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Where are you coming from Spiderman…Nobody Knows Who You Are. May 3, 2014

Posted by regan222 in Books, Film and Television, General Ranting, Movie Madness.
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The Amazing SpidermanSpiderman 2…Just got back.  I am not a great movie reviewer but I do have a peculiarly accurate memory for certain details as well as a desire to see justice done.  I feel that something here is amiss.  I am an old man now but it hasn’t been THAT long since I faithfully followed your friendly neighborhood web-slinger through comics, TV cartoons, and even a 33 1/3 rpm vinyl album.  To say that I was a fan would be an understatement.  Having said that, I was more than willing to cater to my small boy’s request to brave the crowds and watch the latest reincarnation of Aunt May’s favorite nephew and New York’s “favorite” son.  Initial reaction was positive.  It was big, loud, and not overly complicated as a summer blockbuster should be.  However, all through the movie a tingling annoyance, not unlike our hero’s spider sense, bothered me.  They are really playing fast and loose with the story.

<spoiler alert>  If you haven’t see the movie you might want to go right now and get tickets.  It is probably showing somewhere near you and it is definitely worth a viewing.  It is really good in digital Hi-def. 3D.  The spoilers I am alerting you to, gentle reader, are details from the original story, not necessarily the film.  Here goes…

In 1962, in Amazing Fantasy #15, Peter Parker was bitten by an radioactive spider and the rest is history…amazingly profitable history and merchandising rights, and copy rights, and royalties.  Spiderman is the flagship character and mascot of the largest comics publisher in the world (as well as what is rapidly becoming the most profitable movie production house in America).  Based upon whichever biography one reads, Spiderman was invented by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, or a combination of the three.  He was a teenaged “everyman” who had greatness thrust upon him by a million to one accident, and responsibility thrust on him by the tragic consequences of his own actions.  Peter and his supporting cast brought to life an alternate dimension very similar to our own but filled with amazing and sometimes frightening differences.  That is how I felt after watching this most recent movie.

In the comic story line, Gwen Stacy, Peter’s initial love interest, and Harry Osborne are all friends.  Harry’s father, Norman, becomes Spiderman’s arch nemesis, and Electro is a Caucasian.  The Rhino is a big guy in a suit and Professor Smyth is an employee of the King Pin.  Needless to say, Marvel is drastically rewriting history and it bothers me.  I felt the same cognitive dissonance that someone who is just beginning to feel the effects of Alzheimer’s Dementia must feel each day.  I understand the concept of editorial license and I am sure Marvel has perfectly good reasons for rewriting my childhood but what bothers me is WHY??  The story doesn’t NEED revamping.  It is still relevant and compelling.  The property is still amazingly profitable after 50 years and Spiderman is an icon.  Why mess with it?

Perhaps it is the way of things…The world changes.  It might interest you to know that in the cartoon story arc, the original Spiderman, Peter Parker, is, in fact, dead and his consciousness rests within the mind of his mortal enemy Dr. Octopus.  Could it get anymore convoluted?  In April of 2014, Parker’s brain returns to his body and there is no telling where it will go from there.

Well I’m glad I could get that out in the open.  It was really bothering me.  I also needed an excuse to write something as I have been sorely lacking in content lately.  I promise to return to form as soon as school is out.  Meanwhile, if you get the chance, give Spiderman 2 a look.  I like this guy better than Toby McGuire (he looks too much like Frodo from LOTR) and Harry Osborne was right…He does have an impressive uni-brow.

Excelsior (you know that is Styrofoam packing peanuts right)

One in Every Crowd March 10, 2014

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion.
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sheepMatthew 18:12 – How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

How great the Father’s love for us that He would send His only son to die.  This verse gives us a hint, or as much of one as our limited minds can conceive, of how much God loves each of us individually.  Had there been only one sheep gone astray, still the Shepherd would still have come to Earth seeking to save it.  A wise man wrote, “If I had been the only reason…he still would have died for only me.”  No Christian should ever become discouraged or think that God does not care.  God is actively interested in each of His servants, individually as well as collectively.  Do not become jealous of someone who seems to be constantly involved in serving God and winning battle after battle while you feel like you are sitting on the sidelines doing nothing of value.  This is far from the truth.  Each of God’s servants, if they are doing God’s will, is exactly where the Father expects them to be and each has the Father’s complete attention.  Anytime we feel separated from God or beneath His notice, it is only a short coming on our part.  Pray without ceasing.  Stay in the Word and seek the Will of God.  Separation from God is all one-sided.  He does not withdraw from us, we withdraw from Him.  If you cry out to Him he will find you, as a shepherd seeking a single sheep.  The wise Christian, however, will stay close to the shepherd and not be the one in every crowd that wanders astray.

Technology Addiction and how to deal with it… December 11, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, General Ranting.
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I have just spent the evening, after grading papers for what seemed like hours, connecting every single piece of software I have to every other piece. I can now see google email, calendars, and contacts, school exchange server, email, calendar, and contacts, Hotmail calendar, email, and contacts, as well as my school website share point server in Outlook. I have also connected Microsoft Word to my blog site in order to use it to edit and post blogs entries (if I ever get to write another real one). Having spent a good deal of time and effort tying all these loose ends together I have come to a conclusion. There is NO magic cure for organization. It can’t be done. I use MS OneNote to document my daily activities in class. I faithfully post assignments, notes, and lessons to the school web site. I do everything I can to keep up with myself and I am coming to the sad realization that it is all futile. I will never be organized. I STILL forget things. All my calendars are tied to my phone, Kindle, and iPad as well as my home PC, school, PC and laptop and I STILL let things slip. This is really starting to bug me. Just needed to vent. Also I am going insane from being in the house for 4 days straight. I feel much better now. Good night all.

A Splash of Gratitude December 2, 2013

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A sermon on Gratitude loosely following a chapter from Max Lucado’s book, “You’ll Get Through It”. The sermon was delivered on 12/1/2013 at Central Baptist Church. We need to remember that whatever it is, we don’t own it. We are just borrowing it.

Chromosomes…Now you see ’em, Now you Don’t November 22, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Educational Ranting, General Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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darwinAs a biology teacher I am constantly bombarded by the never-ending conflict between the forces of Creationism and the minions of Evolution. It becomes a new adventure in conflict management each year. Occasionally it becomes difficult as my own personal views enter the conflict and so I have chosen this opportunity and venue to present my own opinions.

As a committed Christian I am disinclined to embrace the scientific view that all life began as a random combination of chemicals in some primordial sea. It is, however, on rational grounds that my strongest objections are based.  The theory of Spontaneous Generation is described as “the hypothetical process by which living organisms develop from nonliving matter; also, the archaic theory that utilized this process to explain the origin of life. According to this theory, pieces of cheese and bread wrapped in rags and left in a dark corner, for example, were thus thought to produce mice, because after several weeks there were mice in the rags. Many believed in spontaneous generation because it explained such occurrences as the appearance of maggots on decaying meat.”   The theory was refuted completely in the 18th century and yet here we are in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, embracing the same idea. A combination of simple chemicals somehow mixes together with no outside influence beyond lightning or sunlight to form life.  The animate springs from the inanimate.  We are unable to duplicate or observe this phenomenon of generating life.  All efforts have been unsuccessful.  (See the Bubble Theory and the Primordial Soup Theory by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey).  No matter how many eons of time pass, the chemicals just don’t mix to form the necessary proteins.  Contrary to popular opinion, life doesn’t just happen, thus the necessity of a prime mover.

I have no difficulty with the idea of Natural Selection.  Selective breeding and its results are an observable and replicable phenomena.  We have changed many species to fit our wishes using nothing but selective breeding.  It stands to reason that if we can create a breed of horses only a few inches tall by breeding small horses to small horses then in nature, the continued breeding of the strongest, fastest, and smartest organisms would reinforce those traits and the genes responsible for them and by this process a species may be improved and even change its appearance.  However,  the miniature horses we produce are still horses.  They can still breed with normal horses and produce viable offspring.  Their chromosomes still match up with any other organism of the species Equus ferus caballus.  Chihuahuas and Great Danes are all still genetically compatible.  They are all biologically the same animal. Selective breeding, whether natural or otherwise, can improve a species or modify a species but it can not transform one species into another.  Selective breeding can change the frequency of alleles that already exist but it can not create new ones or remove old ones.  Selective breeding can make a bigger dog or a smaller dog or a faster dog, but it can not make a dog into a cat.

It is said the mutation is the source of drastic genetic change and I agree.  However, one of the by-products of Hardy Weinberg is that recessive alleles can never be bred out of a population.  The recessives continue no matter how much the dominant genes improve an organism’s chances of survival.  Should a dominant positive mutation occur, the original recessive stock should still exist as well.  Those gene frequencies can be reduced but can never be completely removed from the population.  Should mutation lead to man and monkey, the origin species of the mutation should still exist.  Mutation and Natural Selection are not enough to cause extinction.  Also, in the end, mutation is a universally destructive process.  Genetic mistakes in the form of Huntington’s Chorea, Spina Bifida, Turner’s Syndrome, and the like are all too common in our world.  The X-men, on the other hand,  have yet to make an appearance.  Given the general degradation of the natural environment and the prevalence of harmful chemicals in the air, water, and soil, the occurring of mutants is becoming more and more common and  the chances of a positive mutant decline daily.

According to Schleiden, Schwann and Virchow, all living things are composed of, and give rise to offspring composed of cells.  Cells are the fundamental functional, as well as structural, units of all organisms, and the ONLY place cells can rise from is another cell.  I accept that with only one concern.  Given that life on Earth began at some point AFTER the Earth came to be, where did that original cell come from?  Cells as a vehicle for DNA and heredity are the only forms of life that we can find any record of, or can even imagine.  Absolutely no evidence of any other form of life can be found within the fossil record or in extant species.  As with spontaneous generation, cells don’t just happen.  The structures are too complex and precise to have just spun up from nothing.  Cells are orderly and elegant structures.  The idea that they could have somehow come to be spontaneously by trial and error is chaotic and messy.

Well there you have it.  This is my justification for my beliefs.  Please don’t bother to comment on how backward, misinformed, or deluded I am and I will not remind you of your ultimate destination when you leave this world for the next.  In the end, the only thing we can be certain of is that we do not and can not know what really happened.  The scientific method requires duplication and repetition to validate a theory.  As these things have not been possible and continue to be impossible, so validation or proof remain beyond us.  An honest scientist will refer to evolution and its attendant ideas as theories and it is only the sensationalist and pseudo-intellectuals who declare them to be absolute truth.  Matters of faith, on the other hand, require no such validation.  Faith allows the surrounded and defeated soldiers of the Alamo to turn aside the attack of a much larger army.  Faith persuades the martyr to face lions and tigers and bears (oh my) rather than renounce their beliefs.  Faith powers revolutions, creates heroes and moves mountains.  Only a fool discounts or denies the efficacy of faith.

To You Who Bring Small Children to Church November 19, 2013

Posted by regan222 in General Ranting, Religion.
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Lest we forget why we are there and what’s important, or should be. Jesus thought so anyway. “Suffer the Little Children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of Heaven.”

Boggy Creek After Action Review September 28, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Film and Television, General Ranting, Movie Madness, News and politics.
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As I look back upon today and the amazing opportunities I have been given, one thing comes to mind…Man I am POOPED!! In the last 2 days I have driven almost 700 miles, swam over half a mile, and then walked ALL day in search of cryptid life-forms. Along the way I met new friends, faced heartache, fear, and loss, and also ate a pretty tasty chicken-fried steak at Magel’s in Paris, TX. The only thing that I DIDN’T get to see was a monster. 😦
Lyle signed my copyOur intrepid guide, Lyle Blackburn, could not have BEEN a better person to head out into the Sulfur River Wilderness with. Lyle was knowledgeable, down-to-Earth, and very entertaining. If you get a chance to see him in person, by ALL MEANS take advantage of it. I am QUITE PROUD to say that I was one of 13 lucky people to be the first ever to join Lyle on a tour of the Boggy Creek area at the First Annual Boggy Creek Festival. He showed us the Willie Smith Bean Field made famous by the movie Legend of Boggy Creek. We crossed Boggy Creek twice and even stopped and got off the bus to see what we could find. We also spent an hour with Smokey Crabtree. He is 86 years old and still talking about the monster that changed both his life and the town of Fouke, AR.

Be sure to check out my blog site in the next few days as I get the pictures and the video edited and posted. I think you will be amazed at what we found and what we did. Be sure to check out the links in this post and if you have a chance to visit Fouke, AR, be sure you are in doors before dark. The creature may very well be traveling the creeks again. PS. Lyle Blackburn, if you happen to ever read this and would comment on my blog it would really make my day.

The First Annual Boggy Creek Festival September 27, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Film and Television, General Ranting, hobby, Movie Madness.
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The First Annual Boggy Creek Festival

Day 1 of the expedition: We have arrived at base camp and established a perimeter.  Dinner was a quiet affair as each member of our research team was lost in thought as to the consequences of tomorrow’s journey.  I can not shake the eerie feeling that we are being observed by beings whose purposes we can not know.  The approaching darkness brings no comfort nor will the night bring rest I fear.

Our plan tomorrow is to link with Lyle Blackburn, another cryptobiolgist and rhythm guitarist.  Lyle has been featured on the Discovery Channel, Coast to Coast AM, and the CBS Network.  He is world-famous for his knowledge of our quarry and it’s habits.   I only hope he is as competent as his book makes him out to be.  Lyle will be guiding us on the bulk of our expedition through various areas known to attract the creature. 

I'm SOO SORRY!!

I’m SOO SORRY!!

I’m not sure what to expect. I just want to tell everyone that if we don’t make it back, leave my stuff alone. I’m sorry I just want to apologize to Mike’s mom and Josh’s mom and my mom
and I’m sorry to everyone. I was very naive.umm..no that’s the wrong movie. Sorry about that. Anyhow, we leave at dawn (or about 8:30 am) tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Opposites Attract; – Well, Yeah but not always. September 27, 2013

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Picture if you will…You’re at the lake, floating on an inflatable raft in the cool azure blue. A light breeze tickles your wet skin as you look up to the spotless blue perfection above. As you look down you notice a tiny invader in your serenity. A small insect purposefully striding across the surface of the water toward you. How can this be? Has the insect messiah come to deliver his people to the promised land? I’m gonna say “pro’lly not”.

gerris02The picture to the left is a common Water Strider.  This little miracle operates by Physics and Chemistry rather than by supernatural support, however, they all come from the same source and were created by the same designer so it really doesn’t matter.  What’s important is how the chemistry works in the natural and how the analogy can apply to the supernatural.

Notice in the picture that the insect’s legs do NOT displace any water at all.  If you look closely at the tips of the legs in contact with the surface of the water you will see that the water surface appears to distort where the legs touch, almost as if the insect were walking on a thin film of plastic wrap.  A boat, floating on the water, would sit lower and actually displace a portion of the water.  That is, after all, the definition of floating.

An object floats only if it is buoyant in the substance in which it rests.  Buoyancy is defined as…
“the upward force on a body immersed or partly immersed in a fluid” (http://www.askdefine.com)

The object is supported by the amount of water it displaces because the water produces an upward force as the object sinks in.  If the mass of the object is less than the mass of the volume of water displaced, the object will float.  All of this is not relevant, however, because the object in question, the insect, does NOT float.

Just as on that long ago Sea of Galilee, this little insect is actually walking ON and not floating IN the water.  His mass is very small and the long legs spread the weight out over a large enough surface area that he is able to walk on the surface of the water just as on solid ground.  He does not sink in or displace any water.  He does not depend on buoyancy.  He does depend, however, on the unique chemistry and physics of the water molecule.

Water is composed of one Oxygen atom in a covalent bond with two Hydrogen atoms.  The Hydrogen atoms are composed of a single proton and a single electron.  A covalent bond is one in which the atoms SHARE the electrons.  As you may know,  electrons orbit the nuclei of atoms. The outer set of electrons, called the valence electrons, are used by the atom to bond with other atoms to form molecules.  A covalent bond occurs when the outer electrons orbiting a nucleus begin to spend time orbiting the nucleus of another nearby atom.  When that occurs, a new compound is formed and the chemical properties of the original molecules are changed.  In our case, two gasses bind together to form a liquid with some pretty amazing properties.

The Oxygen atom has many more electrons orbiting its nucleus than do the Hydrogen atoms.  The two electrons from the Hydrogen atoms begin to orbit, sharing time between the Hydrogen atoms and the Oxygen atom.  At any given time there are more electrons around the Oxygen end of the molecule than there are at the Hydrogen end.  This gives the Oxygen end a tendency towards a negative charge.  This results in the Hydrogen end (composed of basically two protons) a tendency towards a positive charge.  When a molecule has a partial positive charge at one end and a partial negative charge at the other, we say that the molecule is “polar”.  It has poles like a magnet.  This condition is the source of all of water’s peculiar properties and it is what gives our little friend the ability to duplicate what only one man has ever accomplished.  (Well actually two managed it but only one was really successful.  The other…well lets just say that he walked further on water than either you or I are ever likely to.)

The arrangement of water as a polar molecule has exactly the effect that you would suspect.  The positive and negative areas are attracted to the corresponding negative and positive regions of the water molecules surrounding it.  Water molecules act like tiny magnets.  This albeit weak, attraction between polar molecules is called Hydrogen Bonding.  It does some very strange things to water.  One of the most unusual is the property of cohesion.  Water molecules tend to stick to each other.

If you have ever waxed a car and then driven into a rain storm you have seen water “bead up” on the hood.  Water forms droplets of considerable size because the molecules are attracted to and hold onto each other with surprising tenacity.  An excellent way to see this for yourself is the following experiment…

You will need a penny, an eyedropper, a bottle of water, and a bottle of some organic solvent (acetone – nail polish remover, or alcohol (90% isopropyl, not that cheap Wal-Mart mix) will work.  Start with the water and see how many drops you can drop on the penny before the puddle you are creating breaks and runs off.  Now try the same with the NON-POLAR solvent.  Having done this experiment many times over with my students from year to year I can verify that it is possible to drop over 100 drops of water onto the surface of a penny before it runs off.  With alcohol you might get 30 or 40 and with acetone, even less.  The non-polar liquids lack cohesion.  The molecules are neutral and not attracted to each other.  In short, those liquids have no SURFACE TENSION.  If you waxed a car and then ran off into an alcohol shower you would find that the liquid would not form beads.  Also the miraculous little creature above would sink helplessly beneath the waves of a lake of acetone, never to rise again.  The liquid would not support him, not because he was too heavy but because he did not have a surface of molecules holding on to each other, to support him.  The boiling point of water, its ability to gather and hold heat, the fact that liquid water is more dense than frozen water, as well as this little guy’s ability to stand on the surface supported only by surface tension; all these unusual behaviors are properties of water’s unique chemical and physical makeup.

“Why”, you ask, “do we REALLY need a lesson in the chemistry of water?”  Perhaps not, but we MIGHT be able to draw some insight from an analogy on the way water behaves.  It is said that opposites attract and indeed, the positive and negative parts of each water molecule do attract each other, but the result is that every water molecule, and each is identical to the others, is attracted to its neighbor.  They have the same nature and so they are attracted to each other; not what you might expect.  As Christians, we have indwelling each of us, the same nature.

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)

The nature of Jesus Christ is in each and every Christian.  Something in all Christians resonates at the same frequency and THIS force or effect is what pulls us together in His service.

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:46)

Like the early disciples, we, if we allow Christ to indwell us fully, are held together by His nature.  Because of this attraction we can be more than the sum of our parts.  Just as water boils at a much higher temperature than it should, the Christian can show incredible patience through the most trying of times.  As a thin stream of water will bend away from an oppositely charged object, so the committed Christian can overcome a temptation or obstacle that he or she would, in their own strength, be destroyed by.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes, opposites repel and similar things attract.  However, in order to experience this power you must partake of the nature of the source.  Allow Christ free rein in your life and you will find an incredible source of strength.  You might even walk on water.

 

 

A Grim Fairytale August 27, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Educational Ranting, General Ranting.
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schoolI read this today while sitting and waiting for the copy machine to finish. I did not write it but I am paraphrasing it. I would give credit but the author was not listed. Like many things, it is something I WISH I had written:

A Grim Fairytale.
Once upon a time there was a king who decided to honor the greatest and most successful of his subjects. He declared a holiday and called all his subjects together for a banquet to celebrate the best of his kingdom. One by one, the wisest and best of his subjects were called up to receive honor and rewards for their service to the kingdom.

The first to be called was a famous doctor. He worked tirelessly to cure one and all of every disease known. He gave his time and efforts to rich and poor alike. Of all the physicians of the kingdom, he was the undisputed chief and yet he was a modest and kind-hearted man. As he walked up the stairs to the throne, clothed in the finest garments, the crowd burst into cheers. The king presented him with great rewards for his service to the kingdom.

The next to be called was a brilliant engineer. He had given his life to building great works to benefit the kingdom. He built vast bridges, tall towers, and mighty buildings and each construction was of the highest quality. He knelt before the king, arrayed in the finest garments money could buy, the picture of success. The king heaped praise upon him for his contributions.

One after another, the best and brightest of each profession was called forth and the king presented each with honors and awards for the skills they possessed and the contributions they had made to the kingdom. Until finally the last name on the list was called.

A modest looking elderly gentleman stepped forward. His clothes were clean but threadbare and worn. His shoulders stooped slightly and he squinted through spectacles as he approached the throne. “There must be some mistake”, said the king. “I wish to honor the most successful of my subjects”. “This fellow does not look like he has contributed much at all.”

The wisest of the king’s councilors stepped to his side and said, “But your majesty, this is the teacher who educated all of these other men.” “He taught the doctor to read.” “He taught the engineer to count.” “He is responsible for making them what they are.” “He taught them knowledge but also gave them wisdom and compassion as well.”

The king came down from his throne, took the old gentleman by the arm and escorted him up and sat him in the king’s chair. “What possible reward can I give you”, said the king. “What would you ask of me after all these years of service?” “As you are responsible for much good in my kingdom, great will be your reward.”

This is a wonderful story but remember…it’s a fairytale. Educators spend a lifetime in a career with little monetary reward and often, little respect or acknowledgement from society. We do what we do because it needs to be done. The work is its own reward. Often educators are capable of making a much more lucrative living in some other field but be glad that they don’t. Think about it for a moment. If no one taught, what would you have learned. If you can read this fairytale, thank a teacher.