Out of the Cloud

Many months ago, Brother Tim, Serendipity35 IT guy and very occasional blogger here, started this post. It has been staring at me in the drafts queue and today I decided to dust it off a bit and send it out into the cloud.

Miller Airpark

So, there I was at Miller Air Park fueling the Piper Archer airplane I had rented for a flight down to Cape May County airport.  It was a busy morning for the airport and several planes were in  pre-flight, being taxied to the northeast end of the runway, or were already cocked into the wind, holding-short of runway 24 doing their pre-takeoff run-up.  Each pilot in turn completed the safety checklist, pivoted onto the runway, firewalled the throttle and lifted the aircraft into the smooth gray sky.

In the 30 minutes or so that I had spent pre-flighting and fueling my own plane there were 7 departures but, except for a pre-solo student and instructor locked into the never ending left turns of take-off and landing pattern practice, no other aircraft arrived at MJX.

Ken and I are sometimes like the FBO staff at Miller Air Park.  We send post after post off into the Internet clouds and, every once in a while, we receive an arrival. A returned comment here and there lets us know that the posts we roll off our Internet tarmac aren't falling off the edge of our flat earth.
Ken builds almost all of the wordcraft we launch and I spend most of my time clearing turkey buzzards and deer off our virtual runway, but once in a while, I get to fly a post of my own. And on that Saturday morning in Whiting, NJ, I held the nose on the centerline and rotated that Piper into the air. 

I climbed to 400 ft and turned left toward the coastline. Over my shoulder, as I approached 1000 ft, I could see the massive airship hangars of Lakehurst Naval Air Station and the abandoned, but standing, stall of the Hindenburg, unoccupied since May of 1937 when the dirigible burned at her mooring.  When it departed Frankfurt, Germany on May 3rd that year, the crew that launched her expected a return, too. Though it was scheduled to fly back from North America to Europe with a full manifest of transatlantic passengers en route to the coronation of King George VI of England, its final destination remained in New Jersey.
Fifty years after the famous crash, long after it was branded a mystery and pursued only by academic enterprise, the actual cause of the craft's incineration was discovered. The paint that protected its outer skin from the harsh ocean crossing, burned like a magnesium fuse when lit by lightning over land.

WWD Cape May County

I quickly flew through Atlantic City's airspace and continued inbound to the Sea Isle City VOR. My checkpoints, spaced on my chart at 10 minute intervals, rolled underneath my right wing at 8, then 7, minutes.  I was ahead of schedule and soon I'd arrive at WWD 10 minutes before my flight plan had estimated.
Traffic was light at Cape May County. I radioed the airport's CTAF for the active runway and entered the downwind pattern for 28.  There were no other aircraft in the pattern (or rolling on the ground) and I touched down just past the threshold markers and turned off at the first taxi-way. Not stopping to visit, I headed back to the east end of runway 28, throttled back up and, five minutes after I had first touched down, was airborne again and heading home.
I flew back to Miller through the same airspace that the Hindenburg traveled on its last day.  I landed, safely, just a few miles from where the dirigible fell to the ground.  It had only taken a couple of hours but I returned to the airport from which I'd departed -- a luxury the Hindenburg pilot never had.
Maybe fifty years from now, like the paint on an unburned scrap of the Hindenburg, some word, sentence or phrase from Serendipity35 (or some other Internet archived version of it *) will drop out of the clouds and reveal some small unintended truth about the technology and learning lives we live today.

Although the Wayback machine at archive.org only began to archive Serendipity35 pages back in 2009, at least there is some other record of our time here on the Net.


Clouded and Clear

I finished the transition of Serendipity35 from an "all iron" computer server machine to a virtual entity in the internet cloud.  Its almost as if I took its computer soul and installed it in the heavens.

Almost, but not quite...

We're ready to rock n' roll.

Happy Birthday to US

Serendipity35 turns 6 (yikes!) today - or maybe later this week, but I think I first configured the server for it on Feb 1, 2006. For a blog, that's like being 90 - measured in cyber-dog years.  Many thanks to Ken for his tireless efforts.

Merrily we roll along...

Long(ish) weekends are generally a good time to do a little Virtual preventative maintenance. If some of the articles appear to be in hiding, or if the rss feeds seem to be out-to-lunch for brief periods over the holiday weekend, you can still enjoy this classic song from Warner Brothers by way of Jimmie Lunceford.

Apart from the Usual Parties Politic

Politics and education technology mix, in discussion, about as well as baking soda and vinegar but given the groundswell of faction of dubiously enlightened hot air in America, maybe its time to poke the CO2 volcano.

In New Jersey, where I work and live, the current state budget has been frozen  --even public school districts are not receiving the aid they had been promised (and had budgeted against) for the balance of this school year, as reported by the local ABC TV affiliate on February 11, 2010:

"To pay for the reduction in school aid, nearly all of the state's 581 school districts will be forced to dip into their surpluses - money that would otherwise have reduced homeowners' property taxes - and more than 100 districts will lose all state aid for the remainder of the year."

Higher Education, the pond in which my paycheck dollars swim, will be frozen to the tune of $62 million, and there is enough partisan gnashing of teeth about that to chew a $2 steak.

"I fear Gov. Christie’s plan to slash education aid will hurt our children and increase the crushing property tax burden facing our taxpayers, said Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex). “This would especially hit our hard-working middle-class and poor hard amid an ongoing recession.”

Reasonable people who can step back from the brink of loud-mouthed saber-rattling  should be able to see what is going on.  People in charge of the purse strings will make decisions in their best political interests to pursue an economic objective and people who feel the purse strings tighten will do what is in their best interests to prevent the choking-off of their funds.  Each side will tender well-spun reasons that prove that their position is correct and the other side is in league with the devil.  When the fog lifts and the 2 sides have climbed out of their political Purgatory, each will have some slice of the other's flesh and the fundamental causal problem will be sent back to Limbo without a resolution.

One voice that has risen to reject the usual political approach is Dr. William Fabricius, professor of psychology at Arizona State University.  Dr. Fabricius, at www.independentpartynow.org, writes:

"there is an unprecedented level of distrust and disillusionment regarding the current system. At least two aspects of the system are at the root of this distrust: the inability to achieve practical solutions to important problems, and the excessive influence of moneyed special interests."

Dr. Fabricius goes on to write:

"We are committed to finding practical, evidence-based solutions that are in the best interests of the whole country. Our candidates will not take campaign contributions from special interests. The candidates we select will be able to depend on our support and our votes, and will not be threatened by their money. The days when “The banks own the Senate” (Senator Durbin, IL) will be over."

Rather than publish a platform from which to gather like-minded supporters, Dr. Fabricius calls for reasonable and independently thoughtful people to contribute to the building of a party platform and to approach the state and national political quagmire with fresh independent thought.

There have been third party movements in the United States ever since the two-party system was established.  There is already one (and only one) modern third-party that is on the ballot in each state for every national election: that party is so sparingly reported in the media that most people don't know it exists.  Do we need another political party to challenge our nefarious status quo ?

Yes.  And probably much more than that.