Sports Round-Up

August 24, 2014

On Friday, Gary reminded us that 25 years ago, we had watched Rangers’ Pitcher Nolan Ryan strike out his 5000th batter. That is a lot of KO’s! I remembered that for some odd reason, Andrew wasn’t there, which was strange, since he was a true Ryan fan. Gary didn’t believe me until Andrew confirmed that yes, he had gone to spend the weekend with a friend, whose name he can’t even remember. (photo stolen from the internet)

In other baseball news, Gary has been quite the Little League fan this weekend. Minutes ago the South Korean team beat the South Chicago team, in a good game. And it was pretty amazing about Mo’ne Davis who gives new meaning the the phrase “you throw like a girl.” (photo stolen from Sports Illustrated)

And can you believe how bad the Rangers have gotten? I do believe they have the worst record in the MLB at the moment! Sad.

As for me personally, the only sports one can do in this heat is the occasional dip in Rachel’s pool and maybe a few rounds on the stationary bike while watching some TV.

Another Assistive Gadget for Gary

August 21, 2014

This device isn’t exactly cutting-edge new, but since it isn’t, the price was a bit more affordable. Gary bought this gadget with his work budget in an attempt to help him read books and articles for his job. It is called the Intel Reader and it is a type of assistive technology that helps the hard-of-seeing.  Here is a link for more info.  

We’ve set up the stand on a small desk in Gary’s office where I can scan the things he wants while I’m at the office, but the machine itself has a carrying case and is intended to be taken to the library.  In a nutshell, it takes a photo of a written page, converts it to text, then uses a speech synthesizer to read it out loud.  (If you use earphones, the librarian won’t yell at you!)





Along the way, it saves all the intermediate files, including a .txt file.  This is where I come in and add value to these processed pages because, well, sometimes that machine can’t tell a capital I from the digit 1, or it thinks “well” is “we eleven.”  In other words, sometimes it just produces nonsense, so  I take the text files and copy them into a word processor (I use Google Docs) that has built-in spell checking.  This helps find the places where the machine has not done a good job in the processing and I can quickly fix the problems.  If it does a really bad job, I have to retype portions, or sometimes do the whole process over again and re-scan the particular page.

Once I’ve completed the post-processing, I send the the files to Gary.  He already has a nice, smaller reading machine that he uses to listen to audio books, mp3 files, PDFs, etc, so he uploads the files into this little machine and can listen to the book or article.

Of course, the machine is not really smart enough to deal with diagrams or complicated tables, so Gary still likes to keep the original on hand to examine diagrams with his magnifying glass.

We have a couple colleagues on campus who are blind or legally blind, so we can let them use it too.


Grandkids update

August 18, 2014

Isabella had to have some hardware installed in her upper jaw shortly recently. The parents turn the screw every night and eventually her jaw gets wider. Poor child!

photo 2

Meanwhile, Emma and Micah are reading. Grandma Vivian, do you see the blue afghan?


And this photo of Liam and his daddy–I stole it from FB.



In other, non-related news. we got some rain.  Very odd for it to rain in August, but we got a nice slow soaking rain for 6 hours yesterday.  Nice.

The Weekend is Here

August 15, 2014

Well, it is Friday night and we’re listening to the Rangers on TV. The bad, bad, bad Rangers, I must say.

We also finished the puzzle we started while on vacation. Gary and I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles with Rachel from time to time, so we bought ourselves one while visiting the Mennonite vegetable market outside of Butternut, MI during our trip. We worked on it for a couple of days, but once Micah showed up, it soon became obvious that we needed to buy him his own puzzle and put this one away. Which we did.


Sad to say, it looks like a couple pieces went missing–we can either blame Micah or the fact that we had to pack it up in the midst of a rush to vacate The Red Cottage. :-)


In other news, one day this week I got up early and went birding at Cedar Hill State Park. It was cool, in the high 60s, and I watched the supermoon set as the sun arose.



I spent quite a bit of time cleaning the apartment this week, with a bit of help from Gary.  Two different sets of folks have been using it.  My two other main accomplishments for the week were to rearrange the furniture (again!) and to mail the framed Micah portraits off to their owners.



Tomorrow we’re making a trip to Arlington to meet Anna Claire, Stella and Matt’s baby.  Should be fun.

Gary Is Having a Bad Day

August 14, 2014

A the-Ethnologue-data-is-messed-up-and-it-has-been-that-way for-months-and-nobody-noticed kind of bad day. The good news is that the data on the website is OK. But the data in several of the statistical tables for the printed books is messed up and they will have to be fixed and the PDF “plates” run again. He is not happy.

But this photo should make him feel better, taken by Andrew during our time in Michigan.  (And I will add it to the official online album as well.)


Little Green Babies

August 10, 2014

It seems like we’ve had a bumper crop of Painted Buntings this summer, and they all love the seed I put in the feeder after we got home from our trip. They also like the water–it is so hot and dry here! I thought the air conditioner was going to die of overwork this afternoon.

Four baby Painted Buntings

Our Work Is Out of This World!

August 6, 2014

Our three kids needed summer jobs when they were in college. It just so happened that all three of them worked on a project in our office, scanning language materials from our archives, hired by the Long Now Foundation‘s Rosetta Project. The Long Now Foundation used these (and other) scanned materials to build an archive of parallel information (e.g., grammar, map, orthography, translation of Genesis 1-3) for 1000 vernacular languages. Besides an electronic archive, they made a physical artifact too, by etching all this scanned data onto a stainless steel disk. (Photo stolen from Long Now’s website.)


Did you hear the name “Rosetta” the news today? If so, that is because a spacecraft from the European Space Agency, also named Rosetta, is about to land on a comet. It has been on its way to this comet for 10 years! If all goes well it will do so in November. (This photo also stolen, from ESA website.)


And what do these two items have in common besides their name? Well, the European Space Agency, who built the Rosetta probe, invited the Long Now Foundation to include one of their stainless steel disks on the probe. So that means that the work our kids did 10 years ago to scan materials produced by our colleagues is out of this world, about to land on a comet!

Here are a couple news links for more details:

Home Again, Vacation’s Over

August 5, 2014

We arrived safely from Michigan today, flight went as planned with no delays. The car started just fine after sitting for 10 days in this heat at the Parking Spot. We checked in with Rachel, put a load of laundry in, finished unpacking, and wen’t to El Mana for dinner. Then a bit of grocery shopping, and then I worked on my photos. (Once I get back to the office, there won’t be time to do the photos, so I decided to do them now.)

Here are the two albums. The first one is short, just from the actual party for mom. 62 people attended, and more than 20 cards from those who couldn’t make it. The surprise guests were mom’s brother and his wife who drove up from Mississippi, 10 years since they had seen him.

14-08-02 Vivian Dennis's 80th party

The second album is longer, with a few captions to tell a bit about our fun week. The weather turned out to be perfect almost the entire time. We really enjoyed the Red Cottage at Crystal and the pontoon boat rides. We had several group meals, one at Deb’s, one at the Red Cottage, and one in Lansing after the party.

14-07-29 Vacation in MI, mom's 80th

Vacation Update, midway point

July 31, 2014

We’ve been having a nice vacation so far. The weather was cold and rainy the first day or so (we even drove through a hail storm), but it has improved since then.

The Red Cottage is a pretty nice place and we are all finding places to sleep, though maybe not exactly as the owners had planned. Special thanks go to Kathy W for providing a portable crib and small mattress for the grandkids! Gary and I have made the glassed in porch our little spot. The light comes in early in the morning so we are awake pretty early, but going to bed early too.

Gary and I have gone birding twice so far. The Crystal sewer ponds turned out to be a pretty good spot, One of the workers saw us on the outside road with our binoculars and invited us in through the DO NOT TRESPASS sign.

We’ve hung out with Debbie and mom a few times and gone out to eat a time or two, including at the Petticoat Junction. Yesterday we stopped by and saw where Deb works.

David, Sarah, Micah and Emma arrived yesterday safely but exhausted after their overnight flght to Chicago then 4-hour drive here. We kept the kids awake for the afternoon while they slept a few hours. Then we had a BBQ dinner and we all went to bed early. So far only Gary and I have gotten up this morning.

We are awaiting Andrew, Laura and Isabella. Andrew’s flight home to Ithaca yesterday afternoon was delayed, so they got a late start. We hope they made it as far as Erie, PA by car last night we we look for their arrival sometime this afternoon.

We’ve been taking photos and I’ll put the link to the web album below. I will add more photos to this album as the week progresses. Click on the photo below to see the entire album of photos.

14-07-29 Vacation in MI, mom's 80th

The Early Bird

July 26, 2014

is supposed to get the worm, but we got the early birds instead. Yes, we got up at 5:45am so we could go birding–on the day before our trip–in the name of science. That is because there are, at Cedar Hill State Park, some weeks where there is no data about bird populations. Note the column of gray rectangles for the last week of July.

Explore Data - Google Chrome_2014-07-26_12-08-03

And now that we’ve returned home, recovered from the early morning and HOT weather, and entered the 24 bird species that we observed this morning, you can see that now there is one fewer column showing no data.

one less gray

In spite of our early start, it was still pretty hot and it seemed like there weren’t a lot of birds around.



OK, now I need to go pack.


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