rest in peace, Mr. Wizard

I was saddened the other day to learn that Don Herbert, aka Mr. Wizard, died of multiple myeloma on June 12 of this year.

My own direct experience with Mr. Wizard is limited to the revival show Mr. Wizard’s World that aired on Nickelodeon in the 1980’s. Beyond that, however, are multitudes of cultural references — be it the “Ted Olson, Scientist” segments of the original Police Squad! series or imitators of the format like Beakman’s World. Every time you see some kid saying on TV “Gee, how does that work?”, and prompting some guy in a lab coat to appear and say “Well Timmy, that’s just an application of the Bernoulli Principle. Here let me show you…”, that’s the legacy of Mr. Wizard.

Even more than that though, I think that Mr. Wizard is responsible for educating a couple generations of kids in the basic principles of science. For that, we all owe Mr. Herbert a debt of gratitude. Thank you, Mr. Herbert. We’ll miss you.


good things to watch

Well, I am finally feeling better after 12-18 hours of utter gastro-intestinal awfulness and 24-36 hours of recovery from lack of sleep.

I had two things to help occupy my mind during those hours when my personal plumbing was trying to get the better of me. The first is a copy of Genesis: In Concert. I first discovered this 45 minute concert film, back in the late 1980’s on the USA Network’s Night Flight. The film was shot during the A Trick Of The Tail tour in the summer of 1976. That album is a huge favorite of mine, and the concert footage became a treasured piece of VHS tape for a little over a year… until I accidentally taped over it around 1990. I’ve been missing it ever since.

VH1 Classic decided to show the film to bookend their latest edition of Rock Honors. This time, I’m taking no chances. I saved the program on our DVR. I figured out how to stream the program off the DVR on to Mrs. Geek’s iMac, and from there, burn it onto DVD. I spent all day at work with the concert playing in the background. It was cool.

I’ve also been getting a big kick out of the web site Red State Update. I’m not sure what to call it… a redneck cultural and political satire? As soon as I saw the latest episode, “Ron Paul vs. The Loch Ness Monster”, I started laughing so hard that Mrs. Geek became concerned for my mental health. I’ve watched a few of the episodes by Travis and Jonathan, and when they hit, THEY HIT. Where else can you see 5 minutes of video that mentions Presidential Candidate Ron Paul, the Loch Ness Monster, Libertarian ideals, Deadwood, Kroger sacks, Battlestar Galactica, Woodstock ’99, and Free Market economics, the Republican Debates, and “Baby, Secret Of The Lost Legend”?

there are better ways to spend a night

My wrists are still not recovered, though I believe that they are doing somewhat better.

Another problem brings me back to my diary at the moment, however. My gut is in active rebellion tonight. I went to bed around 10:30. I was up again just after midnight, and have been feeling waves of nausea (making visits to the bathroom) at about 20 minute intervals since then. It’s now just after 5am and the sun is coming up.

What is afflicting me? I’ve heard that a stomach flu is going around. Mrs. Geek and I also ate dinner last evening at a locally-owned burger emporium. I got the burger a bit on the rare side. Perhaps that was my mistake.

In the meanwhile, Mrs. Geek and I paid a call to a mortgage broker last night. More on that later.

On the plus side, I had my semi-annual dental cleaning yesterday. No cavities.

a non-voluntary break

Somewhere during the last two weeks, I did a pretty good number on my right wrist. I’m not sure what’s wrong, but there has been some tingling and numbness in my right hand. It’s slowly getting better, but I’ve been trying to stay away from the keyboard as much as possible to let my hands rest. Some of this obviously has something to do with my more recent strenuous efforts to get in shape because the tingling varies (in part) with how I move my upper arms.

I also took Thursday and Friday of last week to make a four day weekend. Thursday was a bit of working vacation day, as I went down to my grad school stomping grounds and visited the annual retreat that my old research group puts on to end the school year. As with the last one of these that I attended, I come to realize that a lot of the ideas I had in my “statement of research intent” when I was applying to become a professor seven years ago were actually pretty good… other people in my old group have spent time working on a lot of the same things since then.

I seemed to collapse onto the sofa for much of the rest of the weekend… which felt oh so good.