Thursday, March 31, 2011

Retro Review: The Junk Drawer





BLOG DESCRIPTION: I've been described as a cross between Dave Barry and Erma Bombeck. I wish it was neither. Dave Barry has hairy legs and Erma Bombeck is dead.

MY REVIEW: This is an interesting blog. There is a post where the blogger shows a picture (in this instance it was the inside of a toaster) gives the readers a hint and asks readers to guess what the item is. The other entries ramble from entertaining stories about domestic life that do not seem to have any continuity, a story the blogger worked on in workshop, and other musings. There are plenty of pictures to illustrate her points and stories. She is dealing with everyday issues most of us can relate to and is not wrapped up in herself. I think the key here is reading the blog consistantly to get to know the blogger and her world.

Sample post:
Tribal Blogs: The Crap-Free Zone of BloggingBlogging April 1st, 2010
I’d like to introduce you to a great new blogger’s network called Tribal Blogs, started by Jen of Redhead Rantings.

Jen wanted to start a new network for “writers whose outstanding blogs set them apart from the rest of the pack.” I joined a few weeks ago and I’m loving it already.

What you’ll find is a posse of awesome bloggers who take blogging seriously. They’re willing to lend you a hand, share and promote your posts, and toss ideas around that can be of use to everyone.

The network also has plenty of groups to join, even one just for men (Jen can’t even get in to see what they’re talking about, but she figures there’s a lot of belching and farting going on).

What you won’t find at Tribal Blogs are the crap blogs. You know exactly the kind of blogs I’m talking about. You probably visit them as part of other networks you belong to that require you to drop on blogs to earn credits or exposure.

Jen is careful to monitor membership and keep out blogs that aren’t updated, don’t have original material or whose authors don’t engage their readers. Here, there’s no wading through the chaff.

It’s free to join, but a premium membership is available for those who want to be listed in the Tribal Blogs toolbar. The toolbar is a great way to visit other members’ quality blogs all at once.

Come on over and check it out! You won’t be disappointed.

And thanks, Jen, for all your hard work getting Tribal Blogs off the ground. It’s an idea whose time has come.

- Taking it to a whole new level of dumbassery
- Let’s toast the winner
- What’s that Wednesday
- How Windy got in her tree

Ann Currie publishes:
My Life a Bit South of Normal
Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiar

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Retro Review: Harry and Helen (Yoga)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: This blog presents poems and art which reflect the many years Harry and Helen Kottler have been practicing the path of Siddha Yoga.

MY REVIEW: This is a blog that I could not help but find to have a calming effect on me. (And, I am unfamiliar with the practice of Siddha Yoga.) Each daily post has an interesting graphic or picture with a short description of the poem that follows. Some of the pictures are actually computer drawings by Harry himself. The poems are thoughtful and well written, each quietly speaking to the topic. For those unfamiliar, I did some research on the subject: Siddha Yoga is “a spiritual path of discipline, of mastering the mind and the senses with teachings and practices. . . a path imbued with grace.”

I recommend this tranquil blog, but don’t let my review lull you, it is not dull and boring. The topics are interesting and Harry’s comments let you peak into events in his life.

[A note from Ms Cairo: This is one of those blogs where it makes a lot more sense to subscribe to it via the Kindle then to try to read it on the web. I just went to the web URL and it is all cluttered and extremely difficult to find anything! The Kindle is definitely the way to go with this blog.]

--When Bravery is Colored Blue
--See Like an Eagle
--Angels and Creatures of the Dark
--The Mind's the Key to Everything

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normal> and Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiar

Retro Review: Future Savvy Journal





BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Future Savvy Journal discusses and expands on topics of the book, Future Savvy. It brings content and method together to promote critical thinking about foresight, and how to better anticipate, manage, and improve the future.

Future Savvy, published by The American Management Association (Amacom Press, NY, 2009) is a user's guide to judging predictions. It shows forecast consumers how to discern quality in future-thinking they read and hear, with examples and case studies of interest to both business and policy decision-makers. It views expert foresight as a crucial resource, but puts sharp tools in the hands of forecast users.

MY REVIEW: This is a well-written business-oriented blog that deals with foresight and the tricky business of prediction in today's international industrial and commerce markets. The subjects are wide ranged and vary from Wal-mart to electric cars to risk assessment. The blogger brings many sources to the table.

However, it is rarely updated - I did the math and in the past 6 months, the posts have averaged one every 11 days. This is not as much a blog as it is part of the overall website for Future Savvy. So be aware of that.

Sample post, from latest entry, March 16
The ’start-up’ visa and green card, a far-sighted recessionary surprise
Published by Adam Gordon under business, economy, forecast filtering, history, policy, social change

Legislation is the route by which ‘the people’ (or powerful sectarian interests, take your pick,) influence the future. It is often underestimated as a future force, or viewed merely as legislators playing catch-up with technology or societal change. But legislation can be far-sighted, and profoundly shape outcomes.

In a fascinating recent development, John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, introduced the Start-up Visa Act to the US Senate, as reported in Inc. magazine.

The legislation is a forward-looking bid to turbo-charge entrepreneurial venturing in the U.S. by attracting foreign entrepreneurs and connecting them to U.S. capital, therein driving new economic growth and local jobs. What’s really interesting is it goes against past common wisdom that recessions are ‘bad for immigration’ (as citizens demand job protection.)

If passed, the bill gives U.S. visas to foreigners who can raise $100,000 from an angel investor or $250,000 from a qualified VC firm. After two years, if the immigrant entrepreneur can create five or more jobs (excluding family), attract an additional $1 million in investment, or produce $1 million in revenue, he or she gets a green card (permanent residency.)

The only current option, the EB-5 business investment visa, requires immigrants to invest at least $1 million in the U.S. and employ 10 people.

Job creation
The National Venture Capital Association says 25 percent of America’s venture-backed, publicly-traded businesses, incl. Google, Yahoo!, eBay and Intel have been founded or co-founded by immigrants. According to Richard Herman, author of Immigrant, Inc.: Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy, nearly all U.S. job creation in the past 20 years has come from companies less than five years old.

The history of US immigration policy has been schizophrenic to say the least, with periods of great social openness followed by about-face door slamming. The slamming has always corresponded to economic downturns or anxiety thereto. But here we have the opposite effect. And we have legislators taking a forward view! Both proof that the future is sure to surprise us.

--The happy medium is a guide to the future for Toyota, McDonalds, and all of us
--Telling words on a running controversy in risk & foresight, from Peter Bernstein
--Haiti, when the present trumps the future, but possibly jolts it too
--What goes around comes around, like Yule and mom-and-pop shops inside Wal-Mart

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normal> and Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiar

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ebook Reader Geek (arts and entertainment)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: eBook Reader Geek , by Greg Diaz


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Fun blog dedicated to digital reading and ebook readers.

MY REVIEW: I'm not sure how long it will take for ebook readers to take over from books. On the one hand you can get a whole library into a slim piece of metal that you can hold in one hand, on the other hand, if you lose a book - that's all you lose. If you lose your ebook reader, you've lots thousands of dollars worth of books!

Nevertheless, it's fun to read abou tthe various ebook readers - the Kindle, the Nook, etc. and the various books that you can read on them and the games you can play on them.

If you're interested in that type of thing - check out this blog. Lots of fascinating and informiative info.

--Nook Ereader vs Kindle
--5 Awesome Kindle Magazines for Mom
--Nook Color To Add Flash Suport and Apps
--7 Wacky Ways To Protect Your Kindle
--Patent Leather Nook Color Case in Red

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Retro Review: Magnificent Frigatebird (Bird watching)



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Magnificent Frigatebird


BLOG DESCRIPTION: ABOUT ME - My name is Amy and I'm a newer birder living in the Chicago area with my husband, Arthur. Besides birding I love to travel. I was fortunate enough to live in Arthur's native Holland for nearly 10 years. We spent a lot of that time traveling around Europe and beyond - birding, scuba diving and having a great time generally exploring our world. On this blog I'll write about my own birding & backyard birding experiences, interesting bird news, and a bit about the birding-themed gifts for sale in our shop here and at Birdorable.

MY REVIEW: This is another enjoyable birding blog. Well, most birding/bird watching blogs are. There are a lot of photos, and that's the only drawback, they are in greyscale, so you don't get the full impact you would at the actual site. Nevertheless, for a quick daily fix of birdwatching, this one, along with Two-fisted Birdwatcher, fit the bill.

Here's a sample post:
As spring migration starts picking up, so do the spring bird club field trips. Lake-Cook Audubon kicked off their 2010 field trip season with today’s Loons of Lake County lead by Fred and Cheri Thompson. We had 33 total species for the day, with nine FOY (First Of Year) birds, including Common Loon and Double-crested Cormorant. We also had our FOS (First of Season) big group of birders.

(With several photos)

--T-Shirt Tuesday: I See Birds (posted 3 days ago)
This week's highlighted shirt design looks like an eyechart you ...
--Leucistic Robin (posted 4 days ago)
I saw my first leucistic American Robin on Sunday afternoon ...
--FOY joy (posted 5 days ago)
As spring migration starts picking up, so do the spring ...
--Raptor Internship Week 11 (posted 5 days ago)
My Raptor Internship at Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation is winding...
--R&R in Chicago (posted 7 days ago)
On Thursday Arthur and I are volunteering for Flint Creek ...
--T-Shirt Tuesday: Ride a Birder (posted 10 days ago)
This week's highlighted t-shirt design spoofs the popular "Save a ...
--(Really Old) Book Review: Birding Babylon (posted 12 days ago)
Birding Babylon: A Soldier's Journal from Iraq by Jonathan ...
--Three lifers in two days (posted 13 days ago)
We don't often chase rare bird alerts. When we do, ...

Retro Reivew: How to Boil An Egg



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION PAGE: How to Boil an Egg, published by Chef Danielle Turner


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Want to learn the right way to cook an egg? Frustrated by fennel? “How to Boil an Egg” is a tasty mix of food know-how and how-to written by personal chef and food writer Danielle Turner. Danielle shares her knowledge as a chef and cooking instructor to teach basic cooking techniques along with tips on entertaining with ease and simple and delicious recipes.

MY REVIEW: This is a great blog about how to do the basic things no cook books ever tell you because they assume you know like: how to whip cream, choose the best wax paper, know what the temperature of your oven is, make your own buttermilk. I fancy myself as an accomplished cook and I was fascinated by the blog. It is well written, basically well done.

The blog is updated once a week. (It went from being a daily blog until Christmas '09, then it skipped a month, then posts 3 days, then quiet for almost a month, but now in March seems to have picked up speed again.) So check it out!

Sample post:
How to Break Out of Your Culinary Comfort Zone
Six ways to bring life back to your table

It happens to the best of us. Despite the stacks of dog-eared cooking magazines piled high on our coffee tables, the eclectic cookbook collections that fill our bookshelves, or even our best intentions of whipping up delicious fare for our families, dinnertime can turn into an uninspiring rotation of the same handful of reliable recipes, week after week, month after month.

As a personal chef, I make my living preparing meals for individuals and families alike, but professional experience aside; I’m still a busy working mom who’s often stymied by the age-old question – “What’s for dinner?”

When I get caught in a dinnertime dead zone, I rely on six sure-fire tips that always help get my creative cooking juices flowing.

1. Cabinet Foraging
Remember the electric pasta machine you absolutely had to have? The meat grinder you picked up on a whim? Or the sorbet maker that was so on sale it would’ve been a sin not to buy? If you’re like me, many of these items are lucky to have been used once before assuming their position in the Cabinet of Forgotten Gadgetry, where instead of inspiring your culinary endeavors, they now sit gathering dust. There’s no better way to dig yourself out of a rut and make the most of money already spent than to find the dustiest piece of equipment in your kitchen and put it to use. Odds are the new gear will force you to pull out a new recipe or revisit an old, forgotten favorite.

2. Travel the Globe
No passports or long airport security lines required! Choose a city or country that you love or that you’re curious about and scour your cookbooks or the internet for a recipe or dish that flavorfully represents that locale. Take a stroll through your grocery store’s international food aisle for further inspiration. You’ll be doing double duty as you savor new ingredients and learn about foods from far way (or close at hand) lands.

3. Buy Something You’ve Never Seen Before
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is simple. On your next visit to the produce section, spend a few extra minutes taking in the scene, keeping your eye out for your next great ingredient. You’ll know it when you see it, because you won’t know what it is when you see. Walk right up to that mystery vegetable or other-worldly-looking fruit and pop it right into your reusable shopping bag. Most produce sections have a kiosk or recipe rack featuring info and recipes on how to use various fruits and vegetables. Armed with a free recipe and your mystery produce, your plated adventure can’t be far behind.

4. Face Your Biggest Food Fear
Just the mere mention of the word soufflé can cause fear in the hearts of many home cooks. For others, it’s roasting a whole chicken, making pie crust from scratch or deep-frying anything. I am deathly terrified at the prospect of making Turducken (a deboned turkey stuffed with a deboned duck that’s stuffed with a deboned chicken. Seriously.) However simple or complex, identify the one thing that makes you afraid to step into the kitchen, find a recipe for it and make it. That’s it. Just make it. You’ll likely conquer your food fear and add a new recipe to your repertoire to boot.

5. Take a Cooking Class
One quick internet search or browse of the phone book (remember those?) and no matter where you live, you’re likely to find several places where you can learn to chop, braise and sauté from a pro. Taking a recreational cooking class will give you an opportunity to learn a new skill or two and you’ll go home with several new recipes in hand. Besides the recipes, you’ll also have a chance to bounce your cooking questions off a trained professional. Most cooking schools offer a choice of classes that are hands-on, where you’ll actually get to cook; or demonstration, where you get to sit back and watch the instructor in action. Either way, you’ll leave with some level of familiarity with the recipes, making it more likely that you’ll give them a go at home.

6. Become a Locavore for a Day
Jumpstart your cooking and help save the environment by becoming a locavore for a day. You’ll only be eating foods that are grown or harvested within a 100-mile radius of your hometown, but not to worry, you’ll still have plenty to choose from at your local farmers’ markets and at some higher end grocery stores that make a point of offering locally grown foods. These different, fresher selections may give you a new pool of foods to choose from and fresher food can only breed fresh ideas for how to prepare them.

Keep these tips handy and you’ll be ready to face your next dinner dilemma with ease.

--Secrets of a Skinny Chef
--How to Break Out of Your Culinary Comfort Zone
--Blood Oranges
--How to Clean Leeks
--How to Make Mayonnaise

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normal> and Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiar

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Netfix Instant Play Picks of the Moment (arts and entertainment)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Netflix Instant Play Picks of the Moment, by Paul J. Marasa


BLOG DESCRIPTION: A weekly guide to the classic, the offbeat, and the overlooked on Netflix Instant Play

MY REVIEW: Netflix is an organization that allows you to watch TV shows and movies on your computer, as well as borrow DVDs via mail, and keep them for as long as you want without an overcharge fee. If you just watch on the internet, it costs $9 or so a month, if you also want the DVD option, it's a few dollars higher.

If you watch a lot of movie and TV, this is the way to go, as they've got classics from the US and Britain, foreign stuff, and new movies. Occasionally it's a pain. I recently wanted to watch This Proud Valley, an English movie from 1939 starring Paul Robeson. I couldn't watch it instantly, I would've had to order the DVD. Fortunately it's up on Youtube (but there, you have to watch it in 10 minute increments.)

This blog reviews only those movies that are avaiable to watch via the Internet. It's a great idea - if you're looking for new experiences, this blog describes movies - on a weekly basis - that might intrigue your attention.

Highly recommended.

Sample post
Sweet Land (2005)
In the rural Minnesota of Sweet Land, post-Word-War-I anti-German sentiment ostracizes mail-order bride Inge (Elizabeth Reaser). She cannot even attend, let alone get married in, her husband-to-be's church. Structured as a family memory, the film looks through Inge’s eyes at those who reject her, while managing to ask us in the present to reconsider our own attitudes--in which, for instance, “official language” acquisition becomes more important than the quality of the newcomer's character. And of course the irony is that these are Norwegian farmers--Torviks and Frandsens and Thorwalds--their own voices soft with fading accents, and isolated as only Upper Midwest farmers can be.

But Sweet Land operates only peripherally as social commentary. The film remains a personal story of all-but-despair, resolution, and the blind persistence of love. The performances are affecting--Reaser is a shining light, her fiancé is played by Tim Guinee (who reminds of Nathan Fillion--take note, ladies and others who find him dreamy) with an Old Hollywood boyish charm suitable for suitors, Alan Cummings grins and squints affectingly as the best friend--and John Heard's Reverend is especially compelling: He scowls at Inge's foreignness, denies her any opportunity for respectability--but does so without movie-villain hardness. Instead, he is almost kind, as though he's simply waiting for her to repent for a sin she didn't commit, and be welcomed in her humility.

The fact that she refuses false humility--and chooses instead honest pride--is the film's heart, as beautiful as the sweeping fields and sky the movie is in love with, Nature spread over this (at first) melancholy story and trying Her best to provide moments of sun and shade as needed.

--Sweet Land (2005)
--Carlito's Way (1993)
--Return to Me (2000)
--I Like Killing Flies (2004)
Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Retro Review: Health Sifter





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Health news and misc. medical issues.

MY REVIEW: An in-depth off-beat health blog that looks at things a different way. The posts are interesting and well written, and if nothing else, will get your attention. Who would have thought that beer can prevent osteoporosis, a broken heart can kill you, or that dogs make better walking partners?

Well, this blog will enlighten you on these and many more health tidbits. And, these are serious articles, not just cute ideas to get your attention with sources noted. The posts go into detail explaining the hows and whys of their statements in plain text. And, she posts regularly. You will learn a lot and who knows, you may enjoy getting healthy. Who knew?

--The future for Cardiology according to Wired: Electric Plumr Cardio
--Prevent Osteoporosis: Have a beer.
--When a broken heart can kill.
--Dogs make better walking partners than your neighbors

Ann Currie publishes My Life a Bit South of Normal> and Silver Pieces: The Strange and Peculiar

Retro Review: Winged Victory, Women in Aviation



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Winged Victory: Women in Aviation


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Six percent of all the pilots in the world have been, and are, women. This blog shares news and views about women pilots.

MY REVIEW: On March 10, 2010, women celebrated 100 years of aviation. Just 5 years after the Wright brothers flew the first viable airplane, the Wright Flyer, in 1905, Frenchwoman Raymonde de Laroche earned her pilot's license. She was the first to do so, but within just a few years women from practically every country with an aviation presence had earned their wings - this despite the fact that it was hard to find instructors. The daredevils of the day thought that their heroism was lessened if a woman could fly as well as they could. After all, if a woman could do it, how hard could it be?

The early pioneers faded out once WWI began. A new crop supplanted them after the war, with Amelia Earhart, Nellie Snook, Elinor Smith, Marvel Crosson, Pancho Barnes, and many more taking to the skies. Everyone knows the name of Amelia Earhart, but there were dozens of women pilots who set more records than Earhart ever did. Earhart concentrated on distance, the others on speed, altitude, time, etc.

During WWII, over a thousand women became WASP - women airforce service pilots, ferrying planes across country where men being trained to fly them would then take over. In England, it was the ATA - both men and women flew planes there.

After WWII, many of the women wished to continue flying, but they were not permitted to do so. It was not until 1977 that laws were in place to prevent the discrimination of women (and minorities) in airlines, and in the military.

It was not until a couple of years ago that a woman, Major Nicole Malachowski, became a pilot for the Airforce demo team, the Thunderbirds. The English Red Arrows have a new team member, Lt. Kirsty Moore. Other traditionally male airforces around the world have recently added women pilots...

Keep in touch with all the news at Winged Victory, Women in Aviation.

--Elinor Smith has died
--Flying For Her Country - American and Russian wome...
--F-35 Lightning II makes first vertical landing
--Book overview: Flygirl, and two dates for your cal...
--PR: Feminine-Friendly Gear Brightens Cockpits
--Deanie Parrish, age 80, shows off her legs
--PR: Flying Musicians to Land at Music and Aviation...
--The Lady and the Tiger, Strip #2
--Emily Howell Warner - request to rename an airport...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Retro Review: Girl Scout Guide


MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, with reservations



BLOG DESCRIPTION: Girl Scout Guide is a resource for girl scouts, troop leaders, and camp counselors. Resources offered are crafts, badge work tips, songs, and other assorted resources for volunteers.

MY REVIEW: I've subscribed to this blog via Kindle, and at first blush I'd have to say it was unsuitable for the Kindle, since all I see are the entry title, a paragraph, and an ellipsis that is not hotlinked, so I have no way to get to the rest of the article!

However, in checking the blog's Amazon page, I see it's ranked at about #60,000, which means that it has several subscribers. I find it difficult to believe that these subscribers would continue to subscribe to a blog that they can't read.

My Kindle, relatively new, is running operation system 2.3. The latest version is apparenlty 2.3.3, and I'm wondering if that system allows people to see this blog completely. Unfortunately, I can't download the system - whatever USB cable they sent me doesn't allow me to connect my Kindle to my computer! Until I can get the appropriate cable, I will just provide a caveat here - if you're running operating system 2.3 you might not be able to see these entries.

The second question of course is, do you even want to?

I can remember as a kid, my sister and I joined the Girl Scouts. At least, I think I was a Brownie, my sister, two years older, was a Girl Scout. And we both quit because we never did anything fun. No camping, no biking, no hiking, no whittling...instead all we did was sit around and sing songs and make crafts. Boring!

And apparently, that's what Girl Scouts still do today, if this blog is to be believed. (FYI, if you're a Girl Scout who wants to get her Aerospace badge, check out the program at the International Women's Air and Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

In any event, the blog hasn't been updated since March 17. That doesn't necessarily mean its inactive, but I'll keep an eye on it.

--Paper-Embellished Luminaire
--JGoode St. Patrick’s Day Coloring Page
--Girl Scouts to Take Action on Energy Awareness and Conservation through Trane Grant Project
--Girl Scout Birthday March 12th!
--Nationwide Study Finds That Teenage Girls Have Mixed Feelings about the Fashion Industry
--Princess Pat (song lyrics)

Retro Review: Camden Chat (Baltimore Orioles)


MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, with reservations



BLOG DESCRIPTION: The SB Nation blog covering the Baltimore Orioles. (Costs $1.99 per month to subscribe via Kindle)

MY REVIEW: I'v been a Baltimore Orioles fan for a long time....heck, I was watching the Orioles when Boog Powell was playing! And of course Cal Ripken was a perennial favorite. So if I may interject a personal note here... please, Orioles, get over .500 this year.

There is such a wealth of information given by Camden Chat to your Kindle, that at a cost of 99 cents a month to have it delivered, it's not a bad deal, especially if you're a Baltimore Orioles fan.

Unfortunately, like most of the SportsBlog Nation blogs, many of the features available on the website aren't available on the Kindle. There are videos, audio, lots and lots of photos, and probably even game threads that you won't see unless you actually visit this blog web's page.

I anticipate that once the season actually begins and the posts really start coming, they'll mostly be text-based, and Kindle users will be able to enjoy having the articles delivered directly to their Kindle.

-Potential minor league call ups
-Another quick poll: T-shirt cost
-Now its time to panic - MacPhail officially worried about Roberts
-Matt Wieters graces the cover of Sports Illustrated, meaning that (for this week)...
-Game Thread: Rays at Orioles

Monday, March 21, 2011

Adventures in Lake Schooling (children's education, parenting)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with Reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Adventures in Lakeschooling, by LakeMom


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Adventures in Lakeschooling Blog chronicles our family's journey of eclectic, passion-centered homeschooling from our perch on a lake. We are also a family formed through both adoption (from Haiti) and birth. There are 5 of us, 2 adults and 3 little mookies. I call them Rhubarb (b. '00), Eggplant (b. '01), and Blueberry (b. '04). I am LakeMom. I knit. I write. I homeschool with my kids.

Unfortunately, this is one of those blogs where you get a READ MORE link to take you to the web to read the rest of the article.

MY REVIEW: Every parent - well, every good parent! - wants the best education for their child, and there's long been a debate on whether public school, private school or home schooling is best.

I'll let you parents make up your own minds, but thought I'd share this home-schooling blog so, if you have been thinking about home schooling, you can see how much hard work it is for the parent - as well as for the kids, but how rewarding it is, also.

It's not on the Kindle, but check it out on the web.

Recent post:
Outschooling: How I Am Outsourcing Our Homeschooling
It's a funny thing when my child opens a game he has never played in my house (Backgammon) and starts playing it. "How do you know how to play that?" I ask innocently.

"'F' taught me," he says. "F" is our upstairs neighbor, the German father of the two small children with whom my kids like to play. Apparently, while my girls play with his girls, he plays Backgammon with Eggplant.

Like our constant stream of spontaneous learning experiences, this sort of thing happens a lot lately (I have listed some of them below as examples). My kids, it seems, have found a whole bunch of mentors.

These are all situations that have developed organically, over time, and have been completely free. All of the mentors are neighbors, friends, friends of friends, or professionals we have patronized. All of the mentor-student parts of our relationships began with a simple question, typically one of the kids inquiring about the mentor's expertise.

I remember a time when all my kids were younger and I would attend homeschooling conferences or homeschooling parent meetings and leave feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. Parents would tell stories of their own children's mentors and I wondered how I would ever have the time to find mentors for my children. I was sure I would have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to pay for experts to teach the areas where the kids held passions (the areas where HotNerd or I lacked experience). I was also sure that those sorts of adult-child relationships just didn't exist anymore.

The problem was that I was expecting those relationships to form when the children were still so young.

Basically, small children aren't at a point yet where they want that. Most of their passions can be satiated within the confines of their family and friends. My dear friend "J's" mom was teaching her daughters to quilt before they could ride a tricycle. This grew naturally out of their desire to spend time with Granma. It doesn't matter what Granma (or Dad or Uncle Joe) loves to do, smaller children will typically join in when given the chance.

Parents of young children should give the process time, allow the kids to grow into their own passions, and trust that it will happen when the time is right.

In our home, mentors started popping up around 9 for Rhubarb, 7 for Eggplant, and 6 for Blueberry. The ages mean nothing except that this was when THEY were ready to ask the questions that led to the answers that forged a new path in their relationships. When THEY (not me) REALLY wanted it, it happened (in shy Blueberry's case, she REALLY REALLY had to want it to leave her comfort zone and ask the questions).

And it can happen for your kids too. Just don't push it. Let it happen organically. Give it time.

Let the list below encourage you. I was a mom who worried it would never happen -- until it did.

Mentoring relationships my kids have formed (I am only listing situations that are free, as the teachers of the classes they take fit into a slightly different category):

"K" taught Eggplant to play tennis.
"C" gave Eggplant beginning marimba lessons.
Captain "S", a pilot, taught Eggplant, Rhubarb, and a friend the rudimentary principles of aerodynamics during a semester long course he taught in our home.
"G", our neighbor, taught Rhubarb all about Judaism.
"L", a college student friend, taught Rhubarb Irish fiddle.
"W" provided a loom for Rhubarb and is searching for weaving books for her and helping to hook us up with teachers.
"S" created the apprentice program where Rhubarb helps teach movement classes to toddlers and pre-schoolers.
The same "S" will teach Blueberry CPR.
"Dr. M", "Dr. N", and "Dr. D" freely and happily let Blueberry listen to my heart, check my ears, check her own temperature, etc.

--Outschooling: How I Am Outsourcing Our Homeschool...
--Art Place in a Small Space
--The Attack of the Ikea
--A "Real" Problem
--Official Facebook Page
--First Day of Spring
--City Living and the Constant Opportunities
--Code Red Vegan Mole Peanut Brittle
--Growing into the Next Phase of Parenting
--Sunday Funday 5: Blueberry's Punk Rock Era
--Blogurday 5: Motherhood and More
--A Timeline in a Small Space to Record The Bigness ...
--Reviewing "The Happiness Project" and Feeling Happ...
--Rhubarb Spoke and the Universe Listened
--How the Key Snafu Saved the Day
--Spontaneous Saturday, Trip to the National Museum ...
--Sunday Funday 4: In Honor of Teachers
--Blogurday 4: City Kids Homeschooling
--Huck Finn and the "N" Word
--The Bad and the Ugly
--A Day in the Life (And I Purposely Chose a Great O...
--Beauty and the Sleep-deprived

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Friday, March 18, 2011

Science 2.0 (sciences)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Science 2.0, by ION Publications


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Science 2.0 is composed of world renowned researchers, science book authors, post-docs and science journalists writing on the latest topics in physics, biology, medicine, neuroscience, space, astronomy, geology and technology.

MY REVIEW: This is the blog for anyone who wants to be scientifically literate. The many authors of this blog discuss science as it deals with every part of every day life - written in layperson's terms for easy understanding by all.

Highly recommended.

Sample post:
Myths of Gifted Education
by Alex Antunes
Dr. Paynter of the MD Dept of Ed noted that "all students have gifts, but there are some students who are ready, right now, to play varsity." In America, we easily accept that some kids are just more athletic than others, and we support that. In fact, we're pretty happy accepting that some kids are just naturals at art, math, acting, being charismatic, being beautiful, or doing sports.

But suggest some kids are more gifted at learning, and you get the retort "but all children are gifted." Ask for better learners to get special teaching and now, you're elitist.

Funny thing is, make it an analogy to athletics and no one argues. No one suggests the top swimmer be put in the kiddy pool to "inspire the others". No one puts the fastest runner with the pack because "he'll prosper no matter where he is." No one gives the tennis star a badmitton racket and a coach that doesn't know tennis rules and says "she'll do fine, she's got natural talent."

Funny thing is, Dr. Paynter's comments were about the academically gifted. Talented&Gifted (TAG), Gifted&Talented (G&T), yeah, they're a poor choice of name for the academically gifted, but this is a population whose needs are real.

About 10% of the population, according to PG County MD, who tests every 1st grader in the county (private or public) to find out. Funny thing is, that 10% stays the same across income level, socio-economic status, language barriers, race, color, creed. It's real, it's not elitist, and it's testable.

Won't gifted students do just fine on their own? Sure, if "bored, frustrated, and tuning out" means 'fine'.

Don't teachers challenge every student? Not unless they change the curricula for 27 students to account for the 3 gifties. But teachers don't have the time and, often, the training to do that sort of differentiated education. It's better and cheaper to put a gifted-trained teacher with gifties, a comprehensive trained with the regular classroom. That's just smart management.

Don't gifted children provide a role model, a challenge to the others? I'm sure Peter Parker would agree. The best challenge is what's within your grasp, not "it's easy for you because you're smart."

But in these tough economic times... no, wait, stop there. Gifted education doesn't cost more than regular education, any more than teaching English costs more than teaching Social Studies. It's an approach to teaching, not more gear or books. In fact, under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools with all-gifted classrooms get less funding than an underperforming school by not needing specialists.

--Japanese Earthquake Causes 'Supermoon' Concern
--Why So Many Earthquakes This Decade?
--The Upside To An 8.9 Earthquake: It Happened In Japan
--The Earth’s Weakening Geomagnetic Force and Possible Polar Reversal
--Japan's Nuclear Emergency - The Straight Goods
--Addicted To Being Good? The Psychopathology Of Heroism
--Jennifer Aniston's Viral Smart Water Commercial

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Retro Review: Volcano Seven (treasure hunting in all its forms)





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Documents treasure hunters - those searching for lost gems, lost people, lost mines, lost aircraft, lost ships, lost cities, and of course, pirate treasure

MY REVIEW: It is no accident that the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have been so successful (although I must say the first one was the best, and the other two rather disappointing from my point of view!) - everyone is fascinated by pirates and pirate treasure. Well...probably more by pirate treasure than pirates!

Who doesn't dream of walking on white sands, with an azure sea, and coming across a gold coin or two, washed in from a sunken galleon?

There's plenty of treasure out there - not just gold, silver, and jewelry on board sunken ships, but also cultural treasure, and perhaps most important, knowledge. There are lost ships, lost aircraft, lost people (Judge Crater, for example)...and Volcano Seven documents the search for (and sometimes the finding) of them all.

Sample post:
A couple of years ago, I bought shares in Odyssey Marine, hoping the stock would rise and I would become rich beyond the dreams of avarice. It didn't happen. Actually, I have lost half of my investment! (Not that this was a great tragedy....I only bought 100 shares.)

Now, I'm not really dissing Odyssey Marine. They've got a lot to deal with - they've found a ship in international waters and yet Spain is claiming it, and the treasure it contains to be their's, so there are lawsuits and the lawyers are taking away all the money and leaving none for shareholders.

Still, there story is interesting and here it is.

From their website:
Odyssey is the world leader in deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, searching the globe's vast oceans for sunken ships with intriguing stories, extraordinary treasure and precious artifacts spanning centuries of maritime travel. Our important discoveries also uncover priceless new knowledge and history from the depths. As we recover these shipwreck treasures once believed lost forever, we also resurrect lifetimes long forgotten, offering a rare and fascinating window into historic events that would otherwise remain obscure.

Our passion for shipwrecks and the amazing stories they tell is as deep as the oceans we explore.

No one knows shipwrecks better than our world-class team of researchers, scientists, technicians, and archaeologists. We've surveyed and mapped more than 10,000 square miles of seabed and spent more than 9,000 hours diving on shipwreck sites using advanced robotic technology, while more importantly, applying the highest archaeological standards. Our expert team has discovered hundreds of shipwrecks ranging from 3rd century BC Punic sites to U-boats and Colonial warships.

In 2003, we discovered the Civil War-era shipwreck of the SS Republic® and recovered over 51,000 coins and nearly 14,000 artifacts from the 1,700 foot (518 meters) deep site. In May 2007, we announced the recovery of over 500,000 silver and gold coins, weighing 17 tons, from a Colonial-era deep-ocean site code-named "Black Swan." In 2008, Odyssey discovered what is considered one of the most significant shipwrecks in history, HMS Victory, Admiral Sir John Balchin's flagship which perished in 1744. And our expeditions continue to unveil new sites with fascinating stories and cargoes.

--Lost Aircraft
--Odyssey Marine
--Arthur McKee, Jr. Part 2
--Arthur McKee, Jr. - part 1
--The Search for the Guggenheim Treasure
--CSS Texas

Retro Review: Over the Monster (Boston Red Sox)


MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, with reservations



BLOG DESCRIPTION: Over the Monster is your source for the latest Red Sox news and game recaps. This blog provides a forum for passionate fans all year round.

MY REVIEW: There is such a wealth of information fed by this blog to your Kindle, that at a cost of 99 cents a month to have it delivered, it's not a bad deal, especially if you're a diehard Red Sox fan.

Unfortunately, like most of the SportsBlog Nation blogs, many of the features available on the website aren't available on the Kindle. There's videos, audio, and probably even game threads that you won't see unless you actually visit this blog web's page.

However, I frankly anticipate that once the season actually begins and the posts really start coming, they'll mostly be text-based, and Kindle users will be able to enjoy having the articles delivered directly to their Kindle.

-Sox can'r overcome Mill's implosion
-Listenin' in on the Re Sox (audio)
-Watch live: Nomar Garciaparra press conference
-Who is Yu Dervish and why doesn't he come to America to play for the Yankees (video)
-Nomar Garciaparra to sign with Red Sox, retire
-Tim Wakefield, Red Sox blank Marlins, 9-0

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Motherhood and More (motherhood)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Motherhood and More, by Annie


BLOG DESCRIPTION: I'm Annie, a Baha'i homeschooling mom of three who writes about the daily delights, doldrums, and disasters of motherhood. And life. And chocolate.

MY REVIEW: I think mothers will enjoy this blog (and dads too, for that matter!) as the author has a wonderful perspective on the whole subject. She writes with warmth and humor about all kinds of parenting topics, that all mothers will recognize!

Give it a try.

(I had to look up Baha'i, I admit: The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in nineteenth-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories.)

Sample post
Here's to the Moms I Know . . .
I was thinking today about the deep pool of amazing moms in my life. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by how they've overcome backgrounds, circumstances, and difficulties that I can't even fathom. And sometimes I'm just awed and humbled by the love and effort they put into their parenting. I have learned important lessons from the moms I know, and I'd like to recognize them.

So moms, I honor you with a virtual toast . . .

Here's to the moms I know who decorate their homes to the hilt on every holiday, even the minor ones. From you I have learned the art of making special times truly special.

Here's to the moms I know who read piles of parenting, child development, and education books, trying to be the best moms they can be. From you I have learned that motherhood is a perpetual learning process, and that there are no experts.

Here's to the moms I know who found themselves pregnant when they didn't plan to be, and who have embraced motherhood with humor and gusto. From you I have learned to go with the flow of life.

Here's to the moms I know who have struggled with infertility, who have wondered if their dreams of motherhood were really meant to be. From you I have gained a greater appreciation of the miracle each child truly is.

Here's to the moms I know who have welcomed children into their families through adoption. From you I have learned firsthand that family is not defined by bloodlines.

Here's to the moms I know with girls, who carry the weighty responsibility of being their daughter's first role model. From you I have learned the importance of following my own dreams and showing my girls what is possible.

Here's to the moms I know with boys, who adore their sons and strive to nurture that funky blend of masculine energy and sweet sensitivity. From you I have learned to appreciate the gender differences I don't fully understand.

Here's to the moms I know who have broken cycles of abuse, addiction, and dysfunction from their own childhoods with beautiful examples of mindful parenting. From you I have learned to be conscious of every interaction with my children.

Here's to the moms I know who are parenting on their own, who don't have someone to share the load. From you I have learned that women are capable of amazing feats, and not to take help for granted.

Here's to the moms I know who have lost their precious babies, who have had to endure the grief most of us won't even let ourselves imagine. From you I have learned strength and faith in the face of suffering.

Here's to the mom I know who chooses to wake up at 4:00am every day to go to work, so she can be home in time to meet her kids at the bus stop after school. From you I have learned the value of sacrificing my own comforts for my kids.

Here's to the mom I know who is a recovering alcoholic, who begins each morning with prayerful conviction and ends each day calling herself to account. From you I have learned to take life - and motherhood - one day at a time.

Here's to the mom I know who has twice as many kids as I do, and yet takes the time to cradle her child's face in her hands and smile when he asks her a question. From you I have learned the value of giving kids your full, loving attention.

Here's to the mom I know whose husband took his own life while she and her kids were home with him, and who has carried on by pouring her heart and soul into her children and her faith. From you I have learned that nothing in life is guaranteed, and that "with God, all things are possible."

Here's to the woman I know who is not, and probably never will be, a mom in the literal sense, but who sees all the world's children as her own and strives each day to help them realize their beauty, creativity, and worth. From you I have learned that moms don't have a monopoly on changing children's lives.

Finally, here's to the moms and women I know who love, teach, nurture, worry, agonize, relish, laugh, cry, yell, apologize, wonder, ache, dream, counsel, encourage, pray, play, and otherwise experience the adventure and privilege of life with children. From you I have learned that motherhood is both an individual and communal undertaking, and I am grateful for your examples, inspiration, and support.

Blessings to each and every one of you. :)

--Attack of the Killer Strawberry
--Here's to the Moms I Know . . .
--Death Warmed Over
--"Me Time" for Mommy
--Book Club Slacker
--Snotty Little Kids
--How to Build a Geodesic Dome in 20 Not-So-Easy Ste...
--BoyWonder Discovers a New Sport
--Einstein = Mighty Cute (Squared)
--20 Things I Hate About Everything
--P-Diddles, My MomFriend
--Fasting and "The Hunger Games"

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Memoirs From Nam (the home front)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES, with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Memoirs From Nam, by C. J. Heck


BLOG DESCRIPTION: The Vietnam War left a profound footprint on our country. As a Vietnam widow, it is my wish to provide a healing community where veterans can write about memories, families, and friends. They have the truths we are ready to hear. This blog is written in memory of my husband, Douglas S. Kempf, KIA Vietnam '69

MY REVIEW: This is a very meaningful, poignant blog,for anyone who lost loved ones in Viet Nam, or indeed any other armed conflict...or just via a senseless accident.

The only problem with the blog is that the author updates it infrequently. Only one post in March 2011 so far, 9 posts in February, 15 posts in January, and only 77 total for all of 2010. However, the blog's only 99 cents a month, so there's no reason not to check it out.

Sample post:
The Gift, 1969
Last weekend, we were watching an older HBO series, "The Pacific", and I was reminded of a huge synchronicity that happened to me many years ago. When it was over and we turned the TV off, I talked about it with Robert. He felt it was significant and something I should share.

Some things are difficult to write about -- they're too close to our hearts to even talk about, sometimes -- so please bear with me, as I try and morph emotion into words ...

I've talked before about my first husband, Doug. We were married in January of 1969 and he left shortly after for Vietnam, in May. Doug was a combat medic with the 199th Infantry Division and, during a horrific firefight, KIA in Vietnam in September of 1969.

In August of 1969, my paternal grandmother suddenly died from a brain aneurysm. We were all saddened, of course, especially since she was only 59 -- young, even by 1969 standards. How tenuous life is. None of us ever knows how long we have.

I debated about how best to tell Doug. He was very close to Gramma Parrish. He had to know, and I was going to have to tell him. He loved cooking, like she did, and they often talked recipes and ingredients as he savored her latest offering -- Gramma was a wonderful cook and he was probably her greatest fan.

As I was tearfully writing about Gramma, it occurred to me again just how precious every minute is with loved ones. I missed him so much. I would have given anything to be holding him and telling him in person about Gramma -- suddenly I wondered, what if something happened to me? Who would be the one to tell Doug? Who would console him? Then I knew. I would. As I sat there, a poem came out of nowhere -- it was an easy write, so unlike others I had written, and I went racing with it's simple emotion and insight.

If Only a Minute
(Written August 1969)
Sweet heart, if I only have a minute
to say goodbye to you,
let me whisper what I’m thinking
when my time on earth is through.

I'll tell you how I’ve loved you
and how happy I have been,
please, don't think of me as leaving,
for I know we’ll meet again.

We'll hold each other close once more
and I'll kiss away your tears.
We'll talk of precious things we’ve shared
through all our loving years.

When my time with you has ended
and He calls for me to come,
Just know, I’ve always loved you.
Please take care of everyone.

When I finished, I folded the poem with the letter, addressed the envelope, licked the stamp and like so many other letters, I kissed it and dropped it into the mailbox to find its way to Doug. Even now, as I look back, I'm amazed that I was so blind to the fact that Doug could be the one who died. I was so sure he would return, I refused to even think about any other outcome.

Months later, after his funeral, I received a large envelope from the Army. Inside was a small package of unopened letters that had never reached Doug and they'd never been read. Among the letters was the one I had written about Gramma's passing. Oh my God, I thought, he never knew ... and then the poem slipped down to the floor.

As I bent down and picked up the page, I began to read and I sobbed. The words took on a whole new meaning -- as though Doug had written the words to me, and I felt somehow comforted. I didn't know then that it was called a synchronicity, but I do remember feeling that it came from a higher power, something wonderful, yet mysterious. This was a gift, a magical message, to me from Doug.

... and I'm glad Gramma was there to Welcome Doug Home.


--The Gift
--Movies and War
--Just a Common Soldier
--TAPS: Michael Van Strien
... a Pin Drop
--The National Anthem
--PTSD: Al Comeau
--Military Health Issues: Tiffany Best
--David Westfall: This Time of Year

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Retro Review: Royals Review - baseball!





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Royals Review highlights Kansas City Royals baseball news, updates and top stories. The blog also previews upcoming games and provides player profiles.

MY REVIEW: I'm reviewing all these baseball blogs in the spring season, trying to get them available for potential subscribers. To date, it appears that entries are made on a daily basis, on everything to do with the Royals.

For myself, I find it easier to read this blog on Kindle then on its actual webpage. At the webpage, you get a couple of sentence for each article, then a link to Read More. But the feed is set up on the Kindle so that you get the entire article without having to diddle around.

The Angels blog, also hosted by Sports Nation, has game threads and video (none of which are accessible on the Kindle.) To date Royals Review has strictly news articles on Royals' players.

Since it's only 99 cents a month to subscribe to this blog, go for it!

--Baseball Prospectus ranks Royals farm system 10th best
--2010 Player projections - Zach Greinke Fantasy Baseball Partnership
--Well this is certainly novel: News breaks about odd Jason Kendall Story
--Picking through the wreckage of Black Sunday

Retro Review: NASA Watch



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: NASA Watch, published by Keith Cowling


BLOG DESCRIPTION: NASA Watch is the leading industry news site for NASA with over 13 years experience. We cover daily news including space exploration, policy, budgets, commercial space, congress and much more.

MY REVIEW: It is absolutely imperative that people keep up with the space programs - albeit not only of the United States but also of other countries as well. Somebody is going to establish bases on the Moon, somebody is going to establish bases on Mars. Hopefully it will be by peaceful means, and for peaceful uses. In any event, NASA Watch is an excellent blog, chock full of all kinds of information, written for the layperson.

Of course, new readers may have to do some research on acronyms used. Who is ATK, for example? I think it's Alliant Techsystems - a company I actually used to work for, back when it was a defense subscontractor located out of Minneapolis, and not ATK Spacecraft systems, located out of Hampton, Virginia.

I cannot recommend this blog highly enough.

-Canadian Space Agency waits for government direction
-Robert McCall [space artist obit]
-Acts of Desperation [ATK sniping at NASA)
-Congressional Flak on NASA's plans
-JSC Job Loss Update (re Obama's termination of the Constellation Program. JSC = Johnson Space Center)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Futility Closet (Trivia)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: The Futility Closet, by Greg Ross


BLOG DESCRIPTION: A collection of curious facts in history, literature, mathematics, language, art, and philosophy.

MY REVIEW: This is a fun blog, wiht 3 or 4 updates most days. Each update is a bit of trivia from history, literature, etc. At 99 cents a month, this blog is an informational bargain.

Here's an interesting post, for example:
Lake Huron’s Manitoulin Island contains a lake of its own, Lake Manitou. Lake Manitou is the world’s largest lake-on-an-island-in-a-lake.

Lake Manitou itself contains two islands; each is thus an island in a lake on an island in a lake.

When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” — John Maynard Keynes

What constitutes a name? In 1976, North Dakota short-order cook Michael Dengler sued for the right to change his name to 1069. He said that each digit reflected an aspect of his identity; 6, for example, symbolized his “relationship with the universe in my understanding of my spatial occupancy through this life.” He insisted that “the only way that this identity can be expressed is 1069.”

The state supreme court wrestled with the implications:

If the proposed change is written or printed it would simply appear in Arabic symbols, 1069; but if it is verbalized would it be ‘one thousand sixty-nine,’ ‘one naught six nine,’ ‘one zero six nine,’ or would it be ‘ten sixty-nine’? Petitioner, during the oral argument, stated how he would verbalize it, but this would not eliminate the problem because other persons will not know this.

Some observers joked that he could go by “Juan.” But in the end the court refused the request altogether. “Innovative ideas, even though bordering on the bizarre, are frequently encouraged and may be protected by the law and the courts, but to use the court or law to impose or force a number in lieu of a name upon society is another matter.”

--The Annual Liars
--“Take Heart, Illiterates”
--A Penny Saved
--Concentric Landmarks
--The Next War

New Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Sunday, March 13, 2011

StartupAide (small business)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle

MY RECOMMENDATION: YES - with reservations

AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Business Start-Up Aide, by StartupAide


BLOG DESCRIPTION: Designed for individuals that want to start their own business using little to no capital. Learn what it takes to succeed!

2-5 new Blog entries per week.

MY REVIEW: I'm somewhat hesitant to review a blog that is so brand new that it has only 2 posts in it - one made on March 9 and the other on March 11. One hopes posts occur every other day durin gthe week - but how to know?

On the other hand, I do like to give brand new blogs a helping hand, and judging from the two posts to date, the author does know what he - or she! - is writing about.

In addition, as usual, Kindle has put the beginning price of this blog at $1.99. However, also as usual, I'm sure they'll drop the price down to 99 cents within a few days or weeks (regardless of how many people subscribe). The information here - if it remains the same consistent quality as exhibited in the first two posts, is worth $1.99 a month, so don't wait to see if the price drops down! (And if it does, even mid-month, you will be refunded whatever the difference is on whatever credit card you use to subscribe to the blog.)

Sample Post:
After years of consulting eager individuals looking to go into business for themselves I see this common theme. Those that do not have any formal or practical training starting a business seem to just do ‘things’ and hope they are successful. There’s no planning, no research, no market scanning; just actions shot at random hoping to hit a target.

Imagine, you receive an email claiming riches and fortune beyond your wildest imagination. It’s a simple, easy, no hassle way to make money. Just click this link! Your eyes light up, the thought of that income is too good to resist. You click, read how internet advertising will solve all your problems; just sign up, and watch the money roll in. You think to yourself:

“This is for me”

“I am far too busy to start a business from the ground up,”

“I have no free time and I work hard enough as it is."

You sign up for internet hosting, hire a web designer, create a site and use the ‘emailed service’ to populate your site with links galore, every visitor, every click, instant income; one step closer to riches and fortune. You wait two days, three; one week, two. Two weeks turn to two months; two months to six and still not one view for your site. You spent $150 for two years of hosting, and $100 on web development, and nothing. Where are my riches, my fortune? This was supposed to be easy!

What the email neglects to mention is how many sites just like yours exist and getting a site noticed online is not just going to happen by itself. It takes constant content submission, a significant social presence, and links to your site on as many websites as possible. Five minutes of Google searching for ‘Internet advertising statistics’ might have saved you six months of distress and over $250.

I understand how important it is for you to ‘be your own boss’ and ‘take control of your life’ but most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that the best way to achieve that goal is through strategy. Save yourself time and money by doing a little research. Know what you are getting into before following that link, before buying that expensive piece of equipment for your new t-shirt business. Most of the information you will ever need is available for FREE ‘somewhere,’ just take some time to look.

One of the most important measures of success is the effort you put in for your new venture. I’m not saying that the harder you work, the more successful you will be. I am referring to Strategic Effort; plan your strategy after researching your industry. Develop an entrance strategy and build appropriate steps to increase the possibility of success.

Want to be a Wedding Planner? Have you researched how many wedding planning companies are in your local area? What sets yours apart? Is it price? Convenience? Luxury?

If you have already started the business,

do you find yourself frantically preparing for the wedding? Using your own money to get items to the wedding at the last minute (You should NEVER have to use your own/company money)? Do processes seem much more complicated than they need to?

Do I finally have your attention? Good! Because I’m here to help.

First things first:

1. Slow down
A common mistake that most entrepreneurs make is being impatient, rushing success.

2. Research
Take time to see if your idea can actually be a viable business. If you don’t know what to research, use a search engine and type ‘what I need to know to start a business’ or ‘(insert business here) research.” (Note: If a website offers information for a price, ignore that site and move on to the next one. The internet is full of FREE information). If you still can’t figure out what to research, ask me! (

3. Ask Questions
Ask lots and lots of questions. If you are concerned with someone stealing your idea, then either spare the details or have them sign a NonDisclosure agreement. Don’t know where to find one? Do online search for ‘free nondisclosure agreement.’ I might even post some legal documents on this site in the near future. (

4. Plan
Strategy is the MOST important aspect of getting a startup business out to the public. How are you going to advertise your product? What is your product creation process? What do I do if something goes wrong? (Refer to blog entry on Contingency Plan)

5. Execute
Now that you have done all of the due-diligence it’s time to start your business. Put that plan in motion. Your success probability should now be substantially greater.

Follow these steps before you start your next business venture. If you already own a business, revisit this list and see what you can improve. Your company and possibly employees, will thank you.

Now go and be successful! Start NOW!

--The Contingency Plan- Planning for undesired outcomes for any business venture
--I Just Jumped Right In

New Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report

Retro Reviews: Science and Earth News





BLOG DESCRIPTION: Space and Earth stories from Enjoy reading 15-20 quality articles every day. Topics include: space exploration, earth sciences, astronomy, environment and more.

MY REVIEW: This is a blog similar to the Science Codex... the website, PhyOrg, has a variety of topics, and this is their science and earth news blog.

The tite may be Space and Earth stories, but from what I can see, it's mostly earth stories. Nothing wrong with that, but if you're interested in space science and technology, this isn't the blog for you.

-Greener memory from random motion
-Atmospheric nanoparticles impact health, weather professor says
-Long-distance quantum communication gets closer as physicists increase light storage efficiency by an order of magnitude
-Roman era York may have been more diverse than today
-G-speak will make the keyboard and mouse obsolete
-Glue, fly, glue" Caddisflies' underwater silk adhesive might suture wounds

Retro Review: Science Codex Space And Astronomy



AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Science Codex Space and Astronomy

WEB ADDRESS: (Main page, from which there are link to all their disciplines)

BLOG DESCRIPTION: Science Codex posts articles on the latest science findings from all over the world.

MY REVIEW: Whereas NASA Watch concentrates on the space programs - of other countries but mostly of NASA, Science Codex Space and Astronomy deals with astronomy news and space technology in general.

The posts are well-written. They are written for the well-read layperson - if you're not well-read, this is not a problem, with the ease of the internet you can always look up any terminology you are unfamiliar with. However, because the articles are written for the layperson, much of the terminology used is defined within the article. For example, DHA = docosahexaenoic acid. This is the Omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to kill neuroblastoma cancer cells.

Here's a few sample paragraphs:
The next treatment for cancer might come from fish says a new research report published in the March 2010 print edition of the FASEB Journal ( In the report, scientists show that the omega-3 fatty acid, "docosahexaenoic acid" or "DHA," and its derivatives in the body kill neuroblastoma cancer cells. This discovery could lead to new treatments for a wide range of cancers, including neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, colon, breast, and prostate cancers, among others.

-Strenthening NASA's suborbital program
-Researchers fishing for cancer cure discover active DHA derivatives
-New 'alien' invaders found in the Milky Way [that'd be alien galaxies, not beings)
-CeBIT 2010: Intelligent energy management for the home
-Wild 2: First measurement of the age of cometary material

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Retro Review: Beyond the Backstop (Baseball)


MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, with reservations



BLOG DESCRIPTION: Behind The Backstop offers news, analysis, and opinions on all topics concerning Major League Baseball. We provide content 7 days a week.

MY REVIEW: Well, this is a brand new blog, so it's a bit hard to give it a proper review right now. Just as this blog metamorphosized in its first two weeks of existence, so might this one, especially when the real season starts.

Rather than focusing on one particular team, it seems that this blog will focus on baseball news in general. Right now, as we wait for the season to start, they're doing Team Previews, which are all very well if you're interested in teams from a fantasy league basis, or just in baseball in general.

There are no photos yet, and presumably tehre won't be until the writers actually go visit the teams in their area (as opposed to spring trainng which are all taking place in Grapefruit places - that'd be Florida, or Cactus places - that'd be Arizona!

How will this blog differentiate itself from the hundreds of other blogs out there. If you're a general blog rather than a specific team blog, it'll require something special. Perhaps the authors will have a certain sense of humor, or some particular style.

So for now, we'll say yes with reservations to this blog, and we'll check back when the season starts to see what is happening then.

-2010 Preview: Boston Red Sox
-2010 Preview: Baltimore Orioles
-2010 Preview: Washington Nationals
-2010 Preview: Philadelphia Phillies
-2010 Preview: New York Mets

Retro Review: Bleed Cubbie Blue (Baseball)


MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, wth reservations



BLOG DESCRIPTION: This blog is dedicated to the Chicago Cubs fan community and features game recaps, bleacher reconstruction news, and book reviews. All sides of being a Cubs fan are covered in this informative site.

MY REVIEW: There is such a wealth of information fed by this blog to your Kindle, that at a cost of 99 cents a month to have it delivered, it's not a bad deal, especially if you're a diehard Chicago Cubs fan.

Unfortunately, like most of the SportsBlog Nation blogs, many of the features available on the website aren't available on the Kindle. There's videos, audio, and probably even game threads that you won't see unless you actually visit this blog web's page.

However, I frankly anticipate that once the season actually begins and the posts really start coming, they'll mostly be text-based, and Kindle users will be able to enjoy having the articles delivered directly to their Kindle.

-Kung Fu Panda Slams Z: Giants Beat Cubs 5-1
-First Pitch Thread: Cubs vs Giants, Wednesday 3/10 (gamethread, unreadable on Kindle)
-What Will We See on Opening DAy? Cubs vs Giants at Mesa Preview, Wednesday 3/10
-2010 BCB Community Projections: Starting Position Players (Corrected)
Parker Lets Inglett Park One: 9th inning HR leads Brewers over Cubs, 5-3

Retro Review: Halos Heaven - baseball!


MY RECOMMENDATION: Yes, with reservations.



BLOG DESCRIPTION: Halos Heaven is a Los Angeles/Anaheim Angels blog that delivers news, updates, top stories, as well as links to SportsBlogs Nation, polls, and Angels sites galore!

MY REVIEW: I'm reviewing all these baselball blogs in the spring season, trying to get them available for potential subscribers. To date, it appears that entries are made on a daily basis, on everything to do wtih the Angels.

What are its flaws? Well, the blog is updated every day, which is a plus...but a lot of those updates aren't accessible to people with a Kindle. They consist of Youtube videos, or game threads which don't feed over, and so on.

On the other hand, if you're a die-hard Angels fan, once the season starts you may want all this material delivered to your door on a regular basis. So I leave that decision up to you!

--Brandon Wood - Will he rock or flop? (Video)
--Still no Trivia Winner (Trivia contest)
--Spring debut game thread (Inaccessible)
--Hank Conger is Cool, Scott Kazmir is not: Halolinks (Lots of links, time-consuming to get to on a Kindle)
--'Angels' Japanese Quiz Show Sighting

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dandilyon Fluff (virtual life)

REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle


AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: Dandilyon Fluff, by Dandilyon Jinx


BLOG DESCRIPTION: My blog is about a variety of topics, being an expat living in Australia, the environment and running a virtual clothes design business in virtual platforms such as Second Life. "Save the planet, life virtually!"

MY REVIEW: If you're a computer aficianado, in particular interested in virtual worlds such as Second Life, this blog will be of interest to you. Or if you've heard of these types of things...this is the blog to read to find out what it's all about!

Sample post:
Virtually Insane..Cyber Chicken Ranching
The whole affair started innocently enough.

I was busy working in our studio and was looking through all my clothing textures for an "eggshell white" lace when I found something claiming to be actual eggs.

In Second Life, when you want to see something "inworld", you pull it out of your inventory and drop it on the ground.

Out came two things that did indeed look like eggs, and after a minute they gave me a message to inform me that they were hatching. I wondered what that might mean for half a second before dismissing it and mentally moving on. I had just remembered that the lace I was looking for was actually called "bone white", and all thoughts of eggs and hatching were gone as I finished my project and logged off.

Hours went by in the physical world, and I thought of a new project that needed to get finished. Back into the cyber workshop went I. I hopped up on my model stand and started adjusting skirt panels when I thought I heard a bird somewhere close by. I took my headset off and listened. All was quiet, and I went back to my skirt.

Again I heard bird cheeps close at hand. I took my headset back off and looked under my computer desk. Nothing, and all was quiet. Suspiciously I replaced my headset and was instantly accosted by fervent cheeping from somewhere in my virtual workshop. Looking around I discovered two small yellow things that resembled chicks hopping around in a corner. Suddenly the egg hatching message came back to me, and I had the uncomfortable realization that I was now a pet owner.

My knowledge of what they call "breedables" has expanded quite a lot since those early days of accidental chick hatchery. I've since found out that if I have a rooster and a hen, I'll have eggs which (if you aren't careful) hatch into more chicks. I now have a small flock of egg laying, corn munching mini monsters that push me around affectionately and play with the toys I make them. They eat, breed, sleep, grow,cluck, crow... and eventually will die. For all intents and purposes, I keep a flock of chickens.

As far as breedables are concerned, my chicken habit is pretty mild. Some people keep whole farms of not only chickens, but horses, pigs, turtles, kittens, dogs, spiders and, I found out today, breedable robots. A whole cyber industry is built up around selling animal feed (grown by cyber corn farmers of course), cages, toys and the offspring. I now make regular trips to my favorite breedable supply store, The Menagerie, to stock up on supplies.

Who would have thought that I could be a rancher and sell my livestock from my small, one room flat? I certainly wouldn't have, but as I explore the virtual world of Second Life more, I'm discovering anything is possible... even chicken farming..

--Suddenly American
--Dandelion Fluff Pendants at Beth Cyr Jewelry
--Save the Planet - Live Virtually
--The Oprah Winfrey Show Farewell Seaosn Pearl Necklace
--Pop Art Lab 2011 Machinima Party - Wooot!

Reviews published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the following blogs:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Volcano Seven: Treasure and Treasure Hunters
Rush Limbaugh Report