Wrapping up #94

Well, I can cross one more off faster than I’d have guessed. Near the tail end of my teaching gig at Antioch, Libby, Michelle and I drove down to Boston for the day.  One destination was the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.  It turned out my friend Jay was in Boston for the weekend, and since I dragged invited him to the second Presidential Library in this task — FDR’s in Hyde Park — it made perfect sense to have him to meet up with us.

It’s an impressive facility, just as nice as the museum side of the Carter Center.  An introductory film sets the stage, followed by a series of exhibits.  There’s no shortage of artifacts — to me, the most impressive is the coconut from Olasana Island (part of the Solomon Islands) that JFK carved a message into to inform Allied forces that the survivors of PT-109 were indeed alive.  The coconut shell was on the President’s desk during his presidency and now is part of the museum’s collection. Why not? It helped make him into a war hero, after all.

The actual coconut shell that Kennedy carved a simple message into.

There are a lot of really compelling photographs, both from the administration as well as Kennedy’s younger years. Given his social standing and the development of photography as an accessible medium, he might have been the first President in which it was fairly easy to document an entire life with photos. In addition to the JFK exhibits, Bobby Kennedy’s Attorney General Office is replicated, which was a bonus.

There is a goodly amount of artifacts and photos from the space program here. Here’s JFK with John Glenn.
Perhaps post-Glenn’s orbital flight?

Bobby at his desk as the Attorney General.
For those Kennedy-philes who are wondering, there are small nuggets of artifacts about all the Kennedy family members amongst the exhibits, but Bobby gets the lion’s share of the attention.

I was curious as to how the assassination would be handled.  One of the final sections leads into a darkened hallway with just “November 22, 1963” on the wall.  Then one turns a corner into an even darker room and you watch the famous CBS Walter Cronkite “special bulletin” coverage, which is playing on several TV monitors large and small.  It’s effective, as they let the power of that particularly memorable news report convey the shock of the tragedy.

After that, there is a resource room with lists of Kennedy achievements and books. Finally, visitors enter a soaring glass atrium with an impressively large flag and a moving passage from the President’s inaugural address on the wall. It’s a nice way to end the museum tour.

The atrium.

The address.

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#12: Created a trail app (a WebApp, actually)

Do you have this on your phone yet?  No?  Why not?

I’m the webmaster for the Friends of the Clinton River Trail website, and while the main site is just fine by itself, there has been a growing need for a mobile version of the site. So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on the “portable” CRT site — for users who are browsing with smartphones and tablets. Makes sense, as many of our users are out on the trail with their smartphones anyway.

The cool part — and defines this project as an app — is that the software template I modified uses a script that creates what Apple calls WebApps. It’s basically an app that works like a website, but the end user never opens up a browser window until they open a PDF file or something like that.  Creates its own cool-looking icon, as you can see in the photo above.

Anyway, to get to the app you can scan this code:

Once the app is installed and the icon is set, just tap the icon and you’re in the app.  The app reflows for either orientation, nice and smooth, and has a few photos and other information in addition to the trail map.

Alternatively, and particularly if you are reading this on a smartphone, just click here to get the app.

As you can see in the shots below, the app looks great in both portrait and landscape orientations.  Nice.

"about" page map page FC page Bridge pic

Check it out, and enjoy the trail!

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#3: New car… sooner than I had expected.

Letting the geek flag fly proudly. If you want a cool TARDIS frame too, click the photo.

Sure, purchasing a new — or at least new to me — vehicle was on my list; I had been driving around a 2000 Honda Civic coupe since 2005.  It was a fine little car, but was starting to show signs of age. I figured it had a good 3 or 4,000 miles left on it, and imagined getting a replacement would have been one of the last things I’d do on this list.

Well, that all changed on November 16, when, as I left my apartment headed for a video-shooting gig in Washington DC, I was met with an empty space in the carport where the vehicle was just seven hours earlier.  I’ve never encountered any real crime here in the humble burg of Royal Oak, so it was all the more unsettling.  Indeed, at first I walked out to the front to make sure I hadn’t parked the car on the street.  But no, the streetside was as empty as the carport was.  Then I recalled how the previous night in preparation for my gig I had taken a couple bags of gear outside to load up the car.  They went in the trunk, but … someone must have been watching (creepy enough), and specualted the gear and the car must have been a good target.

So, after talking to the police and the insurance guy (he informed me that 2000 was the last model year before Honda made anti-theft standard equipment in all of their cars… great), I hustled my way to DC via plane and did the gig.  The videos are here, by the way.

In the plane I had an idea about what to drive upon my return to Detroit. I’d ask if I could borrow my mom’s car for a few weeks while the insurance claim was processed — they won’t start to process the claim for at least three weeks, as most stolen cars are recovered in that timeframe. Luckily, I have a fantastic and very accommodating mother, and I made plans to rent a car from DC and drive down to Myrtle Beach and get her car… thinking I’d return it at Christmastime.

Well, a one-month loan stretched into four, as I finally got around to getting a new car in mid-March. Ford Credit was generous enough to lease me a brand-spankin’ new 2012 Focus.

While visiting the Green Mountain State…

I couldn’t be more pleased with the car; it handles well, looks good and is easy on the gas… during one of the trips out to New Hampshire I got almost 40mpg.   If I had been driving right at the speed limit I’m certain I would have.  Amazing how going 65 instead of 70 will impact your mileage.

As people have asked… “Why the Galileo plate?”

A few reasons:

1) Galileo is my favorite scientist. Astronomer, physicist, philosopher, heretic… there are many ways to admire him.  But I think the reason I like him the best is that by all accounts he possessed a biting, satiric, wicked sense of humor.  He is one of the four people I’d invite to my “dinner for five.”

2) Galileo was the name given to a shuttlecraft on the original Star Trek series, and my car sort of shares the stubby, wedgy look of that vehicle. As it did for thecrew of the Enterprise, it gets me where I’m headed quite reliably. Plus, it fits my geek nature quite well… although if you are reading this you probably realized that already.

Of course, my shuttle is black, but you get the idea.

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