Sunday, March 30, 2008


Overall Standings

Group Standings
Rank Team Name Score Correct Best Score Best Correct Champion
1 Sharon 71 43 89 46 Kansas (129)
2 Melanie Henion 70 43 98 48 Kansas (169)
3 Susan Steiger 68 41 96 46 UCLA (123)
4 Chris Charland 67 40 95 45 North Carolina (148)
4 Nancy Steiger 67 41 95 46 Kansas (148)
6 Melissa Hoyt 65 39 93 44 UCLA (114)
7 derek washington 64 40 92 45 North Carolina (135)
7 Dick Steiger 64 40 92 45 Memphis (127)
7 Kevin Washington 64 41 88 45 Kansas (136)
10 Jackson Steiger 63 41 91 46 North Carolina (157)
11 Roger Steiger 62 39 86 43 North Carolina (144)
12 John W 61 39 61 39 Michigan St. (110)
13 Adam Hardy 60 38 74 40 UCLA (165)
13 Tom Steiger 60 38 84 42 UCLA (32)
15 Carla Mantel 59 38 77 41 North Carolina (143)
16 Barb Hardy 55 35 73 38 North Carolina (105)
16 Megan Steiger 55 34 79 38 North Carolina (133)
18 Michelle Charland 53 34 71 37 North Carolina (143)
19 John Lichtenberg 0 0 0 0 ()

Report Updated as of: 3/29/08 11:14 PM EST

Saturday, March 29, 2008


There's a poem in the current issue of the New Yorker that expresses the way I've been feeling about the weather for the past few weeks. The poem's title is "March" and the author is Louise Gluck. These are the two parts of the poem that appealed to me:

The light stays longer in the sky, but it's a cold light,
it brings no relief from winter....

It's a little early for all of this.
Everything's still very bare----
nevertheless, something's different today from yesterday

Today we had blue sky and sunshine, and the sun was stronger - it really felt warm. We went to the dump and to town and did a little geocaching and sightseeing. The Bays were both beautiful and blue, with occasional stripes of white ice. It was a great day for a drive, but for geocaching, the footpaths are still deep with snow. We also still have 18 inches on our deck.

Dick is third in our family bracket competition, and I'm sixth at the moment. The Midwest bracket (read Davidson) did us all in this year. Dick picked Memphis to win it all, and I picked Kansas. Maybe one of us will get lucky. This should be an interesting weekend. I'm a little nervous because Kansas has to play Davidson! I think that Stephen Curry is an alien.

The Big Ten is all washed up. Both Wisconsin and Michigan State lost by 20 points! I was counting on them each to win one more game each. At least State lost to a high seed - but then of course Wisconsin had to play (shudder) Davidson. The headline on the front page of the Record-Eagle this morning was "Sparty-Poopers".

This is Spring (???)

We went for a drive today essentially to go out to lunch at Art's Tavern in Glen Arbor, one of our all-time favorites. Even though it looks like a dive on the outside, it pretty much still looks like a dive on the inside! But It's comfortable with good food and friendly service.

We were trying out my birthday present - my new NUVI. It works fine - Dick only talked back to it a couple of times. I think it will be a great help when we're traveling in unfamiliar territory.

After lunch, we did a mini-tour of Leelanau County, and were surprised to see iceboats on northern Lake Leelanau. There was an iceboat race going on out on the ice, but it was too far away for us to photograph. These boats were moored close to shore. Makes it even harder to believe that Spring is here!

Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore Dune Climb
Avalanche? In Michigan? That's a first for me! Especially when it's almost April.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shore Excursions

We're cruisin' with Sniders! It will be a tour of the Baltic for 10 days on the Crown Princess. We have picked out our shore excursions, and here is our schedule!

May 20

May 21

May 22

May 23
HELSINKI (Finland)

May 24-25


May 26
EZ TALLINN (Estonia)

May 27

May 28
EZ GDANSK (Poland)

May 29

May 30

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Early Easter 2008

Happy Easter!

None of us will live to see another Easter that comes this early in the year. I found this interesting article on google:
Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox, putting Easter on March 23 this year.
(the Spring Equinox occurs March 20)

This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar. Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare.

This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! Only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). Moreover, none of us has ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier!

Here are the facts:

The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you’re 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).

The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. Therefore, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!

Any bunny that hops around our house today will freeze his little bunny bottom! Our temp is 25, and we still have a lot of snow on the ground.

I enjoyed this chocolate Easter bunny joke, and I hope you do too :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Big Day, Big Day !

I got a candle on my pancake this morning!

It's also World Water Day, and International Goof Off Day, not to mention it's the day between Good Friday and Easter. In addition, Spring is here and we're in the fabulous first weekend of March Madness.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

March Madness

Here we go again with the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Once again Sharon has organized the family competition on the CBS sportsline. There are about 18 of us participating this year: my husband, my son, four nieces, two nephews, two grand-nieces, five grand-nephews, one grand-fiancee, one grand-significant other, and myself. I hope that adds up to 18!

We've been doing this since 2004, and Sharon was the overall winner that year. In 2005 the winner was Steve - not sure who he is - he's a family friend of somebody's I think. Melanie won in 2006, and I was the big cheese in 2007. You can see that the women dominate! Could all 3 of those wins by females be flukes? Of course not!

We're off to a great start this year - I've already lost a game - I picked Kent State to beat UNLV. Oh well - it's always fun to see who will dominate and who will be upset. The bracket competition is great fun, win or lose!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quiet Week

"It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone, my home town." That's the way Garrison Keillor begins one segment of his show (Prairie Home Companion) every week.

It's been a quiet week around these parts too. We've been going to the gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and that always seems like a Good Idea. Afterwards, we usually eat breakfast at the Omelette Shoppe, and that seem like a Good Idea too.

We've been cleaning out closets and bookshelves and making many trips to Goodwill with our unwanted items, and making many trips to the dump with our even more unwanted items. We own many MichiganEnsian yearbooks from our college years, and one from 1930 when my folks graduated. We also have a 1965 Ensian, and that was a mystery. Why would we have that one - nobody in our family was at the U of M at that time. Dick finally solved the mystery. Frank (Tink the Tank) Nunley was one of Dick's students at Belleville High School. He played linebacker and center and sometimes fullback on the football team, and went on to play football at Michigan. After graduation Tink played for the 49ers for ten years. He graduated in 1965, and Dick bought a yearbook that year in Tink's honor. We still have a whole shelf full of Ensians.

We've sorted out bags and bags of clothes, linens and household items, and we're really just getting started. I have the front closet half done, and haven't started on the pantry yet. Our kitchen cupboards need to be reorganized, too, but heaven only knows when we'll get around to that. You have to remember that for more than a year I couldn't even think about doing much of anything and it felt to me as though things were in hooray for feeling back to normal.

Dick has had a couple of meetings with Sue at the Agency, so he's not completely finished with Medicare-Medicaid Assistance. He'll be making presentations, but not working in the office.

Last Sunday we went to a geocaching event in Kalkaska. It was at a bowling alley, and there weren't many people there. It was a nice afternoon though, visiting with old friends and new friends. We didn't bowl, but we did a lot of talking! DinoDuo, ABXGuy and Wife, Trash Can, Hosta Hillbillies, Matt and Amy, Treasure Troll, Pepsiman, and Dick and I - that was about it - 14 people.

St. Patrick's Day has come and gone with no green beer in sight. Dick's martini wasn't green either! We had brunch at Kilkenny's Irish Pub. It was very pubby, in a basement, mediocre food, and we probably won't go back there. We had corned beef and cabbage for dinner.

We've had deer sleeping under our pines for the last few nights. There are usually anywhere from 3 to 6 deer there in the morning. It's fun to see them. They can tell that we're watching them, and they soon scamper away.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons

An article about the death of Gary Gygax, who invented the game of Dungeons and Dragons, appeared in the New York Times today, and it really knocked me out. It defines our family life in the 1970s and early 80s. The article is at the end of this post.

Tom started playing D&D with Mlsna's, who lived .20 of a mile down the road. Tom, Mike, Steve and Todd were the adventurers, and Mr. Mlsna was the Dungeon Master. They always played at Mlsna's, and it was an all-consuming activity then the same way computer games are now, except that D&D was played with graph paper, pencils, a book of rules, multi-sided dice, and expansive imaginations!

This went on for years, until May 25, 1979 when Mr. Mlsna died in the crash of AA flight 191 at O'Hare. It was the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, and 2 weeks before our Laurie graduated from Belleville High School. Mike Mlsna had been the President of our School Board, very active in the church, and a great family man with 5 interesting kids and a fun-loving, family-oriented school teacher wife. It was a tragic loss for our whole community.

D&D was naturally shelved for a respectful period, and then Dick became the new Dungeon Master and the boys would play at our house. Dick was an easy-going Dungeon Master and he enjoyed making the game into a story. His CB handle back then was "Dungeon Master". The game was also played at Wertzes, and I'm not sure who their Dungeon Master was.

At that time, in the 70s, many people thought that D&D was bad for kids because of the pretend battles and whatever. I think of the kids we knew who played - Tom has a PhD in physics and is a senior scientist, Todd has a PhD in chemistry and owns his own company, young Mike is an MD, and Wertz has graduated from the Air Force Academy.

Of course D&D was not responsible for everything in our family life...but I think it was responsible for our fascination with The Lord of the Rings series and Dune, and science fiction in general. It was responsible for our reading of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring on our cross-country trip in 1976.

It was most likely responsible for our family addiction to computer games. It all started with text adventures like the Zork series ("There's a mailbox in front of a white house"). Then Jana introduced us to the MUD (multi-user domain) games on the internet, first New Moon, and then Nanvaent and more. Playing New Moon was second nature to me - I could communicate with all of the kids by typing to them in the game - and it was free! We had Microchip, Cornflake, SNOman, and Manatee. Playing that game, I became acquainted with people all over the country, and all over Europe as well, especially the UK and Scandinavia. Some of them became really special friends - I still get an annual Christmas card from Mitchy in England. Jana actually went to MUDmeets in the UK a couple of times and met these folks in person. One of the players (CatStevens) turned out to be Chip's really good friend by a total coincidence!

Then came EverQuest with fantastic graphics, good sound effects and visual effects, global players, and endless fun. Dylan cut his teeth (figuratively speaking) by playing EverQuest with me. He loved to explore all of the villages, jump up and down on the beds, standing on the tables, and jumping off roofs to see what would happen.

Now we're all playing World of Warcraft. We have the ability to speak to each other through the game's interface, we can trade items through the game's mailboxes, we assist each other doing various quests, raids, and dungeons. This is a far cry from graph paper and dice!

Geek Love

San Francisco

GARY GYGAX died last week and the universe did not collapse. This surprises me a little bit, because he built it.

I’m not talking about the cosmological, Big Bang part. Everyone who reads blogs knows that a flying spaghetti monster made all that. But Mr. Gygax co-created the game Dungeons & Dragons, and on that foundation of role-playing and polyhedral dice he constructed the social and intellectual structure of our world.

Dungeons & Dragons was a brilliant pastiche, mashing together tabletop war games, the Conan-the-Barbarian tales of Robert E. Howard and a magic trick from the fantasy writer Jack Vance with a dash of Bulfinch’s mythology, a bit of the Bible and a heaping helping of J. R. R. Tolkien.

Mr. Gygax’s genius was to give players a way to inhabit the characters inside their games, rather than to merely command faceless hordes, as you did in, say, the board game Risk. Roll the dice and you generated a character who was quantified by personal attributes like strength or intelligence.

You also got to pick your moral alignment, like whether you were “lawful good” or “chaotic evil.” And you could buy swords and fight dragons. It was cool.

Yes, I played a little. In junior high and even later. Lawful good paladin. Had a flaming sword. It did not make me popular with the ladies, or indeed with anyone. Neither did my affinity for geometry, nor my ability to recite all of “Star Wars” from memory.

Yet on the strength of those skills and others like them, I now find myself on top of the world. Not wealthy or in charge or even particularly popular, but in instead of out. The stuff I know, the geeky stuff, is the stuff you and everyone else has to know now, too.

We live in Gary Gygax’s world. The most popular books on earth are fantasy novels about wizards and magic swords. The most popular movies are about characters from superhero comic books. The most popular TV shows look like elaborate role-playing games: intricate, hidden-clue-laden science fiction stories connected to impossibly mathematical games that live both online and in the real world. And you, the viewer, can play only if you’ve sufficiently mastered your home-entertainment command center so that it can download a snippet of audio to your iPhone, process it backward with beluga whale harmonic sequences and then podcast the results to the members of your Yahoo group.

Even in the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons, when his company was selling millions of copies and parents feared that the game was somehow related to Satan worship, Mr. Gygax’s creation seemed like a niche product. Kids played it in basements instead of socializing. (To be fair, you needed at least three people to play — two adventurers and one Dungeon Master to guide the game — so Dungeons & Dragons was social. Demented and sad, but social.) Nevertheless, the game taught the right lessons to the right people.

Geeks like algorithms. We like sets of rules that guide future behavior. But people, normal people, consistently act outside rule sets. People are messy and unpredictable, until you have something like the Dungeons & Dragons character sheet. Once you’ve broken down the elements of an invented personality into numbers generated from dice, paper and pencil, you can do the same for your real self.

For us, the character sheet and the rules for adventuring in an imaginary world became a manual for how people are put together. Life could be lived as a kind of vast, always-on role-playing campaign.

Don’t give me that look. I know I’m not a paladin, and I know I don’t live in the Matrix. But the realization that everyone else was engaged in role-playing all the time gave my universe rules and order.

We geeks might not be able to intuit the subtext of a facial expression or a casual phrase, but give us a behavioral algorithm and human interactions become a data stream. We can process what’s going on in the heads of the people around us. Through careful observation of body language and awkward silences, we can even learn to detect when we are bringing the party down with our analysis of how loop quantum gravity helps explain the time travel in that new “Terminator” TV show. I mean, so I hear.

Mr. Gygax’s game allowed geeks to venture out of our dungeons, blinking against the light, just in time to create the present age of electronic miracles.

Dungeons & Dragons begat one of the first computer games, a swords-and-sorcery dungeon crawl called Adventure. In the late 1970s, the two games provided the narrative framework for the first fantasy-based computer worlds played by multiple, remotely connected users. They were called multi-user dungeons back then, and they were mostly the province of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But they required the same careful construction of virtual identities that Mr. Gygax had introduced to gaming.

Today millions of people are slaves to Gary Gygax. They play EverQuest and World of Warcraft, and someone must still be hanging out in Second Life. (That “massively multiplayer” computer traffic, by the way, also helped drive the development of the sort of huge server clouds that power Google.)

But that’s just gaming culture, more pervasive than it was in 1974 when Dungeons & Dragons was created and certainly more profitable — today it’s estimated to be a $40 billion-a-year business — but still a little bit nerdy. Delete the dragon-slaying, though, and you’re left with something much more mainstream: Facebook, a vast, interconnected universe populated by avatars.

Facebook and other social networks ask people to create a character — one based on the user, sure, but still a distinct entity. Your character then builds relationships by connecting to other characters. Like Dungeons & Dragons, this is not a competitive game. There’s no way to win. You just play.

This diverse evolution from Mr. Gygax’s 1970s dungeon goes much further. Every Gmail login, every instant-messaging screen name, every public photo collection on Flickr, every blog-commenting alias is a newly manifested identity, a character playing the real world.

We don’t have to say goodbye to Gary Gygax, the architect of the now. Every time I make a tactical move (like when I suggest to my wife this summer that we should see “Iron Man” instead of “The Dark Knight”), I’m counting my experience points, hoping I have enough dexterity and rolling the dice. And every time, Mr. Gygax is there — quasi-mystical, glowing in blue and bearing a simple game that was an elegant weapon from a more civilized age.

That was a reference to “Star Wars.” Cool, right?

Adam Rogers is a senior editor at Wired.

Best Flow Chart Ever

Click on this image to enlarge it. It shows you what happens to kids who were exposed to D&D early in life!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Re-Hash of the Hash

Today I sent out the Round Robin for 2008: It's kind of the same old same old, but here it is:

March 1, 2008

As with some others of you, 2007 was a Golden Year for us. We celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and the 50th reunion of my class at the Univ. of Mich. I remember that I didn’t even attend graduation in Ann Arbor because I was so eager to go home and get married!

We were married on June 22, 1957 in the First Congregational Church on Washington Street. The church building is now part of T.C.’s magnificent new court building. It was 90 degrees and windy on our wedding day. The reception was in the church parlor, and it was very modest by today’s standards. For our honeymoon, we took a road trip from Traverse City to Detroit by way of Ontario. We crossed the Straits of Mackinac on the ferry because the Bridge was not yet open to traffic, although it was almost finished.

Since we already celebrated our 50th in the best way in April with our kids on the Caribbean cruise, the actual anniversary day was fairly low-key. We went out to dinner, and Dick gave me a GOLF CAR! It was an excellent surprise.

Last summer was an eventful one - we managed to live through another GenFest reunion, the Cherry Festival, the National Governors’ Conference, the Traverse City Film Festival, and best of all, Laurie, Chip and Dylan’s annual month long visit. We did all of the summery things - boating, the sand dunes, the beach, etc.

We lived in Ann Arbor for seven weeks in Sept.-Oct. during the U of M football season. We rented a cute apartment which was very well located, and had a great time getting re-acquainted with Ann Arbor. The football season was set up so that there were 6 home games in the first seven weeks, so we decided to avoid all the back and forth driving. It gave us a chance to renew friendships with old colleagues from Belleville and we were lucky enough to go to two Belleville Retirees Breakfasts, which was endless fun for us.

For the first time in ten years our whole family was together for Christmas. We were all in Florida with Laurie, Chip and Dylan, and it was such a treat. We rented a house in Stuart for six weeks (Christmas and January) which was only 10 minutes away from Laurie so we saw them every day - we had a wonderful time and did such interesting things. I really can’t get enough of watching the ocean! It’s a great thing to spend time with Dylan especially. He’s still at an age where he really likes his grandparents, and it’s a joy to be with him and listen to him. We realize that in another 2 or 3 years we might not be as “cool” as we are now!

Our next adventure will be a cruise to the Scandinavian countries in May. We’ll be going with friends from Belleville, and we’re enjoying the planning stages.

Today I sent an email about our TCHS 55th Reunion of the Class of 1953, suggesting that we meet at the mixer on Friday night at the Elks Club instead of coming out here to the river. I feel it will be easier for everyone since it is so centrally located and simple to find. Our next reunion will be in 2013! Now that I think of it, the reunion will be over by the time some of you get this edition of the round robin!

Dick and I are both well with some slight exceptions, just like everybody else. I still have limited mobility, but I’m still working on it. We have what Dick’s Doctor calls “gray hair disease”, which means that we’re not getting any younger.

Stay well, spoil those grandkids, and keep in touch.