Thursday, December 28, 2006

Exciting Day Downtown

Dianne had to go to work for a bit today. Since she was operating on a couple hours of sleep, I took her downtown. I can surf there as well, just not as comfortably. But it turned out to be an exciting day in downtown Cincinnati - as exciting as Cincinnati can be.

We had lunch at Skyline Chili with a few of her colleagues. Afterwards, we walked to the Carew Tower to visit Churchill’s Tea Room. Along the way we saw quite a few things. We walked by the Duke Energy holiday model train exhibit. If you can’t make it, their site has photos and a short video. We also walked past John Matarese (the WCPO-TV reporter who does the “Don’t Waste Your Money” segments) who was conducting an on the street interview. I’m not a huge fan, but nevertheless a brush with a 2 time Emmy award winner (according to his bio). Finally, I was looking ahead and the back of a jacket with the Full Metal Corsets logo of the Cincinnati Rollergirls caught my eye. I’m pretty sure it was The Librarian, but it was a bit hard to tell as she wasn’t wearing skates and making her trademark shooshing pose.

What a day, huh!?!

Cooking with Monkey

I stumbled across a creative website called Cooking With Monkey. The site has collections of photographs that follow a stuffed monkey making various dishes from start to finish. The idea of a stuffed animal holding kitchen utensils and operating appliances to cook something struck me as very funny. The picture at the right shows Monkey making cupcakes. You can see Monkey making all kinds of recipes. I think it’s a cute, clever idea for a website – although a lot of work.

I must be in the target audience, because when I showed it to Dianne she didn’t think it was that cute. I thought the stuffed animal would enhance her interest, but it didn’t work. Maybe if the monkey rides a motorcycle she’ll get sucked in.

By the way, the cooking area is just a small part of the photo documentary of Monkey. Go here to see him doing all kinds of things like going to the dentist (getting teeth x-rays is the funniest pic in that series), going to the eye doctor, doing origami, and traveling in Chicago.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Puzzle Box

Puzzle box closed 2My mother- and father-in-law gave me this puzzle/treasure box for Christmas. It's all wood and looks like a sealed, secure box. The joints are very tight. See another view here. However, the bands move in sequence to release the ends of the box and reveal two hidden compartments. One end is relatively easy to open and gives access to the large compartment. See that end open here. You might think that is all there is. But a series of steps lets you open a smaller compartment on the other end. A very unique gift!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Prince of Wales

Carew tower and bus stationA few weeks ago, Dianne and I made a rare trip downtown to the Carew Tower. We went to the Tower Place mall to visit Appointments - a nice pen and accessory store. We were walking around and I noticed Churchill's Tea Room, but we didn't stop in since it was lunch time. Dianne went back a couple weeks ago over lunch and found out they sell bulk loose leaf tea. She said it is similar to the Lupicia Fresh Tea store (formerly L'Epicier) in the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

I'm a big tea drinker - black or green mostly, not herbal teas. There's nothing like a good loose leaf tea. So while at Churchill's, she bought a few different kinds for me to try. All the tea was very fresh and the flavors were wonderful. One sample she bought was the Prince of Wales tea. That is one of my favorite everyday black teas. It's a little hard to find, but a few stores in the area carry the Twinings version. However, the flavor of Twinings version doesn't even come close to the fresh stuff from Churchill's. If you're a tea drinker and are downtown in Cincinnati, stop by Churchill's. You'll be glad you did.

It's probably no Teaism, but I'll bet Kyle could get some of his favorite white tea there.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mouse Cookie

mouse cookieCarla found the cutest little mouse cookies today. The body was a chocolate covered cherry - the cherry stem was the tail. The head and nose were a chocolate kiss and the ears were sliced almonds. The mouse was sitting on half an Oreo cookie. A little red and green decoration gave the cookie a nice touch. A very clever combination of common items made a nice cookie.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Street Art & Anamorphosis

Thanks to the Dragonfly (whose Adventures you can read about here), I found the street art of Julian Beever. He uses chalk on sidewalks to draw images that, when viewed from a certain direction, show an object or scene in perfect proportion. The illusion leverages our eye/brain knowledge of perspective, object size, and relative distance and the viewer’s perspective to correct the “distorted” image he draws on the angled sidewalk. It’s easier to see than to explain in words. Looking from one direction, this image appears stretched out and you don’t immediately recognize the object. However, in the correct view the object pops out in perfect proportion. The illusion is striking on some of his art here and here where people seem to fit in perfectly with the drawing.

A quick search on the web pointed out the technique is called anamorphosis. Here is one nice site that discusses the technique that has a nice bibliography and list of links. An early example of the technique is a skull put in the oil painting shown here. I also discovered another street artist, Kurt Wenner, with similar work.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tune Glue

Tune glue is a fun little Flash site that lets you create a music map where you can explore relationships between bands and musicians. Enter a name as a starting point. Each artist or group is shown as a node. Click on the node to expand or delete it from your diagram. You can drag nodes or lock their positions in the diagram. Some artists have news, links, etc. as well. When you expand a node, connections are made to neighbors. At the right is a diagram I made starting with one of my favorites, ZZ Top. You can see their node near the center (click on the image to see a larger view). The logic seemed pretty good as I also like the neighboring groups within a couple degrees of separation.

The diagrams aren't always perfect. Sometimes an artist will show up in 2 places and band names can be tricky (e.g. The Doors and Doors were separate nodes). Nevertheless, it's clever and worth a look.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Updated Blog Roll

I've been a blogging slug lately, but I've been reading a lot of sites. I've updated my reading list on the right side of the page. I've mentioned all of these in previous posts except for the update to my photoblog list -- The HOV Lane. It's a great collection of photos taken by Josh Lane on his road trip. The photos capture the beauty as well as the wacky observations he makes on the journey. Check it out!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

More Holiday Gift Ideas

Thanks to the swissmiss site, I found a site called Generate that has lots of nice items for the home that have an innovative design. One example is the hugging salt and pepper shakers shown at the right. There's another interesting salt and pepper shaker here. I'm not into sushi, but the sushi dipping plate here and the chopstick holder and rest here are nice. Finally, these plates are funky. They keep things from mixing on the plate and can be stored vertically in the cupboard.

Swiss Miss

It's been cold here, but this entry isn't about hot chocolate. Thanks to 101 cookbooks, I ran across the swissmiss blog written by a Swiss designer living in NYC. She posts on all sorts of items that have a design flair. An example is the oil lamp shown at the right. The wick holder is a brass match that gives the illusion of a half used wooden match that keeps on burning. It's an interesting read for gift ideas.

Curious Cook

Thanks to the Blogger Buzz post on the Blogger dashboard, I found the News for Curious Cooks blog written by Harold McGee. He provides an interesting look at the interface between food, cooking, and science. His book as well as the blog explains the "why" behind cooking methods and food transforms. For example, this post gives some background as to why black teas should be brewed in very hot water whereas green teas need more gentle brewing.

National Toy Hall of Fame

The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY has a National Toy Hall of Fame. Check out an online version of the items here. I was fortunate to have many of these toys while growing up. Tonka toys, Legos, Slinky, Etch-a-sketch (although I never made sketches like these), Lincoln Logs, etc. The list brought back a lot of memories. I was pleasantly surprised to see the cardboard box on the list--Dianne didn't get it. I got lots of boxes when my dad received orders for his shop. A little imagination and a box can be hours of entertainment.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

9 out of 10

A colleague pointed out the Rough Type blog by Nicholas Carr. It's an interesting blog about various web, technology, information, and web business related items. I read several of the recent posts and liked the style. He introduces topics succinctly and then adds his own insight. A very good read.

Ben Franklin could have written the title for one of Nicholas' recent posts -- Death, Taxes, and Spam. In that post he cites a study saying nine out of every ten emails are spam. That is sobering. I've been getting a lot of spam with "stock tips" lately. It boggles my mind that folks can make money doing that! If his 5-7% return on investment information is correct, it's no wonder spammers keep sending junk. As Susan Powter used to say, "Stop the Insanity!"

Early Kodachrome Images

I'm not a political blog reader. However, the Daily Kos site departed from their usual political theme with this nice post today on early kodachrome images -- color photos taken all across America prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Each photo has a brief comment. I like the first photo in the Modernization section of some locomotives. An interesting collection.

First Snow of the Season

My normal 15-20 minute commute to work took one hour and fifty minutes today. Why? It was the first snowfall in the area. The 1/4 to 1/2 inches of snow throughout the area put Cincinnati drivers into a tizzy. The roads were slippery in spots, but they really weren't that bad. People just aren't used to driving in that and so they were sliding all over. I saw two cars in the ditch in the Mason area and a few fender benders on the way to work. As shown in the Borgman cartoon from last Friday, some areas had the salt trucks out in full force. That helped a lot, but my black car was mostly white with salt by the time I got home. I can't wait for the next snowstorm during rush hour.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First House on the Moon

...I'd like to someday be the owner of the first house on the moon.
there would be no neighbors, and no population boom.
You might say that all I do is dream my life away.
I guess it's true, 'cause I'm stone in love with you...

These lyrics came to mind today. Russell Thompkins, Jr. of the Stylistics might live on the moon if the plans announced by NASA come true. Of course some people will think the moon colony is a hoax.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pillows for Christmas

Need some unique pillows as accents around the house? There are several options I've seen recently on the web. At the right is one of many sushi pillows available here. If sushi isn't your thing, you could decorate with rock pillows. Finally, there are some drug product pillow options.

Holiday Havoc

On Saturday evening, Dianne and I went to Dayton for Holiday Havoc - a charity event scrimmage between the Cincinnati Rollergirls and the Gem City Rollergirls. We went up early and had dinner at bd's Mongolian Grill (thanks to Carla for the tip). It's a good, albeit Americanized, place for Mongolian bbq food.

The Holiday Havoc wasn't far away at the SkateWorld Kettering. The event had two scrimmages each lasting 40 minutes. The Gem City group has two teams (with some girls skating both events due to injuries) and the Cinci girls formed two teams as well. In both bouts, the Gem City girls edged out the Cinci girls by a few points.

It was a tough match with some hard blocking by the Gem City team. I happened to sit next to Ruff'n the Passer's mom. She is very nice and proud of her daughter - and rightly so! Ruff'n the Passer is a very good all around skater. She is good at jamming and a good blocker too. The best Gem City blocker was Fonda la Boom who gave hard shoulder blocks that knocked several Cinci girls off their feet. Another Gem City jammer of note was I Candye. She is light, but really sprints around the track.

Overall, the Cincinnati Rollergirls didn't look as sharp with their blocking as in past matches. We were sitting with a Cincinnati group and there were several times where folks couldn't believe how easily the Gem City jammer made it through the pack. As usual, Collier Mama was doing a good job blocking. Unfortunately, she got ejected after going down hard with a Gem City skater. I thought it was a very bad call as Collier Mama was crawling away from her opponent as the Gem City girl was kicking Collier with her skates. Go figure! Pantera....er, Kathy Killzone...was also doing well with blocking. By the way, I found the name change confusing. :^) Sk8 Crime went all out as usual with some hard blocks and take downs. Polly Rocket is hurting today after Sk8 Crime's tackle.

On the jamming side, even Ruff'n the Passer's mom was impressed with Sadistic Sadie's skill. She really kept the team in it during the second bout. In one jam, the Gem City jammer got an early jump on Sadie and she was waving her fist in the air through the turn to excite the crowd. However, she didn't have much of a jump and wasn't watching Sadie. Sadie caught up to her at full speed while the Gem City girl was waving and Sadie gave her a hard shoulder block that sent her into the crowd. That electrified the Cinci crowd.

A lot of Cinci skaters contributed as jammers as there was a lot of rotation. Emolition, one of the newer skaters, showed a lot of promise as a jammer. The Cincinnati crowd wasn't always sure of the scoring. There was one jam in particular where Gummilove was against the Gem City jammer in the penalty box for 3/4 of the time. The jam ended up Gem City 3 and Cinci 2. A Cincinnati fan behind me shouted "how is that possible?" We all agreed!

Despite the Cincinnati Rollergirl losses, it was a nice event. Thanks to all the Roller Girls from both cities for volunteering their time to put on the charity event.

First Lego League Competition

Getting Ready for the Next MissionOn Saturday morning, Dianne and I went to the Cincinnati area First Lego League competition at the Loveland middle school. For those not familiar with the FLL, check out their website. The league is a means to get kids thinking about math, science, and engineering in a fun way by using Lego robots to perform tasks. But it goes beyond the Lego toys aspect by evaluating teamwork, requiring background research, and looking at communication and understanding. It's a neat program. The theme this year was nanotechnology.

We went especially to see the Teeny Tiny Techno Team participate in the table top, robot aspect of the event. The team is coached by Kyle (who Dianne works with) and Tresha. In this aspect of the competition, the robot tries to complete as many pre-defined tasks as possible in 2 1/2 minutes. The tasks have varying degrees of difficulty and so have different point values. They had three rounds of competition and the TTTT improved each round! I posted a few photos from the event in this Flickr set. You can read more about the other parts of the event and the outcome here and here. The team should be very proud of themselves!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Kent Pietsch Animated GIF

One of the regular performers at the Reno Air Show is Kent Pietsch in his Interstate Cadet. You can read more about Kent and his brother at their website. He does several different performances including a comedy act and a dead stick performance to a spot landing. However, my favorite is the stunt where he lands his plane on a moving RV. The platform on the RV has two shallow depressions near the front that match the footprint of the main landing gear. Kent touches down and gets the gear in the depressions and stops on the RV. By the time the RV gets up to speed, he only has a few seconds to land and there isn't much room for error. It is amazing to watch.

Last September at Reno, I took several photos during one of his attempts to land on a very windy day. The winds were gusting so bad even one of the biplane races was cancelled. I didn't think he'd try it with such a light plane. I put them together into the animated GIF below. I know, a video camera would be better. I just felt like playing with the series of still photos. In one of the early frames you see the wind sock straight out. It was close, but he didn't make it on this attempt. In fact on the last frame you see the tail go down and the front wheels come up as he pulled away to set up for another try.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ketchup with French Fries

Lunch at KPMHIn my last post I mentioned Dianne and I had lunch at the Portsmouth airport. Here is a picture of our lunches after we added ketchup to our respective plates. Note the difference in how the ketchup is applied. It was classic! When you have a platter of fries, do you drizzle your ketchup or make a pool and dip the fries? Can you guess which platter was Dianne's and which was mine? Leave a comment with your answers.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Weekend Flying Destinations

Tony at kpmh 2On Friday, Dianne and I flew to the greater Portsmouth airport for lunch at the Skyline restaurant on the field. For Cincinnati folks, it's not a chili parlor. That's just the name of the restaurant. It's just a simple, old sit down spot in the terminal building. It's about a 45 minute flight and it was a beautiful, warm day. Dianne took a picture of me in front of the Tiger with the cell phone -- I forgot the big camera. On the way we flew over the Kenwood mall and the Eastgate mall areas and both were packed with cars. I was glad we were in the air and not looking for parking and dealing with the holiday shoppers.
iraqi apc at kpmh
The airport has a captured Iraqi personnel carrier on the field as a veterans memorial. You can read more about it (sort of) in this picture of the stone near the apc. You can see Dianne (just barely) behind the Iraqi personnel carrier.

On Sunday, I flew south to Middlesboro, KY. It was another beautiful day to fly. The winds were light and the few clouds in the Cincinnati area were very high. I think this is the first airport I've ever flown to that doesn't have an instrument approach. The reason for that is the Middlesboro airport is located in a roughly bowl shaped valley in the low Appalachian mountains near the Tennessee border. Some of the mountains are about 2000 feet above the airport and are only a few miles away. You have to make a steep, non-standard approach to land at the airport. Tony at 1A6It was the first time I've flown into an airport in the mountains. It was good experience since the winds were light. You can see some of the mountains in the background of this picture of the Tiger on the ramp at Middlesboro.

The reason I flew there is the airport is the home to the Lost Squadron museum. The museum was established to display the Glacier Girl -- a P-38 the group recovered from the icecap in Greenland. Read more about the history and the recovery story at their website. They removed the plane in pieces through a tunnel in the ice, brought it back here, and restored it to flying condition. Unfortunately, the plane wasn't at the museum today! The Glacier Girl made a trip to Nellis AFB in Las Vegas for the air show and is spending the winter in California. That was disappointing. She should be back for a couple weeks in May or June before recreating the flight to England that it never completed in 1942. Even though I didn't see the lightning, it was a nice trip to Middlesboro. Your can see the set of pictures I took at the field and in the museum.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

All-TIME 100

Time magazine has put together a list of the 100 best albums. This is nothing new to those who read Time, but I read about it on the Neverending Rainbow site. You can see the list by decade here. It's fun to review the list and see if your favorite artist or album made the cut. Some of the choices are compilations which are probably good, but not ones I would have included in such a list. Of course you'll notice some of your favorites that didn't make the list. For example, who in their right mind would leave out one of the top selling debut albums ever -- where is Boston in the 70's!?! Also, as Pat pointed out recently, reviewing a list like this brings back memories of people and places associated with the music. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Squirrel Melt

VH1's show "Web Junk 20" is back for a new season that started last week. The weekly show is a countdown of and witty commentary on the latest strange stuff from the internet.

My favorite clip from the first show answered the eternal question of "what's for dinner?" It's a video of a woman taking her son squirrel hunting and then cooking squirrel melt. Here is the whole clip. They claimed it was a segment from an actual TV series. Mmm...mmm...good!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast

A few weeks ago I was on a business trip to upstate New York. I stayed at Fred's Inn and had a nice dinner there of an apple raisin stuffed chicken breast. Today I tried coming up with my own version that was veggie and raisin safe for Dianne. It turned out pretty well.

The key was Jack Lalanne's power juicer. I juiced three apples (two Braeburn and one Granny Smith). I took all the pulp (about 2 cups) and added about a cup of bread crumbs and a few tablespoons of the juice, some sage, thyme, and parsley. That was the stuffing. I made a pocket in each boneless, skinless chicken breast, filled it with stuffing, and tied it shut. Dianne browned the breasts and then we finished them in a 350 degree oven until the internal temp was well above 165. It took about 30 minutes.

I deglazed the pan with about 1 1/2 cups of the apple juice and some white wine. I also added a bit of thyme, sage, and pepper. I reduced that down and added just a bit of cornstarch to thicken slightly. To balance the sweet flavor, I added a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. I used that sauce on top of the chicken when plating.

With the chicken, we had sauteed green beans with lemon zest and a cheese hashbrown casserole. It was a good dinner -- the chicken had a nice, savory apple flavor. It was a pretty good imitation of the dinner I had at Fred's Inn.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Aqua Bouncer

I like watching Parental Control on MTV. Parents interview candidates and choose two new people for their son or daughter to date. The parents hope their kid will make a new connection in order to get rid of the bad person their kid is currently seeing. The parents and the current girlfriend or boyfriend watch the dates together and comment. It's hard to believe how obnoxious and disrespectful most of these kids are to the parents. It's fun to predict who the parents will choose and then predict if their son or daughter will stick with their current date or dump them and pick one of the new people.

On a recent episode, one of the new people arranged a water adventure with an aqua bouncer. It's a self propelled, hydrofoil like platform that moves forward as you bounce up and down. You can see a video of folks using it here. It looked like fun. However, it wasn't enough to make a connection on the date.

Friday, November 17, 2006

US City Data

Looking for information about a US city? I was looking up something and found the City-Data.com site today. The site has basic information (e.g. climate, population, housing costs, crime rates, radio/TV stations, maps, etc.) on many US cities. It reminds me of an almanac in many ways. I found it interesting to browse. For example, I knew Cincinnati didn't get as much sunshine as other places I've lived. However, we're well below the national average -- especially in the winter months. I also found out Cincinnati is the birthplace of Charles Manson and Steven Spielberg among other famous folks. It's fun to look up places you've lived or where you grew up.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Calling All Bengal Fans

Campbell's Chunky soup is running their Click for Cans campaign again this year. Visit chunky.com once a day from now through mid December and vote for your favorite NFL team. Campbell's will donate one can of soup to a local food bank for each pound of weight on the winning team. Right now the Packers are way out in first place.

But Campbell's will also donate 2006 cans of soup to a local food bank of the team that improves the most from last year. Right now the Bengals are in the lead for most improved. Click here to go to the voting page and vote for the Bengals. It's a quick and easy way to help the Freestore Food Bank aid needy folks in our area. And spread the word.

Thanks to the Foodie Report for pointing out the contest.

Cheap Thrills Cuisine

Planning a meal but tired of reading traditional cookbooks? Do you like comic books or graphic novels? Time to check out Cheap Thrills Cuisine. CTC is a syndicated comic strip that presents illustrated recipes. If you don’t have CTC in your newspaper, or you don’t read the paper, you can check out the strip online at the United Media site. Thanks to the Foo Logs for pointing out this strip.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Always Room for Innovation

Nails have been around for a long time. I would have thought that nail design would have been…well…nailed down by now. But I was wrong. Popular Science posted their picks for the best of what is new in 2006. In the Home Tech category, the top innovation is a new nail, designed by Bostitch, called the HurriQuake nail. It’s an improved design to better withstand nature’s fury during hurricanes and earthquakes. A neat innovation without adding much cost.

Another innovative item that caught my eye in the Home Tech category is the X-beam wrench. It’s another example of a simple twist on an old design that lets you push against the wide, flat portion of a wrench rather than along the narrow edge. Presumably it shouldn’t add much cost either. I would guess adding the twist has some strength implications for the wrench, but for everyday applications the added comfort seems like a good idea.

Check out the Popular Science site for picks in other categories.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Foodie Report

Thanks to Lauren for pointing out The Foodie Report blog. From the title, folks in the Cincinnati area might think it's related to Jungle Jims (note the foodie poll on the lower right of the JJ page). If you've been to the store, you know what I mean. But that's not the case.

The Foodie Report is a collection of food, restaurant, and recipe related items posted by several members of the staff at the Cincinnati Enquirer. With multiple authors, there is a nice variety of posts so you're sure to find something of interest -- especially if you are in the Cincinnati area. Although interesting in a train wreck kind of way, I was kind of grossed out by this Foodie Report post about an alternative recipe for stuffing a turkey. I've never had a slider so I hadn't heard of that stuffing recipe.

Check it out and be sure to leave a comment. Jim Borgman mentioned a while back that the paper's Big Brother tracks comment numbers as one measure of success. If that were the case here, I'd have closed up shop along time ago.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Black Bean Cakes

black bean cakesLast night we made black bean cakes for dinner. We made them loosely based on this recipe from Emeril Lagasse on Food TV. However, we made some changes to ease preparation and to account for someone's issues with onions and other veggies. We used two 15 ounce cans of black beans (rinsed) for the main ingredient. About four seeded chipotles from a 7 ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is the main seasoning. We also added garlic, cumin, and ground red pepper. To coat the cakes before cooking, we seasoned panko rather than flour. Otherwise, the preparation is like that described in Emeril's recipe.

Dianne chopped the remaining chipotle peppers (with the seeds) and used them directly to top her bean cakes. That's way too much heat for me. I topped mine with salsa made using the adobo sauce, diced tomatoes, and some lime juice. We had roasted corn to go with it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Week at a Glance

This Venn diagram gives a glimpse at my activities last week. Work was out of control with deadlines looming or things past due but out of my control. Not a good place to be. The one fun item was Wednesday evening. I had a meeting downtown in the late afternoon so afterwards I met Dianne at work. We walked across the Purple People Bridge to have dinner in Newport. I thought that was a nice walk until I heard this story about a couple walking in the same area just one day later. Yikes!

Playing With Photoshop

One of Many

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Antimicrobial Gadgets

All you gadget loving germ-o-phobes will love these items. One will give you a clean exit from a restroom and the other will give you peace of mind when eating spinach.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

T-Mail and E-Mail

There is a relatively new book out by Tom Wheeler called “Mr. Lincoln’s T-mails – The Untold Story of how Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War”. I haven’t read the book – I’m not a big Civil War buff. From the title I thought the book would be tied too heavily to Civil War events to be of interest. However, I stumbled across this site by the author where he shares his impressions of Lincoln’s communication style and its implications for our current age of emails and on-line social networks. I’ve experienced some of the situations he brings up (e.g. the value of a face to face meeting on occasion) and I agree with his comments. His insights and the parallels to communication modes of today are interesting. Check out the link. I guess there is a lot to learn from history.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

TGIED!

Thank God It's Election Day!

I voted today - mostly because of the city income tax issue that is indirectly linked to the fate of the Blue Ash airport. But being able to vote on that issue isn't why I'm excited about election day. In fact the outcome of the issue is really secondary to me.

I'm happy for two reasons. First, there won't be back-to-back negative, mud slinging local campaign commercials on TV. It's been a media blitz the last couple weeks. The vast majority of ads here were bashing the opposition. I only saw a couple commercials where candidates said anything about their position on issues or what they would do if elected (like that comes true anyway). This mid-term election seemed like the worst for negative campaigning. Second, I'll stop getting voicemail messages from candidates or party organizations. Maybe I'm more sensitive since we dropped our landline, but I was getting two or more messages a day -- also mostly negative. Those campaign calls and pollsters far outweighed the annoying telemarketers this past month.

Hopefully I'll have a couple years of peace before the next presidential campaign.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Animal Crossing -- I Don't Get It

DS Animal Crossing2aI get a lot of blog hits looking at this photo of the screen from my Animal Crossing Wild World game on the Nintendo DS. Here is a link to the original post. It's not a great photo. The light was low and the character was moving so it is blurred. Most of the hits come from overseas. Lately, this entry can account for almost 20% of the visits to Earl World. Perhaps there was a re-launch of the game in Europe? I'm not complaining, but I'd like to understand why folks are so interested. I'd appreciate it if someone viewing this post would leave a comment about what led them here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Flying on Sunday Again

I took a local flight today in the Tiger. It was cloudy, but the cloud layer was pretty high so it was ok to fly visually. I flew southeast and circled East Fork Lake, went south to the Meldahl lock and dam and then followed the Ohio river east. I followed the river until I got to the tributary coming in near Higginsport. I followed this stream northeast to Georgetown. I had never been to the Brown county airport. After looking around there, I flew northwest toward home. Most of this area is rural and forested. About 75% of the trees have lost their leaves. There was just a bit of real and yellow left.

To set up for entry into the traffic pattern, I went a bit more north and flew over the new hotel and indoor water park (Great Wolf Lodge) at King's Island. The hotel has two large wings with what I guess is the indoor waterpark in the center. The waterpark has three large tubes coming out of and going back inside the building. They must be for water slides. It looks like there is still a lot of landscaping work to do before opening. From there I returned to Blue Ash.

I also want to pass along two interesting flying links. The first is a blog written by a guy taking flying lessons. He doesn't post too frequently, but they are interesting for student pilots and pilots alike. The second site is a flash piece that chronicles a long cross country flight made by two brothers from California. They have some amazing photos that give some insight into what you can see from the air.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday in Bellevue

Di in NewportSaturday afternoon Dianne and I drove down to Bellevue Kentucky - just across the river from Cincinnati. Dianne wanted to get a pretzel sandwich for lunch from a place called Love Me Knots. She has been there for lunch several times, but I had never been. I had a Montgomery Inn BBQ sandwich on a pretzel roll. It was good. If you're in the Bellevue area and are looking for a sandwich, it's worth a try.

After lunch we stopped briefly at the Party Source that is just down the street from the pretzel place. We picked up a couple things and then drove to the river to walk a bit. Even though the temperature was 52, there was no direct sun and the wind was chilly so we didn't stay out long. Here is Dianne with a view of downtown Cincinnati through the Daniel Carter Beard bridge -- better known locally as the "Big Mac" bridge for obvious reasons.

More Fall Color

Fall color Maple 3When I returned home yesterday after a 3 day trip to upstate New York, I was amazed at how fast the maple tree outside our place had changed color. I like the way the sunlight was filtered through the upper leaves. Click on the photo to see a larger version. I also added some other photos I took yesterday. Browse through the photostream or the leaf set on the right side of the Flickr window.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pictures From SRS IV

Jason Bechtel has posted pictures from the fourth Cincinnati Rollergirl exhibition match on Flickr. There is a set for the Dames and Corset match and a set for the Riots and Sundae match. The photo at left is a nice shot of The Librarian sprinting hard at the start of a jam to beat Psycho Soy Nut through the first turn. Another photo in Jason's photo sets is the best "Where's Waldo" picture.

Also, Miss Print has asked for feedback on the Cincinnati Rollergirl exhibition season. As a blogger, I know how nice it is to get a comment on a post. If you attended a match, click on the link to go over and leave a comment.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Shoulder Update

I’ve noticed every now and then I get blog hits from people who searched for information on shoulder injuries, frozen shoulder, broken arm, physical therapy, and/or manipulation under anesthesia or MUA. That observation, and the fact that I saw my old physical therapist at the gym recently, prompted this post.

As background, I cracked my humerus last January in a fall that is best recapped by Dianne in this post. No cast was needed and there wasn’t major soft tissue damage, but the orthopedist didn’t want me using the arm until the crack started to heal. At that point (I should say after some delay due to workers comp paperwork) I started physical therapy. By then, my range of motion had decreased a lot. A common problem with a shoulder injury.

I went through a lot of painful stretching during physical therapy to get those muscles back to a normal range of motion. There are way too many muscles in a shoulder. I described a bit of the saga in this post. Early on, my therapist showed me an article on shoulder rehab that gave a mean time to regain strength and range of about 16 weeks. The standard deviation was quite large with some folks taking easily twice that time. Also, most people only recover about 90% of their original range (based on contralateral measurements).

When I was talking with her last week at the gym (just over 3 months since I stopped therapy), my old therapist was pleased that my range is nearly equal to the opposite shoulder and the strength is very good. She was happy that I’ve kept working at it and that I continued to improve after I left her care. She mentioned the hardest thing for her to do is to keep patients motivated. In this age she said everyone wants results immediately. In shoulder rehab, it doesn’t usually happen that way. However, she said there is a good payoff for folks that stick with a program and keep working at it.

So to those of you dealing with a shoulder injury that find this post through a Google search, I have two bits of advice. First, it can be a long road to recovery, but stick with it. Keep stretching and building your strength. The outcome can be good. Second, don’t pick a blog hit in your search results for detailed information. Go to WebMD or a credible site to get the real scoop on shoulder rehabilitation – or better yet ask your orthopedist or physical therapist.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Crispy Gnocchi

A few weeks ago, I saw a post on the 101 Cookbooks site describing a recipe that incorporated crispy gnocchi. The term crispy jumped out at me since I've experienced some starchy messes when boiling potato gnocchi. The concept of frying a gnocchi sounded intriguing, although I wasn't sold on the whole recipe.

A couple weeks ago I tried preparing crispy gnocchi. I used olive oil and had a lot of sticking problems in the pan. They weren't crisping up well as the crispy parts were sticking to the pan. I was almost done making them when I realized I didn't have the pan hot enough at the start.

I tried the experiment again recently. This time I used grapeseed oil. The higher smoking point of the grapeseed oil lets you get the pan hot without breaking down the oil. As soon as I tossed them in the pan, I gave a quick toss to coat the gnocchi with oil. After a few minutes they had a nice golden brown crust without sticking to the pan. It only requires a couple tablespoons of oil. Give it a try as a side.

Sucking the Fun Out

Dianne has a nice post about Google's beta image labeler. I was using it this weekend and thought it was fun. Sometimes you click with a partner and your labels match right away and you move on to the next image. However, I just couldn't match labels from some partners on straightforward pictures. The interface tells you how many labels your partner has assigned. In many cases my partner would assign three and then stop. Nice effort I thought. I'm busting my brain trying to figure out how they'd label an image and they're not adding labels. I'd put in a half dozen suggestions without any luck. Eventually I'd get them to pass and move on to the next image. With that poor effort, we might only see 3-4 images over the 90 seconds. Boring.

After reviewing a few sets of images, I saw one image of a group of people that had a label of 'diphosphonate'. That term caught my attention because of my work in the bone field. Originally, disphosphonates were used as corrosion inhibitors in closed, circulating water systems and also as water softening agents. In the '60s, folks realized that the attraction diphosphonates have for calcium could be leveraged for bone diseases. Today, many of the osteoporosis medications like Didronel, Actonel, Fosamax, Aredia, etc. are all in the bisphosphonate class (another word for diphosphonates). I thought that was an odd label for a group of smiling people. How could that happen?

After several more sets, I realized holding the cursor over the top of a classified image showed the labels entered by your partner. When I was having trouble matching a partner, I looked at their 3 labels on an image we passed on. I think the image was the portrait of a woman and their labels were diphosphonate, carcinoma, and beleaguered. There is no way I would have matched those labels. Then it dawned on me, some idiots were trying to Google bomb the image classification. They were using odd, unique terms that would cause certain types of images to show up when Google searching for that term.

Those Google bombers just sucked the fun out of the Labeler for me. When I was having trouble matching someone, I'd check their labels immediately after passing on an image. If they were odd terms, I'd leave and start a new set with a different partner. Once again I'm reminded of the kids who didn't play nice in grade school. Were these crappy partners the crazy drivers I described the other week? Can't we all just get along and enjoy a fun little web experiment on image labeling at face value?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pumpkin Carving

FS Pumpkin lightEV Pumpkin darkInstead of the traditional scary pumpkin carving, we did some logos this year. Dianne did the logo on the very upper left of this webpage and I did the lightbulb logo in the lower left of the screenshot on the same page. We cut some areas completely through and other areas we shaved part way through the flesh from the outside to get a 2 tone effect. It was fun and we kept the seeds for the birds. You can see light and dark versions of both pumpkins on Flickr.

Super Roll Sunday IV -- Cincinnati Rollergirls

It was a packed house last night at Castle Skateland for the last set of matches of the Cincinnati Rollergirls exhibition season. Both matches were very exciting, seesaw battles.

In the first bout, the undefeated Dames took on the Corsets. Going in I thought it would be a good match….but it turned out to be a very exciting match! They were just a couple points apart one way or the other the whole match. The Corsets seemed to kick it up a notch to try and knock off the Dames. Although always strong defensively led by Collier Mama, there was a lot of blocking teamwork going on. They were not only trying to take out the Dames’ jammers, but also trying to box in the Dames’ blockers so the Corset jammers could get through the pack quicker. The Dames were doing the same thing however, so it made for a rough skate in the pack. Sk8 Crime had some great jams (which made her mom very proud), but Blu Bayou, Bex Pistol, and the Librarian (and others?) were all contributing jammers. The Librarian deserves a most improved skater award as it seemed she picked up her speed a lot since SRS III. She was really sprinting hard off the line and even from the outside position she beat some of the Dames jammers through the first and second turns. In the end, with Sadistic Sadie as jammer for the last two jams, the Dames edged out the Corsets by a couple points.

In the second bout, the Riots skated against the Sundaes. I’ve been pulling for the Riots all season, but they’ve had a tough time. I was hoping they could pull off a win and in another close match they edged out the Sundaes. Congratulations to the Riots for their first win! This was a high scoring match and also a close match most of the way. The first jam after the half, the Riot jammer was put in the penalty box (I missed the reason why). This put them behind. A couple jams later with some of the Sundae skaters in the penalty box, Gummilove had a 17 point jam that got the lead back for the Riots. With some tough jamming and hard takedowns in the later jams, the Riots held on to their lead to beat the Sundaes.

It was nice to see a full crowd in the stands. The crowd was into it which added to the fun. There was a lot of cheering during the jams (especially for the Dames) as well as collective gasping at some of the hard hits and falls. Some spectators dressed in costume (especially kids) and the Rollergirls were passing out candy and other items which was nice. Maybe it‘s an illusion because the Skateland venue is smaller than the other rinks, but it seems like you’re closer to the action there – I’m guessing their floor is more narrow than the other rinks. That’s nice. I also liked the new pair of announcers last night. Finally, Sk8 Crime and L’dia did a very nice a cappella version of the national anthem.

I didn’t talk to Miss Print, but I hope she continues providing Rollergirl updates on her blog during the off season and I hope the league continues. Thanks to all the Rollergirls for bringing some hard hitting roller derby action to the Cincinnati area!

Friday, October 27, 2006

This I Believe in Cincinnati

One of our local public radio stations, WVXU, is starting a Cincinnati version of "This I Believe" segments where people share core values and beliefs that guide their lives. The segment aired today on WVXU was written by Lisa Dunlap, a person I've worked with on several projects. It's a great essay on giving and receiving that is a true reflection of her character. You can read her essay here or click on the play button to hear Lisa read it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Embed a Flickr Slideshow

I just read a post on the download squad site on how to embed a slideshow in a blog. Here is a test from my autumn leaf set of photos. For some reason I couldn't get the photoset option to works, but the tags option seems to work fine. I'm curious about the load time. Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Interview with Omega 3

As Dianne pointed out in a recent post, the fourth and last exhibition season bout for the Cincinnati Rollergirls on October 29th is approaching fast. Tickets are now available through the Cincinnati Rollergirls site. The start time is a bit later so all the Bengals fans can watch the game and make the match. I just noticed the Roller Derby Diva’s blog had a link to an interview that Randomville did with Omega 3, the Rollergirls’ coach. It’s a short interview, but it explains her choice of Omega 3 as a nom de patinage a roulettes (OK…it’s not as catchy as nom de plume for a writer).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Flying on Sunday

I flew a bit this afternoon. It's nice flying when the temperature and humidity are lower. The performance of the plane improves a lot when the density of the air goes up. I notice it most on climbing. It was a bit cloudy so the light wasn't the best, but you can see from the photo below (taken about 2500 feet above the Caesar's Creek area) that the trees are looking very pretty after several cold mornings.
Caesars Creek2

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bloglines and Google Reader

I read a lot of blogs – probably too many. I look at a wide range of topics such as news highlights, gadget/tech info, science, humor, and recipes as well as family and friend sites. To keep up with the posts, I use RSS feeds rather than visiting each blog. It’s a quick way to scan through all the posts and pick ones to read in detail or mark for further comment. My RSS aggregator of choice is Bloglines. I’ve had posts about Bloglines here and here. It’s been relatively stable, it's easy to set up, and has nice features. However, I’m always willing to try something new.

I was reading a post on Micro Persuasion that was downplaying Bloglines and talking about a new RSS aggregator product from Google called Google Reader. It praised the new product and included a link to a Lifehacker post that compared Bloglines to Google Reader. Again, it gave high praise and pointed out some interesting features of the Google Reader. The Lifehacker article did point out that it’s a Google Labs product, however it seemed to be very stable. The Google Labs page clearly says these aren't ready for primetime, but I was intrigued by the reviewer's experiences and I like Google Notebook that is also still in the Labs. I should have learned my lesson with my Writely beta experience, but I’m a Google fan, so I thought I’d try it out.

I can’t disagree more with the Google Reader satisfaction expressed in the posts from Micro Persuasion and Lifehacker. I’ve tried Google Reader with both Firefox and IE on two separate computers running Windows XP and have had problems with accessing feeds from both. It always messes up what is read and what is displayed when the feed list is updated – unlike Bloglines that now has a nice update procedure. The Google Reader badge of interesting items didn’t work with my blog either. The page link worked ok, but who wants to ‘pull’ items in this era of web 2.0? After a couple days of trying to look at feeds, I gave up. It was too frustrating. At this point, the bugs far outweigh the added features. I’m happy for those who have the right system to make it work, but I’m not in that list.

Bottom line is I'm sticking with Bloglines! Although the Google Reader features sound interesting, I’m going to wait until it’s out of Google Labs and stable before I even think about switching.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fall Color

leaf 4

Click here for a few other leaf photos.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dunbar Number Equals Zero

I posted about Dunbar's Number and the monkeysphere (or ape ball as Dianne likes to call it). Dunbar's theory says the size of the neocortex and it's processing capability limits the number of stable relationships a person can maintain. Since the roots of his theory come from observations of non-human primates, it's sometimes referred to as the monkeysphere. Folks outside of the monkeysphere may be ignored or even treated harshly – as observed with groups of monkeys. On a couple morning commutes last week, I realized that a person's Dunbar number isn't constant. While driving, I think my number went to zero.

My short commute to work usually takes about 15-20 minutes. Traffic is pretty heavy as the interstate exit I use feeds many companies that have large office buildings. When things get snarled, the travel time goes up a lot. Last Wednesday morning a bad accident on the interstate closed a couple lanes for awhile and I heard shut down the interstate briefly so air care could land and transport someone to the hospital. That day it took me about 50 minutes to get to work! Last Thursday morning traffic was slow due to a body found under the interstate bridge at my exit. That morning I almost hit a driver that was changing lanes right in front of me without signaling. He continued lane changing and cutting off others just so he could get a couple car lengths ahead by the time we got to the stoplight at the end of the exit ramp.

The traffic delays didn't bother me – that's an unfortunate side effect created by someone's misfortune. What bothers me is the way people handle the situation. Drivers will accelerate and brake excessively to tailgate in an attempt to block people from changing lanes. That makes folks who want to change lanes even more aggressive. They often don't use signals (that's just a sign of weakness) and will simply ease over and muscle their way in or make a dangerous, sudden move just to get a few feet ahead! When that happens, I can't help but think people driving like that were the people who cut in lines at school or didn't play well with others in the sandbox. The rough commute would go much smoother if everyone would take their turn when merging, drive steady to stay the course, and accept a couple minute delay.

As I was crawling along observing all the crazy driving behaviors, it occurred to me how cars are mostly faceless. When you're going really slow you can see drivers immediately around you, but not well. Instead, the car is the focus -- an unfamiliar object and not a person I have any relationship with. In effect, when I'm commuting by myself my Dunbar number is zero. Generally I have no relationship to other cars on the road as it's rare to recognize a car of someone I know. Without any commuter relationships, folks make sudden moves or cuts to get ahead without feeling bad. I see it as a form of harsh treatment of those outside the monkeysphere. It's every car for themselves in a traffic jam. All respect for others or courteous behavior goes out the window. And yet, I assume, when they arrive at their destination they have normal, civil interactions with coworkers and friends.

So although Dunbar's theory links number to brain size, I think there is also a contextual component as evidenced by the road rage/traffic jam behaviors we've all seen.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Picnic

Woodland MoundIt was another beautiful day today. It was perfect weather for an employee picnic for the company Dianne works for. It was held at Woodland Mound park. There was a catered lunch and lots of activities for the adults and kids. I have a few pictures of the cornhole games (a beanbag toss), the water balloon toss, and a couple examples of the pumpkin decorating by the kids. It was a nice picnic and it was nice to meet some of the new people in the company.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tall Stacks

Tall Stacks_047Dianne and I went to the Tall Stacks event today. For the out-of-towners, Tall Stacks is a riverboat and music celebration held every four years or so to remember Cincinnati's river heritage. Riverboats from all over the country come to Cincinnati for the event. We had never been and went this year thanks to getting tickets from our neighbors. There is a lot to see including riverboats, people dressed in period costumes, food, tents for businesses, a working dock for the period, music, etc. See all my pictures in my Tall Stacks set on Flickr.

We walked across the Purple People Bridge (we saw quite a few people doing the bridge climb) from Cincinnati to Newport and had something to eat and drink in Newport. We also went to see the movie Flyboys at the theatre in Newport. We walked back across the Taylor-Southgate bridge just as the sun was setting. Dianne was a trooper and stuck it out to see the hot air balloon glow. It was a beautiful day to walk around the event. Glad we got to take it in this year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fall in the Air

Fall06The mornings are getting cool, it's getting dark earlier, and some of the leaves here are changing color. Here is a view in our neighborhood. It's a pretty time of year. The other night, Dianne and I went for a walk and we were crunching acorns on the sidewalk under our feet. That action brought back memories of Fall as a kid trying to squeeze in some play time in the nice weather -- before having to bundle up for outdoor fun in the winter. The acorns given up by the oak trees in the Fall were not only useful to the squirrels getting ready for winter, they were also good ammo for us in mock battles or as a diversion tool to distract the searcher during a game of tin can alley. Do kids do stuff like that anymore or is that just too crazy in the video game, cell phone, and MySpace era?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rollergirls' SRS 3 Photos

TixIn case you missed the Cincinnati Rollergirl action at the Florence Fundome, you can read more about it on the Roller Derby Diva's blog and on Sk8 Crime's blog. Sk8 Crime also has photos of her battle scars. I can only imagine how sore her opponents are today!

As usual, Jason Bechtel has posted some great photos from the match in his Flickr pool. His photos give a good idea of how tough the blocking was. I'm guessing he'll post another set for the other match of the day. Check out all his sets here. He has some nice non-roller derby photos too! His photo below is a nice shot of Sadistic Sadie as a jammer and Collier Mama as a pivot for the Dames with Miss Print of the Riots to the right.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cincinnati Roller Girls SRS 3

Today was Super Roll Sunday III for the Cincinnati Rollergirls. Dianne and I went to see the matches at the Florence Fundome. The Dames of Destruction took on the Cincinnati Riots in the first match and the Bloody Sundaes skated against the Full Metal Corsets in the second match.

First Match:
The first match was a bit of a blowout. The Dames, even after losing several points after the half for an illegal formation penalty, won easily. Sadistic Sadie was zooming around the track once again. It's amazing how she can weave through the pack without losing her momentum. In the clear, she really zips around the track. There were a couple of jams where she actually lapped the Riot jammer! Besides having some good jams, she was also good at coordinating the team and blocking when she was in the pack. Collier Mama, skating for the Dames, had some great blocks once again. In general, everyone was blocking much better. However, the increased blocking and speed translated to a lot of skaters falling hard. Skinnie Minnie went down hard and hurt her leg (hamstring?).

In the second half of the first match, the coach Omega 3 skated over to the stands to get another view of the skaters. She sat down in the area near where we were sitting -- an area filled with friends of Big Dog Mama (a Dames skater). Unknowingly she sat between some Mama fans and started cheering for the Riots. One of Big Dog Mama's friends leaned over very politely and explained that about 10 people around Omega were Dames fans. I thought it was hilarious she happened to sit in that spot and make some noise for the Riots! Omega 3 asked if there were any Riots fans and I think Dianne and I were the only ones in the area.

Second Match:
This match was much more exciting since the score was closer. The Corsets had an early lead thanks to a great jam by Sk8 Crime but the Sundaes clawed their way back and were within a point with about 7 minutes to go. The blocking was tough in this match as well. Again Collier Mama was blocking like crazy. She was working hard at staying in front of and blocking the opposing jammer. However, a couple times she got going too fast in order to stay ahead and ended up skating away from the pack. Unfortunately, the refs then forced her to let the jammer pass and slow down to rejoin the pack. The worst incident of this match was when L'dia de Muerta gave Blu Bayou (the jammer) a hard block to the outside. Blu Bayou went down and skidded to a stop in front of the Sundae bench. L'dia's momentum took her off the outside of the track as well, but she tried to stop while standing. She couldn't and ended up going into the wall near the bench. L'dia sat out the rest of the match.

Near the end of the match with the Sundaes catching up, Sk8 Crime made a good play by taking out the Sundae jammer to slow her down. Sk8 Crime didn't just block the jammer, she grabbed the jammer around the waist and spun her to the ground hard! Although Sk8 Crime got sent to the penalty box for the takedown, the Sundae jammer was so far out of scoring position at that point the Corset win was assured.

Overall Impressions
We enjoyed SRS III. There was a lot of hard blocking and teamwork in both matches. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of bruised and sore Rollergirls tomorrow! The Fundome, although a bit of a drive for us, is a nice facility and the concessions were managed well. The halftime entertainment was good. Unfortunately, the crowd was probably hurt by the Bengals game that also started at 4. Although it was a beautiful day for a football game, I'll bet some of those Bengals fans wished they had gone to SRS III. They'll have one more chance to catch the action at Castle Skateland on October 29th.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Photo Sudoku

Here is a neat site that lets you create and play an image based sudoku game using photos in the Flickr pool. You can create puzzles based on tags or by user. Solve them by clicking on a picture and then clicking on the square where it belongs. Here is a puzzle created from a hamster tag. Here is a puzzle I created from my Flickr photos. This should take Michelle about a minute to solve.

Friday, September 29, 2006

E-mails from Africa

I just have to share this series of emails from Africa. I’m really lucky I received an email at work today from the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Here is a bit of the email:

OUR REF: CBN/FGN/CPN/01-5/XA/06

Date: 22nd sept 2006

RE: DIRECTIVES ON IMMEDIATE PAYMENT OF
YOUR OUTSTADING FUND WITH FGN
From the records of outstanding contractors due for payment with the Federal Government of Nigeria, your name and company was discovered as next on the list of the outstanding Contractors & Will Recipient that has not yet received their payment. I wish to inform you that your payment is being processed and will be released to you as soon as you respond to this important message. We equally discovered that some group of people posing as central bank governor is in contact with you based on this payment as a result of their selfish interest or aim as it will boil down to inability of them doing anything for you based on this circumstance because they are impostors and are working on the official payment data/information’s they cloned from the central bank official payment gazette which made them to contact you. You are hereby advice to stop any further correspondence with them for your security.

You should note that from records in our file, your outstanding contract payment will be paid to you ,Kindly re-confirm the followings details to this office=

1) Your full name.
2) Phone, fax and mobile #.
3) Company name, position and address.
4) Profession, age and marital status.
5) Expecting amount
6) Scan copy of your int'l passport or driving license for the purpose of identification.

As soon as these information’s are received, your payment will be made to you in a certified bank cheque or wired to your nominated bank account by electronic swift transfer directly from Central Bank of Nigeria.


Wow….you can fill in the expecting amount! They don’t even ask for an account number. I guess that must already be in their files. If I hadn’t received that email, I never would have realized that this email I received earlier in the day was a fake.

I hope this mail will not embarrass you since we have not had any previous communication, My name is Mr. Peter Odili,I am the governor of Rivers state in Nigeria. I got your reference from the Nigerian business and proffession promotion council and went further to have it confirmed by your country`s trade department.

I,on behalf of leading council of the Government of Rivers States of Nigeria decided to solicit your assistance as regard to the transfer of theabove stated sum of money into your bank
account.

This fund arose from the state bunkering unit since the Government of the Country does not really compensate our state irrespective of the fact that all the money Nigeria has today is gotten from Rivers State onshore/offshore dichotemy yet we are not well compensated, base on this the council of elders/paramount rulers etc after several delibration resorted that they must be partakers of their God given resources decided to steal this oil and hide them somewhere and sell them to some oil companies in our nearby african countries.

This has been done over and over and the leading council now decided that this funds should be transfered into a foreign account for proper use, it is base on this that I have contacted you, in orderword I am therefore seeking your assistance based on the amount stated above of US$21M
which can be speedily processed and fully be remitted into yournominated bank account.

We will offer you 10% (10 percent) of the total sum for your assistance, 85% will be ours and 5% will be set aside for expenses both parties might make in the course of this transaction.I assure you that this transaction is 100% risk-free,all documents as well as computerized records that
has to do with this fund is in our possession, shall be destroyed immediately after this transaction .We advice you to keep this transaction strictly confidential, we are top Government official and can not afford scandals, you are also adviced to act swifty because we are running out of time.

For security reasons, I gave this letter to a good friend of mine : Dr. Graham Wood, who came to Nigeria on a diplomatic mission, he is back to his base in London, I have ask him to contact you directly and as soon as he gets your reply he will notify me and I will contact you directly, Dr.
Graham Wood is also not happy over the waythe Government is treating this part of the country,I will send you my personal phone and fax numbers as soon as I hear from you,it is important that you include your own phone and fax numbers for easy communication.

I wait in anticipation of your reply.

Here I thought Peter was telling the truth when the email said his offer was 100% risk free. Sheesh! You can’t trust anyone. I hope Peter’s not waiting too long for a reply. And I’m going to get right on sending a copy of my passport to the Central Bank of Nigeria. Is anybody falling for these crazy spam email schemes to get your bank account “informations”!?! I can’t believe people waste their time sending out millions of these emails (and here I am reproducing them).

While those emails are clearly false, what do you think about the email below that I got from a poor kid who lost all his ‘families’ – except for his evil uncle who he now has to live with? What a ‘sadly’ story!! Although he has to beg for food, he’s lucky to have internet access to ask for help. I don’t recall being a business partner in precious metals, but I did see Precious Metal race at Reno. Perhaps when Cana grows up, he could pitch this heart wrenching story to a Hollywood film studio and get his money back.

Good day to you.

I hope this letter meets you well, My name is Cana David, I will be 15 yrs old on October 19, 2006. I come from southern part of Cote D'Voire. A boarding student of Maria Regina college. My father was dealing on precious metals before his death, while my mother was a gospel
musician.

I am contacting you in respect of my parent's inheritance been abandoned before their untimely death during the February's political terrorist attack in my father's compound. I was in school taking my exams when I was informed that a bomb attack was made in my parents compound on early hours of that sadly day. It was unfortunate that all my families were inside the house when such attack was made. I can neither go into details for now nor express fully my intimate feelings about this sad event. Uncontrolable tears are filled up my eyes as of this moment that I am writing.

However,since then I have taking refuge under my uncle's house who has wickedly and forcefully taken posessions of all my father's inheritance and belongings without giving me any conesnt nor care. As I am writing to you now, my uncle has sold all my father's belonging leaving nothing with me to take care of myself but he used the funds to send his family to Netherland, while I
dont have anything doing now nor even go back to school. I only feed myself with the little casual jobs and begging I do on the street.

Recently, My father's personal attorney informed me about a document containing US$4.2 million which was discovered in one of my late father's file. This is why I am contacting you now, so that you will assist me in retrieving the aforementioned inheritance before my wicked uncle get hold of it. I do not want my uncle to know about this funds as I strongly believe that
this is how God wants to answer my prayers and turn my tears into joy.

The family attorney informed me that as a child at this age,there is no way he would release the document to me, he suggested two opinions (A) To submit the document to my uncle who now represents my family or (B) To submit the document to any of my father's business partner. At this stage and from my bitter experiences with my uncle,I wouldnt want my uncle to have it.
I have already informed the attorney that you are my father's business confidential partner, and that such document will be sent to you to enable you assist me in retrieving the inheritance funds.

Therefore I will like you to contact the attorney immediately so that he will release the documents to you so that the funds will be transferred via your bank account, and after that, you will assist me in moving out from here to meet with you for the investment of the funds.
Below is the contact of the attorney:
BARRISTER SOLACE ADRINOUSOU
ADDRESS:102 RUE DU AEROPORTE
COTONOU-BENIN REPUBLIC
E-MAIL: solace_law_chambers@yahoo.com

Because of your willingness in offering this assistance, I promised to offer you some commissions, but I will seek for your opinion if you can accept to take 25% of the total funds from the funds as soon as it is wired into your bank account.

Furtherly, I will also give you power to invest the balance in any lucrative business in your
country. You will also be managing the investment until I am out from school. The dividends of the investment will be sharing equally.

If you accept this conditions, kindly write to the attorney for the release of the document to you.

For your information, my wicked uncle knows the password to this mailbox, therefore do not reply to me via this address, send your response to my personal address: canadavid@myway.com and also do update me when you contact the attorney.
God bless you so much for your kindness. until I hear from you, I still remain yours,
Cana David


Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Benefit of Exercise?

I had my aviation medical exam today. The exam requires a physician certified by the FAA to identify medical issues related to flying and altitude, so I have to go to someone other than my primary care doctor. It’s a strange office and I’m glad I only have to go once every 2 years. Let me share an observation that is a small illustration of why I feel that way.

While waiting in the reception area, I was reading a homemade flyer prepared by the office. The flyer, posted on the wall, touted the benefits of exercise for prolonging life. After looking at it for a minute, I thought it was a poor motivational tool to promote exercise. In short, the meat of the poster was a table showing how various amounts of exercise per day (30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, etc.) increased your life span. In general, across all amounts of exercise, your lifespan increased by about 66% of the time you invested in exercise. The chart also translated that to an increase in lifespan resulting from a year or 10 years of regular exercise.

I was surprised that information was posted and positioned that way in a doctor’s office. At first glance, I took it as a demotivational tool for exercise. The data showed that the time invested in exercise isn’t giving a great lifespan return. Exercising 30 minutes per day for a year means you use about 7.6 days for exercise that could be used for reading, sleeping, watching roller derby, playing sodoku, or whatever. Doing that amount of exercise for a year only prolongs your life about 5.3 days. So from a time standpoint, I’ve wasted 2.3 days. That’s a few months over the rest of my life. Imagine all the things you could accomplish with a few extra months! And if you cut out the 30 minutes of exercise altogether, that’s about 8 months of ‘extra’ time I’d have over the rest of my life. Wow!

I thought it was odd to look at exercise benefits from a time standpoint alone. I’m really surprised there was no mention about the quality of life benefits of exercise. Although you lose a bit of time, regular exercise should make you feel better over the time you have left and improve the quality of that time by decreasing the risks for diabetes, heart disease, etc. In my mind, that’s the payoff for the time investment in exercise.

I’m just glad I passed my medical exam. Now I'm going to the gym to workout.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Marmaduke Sites

Marmaduke, that zany Great Dane, has been in the papers for over 50 years! You can check out the latest Marmaduke comic here. The Marmaduke run is pretty good since most of the comics aren't that funny. Fortunately, I ran across this site that explains the Marmaduke humor. It's a great site. Also, you can check out the Marmaduke project site that is trying to make the strip funny. Some good laughs at that site too. Apologies to all the Great Dane owners out there.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What to do on a Plane?

While flying, I looked at what people were doing with their time. Quite a few were snoozing. A lot of people were reading paper - either paperback books (very popular), magazines, or newspapers. Close behind paperback books was various sudoku books. That’s the traveler’s puzzle of choice. A few people, like me, were using their laptops. Most of the laptop use wasn’t for entertainment though. Must be the Tuesday business traveler. A lot of people combined one of these activities with some music player like an iPod.

What people weren’t doing was watching the movies –OK, there were a few, but not many. Maybe it was the movie choices (X-Men and Poseidon), but it seems like that would be a potential place to cut cost and save a lot of weight in the plane. The MD-90 I was on had monitors above the seats every couple of rows.

There must be a better way to cater to these activities. Electronic books and news just hasn’t caught fire. If the equipment is good and it is easy to load content, it seems like a good solution for the readers. I’d rather have an electronic device with a variety of books, magazines, and news to reduce what I carry. It seems that would be a greener solution too. But such a device should go further and include a music player and some input device for crossword or sudoku puzzles. You could use it for an individualized movie choice. Sounds like a cross between a Sony reader, an iPod, and a Nintendo DS. Wouldn’t it be cool to fill in entertainment choices when booking your ticket that would be handed to you on a memory card when you check in? Plug it in your device and go. Might as well put my baggage claim checks and boarding pass on there too.

Let’s see, I’d like some easy sudoku, USA Today, Newsweek, the in-flight magazine and Sky Mall along with some guitar blues and classic rock.

Oh, and make sure the devices are shielded so they don’t interfere with navigation. I don’t want some goofball trying to finish his sudoku puzzle to put us below the approach path so we crash short of the runway.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ice Cream is Verbotten

I’m no expert on explosives. However, I learned today that a child’s enzymes can convert ice cream into an explosive mixture that can take down a plane. Either that or the TSA classifies ice cream as a liquid, gel or aerosol.

A little kid was about a third of the way done with an ice cream cone purchased on the concourse and the family was going to board their flight. They were called to board. The TSA agent wouldn’t let the ice cream on the plane. Wow! Wouldn’t a kid get sick if he were eating ice cream with explosives in it? The kid was bawling when they threw out the ice cream to board. I’m glad I wasn’t on that flight!

Thanks, George. I feel much safer flying without kids with ice cream.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Area069Today I drove west of Reno to Truckee and then south to see Lake Tahoe. It was pretty warm in Reno, about 83. Around Lake Tahoe it was a comfortable 72 and in the mountains driving back to Reno it cooled to 63. The highest point was about 8000ft. It is a beautiful area. There are a lot of evergreen trees - a mix of fir, pine and cedar. Every time I got out of the car, there was a lovely pine scent in the air. But judging from the road signs, I think the winters would be tough. There were quite a few places where the road was marked to pull off and install tire chains, and the reflecting posts marking the edge of the road that are usually about 4ft. high are about 12ft. high on the road over the mountains from Tahoe to Reno. That, and the bear crossing signs, made me wonder. Click here to see the entire set of photos that I took around the Lake Tahoe area.

Reno Air Races -- Day 5

Click here for the Flickr set of photos I took at the last day of racing in Reno for 2006. I added short descriptions. Here are a couple pictures from the set.

The start of the T6 race.
Reno day 5004

Corsair and Mustang battle in the unlimited bronze race.
Reno day 5046

John Travolta did a flyby in his own Boeing 707.
Reno day 5063

The Big Boss Man on the tail of Ol' Yeller in the unlimited silver race.
Reno day 5081

Mike Brown won the unlimited gold race in his plane September Fury. The last lap was just over 492 mph.

Reno day 5116