February 28, 2010

The rare Sunday post

Thought I'd give a heads up and offer a little something for your troubles...

This next little while on the blog is going to be a time of 8Tracks playlists.  I already have four ready for this week (followed by a YouTube playlist for Friday) and a few more for next week.

It's not my intent to make this a music-only blog or anything.  I just had a few ideas that I wanted to get out and didn't feel like making this a semi-regular feature (coming every Wednesday or something like that).

So I'm posting 8tracks playlists for a little while.

If you're interested, stick with me and enjoy the tunes.

If you're not, start hanging out with The Impossible Cool instead.

They've got better pictures, though their blog is clearly not a non-smoking section.

February 27, 2010

Happy Saturday, everybody

February 26, 2010

Penn & Teller

No bullpucky here, mostly because that's a show whose name I won't put in the blog...

February 25, 2010

I do

So much fun from the grammar world this week...

Like there's this article on "crash blossoms" in which missing punctuation in newspaper headlines cause a bit of misunderstanding - "McDonald’s Fries the Holy Grail for Potato Farmers"..."Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim"...“Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge”..."Gator Attacks Puzzle Experts"...
The next list is one of which I am admittedly a little skeptical, it's a list of grammatical curiosities - pluralities of various animal types.  There's the standard and a little odd murder of crows, but there's a number of other oddities in the canonical list: bed of clams, bloat of hippos, dazzle of zebras.  It'd certainly be awfully easy for a web savvy so and so to put together such a list without any sort of citation.  I love the fascinating trivia of language.

For example, there's the Latin derivations for various animal types.  Pretty much everybody's down on feline and canine - that's simple as simple can be.  Most of us know bovine for cows.  A few folks might make out ursine for bears.  But acrine for something dealing with frogs?  Larine for seagull-related discussions?

Then there's a list of humorous grammar rules - such as remembering that the passive voice is to be ignoredeven IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed; and you'll look poorly if you misuse adverbs.

And, finally, there's the outstanding quality of the Oxford comma.

Careful about the video, though, there's a chili pepper word about four words in - it's repeated a couple more times.

February 24, 2010

bd's Tonight

If you're in the Cincinnati area tonight, come on out to bd's Mongolian Grill to help out PHS's Pasta for Pennies campaign and watch me grill your food.

Heck, if you're not in the Cincinnati area - like if you're up at the University of Dayton - or down at the University of Cincinnati - or over at Miami University - or over easterly at Ohio University - northeasterly at An Ohio State University - drive into town and help with the campaign.

10% of all bills - including whatever beverages you happen to have - are donated to the campaign.  Plus, 100% of all bar tips - those tips for the awesome people cooking your food LIKE ME - go to the campaign, too.

Plus we'll have our raffle set up there for you to buy tickets for.

So, let's figure you'd all spend at least $13 ($15 if you're going to go to the bar a few times) plus a couple of bucks for drinks.  That's $1.70 for our campaign.

Then you buy $5 worth of raffle tickets - maybe $10 if you're suckered in by our awesome raffle prizes.

Of course, you're going to tip us at the bar for a few more bucks - like $5 or $10, let's say.

So the way I figure things, you each owe like $21.70 to the campaign...feel free to round things up to the nearest big bill.

Feel free to make an online donation if you won't be in Deerfield Towne Center tonight.

February 23, 2010

So much Lego love...

So much Lego to love lately...

February 22, 2010

Super Mario Bros Wii

I tend to be a little obsessive about my video gaming time.

I'll get a new game and play it to death, taking an hour every day or two (or four or five hours if we happen to have a few snow days) until I'm good and done with the game, rarely to pick it up again except for a nostalgic play or two months or even years later.

In the past year to so, I've gone through Mario Kart and Tiger Woods '10.  Now I'm almost through with Super Mario Bros. Wii, and I can safely say that it's a hell of a game, another in the outstanding line of the Mario franchise.

The basics of game play stay largely the same as they have been since Super Mario Bros. for the NES - you start on the left and run to the right (with occasional levels of climbing to the top) in standard side scrolling fashion, but to call it an old-school side-scroller would be to sell it woefully short as the Nintendo crew have added dozens of outstanding new wrinkles to this one.

The wrinkle that I actually enjoy the least is the most typically Wii aspect to the new game, the multiplayer format.  The Girl and I played together for the first third of the game or so (through three of the nine worlds), and I found the teamwork aspect more frustrating than helpful throughout.  There were a number of times when one player would be trying a particularly challenging stage and would be impeded by the other player.  They have provided a method through which a stronger player can assist a weaker through by allowing the weaker player to hop into a bubble in which they are impervious to damage and unable to affect the game in any way until the other player bumps into them.  It's a neat creation, but I enjoyed the two-thirds of the game play that I went through solo much more than I did working as a team.

There are certain skills that can only be accomplished with teamwork, but there is nothing in the game that can't be achieved playing solo.  It might be a little more entertaining to make it through with four players, but I prefer the solo options.

The other additions to the game - new penguin and flying suit costumes for the players - are far more useful and well integrated into the flow of the game.  The game includes a number of levels that are most easily played with particular power-ups (penguin suit, fire flower, shrinking mushroom, etc), but in almost every case, the level can be solved without that particular power-up - just not quite as easily.  With the increased options in power-ups, players are able to attempt each level in dozens of new ways.

As the levels become more difficult and - correspondingly more frustrating - the game doesn't force players to attempt the same levels over and over and over until the game is simply put away, never to be solved, instead they have added in what they refer to as a super guide in which - after a player dies eight straight times on any one level - a green power-up block with appear allowing the player to have a computer-contrlled Luigi show the way through the level.  The Luigi won't show any secret rooms or find any of the super coins - more on them in a moment - but it will allow the player to progress beyond the most frustrating levels without giving up on the game entirely.  It's a great option and one I took advantage of on one of the most challenging levels.

The super coins also allow for further game play, with three on each game level - some in very obvious locations, some hidden in deviously challenging but hinted-at locations.  None of the super coins have to be gotten in order to beat the game, but a secret ninth world appears which can only be played once all of the super coins from a particular world are found and retrieved.  This let me get through many of the levels without paying any attention to these super coins but gave me something to go back through and play the levels once I could take the time to work through each level with increased skills.

Admittedly, the existence of a fully complete walkthru on IGN made finding a number of these coins far easier - or in some cases possible - than they would ever have been otherwise, but I'm okay with using a walkthru like that.  To me, it's not cheating because I'm the only one playing here.  If I want to use hints, I'm going to use them.

All in all, it's a great game and one that - as the Wikipedia entry quotes Nintendo Power in saying - "works as a sequel because it maintains what made the original Mario games great while adding new features".

February 20, 2010

Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day - a week late

You know, some things just make you say "you know?"...

February 18, 2010

Update: The High Line

Thanks to inhabitat for providing the post and to StumbleUpon for pointing me toward it.

Knuffle Bunny at the Knennedy Center

Tickets are ordered and hotel reservations are made.

We're going back to the nation's capital, this time with tickets to see Mo Willem's Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary musical performed at the Kennedy Center.  It's based on some book that I haven't read but of which The Girl is a big fan.

Who cares, though?  We're back going to W-A-S-H-I-N-G-T-O-N-D-C, babee.

So, if you can mark off the weekend of May 8th on our social calendar, 'cause we already gots us plans.

February 17, 2010

Snow tracking

The rollover joke is "I suppose that's more accurately a hare dryer."

Consistently the funniest thing on the internets.

Every single jeopardy question ever

There's really not much more to say about this other than that it's an (in progress) archive of every single Jeopardy! question ever.

You can check out Ken Jenning's winning streak, including his biggest win.

You can find the full glossary of terms - including lots of strategies on how to bet for final jeopardy.

You can find the one guy from my hometown who played on Jeopardy!

Or the one game that ended in a non-zero, three-way tie or the only time anyone has won with a $1 total.

How 'bout the time a guy passed out on camera?

Cliff Claven's appearance?  Weird Al's appearance?  Any of Sean Connery's appearances?  That time that Alex Trabek flipped out?

Still looking for the Echt's appearances, though...any help?

February 16, 2010

Bringing it back

The snow has fallen - bringing us our fourth snow day of the year at PHS and our snowiest February ever in the Cincinnati area - and the world is fairly well blanketed by the two feet of snow that have fallen in the past week and a half.  It's a mess out there, folks.

And still, Children's Hospital in Cincinnati is, I'm sure, open and treating patients who can't take a day off from their chemotherapy, from their radiation, from their fight to live another few days or weeks or - if they dare to dream - years. 

I get to spend another day on the couch, working through Super Mario Brothers Wii, doing another load of laundry or two, watching the dogs romp through the backyard, and playing on the internet because mother nature has been kind enough to grace me with her snowy form of hooky.

Other families get to call the cab company and hope for a ride to the hospital.  They get to wake up after spending another in an endless string of nights in the intensive care unit, holding their child's hand in hopes that they will get to eventually take that child home.  They live out of suitcases, take short trips to their house, and come back day after day no matter the conditions of the roads.  Driveways go unshoveled because they have to be back at the hospital if their child is to have any hope to fight the disease that mother nature has been unkind enough to grace them with.

If they're lucky - if their child fights the odds and gets to head home - then they get to spend another few years fighting for the educational assistance that their child is likely to need for the rest of their school career as the life-sustaining chemotherapy often causes damage to developing brains leaving their daughter, their son with learning disabilities and challenges that no one - much less a child who has fought for their life - should have to suffer.

Those children might grow up to be sterile, might have stunted growth patterns, might never have the same opportunities to thrive and survive that you and I will likely have because of the harshness of the treatments that they had to undergo as developing young people.

But still, every day the chances that those children will survive long enough to deal with those added challenges goes up.  The rise in survival rates is incremental when looked at over small scales, but are staggering when viewed over the sixty year history since the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has been working:
  • From 1960 to 1963, the five-year relative survival rate among Americans of European descent with leukemia was 14 percent.  From 1975 to 1977, the five-year relative survival rate for all persons with leukemia jumped to 35 percent, and from 1999 to 2005 the overall relative survival rate was 54 percent. The relative survival rates differ by the person's age at diagnosis, gender, race and the type of leukemia. (source)
  • The five-year relative survival rate for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma has increased dramatically from 40 percent in whites from 1960 to 1963 to more than 86 percent for all races from 1999 to 2005.  Five-year relative survival rates are 91.8 percent for all patients who were less than 45 years old at diagnosis.  (source)
  • The five-year relative survival has increased from 12 percent in 1960 to 1963 for whites to 37.1 percent from 1999 to 2005 for all races and ethnicities.  The three-year survival rate as of January 2006 was nearly 56 percent.  (source)
The simple truth is that people are fighting to live, and because of the work that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is doing, people are winning that fight more and more often than they ever have before.

And some small part of the fight is being won because of Princeton High School's Pasta for Pennies Campaign.

Over the decade in which PHS has been involved in the campaign, we have raised of $325,000 to fund research into, subsidize patient services for, and educate young people about blood cancers.

I have spent enough time on this blog explaining why this campaign matter to me, why I own a copy of A Lion in the House, why I hate the Girl Scouts, that I would hope every one of you understands what this charity means to me, so I won't belabor the point further.

I have said it before, and I will close with exactly the same words that I closed with a year ago...

If you can, please take a moment and make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. You can donate via our campaign by going to this website and choosing the [Click Here to Contribute button].

You can also send us a check at the following address...
Lonnie Dusch
Princeton High School
11080 Chester Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45246
If you're a little cash poor right now, then give the Society your time. Collect on your dorm floor...ask your neighbors for donations...contact your local LLS chapter and see what you can do to help out...sign yourself and your friends - or sports team - up for our 5K...find a school in your area that participates in the Pasta for Pennies or Pennies for Patients program and make a donation through them...

Just give something.

It's too important not to.


Come on, now, who wouldn't love a blog called The Food in my Beard?

With recipes and photos like those that accompany this carbonara recipe, it's a winner each and every time out.

If, on the other hand, you'd rather go a little more scientific, check out The Food Lab, whose chili recipe I'll be making in the next couple of weeks when time allows.

February 15, 2010

Things that matter: 1973 IHSAA Champs Stein

Last year, I saw the Princeton Vikings lost a nail biter to the Northland Vikings in the boys basketball state finals.  In 1996, I saw the New Albany Bulldogs fall in two overtimes in the state championship game to Ben Davis.  I wasn't in Indianapolis for the 1980 championship defeat of New Albany by Broad Ripple, and there was no way I was able to see New Albany's lone boys basketball championship in 1973 over South Bend Adams.

But I have proof, record that it happened, because I have the stein to prove it.

Originally, I'm sure my dad had the stein to prove it, and I'm guessing he was there at the game to see the high school where he worked - where he works - where he attended - win their only boys basketball championship.  I know him well enough to know that he wouldn't have missed that game.

I saw originally because the stein is mine now.  (No clue whether I'm effectively outing myself to my family here, but I do have some things in my house that weren't exactly asked for when I left home.)  It's been my stein since I left for Wabash in 1992, and I think it was in my room, on my shelves before that even.

The flip side has the  team roster and all of the tournament scores.

We're going to forgo wondering whether a championship won in the 2000's would ever be commemorated with a drinking stein (we can't even give out glasses as prom favors) and just revel in the coolness of that mug.

The gold accents, the bulldog shield, the jackboot stomping of Clarksville, the lack of classification in the title Indiana State Champions all are just little glimpses at the awesome.

I took the stein with me to Wabash - and my high school yearbooks, too - because I was and am proud of my time at New Albany.  I dug high school.  Dug the high school radio station, dug the hometown, dug tennis road trips and home basketball games.

I know I left the hometown, but I still love visiting and love having the stein on my shelves.

Oh, and by the way, NAHS also won a girls basketball championship in 1999, but they didn't make steins.

February 13, 2010

Working ahead...or headly working...

It doesn't get much weirder than that, folks, but I'll try to see what else I can freak you out with today...

February 12, 2010

Get the big picture

I've pointed out a few galleries from Boston.com's The Big Picture blog before, but I haven't straight out said that the Big Picture blog is the easiest way to see great photographs from current newsworthy topics every day.

Outstanding content all the time...




February 11, 2010

Header is dead...long live the header

Thanks to a little snooping at how New School had his header images saved, I managed to get the rotating header images back up and working.  Plus I added in a dozen new images.

Enjoy 'em one at a time or check 'em all over at the new Flickr account.

February 10, 2010

Back on the High Line...again...


From what I can tell, the denizens of the Big Apple had some old train tracks that they weren't using any more, and they'd kinda stopped mowing the grass up there.  After a little while - like ten or twenty years - people noticed that some drought-resistant grasses and trees were growing among the old iron rails and thought "Hey, let's make a park."

A park in the sky...with rainbows water fountains and gum drop benches and cotton candy walkways...

Ok, not quite.

But some people did get together and start fund raising to turn the old railways - known as the High Line - into New York City's newest park, known simply as The High Line.  The first part of the park opened this past June, and the rest is going to open in stages as the redesign is completed.

The place looks awesome...check out their blog for some outstanding pics from the first six or so months of the High Line.  (I do warn you that a few of the pics are a little on the (insert chili pepper here) side of things).

This thing looks great, and I love the reclamation project.

Go Big Apple...




February 9, 2010

Snow Day

Happy snow day, everybody.

These pics were taken from inside our walkout basement at around 5:30 Tuesday evening...the door was open, but my feet were on indoor carpet...

There are certainly times when I miss living in Cincinnati, but today wasn't one of them.

Timesuck Tuesday

Nothing but the space bar here...just hit up the space bar to jump at the right time...and try to beat my distance of 5493m.

February 8, 2010

Niche blogging through the DC Universe

I am amazed at how thoroughly in love with certain characters some fans are.

In looking around the web, I stumbled this week upon a number of niche blogs each focusing on one DC hero.  No Batman, no Superman, no Wonder Woman.

These are the lesser lights...in order from big to small...
And, in no relation at all to this post other than that I found it while searching for niche blogs, a post of Action Figures Holding Mini Figures of themselves.

Then again, at least the niche bloggers have some sort of theme...

Further Evidence...as if more were needed...

I am stunned...just stunned...how is this a political movement? 

How can you have 600 people at a convention and get national coverage as though the country's political will was shifting in some sort of significant way?

Does this woman really need to write notes on her hand?  Seriously?  ON HER HAND?

Citations provided...

February 6, 2010

Begun while I'm home from school lying on my back...good times...

A couple of videos, a few links, and a sack of sauce...on, and the lying on my back continued pretty much all week...subs, subs, and more subs...blech...
And, hey, I know that guy on the left...

    February 5, 2010

    Why it matters

    From PW Atkins's Molecules...
    Any visible lump of matter – even the merest speck – contains more atoms than there are stars in the galaxy. Each type of atom brings a particular quality to every substance of which it is a part, and although atoms are so small, their colossal number in any tangible sample results in our perception of their properties. When we lift an apple we feel the weight of a galaxy of almost weightless atoms. When we hear the ripple of water we are hearing shock waves as a myriad of almost imperceptible molecules crash down and collide with the other molecules. When we dress we pull across our bodies a great web spun from almost infinitesimal dots and held together by the conspiracy of forces between them. When we see a flame we are seeing the release of an almost negligible droplet of energy, but in such a Niagara that the heat sears and consumes.
    That's it...that's all.

    I love this quote as it constantly reminds me of why chemistry is so frickin' cool.

    February 4, 2010

    Things that matter: Sea glass and coins

    That's the view from above down into my mug of trinkets: sea glass, stones, and odd coinage from my times abroad.

    I've lived most all my life near water, the Ohio River, to be specific.  Grew up in New Albany, Indiana, just across from Louisville on the Ohio River.  After a brief sojourn to Crawfordsville where the biggest water was - and still is - Sugar Creek, I packed up my things and moved to Cincinnati, an hour and a half closer to the confluence.

    But I've only ever spent one year near the ocean.  See, my family wasn't the kind to spend a week in Florida every summer lounging on the beach.  We didn't, in fact, go on many vacations at all (New York City was a working vacation for my dad, the Arizona trip was to visit family, and Washington was the only other trip longer than a weekend that I can ever remember taking), so I wasn't a kid who ever fell in love with the beach.  To this day, I have no interest in spending a day at the beach just hanging around, playing in the sand and surf.

    For nine months, however, I went down to the beach once a week because the long stretch of sand was a fifteen minute walk from home, and because I had a whole lot of time on my hands.  To fill those hands, then, I started picking up sea glass, bits of broken bottles that had been ravaged and beaten by the waves and washed back to shores probably far from whence they'd come.


    There aren't any pieces that would be judged exceedingly rare or attractive, I'm guessing (at least not from what I understand from my minor reading about sea glass), but they're all pieces that I picked up.  They're things that I found while wandering the sands of Scotland - and Spain just after the new year.  They wouldn't matter to anybody else in the world other than the person who had picked them up.

    Also in the mix are a couple of worn stones that I don't even remember where and when they came to me.  I remember thinking - as I still do - how gorgeous the longer, browner stone was when I picked it up because it had a single hole worn halfway through it, repeated drips in exactly the same place for years into the sandstone.  It could be from Turkey Run State Park or the Isle of Aran for all I remember at this point, but I wouldn't give it up for its weight in gold.

    In that same mug - more on the mug in a moment - are the pecuniary remnants of my memories.  There are bimetallic coins from Italy, a last token from Aladdin's Castle (the second video game arcade that I remember), a golden penny from one of my many labs, a heptagonal 20pence piece from the UK, Deutsch marks, liras, pounds, French francs, US half dollars, a steel penny, a silver dime, coins from countries I've not visited and whose names I can't make out in the native language on them, even a penny slug.

    They've all come to me in various ways - from our Pasta for Pennies campaign, in pocket change while I was in the nation, as a chance to play a few more games of Dragon's Lair, transformed by me from copper to 'gold', but they're all mine, and once every couple of years, I get them out and look through them.

    They're mine..they matter.

    As does the cup that that they're in...because it's my dad's.

    Well, it was his anyway.  It was - I think I have this right - presented to him by his 1979 swim team.  I would've been three at the time and probably had been around the pool - which would've been the junior high pool back then, and he would've had another five years coaching before he hung up the whistle.

    I can't imagine my students ever giving me a stein - a book or two, sure, but not a pewter stein.  I don't care about the mug because of itself but rather because it reminds me that I come from a pretty good teacher.

    All in all, the mug and its contents matter to me.

    February 3, 2010

    The Losers vs The A-Team

    I'm feeling the trailer for The Losers...

    And I'm not feeling the trailer for The A-Team...

    Which is sad, because I loved that tv show...

    February 2, 2010

    I lived the 80s

    They're not really my life at all.

    In fact, I got a 102 on the 80s lyrics test (thanks for sending this my way, Blank) and felt pretty crappy about the score.

    I misspelled a couple (made two plural) but missed others that seemed so obvious after reading the answers.

    In case you want to know...ones I couldn't get...
    • 7
    • 12
    • 32
    • 34
    • 38
    • 41
    • 46
    • 59
    • 61
    • 69
    • 78
    • 93
    And ones I got wrong...highlight to see my mistakes...
    • 10 (put sex instead of dress)
    • 11 (thought it just repeated walk)
    • 14 (just missed it straight up)
    • 18 (1/2 credit 'cause I went with push instead of whip)
    • 44 (I had empty streets instead of city streets)
    • 47 (run and get...not my run and hide)
    • 50 (wow...I installed these refrigerators...they installed microwave ovens)
    • 52 (same idea...pavement instead of concrete)
    • 53 (I went plural, should've read the next word)
    • 60 (how did I miss Robert Palmer?)
    • 68 (they counted off because I didn't capitalize Venus - that's crap)
    • 70 (just missed it)
    • 72 (heart instead of pulse)
    • 73 (this is just sad that I didn't catch it)
    • 77 (again, just blanked on it)
    • 79 (to me, you walk on sunshine)
    • 86 (I switched which girls this line was about)
    • 95 (how did I miss the greatest Metallica ever?)
    Sully, you gonna throw your number back at me?


    There is a 90s quiz for anybody else interested in that decade of dreck.

      This was my Monday afternoon

      Seriously, this sucks.  I'm stuck on my back with some kind of freaky pinched nerve, and the doc doesn't have an open spot to see me until the 9th - that's like eight days from now.


      But at least I found these things on ebay that I clearly do not need but for some reason actually do want...

      Complete set of Blackest Night plastic power rings in a fancy case...

      ...Lego Viking ship - not the full set, just the ship - thought I would need some oars...

      Scrubs seasons 1-8 box set of DVDs...

      Seasons 1-3 of Mad About You...

      February 1, 2010

      I'm way under 100

      Of the 100 Skills that Every Man Should Know, I know the following...
      • #1 - Handle a blowout - don't know that I handled it, but I at lived through one while doing 60 or so on an interstate.  I'll count that as a win.
      • #2 - Drive in snow - I feel generally pretty okay in snow, though I don't use snow tires, just not enough call for it in Cincy.
      • #13 - Escape a sinking car - Seems simple enough, but I have no idea that I'd do it in a pressure situation.
      • #14 - Carve a turkey - I feel okay about this one since I've been doing it for four or so years now.  Wish I got more chances to do this so I could practice, though.
      • #16 - Put out a fire - Done it but only once, and it was expected.  I was outside doing a demo that I kind of expected to get out of hand.
      • #32 - Fix a toilet flapper - Done it a couple of times, and I think I was successful.
      • #34 - Fell a tree - Really big ones, no...smaller ones, yes.  For some reason, though, I kill chainsaws in the process.
      • Oddly, never even tried #39 - Change a diaper - I know, I should have somewhere along the line, but I've never even attempted it.
      • #44 - Treat a burn - I knew that whole 'no butter' thing and have used cold water on a few burns.
      • #51 - Run rapids in a canoe - Thanks to Smamy, I knew the whole bit about the V's.  I'm not sure I'd do class 4's, but I'm okay on smaller ones, at least.
      • #68 - Throw a spiral - Wish my hands were a little larger for this, but I'm a'ight.
      • #71 - Parallel Park - Way better at it than The Girl is.
      • #73 - Tie a necktie - Hellz yeah.  Twice a week right about now, more like four times a week at the beginning of the school year.
      • #75 - Ride a bike - I'm a tub of goo, and I should ride more, but I certainly can ride.
      • #77 - Take the Perfect Portrait - Nice touch about flash in sunlight, but other than that, I knew all that stuff.
      Man, I feel pathetic.