Sunday, August 24, 2014

That was a summer, alright.

Tonight basically capped-off the summer for yours-truly: a majestic hunk of steak, grilled on a hot barbecue, accompanied by corn, potatoes, and of course beers and cigars.

As my teacher-pal and I shot the bull, we both realized that, yup, it was back to the ol' grind. But that's alright because...
  1. They pay us to work.
  2. It's always an interesting challenge, this teaching thing.
  3. Colleagues are fun, usually.
  4. We can steal some more red pens.
I kid, I kid... the school board buys such crappy red pens, they're not worth stealing. Staples, baby -- dozen-boxes of Bic Ultra, something like $2.50? Can't say no to that.

(Besides, I usually mark in green.)

The summer was a good one. I seemed to have a better mix of in-town stuff and trips outta-town this year than in others, but still managed to get out-and-about and see some ball games, visit family, and generally goof-off in enjoyable ways.

But, alas, it has come to an end yet again. In a way it's easier to get together when it's not summertime -- people often aren't around when you want to put something together, or want to hang out, or whatnot. But in September onwards, chances are you aren't going to be jetting off somewhere for two weeks, unless you're one of those bastards that actually gets to choose when they take their holidays.

(Not flying and/or staying in hotels during peak travel season? What's that like?!)

In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrasts.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

God is amazing, alright.

On Thursday night the Marlins played the Pirates, and it was about as average a baseball game as you could hope for (Pittsburgh beat Miami, 7-2)... except that Marlins pitcher Dan Jennings got hit in the head with a line drive.

That's always a scary moment, and frankly I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often: a screaming line drive comes right back at the pitcher's head, and before they get a chance to get their glove up for protection or duck out of the way, bingo, ball meets skull/temple/face. Seeing as how these batted baseballs are moving at, at times, 110 mph (175 km/h), and the pitcher is standing a little less than 60 ft (18 m) away...

v = 175 km/h = (1.75 x 105 m)/(3600 s) = 49 m/s

v = d/t ... t = d/v = (18 m)/(49 m/s) = 0.37 s

...that's not a lot of time. (Always show your work.) Actually, that's not even the length of time you have to react. That's the length of time from when the ball leaves the bat to when it would hit you 60 ft away; you have to get your glove up by that time, and that takes a fraction of a second too.

So, Jennings got clocked. Preliminary tests suggest a concussion, but if you check the video clip above, dude didn't even fall to the ground. Ball smashes off his head, he spins around and takes a few steps, then puts his hands on his knees. Tough guy.

Anyway, he was well enough to tweet this afterwards:
The scans were negative-it seems I'm going to be ok. The support shown tonight has been unbelievable, speechless. God is amazing
Easy there, Dan -- that may well be the concussion talking. But let's unpack this statement.

God is amazing because...
  1. the scans were negative
  2. you're going to be OK
  3. you've received support from people
These are all good things, don't get me wrong. I'm glad the scans were negative, that you're going to be OK, and that you feel the support of family, friends and fellow players.

But is this really evidence that God is "amazing?"

According to all the descriptions of an almighty deity I've ever encountered in Christianity, God is everywhere at all times. Now, there's always a question of how "interventionist" you want your God to be, of course... but omniscience and omnipotence seem to be pretty key features.

If God is omnipotent, and if God loves all His creatures and creations, you'd think that getting nailed in the temple by a flying five-ounce spherical projectile would be something that God wouldn't want one of His precious little things to experience. And yet, it happened.

The way I see it, there are two events here in which God could have intervened:
  1. the initial incident of ball hitting face
  2. the relatively-positive aftermath
Also, there are two ways in which God could have reacted:
  1. do nothing
  2. make things happen the way they did
I smell a 2x2 table coming on.

God did nothing God did it
ball hits face Geez, do something already. Dick move! You DID this?!
positive aftermath Humans are pretty great. It was the least you could do.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that I don't know if God exists or not. But if so, come ON.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A whopper of an existential crisis.

So I'm visiting my folks on the long weekend, and the topic of conversation turns to the windmills that are going up all over the place in southwestern Ontario.

Me: "I dunno, I kinda like them."

Mom: "Oh no, they're terrible. We don't want 'em."

Me: "Well, nobody really wants them in their back yard, but they've gotta go somewhere."

Mom: "But they wreck the soil. They drive the worms out when they pour the concrete pad, and that makes the farmland less productive."

Me: "It's a small price to pay for totally green electricity. Rather that than have coal spitting out carbon dioxide all over the place."

Mom: "Well, you don't know what it's like, you don't live here anymore."

And it's true, I don't, and I haven't lived in rural southwestern Ontario since 1996. But that's been stuck in my head the past few days, and I can't get it out.

Here's the crisis:

Am I a small-town person or a big-city person?

Naturally, my instinct in states of indecision or confusion is to draw a diagram. So I whipped up a spreadsheet and figured out how long I've been living in each place.

That's the basic idea. ("London," for the record, is the real one: London, Ontario. And I technically lived at RR#1 Deep River, but that's close enough.) There were various places in Waterloo and Kingston and Toronto that I've lived in, and technically I lived in pre-amalgamation North York for four months, but if it's the 416, let's classify it as Toronto.

This is a lot of colours, so we can simplify a bit. I'll consider Inwood and Deep River to be small towns; Waterloo, Kingston and London are small cities; Toronto and Calgary are big cities.

Small town still wins, but we're getting closer to 50-50. Finally, if we consider something to either be "a small town" or "not a small town," I think you know how this is going to go.

And there you have it. But, in my defence, my small-town years were my formative ones, so they probably count more than their 49% suggests. So, if I had to classify myself these days, let's go with...

Small-town roots but with a big-city veneer on top.

Yeah, I think that works alright.