Well, first of all, I did not realize it’d been SO long since I last posted. Crazyness has ensued since then, starting with the Tae Kwon Do Tournament in Spain, and the exhibition there that I participated in (on my birthday!!), which was quite cool… The following day, I flew home from Spain to Pittsburgh, where we (dad & I) stayed at a friends house for the night. Got to see my old friend Jessie, which was very cool.

Then on the 15th of May I drove down here to S. Carolina to start work.. The camp is beautiful. Way up ontop of a mountain in the Blue Ridge, it has some amazing views. And, of course, its simply awesome to be with/around Kevin again.

My horses finally got here this Monday (21st), and so, ever since I’ve been riding and taking care of them. Which is awesome. They’re all pretty good – both looking, and fairly well trained. I’m actually extremely impressed with their overall quality (especially for camp horses!!). Went on a trail ride today, did some crazy exploring and getting lost (which was, as always, fun). Tommorrow is the first time we’ll actually give rides, so I’m kind of nervous about that. But it should be OK. I hope…

The kid I’m working with (the “assistant director”), seems pretty clueless. Apparently, he didn’t realize that you need to clean the barn. Apparently, I have to tell him such things, or he just doesn’t know. He also gives me the impression that he’s scared of horses (takes 3-5 minutes to catch one in a box stall… and another couple to kick each one out after feeding. But, then again, I’m not really surprised about this, just highly disappointed. Was hoping to have somebody with a clue. The other kid is apparently a bit slow. Supposedly they also just hired a girl from Spain, though it sounds like she’ll only be here for the first half of the summer. Which sucks. But, you’ll have taht I spose.

Anyhow, thats about all thats new with me… We saw the DaVinci Code, which was pretty good, and then yesterday we saw Over the Hedge, which was hysterical. Hammy kicks ass… I think thats about it.

No more textbooks??

Working for Change has a cool article up about how Allegheny College in PA is trying to do away with text books. The first class (logically, I suppose), to do so was the Intro to Enviromental Science class. Instead of using a textbook, they developed a website with “readings” which linked to sites all over the web like the US Census Burae, the EPA, and the National Park Service. Its a really quite cool idea. As noted in the article, in the end it provides three things that textbooks do not, can not provide:

1 Saves Money. Average Enviro Science textbook cost? $100 Cost of the site? $0
2 Saves Trees. Apparently 20% of the paper the US uses every year goes to, you guessed it, text books. So thats 5 million trees annualy.
3 Accuracy. No textbook can possibly be as up-to-date as a website. Its just not possible.

Anyhow, check it out.

Legos & Blackholes

Right nifty news on the lego front – LEGO has finally gotten around to opensourcing the MINDSTORMS firmware, which means that lego mindstorms will be that much more fun to mess around with in the future. Thats to say, you can now not just mess with the robotics/building part, but also with the software itself. Which is cool.

As for blackholes… its mostly, actually, about the new LIGO “telescope” which is just now opening up – its cool, because maybe, with a bit of luck we´ll be detecting black hole mergers here sometime soonish. Which is cool, cause´with that knowledge, maybe we´ll figure out more about the universe, life and everything =)

Language; starlings, monkeys and us

So, its looking like starlings have the capability to create/understand language. Which is really cool. Scientists created an artificial language, and then played it back to people, monkeys (cotton-top tamarin monkeys, to be exact), and starlings. People got it (80% of college students could figure it out), the monkey´s didn´t, and the starlings did.

Of course, everybody´s not in aggreement that this equals language, or that starlings aren´t just cheating, but you´ll have that. Here´s a couple of the comments =):

Dr Chomksy: “It has nothing remotely to do with language — probably just with short-term memory,”
Dr Gentner: “Chomsky may find this trivial, but that is a bit like saying apes use tools, but only the trivial kind that lack the sophistication of a tri-square or a laser level,”
Dr Hauser: “This shows a capacity that goes way beyond what we showed with tamarins. That’s what makes it an important paper.”