January 31, 2005

The Dissenters

Joseph Priestley (1733 - 1804), Reverend, Grammarian, Atmospheric Chemist

Priestley was a member of a group that refused to conform to Church of England doctrine, The Dissenters, and despite his abilities was prevented by the 1662 Act of Uniformity from entering an English university. He was however able to study in Daventry where he was a 'furious freethinker' in religion. He renounced the Calvinist doctrines of original sin and atonement and embraced Unitarianism which asserted the perfectibility of man. Priestley was ordained a Dissenting minister in 1762. His interest in science intensified after he met Benjamin Franklin in 1765. As a scientist he was guided by the Dissenting belief that prejudice and dogma are obstacles to inquiry and judgement, and thought that science depended more on the the accumulation of new facts than on the insights of geniuses. In Leeds Priestley turned his attention to the chemistry of the atmosphere and discovered a long list of important atmospheric gases: NO, NO2, N2O, HCl, NH3, SO2, SiF4, and not least N2 and O2. In 1768 Priestley wrote that scientific progress and human perfectability require freedom of speech, worship and education, and that the effectiveness of government should be judged according to the welfare of the individual.

Priestley was also a grammarian and disliked many of the English expressions that were starting to come into use in the late 18th century, e.g. “I had rather not,” “you better go,” “between you and I,” “it is me,” “who is this for?”, “between four walls,” “a third alternative,” “the largest of the two,” “more perfect,” and “quite unique.” In one of his essays he forbade the use of 'you was' as an alternative to 'thou wast' and 'thou wert'.

Priestley was charged in the British press for sedition for his support of the American and French revolutions. On July 14, 1791, the 'Church and King' mob destroyed Priestley's home and his laboratory. He moved to Oxford for a time but conservative opposition to the French revolution intensified and he did not feel at ease. In 1794 he moved to the United States where he found the form of government to be 'relatively tolerable'. Priestley continued to work and write, and died in Northumberland Pennsylvania in 1804, mourned by Thomas Jefferson.

January 30, 2005

Science The Endless Frontier

Minister's son Vannevar (rhymes with 'receiver') Bush (1890 - 1974) had an interesting life, and has been immortalized with his own word. He was a mathematician and electrical engineer, and his laboratory created the best analog computer, a kind of supercomputer of the 30s and 40s, before the digital age. As the Dean of Engineering at MIT, VB thought it was important to defend scientists and engineers against the charge that the Great Depression was the fault of technocrats, and started to become involved in politics. He is perhaps best known for a modernist proposal he wrote in 1938 for FDR-- 'Science, The Endless Frontier', a plan for government support of university research, and helped create the National Science Foundation to cement the ties between science, industry and the military. Bush (who as far as I now is not related to Prescott Sheldon, GHW or GW Bush) headed the Office of Scientific Research and Development which controlled the Manhatttan project in WWII. VB was thinking about the potential of microfilm and wrote in Life magazine in 1945, "Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified." This article was read by Ted Nelson and Douglas Engelbart, and inspired them to write the concepts that later became hypertext and formed the basis of the world wide web. In 1949 Bush wrote a book called 'Modern Arms and Free Men' where he argued that the militarization of American science would harm the economy.

There are some who say that VB was the head of a powerful group known as the 'Majestic 12' who were appointed by Dwight Eisenhower to investigate and cover up the alien crash site in Roswell, New Mexico.

Bush became known for his habit of overestimating technical challenges-- for instance he predicted that a nuclear weapon could never be made small enough to fit in the nose of a missile. Hence his eponym:

vannevar, n.
A bogus technological prediction or a foredoomed engineering concept, esp. one that fails by implicitly assuming that technologies develop linearly, incrementally, and in isolation from one another when in fact the learning curve tends to be highly nonlinear, revolutions are common, and competition is the rule. The prototype was Vannevar Bush's prediction of ‘electronic brains’ the size of the Empire State Building with a Niagara-Falls-equivalent cooling system for their tubes and relays, a prediction made at a time when the semiconductor effect had already been demonstrated. Other famous vannevars have included magnetic-bubble memory, LISP machines, videotex, and a paper from the late 1970s that computed a purported ultimate limit on areal density for ICs that was in fact less than the routine densities of 5 years later.

January 28, 2005

Bob update

Back to Bob Dylan's book:

Bob writes that people from the north are better abstract thinkers, because if its cold you know that after a while it will be warm again, and if it is warm, you know that after a while it will be cold again. Also, once he had Bono over for dinner and they were talking about the settlement of America, and Bob said, if you want to see the birthplace of America, you should go to Alexandria Minnesota.

Big Brother

My oldest brother graduated from high school before I started kindergarden. I looked up to him. I remember some of our discussions from when I was just a sprout, some examples:

Big Brother: Everything you see is made out of atoms.
me, age 6: What's an atom?
BB: An atom is made of electrons orbiting around a nucleus, like the earth orbits around the sun.
6: What's an electron?
BB: Its an elementary charged particle. The problem is that moving charges give off energy as light, and all the electrons should lose energy and crash into the nuclei.

I went around the house for about half a day thinking, Dear Lord help us the universe is going to collapse. I know now of course that the reason atoms don't collapse is that Bohr's model of the atom was naive, and that electrons behave like waves not particles at this level.

BB: How does a rocket engine work?
6: Gas goes shooting out and pushes against the earth and the rocket blasts into space.
BB: No, Newton's Law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
6: The engine ignites, and then zoom!
BB: But a rocket works even in space, when there is no earth to push against. Momentum is conserved, and the rocket goes forward because the gas is shot out of the engine really really fast.
That one shut me up for a few years.

Our biggest argument was about whether the numbers 1 and 0.9999999... were the same or not. He said they were, I was hard to convince. He cooked up one argument, if 1/3 is 0.3333... and 2/3 is 0.66666... and 1/3 + 2/3 =1, then 0.999... must be equal to 1. He had to tell me what a fraction was and how to add them, and that 3/3 =1. But even so, I wasn't going to let him get away with it. I could see that he hadn't really proved anything, he had just pushed the tricky bits back a little further into that little word 'if'. Finally he came up with the idea that if two numbers were different, then it must be possible to put a new number in between them, and that no numbers existed between 1 and 0.99999.....well I thought, why didn't you just say that from the beginning?

January 26, 2005

A place called Jante

In 1933 the Norwegian Aksel Sandemose wrote a book called roughly 'A refugee goes back' or 'A refugee recrosses his tracks'. It is somewhat autobiographical, he being the refugee, a Norwegian living in a small farming village called Jante (pronounced 'yanteh') on the Danish peninsula called Jutland. He wrote down ten rules guiding life in the town, known as the Jante Law:

1. You shall not believe that you are anything.
2. You shall not believe that you are as good as we are.
3. You shall not believe that you are smarter than we are.
4. You shall not imagine that you are better than we are.
5. You shall not believe that you know more than we do.
6. You shall not believe that you are more capable than we are.
7. You shall not believe that you are good enough for anything.
8. You shall not laugh at us.
9. You shall not believe that anyone cares about you.
10. You shall not think that you can teach us anything.

It's a dark book, and it definitely struck a chord in Scandinavia-- it seems that all over, when people want to describe for me what the Scandinavian soul is like, they will start talking about the Jante Law, usually in a negative way, but so that you know they see something powerful or something to fight against. I've had this happen in Lund, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm. At the lunchtable at work once I started defending the Jante Law, just to see what would happen. It was one of the most lively discussions I have seen at the University. My line was that it was an integral part of the ability to function as a community-- everyone needs to focus on doing their part.

January 23, 2005

Weekend Update

We were eating dinner and joking around that Mom and Dad were lions wolfing down a nice juicy zebra steak, and we asked Fredrik what kind of an animal he wanted to be. He skipped a beat, and then said, ‘something inedible.’

Anders is 15 months old and normally he doesn’t get to go in the room where we keep the rabbit. But he was in there, and I was watching him. He very carefully went over to the bag of hay and plucked out a single straw, and walked over to the rabbit and gave it to him.

The day starts with a shriek from Anders at 6:20. The circus begins. Circus ends when the kids are in bed asleep, maybe around 9. Can’t figure out where the time goes. By 9 we are beat. Feeling semi human again by about 9:30, and then, maybe, there are a few minutes to talk or read or watch TV. Then, get ready to start all over again and hope the kids sleep through the night.

Top signs

1) Less hair on top, touch of gray on the sides.

2) Muddy Waters and bluegrass music don’t have the same effect on me that they used to. Same goes for coffee.

3) Finished paying off student loans.

4) I had a desire for the first time in my life to go on a diet, and I did, and it worked and changed my outlook, my waistline and my attitude towards food. I can’t say enough good things about it—go read ‘The South Beach Diet’ (and thanks to my sister in law for the Christmas gift). For a nice intro, see these articles (thanks to Tim McGuire’s Primate Brow Flash):

The Brown One

When we were living in Pasadena we had two mice as pets, one white and one brown. They were cute little buggers but lived life in the fast lane. The white one swelled up and passed away. Some friends were over and asked us what the remaining mouse’s name was and we said, ‘the brown one.’ They took it to mean ‘The Brown One’ and were really impressed, like we were some kind of artistic geniuses and this mouse was our oracle. It helped that Claudia really was an artist, had gone to a design academy in Munich and had chosen color schemes for several buildings.

Then there was that big earthquake in LA in the early 90s. For some reason the most common time for an earthquake is in the early morning hours, and we were woken up by a sharp bouncing around 5 in the morning, like someone was picking up the bed a couple of feet and dropping it on the floor over and over again. Then the waves started, back and forth like a boat on the water, the apartment building creaking like an old wooden ship, sounds of things falling. We were alright. The fridge and stove had each walked about a foot. We found the glass aquarium where the brown one made her nest broken on the floor. Where was she? In a corner, under a bookcase, with a broken tail. The brown one lived for about a year after that, up to about the time of the riots, with a right angle bend in the middle of her tail.

January 21, 2005


Here's one that stuck with me:

And what does the Lord require of you, O man, but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

Micah 6:8

January 20, 2005

Pandemonium in the pressroom

One of my students has a part time job as a computer consultant for the main Copenhagen newspaper. Today he came in to report pandemonium in the pressroom. An election has been announced in Denmark and the reporters are in a frenzy, and suspect their computers are acting up just before it is time to put the final copy to bed. Carsten was up all night reassuring them that their programs are still working normally. As an American the elections here seem a little bizarre (and the weird part is that that means I consider an American election to be normal). A government is formed by a vote in the parliament, and then they set to work, with the condition that within a certain length of time (3 or 4 years), they must call a new national election. And they can call it any time really, and then when they do, it is with a three week deadline. So the opposition has been sitting on their election-time schemes waiting for this one three-week window of opportunity. Beats 1.5 year campaign any day.

January 19, 2005

On Galactic Spiral Arms, Cosmic Rays and Ice-Age Epochs on Earth

Here's a seminar we will have at the University of Copenhagen next week. Titles (above) and abstracts (see below) like this make my brain salivate.

Recent evidence suggests that changes in the galactic cosmic ray flux are affecting the global climate. I will show here that the cosmic ray flux-climate connection appears to exist also on geological time scales. In particular, the cosmic ray flux variability arising from our passages through the Milky Way's spiral arms seems to be responsible for the periodic appearance of ice-age epochs on Earth every 150 million years, while on longer time scales, glacial activity correlates with the Milky Way star formation history. I will discuss the ample evidence which supports this picture, the possible relation to the demise of the dinosaurs, and the trillion dollar question of global warming, as well as other seemingly unrelated topics.


In the early 1800s Sweden lost control of Finland and
gained control of Norway. The Norwegians had some
autonomy during this time (their own parlaiment but a
Swedish king) and worked at building their own culture and
identity, now that they were free from Denmark. This
culminated in a movement to be free from Sweden, which
succeeded in 1905. Norway has been quite lucky in the 20th century, in part due
to the discovery of oil in the north sea. Some experts found
that if the oil money was let loose in the Norwegian
economy, it would cause havoc-- inflation, unemployment.
They decided that it could in fact even be worse than
socialism. Instead they put the money in a national trust
fund with a strict rule that it can only be invested outside the
country. It is forecast that the value of this fund will soon
grow in size to be large enough to buy the entire Swedish
national debt. According to the forecast this will occur on
June 7 this year, 100 years exactly from the day when the
Norwegian parliament notified the Swedish parlaiment that
they considered the Swedish-Norwegian union to be

Lots of Norwegians emigrated to the US of course. In the
1800s the population of Norway increased from 883,000 to
2,240,000. The economy grew as well, but not enough to
provide opportunities for everyone. Opportunity called from
farming in the American Midwest, and relative to its size,
Norway sent the most emigrants to the US of any other
european country except for Ireland.

January 18, 2005

Swedish sayings

'Inget d?ligt väder, bara d?ligt kläder,' means 'there's no
such thing as bad weather, but there is such a thing as bad

'En Svensk tiger' This is a motto from WWII with a double meaning. The first
is that a Swede keeps his or her mouth shut, and the
second is literally 'a Swedish tiger.'

'Mycket snak och lite verkstad' means roughly 'all hat and
no cattle' and literally, 'lots of talk and little workshop'

...and finally, 'up som solen, ner som en pankaka' 'Up like
the sun, down like a pancake.' Kids can be like that (and
politicians). Off to a good start, and then flop.

Climate histories

Yesterday we had two guests at the University. One is an expert on climate models from California and has been on many expert panels and editorial boards for several decades. Nice guy, a mathematician and physicist by training, from Yale and Oxford. The other was a Professor from Michigan who is an expert on the role of aerosols in climate-- as it turns out, she was also a mathematician by training.

Whenever we have guests I always try to take them to visit the glaciology group. These people are in charge of the Greenland ice core project, and it is always exciting to hear their latest results and go down into the freezer. The nice thing about the big glaciers like on Greenland and Antarctica is that the snow never melts. When they drill down, they find layer after layer of ice like rings of a tree, perfectly preserving samples of snow and trapped air bubbles. they analyse this in order to reconstruct climate records, date large volcanic eruptions and so on. The fun fact I learned yesterday was that the transition from the Younger Dryas period to the Holocene was very rapid. The entire climate warmed by 6 C (11 F) over a period of just 20 years! The other fun recent result from this group is the discovery that DNA is stored in the ice cores.

January 14, 2005

The fishtank

There was an aquarium in Fredrik's kindergarden, and at the end of the school year last June the teacher asked him if he would like to take the fish. We had a nice little tank at home, nothing fancy, a few plants, tetras, mollies, and a guppy, and the newcomers added something less than a dozen new fish, including a cool spotted algae eater and three cichlids. Cichlids come from Africa and are known for their complex courtship and mating behaviour. They form pairs, build nests, defend their territories. Some are known as 'mouth breeders' and carry the eggs in their mouth until they hatch. Anyway, two of the cichlids formed an evil alliance. First they harassed the third cichlid until he spent all his time hiding behind the filter. He died. Then, one by one, they bumped off all the fish in the tank, saving the algae eater for last. Then they had babies. It was kind of fun to see the mother herding the little ones around, until the father started eating them, one by one. They had a second litter after awhile but we're not sure anymore where the little ones ended up. Maybe Dad got 'em. Anyway, we long for the days when we had a diverse happy ecosystem in our aquarium, and have decided that this weekend, the cichlids' time is up. We'll clean the tank, and then restock with colorful, tolerant species.

The roots of science

Maybe it shouldn't but it surprises me sometimes how scientists are seen by the world at large. There are a few Hollywood archetypes, the mad scientist with a scheme to take over the world, the nerd bent on revenge for percieved slights, the antiseptic vulcan. And of course people project their own ideas onto the unknown, like, 'What are those physicists/chemists/agroengineers up to? Can't be good. Must be a plan to take over the world.' Scientists take an interest in understanding how things work. Things like gravitation or a chemical reaction rate or the effect of caffeine on your neurons work the same whether you live in a red state or a blue state. One of the origins of science is natural philosophy, the idea that we can know God by studying His creation. This has been a tremendously rewarding enterprise, and it has been found again and again that creation is a rational place, guided by laws that can be written down and understood. For me at least, it adds to the beauty. A good way to get a scientists attention is to tell them that something doesn't make sense.

The Tandoor oven

On the train home I typed 'long burn' into the search engine of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a truly wonderful piece of software. One hit caught my attention, 'tandoori cookery,' and I wondered if the long burn in question was gastric. I learned that a tandoor is a large, underground urn-shaped clay oven fired with charcoal that's used in Indian cooking. Meats are marinated in yoghurt and spices and then threaded on long skewers that are placed vertically in the oven, resting on the ashes A natural dye, Tandoori rang, colors the meat a reddish-orange color. A whole wheat bread called Nan is made by pressing ovals of dough onto the inner walls of the oven. Sounds good, doesn't it? And I don't just say that because its dinner time. So here we have a long-burning wood stove making long-burning roasted meats. What could be better?

January 13, 2005

Knobs and switches

There was a research group at Berkeley where the Professor was notorious for coming into the lab and fiddling with all the settings on the instrument. So whenever the grad students built a new circuit, they would add a dummy dial for the professor. He'd come into lab and they'd say, 'Try adjusting the Einzel lens, there.'

The coolest switch I have come across was on the chrome-plated radio of the 1967 Chrysler New Yorker that I bought from the original owner in Minnesota and drove in California for a few years. It worked like a charm and sat next to the usual row of mechanical station-preset buttons: 'Reverb.' Flip the toggle and whatever you were listening to goes though the echo chamber. Those were the days!

If I was going to design a new sound effect for musicians it would be 'Train Station.' You plug your electric guitar or microphone into this box and press the switch with your foot, and everything becomes booming, echoey and incomprehensible. But I'm too late-- these boxes must already exist because they are used in all the European train stations.

If you were to create a new button, switch or hot key what would it do?

January 12, 2005

Hands off my freedom pastry, eh?

One of the points of light in the former Laboratory for Molecular Spectroscopy (former, because one of the guiding principles of administration is that all organizations must be reorganized, all the time) was Else Philipp. If you needed a rare, isotopically-labelled sample of some compound, Else could synthesize it. If you needed a hard to find gas fitting, ask Else. If you are in Stockholm and your plane to LA gets canceled, call Else. Else was cheerful, optimistic and great fun to sit next to at the annual Christmas lunch. But alas, there is no one around these days to punch Else's time card, and her desk sits empty. Why you ask. It's because Else's husband is a diplomat. The first hint we got that something was up was when she started studying French in the evenings. It took about a year before she could tell us why-- Mr. Else is the new Danish ambassador to Canada, and at the end of last summer they moved into the Danish Ambassador's Residence in Ottawa.

It turns out that Canadian-Danish relations are not all that could be hoped for and that the new ambassador has his work cut out for him. The ill-will reached the point where a bill was introduced into the Canadian parlaiment to officially change the name of the Danish to 'Freedom Pastry.' The land of maple syrup and the land of pork are involved in a vicious territorial dispute over an island to the north of Greenland. Each year Her Majesty's Navy sends an expedition to this small rock to put up a Danish flag which they hold in place with a pile of stones. Each year the Arctic winds shred the flag. Each year the Canadian army has exercises on the island to assert their territorial claims. The reason they care is that the ice cap covering the north pole is getting thinner and smaller all the time, and many people believe that by mid-century, THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE will be open. And this island is right in the middle of the shipping lane, a perfect place for a gas station. But whose flag will it fly?

January 11, 2005

Doomsday cancelled? I say 2 F in 25 years.

Between Christmas and New Year we were taking Fredrik to the aquarium outside of Copenhagen-- it combines two of his great loves in life, fish and diving (I tried unsuccessfully to talk him into the science museum). On the train, Karin pointed out a column in the newspaper, 'Doomsday Cancelled.' It said how the threat of global warming had been called off, and as evidence it cited Michael Crichton's recent book State of Fear. I went out and bought the book and have read about half of it now. I was hoping for something new and am reading the book with an open mind. Unfortunately, so far, I have only found the same collection of innuendo, misrepresentation and cherry picking of facts that was discussed and disproved many years ago. Crichton is a bright guy, he writes good books, so how can he have gotten so far off track? What I would like to do is go to one of these electronic markets for ideas and place a bet regarding the future state of the earth's climate. The bet would be something like the following. The annual average temperature of the interior of N. America will increase by at least 2 F (1.1 C) over the next 25 years relative to the 1990s. I think that's a safe bet given past trends in climate and climate forecasts. Some examples-- the global average temperature has increased by 1 F over the last 100 years, and the temperature of Alaska has increased by 3 F over the last 30 years (the predicted and observed temperature changes due to anthropogenic climate forcing are larger at the poles than at the equator). More facts regarding global warming can be found at www.ipcc.ch, and a good commentary on the climate change debate at http://realclimate.org/. Thanks Tim McGuire for the realclimate tip.

Why doesn't business take climate change seriously? Well, some businesses do, for example Ford and British Petroleum. But one problem is that greenhouse gases give what experts like to call a 'long burn' ;-). Greenhouse gases persist in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, depending on the gas, meaning that the temperature changes are slow and relentless seen over a single human generation. Businesses must plan for the short term. The reason is that a dollar in the hand now is worth a lot more than a promise of a dollar in the future. Economists call the number involved the 'discount rate' and a good estimate of its value is 13 %, based on an analysis of T-bills and the S & P 500 from 1926 to 1997 (this thanks to Tim Wallington of Ford Motor Co.) So, a promise to pay a dollar in 20 years is worth about 9 cents today. The discount rate arises from factors like bankruptcy, war, comets, real estate bubbles, inflation, and so on. From a financial perspective it makes no sense for businesses to pay attention to things over time scales longer than 5 to 10 years. From a human perspective it makes a lot of sense.

January 10, 2005

Long Burn

A long burn model rocket engine can give about 7 seconds of thrust.
My Pa has a woodstove in a room by the kitchen and does about half the house heating with wood. I used to help split and haul wood when I was growing up, and it was my job to keep the woodbox full. In the fall and spring we would burn punky pithy scrap and bark, poplar and cottonwood even, but the real quality wood was always saved for the dead of winter. Seasoned oak gave good heat for a long time-- the coveted long burn.
Brad Collette writes asking what I know about Swedish stove technology. Well, there is a popular classic model consisting of a cylinder as tall as the room and about 3 feet in diameter, covered in white ceramic tile and filled with sand. At the bottom is the firebox and on top of that is sand for storing heat-- a lot of heat, for a long time. These stoves are apparently very efficient and look great. They are known as 'kakelugn,' literally a ceramic oven, and pictures of some can be found at http://www.nibe.se/brasvarme/produkter/kakelugnar/kakelugnar.htm
According to the sales literature they have the following properties:

5-channel smoke tube for maximum heat transfer to the heat storage chamber
The one-ton stove has a cool-down time of one day
Efficiency of 87 % to squeeze the maximum energy out of every stick of wood
Two burns per day gives a constant heat output of 2 to 4 kW
6 kW output possible for cold-waves
Fast heating possible using the built-in ducts and fan

Our house was built in 1969 when everyone was optimistic and hydroelectric and nuclear power were very cheap in Sweden-- it is heated by electricity! What I've done is replace all the 35-year-old heating elements with newer models, look over doors and windows, and increase the attic insulation from 4 " to 16 ".
My family used to visit a guy's cabin on Rainy Lake and he had built the most beautiful stone/concrete fireplace. Rather traditional looking, but with lots of rocks to hold the heat. If I was really smart I would first build a basement under our house, then put a pool of water there, and store summer heat to use in the winter and winter cool to use in the summer. Brad, how much do you know about heat pumps?

January 09, 2005

What's on Lou's mind?

I was watching an interview with Lou Reed once, and he was saying how he loves New York and feels completely at home there. 'Now what really worries me is a place like Sweden.' he said.

Now what do you think he meant by that??

January 08, 2005

Words to live by.

My better half gave me Bob Dylan's autobiography for my birthday, its pretty good. I like reading about the period when he was unkown, up and coming. He used to visit his grandma in Duluth, and she gave him some advice. She said, happiness is not on the road to anything, happiness is the road. And, she told him to be kind because everyone you'll ever meet is fighting a hard battle.There was another nugget in there and I forget if it comes from Bob himself or from a girlfriend, but it is that you never have to be nicer to anyone than they are to themselves. Not quite sure what to make of that. Sometimes you should make an exception.

Waiting for the storm

There is a strong low pressure center over the Atlantic that is sending a storm our way. They are predicting heavy winds, gusting to hurricaine strength by this afternoon. There has not been a storm of this size here since December 1999, when it took me 6 vehicles and 12 hours to get home from work (bike, bus, ferry, train, bus, bike). Today all I have to do is stay inside, maybe change some diapers and do some dishes. Fredrik wants me to take him to the ice rink but we will have to see how it goes.

January 07, 2005

Absolutely everywhere.

I was thinking the other day, where are my friends? They are everywhere. Almost absolutely everywhere-- I made an incomplete list and the range extends from Alaska to Florida, from Japan to Amsterdam, from LA to Newton, Mass. How the heck to keep in touch with everyone? I have had a great time keeping in touch with Tim McGuire by reading his weblog 'Primate Brow Flash,' and have thought off an on about starting my own blog. Mostly I thought, I could never do it as good as Tim does, he is such a good writer and has a great audience. But then Dave VanderPloeg was visiting and I told him how nice it has been to keep in touch with Tim via his blog. He encouraged me to start this. One of my students used a cool phrase once, 'blame shifting.' So now everything is in place it seems: If the site is a flop, it is Dave's fault. Thanks Dave! Nice to know you've got my back. There is nothing better for the soul than seeing an old friend.

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