Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Family Guy Sings at Carnegie Hall

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Or you could buy tickets to see a show. We had the opportunity to see Family Guy Sings at Carnegie Hall in New York on Monday. The actors from the Family Guy performed a two part 100th episode of the series, where Stewie kills Lois and its second part, Lois kills Stewie, interspersed with songs from other episodes in the show as well as original numbers just for this show.

It was fascinating to see the actors speak in the voices of their characters from the show, because of course you have an idea of what they look like from the show, even if it is a cartoon. More interesting, and harder for the actors themselves, was when they had to do two , or three, different voices.

Seth MacFarlane sang the FCC song as Peter, Bryan and Stewie. It was amusing watching him keep the voices straight. He also performed other classics such as the Prom Night Dumpster Baby, and my favorite from The Road to Rhode Island, as Brian and Stewie. People in the audience called out for Shipoopi and he sang that, which was great. I do wonder if the young people know that is from the Music Man and not original to the Family Guy. He did sing some Family Guy altered love songs with Alex Borstein as Lois.

Mike Henry sang "Somewhere that's Green" from Little Shop of Horrors that he sings about Chris in the episode The Courtship of Stewie's Father as Herbert, the old neighbor who lusts after Chris with the whistling "s" in his voice. Mike Henry also voices Cleveland on the show and sang for the first time in public, the theme song of the new series The Cleveland Show.

From left to right, Seth Macfarlane, Alex Borstein, Mila Kunis, Seth Green, Mike Henry, Danny Smith, John Viener (barely visible due to the people in front of me). Walter Murphy writes much of the music for the show and directed the 40 piece orchestra and chorus which accompanied the actors. he is barely visible behind the line of the actors.

The audience was very excited to be there for the show and that energy spilled over on stage. Some on threw a package of what the actors claimed was weed during the first half. The audience was made of all types. Just after they sang one of the filthiest songs of the show (no censors in Carnegie Hall), Alex Borstein noticed an 11 year old in the first row, which was amusing.

I suppose seeing this show means I have crossed the boundary between casual viewer and serious fan. For the record, Lynn found the show and bought the tickets. Perhaps she is the bigger fan. I would certainly see the show again if I could, but I would like to be even closer to see the faces on the voice actors as they do they stuff.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Extra long hotel key for your pleasure

We stayed at Le Parker Meridian in New York and we were issued this extra long key pass key for our hotel room. Here it is compared side by side to a smaller regular credit card sized key card. Do you think they might be trying to compensate for something?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Previously on a foamy Shellpot Creek

I took some pictures and a movie of a very foamy Shellpot creek on November 13th. It was the first real rain in a long while and it was flushing the Fall leaves that had accumulated down the creek. This must have added a lot of organic matter to the creek, because that day it was very foamy as the creek level rose at our tiny waterfall and the turbulence increased at our tiny waterfall.

The foam looked like a gelatinous monster trying to climb out of the creek.

The 13th's rain is the first peak on the graph below. The next peaks represent the subsequent rains that washed the foam away and the creek to a clearer level as the rest of the leaves flushed through.
Today's creek is clear and placid and has not frozen in spite of the late cold snap.

Friday, November 21, 2008

First Snowfall on Shellpot Creek

This morning brings the surprise of a first accumulating first snowfall on Shellpot Creek. I think folks were prepared for some flurries but not wet roads and frozen bridges. Delawareans take it in stride by driving even more poorly than normal.

It sure looks pretty when it outlines the trees and rocks like that though.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't mess with Delaware

I am not sure what Graham Annable thinks of Delaware or how we got picked for the bumper sticker but here is a video short entitled "Don't mess with Delaware".

Unfortunately, I have met the Delawareans depicted, usually farther south below the canal or closer to the Delaware river up on the northern part. In the youtube intro he says, "Never trifle with a state. Any state. Even Delaware."

(via Flight, via Grickle, Grickle blog)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pregnancy is a sure sign of womanhood

It seems to me that no matter how politically correct I could try to be, and how sensitive to someone that has decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery, that if you got to all the trouble to change from a woman to a man but forget the most important part, you're doing it wrong.

The pregnant "man" that had a baby in June is pregnant again. He had undergone the surgery to become a man, and is legally male, but kept his female reproductive organs so that he could have children. Seems to me that the female reproductive organs are the most important part. Thus, unless he is a seahorse or a cichlid, this female is pregnant again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Subtle and incorrect assumption about statistics of heart transplants

A Yahoo news story reports results of a study showing that people receiving heart transplants do better when the transplant comes from the same gender. The subtle statistical assumption comes from this line -
"Three-fourths of heart transplants are done in men, so by necessity, many must receive organs from the opposite sex."
So, as we might suspect, more men need heart transplants than women. I would guess that the phrase "by necessity" is based on the assumption that donor hearts are available 50/50 guys and gals. Why should that be the case? If hearts for transplant become available due to unfortunate accidents associated with car accidents, motorcycle accidents without helmets, etc. aren't such things more associated with males than females? Thus I would expect more male hearts are available than female. In fact the report says that:
"Among the recipients 77 percent of the men and 51 percent of the women were of the same gender as their donors."
Which already supports my supposition that more male hearts are available for transplants than female. Sometimes innocuous seeming statements in these news stories have some unwarranted assumptions.

Fall flowers last hurrah

This African daisy (Osteospermum) bloomed in the spring and but we got two bonus blooms in the fall. In spite of its annual nature, perhaps it will survive the winter to bloom again. I was attracted to its almost electrical purple color with an almost plastic like perfection to the bloom. It was only when I photographed it in close-up that I noticed the very subtle blue of the middle of the flower.

I have these blood red mums for free this year because these are last fall's mums that survived through the winter and started growing again in the spring. They are not really perennial in northern Delaware, but I have always gotten some back in each of the places I have lived and planted them.

The yellow mums are really for free since they were planted two years ago by the previous owners and have stubbornly survived two mild winters.

This Toad Lily (Tricyrtis, but I am unsure of the exact type, I guess latifolia) is a plant native to Delaware which we purchased at the University of Delaware plant sale. When it was first planted in the spring one of the friendly plant eater in our yard, my bet is on our "pet" groundhog, chewed it almost down to the ground. It rebounded to produce these interesting blooms this fall. This was a good plant for the shady back yard next to the creek, and I do have the patience to wait for late summer and fall for its blooms. I hope it continues to do well.

This hardy geranium (Geranium sanguineum) is one of the more interesting plants that came with the house already planted in a front bed. It produces these delicate blood veined white quarter sized flowers throughout the season from late spring until fall frost.

This strobilanthes (strobilanthes dyerianus), although not a flower, is really cool looking nonetheless. it is almost alien or reptilian with its purple foliage and ribbed leaves. I am trying to save this strobilanthes for next year, I have dug it up and taken it inside since they really get killed in a frost. I waited one day too long last year and that plant was killed to mush in a night. I have been told that these are really house plants up here but they do well in the summer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Math Jokes - Holliday edition

From this collection of math jokes (I will not repeat the ones that denigrate enginneers.)

Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?
A: Pumpkin Pi!
(the above is a little late for Halloween)

Q: Why do you rarely find mathematicians spending time at the beach?
A: Because they use sine and cosine to get a tan and don't need the sun!

Q: Why do mathematicians often confuse Christmas and Halloween?
A: Because Oct 31 = Dec 25.
(this year they can confuse Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas because Oct 31 = Nov 27 = Dec 25, somebody check my math)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama wins and Presidential Electoral Simulation predicts it

The current count for President-elect Obama has turned to 364 electoral votes now that North Carolina has finally clicked into the Democratic column. I was waiting for that to happen before I could crow about how my prediction of 364, based on the InTrade prediction markets, was correct. Honestly, I just used their data and made some pretty pictures and simulations to assuage my curiosity over just what the chances of a Democratic victory were.

I see that the great missed by those 15 electoral votes. In all seriousness, they seemed to have called much of everything else correctly, especially the popular vote.

Now to the transition team. President-Elect Obama picking Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff caused one of the submitters at Fark to quip:
"Obama officially offers the Chief of Staff spot to Rahm Emanuel. So they've got Matt Santos and Josh Lyman, now they just need CJ and Toby"
For West Wing fans who know that Josh Lyman's character was based on Rahm Emanuel and noticed the parallels of this election to the final election in the West Wing series, this is quite humorous.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

80's cartoon quiz for fun

I am sure that you all remember the Eighties and the great cartoons from that decade. Now put your money where your mouth is with this quiz.


I got 11 out of 15 for 73%. I feel like I should have gotten more. They didn't even have a Danger Mouse question after they put him on the banner.

How much do you know?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Final Presidental Electoral Vote Simulation Predicts Obama win

It is no surprise that the final presidential electoral vote simulation based on the Intrade Prediction market data predicts a win for the Democrats and the Obama/Biden campaign. It has been trending that way for several weeks. Only 4 simulations out of 1000 show a McCain/Palin victory.

The median electoral vote from the simulations is 351, but the most frequent number is 364 electoral votes for Obama/Biden, which is my official prediction for the race. The table below shows that all of the states, according to the prediction market, have moved to strong Republican or Democratic except for Missouri, which is weakly Democratic at this point.

A plot of the electoral votes from the Intrade data over the past weeks shows that the Democrats have never been below 270 with a straight addition of the states. Though some weakly Democratic states would have left them with a deficit.

The plot of the median electoral votes and the fraction of simulations which resulted in a Democratic victory over the past few weeks shows that the lowest point in recent history was the week of September 16th.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, I think that the Democrats should emerge victorious. You can make that happen by remembering to vote.

Other sites show similar results using polling data: which has Obama at 348.6 electoral votes to McCain's 189.4 and the Democrats winning in 98.9% of his 10,000 simulations. has 286 electoral votes for Obama, and 225 for McCain with 27 in a tie. This site also uses state by state polling data. has Obama with 278 electoral votes and McCain with 132 with 128 in the toss-up category. They use polling data. That is by far the most pessimistic result for the Democrats of these major polling and simulation websites. With no toss ups they have Obama with 338 and McCain with 200. is running very slow today. They use the last 1000 simulations in their visualizer to build up results that have Obama with 342 electoral votes and McCain with 196. They have the Democrats winning in 98.7% of their simulations. They also use probabilities of each state winning based on polling data with some clipping of the data. Even their 90% confidence interval has an Obama/Biden win with their most pessimistic number at 284.

The Truthisall 2008 electoral model has a final prediction with Obama winning by 76-64m votes; 367-171 EV; 53-45% vote share margin. They seem to be real concerned about election fraud and have a hard to understand election model with assignments for undecided voters.

What's your prediction?

Finally got my Obama/Biden magnet

Two months ago I contributed to the Obama campaign and was supposed to receive this car magnet for my troubles.

I never contributed to a political campaign before but this year I felt compelled. The magnet was to be my proud bonus. It only arrived yesterday.

At least that is in time for election day. It is kind of like getting your Christmas presents delivered on Christmas Eve just in time to wrap them up and give them the next day. I suppose I do want the campaign to be working on more important things than the delivery of my magnet, but think of the lost days of me flying the flag that they missed.

In the final irony, my car has no metal on the back to stick this thing to. The bumper is plastic, the area around the license is plastic, and the hatchback is plastic. I put it on the rear quarterpanel, which thankfully is metal.

My experience didn't change my vote. You should vote today as well if you haven't done so yet. Tell your friends.

Take the West Wing Quiz on Election Day


In honor of election day Mental Floss has the West Wing quiz. Do you remember that show? Seems like the current race is like the race in the last season of West Wing. How well can you do on the quiz?

I got 70% (7 out of 10). Guess I need to borrow my friends DVD's and review my answers.

Lines at Delaware Polling Places

We got to the polls at 7:30AM and there was a short line. It didn't take more than 15 minutes or so to get through. This is the first time I have ever seen a line at this polling place though.

I have heard from my Pennsylvania friends that many places up there had very long lines early in the morning in Philadelphia and in Chester county.

It is going to be a long exciting day.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

64 A Capella Thriller for the season

Francois Macre performed all 64 tracks to produce this a cappella version of Thriller. It is fascinating to watch the screens blink on an off as that track is needed or not. It turns out to be pretty good and his accent is amusing when he sings as Michael Jackson or speaks as Vincent Price.

He uses no instruments and uses looping to do repetitive parts like the drums and base line.

Residual Halloween business - help with a playlist

Since Halloween started the weekend it seem like the whole weekend could continue the spooky theme. Thus I thought I could still ask the web for advice for a Halloween music mix for today's party.

To make the mix I need to use what is available on my iTunes. Here is the list:

Thriller - Michael Jackson
Grim, Grinning Ghosts - Theme from Disneyworld's Haunted House
The Devil Went Down to Georgia - The Charlie Daniels Band
Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 - J.S.Bach
Men in Black - Will Smith
Hell - Squirrel Nut Zippers
Pets - Porno for Pyros
O Fortuna - Orff: Carmina Burana

Firstly, I was constrained by what I have available, so don't bother suggesting "Monster Mash" or other perennial Halloween favorites, because I don't have them and don't want to buy them.

Secondly, I was embarrassed that I don't have Thriller on CD, my copy is a tape! Grabbed that album from iTunes plus the video. "Grim, Grinning Ghosts" was acquired on a Disneyworld themes CD after our trip in February, it was a must have.

Finally, are "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", "Men in Black", "Hell", "Pets", and "O Fortuna" Halloween songs? I thing "Hell" fits the bill because it is about hell. I want to include "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", because the devil is in it and that is Halloweeny, right? "Men in Black" and "Pets" have aliens in the story, so does that make them Halloween mix list worthy?

What do you think? Please offer some advice in the comments. You just might save a party faux pas.