Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hurricane Ike, Things are Beginning to Return to Normal

Today was the first day back to class for both students and teachers since Hurricane Ike struck the area two weeks ago, at least in our town. Some places started a few days ago, while others still can not return to the routine of school. There were mixed feelings about being back, on both the teacher and the student side of things. Glad because it's a sign that things are getting back to normal, sad because the break was kind of nice (once the terror was over anyway). The unexpected time off is much harder to return from because of all the uncertainty involved. There is no way to get yourself mentally ready for the return, because you aren't sure when that will be. Not to mention, many of the teachers have many repairs waiting for them at home and young children to worry about. A number of daycares don't have power and are not open yet, so parents are having difficulty returning to their jobs since they have no one to watch their children.

The older school buildings fared better overall. Our building had some water leak in from the internal courtyard areas, causing minor flooding in some of the hallways. The worst spot was the library, since it is right by the large courtyard next to the cafeteria. The carpet had to be ripped out, but none of the books were truly ruined. A few minor cases of mildew. The bookcases, which have been there for at least 20 years, got some water damage on the bottom. They are plywood and will probably have to be replaced, as they are trying to split now. Any roof damage that we sustained is so minor that it won't be visible until the next good rain (except on the new gym). One of the brand new junior highs lost enough of its roof to lose the use of 21 classrooms, these classes are going to be meeting in the halls, etc. until the rooms can be fixed.

Today and tomorrow, while teaching content, we are letting the students vent about their experiences during Ike. Today was mostly talk about what they went through. Tomorrow, in my class at least, we will be trying to come up with solutions to the problems caused by hurricanes.

In our town, 25% still do not have power. They are saying, as of this morning, that it will be November before 100% of the area has power back. In Galveston, it may be even longer. They are getting debris from Galveston in Corpus Christi, they know it's from Galveston because it's things like personal computers and such that can be traced back to the owners. For those of you not familiar with the area, I'm including this map to show the distance between the two cities. Sadly, I couldn't find one with a scale on it, but the latitude and longitude should help give an idea of the distance. Some of the houses on Galveston island were so completely destroyed, not even the foundation remains.

I'd like to thank, on behalf of our whole community, all the police men, electrical workers, phone men, tree cutters, and everyone else from other states and countries that have come down here to help us. It is really appreciated, even if we do not say thank you to your face. I truly hope that you never need us to return the favor.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The "I" and "N" Block

I used the noble scarab for the insect block. Completed September 23, 2008.

This is the block for the letter "N", I went with the number nine out of the necessity for simplicity.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Neuromancer Review

Neuromancer was written in 1984 by William Gibson, his first novel and the beginning of the Sprawl trilogy. His prior projects were short stories, including one co-authored with Bruce Sterling. It is known as the most famous early cyberpunk novel and for winning the three top sci-fi awards.

The hero of the piece is Henry Case, a hustler who was once a hacker of some skill. He has been on a suicide mission since his ability to run in cyberspace was burned out of his head after his bosses discovered he had been skimming funds. He is approached by Molly, a Razor Girl (a.k.a. a bodyguard), on behalf of a man named Armitage. They offer to reverse the damage done to his neural pathways and pay him to hack into a system for them. They fix his neural pathway damage, but plant an enzyme that will restore the damage unless they are satisfied with his work. Molly and Case become close and start investigating Armitage. The group later acquires Peter Riveria, an artist/con-man, to also assist in their heist. Riveria is also a sociopath, who they find while he is in the middle of a gruesome act. They are dealing with an AI, artificial intelligence. This is very dangerous for hackers. They tend to end up brain dead, sometimes briefly, most often permanently.

Gibson starts out very strong with this novel, it has an intense feeling. It heralds back to the days of pulp fiction in pacing and mood. However, in the third quarter of the book, though it was still enjoyable, it seemed to lose some of its momentum. This is probably not unusual in a first novel when the author has previously written short stories. The ending also felt a little forced, and yet at the same time hollow. I’m sure this has to do with the fact that it is the beginning of a trilogy. I found the characters compelling and fairly complex, including the AI. Gibson employs many allusions in his work, and has an expansive imagination. I’d like to read more of his work and see how he grows as he becomes more comfortable with the novel format and length.