Monday, January 29, 2007

My Next Cell Phone

In all the media blitz surrounding Apple's announcement of the new iPhone, I almost missed the real news about new cell phones! Check out this link to see my next cell phone. It even comes with a toilet charging dock. For more on the character, check out this earlier post.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

High Tech Flashcards

When I was teaching chemistry, there were many occasions when I saw students making flashcards to help them memorize things such as cation and anion names. It's a good idea, but it's a bit labor intensive to make one set of cards. It's hard to share that set with classmates.

That's where the Quizlet site excels. Quizlet is an online flashcard system. You enter terms (or import from a file) and their definitions. You can look through the cards in different modes with various display options: familiarization, learn, and test. Quizlet keeps track of your progress and only retests you on terms you don't know. You can share your cards and collaborate with classmates. A neat idea. Here is an example set of cards covering state capitals.


I stumbled on the Tastespotting website today. It's a photo based site showing pictures of food and food related gadgets. The photos are links that take you to blogs or websites showing recipes or describing the kitchen gadget. It's not an efficient way to find a recipe, but it's a great site to browse. The photos show some awesome creations.

An example of a gadget item is the Mr. and Mrs. Bento Box shown at right. A set of stackable trays (4 for Mr. and 2 for Mrs.) that fit inside the insulated jar. It's rare I pack a lunch, but these are pretty cool.

Data Visualization

This link already has meme status, but I'm posting it anyway. This site summarizes data visualization options in a periodic table format. It appeals to the chemist in all of us, even though the groupings aren't as meaningful as those in the chemistry periodic table. If you hover over the squares, you'll see an example of each. A cute idea.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tarot Cards

I took a quiz to find out which Tarot card I am. Here is the result. After I shared with Dianne, she wanted to take the quiz too. I pasted her result below my Hermit card.

You are The Hermit

Prudence, Caution, Deliberation.

The Hermit points to all things hidden, such as knowledge and inspiration,hidden enemies. The illumination is from within, and retirement from participation in current events.

The Hermit is a card of introspection, analysis and, well, virginity. You do not desire to socialize; the card indicates, instead, a desire for peace and solitude. You prefer to take the time to think, organize, ruminate, take stock. There may be feelings of frustration and discontent but these feelings eventually lead to enlightenment, illumination, clarity.

The Hermit represents a wise, inspirational person, friend, teacher, therapist. This a person who can shine a light on things that were previously mysterious and confusing.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Big Chicken

The recent issue of Food Processing magazine also had an interesting article about chicken wings and chicken consumption in the US. I was amazed at the increase in chicken consumption over the last few decades. The average American ate 28.0 pounds of chicken in the year 1960. That grew to 78.0 pounds in 2000 and the USDA estimates it was 88.6 pounds in 2006. That's a lot of chicken wings and McNuggets.

One thing in the article struck me as odd. The article had a table showing "Favorite Chicken Parts" with the following data from the National Chicken Council.

Whole Bird 17%28%
Leg Quarter21%25%
Bone in/skin on breast20%24%

I started looking at the table by rows. Breast went up, whole bird went up, leg quarters went up....hey, wait a minute. All entries went up. And within a year, the percents add up to something way bigger than 100. Wow! That's a big chicken to go over 100% -- kind of like The Big Chicken shown on the right.

Since the data came from the National Chicken Council, I went to their site to see if the numbers were right and find out what was being shown. The answer was simple. When shoppers were polled, they were asked what cuts of chicken meat they were buying that day. They could choose multiple cuts. That's why the values don't add up to 100%. That didn't come across in the article and made the table hard to interpret.

I found some interesting information while looking around the National Chicken Council website. They have a lot of chicken market stats, facts about chicken, etc. Check it out and meet me at The Big Chicken.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Do Kids Read Anymore?

The recent issue of Food Processing magazine has a nice article on Hamburger Helper and a new extension for the line. Apparently the Betty Crocker folks want to fill the fast snack niche for kids by creating a Hamburger Helper "singles" pouch that contains everything for a good snack except water - freeze dried meat, sauce, and starch. All you do is add water and microwave for about 5 minutes. Yum?

The article shared comments from test users. This one made me laugh. "...many preteens and teenage boys wanted the instructions printed as images with fewer words."

Okay... let's see. Open pouch and put contents in a microwave safe bowl. Add a half cup of water. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes. That takes all of ten seconds to read! C' need that in pictures!?! That's a sad commentary on how much teenage boys like to read. I dare say even Cheap Thrills Cuisine has too many words for them. It's safe to say they aren't reading top food blogs like Simply Recipes or 101 Cookbooks - even though both have great pictures.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First Life or Second Life

I've been a blog slug the last few weeks. I just haven't had time to come up with anything coherent or interesting. It's just been a busy few weeks. That inspired this post.

I don't understand the attraction of Second Life. I'm too busy in the real Earl World to have time to support a second, parallel Earl World in the virtual Second Life universe. But it seems you can't surf around without reading something about Second Life. Reuters has a virtual news bureau there. I can understand why Wired would want to be there. Our government is starting a presence there. You can go to museums. A lot of education venues are popping up there. Businesses are showing up in Second Life too. These are just a few of the Second Life announcements I've collected in the last few months. For most of these, I question whether or not the virtual front end of Second Life is the best platform to use - especially for a company meeting or a class. Perhaps a Second Lifer who reads this can explain the fascination.

My feelings about Second Life are well defined in this parody website called First Life. I think it's hilarious.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Janus & NOW

TARs Phil KI received a word origin-a-day desk calendar in our office gift exchange. I opened it today and the first page mentions that the name of the first month of the year comes from the Latin ‘janua’, or door. The god who protects doorways is Janus. Janus has two faces – one looking from the door into the future and the other looking into the past. That description of Janus accurately captures all the talk and blog posts reviewing 2006 and making predictions or resolutions for 2007 at this time of year. I suppose it’s time for me to do the Janus thing.

One item I didn’t post about in 2006 was the Phil Keoghan appearance I attended last November. He was here for a company event where he spoke, answered questions and stayed after to meet folks and chat. I went because I like Phil as the host of The Amazing Race (TAR). He answered questions about the show and described the grueling travel schedule, the racers, the challenges, etc. It was interesting. However, what I didn’t know about was his motivational work in the NOW (No Opportunity Wasted) context and his work with the NOW television show. In short, the series challenges and helps folks accomplish something they’ve always dreamed about – e.g. overcoming a fear, changing their community, realizing an idea, etc. We saw a couple clips from the NOW show. It looked like a good series. Phil told the audience how his near-death experience while younger caused him to reflect on his life and think about what he wanted to do in the future. This reflection evolved into a new philosophy for his life that is based on living each day to the fullest and seizing opportunities. He urged everyone to create a “life list” of things to do before you die – and to act on that list by creating and seizing opportunities to accomplish your goals. This life list and NOW philosophy is described in the book he co-authored as a result of the NOW series.

Phil was surprised that very few folks in the audience had written a life list – although many had ideas. He mentioned the first step in making those dreams a reality is getting that list down on paper. Perhaps I should prepare a list. I’ve seen a couple blogs with life list entries, but not many. Do folks reading this keep a life list?

If you have a chance to meet and talk with Phil, don’t pass it up. He’s a high energy guy with a zest for life that is infectious.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tony Registration

It's time to renew the Tiger registration for another year. I didn't receive a notice in the mail, so I went to the State of Ohio website to print the form. I found there are two changes to the aircraft registration process this year. One change seems reasonable and the other is ridiculous.

The first change is that the exorbitant registration fee (relative to a couple years ago) is now earmarked for the Ohio airport fund. That seems reasonable. User fees go to support the facilities used.

The other change to the aircraft registration process is the result of a new Ohio law that went into effect last April. The new law requires applicants to submit a “declaration regarding material assistance/nonassistance to a terrorist organization” (DMA) form along with your normal registration form and fee. The fundamental purpose of the law is to identify terrorism suspects and/or provide additional avenues for prosecution of terrorists. The State of Ohio won’t issue your aircraft registration if your DMA isn’t answered appropriately.

For those not wanting to read the form, it’s basically a list of six questions to establish whether or not someone is a member of or has provided support for a terrorist organization. They provide a 4 page list of organizations. I’m no legal eagle or politician, but I’m astonished at how stupid this exercise is. It seems there are three options for the form: 1 – You’re not a terrorist and this is just extra red tape; 2 – You are a terrorist and you lie on the form. If they catch it, a false entry is a fifth degree felony (I don’t know what penalty is associated with that degree of crime, but it’s probably minimal compared to the sentence you’d get for something on the 9/11 scale); 3 – You are a terrorist and you tell the truth (and so, being an honest but stupid terrorist, your registration is denied).

I suppose there is a fourth option – just ignore the form and don’t register. However, there’s a $500 fine associated with that. Clearly someone supporting terrorism wouldn’t want to risk such a hefty fine.

Ohio lawmakers, in their infinite wisdom, think the threat of being convicted for a fifth degree felony or the denial of an aircraft registration is an effective deterrent for aircraft terrorism. Hmmmm…I’ve only thought about this for all of 5 minutes, but I’m not aware that any of the folks involved in the 9/11 plot were responsible for aircraft registration. Is this honor system burden of paperwork the best solution they could come up with to thwart terrorists? I don’t think we should put on blinders to potential terrorism, however laws such as this are ridiculous and create a false sense of security.

Sorry to get off on a rant, but I feel better now that I’ve vented -- until I have to register Tony again in 2008.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all!