Erik Bosse, Boy Reporter

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Whilst working my way through my second cup of coffee this morning, and having succeeded in catching up on my RSS subscriptions (well, the interesting ones), I began idly checking my name on Google to catch a look-see of who might be trash-talking my good name. I guess it'd been a while since I'd googled myself, because, like a mountain man checking his traps after an extended trip to the fleshpots of Big Sycamore Junction, only to discover useless remains, I, too, found a stale piece of information.

I found this gem on the Current's on-line blog — CurBlog — dated Feb. 21. It was by Ashley Lindstrom, associate editor and media writer.

“Oh, Erik Bosse. You and I have pretty much been communicating via vanity googling for the past, I don’t know, nine months? (Then there were a few bland electronic exchanges about photos for the 48-hour Film Fest. Talk about an elephant in the room, er, email.) I figure you’ll find this post by vanity googling, too. Anyway, at the risk of sounding too You’ve Got Mail, I think we should meet. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on our coverage; I’m sure I’ve got loads to learn from you. So I’ll be at Ruta Maya on Saturday, March 1, at noon. Drop by if you can. Just promise you won’t say 'girl reporter,' OK?”

Ah, man. Twenty-one days too late! I guess I'll have to arrange a rain-check. And, Ashley, once you get around to reading this, I never referred to you as a “girl reporter.” For the record, there are two blog entries that might have verged into the snarky waters (well, where you are concerned). In one I alluded to an abstract and unnamed journalist as “our intrepid reporter.” And then there was a later blog entry where I bemoaned the general state of journalism — without mentioning any specific names — with this gassy pronouncement: “Sally Baxter, Girl Reporter, is spinning in her grave clutching her little stubby pencil and fliptop steno pad.”

I should point out that never did I write “Ashley Lindstrom, Girl Reporter.” But you have to admit, it sounds loads better than Sally Baxter.

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I'll try and arrange a meeting, Ashley. For you see I, too, have a little stubby pencil and fliptop steno pad.

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And, dammit, I'm sorry I missed your performance at the beginning of the month where you took to the stage and played against gender in a play written by your colleague, Willy Razavi. I'm sure everyone had a great time.

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I don't know if one needs a special permit to camp at Espada Park and Acequia Park. Perhaps the regulations against overnight stays are waved on Easter weekend. For the last few years I've noticed this tradition of families setting up tents on both sides of the river near Espada Dam. It's a very laid-back festive vibe with people fishing, flying kites, and lounging in camp chairs. I assume this all goes back many generations.

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This is the sort of stuff that should never be regulated by park departments. People should be able to do this sort of thing all the time. I mean, it's our land. Besides, this is the sort of stuff that kids will carry with them all their lives. True, this is half-assed camping in a city, but as we find ourselves in this country drifting more and more from any discernible contact with nature, camping along the San Antonio River can only be a good thing.

Actually, as it's a full moon tonight, I envy those folks their tents, charcoal grills, music pumping from SUVs with the doors opens, and folding canvas chairs slung low to give them a perfect view of the bloated moon, as silver as the underside of a mackerel, rising above the tree line.

What I get, from the sidewalk in front of my house, is much less bucolic.

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Speaking of heavenly objects, there is a great astronomy item in the news these last few days. Wednesday morning NASA’s Swift satellite caught an intense gamma ray burst with it's x-ray telescope. It came from the direction of the constellation Boötes. What makes this event interesting is the fact that all the objects in Boötes (with the exception of a globular cluster or two) are nearby stars which share this neighborhood of our galaxy with our sun. But this gamma ray burst — visible (just barely) to the naked eye — came from an incredibly distant galaxy billions of light years away. Current measurements indicate that this light took 7.5 billion years to reach us … but because of the expansion of the universe, it would be inaccurate to say that this explosion was 7.5 billion light years away. It would, however, be accurate to say that in the direct line of sight between us and this distant and ancient explosion there are thousands of galaxies. This is what happens when a super massive unstable young sun collapses into a black hole. Also, this can happen when two neutron stars collide.

The gamma ray burst emits from the poles of the dying star, and as such, the energy is concentrated into very coherent beams. The reason that we could see this event so unfathomably distant is that the star's north or south pole happened to be pointed in our direction.

This vague flash that could just barely be seen — and only for seconds — came from a point half way to the edge of the visible universe. We have a good notion of the time it took the light to get to us by the red shift values. To give this some sort of perspective, we have photographed and identified tens of thousands of galaxies. This explosion most likely came from a galaxy we have not yet named; and, possibly, a galaxy so far distant that our telescopes lack the resolution to discern.

This is why we need science literacy in this country. This is an incredible and breathtakingly beautiful story. If you don't see how wonderful this event is, head over to Astronomy Cast. Work your way through every podcast. Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela L. Gay will patiently and playfully bring you up to speed on the universe. Yep, the entire universe. If all you got in school and college was dense and dull and obdurate crap when the concept of astronomy or cosmology came up, well, I'm sorry — get over it. Click over to Astronomy Cast. Fraser and Pamela will open up for you an extraordinary world. Every Monday I'm clicking over to listen to the new episode. It's addictive. Check it out. You'll be glad you did.

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