Holy cow, I wrote a book!
CBC Radio's Tom Allen
investigates the origin of the opening four
notes of the classic Star Trek theme.
He traces it to the opening of Mahler's First Symphony,
then further back to Brahms's Second Symphony
and Beethoven's Fourth Symphony.
In college, one of my classmates
now the conductor of an orchestra)
identified the source of
the trumpet fanfare in the Star Trek theme,
also known as
notes five through seven:
Mahler's Seventh Symphony.
Skip to timecode 11:05.
Eventually, we may find out where notes eight through twelve came from.
If the trend keeps up,
we may discover that it came from yet another Mahler symphony.
Last year, in honor of Mother's Day (the United States version),
the John F. Kennedy Library
shared a letter sent by President Kennedy to his mother.
Mrs. Kennedy had contacted Premier Khrushchev asking for an autographed
copies of which were subsequently forwarded to the White House so that
the President could sign them as well.
President Kennedy tries to express in the politest language he can muster
that the mother of a sitting president
directly contacting a foreign dignitary
is "subject to interpretations",
and that in the future, it would be greatly appreciated if she would
let the White House clear any future such contacts.
It so happened that this particular letter-writing incident
occurred very close to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I can imagine President Kennedy burying his hand in his face
upon realizing that his mother may have inadvertently exacerbated
a major international crisis,
just by doing what moms do.
One of my colleagues frustrates his family by hiding the eggs
for the annual Egg Hunt way too well.
"Apparently, drawers and freezers are out of bounds in the
traditional egg hunt."
Here are my house rules for Easter Egg Hunts:
Personally, I like to hide eggs in plain sight.
It's surprising how long it can take somebody to find a yellow
egg resting brazenly on the lap of a yellow teddy bear.
When I learned that my nieces were heading out on a road trip,
"Are you going to sing songs?"
My eldest niece looked at me as if I were from Mars,
we bring electronics."
A friend of mine had a business meeting near London,
and he decided to extend it to a tour of Scotland and England
once the meetings were over.
(This is the same friend who took me
on the emergency vacation many years ago.)
His plan was to rent a car early one morning
and drive from the meeting location all the way
up to Aberdeen at one go, then slowly work his way back south,
enjoying the sights along the way.
He sanity-checked his plan against his colleagues from
"I looked it up on multiple online mapping sites,
and they all say that the trip from London to Aberdeen is
doable in a day.
I take motorway X, then Y, then Z.
Does this make sense to you?"
Every single one of his colleagues said,
You can't do it in a day.
You should budget two days travel time."
My colleague was curious.
Is the motorway really congested?
Is the road unusually difficult to navigate,
or is the road in poor condition?
Something that would prevent me from traveling at the posted
"No, the roads are just fine, and driving is straightforward."
He asked several other questions trying to find out
what it was about the trip that required it to take two days.
Is there something funny at the England/Scotland border that takes a
Do I have to cross a mountain or something?
"It just can't be done in one day."
My colleague concluded that it was simply in the mindset
of the locals that driving that far
in one day is Just Not Done.
There is nothing physically preventing it,
but it is considered to be highly unusual.
As I recall, he ultimately executed his plan without incident.
I wonder if the other drivers on the road looked at him funny.
Another friend of mine was staying in Reading,
and he decided to take a weekend excursion to Wales.
He pulled out the map, calculated how long it would take him,
and noted that the map indicated that there were mountains that
he needed to cross to reach his destination.
He set out with what he thought was plenty of time to spare,
but it started getting late, and he still needed to cross
and he was concerned that
the people in Wales would start worrying when
he didn't show up.
And then he reached his destination.
He drove over the mountains without even realizing it.
A friend of mine who is from Lebanon (but now lives in Seattle)
invited his grandmother to come visit for the summer.
When she arrived, he asked her,
"Grandma, is there anywhere in particular you would like to visit?"
His grandmother replied,
"I'd like go to to Washington, DC."
"Okay, Grandma. Let me buy some plane tickets."
"No, let's drive."
"You want to drive all the way to Washington, DC?
Here, let me show you on a map how far away it is."
Grandma replied, "Let's do it."
My friend said,
"Okay, Grandma, we're going on a road trip!"
He got the rest of the family on board with the plan,
packed up the car,
and set out early one morning for their cross-country trip.
By the end of the day, they had made it as far as
Idaho, where they stopped for the night.
I assume that they made plenty of stops along the way
because (1) part of the point
of a road trip is to enjoy the things along the way,
"Is this Washington, DC?"
Washington, DC is still very far away.
Here, let me show you on the map where we are."
Grandma was unconvinced.
"If you'd only stop and ask for directions,
we would have been there by now."
Grandma was certain that the only reason they
were driving all day was that her grandson was
lost and stupidly driving in circles,
and if he only had driven in the right direction,
they'd be there by now.
Grandma's reference for distance was Lebanon,
which is a relatively small country.
You can drive from the northern tip of the country
to the southern tip in a day.
The United States is a bit bigger than that.
A related story
was when my parents in New Jersey
hosted some friends from Japan.
The first excursion they took was to New York City,
a convenient train ride away.
For their second trip, they said,
"How about today we drive to Chicago?"
Please share any funny stories about geographic blindness
in your home country.
(This was supposed to be posted on
Geography Awareness Week
I messed up.)
it's time for Raymond to come up with an
filling out his NCAA bracket.
I look at the number of followers of of the basketball team's
official Twitter account, or
one tenth of the number of followers of the
school's athletic department if the school's basketball team
does not have its own dedicated Twitter account.
The fraction 1/10 is completely arbitrary,
but that's what makes this algorithm
And yes, counting fans also includes people who
hatewatch the team.
I accept this,
because if a lot of people hate a team,
it's probably because they're "too good."
This works similarly to last year's algorithm based on
but now I'm using Twitter
Facebook is for old people.
That may be why last year's predictions were so awful.
Once the field has been narrowed to four teams, the results
by a coin flip.
(I should be doing this when the field reduced to eight teams
rather than four, but I've been doing it wrong for so long,
it's now a tradition.
Oh, and if you need some advice on how to fill out your bracket,
you can watch
Slate's Mike Pesca fill out his.
Okay, maybe he's not giving advice,
so the whole if/then thing was a bit of a lie.
Chris Wilson has actual advice.
Spock's Brain is generally considered to be the
worst episode of Star Trek.
That may be why in 2009 Mike Carano decided to perform
as a theatrical production.
Here is the opening scene,
talking about the show's genesis.
In the second video,
skip ahead to 2:40 to see more clips from the show,
go to 4:35 for the fight scene.
Carano played the show for laughs,
the folks at
played it straight for their Trek in the Park series,
but they still get laughs because Star Trek.
And yes, when the Enterprise is hit,
everybody jerks to the left or right,
even the unconscious bodies in sickbay.
Their five-year mission complete,
the Atomic Arts folks are unloading their larger
so if you always wanted a pair of sickbay beds
that can pump Vulcan blood,
well now you know where to go.
But just because Trek in the Park is over
doesn't mean you should give up on Star Trek live in the park yet.
Seattle arts group
Hello Earth Productions
continues to stage Star Trek episodes
in public parks under the name Outdoor Trek.
aims for a more creative interpretation
rather than trying to do a perfect impersonation of
for Mirror, Mirror.
In the book
He Bear, She Bear,
the musical instrument identified as a tuba
is clearly a sousaphone.
(For those who are wondering what the title has to do with the
topic of musical instrument identification:
It's a reference to the classic book
Why Johnny Can't Read.)
My niece (two years old at the time) was put in the corner
as punishment for some sort of misdeed.
At the expiration of her punishment,
her grandfather returned and asked her,
"你乖唔乖?" (Are you going to be nice?)
She cheerfully replied,
"仲未乖!" (Still naughty!)
In an unrelated incident,
one of my
honorary nieces was being similarly punished.
She told her aunt who was passing nearby,
"In a little while, my daddy is going to ask me if I'm sorry.
I'm not really sorry, but I'm going to say that I am."