Here's one reason why it's more fun to be Episcopalian/Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox or anyone else for whom Christmas lasts a full twelve days.


Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Edit
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Bah, humbug.  We live in very safe, sidewalked neighborhood of over 900 homes, and to our door tonight came one, count 'em, ONE boy who might have been in middle school, a handful of high school students, and two ADULTS begging for candy!  One had a pacifier-sucking toddler in a stroller, presumably as her excuse for trick-or-treating, though in this case I have to hope she was planning to eat the candy herself.  Nothing interesting in the way of costumes.

Maybe next year we'll save on candy and just keep the lights off.  We have more leftover candy than our grandkids could (read, "would be allowed to") eat in a year.  It's not your grandmother's Hallowe'en anymore.

On a cheerier note, in a neighborhood nearby the child-like inhabitants had a glorious time celebrating the day, which is the real reason for this post.  Enjoy!  (H/T a WWMB friend.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Edit
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I love this Feudal Effort strip!  (Click on the image for a larger version.)  It describes exactly the attitude I have when watching quasi-historical movies.  Not to mention movies based on books.   ("Would it have hurt them to actually read the book?")


I do cut Shakespeare some slack, however.  He didn't have the same access to sources as we do, and anyway, he certainly didn't have time to spare.  It just might have killed him to do basic fact-checking.

Speaking of historical interest, Duncan I was my 28th great-grandfather.  :)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 8:07 am | Edit
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Perhaps it's my own OCD tendencies, but I greatly enjoyed Monk, the TV show about a brilliant detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Given that and a prejudice in favor of my country-in-law, how could I resist Ursus Wehrli, the Swiss artist and comedian whose concept of order stands out even in the country of precision watches and trains you can set those watches by.  (H/T Jon)

Wehrli's TED lecture, Tidying Up Art, shows what I mean.  If you think modern art is just a little too random, Wehrli's your man.

(Ahem.  I may be stretching my bragging rights here, but my reaction on listening to his accent was that his native tongue may be Swiss German, but I'd bet it wasn't Basel-Deutsch.  Turns out he lives in Zurich.  The Basel accent is more melodious, I think.)

Wehrli doesn't stop with artworks:  alphabet soup, fruit bowls, sunbathers, pine branches, and parking lots are only a few of the objects that capture his attentionHere's a video of the artist in action.  It helps to speak German, but you'll get the point even if you don't. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Edit
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Flash mob Bolero is a great idea (H/T Jon) that doesn't quite work.

Ravel's repetitive work is best appreciated, I find, when one can see, rather than just hear, each different instrument as it joins the progression, so the Copenhagen Philharmonic's idea of performing it through the flash mob medium was brilliant.  My only complaint is that much of the effect of the music is lost by being cut by about two thirds.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 7:21 am | Edit
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My sister-in-law, ever the teacher, saw some children catching blue crabs from our bridge.  Walking over, she engaged them in conversation and taught them a bit about the crabs, in particular how to tell the males from the females.  One of the children, a ten-year-old from the District of Columbia, caught on right away:

Oh!  One is the Monument and the other the Capitol!

Brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.


(Photo credit Hackensack Riverkeeper)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 6:59 am | Edit
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H/T to Jon:

In Google maps, get directions from "Beijing, China" to "Taipei, Taiwan."  Look at direction 40.

Then do the same thing from Beijing, China to Tokyo, Japan, and look at direction 32.

A quick search didn't turn up anything else as interesting.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 6:00 am | Edit
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Don't ask me how I came upon Sporcle, but beware—it's addictive!  There are quick quizzes for a wide array of subjects, and I've found them useful for refreshing the ol' memory on things I should know, as well as learning new interesting facts and just plain trivia.  Not to mention spelling, as it doesn't matter if you do know the capital of Iceland if you can't spell Reykjavík, which I can't—yet.  But I'm learning.  Here are some of my favorites:

Countries of Europe  Also North America, South America, Africa (up-to-date with South Sudan!) Asia, Oceania, and—if you have more time than I do—the world) and other geography games.

Books of the Old Testament (oh, those minor prophets!)  Also New Testament, Apostles, Seven Deadly Sins, Roman and Greek gods.

U.S. Presidents:  easy version (in order), hard version (random, by term of office).

Elements of the Periodic Table (accepts either "aluminum" or "aluminium").

Here's one for parents:  can you name all the words in The Cat in the Hat?

Interesting trivia:  common U.S. street names.

There's lots more, some more interesting and useful than others.  I find the music category almost useless, although there are a few good ones if you dig, like Symphony Orchestra Instruments. Composers by Country was kind of fun.

Enjoy!  And please post a comment here if you find good quizzes I haven't mentioned.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 6:17 am | Edit
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There's nothing like a small-town Independence Day parade, and when we're not attending weddings or births or other such out-of-town occasions, the Geneva (Florida) parade is where we like to be.  That's because we're privileged to march with the Greater Geneva Grande Award Marching Band, the parade's star attraction.  (Well, we think so.  Some of the other participants may disagree.)

I've written about the band and the parade before; this year we actually had a whole article about us in a real newspaper, albeit one i'd never heard of until the photographer introduced himself to ask my name.  No, the paper did not choose to run the photo of me, no matter how crazed I must have looked crashing the cymbals.  Instead they very appropriately featured Geneva's own Richard Simonton:  good man, good friend, and the one who makes the band happen (and gets us our free hot dogs). (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Edit
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If you live and work in the United States, you probably haven't thought about taxes since the middle of April.  But for us, Tax Week came later.  Because Porter worked overseas for part of the year, his company insisted on doing our taxes for us.  Or rather, outsourcing our taxes.  This happened once before, domestically, and Porter caught several mistakes before the taxes were finally filed.

This time, we're hoping they did it right.

My heart goes out to our Swiss-American family:  filing U.S. taxes with overseas income is unbelievably complex.  Porter actually likes the kind of work it takes to file our taxes, but this time he took a look at the 67-page stack of papers and decided to trust the hireling accountants for the foreign part.  To be clear, I'm talking about the U.S. paperwork required for reporting foreign income—nothing that had to be sent to foreign governments.

Anyway, the company was slow in getting the job done, so only recently were our taxes filed:  not only for the federal government, but also for two different states.  Neither one of the states was our own, by the way—blessed Florida has no income tax.  States which do, however, make sure they get their cut of anything you earn while working within their borders.  Which is one reason why professional basketball players need tax accountants.

Not that I expect my readers to care about our taxes much—I write because the story goes on, and gets better.

The same week in which we finally filed our taxes, we received in the mail the Dreaded Notice from the IRS:  We don’t think you were honest about your 2009 taxes, and require complete documentation of all the charitable contributions you claim to have made during that year.

Did I mention that Porter is really good about accounting and tax stuff?  We barely had time to be annoyed with the government before he had all the documentation laid out for me to scan and copy; it went out in the next day’s mail.

But the really fun part was that in the process of gathering the documentation, Porter discovered that he had, indeed, made a mistake in the 2009 taxes.  We were actually entitled to a significantly higher deduction than we took, and expect a substantial check from the IRS once we file an amended return.

Thanks, IRS!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 8:50 am | Edit
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Just after midnight today, Steven Perezluha reached Annapolis, Maryland as the ninth bicyclist in his division to complete the Race Across AMerica.  With the 41-minute credit he received for a tornado-caused delay in Kansas, his official finish was at 11:34 last night.  Steven raced from the Pacific to the Atlantic in an even ten days and eight hours.

Congratulations to Steven!

And because no one, least of all a major athlete, succeeds without a great deal of help:

Congratulations to his sponsors, his incredible support crew, and his parents!

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 1:53 am | Edit
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No, not our granddaughter.  :(  But something her siblings would probably like.  It brightened my day, and might do so for you while you're waiting for the next Hawaii post.

John Rutter's Look at the World.  (H/T SouthForte Farms)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Edit
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At last, an explanation of what Janet did in Basel before Joseph was born:

Early Music (H/T Andy B.),

and Barefoot Running (H/T Patti W.).  (Preview without grandkid viewers.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Edit
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This is the best thing to do with a soda bottle since Diet Coke and Mentos.  The insructions are clear, and the cost of materials low.  I know some grandchildren who would love it.  (H/T Conversion Diary.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 6, 2011 at 9:33 am | Edit
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Look what we discovered!

In the following scene, T is Stephan's friend who is in Japan helping D, the pastor whose work I mentioned in Helping Japan, a Local Option.  I have to give some credit to Facebook, as I only knew about this because FB showed me M as one of the (not so random) short list friends on D's Facebook page when I was checking it out.  Stephan put the pieces together from there.

Janet, who travelled to Switzerland, and there met and married

Stephan, who had lived in Japan, where he had became friends with

T, who was in Japan for a few years and worked with

D, pastor of a church there, who has a son

J, who met (in Orlando?) and married

M, a good friend of Janet's from childhood!

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 6:59 am | Edit
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