Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ambient snow and tennis advice

There's not much snow left. This remnant of a snow fort still exists at Linwood Park, but not very much else. Early this afternoon NCW and I had a stroll around the park, up the St Clair stairs, and north to Grand Avenue. There's some wind and a temp of 43º, but bright sunshine makes it seem like spring is coming soon.

There is not yet much color in the grass. Next week promises to be a break out week for fans of spring.

Tennis was on the agenda again this morning. I finished the four straight day marathon with a bit of energy left. The idea of getting a new racket has faded and instead, I'm getting new strings in my back-up racket and perhaps promoting it to the A team. The strings are brand name Dual made by Babolat, the tennis racket company. It's the same string as in the racket that I'm currently playing with, and it has pretty good "feel" to it. And as Fred Stolle said, "If you're winning with a racquet, don't switch."

The full quote from Fred Stolle (Australian tennis great): The most valuable advice I can give to anyone is do not change racquets unless you know the racquet you are switching to can definitely help you. The money for racquet endorsements is not huge anyway so it's not really worth it. I played with a Dunlop from age 12 until I turned pro in 1967. Then I changed racquets and back then there was only like $6,000 in it to play with a Spalding and Dunlop, who I had been with, couldn't match that offer. So I changed racquets and it was probably the worst decision I made in my entire career because I did not play well with the Spalding. You thought the racquet was the same, it was about the same weight, but you played with it and it was not the same. That happened to a lot of players. When Laver switched from Dunlop, even Laver struggled. He was winning every event, he switched from Dunlop and it hit the fan. He took those aluminum racquets and tossed them into a lake in Louisville and then went back to Dunlop with the new logo painted on, which as you know still happens to this day. If you're winning with a racquet, don't switch.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Icy necklace on the falls

It's not exactly spring and not exactly still winter, but we're somewhere in transition. I guess it got to 36º today, so there was melting and some half hearted puddles. NCW went to work, so I had some free time to get out and visit the various places I walk when the weather is more cordial. Minnehaha Falls is always interesting. I thought that the ice would have melted and fallen into the creek by now, but it's still hanging tough. I walked down into the creek's gorge and approached the falls from below. It's 100 steps on the stairs to get down to creek level and the same back to the precipice level. The walk along the creek was snow and ice covered, mostly because it doesn't get much sunshine down there. There weren't many folks around today. It just wasn't nice enough. The falls are still pretty, even on a day like this.

I had tennis again tonight with Jerry and the hard core girls. Since my experiment with demo rackets last week, I thought my game would be a little off kilter, but I played pretty well and we had two full sets of competitive tennis. They're fun to play with.

Monday, March 23, 2015

25,000 day birthday

Another kind of birthday today. Since I have this spread sheet, that allows me to calculate the number of days between two dates, I've been calculating the ages of people in days. Today, my brother reached a milestone of sorts - 25,000 days on the planet. It's not a celebration that has traditionally been celebrated - partly because of the previous difficulties in calculating and pinpointing the exact date. It's not exactly a leveling up, but it's an opportunity to look back and remember some of the old days. First a couple of photos that he probably hasn't seen in decades.

About 1973 at a football practice for one of the kids' teams he coached in those days.

Sometime in the late 70's with his girl friend at the time. Most of us know her and remember her fondly.

I've known him his whole life. I remember his childhood days when he played simulated baseball games with baseball cards and a statistically based game we had at the time. He kept stats for the players and standings of the teams.

There was the baseball game we played as kids by throwing a rubber or tennis ball off the front steps of the house and designating certain length rebounds as singles, doubles and home runs. I think there may have been stats for that game, too.

When he was at Macalester and I was at Hamline, there was the time at Mac's homecoming when a bunch of HU freshman were planning to prematurely light the traditional bonfire at the Mac football field, and I called him and told him of the plans so that he could organize a welcoming party for the HU miscreants.

Lots of other good and memorable time. Happy birthday. I wish you 25,000 more.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

First full day after the vernal equinox

Spring has sprung.
The grass has riz.
I wonder where my lawnmower are.

The new season is with us and as is usual, it seems, this means we'll be getting some snow tomorrow. The weather creatures say 1-4 inches possible.  Today, however, was pretty nice. Not real warm, but bright for much of the day.

I've been thinking about buying a new tennis racket lately. I've tried three of the 2015 models over the last four days. I played 90 minutes each with two Wilson rackets and one from Babolat. In the end I decided to stay with my 10 year old Wilson Prostaff 6.1.   I returned the demos to the tennis store on Sibley and promised to try again maybe next week, but that may have been an empty promise. In exchange for use of the free demo rackets I bought two cans of fancy schmancy tennis balls. They charge $5.00 a can at the tennis boutique. I usually buy near identical quality balls at Target for $2.19 a can. I'm okay with the higher ransom at the tennis store because they have free demo rackets.

The trees have not yet leafed out much. My backyard maple tree has some little buds and the squirrels are feasting on them. Those pint sized vermin can eat a lot of maple buds.  This tree is a Como Park tree and is still pretty naked.

March has been mild so far, but I'm really hoping for a early spring. Outdoors tennis may begin soon.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thin ice

The good weather here may be on the way out for a while. I had some time so I went for a walk around the lake at Como Park. There is a dock by the pavilion and it's used a lot in the summer. Not long ago someone put a "thin ice" sign up to ward off the unwary. Today, it seems redundant. The ice is so thin in many places that it's liquid. The lake could soon be free of ice, but for today it's just soft slush and crushed cubes.

The ice varies quite a bit on the lake. This bit looks like crushed ice that might be useful in a Super America Icee.

It's 1.6 miles around the lake. I had a side trip to look at the reconstruction job on the old Lexington Avenue Bridge which will be used as a bike path when it's done. They promise Spring 2015 completion. I'll be watching. I walked about two and a half miles - a little short of a π.

Anyone for corned beef and cabbage?????

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Beware. Things go bad sometimes on the Ides of March. I have an Apple TV that I got from Adam to watch netflix content and espn when it has good sporting events. It failed today. Or last night. Anyhow, it is in a reboot loop. It starts to boot up, changes its mind and reboots, and reboots and reboots. Anyway it suddenly began to fail and now I have to go to the genius bar at the Apple store to figure out if I need to get another one. The next opening is Tuesday.  Bummer.

I spent some of the day watching hockey and some of the day doing the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle - which, surprisingly enough - had a π theme. "3.1415926" was the title and three of the answers were a mnemonic for remembering the first eight digits of π. I had to figure that out and let everyone know. "How I wish I could calculate pi easily." Not bad. A new mnemonic to go with HOMES (the names of the Great Lakes) and Every Good Boy Does Fine.

PP bought takeout dinner at Grand Szechuan and brought it here to share. Ginger fish and Kung Pao chicken were the toppers.

There are some Rodin sculpture pieces at MIA in Minneapolis, not only at the Rodin Museum in Paris. This one is called "The Cathedral." I took this photo at MIA last month and hadn't posted it yet.

What a string of "important" days - Friday the 13th, π day, the Ides of March, St Pat's Eve, and green beer day.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Another π day

Here it is again, pi day. Or π day. It's a fairly new "important" day, only being around since about 1988, at least according to Wiki. It's a math geek's holiday and maybe one for scientists, too. It's also Albert Einstein's birthday. He was born in 1879 in Ulm, Germany, 136 years ago. I bet he would have enjoyed the excitement surrounding our favorite Greek letter, π.

I decided that I'd make a key lime pie to celebrate the day and went off to Cub Foods to find the necessary ingredients. They have key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and graham cracker pie crust ready made. That's really all that you need to make a key lime pie. I made one once, but today, it didn't happen. It was too nice a day to even do that much, besides I was tired from four days of tennis, and Cub had ready made key lime pie in the frozen pie section. And who doesn't like ready made frozen π. I bought one and it's sitting in the kitchen thawing out and I'll be having a piece for dessert.

There is a move on the inter tubes to celebrate tau day. Tau is defined as 2π and the ratio of the circumference to the radius of a circle. Tau is equal to 6.28, so tau day would be June 28. Something to keep in mind for those slow blogging days in June.

Instead of baking (or mixing up) a pie, NCW and I went to have a look at Minnehaha Falls. I haven't been there in a while and haven't followed the big build up of ice, or the recent melting of the ice as the winter lurched towards spring. It's a unique sight and one only seen for a week or two in the spring. Lots of people were there to enjoy the 61º temperature and walk outside on a nice weekend. There was a lot of pale skin on display, too.

The falls still has a large ice appendage that probably will fall into the creek sometime this weekend.

There was a big crowd below the falls checking out the state of the ice melt. There were, of course, a few daredevils climbing up close to the face of the falls to get a better look. We stayed above the falls and enjoyed the view and the lovely weather.

As an aside, I was reminded this morning of one of Dad's dadisms - things he said often enough that I remember them fondly and attribute solely to him. He used to say that he wasn't born, that he'd been " kicked out of a stone wall by a mule." I bet I'm not the only one to remember this bit of blarney.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March is getting friendlier

It's still March, but the weather took a decided turn towards summer about a week ago. We've had a couple of days in the 60's, and today was supposed to get into the 70's, according to the weather wizard, Paul Douglas. My favorite St. Paul weather site said that 61º was the high reading for the day. Plenty good enough. It's still March.

I had a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon to take in the warmer air. There isn't much green to be seen, but the snow is nearly all gone, at least for now.

We have a new addition to the breakfast nook in the area of decoration. When Adam and Ying came back from China they brought a book of the water colors that her grandpa did in the last ten years of his life. He was a plenty talented guy, and one I probably would have liked if we could have spoken a common language. I liked one of the paintings well enough to get a copy of the jpeg from Ying's mom that was used for the book, and to have it printed on a board suitable for hanging on the wall. I think it looks good in the breakfast area near the back door.

I played some tennis tonight, part of my usual schedule. It was competitive and fun, but I seem to be in a bit of a slump. The sets were 7-5, 6-4, but I was on the short end of the score. It's doubles and I'm a level seven, so I'm pretty glad that I was able to play and that there was no falling down to be done tonight. I came home and NCW and PP were both home waiting. Adam had been here and went off to play in his indoor soccer league game. I missed him, but he'll be back and plans to spend the night here, so I'll see him in the morning. 

This somehow reminded of an old Richard Brautigan poem that PP used in one of her classes and one that always made me chuckle a bit. Here it is:

Albion Breakfast

                           For Susan

Last night (here) a long pretty girl
asked me to write a poem about Albion,
so she could put it in a black folder
that has albion printed nicely
 in white on the cover.

I said yes. She's at the store now
getting something for breakfast.
I'll surprise her with this poem
 when she gets back.