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.

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