Two weeks ago, after our exhausting off-road biking adventure, we paid a visit to Fort Christmas.  We went there several times when the girls were young, on our own and for Indian Princess outings.  But that was a long time ago.  The girls have grown a lot since then, and so has the fort.

They now have a large collection of old Florida houses, and we enjoyed a trip back in time as we wandered from one to another.  Bear in mind that Florida is a young state, even if it does have our country's oldest city.  Sometimes it seems more like the Wild West than the East Coast. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 31, 2007 at 7:55 am | Edit
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I find it amusing that President Bush gets blamed for anything that goes wrong, including hurricanes.  But even I am incensed about this one.  Whatever his personal opinion might be—if he's aware of the situation at all—he surely bears part of the blame for the following insanity, because the president is ultimately responsible for the actions of his administration. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 at 7:21 am | Edit
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Remember the story of the guy who got in trouble for (correctly) using the word "niggardly"?

Porter's boss once called him on the carpet for "using words I don't understand."

Now Missouri legislators are up in arms because their vocabularies failed them.  They passed a bill legalizing lay midwifery because they didn't realize what "tocology" means. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 28, 2007 at 6:51 am | Edit
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The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor those who have given their lives in our country's wars.  The advantage of a blog is that I can do that with a link, so this year I'm doing something different, and give the day a genealogical bent.

According to no less an authority than Wikipedia,

The southeastern United States celebrates Decoration Day as a day to decorate the graves of all family members, and it is not reserved for those who served in the military. The region observes Decoration Day the Sunday before Memorial Day.

Therefore I will metaphorically decorate the graves of all our family members who have gone before,

From my most ancient documented ancestor (so far)

Pepin d'Heristal (abt 635 - 16 Dec 714)
(You can follow the line back further from the link, but despite what I said above, I'm waiting to consult another authority than Wikipedia.)

To our beloved

Isaac Christopher Daley (21 Nov 2002 - 23 Nov 2002)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 27, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Edit
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They say this hurricane season will be a busy one.  But for now we are enjoying the most wonderful May in my memory.  For weeks now the air conditioner has hardly ever turned on.  We are able to keep the windows open for most of the day, if we're careful to close them when the sun is shining directly in.  Those of you who were brought up in Florida know how unusual that is for any month after February!  The humidity is relatively low, as are the temperatures (today's high was only in the low 80's!), and best of all we have been enjoying delightful breezes!  Breezes are unusual here.  Mostly the air is so calm that clothes on a line stiffen into boards rather than attaining the gentle wind-graced softness we remember from our time up north.  It's as if Florida stores up all its wind, only to release it in big hurricane bursts.

But for now the weather is so delightful I had to write about it.  Now I'm going to leave the computer and rejoin Porter in the family room, where we are delighting in our books (Threads of Grey and Gold, and Lilith) and in the cool breeze that is wafting in the front windows and out the back door.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 25, 2007 at 7:28 pm | Edit
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Among the more bizarre stories of the day, here's a study that claims to be able to predict your child's future SAT performance based on the relative lengths of his fingers.  Those whose ring fingers are longer compared with their index fingers are statistically likely to do better on the math portion, and those with the reverse situation to do better on the verbal.  This supposedly reflects prenatal testosterone/estrogen exposure.

It's a lot harder to measure finger lenght than I thought.  I finally settled on measuring from the knuckle, and it seems my ring finger is a bit longer than my index.  It's true, I did very well on the math portion of the SAT.  But I did even better on the verbal, so I must have measured wrong.  :)

The researchers plan to expand their studies into "other cognitive and behavioral issues, such as technophobia, career paths and possibly dyslexia."
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 25, 2007 at 7:46 am | Edit
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My hearing is very good, probably better than that of many my age because I didn't ruin it in my teens with headphones and loud music.  But I still find that I can understand what people say better if I can see their faces.  Now I know why.

A Canadian study indicates that there is a signficant visual component of language understanding even amongst hearing people.  The four-month-old babies in the study were able to distinguish when adults in a silent video were speaking English and when they were speaking French.

The eight-month-old babies could do the same, but only if they were being raised in a bilingual French/English environment.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 25, 2007 at 7:23 am | Edit
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Just what parents didn't want to hear.  Apparently high-action video games can improve your eyesight.  (Rochester Review, May/June 2007)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Edit
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Were it not for the probability of disturbing other library patrons, Li'l Writer Guy would be dancing a happy little jig.  Instead, he allows himself a pleased smile and a contented sigh before getting back to work.

You can see why in the Letters to the Editor section of the May/June issue of the University of Rochester's magazine, Rochester Review.  Unfortunately, you can't yet access via their online archives the issue to which I was responding. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 1:56 pm | Edit
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Porter put the bikes on the back of the car again this morning, and we headed off to the Tosohatchee State Reserve near Christmas.  That's Christmas, Florida—we're still much nearer Memorial Day than Christmas.

We knew this would be a different kind of ride.  We knew it would be on unpaved trails through a wilderness area, and we thought we were prepared.  We had sunscreen and bug repellent, emergency bike kit (tube, CO2 cartridge for inflating same, patches, wrench, and those little thingies for helping you put the tire back on the rim), water to drink, and cell phones.  Knowing we'd be in a game preserve, we also had a monocular and a camera.  We had a change of clothes and a picnic lunch waiting in the car for our return.

"Unpaved trails."  I was expecting something like the crushed-shell-and-sand trail at our local park.  Silly me. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 20, 2007 at 7:04 am | Edit
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It was a scene worthy of one of those funniest-videos shows.  As I opened the front door this morning to take out the trash, I obviously interrupted something.  A lizard skittered frantically away from the door, no doubt afraid of me.  At the same time, a palmetto bug* skittered frantically towards me, into the house, no doubt relieved to escape the lizard. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 10:13 am | Edit
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On one of our recent bike rides, we came upon a dead armadillo.  Dead armadillos happen not infrequently in Florida.  They may be faster in crossing a road than turtles, but they will dawdle.  Worse, their startle reaction is to leap straight into the air, dooming them even when a car would otherwise pass harmlessly over them. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 9:55 am | Edit
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...but even I am amazed.  Heather introduced me to Book Collector, and I've been thrilled.  I've long wanted to make an inventory of our books, and had made a few half-hearted beginnings, but the enormity of the project always dragged me down.

Enter Book Collector.  I can use a barcode scanner (borrowed from Heather), read the UPC code on the back of the book, and Book Collector searches the Internet for matches.  It downloads all sorts of information:  cover image, title, author, publisher, summary, and often much more, depending on what is available. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 13, 2007 at 10:09 pm | Edit
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This post is going to be about our Sunday bike ride, but I have to admit that coffee hour is also a favorite after-church activity, especially on the Sundays when our friend K. is in charge of the food, for she always brings (among other goodies) her famous sausage rolls and infamous monkey bread.  Everyone knows to get over to the parish hall pronto after the service when it's K.'s Sunday, because those items disappear fast.  Not exactly a healthy breakfast, but a wonderful Sunday treat.

And we followed it by a 21-mile, two-hour calorie burning spree.  (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 13, 2007 at 2:04 pm | Edit
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I've given up my search for an organic farmers' market; around here I should be happy with a farmers' market of any kind. So today we decided to check out the Winter Park Farmers' Market.

It's worth returning; it's our own little Marktplatz, with food and flowers in addition to produce. We arrived not far from closing time, so much of the produce was gone, but we did pick up some delicious Georgia peaches. I also bought a pain au chocolat from a French pastry booth, because the vendors were actually speaking French and because the last time I had a pain au chocolat I was eating breakfast with a fairy princess at her château in France. It wasn't quite as good—a little less fresh, a lot less enchanting—but delicious nonetheless. Yes, I shared it with Porter. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 12, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Edit
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