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. 


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