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1  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Post a recent picture of your neighbourhood/city on: April 19, 2014, 07:47:31 am
The older part of your neighborhood kind of looks like were my Aunt lives over in Pittston, PA.

Interesting.  That's probably at least two hours north of here. 

In the city of Lancaster, about 3 miles south of where I live, there are more densely settled areas, and more older buildings.  Lancaster was founded in 1730.  Manheim Township, although founded a year earlier in 1729, doesn't have as many old buildings.  I guess it was mostly farm country.  All the old buildings have German names.  The 1810 building is known as Grossmutter Haus.  And all the old cemeteries have German writing and German names on the headstones.  Actually, the entire county is like that.  The oldest surviving structure in the county, closer to where I work, is called Hans Herr house and was built in 1719.  Occasionally I see the horse-and-buggy people at Walmart or other stores and they're often speaking some hybrid German/English dialect. 

Most of Manheim Township is new construction, and they go out of their way to give public buildings a rustic farm look.  Here's for example is the MT public library, built about five years ago.



The round part is called the Hans Herr Learning Silo and is a a story-time room with little chairs and lots of legos and toys.  It is not a converted farm building, but was built that way from the ground up.  The restaurant behind it, Barny's (note the spelling:  not like the purple dinosaur, but in a way to remind you of a barn.)  That's a mini-golf course in front of it. 



Here's one of the MT municipal buildings:



Yes, they built it like that.  Intentionally.

MT high school.  Notice the pointy roof in the middle, reminiscent of a barn:



2  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Post a recent picture of your neighbourhood/city on: April 18, 2014, 08:11:25 pm
I'll start with the more picturesque bits.  Here's the older part of the neighborhood, about half a mile west of my house:




This, I believe, is the oldest structure within a one-mile radius of my house, built around 1810.  They're having one of those annoying "Pennsylvania Dutch" festivals in front of it:




Most of the neighborhood isn't as festive.  Here's my street.  BRTD's worst nightmare, I'd presume.  This Google picture is probably 3 or 4 years old.  There are actually shade trees by now:


3  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: did your posts per day avg. nosedive... on: April 18, 2014, 07:21:25 pm
hahaha.  walter, if you continue at this rate, you'll eventually collect enough useless statistics with no mathematical purpose and no relevant theories that some folks might start to agree with you and your MIT friend.

I'll even help you out:  No, mine did not.
4  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: do you consider statistics a field of mathematics? on: April 18, 2014, 08:17:09 am
Many students would say they learned more about calculus from their mechanics class in engineering or physics than the math class.

I hear this comment from students as well.  "I learned more calculus in the thermodynamics and in quantum mechanics courses than I learned in the three semesters of calculus I took which were the pre-requisites for thes courses."  I suspect that when it's the second go you learn it better.   They simply forgot what the learned the first time because they didn't commit to long-term retention.

Anyway, I voted yes in the original question as well.
5  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: US States Ranked By Musical Importance on: April 18, 2014, 06:58:50 am
Very interesting - though when it comes to old time music derived from the English folk traditions the Virginians had a few years on New England. There's records of fiddling in early Jamestown, and they've excavated tambourine jangles from the period.

I guess it's hard to tell where English Folk music ends and American music begins.  I've heard the name Bristol, which is in the appalachian hills on the TN/VA border, in discussions of the origins of American music, but that's because I have a colleague from Bristol who is fond of pointing that out.  I do remember my first History professor when I was a freshman taking U.S. History mention Massachusetts as the place where all that started.  Then again, he was from Massachusetts originally so he may have been as biased as my Bristol colleague.

I do know that everyone credits the Deep South with the other original forms mentioned in this thread, and I know that when I was living in Mississippi for three years I saw pianos and guitars everywhere.  It was uncanny.  Within a five block radius from my apartment there were at least eleven pianos sitting out, unguarded, that I could walk up to and play, and indeed folks would walk up to them and start playing.  (By comparison, I can only think of two public pianos in the entire city of Lancaster that are just out there for anyone to play.)  The whole experience there was a study in stereotyping.  Poverty, painfully slow service, grits, copious flowers in every garden, more hard liquor than wine in the package stores, and music everywhere.  Just immediately south of my apartment a really poor neighborhood began, predominantly black, with little wooden houses set on blocks that I learned were called Shotgun Shacks, and there'd usually be an old man or old woman sitting out front singing some tune or another.  Many of these folks looked like they didn't have two coins to rub together, but they often had some sort of musical instrument, typically of the stringed variety.  I used to ride my bicycle in a state park a few miles away that was apparently well known to be a gay cruising spot.  (I kept noticing how friendly the local men were who hung out there.  Always offering me beer or a hit off their joint or a ride.  Throw yer bike in the back of the truck and I'll give you a ride.  I once commented to a colleague on how friendly everyone was there and he explained to me that they probably just thought I was cruising.  But I digress...)  Anyway, in this state park, often the middle-aged men who'd sit on their tailgates and drink cheap domestic beer would play guitars.  Perhaps, as I thought later, as a way to attract potential suitors, the way birds build fancy nests to show their worthiness.  Then again I'm not a biologist so I didn't dwell on this aspect very much.  

Where I lived was about eight blocks from the birthplace of another famous Mississippi native, Tennessee Williams.  In those parts, Williams-mania trumped Elvis-mania, and there was an annual Tennessee Williams fest--I saw several decent productions of his plays there.  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Summer and Smoke, Streetcar, etc.--and the ubiquity of it all probably crowded out some of the Elvis worship, so we didn't really get the full brunt of that aspect, but I did make the one-hour drive north to visit Tupelo several times.  In fact, when folks visited us, our go-to tourist adventure was always Elvis' birthplace.  I collected quite a few Elvis books and Elvis memorabilia during that period.  I visited Graceland as well, and I have to say that the Tupelo experience is more soulful than Graceland.

There's even a Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in Clinton, MS.  Mississippi natives like BB King have been inducted.  I once ran into BB King at Guitar Center on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, back when I was in graduate school.  We chatted for a while, then I handed him the acoustic guitar I was fooling around with and he proceeded to play for me.  How easy he made it look.  

I think that for a land with only 3 million people and such a disproportionately small fraction of our nation's GDP, Mississippi should probably have a high musicality score, and has been tremendously influential on American music in general.  

6  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: US States Ranked By Musical Importance on: April 17, 2014, 07:10:18 pm
how are country and gospel from Massachusetts?

The same way Blue Laws are, I suppose.  Of course, gospel music's inception is usually accredited to a native Pennsylvanian, Philip Bliss, but his father, who also loved music and Methodism, was from Springfield, Massachusetts.  And folks have been hootin' and hollerin' about separatism from The Church of England since before even Jamestowne, Virginia was established, but they first showed up in the Americas in Plymouth in 1620.  Drinking homemade beer, eating red corn, and squatting on Squato's land, they sang their praises to the Good Lord Jesus early on.  Colonial music historian David Hildebrand writes quite a bit about this, but for a more contemporary account look up the history of the church hymns of Massachusetts native Dwight Moody.

Country is more obviously from Massachusetts.  Its origin is usually accredited to the Scot-Irish population of the Appalachians, from PA through WV, VA, and TN, and many folks claim Briston, VA as its "birthplace" but they don't look far enough back.  Old time music goes back to the rural areas of New England beginning in the 17th century.  

Of course, those two styles, Gospel and Country, may have originated in New England, but most of the other original American forms started in the Deep South.  Rock'n'Roll, Jazz, and Blues all were born in the lower Mississippi River Valley, with a blending of early 20th-century negro styles and the gospel and country of southerners, so I'd have to agree on some level with Harry.  The Hospitality State deserves a higher ranking than 16.  I'm not sure I'd go with #1, since Louisiana spawned Jazz, and Elvis, though born in Mississippi, really got his big break in Memphis, Tennessee, but Mississippi should certainly be in the top ten, in my humble opinion.

7  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How do you mow your lawn ? on: April 17, 2014, 05:17:52 pm




That is exactly the model we had for the four years we lived in CF.  Had a big garage sale when we moved and I sold it to a hard-bargaining Mexican woman for twenty-five dollars. 

How was the reel mower?  I've looked into those but never bought one.  I'd have considered buying one when we moved here if the guy across the street hadn't given me the Toro two-stroke that I have now.  My main concerns with the reel mower were that I'd have to mow more often as it might not handle the tall (wet) grass and that I'd have to sharpen the blade from time to time.
8  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you like eating mushrooms? on: April 17, 2014, 02:34:48 pm
I reckon I do.



I'm a major fungivore, and rarely a day goes by without my eating a mushroom.  I think we have three kinds of mushrooms in the refridgerator right now.  

She has four, count 'em, four kinds of mushrooms out on the counter right now.  and a bunch of other stuff too.  my job's to make the crust for the quiche and mix and bake the raisin & coconut macaroons, then get the hell out of the kitchen and out of the way.  I'd better get crackin'

bon apetit, y'all  Smiley

I like bracket fungi as well.  Had some last night, but I didn't feel the need to make a post about it.

9  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Your hair dresser on: April 17, 2014, 02:18:22 pm
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/close-shave-authorities-barber-cut-kim-jong-un-ad-article-1.1757069

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/haircut-03262014163017.html

10  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How do you mow your lawn ? on: April 17, 2014, 01:51:40 pm
We have a John Deere "riding lawnmower" as we call them.

Also... no bag for the clippings.  That's free fertilizer!

It's Lon More 'round here I think, like a guys name.  Sort of like "Bob Wire."

My Exhibit C came with a bag attachment as well.  What a hassle.  I used it a few times but it has to be frequently emptied, so now I just skip it.  I do find it useful in the fall as it saves me from having to rake leaves from the lawn. 
11  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: lunch(eon) on: April 17, 2014, 01:47:50 pm
you betcha!
12  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Finally, an interesting and useful quiz! on: April 17, 2014, 01:46:37 pm
Pirate's Booty is actually really delicious. More expensive than Cheetos, but you pay for quality.

Yeah, that's more like the Benito Mussolini of cheese puffs.  When you see the answer you're like, D'oh!  How could I forget that one?  Expensive, delicious, well-packaged, but there's a bad tummy ache afterward. 

13  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Finally, an interesting and useful quiz! on: April 17, 2014, 11:59:25 am
Cheetos and Cheese Doodles were the only ones I knew. Too bad I've never had "Pirate's Booty".

I'd never actually heard of them till my son started complaining of a severe stomach ache last week.  After some inquiry, I learned that he had eaten Pirate's Booty in school for a snack.  We have advised him to avoid them, despite the delightful and inviting name on the package.

14  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Finally, an interesting and useful quiz! on: April 17, 2014, 11:55:01 am
Ah, yes, that's the Silvio Berlusconi of Cheese Puffs.  I expected Cheetos to do well.
15  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: lunch(eon) on: April 17, 2014, 11:52:37 am
Like angus, I'm a brownbagger more often than not, though I'm not as careful and artistic at making my sandwich as angus has described to us in the past. 

Today's sandwich featured several thin slices of roast beef, Jarlsberg cheese, tomato, lettuce, and a fresh, thinly-sliced serrano pepper on ciabatta loaf, mayo on the side with tomato, brown mustard on the side with the cheese, of course.  I toasted it lightly before eating it. 

The main course was followed by a banana and a handful of Pirates Booty snacks (which also inspired me to learn how to make Sporcle polls.)
16  Forum Community / Forum Community / Finally, an interesting and useful quiz! on: April 17, 2014, 11:30:52 am
http://www.sporcle.com/games/haywood/puffed-cheese-snacks
17  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: why do americans (wrongly) consider statistics a field of mathematics? on: April 17, 2014, 10:54:56 am
You are certainly free to use your funds to endow the creation of a university in which statistics will be a stand-alone department with its own faculty and its own pedagogy.  Accrediting agencies can be somewhat conservative, though. 



http://www.stat.ncsu.edu/

Yes, walter, as I indicated I am aware that some have separated.  I am also aware of Departments of Biochemistry (which broke away from chemistry) and Departments of Genetics (which broke away from biology, which is particularly ironic since Biology and Genetics were considered different branches of science about a hundred years ago anyway.) 

The fact that North Carolina board of regents allowed this does not, however, mean that they "wrongly" consider statistics not a field of mathematics.  Such schisms happen from time to time in universities, and they are complex, and usually have political underpinnings, and sometimes personal ones.

18  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: why do americans (wrongly) consider statistics a field of mathematics? on: April 17, 2014, 10:37:21 am
It isn't "wrong."  The world isn't so black and white, Walter.  Just as biochemistry, physical chemistry, and nanotechnology are degree options within undergraduate chemistry departments, statistics and actuarial sciences are degree options within undergraduate mathematics departments.  This is not always the case, of course.  Several schools such as Villanova and Swarthmore actually have a "Department of Mathematics and Statistics" (possibly in an effort to squelch a fissure.)  In other fields this has become common as well.  There are departments of biochemistry and departments of physical chemistry, and when I have spoken to department chairs about this they usually claim that renaming departments "Chemistry and Biochemistry" and the like relieves some pressure.

If you think it's wrong, then you should look at the much larger picture and conclude that it's all wrong.  The main reason to separate the disciplines the way we do is due to history and tradition.  For example, when national labs take out ads for combustion researchers, they often announce that they're looking for a PhD in physical chemistry or chemical physics.  They don't really care which, so long as the candidate is an expert in the specific field of interest.  I also remember in graduate school two italians students who had undergraduate degrees in physics, and who were certain that what they were studying would be in the department of physics in Italian universities.  On the other hand, I was always comfortable characterizing thermodynamics, kinetics, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics as chemistry courses, or as part of the general chemistry curriculum.  At conferences in my field, I am equally comfortable talking shop with physical chemists and physical chemists. 
 
There are probably many different ways to organize academic disciplines.  Putting statistics experts in mathematics departments isn't the worst organizational scheme I can think of.  Statistics and combinatorics overlap well with discrete mathematics and even graph theory.  In the United States, statistics is generally approached from a standpoint of probability theory.  At least the undergraduate statistics course I took was taught like that.  There may be other ways of approaching the problem of housing statistics.  You are certainly free to use your funds to endow the creation of a university in which statistics will be a stand-alone department with its own faculty and its own pedagogy.  Accrediting agencies can be somewhat conservative, though.  Okay, I'm being a bit snarky, but the larger idea that we might occasionally re-think curriculum isn't always a bad one, especially if the goal is to prepare students for economic opportunities.

19  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Do women have lower incomes (on average) because of discrimination? on: April 17, 2014, 10:09:08 am
No. It's not an idiomatic expression. It's a gross logical mistake. One that should be systematically pointed out and result in the public shaming of the person who used it.

I think you're right that it is a mistake.  What one means to say is "I couldn't care less."  

I don't think you're right that it is worth arguing about.

Fashions come and go,and it is apparently fashionable to say "I could care less" right now when you mean that you don't care very much.  It's like saying "tons" of stuff, even stuff that isn't measured by weight or mass.   Paper?  Oh, we have tons of paper.  That would be okay (even if you only have a few pounds, because it's simply an exaggeration.)  Sympathy?  Oh, I have tons of sympathy.  That really isn't well formed, because sympathy isn't measured in units of weight.  Nevertheless, it was very, very fashionable in the 90s for people to say that they had "tons" of everything.  Fortunately, it went out of fashion at some point.  An even more annoying 90s fashion was to put the adverb "not" after verbs, rather than immediately before the verb it modifies.  "I'll go with you.  Not!"  "I'd like to see her again.  Not!"  The nerdy one on Friends started it, I think, and it caught on.  That annoying turn of lexicon also went out of fashion a few years ago, thankfully.  I suspect that folks saying that they have the capacity to "care less" when they really mean that they don't have the capacity to "care less" will also go away all by itself so there's no reason to go Don Quixote every time you hear it.

Choose your battles wisely, grasshopper.

20  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Lawn poll on: April 17, 2014, 08:39:43 am
Despite the inch of snow on Monday, the lawn is greening up fast.

The grass is really dark green and looking good.

Amazingly quick does it happen.  Ours is very dark green as well, and probably at least 12 cm long in places, although I haven't measured it.  I won't cut it before Sunday, as it is our custom to color eggs, then hide them on the lawn.  First I hide them and my wife and son try to find them all.  Then my son hides them and my wife and I try to find them all (he puts them in some rather bizarre places!), then she hides them.  The long grass facilitates concealment, but sometime over the next week or so it will need cutting.
21  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: lunch(eon) on: April 17, 2014, 06:58:22 am
The best part about law school is that every day at lunch, from 12 to 1, there are at least 1 or 2 (sometimes up to 5 or 6!) free lunch events, where one of the clubs, organizations, or career services folks brings in a speaker or two.

I remember having lots of free meal opportunities in grad school as well.  Maybe not quite as many as you have, but typically ten or so over the course of a semester.  Students were expected to lunch with seminar speakers, candidate grad students, candidates for faculty positions, and the like.  They were always called lunch, often involved free beer, and were quite popular with the grad students.  They generally featured hearty sandwiches with meat, burgers, Indian food, or sometimes chinese food (tea instead of beer on those occasions, of course.)  Some were catered, and some involved taking a billing voucher to a local pub. 

I believe that those were genuine lunches, and not luncheons.  At least the food was good, the company was good, and I always felt free to belch and fart.

I don't get those any more.  Here, it's always alcohol-free and we're expected not to fart too loudly.  We do get a "president's supper" twice a year, which features excellent catered food and all the red wine and white wine you can drink.  My wife always comes with me so she can drive us home.
22  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: How do you mow your lawn ? on: April 17, 2014, 06:49:38 am
For many years, Exhibit D did the trick (and that would have been my answer when you made this poll), but we sold that in a garage sale when we moved Back East.  When I moved here, the guy across the street, a physician with very little free time but lots of money, had just bought himself a new fancy Exhibit B, so he gave us his Exhibit C for free.  That's what we use now.  Over the course of a season, it goes through about two gallons of fuel.  I fill the little tank after about every third use, so it's not so bad.

I voted for C.
23  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Lawn poll on: April 16, 2014, 08:33:59 pm
It seems like only yesterday that we were shoveling snow.  Suddenly, the grass is green and tall. 

Usually my grass is the longest on the block.  I get around to mowing it when it really needs it, and it's starting to really need it.  Most of my neighbors were out with their penis-extension riding mowers last weekend making me look bad.  I guess I'll break down and do it sometime in the next week or so.  Fortunately I have only a standard 0.25-acre suburban lawn to manicure.

How about you?
24  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: lunch(eon) on: April 16, 2014, 08:03:02 pm
various organizations

Interesting choice of words.  Organization.  Yes, I think that may be the key.

Lunch, whether the object or the subject, finds its way into short, uncomplicated sentences.  Luncheon is the subject (or object) of longer, better organized sentences.  Folks often suggest "let's do lunch!" but no one ever suggests "let's do luncheon."  If they want you to "do luncheon" they choose a different verb, rather than the all-purpose "do" verb.  They say things like, "A luncheon will be served after the seminar..." or something like that.

Also, when I think of lunch, I think of situations in which I am allowed to belch or fart with impunity, whereas when I think of luncheon, I think of situations in which I am expected to contain my natural bodily gases.

I think I'm leaning toward lunch, if only for the opportunity to break wind should the urge arise.
25  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / lunch(eon) on: April 16, 2014, 07:55:26 pm
I've noticed that I often get invited to Luncheon.  "A luncheon will follow, please try to attend" or "Please indicate your plans to attend luncheon by responding to..."  

Usually, I have lunch, and usually it consists of a sandwich in my office, alone, or noodles at home with only my family, but a luncheon consists of slightly fancier sandwiches or soup, and always in the company of familiar, non-familial persons.  

Lunch can also consist of burgers and beer.  Luncheon almost never features beer, although it may, from time to time, feature an entrée vaguely resembling a burger.

Which do you prefer, lunch or luncheon?
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