This week’s What If?, Soda Planet, is about the total volume of soft drink that has been produced in all of human history. The first footnote discusses the regional variation in what people call soft drinks, and links to The Pop vs. Soda Page, which has a very nice map of what people call soft drinks in different parts of the country. I’ve heard many times in my life that there are three options common in the United States:
Supposedly, “coke” is predominant in the south. As in, generically referring to any soft drink as “coke”. Like, “What are you drinking?” “A coke” “What kind?” “Mountain Dew”.
I don’t believe that anyone actually does this!
I have lived my whole life in the south, where this is supposedly common, and I’ve never heard anyone do that. I’ve had people claim that they do it, but they don’t really do it. The closest I can think of is when you tell a waitress “I’ll have a Coke” and she says “We have Pepsi, is that okay?”. But that is completely different.
I think what people really mean is that they say the name of the drink, and don’t have a generic term for it. Personally, I grew up not saying soda or pop; I would use “soft drink” as the generic term, or say the name of the drink otherwise. But I would never refer to something other than Coca-Cola as “coke”, and I don’t really believe that anyone else does either.
For anyone interested, here is a Fall 2013 network TV schedule.
Credit goes to TVGuide.com, since I basically just merged this table with this calendar.
Emma started kindergarten this year—I can’t believe my little girl is growing up so fast! I was told I should write down some of the more memorable things that happened on her first few days of school so I don’t forget them when she is older. Our county does a staggered start for kindergarteners, which means the first week of school, your child only goes to school for one day. On that day, the teacher does an initial assessment to see how prepared your child is for kindergarten. We’ll get to how Emma did later on, I’m going to go through the first day as it happened.
Emma’s First Day
As a family, we took Emma to school. First thing, they had a check-in table set up outside for the little ones to sign-in their parent visitors and have their picture taken with the principal. We then waited for the bell to ring. We walked with Emma to her classroom. She had no problem leaving us behind. She hugged me and Kip goodbye, and then Grayson announced he didn’t want Emma to go to school, that he would miss her. Emma proceeded to hug him and tell him she would be home that afternoon. I managed to not cry and we left. That afternoon when we went to pick Emma up, we had our first experience with the carpool at her school. When we finally got to our station for pick-up, Emma wasn’t there. They promised they hadn’t lost her and had us pull forward while they went and found her. I watched my review mirror waiting to see her coming. What I saw was Emma in her emergency change of clothes. Each child is required to bring an emergency set of clothes so that, in the event of an accident, they have clean clothes to put on. Well, Kip and I were thinking all manor of ideas as to why Emma was already in her emergency clothes. She informed us that it was because she tried to help a classmate open their pineapple at snack time and spilled it. We asked her some of the things that happened that day. Her teacher asked her to count and when she got to 101 the teacher asked her to stop. I was very proud of her!! She was also able to follow a list of instructions: catch the ball, put it on the table, and pat her tummy.
Her First Full Week
I continued to walk her to class for the first few days to make sure she knew how to find her classroom. On the second day, I noticed her holding two fingers up on one hand that she kept tapping on her leg. I asked her what she was doing. Emma’s answer was that she was counting to make sure she remembered which one was her classroom, the second classroom on the left. She did a good job of remembering which one was her class, and by Thursday, I was letting her off in the carpool drop-off, and she was going in all by herself!!
I still haven’t received a carpool tag yet, but the lady who runs the carpool now knows my car and me. She mouths Emma to me everyday when I go to pick her up, and Emma is waiting when I get to her pick-up spot.
I have just uploaded a bunch of photos in three albums: Emma’s Fifth Birthday Parties, Disney World (which actually has two sub albums), and Oak Island. Most of you will have already seen these on Facebook, but now they are here as well for those of you who just do Twitter or RSS. Emma’s birthday was over three months ago, so you can see just how much I have neglected this website.
I thought I would comment on a few of the photos here.
I think I tried taking something like thirty pictures of the fireworks at Disney World. Maybe a half-dozen of them turned out (there are four posted in the album). Mostly this is due to the fact that I was doing the long exposure (0.5 s) free-hand, and also experimenting with camera settings as I did so. The photo above is probably my favorite, even though it is blurred a little. You can see how the rocket spiraled up before exploding.
This is another long-exposure photo—a whole second. This is probably the best free-hand long exposure I’ve ever managed. Waterfalls just look really cool this way. This is from a display at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Just below the photo is a thick glass window so that you can see all the fish inside the pond. You can see part of the glass in the lower-right corner of the photo.
Here I was playing around with taking photos with the setting sun in the background. (See also this photo.) I started taking all my photos in raw mode last year, and this is one of those cases where it makes a huge difference. I suppose if I put the camera in fully manual mode and played around with the settings enough I could have gotten a picture like this in JPG mode. But by shooting in raw mode I had enough information to adjust the brightness on my PC without it looking too grainy, and without it turning into a white sky with a black silhouette. I’m still primarily using Picasa to process the raw-mode photos. I’ve been thinking about trying Adobe Lightroom for a while, since it seems like a more professional version of Picasa with the power of Photoshop. But for now Picasa is doing well enough for my purposes.
This one was actually taken with my phone, not my DSLR. The sun was slightly behind clouds, which helped the photo turn out well. This photo was in a part of Southport that has several restaurants. The streets were flooded, but it had not rained recently. We asked someone about it, and they said it usually happens during high tide during full moons. (Oceanographers call this a spring tide.) I asked what they do when a hurricane is coming, and they basically said they pack everything up and get to higher ground. But they have planned for it—the restaurant we were eating at (Provision Company) has a trailer that actually stores all the food (and maybe the cooking equipment?). And I noticed a shop we went to had rubbermaid tubs beneath all the shelves; I’m sure they could very quickly empty everything into the tubs and throw them in a truck, if they needed to. I guess you have to make plans like that when you put your business right on the waterfront.
I have always played video games with y-axis inverted. I thought that this made logical sense because you think of if it as if your thumb is on the back of the player’s head. Pulling back makes them look up, pushing forward makes them look down. But after a while I realized this explanation doesn’t really hold water, because I still push left to look left, and right to look right. Which is to say, I don’t also invert the x-axis. So it wasn’t really that there was any logical reason for it. My brain just got wired that way playing early flight sims. When Nintendo first started making 3D games that weren’t flight sims (Mario 64, Ocarina of Time) they used an inverted y-axis as well. With no option to change it. So I guess that’s just how I learned it.
But most new games these days default to up being up. And I was curious if I would be able to re-wire my brain. I first decided I would do this in Bioshock Infinite. This was a terrible decision. After about fifteen minutes of looking at my feet and getting frustrated while people murdered me, I decided to re-invert that axis. But after I finished Bioshock, I started Skyrim and decided to leave the controls the default way there. This was a much better choice because you’re mostly just looking around. When you’re in combat, there isn’t too much of a vertical component to the aiming. (Well, except the dragons.) About five or six hours into the game I realized that I was mostly adapted to up-is-up thinking. Except when I was close to dead and trying to evade an enemy. That seems to trigger reflexes that bypass parts of the brain in order to increase reaction time, and that part of my brain still thought up was down. But after another five or six hours that had basically gone away too. Now I’m somewhere around thirty-five hours and it doesn’t feel weird at all.
In the past I have made an introspective blog post on or around the seventeenth of November; I have decided this year should be no different. I wasn’t going to post anything, but then I found something like an outtake from last year’s post that just needed a little polish. This is a reflection inspired by the song In This Diary, by The Ataris. Here is the chorus:
Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up
These are the best days of our lives
The only thing that matters is just following your heart
And eventually you’ll finally get it right
Don’t get me wrong—I think this is a great song, and it’s actually the seed to my favorite Pandora station. It is clearly supposed to resonate with young people, and inspire them to carpe the crap out of that diem. But I have always had a problem with the lyrics: even when I first heard the song at twenty-one, I thought, “This can’t be right. I can’t possibly already have the best days of my life behind me.” As of this morning I am thirty-one years old, which I think qualifies as being grown up. And I can say with confidence that being grown up is definitely more fun than growing up, and the growing up years were not the best days of my life. I’m pretty happy with where things are now, and you couldn’t pay me enough money to go back.
And if you’re a teenager and you think that these awful years are somehow the best days of your life: just wait. “It gets better” is not just for the gays.
I have once again made a compact Fall 2012 TV Premiere Schedule (PDF), if anyone would like it. New shows are in bold. This only covers the five main networks. The only things I took out this year were: 7:00-8:00 hour on Sunday, CW and NBC on Sunday, and all networks on Saturday. These times were all sports or local, with the exception of 48 Hours Mystery. If that’s your jam, look it up from one of the links below.
Most of the credit goes to TVGuide.com. I just took this table, added in the premiere dates from this calendar, and spent half an hour formatting it in Excel so that it would look nice on my iPad. It should also look alright if you print it. Here it is in Excel format, if you’d rather have it that way.
Just like in 2008 and 2010, I have taken the Olympics TV schedule and put it into a very compact format that is useful for deciding what to tell your DVR to record. I took the data from this page (because the official NBC site is so poorly designed that it is essentially unusable) and formatted it differently.
2012 London Olympics TV Schedule
Abridged 2012 London Olympics TV Schedule (No boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, soccer, or re-airings. This got it down to two pages.)
All times are for Eastern time zone. Times are in military format (24-hour) because I like it better, and because it fits better. All times are subject to change based on the weather or the whim of the Olympic organizers or NBC execs.
A little over a year ago I wrote an article on how to come up with a secure, easy-to-remember password for every site you visit, even if you aren’t a geek. I would recommend you go read that now if you didn’t the first time around.
This is a follow-up post about something very simple that you can do to make your identity much more secure. But this advice is only for GMail users. If you don’t use GMail, you can stop now. Still with me? Okay. As a GMail user, you can enable two-step verification. This means that whenever you sign in to GMail from a new computer, Google will text you a six-digit verification code which you must also enter. This way, even if someone got your email password, they cannot log in to your email without also having your phone. It sounds like it would be a huge pain, but you really only have to go through two-step authentication once a month, which I have found to be not a big deal at all.
I used to think that this was only for really paranoid people, not for me. I don’t have anything all that confidential in my email. I daresay that if the contents of my GMail were posted to Wikileaks tomorrow, I would only be a little embarrassed by what people could read. But then it was explained to me like this:
Your email is the master key to your online identity, everywhere.
Think about it this way: If someone gets access to your email, they have access to everything. For example, say they go to your bank’s website and click the “forgot password” link. Your bank will ask for your email address, then dutifully create a new password for the account associated with that address, then send the new password to that address. Voila- now they can access your bank account!
When American white people sit around making conversation, something that comes up from time to time is ethnicity. We will each take turns saying what we think is in our blood. For the most part, this is English, Irish, Scottish, or German. From what I’ve seen, you win this game if you’re a little bit Native American. (Maybe you can feel like there’s no blood on your hands if there’s some in your veins?) You also gets points for Jewish ancestry.
I long ago came to the conclusion that I don’t care for this game. Most people are making up their answers anyway, or at least guessing. My response is simply that I’m American. People seem to think that is a bad answer, but how deep do your roots have to go before that becomes your ethnicity? I couldn’t name an ancestor who got off a boat. I’m pretty sure all branches go back a minimum of five generations. One branch for sure goes back well into the early nineteenth century. (I’ve seen the genealogy my great grandfather compiled.)
Even if I had a grandfather from, let’s say, Denmark, how Danish would that even make me? And what if that Danish grandfather had a grandparent that moved to Denmark from Italy? Wouldn’t he be Italian, as much as I am Danish? So then wouldn’t I really be Italian? Surely you see where this is going. There has to be a line somewhere; where I draw it makes me one hundred percent American. Why would anyone want to be anything else?