Archive for September, 2008


Too much nature in the backyard?

It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in Peoria.  After returning from the Peoria Art Fair,  I thought I’d go to our backyard and finish staining the fence.  There are only 5 more fence panels to go.   So I started off staining the fence,  an hour later Jim came out to join me.  As he looks around the fence, he yelled out “Hey, did you see that?”.  I was busy painting and did not look up.  I yelled back “Look at what?”; “That!” he said.  “That” did not peak my interest so I went on until he said “A headless bird sitting on the fence post” pointing towards the fence post.  Ok, that did it…  a headless bird????.  Eeeuwhhhhh!!!!! Eeeeuwhhhh! Eeeuwwhhh!!! especially when 20 mins ago, I was 1 panel away away from that post.  It could have fallen on my head, as i was merrily painting away.   As my heads spins on what could happen should the headless bird had fallen on me ;-) , Jim removed the bird from the post.

After recovering from my “what ifs” and purging all the gross images from my head, he and I continued working on the fence.  About 2 hours later we were done.  I left to water the front lawn where I had put some seeds down.  Jim was cleaning out the stain sprayer.  Then I hear, “Angela come quick!!”.   He and I walked slowly into our backyard and saw sitting on the fence at the right corner was a full grown hawk.  So that should explain the headless bird on the fence post, it also explains why my bird feeder has been full for the past two weeks.   It’s pretty cool to have a hawk visit, but I am not sure if I want to find headless birds or parts of birds in my flower bed.  On the up side,  I’ve not seen those pesky little chipmunks around either,  so that’s great!


Have you had a depressing week?

If you’ve read the news you have.  How in the world does everything unravel so quickly, and go unnoticed (or at least unchecked) for so long?  A while back I watched a great documentary about the Iraq war called “No End In Sight”.  The big takeaway from that movie was how much bad management–ignorant management–has had to do with failings in Iraq.  Undoubtedly there will be a similar documentary out soon showing the same level of incompetence behind this economic chaos.  (I do believe I.O.U.S.A, a movie about the US Debt, has just opened.  Great timing!)

I’m tired of listening to sound-bite compilations about extremely complex topics surrounding extremely fundamental and serious issues.  I don’t want to hear Obama and McCain talk of bi-partisan anything, and then give their completely irrelevant suggestions on fixing the financial crisis.  I don’t want to hear Sen. Shelby talk ad-infinitum about his list of 200 economists who disagree with the bailout plan (go interview the economists!  Please!).  I don’t want to hear Bush at all (and neither does Congress).  And I certainly don’t want to watch Gov. Palin voice her flashcard views during the train-wreck of an interview with Katie Couric.  If she had referred to Iran as ‘those bad guys’ one more time I’d be buying a new TV.

Just get the people who fell short in the popularity contest but have a damn clue, put them on and let them explain some of this in depth, and at least give me hope!!!


Great Idea [Fitbit]

I just heard about a new company and product that will be coming out later this year, and I think it will be huge. The company is called Fitbit, and they’ve developed a small pedometer-like device that tracks your motion and automatically syncs with your computer and uploads the results. On their website you can view reports and otherwise manage the data.

The idea of automatically syncing when you’re within 50ft of your computer sounds good. Seeing activity graphs by hours is cool. Getting an analysis of your sleep patterns (you can wear it on a wrist clip) sounds really novel. All for a one time $99, and no monthly fee.

Maybe it will be vaporware, but if not I bet this takes off. Check it out.


30 More Years?



The world is apparently in crisis, with wars and high energy prices, the stock market is falling and so is the sky.  So, given this, what guidance might people be searching for–on Google?  Google moved their  “Suggest” feature to the main page a few weeks ago, as you’ve undoubtedly seen as it tries to complete your queries.  I was starting to type in a question tonight, beginning with “what to do when…”, and was met with this hilarous suggestion set:

So the world is really just a bunch of rich, bored, pregnant stoners with broken ipods.  Not nearly as bad as how I’d imagined things!


The Pickens Plan

If you live in the US, you’ve no doubt seen seen one or more T. Boone Pickens’ ads pushing his energy plan. Yesterday we headed to Tanner’s Orchard to pick apples (something of an annual tradition for us), and I was struck by the large number of wind turbines in the area (Speer, IL). I’d heard that they were putting in additional capacity in that area, and had seen the blades being transported (quite an impressive feat), but I didn’t realize until yesterday just how many turbines they’d installed. The slowly-rotating propellers dotted the horizon looking north.

I came home interested in some of the details of wind power and found many links ended up on The Pickens Plan. While I don’t know enough to push this plan, I did find the lecture format introduction very effective, and have included it below. Whether or not this is the right plan I don’t know, but it is certainly encouraging to finally see a lot of attention being paid to energy policy.


Do you Freecycle?

I like the “three r’s” campaign which expands recycling to:  reduce, reuse, recycle.  We’ve been recycling for years, but more recently I’ve been looking for ways to reuse.  “Borrow what you need, give what you have”, they say.  I’ve been looking for ways to give away the ton of unused–but not useless–stuff that we’ve accumulated.

For giving and getting books, I recommend BookMooch. This site provides a forum for listing your books and searching for others’.  If someone requests one of your books, you send it to them on your dime (about $2.50 via media mail for a normal size book), and get one point.  Send it overseas and get three points.  You can then spend those points on any of the other books that are offered by requesting them from the BookMooch site, which will forward the request to the owner (who will pay the shipping).   The site itself has no role in the trade beyond tracking points and providing a way to search.  It’s a very effective system for swapping certain types of books.

For giving and getting general merchandise, I can go to Goodwill, but I’ve never been very confident in the effectiveness of Goodwill.  Often times the drop-off location looks like a dump, and a dumpster is usually nearby.  I’m just not sure the things I drop off end up with someone who needs them.  Enter Freecycle.

Freecycle is a network of Yahoo Groups sites where you can post offers to give away just about anything.  The sites are set up around geographic areas: the Peoria site covers the city and surrounding counties.  The rules state that the recipient is responsible for picking up the item, and that there is to be no money involved in the transaction.  Why Freecycle and not eBay?  Mainly because it’s simpler and quicker.  You don’t need to post an elaborate ad, wait for the auction to expire, and handle the money and shipping issues.  Freecycle is a simple way to give things away to people in your area who want them now.  And it’s been very effective for me.  I’ve offered up an old scanner, computer, and an end table.  In each case there were many interested parties, and I just chose someone who was willing to pick the item up quickly and would accommodate my work schedule.  I’ve had no problems with any of the exchanges, and it’s very satisfying handing over some perfectly good item (that I don’t need anymore) to someone who can actually use it.

Give these two sites a try and help reduce the world’s junk.



Actually somewhat boring… in any case, Aaron Schock, Peoria’s celebrity youth politician who is now running for congress, got to address the RNC in Minneapolis today. I don’t know where CJ over at the Peoria Chronicle found the clip, so you’ll just have to view the article there to see the video. Or you could do something else with your 4 minutes, as there’s nothing but standard platform platitudes in his brief talk.


Labor Day Weekend

We had a fun labor day weekend.  A lot had to do with both of us not going to work ;-) .   Christian visited us from Michigan and stayed over the weekend.   As a token of “thank you”, he kicked our butts in Ping Pong.   Thank goodness, Karl got him on golf first.  So I have to say Peoria 1,  Novi 1.

Well, we had dinner at Ponte Vecchio (Italian) the first night and the food was good.  On the second night we stopped at Kellerher’s after Mr. Sauerland’s defeat in golf.  I had Fish and Chips but it was nothing like the ones we used to get in NZ.  It was alright but not great as far as fish and chips standards go (if there is such a thing).  Jim and Kipp had hot pies/pot pies without the pie or the puff pastry.  It was more like a bowl of chicken pot pie filling and a bread roll.

Well, we wrapped up the holiday on Monday when Christian left for Michigan.   We settled back to our normal routine of doing laundry, pick up around the house,  and other misc before the work week began.   All in all, it was a good break, nice to have a friend visit,  and play catchup on news.    Hope all of you had a great Labor Day.

….PS:… I’m listening to the Republican Convention in the background while typing this blog.   Sarah Palin is scheduled to speak tonight.  I am curious to see how well she presents her own story.

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