Tuesday, February 26, 2008

American English hits a homerun

A gmail status that I posted today reminded me of something I've thought about this before, especially when I used to hang out with a lot of Finnish people. The number of baseball idioms that we use in our casual conversation is staggering.

Not surprisingly, Wikipedia has a list, though it feels like it's probably incomplete.

It's sort of fun to think of them, since many have become so ingrained in the way we speak that we give no thought to the baseball connection. Things like:

-a ballpark figure
-to cover one's bases
-out of left field
-off base
-rain check
-right off the bat
-second-guess (I didn't even know this one was baseball)
-touch base

Next time you're speaking with someone from outside the US, try to catch yourself using one of the innumerable baseball colloquialisms. The person might have no idea what you're talking about.

My status message, by the way, was "in the home stretch" which is actually a horse racing term...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life in Six Words

I've accepted a challenge passed along from Danielle in her blog to describe my life in six words and one picture. Except instead of thinking about it for two days, I thought about it until I had six words (which was about 20 seconds) and then found a picture to go along with it:

I see life as an adventure.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Move over, Hiro Nakamura

This past Sunday Kimberly and I went to Nashua and picked up Guitar Hero III for the Wii. We had already become addicts from our experiences with the Athanases' copy and it was only a matter of time before we caved in.

The wireless Les Paul

I've found the game to be interesting from a musician's perspective. In a sense, playing bass and guitar does not give much of an inherent advantage, but I think that a general intimacy with rhythm and temporal thinking does.

The scrolling fretboard, subdivided by beat or half beats, is nothing more than a straightforward music notation. Once I learned to "read" the music, my experience with traditional instruments began to translate a bit better (and I've noticed Kimberly, who also has a musical background, nailing rhythmically tough spots on her first try, when others probably would get slipped up).

a screen shot of the scrolling fretboard

All in all this is a very fun and addictive game and in spite of being an easy substitute for actually practicing my instruments, it is actually making me want to pick them up a bit more often. Let's see if I can follow through with that desire and get back into a regular practicing routine...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hope for clear skies on Wednesday night.

There's going to be a full lunar eclipse between 10:01 and 10:51PM on Wednesday. The Earth's shadow will begin to cover the moon at 8:43PM. Assuming we have clear enough skies, it should be fully visible to everyone on the east coast.

Lunar Eclipse to Occur in "Prime Time" Wednesday

New York Pictures

It's a little late, but I just put together a photo set with captions of our December trip to NYC.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Monadnock February 2008

Yesterday morning Austin and I attempted Mt. Monadnock. It was about 20 degrees F, which is surprisingly comfortable while mountain climbing.

The parking lot was packed, helping the mountain live up to its reputation as the most hiked mountain in the world (since they built a tram up Mt. Fuji). We stopped off at the Park Ranger store to pay our fee. One of the rangers asked if we had cramp-ons, and when we said no he scoffed and said that we wouldn't make it to the summit.

-Side story: Kimberly and I once arrived at Monadnock mid-afternoon one spring along with the Kelihers. The ranger told us that we were starting way too late and that the mountain was covered in snow. He then turned to me (as opposed to my tall, athletic looking friend Nathan) and said something along the lines of "you know how experiences YOU are but you don't know about your friends." We've joked ever since that his judgment was a reaction to my full beard and Nathan's freshly shaved face. We went on to reach the summit, trudging through nearly half and inch of snow in some places and made it back to the car with ample daylight to spare.

Needless to say, Austin and I were skeptical of his prediction.

Off we went. There was quite a bit of snow on the trail, but we ascended the White Spot Trail, the most popular path to the summit, so the trail was well worn.

Austin on the White Spot Trail

It was a gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky so the views were great. The snow was covered everywhere with a thick layer of ice and for the portion below the tree line icicles that had fallen every branch of each tree littered the landscape.

A tree still covered in ice.

As we approached the summit the path forged by people who trend before us grew narrower and narrower.

Ice everywhere, and the incline was steep.

Within the final 0.1 miles (summit in sight) the trail that could be traversed without cramp-ons came to an end. We each took turns losing our footing and barreling down several feet (into a bush in Austin's case, into Austin in my case) and then finally admitted defeat and headed back.

We descended the White Cross Trail, which was unproven in comparison, with only a few footprints rather than a trampled path.

Me near the bottom, where the White Cross/Spruce Link rejoins the main trail.

So we didn't reach the peak and had to settle for my car as an alternate spot to eat our lunch, but we were very glad to get out and enjoy the beautiful day and a bit of winter adventure with the precarious summit approach. It was really great to get back on the trail after so many months.