Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Blizzard 2009

Some may argue my characterization of our recent weather phenomenon as a blizzard, but at the very least it was our first heavy snowstorm. It blew in yesterday, lasted the better part of two days, and left a couple feet of snow behind. Here's the front of the house.
I had to dust a little snow off my car.
Trudging through the Great, White North (actually, it's just our backyard).
That evergreen tree was about her height when we moved in.
Clearing the way to the barbecue.

Preparing for the barbecue.

Gotta love Colorado. You can barbecue year round. When we first moved to Colorado, I marveled at people in their shorts in the winter. As our daughter says, I have completely acclimatized. (For my "steak recipe," check out her blog here.)

Many schools and businesses closed yesterday and today, along with large stretches of interstates 25 and 70. Most Denverites chose to stay inside and enjoy the warmth of their homes. Our Nuggets managed to play their season opener at the Pepsi Center last night and prevailed over the Utah Jazz for their first victory of the newborn NBA season.

Mi-ke (pronounced Mee-kay, Japanese for calico) thought she wanted to go outside but soon changed her mind.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Are Mizzou: Golden Girl Karielle

Our niece, Karielle, dances with the University of Missouri dance team, the Golden Girls. She was recently featured in a video on Check out the video.

Each week, features a Mizzou Spirit member. This week, Karielle Chambers from Kansas City tells us why she loves dancing at football games. Karielle is currently in a spirit competition on You can still vote for her until October 30th here.
Check out the video here.

I wrote previously about Karielle and the Golden Girls here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ellie!

100th Blog Post

Celebrating my 100th Blog post. It's apparently the thing to do.

What's so special about 100? It's one of those numbers.
A century. Ten tens. Special.
It can be written in many ways. As the product of squares.

As the sum of cubes.

A very old puzzle joins the digits 1 to 9, in that order, using only the usual signs of operations and brackets, to total 100.

Here's another solution to that puzzle.

The Romans used C, an abbreviation for Latin centum.

In Hebrew, the letter Kof is used to represent the number 100.

Base of the natural logarithm system, Euler's number, e, raised to the power approximately 4.60517 represents 100.

The common logarithm of 10 raised to the 100th power (duh!).

A multi-colored ten by ten cube.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


We made a delicious discovery last night. A group of friends and associates from our company, Affordable American Insurance, gathered at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse for a production of Phantom. The son of one of the couples was playing a major role. The performance was excellent, the food quite satisfactory, and the venue just right.

The cast has received excellent reviews from the Denver Post here, in an article entitled "The Other 'Phantom' is Candlelight's Best Effort to Date."
An excerpt:
"Phantom both fills and fulfills. After the playhouse satiates you with a fine, appropriately French-themed dinner, the musical's soaring vocals reach every corner of this 380-seat proscenium theater, delivering the production that at last realizes the potential envisioned when this $6.2 million gem opened in Johnstown 16 months ago."

For more information about Candlelight Dinner Playhouse and upcoming productions, check out the website.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Our family's history with Mah-Jongg goes back to India, where my wife's grandparents (on both sides of the family) were missionaries. Mah-Jongg was allowed on the missions compound whereas card playing was not. Ironically, Mah-Jongg is a sort of card game that uses tiles rather than cards, and it is one of the most popular gambling games in the world, especially in Asia. Nevertheless, the missionaries in India played it, and passed it on to their children, who passed it on to their children. It is a fun game, even without wagering. When no money is involved, chips or other markers are used to keep score.

The first thing you need to know about the Mah-Jongg we play is that it has nothing to do with the solitaire game so popular today, especially when played on a computer. That game uses Mah-Jongg tiles instead of playing cards to create a multitudinous variety of solitaire games, but technically it is solitaire—not Mah-Jongg.

The Mah-Jongg our family knows and loves is played by four persons around a table (although I understand people play it this way online, as well). Our family has spent many enjoyable hours playing Mah-Jongg. We've shared the game with many of our friends and with our children, which extends the legacy of Mah-Jongg in our family to children's children's children (Jack Handey probably would not approve!).

Recently, we discovered that Mah-Jongg is (or at least was) very popular in the American Jewish community. The article (entitled Mah-Jongg, Jewish women have kept the game alive in North America) can be found here.

The origins of Mah-Jongg are shrouded in the mists of the past. There seems to be no consensus on who invented it or exactly when. It does seem clear, however, that it did not appear in its present form earlier than the mid-1800s.

Here's one explanation from the abovementioned article.

"Mah-jongg's precursors may be centuries old, but the game most Americans know dates back only about 150 years. Around 1846, a servant of the Chinese emperor combined the rules of popular card games of the time, and replaced cards with tiles to create mah-jongg. The name itself means sparrows—an allusion to the pictures of birds often engraved on the tiles.

The advent of mah-jongg coincided with China's opening to foreign traders, after the First Opium War (1837-1842). One American businessman, Joseph Babcock, traveled to China on behalf of the Standard Oil Company in 1912 and brought the game back to America. He changed the numbers on the tiles to numerals with which Americans are familiar (1, 2, 3, etc.) and by 1920, Abercrombie and Fitch, then a sporting and excursion goods store, was the first place to sell mah-jongg in America. Throughout the 1920s, the game was a popular craze. Over time, to make the game more difficult and exciting, playing groups made up their own table rules."

The article goes on:
"In 1937, a group of Jewish women formed the National Mah Jongg League (NMJL), which to this day strives to maintain consistency in the game. Each year the League issues a card listing winning combinations of tiles (which change every year) and standard regulations. This stability helped the game to survive. But Jewish involvement in the League doesn't fully explain the Jewish mah-jongg phenomenon.

Perhaps the most important factor in mah-jongg's survival is the role it played in the bungalow colonies, popular Jewish vacation sites in the mid-20th century. In Borscht Belt Bungalows: Memories of Catskill Summers, Irwin Richman describes the Jewish vacation culture there: "By the middle of the century, mah-jongg had spread from the city to the suburbs and the vacation resorts, it went along with the Jews. The click, click of tiles and phrases like 'five bam' and 'two crak' filled the air many an afternoon at the large colonies."

More about the history and rules of Mah-Jongg can be found on the following links: