Make it simple: How a differential gear works

Before watching this video, I really couldn’t have told you what a differential gear was. I certainly couldn’t have explained how one works.

But this clever video starts with an example that is easy for anyone to understand and slowly builds one example on the next until finally you truly get how the complicated gear works.

As a newspaper editor I would tell reporters to write so their mom could follow the story. I think this video does an amazing job pulling off that feat with a subject that could easily overwhelm the casual viewer.

Remembering Geraldine Ferraro’s Cherry Street campaign

I spent a few minutes reading the long list of Geraldine Ferraro‘s accomplishments after hearing of her death today and realized that I barely knew her. Many people probably didn’t and that’s understandable. But for many years I felt a special connection to Ferraro and Walter Mondale, the man who picked her to be the first female VP candidate on a major ticket.

I’m still proud to say I was the campaign manager for Mondale/Ferraro at Cherry Street Elementary School in Troy, Alabama. I don’t remember the final count but I clearly remember that my campaign failed. We lost in a landslide. It seems there was nothing I could do in fifth grade to turn tide that had built nationally for the Reagan/Bush ticket. [Read more…]

TED: Light creates ambiance, feel of place at High Museum

I love TED Talks and I love architecture. So I was immediately intrigued by this discussion from Rogier Van Der Heide. I’m glad I watched because Renzo Piano’s design at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is featured prominently.

While I’ve read a lot about Piano’s design, this is the first time I’ve seen a behind-the-scenes look at the design process for the rooftop skylights in the top floor gallery. It’s also the first time I’ve seen Atlanta featured in a TED Talks video.


Hiking the Appalachian Trail, the easy way

The Pocosin cabin along the trail in Shenandoa...

Image via Wikipedia

Twelve years ago I bought a pair of hiking boots, a backpack and borrowed some hiking gear for a grand adventure along the Appalachian Trail. My friend, Jeb, and I were going to hike about 40 miles on the trail in something like four days. We didn’t get that far. We didn’t get close.

I remember spending one brutally cold night on the top of the mountain in October. I was living in Florida at the time and had not experienced cold weather in well over a year. I was also overweight and out of shape.

Here’s what I wrote for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune just one week before the odyssey began: [Read more…]

Ready for wedding season

I received Jeb and Sarah’s “save the date” card in the mail yesterday. I suppose that’s the official start of the wedding season for 2011.

While I’m looking forward to being Jeb’s best man in October, I’m hopeful the wedding couple doesn’t coordinate anything like this:

Brian & Eileen’s Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo.

Stainless Steel Sharpie

Stainless Steel Sharpie

This amazing Stainless Steel Sharpie has found its way into my top desk drawer. This is the newest addition to Sharpie’s line of permanent markers. And why shouldn’t the pen be as permanent as the ink?

The Stainless Steel Sharpie has a nice heft to it, writes well and looks like I’m serious about making my mark.

Most Improved

Mr. BillI won a Mr. Bill bobble-head doll at Jackson Spalding’s monthly staff meeting yesterday.

Why did I win it? For being the Most Improved Biller for 2010.

The wobbler is an award for doing such a poor job filing my invoices and activity reports on time in 2009 but meeting the minimal standards this year.

Honestly, I’m very thankful that the accounting department has seen some improvement in my administrative skills this year. The award will receive a place of honor next to my “Most Valuable Editor” award from the Crimson White and the lava lamp I won at a conference in Austin, Texas.

My awards shelf is starting to get full.

Mr. Long goes to Washington

Rep. John Lewis and Bryan LongWords cannot describe how honored and humbled I am to have dined with Rep. John Lewis and tour his offices in Washington, D.C. yesterday.

As I described earlier this week, I was invited — on what may have been a whim — by Rep. Lewis to visit him in D.C. I wasn’t certain at the time that the lunch offer would result in a real lunch.

It proved to be much more than I could have expected or asked for.

Rep. Lewis spent more than three hours entertaining Alex and I during a very busy day for the House of Representatives.

We arrived 30 minutes early for lunch and spent much of that time walking the halls of Cannon House on what turned out to be moving day. Alex accurately described the scene as reminiscent of a college dorm on the first day of class. Furniture was stacked high in every hallway as some members of Congress left their posts while others moved in.

When we returned to Rep. Lewis’ office just before noon we were told that the Congressman may be late. We were promptly introduced to a staff member who would join us for lunch. At 12:20, disappointment began to mildly set in as we walked toward the Capitol with no sign of the Congressman. [Read more…]

Heading to DC

John Lewis, American civil rights activist and...
Image via Wikipedia

I’m heading to Washington, D.C. today for a quick trip that was planned around a single lunch. I’ve been invited to dine with Rep. John Lewis in the Congressional dining room.

I met Rep. Lewis at a Democratic fundraiser just before the November election. After saying how I honored I was to meet him I mentioned that we share a mutual hometown: Troy, Ala. His eyes lit up and he launched into a series of stories about his memories of Troy. He told one story about trying to hold down a relative’s house as a tornado blew through. He also said he frequently returns to Troy and owns farmland there.

By the end of the conversation he asked if I visited D.C. often. I told him that I rarely visit D.C. but I love the city.

I thought we were still making idle chit-chat but instead he invited me to join him for lunch. I doubt I’m alone in receiving such an invitation but I’m certainly honored and excited about the opportunity to spend time with one of our nation’s heroes.

In early 2011, Rep. Lewis will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Rep. Lewis was a Civil Rights leader, a Freedom Rider and the youngest person to speak at the 1963 March on Washington.

[Read more…]

Zero, zero, 100

The image below is the score card awarded by the Human Rights Campaign to my elected Federal officials. It’s also an example of what’s wrong with politics today: extreme polarization.

I find it difficult to believe that Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss can’t find a single issue to support regarding the civil rights of gay men like me. If it has the words gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in the bill, they are voting no. [Read more…]