Friday, June 28, 2002

Contraction Tour, Part Two

OK, so the Twins aren't really going to be contracted any time soon. Still, the second leg of my contraction tour continued with a visit to the Metrodome, which was much livelier than last time I visited. Attendance was around 29,000, rather than 9,000 like a couple of years ago. They seemed to have spruced up the place, too.

One feature they had added was Twins Bingo. The goal is similar to regular bingo, except each square has a particular baseball play (e.g., double, strikeout, 3-6-3 double play). The first so-many fans to get bingo get something like Twins tickets. It seemed to be a good way to get people into the game, moreover it was a good way to get people to learn the scoring system. Seemed like a neat trick to convert casual fans into fans who knew something about the game (like the scoring terminology). I saw two downsides. One, you start rooting for the bingo rather than the team. ("C'mon, HBP!") Two, once the maximum number of prizes was awarded, they stopped telling you what the score was. That frustrated both people who were playing Twins Bingo for fun, as well as those who wanted to keep learning the system. (Also, the already-keen baseball aficianados among us were disappointed not to find out how plays were being scored.)

Oh, and the Twins won, 6-5.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Mammoth Family

In yesterday's entry, I talked about our visit to the La Brea tar pits and showed some pictures. In one of them, a woolly mammoth is shown sinking into the tar. I should take pains to point out that the mammoth is not, in fact, real, but rather a replica.

In a supreme display of pathos, the city of Los Angeles (or whoever runs the park) has chosen to display a mommy mammoth (if I recall correctly) sinking into the tar while her mate and children watch helplessly. Really quite sad.

At the time, I thought that the fake mammoths were fairly cheesy -- after all, this wasn't Universal Studios...this was science. But I think it actually looks pretty good in the picture.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Tar Pits

During our recent visit to LA, Christina, Janie (Christina's sister) and I went to the La Brea Tar Pits. They're located in a park right in the middle of LA, which seems a little odd. Anyway, there they are, bubbling pits of tar.

Here's a closeup of some bubbles from a picture Christina took:

It's a nice enough 15 to 30 minutes walking around the pits -- you can see where they're still excavating. Unfortunately, you can't see the excavation itself, but maybe we were there during the wrong time of year. We were warned off the museum, but we ignored that advice. I'm glad we did. It's pretty neat. You learn a lot about what North American mammals were like before man came over and wiped out most of the bigger ones (they even had horses). You get to see some the phenomenal number of skeletons they pulled out of the tar. We got to see a chunk of tar they hadn't processed, and it looked absolutely full of bones and petrified wood.

OK, so they're celebrating their 25th anniversary, and there was a note that they were updating their displays. So this is more of a 1977 museum than a 2002 one. But given that, it was a pretty cool visit.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Monsieur Smoked Meat

Here's a picture of my fellow number theorists and me in Montreal last month at the Expos game.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Pay attention, ESPN

Of the 32 teams that began play, Spain was the only one to finish the first round with a perfect 3-0 record.

--Greg Garber, "Some players keep eye on World Cup",

That must be news to Brazil.

Back in the early 1950s, when Eddie Martin left his segregated high school in Roswell, Ga., a half-hour north of Atlanta, I-75 was a 700-mile pipeline out of purgatory.

--Chad Millman, Fab Friend, ESPN the Magazine

Interesting, since the Interstate highway system was created in 1956.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Not So Fast, Howie...

"Get ready for reeallly long profiles of the former Jose Padilla, a la John Walker Lindh. At least there won't be any neighbors saying he seemed like such a nice young man, since he started getting arrested at 13."

--Howard Kurtz, A Quick and Dirty Story,, June 11.

"Jose was a nice kid," said Nelly Ojeda, a neighbor in Chicago.

--Michael Grunwald and Amy Goldstein, An Unusual Odyssey, The Washington Post, June 11, Page A1.

Saturday, June 08, 2002

In the Getty

Christina and I went to LA last weekend with her sister. This trip was as a result of a contest Christina won last fall. I went out Saturday-Tuesday, and the two of them returned yesterday.

Sunday morning, we headed out to the Getty, Los Angeles' newest and most impressive art museum. The collection is funded with the fortune of the late J. Paul Getty, builds on his collection, and reflects his tastes. His tastes aren't exactly mine, which is just as well, since there's a lot to see there. We never would have managed to see everything even if we had wanted to.

Appropriately enough for LA, getting to see the museum revolves around parking. During the week, you have to make a reservation to park. For whatever reason, that isn't the case on the weekends. After parking, you ride the monorail to the museum. They seem rather proud of the monorail -- Christina was looking for a magnet in the gift shop, and the only ones she found featured the monorail. That seems a little odd for an art museum.

The only 20th century or American art they feature is in the photography collection. They have so many photographs, the only ones that are on display are a part of whatever exhibition they have going on. When we visited, it was "Railroad Vision". The exhibit was an interesting collection of photographs done for early railroads. The exhibition was perhaps more interesting as a history exhibit than an art exhibit, though the pictures were attractive. The railroads hired photographers, and the photographs they took encouraged people to ride the rails to scenic destinations. There was one interesting picture of Lincoln and a couple of generals or aides. Lincoln was clearly the only one who had difficulty standing still for the whole exposure, as he turned out a little blurry.

We looked at one part of the permanent collection -- the late 19th century paintings on display. They had some nice selections, such as the above Van Gogh, as well as works by Monet and Cezanne.

We also saw "A Treasury of 15th-Century Manuscript Illumination". The illuminated manuscripts were beautiful, although there was not a lot of descriptive text in the exhibit. There were a few entries keyed to the audio guide, and that was a little helpful with understanding the context.