Back to the Grindstone

The old grindstone!Today is the last Day of Christmas. If you’ve been following the song, your house is filled with leaping Lords, milking maids, two groups of musicians, and an awful lot of birds. But now you can usher them out, take down the lights and decorations, and put the tree out on the curb for pickup.

I’m guessing some of you did the de-decorating on December 26th and didn’t even buy your true love a partridge. On the other hand, the 2015 Christmas season apparently begins on August 31st (and includes “Black November”) so it’ll be back before you know it!

Until then, it’s time to get back to the grindstone.

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Ring Around A Star

RingworldThe Earth orbits our star, Sol, at a distance of roughly 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) — a distance we call an Astronomical Unit (AU). Our little rock is just under 8,000 miles wide (a bit over 12,000 km) and has a surface area (including oceans) of just under 200 million sq miles (510 million sq km). Depending on how you look at it, the Earth seems very large or very small.

What if, instead of a rock spinning around its star, it was a ring encircling it? Suppose the ring spun fast enough (770 miles per second) to create “gravity” on its inner surface? And suppose the ring was one-million miles wide and had walls 1000 miles high long both rims to keep air inside? Such a ring would have a surface area equal to about three-million Earths.

And what you’d have is Larry Niven’s Ringworld!

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Movies: Baseball Triple-Header

baseball in winterHere in January we’re almost equally distant from the previous professional baseball season (which ended in September) and from the coming one (which begins in April). Pitchers and Catchers report for Spring Training in mid-February, position players report later in the month. Spring Training games begin in March.

At various points in 2014, I picked up DVD copies of two (actually four) favorite baseball movies, plus one I’d never heard of, but found in a $4.99 bin somewhere. They’ve all been siting patiently waiting for me to watch them.

I thought: New Year’s Day sounds like the perfect time to do that!

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Happy 2015!

Happy 2015


A half-life in three acts

new years eveThe end of the calendar year: a time for a rambling look back at what was and wiping the blackboard clean for the scribbles of a new year. It’s been thirty years (and some change) since I moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. That was roughly half my life ago.

I realize the former is a city while the latter is an entire state, but L.A. is so much a place unto itself (call it a state of mind) that I really do think of the move that way. It took years to shed my West Coast cloak — that Los Angeles state of mind — but now I’m a full-on Minnesotan.

Looking back, those three decades form three distinct acts.

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Annual Report 2014

Sydney Opera HouseWell, it’s that time of year when WordPress generates our Annual Report and we find out how many sold-out Sydney Opera House performances we earned. My first full year (2012) as a blogger I didn’t even rate one! That year visitors were compared to Mt. Everest climbers, and I’m sure there was no intended connection with oxygen deprivation.

This year — identically to last year — I managed to fill the House “about” five times. That’s page views; I’m up just shy of 500 views from last year (not quite a 4% increase). Visitors is another matter. Over 2,000 more visitors stopped by this year (a 140% increase).

But I really wanted to write about the posts

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Christmas Countdown: 0

Twelve Days of ChristmasCountdown reaches zero; engines start; the duodecad comes to life. We have Christmas Lift Off! (“The partridge is in the tree.” Repeat: “The partridge is in the tree.”) Christmas has launched! Today is the first of the Twelve Days of Christmas. On your mark, get set, go!

Two years ago at this time I was reeling from being Freshly Pressed. To this day no other post has so many readers or comments. (Just another irony in a life where they’re as common as Tribbles.) The final Way-Back links are to Christmas Thoughts and Christmas Afterthoughts (the latter of which has the poem I wrote about being FP — the former is about lefse and lutefisk).

Now here’s some music for Chillaxmas Day

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Christmas Countdown: 1

Christmas treeIt’s Christmas Eve Day! When I was growing up the evening consisted of the special family dinner and dessert, a Christmas lesson, opening the presents under the tree, all capped off with a midnight church service. Christmas morning brought stuffed stockings of trinkets and candy, but the Eve was the Big Night.

The Way-Back link is to the 2012 Christmas Eve post when I’d just learned that my Santa: Man or Woman post had been Freshly Pressed. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the poem I wrote to commemorate the discovery.

Now the Christmas Eve musical selections…

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Christmas Countdown: 2

Santa stressedThe Countdown continues; Christmas is getting closer!  Today I have, not one, but two poems — both “politically correct” parodies of familiar seasonal icons.

The first Way-Back link is a new look at the The Night Before Christmas and Santa’s woes in a consumer-aware world (worse than his woes with physics).  The second picks up the next day with The (Politically Correct)  Twelve Days of Christmas. (Both are neolithic email “shares” from the ghost of Christmas Past.)

And now fun — and funny — Christmas tunes…

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Christmas Countdown: 3

Dear SantaSome of you are back to work today; some of you took the week off to relax or get ready. Time is short, so get any last minute requests to Santa before it’s too late! (For the record, I have never written a letter to Santa. My parents never played the Santa Trick on me or my sister.)

The theme is Dear Santa (I Want), and the Way-Back link is to another neolithic share. This one containing two missives for Mr. Claus, one from a Ms. Barbara “Lawyer Barbie” Mattel (of the South Beach Mattels), and one from a Mr. Kenneth “Doll” Mattel (of the less well-to-do Redondo Beach branch).

And now, a set of secular seasonal selections…

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