Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dang... the Universe is most certainly NOT fair



I was going to write up a short blog entry about the death of Barbaro, and then Molly Ivins went and lost her battle (and it was probably a fight to the very last breath) with her third round of breast cancer. I hope that Molly Ivins wouldn't mind that I'm memorializing her with a horse ... I have a feeling she would have been pleased.

Both were some of the best ever at what they did and both got a bad roll of the dice and left us too soon. And we are all left to wonder about the amazing things that they still had left to accomplish (although, granted, with Barbaro, a lot of that would have been making little Barbaros).

Molly Ivins was a thoroughbred of wit, and she will be sorely missed.

Texas Observer's obituary for Molly Ivins

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Interesting weather the last few days

So, it started with rain, which then became floods, and now it is freezing rain, sleet and snow.

Overnight Friday into Saturday morning we got quite a round of thunderstorms and very heavy rains (on pretty well saturated ground). After going to breakfast we drove around to all the low spots on the roads around the house and pretty much all of them were under water. The creek that is just down the road from us was higher than we've ever seen... the monitor on it says that the normal level lately was about 5 ft, but Saturday night it peaked at 34 ft. Thankfully we're up on a hill. If we have water in the house, Houston is in the drink...

By Monday, the cold air that was wreaking havoc in the middle of the country had worked its way down to Texas and combined with the moisture from the Pacific to give us freezing rain. We already had the day off from work for Martin Luther King Day, which was good, since ice and Texans in cars don't mix well. The forecasts last night looked bad, so the University (and all the school districts) canceled work and classes for today (Tuesday). Good thing too, since sleet, snow pellets and honest-to-goodness SNOW has been falling all day. We're in a little bit of a lull right now, but it looks like more is on the way. I'm personally hoping for more of the snow, since 1) it's a lot safer than the ice and 2) it's so pretty!

We've been taking photos and I'll have some up on Flickr once I get a chance to upload them. The satellite internet is a little slow from home today since the receiver is covered in ice!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Awesome ads and a good idea to boot



The above are two of the ads from the Girl Scouts Girls Go Tech campaign, and my particular favorites (I especially like the radio version of "Twinkle"). Click on the small versions to go to the full sized images at the AdCouncil website.

I was a Girl Scout (actually, a Brownie) for about all of two seconds in the late 1970s in Houston... which of course was long enough to sell cookies ... yuuummmmm.... thin mints.....

But, I digress. The goal of this campaign it to encourage interest in math and science in young girls, and even more importantly, to keep that interest alive in them as they grow older. The website isn't too in depth, but it does have a few good resources for encouraging girls in technology, math and science.

I've seen a huge variety of girls in the past 11 years that I've been doing astronomy education and outreach. Some are smart, confident and don't mind showing off what they know and others are shy and need enouragement to answer questions. I've seen three-year-olds able to recognize the moon through a telescope and I've seen teens that don't know the difference between a solar system, a galaxy and the Universe. And I've seen everything in between. But, I'm somewhat encouraged because I'm seeing more and more of the smart, confident type and I see more and more female undergrads and grad students coming into astronomy. I think the past few graduate classes we've admitted at UT are close to 50/50 male/female. I don't know as much about other fields, but at least astronomy seems to be making a little progress.

There isn't really any grand point to this post, I just wanted to link to those neat ads and ramble a little about something that I care about (for obvious reasons) - girls and women in science.