Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Links!

A little light this week, but still full of fun reads.

This is amazing: Why the Eastern Corner of Siberia Is the Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth. Also, just trust me, you want to read this story and watch the video: Rodney Mullen And Daewon Song Made A Video That Changed Skateboarding Forever.

From C. Lee, and this is fascinating: If We Ever Get to Mars, the Beer Might Not Be Bad. I had no idea: Author Haruki Murakami adds own touches to Chandler novel. An amazing woman: The animation genius you've (probably) never heard of. Delicious: Mongolia's Obsession With Pine Nuts. This is fantastic: Watch This Guy Literally Crack an Aluminum Lock Using Gallium.

From Wally, and this is an excellent read: How to keep a charity gaming marathon going for 160 hours straight. This is terrific: The Usenet Deep Space Nine recapper who helped inspire modern TV criticism.

From Chris Meadowcraft, and this is quite remarkable: Trains in Japan may be disguised as barking dogs to ward off deer.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Little Late, but Not Too Late

This is Martin Luther King.

People forget his anger. They shouldn't.

Letter from Birmingham Jail

The Badass

I turned my head last night and my neck sort of seized up.

Sometimes I wake up with a sore neck from some odd sleeping position, but this was new. I felt like my neck was in a vise.

Sleeping was difficult, and it felt worse in the morning, so I called the YMCA. They have a massage therapist who comes in twice a week, and I was able to get in this morning to get worked on.

The therapist was in his 60s and looked absolutely fit.

Boy, I had no idea.

Over the course of him making me almost scream in pain (my neck is much better now, thanks), I found out all kinds of things. A short list:
--he's been running for 40+ years
--he's done 100+ triathlons
--he completed the Ironman in Hawaii in 1984
--he cross-country skies and used to be able to do 30 miles in 3 hours under ideal conditions.

He's worked as a tool and die maker for most of his adult life, but in the mid 1990s, most of the people at his location were let go (they kept 100 out of 1,500, and he stayed on). The company fully paid for him to go to masseuse school, and he picked up a second career.

Somehow, though, that plant never closed, and he's still there, working swing shift. He does massage therapy in his spare time.

I told him I might come in to see him for a follow-up next week, and he said he was going to be out for a while. He was leaving on Friday with five of his long-term running buddies.

To go climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

You Can't Feel the Cold in Photographs

Here are a couple of lovely early morning photos from around the lake. 


League playoffs are in Minnesota in mid-February. The team is taking a bus. We're flying, because there's a direct flight to Minneapolis from Grand Rapids, and we don't want to make a 10+ hour drive in the dead of winter.

"I have no idea how much this will cost, but it's going to be bad," I said. "Every direct flight seems like it's five hundred dollars plus now."

"I'm just pulling it up," Gloria said. "There we go--"

"What? Those prices are crazy good," I said. "Wasn't expecting that."

"Wow, those really are low," she said. "There's even one close to two hundred."

"That's less than half what it cost to fly to Philadelphia," I said. "Great!"

"Those prices really are a mystery," Gloria said.

"I know," I said. "It's almost like no one wants to go to Minnesota in--wait a minute, I think I've got a lead."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Seemingly Impossible


In front of me is a lake that is 55 feet deep at it's deepest point. It's frozen. All the way across.

I'm snowshoeing. And the picture is a little blurry because my hands are so freaking cold with my gloves off, even for a few seconds.

I understand ice in cube form. I've seen the trays in the freezer. But Austin me still can't quite grasp that entire lakes freeze over in winter and we walk across them. 

Martin Luther King Day

I make this post every year on Martin Luther King Day (sorry it's one day late this year), and it's more topical than ever, given that our President is a straight-up racist (that's not political, it's just a fact).
Today is a national holiday in the United States to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's easy to forget the kind of hatred and stupidity that King was fighting against, but a good place to start is here: What was Jim Crow. The Wikipedia entry for Jim Crow laws also has detailed information. And the Wikipedia entry for King is here.

Also, here's a link to a 2006 post when Eli asked me about Martin Luther King for the first time. It's still one of my favorite posts.

Monday, January 15, 2018


Big surprise, we were on a four-day hockey trip this weekend (Eli 16.5 was 4-0, 1.50 GAA, looked like a boss).

"So tomorrow before the game, do you want Panera or Jimmy John's?" I asked.

"Jimmy John's," he said. "But you should know me well enough to know that."

"I do know that," I said, "but I also know you well enough to know that if I just told you, you'd be annoyed."

"Hmm, fair point," he said.

Silence for a few seconds.

"See what I did there?" I asked.

He looked at me, confused, then suddenly smiled and gave me a slow golf clap.

Overheard by DQ Reader My Wife

"The font looks like it's from New York. I've never been to New York, but that's what it looks like."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Links!

Straight out of McDonald's, it's Friday Links!

From Matt Kreuch, a performance study on Cristiano Ronaldo: Tested to the Limit.

From C. Lee, and this is fascinating: Inside the Story of America’s 19th-Century Opiate Addiction. Come on, man! Someone stole a piece of China’s new solar panel-paved road less than a week after it opened. This is awesome: Elderly couple show off Dance Dance Revolution skills at Japanese video game arcade. This is extremely well-written: Spectre and Meltdown: Insecurity at the heart of modern CPU design.

From Wally, and faster sand bagging, surprisingly, is very interesting: Sand Master - why you want the right tool for the job. This is incredible: World's Best Jump Roper - Hawaii Style in 8K. These are beautiful: Puerto Rico Sketchbook: The Elders of the Island.

From Steven Davis, and this story is so outrageous that I'm leaving the headline in all-caps (really, I'm just lazy): HOW A DORM ROOM MINECRAFT SCAM BROUGHT DOWN THE INTERNET.

From Leo Moyer, and it's an excellent hypothetical: What would happen if a baseball game went 50 innings?

From Roger Robar, and this is a full links post all on its own: io9's Top 50 Science, History, and Space Articles of the Last 10 Years.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

MIM (part two)

More images from MIM. People make music all over the world in all kinds of different ways.

Prima balalaika (plucked lute)
St. Petersburg, 1924-1991

Decoration depicts skomorkhi, comic minstrels who mocked the tsar and church and were banned in the 17th c. by Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov. 

Skaltrumma (kettledrum)
North Sami People, Vilhelmina, 2008
The drawings represent a map of worlds through which the shaman moves, guided by a "pointer" placed on the drum's top. 

I know you've all been waiting for this:

Gajdy (bagpipe)
Turicky, Banska Bystrica Region, 2008
Goat pelt, maple and rosewood, aluminum, animal horn

Elong (gourd-resonated xylophone)
Lobi people, mid-20th c.
Wood, gourds, animal skin, cord, paper, spider-egg casings.

Lawn chair or musical instrument? You decide.

Out of respect for Cesar Evoria, the Cape Verde display.

The best known genre is morna, with slow, melancholy songs often accompanied by the cavaquinho  lute. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

MIM (part one)

The Anaheim game in Phoenix wasn't until 8 p.m., so we had an entire day to fill.

I didn't want to do much. I have very low ambitions on hockey trips--sleep, eat, get to the rink on time. So I looked on Google Maps and strategically found a museum only a mile from our hotel.

That felt like a win.

I had ultra-low expectations for the Musical Instrument Museum, and I've never been more surprised, because it was exceptional.

This is a stary harp (click to enlarge--it's beautiful):

From here on, I have descriptions of everything. Here's the description of the next photo:
Designed by Swedish immigrant Henry Konrad Sandell, the Violano Virtuoso is a coin-operated mechanical violin and piano...Various models of the violano were in production from 1905 to 1930, and they were popular in cafes, bars and ice cream parlors.

Ever wonder how they manufactured piano rolls?
A skilled arranger first punches a master roll on an Arranging Piano.

Each piano key triggers it's corresponding punch in teh attached Primary Master Perforator. The arranger presses the desired keys and then a foot pedal to advance the master roll, one punch-row at a time.

Note: there's a piano attached for the Arranging Piano to work, but it's not in this photo.

Beginning in the 1870s, player trumpets like this were sold in the United States as "phonographic cornets" and "trumpettos".

Since I love lutes in games (and really love playing a bard), I was on lute lookout. This is a Pipa, a plucked lute from China.

As elite warriors, artists, and intellectuals, samurai embodied Japan's spirituality and culture. Yet during the seventeenth century, under the rule of military governors known as the shogunate, samurai gradually lost their military function and found themselves without purpose. 

Unable to fight, many former samurai became wandering komusō monks. Members of the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism, komusō  were "priests of emptiness and nothingness." 

While playing shakuhachi, komusō  wore large, woven baskets called tengai over their heads to symbolize their detachment from the modern world.

The museum has so many different exhibits (most of them arranged geographically), that what you might see in a fifteen second span will make your head spin.

Shark rattle
Palau, 2008
Coconut shells, bamboo, rubber

The coconut shells vibrate when pulled through the water, attracting sharks who mistake the sound for a school of fish surfacing. 

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Nature Tuesday

Mostly chaos here today, but here are two amazing things.

The first is that it snowed in the Sahara last week.

(image credit Zinnedine Hashas)

More images here: PHOTOS: The Sahara Desert, Painted White With Snow.

For a place that gets six inches of precipitation with an average January low temperature of 54F, that's incredible. The only other time there was recorded snowfall was in 1979. Ever.

Second amazing thing: brumation.

Story: How do alligators survive the cold? It’s a pretty unique solution.

Alligators in North Carolina are dealing with the freezing temperatures by sticking their noses up through the ice to breathe.

According to George Howard, the general manager at Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach, the gators, including the 12 rescued at the park, stick their noses up through the ice to breathe, then they hibernate.

Howard said technically the American alligators’ form of hibernation is called brumation. He said they lower their body temperature and metabolism so they can survive.

“They poke their noses up and are able to breathe and be perfectly fine, so they’re doing this as a mechanism so that if it freezes over, they can still breath,” Howard said. “(It’s) just an absolute amazing survival technique and these guys were built tough millions of years ago and they remain tough today.”

According to Howard, this is completely normal as a survival mechanism for alligators.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Phoenix: part three (revision)

When I first wrote Thursday's post and got to the ending, something was missing.

Eli 16.5 said something to me, the first thing he said, and I'd forgotten it.

I remembered this morning, though.

The first thing he said to me was "I stretched every night for a year to make that one save", and if you watched the save reel, you'll know which one he's talking about.

I updated the post from last week.

Lee Gaiteri on /r/Fantasy Today!

From Lee, author of Below (which is fantastic):
In case you or any DQ readers are interested, I signed up a couple months ago to be a writer of the day on /r/Fantasy and that'll finally come on Monday the 8th. It's basically like a mini-AMA.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Friday Links!

Light for the New Year, as usual, but some interesting reading.

From Wally, and this is fascinating: A decade on, Shonan surfer is still making waves in the world of soba. Next, and this is interesting, it's Purple Mike Wazowski? ‘Toys in the Hood?’ See Some of Pixar’s Wildest Scrapped Ideas. Very, very clever: Beefbot: your robotic grillmaster. This is amazing: The Link Between Japanese Samurai and Real Indigo.

From C. Lee, and this is encouraging: Do-it-yourself science is taking off. From C. Lee, and this is intriguing: A popular sugar additive may have fueled the spread of not one but two superbugs.

Well, this is really something: The Man who Fought with a Longbow and a Sword in WWII.

From Chris Meadowcroft, and this is terrific: Math theorem: the most misshapen ham sandwich can always be cut into two perfect halves.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Phoenix (part three)

Well, I thought he was ready.

Eli 16.5 had put in consistent, solid work. He was still progressing at a rapid rate, even during the season.

He had a quality.

Still, though, this was against the best team in the country. Three years ago, he was playing "B" in Texas.

It was a lot to expect of anyone.

What a moment for him, though. Dr. Seuss said it best, I think: oh, the places you'll go!

This was a big game, but at the same time, it needed to be a regular game. I wasn't going to see him, so I texted him this:
You're the best athlete. You've overcome 
more than anyone else to get here. You 
have the certainty of years of hard work. 
You shouldn't be nervous when you 
skate out tonight--you should be inspired. 
We both know that you'll play on much 
bigger stages than this one day, but this 
is still a really nice moment. 
Be happy and have fun. 

And his three keys (which he doesn't even need anymore, but we both still like doing it) in a separate text:
Three keys:
--Control the puck
--Expect quick shots around screens
--Play certain and with power

Love you, buddy!

The "play certain and with power" was the most important. When he does that, he looks like a goalie who still has a long way to go before he hangs up his skates.

I'd like to give you a dramatic retelling of the game, but there weren't enough twists and turns for that. The #1 team was incredibly skilled and very fast, and we were on our heels the entire game,  fighting to survive.

Eli, though, wasn't on his heels.

It was a culmination of so many hours and so many miles, with so many more to come.

31 shots. 29 saves. A few that stunned me.

The save reel (including the two goals):

We couldn't score, but we never backed down, either. It was a 2-0 loss, but everyone gave everything they had, and no one could ask for more than that.

Eli came through the lobby after the game. I hugged him, and smiling, he said, "I stretched every night for a year to make that save."

Then he went to the bus.

There was nothing more he needed to say.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Phoenix (part two)

I forgot to include this photo yesterday. Here's what we left behind in Grand Rapids (taken at the airport):


Hello, Phoenix!

I also forgot to mention that I had a sudden realization after we landed (listening to airport music): "The Twelve Day of Christmas" is basically the holiday version of "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall".

All right, back to the story.

The theme for this trip was space, at least for me.

This was the first trip that Eli 16.5 was traveling with his team. Flew together. Stayed in the hotel together.

That meant no coordinating meals. No arriving 90 minutes early at the rink before games. No planning bedtimes.

Just show up and watch.

It also meant that Gloria and I could go to dinner at some cute little tourist trap area, like this.

Ah, palm trees. I do miss palm trees.

I don't miss being cold, though, and I was still cold in Phoenix. All weekend. I'd packed a little less warm clothing than usual, and the rinks were bitterly cold. I'd left behind my heaviest winter jacket (come on, it was Phoenix!), and boy, I could have used it in those rinks.

Always one layer short. Mistakes were made.

For Eli's team, this entire weekend, seemingly, hinged on the first game. It was against a team they should beat, based on rankings, and if they won the game, they would be almost assured of going at least 3-1 for the weekend.

And if the loss was to the #1 team in the country, well, that would still be a solid weekend. 

Except it wasn't. They played maybe their worst game of the season in the first game, lost 4-0, and everything was quickly in a shambles. 

Eli was in net, and it was 2-0 with five minutes left, but we just couldn't score. It was a six period scoreless streak for the team, and suddenly, instead of finishing, we were flailing. 

The next game was better--we had the puck for 80% of the game--but still, scoring was brutally tough. The final score was 2-1, but with 35 shots, there should have been less trauma and drama. 

So the team was 1-1, with an overly tough win and a very bad loss, and next up was a team that was 28-2 and had scored 55 goals in its last 10 games. 


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Phoenix (part one)

In the upper left of the display, please note the 5F outside temp. That was the temperature in Grand Rapids when we reached the airport. On our horizon? Phoenix, where it was 65F and would be for all four days we were there.

Thank you, hockey.

This was a big showcase, and Eli 16.5s team would be playing the #1 team in the country. We'll get to that.

In the meantime, though, please enjoy Tangent Town.

We stopped at a Starbucks in the airport so Gloria could get some overpriced coffee, and I purchased a slice of banana bread. The clerk (bread artisan? Giver of grains?) picked up a piece of banana bread in a plastic, sealed bag.

Baked fresh on-site? Um, no. Probably shipped in from Banana Bread Town in China.

On the plus side, a sealed package was perfect for a plane flight. Very nice.

So, of course, he proceeded to take the bread out of the plastic bag and slipped it into a Starbucks paper bag, ostensibly to fool no one about where the bread came from. Plus that bag would have soaked through butter stains on it in minutes.

"Clearly, this is the most Starbucks moment ever," I said.

Also in the airport, I found the hot book that everyone is just dying to read:

Oh, yeah. Hell of a page turner.

We were on the same flight as the team, with the highlight being that some guy ran down the aisle past us and threw up.

On Eli.

Partially, at least. So there's another glamorous moment in air travel.

Over the next few days (and this might go all the way into early next week), I will try to answer the following question: how did we go from this (a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single dragon)

to this (not one piece of matching gear)

and finally, to this?

With hopefully many more "to this" in the future.

Monday, January 01, 2018

These are a few of my favorite things

Sorry, one day delay on the hockey story. This is a top ten list, but it's a top ten of everything from 2017.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch, Wii U)
As close to perfect as any open world game I've ever played, bursting with personality and color. I didn't even finish it (I was around the 70 hour mark), and it didn't matter. It was all wondderful.

2. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
A very, very bold design, combined with a staggering amount of whimsy. Wildly funny, even silly, but in all the right ways.

3. Golf Story (Switch)
An indie game with a small team and smaller budget, and it was fantastic. A golf RPG? Yes, and jammed full of personality. I only wish there was DLC with more courses.

4. For The King (PC, Early Access on Steam)
Here's a description from the Steam page: "For The King is a strategic RPG that blends tabletop and roguelike elements in a challenging adventure that spans the realms." I can add to that the following: incredibly charming, a genuinely fun battle system, bards, lutes, and a lore system that unlocks characters and items to discover in your next playthrough. 

This is still in Early Access, but it was unquestionably the best PC game I played last year. 

5. The First Half of Baby Driver
The most perfect half a movie that I've ever seen, it was absolutely exhilarating. The second half was so much weaker, and very disappointing, but I can spare you all that. When you see pizza, that's when the movie should end, and up to that point, it's almost perfect.

6. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Video)
A brilliantly funny series starring a housewife who becomes a foul-mouthed comedian, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls). It's razor sharp, unbearably witty, and full of top-level character actors who are clearly enjoying their roles.

7. Below
This was my favorite book of the year, and it was written by DQ reader Lee Gaiteri. Here's a description: "Everyone knows the late wizard Visak left his fortune hidden in the vast underground ruins of the Elder Kingdom, safer than any bank. Brenish, a mediocre highwayman but a brilliant liar, always dreamed of finding riches in the deeps himself. Since his fascination has earned him a reputation as a lore master, he's the perfect man to sell a forger's masterpiece: the wizard's lost treasure map."

The writing is taut and disciplined, the world is vivid, and the characters are so well-drawn. This is a terrific, fun read.

8. The Deuce
A new HBO series set in 1970s New York City about the rise of the p*rn industry. Graphic and unapologetic, it features mesmerizing performances from both Maggie Gyllenhaall and James Franco. 1970s style and music also co-star, and it's an irresistible combination. I don't think this is a great show--not yet--but it's incredibly entertaining.

9. Golf Club 2
This is, unquestionably, the best golf game I've ever played, and I've played them all. Superb mouse swing, an enormous variety of beautiful, user-created courses, and an excellent simulation of golf overall. Putting is difficult (but not unfair), and I'd like to see a wider variety of elevations on the courses, but this is a fantastic golf experience.

10. Snowshoes
A bit of a surprise, but as it turns out, I really enjoy snowshoeing.

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