Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mommy, where do servers come from?

I was cleaning out my email Inbox and came across this link from Gizmodo:

It's still a good link and it's still making me laugh hysterically. The ultimate book for the children of geeks and nerds :-)

Tax-free weekend in Massachusetts, August 16-17

For the fifth year in a row, Massachusetts will have a tax-free weekend (August 16-17, 2008). The Boston Business Journal reports on this event here:

I go back and forth on my enthusiasm for tax-free weekends. Sometimes it just seems ridiculous...the state loses income and the stores are mobbed with people spending money that they might not have spent at all. And, unless you're buying a really big ticket item, you're really not saving a whole lot of money.

On the other hand, with the current cost of gas and food being on a sharp rise lately, saving a few dollars here and there is nothing to sneeze at these days.

I'm sorely tempted to join the mad rush this year for a couple of big refrigerator and dishwasher. The fridge is about 20 years old and needs new gaskets. Half my food freezes and half doesn't. It's go to make a nice egg cream and discover the seltzer is frozen into a solid block of ice. And it just doesn't make sense to get it fixed, since it's so old.

The dishwasher is also old, about 15 years old. It doesn't clean as well as it used to and and the flimsy soap dispenser thingy is broken ...the little door that supposed to open automatically doesn't. The soap just gets stuck in there. Again, annoying. I've tried to figure out who to adjust the spring mechanism that controls the little door, to no avail.

I'm sulking about the refrigerator because I don't think I can get the one I want -- not enough space under my cabinets and I'm NOT moving the cabinets. I need them. Why do we have to have refrigerators that are SOOO tall? I wanted a fridge with a bottom freezer and french doors. But, they're all about 2 inches too tall. I'm bummed. I may have to back down and get one without the lovely french doors. It's just not fair.

The dishwasher should be an easy decision. I'll just ask my Dad which one they have and get the same. I've found that relying on Dad to do the research and actual testing works well for me and saves me gobs of time :-)

Spirit and Opportunity -- still alive and kicking on Mars

It's been over 4 years since the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), known as Spirit and Opportunity touched down, bounced?...onto the Red Planet. The rovers were expected to be able to survive for 90 days. Four years later, they're still plugging along, albeit with some technical difficulties. Wish the battery on my iPhone would last that long!

I clearly remember the days when these marvels of engineering touched down. Back in those days, my stupid cable company did one thing right...they gave me the NASA channel. I remember watching the team at Mission Control when they realized that the first rover had landed safely. At that moment, I would have given a lot to be able to work for NASA or JPL! I can't recall the last time *I* felt such joy and a sense of satisfaction at my job!

(My stupid cable company took my NASA channel away a long time ago. I miss it. Watching it on computer is just not the same.)

You can get current reports of our dear rovers at:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Solar Trees -- art and science come together

I'm a big proponent of Solar Energy. If I could get solar panels on my roof that would be cost effective, I would do it.

From CNN, comes the story of designer Ross Lovegrove's street lamps (Solar Trees) that not only use solar energy, but are beautiful pieces of sculpture. They seem to be sprouting in Europe...why not here in the US? Apparently, even after 4 days without sun, the lamps still work.

Why is the US so behind the times with energy-efficient innovations?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When we allow people to deceive us...

I saw this quote on a blog that I read and it caught my attention:

Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “In hindsight, almost all of us have, at least once, experienced a compelling idea or semi-dazzling person crawling through our windows at night, catching us off guard. Even though they’re wearing a ski mask, have a knife between their teeth, and a sack of money slung over their shoulder, we believe them when they tell us they’re in the banking business.”

It's happened to you, hasn't it? It certainly has happened to me.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes is the author of the book, Women Who Run with the Wolves. I'm adding this book to my reading list.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I learn to load/unload my kayak successfully

At last, a breakthrough in the issue I've had with loading and unloading my kayak on my car!

Last year, after purchasing a new car with a nice, fancy spoiler on the back, I realized that my old method of loading my kayak from the back of the car wasn't going to work anymore. I purchased a new rack system (Yakima BoatLoader that allows me to load the boat from the side.

It sounded so simple...extend the rod from the front crossbar, put the bow of the boat on the extended rod, lift the back of the boat onto the saddles and then move the front of the boat onto the saddles.

While the boat is very light (42 lbs), I'm short, the boat is close to 3x my size and I just didn't get how to maneuver the boat correctly. One day, after an annoyingly nasty paddle --it was hot, the river was full of nasty vegetation, and there were too many bugs, I dropped the boat onto the new car while trying to load it. I was lucky that it was a glancing blow and I was able to polish out the scuff marks and the surface scratches. And the boat suffered no damage. But I was traumatized by the experience!

I avoided kayaking for the rest of the season :-(

This year, I gathered up my courage and decided to get over this phobia I had for loading the boat. And, I'm glad to say, I have achieved success. I realized that instead of trying to handle the boat from the handles on the top of the bow or aft ends of the boat, I needed to move the boat from underneath and from the MIDDLE of the boat, not the ends.

Here's how think I'm doing in (I'll need to observe more carefully next time to see if this is how it's working):

  1. Grab the boat by the bow handle and balance it on the extended rod at the front of the rack system.
  2. Hold onto the boat by the coming of the cockpit with one hand and and underneath the hull with the other hand (this is a little tricky as the boat tends to want to slide downwards at this point -- I have to move quickly). Then I lift the boat up so I can get the back of the boat on the rear saddles. At this point, the back of the boat is on the saddles and the front is balanced on the extended rod.
  3. At the bow side of the boat, I push up from under the hull and position the bow on the front saddles.
Getting it off is similar.

  1. I hold the boat from under the hull to get the bow end on the extended rod.
  2. Then, again, working from the cockpit area, I grab the coming of the cockpit, keeping one hand underneath the hull, and lift the back of the boat off the rear saddles.
  3. Finally, I put the back of the boat down on the ground, and holding onto the coming of the cockpit to keep the boat from sliding, move forward so I can move the bow of the boat off the extended rod.

I've done this a couple of times and it's getting easier. I'm feeling a lot more motivated now to get out on the water. One small, but important personal accomplishment. :-)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Never heard of this site until a co-worker sent the following link:

I think this site might rate right up there with ...another of my favorite website.

And I quote (directly from the website)

"Something Awful has been mocking itself and the internet since 1999, bringing you reviews of the worst movies, video games, and websites to ever exist. If it's something and it's awful, it's probably on Something Awful, where the internet makes you stupid."

tee hee ;-)

Sheep and phones...

A friend of mine forward the following link to me:

If you like sheep and great ways of recycling old phones, take a look. :-)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

iPhone mania

Despite all the reports of servers being down and so forth, I was able to update my iPhone to the new software without any problems. Of course, I did the update at 2:00 in the morning :-). I did hear that the lines were crazy, though. My friend said that up in New Hampshire, the line at mid-day had over 500 people in it (and the store opened at 8 am). At 3:00, there were about 200 people on line. You'd think that the iPhone was only going to be available on the one day.

To be honest, I don't see a whole lot of difference between the old and the new OS. The push mail thing might be interesting. There are some extra settings and so forth. And the App Store is fun. I downloaded a number of applications (mostly the free ones) that looked interesting. So far, I have: Pandora radio, TruPhone (for international calls via Wi-Fi, Yellow Pages (YPMobile), yelp, and Starmap. Of course, I haven't actually *used* any of them. I'll have to report back in a couple of weeks on whether I find a use for any of these apps.

I have noticed a bit of flaky behavior. Entering passwords is flaky...the software first displays each letter I type before changing it to the dot symbol. And sometimes, I get weird screen repainting as I type each letter. And then, there is a bit of slowness in some of my standard apps. But, nothing that isn't tolerable, at this point.

I'm a bit surprised at the interest in getting the 1st generation iPhone instead of the 3G phone. Maybe it's because the 3G plan is pricey. My friend sold his 1st gen phone while on line to get his 3G phone for $400! (and it's a used phone --- it's in good condition, but still...). I know someone else who is planning to get a 1st gen phone instead of the 3G, again because of the phone/data plan costs. He's planning to get his from craigslist (and there are quite a few phones available).

We do love our iPhones...not because they're better than a BlackBerry...but because of the coolness factor. That's the main reason that I love my iPhone!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Food pairings

Interesting article from Real Simple ( about food pairings.

For example:

Pair grilled steak with brussel sprouts. The mini-cabbage like creatures counteract the potential carcinogens found in grilled foods.

Pair tomatoes and avocados. The avocados help you to absorb more of the lycopene in tomatoes.

Pair oranges and spinach. The vitamin C in the oranges helps you to absorb the iron in the spinach.

Do not pair alcohol with energy drinks or diet drinks. Pairing alcohol with energy drinks can cause nervous system stress (breathing problems, heart palpitations). And you're likely to get drunk faster if using diet drinks mixed with alcohol.

Do not pair coffee (or tea, or hot cocoa) and breakfast cereal. The antioxidants in coffee prevent the absorption of the iron that are in most fortified cereals. Instead, drink your hot beverage an hour before or after the breakfast cereal.