Joyce K. is a very good friend of our family, and though she has plenty of grandchildren of her own, she happily played a grandmotherly role to our children. Formerly of Philadelphia's Savoy Company, she is a great lover of Gilbert and Sullivan and introduced our kids to that joy at an early age, through a children's book version of "The Pirates of Penzance."  I believe she also provided the taped-from-TV videotape now mouldering away lovingly preserved in our cupboard (the Rodney Greenberg version, starring Peter Allen as the Pirate King).

We nearly wore the tape out.  When Janet went to kindergarten, and was interviewed for one of those "all about me" posters, she confounded her teacher by responding to the inane question, "What's your favorite TV show?" by answering, "The Pirates of Penzance."  One of my joys of those years was hearing quotes from the show pop up in the girls' conversations.

Fueled by those memories, I let work grind to a halt today while I created an excerpt from that tape as an homage to this special, quadrennial day.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, February 29, 2016 at 10:31 am | Edit
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A friend shared this picture on Facebook.  I have no idea where it came from, and it's not very Christmasy, but it sure is clever.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Edit
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This is possibly the best use ever of cute pet photos:

When Belgian police asked witnesses not to tweet officers' movements during raids targeting terrorism suspects across the country's capital, the Internet reacted in perhaps the only way it knows how: with cats.

Belgians ... seized the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag to post jovial photos of feline friends on Sunday.

While ostensibly frivolous, the viral meme's effect was threefold. It enforced the Twitter radio silence, buried any tweets that might harm the operations, and eased some of the tension in what has become an anxious city.

The video in the article is short and worth watching.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 23, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Edit
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Did you ever imagine that a story about a carjacking could make you smile?  Especially one where the car was stolen with a child inside?  Read this story from Free-Range Kids.

When the thieves realized they had stolen an eight-year-old boy along with the car, they asked him where he wanted to get out, and he answered with the name of his elementary school—which is where his mother had been taking him when she stopped to do a quick errand.  The thieves obliged.

My favorite line of the story is Lenore Skenazy's:

So the real moral of the story is this: Kids need better training. When carjacked and asked, “Where would you like to go?” they should be ready to reply, “GameStop,” or perhaps, “McDonald’s.” This unprepared kid was involved in a real life Grand Theft Auto and didn’t even get to even miss first period.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, November 20, 2015 at 7:25 am | Edit
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That's the Swiss:  chill, neutral, and convinced that Americans dress funny every day of the year.  Mallard Fillmore from the day before the Swiss celebrate All Saints' Day.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 8:35 am | Edit
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Rather cool, even if we do all have our mouths open.  (Click to enlarge, or follow this link.)

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Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 5:54 am | Edit
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Today's Beetle Bailey is for all our Swiss folks:

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Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Edit
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Today's Dilbert is for all the bright students frustrated by teachers who insist that they show their work.

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Don't overthink it; I just think the last panel is funny.

I know it's sometimes important to show the intermediate steps, and what I used to tell my students was that they didn't need to show their work, but that if they didn't, they wouldn't get any partial credit if their answer didn't agree with mine.  Too many teachers, however, don't understand that some students can no more explain the process by which they arrive at the correct answer to a math problem than a fluent reader can detail the steps by which he understands a paragraph.  "Showing your work" becomes a matter of reverse engineering, which is another skill altogether.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Edit
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I try to avoid clickbait—you know, the Internet equivalent of the TV news teaser, "World ends tonight, details at 11"—but this one on Facebook mentioned both "Basel, Switzerland" and "drum corps" in the subtitle, so I succumbed.  I was glad I did.  (Thanks, BJ.)

The Top Secret Drum Corps founded the now-famous Basel Tattoo in 2006.  I enjoyed watching the parade in 2010, though we didn't attend the Tattoo itself, being fully entertained by newborn Joseph.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 11:54 am | Edit
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I don't change my Facebook profile picture very often.  Nor my cover photo, as evidenced by the fact that the current one is missing two grandchildren.  In fact, I think I've only had three profile pictures since I joined Facebook in 2007.  For a long time I used a version of our Sursum Corda Academy shield, which you see on the left-hand side of the banner at the top of this page.  In 2014 I switched to this picture of Vivienne and Grandma swimming.

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While I hate to replace that adorable moment, I think it's time I changed things up a little more often.  Plus, I not could resist this photo of, um, myself with my cup of tea and my handsome prince, sitting on a bench at one of our favorite places:  Leu Gardens, where we enjoy the flowers and others do all the work.  (You can click on the images to see larger versions.)

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The sculpture is by J.A. Cobb, and was part of a very enjoyable Ribbet the Exhibit display back in February.

And I'm not the only one in the family with a frog doppelgänger.

alt Jon and Heather

alt Vivienne

As I was preparing the last photo for posting, it occurred to me that it resembles something other than our granddaughter.  Sure enough, I found this picture of Edgar Degas' Petite Danseuse de 14 Ans, from our trip to the St. Louis Art Museum.  That had looked familiar in its turn; there's also a version at the Musée d'Orsay, in almost the exact pose as my frog picture.  Now I don't know if it looked familiar in St. Louis because of the Orsay or Ribbit the Exhibit!

alt St. Louis       alt Paris (photo from the Musée d'Orsay website)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Edit
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It's not much of a post, I'll admit.  But I'm one short of my goal of writing at least ten posts per month, and this month ends in three minutes.  See previous post for why I'm writing at this hour.  No, I'm not a slave to that goal, but if I can do it, why not?  It's the perfect excuse to offer one of my favorite poems, by John Masefield

Laugh and Be Merry

Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song,
Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.
Laugh, for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span.
Laugh and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.

Laugh and be merry:  remember, in olden time,
God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rime,
Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of His mirth,
The splendid joy of the stars:  the joy of the earth.

So we must laugh and drink from the deep blue cup of the sky,
Join the jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by,
Laugh, and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured
In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.

Laugh and be merry together, like brothers akin,
Guesting awhile in the rooms of a beautiful inn,
Glad till the dancing stops, and the lilt of the music ends.
Laugh till the game is played; and be you merry, my friends.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, August 31, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Edit
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A short (three-minute) video, just for fun.  Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale.  Enjoy.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 9:12 am | Edit
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If this video has you scratching your head, just ignore it.  It's a little tidbit for a few of my readers while I work on my next book review.  But the few ("the happy few") will smile, I think.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm | Edit
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The latest product update e-mail just arrived from Twitter.  What am I do make of this?

We've launched Periscope, a live, interactive video app that lets you teleport anywhere with a tap.

Should I cancel my plane tickets to Switzerland?  I've been waiting for someone to develop teleportation, though I am surprised it comes with so little hype.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Edit
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Daylight Saving Time.  DST.  In Europe, it's called by the more logical name of "Summer Time," but we in the United States need a different terminology, since we now begin DST well before winter is over.  Is that wishful thinking on someone's part?  "Spring ahead?  Just how far ahead did you move it???" ask our Northern friends.

Our Spring Ahead for 2015 is now history.  But for our European connections (and for the record) I'm posting my two favorite time change commentaries.  (H/T Tim H. and Laurie D.)  You've seen the first before, but the second is new.  It's not completely grandchild-friendly, and somewhat rude, but it's funny and nails the point.  What's odd to me is how many people think that DST is for the sake of farmers, whereas I remember from early childhood that the farmers hated it and resented it being forced on them by the "city folks."

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(link for those whose feedreaders strip off the video)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Edit
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