A Star Is Born

new Huntsville star logo and slogan

Huntsville’s mayor recently unveiled a new logo and related slogan for the city that have been the subject of some discussion, both locally and statewide.

The new logo is a star packed with symbolism that I won’t go into here, which replaced this:

old huntsville logo

The old logo had a bit more detail, but, let’s face it, had typography that looked like it was designed by a middle-schooler who thought it would be fun to play with fonts. “Ooooh, look, future-y.” (Since “Star Trek” is the easiest stand-in for “future.”) Also, with the shuttle’s upcoming retirement, the logo was about to get really dated really quickly.

(That logo, I have to note, replaced another I couldn’t find online, which was tasteful and attractive and referenced multiple highlights of the city.)

Anyway, some like the star; some don’t. Some find it too simple; some like that it’s very clean.

The new slogan, on the other hand, is being seen as an insult to the rest of the state — it’s arguably Huntsville touting ourselves as the highlight of Alabama.

So The Huntsville Times published a column inviting readers to submit slogan ideas for the city. That column included, among others, the following:

–“We Brake For Snow” (True, but more a Southern thing that a local thing)
–“We ARE Rocket Scientists” (Often true, but sort of cliché)
–“Just ONE Useless Overpass” (So untrue; I used to use that overpass every week)
–“Not Pollen — Gold Dust” (Yeah, we’re rough on allergies)
–“Just Ignore That Booming Sound” (OK, living about a mile from the arsenal, that one resonates)

About a week ago, The Times published the results of the solicitation. Among the responses:

–“Speaking Geek With A Southern Twang” (This one’s not bad; it kind of captures the dichotomy of the city. Of course, with the low nativity rate, the twang’s fading)
–“Live the Good Life at a Double-Wide Price” (Hey, you know…)
–“Our Beer Is Less Than 6% And So Is Our Unemployment”
–“If There Was Suddenly World Peace, We’d All Be Out of Business” (Well, there is that, too…)
–“Have We Eaten Madison Yet?”
–“Remembering What Used To Be What And STILL Giving Directions That Way! (You Remember Where THE Mall Used To Be? Make A Right!)” (Again, I suspect this is more a Southern thing than a local thing, but I imagine people here are more aware of it since the fact that so many people move here all the time, it means a lot of people DON’T remember wehere The Mall used to be.)
–“Proud Of Our Past, But Working On A Time Machine To Go Back And Make It Better” (OK, this one may be my favorite)
–“Huntsville: Unfortunately, It’s Surrounded By Alabama” (The “unfortunately” part is subjective, but I doubt it’s uncommon for Huntsvillians to have the thought that their city is really more in Alabama than of Alabama. And the rest of the state probably feels the same.)
–“Home Of The Most Romantic Engineers In The World” (Yeah, both of ’em)
–“Highest Rate of Six-Figure Engineers Driving $300 Cars” (Because, hey, if you know how to keep it running yourself, why waste money?)
–“You’ll Live In Madison, But Work Here” (Ah, another Madison jibe)
–“That’s Not Pollen, It’s Moon Dust” (Another theme develops)
–“Where Antebellum Meets Cutting Edge And Makes It Work Seamlessly” (And that brings us back around to the key dichotomy)

Improv Night

My first time in the audience of an improv show in a long time, and my first time seeing the new show format. These guys aren’t bad.

Life, Again

OK, more random updates:

–I’m going to be in an improv show Saturday night at Kenny Mango’s in Madison. I doubt this piece of information being presented here does anyone any good, but there you go regardless. If you’re reading this here, and haven’t seen it elsewhere, and live in the area, come see us.

–I’ve added a Twitter update box to the sidebar. ‘Cause, hey, why not? I’m sort of right on the Twitter cusp. I use it a fair bit, but tell myself that I’m not as serious about it as some other people I could name.

–We made it successfully through our first official weekend of counseling last week. The future father-in-law seemed pleased with the nine-or-so pages I wrote about the roles and responsilibities of husbands and wives in marriage. I also did an individual session with someone associated his the FFIL’s church (I think) while I was there because, if the internet is to be believed, I have issues. 🙂 The individual session was very beneficial in addressing some unfinished business from the past, and the marriage counseling seemed to evidence that we are moving in the right direction.

–We’ve also made a very small amount of progress decluttering my house in preparation for merging households. It’s kind of impressive, in a way, how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the course of thirty-something years. And when I saw a small amount of progress, I’m speaking relatively. I doubt we could find as much to throw away at Susanna’s house as we’ve already ditched from mine; large garbage cans full. And, yet, there’s so much still do be done. It’s wonderful having Susanna to partner with me in this, to let me tell the stories of some emotional touchstones so that I can part with them, to help me sort through stuff and decide what to do with it, and to be willing to look me in the eyes and tell me — in love and honesty — that, no, I really don’t need that many Optimus Primes (Optimi Prime?). Slowly but surely …

–Battlestar Galactica is over, and I got to watch the finale with friends in Jackson, which was quite cool. With BSG wrapped, Lost is the only show I’m still watching. Another year and change of that, and I plan to be done; I have no plans to start new shows in the meantime. After all, I don’t really want to watch Caprica, do I?

–Nope, no update on a wedding, so don’t ask. Nyah!

Carbon Leaf’s “Life Less Ordinary”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Susanna asked me to get this song when we re-synced her iPod so she wouldn’t lose it, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. Just kinda catchy.

Down To Earth

Joe AcabaOK, this is one of those areas where I’m uncertain about the line between the two blogs. This post is space-related, so perhaps it should go on All These Worlds, but it feels more like it belongs here.

Right now, the space shuttle Discovery is in orbit with its STS-119 crew, which includes, among others, two former classroom teachers who were selected as astronauts in 2004, Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba.

Joe is the member of the crew with whom I’ve interacted the most; we’ve had the opportunity to talk two or three times. I first met Joe the year he was selected, before he was even an official astronaut, if I recall correctly. The new class was touring the various NASA centers to learn more about what goes on where, and Marshall hosted a fish fry so that folks here could meet the new astronaut candidates.

The social time was rather amusing, in a way. After each space shuttle or station mission, the crews go around and visit the centers and share about their flights. When they do, they’re celebrities — people line up for autographs, and you have to be lucky or somebody to actually have a conversation with them. At the fish fry, the ASCANs were very much not celebrities yet; they were wandering around, looking for people to talk to. If you and a coworker talked to each other long enough, an astronaut candidate would come try to join the conversation. Very funny, and so not what things will be like for them when they come back here after STS-119.

Anyway, Joe really impressed me that night. I ended up sitting next to him at a table we shared with a couple and their young son. During the conversation, the son got bored, and decided that he needed to show off his new trick — tying his shoes. So, of course, he has to share this skill with the astronaut. He walks over to Joe, and tells him to time him tie his shoes in five seconds.

Joe got out of his chair and watched the boy, and counted out to five as the boy tied. And, as Joe counted ever … so … slowly to five, the child was, in fact, able to tie his shoes in five seconds.

And I knew then that astronaut Joe Acaba was probably going to do OK.

On A Role

As part of marriage counseling this weekend, I’m having to put together statements on the roles of husbands and wives in marriage.

What one or two items do you think would be most important to include? What would be your greatest bit of insight in this area?

Relics Different

(Cross-posted elsewhere. Sorry, Heather.)

OK, I need help and or advice. I have, over the years, collected a handful of old computers that, really, you know, I just don’t need. An old Mac Plus. An early PowerMac Performa. A stripped-down Lombard G3. Etc. I really hate the idea of just putting them in my trash can, but I really don’t know what to do with them. Anybody want them, or know what I can do with them?

With the Good NeighBear

Ode To Indianola

Heather shared with me this writing prompt Web site which had the following challenge today:

Paul Simon was going to Graceland, Toto blessed the rains down in Africa – what place would you write a song about?

Explain why it’s worthy of song. Better yet, write some lyrics.

Here, then, are my lyrics:

Heading down to ‘Nola,
Gonna leave the world behind
Heading down to ‘Nola
Gonna leave the world behind
Oh, yeah, I’m heading down to ‘Nola,
Got the flat lands on my mind

When you got nothing but nothing
Ain’t nothing to get you down
And when you’re ain’t got nothing
Ain’t nothing to weigh you down
When you got nothing but nothing
You’re the luckiest man around


OK, I’ve not written in a week. Shameful, I know. I’ve been kind of busy. So what’s going on?

  • I haven’t seen Watchmen yet, contrary to my last post. Maybe tonight. Maybe this weekend. Who knows?

  • Still no wedding date, so stop asking already, OK?

    In all seriousness, Susanna and I have decided to step back and err on the side of caution. With me coming out of a divorce a year and a half ago, and her coming out of an even-more-recent broken engagement, we’ve agreed that we both need to be very careful. It’s easy to let pre-marriage counseling become just something you cross of the checklist as you plan a wedding, and we decided that we needed to make a conscious effort to not let it be that way. As a result, we’re making counseling our first priority right now, and, in order to not let it get marginalized, delaying setting a date until we’re further into the process and have a feel for how it’s going.

    We’re fortunate that we have a huge help in that area in the form of Susanna’s dad, who is a pastor in Louisiana and will be performing our ceremony. He has a policy that before he will perform a wedding, he has to lead the couple through counseling, and his children are no exception. I have a lot of respect for her dad, and am grateful for his wisdom, experience and insight as we go through this.

    In the meantime, it’s going to mean a lot of trips to Louisiana. We went last weekend and two weeks before that; we’re going again next weekend, and Easter, and are still working on the trips beyond that. Pray for vehicular sturdiness.

  • I gave another talk at the library Tuesday night.

    Unlike the last one, which was an overview of health and fitness through the past and future of spaceflight, this one was strictly about the book.

    How sad is it that I enjoyed the material more last time? 😉

    In all seriousness, this one was still a lot of fun, even if I really do think I had more fun last time. Several reasons for that, I imagine. That said, it was a great crowd; I was speaking to HAL5, the local chapter of the National Space Society, so it was an audience of people quite well-versed in spaceflight.

    Unlike last time, Susanna was able to make it, and was a great sport in indulging my space-geekery.

    These last two lectures are the first real public speaking I’ve done probably since college, and were surprisingly agreeable. (I imagine that my experience with improv, and particularly hosting improv shows, has contributed a lot to that.) I don’t have any more talks scheduled, but would really kind of like to give another one sometime. We’ll see.

  • I’ve got a hot date tonight!

    Tonight is a year since Susanna and I first had dinner together, since our “first date.” Or, at least, our first first date.

    Technically, we’d had dinner before that, at the singles potluck dinner where we met, at Ruby Tuesday after church the following Thurday, and at an Italian restaurant after church three days later, when we had the fight that basically made it imperative that I ask her out.

    She agreed, we went out, had a wonderful time, and after a great dinner (that she let me pay for) and literally hours of incredible conversation, she revealed that she had absolutely no interest in dating me.

    The really sad thing is, I’d rehearsed that very scenario in improv practice two days earlier.

    So tonight we’re going back to P.F. Chang’s, where we had that first dinner a year ago. But this time, she’s paying. 🙂

  • In case you haven’t seen, there’s a shuttle launch coming up.

    STS-119 is currently scheduled for 6:43 p.m. CDT on Sunday, March 15, pending the results of analysis of the cause of a hydrogen leak, and what has to be done to repair it. The date could change, so check in at nasa.gov for the latest.