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Monday, December 26, 2005


Snacks 20! -- Rocky Alvey, Take 2!

In this episode of S4theB!, recorded live in Chez Jose in Brentwood, just a mile or so from Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory, I share the remaider of the interview I held with Rocky Alvey, Dyer Superintendent (photo above from, which shares information from the Dyer-hosted "Deep Impact" asteroid impact session July 4, 2004), who tells me a little about the upcoming astronomy radio show the observatory is planning. He also describes the work he is doing to create and configure an Internet-accessible robotic telescope on the roof of the observatory so that students and astronomy enthusiasts from all over the world can submit their imaging requests and program the device themselves to take pictures of anything the telescope can train itself upon. NEAT! I know myself that efforts to make a workable Internet-controlable telescope have historically been unsatisfactory, at least when it comes to functioning intuitively and consistently in the long haul. We hope that Rocky's adoption of Astronomer's Control Panel software and his hands-on technical skill with hardware and Internet programming will make this new Dyer project one that will remain useful to students for years to come. For more information, email Rocky at the observatory, or email Download the show here. Warning: Muffled buritto-chewing and explicit laughter involved! The episode ends with a replay of Rocky's original tune, "It's All in the Way that We Lean," about the reasons for the seasons!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005



I'm a teacher, ya'll: Hence I'm holidaying with my family these two weeks. It's a joy and a blessing to be so unscheduled for a week or two, and I'm enjoying it to the maximum. However, ever-aware of the needs of S4theB! subscribers, I feel you might need a little extra Christmas cheer. Completely non-PC, and hopefully not overly offensive to those of slight stature, it was created in the early 80's in the vain hopes of engendering a follow-up Christmas novelty tunes album and was originally released as a 45 rpm record by Sun/Plantation Records."Elf" is as far as I know royally out-of-print, though it did appear on a Billboard Magazine listing of holiday releases for that one season. Audiophile trivia: I recently fixed a mid-song left-channel volume dropout using the one 45 I own and my Adobe Audition software. It'll be available to listen or download at this URL for a limited time, after which this post will most likely disappear into the digital vapor. For now, I hope you enjoy "The Elf Who's King of Country!"

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Frappr Map First Member! Welcome CDubya!

Frappr Maps help bloggers and podcasters know where their readers and listeners are. It's also, well, just cool! I posted the S4theB! map (see it at the bottom of the lefthand sidebar) a couple weeks ago in the hopes that someone would find it and so far it's just me and CDubya in Bountiful, Utah. Go ahead, be brave! Add yourself! I have a suspicion that the map's gonna be extraordinarily Nashville-heavy, but I honestly don't know. Prove me wrong, ya'll! (Or, somewhat uncharacteristically, right!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Snacks 19--Bonus Geek Gift Top 3!

Okay, maybe these are not my top top 3 suggestions for that lucky geek in your life, but this bonus (by which one means "not really having to do with anything serious") episode of S4theB! lays out three suggestions for holiday giving or buying. So many gadgets; so little time! A special, ~5 minute, S4theB! Bonus! Download the show here just in time for holiday shopping!
" Mary" reads, please
Links: "Pi By Numbers" Shirt ReadPlease text-to-voice freeware Wired Magazine's "Gear Factor" blog Museum of Modern Art's site (look in the online store for the cardboard speakers) Make Magazine's Holiday Gift Guide Griffin Technology

Monday, December 12, 2005


Snacks 18--Science Songs!

Wired Magazine's article on Dr. Greg Crowther's Science Songs got me thinking: Isn't there someone close to me who's doing something similar? This S4theB! shares one song about science from Dr. Crowther's site, and then takes us to Chez Jose in Brentwood, Tennessee for a burrito feast and an informal interview with friend, songwriter, and research observatory superintendent Rocky Alvey. Rocky shares two as yet unpublished songs with us! Wow! Scoooooooooop! I highly encourage you to check out the links below to find all manner of science songs that can help your students internalize facts, figgers, and findings. A periodic Google search for Science Songs will yield more results, indubitably. Download the show here or browse the page that results from the "Feed" link in the lefthand sidebar. Links: Get it whilst you can: "Singing Science Records" brings 4 vintage LPs to .mp3 format. A cursory listen tells me that a little work with Garage Band, Audacity, or Adobe Audition would be a good thing, if just for filtering out the scratches and clicks time has dealt the webmaster's collection. The Science Songwriters' Association has a score or so CDs available for purchase. Mileage, of course, varies (a loose metaphor hinting that some songs, and some CDs, are better than others). Teachers, check out their "Pedaogy" page for research supporting why you should be using science songs in your teaching! Dr. Crowther is an integral member of the SSA. His songs are all available in their complete forms at his Science Songs site. He graciously allows S4theB! to use any of them, and believe me, we will! A Day in the Life of Rocky Alvey at Vanderbilt University's site is a really fun, if somewhat cheesy (in Rocky's overmodest appraisal) documentation of some of the thing this ultimate Renaissance Man does in the course of his work days. It does not address many aspects of his creativity, of which songwriting is only one. Dyer Observatory is a marvelous place. Check out the Virtual Tours of the observatory! And Rocky's contributions to the videoconferencing program at the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach are seminal. Look for more of them in 2006. The burrito lunch left me with more interview than I can conscionably include in this week's Snacks4theBrain!. Look for more later, maybe as early as next week! Thanks again to David Kiefer for background music from the entrancing song, "The Summer Pump," downloaded from Cagey House and used in this podcast with his permission! Ah, dontcha love the share!

Monday, December 05, 2005


Snacks 17!--William Schaffner

No, silly, it's not Captain Kirk from Star Trek and Boston Legal (one of my favorite actors, BTW), it is a really interesting 'nother guy, Dr. Bill Schaffner, Chair of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He's prolifically published, copiously quoted(CNN, PBS, and CBS, to name a few), and repeatedly referenced. I met up with him in his office at the Medical Center to discuss the media buzz about the bird flu (a redundant term--listen to hear why), vaccine shortages, and good ol' influenza. The occasional car swipes by outside the window overlooking busy 21st Avenue South. This one is a must listen (aren't they all, ya'll!?)!!! Available right here. Or, contrariwise, click on the "Feed" link to the left of this text and browse for this and all other S4theB! episodes. Background music (surgically culled from the beautiful "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists") once again courtesy of Dave Keifer at Cagey House. Thanks, Dave! And thank you, again, Dr. Schaffner. Ya'll, share the joy! Send the link to this page to all your friends and neighbors! And we'd be mucho grateful if you would click the link in the lefthand sidebar to vote for S4theB! at Every li'l bit helps!!!

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Episode Guide:

1 Joe Lopez interview
2 S4theB! Introduction
3 Keystone PSA Announcement
4 Kathy Schrock interview
5 Todd Lamitina IVC
6 Charles Brau IVC
7 Ginny Shepherd interview
8 Jeannie Tuschl interview
9 Keystone Conference
10 Scott Merrick on IVC K12
11 Vicki Metzgar interview
12 Jerry Wilmink IVC
13 Louise Rollins-Smith interview
14 Louise Rollins-Smith interview 2
15 Keystone Conference
16 Keivan Stassun interview
17 William Schaffner interview
18 Science Songs
19 Geek Gift List
20 Rocky Alvey interview
21 Bill Snyder interview
22 Biomedical Engineering Forum
23 Rick Chappell IVC
24 Bob O'Dell and Arnie Heiser IVC
25 Glenn McCombs IVC
26 Charles Brau interview
27 Jerry Wilmink interview
28 Educational Podcasting
29 Ginny Shepherd "Out of the Lunchbox" talk
30 Vickie Hannig and Melinda Cohen interview
31 David Warlick interview
32 Highlights from past shows
33 Randy Reiserer interview
34 Arnie Heiser interview
35 Overview of CSO
36 Overview of CSO 2
37 Glenn McCombs interview
38 Albert Reynolds interview
39 David Salisbury
40 NECC 2006 Highlights
41 Ian Jukes interview
42 GAS Camp (Girls and Science Camp)
43 Stephen Camarata interview
44 Jeff Ray interview
45 Kyle Butler interview
46 RIP (Research Internship Program)
47 Ig Nobel Awards
48 Dyer Star Chamber
49 Steve Spangler Science

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