Monday, June 23, 2008


It seems funny to live in a vacation area but, when the time comes for a vacation, to go somewhere else. It seems that a big part of a vacation is going somewhere you are not used to seeing. In our case, since we live near the ocean, we head to the mountains of New Hampshire. Our kids love Santa's Village in Jefferson New Hampshire so we usually go there once a year. It's relatively inexpensive and it's only a five-hour drive away.

You'd never know the park is so pleasant by looking at it from the highway. But once you enter, at least for us, it is like entering a magical, imaginary realm. You have to like Christmas music and Christmas themes but, if you do, there is a little bit of everything there. There is Santa, of course, and reindeer and elves and lots of friendly workers. There are amusement park rides that range from a small roller coaster and a log flume (picture here from the top of the drop) for older children and adults to toddler rides like cars that need to be steered but can't go too far. There is a wonderful scale train you can ride and "flying" sleighs to show you around the park. There are a lot of shops and food stalls that are reasonably priced, too. And, if you like live music, singing and dancing, they have professionally produced Christmas-themed shows.

For us, it is a relaxing time in a comfortable surrounding that we only see a limited number of times. If you go at the right time, like we did the week before summer officially starts, there are almost no lines and it seems like the park was opened just for us. The weather is usually cool and dry even into later June. We talk every year about trying other places for vacation but every year we return to Santa's Village. At least for the last seven or eight years. Here's one more picture from the top of the Ferris Wheel. You can see the White Mountains in the background and a few of the buildings in the Village through the trees below.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cicadas and baseball

Our area is in the midst of the emergence of a huge swarm of 17-Year Cicadas. It's amazing how many of them there are and how noisy they can be. Here's an interesting article [updated to a better article]. One of the folks at work was out for a walk and saw the one pictured here - just emerging from its exoskeleton (there's a picture of that below). Just after I took these pictures and sent them around, another friend from our office stopped off at my desk with a gift of the fourth edition of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia (his wife had received it as a free gift and he knew how much I like baseball). I saw that the records in the book went back before 1900 and one of the guys in my office suggested looking up "Moonlight" Graham who was mentioned in the movie Field of Dreams. Sure enough, there was a Moonlight Graham who got into one game in the major leagues but never got an at-bat (it's explained in the movie). Archibald Wright Graham was born in Fayetteville, NC on Nov 12, 1877 and died in Chisholm, MN on Aug 25, 1965. He played his one game for the New York Giants in 1905.

That started a discussion about how frustrating it would be to work so hard toward the goal of getting to be a major league ballplayer and coming that close only to just miss the dream. "Moonlight" Graham never played in the majors after that. I said it would sort of be like living in the dirt sucking plant sap for 17 years only to emerge and not be able to find a girlfriend. Then we decided that would make a great Country and Western song. The other options were to have the cicada die on the windshield of a car rushing to this area to see the cicadas emerge.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Promises and monkey wrenches

I've learned another lesson in life - Don't promise something in such a way that it keeps you from doing other things. In my last entry, I said I'd say more "in my next entry" about how to select a high definition TV with at least the height of your current standard monitor. After writing that, I moved to a new computer that didn't have the drawing program I used to make the illustrations I wanted to use. So, by promising what I did, it seemed wrong to write other entries before fulfilling my promise. So, while I figure out how to make the drawings I want to make, I'm held up on adding another entry.

Well, that's not completely true, is it? I'm writing this entry - but it's not much of an entry. We have the expression of "throwing a monkey wrench into the works". This means that you've put an obstacle in the way of completing something. The British say "throwing a spanner" with the same, or similar, meaning. I imagine it is similar to the scene in the movie Chicken Run when the two lead characters, Ginger and Rocky who are chickens, are trying to stop the pie machine, which takes chickens and vegetables in and turns out chicken pot pies. Rocky throws a wrench into the gears which brings the machine to a halt giving the chickens more time to figure out how they're going to escape from the chicken farm.

So, in one sense, my statement about what my next article would be about (high definition TVs) was a monkey wrench in the flow of my articles. But this article is also a monkey wrench in that it gives me a little more time to come up with that high definition TV article.