Saturday, June 14, 2008

Do not (let your knees) go gentle into that good night

I've been meaning to write about Scooter's knees. You mustn't presume that you're stuck with painful knees for the duration. You might be; but they might be fixable. See your doctor; get him/her to send you to a physical therapist who may be able to help.

I've been through this. Doctor No. 1 told me about 10 years ago that my knee pain was from aging, that I should give up running and tennis and take anti-inflammatories. I gladly grabbed the excuse to give up running, but kept playing tennis. My knees got progressively worse and I just thought it was the cost I had to pay to play tennis, against doctor's orders. But tennis for me is a reason to live so I wasn't going to give it up.

Then, about three years ago, I hurt my elbow playing tennis and went to Doctor No. 2. He asked offhand how my knees were and told me to ask the physical therapist (who would be rehabbing my elbow) to check out my knees. The physical therapist diagnosed that my inner quads were weaker than my outer quads, causing my kneecaps to track not quite right. She gave me exercises to strengthen my inner quads! Weeks later I noticed that my knees seemed to be getting better, and after a few months I had pain-free knees that have been fine ever since.

Friday, June 13, 2008


How about a house for $559? This is about 110 miles northwest of center of Minneapolis.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beep Baseball

Today’s speaker at my lunch was....a blind baseball player.

Pretty inspiring.

Rule 8 from the official site:


Section 1: When Batter Becomes a Runner

Article 1...A batter becomes a runner with the right to attempt to score by advancing to the activated base when he hits a fair ball.

Article 2...Runner scores one point for legally advancing to and touching the activated base before his fair hit ball is legally fielded by the defense.

NOTE: In case of a "tie" between the runner and fielder, the runner shall be called out.

Section 2: Touching and Return To A Base

Article 1...An advancing runner shall touch first or third base, whichever is activated at the time the ball is hit.

Article 2...A runner who overruns the activated base may attempt to return to touch it prior to the defense legally fielding his/her hit ball. No verbal or physical assistance may be given by any person to a runner who misses a base and attempts to return to it. PENALTY: Runner is out.

Article 3...For the act of the runner Touching the Base, touching applies to contact of any part of the runner or his/her clothing, if the clothing is reasonably well-fitted, with any part of the base or its wind-resistant device.

Section 3: Base Running Awards

Article 1...When a runner is obstructed while advancing to the activated base by a fielder in direct pursuit of the ball, the umpire shall award a score if the obstruction occurred in foul territory; or an out to the defense if the obstruction occurred in fair territory (interference). If there is doubt as to whether the proper call is obstruction (defense, foul territory) or interference (offense, fair territory), the head umpire may call a replay. If there is interference away from the ball by a defensive player not in direct pursuit of the ball, the umpire may award a run to the offense if the umpire feels that the runner could have touched the activated base prior to the ball being legally fielded had there been no interference. Award may be made whether interference was in fair or foul territory. EXAMPLE: The ball is it to the first base side, third base is activated, the third baseman interferes in foul or fair territory with the runner attempting to reach third base preventing him/her from touching the activated base before the defense legally fields the ball. The umpire may award the run since the third baseman was obviously not in direct pursuit of the ball. Judgement is necessary to assure the runner did not seek the third baseman to instigate the contact and draw the award.

Article 2...When a runner is obstructed by an umpire, or other game official, while advancing to the activated base; or a fielder is prevented from fielding a hit ball by umpire/official interference, the head umpire may award a score to the offense or an out to the defense, or call a replay.

Section 4: Runner Is Out

Article 1...The Batter/Runner is Out When:

[a] His/her fair hit ball is legally fielded (caught) by a fielder before he/she touches the activated base; or

[b] His/her fair or foul fly ball is caught by a fielder before it touches the ground, an umpire or other game official, a spotter, the pitcher or catcher, any object foreign to the natural ground, or any person other than another defensive fielder; or

[c] After hitting the ball, his/her bat again touches the ball in fair territory, or touches the ball before it has passed the forty-foot line when there is a change that the ball could have crossed the line if contact had not been made, the ball is dead and the runner is out. EXCEPTION: If the bat and the ball come in contact a second time while the batter is still holding the bat in the batter’s box, it is a foul ball; or

[d] Runner is out when he is touched by or touches a fair hit ball before the ball is touched by a fielder, unless such touching occurs while the batter is still in the batter’s box (foul ball); or

[e] He/she touches or is touched by his/her hit ball which is rolling toward first or third base, inside the base line, before the ball has crossed the forty-foot line and there is a possibility that the ball could have crossed the line fi the runner had not had contact with the ball; or

[f] There is interference with a fielder by any person associated with the offensive team.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Smith & Wesson Model 56

I have an office manager who HATES guns. Her dad was an Air Force guy who left her two S & W .38 Specials. She knew I had an interest so she asked me to take a look. I took to a gun show and did a little research and determined that they were worth about $400 each. I was going to buy both but her husband decided he wanted to hang on to one.

I told them I'd go to the range to make sure they were in good shape. I put that off for weeks.

Saturday morning about 5:00 I found myself in that too often state of being unable to sleep so I did a little more digging as I planned to take them to the range that day.

Turns out, they are very, er, special .38 Specials. 200 of about 15,000 survive an Air Force recall (I think they went to semi-auto instead of revolvers) in the early sixties. Seems they are a little out of my reach at appx. $2500 each. If you click on the pic below you can see they are "Mod. 56.")

George Will says Obama in a blowout, and that may not be a bad thing...

Video at Hot Air.

Re: (We have a computer hooked up to our "good" receiver/speakers.)

Is that an easy thing to do? I would think an amplifier would be necessary to get the full value of the good speakers.


Pandora is the product of the Music Genome Project. From Wikipedia:

The Music Genome Project, created in January 2000, is an effort founded by Will Glaser, Jon Kraft, and Tim Westergren to "capture the essence of music at the fundamental level" using over 400 attributes to describe songs and a complex mathematical algorithm to organize them.

A given song is represented by a vector containing approximately 150 genes. Each gene corresponds to a characteristic of the music, for example, gender of lead vocalist, level of distortion on the electric guitar, type of background vocals, etc. Rock and pop songs have 150 genes, rap songs have 350, and jazz songs have approximately 400. Other genres of music, such as world and classical, have 300-500 genes. The system depends on a sufficient number of genes to render useful results. Each gene is assigned a number between 1 and 5, and fractional values are allowed but are limited to half integers. (The term genome is borrowed from genetics.)

Given the vector of one or more songs, a list of other similar songs is constructed using a distance function.

To create a song's genome, it is analyzed by a musician in a process that takes 20 to 30 minutes per song. Ten percent of songs are analyzed by more than one technician to ensure conformity with the standards, i.e., reliability.

The technology is currently used by Pandora to play music for Internet users based on their preferences. (Due to licensing restrictions, Pandora is available only to users whose location is reported to be in the USA by Pandora's geolocation software).
It's sort of like radio, in the sense that it delivers a stream of music where you haven't picked the specific songs you're listening to and you can't ask it to repeat something you've just heard and there's no direct downloading of the music.
Pandora allows you to create "channels" according to your specifications.  You create a channel by selecting an artist or a song.  It then finds music that is similar based on its genome and delivers hours of listening pleasure.  You can refine it by telling it whether you like the song you're hearing or not.  You can put multiple artists/songs in your specification for a given channel, and you can make as many channels as you want (as far as I can tell).  It allows you pick whole genres.  (For Michael's benefit, I just tested what you get if you just type in "opera", and it lets you select "Opera, classical period".)
Because of licensing issues (or radio regulation?) it won't necessarily play exactly what you asked for, at least not right away, though it may end up in the mix eventually.
Using email addresses, you can "see" and play other people's channels.  (Go ahead and look at mine to see examples.)
You can tag songs you like as you hear them and it keeps track of your tagged list.  There are easy links to access avenues (iTunes, Amazon) to buy the music you're hearing.
The user interface is super simple, which is both a pro and a con.  At first glance you won't be aware of all it can do.
Sure, it's not the sound quality you get from albums or CDs.  And it would be particularly disappointing if you're just playing it on your computer speakers.  (We have a computer hooked up to our "good" receiver/speakers.)  But it will help you find new music, and it's ideal for background music when you're not wholly concentrated on listening and for enjoying lots of music you may not need to own.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Texas Governor's Mansion Destroyed

by arson Saturday night/Sunday Morning.

DMN story here. KXAN video here.

The good news is that since the Mansion was being remodeled, none of the antique furnishings were in the house. I dislike Governor Haircut as much as anyone but why, why, why would anybody do this?

Just under 2 miles from my place as the crow flies.