December 17, 2009

Big Ten Expansion?

I created a map and chart examining some of the potential additions to the Big 10 - you can read the post at Buckys 5th Quarter, the Badgers blog hosted on SBNation. Go check it out!

November 9, 2009

Poker, anyone?

This needs to be seen, plain and simple.

Oh dear.

November 5, 2009

Rule 8: Consumption of Eggnog

After hearing rumors of egg nog sightings at area grocery stores, I finally saw the blessed cartons of deliciousness firsthand last week. This got me thinking about seasonality of eggnog and the calendar of allowable eggnog drinking. After some (careful) thought, Mr. Marlow presents:

Rule 8: The Proper Consumption of Eggnog

Eggnog is described by Wikipedia as a "sweetened dairy-based beverage made with milk, cream, sugar, and beaten eggs... flavoured with ground cinnamon and nutmeg." Families will often have variants of this basic recipe, and the spice used to garnish a glass of egg nog will often range from cinnamon to nutmeg to allspice. John Legend, however, has a strong opinion on the correct spice to use.

As a lifelong drinker of eggnog with cinnamon, I have a bit of a soft spot for that combination. While there may not be a 100% correct recipe for this nectar, there are definite time periods where it should and should not be consumed.

Commercial non-alcoholic eggnog - Thanksgiving to March 1st
Commercial alcoholic eggnog - Thanksgiving to February 1st
Homemade non-alcoholic eggnog - year-round
Homemade alcoholic eggnog - November 1st to March 1st

Explanations (though not necessary) follow.
Homemade eggnog has a longer season because a: the effort that goes into making it should be rewarded and b: it's tough to find the stuff in stores all the time.
Non-alcoholic eggnog has a longer life because at some point, if you want a drink with alcohol in it, there are better options than eggnog. However, sometimes there is just an irresistible urge to have the coma-inducing elixir. I understand that.

It's happening to me right now.

November 4, 2009


I'm on the road for the job this week, but I don't think the per diem would cover a lunch of this magnitude.

Yeah, you read that right - 47 thousand dollars for 6 people. That is:

my rent for 2009 for one person's lunch.
well over my salary for 2009 for a table's lunch.
...over 3.5 times what Aaron Miles made per hit in 2009? Yuck.

h/t to Serious Eats, Cot's Contracts and The Hardball Times.

November 3, 2009

Rule 4: On Going Through Doors

Thomas B. Marlow returns with the latest installment of his Rules of Everyday Life -

Rule 4: On Going Through Doors

When presented with an entryway, there are several factors one must consider before proceeding through one door or another.

Number of doors:
1 - Go through this door. Wait for anybody coming through from the opposite direction, and hold it for anybody following you.
2 - Go through the door to the right.
3 - Go through the door to the right. The middle door should not be used except in the case of fire, or some other emergency that legitimately calls for mass movement. As you pass through the door, silently curse the architect for placing three doors in the passageway.
4 - Go through either of the two doors on the right, but preferably the one farthest to the right.
5 - Seriously? Either of the two doors on the right, again preferring the one farthest to the right. Curse the architect out loud.
6 - Go through any of the three doors on the right, with the outermost doors most preferable.
7 - Do not enter this building.
8 - Go through any of the four doors on the right. Pretend that these doors are numbered 1-4 with the number increasing as you move to the right. The best doors to use are (in order of best to worst) 4,2,3,1.
9+ - Do not enter this building.

General Guidelines -

1. Obviously, the door on the right of the structure are most preferable, but if a stranger is holding a door for you, go through that one. That's right, even if it is on the left. Sometimes, being polite is more important than strict adherence to the rules.* If a friend tries to hold a left door for you, look at them and say, "Hey! NO! We go through the correct door, crazy!"

2. Holding doors for people behind you is recommended. It is mandatory if you can tell the person behind you is pregnant or has an injury (I once saw a friend let a theatre door slam on a girl with a broken leg. She probably doesn't care for Thomas B. Marlow's rules at all.) In the case that there is an able-bodied person far enough behind you so that you'd have to wait a bit holding the door for them, and they don't make an effort to quicken their pace as to reach the door in a more timely fashion, let it go.

3. Do not hold revolving doors. Do not repeatedly go around in revolving doors. Act like you have been in a revolving door before.

*Not always. For example, regarding pie seasonality: adherence to the rules > politeness.

November 2, 2009

XKCD, getting delicious.


If you are a fan of :

Lord of the Rings
Star Wars
Jurassic Park
sweet graphics

You need to go look at this map of character interaction in movies. Brilliantly done, Munroe.

October 30, 2009

Friday's quick thoughts

Who doesn't want to read about typography? Oh...most of you? Oh. Go here anyway. It's McSweeney's. You'll feel cultured.

When the police officer was inspecting the apartment after the felonius punk stole our stuff (I have to admit, I like the moniker), he swabbed Greg's and my cheek to get a DNA sample. Then he took samples from palm prints on our sliding glass doors...this all happened at 4ish in the morning, of course. The lesson here? Now I'm on the books, and can't commit all of these crimes. Also I don't have a piano anymore.

Best time to be born? Well, without getting too specific, 5:30ish AM, late January in the mid 1980s. Wait, what? A bleaker life outlook? Oh man...

October 29, 2009

I'm...loving it?

I don't go to McDonald's often, if at all. Sometimes being on the road for the job reduces one's options so drastically that it is hard to avoid...but even if I don't particularly care for Big Macs (or Big Mac), I do enjoy this map of the nation's McDonald's franchises.

Just to be clear, my dislike/hatred of Mark McGwire stems almost entirely from his association with the St. Louis Cardinals. I do not care at all about any of his methods for enhancing his baseball production - everybody involved profited from the home run race...except Steve Trachsel. No, Mark McGwire is terrible purely because he 1. was a Cardinal. 2. is a ginger. and 3. obnoxiously threw his bat after all of his stupid homeruns.

October 28, 2009

To A Rich Benefactor

Returning from a Common Swift gig in Kenosha on the night of September 26th, I discovered my apartment had been entered and burgled. At first, I thought that Greg's dog Lucy had just gotten rambunctious and overturned the couch cushions, but it quickly became clear that she couldn't have done the same to my clothes dresser...and with her amusingly large paws, I can't imagine that she'd find a lot of value in taking two of Greg's laptops and my keyboard. That's right - for the first time since birth, there is no piano in my house.

(On a side note, my old roommate Mike Schroeder has described the burglar as "Felonious Punk" - I had asked who steals a piano. He is a sick man.)

It's become clear over the last month that I can't go too much longer without some form of piano - I've been on the road doing archaeology the last three weeks, which minimizes the loss somewhat, but more and more often I've been getting a quick urge to play something. It usually takes 2-3 seconds before I remember that all I have is a piano bench and a music stand.

If anybody found $30,000 on the sidewalk and wants to help me out, go read this article. Then give that money to a responsible charity or something.

But seriously - that piano sounds amazing. Dear Santa...

September 15, 2009

Links from the Week

With the release of his latest book, created a Dan Brown plot-generating tool... and it’s awesome. If you’re a fan of Dan Brown, Tom Hanks, or insanely bad mullets, visit here and play around with it!

Beyond the Boxscore, a terrific baseball blog, recently addressed efficiency in graphic design. Within that article, they used a map created by French cartographers depicting Napoleon's invasion of/retreat from Russia. It's brilliant and dense and beautiful.

Good is a treasure trove of really interesting graphic visualizations, and this week they linked to an amazing interactive tool showing the changing demographics of the American labor force since 1850.

September 11, 2009

Wisconsin English

I took a couple of linguistics classes during my college career, and learned a bunch of fairly dorky things. For example, Jeff spelled out in IPA looks awesome. While in the first class I went to a lecture on Wisconsin Englishes that, quite frankly, was more annoying than cool. If I remember correctly, it was filled with a bunch of old coots complaining about the way young kids talked. Whatever. The WI English Project is pretty neat (if you're as cool as I am) and the DARE website is also a great resource for finding out about regional differences in American English.

I don't know exactly how to make a rule for this, but rest assured that Thomas B. Marlow has opinions on the proper way to describe objects. Let's tackle two of Wisconsin's more prominent linguistic debates - bubbler v. drinking fountain v. water fountain and soda v. pop v. cola.

Bubbler/Drinking Fountain/Water Fountain

All right. Each of these words do have meaning - bubbler refers to a specific type of drinking fountain made by the Kohler Company. All bubblers are drinking fountains, but not all drinking fountains are bubblers. Follow? Good. Water fountains are like the one on library mall. Generally, I'd not drink out of one, but throw coins in it.

Okay, moving on to...


As you can see by this map, Wisconsin is at a crossroads of blue and green dots...which means that people are going to say pop and soda at fairly equal rates (okay, not really sure about the exact numbers/frequencies of the word choice, but it doesn't matter. You hear both around here.). The larger point here: if you're really a Wisconsite trying to decide whether to order a soda or a pop, the word you're really looking for is beer.

September 10, 2009

Cheese? or Font?

Do I really have a choice but to link this amazing game? Click here to feel worse about your knowledge of cheeses and fonts.

September 9, 2009

Closer to Home

Hope everybody's Labor Day Weekend was as enjoyable as mine - could the weather have been any nicer?

Last week saw me exploring a Wisconsin roadside in Clark/Jackson I'm back making maps in the basement. I got to see most of my coworkers on Tuesday morning though for a company photograph. Since I hadn't seen most of them for any length of time in months, it basically was a barrage of jokes...mostly at my expense. Whatever. It's nice to see you guys again.

Since I'm on a work theme, I thought I'd do a pro/con list of being in the field (although, as you will see eventually, it's just an excuse for a video at the end)


per diem!

pools/hot tubs

doing, you know, actual archaeology

finding artifacts (occasionally)

hearing Afternoon Delight rewritten about orthoquartzite

seeing the sun

the myriad interesting aspects of rural Wisconsin


living in a hotel

having to pack clothes, and then eventually unpack those clothes


not finding artifacts (often)

there is never a piano around

it's a lot harder to cook

how interesting is rural Wisconsin, really?

I'll keep it at 7 and 7 for now. There's both good and bad about being near and far from home...

September 3, 2009

Getting It Right

Lest it seem that Thomas B. Marlow only makes rules to call out rule-breakers, I thought I'd point out an example of someone really understanding how to do things.

Seen at a shop in Egg Harbor, WI:

I wish it wasn't necessary to ask people to keep the letters in order, but apparently only some of us automatically alphabetize.

September 2, 2009


There's currently a bit of drama chez Mapping the Delicious - some people don't believe that there's another human being out there who likes to call the game Paper Scissors Rock. Those same people have then accused me of voting twice, and have called me the "lamest person they know" or something of that sort.

If you voted for that option, please come forward and let me know who you are! I can't be the only person who thinks the game should be called that!

ps even if you hit that button by accident, let me know. I want to clear my name.

Rule 84

Presenting the latest installment in Thomas B. Marlow's series of Rules by Which to Arrange Your Life (we decided holidays are too narrow of a scope for a book deal),

Rule 84: The Proper Arrangement of Restaurant Cream Packets

Not too long ago, I was out to eat with my family. We were a reservation-less party of seven, which led to a Thanksgiving-esque separation of the adults and children. While my parents and grandparents enjoyed a grownup meal, my sister and her boyfriend were treated to the brilliance of Thomas B. Marlow - in this case dealing with cream packets.

The guidelines for cream packet arrangement are quite simple, really. Usually they will be placed in a circular dish, like so:

This is terrible. The haphazard placement is an affront to the proper order of the world. Correctly ordered, a dish should look like this:

Obviously, as you continue to drink coffee your arrangement will have to change - keep it geometric!

  1. The solitary cream packet
  2. Side-by-side
  3. Triangle
  4. Square
  5. Pentagon
  6. Hexagon, center open
  7. Hexagon, center filled
  8. Start stacking a second level or drink some coffee
Edit: It has been pointed out to me that in addition to arranging the packets themselves, I should have also faced them in such a manner so that all the labeling faces the same way. That is correct. I have been out-Thomas Marlowed.

As happens throughout history, genius is not appreciated:

September 1, 2009

Tuesday Notes from the Road

What? The road?

Yeah, I'm out of Madison for the week. It's a little strange traveling again, and I have a hunch that it's not going to last for very long. For this week, anyway, I'm up in Black River Falls doing some archaeology with Norm, Susan, Rodney and Kevin. Here are some things we found/saw/learned today:

1. Surprising nobody, I got sunburned.
1a. Despite my best efforts, glove tans are probably not going to ever get cool.
2. A bunch of taconite pellets in a fill off the side of the road.
3. More evidence against my skill as a word creator - after seeing a jeep/truck mutt thing at the diner during lunch, my suggestions of either 'treep' or 'juck' were...not received well.
4. The Holiday Inn Express in Black River Falls has 17 steps, which is bad, and eight (8!) pillows in my room. That's good.
5. The Orange Moose Bar and Grill has a piano! I never find pianos on the road - it would be fun to go over there and play some night. Unfortunately, I tried it briefly and...nope. It's not anywhere near being in tune.

I'll end with this gem of a song:

August 19, 2009


David McCandless, a British writer (among other things), has lately turned to visual data journalism - and produced some cool graphics. This one has gotten some attention in the last couple of days, and it's pretty cool.

It also reinforces my opinion of decaf coffee - utterly worthless. What's the point??

August 13, 2009

Refreshing Honesty

Bronson Arroyo, a starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, had quite a lot to say in an interview with USA Today. Go read it - it's interesting - but one thing that stuck out to me was this:
"You think this country really cares about what ballplayers put in their
bodies?" Arroyo asks. "If we really care, why are we pumping Coca-Cola in
every kid's mouth, and McDonald's, and Burger King and KFC? That (stuff) is
killing people.

It certainly is interesting comparing the things that get people riled up (PED's, touchdown celebrations) with the things that get 30-day jail sentences and community service/fines.

Arroyo might want to reconsider his supplement programs, however...the 5.04 ERA isn't pretty, and his 5.37 FIP is even worse.

August 12, 2009

Playing with Food

I don't mean for the title of this post to suggest that I disapprove of this - it looks really amazing. I've been thinking about taking a short vacation sometime in January/February, and one of the ideas bouncing around in my head has been a train trip departing from Chicago. Alinea is going to be part of that trip if it happens, I think.

Food! on the table! Sweet.

August 6, 2009

Paper Scissors Rock

Most, if not all, of you are aware of the game in which two players choose either paper, scissors, or a rock in the hopes of defeating the other player. This game (or its variants) is popular across the globe, according to Wikipedia.
One thing that Wikipedia gets wrong, however, is the game's preferred name. According to Thomas B. Marlow (in addition to being a world-renowned expert on holiday rules, he is unparalleled in his knowledge of games' proper playing and naming), Paper Scissors Rock is the correct name of the game. True, most people will know what you're talking about if you put the words in the wrong order,'s just like stairs in groups of seven. At the risk of sounding grandiose, calling the game Rock Paper Scissors is an affront to nature - just as the Designated Hitter and night games mar the inherent beauty of a baseball game.

August 3, 2009


Yesterday I was in Dodgeville for a family reunion. Most years (all of them in my memory, at least) we meet at Governor Dodge State Park for food, swimming, and the occasional water balloon fight. Last year, I drafted some of my younger cousins as a construction crew and built a sandcastle. This year, I had grand plans for scale models of the Taj Mahal, perhaps, or maybe Angkor Wat. I forgot images to help us during the work, we just made a generic castle. I won't say that I'm disappointed with how it turned out - it was fun, and my helpers range from probably 5 to 13...but let's say that I have big plans for next year, and I'll be much more prepared. You can find photographs of the castle and crew here, with a video clip of the inevitable destruction.

Next year I'm predicting:
Straight walls
Four tiers
Round towers
Non beach-detritus decoration
Complete amazement

August 2, 2009

Let's Play Some Ball!

The MSCR Summer Softball league came to a close on Friday with a championship game between Eat at Joe's and Bowl-a-Vard. You might remember them from this post - they were the too-competitive team - or this one.
Anyway, we went 5-0 the second half of the season, so we played these guys again for a plaque and the pride of being 'champions' - not that valuable, but even so, I was nervous and antsy before the game.
The game was the most intense softball game I have ever been a part of. We were the visitors, and I was batting fifth. With two outs in the top of the first inning, I came up to bat with runners on first and second. I swung at the second offering after the pitcher made a great first pitch. Unfortunately, I grounded it right at him - it wasn't even a slow, bouncy little dribble of a hit that I could beat out. No, I hit a sharp groundball and was out by a step. I then began a pilgrimage around the outfield, playing left-center, left, and then right-center. Defensively, I sat out the first inning. Bowl-a-Vard scored one run after a leadoff double just inside the third-base line. We got out of the inning only down 1-0, so that was a small victory. In the second inning, we tied it at 1 after a string of hits.
In the bottom of the third, I almost made a highlight-reel catch. The other team's leadoff batter was a guy who loved to pull it sharply down the left-field line. I was playing left field when he came up the second time and was expecting some action. He hit a fly ball on the first pitch - it was probably 20 feet behind third base and foul by about 10. I was playing fairly deep since he is a good hitter, so I took off (losing my hat in the process) and dove for the ball...all I got for my effort was grass stains on my shirt and a sore back all weekend.
The game progressed along tied at 1. My second atbat came leading off the fourth inning. Unfortunately, I grounded back to the pitcher again. Gah! Even worse, the inning ended with the bases loaded - if I had been able to get on, I would have scored and perhaps we would have put some crooked numbers up on the scoreboard. Nope. This game was all about Jeff dragging Eat at Joe's down.
At least I left my troubles at the plate. In right-center field I played some solid defense, as the entire team shut down Bowl-a-Vard's potent offense. I caught a deep flyball in right center, and would have thrown a runner out at second on a forceout if the second baseman had held on to the throw. Our pitcher Daniel got some key strikeouts (including the other team's super-competitive pitcher -with the bases loaded! He definitely threw his bat down in the dugout after that gem) and the infielders, although not perfect, buckled down to get the outs when we needed them. My last at-bat of the game came in the top of the sixth. Still tied 1-1, I came up with 2 outs and a runner on first. The other team had a pretty weak defender in right field, so I was hoping to turn on a ball and hit it down the line. Our shortstop Megan was on base, and I was pretty confident she would score if I could come through. Well...there's a reason one of the tags of this post is anti-clutch. I did turn on the ball, but didn't get it in the air enough. The first baseman was able to knock it down and throw to second base for the forceout. Oh well.
Seriously, though, this is slow-pitch softball. It's insane for a game to be tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth. And the top of the seventh. And the bottom of the seventh.
Finally, Eat at Joe's got in business in the eight inning. With two outs, Nick (one of the outfielders) hit a solid single to center field. Our right fielder Somer plated him with a double to center...after Daniel hit a deep double and came around to score on a single, we ended the inning up 4-1. Ecstatic to have our first lead of the game, we still had to get three more outs to be crowned champions. I went to right-center field for the bottom of the eighth. Daniel induced two quick popouts, but then things got a bit dicey. A walk, a single, and an error on a fielder's choice loaded the bags with two outs. The next batter lined a single up the middle - I ran over to field it and threw it back to Rachel at second base, almost catching the girl rounding the bag too far. Two runs scored on the play and now the lead was only 4-3...with their leadoff batter coming up to bat. Luckily, he grounded to shortstop, Megan threw to Danielle for the force at third, and EAT AT JOE'S IS THE LEAGUE CHAMPION WOOO BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!

We shook hands with a stunned (and oh-so-sportsmanlike) Bowl-a-Vard team - okay, it's not fair to lump them all in the jerk category. Some of their players were actually pretty nice, and I'm sure they're all good people. They just didn't come across that way on the diamond. After we picked up our gear, we celebrated at Villa Tap.

Congratulations, Eat at Joe's. It was definitely a fun year.

Final Stats:
0/3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
16/24 .667 .680 .917 1.597 9 0 7

July 26, 2009

Madison Restaurant Week

Twice a year several area restaurants participate in Madison Restaurant Week. I first heard about it in the winter of 2007, and since then have made it to at least two establishments during each week. Restaurant Week has given me dates both good and not-so-good, birthday dinners, large group meals, and delicious food.

Today is the first day of Summer Restaurant Week 2009 - and it comes with just one problem. Most of my visits to these restaurants have been with my partner-in-crime Greg, and he's currently in China...and as much as I enjoy the opportunity to try some of Madison's finer cuisine at reasonable prices, it's not worth the crushing depression of dining alone. So...

Wanted: Accomplice(s) for Dining/Adventure the week of July 26-31
Contact Jeff at 608.214.6919

July 23, 2009

Typing in Cheese

I think it was back when I was taking Geography 370 (Introduction to Cartography) that I first heard of a typeface promising to save the user 15-20% in ink and toner by creating small holes in the characters (a swiss cheese effect.) I partly forgot about it, seeing as how I don't really spend much at all on toner or ink...but the idea lodged itself somewhere in the trivia-encrusted recesses of my mind. Lately I thought about it again, and found this. Ecofont probably won't help any of you guys that much; I doubt any of my readers print in such massive quantities to make it economically meaningful.

Even if Ecofont won't help me that much, it is nice to think that there's a typeface in the world that can be described as cheese-like...not counting fontina.

Oh man...that's terrible.

July 21, 2009

A box of WHAT?

Dairy Queen, your latest Blizzard ad campaign is in clear violation of Thomas B. Marlow's Rule 1: The Proper Naming of Girl Scout Cookies - so no, I would not like to buy even ONE Tagalong Blizzard.

I could go for a Peanut Butter Pattie one, on the other hand...

Quck recap/box score updates

All right. Eat at Joe's softball team has been moving right along, footloose and fancy-free. We've won 4 in a row. This friday we have a makeup game from a rainout earlier in the season and then, in all likelihood, we'll play in the playoff game. Hooray!

Eat at Joe's (6-3)
2/3 .667 .750 1.000 1.750 2 0 0
3/4 .750 .750 1.000 1.750 1 0 3
3/3 1.000 1.000 1.667 2.667 2 0 1
16/21 .762 .773 1.048 1.821 9 0 7

In the most recent game, I had several defensive chances, although they were a bit out of position. I was playing right-center one inning when the batter skied a popup to second base. The girl playing there dropped it, but I had sprinted in (out of boredom more than anything else) and was able to throw the batter out at first. That's why you run out everything you hit, kiddos - nobody wants to be on the wrong end of a 9-3 putout.
The second chance I had was with one out and runners on first and second. It was the third inning, so we were already leading 10-1, but whatever. The batter was a decent right-handed guy, and he stepped into the ball and crushed it out to right field. Our rightfielder (coincidentally, the girl who was at second earlier) ran after it. I was playing left center at the time, but assumed (c0rrectly) that a cutoff throw was in the works. I ran over about 20 feet beyond the infield dirt on a line between the pitcher's mound and the rightfielder. Once she threw it back in, I waited for it to get to me and then fired the ball to home plate. It was a one-hop strike and we got the runner from first trying to score. Boo. Yah. Just another 10-8-2 me Ichiro.

It's been a really fun season so far, and the end of the year has definitely snuck up on me. We've clinched a winning record, and that feels good. With one more win this year I'll have matched the career number of wins with the Shorewest Northeasters - no knock on those guys. As a team we were improving, and we'd probably be 5-4 this year. Jenna and Mike just had to go and have a kid. Priorities, people!

Goals for the rest of the season:
Go 2-0
Win league's playoff
Make a diving catch
Not make any more outs while batting
Hit only doubles or better
Hit a homerun (inside-the-park is fine, I'm not crazy enough to think I can put one out)

July 20, 2009

Rule A1

So I've been trying to think of how this next rule relates to a holiday...any holiday would do, and I can't think of anything. Congratulations, Thomas B. Marlow has just decided to write a second book (or chapter, I suppose) called Thomas B. Marlow's Rules for Everyday Life! Plan on a release date approximately 6 months after the holiday book is completed - or "never," for those of you still in "reality."

Moving on... I present Rule A1*: The Proper Installation and Use of Light Switches

*Clearly, the numbering system will have to be reworked for the publication. Bear with me for now.

Light switches are vital to the health of a room - they control the flow of electricity to the room, turning a scary-at-age-5 staircase into something more bearable, something with fewer monsters. They also have the power (ha!) to render a room almost uninhabitable, if misused.
If there is one switch leading to a light, the switch should be installed so that electricity is flowing when the switch is UP. It just makes sense.
If there are two switches leading to one outlet or light, things get more complicated. When both switches are in the DOWN position, the light should be off. The light should be on if one switch is UP and one is DOWN. The switches should never be both UP - at that point the light would be off, and therefore the switches should both be DOWN. Nothing is more disconcerting than a stairway, for example, with mismatched light switches at either end.

July 10, 2009

A Poll

Recently several aspects of my personality have been under attack - from sources as varied as coworkers to friends. The things being debated are pretty wide-ranging as well, from my love of word-creation (wordvention? I say yes. Everybody else says no.) to naming the apartment to Thomas B. Marlow’s Rules. However, the most hurtful attacks have been on my dashing fashion sense. Opinions on bandanabands (bandanas worn as headbands; see above, word-creation) are strong enough to justify an entirely separate post, I think, but this is going to be a simple poll. Keep in mind there is one correct answer here, and one very wrong answer.

What would you call this?



Messenger bag?

Vote in the left side sidebar...and choose wisely.

June 25, 2009

Baseball? Graphics? Yes please!

Over the last two to three days the circle of baseball blogs/writers I read have latched onto a very cool site full of baseball-related graphics...go check it out! I think my favorite image is the fantasy showdown between the Wu-Tang Clan and the E Street Band (I'd love to see Nils Lofgren start a double play), with the Mike Morgan history coming in second. Oh, Mike Morgan. The 1986 Mets graphic gives me an excuse to link to a Sesame Street special, guest-starring (among others) Keith Hernandez and Mookie Wilson.

June 23, 2009


After a morning full of mapmaking and then a lunchtime full of program-crashing (followed by a brief moment of forehead/desk interaction) I think I've solved the technical issues at hand. This, my readers, is cause for celebration!

Thomas B. Marlow undoubtedly will publish a set of rules pertaining to wedding/reception conduct - sneak peek: This song is acceptable ONLY when Muppets are involved.

June 19, 2009

Two Recaps and One Terrible Segue

A little bit delayed on the recaps, sure...but I've caught the Common Swift throat/nose bug (we're so sharing)...which put a crimp in my week's productivity. Also, I'm lazy.

Last Friday Eat at Joe's started the second half of our season with a record of 2-3. We won 7-4, bringing us to .500. Yay! It was a well-played game all around; much better than the first time we played the other team. I went 2-3 with a single, double, and two runs scored. The time I got out was on a hard-hit ground ball right to the pitcher. He fielded it cleanly but I was still only out by half a step. I felt out of sorts running to first on the hit - I think I was still shaken up by the previous inning's defensive escapade. The opposing pitcher hit a hard line drive to right center, where I was playing. I initially took a step to my right but when I saw the ball was slicing away from me, I sprinted back and to my left - diving for the ball at the last second. I missed...and hit the ground. It's disappointing, and resulted in a home run for the guy, but really - I don't want to play softball unless I can get grass stains on my shirt. I just wish I hadn't taken that first step to my right - I could've caught it otherwise. Still, we won, and there's a decent chance that we'll finish with a winning record on the year.

Eat at Joe's (3-3)
2/3 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 2 0 0
8/11 .727 .727 1.000 1.727 4 0 3

On Monday evening I played 4 player whiffleball - Joe and Kyle v. Brandon and Jeff. I pitched the first six or seven innings, giving up the pivotal tying run with ONE OUT TO GO IN THE GAME. PUKE. Brandon and I had a really nice start to the game offensively, but couldn't keep up the pace. On the mound, the Joe and Kyle seemed to make some adjustments midway through the second or third. Until then I had been throwing almost exclusively junk - crappy curves in on the hands and changeups low and away. After they started to hit that stuff I stole Carlos Marmol's delivery and started throwing hard sliders and fastballs. It worked...for a while. Another whiffleball game, another heart-wrenching loss, I suppose.

Anyway, as I was about to take the 'mound,' try to get Joe out, and win the game, I was thinking about how to celebrate/recap the victory. I was pretty sure that there was going to be a victory dance - if my time with the band has taught me anything, it is that I have "awesome" "dancing" "skills."
(I need to preemptively apologize, I think. Jody told me that she thinks I can do four consecutive posts with muppets in them, tops. So...the next two (at least) are going to have
hilarious muppet references.

If, by hilarious, you mean barely relevant.)

Well, are you ready for the King? Girls? Here we go!

June 17, 2009

Rule 15. In Which Gifts are Exchanged

Rule 15. Christmas Gift Protocol

Gifts are to be opened on Christmas morning, with two exceptions.

A. A family member has to work during the morning of Christmas Day. Ideally, the exchange process will then be pushed back to the afternoon.
B. Other conflicts preventing people from attending the exchange on Christmas morning. These will usually happen after families grow, causing scheduling festivities to become increasingly difficult. In this case, gift exchanges may be moved earlier or later than Christmas Day, but no more than two (2) weeks in either direction. Travel will inevitably throw wrinkles into holiday plans - note, however, that in these cases postponing the celebration is preferred to having it earlier. If travel teaches you anything, it should be patience.

Now, I know that there are many different cultural examples of gift exchanges - I think by law I have to be fascinated by the Potlatch...and I am a huge fan of the Fraggles' tradition of Passing It On (starts ~ 1:50):

As much as I'd love to keep talking about the various quirks of A Muppet Family Christmas...that would take until FOR. EV. ER. This will have to do for now.

June 14, 2009

Rule 16: Stairs

Rule 16: The proper number of stairs.

Flights of stairs usually contain between 8 and 16 steps - and the number does matter, incidentally. From best to worst:

9,11,13. They're all bad.

Two quick stories: The Comfort Suite in Green Bay is a pretty nice place to stay - except for their staircases. One staircase has two flights, each with 8 steps. Nice . EVERYWHERE ELSE it is 7 and 9! WHAT??!? JEEZ.

Working at the Wisconsin Historical Society Headquarters building is both good and bad - one of the best things about it is that the flights of stairs are all 16. It's gorgeous.


June 7, 2009


I saw the movie UP today.

I might have almost cried a little.



Normally it shouldn't be difficult to write a recap of a whiffleball game. This time, it's not coming easily. Joe and I played a game of whiffleball at Tenney Park on Saturday - here's how it went down.

To set the stage, I guess, let me describe how we play. Since we're "awesome" (that's how my coworkers described us, I'm pretty sure) we pretend we're Cubs/Brewers. That means that for some batters we have to switch and bat opposite of what we're used to. Joe was batting lefty as Prince and Mat Gamel. Because I'm a left-handed batter by nature, I reverse and bat right-handed for Cubs lefties. It makes sense to us. Anyway, I was batting backwards as Kosuke Fukudome and Mike Fontenot.
So. I was pitching as Ted Lilly again and Joe was Dave Bush. The game got off to a start as somewhat of a pitcher's duel - surprising us a little, as we had moved the 'mound' back to 40 feet. I was dealing from the start and struck out Joe several times with a low changeup/tailing fastball combo. Early in the game I was a threat at the plate as well - Joe was trying to keep his pitches low...turns out that's a bad idea against me. I hammered a triple as "Aramis Ramirez" (injuries don't exist in our make-believe world) and - get this - hit the first-ever home run in our whiffleball 'careers' as Mike Fontenot. To make that clear, the first home run that Joe or I ever hit in our current whiffleball situation was by me, batting righthanded. Crazy.
The game went along with only one ball lost in the brush behind home plate until we reached the top of the sixth inning. I had established a 29-26 lead behind some early offense and a strong outing by Ted Lilly. On comes Sean Marshall to close the game...not normally the closer, but nobody wants to see me throw righthanded.
What followed could only be described as horrific - and that would be a kind description. In the sixth inning Joe hit triples 3 of the first 4 at bats, hit a total of 6 triples in the inning, and put up 28 runs. 28. 2-8. He more than doubled his point total in the time it took me to get three more outs. It was awful. I was walking people, but it was mainly just Joe hitting every single thing I threw. I ended up losing 54-32. Just terrible.

At least there was no dog poop this time.

May 31, 2009

In play, (runs)

Friday night I finally had another softball game. Last week there were no games because of Memorial Day, and I missed the week before that to judge the battle of the bands in Mount felt like a completely new season this week since it had been so long since my last game. We played at 6:30 at Olbrich Park, which is a nice place to play. The sun was pretty intense behind first base - but there weren't any mosquitoes, so no complaints here.
No complaints about the game, either. I led off again, and this time didn't do anything radically stupid on the basepaths! I started the game off with a single through the right side, but got stranded at first. Oh well. I played center field most of the game, but I think the other team hit maybe one ball to the outfield...nothing happened out there. Pretty boring.

My second at bat came in the third inning I think. Our team had a pretty successful second, so we were up something like 5-0. In the third, I was up fourth. I batted with one out and runners on first and third base...I took a pitch up in the zone and lined a solid shot into center field. Eric stopped at second, so I had to stop at first (probably for the best). The next batter grounded to third, where the other team got the forceout. I was standing at second with two outs as the batter hit a grounder to the third baseman. I am not exaggerating here - she beat me to the bag by ONE STEP...and I sort of hit the brakes about five feet from the bag so I didn't run into her and hurt somebody.

My last at bat was in the fifth with runners on first and second, one out. We were leading 10-2. I stepped into the pitch and pulled it down the right field line for a two-RBI triple (briefly entertaining thoughts of bolting for home before I decided otherwise). Unfortunately, the next two batters couldn't get me home, so I ended the day stranded at third.

Eat at Joe's (1-3)
3/3 1.000 1.000 1.667 2.667 0 0 3

6/8 .750 .750 1.000 1.750 2 0 3

One cool thing about this game was that the opposing team's manager was blind. Twice in the game he came up in the lineup, so they brought out a tee for him to use to hit. He had somebody run with him to first base, and somebody was ready to run for him should he reach safely. Both times he grounded into a forceout at second. It was a cool situation that I've never seen in a softball game before.

May 28, 2009

Rule 3

Thomas B. Marlow is back with perhaps his most controversial rule to date.

Rule 3: Temporal Limits on Pie Consumption, or When Not to Eat Certain Pies.

There is an undeniable link between certain times of the year and what pies are eligible to be eaten. Sometimes, as in the case of strawberry-based pies, the link is primarily agricultural. Fresh ripe strawberries are tops - if you can somehow manage to not eat them while you're making your pie, props to you. Other limits are based more on aesthetics rather than, you know, logic. Regardless of my motivations for determing the vagarities of Pie Law, Marlow's Laws are not to be debated.

There are several pieces of information that jump out from this primitive graphic. First, I think it's clear that under no circumstances is it ever okay to eat Banana Cream Pie. Gross. It would be much preferable to just eat a cream pie and a banana separately. Come on.
Pumpkin Pie is acceptable - even suggested - from October 1st until December 1st.

Apple Pie immediately before Pumpkin, Pecan immediately after...these are all logical.

Cherry Pie is to be eaten on a family vacation to Door County, Wisconsin in mid-August. Otherwise, pass.

Blueberries are gross, but I can almost understand eating them in a patriotic-themed pie around Independence Day. Maybe.

If you wanted to twist my arm, I could probably be convinced to make Pecan Pie a year-round item.

May 26, 2009

Font of Knowledge

On Friday night, I got into a discussion (argument) with my friend Kelly about fonts, of all things. Apparently she's not a big fan of Helvetica or Times New Roman. I don't really care about TNR - but it does have its place. Helvetica, on the other hand, is pretty and doesn't deserve to be hated.

Anyway, this isn't meant to be a defense of one typeface or another. It did remind me of a really helpful mapping tool called TypeBrewer. A grad student at UW-Madison created this site and it's a great way to get a template for your map typography. It's pretty cool just to play with the sliders too :)

May 24, 2009

Whiffleball Match 1

Thursday Joe came to town and we played a game of whiffleball - 6 innings -3 balls is a walk. 2 strikes and you're out. After we had established the distances for doubles, triples and home runs, we started. I was the visiting team, so I batted first. I've had a lead in a whiffleball game with Joe now!! I had a twelve "run" outburst in the top of the first, and actually didn't cough it up right away. The game did go downhill from there; I think I lost 28-19 or so. Some highlights/lowlights:

In the bottom of the first, Joe was batting left handed as 'Craig Counsell' (yes, we adopt the lineups of the Cubs and Brewers. No, we're not 13 years old.) and had a hilarious swing and miss. I must have thrown a pitch with a lot of movement into a left handed batter, because after Joe swung and missed the pitch it hit him square in the crotch. Solid comedic moment. Nasty pitch.

Sometime when I was pitching, Joe popped up a pitch behind me and to my right. This was during one of my rough pitching innings, so I really needed to catch the ball. Outs were not coming along too often. Anyway, I ran back (yes, as 'Ted Lilly') to catch it. I briefly had it in my hands but I was an idiot and dropped it. To make matters worse, I lost my balance and fell - right into some dog crap. I got up and thought to myself, "That's weird. My hand's all muddy, but the ground isn't that wet. Huh...oh. OH NO come ON!"
This is where the 'imagining we're cubs v. brewers' thing falls apart - they don't have dog poop at wrigley field (unless you count Neal Cotts! ZING!)

After the game we threw some more pitches back and forth, and let's just say that next game is mine. We found out that I have a little Mariano Rivera-esque cutter (minus, you know, the velocity. And effectiveness.) and a huge sweeping Randy Johnson slider (early vintage Randy - you know, with absolutely no idea where the pitch is ending up). Once I use these new pitches and hopefully learn to lay off the pitch 6 inches off the outside corner, I'll be unbeatable!

May 19, 2009

Rule 44: How to Toast the Perfect Marshmallow

Recently I have discovered that the proper method for roasting marshmallows is not universally agreed-upon. Here we will set it straight.

Rule 44: The Perfect Marshmallow

The Perfect Marshmallow is a vital component of any backyard barbecue or bonfire or camping trip. Holidays that are likely to include toasting marshmallows are Memorial Day, Flag Day(?), the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and any gorgeous summer weeknight. However, the enjoyment of these holidays can be marred by improperly toasting one's marshmallow. The Perfect Marshmallow is gently toasted until golden brown on all sides with a delightfully gooey interior. This might take patience, but the end result is well worth waiting for.

Under no circumstances is the marshmallow to be plunged into the fire, ignited, and left to burn to a black char.
In my experience, burning the marshmallow is a clear mark of a toaster who lacks the skill and artistry of proper marshmallow toasting. Despair not, friends! It can be learned - I will give marshmallow toasting lessons for the low fee of 1 half bag of marshmallows. Call for details.

Feasting on the Lake

Sunday, my roommate Greg graduated. In honor of this momentous event, I was given a blank check and complete control over the party menu. I had spent the week before getting the menu lined up and fairly planned out, and looking back at the was as close to perfect as we could have hoped. The food turned out really well, everybody was really happy for/proud of Greg, and the weather was sublime. I was pretty anxious about cooking for the party - did I get enough food? Did I pick the right food? Would I be able to make the food well, and would people enjoy it?

Historically, when I've planned things like this, they've tended to, ah, not go all that well. From all sorts of hare-brained schemes with Joe to the ill-fated "Green Man Group" performance in French class to carving a chicken in the extended stay hotel in Green Bay this year, I have a history of not executing my plans as well as I imagine them.

But Sunday was different. Everything worked. Here is the menu that we enjoyed:
Shrimp Ceviche
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Artichoke Dip
Smoked Salmon Spread
Caprese Salad Skewers

Tequila Lime Chicken
Mahi Mahi with Mango Pineapple Salsa
Vegetable Kabobs with an Herb Garlic Marinade
Garlic Chili Grilled Shrimp

The entrees were served right off the grill, with a bed of rice available if people wanted it.

Summer Fruit marinated in White Wine and Mint

You can see pictures from the day and also from a a sunday afternoon two weeks ago here. One of the things about the menu that I really enjoyed was that I bought probably 90% of the food in the produce section or from the fish guy at copp's. None of it was pre-prepared, unless you count me cooking at 2:30 sunday morning.

What really made the day perfect was Alissa calling me at 6ish and inviting me to Cosi to help her eat s'mores - that, I believe, is going to deserve it's own post however. Some issues arose focusing on proper cooking treatment of marshmallows!

May 14, 2009


I have had an epiphany this week up here in Green Bay. If (when) this archaeology thing doesn't pan out, I believe I may have found my next line of work - but it's more than that. It might be my calling.

While Krysta and I wait for Rodney to put his boots on, or check the map, or mess with the key or something, I have begun to practice balancing my shovel on my boots. It's way more fun than it deserves to be. Anyway, so far my personal longest time balanced is 9ish seconds - and it was really windy today! Given that I'm feeling a little uncertain in my job security at the moment, I naturally began to wonder if this newfound skill was something that could be translated into income...and it dawned on me. I could T
OTALLY join a circus!

Think about it. I am developing a circus-like skill (shovel-balancing...possibly able to balance other objects), have plenty of experience painting my face for sports events, don't really have a problem with people laughing at me, I'm already on the road much of the year, and here's the kicker - I HAVE PRIOR CIRCUS EXPERIENCE!

Admittedly, I can't imagine too many troupes would be looking for me to reprise my role as "Elephant" from Ms. Morgan's Red Kindergarten Circus Day, but you never know. On a side note - really, Ms. Morgan? Really? I was an elephant? I was tiny in kindergarten! I know I had good arm-trunk swinging form, but seriously - I was almost assuredly the smallest kid at school! Strange decision, whoever made it.

Back to the matter at hand. If you are driving around the state and see a guy in a safety vest trying to balance a shovel on his foot...honk. That's prob
ably me, practicing for my next endeavor.

May 11, 2009

Forgetting How to Stop

Game Two:

This was a bad game. We got killed by the team I mentioned last week - the one that would "feel good to beat." I was right; they were kind of dickish to us. Which is worse - being a poor sport in a heated contest, or when you're blowing the opponent out of the water (or Warner #3)? I'm inclined to say the blowout - why trash talk a completely random coed softball team with whom you have no history? The history part matters, because when I play Joe in whiffleball, I will trash talk no matter how many fingers and toes I need to count my lead.

By the way, that sound was the gauntlet being thrown down.

Anyway, back to the softball game. I led off for Eat at Joe's (we have shirts now!) and swung at the first pitch. That's a little frustrating. Even more frustrating is that I'm really not making good contact at all right now. This hit went about 15 feet down the first base line. I took off down the line and would have been on first base with a single easily - except for two things:
1. I am an aggressive baserunning idiot.
2. I heard the pitcher (the old dad who needs to loosen up) yell "Let it go"!

When I heard that...I don't know what happened, all of a sudden I was a third of the way to second base and gunning hard for the weakest double of 2009. They threw me out, but it was close. I was probably out by a step. Still a dumb, dumb move. I figure I get one per season, so at least it's out of the way.

Besides getting thrown out needlessly and ruining a potential rally before it even started, there was another negative consequence of my mistake. Sometime between turning on the jets at first and sliding into second, I tweaked my right hamstring fairly badly. Not cool. I really don't get hurt - ever - playing games. I can think of once getting tackled by Ryan Cessna that put me out of a football game for a while, and...that's it. So I kept playing, but I could probably run during the game at about 60%. I was playing mostly left-center or center field, but unfortunately, the other team was hitting balls so far that not even full-strength Jeff could've caught them. My second atbat I grounded into a force play at second, and my last one I grounded back to the pitcher. Maybe another day I would beat it out, but not on half of a leg.

Eat at Joe's (0-1)

1/3 .333 .333 .333 .666 0 0 0

3/5 .600 .600 .600 1.200 2 0 0

Calli convinced me to take some painkiller at the euchre game later that night. By that point in the night, my leg was throbbing, and probably at 30%. I looked like an idiot walking down the street, I'm sure. The pills must have helped, though, because it's pretty close to normal again. That's nice, since we'll be walking all over Green Bay this week again.

No game next week for me; I'll be judging a battle of the bands in Mount Horeb. That should be interesting!

May 7, 2009

Theban Mapping Project

A Warning: What is about to follow will probably make you groan.

So, Mother's Day is this Sunday. In honor of all of our moms out there, I decided to write a brief post highlighting one of the coolest maps I've seen. Why post this now? Because the map is of the Valley of the Kings...FULL OF MUMMIES!!!!

Well, it used to be. They're probably gone now. If you're still reading, you obviously aren't scared of terrible jokes. Honestly, if you read this blog at all, you probably don't mind them too much. Anyway - the site is just a beautiful, fascinating, and informative map of the Theban Valley. Pharoahs buried here include a bunch of Rameses (1-7, 9-11), a couple Setys, Hatsheput, and Tutankhamen. Seriously, it's an awesome site. Who didn't want to find an awesome Egyptian tomb when they were a kid? Take a look around here. It's worth it.

May 4, 2009

Remembering How to Run

This past Friday I played slow-pitch softball for the first time since, oh...labor day? Sometime back early last fall. The team I've played on the last three years, the Shorewest Northeasters, disbanded this year after a pregnancy and other inconveniences prevented enough people from signing up. After putting myself on the MSCR free agent list (I was a free agent! Sadly, I had to settle for the league minimum), I received several calls and found a coed team in the friday night league. I hadn't made it to any of the practices due to job-related travel, so the first-game-jitters were amplified by the new-team-jitters. Here is my Friday night of softball.

9:30 AM - I get strange looks from Rodney, Elizabeth, and Krysta as I bounce up and down in the parking lot of a city park in Green Bay. I also throw some small pebbles around and swing a couple of branches, trying to figure out what my batting stance was.

4:30 PM - Leave work, walk to the car. Still wearing an ironic all-khaki archaeologist uniform, I go to Michael's Frozen Custard. Not my ideal pre-game meal - a burger and malt - but my car's brakes are not happy at the moment, so I wanted something in between MAP and Olbrich Park. Michael's fits that bill. I sit there for a while, feeling dumb about my outfit and reading a book about the Gnostics while visualizing swinging a bat.

6:00 PM - Head to Olbrich.

6:05 PM - Trade in my archaeologist duds for an equally ridiculous uniform - that of a dorky slow pitch softball player. High blue socks, gray (for now) baseball pants, and a #23 St. James jersey. I try and put contacts in, but my left eye will have none of it. Glasses today. Also, a blue bandana.

6:30 PM - The first game of the season starts...mine is at 8:30. I probably would have gone home, but the less driving I can do for now, the better. I sit in the bleachers and 'scout' - really just keep reading my book.

6:40 PM - One of the teams is full of a bunch of young guys and their wives/girlfriends - they're good, and their pitcher is this hardcore old guy. Later, I find out he's the dad of the left fielder. He seems way too competitive for this. Wouldn't mind having a nice day against him at the plate. The other team is fairly young overall, but has way more fun out there.

7:30 PM - Game 2 starts, and by now I'm cold. The sun has set and I'm freezing. I hang out in my car until 8, when I get out and try and find my new team - Eat at Joe's. I know what one guy looks like - that's it.

8:15 - I find the team. We're mostly young people too, with two older guys and one lady. 7 guys and 7 girls in all. I warm my arm up with a guy Eric, and we start.

8:30 - We're the home team, and I start in center. We play guys at catcher, second, left, center, and rover. Inning one goes quickly, and we head to the plate.

8:?? Who keeps track of the time during the game? - I am the seventh batter in the lineup, and the sixth batter ends the first inning. Not a bad deal, really...I like batting with nobody on base.

Top of the Second - Several walks/infield singles to third (frustrating as hell, btw) lead to the other guys scoring a couple of runs. With two outs and runners on first and second, the batter ropes a hit by the second baseman. I run over from center field to cut the ball off. I slide, grab the ball, and fire it to the rover. He makes a good throw to the third baseman, and we get the runner from first. Inning over.

Bottom of the Second - I lead off. First pitch is a strike, deep and on the inner half of the black. Probably a decent pitch to hit, but I'm too nervous on the first pitch of the year to do anything. It's good to see one. Second pitch looks like it'll be close, so I make contact and push it to the left side of the infield. Not a strong hit by any means, but I'm fast. I think the fielder might have bobbled it, but it doesn't matter. I wasn't getting thrown out. Now I'm on first base with no outs. The girl right after me lines out to third base, and I jump three steps off the base before heading back. Ah, baserunning. The next batter grounds to the third baseman, and unfortunately they throw to first. If they had gone to second to try and get the lead runner (me) I'd have beaten it. Still, I feel slow. Haven't really ran bases in a while.

With two out, I am definitely trying to score on this next hit if at all possible. The batter grounds sharply to the third baseman, and the ball glances off of his glove. I started running at contact, but paused for a split-second while the ball dribbled through to left field. Because I hesitated, my stride was off as I hit third base. I tried to shorten a step and still hit third with my right foot, but basically just succeeded in tangling my feet up. My momentum kept me going around the bag and miraculously I stayed upright. I stumbled into home with our team's second run.

I got a break and sat out the next inning was good because I could barely breathe after my baserunning escapades. I didn't have any defensive opportunities the rest of the game.

In my second at bat, I swung at the first pitch and grounded to the second baseman. I tore down the line and beat the throw...but I also hit the dirt. About one foot in front of first base, there was an area of really soft dirt. My left foot came down right in this patch of loose soil, and while my momentum was enough to get my right foot on the bag, after that it was all tumbling and rolling. Thanks for the rubber ankles, dad! No injuries, just a little dizziness after I popped back up off the ground. I moved to second after a single. A strikeout and popout later, and we were back to me on second base with two outs. However, this time it was a solid line drive to center that scored me - with no embarrassing display of "running" either.

Going into the top of the sixth, we were down 9-6 with the top of our order up in the bottom of the inning. However, our pitcher's control disappeared - after a lot of walks and a couple of timely hits, we were down 16-6. I was up fifth or sixth in the bottom of the inning, but we didn't get to me again. So, the 2009 MSCR season looks like this for me:

Eat at Joe's (0-1)
2/2 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 2 0 0

Should be a fun year.

April 30, 2009

Rule Number 2

Continuing the series of Thomas B. Marlows's Guide to Holiday Traditions, I bring to you Rule 2: The Proper Consumption and Use of Holiday Chocolate.

2. Eating Holiday Chocolate

Chocolate given as a gift during a time of the year associated with a holiday shall be consumed in the period between one week prior to and one week after said holiday. Past this time period, the chocolate can still be eaten - but must be manipulated into a more appropriate form.

2b. Using Post-Holiday Chocolate

After the week has passed, the chocolate must be transformed in order to eat it. For example, say you receive a chocolate Santa Claus and can't finish it by January 2nd. You can easily switch it to New Year's Chocolate by melting it, reshaping it into a rectangle, and carving 2010 (or whatever) into the rectangle - now you have an entirely new, holiday-appropriate chocolate bar!
Melting chocolate is not difficult; it can be done either with a watchful eye and a microwave or with a double boiler on the stovetop. After it is melted, the reshaping can be as easy or as complicated as you'd like. Have leftover Valentine's Day chocolate? Make chocolate quarters or dollars in honor of Washington's birthday. The possibilities are endless - well, not really...but there are many possibilities.

Watch a video of me discussing Rule 2 here, and more images of an example chocolate rose here.

April 27, 2009


Things clicked this weekend.

I'm not exactly sure when, exactly, it happened, but the two gigs in La Crosse were wildly successful. I mean, we didn't hit platinum (250,000 more weekends and that'll do it), and no panties were thrown at the stage, but we played Common Swift music for strangers and they liked it. They danced and they sang along and they screamed. As a band and as individuals, I think we all came home feeling proud and excited and happy (also smelly and exhausted, but that's not the point).

At lunch in Westby on the way home, somebody mentioned that this might have been their best weekend ever - if not best ever, in the top 10 for sure. That comment got me thinking about what my top 10 best weekends ever are...and I'm having a really tough time coming up with them. Maybe later this week, I'll try and tackle that list - but for now, this past weekend is solidly in the top three. The stories aren't that great when retold; I get the feeling that only the people who were present for the trip are going to truly appreciate how cool it was. The two days were a blurry blend of jokes at everybody's expenses, the adrenaline rushes of playing gigs, and the giddy optimism after playing to our capabilities and impressing people.

The thing that I'm going to remember the most about the weekend was something Strutt said to me Saturday night at Nighthawk's. After we had finished playing, Milktoast started their set while we started to unwind and take advantage of the mostly open bar ("I'm in the band" is SO cool to say). We were all feeling good and I was dancing in our area of tables. Strutt said something like "I like you when you're drunk." I must have protested or gotten a look on my face, because he then amended it to "I like you when you're happy."

It's nice to be happy again.

April 23, 2009

Weekend Gigs

This weekend, the band I play keyboard in is playing two gigs in La Crosse, WI. We're called Common Swift, and we're pretty pumped about the shows. The last sixish months have been spent writing, refining, and recording new music, and it'll be pretty fun to try them out on strangers. Friday night we're playing a basement show with a couple of other bands, and Saturday we're opening for a band called Milktoast at Nighthawk's Tap.

Not only am I looking forward to the weekend because it is undeniably awesome to play shows, but I get to hang out with Scott, Amanda, and Thom! I don't think I have ever had a bad time partying in La Crosse with those guys, and it's pretty much entirely my fault that my visits up there are not more frequent.

I promise to return to the interwebs with stories galore (or at least three) from the weekend of shows. It'd hardly be rock and roll without something to brag about - although it probably won't be a true rockstar weekend unless I don't remember something storyworthy as well. Huh. I'm sure that if there is something important to remember, someone will be able to recall it.

Listening to: Amos Lee - Better Days
Reading: Modern Gentleman, Chapter Two: Entertaining

April 21, 2009

Rain Day

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." - Bull Durham

Today it rained. And snowed. Since it would be pretty uncomfortable and not that productive to try and do archaeological survey in those conditions, we had a rain day. To fill up the time, I went with Elizabeth and Susan to lovely Princeton, WI. It seemed like half of the stores were closed - including (presumably) a potter's studio. He must have a hell of a beard, since he named it "A Hairy Potter." We went into Twister, a coffeeshop/store. Susan and Elizabeth had mochas, and I had a completely unnecessary americano. It was my 3rd cup of coffee of the day...and the best, by far. I'm not one to complain about the Americinn's complementary coffee, but it's not winning any awards anytime soon.

In addition to the americano, I bought "The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice" - so far I have read Chapter One: Out and About. Nothing too spectacular, but good for soaking up time in the hotel for sure.

We had lunch at La Casbah - I had a grilled vegetable wrap with a garlic sauce. I suppose I should be bringing my camera along for these'll have to take my word that the wrap was quite good.

Back at the hotel, I did some reading and generally killed time until 7:15, when the Cubs and Cincinnati Reds squared off in game one of a three game series. Rich Harden pitched a good game, and the Cubs offense took advantage of Micah Owing's poor command of the strike zone (a trait that the Reds bullpen shared as well) en route to a 7-2 victory.

Listening to: David Gray, "The Other Side"
Reading: "The Modern Gentleman"

April 20, 2009

Mapping the Delicious

All right, kids - this is post 1.

My name is Jeff - I live in Madison, Wisconsin and am an archaeologist/musician (rockstarchaeologist). In my spare time, I enjoy reading, cooking, reading about cooking, and baseball (in particular the Cubs, but the game itself as an object of beauty). This blog will mainly cover these topics, plus any funny stories from projects I'm working on around WI.

As of now, there is one regular feature - Thomas B. Marlow's Guide to Holiday Traditions. This will be a series of rules to follow as you plan/celebrate holidays, as well as life in general. For example, Rule 1: The Proper Naming of Girl Scout Cookies.

Thin Mints - no debate here; the most popular species.
Caramel Delights - the first controversy. Currently, the Girl Scouts sell these cookies branded as either Caramel deLites or Samoas. Caramel deLites' flaw is the inane spelling of delight. However, this pales in comparison to the travesty that is the Samoa. Samoa is an island group and nation in the South Pacific with a rich culture and history - NOT A COOKIE. What's wrong with 'Caramel Delight?' It's properly spelled and perfectly descriptive. The cookies themselves (the best the Girl Scouts sell, by the way) are both caramelly AND delightful.
Peanut Butter Patties - also a good descriptive name of the cookies, as opposed to the incorrect branding of this species, Tagalong. There are two main problems with the 'Tagalong.' First, it is often mispronounced as Tagalog - the second largest ethnic group in the Phillipines and also a language native to that island group (Did a Girl Scout exec vacation in the Pacific right before going on a cookie naming binge? Seriously.) Secondly, Tagalong? What does that mean? The cookie will somehow sneak into your luggage as you go off on a trip? As far as I'm concerned, Tagalong is the name of the littlest bunny sister in the Disney film "Robin Hood"... which is probably an entirely different post topic altogether.
Peanut Butter Sandwich - also referred to as the 'Do-Si-Do'. Why? If I remember correctly from 8th grade gym class, the Do-Si-Do is a square dancing move...which has no connection at all to cookies.
Shortbread/Trefoils - These shortbread cookies have the Girl Scout Trefoil design in them. Either name is acceptable.

There are more varieties of cookies, but really...who eats any of them besides the ones discussed above? They also seem to only have one name, eliminating much of the potential controversy.

Bonus Example: Rule 40: In Regards to the Eating and Reading of Fortune Cookies.
Fortune Cookies are to be broken apart and eaten before reading your fortune. Failure to comply by Rule 40 voids the fortune contained within said cookie.

In addition to these completely serious rules that you should make every attempt to follow, I can see a weekly recap of archaeological travails as a possible regular post, and probably a regular NL Central rundown. We shall see.

Wow...I wish I had some Caramel Delights right now :(