Back from Roma

Well, I’m back from my European trip. I spent 3 days in Vienna, 2 days in Cortona, Italy, 4 days in Sorrento, and 4 days in Rome. Very enjoyable. I got to see the sights with my sister, along with some friends of hers from school. I also got to visit a good friend in Austria, and see the beginning of the Christmasmarkt at the Rathausplatz in Vienna.

I’m more convinced than ever that the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is the worst-designed airport in the history of mankind. I don’t know what they’re smoking over there, but Air France must have as many buses running people around as they do 747s and 777s. It’s really silly. Some gates are out at satellite buildings in the boondocks, consecutive numbers are nowhere near each other, the buses don’t run on anything approaching a logical schedule or route, and you get scowled at if you attempt something as dumb as trying to remain with your sister in the same terminal when she has a four hour layover and you have a six-hour wait. Anyways, if you’re traveling to Europe, do everythign in your power and then some to avoid CDG in Paris. If you must transit through there, triple all your estimates for connection times.

The sad news is that my grandmother died today, so I will traveling to Atlanta this weekend. More time in the airport, except both LAX and ATL have semi-functional layouts.

Project Valour – Army Strong!

My brother graduated from Army Basic training last week. Well, it was Basic and Advanced something or ‘nother (ASIT). I thought NASA used a lot of acronyms, the military is a whole new world. Anyways, so the family was down at Fort Benning. Very impressive stuff. We didn’t get to see any tanks drive around, but two Bradley APCs did show up at graduation.

I’m very proud of my brother. He got his infantry cord, and is reporting to Airborne training soon. He got a college degree before signing up, one of 11 in his company of 230+ to do that, so he’s certainly not one of the uneducated targets of Senator Kerry. It was quite a sight to see some of the infantry’s training ground. It’s amazing what they can do to a recruit in 14 weeks. My brother is an awesome soldier, and looks great in his beret and class A uniform. I couldn’t stop grinning!

I also just donated to Project Valour, on the part of the Army Blackfive team, of course. That’s why that donation badge is showing up on the main page.

Keep the Immigration Debate Civil

Arnold actually has a pretty good op-ed piece on illegal immigration in the LA Times today. Like always, he walks the middle ground, but at least in this case, I think it’s a good place to be. I applaud him for calling a spade a spade and actually using the word illegal and I applaud him for reminding people that words can be weapons.

But he does write one odd statement that jumped out at me.

It is hypocritical for Congress to condemn people for coming here
illegally when the federal government has been unwilling to do what it
takes to stop them from coming in the first place.

Seriously? It’s hypocritical to condem law-breaking unless you do enough to try to stop the law-breaking in the first place? What if I said if was hypocritical to condemn shoplifters because the store is not doing enough to stop them in the first place? Would anyone actually buy that argument? I know what he’s getting at, that Congress has implicitly said it’s ok to cross the border illegally by not being serious about enforcing current laws, but the way he wrote that makes it sound completely dumb.

But all in all, a pretty good piece from the Governator, I thought. Like anything in an election cycle, rather short of actual proposals, but it’s something, at least.

Best Predictor of Academic Excellence

Go figure. A research at the University of Washington has determined that Ultimate Frisbee is one of the best predictors for academic excellence.

What is this sport that mysteriously divines a university’s stature so precisely? It’s called Ultimate Frisbee, or more commonly just Ultimate. It is the fastest growing college sport and is already played interscholastically at over 500 colleges and universities. While wildly popular on campuses, relatively few in the wider world have even heard of it.

My favorite quote is

Why a game, requiring such all-around athleticism should so consistently be dominated by universities (and presumably students) with off-the-chart academic credentials, is truly a mystery. The top seven schools for ultimate have a mean graduation rate of 95% and nearly as many total Rhodes and Marshal scholars as all of the rest combined. The names speak for themselves: Stanford, Brown, Harvard, Tufts, Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton.

Where’s MIT? Hey, wait! OK, it’s true, while we had fun playing there, I can’t say we really excelled at a national level, not at least for the men.

Betas are fish

Megan seems to be a fun and witty engineer lady up in Sacramento. Plus, she plays Ultimate! At this point, I can’t even remember how I came across her blog, some bread-crumb trail that probably traipsed from Indepundit to Planet KDE to View from Rocky Top. Who knows…

Anyways, I was reading her post about being alpha female. Frankly, I occasionally get frustrated about the same thing, people seeming to need a pointer/mover/shaker/motivator before anything happens. I usually chalk that up to my being an engineer, since the number of other engineers in my circles of friends is rather low. But I never thought about it from a lady’s perspective before.

Megan’s contemplation on dating an alpha guy vs. a beta guy is rather interesting. Perhaps I’m one of those guys who would say that I want to date a lady who is confident and outgoing and well-spoken, etc., etc. but then who ends up scared to actually do that? Hmmm, hardly the case I would want to be true.

From my side, it’s the search for a lady who understand my engineer’s quirks and foibles that eludes me. 😛 It’s non-trivial!

Anyways, it’s a beautiful thing how Megan’s personality seems to ooze through her blog. I’ll have to go through and read more of her posts.