Friday, April 23, 2010

Free GPS Navigation with Turn by Turn - Waze

Free GPS Navigation with Turn by Turn - Waze |

Yeah, I signed up. It's actually an interesting - and FREE - little navigation app, and works on a variety of platforms (well, I think it does, although I've only tried it on my Nokia E71 w/ S60). And it has neat little pac-man-like dots on roads that have not been traveled by a Waze user (at least I think that's how it works) that you get useless points for eating (by driving over them), and some sort of cupcake things. Anyway, interesting little - and FREE with NAVIGATION - maps app. Just thought I'd let all 3 of my readers know about it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The post I forgot to title!

This is pretty neat. It's the new "Solar Dynamics Observatory" - that is, SDO, a new sun-observing spacecraft/satellite thing. It makes neat pictures and time-lapse movies of the sun, at better-than-high-def resolution. Of course, I still like to visit the Spaceweather site, which I assume may start providing some SDO images instead of SOHO images (in fact, they already have an SDO image on their home page as I write this).

In unrelated news, Facebook is once again making headlines for supposedly making it easier to "share" content across the web. Now you can "like" your favorite news story or other weird things without having to first copy them to your Facebook profile. To be honest, I haven't read up on all the changes, but I did see some new thing taking up the top of my Facebook page when I logged on briefly, but I quickly switched over to create this new blog post, so I still can't offer a real opinion on the changes.

I would like to offer some help to those who may be facing employment difficulties: North Dakota. They have tons of jobs; problem is, there's no place to live. So, at least you could be homeless WHILE employed instead of BECAUSE of lack of employment. On the bright side, you'd be pretty close to the Yellowstone supervolcano, so when it goes you wouldn't have to worry about your not having a home anymore. (Was that heartless and insensitive? I apologize.)

Now, if you have trouble sleeping, it may be because your circadian rhythm is messed up. If so, there's hope: the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, part of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, has some interesting treatments to help "reset" your internal clock. What's really cool is the term they have for the name of some of their treatments: chronotherapeutics. That's cool; just use "chronotherapeutics" the next time you're lacking for a conversational topic at a party or the water cooler at work. You know, like this: "Hey, what do you think of the latest advancements in chronotherapeutics?" That way you'll sound really cool and hip and smart. If someone challenges your knowledge by saying, "What's 'chronotherapeutics'?" you can just say, "Well, you really should research it yourself to see whether you believe in its effectiveness at treating circadian rhythm abnormalities." Then you really sound "in the know"!

And while we're talking about physiological (or at least psychological) issues (which, if psychological, still have some effect in the physiological realm), check out this article on exercise. As we all know, weight loss/gain really comes down to math: net caloric intake (i.e., the number of calories you take in minus the number you expend) essentially determines whether you'll gain, lose, or remain the same weight. Well, that leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities; in the article, it mentions some who cut caloric intake by 25% while others reduced caloric intake by 12.5% and increased caloric expenditure by 12.5%, resulting in the same net caloric change for both groups. In fact, both groups lost weight at about the same rate. However, the additional caloric expenditure in the second group required a solid hour of moderate intensity activity - recommended by the government's opinioners (I made up that word!) on weight loss, but likely "more than what many people would be willing or able to do" - and not only that, but exercise also has other effects, such as increasing appetite. Thus, you have to balance what you're doing vs. what you're taking in. Anyway, read the article, and maybe read it on an electronic reader while running around the block. Just be sure not to run on the road if there's a sidewalk available, and be careful not to run off a cliff while intently reading the article. While death is a sure fire way to lose weight, it's not a recommended method. (And, no, I mean no disrespect to either my or my wife's grandmothers; Grandmom B and Nana, we love you both tremendously!)

Ah, well, nose is running, wrist is hurting, Idol is playing... I'm outta here!
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The other day, I saw this chasing me down the highway (look in the rear-view mirror; you may want to click the image to see it larger).

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's the point?

I'm just curious. I saw a group on Facebook, "WE HATE CANCER (help me get over 1,000,000 people to join)." Now, don't get me wrong, I hate cancer; I hate that it is taking my Grandmom B, and I hate that it's taking my wife's Nana. But I don't understand this group: why? What's the point of making a group to "prey" on cancer victims solely for the purpose of getting a group to a 1-million member mark? Am I missing something? There's nothing in the group about "helping" cancer victims, or of raising money to help fund cancer research. The TITLE of the group says "help me get 1,000,000 people to join" - but there's no point, nothing to come of that magic number except one person now has a group with over 1,000,000 people in it. In fact, the "news" of the group has this: "Please help me get over 1,000,000 people to join my group." This "group" - it's just a social virus, with nothing of merit other than perhaps an outlet for people to post something - but they can already do that on Facebook! There's this "status update" thing... ever seen it?

I don't mean to be a downer... but this is frustrating. If all you want is a group with over 1 million members, then do something bizarre, or perhaps useful, but don't prey on those who may be in a point of weakness. It's kind of like "Christian Chain Letters" (or e-mails) - I don't forward those any more than any other chain letter or e-mail (which is to say, almost never). Now, if there's something useful or unique in it, I may forward it to select individuals, but nearly always with my own commentary added.

Totally unrelated, I just tried Blue Diamond Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds... quite a unique flavor, actually not bad at all! I may have to get a can to take to work to snack on during the day.

Anyway, if you have a Facebook group that will actually get results toward eradication of cancer, feel free to link it here - I might even join.

I apologize for the tone of this post... this is definitely not like my "regular" posts... hopefully those will return soon. Until then, "a topato."
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Home, sweet home.

The title merely indicates where I am: at home. Getting here, today, was a challenge; at more than one point today we were stopped on I-65 South between Birmingham and Bay Minette (that's the exit we take, exit 37, on the way to our home in Daphne). It's hard to see in the pic (unless you click the pic to maximize it), but we're doing 18 in a 70 (I think it's 18; actually, the speedo isn't "cut in half" the way it looks in the pic, not sure why it came out that way, other than perhaps a refresh cycle that the pic managed to grab half-way through the speed update). That's the dash on my "new" Cadillac, a 1996 Sedan Deville with (now) a little over 107k on it, the replacement for the Lexus. That Lexus is no longer mine: in an interesting vehicular trade, I ended up with the Cadillac that had been my grandmother's husband's that she gave to my youngest brother when she quit driving, and he ended up with my parents' Honda Odyssey minivan (they couldn't reach their two girls in the back seat of the Cadillac from the front), and my parents bought a "new" (used) Odyssey (a top-of-the-line Touring model with every option except built-in nav; it's a REALLY nice van!), and I gave the Lexus back to my dad (who had originally bought it used in 1997 or so) to trade on the van (didn't get much, but maybe it covered their sales tax).

As for the Caddy, despite my penchant toward more "sport" oriented cars, I've found that I actually enjoy it - I think it knows more what it was meant to be than the Lexus did, and does what it was meant to very well (and it's terrific on the highway - better, probably, than the Lexus was; then again, the Lexus had nearly twice the mileage of the Caddy). It is big, though; I think the length is about two football fields or something like that. My two youngest children said, "It's like a mini-limousine!" Superbly comfortable on the highway, though, and plenty of power when you need it.

Oh, by the way: if you have a phone that gets internet, and you don't have a GPS that lists rest areas (or maybe even if you do), be sure to bookmark this site; it will give you a list of interstate rest areas by state. We used it twice to optimize our stops on the way home today, a way that was plagued by accidents (our normal four-hour trip took more like six, or a 50% increase in travel time).

This week was an interesting and difficult one, but also had its share of bright moments. Early Thursday my wife and daughter left to head to Birmingham where my daughter participated in the All-State choir, her fourth consecutive year to qualify for All-State (twice in the SSA choir, and more recently twice in the SATB choir). My wife was chaperoning for the girls that went. We are both very proud of our daughter (who, by the way, has qualified for additional scholarship money on a vocal scholarship! Woo-hoo!). Friday night after work I took the boys and we headed up to B'ham. Saturday was the concert, and this year's concert was the best of the four that we have attended.

Afterward, we met up with my dad and both my brother's families for dinner, and then headed to my grandmother's house. Grandmom 'B', who is in the final stages of a battle with cancer. It was a wonderful, but tough, visit. Grandmom B was always "the constant" when we were growing up; despite the various moves throughout our childhood, Grandmom B's house was always "home" - I can't even recall the number of times we stayed there, the times we "camped out" on the back porch (we were real outdoorsmen, we were!), "TG&Y Days" (toys to be had!), mashed potatoes - Grandmom B's are the best (I like my wife's, too, but she understands), Christmas Eve at Grandmom B's... oh, the memories. We didn't move around as much as "army brats" do, I'm sure, but I can recall four different homes between Kindergarten and Graduation; during all that time, Grandmom B's house was still "home" - the place that we could go that never changed.

A wonderful, but tough, visit.

This morning we all went to church with my middle brother and his crew, where his kids were baptized into the Methodist church. Afterward, we parted ways with "my side of the family" and went to visit my wife's grandmother, also in the final stages of a battle with cancer. This, too, was a difficult visit; perhaps not as tough on me, I could tell that it weighed heavily on my wife.

Following lunch, we said our goodbyes and started the journey home. The journey took quite a bit longer than we'd anticipated, but we did (eventually) make it, all still intact.

We have some tough days ahead, and would be grateful for prayers offered on our (and our families') behalf over the next few weeks and months. I'll try to get back to my more "usual" posts in days to come, but it's been a long, emotional weekend.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Metallica ... On Flute?

Saw this in a music store: the best of metallica for flute!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Alternate Endings for and slight review of "Clash of the Titans"

Took the boys to see Clash of the Titans tonight; I thought the development of Calabos into the story was better than the original, but elsewise I prefer the original (of course, the effects were better in this one, and both stories were about at the same level of senselessness, but I felt the character development and some of the other story bits were better woven in the original).

Near the end, I came up with some alternate endings that might have added a little "zing" to it; and so, I present, my alternate endings to Clash of the Titans:

  • According to the story, Medusa's head will not turn females to stone; alternate ending #1: the Krakken is a female, Medusa's head won't stone her/it, and it either takes the princess Andromeda or destroys Argos (or maybe both).
  • Alternate ending #2: when Perseus pulls the head from the bag, he accidentally holds it backward, meeting its gaze, and turns himself to stone; the Krakken takes the princess and destroys the city.
  • Alternate ending #3: remove the "won't turn females to stone" caveat from Medusa's head; while flying across on Pegasus, Perseus accidentally reveals the head of Medusa, which casts its gaze on the princess Andromeda, and Andromeda is turned to stone; since the Krakken no longer has Andromeda to take as a sacrifice, it destroys the city (and, of course, Andromeda was turned to stone).
  • Alternate ending #4 (and this is my favorite, I think): while fumbling with the bag, Perseus accidentally drops the head of Medusa; unfortunately, it falls in front of Pegasus, turning the winged horse into stone mid-flight, and the statue Pegasus and Perseus crash into the cliff, mortally wounding our hero, who only has time to watch the Krakken take the princess Andromeda and destroy the city Argos before he falls into death's clutches.

And there you have it: my alternate endings to Clash of the Titans. Note: I did enjoy the movie, and will likely watch it again when it comes to "home theatre," but I am fairly certain I still prefer the original.
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Good Weekend to You!

So, another animal trainer killed by its "pet" - in this case, an elephant tramples its circus trainer. From the article, "It was unclear what spooked the elephant." I wonder, are they considering murder? You know, someone let slip that the elephant trainer got paid a little more than the lion tamer, so Mr. Lion Tamer (Mrs. Lion Tamer if the use of "Mr." as a generic for "title of address irrespective of gender when said gender is unknown" offends you - nah, I take it back, forget I added this sentence and just read "Mr." in reference to "generic person" and get over it) places a mouse near the elephant's tent during cleaning time and then startles the mouse, causing it to rush under the tent and startle the elephant... "The incident was classified as a workplace accident" - nope, that's not being considered, I guess.

I mean no disrespect in the above; elephants are my favorite animal, and humans rank fairly highly up there as well. What I do really find amusing is this: "The victim is not being identified until next-of-kin have been notified." Hmm... the family sees an article about an elephant trainer being killed by its trainer (note the use of "its" to avoid the "his/her" issue as in the previous paragraph), at the Pennsylvania James Hamid Circus performing at the Irem Shrine in Wilkes-Barre, and they're not supposed to know who it is because "the victim is not being identified" - really. All that other info isn't identifying enough of the elephant trainer at the James Hamid Circus performing in Wilkes-Barre this week. Sometimes the "intelligence" in the media is, well, baffling.

On another note, dense fog cause the Polish president's plane to crash during landing. Thing is, they were told the airport was closed and they should land at a different one, and they tried unsuccessfully three time prior to the fourth - and final, fatal - attempt.

Now a question: why, when referring to guitars (specifically, the body of a guitar), is it "top, back, and sides"? Shouldn't it be "front, back, and sides" or "top, bottom, and sides"?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I won! I won!

Today I received a letter, in a hand-addressed envelope and signed in ink, stating that I "have qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets." It was addressed March 29th, postmarked on April 2, and says I must respond by April 7 (as an aside, the post office did a very poor job of postmarking this letter: I could very easily remove the stamp from the envelope, remove a corner of the stamp, and most likely reuse the stamp; however, being an honest person, I will not do such a thing). It has a very fancy letterhead proclaiming the company: Zimmerman & Cain. According to their website, they are "currently the leading awards management agency in the nation" - but, on the "about us" tab, it says they are "the country’s leader in incentive management" and that they "[assist] companies of all types with marketing and activities utilizing promotional gifts and sales incentives."

Hmm... sounds like a marketing gimmick company to me; you know, the kind where they offer "free vacation" as long as you listen to their "no obligation [i.e., 'high pressure'] opportunity [i.e., 'sales pitch'], with no obligation to purchase whatsoever [except that you'll then likely become liable for 'included' incentives that you thought were free with whatever 'free' thing you 'won' from them]" - that kind of thing. In fact, if you search Zimmerman & Cain, you'll find inquiries about them (and companies with other names) in the Tuscon, AZ BBB (Zimmerman & Cain, and the other "companies," are based out of Arizona).

A little more research shows that the person who signed my letter, Sara Bush (who claims to be the VP of the Travel Awards Division), has "published" various articles on, which, near as I can tell, is a big "link exchange" place (i.e., you post your links, and your links will be displayed on others' articles as their links are displayed in conjunction with your article(s)). She has "written" articles on "Who Is Afraid Of Stress," "Designing Your Childs [sic] Room," and "The Wonders Of Potatoes" - all of which are FULL of typographical, grammatical, and spelling errors, and, quite honestly, look like they are poor translations of Asian to English or written by someone Asian with a minimal command of the English language. In other words, they're designed to attract readers on a web search, provide links to the company, and advertise the company's services and/or perhaps legitimize the company. I doubt this "Sara Bush" is even an employee of Zimmerman & Cain, but would expect that if I called I might be able to talk to someone claiming that name.

The overall point I'm trying to make is this: this is a legitimate looking (on the face of it) letter, but research shows it is likely to be an advertising scam or promotion of some sort. I don't think I'll be responding, and I hope that you, if you get a similar "offer" of award, take the time to investigate before you provide any personal information (or even a response indicating that you are the type of person who will respond to such offers, making you a more likely target for future "attacks" of this nature).

Then again, with airlines starting to charge for carry on luggage, maybe I should attempt to take advantage of this free airfare.

In a related airline story, these women tried to get their dead relative a seat on a flight out of London. The 91-year old deceased German man, seated in a wheelchair and wearing sunglasses, was not allowed to board the plane. Next time you're flying, imagine if you happened to be seated next to that guy!

In an unrelated story, the Aral Sea is drying up. And this IS anthropogenic ("human caused"). Check out the video:

You can read more about it on the Huffington Post. In short, it used to be the fourth largest fresh water lake in the world. A Russian project to divert rivers to provide irrigation to cotton farms have removed the supply source to the Aral Sea (click link for Google Map of the area), and 90% of the sea has disappeared since the project began. The video mentions that pesticides found in the now-Aral-desert have been found in penguins in Antarctica. Yeah, it's having a global impact. And it's human induced. Wonder if we could divert any "climate change" money in this direction?
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Saturday, April 3, 2010


This year my eggs were not very good. The good ones in the pic are my wife's. She generally has pretty good eggs, except for maybe four of them. :)