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Showing posts from November, 2012

Freaky Friday News: November 30, 2012

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Volcanoes!  They're Not Just for Breakfast. This past month has seen interesting volcanic activity in Mexico and Central America - that is if your definition of interesting is "Oh, god! Oh, god!  We're all going to die!".  Six volcanoeshave seen various level of activity, from continuous tremors to bursts of ash and smoke:

Popocatepetl (Mexico) Santiaguito (Guatemala)  Pacaya (Guatemala) Fuego (Guatemala)San Cristobal (Nicaragua)Masaya (Nicaragua) As of this writing, no one has issued evacuation orders. 

All I Want for Christmas is my... Wait!  Is that a Robot? Why, yes!  Yes, it is.  
This week, artist and inventor Kogoro Kurata unveiled the Kuratas robot, the manifestation of his childhood dream to have a cool robot like the ones he watched on television (think Robotech).   At 4 meters in high and weighing 4 tonnes, the Kuratas robot is a bohemoth that travels up to 10 km/hour with its human driver.

That's right - you can ride inside Kuratas and use a controlle…

iPhone 5 Prank in Amsterdam

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Just a quick post - some humorous young men in Amsterdam got their hands on an iPhone 5 and super-glued the phone to the ground in the middle of Amsterdam.  Then they hung around and watched as pedestrians attempted to pick it up.  The resulting video is quite amusing - I especially like how most people start laughing when they realize it's a prank.


Facebook - Oh, the Irony!!!

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Last weekend, I officially ended my relationship with Facebook.  There are a multitude of reasons for the break-up, but the straw that broke the camel's back was the mass emailing in which Facebook announced policy changes that I found untenable.

It seems as though I am not the only person who found the policy changes untenable.  Over 19,000 people commented on their unhappiness over the upcoming policy changes, and even the Electronic Privacy Information Center asked Mark Zuckerberg to withdraw the policy changes in this letter.

And Facebook agreed.  Sort of.

Now, Facebook is following their own public policies and putting the matter up to a vote.  Of course, I doubt that Facebook will be publicizing the vote, because people might actually vote against these policy changes.  But at least the new policy changes will be put in place properly.

I am still not returning to Facebook.

There is too much water under the bridge.  And I find myself not missing Facebook at all.  But I want …

Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving in Kindergarten

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Review: Logitech H390 USB Headset

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A headset! A headset!  My kingdom for a headset!

That's how I felt last week, when my kids wanted to play Torchlight 2 with me co-op online, but I needed a headset for that to work properly.  I ended up using my husband's headset, but that gets old very quickly.

I would like to say that I ran out the door and got myself a new headset, but I didn't need to.  While I played with the kids, my husband walked out the door and drove to Micro Center, where he bought me a brand-new headset - the Logitech H390 USB Headset!

I've used this headset since last Friday, and I must tell you that so far I absolutely love it!  I needed to stretch the headband a bit, to keep it from pushing against my glasses.  But otherwise, no problems whatsoever.  I have used the headset to game, to listen to music from YouTube and Google Music, and to make phone calls.  That's right - now I can use Google Talk to make phone calls directly from my computer.

Bwahahahaha!!!

I spoke to my friend, An…

Site Under Construction

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So, I decided I need more experience playing with templates on Blogger.  I looked around for new templates to use, and vióla!  A new look for my blog!!

Of course, I haven't work out all the bugs yet, or set up every link yet.  So for the moment my site is kinda sorta under construction.  I will be back tomorrow with a regular posting and a (hopefully) fully functioning blog.

Goodbye, Facebook! So long, and thanks for all the fish!

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Well, the time has come.  Last week, Facebook sent out a mass emailing explaining to its users how the policies and procedures are changing.  Basically, the people at Facebook decided that we don't need a voting system to approve or disapprove policy changes.  Instead, they will implement policy changes and leave us a suggestion box to use if we don't like the changes.

A suggestion box - with no guarantee of an answer, any answer to suggestions.

Sigh.  They are also changing more things, but I quit reading after I deciphered1. the first bit of text.  It's fairly obvious that Facebook doesn't care what its users want, and that we are not on the list of priorities.  I am not that surprised - Facebook did start as a website to rank college girls.   It just happened to turn into a social network.

But now I must cut ties to several people in my life.  I have a step-daughter with a new baby boy who I don't hear from other than through Facebook.  I have several cousins (…

Freaky Friday News: November 23, 2012

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Welcome to the Toilet Museum!!
No, I'm not joking.  A man in South Korea donated his toilet house, pictured above, to become a toilet museum.  It's become a tourist attraction. *smacks hand on forehead*

If you want to know more, I suggest you watch this slideshow on Reuters.



This week, a man in Surrey, southern England, found a dead pigeon while cleaning out a disused fireplace.  Amazingly, the dead pigeon turned out to be a carrier pigeon from World War II, and it still carried an encrypted message.  Sadly, no one alive today can decrypt the message, because no one knows which code was used to encrypt the message.





A Thanksgiving Gift - Grandpa's Corn Casserole

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While I still feel a bit cynical about Thanksgiving, I want to share a Thanksgiving gift with you.  It's the recipe my father makes every Thanksgiving for an easy, delicious corn casserole.  By "easy" I mean that kids old enough to use the oven can make it.  Or, kids not only enough to use the oven but old enough to open and stir - say, 5-6 years old - can make it.


Grandpa Yoder's Corn Casserole

Ingredients:
1 16 oz. can of creamed corn
1 16 oz. can of whole kernel corn
1 8 oz. container of sour cream
1 box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
1/4 c. of melted butter.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Grease a casserole dish (or use non-stick spray).Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.Pour into the casserole dish.Bake 45 - 60 minutes, or until lightly brown on top. This is a family favorite - my daughter loves Grandpa's corn casserole.  I hope that you and your family enjoy this.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wordless Wednesday - Werewolf Android

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My lovely, wonderful husband bought me a werewolf Android for our wedding anniversary!!!!!  Sweet!!!!!

I'm Thankful for... Emperor Justinian I

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Yes, this does not sound like something most people would be thankful for - a pre-Middle Ages emperor of the Byzantine Empire who died in 565 AD.  But the ideas that this man, this son of a shepherd, put forth have influenced the world even to today.

For Emperor Justinian I believed in justice and the law; he created a uniform Roman law (based on previous laws) and wrote it down in Corpus Juris Civilis. (Okay, he probably had his officials write them down under his orders.)  This work has been and is the basis for most civil laws from Justinian's empire until today.  He offered scholarships to anyone who wanted to study the law (not just from the upper classes).

While Emperor Justinian I contributed much to his time and posterity, I believe the following ideas are his
 greatest contributions:
The law applies equally to everyone in the Empire, not just the common people.Studying the law helps man to get a greater understanding of the law - jurisprudence.Previous judgement should se…

Crows are Smarter Than We Think

Here's a short video clip of Betty, a very intelligent crow, using tools to get food.



Do you think that the crows will inherit the earth after humans? Or do the dolphins have first dibs?

And... She Still Doesn't Get It

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Shena Hardin - a name for history, if history decides to record human selfishness and stupidity.  This woman rode up a daycare entrance ramp to drive on a sidewalk to go around a stopped school bus picking up a handicapped student.  When a police officer pulled her over to give her a ticket, somehow Ms. Hardin ended up in front of a judge.  Now I don't live in Ohio, but I assume that Ms. Hardin could have just paid the ticket.  That's how traffic tickets work in every other state I've lived in.

But let's give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe Ms. Hardin had no choice but to show up in front of a judge.  The judge, in a moment of extreme common sense, ordered Ms. Hardin not only to pay a fine, not only to lose her license for 30 days, but to hold up a sign for an hour during morning traffic.  The sign needed to say, "Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus."

Now, I've talked about this before.  But I wanted to go over what happen…

Dawn to Dusk: Video of Hurricane Sandy

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NASA released this video of Hurricane Sandy from first light until night on October 28th and October 29th. There is no sound in the videos, but I find it interesting to watch the hurricane as it spins and moves. I hope you find this interesting, too.



Why I Say, "Bah, Humbug" To Traditional Thanksgiving

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In less that a week, the vast majority of American families will get together, eat a huge feast, watch football, watch parades, and give thanks for their lives.  A few will discuss the story behind Thanksgiving that we all learned in elementary school.  But I feel like we as a country have not only forgotten the lesson of Thanksgiving, but I wonder if anyone really got it at all.

Why?  Because we, the new Native Americans, do not welcome people into our country with open arms.  We don't help others live, and we definitely don't share a large percentage of our food with strangers in a show of harmony.  What we do is persecute people who want to come to the United States; we greet people with suspicion and lots of questions.
Do you have a job or a visible means of support?
Do you have an education?
Do you have any sexually transmitted diseases, or any other communicable diseases?
Do you have family in the U.S. to help you out?
Are you bringing family with you?
If yes, how many?  Wh…

Wordless Wednesday: Swans by Salvador Dalí

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Dalí loved to paint scenes with multiple images; in this piece, the swans reflect as elephants in the water.  I'm sharing this today to remind everyone that sometimes life isn't as it seems - look for what's hidden.

Or maybe I just really like Dalí's paintings. :-)

Keeping Your Online Information Private

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Throughout history, gold, silver, salt, precious stones, and fancy pieces of paper have all at one time or another acted as currency, or mediums of exchange.  But at any point in time, the wealthiest of men had something more valuable than the possession of currency, because real wealth comes not from the ground.  Real wealth is based on real power, and real power is based on knowledge.

Today knowledge, power, and wealth are based on information, as data brokers make billions of dollars selling information about you.  And yes, when I say "you" I mean the person reading this article.  The nine largest data brokers have accumulated over 500 million detailed records on everyday people.

Five. Hundred. Million.

Recently, Congress asked these companies how and where they are getting this consumer information, and to whom they are selling.  But none of these data brokers answered the questions directly.  Instead they hemmed, hawed, basically refusing to name their sources.

When I …

Zombies Wars!

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Part IV, A NEW HOPE 
It is a period of civil war.  It is the Election Season of '12. Zombie lovers, striking from hidden ballots, have won their first victory  against the evil Living Empire.  During the election, zombie spies managed to infect dead politicians,  getting them elected by a pathetically unaware general public. Now pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents,  Earl Wood and Charles Beasley races home  aboard two decked out RVs,  custodians of the zombie political hope, the only thing that can save their people  and restore freedom to the dead….
This is a dark time for the rebellion. Although the zombies won local elections in Florida and Alabama, Living troops still pursue zombies through swamps and forests. A third member of the Zombie Party rose up during the elections, Charles Darwin, the scientist behind the Theory of Evolution. He won more than 4,000 votes in a Georgia federal contest. but Darwin lost to Representative Paul Broun.
Can the Zombie recover and get elected to the Federal g…

A Little Music Break

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Here's a song in Breton.  For all the Elder Scrolls fans out there, the young lady singing the song lives in northwest France, in an area called Brittany.  Back in the 1500s, this area was considered a Celtic country, and the locals teach their own language, Breton, as well as teaching French.  Personally, I squealed when I learned about Breton, since I like playing a Breton in the Elder Scrolls games.


If you want to learn the lyrics, click "show more" on the uploader comments. She has the lyrics in Breton, French, and English. For more information about Brittany, read this article in Wikipedia.

Freaky Friday News: November 9, 2012

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Judge Orders Crazy Driver to Publicly Advertise Her Crime Last week, I saw a video where a woman driving a silver car drove on the sidewalk to avoid stopping for a school bus.  That's right - a woman drove up a daycare entrance and onto the sidewalk next to the daycare to go around the stopped school bus and around any other cars who stopped for the school bus.

The bus driver caught her sidewalk driving act a few times on his cell phone camera before contacting the school district.  The school district called the police, who sent an officer to watch the bus pick up kids and catch the idiot driver.  It worked; the video ended with a police car waiting for the woman, who received a ticket (and hopefully a lecture on safety).

 Now we know that the woman is Shena Hardin, from Cleveland, Ohio.  We also know that last week a judge found her guilty of driving past a stopped school bus and of reckless driving.  The judge fined Ms. Hardin $250, revoked her driver's license for 30 days…

Lessons from the Election

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Now that the entire election is finally over, I believe there are several lessons here for anyone willing/wanting to learn.
Be yourself.  Barack Obama remained Barack Obama throughout the campaign.  He did not suddenly change his beliefs or stances to fit someone else's ideal.  But Mitt Romney went from a moderate Republican able to work with the Democrats in his state to an ultra-conservative nut job, from pro-choice to anti-abortion, from compromising to unwilling to listen, from the Mitt Romney the Massachusetts governor to Mitt Romney the Tea Party-enticing, hate-spewing candidate.  Now, I have heard the argument that Romney was doing what he needed to do to get elected.  But consider this - some of the biggest gaffes Romney made on his campaign were at times he wasn't being himself. For example, when asked about NASCAR, instead of admitting that car racing just isn't his hobby of choice, Romney talked about knowing the owners.  More to the point, the strategy did not …

Victory Video

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Okay, I have avoided talking about the election, since there are more than enough talking heads online.  But after yesterday's election, I want to share a video from 2008 that I personally think it very cool.



Congratulations, Mr. President, on winning a second term.

Wordless Wednesday: The Kitty Song

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My family loves to watch "The Big Bang Theory".   The fact that my husband and I are both geeks with two aspiring geek children just make the show that much funnier.  So when I found this picture on Pinterest, I had to share it.

Enjoy, and happy Wednesday!!!!



Election Day: A Story of Our Future

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Excerpt from "New America:  History of Our Great Nation", (C) 57 The beginnings of Our Great Nation lie in the swollen muck pile of the old United States of America.  That country, once a world power, sunk into the fetid abyss of money and power until the average person slaved for a mere pittance while the so-called leaders lounged on the broken backs of the bony workers.  Hope attempted to rise several times, but each time Hope turned False and the Common Man suffered for wanting to Dream, for wanting to have his Fair Share. Historians argue whether the rich propaganda machines, called political parties, pushed the public into vacuous complacency, or whether the public simply gave up.  We have evidence for both sides, but what matters is not why people abandoned their civic responsibilities, only the fact of the abandonment.   In Year Zero, the people had the chance to vote for their leadership.  Historians agree that the top leader was called "President" though …

Internet and Responsibility: A New-ish Moral Conundrum

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With the passing of Hurricane Sandy, both in real life and online, a new problem rears its ugly head: the lies spread by anonymous people, and the lifting of their anonymity.

In other words, some jerk maliciously spread lies during the hurricane, thinking he would remain anonymous behind his Twitter handle, @ComfortablySmug.  But someone discovered his real name and wrote about it.  Now the man has quit his job as the campaign manager for a New York congressional candidate and apologized online for his behavior.

Some people think ComfortablySmug should be protected by the First Amendment, and that no one should have outed his name.  Other people want to know why (a reasonable question, in my opinion), and think that ComfortablySmug should be charged for any damage he did.  Either way, the question remains - how do free speech, anonymity  and the Internet go together these days?

I don't have a definite answer to this question.  I know that in some countries, people need anonymit…

Funny Safety Video from Air New Zealand

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I love this video!!!!

Happy 5th Birthday, Android!!!

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Five years ago today, November 5, 2007, the Open Handset Alliance announced their goal of creating a new software platform for mobile devices - including an operating system, middleware, and applications - that would enhance the user experience (for those of us who remember, until then getting a tooth drilled out was about as much fun as using a mobile phone).  The name for the operating system was... wait for it... Android!!!  Yeah - welcome to the world, you cute, green robot!!!

Just shy of a year later, September  23, 2008 to be exact, the first Android devices appeared on the market.  Approximately 700,000 Androids sold from September to December of 2008.  The next two years, you grew up, as the number of Android sold increased an order of magnitude every year, until by the end of 2010 over 78.8 million Android devices had been sold worldwide.

But then, dear Android, you really took off.  In 2011, 243.4 million Android devices sold worldwide, taking yourself from the position of …

My 1st App is Running on Google!!!

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Yes, you read that right - I have a small app running on Google's App Engine!!! Woot!

Okay, it's not much.  I wrote a ROT13 translator.  ROT13 is a substitution cipher where you take any letter of the alphabet and substitute the letter that is 13 places away.  Since our alphabet is 26 characters long, that means ROT13 is special in that you can run the same algorithm to encrypt and decrypt a message.

If you want to try mine out, go to http://kat-helloworld.appspot.com/rot13.   Enter text in the box and hit the "Submit" button.  Vióla!!  Instant secret message!

I will be adding to my app soon; I'm thinking about putting up a few simple games.  Any suggestions???

The Pendulum Is Swinging Back!!!

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If you follow my blog, you know that I am a believer in the free range kid movement.  I think that society focuses on the rare, statistical anomalies in terms of horrible events - "horrible" defined as kids getting kidnapped, murdered, tortured, neglected, or otherwise treated badly.  Crime rates are down from when I was a kid, significantly down in some areas, and today's kids have a bigger chance to get hit by lightning then  get hurt by strangers.

I noticed something this past week.  The fear mongering seems to be going away.  Yes, the media played up that poor girl in Colorado who disappeared, but people still take their kids to the park.  This past Halloween, I saw several groups of  older kids (8+ years old)  walking around without parents.  For younger kids, the parents dressed up in costume and walked with them from house to house.  No one drove their kid around and no one seemed stressed out.

I hope that this is a sign of better attitudes to come.  I hope that…

Free Ranging and the Internet: Boy, Do We Have It Wrong

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Every week or so, I read another article on the Internet for parents, explaining how to spy on their kids through technology and justifying the behavior with stories of bullied children or teenagers gone wild.

To all of those article writers, parenting "experts", and helicopter-enablers:  I call bullshit.

We, as parents, spend time every day teaching our kids what we consider right and wrong from the moment they are born.  Unless you are in the military and have been deployed the entire time your child has lived, you have role-modeled appropriate behavior for your kids, from putting away your shoes to how you use the Internet.  If you play video games, I guarantee that your kids will love video games.  If you read book, your child will most likely be a book lover.  And I must admit, I love how much my kids want to spend time together talking about life, playing card games, and going on walks.

But at some point, you need to let go.  That means trusting in your own parentin…

November is Picture Book Month!!!

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PiBoIdMo 2012 - I'm In!!!

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Picture Book Idea Month is back - and I am ready to go!!!  I heard of this wonderful event from a friend of mine, Teresa, and I decided to try it out.  At first, I found it rather easy to come up with a solid idea for a picture book, but by the end of the month I scraped the bottom of the barrel for ideas.  I learned that coming up with a thoughtful, entertaining story for anyone under the age of 8 is not as easy as it sounds.

So this year, I'm doing it again. Every day, I will read the post from Tara Lazar, the wonderful lady and author who began this insanity, then I will attempt to do the improbable and come up with a new picture book story idea.

So, is there any one out there willing to try this with me?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?