Sunday, December 11, 2005

Animal Crossing - Wild World

DS Animal Crossing2aLast week we picked up copies of the new Animal Crossing game for the Nintendo DS. If you've played Animal Crossing before, you'll pick this up quickly. All your favorite characters (I like K.K. Slider) are there. I've noticed a couple changes, but they are easy to figure out by talking to the townspeople. I've set up Earltown and here is a picture of me in front of my new house. The Yankee Star design is starting to catch on around Earltown.

We've tried the DS to DS communication-very easy. We were able to exchange apples and pears. We've set up the Wi-Fi connection, but haven't tried it yet. Being able to have visitors in town while you're doing other things adds a new dimension to the game.

Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero 5bDianne got an early Christmas present of the guitar controller for the Sony PS2. It's one of those games that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. As songs play, a scrolling fret bar comes toward you which shows what fret buttons to push while strumming to the music. It's a bit like looking at the road through your front windshield. After focusing on that for a couple songs, I had some dizziness that gave me a headache. It's not for everyone.

There is quite a change in difficulty going from easy to medium to hard settings. Dianne is good at it and has unlocked quite a few songs already. She'll be on tour in no time.

First Lego League

On Saturday, Dianne and I went to a First Lego League competition at Scarlet Oaks. In short, students build robots with Lego blocks and program them to perform a predefined set of tasks. Kyle and Tresha's son Trei is the captain for a local team. I was impressed! There were a lot of volunteers needed to keep things moving along smoothly and the kids seemed to enjoy the challenge and all were showing team spirit. It was fun to see the various Lego robots and how they were programmed to perform the tasks. The teams had different approaches, but generally all were pretty good. Legos, and kids, have come a long way since I had Legos. I remember when Lego wheels were new and exciting!

Dianne Saves the Day!

Dianne saved my bacon last Thursday. It was final exam week and my exam was scheduled at 5:30. Unfortunately, a winter storm hit the area about mid-afternoon Thursday. I left work about 4:15 to allow plenty of time for my usual 15 minute commute to campus. I had made copies of the exam on Wednesday night so I wouldn't have to worry about that. I had them in the car with me.

It took me about 20 minutes to go about 4 blocks after leaving the parking lot at works. The roads were covered with snow, but they weren't bad. People were just driving like weirdos! It was the first big snow and people aren't used to driving in snow anyway. Traffic was a mess!

It was quickly apparent I wasn't going to make it in time for the start of class. Fortunately, Dianne had the day off and was at home. I called her and she printed another copy of the exam and went to Raymond Walters to make new copies. She copied a couple pages to get folks started while the department secretary copied the rest.

I got to class almost 2 hours late. But the fun didn't stop there. The exam was 2 hours long and the last student to arrive got there just before 8 PM. I was there until about 10:15! When I went outside, there were only a couple cars in the parking lat and the grounds crew had started to plow. Unfortunately, they had piled a fair amount of snow along the drivers side of my car. I wasn't able to open the door without digging through a snow bank! I didn't get home until almost 11. That's the longest final exam I've ever given. But the students wouldn't have stayed if Dianne hadn't been able to get there quickly and get them started.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Photoshop Contests

I am always amazed what folks can do with Photoshop. Dianne is good with it. Not only can you not always believe what you read, you can't always believe what you see in a photo these days.

The Worth 1000 site has same interesting Photoshop contests to showcase your skills. This contest on irrational phobias was disturbing. After looking through these pictures I think I developed some new phobias.

Panama canal video

Caution -- this video is HUGE and takes several tens of minutes to download with a DSL connection.

Someone made a time lapse movie from a webcam on one of the Panama canal locks. It's a weeks worth of activity compressed into an eleven minute movie. Click here to see the video. Although the camera position changes occasionally, its a neat view of the operation of the locks, tugboats, etc.


I love DVR! It really has changed the way we watch TV. It's also let us find and watch some shows we'd have missed in the past. One of my new favorites is Survivorman. This guy goes into various wilderness sites for a week alone, with minimal equipment and two cameras. He films himself as he hikes, finds or makes shelter, and looks for food. The survival aspects are interesting and his photography is great. It requires a lot of extra work to place the cameras, get the shot, and retrieve them -- especially when hiking! We catch it on the Discovery Science channel. It's worth a watch if it's available in your area.

After watching the Survivorman start a fire using a spindle driven by a bow made with a shoestring, I asked Dianne if she thought we could do that. Of course not was her reply. Most of the time we are wearing Merrell shoes which don't have laces. I guess we need to carry this Altoid survival kit that has parachute cord around it. We'll need fire to burn the zombies.

Vacuum Dust

Have you ever thought it was wasteful to throw away the full vacuum cleaner bags? I guess one persons trash is another persons treasure. Check out this site for some ideas.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Blog Content

I enjoy reading Julie Leung's blog as she shares personal insights which originate from reading other blogs, from her own experiences, or both. I'm amazed how she has time to find gems on the web and distill it down into something interesting that relates to her own observations.

In a recent entry, Julie discussed why one might want to be careful about what is posted on a blog. She's commented on this before and has strict boundaries for her own blog. It makes sense -- I've seen the Star Wars kid video. But what was more intriguing was a link she provided to a "true crime" blog called The Dark Side. I can't vouch for the integrity of the blog, but at face value this person researches blogs of people who have been arrested for committing certain crimes. I was amazed at the content that someone who allegedly committed a crime would post on the web! I found it both disturbing and intriguing. I wonder how many more of these sorts of sites are out there?

Sunday, November 13, 2005


A sad story this week about a polio outbreak not too far from where I grew up. I also ran across this site that has an interesting illustrated story about polio.

Blue Ball

I've been a blogging slug the last month. Teaching has been keeping me busy. I ran across this site today which must have been made by somebody with way too much time on their hands.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Latest Eastwood Projects

I just saw an article on Clint Eastwood's latest movie projects about Iwo Jima and the lives of people involved in the battle. Sounds interesting. There is a bit more about the Flags of Our Fathers project here. It reminds me a bit of the movie The Best Years of Our Lives which I thought was a great portrayal of how those serving in WWII handled the return to their post-war lives. The performance by Harold Russell was amazing given the challenges he faced in his personal life. Here is a short biography of Russell.

Ithaca, NY

ithaca3As Dianne mentioned in posts here and here, we spent a few days in Ithaca following a business trip I had to upstate NY. It was really wet, but nevertheless we had fun. I thought I'd post a few photos even though the light wasn't great for photography. Click on any photo to see a larger version at Flickr. At the right is a view of Beebe Lake from the stone bridge on Thurston Avenue, just North of the chemistry building. The white mist above the bridge is from the water going over the falls. A couple spots on the web said these falls were 85 feet. This gorge, Fall Creek, is just below the two chemistry buildings on the Cornell campus. Dianne and I walked over this bridge hundreds of times going to campus. You never get tired of this view.ithaca8

A little further downstream is a pedestrian suspension bridge that connects the Cayuga Heights area to the Cornell campus. The bridge is still in great shape. Dianne was shaking the suspension bridge a bit. If you jump or shake as hard as you can, you can feel a little movement of the bridge. There are trails from this bridge that take you down into the gorge. a lot of people take advantage of that to reach some swimming areas.

This photo at right is looking upstream from the bridge. I don't know how high the bridge is at this point, but the windows in the building give some sense of scale. ithaca7 The level of the bridge is about the same as the base of trees on the right side of the gorge.

We drove to Ithaca Falls as well (further downstream), but the photos didn't turn out too well. We also explored Six Mile Creek, but the trees have grown up and spread over the gorge so much that it is hard to get good views from the easy vantage points. Trees grow a lot in sixteen years.

We stayed downtown at the Hilton Garden Inn near The Commons. It is a nice place and provides good access to restaurants like Collegetown Bagels (one of Dianne's favorites) and the Moosewood - a place I never ate while in Ithaca years ago. We tried it during our visit and enjoyed the food. We also went to The Greek House and had a Souvlaki platter (Greek salad with lamb chunks and fries) as we did years ago.

ithaca2We walked around campus a bit - most of the time in the rain. Campus was pretty dead due to fall break, although there was a field hockey game in the rain on Friday and a football game on Saturday. This photo is from the deck near the Cornell clock tower looking west over Cayuga lake. You can see how overcast it was. The leaves were just starting to change color in Ithaca. You can see a bit of color on the hillside along the far side of the lake. The warmth from the lake slows the transition. Away from the lake the fall color was about 50%.

ithaca6On the western shore of the lake, about a third of the way up the lake from Ithaca, is Taughannook Falls park. It's a very nice park that has one of the highest falls east of the Rocky Mountains. It's higher than Niagara although the volume of water is less. Dianne got a picture of me near the overlook area. I remember years ago when my Dad was visiting me in Ithaca, we hiked to the top of the falls. Somewhere I have a picture of him sitting on the rocks at the top of the falls with his legs dangling over the edge! That will be etched in my memory forever.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Trauma Center

Why watch ER when you can live it....sort of....using the new game Trauma Center for the Nintendo DS? I wonder if I'd pass out playing this game? I'm not cut out for all the blood and guts stuff a surgeon does.

Do not go gentle....

For all you poetry lovers out there, the Academy of American Poets has an interesting website. They have a nice recording of Dylan Thomas reading his poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night." Not being conversant in poetry, I only recognized the title from the movie Back to School when Thornton Melon hulks out of his oral exam stress after Diane inspires him with this poem.

I guess it's sad that my poetry knowledge comes from a Rodney Dangerfield film and my classical music knowledge comes from Warner Brothers cartoons (remember the Rabbit of Seville and What's Opera Doc?). I'll bet this would be an interesting book and here is another. This looks like a nice CD. It made me feel better when I went to this site and read that George Daugherty had the same classical music experience as a kid.

Dead or Alive?

I ran across an interesting site the other day -- the Dead People Server. It's not fancy, but it's a nice site to solve the occasional question of whether so-and-so is dead or alive. There are quite a few links to other sites like the Internet Movie Database.

I recently saw the film To Have and Have Not and was wondering if Lauren Bacall was still alive. When the Vichy government official is reviewing her passport in the film, he mentions her age of 22 (filmed in 1944 she was actually only 20). By the way, I can't recommend the film even though I'm a big Humphrey Bogart fan. I didn't think the story was that strong and I could have done without so much Hogey Carmichael. There were some good scenes and the historical significance for Bogart & Bacall came through. I've never read the book, but I can only hope the US government restrictions on the original screenplay resulted in changes that compromised the Hemingway novel.

I think the Hawks film The Big Sleep with Bogart & Bacall was much better. With William Faulkner writing the screenplay, The Big Sleep has a better story.

Oh....and she's still alive.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cornell Ornithology Lab

It was cold and wet this weekend in Ithaca. Today we had some time to kill before going to see Wallace and Gromit's new movie, the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. We made a quick trip out to Sapsucker Woods (you can see the woods and pond on the satellite view here) to visit the Ornithology Lab at Cornell. I drove up expecting to see the small, wood timber building that used to house the lab. I was amazed to see a HUGE, new building in its place! You can go here to take a virtual tour. It's a beautiful building, built in 2003, with a large glass wall facing some wetlands as well as a bird feeder area. They have chairs along the window with some spotting scopes to help you watch the birds. Dianne and I watched a heron catch some small fish for an afternoon snack. What a nice facility and what a contrast to the small building they had 15 years ago.

Scud Running

Scud running is a term that describes flying beneath a low layer of clouds, sometimes in marginal weather and/or poor visibility. When I got my private pilot license, scud running was one activity that was outside of my comfort zone for flying by visual flight rules -- beyond my personal weather minimums. It just seems like a bad idea. My conservative minimums did keep me on the ground some days I wanted to fly. That's one reason I went for an instrument rating so I could fly through the clouds and avoid the risks associated with scud running.

This site shows in pictures the dangers of scud running in the mountains. Even in the flat areas of Ohio, scud running can be dangerous. Many months ago, Dianne and I saw a plane scud running on the south edge of Dayton -- probably going to Dayton-Wright brothers airport. It was an overcast day and the clouds were low. I was shocked to see a plane flying so low. The plane was very low in order to stay below the clouds, but they were flying in the vicinity of many towers that extended into the clouds. Last Friday in Ithaca, NY, a plane crashed on approach to the Thompkins County airport. The description here sounds like scud running. The picture shows the outcome. We were driving into Ithaca from Binghamton and it was raining fairly hard and there was a solid layer of clouds that must have been low. Not a good idea to fly visually in those conditions.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Korea House

On Saturday, Dianne and I were on our way to dinner when we noticed a sign for "The Korea House" on a building in Harper's Station. We decided to abandon our original plan and give it a try. I'm glad we did.

It's a very bright, nicely decorated restaurant with a staff that is more formally attired. The paper table covers reminded me of a Macaroni Grill (without the crayons). The menu, at least to a midwestern guy, seemed pretty authentic although not too large. The menu has a range of soups, noodle dishes, seafood, etc. that includes favorites like kal bi, bulgogi, and jap chae -- you can check it out on their website. I had the dae goo mae woon tang soup which was excellent! It was served in a hot, thick stone bowl so the soup was still boiling a minute after they brought it to the table. In addition, they brought out 8 typical side items including Kim Chee (which was so hot it made Dianne's eyes water), watercress, radish, cabbage, and seaweed.

The owner stopped over to see if everything was OK. She mentioned they have been open for just one month. She seemed a bit concerned about a caucasian trying to eat with stainless steel chopsticks. Her solution was to offer wooden chopsticks. I guess she thought I was doing OK or she would have offered a fork.

If you're up for some good and authentic (at least for Cincinnati) Korean food, give Korea House a try. We thought it was very good. I hope they make a go of it.

More Papercraft

I'm not sure why I post so much about papercraft. I haven't had time to try any of them, but they look neat.

Here is a site that will create a dodecahedron pattern with a calendar on it.

Can't wait to get your hands on the new Nintendo Revolution controller? Here is a cut and fold pattern so you can build your own model.

Your Next GameBoy

play12Who needs a GameBoy micro? Go for a GameBoy macro! The Game Man is a 6.5 times scale version of the old GameBoy that weighs over 100 pounds with a cartridge. Check out the size of the red cartridge in the photo! The person here is playing Tetris. It was created by an art student and is fully functional. Go here for photos and more information.

Use for Old Keyboards

Dianne had an interesting post on a new, programmable LCD keyboard. The problem is what do you do with your old keyboard? Here is an idea.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Flight

CloudLayer1 Went on a short flight on Sunday afternoon. It's nice now that it is cooling off a bit. I got so much grief about all the airplane pictures, I thought I'd post some pictures taken from the plane.

There was a scattered cloud layer this afternoon at about 5000 feet. The clouds were separated enough that it was easy to get through them. It was a bit bumpy below the first cloud layer. As usual, it was very smooth once you got above it. Although the resolution isn't great, you can also see the sunlight catching the haze below the clouds (click on the pic or see a larger version). It is much clearer up above the first layer. I always find it fun to fly around the clouds. It illustrates a lot about the weather, heating/cooling, etc. As long as there isn't severe weather or ice involved, it's neat to fly over or in a cloud layer. I flew around a bit and then did a descending spiral back down through a gap in the layer. Dianne just loves these steep, spiraling turns.
I also flew over the Dayton area. At the left is an aerial view of the Dayton Wright Brothers field (KMGY). It's located just south of Dayton out of the Dayton international airspace. It's a very nice airport. The runway is in great shape, there is a large ramp for parking, and the FBO gives very good service even to the little planes like mine.

Target Motivation

Dianne and I did some target shooting this weekend. We have a variety of targets that we use--most are from a place called Law Enforcement Targets. We both did pretty well. I noticed when we were shooting at circles or a traditional bullseye target, Dianne did OK. However, when she was shooting at a human silhouette or a photo realistic target like these, she was doing really well at popping them in the head or the center of the chest. I guess it adds that little bit of realism that gets the adrenaline pumping. No zombies will be getting inside her 15 yard perimeter.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Atomic Fireballs

I'm not a big Atomic Fireball fan, but the website has a nice, short virtual tour that describes how they are made. It's along the lines of the Food network program Unwrapped which I find interesting.

Dog Food

I wonder what marketing whiz came up with the idea of "Old Yeller" dog food. I thought it was a joke until I verified it at the Kroger website. Personally, I'm not accepting the branding pitch. I think most people will make the connection to Old Yeller at the end of the movie -- don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen the movie, but who didn't shed a tear when watching Old Yeller? I wonder if they'll have coupons for a rifle promotion to boost dog food sales.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Advance Wars & Papercraft

When I'm not training Chalupa, the Nintendo DS game I'm working on now is Advance Wars. If you like turn-based games, I'd highly recommend this new version. It has some new vehicle options compared to the previous versions. More importantly, the game makes good use of the two screens on the DS.

When I'm done with the game, I'm going to have to try out some of the AW papercraft here at the bunker. These look really good!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ali G

Me would dig watchin da Ali G show on bo. Me don't ave a clue wot it is about da characters but dey is ilarious. Me can't believe me homie gots da famous people doin speakin wit im.

Let it rip in da house to get more information about Ali G. You can also get your own translation if yous is not a me turfs.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Zombie Weapons

When the dead rise and you're trying to play MacGyver in order to kill some zombies, remember this link when working on your flamethrower. I wonder if this bazooka would be powerful enough for a good zombie head shot?


I know how much Dianne likes Jack in the Box, so I couldn't resist posting the link to this video from the i am bored site. There are quite a few items on the site I thought were funny. It's worth clicking around to see some of the videos and photos.

Custom Lego Sets

Legos were pretty crude when I was a kid -- but still fun. I'm always amazed in the toy store how many different Lego sets you can buy to create different vehicles or objects. As if that isn't enough, Lego now lets you design your own model and create a custom Lego set needed to build your design. What a great idea to inspire creativity. Here is a previous entry I had on the making of Legos.

Chili Finger Follow-up

With all the news about hurricane Katrina, I almost missed this follow-up on the couple that planted a finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili.

FSM the Game

If you're not a Pastafarian, you might want to go the wikipedia entry on the Flying Spaghetti Monster to get the history of this parody religion. Today, I happened to run across the FSM game. I was only able to get 3000 points. Enjoy the beer volcano and the stripper factory.


In the truely strange category is the Dictionaraoke website. Somebody looked up song lyrics in online dictionaries that speak the words. They used that to reconstruct the most dispassionate, electronic renditions of popular songs I've ever heard. I'm amazed that someone took the time to do this! That person is probably even more amazed that folks like me are listening. Here is one of my favorite songs. It was a train wreck -- I was so shocked and disgusted that I couldn't stop listening.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What's your Hawaiian Name?

Thanks to the Kman, I found this spot that gives you your Hawaiian name as well as many other little items on the left side to put on your blog. My name is below. It's not as official as what you'd find here, but its a neat little generator.

Your Hawaiian Name is:

Mauli Kane

Airplane Pictures

I think it's great when a blog has some photos. It breaks up the text and jazzes up a blog in my mind. You know I have a lot of posts related to flying the Tiger. But, since I don't have any formation flying experience, all the photos I have of the plane are ground based. At least that's what I thought until I saw Dianne's blog today. So cute!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sci-Fi Character

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Thanks to Pat, I took the quiz to determine which Sci-Fi character I match. Looking at the list of outcomes, it could have been a lot worse. Take the quiz for yourself here.

Ross County (KRZT)

TonyAtRZT2 This past weekend the weather was beautiful. On Sunday I flew to the Ross County airport (KRZT) near Chillicothe, Ohio. With the low humidity, the visibility was amazing -- well over 30 miles. Quite a change from our usual hazy, hot, and humid summer days. I only saw a couple planes in the air when I was away from the airports. The Ross County airport is nice with a good runway and a large ramp area for parking. At the right is a picture of Tony on the ramp. You can find a couple others in my Flickr pool.

Monday, September 05, 2005


A couple weeks ago, Dianne and I went to the pistol range at Spring Valley Wildlife refuge located North of Waynesville. EarlAtSpringValley At the right is a picture of me with the .357. It's one of the ranges run by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The hours aren't great, but it is a nice facility. There are nice, solid shooting benches where you can put your equipment. The whole area is covered. You can see in this picture of Dianne shooting that there are quite a few lane positions. I think there were 3 separate ranges that had different distances to the targets. DiAtSpringValley1The backstops have a fill composed of chopped up old tires. A good way to stop ricochets from the earth backstop. Although the range is attended, when we were there the people shooting coordinated the cease fire to go down the range and change targets. It was a hot day and the range officer was staying in the air conditioned hut. They also have a simple system to hold the targets - plastic, outdoor fencing material. You attach your targets to cardboard backing and then use clothespins to attach it to the fencing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Flickr toys

It's no secret that I really like the Flickr website. All the utilities that have been developed have made it easy to do fun things with your photos. I made a fake magazine cover for Dianne using this tool. On this page you'll find all sorts of links to make trading cards, ID badges, calendars, etc. There are lots of other hacks around if you do some searching.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rock Balancing

Here is an interesting site on the rock balancing art of Bill Dan. Talk about patience and creative uses of rocks! The item I found most intriguing on the site was the film clip on un-balancing by Danny Brown. It's a 5+ minute clip with a size of over 22 Mb. If you have the fortitude to do the download, you'll see some interesting effects they achieve by reversing the destruction of rock balancing sculpture. I thought it was very creative and well done.


I don't have much opportunity to use mass transit. However, from my germ-o-phobe perspective, this would be a must have product if I did. It would save a lot of hand washing.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Insect Photographs

I'm a sucker for macro photography and stop action photography. This site is a combination of the two. The site is quite long as it includes a lot of good how-to information. You can cut to the chase and visit page 9 and page 10 to see some great photos of insects in flight.

Unusual Job

I really like Flickr -- and it's amazing what stories some of the photo sets can tell. Check out this movie job.

Go Solar

I haven't been writing much lately. I've been a slug. I'm going to post some interesting items I've bookmarked.

Seems like there have been a lot of solar bags and other charging options for all the gadgets everyone is carrying these days. There is a solar messenger bag, another messenger bag, a solar panel in a briefcase form, and a pocket sized panel. These aren't the only options I've seen. Has anyone had good lucks with these types of charging solutions?

Monday, August 01, 2005


The Yamaha site has a lot of interesting papercraft items. If you haven't been to the site it's worth checking it out. They've added some new rare animals to that section of the site and also some new items in the seasons area.

Here is a blog devoted to paper that has lots of great pictures and links to interesting sites.

WSJ Portraits by Noli Novak

If you've seen the Wall Street Journal (as well as other sources), you've seen the characteristic pen/ink portraits on the page. The artist is Noli Novak and this website has examples of her work. I liked the collage area. If you go to the information area, among other things you'll find this link that shows how the portraits are made.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Make Your Own Google

This site will let you set up your own Google-style web page. Here is mine.

What If...

This site has a graphical depiction of some guy's "what if..." scenario. Interesting idea.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

kite photos

I'm always interested in panorama photos. This site has some amazing panorama photos taken from kites.


I liked playing with Legos when I was a kid. Legos then were pretty simple. I remember how cool it was when Lego came out with wheels. This site has a very nice Flash piece that shows how Legos are made. A pretty intricate process given all the types of pieces available.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Secure Mailbox -- Sort Of

Check out this site showing a new, secure mailbox. It's so secure it's called the mail vault. There is just one flaw in their design. It requires the postal service deliver the mail to the correct box. In the last year or so, there have been many instances where we received our neighbor's mail -- and vice versa. So much for security.

Houston, Tranquility base here....

...The Eagle has landed. There is a lot of buzz today regarding the anniversary of the first landing on the moon. Google has a nice map of the moon that is annotated with the locations of the various US moon landings. This site has an excellent moon panorama (requires Quicktime) created by stitching together pictures taken by Gene Cernan during the Apollo 17 landing. The site has many other panoramas -- very well done.

Of course there will always be folks wondering why the big fuss since the moon landings were all a big hoax.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


On Saturday Dianne and I went to Target World. We took their basic handgun safety class. There were six of us in the class. It was a good class that covered safety basics and provided some good information on revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. We talked for approximately one and a half hours and then had time on their range. We tried various calibers from .22 to .357 magnum and used pistols and revolvers. Dianne had never shot before. When we were going to start shooting one at a time, she moved over to see a little better and she got volunteered to go first. She put her shot right thru the bullseye. She did the same with the .38 and the 9 mm. Later, when we were taking turns shooting, Dianne was on the firing line with a Glock 9 mm and I was standing back with the instructor. She put 2 shots through the bullseye at about 12 yards and the instructor leans over to me and says don't get her angry. It was a fun morning and we learned a lot.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

June Flying Activities

EarlAtTZR2It's been dry here compared to a typical June. While bad for crops and the landscaping, that has meant some good flying weather. On the 19th, Dianne and I flew to Bolton Field near Columbus, OH. It's a nice place to visit as there is plenty of parking on the ramp and there is a good place to eat (JP's BBQ Ribs & Chicken) at the terminal building. Dianne snapped a picture of me next to the Tiger on the ramp at Bolton. The clouds looked worse than they were -- high, broken layer. It was a nice flight.

Last weekend I attended the Wings Weekend held at the Butler County airport. The FAA Wings Program helps pilots maintain or gain proficiency. For each phase of the program, you attend an FAA sponsored aviation seminar and fly with an instructor for at least 3 hours. Every year in the Cincinnati area, flight instructors volunteer their time for a "Wings Weekend". Pilots just show up at the designated times, get paired with an instructor, and fly. There are also seminars held all three days. It makes it easy to complete a phase of the Wings program. I completed phase II this year.

UC DAAPworks

DiAtDAAPWorks2The University of Cincinnati's college of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) has an end of year show called DAAPworks. We went to see the show on the last day. Graduating students display a major project along with a description (sometimes) of the project, what they were trying to accomplish, etc. I added sometimes since not all the displays had anything to read. That made it very confusing and hard to appreciate the final product. At the left is a picture of Dianne taking in one of the displays.

It's an interesting exhibit to see. There is quite a wide variety of displays due to the breadth of the college. In general, I enjoyed the architecture, graphic, and industrial design areas the most. I'm sure all the students worked hard and they were all reasonably good. But when you view the displays side by side, you can really see differences in the skill levels between students. I also snapped a couple pictures in the Fine Art gallery. This piece consisting of papers suspended from the ceiling was interesting. Here is Dianne next to a recycled art pieces made out of plastic grocery bags and styrofoam packing material.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Norwich, NY

Norwich_1b In the beginning of June I had to make a business trip to upstate New York. At the left is a camera phone picture of the Chenango County Courthouse in Norwich, NY. I lived in the area many years ago. It's a rural county with many small towns. In many ways the demographics and population are very similar to the area where I grew up.

One evening I had a chance to look around Norwich a bit. Driving around I had some feelings that things hadn't changed much since I left. There are a few new buildings and stores (e.g. Walmart) and some stores had closed. But basically the standard local merchants like McLaughlin's clothing, the Corner Cigar newstand, Garf's deli, Nina's pizza, etc. were status quo. That brought back memories.

On the other hand, there were times when it seemed like I hadn't lived there at all. I drove out to see the place I used to rent. It's about ten miles out of town near Chenango Lake (shown at right). Norwich_4bI went out to the place using "the back way" and returned to town by the larger roads. I made that trip hundreds of times on the way to and from work. When living there I felt I knew every curve, sign, driveway, and house along the way. But driving out there I felt I really had to pay attention to make sure I didn't miss a turn! What has happened to my memory?

I drove past the old place and it looked terrible. There wasn't anyone home, although it seemed like someone was still living there. The grass was about 2 feet high, no flowers, tree branches down in the yard, and very little up keep. Just down the road some of land had been turned over to loggers. There were piles of large tree trunks and the side of the hill was torn up by the logging roads. As a whole, it was sad considering how pretty the place was with the large pond for fishing and swimming, tennis court, ski trails, garden, etc. Although my memory isn't great, I'll have to remember the place the way it used to be.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


It's been some time since I've made a blog post. Seems like my work life is busy and there just isn't time on the summer weekends.

On June 4th, Dianne and I went to the annual Summerfair art celebration held at Coney Island. It is fun to walk around and see the wide variety of items displayed by the invited artists. Dianne bought a bracelet this year -- quite a surprise for her. It's silver and has two intertwined strands that give it a Celtic knot sort of appearance. It was a very hot and humid day, but there was a good crowd.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

BarbieIII_2On Saturday Dianne and I went to Lunken field to have lunch at the Sky Galley restaurant. It's a good restaurant in the old terminal building. It has a good view of the field and the general aviation ramp. This weekend, in commemoration of Memorial Day, there was a restored and flying B-25H bomber, the Barbie III, visiting the field. They were selling rides and ground tours of the plane. Here and here are some pictures of the Barbie III. The Cincinnati Warbirds group also had a T-28 and an SNJ-5 on display. Here is a picture of those planes.

We also went for a walk along the north side of the field along the pedestrian/bike path. We got caught in a passing shower, but it was a light rain. A good day for a walk as it wasn't too hot (around 75) and there was a nice breeze blowing. Many years ago we walked around the whole field on what seemed like the hottest and most humid day we had in August. Wow…that was a hike!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC)

I was a couple months outside of the 6 month clock for recent flight experience requirements for instrument flying. Yesterday I took an instrument proficiency check with an instrument instructor to get back up to speed. It was a good flight. It was a nice day with only a few high clouds. I had to wear a view limiting device so the only thing I could see were the instruments (Click on the Pilot Training Foggles link at this site).

We did two GPS approaches (one coupled with the autopilot). Because the Dayton approach controller was very busy, we had to fly the first one as a full approach (he didn’t have time to give radar vectors). That worked out well and was good practice doing a procedure turn. After the second approach, we followed the published missed approach instructions and entered a holding pattern. Personally, I don't find holds that difficult. After the first circuit, and often through the entry, you can detect how to compensate for the wind in order to stay on course. After a few turns in the hold, we headed back home and did a VOR approach opposite to the prevailing wind so it included a circle to land maneuver. A good IPC is a confidence builder, helps make sure I haven’t developed any bad habits and know how to use the system, and alerts me to any problem areas. Fortunately, I don’t have any problem areas. I just need to keep up on the instrument flying to stay current.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Grumman Gathering at KBMI

On Saturday I flew to Bloomington/Normal, IL, for a Grumman Gatherers event at Arnie's restaurant in the old terminal building on the field. The airport is also home to the Prairie Aviation Museum. It was an open house day at the museum and their DC-3 was giving rides around the city. I didn't tour the museum since I needed to head home. The airport is very nice, but there is construction taking place on some taxiways and access roads. One of the runways is closed and is being used as a taxiway.

TonyAtBMI1I had a strong tailwind on the way to KBMI. Made it in just over 2 hours. My ground speed ranged from 125 to 142 knots! I flew VFR since it was a clear day. The way home took a little longer (~2 1/4 hours) due to the headwind. I flew a little lower on the way home and the headwind wasn't quite as strong. Nevertheless, it was a little bit bumpy. Not unusual with the afternoon heating over the green and brown fields. This is a picture of Tony and some of the other Gatherer aircraft in front of the old terminal building at Bloomington/Normal that is now the general aviation area. Click on the photo to see a larger view.

It was a good turnout -- approximately 20 people and I'm not sure how many planes. I took a few pictures of some of the Gatherer aircraft and also snapped a couple pictures of some airports I passed along the way. The service and food at Arnie's was very good. This review was on target. If you're in the neighborhood, it's worth stopping.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Dayton Hamfest

Today I went to the Dayton Hamfest and ARRL National convention (they were combined this year). It is the largest hamfest in the country. Although I've only been an hour away for the last 12 years, I've never been. I haven't been active on the amateur bands, but I thought I'd go to find some power supply and antenna equipment for my low power radio to do some operating when mobile.
HaraArena2It took me all morning just to walk through the indoor exhibits. The picture here is only one of several indoor areas at the Hara Arena in Dayton. The new radio technology has really improved in the last decade. Just like most electronic gadgets, there are more features packed in a smaller space. Unfortunately, I didn't find what I needed. Nevertheless, it was an interesting day. Click here to see a few other photos including a motorcycling ham that had over a million miles on a Honda Goldwing.

There were a lot of people there and folks representing many different countries. It's relatively easy to tell where folks are from as most people wear name badges that also have their amateur radio call sign. The prefix of the callsign tells you what country they are from. I saw people from England, Scotland, Finland, several Eastern European countries, Japan, and of course Canada. There were folks from all over the US.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Human Powered Hydrofoil

This looks very interesting – I wonder how well it really works. Has anybody tried one or seen somebody using one? It reminds me of a Trikke for water. Dianne and I got the Trikke and it works well once you get the hang of it. It’s a good, low impact cardio workout. I should clarify it’s low impact unless you take a spill and then the impact is high. In that respect the hydrofoil would be nice.

Bike Radio

I always had the best bikes when growing up. My dad owned a bicycle shop when I was younger and so I had good bikes with nice accessories. I rode around a lot with neighborhood friends.

When I was 12, one of my birthday presents was a battery powered AM radio that mounted on the handlebar. I thought it’d be neat to be able to listen to the radio while riding around. I was reminded of that yesterday as it was the anniversary of the start of the Watergate hearings in 1973. There weren’t a lot of AM radio choices during the day in central Minnesota (i.e. one unless you like old-time music). Our local station carried the Watergate hearings. Talking about boring to a kid! In fact, Senate hearings are boring to me now. Needless to say, I didn’t listen to that bike radio very much in the summer of ’73.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sporty's Open House

SportysOpenHouse1Last Saturday, Dianne and I drove to the Clermont County Airport (I69) to attend an open house event sponsored by Sporty's which is based at the airport. The weather wasn't that great to fly over. Even so, the parking lot was pretty full of cars. It was raining lightly and the light breeze made for a cool day.

There were several vendors in the two new large hangars showing avionics, pilot supplies, new airplanes, etc. You can click on the picture to see a larger version. I was most interested in the AirMod organization based at I69. I'd be nice to eventually redo the interior of the Tiger. There was an AT-6 which did some passes over the field and was on display. I also thought there was a Bird Dog or similar aircraft with military markings.

You can fly or drive in to Sporty's any Saturday around noon to get a hot dog. Here are the directions.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lite Brite

Remember the Lite Brite toy? If you are really bored, your can try the on-line version here.


What do you think of when you hear the term “Spam”?

Having grown up in the state that is home to Hormel Foods and having married someone from Hawaii, the canned meat pops into my head. We actually have cans of Spam in our cupboard at home. I don’t know if I buy the Hormel site slogan about crazy tasty.

The vision of canned meat is quickly followed by thoughts of unsolicited email -- the term that originated in honor of the Monty Python skit.

What I didn’t realize until today is there is a Broadway musical to think about too. My department head, a huge Monty Python fan, mentioned this to me. He and his son plan to take in the show while on a college hunt in the neighborhood. I can imagine this musical being like a Rocky Horror Picture Show kind of experience.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday Rant

I love satellite radio. I’m an XM Radio subscriber. From that point of view, this story is good news. However, the survey response as reported seems insane and led to this rant.

There has to be another side to the results of the survey – e.g. expense of the satellite radio and subscription costs. I find it hard to believe Howard Stern is the reason people didn’t want satellite radio. Did people explain satellite radio to these Hyundai customers before taking the survey!?! It’s not like Sirius satellite radio only has one channel fixed to Howard Stern. Just choose a different channel and enjoy! Your satellite choices are being tracked and if the number of Stern channel listeners is low, they’ll drop him. Enjoy the other offerings. C’mon….think about where you can hear Howard Stern now. Do they want their FM radios ripped out of their car simply because they could maybe tune into Howard in the morning? Are they going to give up their cable box because they might see him on E!?

Motorcycle Season

DiOnPieIt’s that time of year when Dianne shows an interest in the weather. Each day she wants to know if it’s going to be dry so she can ride her motorcycle to work.

We got the bikes out of storage several weeks ago and had their annual service done. This picture is Dianne coming home from work last week on her bike. It was still pretty cool in the mornings so she was wearing her Aerostich suit to keep warm during the ride. With that suit, an electric vest, and heated handgrips you're able to stay fairly warm. I’m OK down to about 45 F, but anything below that is too cold for me. However, I’d say she’s good to go down to about 35 F. This site has more detail about her bike. The seat height adjustment allows for a reasonable fit for her. The saddlebags can hold a lot of stuff.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I’ve had this picture of Mashimaro in my cube at work for quite awhile. Someone stopped by to talk with me yesterday, noticed it, and asked what it was all about. Mashimaro, the main character in an online animated adventure series, is a lovable little rabbit that has a mischievous side. Check out the Mashimaro website to see the cartoons and get some info on the characters.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dictionary of Altitudes

I was in the library at work looking for a German/English chemical dictionary when this book caught my eye: A Dictionary of Altitudes in the United States, 4th Edition, by Henry Gannett. The book was published in 1906 by the Government Printing Office in Washington and contains tables of altitudes organized by state and city. As a private pilot, I think a lot about altitudes but they are so easy to obtain you take them for granted. Charts are loaded with them, planes have reasonably good altimeters, and GPS with WAAS capability will give position and altitude with an error of roughly 20 feet. I did a little digging to understand what was behind the altitude dictionary.

Gannett started with the US Geological Survey around the time it was founded as a separate agency in the Department of the Interior. He was chief geologist about the time that then director John Powell got the blessing of Congress to continue preparation of a geological map of the US. In that period, the topographic mapping effort received the bulk of USGS funding. Gannett was a founding member of the National Geographic Society and one of its presidents. You can find a short entry on Gannett here and a nice overview of the USGS here. Besides the general desire to understand US geology and geography, a lot of folks needed altitudes. For example, railroads planned paths to minimize grades, the military needed terrain information for strategic planning, and topological information helped determine watersheds.

The Dictionary of Altitudes has a short methods section describing how they measured the altitudes. Many were based on barometric pressure readings and a fair number mentioned using trigonometry. Some altitudes were based on measuring the boiling point of water. This website has a great discussion of how altitudes were measured in the 1800s. It also discusses why different methods were used and the limitations and errors in the measurements. Quite a good read.

I checked a few of the measurements to get an idea of accuracy. It’s amazing how good the values are! For Little Falls, Minnesota there were two entries. The first was for the Northern Pacific Railroad (1120 feet) on the east side of town and the second was for a square cut on a step at the entrance to the Buckman Hotel (1114 feet). The Hotel was still operating when I was growing up. I wonder if there is a USGS benchmark there (here is an example). If there is, I walked past it hundreds of times as a kid and didn’t even notice it or know about the effort involved in placing these markers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Clean Glasses Today

Clean Glasses

I got reading glasses a little over a year ago. What a difference they make – especially for my right eye! It really helps on days when I’m doing a lot of reading. The only frustrating part about them is they are hard to clean. Originally I tried a cleaning spray and dry wipes and then the pre-moistened cleaning wipes available from LensCrafters where I purchased the frames. I also tried some other brands. They all end up cleaning, but it generally takes several cleaning cycles because of the streaking. All the products I tried did more smearing than cleaning. Once I got the glasses mostly clean, I used a polyester/nylon cloth from Crizal to get rid of the streaks.

A few weeks ago we were at Sam’s Club walking by the optical area and I noticed a box of pre-moistened, lens cleaning cloths with the Zeiss name. On a whim I thought I’d give it a shot. After all, Zeiss should know how to clean optics (although I thought that about LensCrafters too). I finally got around to trying them today – after using two other pre-moistened cloths with no luck. The first Zeiss cloth worked like a charm!! Clean glasses with no streaks in one easy step! I can read again. If you haven’t tried ‘em, buy a package next time you’re at the store. Here is the smaller version of the 90 count package I saw.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Blogs for the Blogroll

I've been using BlogClicker of late to get a random look at some of the blogosphere. There haven't been too many sites that have jumped out at me on my journey. It's a matter of the first couple of posts catching your eye. Every now and then you'll find what you consider a gem. I've listed two new entries on my short blog roll: Seedlings & Sprouts and the Neverending Rainbow. I think these sites, while each covering very different material, are both very well done and interesting. Check them out.

Julie synthesizes a lot of things she reads on other blogs and tosses in observations of her own -- including those made through the eyes of her children. That makes for some interesting insights and there is always something on her site that gives good food for thought.

I also enjoy reading Michael's blog. I can relate to a lot of the topics he discusses. For example, although growing up in Minnesota I never listened to the X, the song "Heard it on the X" is one of my favorite ZZ Top tunes. Dianne and I like Project Greenlight which he's also discussed recently. I also enjoy the more substantial posts (as compared to most of my short ones).

Finally, both these blogs have simple layouts and no annoying banner ads -- just good content.

How's Your Report Card?

Dianne and I were at Barnes and Noble tonight doing some browsing. I came across a compilation of stories by Hans Christian Andersen. I hadn't read some of these in years and some weren't familiar or they have slipped away from me over the years. It brought back memories of the Fractured Fairy Tales segment of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

I read Andersen's story of the sandman. I had forgotten the Sunday sandman story talks about the sandman's brother who only knows two stories. How good is your report card?

Miscellaneous Web Items

Here is an eclectic mix of stuff I’ve run across recently.

For all the beach bums out there, check out these sand sculptures.

Here is a clever project that illustrates the 7 deadly sins using Mr. Potato Head. I love the sloth picture.

Not as well executed, there is also a gummy bear version of the 7 deadly sins. I like gluttony here.

What should you bring to your next picnic? Check out this gallery of watermelons!

Here are some web applications that aid learning about US states. In “place the state”, I had an average error of 12 miles in 254 seconds. Delaware and New Hampshire threw off my average. Guess I need some practice. I could use one of these for countries of the world.

Here is some math around communion.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Personality test

You can go here to draw a pig and then see what your drawing says about your personality. Here is my pig. I never said I was an artist.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Butterfly Exhibit

Today Dianne and I went to the Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park in Cincinnati. It's free (except for special exhibits) and worth stopping by if you're in the neighborhood. Today was the start of their annual butterfly exhibit. It was a nice exhibit with hundreds of butterflies flying around in one of the greenhouses. Kids and adults were enjoying the butterflies. I took a few photos and posted them in a set on Flickr.


Friday, May 06, 2005

More Finger Food

Check out this story about another finger in food. It's just sad it wasn't documented and the finger given to doctors immediately.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Photo Fun

I saw this link at The Mad Perseid site. He had it listed under a subject of 40 reasons not to post photos on the Internet.

Social Security

The AP has a bizarre story out of Wisconsin. This won't happen once Social Security goes bust.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Readability Stats

This site will measure the readability of any web page. Here is a summary of the results for my blog:
Gunning Fog Index = 9.10
Flesch Reading Ease = 70.30
Flesch-Kincaid Grade = 6.06

What do these mean? Here are definitions for the Gunning Fog Index and the Flesch Scores.

A Bug's Life

This site has some great macro photographs of insects.

Shadowbox Cabaret

Friday night we went to the Shadowbox Cabaret at Newport on the Levee. We saw their "dirty little secrets" show with another couple. We had a good time! The show was a mix of live music and comedy skits. I'd say overall the music was stronger than the comedy, but there were some very funny skits. There was an excellent lead guitar player that did an amazing job on Voodoo Child, and a bass guitar player that was rocking on Papa was a Rolling Stone and on Who Are You. A fun evening on the Levee.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Folksonomy and New Music

A few weeks ago I had a post about finding new music and I’ve mentioned Flickr several times in other posts. I found a connection between these items today.

A business site I was reading used the term “folksonomy” which I wasn’t familiar with. There is a good Wikipedia entry for the term. Folksonomy is an informal, spontaneous classification using keywords or tags. The entry immediately made me think of the Flickr site (which the article gave as an example) and how fast classification tags become popular and adopted. A couple examples include the Flickr tags of memorymap and whatsinmybag. I find both tags interesting and like browsing the related entries. My first attempt at a memory map got a surprising number of views!

The Wikipedia article on folksonomy also mentioned GenieLab as a tag example. I went to the site and found it is a music rating and recommendation service. A main function of the site is to record your ratings of music artists or groups (both good and bad), and use them to lead you to other music you might like. I did a quick test by rating about 30 groups (a mix of likes and dislikes) and then asking for recommendations. Some of the recommendations, e.g. Pere Ubu, were newer groups that I have heard (and in this case seen) and do like. That gives me confidence in the GenieLab recommendation feature. The site also makes it easy to explore these recommendations by linking to sites like Amazon, iTunes, or MSN Music that have sample recordings. If you feel lucky, you can also rely on the wisdom of crowds and find groups similar to your favorites that are liked by others. There are lots of other functions and the Genie Lab blog describes new developments and functionality.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Happy Earth Day

I’m not much for political blogging, but I couldn’t let the Bush administration’s phoney concern for the environment shown around Earth Day go by without calling it out. George W’s Earth Day photo opportunity and the First Lady’s support of the Junior Rangers can’t even begin to offset the environmental damage the Bush administration has supported. Shortly after Bush’s first election victory, he pulled the US out of negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol which was trying to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The recent news about oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is another example. There are several spots on the web where you can learn more about George’s concern for the environment including the W Watch page maintained by the Sierra Club.

Television Commercials

If you don’t get to see enough advertising on television, you can go to this website that claims to have the best ads from TV. Some of the ads are familiar. However, there are quite a few from foreign markets that are new to me. Be sure to click on the archives and you’ll find a lot of clips organized by year and month.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Talk About Over-Packing!

Dianne always laughs at my packing stress when we go on a trip. I wish I could adopt her approach of just throwing some stuff in a bag and going. I'm counting days, thinking about the weather, and trying to have options along with some sense of color matching. In the end, I pack heavy. I like to have my bases covered on a trip. Nevertheless, I'm a rookie compared to this guy carrying 14 suitcases that must have each weighed a ton!! I'm sure it didn't take a rocket scientist working for the US Border Patrol to realize something was up.

I also liked the comment regarding refrigeration near the end of the article. That was the second thing that popped into my germophobe mind after reading the second paragraph. And what was the third thing? I hope his clothes were clean. Hmmm....this smokey flavor reminds me a bit of used sweat socks.

Friday, April 22, 2005

No Soup For You!!

Remember the "Soup Nazi" episode from Seinfeld? Dianne and I happened to see that last night. That's one of my favorites -- right up there with the Kenny Rodger's chicken episode. CNN has an article today about Al Yeganeh taking his soups national later this year.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Stationary is Bad

I got a Motion Computing tablet PC a few months ago. One of the Microsoft products that came with the tablet is OneNote. I've used it a bit and it is very handy for taking notes. The ink capabilities make it a handy piece of software for a tablet PC. In fact, I find it's a great way to make clippings to use as a basis for blog entries.

Why the OneNote advertisement? A friend sent a link today to the "stationary is bad" site. They have three movies on the site that are pretty funny. They're worth watching a couple times to see all that is going on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Call me old school, but the Grafedia media project described here just sounds like graffiti for the 21st century. The main Grafedia web site is here.

Has anyone seen any Grafedia in the wild?

Monday, April 18, 2005


Spring is here. It is very pretty with all the trees flowering. Here is a tree outside our door.
But with the flowers comes a lot of pollen. Even taking anti-histamines, I'm still congested. I had a bad sinus headache today.

Saturday Flying

On Saturday, Dianne and I went to an AYA fly-in at the Muncie airport. It was a beautiful day and there were 17 Grumman planes that flew in for lunch. Here is a picture of our Tiger, Tony, on the ramp at Muncie with the control tower in the background.


Memory Map

I've posted my first attempt at a memory map at Flickr. It's an annotated view of Little Falls. If you search for Flickr images with the tag "memory map", you'll find lots of annotated maps.

I also ran across a couple of neat Flickr hacks here and another here. There are many folks taking advantage of the public image tags. I like the Flickr concept.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Creativity and Teaching

I was reading a post at the Innovation Tools site which discusses five things you can do or think about to enhance creativity. I found four of the five items and questions interesting.

    What do you need to pay more attention to in order to manifest your most inspired idea or project?

    In what ways can you strengthen your intention on a daily basis?

    What boundaries, limits, or old paradigms are you willing to challenge this week?

    Who (or what) do you need to connect with in a new way in order to manifest your hottest, new idea?

These items hit home with me – but not directly in a creativity context. I’ve been thinking about ways I might stimulate student motivation and foster problem solving skills in my first year chemistry students. Here's what came to my mind.

Although important, I wasn't thinking about class attendance. I thought of this like the Zen of chemistry. I have to be there in the moment and be focused. The same is true for the students. Everyone has to be concentrating and participating to get anywhere.

Especially from the student side, what is “…the primal purpose and commitment…that will sustain you through the doubts, fears, and unexpected obstacles along the way”? Many students project the attitude of giving up at the first sign of difficulty because everyone knows chemistry is hard. It seems they lack the determination to succeed. You hear Donald Trump say that all the time on The Apprentice. The trick is to instill that drive in my limited lecture time. I find this particularly frustrating and hard to overcome on an individual basis in a large class.

I feel only a minority of students push themselves when thinking about new concepts or when trying to develop problem solving skills. I sense several issues here that can vary by individual. Examples include difficulty with subject vocabulary, lack of confidence or drive when reaching limits, and insufficient background skills (e.g. math ability). I use several techniques to address these, but I’m always looking for better options to gently push the limits.

Making connections between concepts in different topics or chapters, or linking laboratory experience to lecture, has always been an obstacle for students. My typical student is low on Bloom’s taxonomy pyramid and has difficulty with problems that require making connections to solve. Many of my students would drive constructive learning theorists nuts! I hope using mind maps as a basis for lectures, along with Socratic discussions, will facilitate making connections. We’ll see if this will work in a large group.

Maybe I need to think more about motivating creativity rather than worrying so much about experiences, relevance to a major, or extrinsic factors for student motivation?

Flickr and AOTS

I decided to jump into the Flickr pool and pee in it. Dianne’s favorite TV channel is the G4 video game television network. One of the programs on the network is called “Attack of the Show” (AOTS). They cover gaming and internet related items. I find the show entertaining. On their April 5th episode, they did a segment about Flickr – the online photo hosting site. Besides being a basic photo repository, Flickr offers a lot of functionality for albums, tagging and searching for photos, privacy, linking to blogs, etc. They encouraged viewers to open a free Flickr account and post photos in the public pool that contained yellow colors (i.e. peeing in the pool). No photoshop allowed. Each yellow photo was to have a tag of AOTS. There were quite a few entries. Here is one of mine showing the signs of spring we’re experiencing.


Jungle Jim's International Market

A while back I posted a vision for the supermarket of the future. This Business Week online article talks about the wacky supermarket of today – Jungle Jim’s in the greater Cincinnati area. It really is a shopping experience and a great place to go for specialty items, produce, and fresh fish. As mentioned in the article, it’s not necessarily a place to go for bargains on everyday items. However, a lot of “foodies” think there is value in the specialty products.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Miscellaneous Items

Here are a few odd items that speak for themselves.

Instructions for making a clock. This gives new meaning to snack time.

Don't keep me in suspense.

Here's a good gift for all cooks practicing voodoo.

With gas prices rising, this green motorcycle could be a good seller.

Here's an innovative new watch. I can't imagine what that would cost.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Weekend Flying

This weekend the weather was nice and I was able to take the Tiger for a couple flights. On Saturday I did a local flight to check out the plane after the work that was done on the cylinder head temperature gauge. Everything looked good, the engine was fine, and it handled great. Here is a picture after I had landed back at KISZ.
On Sunday I took a short cross country trip to KMQJ in the Indianapolis area. Again, everything was fine with the Tiger. Surprisingly, it was a little bumpy even at 5500 feet. It was such a beautiful day, a lot of people were out flying. There was parachute activity at a couple airports along the way. Just west of Middletown (KMWO) I saw a group of 3 gliders circling (likely trying to catch some thermals). It was unusual to see gliders in that area. Usually they are over by Waynesville and the Caesar's Creek.

Now I just need to get my instrument flying skills back in shape and we should be ready for some trips.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Radio Broadcasts and New Music

Where does your music come from today – especially new music? That question popped into my head after doing some reading last week. It got me thinking about how my music listening habits have evolved.

Growing up I loved listening to FM radio. It was fun tuning around to hear new music. KCLD was a great Top 40 station out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. If propagation was right, I could hear stations from the Twin Cities that played good easy listening or rock music. It wasn’t all good of course, but I was hearing new stuff. I got a good feel for which groups I liked and which I didn’t. It seemed like there was more stuff I liked than not.

College days here and here were a music bonanza. If nothing else, stereo wars in college dorms exposed me to a lot of new music. Word of mouth and media sharing (records and tapes) with friends helped. In the early 80s, who didn’t vegetate for an hour watching music videos on MTV?

Today things seem different. I find it hard to listen to Top 40 radio. Even local alternative radio stations don’t hold my attention anymore. And the commercials get old really fast. How many times can you listen to an Enzyte commercial that tells you nothing? Good luck even catching a video on MTV during normal viewing hours today. When you do find a video on their sister stations, it’s not even worth watching. It seems there is a very small percentage of new music that I consider airworthy. I guess I’m getting old and cranky. I’m sure Dianne would agree.

My waning interest in FM radio isn’t unique. A recent article in the NYT discussed the rise of satellite radio and how that may be changing the landscape for traditional broadcasting. I see an analogy to cable TV subscriptions. I have an XM satellite radio and love it! Continuous reception, no commercials, wide selection – what’s not to like. Even though satellite radio subscribers only represent about 3% of number of radio listeners, apparently broadcasters are changing formats and reducing commercials to protect their lucrative business (I was amazed that profit margins can be up to 50%). I’m sure the rise of iPods and similar devices as well as internet streaming audio have cut into radio listening time.

So where is my new music coming from? I still get good music tips from friends and share CDs now and then. Web based streaming audio is another way to hear some variety. I used to use the custom radio station option of the Real Player. You pick groups you like and they stream songs from those groups as well as related groups. It was a good way to hear new songs that you’d have a high likelihood of enjoying. Unfortunately, Internet streaming at work (most of my listening time) isn’t allowed. Finally, special internet broadcasts are good if you can find ‘em. For example, David Byrne of Talking Heads fame has started a regular streaming audio broadcast to share new music he finds interesting. That’s the best sampling service I’ve heard recently. I also liked his comments about licensing in his interview with Xeni Jardin.

I’d be interested in other approaches you use to find new music.

Supermarkets of the Future

This article describes an interesting new supermarket concept. It fits with the American love of automobiles. It’ll be interesting to see if their concept and expansion plans play out. This would be fantastic in harsh environments. I remember as a kid how excited people were over the grocery service at the new Coborn’s supermarket. After checkout, you had the option of loading your groceries into a numbered tub. The tub went to a drive-up window where an employee would load the groceries into your car when you presented your numbered claim check. That was handy in the Minnesota winter. The AutoCart concept takes that idea into the 21st century.

Flavor enhancers

The New York Times had an interesting article about a biotechnology company called Senomyx and their work on flavor enhancers. Senomyx has studied the five flavor receptors and used that knowledge to search for compounds that activate or suppress the flavor receptors. The Senomyx technology pages provide a nice overview of their strategy. The NYT article reports several food and beverage companies have licensed rights to use Senomyx products in certain types of products. I’m sure there’s a lot of regulatory work ahead to prove the additives are safe. It would be nice to have a safe, salt receptor agonist so companies could reduce the amount of salt in their products (e.g. canned soups or V8) and yet maintain the flavor.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Google Maps and Flickr

I used to use Mapquest all the time for on-line maps and driving directions. Since Google starting posting maps that also include an option to see satellite views, I go there all the time. A lot of people are using this site in creative ways. One example is to get a satellite preview of an area containing a geocache. Another neat example is creating an annotated tour on a map. Here is an example showing a tour of Ithaca, NY. I could imagine this would be useful for chamber of commerce websites. Today I saw another, more personal use, of annotating a satellite view.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

News Aggregators

If you get into reading a lot of blogs, you’ll find it is time consuming to surf to each blog and find out what (if anything) is new. It’s much easier to use an RSS news aggregator that tracks your favorite blogs and shows what is new-along with other features. I like Bloglines and use it almost daily. Robert Scoble of Microsoft posted a short review of various RSS aggregator services on his blog. I was happy to see that he spoke highly of Bloglines.

New Pens

I’ve always been intrigued with pens. I have several fountain pens that I don’t use too much since I have a tablet PC, a palm Pilot, and a Logitech IO pen. More of my writing is digital these days. Nevertheless, I was intrigued with some new ink pen designs that you can see here and here.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

On-line Language Courses

Deutsche Welle Germany’s government run international radio station has been broadcasting German language lessons. Now, on their website, they are providing collections of the language lessons. Along with the spoken instruction are PDFs that help with reading as well. That might be interesting to try-although I don’t have a big demand for German.

Interestingly, the BBC has similar on-line language courses on their website. This would be a good way to maintain a language you don’t use very often.

Photo Blogs

I’ve been looking around the web at lots of other blogs. I’m looking at content as well as layout to get ideas. One class of blog I find interesting is the photoblog. Given my interest in photography, I guess it makes sense. One photoblog I like is called a daily dose of imagery. There are some beautiful shots of Toronto as well as examples of interesting techniques possible with digital photography. The world according to Mona site has some nice photos too.

I also found a couple photoblogs based in Hawaii. You can find them here and here. What a great place to find subjects for a photoblog.

There are also several spots to find lists and rankings of photo blogs. One of my favorites is

April Fools Gift Idea

In college, it was an event to get some mail in your postoffice box. A package was even better! Often times that meant food from home. One spring break, my roommate and I visited my Aunt and Uncle’s dairy farm and picked out a nice cow pie to mail to one of our “friends” at college. We sent it anonymously. He was so exited to get a package he didn’t even look for the return address. It was a good practical joke.

What I didn’t realize is you could make money doing that sort of thing! Maybe my friend owns the business?

Friday, April 01, 2005

MindJet Blogs

Several of the folks at MindJet have initiated blogs discussing various aspects of information mapping software and their MindManager software in particular. I'm learning their product and hope to try it as an alternative approach for chemistry lectures in the next academic year.

Sony PSP saga

Dianne, the quintessential gamer, got one of the first million Sony PSP units released in the US. We got it the day they became available. It’s quite the system offering gaming as well as options to show videos, digital photos, and play digital audio. The screen is an amazing LCD, TFT screen with 480x272 resolution at millions of colors. You can see a picture and get the details here.

Unfortunately, Dianne’s PSP has some pixel defects. There are at least two (I think one is actually two adjacent pixels that makes it look like one) pixels that are always on. They are in the middle of the screen and stand out when looking at a dark background. It’s pretty annoying to have that happen right out of the box. In the few days the US units have been on the market, there has been a lot of web traffic describing Sony PSP units with pixel defects. For example, check here and here.

I understand manufacturing of LCD screens is difficult and there can be some screen defects. These were much more common in the early days of manufacturing computer monitors. That’s why ISO standards for LCD screens were established several years ago. The standard describes limits for dead or always bright pixels for various quality screens. This site has a description of the standard for computer monitors. If you calculate the defect rate for our PSP unit assuming only 2 bad pixels, it comes out to 15.3 bad pixels/million. Clearly that’s way higher than the error rate for a computer monitor – much harder to manufacture the larger screen. That seems completely out of line for a PSP sized screen.

So how to get it resolved? We purchased the unit at Blockbuster and as of 3/31 they are refusing to stand behind the product and are referring us to Sony. In fact, we were given some mis-information at our local Blockbuster – but that’s a long story. Suffice it to say I won’t be patronizing any Blockbuster stores in the future. If you do, I’d encourage you to read their return policy (especially for non video items) very carefully before purchase! Sony will take the units back as described here and here, but you have to pay for shipping. That wouldn’t be an issue if Blockbuster supported the products they sold. Although Sony’s warranty appears to limit liability, it’s really unfortunate they won’t cover the cost of resolving a problem with a brand new unit whose defect rate is much higher than even a class III LCD screen.