

And the world is an exciting, magical place filled with both joy and some danger, too. But in time, as we "grow up" we get so used to it, we just kind of take it for granted. That is until one day, when you find yourself looking at this tiny person, taking her first breath, and crying. And she looks so absolutely beautiful that you actually cry - despite the fact you always thought that was TV/Movie drama.

And this time you get to actually watch this amazing process develop. This time, you get to remember it, even if it is from the outside. And then you remember how amazing it is to walk, when you see the joy on your daughter's face. You get to see the magic of the world reflected in her eyes - magic your jaded eyes have learned to overlook.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 5 Years Later

I couldn't let 9-11 pass by without posting something. Five years have passed - not a lot of time, but enough to start gaining some perspective. There is no doubt that 9-11 changed America. I also have no doubt that History will judge us largely based on our reaction to this event.

I'm not sure if anyone else caught it, but Ted Koppel had a pretty good Town Hall/Documentary on the Discovery channel last night titled "The Price of Security." To be honest, I didn't get to see too much of it, but what I did see was pretty good. You can download an MP3 recording, as well as read a summary over at NPR. Ted Koppel seems to have really tried to take a balanced look at the need of the government to be able to act to protect the nation versus protecting our civil liberties.

Vicki's take (who watched more than me, but still not all) is that it really came down to this: Do the ends justify the means?

I do believe that we need to provide our government the (legal) tools it needs to track down terrorists who mean the harm to the Free World generally, and the US, specifically. However, I'd like to summarize my beliefs by quoting my favorite Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither."

On a final note, I wanted to point out this memorial to one of the victims of this horrible event. We must not forget.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's just so del.icio.us!

A great article on my favorite underrated Web site - del.icio.us. This is the future of the Internet, folks.

The Interstate System turns 50

"June 29, 2006, marked the 50th anniversary of the day federal legislation was signed to begin one of the biggest engineering projects ever undertaken: the U.S. Interstate Highway System. "

You can find that quote (on the introduction page) on a special website run by the AASHTO. Check out these fun facts first. I cannot think of a public works project that has impacted the American culture more than the Interstates. I don't even want to know how many hours I personally have logged behind the wheel cruising up and down the East Coast on the likes of I-95, I-81, I-88, I-84, I-64, and the dreaded I-495 (otherwise known as The Beltway).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Reading List

Just a quick note on something new I've added to the Blog. Now there's a new section in the right column under "My Starred Items" but above my Xbox Live Gamercard.

It's titled "del.icio.us/meknapp/readinglist" and it's just that: My Reading List - in other words, what I'm reading right now. So if you see a book that you've read or would like to read go by, feel free to email me about it. Or if you just want to pick on me about my taste, that's fine too.

Note that you can also get this list directly from del.icio.us via the Web or RSS.

Read on!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

To blove, honor, and obey

We were at Vicki's cousin's wedding this weekend. It was really nice. We got to see some family we don't get to see too often. Also, it was near Lancaster, PA so we were in Amish country. I couldn't get used to the idea of passing so many horse and buggies.

The wedding ceremony itself was very nice. As the groom stated his vows, I looked at Vicki and thought about what those words meant, and how I still felt that committed to her. Apparently many other of the married couples were doing the same, because a reflective silence settled over the church as the groom finished, "'till death do us part."

At this point, Katie decided to put her two cents in and blurted out, "Oh-oh!". The whole church laughed. Katie's parents blushed.