Trip to Gatorland

Had a great day yesterday. Tom and Simon were gracious enough to invite me along on a trip to Gainesville to meet with the Dept head for Simon’s latest major selection. We’re now into a technical area known as packaging which seems to be a broad engineering discipline hidden in the Agriculture dept. It seemed to be a nominally basic engineering curriculum with lots of extra chemistry, some biology and a couple of packaging courses thrown in. Sounded like the discipline is tucked away in the Ag dept for funding and political reasons. It’s a small dept within the structure but seems to be highly respected in industry with excellent job prospects in the future. The prof pointed out one project in which they vibrated containers of blueberries to develop a package where the blueberries didn’t end up looking like hard, shiny beads at the end of a shipment. Turns out that “musty” grayish look is much desired by consumers. Lot’s of nice equipment in the labs and several really interesting projects going on in conjunction with companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Kraft, and GE to name just a few. Even saw a poster describing a project with Jack Daniels. No way of knowing if Simon will end up in this major but it sure seems like a good place to start.

We ate lunch at the dining hall adjacent to Simon’s dorm – Gator corner. Great variety and quality so I don’t think we have to worry about him starving to death. I’m guessing the slim Simon will put on a few pounds over the next couple of years. I don’t know how much the academic environment has changed since my tour of duty but trust me, the food is several orders of magnitude better.

I may be warming up just a bit to World Cup Soccer. I saw a 3 second clip on the highlights of a really big game in which the Netherlands soundly defeated one of the South American ‘guay teams. I think the blowout was 3-1 or 2-1. The highlights were: 1. They spell Netherlands with a D instead of th; 2. The Dutch team wears Gator colors; 3. The Dutch scored with one shot from about the 50 yard line or whatever that equates to. I gave him 3 points for that and hope the guy who kicked it is recruited to the Dolphins or the Jaguars; and 4. A Dutch guy scored by whacking the ball into the net using his head – really hard. I gave him an automatic 3 points for that. So I scored the game a more respectable 7-1 and I’m rooting for the Dutch team to go ALL THE WAY. Why? Gator colors; Lennie Richardson is from Holland; I had a couple of memorable meals in Amsterdam; and it’s the home of Heineken beer. Actually I did hear about a phenomena associated with the World Cup that has me tingling. Turns out there’s an Octopus in Germany who has predicted, correctly, the results of all the German soccer team’s games. When it was all wins, I wasn’t that impressed but the day before the game with Spain, the critter predicted Germany’s loss. He’s probably being served as fried calamari today or maybe sauerkraut and calamari.

I was really taken back when I heard on the news about an interview the head of NASA did on Al Jazeera TV in which he declared that Yobama had given him 3 priorities, the third of which was to reach out to the dominantly Muslim countries and relate to them the importance of Middle Eastern math and science to the current space program. If history serves, the math and science he is referring to happened about 2000 years ago and pretty much went away 1000 years ago. With the US abandoning the Space Lab, the moon, Mars and basically all the manned programs – I guess they did need new priorities but reaching out to the middle east? Lesson learned – Inner city presidents/community organizers don’t do space. No surprise, the big three networks made no mention at all of the interview. Would that be because they don’t consider it news worthy? Or they don’t think we’d understand it? Personally at this point, I’m ready for Nasa to just go away. Sell the Space Center to Disney or Universal so we’ll at least have a virtual space program and run a high speed monorail from there to the Cruise Terminals with a spur to Cocoa Village and Indian River Cruises.

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