Challenge #2

Have you tried GeoGuessr? It’s kinda like a pictorial geographic version of Carmen Sandiego with difficulty levels of FUN to IMPOSSIBLE. Yesterday I found myself on a backroad in Northern Brazil. I walked for about 4 miles along a dirt road before I found a sign that hinted at a local town. For me, successful sleuthing of this kind is deeply rewarding.

I’ve always thought it would be awesome if you could playback a memory at random. You could passively watch the events and try and guess the time and place of the memory. GeoGuessr is an enjoyable substitute for my idea with the obvious shortfall of not including timeline positioning. With a timeline component you’d have to find tiny clues from common items surrounding you to guide you.

With this in mind, I’ve been working on a reverse timeline positioning challenge. I provide the dates, you try and guess the object in question.

Clue format will start with the year of invention or successful proof of concept and follow it with the decade when the item became prevalent in a common American household (or if its not a household item, common enough prevalence such that usage is no longer novelty)

For example:

Answer – the telephone.

There will be controversy with each of these items. In the case of the telephone there was a long development period. 1876 marks the first public demonstration of a bi-directional transmission, so that’s the date I chose. Further, the decade of commonality was tough to gauge for this one as well as most of the following challenges… In the 60’s according to the US census 80% of homes had a telephone… but data before then is hard to find.

Give these a shot! I’ll post the answers tomorrow. Good luck!

Question 1 Easy

Question 2 Medium

Question 3 Medium

Question 4 Hard

Question 5 Easy

Question 6 Extremely Hard

Green Bay Packers

Yesterday in my morning news feeds I stumbled across this article about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Actually, it’s not so much about Aaron Rodgers as his girlfriend Olivia Munn.

The article speculated that perhaps Rodgers’ dating an attractive woman subconsciously boosts his masculinity, thus giving him a slight edge in a sport that rewards masculine tasks. I discussed this with Sander this morning in our carpool ride to work. Sander agreed wholeheartedly taking causation to the next level:

“Dude, if I were dating Olivia Munn I could be an NFL quarterback.”

The article counters with various quarterback companions that were considered by fans to be negative influences to performance… but per Sander’s point, all those guys? NFL quarterbacks.

The comic biting undertone to the article is that the psychologist who suggested the connection is a geek writing about the jock and his girlfriend. High school social strata in the adult world.

The Color Purple

Recently we were FaceTiming with our niece Sylvie. At about 18 months she’s been learning words and the whole family has been encouraging her whenever possible. She wore a purple sweater for our conversation.

Mike D: Sylvie, what color is your sweater?
Sylvie, looking down and touching her sweater with her tiny hand.
Sylvie: Purple!
Mike D: Wow! Good job!

moments later, Alicia returned.

Mike D: Alicia! Sylvie knew her sweater was purple!!
Alicia: Actually, that’s the only color she knows. Sylvie, what color is a lion?
Sylvie: Purple!
Alicia: What color is grass?
Sylvie: Purple!

Oh the joys of childhood when the whole Earth was purple.

Book Update

Stranger in a Strange Land?

I couldn’t finish it. The book had an enjoyable concept but its dated writing style lost favor with me very quickly. Honestly, I’m stunned that it’s considered highly on sci-fi book ratings lists.

I have since picked up Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, written in 1974. The narrative prose still feels fresh. It’s poetic and interesting.

Why do some books like Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) age while others are still so vibrant (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Dune (1965)) ? I wonder if it’s personal taste or something that’s embedded in the styles of writing.

I haven’t a clue, but I’m glad to have found an enjoyable read.

Utility Expenses: Power

Jen and I have been moved into our new home for 8 months now and I couldn’t be happier with the setup. It’s open, homey, and secluded enough to offer a pleasant release from the sounds of traffic. Unfortunately, we are secluded enough to be too far away from natural gas pricing to have that option available to use for heating; I’m expecting a high heating bill for the winter. In preparation for increased expenditure I figured I’d take some time to try and minimize our utility usage. First place to look? electricity.


Our home is overabundantly lit. I suspected a surplus when I noticed there were three bulbs in a single fixture. Three bulbs in one fixture? Extravagance!

This past weekend I went to each fixture and reduced the quantity of bulbs down to one per fixture. The surplus? 17 BULBS!

Holy cow!

Holy cow!

SEVENTEEN! After the extraction the only obvious area where we noticed a dimmer atmosphere was in our mud room closet. Hardly worth the extra bulbage.

We also found the half dozen most used areas in our home and replaced those with LED bulbs. Now we’re talking! There are a lot of data websites out there that provide analysis on whether or not LEDs are worth the investment. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to come to their own conclusion. Still… lighting is small peanuts compared to the larger power consumers like appliances.

I touched base with our electric company. Fun fact! I thought that all houses were on variable pricing (with on and off peak hours). This is not the case. The default for residential is a fixed rate plan. You can switch if you want but the advantages are mixed at best.

For Connecticut Light and Power the fixed rate is ~$0.10/kwHr. Switching to variable rates drops the off-peak rate (8pm-noon) to 9 cents a kwhr… BUT! the on-peak rate skyrockets to $0.12/kwHr. Yikes! Making the decision even harder, I’m told you have to switch for a year resulting in risk of high monthly bills due to AC usage in the summertime. I’m going to take a look at energy analysis tools to see if I can determine what our usage rate is across various hours of each day and for each appliance.


New Hobby

I’ve decided to try my hand at painting.

My maternal grandparents left me a whole bunch of carving equipment after their passing. It was a much appreciated gesture as my grandfather and I shared an interest in wood sculpture. Included in the inheritance was a huge box of paints. Only a month or two ago when I started casually looking at painting did I begin to recognize the scope of this inheritance.

The stockpile includes 30-40 tubes of acrylics and paint brushes aplenty – it’s a mammoth supply. To help organize the collection I fashioned a custom paint-brush/pallet knife holder. Check it out:


What brought about this new interest? Mainly the fact that we’ve been looking for art for our home. I have a special appreciation for contemporary pieces – bold stretches of colors across big canvas and that’s the type of thing that I might be able to mimic. So let’s learn!

To start, I found a youtube video that provides a tutorial. This guy is great! I tried to mimic as much as I could, and I’m pleased with the results but I have a long way to go:


I learned a bunch through this process. Pallet knives are tricky to work with. So easy to clean, but difficult to manipulate for fine detail. This is likely why there’s an impressionistic feel to many pallet knife pieces. The swipe of a knife provides a very rewarding swath of color and it’s fun to overlay different colors and generate a warm gradient.

Next up I’m going to try and use a photograph from our recent Italy trip as a template. I’ll keep you updated with my progress!

Business Travel and an Unexpected Guest

Business Travel:
This week I’m in Atlanta on business. Just a quick jaunt, I expect to be back on Friday.

An Unexpected Guest:
This past weekend in chatting with the neighbors we learned that there are some river otters living in the pond in our backyard. Sure enough, this morning as we ate our cereal (JIf cereal – surprisingly tasty) some splashing caught our eye and a little river otter could be seen swimming along the shore.

What a treat!