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Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

1. Over the past couple of weeks, I've taken my kids sans Mrs. Van Horn to see their cousins in Mississippi and in California. The latter trip included a long layover in Nashville due to a delayed flight. There, desperation drove me to an internet search of things for kids to do at airports.

Nothing I could use turned up, but I did find a list from Parenting of airports with play areas and other fun activities. I've bookmarked it for possible later use and am passing it on for the sake of any fellow parents who happen by. BWI has one I didn't know about, despite living in the area for about three years:
Upstairs in the main terminal, in BWI's Observation Gallery, is a one-of-a-kind children's play area. There's an array of airplane parts: a wing, tail, wheels -- even part of a fuselage. Plus some fun equipment meant to be played on (don't fret -- the area is carpeted).
Several airports have impressive offerings, topped by the seven play areas of Detroit's airport.

2. Statistician John Cook discusses the peculiar case of the initial vote count of an election being affected by a cosmic ray "flipping" a bit (i.e., changing a 1 to a 0 or vice versa in the computer's memory):
Radiolab did an episode on the case of a cosmic bit flip changing the vote tally in a Belgian election in 2003. The error was caught because one candidate got more votes than was logically possible. A recount showed that the person in question got 4096 more votes in the first count than the second count. The difference of exactly 212 votes was a clue that there had been a bit flip. All the other counts remained unchanged when they reran the tally. [link omitted]
I, too, had been aware of such bit flips as a theoretical possibility, but had never heard of one being documented until I read Cook's post.

3. I use a shortened form of my middle name in the same manner most people use their first names. In my case, it's because I was named after my father, who used his first name. And so it is that I find humor in this list of "10 Struggles People Who Go by Their Middle Name Understand, Because No, We're Not Trying to Confuse You." Item six applies to me only to the extent that many forms only allow a middle initial, and seven doesn't really apply because I never list my middle name as my first name.

But item eight does:
Remember when Homer Simpson was impersonating Mr. Burns, but he couldn't come up with his first name when asked? Yeah, that's how I sound whenever a hotel clerk asks for my name. Because saying "Well, you might have me down as..." doesn't seem sketchy at all...
This affects me a little because many places are kind enough to ask what you prefer to be called, but don't pass the information around consistently. On top of that, my wife usually handles our travel arrangements, and she uses her maiden name for professional reasons. So, when I travel, I get to do the "you might have me down as" with my last name, too.

There are advantages to using my middle name. It's generally easy to tell over the phone if I am speaking to someone who actually knows me, for example.

muscadinquin.jpg
A Father's Day gift and a bottle of muscadine wine. (Image by me. Feel free to reproduce or use with or without modification. Attribution would be appreciated.)
4. When visiting my mother recently, I learned that Mississippi has a small wine industry. But since the climate there is unsuitable for grapes, the wine is made from the related muscadine.

I had a white from the Old South Winery of Natchez. The result was sweet, and had both the distinctive flavor and some of the gelatinous mouthfeel of the fruit. (This instantly took me down memory lane to the small part of my grandfather's back yard where he grew muscadines.)

I brought a couple of bottles back home, but Mrs. Van Horn was not a fan.

More for me!

-- CAV

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