Funny—with so much of the mainstream now celebrating Pi Day, I find myself less inclined to do so.  But for the sake of our grandson, with whom a phone conversation is more likely to consist of recitations of pi to 36 digits, or of whether a given number is prime or composite, than it is of  "what did you do today?" I will reprise the Pi Day video I posted in 2011.  Enjoy!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 14, 2014 at 7:04 am | Edit
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I am so not ready to go back on Daylight Saving Time.  The only good part about changing the clocks is the extra hour of sleep, and that only happens in the fall.  This, however, makes the medicine go down a little easier.  (Thanks, Tim!)  (My European audience can enjoy it in three weeks.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm | Edit
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Although we missed our own Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner and burning-of-the-palms this year, I love this traditional prelude to Lent.  After we left Norwood, Massachusetts, our friend Alan became vicar of a small church there.  He has since written a book, and more to the point, produced this homage to Shrove Tuesday pancake dinners, inspired by Robert W. Service's The Shooting of Dan McGrew.  As a fan of all three (Service, Alan, and Shrove Tuesday pancakes), I had to reproduce it here (with permission).

The kitchen crew was whippin’ it up
at the Redeemer pancake dinner.
The band that was playin’ the Bluegrass tunes
was pickin’ ‘em out like a winner.
There at the back was a man in black,
who was speakin’ of Israel;
And by his side was the love of his life,
the lady that's known as Gail.

The cause of all of this merriment
was the upcoming purple season;
And so the crowd was chewin’ the fat,
as if they needed a reason.
The following day would bring ashes and grief,
forty days of a somber tone.
But tonight they wore beads and sated their needs
by carvin’ the ham to the bone.
The vicar was telling the lamest of jokes,
as the vicar is wont to do.
They say that the Anglicans know how to drink,
and they surely know how to eat too.

These are the simple facts of the case,
and I guess I ought to know.
There was food and fun, and everyone smiled,
I saw as I watched them go.
There’s a time for Lent and a time to repent,
but the season goes down so much better,
If you start it off by gorging yourself
on homemade pancakes and butter.

When he was young, my father had a two-mile walk to work, and used the time to memorize long poems, including Dan McGrew and another Service work, The Cremation of Sam McGee.  Later, upon request, he would recite them to his children and grandchildren.  That pleasure cemented my love of the poems, and it came flooding back when I read Alan's verse.  Thank you, Alan and Vivien!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 7, 2014 at 6:49 am | Edit
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Thanks, Jon, for finding this.  From where I sit (the office next door) this is enough like Porter's frequent phone meetings to have me (almost) rolling on the floor laughing.  (No, I will not say ROFL.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 11:48 am | Edit
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From, one of the best 404 File Not Found errors I've come across.


Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Edit
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Wouldn't all Kickstarter projects like to have funded $906,490 of a $50,000 goal?  And with 17 days left in the drive?  Well, not all Kickstarter projects involve both smart phones and paper airplanes!

A $40 pledge gets you the basic package.  No wonder they have so many backers; I can imagine that was many a geek's Christmas present.  (H/T Stephan)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Edit
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Although it's still warm in Florida, the first snow has fallen for much of our family, so I'd better post this before no one is thinking of autumn fun anymore.  I don't know if this sign was intentional or not, but when our friend RDH posted it on Facebook, I had to share it further.  I'm pretty sure it was not an attempt to give bilingual directions to the crop.


Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 11:04 am | Edit
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Every kid knows how wonderful it is to bounce on the bed.

But all too soon we get older and heavier and our parents ban the activity before (or immediately after) we destroy the bed.

A YMCA outside of Boston has taken pity on our inner three-year-olds and installed a jumping pillow.

I'm certain the world would be a saner and happier place if we all had access to jumping pillows. Not to mention healthier—what a fun form of exercise!

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 7:51 am | Edit
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I'd rather be with family than almost anywhere, but it's a pity that we only manage to spend Independence Day with the Greater Geneval Award Marching Band about every other year.  This is what we missed two days ago.

I've written more extensively about the band before, so I won't reiterate, but if you ever want to experience the true spirit of American Independence Day, visit Geneva, Florida on July 4th.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 7:41 am | Edit
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Still love FoxTrot.


Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Edit
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For the läckerli-lovers in the family, and anyone hungry for a reminder of Basel:

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 6:53 am | Edit
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This is so cool—and I'm not just saying that because it was done by IBM, even though they do put food on the table and finance trips to visit the grandkids.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 8:16 am | Edit
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I've often wondered why tolerance is considered such a high principle these days.  Granted, I have many qualities that cause those around me to exercise forbearance; nonetheless, I hope for more in even a casual relationship than mere tolerance.  I'd rate our various neighborly relationships, for example, as great, good, casual, and tolerant, with the last being better than "nasty," but nothing to brag about.

Perhaps the preaching of tolerance comes because we have failed so badly at love.  Tolerance—at best—says, "I disagree with you, but it doesn't matter."  Love says, "I disagree with you, and it does matter, but I love you, and I choose to believe the best of you.  I will pray for you, encourage you, and seek out ways to work with you that do not violate my conscience.  I will be alert to any lesson God wants to teach me through you."

Lowering the bar is not the solution.  Redefining a C as an A rarely inspires higher performance.  Besides, we're not doing so well at tolerance, either.  With a hat tip to VP via Facebook, here's a lighter moment dedicated to all who have been slammed by the unloving who preach love, or by the intolerant who preach tolerance.


Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 7:04 am | Edit
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To brighten your day, here's a brief look at Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, by the Menopause Guy.  (Yes, I know it's really Mental Floss.  But I hear what I hear.)

Here's my favorite picture of Mister Rogers, because he's with one of my favorite people.


Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 8:16 am | Edit
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You all know I'm not a sports person.  Would you believe me if I said that spending all day (more than 12 hours) at a sporting event last Saturday was an absolute blast?

Believe it.

The sport was Quidditch, and last weekend was Quidditch World Cup VI, held in Kissimmee, Florida.  As much fun as I had, I doubt I would have bothered to attend had not our nephew's University of Richmond team qualified for the event.  His parents came down for the occasion, and we had a great visit.  It was too short, but included a first:  conversing over dinner, just my sister, her husband, and the two of us.  It's not that we don't get together—but quiet dinnertime conversation is quite different from the usual lots of people of all ages, with lots of things going on.

For those who have not read any of the Harry Potter books, or for those who have, but are puzzled as to how the players learned to fly, here is a brief explanation of how the earthbound version of Quidditch is played.

Several aspects of this game contributed to my enjoyment:  First and foremost was knowing someone on one of the teams.  But I found other games fun to watch also, and I think that's because Quidditch is such a very amateur sport.  It's only eight years old, the real-live version having been invented at Middlebury College in 2005, so it hasn't had a chance to get too messed up yet.  On college campuses, where Quidditch is most commonly found, it's a "club" sport rather than an official team, which makes it all the better.  In an age when even young children's sports teams view themselves as a training ground for the pros, and parents dream of college scholarships, Quidditch teams play for fun.  The youth of the game also means no one has quite figured out the best strategies.  We watched half a dozen games or so, and no two were alike.

The Snitch is a wild card that certainly contributes to keeping the game from degenerating into just another move-the-ball-from-one-end-of-the-field-to-the-other game.  The Snitch can do just about anything, roaming all over the park, throwing water balloons, catching a ride on a golf cart, whatever.  He or she must come back to the field after a certain period of time, even if he hasn't been caught by a Seeker—else the game could go on forever because the Snitch hopped a bus out of town.

Although I was at the games to root for the University of Richmond, I couldn't resist watching another UR game:  the University of Rochester.  (Fortunately, the two did not play each other.)  Speaking with one of the players after the game, I mentioned that we were Class of '74 and Class of '75.  The player said he was Class of '14.  Still, I didn't feel that old until I realized that the age difference was as if I had been talking with someone from the Class of 1934.  Ouch.

Both Carnegie Mellon and Virginia Tech have Quidditch teams, but we did not see them.  Either they did not qualify for the World Cup, or they couldn't afford the trip.  We're very glad the Richmond team managed to raise the not-inconsiderable funds.

Many of the team uniforms were clever, especially the backs.  Here are two of my favorites, from Rice.  (Click on the images to enlarge.)

alt  alt

The University of Richmond, however, had the best shirts overall; they received many compliments.  I thought the University of Rochester was odd, being the Yellowjackets; not to be outdone by the other UR, Richmond is the Spiders.  Our nephew Kevin and his friend Layla ... or rather, Layla and her friend Kevin, are shown here modeling the shirts for me.


The Seekers must wait out the first 10 minutes of the game before running after the Snitch.  This gives the rest of the players time to play before the catching of Snitch brings things to a halt.  It also gives the Seekers a chance to enjoy the game for a while.  And me, as well:  because Kevin is a Seeker, once the Snitch hunt was on my attention was mostly directed away from the other play.


Below are a few videos of that famous UR Seeker, Kevin Alloway, catching the Snitch in three of their four games.  Many Seekers are of the heavy-built, muscular type, but Kevin is a long-distance runner and fast, fast, fast.  Instead of wrestling the Snitch (person) to the ground, he zips in and grabs the Snitch (tennis ball in a sock, attached by Velcro to the person) before anyone knows what has happened.

Incidentally, my admiration has shot way up for those in back of the news cameras who manage to keep their attention on what they are doing.  You can see in the videos where in my excitement I totally forgot I was holding the camera.

University of Richmond vs. University of Texas (Austin).  Texas went on to claim the overall championship, so the object of catching the Snitch here was to end the game before the point spread could get any bigger.  I wasn't happy that Texas was so successful, because they have apparently forgotten that the game is supposed to be fun for everyone.  They play hard, rough, and mean; early in the Richmond game, one of their players smashed a bludger (dodge ball) point blank into the face of one of Richmond's best Chasers and sent her to the hospital.  His teammates said he's known for doing that.  It wasn't even a penalizable offense, so I think a rule modification is in order.  Some temporary pain is within bounds; deliberate infliction of injury is, well, unsportsmanlike, in the old sense—all too much like "sports men/women" these days.  (After the passing of time, and three medical exams—paramedic, urgent care, hospital—she was pronounced fit to play again.  Fortunately the games were far enough apart that the Texas bully didn't ruin her entire day.)

University of Richmond vs. University of Southern Mississippi, Richmond's first win.

University of Richmond vs. Ohio State.  This was the most exciting game of all, going into overtime:  five minutes or until the Snitch is caught, and Kevin ended the game for a win.


A bald eagle stops to watch the game:  Hrmph.  Silly people, flying so low to the ground.  I'd put those hoops a lot higher.  Why didn't they ask me to play?  I can outfly the best of them!  At least they didn't charge me for this great seat.


Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 9:04 am | Edit
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