Geek Madness!

Have you always wished you could be excited about March Madness, but you just don't care about sports? Me, too! Our day has come. Check out Geek Madness. You must vote for Wil Wheaton! Though he's not behind. But you have to vote for Professor Frink in Match 8. Please. Because I said so.

This is Round One of the Jor-El Region.

This is awesome.

I'll admit it, I was wrong...

There is a direct link to my Prescott Courier blog! It's just not a tidy one. It lists all the entries in reverse chronological order, just like regular blog URLs. Yay.

I hope you all had/are having a great holiday! I haven't been hungry in a week. Going to try to make up for it in January.

New Blog!

I'm not going to ditch this blog, but I have been given the opportunity to blog for the local newspaper! It's an unpaid position, but more people should actually read it. Not that I don't appreciate you guys.

Here's how it happened: A couple of months ago, I noticed that the paper was advertising for a fourth mom to join their Four Moms blog. I wrote and applied. Apparently, a lot of people did. They asked for a sample blog entry, so I sent that in. I heard nothing for a couple of months and figured that they had found someone else.

Then last week I got an email from the guy, saying they wanted me! I was supposed to call another guy to learn how to post. When I talked to the other guy, he said that really they wanted people to have more ownership of their blogs and thus post more often, and that they wanted to give me my own blog! On whatever subject I want!

I was supposed to come up with something that was broad enough to not paint me in a corner about subject matter, but narrow enough to have a niche. So I picked Geek Mom as a title. It sums up most things in my life these days. Even my love of travel could be seen as a Travel Geek type thing.

There are no good links to the blog itself. There are only links to each article, and a link to the main blog page, which includes all the newspaper blogs. I'll probably recycle some of the earlier posts from here to go there (though not any of the personal ones), just to jump start the thing.

Maybe it'll propel me to bigger and better (and paying) things!

You'll never know what you'll find...

When you aren't looking. I have an interesting development to share soon. Watch this space!

I apologize to my few readers for not posting something in so long. We've been so busy unpacking and cleaning up the old place that I just haven't had time to feel inspired! But life is good, Christmas is approaching, all my presents are wrapped. I can't wait to watch people open them!

A Dose of Awesome: Joss Whedon on Craftiness

Yet another combination of two completely awesome things that you never thought you'd see together: Crafter Kim Werker interviews Joss Whedon about crafts and craftiness. This link has the article, this link has the transcript.

We Are Moved!

Not all moved, but mostly moved. Yesterday was "move large amounts of our stuff in a huge truck" day. It went really well! We had lots of help and everything went smoothly, despite having to move heavy stuff down the side of a hill without slipping and falling. My mom was even happy with our new place, and she's a hard one to please. =)

We're lacking in any window coverings, though, so that's my first project. Other than unpacking and making this place livable. And getting the rest of our stuff that we didn't manage to pack out of the old place. And getting the house on the market and SOLD. Does anyone want to move to Prescott Valley, AZ? When we get the place ready, I'll post photos and information, just in case I have more than three readers.

Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function?

I took a few minutes out of my very busy week to admire the lovely conjunction last night among the crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter. Here's a photo I took. I know, it sucks. But I didn't have a tripod available. In fact, I've completely misplaced my real tripod. But the conjunction was a wonderful sight.

Welcome to Crazy Week!

I know I've been fairly silent of late. It's because we're moving. This Saturday. And I don't feel we'll be ready. But I guess we'll have to be! I have a ton of things to do this week to get furniture ready to move and our household to get transferred over to the new, much tinier, place. So I apologize for being fairly silent for the next week as well.

Something really cool, though (at least to me). Greg Grunberg twittered Wil Wheaton out of the blue and told him that he should have a cameo on Heroes. And Wil said something to the effect of, "Helloooo I've been wanting to be on there forever please please please please!" And Greg wrote back that he'd love it and that he'd try to make it happen. How awesome would that be? Maybe he and Danica McKellar could be partners.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all of you out there are able to spend the day with loved ones.

Mystery Piano Found in Woods

Here's a story of a piano mysteriously appearing in the woods. Police are trying to figure out if it was stolen, or if it was put there by a prank. Random act of beauty? I'm not sure it would do well in the rain, though. Perhaps that's why they moved it to storage. Still, it reminds me of something out of a David Lynch movie or something.

Cheap But Awesome Entertainment

We were lucky enough to go see Riders in the Sky today. It was an awesome show. They're a cowboy singing group that's been around for 30 years singing at The White House, on Toy Story 2, even on Barney (ugh!). I'm not a country music fan by any means, but this was really fun. It was old fashioned cowboy music, even singing a Gene Autry song (granted, it was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).

Another huge plus is that it cost me and the kids $3 (total cost!) to go see them. This is thanks to an awesome program here that lets kids go to shows at Yavapai College (the local community college) for very cheap. They're daytime shows, and various schools around send their classes. Homeschoolers are welcome, too, so we get to enjoy all this entertainment for cheap! We've also seen things like kid plays of Winnie the Pooh and If You Give a Pig a Party, and also some Chinese acrobats. It took me a few years to learn about this, as it seems to be a "you have to know someone" kind of deal. Our next one isn't until February (Flat Stanley).

Ten Famous Homeschooled People

The mental_floss blog had an article yesterday about famous homeschooled people. I found it odd that they limited their list to 10, as before the conventional school system was established, most people were homeschooled. And many of them were famous. It's an interesting read nonetheless.

Star Wars: The Holiday Special

Here's a piece of history that I learned about a few years ago. Apparently I am one of the few of my generation that didn't see this horrid cinema when it originally aired. I was five years old, so that's my excuse. But apparently yesterday was its 30th anniversary. So here is a link to an article, a poem, and apparently the entire TV special. Enjoy!

First Ever Photo of the Earth From the Moon










Before Apollo 11, there were several lunar orbiter spacecraft. They took lots of photos. Some people are now working on restoring these photos from their original tape drives. They don't look as fancy schmancy as the photos you're used to seeing of the Earth from space, but these were the first. And they can show us what changes have happened on the moon over time.

Link-O-Rama!

I've actually found quite a few links recently that were interesting to me in one way or another, but I haven't found the time to post them all. We're moving in less than three weeks, and my life has been, shall we say, crazy.

Let's start with new news for today. One Laptop Per Child's XO laptop is now available on Amazon.com! In case you missed last year's opportunity to give these laptops to children around the world (and perhaps snag one for yourself!), you have another chance. They look so darned cute, and they're rugged. They are designed for small hands, though, so buy with caution. They're $199 to give one to a child in need, or you can pay $399 to give one and get one for yourself!

The other day someone took a photo of another planet in space. Finding another planet these days isn't big news, but detecting one optically, instead of in other ways, IS news. They've actually seen the planet (named Fomalhaut b) instead of observing how something affects something else. Go science (and photography)!

Want to see a neat car commercial from another country that involves cake?

Do you love alternate history, the Civil War, and dinosaurs? We've got you covered.

A very entertaining video tribute to composer John Williams.

Next time I'm in Switzerland, I'm going to be sure to make a stop here. A scale model of the solar system. Awesome. Though I learn from the article that there is a scale model in Flagstaff. Hmmm... 90 miles away, or thousands? Granted, Switzerland is wonderful, but it'll have to wait. Though the Flagstaff one doesn't look quite so cool.

Visit Ancient Rome with Google Earth!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sorry About the Infrequent Posts!

I know my grand plan at first was to get at least one blog entry in per day, but, as usual, life gets in the way and inspiration doesn't always strike on a regular basis. I do have a bunch of cool articles and links that I've been saving up, though, and I will post them soon! Busy Saturday tomorrow, though, so hopefully a day or two after that.

Does Toy Packaging Make You Run Around Screaming?

Amazon.com has the solution. They are working with toy manufacturers to start offering toys with sensible packaging. They don't have too many products like this yet, but I'm really hoping they get quite a few soon. The packaging which makes toys look great on the shelf but makes it impossible to actually reach the toy is the silliest thing in quite a while. So check out Amazon's Frustration-Free(tm) products.

Chocolate Cake in a Mug!

Who knew, but microwave chocolate cake in a mug seems to be the biggest thing lately. You want chocolate cake, but just a little? It's a great solution. If you don't mind a slightly odd consistency and high egg content (per morsel unit). I hate eggs, but put it in anything chocolate-y, I have to consider it. Here's the recipe I've tried. I tend to decrease the sugar quite a bit, but it's still great that way. And you can add things like raisins, raspberries, or chocolate chips. I thought it was just an obscure thing. But now LifeHacker has even highlighted a different recipe! I haven't tried this new one yet, but with my love for cake, it's only a matter of time.

Mug Cakes are moving up in the world!

Local Woman Triumphs Over Rabid Fox (and becomes a little bit famous)

A local woman was out hiking, enjoying our wonderful scenery and weather, and she encounters a fox. She notices that the fox is acting a bit weird. It attacks her. Fortunately, she keeps her wits about her and triumphs over this poor creature. This interesting story makes the local paper, but it also made the mental_floss blog (scroll to mid-story)!

So for all you local hikers, keep on your toes as you enjoy the outdoors this fall. Where there is one rabid animal, there should be others.

Headlines From Around the World

If you are like me and live in a small town without a high circulation newspaper, you may not have felt the full force of the headlines Wednesday morning as newspapers were hitting doorsteps around the world. Fortunately, this is remedied here! Thanks to my dad for this great find.

Get out and Vote!

Today is election day. Our polls opened at 6am and I was out there when they opened. The scare of long lines got me up at 5am to get out there by 6am. Go me!

No matter what time you vote today, go vote! It's important! Our county is projecting 90-95% voter turnout. This is unprecedented. Almost half our registered voters voted early, too.

The one thing that irked me quite a bit, though (and I know I should have said something, but by the time I got up to where there were the right people, I forgot to complain), is the church that was my polling place had ads for a certain proposition on their bulletin board. Mere feet from the voting booths. Isn't that against the law?

A is for Ackbar

Two awesome Admiral Ackbar links today. The first might come in handy if you're not sure who to vote for on Tuesday. Vote Admiral Ackbar 2008!

The second one is fun if you have kids, or for your inner Star Wars child. These alphabet cards don't seem to be for sale, but are very very cool. Despite the over representation of Episodes I-III.

Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Boo!

Halloween Costumes

Here is the laugh-out-loud of the day. Some hysterical and adorable costumes for infants and a couple for pets, too.

Why Don't They Make Cute Things for Grown-Ups?

Most of the time, whenever I find a really awesome pair of shoes or a great outfit, it's for kids. Why don't they make fun clothes for adults that don't cost a fortune? Today I found a great set of solar system pajamas that I want. Unfortunately, I'm still not a child. The good news is, I know how to sew. The bad news is that sewing won't help me make great shoes.

Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz

If you spend much time shopping on Amazon.com, once and a while you come across some interesting reviews for a product. Some products on there have been taken over by amusing writers, and this one is no exception. If you have several hours of time to waste, or even just a few minutes, please, take some time and laugh your pants off by Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz. Also, read the comments on the reviews. People are writing short stories, poems, jokes, complaints about jokes, everything under the sun. Here are just a couple of excerpts of the over 1000 reviews for this fine product.

One of my favorites by Catherine Swinford of North Carolina:
He always brought home milk on Friday.

After a long hard week full of days he would burst through the door, his fatigue hidden behind a smile. There was an icy jug of Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz in his right hand. With his left hand he would grip my waist - I was always cooking dinner - and press the cold frostiness of the jug against my arm as he kissed my cheek. I would jump, mostly to gratify him after a time, and smile lovingly at him. He was a good man, a wonderful husband who always brought the milk on Friday, Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz.

Then there was that Friday, the terrible Friday that would ruin every Friday for the rest of my life. The door opened, but there was no bouyant greeting - no cold jug against the back of my arm. There was no Tuscan Whole Milk in his right hand, nor his left. There came no kiss. I watched as he sat down in a kitchen chair to remove his shoes. He wore no fatigue, but also no smile. I didn't speak, but turned back to the beans I had been stirring. I stirred until most of their little shrivelled skins floated to the surface of the cloudy water. Something was wrong, but it was vague wrongness that no amount of hard thought could give shape to.

Over dinner that night I casually inserted,"What happened to the milk?"
"Oh,"he smiled sheepishly, glancing aside,"I guess I forgot today."

That was when I knew. He was tired of this life with me, tired of bringing home the Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz. He was probably shoveling funds into a secret bank account, looking at apartments in town, casting furtive glances at cashiers and secretaries and waitresses. That's when I knew it was over. Some time later he moved in with a cashier from the Food Mart down the street. And me? Well, I've gone soy.
One from a reader in Wisconsin:
Has anyone else tried pouring this stuff over dry cereal? A-W-E-S-O-M-E!
By J. Reeve in Brooklyn:
It was the last day of summer, and the Tuscan wind played with their hair. They leaned against the railing of the balcony, looking up at the stars. "In Italiano, we call it the Via Lattea," he said, savoring the last syllables of the Italian word like they were slices of creamy tiramisu.
--"That's beautiful," she said, looking into his eyes with white thirst.
--"Si." His arm grazed gently against hers. "If only...if only we had a gallon, one hundred..."
--"...and twenty-eight fluid ounces?" she said, producing a gallon of Tuscan whole milk from the folds of her evening dress.
--"How did you know?"
--"Oh Amato," she said, "I've known all along."
It's neverending milky fun, folks.

Orionids... Yep, I missed them

I knew that they were happening in the last couple of days, but they didn't project anything cool happening. So, of course, I slept instead of waking up before dawn. Looks like I missed a good show. Those pictures were taken in Sedona, just an hour from where I am. Bummer.

Beauty of Nature

Here are some gorgeous drawings by Ernst Haeckel which were done in 1904. They are worth a perusal. I hope to print a few out one day and use them to decorate a bathroom, perhaps. Here's another link.

Quote of the Day

From somewhere out there in the ether:

"To have the life you want, start by writing your own obituary and work back from there on how to go about achieving it."

Get BarackRolled

If you live under a rock and don't know what it means to get RickRolled, go here first.

The Barack Obama version of the Internet delight is new to me, though it may have been around for a little while. Get BarackRolled! It made me laugh.

Leafcutter Designs

This one deserved its own post. I love finding people where I love everything they do. It doesn't happen often. I found out about this woman in my ReadyMade magazine (the only magazine I currently subscribe to, since my time is limited, though I'm seriously considering subscribing to Mental_Floss).

Anyway, this woman runs The World's Smallest Postal Service out of San Francisco's Curiosity Shoppe. You write a letter, send it to her (or bring it if you're nearby), she'll transcribe it in a teeny tiny letter, and send that letter, along with a magnifying glass, to the recipient. Very cool.

So I checked out her website, Leafcutter Designs, and found out that she's just ├╝bercool in general. She seems to do things just to spread joy all around. For example, you can send for a small box of crayons and a naming chart. Then name all the colors of the crayons using whatever criteria you wish (imagination is encouraged), send them back, and she'll label the crayons with your names and sell them in her store to fund the project. How cool is that? I sent away for one. We'll see what colors we get!

Or send her a drawing on a Rolodex card and she'll send you back copies of others' drawings. There is no possible way that this isn't fun.

About a Great Many Things...

Lots of great things lately, so rather than have a separate entry for each, I'm going to cram them all into one. So, in no particular order...

Awesome Wil Wheaton (AWW for short) passed along a version of Take On Me that'll make you giggle a bit, if you're old (or young) enough to remember the original.

Ten Great Geek Characters in movies. I'd have to agree that they're all great (except I'm not sure about number 9 as I've never seen the movie). Favorites on the list are hard to narrow down, because I like each for their own reasons! Of course, any list with both Wil Wheaton and John Cusack has to be good.

New Yankee Workshop, anyone? Out of Legos? Apparently this guy makes a whole lot of other great things out of Legos, too.

Firefox Cross-stitch Pattern

I don't do cross-stitch, but I love it when my craft world and my geek world collide. Here's a link to a blog that (a while back, apparently) had a Firefox cross-stitch pattern, so you can adorn all of your homey items with your love for Firefox (or hatred for IE?).

It's Blog Action Day 2008

And this year's theme is Poverty. I'm not sure what to write about poverty (I'm still in the "I just got up" mindset), so I'll just link to the Blog Action Day website. They have some great ideas of things everyone can do to help.

Plimoth Plantation, and The First Thanksgiving

During our schooling today, we did the neatest activity on the Plimoth Plantation website. It had to do with Investigating the First Thanksgiving, or as they call it, the 1621 Harvest Celebration. I learned quite a bit, such as the Wampanoags probably weren't actually invited to the feast. The Plimoth Plantation site is filled with other interesting information. Take a look!

Trift Store

My husband got a photo posted to Wordsplosion today. We're pretty sure they misspelled the thing on purpose, but still. WHY?

What is Your Superpower?

I haven't quite figured out what my superpower is yet. I can't seem to pin down one or two things that stand out as great abilities that other people don't usually have.

My daughter's super alter ego is Super Memory Girl. She remembers things well. My husband's is Anonymous Man. People never remember him. Phil Plait's superpower is that cats love him.

What is your superpower? And if you know me, what is mine? =)

I Love Playing Board Games

Always have, always will. I drove my mom and sister crazy when I was a kid saying, "Who wants to play a game?" My mom would frequently play card games with me, but didn't have a love of board games like I did. Fortunately, as I've gotten older, I've found others in my life who love them. Unfortunately, most of them don't live around here.

But some do, namely my husband and kids. We played TransEuropa last night (me, my husband, and my 7 year old daughter). It's just like TransAmerica, but, well, in Europe! We have both versions of the game. It was fun to play with my daughter, who is now old enough to play just about everything we have. She won the first round. I lost horribly. I lost the second round, too! But the third round, I came from behind to win it all! (Go me.) It was great fun.

Enceladus Up Close!

Yet another space image of something I haven't ever seen. One of Saturn's moons, Enceladus, is covered in ice (with neato patterns) and very few craters. This means the surface is newish, otherwise there would be more craters from stuff hitting it all the time. Check it out.

We're Number Ten!

Here is yet another reason why I love where I live. Prescott's downtown Courthouse Square has made the American Planning Association's top 10 list of public spaces. It appears to be number ten (though they don't seem to be ranked), but still. Not bad for a small town.

Geek Love Song

I know I'm a few years late on this one, but I do try to have some semblance of a life. =)

Can You Write Your Memoir in Six Words?

There is a Very Cool Book out there that would be a fun read. Famous people (and not so famous, I'm guessing, as they'll run out of famous people eventually) summing up their lives in six words. If I gave it enough thought, I might be able to come up with a good one. I'd love to read any of your Six-Word Memoirs.

Ferrous Wheel

Thanks, once again, to Wil Wheaton for this fun link. It's the haha funny of the day.

I Have Good People

Sometimes it takes until your 30s for this, like it has me, but I've come to realize over the last year or so that I really have some great people in my life. All my life I've had some great family members, but not very many people unrelated to me. That has really started to change in the past 3ish years. I have a bunch of friends, both near and far, that I truly cherish. You should know who you are, out there!

Take some time today and think of all the people who you care about, and those who care about you. Your list may just be a very long one.

Some Close-Up Shots of Mercury

Super duper astronomer Phil Plait's blog has some great photos of Mercury, taken by MESSENGER. It resembles our moon a bit, but it does look a bit different. Check it out!

Non-Refrigerated Lunch Items

All you brown baggers out there, I need some ideas. I've always been a "bring lunch with you" kind of person, as my mom always made out lunches for us. I was 13 before I ever went to a school that had actual school lunches. It was such a foreign concept to me and the food looked disgusting (not to mention not healthy).

My kids don't go to school since we homeschool, but we often have to leave the house and are gone over the lunch hour. I prefer to bring our lunch with us, as that saves a great deal of money. And we're getting awfully sick of peanut butter and jelly.

Does anyone have any great ideas for other protein options that don't require refrigeration? Beef jerky isn't good because my kids are usually not interested.

To make things more interesting, I've been bringing cheese and crackers, but you've got to keep the cheese cold enough. Sometimes that is a problem, especially in the warmer months. So I was just wondering if any of you out there in the ether had some good tips to share.

Do you love Star Trek AND Barbershop Quartets?

Then have I got the video for you.

Strange Maps

If you love maps and history as much as I do, you might enjoy this site. It's called Strange Maps, and is filled with the most interesting maps I've probably ever seen. They range from U.S. maps showing how many people say "soda", how many people say "pop", and how many people say something else, to maps of imaginary places, to maps you can wear on your wrist. Check it out, it's a fascinating place.

The 2008 Ig Nobel Awards

Last night they announced the winners of this year's Ig Nobel Awards. Horribly funny stuff, if you've never partaken. They broadcast the ceremony last night, but they'll have an archive of it available for viewing in the next few days. I heard the audio of a ceremony a year or two ago on NPR and it was one of the funniest things I'd ever heard.

Okay, I'll back up. What are the Ig Nobel Awards, you ask? From their site:

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Also available on the site are past years' award ceremonies, winners lists, and if you're lucky enough to be at MIT tomorrow, you can sit in on free informal lectures by the winners!

Happy Birthday, Gandhi!

Apparently it is Gandhi's 139th birthday today! So for all of you out there who, like me, wonder why people can't just get along, today is for you.

Happy 50th Birthday, NASA!

Today is NASA's 50th birthday! On their Astronomy Picture of the Day today, they have a great rocket launch that seems so minor and easy when compared with the Space Shuttle launches. But it was all new to them back then, and I'm sure exciting beyond belief.

So wish NASA a happy birthday in your own way today. I'll probably be listening to more cool science songs for kids. Zoom zoom!

Also, if you're a science geek and you're already excited for Christmas (as I am), check out this page for science songs sung to the tune of various Christmas carols.

Go science!

Feed Aggregator or Visit Sites Individually?

Discuss.

I've always visited my sites individually, as to get comments, other links from the websites, etc. However, my daily reading pile is getting higher and higher, which makes me want to consider an aggregator. Of course what I should do is decrease the number of sites I visit. But what to cut out?

A New Way to Make Your Own Stuff

Check out Ponoko, where you can upload your designs or even photos of your drawings and have them made in a variety of materials including wood, acrylic, and MDF. Be sure to watch the demo video for how to have your things made from hand drawn pictures. This is one of the neatest things I've seen in a while. If only I could draw.

Our Weekend Hikes

As I said before, this weekend we started the first annual Hiking Spree put on by the Highlands Center for Natural History and the Prescott National Forest. Yesterday's introductory hike was a very easy one mile, flat loop near the Highlands Center. It was a great way to start. Though I didn't happen to take any share-worthy photos on that hike.

Today, we were quite a bit more ambitious. We took on the Thumb Butte loop, which is a 2 1/2 mile, very steep loop through gorgeous terrain (see first photo). Unfortunately, so many of the Ponderosa Pines were killed during the beetle infestation a few years ago. But it was still quite nice. And it kicked my butt. The kids got quite tired, but were troopers through it all. Here are some more photos.

Thumb Butte is in the Prescott National Forest, much of which looks like this.


This was the view from near the top of the loop, looking down on the forest.


Here you can see the city of Prescott and just how close we were to town. The forest is right next to the city.


Here is a closer view of the butte. We didn't climb to the top of it, but just to the base of the rocks. You can climb to the top (during the part of the year that the raptors aren't nesting), but it's a little tricky. Especially with kids and a dog in tow.


The prickly pear cacti were fruiting wildly. Most had fruit of a gorgeous, deep red color. The stuff is tasty. We have to find some good recipes.


This is a view of another part of the forest on the way back down. We live in such a beautiful place!

A Very Cool Muppet Cake

Cake Wrecks usually has horrible cakes gone awry, but occasionally they have some non-wrecks. Today's is particularly awesome, and feeds my love of the Muppets.

Please visit Cake Wrecks to see the images of the other sides of the cake. The nice corner shot where you can see Camilla the chicken is particularly cute, I think.

Watch out, Charm City Cakes!

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

I can't believe I didn't think to write about this sooner, but that's probably because it isn't new.

For the few of you out there who haven't heard of it, check out the wonder that is Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. It also seems to still be free through Hulu.com here. It is 42 minutes of humor, singing from people you wouldn't expect to sing, and just a great time.

The soundtrack is out, too!

National Public Lands Day

I promise I won't mark every possible holiday here, but just the ones that interest me (can you say, Pi Day?). But today is National Public Lands Day. So get out there and enjoy the open space near you! If you're near me, you can join Prescott National Forest's first annual hiking spree. We'll be there this morning along with some glorious weather. I hope they do this every year, because it's a great chance to get in some free hiking and to get to know some local trails.

Antarctica...

Yes, I have always wanted to go down there on a trip. But in the summer! If you've wanted to see some evidence of just how bad it gets down there, check this out. I, too, have lived some cold places (Wisconsin comes to mind), but nothing like that. Neat stuff!

A Book by Kids in 1931

Yet another post about a GeekDad article, this one done by a classmate of mine from high school! This book is a collection of short stories written by 5th graders in the Buffalo, NY, area. Looks like a fascinating read for everyone, either to remember the past, or to learn about it.

Superconductor Model Train

I have no idea how old this video is, but if you've ever wanted to see a model train using a superconductor, here you go. It is very cool, and a good introduction to anyone who knows nothing or very little about superconductors.

History Hacker Starts Tonight!

Tonight starts a new show called History Hacker on The History Channel. Host Bre Pettis (of MAKE and Etsy) is recreating inventions from the past with stuff that he has around the house. Tonight's episode features Edison and Tesla, and their different takes on electricity. It looks great! Don't miss it.

For a sneak peak, click here.

What is Wrong with People?

I tend to like people in general, so when I encounter a group of horrible, rude, and incompetent people, I'm always taken aback. I had an experience today that made me despair for society, and made me so upset it ruined my whole day.

Sometimes I think that some people take a delight in other people's misery. I had a horrible experience dealing with the bureaucracy of my doctor's office support staff today. They made a mistake and somehow I have to make a special appointment with my doctor (incurring a copay) to take care of this. Even though it wasn't my fault, it was their fault. That's the very short description of what I went through this morning, and I just don't understand how people can delight in being so horrible to me. I tend to be a pretty nice, inoffensive person.

This was a very minor rant compared with the one I went on this morning, but I thought I would spare you all from the long version.

In short, take responsibility for your mistakes, and try to be nice to others, especially when others are trying to be nice to you.

P.S. I'd rather pay the bill than make an appointment to discuss this with my (now former) doctor (for some reason they want me to talk to him and not to the administrative staff). I'm looking into other options.

Museum Day 2008

On September 27, 2008, many museums around the country are joining with the Smithsonian to offer free admission to their museums. To find out more information, and to see if a museum near you is having free admission that day, go here. We took advantage of this last year, though there are only two museums in our little town that participated. Of course, there are only a few museums, so.... Anyway, you'll need the free admission card available at the above website.

Go forth and learn about culture!

Happy National Punctuation Day!

I'm all about interesting holidays, so here you go. Today is National Punctuation Day. This doesn't mean to throw in all manner of punctuation everywhere you can. It means, "Please, use it correctly!" Visit the site and learn all about how to use semicolons, commas, quotation marks, and apostrophes. It drives me bonkers when people use quotation marks and apostrophes incorrectly, especially.

Along the same lines, be sure to check out Wordsplosion. They showcase all kinds of misspellings, grammar issues, and many many MANY punctuation errors. Read and learn, please!

Another Generation Gone

My grandmother died yesterday. She was the last of my grandparents. It wasn't sudden, we were all able to say our goodbyes. She was 90. But she's gone. On top of the sadness of losing a wonderful person in my family, one more generation is gone from my family. Now there is only my parents' generation between me and old age.

If we're lucky, and so far I have been, we lose our loved ones slowly and for a reason. Hopefully they'll be old, or die for a valiant purpose. This sort of gets us ready for losing those closer to us: our parents, our friends. Hopefully not our children. Hopefully they die after we're long gone.

The Phoenix Zoo

Yesterday we went to a fun birthday party of the daughter of some friends. It was at the Phoenix Zoo. Fortunately the party itself was held indoors in a nicely air conditioned room, but the rest of the day.... Bear in mind that it was still 101 in Phoenix yesterday. Our recent 82ish degrees where we live seems like winter by comparison.

Anyway, we showed up at the zoo soon after they opened (which was 7am!!) to see the animals in the "cooler" weather. It was still stiflingly hot, but most of the animals were out, and it was still cooler than it would have been if we'd done the tour de animals after the party. The trolley ride we had after the party showed a lot of the animals that we saw out in the morning were now hiding away somewhere cooler.

It's a decent zoo, but next time we go, I hope it's in the winter!

New Smart Bridge in Minnesota Open

After the horrible bridge collapse last year of a Minnesota bridge, killing a number of people, the new one in that location is open. They are calling it a "smart" bridge, as it has a bunch of sensors in it to tell the people in charge when this one will fail. They built the thing in 11 months, which means they really fast tracked the thing, and they probably used some prefab parts.

Here's the stupid part, though. They knew the old one was in bad shape. They hardly did anything to help it be stronger. It failed. People died. They didn't need some "smart" technology to tell them it was going to fail. Engineers had already told them, and they didn't act quickly enough.

Sorry about my snarky tone, my grandma died today. I no longer have any grandparents.

More Waiting on the LHC...

As I'm sure most of you have heard, they've had to shut down the Large Hadron Collider for a while. There was a large liquid helium leak, which caused the semiconductor magnets to heat up. Now they have to heat everything up more, fix it, then cool it down again. This takes quite some time.

Celebrating Interestingness

I've come to decide that being able to describe someone as "interesting" has become one of the biggest compliments. I'm happy to announce (though this isn't a terribly new discovery) that both of my children are very interesting. Both are introverts, one is very shy, one is very outgoing.

They decided to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day by wearing their pirate costumes to the grocery store. I'm so proud of my daughter (the shy one), as I never would have had the guts to wear a costume to the store, as a child or as an adult, unless it was Halloween. We got a few comments on their outfits, all positive. Mostly people didn't say anything, though.

Arrrrr!

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, Arrrr!

Every September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day. So round up all those old treasure maps (or make some new ones!) and have an adventure! Or check out the website and participate in a pirate activity in your area.

Also celebrating today is my favorite pirate, Wil Wheaton.

A different kind of pinecone.


My husband found a really neat pinecone that he brought home today. I'd never seen one like it, and wanted to share with you all. One photo is with a flash, one without. Neither really captured how it looked, but maybe if you mentally combine them, you'll get the idea!

Vermeer: Much Cooler Than I Thought

In history, we're up to the 1600s and the Dutch Golden Age. I decided to pause here and round out the historical events by spending some time on things like Tulip Mania and the Dutch painters from that time. Yesterday we went over Rembrandt (I didn't know he did cool etchings!), today was Vermeer. As with most people, I was familiar with The Girl with a Pearl Earring, but I hadn't seen much else. I hadn't known that he had only done a few paintings each year, and that many of his paintings followed just a few themes. Some that we found:
  • He used lots of blue, but also red and yellow with white walls
  • Subjects were girls or young women
  • Subjects were near windows, often open
  • Reading or writing letters came up quite a bit
  • Musical instruments were also common
For some reason, this all fascinated me. I found a great site on him that I plan to spend some time perusing.

Playing for Change: Peace Through Music

I just spent the evening at a screening of a new documentary called Playing for Change. (One of the people behind it is the brother-in-law of my mom's CPA.) It recently won third place at the annual Tribeca Film Festival. Apparently, it has only played there, and now once in Arizona at a private event that I was fortunate enough to attend (thanks, Mom!).

The premise of the film is that there can be peace through music, that musicians all over the world collaborating can bring understanding and allow different kinds of people to relate to one another: poor, rich, white, black. Anyone. It was quite amazing to watch. They recorded music in one area, played it to musicians in other areas, and they sang along. In the end, they combined the singing to result in collaborations by musicians all over the world who have never met each other.

They are releasing the CD in February at Starbucks, and the movie will be shown in more mainstream theaters around then as well. If you love music, world music, peace, travel, culture, or just want to be moved, I highly recommend this movie. Also, check out the website to see clips, hear music, and find out more about the project. They also have a foundation which has already built a music school in Africa, I believe, and is going on to do other projects around the world to promote music and understanding.

Please join me in telling others about this great film.

It Takes an Imaginary Village...

A friend of mine brought up that phrase today. It evokes very interesting pictures. Memories of imaginary friends, thinking about the people that support you but aren't with you, realizing that much in life is a group effort. I've outgrown my imaginary friend from childhood, but when I feel unimportant or low on ability, I just think of all the people out there who support me and care about me. It really does help.

This wouldn't be possible if these people hadn't told me how they feel. So, tell someone you care! I remember the bumper sticker my mom had when I was a kid. It said, "Have you hugged your child today?"

Ooo, Crafts!

I've been in a crafty place lately. I most recently finished a backpack for my son with the same fabric I used to make a backpack for my daughter about 5 years ago. He loves it, and it was insanely easy to make.

I'm also working on some Christmas presents for various family members and friends. In case they happen upon this blog, I won't talk about them until later. I'll just say they involve sewing! My big hopes for craft projects don't always turn out, so I don't promise anyone anything until I'm actually done with it and it turned out well. I've had too many projects turn out looking distinctly homemade looking, and not in a good way, either.

I've been picking up neat fabric where I can find it, lately, so I'm hoping I'll do some fun projects with it. Other than my daughter's backpack a number of years ago, I tend not to make up my own patterns. It was fun to do, but so many other people have planned out projects and eliminated mistakes that most of the time I prefer to follow other people's directions. However, I often make changes of my own.

Welcome to Imaginary Village!

I have started several blogs before, only to lose interest and have them fall by the wayside. Part of the reason for this is that I have too many interests. People tell you to create a blog that fits a niche. My interests are so varied that I get bored if I do too much in any one area and neglect others. So I admit defeat and I'm now going to try to write a blog that encompasses all of my interests. I'm hoping and guessing that there are many of you out there who also have varied interests, so perhaps some of them will overlap mine.

I should probably tell you a little about myself. I'm a 35 year old married mother of two children, aged 7 and 4. I live in Northern Arizona (no, not the hot part of the state). I don't currently have a paying job, but I do small things from time to time. If you want to know more, ask me questions and I might answer them. =)

My topics of interest include (but are in no way limited to): Geeky stuff, crafts, games, computers and the internet, homeschool, science, math, family and kids, travel, and intelligent people.

To give you an idea of what kinds of things I am interested in, here are most of the sites/blogs I read regularly. I don't tend to read many homeschooling blogs because the majority of them are by people who are quite religious, and that just isn't at all why we are doing it.

Astronomy links
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Heavens Above
NASA Science
NASA Shuttle Missions
SpaceWeather
Bad Astronomy
HubbleSite's Tonight's Sky

Grammar, etc.
Engrish
Wordsplosion

Geek Humor
Dilbert
Indexed

General Geek
Wil Wheaton's blog
Abtruse Goose
io9
Mental Floss
LifeHacker
GeekDad

Crafts
Craft Magazine
TrueUp
The Black Apple
Spoonflower
Martha Stewart

Homeschool
Freely Educate

Other
Unclutterer
Atheist Eve
TED
DIYPlanner