Thursday, July 31, 2008

" It was a dark and stormy night. "


" It was a dark and stormy night. "

This is an oft-recurring theme in the Peanuts cartoons penned over the years by the late Charles Schulz. His cartoons seemed to often feature the world's favorite dog Snoopy lying on the top of his doghouse, putting pen to paper to begin his 'great American novel'.

But little did I realize that there actually is a complete Snoopy novel led by these words.

The 'novel' features pirates, dying patients, lovers torn apart, a cattle stampede, fighting cowboys ...truly a 'tour de force', all in a bare 250 or so words..!! I can almost imagine it put to film and playing on the silver screen . . .or not..!!

There is more Snoopy and Peanuts info to be found at Snoopy dot com.



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

' Alphabet for Beginners ': letters to live by...

William Hone was a political firebrand in the early days of nineteenth century merry old England. While his efforts in promoting the goals of the London Corresponding Society in parliamentary reform and other political efforts have faded over the years he did publish some works of long-lasting value.

In addition to a number of political pamphlets authored and published, Hone also produced some general consumption literature. One of his books is titled:
The Year Book of Daily Recreation and Information, concerning Remarkable Men and Manners, Times and Seasons, Solemnities and Merry-makings, Antiquities and Novelties: forming a Complete History of the Year
Yes, that is quite the mouthful. Perhaps that is why 'Poor Richard's Almanack' is remembered and this one not so much...

Included in 'The Year Book' is an "Alphabet for Beginners", perhaps best described as a secular credo for living based on traits identified by the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Such homilies as:
B e just to others, that you may be just to yourself.

N ever take credit; and, as far as possible, avoid giving it.

R evenge a wrong by forgiving it.
and other familiar and not so familiar advice are included.

It is pretty amazing that so many of the ideas might still be found applicable today, nearly two hundred years later. Perhaps basic human nature changes little over the years and through the generations.

hat tip: Neatorama


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beating the Reaper: Randy Pausch, 1960-2008



" But we don't beat the Reaper by living longer. We beat the Reaper by living well. "
—Randy Pausch

A true teacher left his final classroom Friday. Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Randy Pausch finally succumbed to the ravages of pancreatic cancer.

But he certainly did not go meekly into the night.

The entire mushroom of attention about his health 'problem' and his philosophy of life really began as he sought a way to leave a permanent mark in the lives of his three children, to create a touchstone for them to always find the presence and love of a father taken too, too early from them.

He did so by documenting his life goals and how he worked to reach them. The methods and drive that worked for him will serve his children well in the decades that follow.

That he chose to share this personal story with his students, his colleagues, with us is a gift that we may never be able to re-pay. Except, perhaps, by living our lives as he lived his; sharing our energy, our optimism, our dreams and goals with all those around us to craft a better world and life for all.

You must see the video, you must read the book, you must absorb his message. If you take full measure of it you will find it greatly enriching your life and those you love.

There could be no better fitting gift for any of us to leave for those who will follow in our footsteps.

The Last Lecture video can be found here.
The Last Lecture book can be found here.
My review (and others) of The Last Lecture can be found here.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rainy day songs...


Songs of rain. Just because...

And a few youtube vids...

Raining On Sunday ... Keith Urban ...wonderful guitar playing.

Stay Away Joe ... Elvis Presley

Bring On The Rain - Jo Dee Messina & Tim McGraw

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - Bob Dylan ( a memorial of the Vietnam years )

Kiss the Rain - Billie Myers

Like the Rain ( Pride and Prejudice ) - Clint Black


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dancing is astronomy..??

How can dancing be considered to be astonomy-related..?!?

That was my first thought when checking out a recent APOD 'picture of the day'.

I have talked about APOD before, what a great site it is. It is always good for something new, something refreshing, something awesome indeed. Anyone who can look at the stars on a dark night and not find it awesome is missing a part of their soul.

But back to this dancing thing. how can that be related to astronomy..??

Well, one of their recent daily pics featured that dancing fool Matt Harding and a video of him dancing his fool way around the world. What a life..!! ( And another 'why the h3ll did I not think of that..?!? ' moment for me..!! )

Well, we are all traveling through the universe and through our lives on this same great big ball called Earth. One thing we all share is smiling and joy. As they say at the APOD page: "few people are able to watch the above video without smiling."



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

See anybody you know..??

OK, this is pretty cool. I know, I know ...I am easily impressed by modern technology.

But if you are still at the level of enjoying snapshots and pictures from your vacation last year out west, some of which you actually managed to get posted on a free web picture site . . .well, you might be impressed with this bit of pixel prestidigitation also.

Say, isn't that Billy Crystal right there..?!?

July 4th, Yankee Stadium . . .but where did the shortstop and 3rd baseman go..??


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'Word clouds' galore...

We have all seen those 'word clouds' around the net. They are used to graphically and textually represent the content of a set of tags or perhaps the text in an article or on a page.

Well now comes wordle dot net that lets you create your own 'word clouds', from content of your choice. It could be some writing of yours on the web, or your photo tags at flickr or your last love letter to your girl ...whatever you want.

Here are just a couple of examples:

This one is apparently the 23rd Psalm.

Here is Kristin's page where she leaves a sweet thought for her darling husband and a simple 'happy birthday' thought to Tiffany.

While you can not register a particular name you can accumulate 'wordles' under your ID of choice. Before saving them you can use the randomize button at the page to display them in varying colors, arrangements, and page backgrounds.

Because the application is java-driven you also can not capture a jpeg of your 'wordle'. But the site does explain other methods to capture the image. As all images are created under a Creative Commons Attribution license you are free to use them to your heart's content.

Try it out, have some fun ...or at least a brief moment of nonsensical diversion.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Use it or lose it....

Good news is out for those men who are getting theirs frequently.

Finnish researchers have found that " who said they had sexual intercourse less than once a week had twice the risk of developing erectile dysfunction, compared with men reporting having sexual intercourse once a week. "

The data even seems to indicate that the greater the frequency of sexual intercourse, the lower the incidence of erectile dsyfunction.

Unfortunately, the study only investigated the effects of actual sexual intercourse and not masturbation. Of course, one associate professor of urology is quoted in the last paragraph of the linked report theorizing: " ...this (masturbation) is essentially the same concept, ... Anything you can do to bring blood to the penis is beneficial. "

So there ya go. Get out there and exercise your little friend guys; either with your favorite workout buddy or on your own. Your future sexual potency is in your hand . . .or hands.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Filtering search results by color..?!?

OK, this is one of the weirder things I have happened upon while surfing the net. I know, given some of the weird and disturbing stuff out here . . .that is saying a lot.

But filtering search results by color..?? I mean, I can see that if you are looking for bath towels or dishes or paint of a particular color. But just random objects..?!?

Here is a Yahoo.Shopping search result page that I somehow landed on. Notice the block of color swatches at the left. You may have to scroll down just a wee bit.

This particular page is tagged at the top as:

Shopping > Home & Garden > All Home & Garden > Light Pink

Notice the various articles displayed there for the shopper: a pink toy box bench, a pink bean bag chair, pinks sheets, pink security blanket, pink muffin pan, pink toaster..?!?

Clicking on the different color boxes brings up a new set of products, all with that color in common.

Well, I suppose if you are nuts about a particular color and want to pimp your pad out in that color ...I suppose that 'color search' function might be useful.

You can 'click back' on the URL string at the top at keep the color option visible. But I could not figure out how to 'call it' from the main Yahoo:Shopping page.

Anyway . . .I thought it was very, what did I call it earlier..? ...I thought it very weird.