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.)

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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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Recently we bought a gauge for our propane tank.  I'm tired of guessing, especially during hurricane season, how much propane is left for our barbecue grill, and figured the gauge would soon pay for itself through more accurate fill-ups.  (The cost for filling a tank is the same, whether it is empty or almost full.) 

Usually the odd or outrageous statements that come with a product these days are found in the Warnings section, but this was in the instructions themselves (emphasis mine):

  • If the needle is in the GREEN AREA (GAS) - the fuel supply is sufficient.
  • If the needle is in the YELLOW AREA (LOW GAS) - the fuel is running in short supply.
  • If the needle is in the RED AREA (REFILL) - the fuel tank should be refilled promptly - usually within 10 minutes of cooking time.


Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 7:34 am | Edit
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The latest celebrity visitor to Fenwick, Connecticut.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Edit
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Thanks to DSTB, who have a personal interest in Bath, Maine, I offer you a glimpse of the action at Bath Iron Works.  It serves to remind me that the U.S. does, indeed, still build things (though I do wish we still built our own toasters), and that in my current (and I believe important) quest of small and local (farming, business, education, health care), sometimes large and local is beautiful, too.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 7:36 am | Edit
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Here's an interesting TED lecture on some of the possibilities for small, agile, flying robots.  The possibilities for exploring dangerous places, such as collapsed buildings or gangsters' hideouts, are great.  If only they didn't sound so much like a swarm of bees....

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 7:32 am | Edit
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I've set my alarm to remind me to pay attention at 12:12:12 today; otherwise it's sure to slide past unnoticed.  I'm sure if I'd check Facebook someone would remind me, but....

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 10:15 am | Edit
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Porter says this BBC story is a good summary of what he saw when visiting the Boeing plant on his visit to Seattle.  Enjoy!  Pretty WOW, I think.

--> Get Adobe Flash player-->

Sorry about the extraneous "-->".  It's in the BBC's code, and I'm not taking the time to mess with it. Sorry, too, about the ad at the beginning; that also is theirs  If you happen to get the Air New Zealand one, though, it's pretty cool itself.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 9:49 am | Edit
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While I'm gathering mental energy for a response to Stephan's thought-provoking comment below, here's an easy post for your holiday enjoyment.  You don't have to know much music theory to enjoy it, but some basic knowledge helps.  (H/T Ruth from the WWMB!)

That does it; I'm inspired:  Joseph's next PowerPoint collection will include intervals.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Edit
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For Heather, Janet, and all who are great mothers but sometimes feel intimidated by how far they are from meeting their own standards.  Today's Family Circus says it all.


Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 8:31 am | Edit
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