Feed Aggregator or Visit Sites Individually?


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.


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.


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
Bad Astronomy
HubbleSite's Tonight's Sky

Grammar, etc.

Geek Humor

General Geek
Wil Wheaton's blog
Abtruse Goose
Mental Floss

Craft Magazine
The Black Apple
Martha Stewart

Freely Educate

Atheist Eve