Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday, Icy Sunday...


Actually, the ice was deposited about 24 hours ago, but it was still hanging around this morning. Luckily I did not have to scrape any windshields or do any driving so it was a minor inconvenience for me. Though the weekend guests (wife's sister and family) did stay an extra day.

No major power outages that I am aware of, perhaps typical Iowa winter weather, looking at the big picture.

This was the view looking out the north-facing window of our living room. Shadow of the house, animated Christmas deer, crabapple tree, driveway, street, yellow house opposite ours ...all combine to make a very abstract image. Looks very cool (if only to me) at the larger image, just click on it.

Our picnic table also has some nice seasonal decoration hanging on it...

Finally, a view up between the main branches of the silver maple in our backyard. It is terribly out of focus, but that seems to emphasize the ice on the high branches. The overall effect reminds me of a particular artist; I will let you make your own connection.

It also looks, if only to me, like some weird astronomy image...

Hey, ya never know what you are gonna get when you live in the Midwest, in Iowa. Tomorrow it could be in the 50s again (as it was the day before this ice-storm) and the plants might wanna start pushing up out of the ground.

Thank god for the variety of life wherever it is found.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saying goodbye always feels so wrong...


In my first month of blogging I posted about a website, Mixwit dot com, that allowed users to create their own 'mixtapes' of songs. Songs that when all perfectly selected, matched, and sequenced by a listener meant something special to them, something the creator would want to share with others.

They even went so far as to use images of the old cassette tape to visualize the mixtape format.

Recently they announced in emails to users and on their website:
We regret to announce that Mixwit is shutting down before the end of the year. Our thanks go out to everyone for your participation and amazing creativity.

We’ve put a year of work into Mixwit so this choice wasn’t taken lightly. I won’t go into the details of our situation but state simply that we boldly marched into in a position best described as "between rock and a hard place." We’re very grateful to be have been part of the mixtape revival of ‘08 and are satisfied to be able to to bow out while things are still good.

As expressed elsewhere, it seems to be yet another instance of the Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, acting to hinder innovation in the delivery of online music. Damn them to hell.

It is sad to lose an 'always there for ya' and talented friend. That is how I will feel when Mixwit finally say goodbye.


Friday, December 19, 2008

I hope the Iraqis realize... Part 2


It is always nice to see ones thoughts confirmed by another. Especially one whose work is found worthy of national distribution.

Mark Hemingway, a staff writer for National Review, seconded my thoughts on the progress of true freedom in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein so long ago:
With the hurling of shoes at Bush, the relationship between the people and their government has moved in the span of five years from a murderous tyranny, through armed resistance to a temporary occupation, to symbolic acts not any more threatening than you’d find in an unhappy marriage.

It ain’t pretty, but it’s progress.


Link: Free Two Shoes


Monday, December 15, 2008

I hope the Iraqis realize...


RE: the shoe-throwing incident involving President Bush and an Iraqi journalist:

I read now the 'shoe thrower' is being celebrated as a 'folk-hero'.


Ya know, I wonder how Saddam Hussein would have dealt with someone who threw a shoe at him..?? Or one of his guests..??

I hope to hell the Iraqi people realize just how free they are now.

Unfortunately, I am afraid the irony will be lost on them. Such is the thanks we get for our years of work and our blood shed on their soil.

Thank you very much.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

A beautiful life too short...


She was a bright star a bit before my time. But from my first viewing of Some Like It Hot I was hooked.

image circa 1953

Sure some of it was the hormones of a teenage male. But I also like to think my addiction was due to the sheer innocence and vulnerability of both the film character and of the beautiful Marilyn.

No one did comedy and 'sexy' on the silver screen any better. Not a dirty, wink-wink, nudge-nudge 'sexy'. But 'sexy' that was pure and feminine and wholesome and devastating.

These pictures are from 1947, near the beginning of her career. She had a bit (and uncredited) part in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and did nothing of consequence for several more years.

These pictures are a stunning 'time-capsule' look at a young lady yet untouched by the expectations of others and the many troubles of her later years.

We can only imagine what might have been had her personal devils and the expectations and demands of other not consumed her spirit and body.

All the photos featured here are found at shorpy dot com. They define their site as:

... a vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

It truly is an amazing site that will bring something new to you every day. You can not expect more from any website.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

A lazy Sunday morning . . ..oh so long ago...


No, not today.

But a warm, lazy tropical day two generations, if not more, ago.


President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address to joint session of the U.S. Congress, December 8th, 1941

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.


As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.


With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our People - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941 a state of War has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

It seems so ...strange to remember a day when the people of the United States were united in a common cause. When 'the enemy' was so clearly defined, and clearly identifiable. When the national will was so clearly and resolutely fixed on achieving a common goal.

Hopefully it will not require a similar act or a similar conflict to once again draw the many together to meet a common challenge.

God watch over us and guide us into the future . . .and remember the few remaining soldiers and sailors still among us from World War II.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

I am here for the party..!!


OK, it is a cheap post . . .but I got this one stuck on my player and stuck in my mind right now:

Gretchen Wilson LIVE!!! someone titled it at youtube...

Edited Feb 19, 2010:
As is often the case at youtube . . .the original video was pulled. Here is a different live performance. Still a great song and singer.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Here we go again..!!


Oh man. Not already. No way..!!

Last day of November and here comes ol' man winter. Never got the leaves in the back yard raked and bagged. Did not get the timber and brick sidewalk rebuilt. Did not get the lawnmower emptied of gas and have not got the snowblower going yet. Luckily, this first 'real' snowfall is not that much

But still..!! Arrggghhhh..!! Anyone know a real estate agent in Arizona..?!?

These pics are of the snow on our crabapple trees in the front yard. I know I whined earlier this year that these trees were only beautiful "for a day or two".

But I suppose we could say these winter days when they are draped in snow and ice, I suppose we could say they are also beautiful now.

I am ready for spring.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fighting through the crowds...


Yet another invite from an online acquaintance:

Xxxxxxxx makes it easy to create, share and discuss your blog, photos, videos and music with more of the people you know, and less of the people you don't.

Hmmm. Perhaps there is a clue there to why I just do not get the appeal of sites like Facebook.

My idea of web-time well spent is to find new stuff I have not seen before, new people I have not met yet, new images I have not imagined, new thoughts and new music I have never heard.

Image source: victoriapeckham via flickr dot com

Why would I want to close myself up in a 'gated community' and share only with those who I am already familiar and comfortable..?? I suppose I could do both, spend time at the country club with the blue bloods and then go down to the city park and interact with the commoners.

But hey, I only have so much time to spend online ... though my wife might argue with that thought. I guess I want to spend it finding new stuff and not embracing what I already know.

Hey . . .I might even find you...

Image source: rileyroxx via flickr dot com

Yeah, I deleted that invitation to join...


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dr. Pepper Sucks..!!


Dr. Pepper sucks.

Or at least the corporate and logistics side of Dr. Pepper sucks.

You have all surely heard the story of Dr,. Peppers plans to give a free can of Dr. Pepper "every man, woman and child in the U.S." if the band Guns N' Roses released their Chinese Democracy disc before the close of 2008.

Image source: Denise&David via flickr dot com

An MTV page dated October 16, 2008 states:
The Dr Pepper spokesperson told MTV News that, while additional details will be forthcoming, the company's plan to distribute free cans of its product will involve some sort of an online coupon system. "People will go on Dr Pepper's Web site and we will send them a coupon for a free one," the spokesperson confirmed. "It's going to be real easy."

'Real easy'. Yeah right.

Well guess what happens when you try to log onto the site today, November 23, the date picked for the one-day coupon give-away...

You got it. Site hangs up or bounces you back to the registration page. Yup, that is right, they make you register at the site before you can even try to get to the actual page where (I assume) you might enter your mailing address for the coupon.

Do they strip the page down, get rid of the graphics so it loads quicker..?? No. Do they make it easy to leave a name and address..?? No. Though I suppose that might cut down on multiple requests from one individual.

All the while a clock ticks away at the top of the website, taunting you about how much time is left to 'register' for your free coupon...

Repeated attempts to enter and submit the information results in being bounced back to the same page sans some entered information. Or you are dumped at a stark 'Service Unavailable' page.

Efforts to call the listed toll-free number: 1-800-6965891, are, of course, fruitless as it either never connects or you get a busy signal.

Geezus. Hey Dr. Pepper: did you plan this out at all..?? Did you give some thought as to how you would handle the demand..?? Did you beef up your server base..?? Consider a longer submission period..?? Plan for anything that might have been 'customer friendly'..??

Well screw you. I will never buy another Dr. Pepper product again if my efforts to get this stupid free coupon go unrequited..!! And I will use the influence of this blog to keep thousands from doing the same . . .OK, maybe two or three peeps, if I am lucky.

But seriously . . .what the h3ll were you thinking..??

...sigh... OK, I am going back in for one more try ... wish me luck.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

'No Shave November' is a no-win...


A recent on-line letter to the student newspaper at the university my daughter attends demonstrated to me how to corrupt a worthwhile online idea.

"No Shave November" is an online campaign that has apparently been out there on the intertubes for a while.

There is an Internet outpost at NoShaveNovember dot org but very little is found there. The whole point is to collect pledges for not shaving during November to support a charitable organization.

This year's recipient organization is SaveDarfur dot org. Individuals who participate in 'No Shave' are directed to collect their pledges and send them directly to 'SaveDarfur'.

There are a whole bunch of facebook groups. The few I clicked on all seem be silly college or university peeps having fun. Men not shaving and whining about how bad their beards are. Women celebrating freedom from shaving their legs. Just not a lot of serious social action behind this whole thing. Not a mention of Darfur or SaveDarfur dot org. Which is kinda sad given the real story of what is occurring in Darfur.

Anyway, just a thought on a silly Internet activity that seems like a good idea but has the social value of a beer pong match. I would love for someone to refute my thoughts that no serious charitable fund raising has resulted from the idea of 'No Shave November'.


A look at the ongoing tragedy in Sudan and Darfur by the Big Picture blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One dumb pink flamingo...


OK, ya know you live in a small town when the escape of a bird from the city zoo makes the hourly news update:

From the Des Moines Register website:
A missing Blank Park Zoo flamingo returned home Tuesday afternoon after leading dozens of searchers on a chase through south Des Moines.

Zoo officials report Tuesday afternoon that someone spotted the flamingo at a golf course near the zoo. Crews moved in on the location and were able to capture the flamingo, after the bird too one final flight over the zoo grounds.

Later in the story a local resident tells of her encounter with the wayward bird:

"There was a pink flamingo standing in my driveway ... It just kind of looked at me and turned its head back and forth."

Now that is one dumb bird. I mean, come on; what is the first thing they teach you in flamingo school: 'If you escape, find a house with a lawn ... and don't move. They will never find you..!! And then later, under the cover of darkness, then you can make your real escape.'

Image source: -just-jen- via flickr dot com

Man, what a dumb bird. And we thought turkeys were dumb.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time for Christmas letters folks..!!


It is a few short weeks until Christmas and I know that many of you are looking for some help on crafting that ultimate Christmas letter.

We have all received those 'form letter' Christmas cards/mailings. They brag about 'Bill's promotion to Vice-President' and the news that 'Ashley was the Lead in the school play' and 'Joshua was appointed to the Naval Academy while placing on the First-Team All-State football team. We are so proud!!' News about pets and trips and parties and victories and celebrations and 'Grams and Grampa' and cars and new jobs and crafty investments and . . .arrggghhhh!!

It all teams together to make you wonder if your family was the only one to have even a smidgen of bad luck, failure, or disappointment in the year drawing to a close.

With that frame of mind, my wife drafted our own family Christmas Letter in 1997. Yes, that cheap, computer-printed, glob of ersatz 'holiday cheer' had finally wormed its way into our family Christmas routine. Well . . .at least the way my darling wife envisioned it.

Me..?? I was set to do battle. To parody the puffy and putrid prose that permeated our personal piece and all that we received.

I composed an 'anti-Christmas letter' that we copied onto the back of my wife's pitiful (sorry dear!) summary of our year.

I can say without crossing my fingers that peeps much preferred my 'getting real' version to the prettied-up, 'life is sooo good..!!' letter composed by my wife. ( At least they admitted to that after a few drinks on New Years Eve.)

That letter I offer now as an example of one 'irregular tradition' that our family suffers each year. ( The briefest of background: Our oldest daughter, Kate, was then in the 7th grade; our twins, daughter Karen and son John, were then in the 4th grade. Names changed to protect the not-so-innocent. )

Without further delay: The 1997 sleeper's family Christmas letter:

Image source: hopenharmony via flickr dot com


Merry Christmas to You and Yours

The really real Christmas letter

Welcome to the Smith Family 1997 interactive Christmas letter, ver. 3.01.1 Your earnest participation will give you the feeling that "you were there" as you spend 1997 with our family.

Please select one answer at each multiple-choice question.

(If you need to "download" something to view this interactive letter, please remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward!)

Correct answers are given below. Good Luck!!

January was a well-remembered month as on the 28th we finally:
a) took down the Christmas tree,
b) realized we had blown our retirement fund buying all these presents,
c) dug the car out of that da** snowdrift.

February was a month well-remembered as:
"..uhhh,.......ahhhh, who the heck remembers February!"

March was the month that we had:
a) green eggs and ham to celebrate the holiday (Karen's idea),
b) green kool-aid to celebrate the holiday (Kate's idea),
c) green left-overs that were celebrating taking over the refrigerator (no one had any idea!)

April was that memorable month that John:
a) wanted to play baseball on the 5th,
b) did not want to play baseball on the 10th,
c) denied he had ever known what "baseball" was on the 15th.

Ahh, dear, sweet May........unfortunately, our lawyers say we are not to discuss May until the grand jury inquiry is concluded........(You know how slow the legal system can be.)

June, July, August were all really:
a) hot, hot, hot..,
b) full of idiots saying "it's the humidity not the temperature",
c) typical for this latitude and longitude.

September is fondly remembered because:
a) the kids all went back to school,
b) we forgot to pick up the kids from camp until after school had begun,
c) all the kids' grade-point averages were 4.0 for at least one day.

October this year, for Halloween, we began working on their costumes:
a) at the beginning of the month,
b) that Monday evening just before the big day,
c) oh heck, we smeared some burnt cork under their eyes and told 'em they were 'ath-a-letes'......(I am not sure they bought it.)

November found Dad left at home for Thanksgiving while the rest of the family traveled out of town because:
a) the in-laws had warned "that bastard better not come around again!"
b) he had to work that weekend ...always, a great excuse for a road trip,
c) the electronic bracelet goes off whenever he is more than 100 feet from the transmitter. (See May above.)

December was memorable for everyone pitching in to:
a) get all those little things done in time for the 'holidays' (like this letter!)
b) get Mom that "Merry Maid" as a Christmas present,
c) help Dad find that list of projects to complete in 1997 . . .(he lost it in, ...oh...maybe mid-January.)

We hope that this past year has found you and all of yours
in good health and best spirits!!!

Correct answers (in no particular order): c, a, a, b, a, b, c, a.
(...We are sure you, and we, will like your answers better than ours anyway!)


Thursday, November 13, 2008

...qui aime gribouiller...


... who likes to doodle ...

It is the tagline at her blog. Acroline's blog

I have no idea who she(?) is. She apparently is French or perhaps Swiss. The vast majority of the text on her blog is in French. But she is conversant enough to use a smattering of English. I found her stuff recently from clicking the 'Next Blog' button at the top of blogger site pages. A time-killing habit of mine...

Her pictures are the soul of her blog, of her. She 'likes to doodle' indeed.

Her pictures are of young girls, young ladies, women. Dreaming, thinking, being women. Thinking of clothes, and shopping, and life. They are whimsical, soft pastel watercolors(?) and they are absolutely wonderful.

I hope she knows that. I hope her talents and her dreams take her far in life.

Anyway. One more to share, I hope it is OK with her. And then do go check out her blog to brighten your own day...


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Read the label stupid..!!


Some people think it must be hard to find stuff to 'blog about'. Well, not if you set the bar low enough.

For example, a fundraiser product my wife brought home from work today. Always nice to help the kids with ... well, whatever they are doing with our money.

This fundraiser featured assorted nuts, fruits, and candies from Terry Lynn fundraising, products that I do highly recommend.

I had to laugh though at the packaging of their 'Colossal Natural Pistachios'. Nothing too unusual about the front:

But check out the 'warning label' on the reverse:

Ya know, ya got be sharp as a 'consumer' these days..!! And we must protect the 'food-challenged' among us. Next will be warning labels on banana peels...


Monday, November 10, 2008

Too soon into the dark night...


One of my earliest posts here at 'Sleeping In the Heartland' noted the arrival on Mars of the Phoenix Lander.

Its five year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out ...

Wait, that is not right..!! I am getting real life and Trek fiction confused again...

The Phoenix Mars Mission was "... designed to study the history of water and the habitability potential in the Martian arctic's ice-rich soil." Check out the resource-rich Phoenix Mars Mission website to learn much, much more.

From its landing on May 25, the lander performed nearly flawlessly and met most of its scientific objectives. It returned over 25,000 photographs and other scientific data from tests on the surface of Mars. Its planned mission of 90 days stretched to just over 5 months. It was active for all but a few days with scientific investigations. Study of the photographs and data obtained is expected to continue for years.

There is a possibility that the lander may reactivate itself after a long Martian winter but it is believed to be unlikely.

Congratulations to all who designed, built, programmed, and conducted the Phoenix Lander Mission. Job well done.


Vote one more time...


Yes, if you are an Epinions dot com member you are not done voting yet..!!

...and if you are not ... well check us out..!!

Yeah, yeah, I know: I munged the question. You are all smart, figure it out on your own..!! ...:minism:...

Thanks for playing..!!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

'lean-n-mean' less than ... 50 words..??


22 Words, via Robust Writing challenges us to post in fifty words or less.

At my favorite online haunt sleeper54 has challenged writers to write 'lean-n-mean' for 6 years-plus.

Users have always found it challenging and a good exercise of their writing 'chops'.

Check us out soon.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Melancholic madness...


Sometimes ya just wanna reach some basic gut feelings deep inside you...

For me music is the way to do just that...

Enjoy one of my favorites...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What I Learned Today . . .two...


'Red on Women Drives Men Wild' ...who would have thought..??

Image source: mx5tx/Michael via flickr dot com

A University of Rochester study, detailed online at LiveScience dot com, demonstrated that men found that:
...women shown framed by or wearing red were rated significantly more attractive and sexually desirable by men than the exact same women shown with other colors.

But nowhere in the article did I find mention of the color black. I have always found the classic basic black dress a 'killer' look for my mind...

...and a video by the little-known Mexican-American pop singer Marcos Hernandez.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Color my world...


No, no, no. Not the old rock tune by Chicago.

But a way to recharge my world by tuning into a favorite color on the web. I really could have used this 'color search engine' when I was blogging about orange a few weeks ago. (ee-day') is a recent find (for me anyway, from another blog) of a company specializing in image searches on the web.

To quote their webpage:
We extracted the colours from 10 million of the most “interesting” Creative Commons images on Flickr. Using our visual similarity technology you can navigate the collection by colour.

Using their 'Multicolr Search Lab' page you can select from one to ten different colors from a color palette and the site returns hundreds of image matches for any combination chosen from the Creative Commons images on flickr dot com.

Looking for some images colored strongly orange and black for Halloween..??

Or perhaps something more sunny and bright for these chilly fall days. How 'bout some blue and yellow..??

If you are ever looking for a picture with a certain color ...or a color for a certain mood ...this image/color search tool will serve you very well.

Gotta run; got 10 million images to browse...


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kumbaya . . . pass the s'mores please..!!


Kumbaya. Pass the s'mores and the hot chocolate.

Together we can sing songs and make the world a better place.

I like the music, the thoughts are nice.

Too bad it is a nasty world out there. Too bad too many 'bad people' have no intention of every acknowledging the validity of these ideas ... let alone accepting them or allowing them to be expressed or enforced.

What to do, what to do.

... I know, lets make a video..!!

For the less cynical: Human Rights Action Center dot org


Friday, October 17, 2008

my ebbflux capacitor is discharged...

There is no refinement. There is only process, action, and circumstance.

In response to an offsite question about what the heck the subject of this post was about, an online friend sent me the link to yet another odd 'words' page. As I suggested to him, it is not nice to point me at another shiny online bauble that makes me lose all concentration and purpose in my life.

ebbflux dot com. When you enter the site a random sentence is loaded:
Cupid’s arrow (I’m talking about the reindeer).

One word, or repeated word, will hyperlink to a following page. In the example above 'reindeer' is linked. Following it gives us:
If that was indeed the direction of the corpus. Because I’m pretty sure information is not currently being collected. A throwback from a simpler time. It’s all throwbacks from similar times.

Following a few links produces:
It wasn’t written to anyone’s satisfaction, in particular. Cuidado con los fluidos mi amigo.

I waited between them floating in and out of perception, never sinking in, and never quite seen.

There’s more. It’s okay. I call it a click aesthetic. It comes in sideways and half the time you just swipe your card through the ceiling. Hold on.

OK . . .why..??

Following the 'Notes' link on the page leads to the statement:
ebbflux's "machine text" is an experimental fiction in a hypertext format. Story generation is non-linear but not entirely random. The reader plays an interactive role setting the tone and direction of presentation through their choice of hypertext clickthroughs.

OK.... Some pages do have multiple links, and they do lead to different 'daughter' pages. But it sure as the heck does not make for much of a story.

I suppose the individual sentences/thoughts could be used as writing prompts for writing exercises. But beyond that I am drawing a blank.

Anyway, just another weird thing found on the web. If any of you have a clue about this one ... please do clue me in.

Oh, and one 'pretty' thought I found:
Clarity, like water floating oil globs, dissipates as the soapiness of reality drips in.

Image source: ReneS via


Sunday, October 12, 2008

OK . . .why..??


All Junky Pages Intentionally Illogical & Inconsistent

scepticism enjoy vote confiner playacting preferentially floodlit Neil zygotic beneficial Savoy yo amativeness Georgia unobtrusively egocentrically slyly globulous benchwarmer quadrennia cob midsummer Chiapas jeep loft caesium tonically headwind incredulously recondite grisly Passamaquoddy neonatology overspent matchwood millibar shibboleth chew Ellice spend derisiveness glutei sweeping jack indemnity miffy grantee Beerbohm misshape malted transpacific layette estimably enunciator stance sizzlingly devastator solemnization electrochemical pinnacle Lauren chauvinistically timeserver castigation Tunis marathoning pedagogics monogamy burial Alberta psychosomatic Adolph conduct unprepossessing Cronus reveler relief perishable destructible seriffed futurist mightily Cucuta voraciously oatcake manumission defector crawly eloper Odin attunement extremeness rumbler soiree compressibility voluntarily serrated unbelievingly


Literally hundreds (if not thousands) of pages each with a couple of thousand words listed. All unrelated, all 'real' words ...not gibberish, all correctly spelled ...from a quick skim through anyway.

Image source: Daino 16 via stock.xchng

Just one of those silly things that makes me go 'hmmm..?!?'


Friday, October 10, 2008

Feeling totally liberated...


My name is ...tom... and I am a blogaholic.

Not necessarily from the writing side, obviously, but from the reading side. Clicking here and there I am constantly clicking this RSS feed button and that RSS feed button. Feeding the insatiable appetite of my Google Reader beast.

Opening it just now I see I have nine folders created. Within those nine folders are 77 separate feeds.

How in the h3ll did I wind up with 77 feeds..?!?

Hey, they are all free I guess.

Anyway, after having not been online for several days, or at least into my reader, I found myself with 700-plus posts to read.

What 700-plus reader messages feel like...

I struggled through a hundred or so, finding none of them worthy of 'starring' for a closer look later. So I finally said 'the h3ll with it' and clicked the '[Mark all as read]' button.

I am free..!! Gawd, how liberating is that..?!? Sure I might have missed the post of the year by gawd knows who . . .. But I guess the sun will still rise tomorrow and hopefully I will be here to greet it.

What having zero posts to read feels like..!!

Anyway, the few blogs I really need or want to read are already marked here at my blog site so I guess I can live without all the filler/noise. OK ... maybe this once I can.

Hey, I am off to find some more blogs to subscribe to..!!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The view from above...

It should be enough that I pimp it in my blog list here.

It should be enough that I have already featured it with a 'shout out post' when I first discovered it earlier this year.

It should be enough that it is one of my first 'read checks' every day.

It should be enough that you should already know about it...

But just in case you remain clueless . . ..

Earth From Above comes to NYC.


Icebergs and an Adelie penguin, Adelie Land, Antarctica.

American cemetery north of Verdun, Meuse, France.

Elephants in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

Looking now, at the draft of this post, I see the sample pics above capture none of the power or the intimacy of the photos at The Big Picture site.

So just trust me on this one.

Go look for yourself.


You can thank me later.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Graphing your thoughts about you...

The innertubes are full of widgets and games and 'which fill-in-the-blank are you..??' quizzes. There are countless ways to waste precious minutes to learn one more way to define just who the heck you are. What is with this 'defining ourselves' anyway..??

An 'exercise' I stumbled across recently is fun and different. Sponsored by The College Board (yes, the people who tortured you and now torture two million college-bound HS-ers each year with the SAT college exams) it is a simple way of weighing the significance of two pairs of choices on a 2D grid.

The example above pairs the choices of 'memorization vs comprehension' against 'verbal vs visualization'. (Click on any of the images for the bigger pic.) By sliding your mouse pointer across the face of the grid you can weigh your own balance between each pair of choices. The sample dot on the example above is obviously weighted much more heavily to memorization and almost as much to verbal for the styles of 'how you learn'.

Once you find your 'sweet spot' for any given graph and click to mark your place, the flash application fills in spots marking the choices of all those who have already completed that particular question grid. See the example below.

The simple flash program is found at the For Students page of the College Board site. No registration is required, you are simply given a cutesy 'user name' ( BrownCrownedMinnow here.. ) and away you go.

One more example of a fun one found there:

Love is: 'cruel vs wonderful' against 'attainable vs a myth'

I guess we should be encouraged that young people are finding love both 'wonderful' and 'attainable'. Though I suppose we should fear for that cluster hugging the 'cruel' line...

Anyway . . .a fun diversion for a few minutes during your day. Gawd knows we could all use a 'fun diversion' these days.

Click the links, check it out a bit, have some fun.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SI covers me in memories...

We all have memories that take us back to a place or a time as if it were playing out in front of our eyes.

A song can dredge up a memory of that high school love that got away.

A smell can bring back the memory of Gramma's pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving or the smell of that once-special girl's hair.

The sight of the sun sinking into the sea can bring back the memory of that weekend at the beach.

First SI issue, August 16, 1954

For many sports fans memories are full of sports moments: football games, baseball games, college basketball. Sometimes those moments were shared by thousands in the stands, or perhaps just a few buddies in a living room or den, or even an afternoon watching by yourself.

For all the major sporting events over the last 50 years-plus the writers and photographers of Sports Illustrated, SI, have been there documenting the sights, sounds, and action.

Sports Illustrated Covers

You can jog many of your own sports memories by checking out the SI covers page at the SI website.

At that page there are various options to choose. You can choose to look at the 'Editor's Picks' or 'Most Popular' or 'the Latest' to start. There are also covers from various times in the past ( 5 Years Ago, 10 Years Ago, etc. ) down the page.

I know there used to be page where thumbnails of multiple pages were available for browsing. But dang if I could find it now.

Every issue's cover is still available by simply picking a cover and flipping either forward or back in time using the Next or Previous buttons. Indeed once you notice the numbers changing in the page URL you can jump forward or backward by changing the URLs.

Once at a particular cover page you can choose to read the articles in that issue or browse the actual issue itself in a separate reader window, if it is available. The old ads are fascinating..!

Sweet, sweet swimsuit issues, covers, and pics..!!

Every cover published is available. Including all the swimsuit covers...

The first one, published in 1964, was originally just a one-shot deal. But the popularity of it led to a repeat the next year ... and the rest is history as they say.

Of course, you can browse to the next few issues and read the 'swimsuit response letters' that have become such an SI legend after each issue. indeed.

First swimsuit issue, January 20, 1964

The Bottom Line

The archives at SI dot com are a real treasure for any sports fan. Treat yourself to a few minutes of browsing through your own sports memories.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pandora, a music box you wanna open...


"At Pandora, we have a single mission: To play music you'll love - and nothing else."

Music can be found everywhere on the web: Yahoo, mixwit, Itunes, youtube for videos, Live365, Rhapsody,, shoutcast, and many others.

There are charges for some, for varying levels of service; others are totally free.

Some have minimal commercial interruptions, others have none.

Some allow you to create your own mixtapes, others allow you to 'program' your own 'station'.

Some have other content, others are strictly audio music.

What I like ...what I use

I have found in using several of these music sites over the years that I want and need a simple service that is always 'up', is easy to program to what I want to listen to, has multiple 'channels' or stations that I can easily customize and choose from, and makes me smile when I listen.

For me, meets those needs.

Basically, Pandora allows you to create multiple stations all as tightly focused or as 'wide open' to a given genre as you want. It has _always_ been available when I have 'dialed it up' and the sound quality of everything I have heard has been excellent.

An excellent FAQ file at Pandora goes into great detail about how to access the site, find the music you like, and fine-tune your online listening experience.

I found this article at pcmech dot com that goes into more detail about making Pandora your own experience.

Unfortunately, I also found a linked discussion that suggested the owners of Pandora may be forced to pull the plug on their business after recent increases in song fees have greatly increased their expenses. That would be a real shame. Pandora radio has been a great source for me to discover new music and has resulted in real-world CD purchases and also purchases of online mp3s.

Sometimes the owners will kill the golden goose to control the profit from it. Big business and regulation is not currently a friend of the wide distribution on online music. Of course, with the financial world collapsing around us, gas prices, ongoing war in the Iraq, why should we expect any peace and quiet and relaxing moments on line..??

Listen now, to Pandora dot com, while you still can.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's Wabbit Season..!! huh huh huh huh...

I had no idea.

As I believe everything I read on the innertubes, I now know that 56 years ago yesterday the Warner Bros. Pictures Inc. cartoon short "Rabbit Seasoning" debuted in theaters across the country.

Wow. Did clicking that link bring back a flood of memories. All of these Warner Bros. cartoons eventually became staple fare for every kid who grew up watching cartoons on Saturday mornings.

Image source: cnet dot news

I think I may have just screwed any possible productivity for the rest of my day.

Between NFL football, finding more Bugs and Daffy cartoons, and the last game at Yankee Stadium . . .hmmm, the missus will not be happy I am afraid...

I suppose I still better get the rest of the lawn mowed...

Hat tips to: languagehat and MetaFilter


Saturday, September 20, 2008

' Say what..?!? '


I guess it is kind of a geeky thing to do. Look for phrases that are unique in the online world. The artificial arbiter or 'gate' that I use for this 'unique' label is, of course, the ubiquitous Google dot com.

What defines a 'unique phrase'..?? Well, it has to be at least two words. A one word phrase makes no sense, right..?? Besides, that is just making up words anyway. I mean not that there is anything wrong with that. Hell, urbandictionary dot com is all about making up shi ...err, stuff.

You would think with all the millions of monkeys, like you and I, pounding on all our keyboards out there on the web ... you would think everything that could be said would have already been said. But not true ... thank gawd.

Unique two word phrases are worth more than three or four word phrases to me. I mean, obviously the more words you start stringing together the more likely you are to craft a new phrase. But much longer than four just gets silly ... so I try to notice and identify only two-, three-, and four-word phrases. Think of it as gold, silver, and bronze medal-worthy.

I see at least one other user on the web has chased this pig before. In 2005 Bella posted about her own created 'unique phrase': "Born mechanical witness" Indeed, to this day it remains the only web-use of the phrase. ( Though some would quibble with her use of 'born' rather than 'borne'. But the latter also remains a unique phrase so I will not hate on her... )

See, that is kinda cool. Hey, I told you it was geeky...

Unique phrases I have crafted or discovered:

No results found for "blush without modesty"
A phrase I used in an e-mail to a newly-wed whom I had previously teased about blushing. I simply shared the thought: 'may you always blush without modesty' in a reply. Batta-boom unintended 'unique phrase'..!!

No results found for "beasts and bores"
Another e-mail exchange. In suggesting that the recipient had surely handled worse online exchanges, I said: "You have handled much bigger beasts and bores than I."

Results 1 - 2 of 2 for "berserking children"
One by a writer on Epinions dot com, a site I actively participate at by reading and writing reviews. I admit I stretch a bit with this one by allowing the use of 'berserking' ...but hey, it is my game so I can play as I like..!!

Results 1 - 2 of 2 for "expectation in every sentence"
Another writer at Epinions. Just a beautiful phrase, especially in context at the review.

Anyway, just a brief introduction to my little web reading-n-writing obsession. I would have more ... but I have never really saved them anywhere. Now that I have this soapbox of a blog perhaps I can remember to save them to add here.

Hey, if you have any examples of your own please share them in a comment..!!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mapping your NFL Sundays...


Every weekend from September through December the NFL fan, hardcore or casual, is at the mercy of network and local station decisions about what particular NFL games they will be able to watch that Sunday.

In 2002 NFL and New England Patriots fan J.P. Kirby first began compiling data on what games were being shown in what cities. From various TV network sites and independent 'channel guide' sites he was able to determine what affiliates in what city were showing which games. Compiling them onto a map for easy visual reference he took his 'hobby' to the web in 2005 and the interest has grown each year.

Perhaps the biggest impediment to his creating the maps each year is the 'blackout rule' the NFL imposes on cities/areas where the local game is not sold-out 72 hours before kickoff.

Primary and secondary market designations all factor into what games get shown where. J.P. discusses this and more at his website, the506 dot com, and in an interview with Yahoo Picks in 2007.

If you are looking for a quick check of the games in your area on Sunday the site is a great resource to have available. It also will help keep you aware of what your online buddies and family around the country are seeing each weekend.

Definitely a site worth checking out for any NFL fan who watches games on TV.