Monday, September 24, 2012

Loving the Science Fair

I know I've been a bit "glass half-empty" on the current state of America.
I'll return to that theme in a bit, but for now, a bit of good news. Sort of

The NFO chose a book from the library called Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch . . . and What It Takes to Win and it's a series of great stories that will have you walking away with a new found sense of optimism for America's future and the innovative power of kids with their fresh perspectives.

Of course, there's the realization that, well, most kids aren't like these kids and "will it be enough?"

I found it gripping and if you are looking to turn your kids onto science (probably middle schoolers), this book might do the trick.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Boomerang, Debt, and Our Future

There’s really no point in reviewing a Michael Lewis book because you should just read it.

In the one that I read most recently, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Lewis follows up on the ripples of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine as he takes us around the world to talk about the boom and bust..and what it means for all of us.

We visit Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and Germany, before we end up in California, trying to understand what DEBT at the scale we are currently facing.

As with all his work, the writing is engaging and it’s near impossible to put the book down.

Though he tries to end on an upbeat note (and when I say “end,” I mean basically the last 2 sentences of the whole 212 pages), it’s a pretty bleak picture.

However, it’s better to understand it than avoid it and Lewis’ book is a step in that direction.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So, you think English is easy?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP’.

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?

Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends.

And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning.

People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so ... it is time to shut UP!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Lessons from today's Tough Mudder

Yesterday, the morning before the race, when the NFO asked me if I was excited, of course my answer was "yes."

But, more than that, I was feeling proud.

4.5 months ago, I had set out an aggressive training schedule and had accomplished everything I set out to do (and then some).  Even more than that, I was glad that my kids had seen a daily dedication in action (it's difficult for them to measure progress in terms of PowerPoint slides or Facebook fans.)

By the day before the race, I was ready. Maybe even in the best shape of my life and I felt like a football player on the eve of the Super Bowl. I was just trying to stay calm and loose.

A big storm rolled through the area and knocked out power for a few hours, but fortunately, the generator kicked in, so my stress levels were minimal.

By 10pm on Sat. night, my clothes were out, my strategy was clear, and I was in bed, ready for the 5.45am wake-up.

Things started to go awry at 2am when I woke up...and though I lay in bed for 1 hour, I couldn't fall back asleep. 

By that point, I didn't know what to do, so I got up and figured I'd do some work for a bit and see what would happen. Worst case scenario, I'd have to just power through the course on 4 hours of sleep. Not ideal, but what was I going to do.

After pulling out my laptop, ready to start blogging, I noticed my email.

From ToughMudder.


We are deeply disappointed to have to announce that Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic Sunday must be canceled due to flooding and safety concerns. Yesterday's rain left us with an extremely waterlogged course, base area and parking area, which all  prevent critical functions from keeping you safe. Our safety team spent considerable time working with local authorities to reevaluate the course this evening and have ultimately determined it unsafe for tomorrow's event. Safety has and always will be our top priority without compromise, so we must heed this decision.  

We did not make this decision lightly, and we are sure it will be met with great disappointment. We are committed to bringing you an amazing experience, so you will be receiving a transfer code on Monday that you can use to participate free of charge in any upcoming 2012 or 2013 Tough Mudder event. If you have any questions regarding this policy, please email

Again, we truly apologize for the frustration this will cause. Our mission is to build the best endurance challenge on the planet, and we hope to have another chance to give you the experience that you expect from us.   

Thank you for your support and understanding.


Disappointed? You bet.

Though I suppose that if the objective of the Tough Mudder was to create mental toughness and resiliency, then it did that....and I didn't even have to do the course.

As for what's next? Hard to say. It's 4am and the NFO is still sleeping. Admittedly, she's sacrificed a lot for this and I would understand if she's not so excited about doing any more.

Updated: Looks like there is more to the story than is being told.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Face Time at 6 Hours Old


Picked up a new niece about 2 weeks ago…now my kids have 24 first cousins.

The special part about this one is how we met.

My sister called me from the hospital and gave me the wonderful news. Then, she said, “Do you want to FaceTime with her?”

6 hours old and already doing videoconferencing.

A new world record.