What I Have Read in 2017
Books I am ReadingReaching Students: What Research Says about Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineeringby Linda Kober
To Read Next
My Blogging Inspirations and Influences
- 2007 CGSA Camping Trip
- 2008 CGSA Camping Trip
- Adventures in Japan 2014
- Being a Christian Physicist
- Blows to my patriotism
- BMENS: Biological Macro-Evolution by Natural Selection
- Creation Care
- Creative Writing
- Election 2008
- Election 2010
- Election 2012
- Election 2016
- Favorite Companion
- Fun with Flags
- Italy 2006
- Kyoto 2012
- Moving from CA to OH
- Moving from IN to IL
- Moving from OH to IN
- Our Congregation
- Practical Benefits of Particle Physics
- Tales of the Weird
- Weinland Park
After the very bad news, I want to remember that I have many things to be grateful for.
One of them is the DreamWorks Dragons franchise.
I was a bit late to discovering it. I knew the first movie (How to Train Your Dragon) existed from a church children’s event, but I only caught bits and pieces of it there. When I finally watched it for myself, it became one of my favorite movies. The animation, acting, and story are all beautiful. Toothless is a given a remarkable range of expression and emotion for a creature who cannot speak. The human hero is a skinny boy who is an explorer at heart; no prizes for guessing why that resonates with me.
I’m not sure why I didn’t see the sequel (How To Train Your Dragon 2) when it was released in 2014. When I finally watched it last August, I realized I had missed a lot. It might be an even better film than the first, and it has the best marriage of score (especially “Where No One Goes”) and visuals I have seen since Star Wars!
Around the same time, I learned that a TV series, set between the first two movies, existed. I am currently partway through the seventh of 8 seasons. Of course, the animation quality and number of characters is smaller due to the lower budget, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. They put more personality into an animated chicken than I have seen some live-action actors put into their characters!
The best thing about the series (or any such series if it is done well) is the opportunity to take time to get to know the characters well. In a movie, the supporting cast by necessity just doesn’t have that much screen time. In a series, a whole episode can focus on Ruff and Tuff going bonkers for 20 minutes, and it works hilariously.
We also get fine drama, adventure, and a deep sense for how much these people and dragons care about each other. Some of the finest moments and stories actually come from characters that don’t appear in either of the movies. The most emotionally moving moments actually had me tearing up. Quite impressive for a “children’s show.”
Like any work of art, the movies and the series have their imperfections, but the are still great art.
The third movie (How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World), which will conclude the entire franchise, is now in theaters. I plan to see it when it comes to the Elks Theatre, our local second-run theater with a great atmosphere. I know this doesn’t make much sense to say about fictional characters, but I will miss them.
In case anyone reads this blog and not my Facebook feed.
From the president of the University: “I regret to inform you that your request for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor has not been recommended for approval by the University Promotion and Tenure Committee at this time. I intend to support the committee recommendation.”
In practice, this means that I will be able to finish this academic year and be offered a contract for next year. After that, I need to find another job and most likely, another career.
As a lifelong science fiction fan, I took a surprisingly long time to start watching Doctor Who. I finally started in August 2017, in part because most of the classic episodes are airing on our local RetroTV affiliate, and I can record them on my home-built PVR. I want to share how I am watching the classic part of the series. This post will just address the First and Second Doctors.
The classic series aired from 1963 to 1989, consisting of multi-episode “serials,” before being revived by a TV move in 1996 and a full-fledged continuation of the series in 2005 that is still running.
I started with the very first episode, “An Unearthly Child,” which is the first episode in a serial sometimes known as 100,000 BC, and am now partway through the Second Doctor’s tenure, currently watching The Wheel in Space. Most of the classic series airs on RetroTV, but several stories do not for one of two reasons. I discuss them below and how I have or will see them anyway.
- The serial is a partial or complete victim of BBC wiping.
- [LC] Ten serials have no complete episodes and are reconstructed by a group called Loose Cannon, using audio recordings (which exist for all serials) and any existing photographs or clips. I only discovered these reconstructions after I had started watching the series, so I have not yet gone back and watched the first two. You can find the reconstructions at the links below.
- [BBC] Five serials are partially missing (some episodes survive) and have an official reconstruction from the BBC, sometimes including animated reconstructions of the missing episodes. I rent these through Netflix DVD. Yes, Netflix still rents DVDs! Note that some of these also have Loose Cannon reconstructions. I only discovered these reconstructions after I had started watching the series, so I have not yet gone back and watched the first one.
- The Reign of Terror (Netflix DVD)
- The Tenth Planet is one of the few DVDs not available from Netflix; however, my local library accepted my purchase request for it!
- The Underwater Menace, like The Tenth Planet is not available from Netflix, but my local library accepted my purchase request for it!
- The Web of Fear (Netflix DVD)
- The Invasion (Netflix DVD)
- 11 serials are partially missing and do not have official reconstructions. The the surviving episodes are available on three Lost in Time DVDs; I am watching the surviving episodes on the DVDs and the missing episodes via the Loose Cannon reconstructions.
- Lost in Time: The William Hartnell Years (Netflix DVD) [LIT:H]
- Lost in Time: The Patrick Troughton Years, Disc 1 (Netflix DVD) [LIT:T1]
- Lost in Time: The Patrick Troughton Years, Disc 2 (Netflix DVD) [LIT:T2]
- [NL] Three serials from the first two Doctors are for some reason not licensed for Retro TV. Most of these are also available on Netflix DVD. I think that all of these plus the episodes airing on RetroTV are available online through Britbox or the Britbox Amazon channel.
I am currently partway through the Second Doctor’s tenure; he has suffered the most from the BBC wiping. I am currently watching The Wheel in Space.
The table below lists all the serials featuring the First and Second Doctors. If you are trying to watch all of Classic Doctor Who yourself, you can follow this list. The entries in the “How” column correspond to the codes in square brackets above.
In acse you doing receive Retro TV, I think Britbox has all of the episodes listed below as PVR and NL.
|1.01||An Unearthly Child||PVR|
|1.03||The Edge of Destruction / Inside the Spaceship||PVR|
|1.05||The Keys of Marinus||PVR|
|1.08||The Reign of Terror||BBC|
|2.01||Planet of Giants||PVR|
|2.02||The Dalek Invasion of Earth||BBC (NL)|
|2.05||The Web Planet||PVR|
|2.06||The Crusade||LIT:H + LC|
|2.07||The Space Museum||BBC (NL)|
|2.09||The Time Meddler||PVR|
|3.01||Galaxy 4||LIT:H + LC|
|3.02||“Mission to the Unknown”||LC or Animation|
|3.03||The Myth Makers||LC|
|3.04||The Daleks’ Master Plan||LIT:H + LC|
|3.05||The Massacre of St Bartholemew’s Eve||LC|
|3.07||The Celestial Toymaker||LIT:H + LC|
|3.10||The War Machines||PVR|
|4.02||The Tenth Planet||BBC|
|4.03||The Power of the Daleks||LC|
|4.05||The Underwater Menace||BBC|
|4.06||The Moonbase||LIT:T1 + LC|
|4.07||The Macra Terror||LC|
|4.08||The Faceless Ones||LIT:T1 + LC|
|4.09||The Evil of the Daleks||LIT:T1 + LC|
|5.01||The Tomb of the Cybermen||PVR|
|5.02||The Abominable Snowmen||LIT:T2 + LC|
|5.03||The Ice Warriors||LIT:T2 + LC|
|5.04||The Enemy of the World||BBC (NL)|
|5.05||The Web of Fear||BBC|
|5.06||Fury from the Deep||LC|
|5.07||The Wheel in Space||LIT:T2 + LC|
|6.02||The Mind Robber||PVR|
|6.05||The Seeds of Death||PVR|
|6.06||The Space Pirates||LIT:T2 + LC|
|6.07||The War Games||PVR|
This was taken with my Moto e4 camera through 30 mm eyepiece on a Bausch & Lomb Criterion 4000 4″ telescope at a star party hosted by the Black Hills Astronomical Society. I was testing a small telescope donated to the Physics department, and it performed much better than I expected!
- The public library bought a copy of Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet at my suggestion! I watched the first episode on July 18
- The bike shop completed several repairs on my bike, and now I have it back
- Reading more of The Cat Who Could Read Backwards with my wife
- Planning for my class in the fall
- My parents and sister came to visit us! While the were here we…
- …caught up on our lives
- …shopped at the Farmers’ Market
- …grilled during a thunderstorm
- …picked beans from our garden
- …and ate at IHOP!
- Our large green bean harvest
- My parents and sister safely traveling back home
- The wonderful time we had with them over the weekend
- Making substantial progress on my parts of our department review
- My research for the review being made relatively easy with so many documents online
- Seeing part of a rainbow and a beautiful sunset while walking with my wife
- Useful workshop on grant writing in Pierre
- Driving safely back from the workshop
- Watching my wife’s softball team compete in their playoff tournament
- Taking fun action photos of my wife’s softball team during a game (July 24)
- My wife catching a fly ball to end the game and ensuring her team’s first win of the tournament.
- My wife unclogging our toilet
- More progress on the department review document
- Useful phone meeting (July 26)
- Building a computer!
- The new computer works!
- Successfully transplanting multiple components from the old computer to the new one
- Reinstalling MythTV and other software to have a fully functional, faster, and better entertainment PC
- Watching Golden Girls with my wife
- Clearing out some weeds under our deck
- Organizing some of the many photos I took in July
- Sending a homemade electronic card to my parents for their wedding anniversary
- Attempting (so far successfully) to save a sunflower in our garden that was partially uprooted by a storm
- Lunch club at Colonial House (Aug. 7)
- Useful meeting with one of my colleagues
- Successfully returning our car to the garage in time to avoid quarter-sized hail
- Being safe under our garage porch roof during the hail
- Petting a friendly neighborhood cat
- Kittens from the Oglala Pet Project at the Farmers’ Market (July 28)
- Garlic harvest from the garden
- New tile in the hall outside my office and lab is now complete
- Safe drive to Pierre for a grant writing workshop (July 24)
- Useful advice and practical tips at the workshop
- Good food for lunch
- A safe drive back (July 25)
- Buying eggs from a local source
- Clarinet Madness concert (July 27)
- Talking with friends before and after the concert
- My wife organizing and hosting her team’s end of season softball party
- Taking some time off before the start of the new semester
- Changing the scheduled time for my class to remove a conflict with another class
- Mowing our lawn before the day became too hot (Aug. 3)
- Watching How to Train Your Dragon. I highly recommend it.
- My wife getting our roof repaired after discovering a leak
- Passing on the thank you note from the GenCyber campers to the Black Hills Astronomical Society
- Time around our fireplace with friends (Aug. 4)
- Watching one of our friends fly his rental plane over our house!
- Interesting colloquium from one of my colleagues
- Lunch Club at Chili’s (July 31)
- Lunch Club at La Costa (July 24)
- Catching up with food friends in our spiritual community
- Watching Golden Girls with my wife
- Taking new pictures of our garden
- Sunny weather after all of rain recently (July 1)
- Watching my wife and her church softball team win two exciting games (July 2)
- Our large cheering section at the games
- Making progress on my tenure dossier
- Sigma Xi quickly resolved a problem with renewing my membership
- Day off on July 4
- Seeing the fireworks from the hill near our house
- Making preparations for an OS upgrade to my Entertainment PC
- Performing the OS upgrade and getting everything working again much more quickly than I expected!
- I think it is working better after the upgrade
- Helping my wife make pasta salad
- Harvesting peas fresh from our garden
- Seeing Venus and Jupiter in the sky in addition to the fireworks
- My wife cleared out some space in our house by finding someone who needed the two huge bags of packing material we had accumulated
- My first online sale via Facebook
- Watching my wife make some great plays in her team’s two victories in the church softball league (July 9)
- Teaching someone else how to “keep book” for the game
- Good group meeting
- The support of my friends
- New visitors to The Well
- The electrical work in my lab is finally finished!
- My students are making good progress
- Learning how to set up our department’s smallest telescope
- Getting some major housecleaning done
- Farewell lunch for a colleague (July 16)
- Lunch Club at Gyro Hub (July 17)
- The latest STEAM Cafe (July 17)
- Food truck at STEAM Cafe
- Being able to work from home or alternate locations in the EEP building while my office is off-limits due to asbestos removal.
- Taking the group photo for the GenCyber camp (June 28)
- Watching Avengers: Infinity War at the Elks (June 28)
- Picking up our serviced and repaired vacuum cleaner
- Making donations to local thrift stores
- Hosting dinner for friends at our house (July 6)
- Good food and catching up with friends at dinner
- Riding with colleagues to the Badlands Astronomy Festival
- A short walk in the Badlands before the festival began
- Helping my colleagues set up their telescopes
- Learning about our location in the Laniakea Supercluster during the presentation at the Festival
- Looking at Jupiter, Mars, the Lagoon Nebula and many more beauties of the night sky through mostly clear and dark skies
- Getting to know my colleagues better during our rides to and from the Festival
- Getting the lawn mowed (July 7)
- Good discussion on living authentically at The Well (July 14)
- Our latest student successfully defended his dissertation
- Useful feedback in the reviews of our funding proposal
- Dinner with friends at Baan Thai (July 13)
- Riding with a colleague to and from Neutrino Day in Lead, SD
- Despite some miscommunications at the start, the day went really well!
- “Quality control” on the liquid nitrogen ice cream other members of the department made
- One of the students made a lunch run for us
- Good questions and interactions with the public
- My temporary tattoo
- Meeting a friend for bagels (July 15)
- Our morning glories are blooming!
- Being able to capture a photograph of interesting insect life in our backyard; I think it is a cicada
- Taking the group photo for my wife’s softball team (July 16).
- Taking in our vacuum for servicing
- Cooking a whole frozen crab for the first time
- Great music and important history at the Rapid City Municipal Band
- Saying goodbye to a friend before an international assignment
- Conversation with a colleague about mathematical and astronomical history
- Getting some chores done around the house
- Getting a department telescope ready for star party tonight
- Visiting with our institution’s former president and current Secretary of the Air Force
- Our new Blu-ray player arrived
- The first movie I played on the new player:
- Going out for a walk with my wife in some beautiful weather on Sunday
- Petting a pair of friendly neighborhood cats on our walk
- Riding on a classic Ford Tri-Motor airplane (pictures to come)
- Good food while waiting for the airplane ride
- The tremendous improvements in speed, noise, and ride quality in the decades since the Tri-Motor first flew
- Interesting planes on display before the ride
- Good discussion on the things that get in the way of living wholeheartedly well at The Well
- Testing our department’s new portable telescope power supply at a BHAS star party
- Seeing the Great Red Spot on Jupiter through the telescope at the star party
- Seeing the planet Mercury for the second time in my life
- Another star party for a summer camp at the School of Mines
- Good enough weather for the second party
- I could tell when the person at my telescope got the image in focus when they said “Whoa!”
- Lots of rain for our garden
- Eating fresh peas out of the garden
- Reorganizing our entertainment system to better hide wires and reduce clutter.
- Being able to quickly return a defective Blu-ray player for a full refund
- A new optical digital audio cable
- A presentation at a phone meeting went well
- Watching the season finale of Star Trek:Discovery
- Learning details of construction projects at the most recent Citizens’ Advisory Committee Meeting
- Baking bacon
- Being able to take a box to the UPS store on my bike
- Winning a new keyboard and mouse in a giveaway from a local computer store
- I thought our broken garage door needed to be replaced, but the repair person was able to fix it (for “a while” at least) at a tenth the cost of replacement!
- Watching Metropolis Restored, the nearly-complete restoration of the first science fiction feature film.
- Starting the Book of Amos in our reading group
- Buying radishes and tomatoes at the Farmers’ Market
- Connecting my phone to our car via Bluetooth
- Candlelight yoga
- Calling my stepfather on Fathers’ Day
- In preparation for upgrading my Entertainment PC, my wife discovered that I have a BTX (not ATX) motherboard in my current one.
- Help from a friend in selecting components for the upgrade
This is me a long time ago. I took this picture from a family genealogy book, which was written when I was in fourth grade (1990). I’m glad I finally grew into those teeth!