The University of Rochester is the alma mater of three quarters of our immediate family. I've never had much of what they call school spirit, but I do occasionally read our alumni magazine and marvel at both the good and the terrible things going on there.

The May-June issue was exciting because of—you'll never guess it—sports. Yes, the UR made the news in the only sport I care at all about: quidditch.   .

Back in 2013 we attended Quidditch World Cup VI, held in Kissimmee, Florida, to root on a different UR team, the University of Richmond Spiders, and their seeker, Kevin, and his teammate Layla. We had a great time and I wrote about it here.

The Quidditch World Cup is now up to XI, and has a new name, the US Quidditch Cup, since the former name has been taken over by another contest, held this year in Florence, Italy.

Although Kevin and Layla would no doubt have preferred that the Universtiy of Richmond have won the championship, I'm sure they'll be happy that another UR beat the UT Austin players, who in 2013 had distinguished themselves not only by winning, but by their decidedly unsportsmanlike behavior. As I wrote back thenk

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.)

Sadly, only one of the University of Rochester team members was on the team that participated in this year's international Quidditch World Cup, and only as an alternate. (The Americans won, by the way.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 7:37 am | Edit
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This photo is from 2014.  I think it's still Joseph's favorite shirt.  I bought him another, in a larger size, because he kept wearing this one even though he'd worn it out and outgrown it.

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Fun Fact:  Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 1:59 am | Edit
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Have a blessed Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day.  The Rev. Jay Sidebotham has appropriate greeting cards; take your pick.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at 7:43 am | Edit
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When we visited Switzerland for Christmas, I thought our biggest gift was the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage, which barely qualified as half of our checked baggage allowance.

That gift did indeed make quite an impression on our young grandchildren, but I'm beginning to wonder if we didn't also bring a gift of more widespread impact: Florida weather.

While we were there, Switzerland enjoyed its warmest January on record.

Meanwhile, Florida was experiencing weather that looked more Alpine: snow in Tallahassee, freezes in Central Florida. There were days when it was significantly warmer in Lucerne than in Orlando.

And that's not all. On January 3, a storm, named Burglind, brought Florida-style hurricane-force winds to Switzerland, wreaking havoc across the country and blowing away previous records. Winds of over 120 miles per hour were measured on Lucerne's Mount Pilatus. That's a high Category 3 hurricane if you live in Florida.

Now that we're home, the weather appears to have stablilized in both places.

The conclusion is obvious: It is we, not George Bush or Donald Trump, who are causing climate change.

Is anyone interested in providing us an all-expenses-paid vacation to somewhere up north? Buffalo, New York? Minneapolis, Minnesota? Hillsboro, New Hampshire?

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 6:16 am | Edit
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I guess I should end this year with a serious post, some profound commentary, philosophy, or at least a glimpse into my hopes and dreams for 2018.

Instead, you get MarbleLympics.

This is thanks to our Swiss grandchildren, who are huge fans of Jelle's Marble Runs.

The whole family enjoys them, but Joseph (7) and Daniel (4) are obsessed, watching the videos when allowed, running their own marble races with their Hubelino sets, in the sand on the beach, or on the bare living room floor. The family received a beautiful, 3D map of Switzerland for Christmas; in Daniel's eyes, the Alpine valleys were just so many marble runs.

For months, Joseph has been teaching himself Dutch through DuoLingo, hoping for a chance to visit to Jelle Bakker himself in the Netherlands.

Porter and I have also been captivated by the MarbleLympics. Here's the opening ceremony and first event of the 2017 games; from there you can find much more to watch than you'll ever have time for. It's all very cleverly done, and I love the commentator, who not only calls the events like a professional, but reports "an injury on the field" when a collision results in a chipped marble, and issues a serious call for better stadium security when some marbles fall out of the stands and "rush onto the field."

Enjoy!  And have a happy New Year, too.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 7:36 am | Edit
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On our cruise to Mexico and Cuba with two of our grandchildren we were given a quick lesson in napkin folding. Naturally, the kids picked up on it better than the adults. This morning, a friend shared on Facebook a video of napkin folding techniques from the Ever & Ivy site. Unfortunately, I can't find the video on YouTube, so I can't embed it here, but hopefully the link will still work when I want to find it again. (There are also plenty of other napkin-folding instructional videos on YouTube.) Warning: I'm sure there are other good things about the Ever & Ivy site, but I can't recommend it in general. Good ideas + Bad language = I'll find the good ideas elsewhere, thank you. Except for the napkin folding—no words.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 8:37 am | Edit
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Math, art, travel, photography. What's not to like?

For some reason, probably all of the above, this photo of "Seventeen parallel flowlines running between Flow Station 2 and Drill Site 3, Drill Site 9, Drill Site 16, Drill Site 17 and Endicott at the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field" really struck me this morning when I read David July's Mount Sutro post, The Linear Perspective Orthogonals. (The photo is from the Mount Sutro Gallery. License agreement here.)

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Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 27, 2017 at 6:06 am | Edit
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This is for someone who will appreciate it, even if the rest of you are covering your ears.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 7:42 am | Edit
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One of my goals for the coming 12 months is to re-read Charles Williams' The Place of the Lion (the only book of his I own), plus one more of his novels. Dorothy Sayers said,

To read only one work of Charles Williams is to find oneself in the presence of a riddle—a riddle fascinating by its romantic colour, its strangeness, its hints of a rich and intricate unknown world just outside the barriers of consciousness; but to read all is to become a free citizen of that world and to find in it a penetrating and illuminating interpretation of the world we know.

I'm pretty sure I won't manage all, but I can at least get past one, which did indeed leave me totally confused the first and second times I read it.

While on amazon.com, perusing offerings such as War in Heaven, Descent into Hell, and All Hallows' Eve, I came upon this:

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I'm pretty sure I'll go with one of his more well-known works, but the title does have a certain topical attraction. In actuality, it refers to tarot cards, but why let accuracy get in the way of a joke?

In this classic tale of spirituality, morality, and the occult, a dark plot to murder an unsuspecting Englishman who possesses the world’s rarest tarot deck unleashes uncontrollable elemental forces.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Edit
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This morning I found a good illustration for why it is important to look at the whole picture when trying to determine "what the Bible says."

As choir members, we've all cringed when a conductor addresses "singers and musicians," but did you know that it has Biblical imprimatur?

Your procession is seen, O God,
the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
the singers in front, the musicians last....

— Psalm 68:24-25, English Standard Version

The King James Version is kinder, saying, "The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after."

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 8:21 am | Edit
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The Scene:  A restaurant, where the "background music" is very much not in the background, and questionably musical.

She:  Even if I knew enough to appreciate the music, even if I could understand the words and not be appalled by them, I still couldn't stand the driving drum beat.  I just don't get the attraction of all that relentless pounding.

He:  It's sexual.

She:  You're kidding.

He:  That's what they say.

She:  Well, they must be right, because it gives me a headache.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 10:54 am | Edit
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Hallelujah! Christ is risen! He was OBSERVED by many in his resurrected state.

My serious Easter post is still half written, but thanks to my cousin Stephanie, who shared this from kevinfrank.net, I can give you an Easter chuckle to accompany your Easter joy.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 6:58 am | Edit
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Once upon a time, when my oldest nephew (now 24) was young, he took my cell phone and asked to play games. I replied that my phone did not do games. True, it had some very, very basic games on it (it was a very, very basic phone by today's standards), but I wouldn't stoop to using a phone for such purposes.

Fast foward.

I'm still of the opinion that mobile phones are not primarily gaming devices, but I have been known to acknowledge their usefulness for that function, primarily in two ways: Peak brain training, and the latest addition, Word Chums. I was introduced to the latter by my grandkids during their recent visit. As I find with most video games, there's a lot of silliness to it (competitions, and accessories you can buy for your character with game coins you can earn), and you have to endure a few ads. But the ad-free version is only $4 if you find them too annoying. (You still get the silliniess.)

Word Chums is basically a Scrabble game, but in a form I find much more appealing. Instead of having to spend several contiguous hours over a game board, you can make your move and go on living your life while your opponent(s) are thinking. Or living their own lives—which means there can be hours or even days between moves. I'm fine with that. This is a game for busy people, who can find odd minutes here and there to play.

It is also a game for scattered people. I can enjoy a game with family members in Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and I'm sure even Switzerland, though we haven't tested that yet. We can have several games going on at once, with different combinations of people, all playing whenever it's convenient to them.

In real Scrabble, there are huge penalties for guessing. Word Chums lets you play around with your letters to see what works, get hints, look up meanings. "Cheat" if you wish to call it that, but I'm not a purist. It makes the game accessible for the younger ones, and even us old folks are learning new words. Who know "qi" was a word? In my Scrabble days, if you didn't have a U, your Q tile was useless. I'm happy to add this useful word to my vocabulary. I'm told it means "the energy in everything." I took a boatload of physics courses in college and never heard of it, but who cares? It works very well in this game.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 9:20 am | Edit
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Somebody (Grant Woolard) knows how to have fun!  And I'm sure it was a ton of work, too.   (Thanks, Dawn.)

The Original

The Sequel (I laughed out loud at 4:21, despite listening through headphones because I was the only one awake.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 24, 2017 at 6:15 am | Edit
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blade tool tool tool slate roofer's hammer

Our neighbor is selling the huge collection of antique and otherwise interesting tools (over 450) that once decorated the walls of his barber shop. You can see them all here. If you're interested in buying any of them, you can send an inquiry to the e-mail address at the top of that page. But that's not the main reason I'm posting this; the percentage Porter gets from helping with the sale doesn't begin to cover the time he's putting into it, let alone my own.

I post because I'm at heart a lover of museums.  Even if you don't particularly care about tools, it's fun just browsing through this amazing assortment.  True, there aren't any captions; I liken it to visiting a museum in a foreign country, where the annotations are all in another language.  It's still fun, even if you miss some of the subtleties.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 9:50 am | Edit
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