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Norman Sperling
2625 Alcatraz Avenue #235
Berkeley, CA 94705-2702

cellphone 650 - 200 - 9211
eMail normsperling [at] gmail.com

Norm Sperling’s Great Science Trek: 2014

San Luis Obispo
Santa Barbara
Palm Springs
Death Valley
Tucson
El Paso
Corpus Christi
Baton Rouge
Tampa
Everglades
Key West
Winter Star Party, Scout Key
Miami

MARCH 2014:
up the Eastern seaboard
mid-South

APRIL 2014:
near I-40, I-30, and I-20 westbound

MAY 2014:
near US-101 northbound
May 17-18: Maker Faire, San Mateo
May 23-26: BayCon, Santa Clara

California till midJune

JUNE 2014:
Pacific Northwest

JULY 2014:
Western Canada, eastbound

AUGUST 2014:
near the US/Can border, westbound
August 22-on: UC Berkeley

Speaking engagements welcome!
2014 and 2015 itineraries will probably cross several times.

Notes Along the Road, May 2013

(c) Norman Sperling, May 25, 2013

Since the April 19th crash and replacing the wrecked rig with a 24-foot Class C RV.

Finally left Virginia on May 2. Saw the huge roadcut at Sideling Hill, Maryland, but didn’t take any samples. Saw the 200-year-old Casselman River Bridge, in far western Maryland, but couldn’t walk on it because it was closed for repairs. It’s a lot bigger than I expected. The RV drives wonderfully. Overnight in Jefferson, Pa.

May 3: saw astronaut John Glenn’s boyhood home, guided by “his mother”, an outstanding impersonation by a local actress. Also saw the neat museum of the National Road, which grew into US-40 and then into I-70. That’s another multi-museum, together with mementos of Zane Grey and local pottery. Also saw the Longaberger building, a basket case.

May 4: Unloaded sales goods uneventfully near Detroit. In Auburn, Indiana, I examined many of the most gorgeous cars ever built. Lots of Duesenbergs, Cords, and Auburns, with many others. I think the design factor I sought was “overload”: duesys have more splendid details than a person can notice at first glance, or second look. Overdoing things somewhat like rococo did.

May 7: Cairo, Illinois, is decaying badly. Visited New Madrid, Missouri, the center of the enormous 1811 earthquakes. Also some decay but a lot of neat things too. Their museum has the earthquake story but there’s nothing original to see: the old townsite is now under the river. I guess that’s why travel books ignore it.

Drove on till dusk, staying at a nice state park that Arkansas kindly built just where I got tired.

May 8: about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma is my 21st state on this foray. A squall line sparks very gaudy lightning displays. Big hail is reported elsewhere but not here.

May 9: All the pipelines that go through Cushing, Oklahoma, run underground. They only emerge to connect with storage tanks. The guards are very fidgety about terrorists.

May 11: Marsh’s signs around Amarillo aren’t so much “funny” as “droll”, at least the ones I spotted. But the Ozymandias legs really are funny, with their fake-historic plaque.

Saw a couple nice rainbeaux in the rearview mirror approaching Moriarty, NM. Looking forward to California.

I had another great Maker Faire and another entertaining BayCon.

Crash and Recovery

Norman Sperling, May 5, 2013

On April 19th, driving north through Virginia, I swerved a little to avoid an obstacle. My trailer, which had been swaying annoyingly the whole trip, swayed out of control and dragged me across 4 lanes of traffic, where the SUV sideswiped a pickup truck. SUV and trailer both ended up on their sides. NOBODY WAS HURT! Seatbelts and airbags DO work. Use them.

But both my SUV and my trailer were declared total losses. I spent 2 weeks coping with the attendant hassles, including replacing the camper. This time I chose a much more compact “Class C” RV. Thanks to insurance, I’ll end up nearly cash-neutral.

I have resumed my trek. I’m writing this from Indiana.

Heroes:

More than a dozen people of Fredericksburg, caught behind my wreck, instantly jumped out of their cars and ran to help me and the guy I sideswiped. There was a nurse and a medic. A forest of hands helped me climb out of the side window.

My brother, Barry, picked me up and set me back on my feet. He accomplished a lot that would have taken ever so much longer without him. He’s JIR’s mathematics editor, and I sure counted on him.

AAA insurance: fully competent and understanding. A bit slow, 3,000 miles outside their range, but highly effective.

Stick It on a Ridge

© Norman Sperling, April 13, 2013

In lots of places, traffic has a view of a ridge. That’s a fabulous place to stick something with an interesting silhouette. Antique farm equipment looks neat. Try a scarecrow. A sculpture. A cairn. A saguaro. A dramatic tree. Anything that a passing driver can take in with a quick glance – not distracting them for dangerously long.

Seating Should Face the Action

© Norman Sperling, March 22, 2013

Why must seats face orthogonal to the rail instead of the center of attention? Seated down the right field line once, I faced the center field wall. I turned very sharply left to see the diamond. I had an aisle seat so I could stretch my legs in that direction but nobody else around could.

In theaters, I've faced corners of the stage instead of the center.

For concerts, it's not so bad. The angle at which the sound reaches my ears is not a problem.

But facing action is. To watch a performance, seats should face center stage. To watch a baseball game, seats should face the diamond. Football, basketball, soccer, and hockey are different because they range all up and down their field, though they'd probably best face the center. This is another reason that multipurpose stadia aren't a good idea.

Other than swivel seats, has this problem ever been fixed? The tilt of the stands might be very different to face the diamond but I doubt that it would pose construction problems. Spectators would have to turn to watch a homer or a deep fly ball, but the seating structure should allow it to be seen.

The Journal of Irreproducible Results
This Book Warps Space and Time
What Your Astronomy Textbook Won't Tell You

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