November 30, 2010

Backed a preview or two...

I am absolutely buried right now, so posting may be a little infrequent until I can get caught up (my expectation is this weekend).

As a mechanism of apology, I offer some teasers as to what's coming when I get to writing 'em all...
  • Reviews of Wii Sports Resort (quick hit - awesome!)
  • Reviews of Man on Wire (also, pretty awesome)
  • Review of the new Locke & Key book
  • Lonnieburger reviews of Gabby's, Roxy's, and the Oakley Pub (good, good, very good)
  • A post about how teachers aren't really that different from students
  • Links to a couple of NPR chemistry stories
  • A visit to Flip Flop Flyin'
  • Pardon our Ramblings about cheating
  • Pardon our Ramblings about budgets (Lakota & the US)
  • An early glimpse into a weather-tracking project that I'm working on
  • A couple more 8tracks playlists (modern blues, something else I'm not quite ready to reveal yet)
  • An alphabet game post of my favorite celebrities 
For now, though, I leave you with a little learning...partially about the fascinating world of the visual representation of quantitative things...

November 29, 2010

ChemGuy brings the sexy

No's just a playlist of songs with "sex" in the title.

Geeze, who do you people think I am?

I really had to fight my instincts that screamed that I had to include Prince's "Sexy MF".

I did not include that wildly school-inappropriate but terrifically awesome song, sadly.

Might I offer up my references?

When I want to look something up, here are the sources I use...and the last thing I can think for which I used each one...
  • - For movies and television shows - primarily to see which ones various actors were in as well as trivia about each one.  I use this pretty much every time I review a movie and a lot more frequently than that.  The last things I looked up here were trivia for Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
  • - For pretty much everything.  I'll admit that I use Wikipedia all the time and have even contributed to the site at various times - most significantly in writing the initial Princeton High School entry.  The last things I looked up here (other than just now for the PHS entry) was Bill Nye the Science Guy because on's new design, I couldn't tell if 1997 was the start or end of Bill Nye the Science Guy...and Doctor Who because I saw a commercial for the Masterpiece: Contemporary production of John Lennon and couldn't tell who was playing Lennon.  Once I recognized the nose, I went to wikipedia to show The Girl who the actor was.
  • - For any album, artist, or song. This is another one that I check out pretty much any time that I'm writing a review post - for music, anyway.  Their listing of albums - including alternate versions (Japanese releases, re-releases, collectible editions, anything) - is impressive and makes for a great reference.  The last thing I looked up here was listing of any albums from the Muppets.  Sadly there aren't many on cd.
  • -  There is, quite simply, no better place to look up anything about baseball players, teams, seasons, or records.  They provide every possible statistic - from the most obscure to the most mainstream.  In the past year, their biggest improvement has been the addition of their blog which is nothing short of outstanding, and they're committed to improving the site constantly.  Awesome.  The last thing I looked up here was Adrian Beltre's statistical record in looking at whether he has a chance to get into the Hall of Fame some day.  Quick answer: probably not.
  • - What started as just expanded to and has since expanded to include college football; basketball and pro football, basketball, and hockey; and olympics sports.  Their non-baseball sites are still catching up to the awesomeness that is, but they're pretty awesome.  Look, for example, at the records of the Indiana Hoosiers.  Each season is entirely clickable and holds all sorts of details.  Love it.
  • - I do enjoy a good high school basketball game from time to time, and I keep up on the happenings back in my home state via this site.  Thankfully, the alma mater has gotten off the schnide with a victory over the dread Highlanders on Friday night.
I'm still desirous of a site that's a great reference for books - kind of like an imdb for tomes.  Any suggestions there or other reference sites I should be using regularly?

November 27, 2010

No energy to type...turkey hangover...still

In case you're beyond the turkey sweats, check these out...

November 26, 2010

A little mayhem

I dig this ad campaign.

And my favorite...

November 25, 2010

ChemGuy's Christmas List

I know you're all going out shopping tomorrow, so I thought I'd give you a bit of a heads up as to some things you might see if you were to take a look at ChemGuy's Christmas list.

First up is a replacement for our beloved FiestaWare waffle iron.  Our old waffle iron was a wedding gift from...uh...from somebody and lasted a solid nine years or so, but the hinge eventually snapped, and the cord connecting top to bottom was becoming a little scary.  So we're in need of a new one.

Based on reviews from Cooks Illustrated (I would link, but it's a members-only kinda thing, doncha know) and a few other sites, I'm thinking the choice would be the Chef's Choice WafflePro Express M840B, Classic Belgian.  I'll readily admit to being a fan of the Belgian-style waffles with the deeper pockets for syrup. 

I miss having waffles on a Sunday morning.

Next up is a Bellarmine University hat or shirt.  I've been going to a Bellarmine women's basketball game or two like clockwork every year for four or five years now, and I'm starting to think that I need to get something that marks me as a Knights fan since I'm pretty much always seeing them on the road.

Once I get the shirt or hat, I just might get lucky enough to see them win a game - something I'm yet to do.

For a little musical gifting, you could work some magic and get the Beastie Boys' next album - Hot Sauce Committee, Vol 1 (or Vol 2 - depending on how you read their latest, freaky email) released and purchased for me. The cd was originally supposed to be released about a year ago but got delayed so that Yauch could undergo treatments for throat cancer with which he was diagnosed around that time. 

Since then the album has been delayed and delayed and is now supposed to come out sometime this spring.  Either after or as Vol 2 - about which I have absolutely no understanding at all.  Either way, anything the Beasties put out is an automatic purchase for me, so it would make a great gift if you can get your hands on it.

Also delayed but now available for pre-order is the Erfworld book 1 physical book.  At least the site says it's available for pre-order, but I can't find the listing in the store just yet.

Erfworld is a webcomic that's admittedly available for free but that has such an involved, deep storyline and world that I really want to read the entirety of the books in print in one sitting.  The storyline of Book 2 is currently ongoing and becoming even more labyrinthine to understand, but I'm hooked enough that I want to see this thing through.

As we did last year, The Girl and I are making a holiday-time donation to Child's Play charity.  Admittedly, this year's donation will be a little smaller, but we would certainly be honored if you wanted to join us in helping hospitals (there's probably one in your area) provide entertainment for their younger guests.  You could also make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society - either through the official donation page for the Princeton High School campaign or through our 5K registration page.  All donations to both causes are, of course, tax deductible.

There's also a few book and such that I'm desirous of - most particularly at the moment, Absolute Planetary Vol1 & Vol 2There are always, however, such things that I'm in want of, and my Amazon wishlist has far more of those kinds of things than I want to list here.

In all honesty, though, there's absolutely nothing that I need.  There are always things I want, but I'm old enough to know the differences between the two.

Take some time to spend some time with the folks you love this holiday season.  Maybe hunker down and watch a good movie on the couch. 

Stay friendly, everybody.

November 24, 2010

My first published photo

Check out yesterday's story on the Tri-County Press's website about last Friday's PHS A Capella choir performance on Fountain Square.

That little byline over there to the right, by the photo, the one that says Provided.  That's me.

You can check out more photos from the event on my ever-growing Picasaweb account, too.

Personally, I prefer this photo, but I didn't quite think it was right for the article.

Thoughts on an iPad

Right, I've been trying to write this review column for a month now and just haven't been able to commit to words my thoughts about the iPad.

But I think I've figured those words out now:
  • The iPad is neat.

There, that's about it.  That's the summary of the far-longer review that I'm about to offer up.

It's absolutely neat.  The interface is slick.  The design and look - certainly typical for an Apple product - are slick.  The touch controls are intuitive and largely responsive, and the entirety of the iPad experience is neat and fun.

About two months ago, Princeton City School District loaned me 'my' iPad.  It's clearly not mine; I know that.  In fact, in about two weeks, it'll be shifted along to our school psychologist so that she can see how to make the iPad useful in her job.  In spite of the iPad's inherent neatness, however, I wish her better luck in finding ways to incorporate it into her job than I did into mine.

Let's start with the positives of the iPad...
  • The iPad is gorgeous. - From the simple elegance of the sleek, black frame to the high resolution screen, the iPad is absolutely beautiful.  There is one single, physical home button on the front (shown to the right in the above photo) and a few buttons (power, volume, rotation lock [for now]) along the edges and two input/output connectors (headphones and the now-standard Apple connector).  Nothing else mars the crisp, clean lines of the physical device.

    The touch screen, then is where all of the action happens, and the most impressive apps are the ones that use the entirety of this viewable space leaving absolutely nothing surrounding them but that simple, black frame.  This is, at its best, a computer permanently in presentation mode.  There is no task bar, no Windows-style frame around the information to distract from the user's immersion in the sights and sounds being presented.  When control is needed, however, the controls appear at a touch but almost always in an impressively unobtrusive manner.
  • Everyone loves the iPad. - The moment I mentioned in my classroom that I had a school iPad, students clamored for a turn, for a chance to touch the magical monolith that is the iPad.  Students - almost all familiar with the interface of the seemingly ubiquitous smart phones - instantly knew how to find the home screen, the access the various apps, to swipe across the screen to the next screen of apps (currently sorted by me into science and non-science apps).  The knew how to manipulate the information and to spin the screen as needed from landscape to portrait to let the information appear in the most attractive manner. 

    Since those first introductions, I have had two students in particular who are most eager to use the iPad and spend time during lunches and after school watching videos, browsing the web, downloading apps, and generally being much more effective testers than I often am.
  • The best apps are awesome. - As I mentioned, the best apps for me are the most immersive apps.  They are the games that require you to turn the iPad around like a steering wheel for your bouncy car, manipulating the game gravity with a simple iPad tilt, the virtual marble mazes that require movement just like a physical marble maze would. 

    They are the apps that utilize the entirety of the screen and take advantage of the iPad's unique features to turn what would normally be a passive viewing experience on a computer screen into an interactive Experience.
  • The iPad is quick. - The laptop on which I am writing this post is about three years old now.  It's certainly showing its age but is still a very effective machine and one that I'm not anywhere near replacement for just yet.  When I need to use it, I turn on the power button and walk away for about thirty seconds.  I then come back and click to log in to my account, and I walk about for about four minutes.  At that point, I come back and open up Firefox or Word or Excel or whatever and walk away again for a minute or two until the program is open.  Once everything is open and the computer is fully logged in an warmed up (whatever internal processes that entails), things roll along quite smoothly and largely glitchless (except for the fact that if I try to play iTunes, half the time it shuts down my sound card for about five minutes, but if I try to play iTunes while a YouTube video - or other sound producing action in my browser - is playing, iTunes works just fine 100% of the time).

    When I want to use the iPad, I hit the power button and wait about one second.  I swipe my finger to the right to wake it up, and I hit the app that I want.  Not ten seconds after I've hit the power button - admittedly waking the device from sleep rather than from a full off state.  If I've turned my computer off and need to look up a quick something that I'd forgotten, I turn to the iPad every time.

    The browsing experience is almost as quick, as well, with 'my' iPad being the lowest end of the spectrum, dependent on WiFi signals rather than on the - as I understand things - faster 3G network.  In spite of that, web browsing was only a tic slower than it is on my laptop, and almost all of the apps ran absolutely without a hitch.
Sadly, however, the iPad isn't exactly perfect...
  • The iPad isn't for producing. - I will admit that I haven't downloaded the Apple iWorks suite ($9.99 each for the Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps), and that probably limits my full understanding of the iPad's capabilities in this area, but I just don't see that the iPad is a replacement for a computer.  Yes, it views and shows data and images brilliantly, but I haven't seen that it is a machine on which I would be making those presentations.  The virtual keyboard is actually more user-friendly than I had initially expected, and the auto-correct feature is something that I think could be very useful but to which I haven't yet become accustomed yet.
  • The iPad isn't for projecting. - This one baffles me, but I even sat in on a training given by Apple employees and was told that the iPad will not export a screen image to a projector.  This meant that the Apple presenters had to use a document camera to get the screen image to the LCD projector in the school library.  They did say that some apps support the exporting of a screen image via a purchasable  dongle that attaches to the Apple connector, but that most apps did not allow for projection.  I don't know why they wouldn't include that as a feature.
  • The iPad doesn't support flash. - Again, I have no clue why this is the case, but it severely limits the usability of the iPad as a web browsing device.  Hopefully the more and more prevalent use of HTML 5 will solve this issue, but I imagine that Flash will continue to exist on a lot of websites for a while to come.
  • The iPad doesn't allow multitasking. - This is supposedly getting fixed on OS 4.2, the iPad that I am using doesn't have this function meaning that I can't play music while browsing the web, can't have two pages open at the same time, can't copy and past from a page into a document without significant hassle.  iPad OD 4.2 also apparently allows for app folders which will also be much appreciated.
So, would I buy an iPad? doesn't seem like a replacement for a computer, but it would certainly allow me to use my computer less frequently.  The lack of projection and challenges in producing a document are hurdles that I think are too high for me to successfully overcome.  That being said, it is far more portable, more attractive, and easier to use for the consumption of media - the web, movies, slideshows, whatever - than is my laptop.  I would much rather tote an iPad around than my laptop (which comes to feel more and more like a needlessly over-sized behemoth with every day). 

If, maybe they could get the whole comic-books-on-an-iPad thing worked out, I might be a little more desirous of the thing.

I wonder, however, if the iPad isn't a bit of an El Camino of the computing world.  It's not as portable as a smart phone, something that I can slip into my pocket and grab out at the drop of a hat to find the nearest burrito joint or directions to tonight's basketball game.  For all of those things, I'll take a smart phone (even though I don't have one because I'm too cheap to sign on to the requisite pricing contracts).  But the iPad isn't a computer either - not a laptop or a desktop. It's awesome at some things but not small enough or powerful enough to be something that I am desperate to have in my life.

But the iPad is neat.

November 23, 2010

Go buy Plastic Beachfor free before midnight Pacific tonight

Kyle points out that Amazon is doing a sale with five full cd downloads for $1.99 each through Cyber Monday.  The albums change every day, and today's include Gorillaz Plastic Beach which is phenomenal.

Plus they're offering $3 in credit toward mp3 downloads.

So it's frickin' you'll have a buck left over.

Update - Holy crap, now it's Vampire Weekend's Contra for the same price.  Seriously, you should go buy yourself some music for free.

How baseball's dropping the ball

This past week's Bill Simmons NFL preview column had the following sidebar about baseball's possible expanded playoff plans:
Dear Bud Selig,
I love your proposal for two more playoff teams, and not just because it guarantees that the Red Sox will make the playoffs every year for the rest of my life. It's a shrewd idea, I have to say. With your playoff ratings steadily dropping and the 162-game regular season already feeling like a waste of time because anyone can catch fire for four weeks and win a World Series now (see: Giants, San Francisco), it's crucial that we stretch the postseason into mid-November and make the playoffs even more random and haphazard. Some believe the only way an extra round makes sense is if we also returned the regular season to 154 games, but that would be dumb -- we wouldn't be able to risk the health of starters who already throw 220-240 innings and now have to potentially pitch in four playoff rounds.
And look, I know your critics believe an extended playoffs dilutes the impact and importance of every postseason game, but in my opinion, casual fans will totally want to watch a steady deluge of four-hour marathon games for six solid weeks. We have nothing better to do, and it's not like you're going head-to-head against the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football or anything. You have your finger on the pulse of American attention spans in 2010, Bud Selig, I can tell you that much. And if anyone disagrees with your brilliant plan? Just tell them to man up.
I'm going to have to agree with Simmons here.

I love baseball.  Love it.

Baseball is America's sport.  I've said it before.

But baseball isn't on the rise in America.  It's on the decline.

The sidebar up there made me think back to a column that Simmons wrote this past July about his thinking for the reasons behind the decline of his interest in this past season's Red Sox team.

He breaks things down this way...
  • 10% injuries
  • 5% front office
  • 15% hangover 
  • 5% bandwagon fans
  • 5% steroid era hangover
  • 5% decline in baseball in general
  • 55% length of games
Here are some excerpts from that column...
We're feeling the effects of two solid decades of World Series games ending well after the bedtime of any prospective young fan.

Shouldn't baseball worry that the onslaught of new ballparks (20 since the Skydome in 1989) caused an ongoing attendance bump that's soon coming to an end?

...attendance will hinge on the same thing it always did: winning. Especially in the 65-Inch HD Plasma/DirecTV Package/"Screw It, I'd Rather Just Stay Home and Flick Channels" Era 

Nobody wants to spend 3½ hours watching anything on television. Not even porn.

[H]ave you ever looked around during a baseball game these days? It's 35,000 people texting or writing/reading e-mails while they wait for something to happen. BlackBerrys and cell phones were either the best or the worst thing that ever happened to baseball. I can't decide.

1975 Red Sox
2 hours or less -- 12 games
2:01-2:30 -- 62
2:31-3:00 -- 63
3:01-4:00 -- 18 (4 extra innings)
More than 4 -- 2 (both extras)

1978 Red Sox
2 or less -- 1
2:01-2:30 -- 57
2:31-3:00 -- 72
3:01-4:00 -- 27 (11 extras)
More than 4 -- 5 (all extras)

1986 Red Sox
2 or less -- 1 (6 IP)
2:01-2:30 -- 30
2:31-3:00 -- 71
3:01-4:00 -- 58 (9 extra innings)
More than 4 -- 2 (2 extras)

1999 Red Sox
2 or less -- 1
2:01-2:30 -- 18
2:31-3:00 -- 92
3:01-4:00 -- 49 (6 extra)
More than 4 -- 2 (both extra)

2002 Red Sox
2 or less -- 1
2:01-2:30 -- 29
2:31-3:00 -- 82
3:01-4:00 -- 45 (6 extra)
More than 4 -- 5 (5 extra)

2007 Red Sox
2 or less -- 0
2:01-2:30 -- 11
2:31-3:00 -- 48
3:01-4:00 -- 97 (5 extra)
More than 4 -- 6 (2 extra)

2010 Red Sox (101 games)
2 or less -- 0
2:01-2:30 -- 1
2:31-3:00 -- 41
3:01-4:00 -- 53 (7 extra)
More than 4 -- 6 (4 extra)

I'm the same guy who once created the 150-Minute Rule for all movies, sporting events, concerts, even sex -- if you edge past 150 minutes for anything, you better have a really good reason. 
I'll readily admit it: I love baseball much more than I actually love baseball games.

I love the stats and the look and the idea of baseball much more than I like watching a game, more than I like following a 162-game full season slog.

I love going to baseball games but not necessarily watching that games themselves.

And I would consider myself a decent baseball fan.

Football is the most popular of the professional sports in America right now.

Maybe baseball is second, but I'd guess that a number of measures would put basketball in second and baseball a fading third.

I would think that the first step in righting that ship would be for baseball to get the length of games shortened.

If they don't take care of that, I'm thinking they might be slipping from third soon.

November 22, 2010

Three things...quick things...

First, Rob Neyer has a post up today in which he chooses the greatest living player at each of the baseball positions.  First base shocks me but is interesting.

Second, Kanye's new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is apparently perfect - or not.  (Either way, I already have it on hold at the library.)

Third, I apparently have a new list to listen my way through.

That is all for now.


It's been thirteen years since Bill Nye the Science Guy went off the air, and we've been looking for a replacement science guy in the dozen years since.

I'm starting to think, however, that we might have found our new science guy in Steve Spangler.  I saw Spangler at an NSTA conference in St Louis a few years back and was impressed with the theatricality of his demonstrations.  I was surprised to see that I've already mentioned him four times in the blog since then.

This past week, though, the above video made the rounds on the AP chem listserve.  The discussion was how Spangler got the massively quick version of the elephant toothpaste - warmed the catalyst, warmed the hydrogen peroxide, upped the concentration of catalyst, somehow bought greater than 30% hydrogen peroxide.  As Spangler isn't part of our listserve - at least he isn't an active one, anyway, we don't have a definitive answer, but my guess is upping the concentration of catalyst.  I know when I use the solid catalyst, the area with the solid catalyst reacts very quickly, and I'm thinking that a high concentration of the sodium iodide catalyst would have a similar effect.  I also want to check out whether the use of the Erlenmeyer flasks give greater lift than do the two-liter bottles that I typically use.

Spangler has also released a pair of books - Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes and Secret ScienceNaked Eggs is the newer and far more attractive of the books, and it looks like Spangler is positioning himself to have a bigger seller than what could be achieved with the Secret Science black and white pages.  Naked Eggs - which I have to admit to having bought this week - is a really pretty book that takes a number of familiar demonstrations - all safe for home performance - and makes them a little flashier, a little more attractive.

If Spangler is making a move to be the nation's new science guy, he's going to have to get a more regular television presence than appearances on Ellen and other talk shows, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw him making appearances on his own show fairly soon.

November 21, 2010

The Big Picture: National Geographic's Photography Contest

To quote...
National Geographic is once again holding their annual Photo Contest, with the deadline for submissions coming up on November 30th. For the past eight weeks, they have been gathering and presenting galleries of submissions, encouraging readers to rate them as well. National Geographic was again kind enough to let me choose some of their entries from 2010 for display here on The Big Picture. Collected [on their website] are 47 images from the three categories of People, Places and Nature. Captions were written by the individual photographers.
Check all forty-seven.

My choices.

Baby steps...rolling baby steps

I've a number of things that I want to be able to do - juggle four balls, play a guitar, ride a unicycle - and today I take step one toward learning one of those skills.

And, in the process, I made my first foray into the wonderful world of Craigslist.

(Speaking of which - Craigslist...Craig'sList...Craig's List...craigslist...?)

I'm a buying myself a unicycle.

November 20, 2010

Do you see what I see?

 No, you don't.

At least, god I hope you don't.

Dancing Frog Leg Trick - Watch more Funny Videos

November 19, 2010

James Balog's Tree

I have the James Balog photography book Tree: A New Vision of the American Forest checked out from the library right now, and it's absolutely stunning.  Sadly, the library has the smaller-format second printing of the book.  I'd love to have seen these photos in their larger format versions.

Balog's book chronicles his year or photographing some of America's champion trees.  Some of the photos are more staged images of smaller trees with simple, white, fabric backdrops, but the most impressive images are huge, stitched photograph collages of the most mammoth of our great trees - redwoods, sequoias - massive specimens that have already are thousands of years old and hundreds of feet high.

Balog found it impossible to get single images of these legends, so he used the rigging of great tree climbers and instead took hundreds of large-format images and used photo editing software to edit them together into some of the most impressive single images that I've ever seen.  They're technologically brilliant and absolutely beautiful.

Now I just need to figure out how to get a poster-sized version of that Stagg image.

Oh, and how to get to the Angel Oak.

Check out more of Balog's images - sadly in smaller, web size - on these sites.

PS- Ironically, the image up top turns out to be from a different photographer, Michael Nichols.

November 18, 2010

If this game drops under 55 mph, we all die!

I loved the card game speed as a high schooler.

I still love it now.

November 17, 2010

Why you won't win the lottery

One of my math classes in high school asked us to calculate how much money we would expect to make if we invested $1 a week in the then-new Indiana Lottery as compared to investing $1 a week in a bank account granting compound interest.  I vaguely remember that the Lottery return was something like -63% meaning that for every $1 you put into the lottery, you could expect to get back thirty-seven cents.

That hasn't, however, stopped me from dropping my in few bucks every time the lottery reaches a ridiculous amount and fantasizing about what I might do if I were ever to win.  I know, of course, that the odds are drastically stacked against me ever winning.

Thankfully, this blog post lets you see just how long those odds are as it plays any set of numbers in a Mega Millions simulator.  You can tell the simulator to play your numbers once, twice a week for one year, or twice a week for ten years.  The simulator then tells you how much you would have won for your investment.

From running the simulator four times at 1040 plays each, I've 'won' a total of $358.

I then hit to play a fifth set of 1040 and 'won' $10,061.

And that's why the lotteries work, folks.

PS - The rest of the blog from whence the lottery simulator comes is pretty neat, too.

November 16, 2010

November 15, 2010

So cute and cuddly...until the kill

Look at that.  Isn't it just adorable?

That's Knut from the Berlin Zoo.  He was a newborn a few years back, and clearly his trainers were getting him ready for a life of dismembering his food.

Did you have any idea that about twenty years ago - in March of 1990 - a zookeeper at the Cincinnati Zoo had her hand and some of her forearms ripped off by a polar bear?  (Source: Orlando Sentinal)  She was later awarded $3.5 million because of the unsafe working conditions and improper training at the zoo.  (Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer & Cincinnati Magazine)  A coworker of hers was fired for reporting those unsafe working conditions to federal authorities but won a wrongful termination suit.  (Source: lawyers' website)

As of 2002, the zookeeper, Laurie Stober, was running a program called Full Circle Therapy that helps to "build self-esteem and confidence for kids who have been abused, neglected or marginalized due to disability".  (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer)  The last online mention I can find of Stober's Full Circle Farm is in a National Alliance of Mental Illness of Hamilton County, Ohio newsletter from April, 2007.

So, how cute's your little Knut now, folks?

Ok, actually, he's still really cute.

November 14, 2010

Update: Defending Your Tower...Again

And I'm done...made it through level 100 on easy...that challenge is met.  At least the browser waited to crash until level 102 this time.

At some future point, I may turn to the more challenging paths, but not right now.  Now is the time to grade lab reports.

A Monty Python compilation

Thanks to Dan Brown over at GNews who put together a compilation of some of the funniest Monty Python sketches last fall.

Do enjoy something completely different.

November 13, 2010

Late night bonus

Compare to the original (with new animation because I can't find video of Lehrer himself)

That Radcliff kid may have a future in this biz.

Update: Defending Your Tower...Again

Got through level 99...working on level 100 before the browser locked up...didn't do a screen cap in the final level, though because I could tell that I was gonna get through the level - thought I'd wait...


The week's links


Links of the week...

    November 12, 2010

    Defend your tower...from bloons...again

    I'd played the original Bloons Tower Defense a long time ago and kind of forgotten about the game since then. 

    Then Pancakckpete (turns out I had the YouTube account nicknames wrong) The Youngest Of Three That I've Taught was playing around with my the school's iPad and downloaded the Bloons Tower Defense app and got me hooked again.

    So I went looking for the intertubes version which has been upgraded to Bloons Tower Defense 4 and is still a heck of a lot of fun.

    (Managed to clear level 93 on the easiest setting...feeling pretty good until I watched this...)

    Speaking of Pancakpete and friends, feel free to check out their vids over on YouTube.

    And, to paraphrase Bill Simmons, yes, these are my students.

    November 11, 2010

    A Glimpse: The Plants

    A few years back, a teacher brought a couple of plants into The Girl's library in Hamilton. 

    Those couple of plants have, over the years, increased in number (some by purchase, some by gifting, some by splitting) to a point where The Homestead sees its back decking covered in flora all summer long.

    In past years, those plants have wintered in The Girl's library - Hamilton or Lakota depending on the year.  This year, though, The Girl doesn't have a library to which the plants can return so they've come inside.

    I dig 'em.  The Girl's a little annoyed with 'em.  I'm kinda afraid that the younger dog is snacking on them.  Yesterday there were a few piles of puke to suggest that something wrong had been injested.

    November 10, 2010

    Does Webelements have a challenger?

    For years, I've touted as the top periodic table resource site on the 'net, and it still probably is.

    But if you're looking for a periodic table, then Webelements isn't for you.

    Instead, as found by one of the students in my first bell, I'll now be recommending  Head over there and check out the awesome options (the tabs up top) that allow you to link directly to videos, podcasts, photos, wikipedia articles, or the webelements page for each element as well as what information you want displayed on the main page.

    Dig the coolness, folks...dig it.

    November 9, 2010

    The rock continues to roll along

    We continue onward.  Thankfully there's enough for next week's third rock and roll playlist.

    (There was a glitch in creating this playlist.  I had parts 1 & 2 both open, and there was an issue with saving over #1 by mistake.  So that's been recreated but not necessarily with the exact ones it had.  The full three playlists will be complete, though.)

    November 8, 2010

    From recent class...

    I mentioned these videos recently in class as we discussed the noble gases and wandered into questioning about the thoughts of the first person who sucked helium and heard his voice go up in pitch.

    And these two are just funny...

    November 6, 2010

    Go Knights!

    I'm taking in a basketball game as this gets posted.  Feel free to break in an steal everything I own - just not the things I care about.

    David Sedaris...hilarious guy...

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    David Sedaris
    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

    November 5, 2010

    My face all impressed

    I read "His Face All Red" and was stunned.

    It's amazing.

    (And it's a quick read - probably three or four minutes to get from the start all the way to the

    November 4, 2010

    Oh, the places I've gone...

    Last week in our CORE (our school's new-this-year advisory period), we made a bucket list. You know a bucket list right, it's a hackneyed idea that I'm guessing whoever planned this week's theme got from a movie.

    (I'm assuming that next week we'll be helping our students Pay It Forward and maybe find out that this is As Good As It Gets.)

    Snarkiness aside, I actually enjoyed coming up with a half dozen things that I'd like to do before I kick the...
    • Visit all 50 states
    • Get back to Europe
    • See a Grand Slam (tennis) tourney in person
    • Play tennis on a grass court
    • Go to a Final Four game
    • Hike through the Grand Canyon again
    The first on the list got me thinking about which states I have left.  So far, I've visited (in alphabetical order)...
    • Arizona (a bunch of times)
    • California (once for a wedding, once for a disastrous and abortive vacation)
    • Connecticut (briefly, kinda drove through)
    • Florida (a trio of times, I think)
    • Georgia (for a couple of conferences and driving through)
    • Illinois (bunches of times to Chicago and driving through to St Louis)
    • Indiana (more than any other state, I'm guessing)
    • Iowa (big South Dakota vacation a decade and a half ago now)
    • Kentucky (in the top three for most been in)
    • Louisiana (flew in once for a conference - thanks, LLS)
    • Maryland (mostly to visit DC and catch a ballgame)
    • Massachusetts (a couple of vacations)
    • Michigan (just a stop-over in the Detroit airport)
    • Minnesota (visited Gamer a few years back)
    • Mississippi (Gamer's wedding)
    • Nevada (on the way to AZ each time)
    • New Jersey (on the way to NYC)
    • New Mexico (honeymoon and trip west a couple of years ago)
    • New York (Niagara, NYCx4, Geneseo)
    • North Carolina (to see The Best Man and THort)
    • Ohio (why, I'm there right now, in fact)
    • Oklahoma (on the way to the Canyon a couple of years ago)
    • Pennsylvania (two baseball parks, and driving through)
    • Rhode Island (a night in Providence)
    • Tennessee (should be in Nashville this coming month...bargh...)
    • Texas (flown into Dallas twice - good times)
    • Vermont (visited The Girl on the Appalachian Trail)
    • Virginia (visited The Girl on the Appalachian Trail - and went with mom as a kid)
    • West Virginia (mostly on the way to DC)
    • Wisconsin (visiting Gamer)
    • Wyoming (had to get to the Devil's Tower from the Black Hills)
    That's thirty-one taken care of.  A few more to check off before I can complete that one.

    And, in case you wanted to know, the countries I've been to...
    • These Here United States of Amurika (see above)
    • Scotland (all over the place - mostly Aberdeen)
    • England (London, York, Salisbury)
    • France (into Calais, on to Paris, through a couple more train stations)
    • Austria (couple of days in Vienna)
    • Italy (Rome and Florence)
    • Spain (Barcelona & somewhere near a beach)
    • Switzerland (just passing through at night on a train)
    • Canada (Niagara Falls for an afternoon)

    November 3, 2010

    Just because...

    Fleetwood Mac - Tusk (Original Video)

    In general, I don't enjoy Fleetwood Mac.  They represent the worst excesses of the 1970s music industry.

    But this song has such a great drum line throughout and is such a cool trivia answer.

    Not even remotely normal much less XtraNormal

    The Girl forwarded this video along, something made by a friend of hers about why you shouldn't become a librarian.  I particularly enjoy the "do you like being shanked by a pair of safety scissors" line.

    The video is made from a website called XtraNormal that has a surprising amount of functionality.  There are a dozen different sets, various camera angles, a bunch of characters for each set, different voices, facial expressions and animations for the characters.  Some of the options are premium - meaning you have to pay - but there's enough free choices that you can make some pretty creepy little flicks.

    Kinda cool...

    November 2, 2010

    Thank you, intertubes

    Every February for the past seven or eight years, The Girl and I truck down to Gatlinburg, TN with Calen and her The Boy for a relaxing three-day weekend.  Some years there are other couples with us; some years there aren't.

    For the past couple of years, we've stayed at this nice little cabin called Beyond Expectations.  Kinda cool - complete with a nine-hole miniature golf course in the basement.  If it'd had a ping-pong table, it would've pretty much been heaven.

    This year, however, that chalet was booked so Calen's The Boy went searching the intertubes for a few other options.  Admittedly, hitting a website for cabin/chalet rentals in the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge-Sevierville area is a little like hitting water when you fall out of a boat, so he presented us with a couple dozen workable options, took feedback, narrowed the choices, and held a little poll in honor of Election Day (he is a social studies guy, after all).

    The winner - and this year's clear choice for vacation destination: Puttin' on the Ritz.

    Awesome looking little place with a basement game room (including darts), nice kitchen area, big windows, all the required trimmings for a fun-filled three days of kicking it G'burg style.

    Apparently, however, Calen's The Boy (there has to be a better appellation for him) went searching those wacky intertubes to see if anyone out there had anything to say about Puttin' on the Ritz before he made the final booking.

    A couple of people did...

    I have spent 23 years in the army and have transported tanks in Iraq; hauled fuel down mountains and would not suggest the average driver take this trip. Because of the ruts and wet gravel it caused the tires to spin on the lead vehicle and that vehicle had to be unloaded and those individuals had to walk the last two to three miles to the cabin. 

    There are three separate areas where the gravel roads have deep ruts. The first is a short steep hill with a blind curve in it, and probably the most dangerous. The second is long and not as steep but just as dangerous. The third area is after you past the paved portion of the road and you can see the cabin. You have to go down a gravel road and then back up one to reach the cabin. On all three roads there is nothing to protect you from going off the right side of the road and taking a very steep tumble down the side of a mountain.
    I will never ever visit those cabins again unless I have proof the roads have either been paved or had gravel put on them. The roads are simply not safe! My husband's SUV back wheel was of the edge of the cliff and the men in my party literally had to lift the suv up and set it back on the road. There was wet mud and ice that prevented you from getting traction to travel up it. If they had simply put gravel down we would not have had any problems. With several attempts we finally made all 6 SUVS, my guests in the cars simply had to go back down and park. Several of my guest including my husband almost lost theirs lives, it is simply not worth it. There are too many cabins in Tenessee with paved safe roads.
    First off, thanks to the folks who stayed at Puttin' on the Ritz and took the time to review their stay.

    Second, thanks to Calen's The Boy for being smart enough to do a little intertubes searching before booking the place.

    Third, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee and Al Gore for soldering together the intertubes.