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Archive for March, 2011

It’s a Black and White Day Today

March 10th, 2011 Comments off
Categories: Photos-Photography Tags:

What i’m Reading…

March 9th, 2011 Comments off

Home by Bill Bryson

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2010:

Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything) turns his attention from science to society in his authoritative history of domesticity, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. While walking through his own home, a former Church of England rectory built in the 19th century, Bryson reconstructs the fascinating history of the household, room by room. With waggish humor and a knack for unearthing the extraordinary stories behind the seemingly commonplace, he examines how everyday items–things like ice, cookbooks, glass windows, and salt and pepper–transformed the way people lived, and how houses evolved around these new commodities. “Houses are really quite odd things,” Bryson writes, and, luckily for us, he is a writer who thrives on oddities. He gracefully draws connections between an eclectic array of events that have affected home life, covering everything from the relationship between cholera outbreaks and modern landscaping, to toxic makeup, highly flammable hoopskirts, and other unexpected hazards of fashion. Fans of Bryson’s travel writing will find plenty to love here; his keen eye for detail and delightfully wry wit emerge in the most unlikely places, making At Home an engrossing journey through history, without ever leaving the house. –Lynette Mong

The Brother Gardeners: A Generation of Gentlemen Naturalists and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf

From the Random House web site…

This is the fascinating story of a small group of eighteenth-century naturalists who made Britain a nation of gardeners and the epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. It’s the story of a garden revolution that began in America.

In 1733, the American farmer John Bartram dispatched two boxes of plants and seeds from the American colonies, addressed to the London cloth merchant Peter Collinson. Most of these plants had never before been grown in British soil, but in time the magnificent and colorful American trees, evergreens, and shrubs would transform the English landscape and garden forever. During the next forty years, Collinson and a handful of botany enthusiasts cultivated hundreds of American species. The Brother Gardeners follows the lives of six of these men, whose shared passion for plants gave rise to the English love affair with gardens. In addition to Collinson and Bartram, who forged an extraordinary friendship, here are Philip Miller, author of the best-selling Gardeners Dictionary; the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, whose standardized nomenclature helped bring botany to the middle classes; and Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, who explored the strange flora of Brazil, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia on the greatest voyage of discovery of their time, aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavour.

From the exotic blooms in Botany Bay to the royal gardens at Kew, from the streets of London to the vistas of the Appalachian Mountains, The Brother Gardeners paints a vivid portrait of an emerging world of knowledge and of gardening as we know it today. It is a delightful and beautifully told narrative history.

Book Yourself Solid

The new edition of the bestselling business development guide
Book Yourself Solid, Second Edition reveals why self-promotion is a critical factor to success, giving you a unique perspective that makes this guide much more than an ordinary “how to” manual for getting more clients and raising a business profile.

Book Yourself Solid, Second Edition enables you to adopt the right promotional perspective and provides the strategies, techniques, and skills necessary to get more clients and increase profits. Through verbal and written exercises, you’ll discover the keys to developing a strong marketing plan and brand image.

Features unique, personalized, updated social media marketing strategies for service professionals

Provides new pricing models and sales strategies for simpler selling
Delivers fresh networking and outreach strategies guaranteed to take only minutes a day
Offers new solid product launch strategies and tactics for creating instant awareness
Author a New York Times bestseller, TV personality, and highly recognized professional speaker

Get the proven tools you can put into effect today with Book Yourself Solid, Second Edition, and watch your business grow exponentially!

How to be a fierce competitor

From best-selling author Jeffrey J. Fox, how the savvy see opportunity — and capitalize on it

Economic downturns separate the winning companies from the struggling. And as best-selling author Jeffrey J. Fox shows, tough times also give solid companies, strong managers, and potential rainmakers the opportunity to seize market share. In this eminently readable, practical resource for business leaders and managers, Fox explains exactly how the savvy few who rise to the top stay focused and alert, get new market share, hire good recently fired talent, increase investments into customer service, speed innovation, train all customer facing people, make acquisitions, get rid of underperformers, build brand names, pay for measurable performance, and lots more.

Potential rainmakers, CEOS, marketing superstars, and great bosses have long turned to Jeffrey J. Fox for advice. Now he shows exactly what to do to weather any climate.

The Lost Hero

This new series carries on in the world of Percy Jackson, but without Percy. More of the same exciting quests, heros, monsters and the potential destruction of Olympus itself.

Categories: Books Tags:

I Like This – March 9, 2011

March 9th, 2011 Comments off

A collection of interesting items I found in my daily reading.

Categories: Shared Items Tags:

My Instagram photo gallery via Instagrid

March 7th, 2011 Comments off

Check out this gallery of the photos I have posted to Instagram over the last couple of months.

Click to see the actual gallery and scroll back through all my photos.


Here is one of my favorite Instagram shots…a self portrait.


Categories: Photos-Photography Tags:

Photo: Archery Closeups

March 6th, 2011 Comments off

I took these 2 photos during a visit to the Archery Range with friends for my son’s 13th birthday. The subject is my friend, Michael Lawshe. I really like how they came out, especially the reflection of the target in his glasses on the first one.

Michael's archery form

Mchael's archery form

Categories: Photos-Photography Tags:

Food: Homemade Ginger Beer

March 6th, 2011 Comments off

Homemade Ginger Beer

I was watching an episode of River Cottage, a UK food show a few weeks ago and came across this easy method for making your own ginger beer. The same method could be applied to almost any flavoring that you might want. I recommend fresh ingredients over dried or artificial. If you are going to make soda yourself, you might as well make something as wholesome and tasty as possible. You can buy any soda you want at the store. Make this something different.

This ginger beer, like all brewed sodas, will contains a small amount of alcohol due to the fermentation that creates the bubbles. It is usually never more than 1%-2%, though.


If you do, it is almost guaranteed that you will explode the bottle, causing yourself quite a bit of danger and mess. Stick with plastic. Even then, keep it in a location that won’t be harmed too much from flying sugar water, should it occur.

Here is the River Cottage recipe. I will add my changes in parentheses.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes –
Ginger beer recipe

Date Published: 03/11/2010

There’s lashings of Hugh’s famous fizz all round on River Cottage Every Day

Hugh: “For this, you will need screw-top, 2-litre plastic bottles, which you have cleaned thoroughly using sterilising tablets.”

(I sterilized my bottle with a capful of bleach to a bottle of water. Swish it around and then poor it out. RInse with fresh water. I only had 1 .5 liter bottle on hand. It seemed to work just a well, although you may want to short the ingredients a bit to compensate for the small size.)

Per 2-liter bottle:


  • ¼ tsp brewer’s yeast (I used the baking yeast I had around)
  • 225g caster sugar (I used 1/2 granulated sugar and 1/2 brown sugar)
  • 1½-2 tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 good tbsp honey

Method: How to make ginger beer

  1. Add the yeast to the bottle. With a funnel, pour in the sugar.
  2. Mix the grated ginger with the lemon juice and honey.
  3. Pour the ginger mixture through the funnel into the bottle. Now fill the bottle about ¾ full with water, put the cap on and shake the bottle until all the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Top up the bottle with water, leaving a 2.5cm gap at the top, to allow for production of gas. Cap the bottle tightly, then place it somewhere warm. Leave it for about 48 hours. Once the bottle feels very hard and has no give in it, your beer should be ready.
  5. Place the bottle in the fridge for several hours to stop the yeast working. Once the beer is thoroughly chilled, pass it through a fine sieve and serve.

© River Cottage Every Day

After about 48 hours the bottle was very firm and the bottom of the bottle had pushed out from the pressure. I placed it in the fridge for a few hours this morning and tasted it this afternoon. There was a burst of gas released when I opened the bottle, but the soda remained quite fizzy on pouring and drinking.

The soda was very gingery and a bit sweet. I might cut back on the sugar just a bit next time. If it is too sweet, you can mix it with sparkling water to match your tastes.

Homemade Ginger Beer

Categories: Food Tags:

Recently Listened Podcasts for March 3, 2011

March 4th, 2011 Comments off

Steve wears overalls + What’s This Food? : GardenFork Radio
GardenFork Radio – Eric Rochow

Steve from the Born To Farm podcast and the Farm Cast Network joins us to talk about blogging with WordPress and making your own podcast, and Daniel Delaney of What’s This Food joins us to talk about how to cook Aebleskiver.

February 19, 2011: The Splendid Table
APM: The Splendid Table – American Public Media

It’s a look at the mysterious eel with James Prosek author of Eels, An Exploration, From New Zealand To The Saragasso, of the World’s Most Mysterious Fish, we look at the food life of Thailand with David Thompson author of Thai Street Food and John Kowals

Feb. 12, 2011: The News from Lake Wobegon
APM: A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon American Public Media

We need snow this time of the year, everyone gets cranky during the month of February.

Entrepreneurs Win the Game with Social Media and Forward Passes
The Bigg Success Show The Bigg Success Show Life On My Own Terms

Feb. 26, 2011: The News from Lake Wobegon
APM: A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon American Public Media

It is snowing again, despite people’s objections.

Prog. 5 Objects: The Mozarts’ Games
A History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects BBC Radio 3

Cliff Eisen focuses on the role of game-playing in Mozart’s life, and takes a look at a range of games including card games painted by Leopold Mozart himself, and a board game which featured the characters of Mozart’s Magic Flute….

022512 Hour 2: Bilingual Babies, Turkle on Technology, Transgenic Weeds
Science Friday Audio Podcast

Science Friday 022512 Hour 2: Bilingual Babies, Turkle on Technology, Transgenic Weeds

IOT: Maimonides 17th February 2011
In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg BBC Radio 4

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life, times and legacy of the great Jewish medieval philsopher, Maimonides. Also known as Rambam, Maimonides was a philosopher, theologian, lawyer and physician whose works are still influential today. Melvyn is…

mozart: Prog. 6 Objects: A telescope and a musical clock
A History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects BBC Radio 3

In this episode Cliff Eisen concentrates on a 18th-Century state-of-the-art telescope and on a musical clock as a sign of the Mozarts’ interest in science and technology – a typical concern of the time, which Wolfgang reflected in his music….

99% Invisible-17- Concrete Furniture
99% Invisible Roman Mars

The New City Hall, designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell, was the first modern, concrete, civic building in Toronto. When it opened in …

Do Entrepreneurs Thrive on Chaos?
The Bigg Success Show The Bigg Success Show Life On Your Own Terms

Darth Passat
Marketing Over Coffee John Wall and Christopher Penn

In this Marketing Over Coffee learn : About The Superbowl, Near Field Communications, WordPress plugins you can’t live without! All this and more… Direct Link to File Show length 26:16 Brought to you by our sponsors: Blue Sky Factory – Our Email Pro

mozart: Prog. 10 Objects: Leopold’s books and Mozart’s tea chest
A History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects BBC Radio 3

Cliff Eisen talks about travel in the 18th Century, and discovers the books Leopold Mozart picked up in London as well as the tea chest that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart carried with him on his travels….

Do You Care?
The Bigg Success Show The Bigg Success Show Life On Your Own Terms

Special Interview with Greg Verdino
Marketing Over Coffee John Wall and Christopher Penn

In this Marketing Over Coffee: A special conversation with Greg Verdino. We talk with him about his book MicroMarketing. Direct Link to File Show length 32:56 Brought to you by our sponsors: Blue Sky Factory – Our Email Provider of Choice – Check out thei

Adding Smarts To The Electrical Grid
NPR: Science Friday Podcast NPR

The nation’s electrical distribution system has been getting less reliable over time, according to an article by electrical engineering professor Massoud Amin. How dependable is our electrical infrastructure, and will plans for a more intelligent “smart

Feb. 19, 2011: The News from Lake Wobegon
APM: A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon American Public Media

The snow is melting and people are able to walk around town again.

Why Cities Rock
Freakonomics Radio Stephen J. Dubner

Could it be that cities are “our greatest invention” — that, despite reputation as black-soot-spewing engines of doom, they in fact make us richer, smarter, happier and (believe it!) greener?

Defeat Your Doppelgangers
Stuff To Blow Your Mind

Most people are familiar with the idea of a doppelganger — some mysterious copy or clone of another human being — but what’s the science behind this phenomenon? Tune in as Julie and Robert take a closer look at doppelgangers.

Millionaires vs. Billionaires
Freakonomics Radio Stephen J. Dubner

Five things you don’t know about the NFL labor standoff

mozart: Prog. 8 Objects: A window from Mozart’s flat in Vienna
A History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects BBC Radio 3

A window from Mozart’s flat in Vienna inspires Cliff Eisen to visit the actual place – the Figarohaus, today a museum dedicated to the composer, who tried to earn his life as a free-lance musician in the Imperial Capital – but what challenges did he…

Life on the 500th Floor
Stuff To Blow Your Mind

By 2050, experts believe approximately two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. How will this urbanization change life for individuals, and how will it affect the world? Listen in and learn more about life on the 500th floor.

Have We Grown Too Fond Of Technology?
NPR: Science Friday Podcast NPR

In her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle examines our proclivity for robots, smart phones and social networks, and though far from suggesting we ditch technology, she wonders if we aren’t losin

February 5, 2011: The Splendid Table
APM: The Splendid Table American Public Media

This week we’re talking to Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, about our sometimes puzzling relationship with meat, Diana Henry author of Plenty brings us a decidedly British take on leftovers, and New York Times Getting Lost co

mozart: Prog. 2 Objects: Portraits of Mozart
A History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects BBC Radio 3

Cliff Eisen introduces the second in a series of programmes exploring Mozart’s world through objects associated with him. Today, two of the most important portraits of Mozart: the Stock and the Lange portraits in Salzburg….

TA: Illegal Workers and Capital Punishment
Thinking Allowed BBC Radio 4

What is the work experience of the illegal immigrants taking part in the British economy? Laurie hears about a new report from David Whyte. Also, is the American Death Penalty an anomaly in an age of abolition? David Garland and Ken MacDonald join…

Everybody Peeled Mushrooms : GardenFork Radio
GardenFork Radio Eric Rochow

This week we check in with Julie and Tim, our friends in the UK. we talk about snow, town history, Etsy, and food myths.

Are you smarter than an ant swarm?
Stuff To Blow Your Mind

A single ant might not be Mensa material, but a colony of ants can produce some amazingly clever decisions. Tune in as Robert and Julie explore the study of swarm intelligence — and how it compares to human intelligence.

99% Invisible-16- A Designed Language
99% Invisible Roman Mars

The idea is simple and quite beautiful: if we all shared a second, politically neutral language, people of all different nations and cultures …

A Bold Career Move May Save Your Life
The Bigg Success Show The Bigg Success Show Life On Your Own Terms

mozart: Prog. 4 Objects: Mozart’s own piano
A History of Mozart in a Dozen Objects BBC Radio 3

Cliff Eisen explores some of the many types of piano Mozart played during his life, along with specially-recorded excerpts to illustrate the features he wanted to exploit as he wrote music for the instrument…

Science Diction: The Origin Of ‘Physician’
NPR: Science Friday Podcast NPR

In the 13th century, Anglo-Normans appropriated the French physique, or remedy, to coin the English physic, or medicine, which is still in dictionaries today. Science historian Howard Markel discusses how physic became physician, and the parallel evolutio

IOT: The Nervous System 10th Feb 2011
In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg BBC Radio 4

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Nervous System, the body’s communication network. The discovery of the nervous system is a fascinating story which begins in ancient Greece and is still going on today. Melvyn is joined by Colin Blakemore, Professor…

AHOW: 097 Hockney’s In the Dull Village 19 Oct 2010
A History of the World in 100 Objects BBC Radio 4

Print by the British artist David Hockney. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, explores the sexual revolution of the 1960s through a print by David Hockney which shows two men in bed together. The work was one of a series created as the…

AHOW: 099 Credit card 21 Oct 2010
A History of the World in 100 Objects BBC Radio 4

A plastic credit card. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, explores the changing role of money in the modern world by looking at a Shari’a compliant credit card. How is modern banking adapting for new markets and what are the moral issues…

Categories: Audio, New Media, Podcast, Shared Items Tags:

Wolfram Alpha can help parents with children’s math homework — also Khan Academy

March 2nd, 2011 1 comment

From TechnologyIQ, another blog…

Updated (3/2/2011 @ 250pm): I have added a link to an algebra video from Khan Academy to the end of this post. One of my Facebook friends recommended it and this video is EXACTLY the type of equations that my son is studying right now. I plan on introducing him to several of these videos. They are very clear and I think they really help to develop a deeper understanding of the material.

My son is about to turn 13 and his current math lessons include the beginnings of algebra. To say the least, my knowledge of algebra is almost non-existent. I haven’t even thought about it much since I left high school, where I barely made it through the required classes. Of course, as a responsible parent, someone needs to assist with math homework and that task has fallen to me, even with my weak skills.

After struggling through a series of homework pages where I was learning as much as him, I really needed a way to check our work. While the book provides some answers, the teacher, for good reason, usually selects those problems that are not answered. How was I to know that we had come up with the right solution without the Statistics homework helper?

Enter WolframAlpha. WolframAlpha garnered a lot of attention at its launch due to the unique approach it took to searching the Internet. Instead of returning results as a series of web pages the reader could link to, it tries to provide answers directly on the search page. One specialized feature is that Wolfram Alpha will also solve equations. I can type in x^2+a=29 and it will solve it for me, even showing me geometrical representation, when appropriate. It understands “order of operations” and many complex mathematical concepts much better than I ever will.


The site also helps me with one of my personal math failings — dealing with negative numbers. I can put in a string of calculations from the math worksheet and be reasonably sure that I haven’t botched the typical “negative times a negative makes a positive”, etc calculations that quickly lead to a very wrong answer.

You can check under the Examples tab on the web site if you are having trouble figuring out how to enter a particular equation or problem. Mathematical notation on computer is, by necessity, a bit different. Exponents are indicated using the ^ character and square roots by sqrt i.e. sqrt2. (See more)

WolframAlpha won’t answer everything, of course, but it helps to reduce the number of questions I have to refer back to the teacher for further explanation. It also helps to tell if we are on the right track for a solution or running off into the weeds. The next time you are feeling a bit out of your element with math homework, give WolframAlpha a try.

I would love to hear about your experiences. Leave me a comment and tell me if it helps you as much as it has helped me.

Here is an algebra video from Khan Academy which is another great resource for helping your children with subjects that might be a little beyond your skill level.

Categories: News, Opinion, Video Tags:

I Like This – March 2, 2011

March 2nd, 2011 Comments off

A collection of interesting items I found in my daily reading.

Categories: Shared Items Tags: