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Earlier this month we had our dictaphones* replaced at work. We upgraded from old bulky tape based dictaphones to modern svelte fully electronic handhelds which automatically connect up to our secretarial stations. More specifically, we went from the Sony BM-850 Microcassette Dictator/Transcriber (right) to the Olympus DS-5000 Digital Voice Recorder (left). No more broken, stretched or lost tapes.
* "Dictaphone" is actually the name of a company that made dictation machines and, technically, should be capitalized much like "Kleenex" and "Xerox."
Today I noticed the above reflection while walking next door to get my lunch. I was absolutely amazed by the reflection and couldn't understand what was making it. So...
...I walked up the grass, turned around, stood in the light and took a picture of what was causing the amazing reflection. However, the answer caused even more confusion. I simply don't see how the uniform geometric pattern of glass can create the above irregular curving reflection pattern. I am amazed. In a hundred years, if given the light source and the reflective surface, I could not have come up with the pattern above.
Our Thanksgiving cartoons from years past:
Drew had his 8th birthday friends party today at All Start Sports Complex.
All the kids played a round of miniature golf before it was time for pizza and cake.
Mary made the most awesome baseball cake. It's a lot bigger than appears and easily served everyone in attendance, not mention it was delicious.
Drew blowing out his candles. It took a few breaths since the cake wasn't as close as it could have been which was compounded by friend-induced laughter.
Eating pizza in the party room at the sports complex.
Drew opening one of his gifts surrounded by friends.
You can't go wrong with anything Star Wars. All the kids were all very well behaved and everyone had a great time. Thanks to all of Drew's friends who helped make his birthday special.
We didn't take in the Branson Hollywood Wax Museum, mostly from a lack of time but also because the boys wouldn't know a fraction of the paraffin celebrities. Regardless, it makes a great photo opportunity with a gigantic King Kong climbing the city skyline atop the museum.
Inside, there is a two story King Kong that you can pose for photographs in the clutches of his hand. (I snapped this from the outside doorway.)
Outside the Branson Hollywood Wax Museum is a mini-Mount Rushmore featuring John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin,
Another exhibit we hope to take in when the boys are a little older is the Titanic Branson. (Unfortunately, in all the hustle and bustle, I never got a picture of the Titanic myself and had to borrow this one from the web.)
The boys enjoyed their whirlwind tour of Branson and all want to come back to explore the other adventures it has to offer.
The highlight of our Branson trip was the Andy Williams Christmas Show Saturday night after dinner at the Andy Williams Moon River Grill. Most unfortunately, Andy Williams was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the month and was unable to perform. However, we didn't think of canceling as the show was still conceived and produced by him and would still be incredibly entertaining...which it was!
The show was emceed by Bob Anderson, the world's greatest singing impressionists. He absolutely nailed impressions of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Jones, Neil Diamond and, of course Andy Williams and many others. With absolutely no knowledge to put his performance in context, Drew thought Anderson, "was just talking funny."
The show was beautifully presented with a Christmas theme tying all the acts together.
No Christmas show would be complete without Santa Clause making an appearance.
The Lennon Brothers and Gail Lennon.
Pasha and Aliona performed several terrific acts including their famous quick change routine which, even when you know it's coming, is still amazing. (This photo would have been a thousand times better just a few second earlier, but I got caught up watching and enjoying the act instead of taking photos.) One of Pasha's acts we knew had a gimmick but couldn't figure out what it was until it was revealed at the end. I won't ruin it by posting here, but it was pretty neat.
Dean Church is an incredible violinist/fiddler. He played quite a bit in the audience, including right in front of us.
And, when I say "incredible"...I mean upside down, playing on his butt, incredible!
The Oh What a Night! Singers performed a number of songs.
The Lennon Sisters.
Landon was quick to fall asleep.
Will joined London shortly into the show.
Before the show, Drew said he wanted popcorn at the show. Knowing it was a "fancy" show at a nice theater, we told Drew there probably wouldn't be popcorn there. Of course, not ten feet from the end of our isle they were selling all kinds of stuff including popcorn at a table. And, not even $5 a box popcorn. It was like 50 cents a box. How could we turn that down? Drew stayed awake for the whole program and, at the end, said it was the greatest show he's ever seen. I would put it second only to Phantom of the Opera.
The best thing about Branson? Everyone we've talked to says that every show, without exception, is absolutely family friendly and pro-God and country. That's the kind of thing that will keep us coming back for more!
(Not pictured, but also performing that night were The Warnocks and Mike Cathcart.)
After the Butterfly Palace we all went go-karting at The Track in Branson, Missouri, this past weekend. Drew was big enough to drive himself and Landon was just big enough to ride along as a passenger the same as Will. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures of Landon riding (the photographers were always riding when he was).
Mama and Will getting ready to start the race.
Mama waving and Will relaxing, both with their wind-blown hair. The go-karts were fast!
With an extra pad against his back, Drew was a demon on wheels.
Will soon took a hold of the wheel and quickly got a smile on his face that never left.
Drew was cut-throat, not letting Mama and Will pass.
The smile of victory...keep your eyes on the road.
Will, Landon and Drew. We all had a great day go-karting and, as you can see, there was no crowds so no waiting, the ideal conditions for taking in a few laps between events.
Continuing on with the recap of our weekend in Branson, the Butterfly Palace isn't just about butterflies.
Upstairs, next to the butterfly aviary is the Great Banyan Tree Adventure where a Banyan Tree filled rainforest is simulated with floor to ceiling bungee cords and a winding trail the children have to follow through the adventure.
"[T]he bungees simulate aerial roots that grow from the Banyan Tree just like you would encounter in the rainforest." Small size really has it advantages in this adventure. Mama was brave enough to wind her way along the trail the first time through with the boys while Daddy only made it in a few feet.
The Great Banyan Tree Adventure has a beautiful computer generated tropical pool with all kinds of colorful fish and plants which moves and splashes like real water when you walk through it due to pressure sensitive pads underneath the floor. The boys took advantage of the ceiling projection to make themselves part of a psychedelic display.
Probably the most fun thing for the boys was the main floor Emerald Forest Mirror Maze. I had never been in a mirror maze before and had pretty low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised how well the mirror maze created the illusion of endless hallways and how you truly had to walk slow so as to not walk into a mirrored wall.
I count at least four Drews, five Wills and five Landons.
The mirror maze was so genuinely disorienting that the boys could not tell if they were actually looking at one another or merely looking at a reflection resulting in the hilarious questioning, "Are you the real [Name]?" and corresponding proclamations, "I'm the real [Name]!" It turned out, sometimes the reflection lied!
Finally, the main floor has a small Living Rainforest Science Center with just enough rainforest creatures to last a small child's attention span. This is a Tiger-Legged Monkey Frog which is pretty dull since you can't see its cool tiger looking legs tucked underneath him.
They had several types of chameleons.
A water dragon smiling for the camera. I saved you from images of the giant cockroaches...you're welcome. Finally, in the warmer months, the Butterfly Palace has an outdoor Coconut Tree Climb for the kids, just another reason we need to come back in the future.
We all spent the weekend in Branson, Missouri. Mary had been there when she was a kid but I had never been before. We all had a terrific time. We drove up Friday night, slept in Saturday and started out our weekend at the Butterfly Palace. Unbeknownst to us, the Butterfly Palace was celebrating their holiday tradition of White Flight. Long story short, they replaced their inventory of multi-colored butterflies with white butterflies...otherwise known as not as photographically colorful. Oh well, we still managed to have a great time and get some amazing photographs.
Drew, Will and Landon donned their pith helmets and grabbed some magnifying glasses and started examining butterflies.
First, up a butterfly enjoying some fruit.
A black and white butterfly spreading his wings for me.
A butterfly feeding frenzy at the old sugar hole.
Landon and Will take a break to ride some bugs.
If you haven't noticed already, the butterfly photos are pretty good, better than a general lens can normally capture. The secret is that I got an early Christmas gift; a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM macro lens. The lens is phenomenal! All of the butterfly pictures were taken hand held. Check out the below 100% crop of this photo.
You can see his hairs!
Another guy relaxing on the side of his feeding dish, but check out the 100% crop below.
Look at the pattern and texture on his wing!
Finally, check out this guy. Because he was angled almost perfectly perpendicular to me, a larger portion of his body is in focus. Click on the picture to see the fragile little guy in all his 3088 x 2316 glory. Now tell me that's not some incredible detail!
Our three little adventurers; Will, Landon and Drew.
A nice shot of a beautiful black and white wing pattern.
Two butterflies chatting about the day's events over a nice piece of fruit.
Now this was quite amazing. That is a person dressed as a statue...a living statue. And, given her ability to remain perfectly motionless, apparently someone who does share the same caffeine monkey as myself.
Mama and her boys with the living statue.
Just chillin' out on a leaf.
One last butterfly.
Mama butterfly and her boys.
Today we celebrated Drew's 8th birthday with lots of family. Aunt Donelda came to town just for the occasion and Drew's Aunt Catherine and Uncle David joined us as well as Ma and Pa Youngman.
Mama made the traditional Danz Family birthday number cake. Drew picked chocolate cake with chocolate icing and Mama, as always, did an amazing job. Way to go Cake-Boss-Mama!
Drew proudly showing off his 8th birthday cake with eight candles ready to be lit.
Drew opening his birthday cards with brothers Will and Landon looking on.
boy young man opening a gift.
Will was quite the photographer during the gift opening. I can honestly say that he took some really good pictures including some from angles and distances I never would have thought of.
Aunt Donelda with her nephews; Will, Landon and birthday boy Drew.
Finally, the whole family in one shot...if the boys get any bigger we're gonna have to start stacking people.
Drew participated in the TAMTA (Tulsa Accredited Music Teachers Association) Music Festival today performing a non-competitive judged piano solo entitled Monster March.
Drew was critiqued in 11 areas with a rating of 1 (highest) to 5 (lowest). He scored a 1 in ever category except one in which he scored a 2. The critique concluded with the remarks:
Good strong touch + curved fingers. Great ff at the end! Good performance! Very musical. Keep up the good work!
As with everything we do, it was a family affair, and Drew's brothers Will and Landon (and Aunt Donelda) were there to support Drew...even if we weren't allowed into the performance room. Great job Drew, we are all very proud of you and all your hard work.
At about 2:14 a.m. we had an earthquake here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our house trembled for a few seconds twice. I went outside thinking maybe it was a storm and straight line winds but it was all quite outside. I was up working on the computer but the quake woke Mary who was sleeping. This is the first earthquake I've ever felt in my life. No damage. Local Fox News reports that it was felt statewide but no reports yet of magnitude or epicenter. I'll keep posting updates here as they become available.
[UPDATE #1] Early reports estimate the earthquake was a magnitude 4.7. From the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) earthquake website:
[UPDATE #2] The epicenter is being reported about six miles north of Prague in southern Lincoln County (pretty much half-way between Oklahoma City and Tulsa). Also, there was a 3.4 magnitude aftershock at 2:27 a.m. from the same location along with a 2.7 magnitude quake at 2:44 a.m.
[UPDATE #3] Oklahoma had another earthquake tonight at 11:53 p.m. and it was much bigger this time measuring 5.6 magnitude on the Richter scale and it lasted even longer than this morning's.
Note, an earthquake that measures 5.0 on the Richter scale has a shaking amplitude 10 times larger and corresponds to an energy release of √1000 ≈ 31.6 times greater than one that measures 4.0. Accordingly, tonight's 5.6 earthquake was about 9 times more powerful than this morning's 4.7 earthquake!!!
[UPDATE #4] We made the Drudge Report headline:
Tonight's 5.6 earthquake is officially the strongest in Oklahoma's history surpassing the April 9, 1952, quake centered near El Reno, Oklahoma.
This quake was centered near the one(s) this morning, north of Prague, in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, near where Mary and I used to live when we were first married. According to the Lincoln County emergency manager, portions of U.S. 62 have buckled and the chimney on a two-story house collapsed near Prague.
The U.S. Geological Survey received reports that the tremors were felt in multiple states -- Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Tennessee among them. The agency has already received more than 12,000 reports, including from as far away as Indianapolis and Milwaukee.
I had a late afternoon hearing today and came home afterward and took advantage of the afternoon light and the darkening of our Autumn Blaze Maples to take some more pictures our beautiful backyard foliage. Just a few days make a great difference, no more greens and much darker reds.
Four more pictures after the jump.
The final entry in my trio of work lunches is the every other Friday special of teriyaki chicken and fried rice. Unless, I'm out of town or a group of attorneys are going out to lunch together, I never miss my Friday teriyaki chicken!