Archive for May, 2016

Summer Season

My son asked me when summer begins and my answer, which is a good lawyerly answer, was “It depends.”

My definition of summer is June, July, and August. So to me, summer begins June 1. But that wouldn’t work very well in the southern hemisphere.

So I told him that, but I added some other definitions.

To some people, summer runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But that wouldn’t work very well outside the US.

To other people, summer runs from solstice to equinox – June 21 to September 21. My problem with that is that June 21st is the peak of sun so it should be the middle of summer, not the beginning. Go ahead and lookup “when is midsummer?” and you’ll see.

The other definition I could think of relates to farming. In that case, summer would be the time between planting and harvesting.

What do you consider to be the start of summer?

You observe days and months and seasons and years.

Galatians 4:10

In Praise of Roundabouts

I haven’t written too much about roundabouts, but I am a fan of them. Most of the arguments for them, as I see it for our neck of the woods, is that they keep working during a power outage and don’t make people stop unnecessarily when there’s no other traffic.

But a situation yesterday reminded me of another benefit: they remove ambiguity.

In this case I was at a 2-way stop. What happened was that the person across from me was there first, but he was waiting for traffic to clear so he could turn left. Then I arrived, intending to head straight across the intersection. I knew the other guy was first, so I was waiting for him to go before I tried to cross.

He, unfortunately, was trying to be nice and so he didn’t go, in order to let me go first. What happened was that no one went and both of us missed the clearing of traffic.

After that, he waved his hand to let me know I should go first. That happened at the exact same time that I waved my hand to let him know he should go first. So not only do I have to watch for cross traffic, but at the same time I have to negotiate with the opposite car for who wants the other car to go more.

What is good about roundabouts is there is no negotiation with other stopped cars. There is only you and the oncoming traffic. If you see an opening, take it. No indecision, no wondering if the other car is going, no misunderstandings of who was there first and whose turn it is.

Roundabouts make life simpler.

He did right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David and did not turn aside to the right or to the left.

2 Chronicles 34:2

Desserted Island

image of a deserted island


image of a desserted island

But we must run aground on a certain island.

Acts 27:26

Spring Book Thingy, 2016

Due to a long flight for business travel, I’ve been reading books when it’s not summer vacation. Rather than wait until my annual summer book review and write an interminably-long post, I decided to write about them now.

Here they are, approximately in the order that I read them.

  • Airman by Eoin Colfer
    I read this book because my older kids wanted to read it. They go through a lot of books, so I can’t preview them all. Consider this a random sample of their books.

    It was intense. Or maybe it just felt more intense because I don’t go through many stories like this anymore. My reading choices are either non-fiction or books for young children (like Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter kinds of plots).

    It was very engaging, with some mild language and a bit of violence. I thought about how to recommend or rate this, and I settled on a comparison to Treasure Island. The bad people are bad, and they threaten murder and harm, and they accomplish it. But the descriptions of violence are brief and not any more gory than they need to be.

    I’d say ages 10 and up.

  • The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
    I chose this book because it was purported to be an inspiration to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

    It’s a quick story, and more along the lines of old fairy tales than it is to any modern story. Especially after finishing Airman.

    I’m having a hard time deciding on an age limit. Maybe ages 4 and up?

  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
    This was another book that my kids wanted to read but I took it to preview it first.

    There was not any gore in this, and I don’t remember any offensive language. The story was not as intense as Airman, mainly because there aren’t any villains. There are some antagonists, but they aren’t evil.

    The main problem with this book is a common malady among modern stories – kids are the heroes and adults are the problems. It wasn’t that overt, but the general theme was there.

    I’d say ages 9 and up.

  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
    This is the original story. Another one which inspired some great authors. Beware when checking out or buying the book that it is the original story. Some books in the library were retellings.

    The plot is pretty much as you expect, if you’re familiar with any versions of Peter Pan. Of course, there are some nuggets in there that make the book worthwhile. I’m in particular thinking of the descriptions of Nana.

    If your kids are fine with the movie version of Peter Pan, then they’ll be fine with this book. If you’re reading to younger kids, then you might have to gloss over some parts, such as why Smee’s sword has the name that it does.

    Maybe ages 7 and up for reading on their own?

  • Jack by Liesl Shurtliff
    I didn’t read this one, but my wife did – in order to preview it for the kids. She said it was okay, so go ahead and let your kids read it.
  • Magicalamity by Kate Saunders
    I didn’t read this one, but my wife did – in order to preview it for the kids. She said it was not acceptable, so we returned it to the library. It had an overall air of rudeness and disrespect, plus some other things. So avoid this book unless you want your child learning new insults and certain medical procedures.

If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double.

Exodus 22:7

German Accent

There is now a German accent option on Accenterator. Go try it out. It’s not as fun as the Australian accent generator because the vowels aren’t as dramatic, but it’s pretty good if you get the right collection of consonants in there.

If you need suggestions, here are some phrases to enter in the translator box:

  • Slow and steady wins the race.
  • What are you thinking about?
  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

In case you missed the link, go to and click the German button.

They called this out with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, so that they might take the city.

2 Chronicles 32:18

NFL in April, 2016

In the last month, we had the announcement of the 2016 NFL schedule. Now that we know who will play whom and when, we can start predicting wins and losses.

I keep my predictions over at Some Fun Site. View results of previous football seasons.

2015 Summary

Last year, I predicted that

  • Cleveland Browns = 4-12
  • Miami Dolphins = 6-10
  • St. Louis Rams = 9-7

How they actually did was

  • Cleveland Browns = 3-13
  • Miami Dolphins = 6-10
  • St. Louis Rams = 7-9

Pretty good, if I do say so myself.


Baby Names 2015

Subtitle: in which I improve the government’s records

Allow me to introduce to you the 2015 SFS List of Baby Names that Combine Similar Pronunciations. That baby name list is the place to go in case you are wondering what are the most popular baby names in 2015 regardless of how they are spelled. The Social Security baby name list does not adjust the rankings based on alternate spellings (like Catherine/Katherine), but SFS does.

It was just Mother’s Day, so the SSA released the name rankings for 2015. Last year’s new champion, Jackson is again the most popular boy’s name in the US. And it is widening the gap over Aiden – Jackson’s count is going up and Aiden’s count is going down. Not looking good for the former champ. No controversy for the girls – it’s Sophia again. Her numbers are going down, but all the top girls’ numbers are going down so that doesn’t mean much.

Some Stats

  • There was not a lot of change at the top for the boys. The top 10 names are the same, and in the same order except William and Jayden swapped spots at 7 and 8.
  • The top 8 names for the girls are the same as 2014, it’s just Mia and Emily swapped spots.
  • Noah is once again the highest-ranked boy’s name that has no spelling variations, at number 3.
  • Abigail is the highest-ranked girl’s name that has no spelling variations, at number 10.
  • Girl names still have more spelling variations than boy names (295/1000 vs. 203/1000 alternates)
  • Aiden still has the most spelling variations for the boys, but it dropped from 9 to 8. Aidyn is the one that dropped off the list.
  • For the girls, Adalynn leapfrogged the other names to claim the title of most variations – now at 7.
  • Sophia is still the runaway favorite for the girls, but the gap is closing. Sophia is on the decline

2015 Improved Baby Name List

Click on the link above and peruse to your heart’s content!

For all our days have declined in Your fury; We have finished our years like a sigh.

Psalm 90:9