Friday, December 21, 2012

Not doomsday

Just to note that today was the 99th birthday of Lillie Evelyn Anderson Miller. She was born on the day before the solstice in 1913. Google, the wonderful tool that it is, let me know that the solstice in 1913 was on the 22nd of December.  This photo was taken about 1947.  I'm guessing.  Happy birthday, wherever you are.

And to note in passing that the day that the world was to end, doomsday, today, is nearly over and so far, so good. So I put up the Christmas tree. I think there will be a Christmas again this year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


The Princess of Prairie is in the building. The plane from JFK was nearly two hours late, but Unky Herb and I collected her at the HHH terminal and got home in due time. She was up early and ready for the dreaded first day of jet lag, seemingly unfazed. It's been a busy day. We trekked to the DMV to get expired driver's license renewed, to the bank to get a new replacement cash card to replace one lost somewhere on the other side of the world, lunch at iPho by Saigon, groceries and vino at Trader Joe's, Penzeys for cloves and whole cardamon, etc. We were engaging in Christmas like activities.

I'm a little knackered and ready for a little sit down.

She hasn't crashed yet. Still going on Christmas adrenalin.

I'm still likely to play some tennis tonight at Wooddale. By tomorrow, I'll be ready for the solstice, the Mayan solstice. It sure doesn't seem like doomsday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Two more days before the end

The Prairie Princess was due home on a Sun Country plane from Oslo scheduled for about 11 p.m. tonight. As is usual as these December trips go, weather and perhaps travel traffic in the New York City area caused some delay. At the moment, the expected arrival time is 12:43 a.m on the 20th. Unky Herb and I are killing time at home waiting for updates. There is a big snow storm in Iowa that is burying that state, but we are now likely to be spared most of the accumulation. Or so saith the weather soothsayers. We'll be going to the airport soon.

Here's a photo from the last time I saw her in person. It was taken last December in Aas, Norway.

The solstice strikes at 5:11 a.m. local time here in the saintly city. There has been a prediction of doomsday on that day, and if so this may be my final blog. If that's how the world ends. But I was led to believe that it would end, not with a bang, but a whimper. Or so T.S Eliot wrote. And even NASA has pooh-poohed the end of world theory, so I expect there will be other blogs yet this year, and I'll get a few more opportunities to expound on π and its relationship with whatever is going on around me. 

We may be domed.

My mom was born on the 21st of December, 99 years ago, possibly a solstice baby.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thirty years.

Every once in a while it's fun to see how the years have changed us. Thirty years is a long time and I know that I like the way I looked then compared to today. No offense. And it's nice to see what an attractive group we were in 1982. Aren't we pretty?

I played tennis this morning at Wooddale. I stopped at the desk to check in next to John, one of the guys that was subbing for one of the regular players. The court charge was $6 and the guest fee was $8. The guy behind the counter went to get his calculator to add the numbers together to get $14. Numerology in this country has drastically diminished when a calculator is necessary to add 6 and 8. It's a good thing there wasn't a π involved in the calculation. Not to boast, but I could add π and 8 and get 11.14159 without a calculator.

It's raining in the Saintly City today. Most years this would be another snow bomb. I read from Paul Douglas that if December averages 4.3 degrees above normal, this will be the warmest year ever in Minnesota. We are currently 7 degrees above normal for December.

The Prairie Princess will be flying to Oslo tomorrow from her post in Dar es Salaam, then she'll be there three days until her flight home Wednesday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Laughing Waters

This has very little to do with π or even square roots, although I must admit to a lame idea of taking a photo of nine or ten apples in the snow arranged in the shape of π and blogging about apple π. Or even nine or ten miniature apple pies arranged in the shape of π, and blogging about apple pie π. Instead I went for a walk over in Minneapolis to see the falls in the mantle of snow, and perhaps to find a metaphor to use here. The falls were just dribbling water over the edge. We've seen that before. But, because the creek which feeds the falls is also very low, I decided to try to get close to the statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, his Dakotah bride. I managed to ford the stream walking on stones. Up close I found there is actually an inscription at the base of the statue:

Over wide and rushing rivers
In his arms he bore the maiden;
               -The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hiawatha and Minnehaha statue at the big park in Minneapolis next to Minnehaha Creek.

A side view not often seen of the famous statue.

The creek named for the Dakotah maiden just upstream from the statue is still flowing. You can readily see how how low the stream is. We are still officially in drought in Minnesota.

I spend some time walking around in the park, not wogging, just walking. I decided to stay on the upper level today. The stairs down to the lower level are closed, or at least there are signs that say they are closed, but the human footsteps on the stairs say that very few folk are paying attention.  Just us senior citizens.

I guess that the falls can serve as a metaphor for the fiscal cliff that our government is wrestling with.

Minnehaha apparently means "laughing waters."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

∏º Celcius

They haven't cleared all the walking surfaces at Como Park yet. The snow is still making walking there a little difficult, but I did a little of it this afternoon. After all the sun was shining and the temperature was nearly πº C. That's somewhere between 37º F. and 38º F., a fairly nice day in December in Minnesota. Not enough to turn the water on the lake back into its liquid form, but who's complaining.

I trudged around for a while on my seven decade old lower limbs, noticing that the geese have gone away. I think they like at least a little open water for take offs and landings. I noticed, in the deep snow along the lake, bicycle tracks. Thick winter tired bike tracks where even trudging was difficult. Some guy must have been in need of extra exercise, because that path is on no one's path to work. Or maybe he was just showing off. I wish I had a photo of his passing by, but he was gone. And the trail itself doesn't make for much of a photo. Instead I took a picture of these two benches, sitting side by side by the lake, one of which hasn't been used since at least last Saturday.

A white Christmas is nearly assured in the Saintly City this year.

I found an interesting site on the internet, where one can spend endless hours in the interest of science.  It allows people with a little extra time to look at photos taken in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania with cameras that are triggered by motion detectors.  All you have to do is recognize the animals in the photos and report their number on the site.  It's called Snapshot Serengeti.  Lots of zebras and gazelles with an occasional lioness or elephant.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It snowed a little over the weekend

I guess I mostly missed the brunt of the biggest snowstorm of the year ... thus far. I was spending a weekend in Pengilly getting PW's tree decorated and generally avoiding the predicted snow dump. It was a pretty big storm in the Twin Cities, but pretty tame on the Range. There was a foot of snow at the MSP airport and 16 inches in Falcon Heights, near the state fairgrounds. Swan Lake, just outside Pengilly, had maybe three inches. PW's tree looked pretty good when I left and it was still upright, thanks greatly to the wire attaching it to the wall.

I'd missed the storm, but I got in on the fun today. I promised to talk to PP at noon. It's her last week in Tanzania, before she flies off to Oslo and a few days later to this city of ice and snow. I left the Range at 8:10 with the temperature at -8º F. and the roads nicely frosted with whitish slick stuff. It wasn't as slippery as US-35, the main north-south route. The surface of the road was blessed with packed snow from Hinckley to the junction of US-694, just north of St Paul. I guess it was too cold for the highway department's salt solution to be effective.

I made it home without going off the road, unlike at least five cars that I saw along the way - a couple with people still in them.  It wasn't a day to go the speed limit, or even close. I made it home in time for the intercontinental chat with PP, partly because my sidewalks and drive into the garage had been shoveled and neatly cleared by Unky Herb, plus some superb help from UHMSY (Unky Herb's main squeeze Ying).

PP is ready to come home for some Christmas warmth and probably something in a warm glass. Hot cocoa, maybe.

So later I had time to walk around the neighborhood in the remains of the snowstorm. The look of the town has changed drastically, and actually it is quite a bit more attractive. It's just a bit harder to get around here, and will be for a few days until the rubes get used to driving on the slightly slipperier surface.

I trudged over to Linwood to look for photos of wintry wonderfulness, and to get a bit of exercise. The tennis courts at Linwood are currently unusable for their designed purpose - tennis playing. I've passed many hours on these courts smacking forehands and backhands, but I've not figured out a way to use them with a foot of snow on them.

People walked by this bench in Linwood Park, including me, but no one saw fit to have a sit down.

Evergreens always look right at home in a winter wonderland. And the sky was that pure blue that only sees to be around on cold winter afternoons.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tails of the cat

December seems to be rolling right along.  I took a little vacation from blogging after that November marathon, but it seems like the muse is beginning to stir once more and I'm back at the keyboard.

Today is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a day that began our entry into WWII. I don't remember it in person, of course, because it was 10 months before I was born.  I guess it was a pretty dramatic day and it very much affected the lives of everyone now living in America.  Some say that WWII was what finally got the U.S. economy out of the Great Depression.

It's a snow day here in the Saintly City. I guess we're getting a couple of inches of snow tonight, and then maybe 3-8 inches tomorrow night. It's probably about time that we get a snow event, and it may portend a white Christmas.  I have email from PP in her perch on the equator rueing the months she's spent without a hint of cold, much less any white wonderfulness on the ground. She may be sorry once she gets here, but that's her current sentiment. Incidentally, she's scheduled to arrive on her visit to the old country (here) on the 19th at 11 p.m.   Jet lagged and tanned from her time in the African sun.

I have spent some hours in the last few days at Crosby Farm Park, just walking around (JWA?).

Cat tails are going to seed. This one resides in Crosby Farm Park. After today the background will be a more apt wintry white.

Another cat tail photo on a much nicer day. This is from early August.