Archive for December, 2011

31
Dec
11

12.31.2011 … Meilleurs vœux 2012!

New Year’s Eve, as seen from the car, NC, billboard alert, freaky weather, broccolini, zombies: Morning car ride to SC Outlets …

My question for you … why does Gaffney SC need a Beach Barbecue Restaurant?   Daddy Joe’s Beach House BBQ & Grill.

Only in NC … 🙂

.

My favorite billboard: “now featuring zombie paintball” … Near Charlotte .

It is gorgeous outside … The daffodils are shooting up … John is turning his garden … And what to our eyes did appear …. A very tasty head of broccolini!

twitter favorites, quotes, Brene Brown:

BreneBrown (@BreneBrown)

12/31/11 1:28 PM

What is vulnerability? It sounds like courage and feels like truth.

via 12.31 « Dennard’s Clipping Service.

New Year’s Eve, graphics, Facebook, 1000 words:

Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, New Year’s Eve, YouTube:  What Are You Doing New Years Eve? by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – YouTube.

Mitt Romney, President Obama, historical allusions, 2012 Presidential Election, “let them eat cake”: Come on, Mitt … You need a better quip-writer.

Mitt Romney on Thursday sought to portray President Barack Obama as out of touch with the struggles of everyday Americans — a charge he himself has often faced — by comparing the president to a former French queen who was overthrown during the French Revolution.

“When the president’s characterization of our economy was, ‘It could be worse,’ it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: ‘Let them eat cake,'” Romney said, referring to the infamously dismissive remark toward the poor attributed to the queen.

“This is not a time to be talking about, ‘It could be worse.’ It’s a time to recognize that things should be better,” Romney said during an interview on his campaign bus with The Huffington Post. “And the president’s policies have failed the American people, have led to 25 million people still being out of work. He didn’t cause the recession, but he has made it deeper and has made the recovery more tepid and the pain last longer.”

via Mitt Romney: President Obama Out Of Touch Like Marie Antoinette.

Christmas cards,Vimeo, Group Hug, kudos:  Great video card!

 Christmas Card to Friends

A friend of mine, Grant Harold, sent me a song he wrote for Chrismas this year, and I liked its simple message. So I rang my friend Nathan Deceasar and asked if he wanted to join me in turning it into a card for friends. Grant and Nathan and I call our little trio “Group Hug”

I hope these holidays have been a time that you’ve gotten to share with people you love.

———————-

Song: Christmas Is Free.

Christmas Card to Friends on Vimeo on Vimeo

 

 

April Uprising, acts of courage, Egypt, Wedad Demerdash:  One person … one act of courage.

And, according to one reading of the events that unfolded, it all began with a little-known act of courage on the part of a matronly, middle-aged millworker who wears a head scarf and was inspired to act because she couldn’t afford to buy meat for her family.

It was she who helped organize the initial strike by disgruntled workers in December 2006 that culminated in a nationwide call for a work stoppage on April 6, 2008. The date inspired the 6th of April Facebook group, which was used to rally the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in January.

When the men of the mill balked at joining the banned strike action, she seized the initiative and led her female co-workers out into the factory grounds. Chanting “Where are the men? Here are the women,” they marched around the mill until the men were shamed into joining them. After three days, the workers won.

Amid the upheaval of the past year, the part labor played in the birth of the revolution has been largely forgotten. But workers joined the revolutionaries in the square in February and have continued to stage strikes throughout the year, taking on a far greater role in Egypt, with its strong industrial base, than labor has in other countries where uprisings have taken place.

The strikes continue to this day, and although they have been eclipsed by the far-better-publicized demonstrations in Tahrir Square, future Egyptian governments will need to address at least some of the demands of an increasingly organized labor movement if the country’s unrest is to be tamed.

This is the story of Wedad Demerdash, 44, a mother of four and, perhaps, the original revolutionary.

via An act of courage that launched a revolution – The Washington Post.

Maurice Sendak,  children’s/YA literature, Where the Wid Things Are, creativity:  Very interesting interview … Sendak is definitely a curmudgeon!

There are very few creators alive today truly worthy of being called “creative genius.” Children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, beloved for Where The Wild Things Are and other gems, is certainly one of them. This affectionate 5-minute micro-documentary from Tate Modern zooms in on the iconic creator, uncompromising and idiosyncratic and brilliant as ever at the age of 83, to reveal the creatively restless and lovably grumpy workings of his heart and mind.

My books are really books that are impressed and in love with the memory of comics and how important they were to me as a child… I didn’t live near any famous person, I didn’t see Michelangelo go to work in the morning. I just lived in Brooklyn, where everything was ordinary — and yet, enticing and exciting and bewildering. The magic of childhood, the strangeness of childhood, the uniqueness that makes us see things that other people don’t see…”

via Inside Maurice Sendak’s Idiosyncratic, Infinitely Creative Mind | Brain Pickings.

TateShots: Maurice Sendak – YouTube.

Shrimp Bisque in Puff Pastry, recipes, Sunday Supper:  Next Week, maybe!

Our all time favorite, showstopper, the thing we crave all year and makes our mouths water is….

The Shrimp Bisque in Puff Pastry …. I am not kidding… You have not lived until you try this amazing soup.  You don’t just eat it like regular Soup, you have to break up the buttery croissant topping and fold it into the Soup.  When mixed with the chunks of shrimp and the creamy soup….It really is that good!

via Shrimp Bisque in Puff Pastry for a Special #SundaySupper « Family Foodie.

Apostrophe Protection Society, grammar, kith/kin:  I am always fighting with my kids on this … now a resource!

The Apostrophe Protection Society was started in 2001 by John Richards, now its Chairman, with the specific aim of preserving the correct use of this currently much abused punctuation mark in all forms of text written in the English language.

The rules concerning the use of apostrophes in written English are very simple:

1. They are used to denote a missing letter or letters, for example:

I can’t instead of I cannot

I don’t instead of I do not

it’s instead of it is

2. They are used to denote possession, for example:

the dog’s bone

the company’s logo

Jones’s bakery (but Joneses’ bakery if owned by more than one Jones)

… but please note that its, which is usually used as a possessive adjective (like our, his etc), does not take an apostrophe:

the dog ate its bone and we ate our dinner

… however, if there are two or more dogs, companies or Joneses in our example, the apostrophe comes after the ‘s’:

the dogs’ bones

the companies’ logos

Joneses’ bakeries

3. Apostrophes are NEVER ever used to denote plurals!  Common examples of such abuse (all seen in real life!) are:

Banana’s for sale which of course should read Bananas for sale

Menu’s printed to order which should read Menus printed to order

MOT’s at this garage which should read MOTs at this garage

1000’s of bargains here! which should read 1000s of bargains here!

New CD’s just in! which should read New CDs just in!

Buy your Xmas tree’s here! which should read Buy your Xmas trees here!

via Apostrophe Protection Society.

just liked this, gift ideas, maps, historyCassini Maps – Keyword Product Search | Personalised Historical Map Place Mats & Coasters.

30
Dec
11

12.30.2011 … Mint’s Romare Bearden Exhibit and lunch at Halycon … And then sushi at Koishi … Almost perfect day …

last business day of the year, Romare Bearden, Mint Museum, Charlotte, Halcyon, restaurants – Charlotte:  busy day – PT … Errands … Year end finances (ughhh!) … then downtown for the Romare Bearden Exhibit and lunch at Halcyon … With Molly and Katie, Molly’s camp friend.

 Romare Bearden – my favorite: Meckelenburg Autumn Morning … but I can’t find a copy on the internet … 😦

Halcyon: Local goat cheese plate, trout with very finely ground cheese grits, coffee. … Great 17-year-old girl company …at Halcyon — at Mint museum.  See all our choices below … we recommend each of them.  Excellent!

Campfire Trout

Roasted NC River Trout. Field Succotash

Brown Butter Corn Bread Purée. Pepper Relish

Surf & Earth Salad  –

Viking Village Scallops. Pimiento Cheese Fondue. Wilted Romaine

Spicy Buttermilk. Fried Green Tomatoes. Tomato Jam

 …

Halcyon Quiche  –

House-Crafted Crust. Egg Custard.

Seasonal Goodness. Dressed Greens

via Halcyon Restaurant, Flavors from the Earth – Lunch.

 Koishi Fine Chinese & Sushi Bar: ‎… And sushi … Almost perfect restaurant day … our favorites …

Koishi Signature : deep fried spicy tuna, avocado, special sauce

Cherry Blossom (10 pcs): tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, avocado in soy paper, special sauce

Super Crunchy * : crab, tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, masago, unagi sauce

via Koishi Sushi Bar and Fine Chinese Restaurant –Maki.

ChristCare, FPC, the bringing of food:  Thank you, thank you, Anne and Doug … You brought enough wonderful comfort food for my little army with leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches!! Love you guys and the care and love you bring to members of FPC and its ChristCare mission.

15
Dec
11

12.15.2011 … CLS Half-way There Party a hit! Now to get ready for Christmas … and Edward’s home … just one little one still out …

CLS, Half-way There Party, Winter Break:  Half-way There Party a hit! Now to get ready for Christmas …

kith/kin, travel: Edward’s home … just one little one still out …

Christopher Hitchens, RIP, Cancer victimhood, living dyingly, friendship:  So the answer is … be there for your friends … that is what matters.

“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frank, graceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly.

via In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011 | Blogs | Vanity Fair.

Christmas, shopping, retail: Black Friday, Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday, Red Tuesday, Mobile Sunday, Green Monday,  Free Shipping Day and Super Saturday … oh my!

A sharp drop in shopping since Thanksgiving weekend has prompted worried retailers to slash prices, extend specials, stay open later — and rewrite the calendar.

Usually one of the most heavily discounted shopping days of the year, the Saturday before Christmas — it falls on Dec. 24 this year — is too crucial to retailers’ holiday sales to be left in the hands of procrastinating Christmas Eve shoppers. Instead, many of the promotions pegged to “Super Saturday,” as the day is known in the retail industry, are now scheduled for this Saturday — a full eight days before Christmas.

“If you wait until the 24th, you have no time to recover,” said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks consumer spending.

But not all stores are making the switch. And that is creating a good amount of confusion in the retail world.

The dueling Saturdays might seem like a lot of consternation about nothing to consumers weary of faux shopping events: Black Friday, Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday, Red Tuesday, Mobile Sunday, Green Monday and Free Shipping Day (Friday this year, for those keeping track).

But the worries are real for retailers who are seeing the season slip away from them, and the potential effects on the economy are considerable.

via Stores Shuffle a Saturday in Hopes of Saving the Season – NYTimes.com.

tweet of the day, PostSecret, criminal acts:  What gives!

Kendra Wells (@kkendrawellss)12/8/11 4:42 PM At our local bookstore, they keep the @postsecret books locked up because people often steal them.

 journalists, authors,  tips:  Never thought about this …

Writers embarking on their first book-length project respond to the challenge in different ways. Some panic, staring blankly at their screen as fine beads of sweat form on their foreheads. Some luxuriate in the expanse of real estate and begin wandering to and fro around their subject, leaving no random thought unexpressed. Some try to take a 3,000-word piece and inflate it to 300 pages.

via When journalists become authors: a few cautionary tips – Nieman Storyboard – A project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

really stupid, criminal acts, butt dialing:

Madison police say two men in their late 20s stole DVDs and computer games from a Target store Tuesday and discussed their plans to fence the goods while driving away.

Investigators say the duo didn’t realize one of them had accidentally pocket-dialed 911. A dispatcher listened in for nearly an hour as they discussed what they had stolen and where they might sell it. Police say they even described their vehicle.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain says the pair decided to sell their goods at a video store. When they pulled into the store’s parking lot, officers surrounded their vehicle with guns drawn.

via Police: Thieves pocket-dial 911, leading to arrest  | accessAtlanta.

The Price Check, Amazon, apps:  I’d be angry, too.

“The Price Check by Amazon app is primarily intended for customers who are comparing prices in major retail chain stores,” an Amazon spokesman said Thursday. “The goal of the Price Check app is to make it as easy as possible for customers to access product information, pricing information, and customer reviews, just as they would on the Web, while shopping in a major retail chain store,” he said.

The Price Check app features prices from Amazon and its many third-party sellers, he added.

An Amazon spokesperson told the New York Times this week that the promotion was not aimed at small competitors, but rather big box stores.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R., Maine), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, had recently likened that to “incentivizing consumers to spy on local shops,” calling it “an attack on Main Street businesses.”

via Why Amazon.com’s New App Is Creating a Stir – WSJ.com.

12
Dec
11

12.12.2011 … I’m up to my ears in cupcake balls! …

holidays, food – desserts:  I’m up to my ears in cupcake balls! Cake Balls « bakerella.com.

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Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, marketing, Middle East, North Africa:

Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are huge in the Middle East and North Africa, where they account for 55 percent of mobile Internet traffic, according to a new survey by Dubai-based Effective Measure. The iPhone and iPad in particular are doing well, splitting top device honors among the countries covered in the study.

During the month of October, Apple iPhone accounted for 29.6 percent of traffic from mobile devices, with the iPad accounting for 24.1 percent. The iPod touch added another two percent to the total for Apple devices. Apple’s iPhone was the most popular device overall, and the iPad second. RIM’s BlackBerry devices came in third, with 7.6 percent combined.

via Apple devices winning big in the Middle East and North Africa — Apple News, Tips and Reviews.

iPad:  iPad 3 on the way?

Now that Citi analyst Richard Gardner has kicked the rumor mill up a notch for those awaiting the next iPad, the speculation will likely being flying fast and furious.

Digitimes is reporting that the next Apple tablet will be coming out in three to four months — right about in line with Apple’s normal schedule for iPad releases. The Taiwanese tech site, which has a spotty record when it comes to predicting Apple’s next moves, has tapped into its supply line sources once again and reported that Apple will begin cutting back on iPad 2 production ins the first quarter of 2012. Why? To make way for the next generation, of course.

Apple is infamous for the control it exercises over its image — especially its retail stores. Customers often know Apple stores at a glance, since the company’s storefronts often employ the same stark, simple lines as its products while also reflecting the character of their surroundings.

Apple is known for having many successful product launches. But it had some unsuccessful ones too.

The report says that new iPads are expected to reach 9.5 to 9.8 million production units in early 2012.

The rumors could have a negative effect on Apple’s holiday sales, as consumers expecting an iPad3 to come soon may decide not to take the plunge and buy an iPad 2 now.

There was definitely some buyers’ remorse out there when Apple released the iPad 2 last March, adding cameras and slicing down the thickness. And, yes, there are some rumored features for the next iPad that would be nice to have, such as an HD screen and LTE connectivity. But, as is the nature of these kinds of rumors, there’s no guarantee than any of them is accurate.

via Report: New iPad coming this spring – The Washington Post.

 myths, all women’s colleges, lists:

1. We are all major feminists who are concerned with women’s issues

3. For fun, we have late night pillow fights in our underwear

5. We are all lesbians

via Top ten myths about all women’s colleges | USA TODAY College.

Penn State Scandal, Mike McQueary:  Key Witness’ Story Changes …

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 9:00 AM EST – ABC News 2:33 | 4,558 views

Questions raised about Mike McQueary

Penn State Scandal: Key Witness’ Story Changes

Questions raised about Mike McQueary, an eyewitness in the case.

via News Videos – Yahoo!.

‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’, movies,  pregnancy handbook, romantic comedy:  Movie adapts pregnancy handbook into romantic comedy … go figure!

Lionsgate has released a trailer for the romantic-comedy adaptation of the pregnancy handbook, What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

We’ve embedded the trailer in the video above–what do you think?

Here’s more from Indiewire: “[Pregnancy] makes Elizabeth Banks hysterical, Dennis Quaid embarassed and Brooklyn Decker…well, she stays hot. Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, Chris Rock, Matthew Morrison, Rodrigo Santoro, Chace Crawford, Jennifer Lopez, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tom Lennon and Rob Huebel all round out the cast on this one.”

The film reportedly also contains celebrity cameos from Black Eyed Peas musician Taboo, reality starlet Whitney Port and UK singer Cheryl Cole. Director Kirk Jones helmed the project. Heather Hach and Shauna Cross wrote the script. The movie hits theaters in May 2012.

via ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ Trailer Released – GalleyCat.

 La Rochefoucauld, quotes, happiness:

“We are so accustomed to disguising our true nature from others, that we end up disguising it from ourselves.”
 La Rochefoucauld

lawyers, careers, Great Recession, internet, websites, Shpoonkle: A new site lets jobless young lawyers underbid their more-experienced competitors for work! Welcome to Shpoonkle! Where Lawyers and Clients Connect..

New Lawyers Hang a Shingle on Shpoonkle, to Some Colleagues’ Chagrin

via Recent Law Graduates Offer Cheap Legal Counsel on Web Site, to Lawyers’ Chagrin – Students – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

websites, cooking, Cooking with Caitlin:  Another fun one…

Cooking with Caitlin (CWC) began Mother’s Day 2007, on Molly’s front porch, over a bowl of cherries. Caitlin was a brand new wife and mom, and had recently returned to Cincinnati having completed culinary school in Chicago. Molly and Kelly also had moved back to Cincinnati recently. Together they hatched a plan to be their own bosses in a food-focused business built around their growing families. The initial idea was simple: catering. A nights-and-weekends company that would give Caitlin the opportunity to play with food, Kelly would plan the parties, Molly would promote the business, and they would come together to make the events happen.

via Cooking with Caitlin.

toys,  retailing, Christmas:  No hit toys … another sign of the Great Recession?

With Christmas less than two weeks away, the toy industry has no runaway hit — leaving many toy shoppers bored and complicating how stores sell holiday inventory.

“We are not seeing people clamor for any single item,” Stephanie Lucy, vice president for toys at Target, said by e-mail.

The hitless season has retailers stocking less, leaning on classic items rather than new ones and possibly discounting less in the final days before Christmas. And with no Tickle Me Elmo or Zhu Zhu Pets to draw crushing crowds to the toy aisles, most retailers are being careful not to get stuck with unsold toys.

“As retailers look at consumer confidence numbers, they are skeptical about consumers’ willingness to spend this holiday season, and they are trying to avoid getting caught with too much inventory,” said Josh Green, chief executive of Panjiva, a supply-chain data company.

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer, Hot Wheels Wall Tracks, Lalaoopsy Silly Hair dolls and some Lego sets are sold out or hard to find in many parts of the country, but that is mainly because of consistent demand rather than growing waves of frenzied shoppers.

via No Hit Toy to Brighten Retailers’ Christmas – NYTimes.com.

Christmas, Go-To Gift, Soul by Ludacris:  Since I have never heard of SOUL … must not be that big of a hit.

SOUL by Ludacris headphones are featured as the perfect gift for the audiophile in Newsweek Magazine‘s December article, “Tech for One, Tech for All: Stocking Stuffers for the Gadget Guru” by Brian Ries.  Along with SOUL he plugs the iPad 2 and Kindle Fire as this season’s go-to gifts.  (on newsstands now)

via Newsweek Magazine’s, “This Season’s Go-To Gift” [feature] | Soul by Ludacris.

science, biology, leaproach:  Yuck … Leaping cockroach discovered!

Cockroach haters beware: scientists have discovered a roach that jumps.

The newly discovered leaproach, which looks like a cockroach but acts like a grasshopper, is described in the journal Biology Letters.

via Leaping Cockroach Discovered – NYTimes.com.

Zoran Milich, NYC, photojournalism, Gothamatic, LIFE :  I love how LIFE has returned on the web!

Gothamatic: 12.12.11 – Photo Gallery – LIFE.

law school, education, practical applications:  Very well written … “The emphasis on practical short-term payoffs has already laid waste to the traditional project of the liberal arts, which may not survive. Is the law next? The law is surely a practice but it is also a subject, and if it ceases to be a subject — ceases to be an object of analysis in classrooms and in law reviews — its practice will be diminished. When a Times editorial declares that “[l]aw is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems” rather than something of interest in its own right, one wants to say more’s the pity.”

This week marks the last sessions of my Yale law school class on law, liberalism and religion. In the course of the semester my students have learned how to read religion clause cases against the background of long-standing debates in philosophy and theology about the relationship between religious imperatives and the obligations of democratic citizenship. They have become adept at recognizing the arguments behind the arguments the justices are making explicitly. They can see how a case ostensibly about vouchers or school prayer or Christmas trees on courthouse steps is really about whether principle or history should inform a court’s decisions. They can see how a case about head coverings or beards in the military (a topic that has surfaced once again) turns on the distinctions set down in John Locke’s “Letter Concerning Toleration” (1689), a tract the justices may never have read. They can see how the majority and dissenting opinions in a free exercise case often reflect a tension between negative and positive liberty as these terms are defined by Isaiah Berlin, an author the justices will likely not have referenced. They can see how the entire history of religion-clause jurisprudence at once illustrates and is an extended critique of John Rawls’s attempt in “Political Liberalism” to devise a form of government that will be fair to religion while at the same time keeping it at arm’s length.

The question asked by an article and an editorial published recently in this newspaper is whether what my students have learned will be of any help to them when they enter practice. At first glance the answer seems to be “no,” if only because Berlin, Locke, Rawls, Hobbes, Kant, Unger and Rorty (writers whose work took up half the semester) are not currency in legal arguments; citing them in front of a court or in a memorandum is likely to be regarded at best as window dressing and at worst as showing off. (Not to mention the fact that few practicing attorneys are likely to be engaging with religion-clause issues anyway.)

In his response to Segal’s essay, Brian Leiter, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, rejects the question of whether what one learns in law school is of any help: “The criterion of scholarly inquiry is whether it makes a contribution to knowledge and understanding, not whether it ‘helps.’” Leiter adds that what he calls “genuine” knowledge often does help with “a host of concrete and practical problems.” But he refuses (rightly, I think) to justify the academic study of law on that basis, for, he explains, “it is the central premise of a research institution that the measure of its achievement is the quality of the scholarship, i.e. its contribution to knowledge — whether of law or biology or literature — not its practical payoff in the short-term.”

The emphasis on practical short-term payoffs has already laid waste to the traditional project of the liberal arts, which may not survive. Is the law next? The law is surely a practice but it is also a subject, and if it ceases to be a subject — ceases to be an object of analysis in classrooms and in law reviews — its practice will be diminished. When a Times editorial declares that “[l]aw is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems” rather than something of interest in its own right, one wants to say more’s the pity.

via Teaching Law – NYTimes.com

Christmas, Christmas album, Christmas traditions, history:  Love this …

I’m a Christmas music traditionalist. Whereas I happily seek out new bands and explore new music throughout the year (and not just because it’s my job), around the holidays I become so conservative, so unyielding in my song choices — it’s Bing Crosby and Dean Martin or nothing — that the very mention of a contemporary Christmas album confuses and alarms me. Michael Bublé’s new Christmas record? Why don’t you just shave off Santa’s beard while you’re at it.

I just don’t approach Christmas songs the same way that I do regular ones. I’m not looking to broaden my musical horizons with a new rendition of “Jingle Bells.” I just want to listen to the same old songs (and watch the same old movies and drink the same old eggnog) that I always have. I’m probably doing it in a futile attempt to recapture some sense of childhood wonder. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Besides watching the A Christmas Story marathon on TV, that is.

But this year marks the first time that I’ve fallen for a new Christmas collection: A Very She & Him Christmas. The album — which came out in October because bandmembers Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have fallen prey to the diabolical “Christmas creep” marketing machine — is a compilation of classic Christmas tunes that have been stripped down and injected with just the right amount of contrived nostalgia to trick me into into thinking that I’ve been listening to it all my life. Their version of the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick” deserves to be a new holiday standard. I’ve finally entered the world of the annual Christmas album and what a big, scary world it is. I have a lot of catching up to do, so I might as well start at the beginning.

Christmas music as we know it today didn’t really get going until the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria married her German cousin, Prince Albert. Suddenly, England had an excuse to adopt all of Germany’s fun Christmas traditions, like that of the decorated tree laden with presents. The customs were also picked up by the United States, which had only recently invented the concept of Santa Claus. All of this newfound holiday cheer helped revive the practice of group caroling. Carols had existed for centuries, though their popularity waxed and waned as different governments and religious movements periodically declared them sinful. (I’m look at you, Puritans). But in the 1800s they finally had their heyday. Between 1840 and 1870, the following carols were written: “Good King Wenceslas,” “Jingle Bells,” “Up on the Housetop,” “Away in a Manger, and “We Three Kings.” Those are just the ones that have stuck around; there are plenty of others that have long been forgotten.

via Music Monday: The Rise of the Christmas Album | Entertainment | TIME.com.

Steve Jobs,  Computer History Museum: Wonderful retrospective!

The “Blue Box” was a simple electronic gizmo that bypassed telephone company billing computers, allowing anyone to make free telephone calls anywhere in the world. The Blue Box was illegal, but the specifications for hacking into the telephone network were published in a telephone company journal and many youngsters with a flair for electronics built them. The “two Steves” had a great deal of fun building and using them for “ethical hacking,” with Wozniak building the kits and Jobs selling them—a pattern which would emerge again and again in the lives of these two innovators. (Wozniak once telephoned the Vatican, pretended to be Henry Kissinger and asked to speak to the Pope—just to see if he could. When someone answered, Woz got scared and hung up.)

via Computer History Museum | Steve Jobs: From Garage to World’s Most Valuable Company.

Illustrated Histories and the American Imagination, 1840-1900, online exhibition:  So much neat stuff out there!

In this online exhibit, explore and contrast the production histories of two mid-19th-century pictorial history projects.

Through interactive graphics, magnified images and text, come to understand the personal agendas and the two-way and three-way collaborations at work in the making of pictorial histories; that is, the relationships among publishers, artists and historians.

via Clio: Picturing the Past – American Illustrated Histories Online Exhibit.

Christmas, Christmas traditions, Christmas feast, recipes, history:  A Victorian Christmas Feast!

“Nothing pushes the nostalgia button at Christmastime more than Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, with its warming images of a candlelit tree and Victorian plenitude. Yet prior to the 19th century, Christmas was a very different holiday, and it was only in the Victorian era that our concept of Christmas as a child-centered family holiday arose. After reviewing the evolution of Christmas holidays, we will use 19th-century English cookbooks, such as Charles Francatelli’s The Modern Cook and Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families, to create a groaning board of Victorian delights, including Jerusalem Artichoke Soup; Lobster Fricassée; Baked Goose with Chestnuts; Roasted Filet of Beef à l’Anglaise; Endives with Cream; Christmas Pudding; Gingerbread; and Twelfth Night Cake.”

Cathy continued, “This is upper class food that we’re making tonight, that took a large staff in the kitchen to prepare, with no expenses spared, using the most luxurious ingredients. It’s also infusion cuisine made with expensive stocks, showing the French influence in this period. There’s also a fair amount of cream in many dishes with a touch of cayenne pepper, an influence of the British colonials in India. The French at this time would have just used nutmeg. There were many women cooks in the kitchens of the wealthy in England, and in France there were more men in the kitchens.”

via A Victorian Christmas Feast « Jane Austen’s World.

websites, design, Colossal:
If you haven’t seen Colossal, don’t worry: you will. It’s an art and design blog which is, well, what it says it is. It’s getting mentioned everywhere, including here on Hyperallergic. It so happens that the blog’s creator, Chris Jobson, and I have known each other for years, and we live about three blocks from each other on Chicago’s north side. So I thought I would see if the guy who’s responsible for bringing such cool stuff to the world’s attention would overcome his modesty and talk about himself for a few minutes.via An Interview with Chris Jobson, Creator of the Art and Design Blog Colossal.
 Zombie Borders, Germany, history:  My favorite article of the day … Read on …
Now defunct by just over two decades, the border between the two Germanys already seems like a surreal relic from a much more distant past. Was there really ever a 540-mile Strip of Death separating the two halves, from the Czech border to the Bay of Lübeck? There was – and it was quite hermetical, and very deadly [2] – but today a visitor might be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

These days, the so-called innerdeutsche Grenze is almost completely erased from the landscape, marked only by the occasional memorial placard along the Autobahn. The fences, the spotlights, the guard dogs and the tanks have all been withdrawn. But that doesn’t mean it’s gone. The line that separated the Federal Republic of (West) Germany from the (East) German Democratic Republic is a zombie border: it’s been dead a few times in the past, and that hasn’t stopped it coming back. The line between east and west existed long before the postwar split.

The Iron Curtain that divided Europe (and Germany) is gone. The European Union now includes much of Eastern Europe, and indeed some bits of the former Soviet Union. In Angela Merkel, Germany has its first chancellor raised in the former East Germany. Although many socio-economic indicators for the ex-GDR are still not up to par with the western half of Germany, the border itself has been thoroughly erased from the landscape.

So is that the end of Henry the Fowler’s thousand-year-old border? Maybe not. Erased borders are like phantom limbs – sometimes it feels like they’re still there, even when they’re manifestly not.

via Zombie Borders – NYTimes.com.

11
Dec
11

12.11.2011 … Game face on (but wearing red socks:) ) — with John at Bank of America Stadium … A good day to be a Panthers Fan … until halftime … socks won …

Panthers:   Cold and sunny, playing Atlanta … great day to go to Panther’s stadium … first half rocks …. well, you know the story …

.

Donna Morris, Paris, travel, tour guides:  We loved Donna!

Donna Morris, 51, is a professional trip planner in Paris (www.bestfriendinparis.com), where she has lived for five years. Morris is originally from Granite Falls.

via Paris warms during chill winter days | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

DOVE CHOCOLATE DISCOVERIES™ , retailing,  at-home sales business, business trends: So I have never been to a Tupperware or Mary Kay Party , but have been to a Pampered Chef … love their stuff.  Love  chocolate … so maybe …

It’s a Party…Literally.

Following the business model of Mary Kay, Tupperware, and other pioneers of home party businesses, DOVE CHOCOLATE DISCOVERIES™ products are sold by aspiring entrepreneurs. They provide the impetus for people to then host chocolate tasting parties in their own homes. Invited friends and relatives gather to sample an exclusive line of chocolate products not sold in any store. Who can resist an evening among friends tasting heavenly chocolate treats?

“It doesn’t even feel like selling,” says chocolatier Jill Young. “I don’t have to twist any arms. Even in tough times, people still want to treat themselves to a little chocolate.”

The wide array of DOVE CHOCOLATE DISCOVERIES™ products includes ready-to-eat chocolate treats, smoothie and martini mixes, chocolate chai tea, brownie and cookie mixes, baking chocolate, mousse mixes, even special tools for creating decadent desserts and fancy homemade chocolate candies.

Chocolate Is Hot. Home Entertaining Is Cool Again.

Last year 17 billion dollars worth of chocolate was sold in the U.S. and the fastest-growing brand of premium chocolate is DOVE®. !(border right)/files/0002/2312/dove-cupcakes_medium.jpg!Plus, the state of the economy has led to more people entertaining at home today—one more factor that may benefit DOVE CHOCOLATE DISCOVERIES™ home sales venture.

via DOVE CHOCOLATE DISCOVERIES™ Dips Into At-Home Sales Business in News & Trends on The Food Channel®.

physics, biology, photosynthesis:  This one is over my head!

Physicists have found the strongest evidence yet of quantum effects fueling photosynthesis.

Multiple experiments in recent years have suggested as much, but it’s been hard to be sure. Quantum effects were clearly present in the light-harvesting antenna proteins of plant cells, but their precise role in processing incoming photons remained unclear.

In an experiment published Dec. 6 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a connection between coherence — far-flung molecules interacting as one, separated by space but not time — and energy flow is established.

“There was a smoking gun before,” said study co-author Greg Engel of the University of Chicago. “Here we can watch the relationship between coherence and energy transfer. This is the first paper showing that coherence affects the probability of transport. It really does change the chemical dynamics.”

The new findings are the latest in a series that have, piece by piece, promised to expand scientific understanding of photosynthesis, one of life’s fundamental processes. Until a few years ago, it seemed a straightforward piece of chemistry.

via More Evidence Found for Quantum Physics in Photosynthesis | Wired Science | Wired.com.

End Of Ze World, YouTube, viral videos, LOL:  This one I got from my daughter … LOL.

retailing, business trends, chain dollar stores,  drugstores, Great Recession: I must admit  have gone to a dollar store twice in the last week …

The family-run drugstore on Main Street has been dying for decades. Now, the big national chain pharmacies—which helped push those family operations to the brink of extinction—are being surpassed in terms of total locations by dollar stores. What does this say about how people shop nowadays? And about the state of the economy?

One of the hottest retail trends in recent years has been the rise of the dollar store. During a period when many retailers have struggled as a result of consumers scaling back, dollar stores boomed for obvious reasons—one way consumers cut expenses was by spending more time in dollar stores.

Surveys have shown that today’s shoppers are more likely to make purchases in dollar stores lately, and chains such as Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and Family Dollar have experienced outstanding sales growth as a result.

Riding the wave of newfound popularity and better-than-ever sales figures, dollar stores have naturally been expanding to new locations all over the country.

Now, according to a study by retail research firm Colliers International, dollar store locations outnumber drugstore locations in the U.S. Specifically, Colliers added up the number of locations for four national dollar store chains (Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, 99 Cents Only), and compared that figure to the total number of locations for the country’s three biggest drugstore chains (CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens).

via More Chain Dollar Stores Than Drugstores in the U.S., Says Study | Moneyland | TIME.com.

MIT, “Platform Wars”, MBAs, gaming,  free online simulator,  education, teaching methods:  I think this might be fun to try …

Want to learn MBA management skills and strategies for free?  Thanks to “Platform Wars,” a video game simulator created by MIT’s Sloan School of Management, anyone can learn elements of a business school education by portraying an executive at a video game console manufacturer online.

The simulator has been used for the past four years in business management classes taught by professor John Sterman. A user playing an executive Nintendo, for example, might be tasked with figuring out how how to help the Wii beat out competition from Microsoft’s XBox. The ultimate goal is to strategize against your competitor to maximize cumulative profit over 10 years. The player has to make all the applicable decisions to win the market—everything from setting the price of the console to determining the royalties video game makers will pay for the right to produce games for the platform.

“Platform Wars” proved to be so popular at the business school that in late November, MIT—the home of the renowned OpenCourseWare program—decided to make the simulator available to the public on the MIT Sloane Teaching Innovation Resources website. Users can play as an individual or as a class. To fully equip gamers, Sterman is also providing free case studies and video explanations for both students and teachers.

Platform markets “are increasingly common in settings besides video games,” so Sterman says that the skills users can learn through Platform Wars are “applicable in many markets.” Figuring out how to ensure your product’s price, features, and complementary products stay competitive is in every business’ best interests. After all, we all know what happened in the real-world platform war between VHS and Betamax.

via MBA by Gaming: MIT Launches Free Online Simulator – Education – GOOD.

Consumer Reports:  Going Strong at 75 … “It has more than six times as many digital subscribers as The Wall Street Journal, the leader among newspapers.”

BORN in 1936, Consumer Reports had a very happy 75th birthday this year. Its business has never been better.

Well, “business” is not the right word, as there are no profits or losses to track: it’s a nonprofit. But the magazine and Web site generated $182 million in revenue in the 2011 fiscal year, which ended May 31. That pays for a lot of professional testing — of cars and trucks, washers and dryers, televisions, children’s car seats, mattresses, treadmills and cellphone plans — all told, more than 3,600 products and services a year.

Consumer Reports started its Web site in 1997; by 2001, it had 557,000 subscribers. That number has grown to 3.3 million this year, an increase of nearly 500 percent in 10 years. It has more than six times as many digital subscribers as The Wall Street Journal, the leader among newspapers.

via Consumer Reports, Going Strong at 75 — Digital Domain – NYTimes.com.

 BBC Sleep Profiler, health and wellness:  I did pretty well for my age … 🙂

Your sleep is fairly well optimised, scoring 57 %.

You said you have a problem with sleep, but you are not very sleepy during the day, which indicates your body is probably getting the sleep it needs. Quality of sleep is more important than quantity. There’s room to improve your score. You may find your personalised advice below useful.

Body and Health

You can expect to sleep less at night now you are older.

Now that you’re over 50, your natural sleep pattern has changed. You may find yourself napping during the day but sleeping less at night. In reality, you’re sleeping as much as you need to, but at different times of the day.

via BBC – Science & Nature – Human Body and Mind – Sleep Profiler.

 ‘New Year’s Eve’, ensemble romantic comedy, box office , holiday movies, Great Recession:  Why the downturn at the box office and what’s an ensemble romantic comedy, one that throws ever romantic comedy star in it …

“New Year’s Eve” came early to the multiplex this year, but couldn’t help the film industry escape its lowest-earning weekend of the year.

In total, all films at the box office grossed $76 million this weekend, a 17.2% drop from the same weekend last year. It was the lowest weekend take since Sept of 2008.

Leading the tepid pack was “New Year’s Eve,” an ensemble romantic comedy starring Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer in supporting roles. Made for a budget in the low $50 million range and distributed by Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros. Pictures, the film grossed $13.7 million from 3,505 theaters according to early estimates, below the studio’s expectations.

The weekend’s new limited release films, meanwhile, got off to solid starts. “Young Adult,” a dark comedy starring Charlize Theron as YA book novelist, earned $320,000 from eight theaters in five cities. The $12 million film is being released by Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures, which will open the film wide on Dec. 16 to 1,000 locations.

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” a well-reviewed adaptation of the John le Carre novel starring Gary Oldman, grossed $300,737 from four theaters, giving it a high per-screen average of $75,184. The thriller, which is being released by Comcast Corp’s Focus Features, will expand to four new markets and seven theaters next week.

via ‘New Year’s Eve’ Tops the Weekend Box Office – Speakeasy – WSJ.

Tweet of the Day, Post Secret, libraries:

PostSecret (@postsecret)

12/11/11 1:51 PM

“I work in a library. Today I heard a mom tell her child to be quiet because the ‘books are sleeping’. I wanted to give her a high-five!”

food – desserts, food – art, baking, random, gingerbread typewriter:

Patti from Baked Ideas made this amazing edible gingerbread typewriter for benefit of City Harvest, and it is displayed at NYC’s Parker Meridien Hotel.

via Gingerbread typewriter is entirely edible – Boing Boing.

UNC – Charlotte,  Davidson College Davidson, Davidson basketball:  We did not even look like the same team.  I hope it wasn’t just the effect of having Curry around … now that he’s back to the NBA.

Javarris Barnett opened the door to a Charlotte 49ers victory.

The rest of his teammates then slammed it shut on the Davidson Wildcats.

Barnett made five 3-pointers – four during a key second-half run – as the Charlotte 49ers reclaimed the Hornet’s Nest Trophy with a convincing 84-61 victory over rival Davidson on Saturday night.

In as much as Barnett’s long-range bombs broke open a tight game in the 49ers’ favor, it was Charlotte’s unrelenting, stifling defense that provided the opportunity.

“We were down one at halftime and we said we needed to come out and punch them in the mouth, and I think we held them scoreless the first four minutes,” said Barnett, who finished with 15 points and six rebounds.

via Barnett, Charlotte 49ers leave no doubt in win over Davidson | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper.

10
Dec
11

12.10.2010 … “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup! … Actually not Folger’s … but love BF’s quote!

coffee, quotes, Ben Franklin:  🙂

Coffee Quote: “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.” — Benjamin Franklin

Davidson College, honor code, self-scheduled exams: … only a question if you have self-scheduled exams! …  🙂

Davidson College

What was your finals strategy? Take them early and get it over with? Wait ’til the last possible minute? One a day? Or…?

via What was your….

 food, restaurants, Kickstand, Charlotte, kith/kin:  Great dinner with Joni Bob and John at Kickstand Charlotte Burgers -n- Bar | Charlotte, NC | Best Restaurant.  We had:

FRIED PICKLES

Served with marinara sauce. Pickle spears fried and served with Ranch.

via Kickstand Charlotte Burger Bar Appetizers | Charlotte, NC Restaurant.

BLEU BURGER SALAD

Mixed greens, herb baked goat cheese, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, apples, and cherry tomatoes tossed with Apple Vinaigrette dressing. Field greens mixed with corn relish, cherry tomatoes, red onions, crispy bacon and chopped walnuts. Tossed with creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette and topped with a burger patty with melted Gorgonzola crumbles. via Kickstand Charlotte | Best Veggie Burger Bar & Salads | Charlotte, NC

HUNG OVER CYCLIST

Burger and tomato sandwiched between 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. Meatloaf style burger with sundried tomatoes, garlic, and basil, topped with Brie, caramelized onions, and fig spread. via Kickstand Charlotte | Burgers, Sandwiches & Hot Dogs.

THE MORNING RIDE

Burger stuffed with bacon, Swiss cheese, and Cremini mushrooms and topped with horseradish mayo. Burger topped with a fried egg, bacon, American cheese, and hollandaise sauce served on an English muffin. via Kickstand Charlotte | Burgers, Sandwiches & Hot Dogs.

… and I would highly recommend Kickstand!

Davidson College, Davidson basketball, UNC Charlotte:  Love reading the Game Notes … Time to put the game face on … And take it off … Not the ‘cats night… 84-61 … 😦

Susan Dennard, Something Strange and Deadly, zombies, blogging:  One of the more interesting things about keeping a blog is that is show you the search that people used to get to you.  Someone searched “how do you pronounce Dennard in French.”  Since I did not know the answer … I decided to do the search and see what I came up with … and I found Susan Dennard’s blog … an American writer from the South who is married to a Frenchman and lives in France.  So I sent her a note … below is her answer … as well as her story about her new zombie Young Adult novel.  I just love the internet!

“My family pronounces it “Din nerd” as well, though according to my French father-in-law, it IS a French name (from the north of France). He pronounces it “Du Nar” with a slightly stronger emphasis on the second syllable.”

-e-mail from Susan Dennard 12.10.2011

My debut, Something Strange and Deadly, will be available in 2012 from HarperCollins Children’s!

via Susan Dennard | will write for cookies.

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

via Books.

Ted Dennard, Savannah Bee, Pineview GA:  While I performed the above search I found this about Ted Dennard, a distant cousin with roots to Pineview GA, and thought I would do a plug for his honey/honey products.  It really is good!

 

Ted Dennard’s company, Savannah Bee, ranks as one of the most vibrant small companies in the honey industry. Since 2002, Ted’s Savannah Bee continues to expand and diversify by producing some of the purest honey-based products in the country.

St. Simons Island, Georgia, native, Ted Dennard has traveled to New Zealand, Vietnam, Ireland and France to learn various beekeeping practices through the years. Ted’s work ethic, and indelible products earned Savannah Bee a 2010 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur nomination. Recently, Savannah Bee was featured on CNN’s Small Business Spotlight. Savannah Bee products have been exposed in Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, Vogue, Better Homes & Garden, Southern Living and Rachel Ray’s Body & Soul to name a few periodicals.

Ted studied and graduated from Sewanee, The University of the South. In the 90s, Ted lived in Jamaica for over a year–serving a 27-month tour of duty in the Peace Corps–where he taught  virtues of beekeeping to school children and church groups in St. Mary Parish. Ted wrote this as Savannah Bee’s continual earthy ethic:

“Honeybees truly weave magic out of sunshine. These creatures of light continue to enrich their surroundings as they recite their timeless hum. In addition to appreciating the miraculous role played by honeybees, we humans should do whatever we can to live an environmentally-responsible lifestyle and promote a clean and healthy planet. We must do our part to support these wondrous creatures, in gratitude for their many contributions.”

via Swampland:The Buzz Around Savannah Bee: The Ted Dennard Interview.

09
Dec
11

12.9.2011 … So glad two of my children’s names are on the list … the list of most popular pet names in 2011 … :)

random, names, kith/kin, pets: So glad two of my children’s names are on the list!

Does your dog have a popular name? Many names are personal or silly, while others have stuck with pets throughout history.

If you’re curious what other people name their animals, be sure to check out our cutest pets of 2011 slideshow.

Does your pet’s name reflect where they came from? A recent poll by AP and petside.com suggests that most people get their pets as gifts or rescue them.

Want to get a dog and give it some fantastic name? Check out Petfinder.com and the ASPCA website to help a dog in need of a home.

If you think your pet has a unique name, check out Banfield Pet Hospital’s list of the top 25 dog names for 2011, accompanied by some of our favorite dog pictures from this year. Click here to also check out the top cat names of 2011. Be sure to vote for your favorites!

via Top Dog Names Of 2011 (PHOTOS).

Christmas, decorations, random, Anthropologie:

“book Christmas tree in a NY @Anthropologie . So smart. I’m doing it. ”

via Instagram.

“Miracle on 42nd Street”, YouTube, viral videos:  🙂

Dancers Alex Karigan and Zac Hammer from the hit YouTube video Miracle on 42nd Street video chatted with readers. They answered reader questions, broke out some dance moves and more.

via Challenge the “Miracle on 42nd Street” dancers – The Washington Post.

Christmas, Christmas traditions, Christmas sweaters:  Fad Returns?

5590821

David Wright examines the ugly Christmas sweater trend.

via Christmas Sweater Madness: Fad Returns | Video – ABC News.

Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, books, tv:  On my list …

Among yesterday’s selection of 5 must-read books by this year’s newly announced TED Global speakers was The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. But the book was actually meant to accompany a 2008 six-part documentary commissioned by Channel 4 — the same folks who gave us What Is Reality?, The End of God?: A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion, How Music Works, What Is Time? — and distributed in the US by PBS.

The program is now available online in a clip of questionable legality that may or may not get pulled down by the copyright watchdogs at any point. But, while it lasts, it’s very much worth a watch — eloquent and digestible, it distills one of the most powerful driving forces of our civilization and its multiplicitous impact on just about every aspect of our lives.

via The Ascent of Money: A PBS Financial History of the World | Brain Pickings.

technology, iPhone apps, hardware:  a Home Theater Powered by iPhone?

Everything changed when people started writing their own apps for the iPhone. Suddenly its talents as a phone — which, at least at the outset, weren’t particularly impressive — paled in comparison to its abilities as a computer.

These days, this business of phone-as-brain goes way beyond stand-alone apps. Nowadays, the iPhone handles the computing, connection and display tasks for a huge range of hardware from other companies. Why should they jack up their products’ prices by selling you a screen, memory, processor, microphone, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you’ve already got all of that in your pocket?

There are blood pressure monitors (iHealth), bathroom scales (Withings), physical activity monitors (Jawbone), sleep monitors (Zeo), credit card readers (Square), security cameras (iZon), remote-control helicopters (Parrot) and, of course, about 73,001 speaker systems. All of them rely on the iPhone as a brain.

Until the Epson Megaplex came along, however, one screamingly obvious iPhone accessory didn’t seem to occur to anybody: a home theater projector.

Why is it such an obvious idea? Because these days, millions of people carry around their photos, videos and music on their iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. The world is teeming with charging docks that also play their music. It shouldn’t have taken so long for someone to create a dock that also plays the photos and videos.

via Epson’s Megaplex Is a Home Theater Powered by iPhone – State of the Art – NYTimes.com.

Twitter,  redesigns:  Twitter works just fine for me …

Twitter unveiled a product overhaul for its Web site and apps today that it says is simpler and faster, with navigation built around its service’s key functions.

The new layout puts additional content and context inline within tweets, rather than off to the side. It’s also supposed to be 500 percent faster than Twitter was three or four months ago. And it looks different and sleeker; for instance, the navigation bar is now on the left instead of the right.

Nope, this is not a new product or feature — which by now seems to be Twitter’s least favorite thing! — but rather a conceptual and visual redesign.

via Twitter Redesigns to Be Simpler and Faster – Liz Gannes – Social – AllThingsD.

college application process,  college essay questions:  quirky, tweety, eccentric?  What are we doing to our kids?

Imagine you have to wear a costume for a year of your life. What would you pick and why? — Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

What is your favorite ride at the amusement park? How does this reflect your approach to life? — Emory University in Atlanta.

“Colleges have really thrown us a curveball,” said Eric Apgar, director of guidance at Sandburg High School in Orland Park. “In years past, we would tell students not to veer too far from the middle, to not be too strange … but it seems like that’s exactly what post-secondary institutions want.”

It’s not just content that has undergone a makeover, but the format as well. Along with the usual essay, many campuses have added short takes of 20 to 25 words, such as:

The best movie of all time — Columbia University in New York City.

“It just reinforces that there’s some secret code that needs to be cracked to gain admission,” he said. “How angry would an adult be if we had to answer these kind of bizarre questions on a job application?”

While other schools may just be retooling, the University of Chicago has long taken great pride in its provocative essays. Over the years, the application has asked students to reflect on everything from “How do you feel about Wednesday?” to the massive jars of mustard at warehouse stores.

“There’s no right or wrong answer … we’re looking for students unafraid to talk in their own voice,” said Evan Cudworth, assistant director of admissions.

The eccentric prompts have become such a hallmark of the U. of C. application that the admissions office annually solicits suggestions from incoming students and alumni.

The condiment question, for example, was submitted about six years ago and elicited a wide range of responses, from rants on consumerism to a physics equation, with one student calculating how fast a swimmer could travel in a pool of mustard.

via College essay questions get a quirky, tweety makeover – chicagotribune.com.

college application process, early action, early decision, “expectation management”:  As I have said before, “what are we doing to our kids?” “Expectation management?” At one school … “85-90% of the seniors applied Early (ED and / or EA), and most of the remaining 10-15% submitted application(s) in September, October or November under Rolling or Priority options.”

In Philadelphia, Daniel Evans, director of college counseling at William Penn Charter School, also emphasized the high proportion of students who took early application action this fall. He wrote:

85-90% of the seniors applied Early (ED and / or EA), and most of the remaining 10-15% submitted application(s) in September, October or November under Rolling or Priority options. All of this created a first trimester that was a blur for my colleagues and me. On the other hand, the majority of students will have some decision(s) in hand before the new year.

Mr. Evans of Penn Charter reported that the heightened early application activity had increased the need for “expectation management” and counseling regarding how to navigate the complex web of restrictions surrounding early applications for those filing a mix of early decision, early action and rolling applications.

via Field Notes From This Year’s Application Season – NYTimes.com.

Breaker, alternative learning,  social innovation,  interdisciplinary teams, creative collaboration, problems of the world:  Wow, impressive … makes me want to b young again!

Juliette LaMontagne, Ed.D., is a career educator: New York City public school teacher, Columbia University professor and professional developer. She’s a TED Senior Fellow and innovation consultant for the Asia Society’s International Studies School Network, the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers and the Student Press Initiative. Her new project, which she recently discussed with Change Observer, is Breaker.

Tell us about the pilot program you ran this summer. What is Breaker?

Breaker’s goal is to drive alternative learning and social innovation by mobilizing interdisciplinary teams of young creative collaborators to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. We connect our teams of 18- to 24-year-olds with global thought leaders and industry experts to answer major challenges like, in the case of our summer pilot, the future of the book and its impact on literacy. We facilitate a creative problem-solving design process and teach the entrepreneurial skills necessary to transform ideas into businesses.

Each unique Breaker project is a 12-week collaboration between the Breaker team, the visionaries who pose their challenge, and the industry experts who support their process. We work with multiple partner organizations across New York City to ideate, build and test real solutions with real market value.

In the Future of the Book project, our techno-bibliophilic visionaries, Charlie Melcher of Melcher Media and Tom Uglow of Google Creative Labs, inspired the team to imagine the future of the book. We then tasked them with designing a product or service that would get kids reading — and keep kids reading — during those pivotal middle school years when 12- to 14-year-olds either adopt reading as an independent practice or read only to get by. From the outset, the team was primed to make their concepts marketable.

via A new initiative recruits young adults to create ways to promote adolescent literacy: Change Observer: Design Observer.

kids, careers, really stupid, Twitter:  How NOT to use Twitter!

Kids these days! Three young staffers in the office of Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) were fired Thursday after a political blog printed a series of messages they’d apparently exchanged on Twitter about drinking in the office and how much they hate their boss. The NW Daily Marker preserved the tweets from the now-deactived accounts. Among the sentiments:

• “My coworker just took a shot of Jack crouching behind my desk. We have unabashedly given up on just about all things work related.”

• “I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pass a field sobriety test right now. Looking forward to a day in the office.”

• “I could have used another day away. The silver lining is that I don’t have to see my idiot boss.”

The tweets were written under pseudonyms from non-work accounts; the blog editor Bryan Myrick told us he connected them back to Larsen’s office via unspecified sources. The staffers could not be located for comment. All appear to be under 30 — and now, out of work. In a statement, a rep for the lawmaker said Larsen’s office said neither the congressman nor other staffers were aware of the alleged hijinx until the story hit Thursday, which prompted their quick firing. Larsen “has made it clear that he will not tolerate this kind of behavior,” the statement said.

via Rep. Rick Larsen fires three staffers over crass tweets – The Reliable Source – The Washington Post.

heirlooms, heirloom silver, art, memories:  So what makes a piece or set of silver an heirloom … the memories …

With so many pressing problems in the world, I’m going to confess to a slightly guilty conscience about my absolute happiness in working/creating/growing Silver Magpies. When I expressed this feeling, a very wise friend said to me, beautiful things enrich our lives. A piece of heirloom silver – whether it’s been passed down in your family for generations or it’s something you recently purchased and plan on passing down as an heirloom – is so much more than just a beautiful thing.

via Once and Future Heirloom Silver.

recipes,  Chicken Cutlets Meunière:  This one just made me hungry …. 🙂

The recipe, which I wrote about in an early Minimalist column, is infinitely variable, but here I’ve done it about as simply as possible. Dredge the chicken in flour, cook it in a skillet with oil or butter until nicely browned and just cooked through — as long as you get really nice browning on one of the sides, you’re fine — and finish with lemon juice and chopped parsley. The brown butter is luxurious and totally optional.

As for the variations, you can change the coating, using cornmeal, breadcrumbs or finely ground nuts instead of flour. You can season it with chopped fresh herbs, dried spices or parmesan. You can flavor the butter with herbs and garlic as it browns, or make any number of pan sauces — with wine, stock, butter, mustard, vinegar, capers, etc. — after you sauté the chicken.

via Chicken Cutlets Meunière — Recipe and Video — The Minimalist – NYTimes.com.

 ‘Young Adult’, movies, movie reviews, Therese Theron: Life after high school?  This one sounds fun …

By turns amusing and annoying, Young Adult could be the flip side, plus the sequel, of Juno, another film written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman. You’ll recall that the pregnant teen played by Ellen Page was mature beyond her years. But at 37, Mavis is still a young adult: stunted, selfish, believing her glamorous past is somehow her destiny. To grow up, she will need a few face-slaps to her pride, and perhaps a realignment of her ideas about the sort of man she should be with.

So maybe Matt, the drone, is Juno. Mavis doesn’t recall him; he reminds her, “My locker was actually next to yours, all four years.” Finally she recognizes him as “the hate-crime guy”: Matt had been beaten and crippled by jocks, exercising a more virulent version of the blithe bigotry Mavis showed him. “They mangled my c—,” he tells her, “so I have to piss and come sideways for the rest of my life” — a line that instantly jolts Young Adult out of Romy and Michele comedy-nostalgia land and into the psychic-horror terrain of Jennifer’s Body, another high school movie written by Cody. Except that, in Young Adult, the victim survives to haunt his pretty predator, and perhaps to convince her that he’s worth caring for.

Whether Mavis is Cody’s vision of her teen self or a portrait of the bitch-goddesses she knew way back when, Young Adult packs some ornery truths about compromise as the key to an arrested adolescent’s survival as an adult. In a thorny role, Theron is splendid; she instinctively reveals everything Mavis doesn’t know about herself and offers an intimate peek into a wayward soul.

via ‘Young Adult’ Review: Theron’s Life After High School | Entertainment | TIME.com.

digital learning, education:  I can’t wait to see where education is in another 10 years …

An expert educator working group with more than 25 innovative and master instructional technology leaders from across the country worked to develop these toolkits filled with helpful resources for all stakeholders.  The toolkits include links and references to instructional strategy ideas, lesson plans, sample outreach, ways to collaborate, and resources organized in a succinct way to meet the needs of the following stakeholders recommended by practitioners just like you. These resources are not the totality of good information available. Instead, this resource is designed to help you think about how technology may strengthen your insructional strategies.  Click on the Toolkit below to get started.

Showcase/Promising Practices:  The showcase of promising practices offers educators in at the district, high school, elementary school and libraries short videos highlighting ideas of incorporating digital learning into students’ daily activities.

Project-Based Learning Frameworks for Lessons:  This section provides project-based lessons or links to lesson repositories that have options for different technologies and length of implementation. Maybe your schools can start or finish one on Digital Learning Day!

Pedagogical Approaches and Professional Development: Find information about flipping the classroom, simulations, mobile learning, professional development, and more.

Lesson Ideas: Visit this large repository of lesson ideas and plans that incorporate digital learning into various content areas.

Collaboration Tools: Through a free collaboration site powered by Epsilen, Digital Learning Day participants can join a special Digital Learning Day group and begin connecting with other teachers and librarians across the country.  The site provides opportunities to create an ePortfolio, begin or participate in discussions, share lesson plans and documents, and learn from one another.  Educators will be able to participate in live chats, webinars, and other professional learning opportunities.

via Digital Learning Day :: Classroom and Teacher Toolkit.

 Read It Later, data, culture, media, blogging: What does engagement look like in a time-shifted world?  Good question … I actually read everything I save … and most of it I post here!

Because, if my own use of Read It Later and Instapaper are any indication, a click on a Read Later button is, more than anything, an act of desperate, blind hope. Why, yes, Foreign Affairs, I would love to learn about the evolution of humanitarian intervention! And, certainly, Center for Public Integrity, I’d be really excited to read about the judge who’s been a thorn in the side of Wall Street’s top regulator! I am totally interested, and sincerely fascinated, and brimming with curiosity!

But I am less brimming with time. So, for me, rather than acting like a bookmark for later-on leafing — a straight-up, time-shifted reading experience — a click on a Read Later button is actually, often, a kind of anti-engagement. It provides just enough of a rush of endorphins to give me a little jolt of accomplishment, sans the need for the accomplishment itself. But, then, that click will also, very likely, be the last interaction I will have with these worthy stories of NGOs and jurisprudence.

What does endure, though, the Read It Later info suggests, is the human connection at the heart of the best journalism. While so much of the most-saved stuff has a unifying theme — life-improvement and gadgets, with Boing Boing’s delights thrown in for good measure — it’s telling, I think, that the returned-to content can’t be so easily categorized. It runs the gamut, from sports to tech, from pop culture to entertainment. What it does have in common, though, is good writing. I don’t read all the folks on the list, but I read a lot of them — and I suspect that the writing itself, almost independent of topic, is what keeps people coming back to them. When I’m looking at my queue and see Maureen O’Connor’s byline, I’ll probably click — not necessarily because I care about the topic of her post, but because, through her snappy writing, she’ll make me care. The Read It Later data suggest a great thing for writers: Stickiness seems actually to be a function of quality.

Or, as David Carr might put it: The ones worth saving are the ones being saved.

via New Read It Later data: What does engagement look like in a time-shifted world? » Nieman Journalism Lab.

Nicholas Sparks, ‘The Lucky One’, movies, Zac Ephron:  Well, i am not a big fan of Nicholas Sparks.  So Zac Ephron certainly will not get me their … I’ll wait ’til its free on Netflix.

Zac Efron will now join the ranks of men including Richard Gere, Channing Tatum and Ryan Gosling who play the lost heartthrobs opposite their fragile but charming female leads in Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Efron stars as Logan Thibault in “The Lucky One,” as a marine who believes he was saved by a picture of a woman while serving a tour in Iraq. Logan returns home and seeks out this woman, played by Taylor Schilling, and love/lust/anger/frustration ensue. And there’s the classic moment in a boat.

via Nicholas Sparks’ ‘The Lucky One’ Trailer Premieres – Speakeasy – WSJ.

Christmas, Christmas commercials, Best Buy, LEXUS,  Christmas commercials: Are ads getting meaner? I thought it was just me … but I definitely think they are mean-spirited.

A heartwarming Christmas documentary, “Becoming Santa,” is interspersed with moments of Grinch — thanks to the interruption of Christmas commercials, The Post’s TV critic Hank Stuever found.

Best Buy, in particular, is running a terribly callous series of commercials called “Game On, Santa,” in which obsessed female shoppers purchase the gifts that their loved ones really want at Best Buy and then wait up on Christmas Eve to accost Santa Claus in their living rooms and gloat that they’ve already beat him to the punch. In your face, you outdated fat man with your outdated presents!

Are ad companies all naughty and no nice this year? From a roundup of some Christmas ads, it seems to be so. Which company should get the most coal in its stocking for its blatant bah-humbuggery?

via Best Buy Christmas commercials: Are ads getting meaner? – Arts Post – The Washington Post.

‘You’re A Mean One, Newt Gingrich’, YouTube, Newt Gingrich, Dr. Seuss,  Parody: 🙂

As the holiday season and GOP primary both draw near, it’s only natural that the two would eventually merge in a politically-charged Christmas video titled, “You’re A Mean One, Newt Gingrich.”

The star of the show? The controversial GOP candidate, of course.

The video features some of Gingrich’s most notorious sayings set to a modified version of the theme song to Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” (get it?) along with some pretty amusing graphics.

via ‘You’re A Mean One, Newt Gingrich’ Depicts GOP Candidate As Grinch In Dr. Seuss Parody (VIDEO).

“of the year”, images, photographs:  Very interesting …

It’s the “of the year” time of the year: a few weeks spent naming the best books or music or music films, or the most significant events or people, of the year.

As a reader I enjoy this mini-season, an annual excuse for me to (silently) disagree with everyone else’s lists. As a writer, I tend to avoid it. But this year I’m making an exception, because for months I’ve had a pretty good idea what I would choose as the “image of the year.” And for reasons that will become apparent, I’m going to cast my vote for book of the year, while I’m at it. But I’ll get to that.

The image of the year, hands down, is the image of Osama Bin Laden, dead. I haven’t seen it of course, and unless you have fairly rarified security access, you haven’t either. That’s why it’s the most compelling image of 2011: At this point, there’s nothing more surprising, and fascinating, than an image people might want to see, but can’t.

After all, we’ve all observed the long-term shifts that surely made 2011 the most image-soaked year of all time — and that will make next year, and the year after that, even more so. Cameras and video recorders, built into various other devices, are increasingly ubiquitous; space for storing them online is basically limitless. Grotesque evidence of a despot’s violent death and all manner of other corrosive images are just a click away, and sometimes difficult to avoid. Surveillance (by security cameras, by drones, by Google’s roving Street View cars, by average citizens) is routine. And so on.

So when news of the Bin Laden killing was accompanied by calls from many quarters that images of his corpse needed to be shared with the public, I assumed that it would happen promptly. An interesting question is why people wanted to see those images. The official answer is that it would provide proof. But the explosion of images has been accompanied by an explosion of doctored, faked, manipulated, and overtly remixed images. It’s also been accopmanied by the apparent deterioration of any given image’s authority.

Which brings me to my book of the year: Errol Morris’ Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography). The book is not about digital-era image culture, but it’s vital reading for anybody interested in photography as “proof,” or really photography in general. Over six chapters, Morris examines photography, and how we look at it — what we project into images, sometimes including even the intentionality of the photographer, or the morality of the subject. We see things that aren’t there, and miss things that are. “Our beliefs,” he argues in a pivotal passage, “can completely defeat sensory evidence.”

via Image of the Year: Rob Walker: Observers Room: Design Observer Mobile.

faith v. spirituality, science, God:

If you believe that the truth lies in strange scrolls, dug up by somewhere or other, written by someone, then there’s no logical counter to that.” ~ Sir Richard Friend

via 50 Famous Scientists on God, Part 2 | Brain Pickings.

Lissa Rankin, TEDxFiDiWomen,  OwningPink.com, women’s health, wellness, holistic medicine:  Loved this oe …

Lissa Rankin, MD is an OB/GYN physician, author, keynote speaker, consultant to health care visionaries, professional artist, and founder of the women’s health and wellness community OwningPink.com. Discouraged by the broken, patriarchal health care system, she left her medical practice in 2007 only to realize that you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling. This epiphany launched her on a journey of discovery that led her to become a leader in the field of mind/body medicine, which she blogs about at OwningPink.com and is writing about in her third book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013).

She teaches both patients and health care professionals how to make the body ripe for miracles by healing the mind and being healthy in all aspects of life, not just by promoting healthy behaviors like good nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep, but by encouraging health and authenticity in relationships, work, creative expression, spirituality, sexuality, finances, and living environment. She is leading a revolution to feminize how health care is received and delivered by encouraging collaboration, fostering self-healing, reconnecting health care and spirituality, empowering patients to tap into the mind’s power to heal the body, and encouraging women not to settle for being merely well, but to strive for living vital, joyful, authentic lives full of “mojo.”

When not spreading the word, she chills out, paints, does yoga, and hikes in Marin County, CA with her husband and daughter.

via TEDxFiDiWomen – Lissa Rankin – YouTube.

human, history, woman’s issues, philosophy, What Does It Mean To Be Human? A Historical Perspective 1800-2011, books:

Decades before women sought liberation in the bicycle or their biceps, a more rudimentary liberation was at stake. The book opens with a letter penned in 1872 by an anonymous author identified simply as “An Earnest Englishwoman,” a letter titled “Are Women Animals?” by the newspaper editor who printed it:

Sir, —

Whether women are the equals of men has been endlessly debated; whether they have souls has been a moot point; but can it be too much to ask [for a definitive acknowledgement that at least they are animals?… Many hon. members may object to the proposed Bill enacting that, in statutes respecting the suffrage, ‘wherever words occur which import the masculine gender they shall be held to include women;’ but could any object to the insertion of a clause in another Act that ‘whenever the word “animal” occur it shall be held to include women?’ Suffer me, thorough your columns, to appeal to our 650 [parliamentary] representatives, and ask — Is there not one among you then who will introduce such a motion? There would then be at least an equal interdict on wanton barbarity to cat, dog, or woman…

Yours respectfully,

AN EARNEST ENGLISHWOMAN

The broader question at the heart of the Earnest Englishwoman’s outrage, of course, isn’t merely about gender — “women” could have just as easily been any other marginalized group, from non-white Europeans to non-Westerners to even children, or a delegitimized majority-politically-treated-as-minority more appropriate to our time, such as the “99 percent.” The question, really, is what entitles one to humanness.

via What Does It Mean To Be Human? A Historical Perspective 1800-2011 | Brain Pickings.

openings, essays, breakfast:  I read this blog entry because it was about Maira Kalman … but honestly I thought it a great start to a book …

Breakfast people tend to be different.

My father was a breakfast person; nothing made him happier than sitting down at a morning spread comprised of anything from scrambled eggs (with ketchup) and bacon, to coffee cake, to leftover apple strudel from Mrs. Herbst, to bagels and schmaltz herring, to Spam fried in a sad little teflon pan that he used for nothing else.

My mother generally preferred black coffee and a cigarette. They divorced when I was 15.

via Breakfast with Maira Kalman: An Interview.

Maira Kalman, interview, breakfast:  Love Maira Kalman … enjoyed this interview!

I would take a walk and hopefully end up in a place with an outdoor table. I would have my sketchbook with me so I could draw my breakfast. And hopefully there would be really, really good coffee. And no music except for classical music. But mostly the sounds of the day beginning and the clink of silverware and the murmur of conversation.

via Breakfast with Maira Kalman: An Interview.




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