Archive for January, 2019

Winnner: Pluto, followed by Frank, the sports guy, Jake, and Keith

Tiffany was recruited at the last minute to be the moderator and quiz developer this evening. Turns out that Tiffany, the bartender with a smile, the mom of 2 beautiful little girls, is really a very cruel, heartless person.

She created the most impossibly difficult trivia quiz that anyone had ever seen. Then she told us that she was sorry, that the questions had turned out to be more difficult than she expected. But she said that with a smile on her face, and a laugh in her voice. We didn’t believe her for a minute.

Pluto, who found himself wild ass guessing on almost every question, was lucky enough to guess right on a few questions and win. But Rosebud, always a contender, wasn’t so lucky. She had only 4 right and 16 wrong, and after the game was over just sat there stunned.

Good Question: (not easy to find a good question tonight)

Which insect shorted out an early supercomputer and inspired the term “computer bug”?

Choices: a. moth   b. fly   c.roach   d. Japanese beetle


Answer: moth

First a comparison of that first “super computer” versus today’s iPhone.

“And while the ENIAC was a marvel for its time, it was of course a dinosaur by today’s standards. The ENIAC had 17,468 vacuum tubes that blew out every couple of days. It took up 1,800 square feet of warehouse space and weighed more than 25 tons (which is as much as some of the heaviest actual dinosaurs). And for all that, it could execute 5,000 instructions per second. The iPhone 6, weighing in at 4.55 ounces? 25 billion instructions per second.”

Now for the Moth story.

“It’s an oft-repeated tale that the grand dame of military computing, computer scientist and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, coined the terms bug and debug after an incident involving Harvard University’s Mark II calculator.

The story goes like this:

On September 9, 1945, a Harvard technical team looked at Panel F and found something unusual between points in Relay 70. It was a moth, which they promptly removed and taped in the log book. Grace Hopper added the caption “First actual case of bug being found,” and that’s the first time anyone used the word bug to describe a computer glitch. Naturally, the term debugging followed.

Yes, it’s an oft-repeated tale, but it’s got more bugs in it than Relay 70 probably ever had.

For one thing, Harvard’s Mark II came online in summer of 1947, two years after the date attributed to this story. For another thing, you don’t use a line like “First actual case of bug being found” if the term bug isn’t already in common use. The comment doesn’t make sense in that context, except as an example of engineer humor. And although Grace Hopper often talked about the moth in the relay, she did not make the discovery or the log entry.

The core facts of the story are true — including the date of September 9 and time of 15:45 hours — but that’s not how this meaning of the word bug appeared in the dictionary. Inventors and engineers had been talking about bugs for more than a century before the moth in the relay incident. Even Thomas Edison used the word.

Here’s an extract of a letter he wrote in 1878 to Theodore Puskas, as cited in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006):

‘Bugs’ — as such little faults and difficulties are called — show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labor are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.

Word nerds trace the word bug to an old term for a monster — it’s a word that has survived in obscure terms like bugaboo and bugbear and in a mangled form in the word boogeyman.” (computerworld)

When I think of a buggy computer I always think of HAL in 2001:


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Winners: Team TP – Tom Twin & Paula

2nd Place: Team Nutporters – they hear no evil, speak no evil.

Changed the format tonight, played with three person teams. Except for Tom Twin and Paula, who couldn’t find a third to join them. Well, they didn’t need anyone’s help. Their mastery of corporate logos and it’s bonus points put them over the top.They must watch a lot of commercials. Team Nutporters thought they were a dream team. Turns out they weren’t.

Tonight was the annual regifting night. A lot of broken hearts for some folks when the gift they selected and treasured was taken from them. Wait until next year.

Good Question!: What color do you get if you mix all of the light colors together?

Choices: a. brown   b. white   black   d. yellow

Answer: white

This stuff is complicated.

A simulated example of additive color mixing. Additive primaries act as sources of light. The standard red, green, and blue combine pairwise to produce the additive secondaries cyan, magenta, and yellow. Combining all three primaries (center) produces yellow and white.

And now a bit of subtractive mixing, used in mixing paint (not light)

Combining all three primaries (center) absorbs all the light, resulting in black. For real pigments, the results would be somewhat complicated by opacity and mixing behavior, and in practice adding a fourth pigment such as black may be helpful.

White Light

White light is a uniform mixture of all visible light. Natural light, like sunlight is considered to be white light and contains the entire visible spectrum. Pure white light contains all the colors of the rainbow.

Most things do not give out their own light. We see them because they reflect light from the Sun. To the eye, white daylight is a mixture of red, green and blue. Most things look colored in daylight because they reflect only some colors and absorb the rest. In other words, they subtract colors from white.

In white light:
A red cloth reflects red light but absorbs green and blue.
A yellow cloth reflects red and green light but absorb blue.
A white cloth reflects red, green and blue. It absorbs no colors.
A black cloth reflects virtually no light. It absorbs red, green and blue.



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Winner: Jackie, then Nancy, Matt, and Bryan

Big crowd tonight, almost ran out of the answer cards. Newbie Nancy and Jackie finished tied at the end of regulation and headed to a playoff. After a few rounds Jackie finished first when only she knew that the red spot planet was Jupiter.

Think we need to recruit an English teacher to this game. One question caused quite a heated discussion over the difference between metaphor and simile. But not as heated as the discussion about that egregious, outrageous no call in the NFL playoffs.

Good Question!: What character did Jane Seymour play in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” ?

Choices: a. Solitaire   b. Mary Goodnight  c. Pussy Galore   d. Holly Goodhead

Answer: Solitaire

“Live and Let Die”

Solitaire is a Voodoo psychic in the employ of Dr. Kananga. As James bond travels to NYC by plane, Solitaire describes his journey to Dr. Kananga through the use of Tarot cards. The one drawback to her ability is that she must remain a virgin in order to preserve it. Now you know this is going to be problematic in a Bond movie.

When Bond meets Solitaire and asks about his future he is instructed to pick up a card. Bond quizzically comments “us?” after picking up the lovers card.

Later, after picking the lovers card again, Bond convinces Solitaire they are meant to be lovers. With odds stacked in his favor, Bond succeeds in seducing her. After losing her virginity to Bond through their sexual intercourse, Solitaire loses her psychic power, which endangers her life. You knew this was coming.

Dr. Kananga is not happy and arranges a voodoo end for Solitaire. Arriving on San Monique island, where a voodoo ceremony is already under way, Bond looks on as Solitaire is led out for sacrifice. Tied to an altar, she watches helplessly as a gleeful Dambala menaces her with a deadly snake. However, just before it can inflict the fatal bite, Bond interrupts the ceremony, shoots Dambala dead and rescues Solitaire.

After a number of close calls Kanaga catches the pair and they are tied up and left to be eaten by sharks, but Bond manages to free himself and defeat Kananga, allowing the pair to escape. Yay!

Get a better flavor about this Bond movie by watching it:



Maybe the best Bond theme song (by the McCartneys and Wings):



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Winner: Maeve, followed by Rosebud, Erin, Carol St. Martin, and Sarah

Tonight was ladies night. Where were the guys? Maeve, Erin, and Sarah were just the leading edge of a group of next gen players. It was good to see them do well.

Tonight we learned that Ross Edgley consumed more than 500 bananas as he swam around Great Britain. Seems like a lot, what did he do with all those peels?.

Good Question!: In what month is the earth closest to the sun?

Choices: a, January   b. February   c. July   d. August

Answer: January

Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

Earth is about 3 million miles closer to the sun in early January (@91.4M miles) than it is in early July (@94.5M miles). That’s always the case. Earth is closest to the sun every year in early January, when it’s winter for the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth’s orbit is very nearly circular. Thus it’s not our distance from the sun – but instead the tilt of our world’s axis – that creates winter and summer on Earth. In winter, your part of Earth is tilted away from the sun. In summer, your part of Earth is tilted toward the sun. The day of maximum tilt toward or away from the sun is the December or June solstice.

Over the course of a year, the angle of tilt does not vary. In other words, Earth’s northern axis is always pointing the same direction in space. At this time, that direction is more or less toward the star we call Polaris, the North Star. But the orientation of Earth’s tilt with respect to the sun – our source of light and warmth – does change as we orbit the sun. In other words, the Northern Hemisphere is oriented toward the sun for half of the year and away from the sun for the other half. The same is true of the Southern Hemisphere.

When the Southern Hemisphere is oriented toward the sun (Dec-Jan-Feb) , that region of Earth warms because of the corresponding increase in solar radiation. The sun’s rays are striking that part of Earth at a more direct angle. It’s summer.

The tilt in Earth’s axis is strongly influenced by the way mass is distributed over the planet. Large amounts of land mass and ice sheets in the northern hemisphere make Earth top-heavy. An analogy for obliquity is imagining what would happen if you were to spin a ball with a piece of bubble gum stuck near the top. The extra weight would cause the ball to tilt when spun.

TILT – try this video

One of the great sci-fi movies of the 21st-century is “Sunshine.” It’s solar winter and this is the mission to reignite the sun before it’s too late.

A pretty darn good trailer, too.



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Winner: Carol St. Martin, then the Driver and Connor

First day of the year, first game of the year.
Tuesday night trivia late on New Year’s day! – only for diehard fans. The rest of us were home in bed trying to catch up on our beauty sleep.
But Carol St.Martin proved that you can celebrate New Year’s Eve one night and come back the next night and win trivia. Wait until she hits 66 and finds out how tough that is.

Good Question!: What is the largest park in the continental United States?

Choices: a. Adirondack State Park   b. Yellowstone N.P.   c. Yosemite N.P.            d. Grand Canyon N.P.

Answer: Adirondack State Park

This surprised a lot of people. Most folks think of the big parks being out west.

Did not surprise this blogger. I spent my first five years after college working in the Adirondack Park, know it like the back of my hand.

The Adirondack Park is the largest protected area in the contiguous United States; a patchwork of public and private lands that comprises approximately 6 million acres in the northeast corner of New York State. It is larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier and Grand Canyon National Parks combined.

There is no marked boundary to the park; no entrance gate and no admission fee.

The Park is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, courtesy of its topography; a juxtaposition of mountains and water that includes over 2,000 miles of marked hiking trails and 3,000 lakes and ponds and more that 1,200 miles of rivers fed by an estimated 30,000 miles of brooks and streams.  Millions visit annually to hike, bike, paddle, ski, snowshoe and climb, as well as bask in the spectacular beauty of the protected wilderness.

Who could forget the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980 and “The Miracle on Ice,” when a team of American collegiate hockey players beat the team of professionals from Russia, who had won four consecutive gold medals. Relive “Do you believe in miracles” at about 8 minutes into this clip.

And let’s not forget ice skater Eric Heiden, who remains the only athlete to win five gold medals in one Winter Games. He skated his races on a sheet of ice set up outdoors and you watched him race from temporary bleachers in front of the local high school. Lake Placid, with a population of 2,500 was not a big-time Olympics, but it was very special.


If you are looking to do something in the Adirondack Park, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival takes place the first 10 days in February. It’s pretty cool (pardon the pun.)

Just remember to bundle up.

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