Epsilon Exploits & Familial Foibles
August 2009

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Links are good as of their posting date. Comments should be directed to bradley@wogsland.org.

30 August 2009

Today I finally finished writing up the blog of our California Roadtrip last month. Some of the video links don't quite work yet though... Meanwhile, Cara is diligently studying in the other room. Occasionally she calls me in to help elucidate a particular point. She appreciates my helpfulness but at the same time finds it rather annoying that I am so knowledgeable in every subject.

27 August 2009

The rainstorm yesterday morning has really cooled things down here. This morning Zinny and I brought Zara on our morning walk and we had to turn back because she got cold!

24 August 2009 - Zara's first day of preschool

Why are you here? I don't wanna go! - Zara's greeting for me when I came to pick her up

23 August 2009

Cara isn't starting school until tomorrow, but she's already studying hard. Last night I had to review sine and cosine for her. Okay, I know that probably 90% of you reading this are probably like yeah, I totally don't remember that either but for me it was a big wake-up call to just how much remembering Cara has to do. So today we gave Cara a study day and I took the kids on a small adventure so that she could have some peace and quiet to work in. Alora & Brittan helped make sandwiches and we packed up the car for a day trip. I was curious to discover just how far away South Dakota was if we just drove straight north. Surprisingly it's only about 2.5 hours. We found some pretty fun stuph to do, too. We picnicked at the Adams homestead where they've preserve a log cabin from 1868, when white settlers were new to the area, as well as a number of other buildings which were moved there to showcase the architecture of late 19th and early 20th century mid-America.

After that we headed over toward Sioux City to see what the town had to offer. Crossing the border back into Iowa we stopped at the welcome center to pick up some pamphlets and ended up spending over 2 hours there. Ironically, we have stopped here before for a potty break but never for more than a few minutes. Sioux City, you see, is located on the burial site of one Sgt. Floyd who died while accompanying Lewis and Clark on their voyage of discovery. An old ferry named for him and converted into a museum of Missouri river travel forms the focus of the welcome center. There are levers and bells and pelts and communication tubes and models of old ships enough to excite any child or history buff. We also happened to be there upon the day when re-enactors from the trappers days through the indian wars were camped out on the lawn. We learned everything from how pelts were tanned to why blacksmiths try to minimize the number of times they fire a piece of iron (they loose some metal every time to oxidation). After a snack at the car it was on to the playground overlooking the Missouri.

20 August 2009

Ivanna Cone Tweetup

19 August 2009 - First Day of School!!!

Maxwell, Zara, Deanna

16 August 2009 - just another lazy Sunday...

12 August 2009

I have many fun memories of baseball as a kid - playing games at the erosion pits, going to the ballpark, etc. Unfortunately, professional baseball many years ago abandoned its role as America's pastime. By choosing to model their business on fewer higher paying customers they have abandoned their role as the sport of the masses. When I was a kid we used to go pay $3 apiece to sit in the nosebleed seats of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium and watch the Braves as they went from laughingstock to world champions. I'd bring along a bag of pretzels and a thermos of grape Kool-Aid and walk past the many boiled peanut vendors on the way into the stadium. One year I bought a wooden tomahawk inside the stadium to bring to games. After a couple years of bringing it I was refused entry because it was considered a weapon - this wooden tomahawk I bought INSIDE the park just a few years before. This was just an inkling of the things to come...

After the Olympics, the Braves had a new field which the always modest Ted Turner had named after himself. This new park was more high-tech, featured games, fancier food and fewer seats the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium had. Ticket prices were higher, and they tried to keep outside food from coming in. The fans revolted on this point and succeeded (at least for a time, I haven't been there in a decade). When I grew old enough to take my own family though, there were no tickets under $10, much less the $3 ones we'd gotten just a few years before. Going to a game was something only the grandparents could afford. I still followed on TV, but after Cal Ripken retired even that stopped.

M & Z enjoying a day at the ballpark.
My kids have grown up without baseball other than the home run derby we used to play in the back yard. Every few years I miss it though and try to recapture it. After catching a bit on NPR about the minors I decided it would be fun to go to a Salt Dogs game. Now mind you they aren't even affiliated with a major league team, but they do share a stadium with the university. The players make so little they can't afford apartments and need families in town to sponsor them. The stadium has nice berm areas ($6.50 for adults, $5.50 for kids) with picnic tables behind them so last night Cara prepared a lovely picnic and we headed out to the stadium. When we got there, however, we discovered that "picnic area" meant only food & drink bought inside the stadium. So our wonderful, healthy picnic sat in the car while we snacked on $7 chicken nuggets with cold fries and $5 slices of pizza. Add in the $3 for the cheapest drinks and non-existent water fountains on a hot summer evening and you can guess how expensive this trip ended up being. We will not be going back. Baseball is no longer America's pastime.

10 August 2009

Ray & Bev got into town this weekend for a lovely sampling of the midwest. Bev has already declared that she's eaten too much red meat and needs chicken tomorrow while Ray says "You trick red man with fire water!" after the beer tour of the region I prepared for him: From Boulevard in Kansas City to Goose Island in Chicago to Avery in Boulder to Empyrean right here in Lincoln. Yesterday we also finally made it up to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha which didn't disappoint although the rain made it a rather soggy affair.

5 August 2009

Maxwell's and Zara invented one of the most distgusting games ever today when they discovered Zinny liked to lick off their food-covered faces. They call the game "dentist". We have tried to discourage the game with discussions of germs, disease transmission, etc but they just find it so darn funny...

2 August 2009

Shenandoah Valley, California Winding down US 49 toward Plymouth one can easily mistake the location for a back road in the Appalachian Mountains rather than the Sierra Foothills. It is not surprising then to find Amador County's main valley named Shenandoah after the river valley in the Appalachian foothills of northern Virginia. California's Shenandoah Valley and the rest of its superappellation, the Sierra Foothills, have been a hotbed of viticultural activity especially among Italian varietals and Zinfandel, which is evolving into the premier grape of the region much in the way Napa Valley is known for it's Cabernet Sauvignon. (Read the full article here.)

1 August 2009

Ever since living in California wine has been a hobby of mine - where it is grown, what varietals are include, what the soil is like, what farming practices were used, what vinification practices were used, etc. Of course, taking so much care for one single beverage is somewhat silly - being happy spending $10 for a nice Cab from the Colchagua Valley or wherever while being aghast when a gallon of milk from I don't care where can't be found for under $3. I use milk as an example because, as my love for wine waxed, my love for that favorite beverage of my youth correspondingly waned. Nice food, you see, is often more expensive that not so nice food. Sure, I would occasionally splurge for some really nice meat or some fancy cheese, but generally I approached the trip to the grocery store as a minimization problem, able to quickly estimate the price of a cart of groceries to within 10%. For a long time I thought of cost as being a function of the level of prepreparation in food, which it often is, rather than seeing it as a function of quality, which also surely comes into the equation. Which brings me back to milk: whereas 10 years ago I generally drank at least 4 glasses of milk a day, up until a few weeks ago I had fallen to drinking 1 or less. I realized that that the skimmed, homogenized, pasteurized milk grown using ridiculous amounts of hormones and antibiotics was like the jug wine grown in California's Central Valley with massive amounts of irrigation to push yields above 12 tons/acre. No wonder I preferred the $10 bottle of wine to the milk I was drinking!

Have you ever tried to find out where all the ingredients in a box of Cheeze-its comes from? Try.

A few weeks ago I was in the HyVee and on a lark picked up a half gallon jug of organic, unhomogenized milk. You know, the kind you read about in nursery rhymes with the creme on top. I came home and poured myself a glass with a big old chunk of creme floating in it. I took a sip and was instantly transported back to Honduras, where the only milk available to me was straight from a cow. This was MILK in my glass, not some processed extract thereof. Since then we have discovered that, living in a state full of cows, there is plenty of high quality milk nearby. The French claim that they can taste terroir in cheese, but, while I can separate an Amador Zin from a Dry Creek Valley one, my milk palate is still limited to high quality vs. low quality. It wasn't that many years ago that I couldn't tell a Cab from a Merlot though, so I'm working on it. While it's illegal under federal law for them to sell it to me straight out of the cow without pasteurizing it, many of these farmers focus on maximizing quality as well as minimizing price. And doing both makes all the difference.

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Last ∆ on 30 August 2009 by Bradley James Wogsland.