Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fred's song "Sweet Lorraine"

True love.  75 years Fred and Lorraine spent together.  Then a studio's Youtube contest, answered not online but with a handwritten letter, sparks an idea to live out their mission statement to connect with their community.

Watch the Today Show clip with Kleenex handy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 28, 2013

Today I have been a PA resident for 16 years. On this day in 1997, my parents moved me up to Messiah College. (Mom says I was ready to move out at 9yo.)
That means I've now lived in PA longer than I did in MD.

(MD beat out MI for duration back in April 1983, and PA beat MI in April 1999.)
I know this date has far greater historic importance as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's I Have a Dream speech from the 1963 March on Washington.

I am glad to have grown up in a time of integration and in a place where all colors and creeds lived in neighborhoods together.  One time, possibly in context of Remember the Titans, I asked mom what she remembered of school integration and her first thought was of busing, that students couldn't go to their neighborhood schools because they were districted elsewhere to accomplish the numerics of integration.

But what I remember was that when I was little, maybe 6yo, in the 1980's, my mom got a telemarketer's call inquiring, "Mrs Yee, how would you feel if your children went to school with African-Americans?"

Well, 1) We did. Our next door neighbors on both sides were white and two doors down on both sides were African-American. And 2) Why would you ask this of Mrs YEE? Yeah, we're all white together here?

Is there a ways to go (grow)?  Yes, always.  We're not where we will be.  But, thanks be to God, we're not where we once were, either.
Sleep tonight.
And may your dreams be realized.

M.L.K. by U2, performed by the Kings Singers.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The blessing of dim sum

Big Frog, brandishing his chopsticks: Just think. If I had never met you, I would have lived my whole life without ever having har gow. Or shu mai.
Middle Frog: That would be sad. I would cry.
Are you saying the best thing I've brought into your life is dim sum?

BTW, book recommendation: The Last Chinese Chef, by Nicole Mones. But don't read hungry. Have you ever considered that, of all the food cultures, only in Chinese cooking is everything served family style? Instead of getting one dish for you personally, everyone gets an empty plate and eats a little of everything served for the table.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What if? low-earth orbit & 8km/s

So. Cool. Getting into low-earth as explained in xkcd's What If? presents such unexpected size comparisions. For example,
Space is about 100 kilometers away. That's far away—I wouldn't want to climb a ladder to get there—but it isn't that far away. If you're in Sacramento, Seattle, Canberra, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Phnom Penh, Cairo, Beijing, central Japan, central Sri Lanka, or Portland, space is closer than the sea.
And these are places I think of as practically coastal cities!

Also, just how fast is a satellite going? 8km/s. 8 is a pretty small number all said (Although "8 is a lot of legs, David."), but units! Kilometers per second? Not used to thinking in those terms. Being American but only geeky up to a point, I am calling to mind that a kilometer is approximately 0.6 mi.

The best part of these What If? bits, though, are the illustrations. And without spoiling your read of the source, may I just mention that there's no bad time for The Proclaimers to show up in space. Go read it here, if you haven't already.
Some other What If posts that Big Frog and I particularly enjoy are Bouncy Balls and Random Sneeze Call.

Yay for making science fun!
Completely tangentially, but still really cool:
  • Did you know? Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy on The Big Bang Theory, actually has a PhD in Neuroscience! That makes her uniquely able to not only act on the show, but also to consult for it. Blossom, all grown up. And, looking back farther, way to go CC! Bet you didn't know she played the girl in Beaches who grew up to be Bette Midler.
  • Another "grew up to be": River Phoenix grew up to be Harrison Ford, right? Except River Phoenix never really got to grow up. Drew McWeeney, of Motion Captured on HitFix, wrote on What if River Phoenix had lived? in a study of turning points in the history of film. I'm intrigued by the idea of him running a Sneakers unit. Love that movie. From a different perspective, that of friendship and shared experience, Wil Wheaton wrote We only got five years and Missing River.
  • And hopping back to smart women with TV in their past, I love that Danica McKellar, Winnie from The Wonder Years, has not only a Bacon number but also an Erdös-Bacon number. She has written four math books encouraging girls to have confidence and succeed in mathematics.
  • Sunday, August 18, 2013

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    If I camped

    I don't. I have in the past gone to Mar-Lu Ridge with Pioneer Girls and with Child Evangelism Fellowship. And I have gone on "The last Rejoice tent-camping trip ever"1, among other tent camping adventures. But I really am a cabin camper, and even that really isn't my wheelhouse. But if I did camp, I would definitely bring/do/have these things if at all possible. Even for cabin camping. Camping hacks that are borderline genius

    1 "The last Rejoice tent-camping trip ever" is an approximately quadrennial event that receives that name only after the fact. But in truth, in any youth group, about every four years there's complete turnover of students and leadership, and of course there's enough enthusiasm to get together a camping trip! The one I went on was at Assateague Island, tent camping with tent stakes not long enough to really get any grip on the soft sand and therefore tumbleweedy tents. And an ER trip when one of the students passed out from dehydration. And we "fished for our supper" (I think we ended up with leftover cantaloupe from lunch for supper). And a hurricane made landfall in the south and the related rains hit us. Oh, and the killer mosquitoes. As a friend recently said, "I have 17 mosquito bites after gardening 2h. I am fairly certain that if I went camping I would come back without legs." Our five-day trip to Assateague ended up as two and a half days there and two days in the basement of the Potter's House (the parsonage, kind of).

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    What is your story?

    One Question You Should Ask Everyone You Meet by Marc & Angel

    What is your story?

    • Where were you born?
    • Where do you live now?
    • What makes you smile?
    • What is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
    • What is your deepest fear?
    • What is your greatest dream for your life?
    • Who are you?

    Small talk is so much better when you ask questions that no one else asks.

    "For the one who married young" -Addie Zierman

    Here's her post, and it's a good one. Read it and come back. We'll wait.

    As for us Froggins...

    Big Frog and I met in Physics lab. It was my first semester at Messiah and I'd AP-ed my way into some sophmore classes. It was his first semester back after being activated to Germany with Operation Joint Endeavor. I was living away from home for the first time ever. He was living back at home... but he was never there, between 18 credit hours at Messiah, working 36h/week in Harrisburg, when his parents were in Brogue1. I say he was so stressed out that semester he gave his mom a heart attack.2

    1 (near Red Lion) (Actually, neither Brogue nor Red Lion is really near anything; from his parent's old place it's an hour to everything. It's a geographical oddity.)
    2 Not only did she have a heart attack the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, she kept prepping for the meal until her family forced her into the hospital, days later.3 The doctors say all the damage to her heart was because she didn't get it looked at right away. The attack wasn't bad, but continuing to strain it did all the damage.
    3 That's even worse than John Addison's golf buddies sending him to the hospital after he stroked out. Not a sports "stroked out", a medical "stroked out". But he looked okay, so they sent Duane (a quadraplegic who at that point was driving the golf cart because he wasn't back to golfing yet, and who now walks unassisted) to the hospital with Addison to get him checked out while they continued to play golf. "You sent Duane?"

    So that semester the prof aligned the Wed labs we were in with Thurs labs, which started 20min later. Which gave the entire class 20min in the lounge to prep. And Big Frog, who had been in classes solid since 8a, having left home well before 7a, would dash to the vending machines for "lunch", by which he means caffenation and protein. Snickers and a Coke. The lot of us would lay odds on how long it would take him to crash.

    It's a love story for the ages.

    We've been together since 1999, married since 2001. Twelve-and-a-half years married. We're halfway to silver! Here's to many more.

    Some other excerpts of our ongoing love story:
    • The following summer, by which point we'd started corresponding with actual letters, I went to Kunming, Yunnan, China on a missions-service project. Our physics prof, his wife, and then-7mo son were also on the trip. Our prof's wife considers herself an instrumental matchmaker in our getting together because she was the one who placed my letter in the Chinese mailbox. We can accept that. Their son served as our ring bearer when he was 3yo.
    • It took us an inordinately long time to decide we were officially dating. But after we had "the talk", it took Big Frog a mere three weeks to propose.
    • I got married in the first dress I tried on. The next year I was a bridesmaid in my maid of honor's wedding and she also got married in the first dress she tried on.
    • About my wedding dress... fittings not only were a beast, as I have 6" clearance to the "petite" bar, they also were surrounded by beasts! I'd helped out in the costume shop of the theater department for years, and I asked the costumer to do my alterations. And he did... while costuming the children's theater production of Charlotte's Web.

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Hello, everybody.

    He took this video himself earlier this summer. But today he's starting Kindergarten, so it seemed appropriate.

    Please pray for our godson M -- today's his first day of kindergarten and while I didn't expect his entire class to change schools (from Headstart last year into K at a different school in the same district) and be in his class, he evidently did. And as it turns out, NO ONE from his last year's class is in this year's. So pray for great relationships to be built with his teachers and the other students. As many of you know, he's a very social kid and makes friends easily. But this was an unexpected shock for him.

    Our Earldom


    It started on Big Frog's birthday.
    One of his (many) nicknames is "Duke", as in this:

    Which one of our friends, the er? from our church, sent Big Frog in celebration of the day.

    And then...

    So now we have SERFS! How cool is that?

    And, having already done Shakespeare in the Park with these dudes, where does one bring their serfs to train them up right? Of course, the Ren Faire!
    Now, my only live experience with Ren Faires is the PA Ren Faire. All the years I lived in MD, I have never yet made it to their Ren Fest1. But the PARF Big Frog and I have gone to basically every year we've been together. And PARF is awesome in that every year has a different scenario instead of a retelling of the same story every year. This year is piratical, with rebels and a pirate queen2. Lancaster Online ran an article today on creating the characters and backstories of the scenario. And within that, every single weekend has a theme. Between his schedule and mine, Big Frog and I usually go on Labor Day, the only Monday of the Faire, for Children's Fantasy Weekend. But this year we were able to go on Time Travelers' Weekend, which was billed as "a chronological convergence of time travelers, doctors, trekkers of the stars, the steam-punkified, slayers and many more of the fictions of science as they gather upon the Shire of Mount Hope.".

    1 Even though my middle school friend's dad sings at MD Ren Fest every year. Even though Barely Balanced hasn't been to PA in three years but has been in MD.
    2 I predicted Gilbert and Sullivan would make an appearance in song at least, possibly even as characters. It would make me happy, anyways. I got to say "Huzzah for the Pirate Queen" to her, but it didn't connect. She said back to me "Huzzah for you."

    Some pics from today's excursion:

    Had some unfortunate camera-sd card-processing issues here, but W got his verbal cue right. At the Renaissance Faire, you don't greet people with "Hello" or "Hey there"; you say "God save the Queen!" And he did.

    W&E obviously get ongoing training in "don't touch" -- it took specific invites to get either of them to engage -- but then they were in. W particularly relished being a "bubble slayer"; E enjoyed the dragons, both fuzzy and "real, but babies". (W would have nothing to do with the fuzzy ones.)

    Big Frog had fun playing with small frogs, too.

    Possibly the highlight of the day for the littles was blue tongues after persistently pleading for a Slush Puppy.

    Arrrrrrrrrrrr! Little boys and big boys all want to be pirates.

    That shot of Big Frog and the banjoist is my favorite shot all day.

    I told E I found an E-sized sword, but he very clearly communicated that he didn't want a small sword when a big one was available.

    And even though characters like these were around everywhere...

    ... And these kinds of things were happening onstage...

    ...There were still times when W wanted to play Angry Birds Star Wars and E wanted to join other families (basically anyone with a camera) and they both wanted to climb on rocks.

    But the joust was incredible as always3, the Queen overcame a treasonous plot and an assasination attempt, and the Finale in Song included a proper Irish wake, at least until it turned out to simply be a case of sleeping off the alcohol. The corpse is pictured playing harmonica.

    3 Best pyrotechnics I've seen at any theatrical event, ever.

    The hijinks of the Royal Performers, ranging from musicians (Rowan and the Rose) to jugglers (Paolo and ___ and Shelli Buttons) to illusionists (Sir Isaac Fawlkes) had the queen in absolute stitches.

    Then, it being Time Travelers' Weekend, out popped from the trapdoor...Doc Brown! with an urgent message from the future that might save the Queen's life. Except for one thing. The attempted regicide happened an hour ago. Oh no! Doc Brown traveled back to a time pre-Daylight Savings.

    Long live the Queen!

    Rowan & the Rose: My Faire-vorite Things, which I use to explain the difference between the Renaissance and a Renaissance Faire

    And some today quotes:
    • Little-known late verse of "Drunken Sailor" by roving minstrels: "Where's he going with my pizza?"
    • Shelli Buttons: You didn't "hup"!
    • medical testimonial: Doc Volz cured me! I used to suffer from insanity, now I enjoy being insane!"

    Here also is the Faire's official Time Travelers Weekend FB photo album.

    Here are some favorite bits from years past, too:
    Rakish Rogues: The Mermaid

    Rowan & the Rose: Arthur's Knights

    Rowan surprising Rose in the middle of a Rakish Rogues song: 45 Years

    Shelly Buttons of Circus Vagabonds doing some aerial hoop -- in the rain, no less!

    and silks

    And Cameron "Medium" Tomele of Barely Balanced slicing a carrot with a diablo made of circular saws. "This is what happens when Craftsman and ToysRUs have sales on the same day."

    We'll be back! In fact, we have a date planned already -- Sun, Sept 8, Heroes of the Realm Weekend, and Barely Balanced will be back in town for the first time in years!

    Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Hear the pork skin crackle!

    Total foodporn. It makes me hungry.

    Spoken like a Michigander

    "It's hard to do Florida with your hand!" -Big Frog

    Maryland is a right-hand gun, with Columbia as the base of the trigger.
    Pennsylvania is a flat left hand, palm up with the thumb partly tucked in, and Harrisburg is about the join of the pinky and ring finger.
    And of course Michigan is a left-hand mitten, and if you need to do the Upper Peninsula, use your right hand palm up with the left hand above, palm down. Detroit is the base of the thumb on the left-hand mitten.
    We even map China to the hand - an angled left hand, palm up. Hong Kong is the base of the pinky. Kunming, Yunnan is in the fleshy part at the base of the thumb.

    But how do you map Florida with a hand?

    Wednesday, August 7, 2013

    Name-dropping movies

    Hey, it's the Reagans!

    What do you mean, it's not the Reagans?
    Wait, what? It's Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda!
    (tweeted photo by Oprah)

    And Robin Williams and Dwight D Eisenhower? And John Cusack as Nixon? And Cuba Gooding Jr? And Terrence Howard? And Oprah?

    Yeah. I definitely want to see Lee Daniel's The Butler.

    'Tis the Season!

    Faire season, that is! Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is upon us and I want to see everything! And everyone! And with this year's theme pirate-y, and with the different themed weekends...

    There are so many Faire-vorite things, as sung by Rowan and the Rose (who are engaged to be married sometime during the season!).

    Our favorite performers of all Her Majesty's entertainment is Barely Balanced, comedy - acrobat - jugglers. They're amazing and we love them and they haven't been at PARF for a couple years now, but they will be BACK for one weekend only, Sept 7-8.

    We also love love love The Mad Mechanicals, who "put the shake in Shakespeare". They can sum up any of Shakespeare's plays improvisationally, and they are not afraid to lay their bodies on the line to further the humor. (Thanks, Jill! Stay dry!) Aaaand they won't be at PARF until the latter half of the season.

    So we'll see Rowan and the Rose, and Empty Hats, and Circus Vagabonds this weekend, and we'll see which pirates win, and a first for us, we'll be there on Time Travelers weekend.

    God save the Queen!

    PS Once again, Wil Wheaton has managed to encapsulate, succinctly and from the heart, the merits of embracing geekdom in whatever form it takes. Love what you love and welcome others who love it, too.

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    Indiana Jones cosplay

    source: reddit user Speeedo
    Why would you get your photo taken with just Indy when you could frame a whole tableau of you AND Indy running away from a boulder?

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Add it to the list.

    I suspect if it weren't faire season, this Renaissance capelet wouldn't even have caught my eye. But it is, and it did.

    TIL E.B. White went by "Andy"

    Which put me in mind of Andy from Toy Story.

    Letters of Note published a letter he wrote to his editor on why he wrote Charlotte's Web. Well, kind of why. I also am delighted by the idea that he took Charlotte's egg sac home with him and let her kids make webs on his dresser. And I admit that in practice I would have been kind of freaked out. EB White: A book is a sneeze

    Friday, August 2, 2013

    Geneology, or I looked at The Hundred Family Surnames and blinked.

    TIL that the Hundred Family Surnames is a real thing, not just a concept.

    So of course I looked for Yee. Which, in Mandarin, is Yu. (Yee is Toisanese.)
    But I don't know how to alphabetize in Chinese.1
    And there are a lot of ways to write Yu.
    Wiki had a list of 25 different characters that are pronounced "Yu": 余, 于, 魚, 鱼, 漁, 渔, 楀, 柳, 劉, 刘, 俞, 喻, 兪, 於, 遇, 虞, 郁, 尉, 禹, 游, 尤, 庾, 娛, 娱, and 茹. Within that, they highlighted eleven.
    Our family writes it, 余.
    Which evidently is the 90th name in the book of 100 Family Surnames.

    1 As interesting as the Parade of Nations2 always is, one uniqueness of the Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing 2008 was that, until announced (posted onscreen), I never had a handle on which countries were coming up. And that's setting aside political quirks like Taiwan being separate from China, but how separate depends on whose government you ask.
    2 One Winter Games, Big Frog and I were watching the Opening Ceremonies with a group of friends, and Earl and another sound tech from our church decided that they were going to seize the opportunity to become the Mexican bobsled team. Build your bucket list!

    PS TIL Yee is also in the Urban Dictionary. Evidently Yee is ebonics for "Hooray!"

    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    What is the FIRST book you remember?

    FIRST is what makes this a tough question for me. I simply don't remember not reading! That's a good thing. I grew up at the library, Howard County Central Branch, with mom volunteering all the time, cutting out projects for storytime and shelving, shelving, shelving.

    But first book? I'm going with Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. I remember looking for Goldbug on every page and identifying the curiously specific vehicles, in the vein of the Kissmobile we saw at the airport open house. Mom says my first word was "truck". What does that say about me?

    Mrs Starks, who lived across the street, says she remembers me on the front lawn reading and wearing a Pampers. I went to kindergarten reading and writing, print and cursive. Part of that also stems from being in a neighborhood with a lot of kids of all ages, so just about everyone had to strive to keep up with the "big kids".

    Some other books I remember from really young are:
    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle1
    • When I was 5, our babysitter gave our family a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends. I wanted it for my very own so instead of putting it on the family bookshelves, I hid it under my bed and read it by flashlight. I've never actually grown out of keeping books under the bed.
    • All my elementary school teachers read aloud to us. Mrs Sandler introduced me to The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie (Andrews) Edwards.
    • Reading Rainbow was the BEST kids' program! Mom recently gave me a bag of books we bought because we heard about them from LeVar Burton2,3, including but not limited to:
      • Bea and Mr Jones, about a kindergartener swapping positions for a day with her dad. Not swapping bodies a la Freaky Friday, just the 5yo going to work and the corporate adult going to kindergarten.
      • Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport, about not wanting to move, especially from familiar NYC to such a foreign environment as Texas. This was also my first exposure to "you pronounce it like an "H"".
      • A Chair for My Mother
      • A Pocket for Corduroy, which I have always preferred to Corduroy.
      • Gregory, the Terrible Eater
    • Mom also dug out my copy of How we are Born, How we Grow, How our Bodies Work, and How we Learn, which is the first encyclopedic science-y book I remember really working through. It was not just a fact or two per page but loads of pictures surrounded by different sized type for how much you wanted to/were able to dig into the material.
    1 More recently, I introduced The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my friend C. She was perhaps 3 then? And she had the memory to remember-read (or perhaps picture-read) the book after my reading it to her just once. A few days later she was feeling kinda blah, so I suggested a slice of watermelon, a cupcake, a sausage, etc, "like the Very Hungry Caterpillar", which she was very excited about. Her mom, by contrast, suggested a green leaf. Less-happy C protested, "I'm not a caterpillar, I'm a girl!" Her mom replied, "So you were only a caterpillar for junk food."
    2 But you don't have to take MY word for it.
    3 I know you're "supposed" to recognize him from Star Trek. But to me he'll always be the guy from Reading Rainbow. Actually, we recently found him on Perception on TNT as a recurring character. He plays the department chair over the lead, Eric McCormack (Will Truman from Will & Grace)'s character. I'm very much enjoying the show.

    It makes me sad that kids' books have such a short shelf life! They get loved hard and wear out. I heard once that most kid lit gets a 6mo print run and then on to the next. Some of these fabulous titles I bet you could still find, but others have come and gone. Fortunately new authors and illustrators are cropping up every year! A few recent favorites include:
    • Patricia Polacco
    • Kevin Henkes
    • Mo Willems (My favorite of his is Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator, although I also like Knuffle Bunny. Less fond of the pigeon, but I know he has his followers)
    • Suzanne Bloom (A Splendid Friend Indeed and its three-that-I-know-of sequels)
    And longtime authors and illustrators:
    • Sandra Boynton (my mom's favorite illustrator ever)
    • Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby)
    • Tomie dePaolo (Strega Nona)
    • Steven Kellogg (who illustrated for a number of other authors as well)
    So... what was your FIRST?

    PS I wonder, if I asked my mom and my dad what they remember as my first book, what they would say?

    Murland, hon!

    Yay, Murlan! Maryland, my Maryland!

    Buzzfeed, journalistic summit that it is, recently published 20 reasons why Maryland is the coolest state. Go there now and read it. We'll wait for you. It's a pretty cool list. And all factually true, if perhaps a bit biased.

    "Where are you from?" means very different things depending on how it's asked, but for me the reality is, although I was born in Detroit, I moved at 2yo and simply don't remember living there. I grew up in Maryland, or as we say it, "Murlan"1.

    1Bawlmer, Murlan, as opposed to Warshington, which all good Murlanders call Dee Cee. I have a colleague who's from Montgomery County and who cheers for the Redskins and Nationals. I'm from Howard County (HoCo) and cheer for the Ravens and Orioles. Not to say that there isn't crossover. But as we live smack dab inbetween Eagles/Phillies/Flyers Philadelphia and Steelers/hey the Pirates are worth talking about this year/Penguins Pittsburgh, any time we see anything sports-related in purple or burgundy it makes us glad. (And yes, sometimes I spell Murlan/Murland with and sometimes without the D. Deal with it.)

    This month actually is a turning point for me. As of the tail end of August, I will have lived in Pee Ay 2 longer than Murland. But I'm always asking people where they're from, and it seems to me that all transplants to PA identify themselves as from somewhere else no matter how long they've lived in the area.

    2Is PA the only state3 that self-identifies by its postal abbreviation? Pee-Ay? Pennyslvania is a really long word. When I lived in Mechanicsburg, my mom always commented on its having so many syllables, too.
    3 It's a commonwealth, actually. Not a state at all. But in Harrisburg most everyone seems to work "for the state", not "for the commonwealth", which I suppose also is saving syllables.

    But every time we cross into Murland and see the big "Welcome to Maryland" sign, subheaded with the governor's name, we count off and yell "Hi, Martin!" Leaving, we yell, "Bye, Martin!" Or whoever is the current governor. Parris... Bob... Martin... this time next year they'll be voting for Anthony... The sign tells us what we should yell. We actually don't do that leaving/entering PA, because recently I literally had to look up who was the current governor, despite having driven past his house twice this week.

    There's no place like home.