Ground Quidditch is Real

Posted by ted @ 8:30 am, April 17th, 2011

Why are America’s best and brightest and leaders of tomorrow out running around in the mud with broom sticks between their legs, trying to chase a someone in a golden lycra suit? They are playing Quidditch, of course! Yesterday two championship games of the Prairie Cup Ground Quidditch tournament were held on the campus of the University of Minnesota Morris. The game rules are roughly the same as the game from the world of Harry Potter, with of course the exception of the flying around part. People run about with brooms between their legs trying to throw a quaffle through the goal rings while avoiding the beaters trying to hit them with bludger balls. (Truth be told, we had a hard time telling the quaffle from the bludgers.) All the while, a person designated the golden snitch runs about (in a wonderful shiny golden suit) trying to avoid having his tail removed by seekers. In the pickup game we watched there were not actually any seekers in evidence chasing the golden snitch, but he had a nice run about anyway (and yes, that is fresh snow on the ground on April 16th!)

You can find a few more of my pictures here, and campus news coverage here

Happy Make Pi Day 2009!

Posted by ted @ 2:00 pm, March 12th, 2009

Pi day (March 14 or 3/14) rapidly approaches once again. Last year we celebrated with . . . a pie. This year we are going to be in Minneapolis for my son B to play in a state piano competition, so I was not sure how we would recognize the day short of buying some pie. But now, salvation! Make: TV is having a Make: Day at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  We are SO there. As a subscriber to Make magazine, and the Make philosophy I often lament that all of the Maker Faire events take place in far off Texas or California, so I am very pleased to be able to attend a Make event right here in my home state of Minnesota, and even on a day when I will be driving to the Twin Cities anyway.

Celebrate the ingenuity and inventiveness in our community. Make: television, Geek Squad® and the Science Museum of Minnesota join forces to create a new event giving local engineers, artists, tinkerers and inventors the opportunity to showcase their DIY creations to museum visitors.

This family-friendly event features arts, electronics, musical performances, green technology, crafting and more!

Happy Pi Day!

The Many Faces of March 14

A Spring Sail

Posted by ted @ 12:30 pm, May 19th, 2008

Yesterday we had an absolutely beautiful sunny Minnesota spring day. I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of it by heading out for a sail on our little local lake. I have to get in my sailing early in the summer before the lake fills up with seaweed and it is like sailing in jello. I have an O’day Widgeon 12ft day sailer which I leave beached at a friends’ backyard on the lake. This time I did remember to bring my rubber boots to keep my feet out the smelly mush along the shore, but forgot my big sponge to sop out the rain water and tree droppings from the cockpit. That’s okay, my pants soaked up most of it from the seats. I enjoyed a wonderful sail around the lake while trying to figure out the wacky wind patterns and make it around the little island and back. If you have never sailed in a small lake in Minnesota you may not know that the winds tend to be very gusty and uneven and come from 12 different directions depending on where you are on the lake. One moment I am drifting along, the next the little boat surges forward and heels over in a gust, then just as quickly drops into another hole in the wind and falls back flat. I can be in irons with the sails flapping, cruising along on a beam reach, then broad reach, then back in irons (oooo sailor talk) without ever changing direction. Looking across the lake you can even see the little patchwork areas of high wind roaming around across the surface of the lake. It does add a little excitement, as I really didn’t want to take a swim in the cold green water, and while I technically know how to right a small capsized sailboat it has been many many years since I have done it, and never with this boat. Watching the clouds, listening to the geese and ducks announce my arrival, and calculating my next tack to avoid the shallows and make it around the island, I had to stop and appreciate that life could be worse.

Crazed Cardinals Attack!

Posted by ted @ 11:31 am, April 30th, 2008

For the last few weeks these two crazy cardinals have been repeatedly intentionally flying in to all the windows across the back of our house. It goes on for hours at a time and can get a little maddening. We usually love to catch sight of the Cardinals in our yard as they are not nearly as common in Minnesota as they were at our previous home in Indiana, but these guys are starting to get on my nerves. A little online research reveals that when Cardinals do this they are probably try to scare away the other Cardinal (their reflection) from their breeding area. I edited down this video to the action parts, but everything you see happened within the 2 and a half minutes of the original video.

And yes that is what Minnesota looks like sometimes at the end of April.

At least they are not skunks, and I am not supposed to shoot at them.

Skunks in the Yard

Posted by ted @ 8:44 pm, June 17th, 2006

This afternoon something black and white moving under a tree caught my eye out the window. I grabbed the binoculars and immediately identified three small skunks exploring an area near the back of the yard. I live in a small town (5600) but I am not used to seeing skunks in town, and I have no experience with them on a first hand basis. Seemed like I should let someone know about this… but who.

I tried a neighbor (who happens to be a wildlife educator also), but they weren’t home. I tried the humane society to see if they had someone who took care of these things, no one was home. After seeing the neighbors cat come to explore these new visitors, it really seemed like I should tell someone about this. I eventually gave in and called the local police. I guess I must have been naively thinking they would rush out some highly trained professional with just the right gear and equipment to safely trap and relocate these poor little critters to some beautiful baby skunk relocation park, or something. The person who answered the phone didn’t know and called the “officer on duty”. He came on and said he understood I had a rodent problem. Yes, three young skunks. His answer, “We don’t pick up dead animals”. Confused, I answer, “they are not dead animals, they are exploring my yard”. His answer, ” well… I mean…. if they become dead animals…we can’t pick them up”. Um that wasn’t actually what I had in mind. “become dead”, like some kid telling his parents…”well I was just playing with it…and it became dead”. He went on to say something to the effect that I could get permission to shoot them if I had a rifle. I don’t. and didn’t want to. There was nothing more to say. Later we saw a back neighbor out in his yard with what I hope was a pellet gun, but I don’t think he got them. I am only sorry I didn’t get close enough for a good picture of them, maybe tomorrow….