Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Truths to Hold Self-Evident

Looking today at the new administration being sworn in, and at Congressional leaders, Supreme Court justices, and several decades of former presidents and vice-presidents, I realized why this country is in the state it's in. For as long as anyone can remember, we have been led by people who, regardless of gender, age or party affiliation, lack the common sense to wear a hat when it's twenty-something degrees with a wind chill factor of 14 and you're going to be outside for an hour or two.

As our President Obama prepares to spend the next several years dealing with a depressed economy, two wars, and living with his mother-in-law, let's wish him the wisdom and strength to be successful. I really don't want to think about the alternative.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Professor Ben Rides Again

Sorry for the way-too-long between posts. The beginning of my resurrected teaching life - this time in continuing education - is coming up fast, and I'd forgotten how much time it takes to create lectures from scratch. I'm enjoying the process - it's impossible to teach without learning a bunch of things yourself - but it has kept me from writing here. Maybe if I start posting here entries about heating, cooling and plumbing system basics...

Item 1: The Captain Has Turned Off the Fasten Seatbelt Sign

The big story here, and probably in a lot of other places, has been the emergency landing of that plane on the Hudson River back on 1/15. Even my friends across the pond have probably heard about it: three or so minutes after taking off from LaGuardia for what was supposed to be a fairly short flight to North Carolina, a US Airways jet apparently had its engines nailed by a couple of geese in the area of the Bronx Zoo, thereby destroying the engines and bringing down the plane. With no real chance to make it to any other area airport without endangering populated areas below, the pilot brought it down into the Hudson River. Everyone - 150 passengers from infant to elderly, plus crew - were successfully rescued despite frigid temperatures of both the air and the water. The only significant injuries were to the geese. If you know what goes on in NYC on a typical day you can imagine how much it takes to get a bunch of seasoned New Yorkers standing at the windows with their jaws dropped. (When it comes to current events, we're hard to impress.) But at my workplace, which overlooks the river, that's exactly what happened. I guess a plane floating down the Hudson will do that. Praise whoever you're of a mind to - a lot of bullets were dodged that day.

Item 2: And Now, the End is Near...

Just about eight years ago, George W. Bush took an oath to uphold the constitution and serve the United States of America to the best of his ability. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened.

In final tribute to the man 22% of Americans (no doubt most of them being comedians) think did a good job, Letterman did a final montage of his "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" the other night. In the hope I can get the technology to work right, I present it to you herewith. (Watching this, I had to keep reminding myself I wasn't watching Will Ferrell.) Enjoy.

Item 3: How About You Don't Get Back to us on That?

Memo to Sarah Palin: Leaders don't whine. Either figure out the real reason things didn't go your way and fix them, or stop thinking about 2012. Here's a hint to get you started: it wasn't Katie Couric's fault.

Item 4: Free and Worth Every Penny

Now that the AOL Welcome page has devolved into the National Enquirer, from where am I supposed to get news?

Item 5: Success Is Counted Sweetest...

I've had a number of inquiries about the man-vs.-waffle maker competition. The day after the crashing defeat described in the previous post, I knew I had to take this beast on again or there would be no rest. Armed with a better batter recipe (thank you, Alton Brown) and with the bitter humiliation of the previous day's experience still stinging my soul, I went the distance and emerged reasonably victorious, even having extras for freezing. (Since this is supposed to be a victory lap, we're not going to discuss what happened the following day, except to say I learned not to try to heat a frozen waffle in the microwave.)