Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Show this to the Highschool kids

Just saw this on the web. The picture is worth a 1,000 word. Stay Free Magazine looks like some fun stuff.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Online Paperdolls

Sitting here on a Saturday night, I decided I would just surf around the web and see what cool sites I could find. So out of the blue, I chose the term Paper Dolls to see what Google would turn up. Guess what, there is a whole world of paperdoll stuff on the net. Here are just a couple of sites.

There are charming dolls you can download at Paperdolls.org just download and print vintage characters.

Do online dress-up of your favorite stars (if you are 12)at Paperdoll Heaven. I really like the Pride & Prejudice dolls and the Oscar Statuette.

If you want to collect paperdolls that are suitable for framing, check out Legacy Pride Paper Dolls. Quite a variety here, from Hillary Clinton, Frida Kahlo, Pip from Great Expectations to Mamie Van Doren.

If you want to make your own dolls or become an expert, there is the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild. Their magazine not only publishes how-to for amateur artists, but is a resource for collectors.

Who knew....

No Movie for Me Tonight

What the hell is wrong with all the theaters out here. I can't see a movie anywhere in the Western 'burbs at 8:00 pm. Everything starts between 7:15 and 7:35, even at the 30 screen megaplex.

Tonight is the 2nd time I have gone to the megaplex at 6:45 to find a tremendous line waiting for tickets. There are no sold out signs, but by the time I got to the window, Walk the Line was sold out, as was everything else I thought about seeing.

I felt like a total loser, especially when I stopped at the grungy miniplex theater near my house to find that everything started already.

What is the big deal with staggering start times?

40, the new 30

I've heard a couple of people mention that "40 is the new 30" lately. (Which is news to my ears, seeing as I am almost 41.) They swore it was a scientific fact. So, I looked it up on the net -- and it's true.

An international team of researchers from the University of New York in Stony Brook and the Vienna Institute of Demography at the Austrian Academy of Sciences have redefined what it means to grow old, report Reuters and Britain's Telegraph.

The new definition: It's not how long you've been alive that counts, but rather how many years you have left. As life expectancy has lengthened, the whole idea of middle age has shifted, making 40 the new 30. And 50 is the new 40. It's true! People who are nearing retirement are as vigorous and healthy as middle-aged people were a century ago.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Make your own Simpsons' character

This is fun, make your own Simpson character. You pick the body, hair and facial features to come up with a unique little reflection of yourself (or someone else).

Malcolm Gladwell has a Blog

I really enjoyed his book, Blink. He uses the blog to expand on topics and, refreshingly, to correct errors.

Too Much Sometimes

I haven't posted much this week and there are several reasons (or excuses). I will list them in no particular order:
  • I miss smoking a lot.
  • My daughter is going to a dance and won't stop questioning every rule or guideline I present. (Her date is a junior and drives).
  • I like American Idol better than the Olympics -- and I'm ashamed.
  • I wonder if I could smoke just one cigarette every now and then.
  • I am still sore on Friday from my ab work-out on Tuesday, is this normal?
  • What should I do with all the boxes of stuff from my Dad's? I can't hardly bear to look in them.
  • Could I make a smoker friend and just smoke at their house every now and then?

I just am at loose-ends now that I have developed an allergy to the nicotine patch. I am covered with itchy spots all over my body and I feel like a real addict. The gum and the lozenges are horrible, so now I am cold-turkeying.

Humanity and the Web

Some years ago, back when the net was young, there was a big media splash about 'living on the net'. A few people, mostly scraggly-looking hacker-types , were going to do everything on the web and not leave their homes. They would do all their shopping, work and play right there on their Macs. I don't remember any follow-ups on these guys. I think 9/11 came along and the whole stunt seemed stupid. Anyway, 'living on the net' didn't pan out like they imagined.

I thought of that old stunt today as I took a real blog journey this morning. I was reading Creating Passionate Users, as usual. Only today, the post was about an author of a calculus book, Dan Steinberg, who they know and had written about. Today, they posted a touching entry on the death of his 6 year old daughter, Elena. What can I say myself, except this is exceedingly sad. I was touched by their post, which mentioned that Dan had started a blog about the death, Dear Elena.

Of course I clicked on the link to Dan's new blog, just to read a little bit. The posts are really beautiful and personal, about his marriage, his children and their loss. I also looked at Dan's original blog, Extreme Teaching, and read the comments to his post on Elena's death. This comment, below, really struck me.

web20newbie Says: February 24th, 2006 at 1:46 am e
Well, man, I don’t know you. I’m a 25 yo brazilian teacher who just discovered WordPress, and is writing about Web 2.0. I found your weblog, found the subject interesting, and started to read it. Then, the first post was exactly this one…
It’s horrible to listen, when everything you need is to talk. But the truth is that I’m a man of faith, and my faith said to me I need to write to you now. However, I’ll not talk about faith. I’ll talk about Continuity. You must remember that, no matter how much it hurts, in some moment life must go on. Please do cry today, because crying is important - a special part of you has gone. But please stop crying soon, because if your life stops, then your tears will be unworthy.
Please, please, keep going. My prayers will be with you and your beloved family during these days.
Love and Peace.
Fernando Aires, Brazil

All of this was very sad, and touching. I've been trying to come up with a real profound statement about the humanity of the Internet, but I haven't hit on it yet.
Perhaps it's enough to say, that there are real people on the Internet and in reading these blogs, I am sharing a little with them. It gives me hope that the real world is much nicer than the one we hear about on the news.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I've Added Blog Links

The list of blogs over on the right side are some I look at each day. For my job, I review over 50 different websites and blogs. Using a RSS feedreader and some notification tools, I track changes on a daily basis. While most of the sites are work-related (really), I do like to keep up on politics and fun too.

Don't we all need to see a cute kitten picture everyday?

Blogger -- definition

This is from Guy Kawasaki's Let the Good Times Roll Blog:

Blogger. n. Someone with nothing to say writing for someone with nothing to do.

He puts it in his header.

I read somewhere that the target market for blogs is "people who are bored at work"... not that I would know.

Music at work

My office is quiet, too quiet. No one talks or stops by to chat and it drives me crazy. Yes, I work in a library, where it's supposed to be quiet, but being really lifeless is not good.

So to combat this, I have found a couple of online music sites which stream music. The first is Pandora where you can create your own radio station by choosing artists you like. Pandora uses something called the "music genome" to classify all kinds of music so that it can serve you similar songs for your radio station. You can give any song a thumbs up or down, giving you some control over your playlist. There are links to purchase the song or album as well.

I like hearing new music here and also seeing the development of my station. Somehow my Ventures station, which started out with instrumental surf music, has grown to encompass the Dead Milkmen and the Ramones -- and it's a good thing.

My new music find is Wolfgang's Vault. This site streams music recorded in the 60's and 70's at the Fillmore East and West in San Francisco. There is vintage Hendrix, Joplin and Grateful Dead here, as well as Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. For the backstory on this site, read this.

I hope my free music feast will continue, but if the bandwith police in IT crackdown, I guess I'll need to get an MP3 player.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Another trick for better customer service

Here is another great tool for dealing with customer service problems. Keep a log on Excel. As an Excel devotee, this is right up my alley. By tracking all the calls, the reps and the promises made, you might come out ahead.

Read more at The Consumerist.

Now if only I could get an interpreter to help me deal with the phone company. I never can figure out all the plans; I end up with services I don't want and a bill that freaks me out every month.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Get a Human

This is one of my all time favorite websites. Gethuman Cheats is a website listing how to get a real human at many, many customer service phone numbers. While some are simple (dial "0"), others have real quirks (Ikea --- just keep pushing "0" many times quickly).

You can sort the list either by service type or arrange it in alpha order.

Student finds toilet water cleaner than ice at fast food restaurants

Enough said. Click here,if you want the whole story.

Tomorrow is John Frum Day -- Got Cargo?

There is a Cargo Cult alive and well in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. Many villagers believe that a mythical American, named John Frum, will return to their island and bring lots of stuff. February 15 is their holiest day -- John Frum Day.

An excellent piece in the Smithsonian Magazine gives you a fuller picture of both the Vanuatu holiday and the idea of Cargo Cults. There is real charm to the piece, as well as deeper meaning concerning the meeting of cultures. The natives in the South Pacific live very simple lives, dirt poor and isolated. When US troops came through during WWII, the natives couldn't believe all the stuff that came too, in fact they believe it was conjured up by magic.

From the article:
Men and boys clad in stringy bark skirts stride onto the dancing ground clutching replicas of chain saws carved from joungle boughs. As they thump their feet in time to their own singing, they slash at the air with the make-believe chain saws. "We've come from America to cut down all the trees," they sing, "so we can build factories."
Read the whole thing, it's food for thought.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Google master

Hey, someone very close to me has done sometime really cool. He's the #1 hit for the phrase "Read and Delete" on Google. Check it out and read his newsletter.

The subject this month is Women at the Auto Show. I remember the torture of traipsing around the exhibit hall looking at cars. I'm surprised I wasn't left behind there in 1975, my brothers would have never noticed.

My job blows my mind -- sometimes

I work for a really, really large organization (Company X), as a contractor in a very, very small group. Most of the time I happily work here in this little space within huge corporate-warren doing my library work. Though we take care of everyone potentially; in practice we see very little of the big picture. Not seeing the big picture may be a good thing, as you can see from my meeting today.

Had a very confusing, jargon-filled meeting with someone from our IT group. Loads of new development projects and strategies were just kind of thrown in front of us along with names of champions (ie. people). My Library's project is to have a single access point or tool for accessing all the subscription products we purchase. It seems, among other things, it is recommended that we create a portal -- whatever that means to Company X.

All I know now is that, no kidding, we have lots and lots of groups within Company X who are part of "The Federation" and then a bunch of external people who are part of "The Alliance" and a couple of groups which are temporarily working outside that are 'secunded'. Somehow we are supposed to draw together a team, from the Alliance and the Federation, to do a portal. We should volunteer to beta, so our costs will be picked up by either the Federation or the Alliance (I forget who).

The IT person we met with is very excited about the possibilities. All I could say was, "Live Long and Prosper", or something like that. This place is not big or gigantic or humongous -- it's galactic.

Are you with "The Alliance", "The Federation" or have you been secunded? I don't know what I am. I think I'm Alliance… then again I could just call myself part of "The Association", since I work 'deeply outsourced' for another type of company entirely.

"To Infinity and beyond"…...

Non-smoker -- 6 days 13 hours 50 minutes

I'm still smoke free, but this weekend I had a few bad cravings. The idea of having to get off my butt and go get cigarettes pretty much killed the cravings, but they caught me by surprise anyway.

I installed a little program, called Quit Time, on my computer it tracks the time elapsed since my last cigarette and the unsmoked cigarettes, the money saved and the time I have added to my life. I am up an additional 6 hrs and 25 minutes in the life department--hopefully, I won't spend the added time thinking about smoking. Here is a link to the program, in case you need it or want to pass it on.

I wasn't able to paste in a great pic of a smoking rabbit, but I urge you to take a look at it here. The Bunny Suicides is a cartoon series of fluffy little creatures trying to do themselves in -- strangly hilarious to me. There have been several mentions of this book/series around the net recently -- so perhaps it is the Far Side of the new century.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Picturing Nicotine Addition

I admire artists who can convey whole rafts of words and feelings in images. I saw this one as I cruised the net. I can say from experience, that this looks like how a 'nicotine fit' feels.

The artist is Boris Artzybaseff and I found a bunch of his images on the Animation Archive. Two of his books are noted, Neurotica and Machinalia, the first are illustrations of emotional problems and the secord covers machines and industries. He was a master at anthropomorphism.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Non-smoker --- Day 2

I quit smoking at 7 pm. Monday, so today is day 2 of the process. It's going good so far; I've only had a few cravings and my energy level is pretty good. The nicotine patches are probably responsible for the good energy level because I can definately feel the energy surge about an hour after I slap one on.

Beyond the energy thing, I have avoided the spacey-ness feeling that I have gotten when I went cold turkey. There is nothing worse to me then feeling dippy and indecisive all day. Especially when you know if you just puff on a cig, everything will clear up. With the patches you get the nicotine that the brain craves without all the smoke. It's a good thing that you can get different dosages on the patches, cause I don't want to be wearing these for the rest of my life.


I learned a new word this week, Engrish. It is the mis-translation of Japanese or another Asian language into English, or the use of English for ornamentation in Asia. The Wikipedia has a very good definition here. The Chinese restaurant scene from A Christmas Story is included as an example.

Of course I learned my new word while cruising the Internet. There is a fun site, Engrish.com which offers up many great examples. I found the one above intriguing because the meat can hang down and eat, among other things. Though the line, "Appreciate once, please" has definite merit -- we should all try to appreciate most things once, it would be a start.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Especially for my only Reader-- you know who you are!

There is nothing like a picture on an old sewing/craft pattern to make you giggle.

Just imagine how cool your man would feel taking down a 10-point buck with your mittens on!

Teddy Girls

I kind of remember hearing about Teddy Boys in England, but never Teddy Girls. This site has some interesting pictures of post-war English girls sporting Edwardian inspired clothing. I found the fact they posed in bombed out locations almost as interesting as the clothes.

'Teddy, don't worry, now mommy's here....'

I just love finding stuff on the net --

I'm Quit, Day One

Yesterday was Quit Day. I inhaled my last smoke last night, just before dashing into my Cessation Class. I know I can do this, but I am worried that I am not pschyed enough. I should be more invested in the whole process, but what can I say.... I've quit before.

I am wearing my patch and drinking a ton of water, so far, so good. I popped a couple of cinnamon Altoids when I wanted a little zing and that worked.

Tonight I start working out at the Health Club. From what the guy told me when I joined, they track your attendance and call you if you don't come enough. In some cases, they will come to your house and make you come. While I really wonder if they are that interested, my girl is paranoid that we will get into trouble if we don't go. I think I can withstand the prodding of a health club employee, but the worried pleading of my daughter is a bit more scary.

So I a guess I'm off on a new 'healthy' phase of life --- I better get a little pschyed.