aaron

Dec 042018
 

When giving directions, say only the names of the streets in the order they’ll be encountered with two exceptions: For left turns prefix the name of the street with “l'” the way the French use a definite article before words that start with a vowel. For anything more complex than a simple right or left turn, just explain it. For example, walking directions to my house from Porter Square: Head Northeast on White, l’Elm for just a sec, Hancock, l’Charnwood, Willow, l’Hawthorne.

Dec 042018
 

When someone asks how you’re doing, answer with two numbers. The first reports your big-picture wellness and privilege; the second, your mood. Zero is the worst; Nine, the best. If you’ve lived the world’s picture of a charmed life and just won the big game, you might answer 9.9 pronounced “nine point nine.” Car towed? 9.3. Close friend dies? 8.0. Doctor says you’re next? 4.0, but tells you a good joke, 4.6—you’ve had a good run.

Sep 232014
 

Most people who know me think of me as someone who doesn’t like animals. I do, but from a distance. Don’t touch me, animals.

I’ve always liked rodents and had pet hamsters I wouldn’t touch when I was a kid. I had books about animals and the rodent section was my favorite. The pika was my favorite from those books. I had never seen one and, when I realized that nature just didn’t happen in my suburb, I got a bored and started thinking about planets instead.

I was reminded of the pika when, two years ago, Sarah and I saw this from David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals:

We were so enamored with these little guys that we called our soccer team the Fighting Pikas which I’m sure made more than a few of them laugh (thanks for reminding me, Nathan). Seeing pikas in the wild went to the top of our traveling bucket list. This weekend, at a wedding for my cousin Morgan in Colorado, we thought we had our chance.

On our way out of town after the wedding, we took a side trip up to Mt. Evans to get above the tree line but the road was closed. Lucky for us, someone on his way to kill goats offered to use his special access to the closed area to drive us in as long as we were okay walking back to our car. He dropped us 5 miles in and, with our long underwear in our pockets, we shivered our way back to our car.

We saw two pikas, did a happy dance, and got a ride back to our car from a ranger after only a mile of the hike back. What luck!

Here’s video of the second pika we saw:

And then there were these views. Oh, boy.

Mar 212014
 

The Surrain Augmented Thumbs Scale (SATS or “Sats”) is a new rating scale based on the Thumbs Up or Down Scale (TUDS or “Tuds”) that is easy to use for the rater and less ambiguous to consume than the Counted Star Scale (CSS or “Cuss”) or its aggregating counterpart ubiquitous in restaurant and media reviews: the Counted Whole or Partial Star Scale (CWPSS or “Cow puss”). SATS is extensible and scalable but adds concise precision to the rater’s toolbox even in its base configuration. SATS is joy to the opinionated and ignorant alike.

SATS begins with TUDS—a binary Thumbs Up (U or “thumbs up”) or Thumbs Down (D or “thumbs down”) recommendation—then augments TUDS with positive qualifications to the recommendation (+ or “Garlands”), negative qualifications (- or “Dings”), or both. Garlands and Dings are optional (OGDs or “Oh, Gods”).

SATS in Extension

The recommended configuration (SATSRC or “Sats Rock”) further extends SATS two ways. Firstly, SATSRC encourages elaborative text “Fors” (TFs) to each Garland (“Garland For”) and Ding (“Ding For”).  Secondly, SATSRC modifies TUDS by codifying the third no-thumb option (N or “meh”). SATSRC is trivial to render and autoerotic to decipher.

SATS is improvisationally extensible. Try SATSRC with RBT TF pre-OGDs.

SATS is free as in beer, speech, and a bird, e.g., eagle.

SATS in Action

To execute a SATSRC assessment (SATSA or “Satsa”), begin with the Recommendation by Thumb (RBT or “Ribbit”) to answer the essential question: would you recommend, pose aloof to, or not recommend the SATS target (T)? Following the opening thrust, step 2 qualifies or amplifies the RBT of T with OGDs. Each SATSRC OGD TF should consist of at least one word of elaboration to indicate what each OGD illuminates.  SATSRC presents these together as OGDWTFs, or in short form (SATSRCS or “Sats Ruckus”) separately as OGDs and TFs. SATS is never boring (NFB).

SATS in Diagram

SATSRC = <RBT> [(“ neat”) | “ with ” [<OGDWTF> | <OGDWTF> (“, ” < OGDWTF >…) “ and ” <OGDWTF>]]

RBT = [“thumbs up” | “thumbs down” | “meh”]

OGD = [“garlands” | “dings”] (“ for ” <text elaboration>)

 

SATSRCS = <RBT> (<OGD> (<OGD>…) (<TF>))

RBT = [“U”|”D”|”M”]

OGD = [“+”|”-“]

TF = “ for ” [<text elaboration> | <text elaboration> (“, ” <text elaboration> …) “ and ” <text elaboration>]

SATS in Example

You can use garlands to amplify a recommendation (or qualify a recommendation against). No one makes better tibs and wats on injera than Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant in Chicago: thumbs up with garlands for superior quality or U+ for superior quality.

You can use dings to qualify a recommendation (or amplify a recommendation against). Boston, Massachusetts is lucky to have FOMU vegan ice cream, but one time my wife and I dropped by their retail location before going to dinner somewhere else and asked them if they’d be open in an hour.  They said they would but then closed early and wouldn’t serve us even though we came back when we said we would, before their posted and stated closing hours: thumbs up with dings for mendacity or U– for mendacity.

You can improvise on SATS and use Garlands and Dings in combination to simply explain yourself, observe tarnishing quintessence, acknowledge the strides of the striving or all of the above. Cancun Mexican restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts uses chicken broth in the items on the vegetarian section of their menu. If you find out by overhearing other vegetarians interrogating their waiter after you’ve already eaten most of your burrito, they’ll comp your meal even before you start dry heave-weeping at the table: thumbs down for chicken in the vegetarian menu and dings for explaining and asking for vegan-ness not waking up our waiter with garlands for at least letting us walk or D-+ for free dumb.

SATS in Conclusion

The SATS family of scales promises to clean up the littered landscape of hyperbole that is the legacy of CWPSS on the internet. SATS observes one person, one thumb as nature intended. SATS is true. SATS flies solo. SATS is satisfaction.

Jul 072012
 

Tom and Aga share their victory pudding after a marathon final against former champion Sarah and rookie boccer Penna.

The tournament starts late with all contestants keeping to the shade.

Everyone & fun.  That’s everyone, and that’s fun.

A late birth precludes a tournament berth.

Close call!  Doesn’t matter… we all lose.

Consider those smug mugs a gauntlet in the sand.  353 days until the next La Copa Del Budino!

Jan 212012
 

I found the perfect Halloween costume.  “This guy? White face and shirt?”  No.  Watch this 30 second clip from the opera Sarah and I saw last night.

Jan 152012
 

The somethingth anniversary of the inspiration and expression of my first original cocktail recipe graced this past December wheneverd. We toasted with and to it and our healths at our humble New Years Eve gathering to calls of “h-euch” and “if I sip it in careful quantities, it’s not quite as bad as the ingredients suggest it would be.” The former and similar I expected; the latter and lauds alike: my triumph!

Je présente …

The Christmas Dick

  • 2 parts Jägermeister
  • 1 part Peppermint Schnapps

Inspiration, inspiration! Among blessings we bathed in that night were extemporaneous recipes and resolutions to their realizations before the next boring of another martini.

Kid Natas
  • 2 parts Southern Comfort
  • 1 part Peach Schnapps

Rather than lie, I invite the internet to remind us of the ingredients for recipes no less memorable proposed, ipso obvios facto, less memorably by other dear patrons of the party.

The Christmas Dick with Wine or something, and warm?
  • yes
A Third Regional Variation featuring a relatively potent flavored liquor and a fruit Schnapps clad in a pithy name
  • 2 parts Harvey…? no
  • 1 part la-di-da Schnapps
Jan 132012
 

If any of you heard about the Aaron shot to death in our alley, don’t worry. It was a different Aaron.

Dec 312011
 

I assume I was born with Wolff-Parkison White syndrome.  Mostly, that meant I’d have episodes about once a year that set my heart rate suddenly up to way above any heart rate I could get wrestling, lifting weights or anything else a high school kid does to get his heart rate up (jumping out of moving cars, skateboarding down hills into traffic…). If I didn’t get my heart rate down by holding my neck in a special way, I had heard that I could pass out. In high school, I found out that about 1% of people who have my version of WPW die suddenly from it. I didn’t sweat it much but each episode freaked me out a little.

This year, I talked to another cardiologist who told me that I had to do something about it. “If you were a pilot, I’d ground you. If you were in the NFL, I’d bench you.” I asked him a bunch of questions which he didn’t like but entertained. At one point, he told me I was getting too hung up on the terminology, but he interrupted my next question to correct my terminology. “It’s not heart surgery. It’s a procedure.”

Long story short, I went with Dr. Wes Fisher for the crotch surgery on my heart option to permanently fix my WPW. Here’s a BORING video of me talking about it five minutes after it happened.

Dec 312011
 

Big Kessler Hanukkah party was fun again this year.  Sammy held court for about 20 minutes with the family story.  Great stuff!  I recorded most of it on an iPhone and cleaned up the audio with the free program Audacity.

Sammy tells the family story

This reminded me about some interviews Jesse and Howard (is that right?) did with Selma and David Gans.  I tried out some of my new software on trying to clean up those recordings some. Here are links to those interviews (processed with Adobe Audition CS5.5, processed with Audacity, unprocessed — I recommend the Audition processed versions but I haven’t listened to them each all the way through).

Same interviews – processed with Audition

Selma part 1 – Audition
Selma part 2 – Audition
David part 1 – Audition
David part 2 – Audition

Same interviews – processed with Audacity

Selma part 1 – Audacity
Selma part 2 – Audacity
David part 1 – Audacity
David part 2 – Audacity

Same interviews – unprocessed

Selma part 1 – Unprocessed
Selma part 2 – Unprocessed
David part 1 – Unprocessed
David part 2 – Unprocessed

The astute among you may have noticed these files are hosted on Beefcoaster.com. Don’t worry, it’s not a pot of viruses. It’s a server in my parents’ basement.

Jul 042011
 

It took me 3 years to win my own bocce tournament. Congratulations, Parry and me!

Clay’s partner Karina had to bail on him minutes before the final, so he flew solo.

Second year running, second place… runner-up. You know, I started my training eleven months ago. I’ll start my training tomorrow, and, I think that extra month will help.

– Dogg

Aug 152010
 

We had a great time on our honeymoon. We went to Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba.  Here we are relaxing on Eagle Beach in Aruba.

Aug 102010
 

Now that we’re married, we’re going to start looking into officially changing our names to Surrain.

Aaron Joseph Lipke Surrain
Sarah Huckabay Surrain

The wedding was the best day of our lives, but our honeymoon had a less-than-auspicious start.  Half way home from Milwaukee, acute abdominal pain prompted a change of plans.  Sarah took an ambulance to Lake Forest Hospital, where we spent the next 4 hours.  Lemon laws don’t apply to wives, so I was pretty nervous that I’d have no redress if my marriage only lasted a day.  With those fears allayed, we turned to fretting about our honeymoon.  An ultrasound saved the day and set us on our way home with just a little abating residual pain and 6 hours to pack and catch a plane.  We rushed, then waited, missed flights, rushed some more, waited some more, jogged a mile along the future path of Miami Airport’s monorail, missed another flight, holed up in Miami (in style, thanks to Dan and Gretchen!), waited for the plane, waited for the rain and finally took off a day late but no worse for the wear.

In the midst of congratulating ourselves for keeping such high spirits throughout our miniature travails, we gazed out the window of our plane to catch the rather dramatic moment of our plane leaving the gray below as it ascended into the clear be-puffy-clouded sky above the rain.  And that’s what our name means.  After months of mostly entertaining ourselves with would-be new surnames, Surrain came to me from the thought of being above (the prefix sur-) the rain.  We mulled it over during our honeymoon and, having found it satisfying aesthetically and handy as a mantra, name-like and unblemished by any corporate trademark claims, we’re going for it.

Aug 072010
 

We posted pictures on Flickr and Shutterfly. The flickr pics are smaller and for easier web viewing. We uploaded larger versions to shutterfly in case you want to order prints. If you’re really interested in ordering prints and want to see more pictures that feature you or specific moments, let us know and we’ll happily post more to shutterfly. Here are links to both:

Flickr from our old wedding site
Flickr from Flickr
Shutterfly

Our Old Wedding Site