Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Collection of My Favorite Etsy Finds

Today I got the chance to create for esty.com one of these things called a 'treasury.'

Members of etsy, the online company I sell my paper through, can compose collections of other etsy member's artwork. The collections are called "treasuries" and are basically a 3 item x 4 item poster style collection of thumbnail images of listings on etsy.

The etsy website's front page of displays a treasury and they are rotated throughout the day so fresh ones are always available for viewing pleasure. The best ones are themselves a work of art.

People who put them together are called "curators," which reflects the idea that these treasuries are mini galleries. People compete like mad to get the opportunity to create one, and today I got that opportunity.

It's the second time I have created one. The last time was back in April. This time I pulled my selections from things I had bookmarked for future purchase. If I bought everything from it, I'd spend $498.5 plus probably $60 in shipping.

Of course, I wouldn't need to actually buy the scarf and I don't wear earrings. But, I could substitute this pendant for the ginkgo leaf earrings. I'm very fond of the necklace in the lower left corner by Stonehouse Studio, but I like this necklace even more. The three pieces can be removed so it can be worn with one, two or all three 'beads.'

The elephant is actually a vinyl wall decal, which I am not crazy about actually putting on a wall because I don't think it would look as nice as paint would. I wish the artists who made these things would sell stencils because I would buy one of them! But maybe the stencils do look nice - the artist who makes these has sold more than 1,000! A big 4 foot elephant would certainly add some spice to our large, bare dining room wall.

Speaking of all this purchasing... today I made a rather large purchase of a huge dresser/over sized buffet for our dining room. I bought it outright, which feels good. I love not having to put big ticket items on a credit card. It will store all of my papermaking gear: my large seed collection, lavender clippings, Accucut machine and dies, cloth, etc. so that it is all concealed. It all currently sits on the large dining room table, a giant clutter that I have come to abhor. But, it is convenient where it's at, so this buffet solves the clutter problem and keeps it all conveniently located.

I resisted the urge to buy the newfies an ottoman, keeping in mind that I still need a reserve of cash for putting the sprinkler system in, the new turf and the bathroom remodel.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Observations of the politics of neighborhoods.

Not too long ago Mr. Field Notes commented that we live in one of the most 'Democratic' neighborhoods on our city. That raised an eyebrow from me, being that I'm pretty skeptical of any claim that apparently lacks evidence even when it comes from the mouth and brain of Mr. Smarty Pants (who likes to brag about his 790 GRE score and his Raven Progressive Matrices test results.. but that's another story!).

Back to his claim.. I don't know if he's right or not, but our neighborhood is populated by cars with bumper stickers that could easily have come from this catalog: Northern Sun, 'A Catalog for Progressives.' Their current cover has that distinctive flag motif Obama O. We also live one block away from a private liberal arts college knee deep in capital L liberals — professors and students alike. Our neighborhood .. and especially our block .. is pretty blue collar. But we also live within 4-5 blocks of stately million dollar homes. That's how our town largely is - economically mixed, block-by-block, rich by poor(er).

But today while driving home from an errand, we went through a neighborhood that is more homogenous, full of solidly upper middle class homes. The McCain/Palin signs were the only ones out. Just more evidence wealth is associated with being 'Republican.' I pointed out that the neighborhood on the other side of the college is one I perceive to be solidly Democratic — and it is also solidly upper middle class if not upper class.

I think what really happened is that all the McCain signs were delivered today. The Obama ones have been here a long while now, but according to letters to the editor that have been streaming into the newspaper, thugs are stealing the Obama signs.

Some people wear their political leaning on their sleeves, others just prefer to keep it to themselves. It's fun at work listening to the 'on the sleeves' people. I asked a more reserved colleague if she was going to watch the Veep debate this week. She said her mate had rented a movie, I forget its name, about kids going off to Christian camp. She couldn't watch because it'd make her puke. Ditto for the debate.

The spineless, ill prepared puppet makes me want to puke too, but I think SNL is so much funnier if I see the fluff that inspires it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Big Green Monster Movie

Because it wouldn't be newfoundland news be without the newfoundlands, here they are duking it out very politely over their favorite toy, Big Green Monster.

... That sound at the very end is Katy shaking out her jowls. It makes a sound every bit as distinctive as the chest beat of a gorilla.

The Big Green Monster toy, even at $20, is one of the 2 toys I would buy them again. The other one is Kong Wubba XL, which is recently deceased. The top part squeaks to make a horrendous sound that drives them crazy. And, it took more than a year for the squeaker ball to be chewed out - a testament to it's sturdiness. But, as soon as it was, they went crazy... we are talking HYPER crazy over the ball.

Frantic crazy.

To say they LOVE balls is a gross and serious understatement. There is no word to describe the enthusiasm or sheer mania that captures what happen when they get a ball. Let's just say in the mayhem that ensued, the little one got crashed into a wall and injured her leg enough to be rushed to the vet and need medication for a week. She has just begun to stop limping and crying. It was really very heartbreaking to see her in such pain. So, we decided balls can no longer be played with inside.

But, we are looking at getting another Kong Wubba XL sometime. Its dead carcass is turning out to be a great chew and tug toy. And, any toy that lasts a year with heavy duty use is a good one in our book.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Answers to the world leaders challenge.

The previous round of Name That World Leader was such a success, so here is round two. How many of these world leaders can you name?

Answers for the challenges, including this one, are in the comments.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

World Leaders: How many can you identify

I thought it would be a fun game to challenge my readers to a game of Name That Leader. Of these ten world leaders, who can you identify by name? I'll post the answer key later so you can see how you did.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Green Business Products from Recycled Materials

Recently I've had people approach me to create products for their businesses.

These have included biz cards, labels and promotional materials. They supply their logos and information and then I lay out the elements using InDesign — a great program for the job. I print them on the recycled paper I make from 100% post-consumer content pulp.

My most recent work was for Pete Swickles General Store in Oklahoma. I created promotional thank you cards and 9 different, unique labels for their bar soaps.

Because I've been asked so many times to create these sorts of materials, I decided it was time to list them for sale on a regular basis. I'm now offering custom plantable business cards as well as DIY lavender soap labels.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Puppy Pic of the Day # 2

The fact that she curled up under the desk and slept at my feet while I finished my work stands in stark contrast to the horrendous assault she made on my ears later in the day.

Yuki is a certified barkaholic. When we eat in the living room on the couch .. he he.. she barks her fool head off at us, non-friggin-stop. And she is L.O.U.D. Headache inducing loud.

Staring at her does not stop her. Turning her over on her back only stops her for as long as you've got her on her back. As soon as she's free, BARK BARK BARK!

So tonight when it happened, I didn't look at her at all. I completely ignored her and she stopped. Just like that. Well, it wasn't three or four barking fits later that she took exception to being ignored and then I went back to rolling her over — again.

It's really hard to get anything done when she's barking in your ear nonstop and you have to get up every 20 seconds to pin her down.

Finally I clapped by hands together twice really hard and loud and that shut her up. I think she thought the noise had something to do with the ceiling fan because she spent the next few minutes giving it the hairy eyeball.

The she went out for a walk, which is exactly what should have happened to prevent all of this in the first place.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Precocious Baby Newfie Breaks Free..

Last night Mr. Field Notes and I attended an annual gathering of WWII Iwo Jima vets. He was covering the story for the local paper and I went along for the ride. That meant Yuki had to stay in her box for 3 hours, her longest time confined thus far.

When we got home, we got greeted at the door by Yuki and Katy. It took a few seconds for it to sink in that something went terribly wrong.

We both went into search and rescue mode, turning on all the lights, checking everything to see what had been destroyed. Having gone through this with Katy, we knew the damage could be major. Couch cushion eviscerated, curtains torn off the hooks, chair legs chewed, books destroyed — you name it.

We could only find a tiny set of tooth marks on one of Mr. Field Notes' running shoes.


We dodged a major bullet. I don't know long she'd been out, and I did fear that entering the bedroom where box is would reveal a totally destroyed box, rendered completely useless, but it looked like she just pushed on it enough to get the zipper to come apart and then nosed her way out.

I am so glad we didn't close the bedroom door. She would have destroyed everything in there I'm sure. But, it looks like she just broke out and then slept the whole time.

It's almost as if she said to us:
I know I don't have my driver's license yet and you haven't really taught me how to drive yet, but I took the car out while you were gone and drove down to the grocery store and bought us milk. I'm more grown up and responsible than you give me credit for.

Uh yeah, and the scratch on the fender?
... wag wag wag ... batting eyelashes ... good Yuki, good Yuki ... sorry ... good Yuki ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A little hug goes a long way.

After a fight or conflict, a hug can mean all the difference.

Research observing chimps in captivity found that victims of aggression were significantly calmer if a third-party approached and offered an embrace or kiss afterward.

After they're attacked chimps get fidgety. They scratch themselves, stroke their hair, and groom themselves. It's the psychological equivalent of biting your nails, playing with a ring and touching your hair, mustache or beard. In animal behavior, these actions are known as displacement behaviors. They increase during stress, anxiety and right after fights. But n the case of these fighting apes, the ones who got a hug or kiss showed fewer of them.

"Consolation usually took the form of a kiss or embrace," says Dr. Orlaith Fraser of the Research Center in Evolutionary Anthropology and Paleoecology at Liverpool John Moores University.

Primatologists have seen post-conflict affiliation before. In fact, it's been observed in a number of species not limited to monkeys and apes, and is well-known to lower stress. What's neat about this particular observation is the form it takes. Hugs and kisses rarely occur at any other time.

The study was published this summer in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

I think we could all learn a thing or two from the chimps!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Video: The first day Yuki was home

It's also my first attempt to edit video using the new iMovie instead of Final Cut and also my first upload using blogger as a platform instead of YouTube. For one, I'm not happy with the sound reproduction. And I'm also not happy with the smaller picture size. I think I prefer Final Cut and YouTube. I'd love to hear your thoughts since I have footage from Japan I plan on editing and sharing.

A Fall Oriented Collection

It's eligible to be on the front page of etsy, potentially giving every one of these terrific artists thousands of views and a good chance of lots of sales. If you click on the image, you can view each piece and won't have to wait to go shopping. I can vouch for the luxuriousness of Davy Jones's scarves and Sunyata's jewelry is definitely a favorite of mine. Douglas, the wool creature, is pretty cute. He sold minutes after I put this collection together, so I may have to scramble to find a similar replacement. I have a soft spot for crows.

Other than that, I chose the pieces because they fit into my theme of fall, leaves, and autumn colors. Enjoy!

And while you're shopping check out this Leaf Card that didn't make the cut.

Monday, September 15, 2008

U.S. Army to make "mind reading" helmets

Army scientists have scored a $4 million government grant to develop a helmet that will allow soldiers to telepathically communicate with each other. The ambitious project aims to allow "direct mental control of military systems by thought alone."

Sound too sci-fi to be true?

"Because soldiers are already trained to talk in clean, clear and formulaic ways, it would be a very small step to have them think that way," says Dr. Elmar Schmeisser, the Army neuroscientist overseeing the program.

A very small step? I don't think so, not for $4 million dollars. In neuroscience research, that kind of money doesn't go very far, certainly not far enough to carry them through the 15-20 years they think is needed before the program is operational.

Setting aside the inadequate funding for such a monumental project - as groundbreaking as landing a person on the moon - their goal is not completely impossible.

For example, U.S. military scientists have already developed an array of electrodes that can be attached to your scalp and face that allow commands to sometimes be relayed to make simple maneuvers in a video game. After a baseline of brain and muscle activity is measured in response to thinking about specific actions, such as lifting or pulling, the person thinks about doing a specific action in the video game and voilá - it happens.

Getting from there to a system that is practical and useful on a battlefield is a totally different matter. For it to work according to the military's plan, the brain waves measured by electrodes in one helmet would have to be translated into a voice coming out of a helmet microphone on the other end.

A few significant problems have to be solved, among them:

a) translating electrical activity in the form of brainwaves to a voice in a helmet microphone

.... If certain specific brainwaves have already been somewhat successfully relayed to a computer system, as seen with the video game, it's not a terrific leap to get from there to voice software. Both already more or less exist.

b) figuring out which commands have a distinct brain wave signature that occurs the same way every time they're delivered

.... Military scientists involved with the project already acknowledge that each person has a unique pattern of brainwaves that must be individually calibrated. That just makes it more expensive, not impossible. A bigger problem is differentiating the huge amount of irrelevant brain activity that takes place from the single relevant piece. Every image that lands on the retina, sound that comes in through the ears, scent through the noise — they all generate electrical activity in the brain and they come in at a rate that is mindboggling when you think about it. Throw in a highly stressful battlefield situation and I doubt you'll find someone who can meditate that well.

The advantage - a system that can't be hacked into or eavesdropped on - needs no explanation.

Let's say this monumental challenge can be overcome. Why chase after something that requires way more than $4 million to develop when texting orders translated into a microphone would be far easier? Both require satellite communication. What's the advantage over texting? Sure, texting requires attention to be paid to the type pad, but a telepathic system would require perhaps even more attention, and, how would the telepathic sender know the right message was even sent?

Mind control research:

Mind-controlled video games:

My favorite piece from the research announcement is the following, of course:
"The spinout for military technology has been here since the Bronze Age," said Elmar Schmeisser, Army Research Office program manager, pointing to how early man first developed weapons, then turned them into tools. "Fighting and the development of military technology is something humans have been doing as far back as we can record," he said.

A monkey faster than Usain Bolt: The Patas Monkey

Able to reach a top speed of 35 miles per hour, the patas monkey is the world's fastest primate — not Jamaican Olympic sprinter and (human) world record holder Usain Bolt, contrary to what his apparently grandiose ego might have you think.

Speedendurance.com clocks Bolt's top speed at 27 miles per hour.

Now, Bolt is certainly impressive in his swiftness. And he is equally entertaining with his posturing and chest-thumping. But, I think the patas monkeys would yarn and roll their eyes in his general direction. Try running with pack of hungry hyenas on your tail, and then we can talk they might say.

Come to think of it - that would make the Olympics a whole lot more fun.

Because of their impressive speed, the Patas monkey is my September selection in the Monkey of the Month club.

Like the other OrnaMonkeys I've created, I chose to highlight it not only for its unusual appearance, but also for its amazing running ability.

This Old World monkey, native to central African savanna, has a body that suggests it is built for speed, something that's not surprising for a wily little monkey that inhabits grassland among big cats and other scary predators. They have a slender body, long hind limbs and a deep chest cavity to make room for oversized lungs.

The patas monkey is one of the only monkeys that spends its life almost entirely on the ground.

These monkeys are really, really cool. Since there's no video of patas monkeys racing Mr. Bolt, you'll have to settle for this parody I found if him on youtube. It's pretty funny, especially if you saw his chest beating during the Olympics.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What a cranky Newfy puppy is like.

When I say Yuki likes to run her yap, this is what it looks like.

When this video was shot, she was right at the end of a rough and tumble session, getting ready to take a nap. When she gets cranky, she gets restless and picks the nearest interesting things to chew. Notice how she started with her tail, then moved on to the rope bone, then Katy and finally her own wrist? That's pretty typical. So is the barking — and the baby growls. She went easy on our ears this time.

For the last two weeks she's been teething. We have only found two of the teeth so far. We found and saved a bunch of Katy's baby teeth. But I don't think we're going to find many of Yuki's because she is so much more active and feisty. She just ends up swallowing them. Today I noticed she lost one of the big teeth next to one of her top canines. It left a big hole. That didn't prevent her from catching and eating popcorn thrown to her tonight. That's when we got to see Katy in action. She busted out her can of Whooop *ss and laid the smack down on Yuki if she tried to horn in on Katy's tosses.

The absolute funniest thing is that Katy has had tons of practice catching popcorn out of the air but is absolutely abysmal at it. Her catch percentage must hover around 2%. Dear old Max was the Popcorn Catching Champ. His average was in the upper 90s, easy. You'd think with a bigger mouth, it'd be easier. Then again Max's top priority in life was food. He never let a kernel slip by.

By the looks of the video clip, you'd guess Katy's life passion is ignoring Yuki. You'd be right.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Little Baby Newfoundland in Action!

I just love this shot of Yuki because it captures her in all her newfarious glory - simultaneously devilish and adorable. Skipping across the floor, pitter patter of the baby feet.

No doubt she is seconds away from further eviscerating the couch as soon as I turn my back longer than five minutes.

She's teething now too. So far we've found two of the teeth she's lost. Her breath is nasty, something we never got with Katy. And, she also bleeds a lot around the gums of some of her teeth, which is another thing I never noticed with Katy. I suspect the two are connected.

Yuki continues to be a very affable character. She runs up to greet people and sometimes plants a few kisses on them. She jumps up a lot too, and has a nose for crotches. Another thing Katy never did. She also humps Katy on a daily basis - it's mostly hilarious but I do hope she grows out of it.

The two of them make quite the pair. Today was the first day they laid down together on the dog couch. Mr. Field Notes shot a funny video of the two of them on the couch. I hope he posts it soon, so I can link it here. It shows their personality differences perfectly.

25 Skills Every Man (and Woman) Should Know: A New Meme

According to Popular Mechanics, there are 25 skills every guy should know. I think women should know these things too, of course, but since I have actually done vanishingly few of the things on the list, let alone have knowledge of how to do them, it wouldn't make for a very fun meme. So, this is a meme to brag about your mate, brother, dad, husband, etc.

How it works: Bold the skills you have seen your guy do successfully. Italicize those you know he knows how to do but that you've not had the chance to witness firsthand. When you're done, tag 5 people.

Mr. Field Notes is a real DIY guy, I'd say:
1. Patch a radiator hose
2. Protect your computer
3. Rescue a boater who has capsized
4. Frame a wall
5. Retouch digital photos
6. Back up a trailer
7. Build a campfire
8. Fix a dead outlet
9. Navigate with a map and compass
10. Use a torque wrench
11. Sharpen a knife
12. Perform CPR
13. Fillet a fish
14. Maneuver a car out of a skid
15. Get a car unstuck
16. Back up data
17. Paint a room
18. Mix concrete
19. Clean a blot action rifle
20. Change oil and filter
21. Hook up an HDTV
22. Bleed brakes
23. Paddle a canoe
24. Fix a bike flat
25. Extend your wireless network

As for Dr. Field Notes, I can paint a room, retouch digital photos, build a campfire, paddle a canoe and protect my computer (ah, no wait, that was Mr. Field Notes who did that). I know how to get a car unstuck from snow, I think! That's one of the things, like building a campfire, that you learn when you grow up in a place like MT. I've just never had an occasion to do it. It doesn't exactly snow here.

If you're reading this, you're tagged!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Thoughts on this Year's Big Political Race

If the following really is true and based on sound data and analysis, I do not understand why people continue to vote Republican if they aren't wealthy.

"The real incomes of middle-class families grew more than twice as fast under Democratic presidents as they did under Republican presidents. Even more remarkable, the real incomes of working-poor families (at the 20th percentile of the income distribution) grew six times as fast when Democrats held the White House. Only the incomes of affluent families were relatively impervious to partisan politics, growing robustly under Democrats and Republicans alike," says Dr. Larry M. Bartels, a professor of politics at Princeton University.

His book, Unequal Democracy, explains more.

Instead of the book, you can read his much shorter article:

On the subject of presidential politics, about a year ago I wrote a bit about how nonverbal behavior of the running candidates affects the outcome of their races: How the Nonverbal Behavior Cues of Presidential Hopefuls Sway Voters

It's one of my better articles, so I hope you read it!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

For the record: I'm with the Polar Bears

I don't know if you've been following the news lately, but if you have you'll know what I mean.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Puppy Pic of the Day

For the first time ever, Yuki tucked herself into her kennel on her own. Looks like she made herself very comfortable.

Katy sometimes goes into the kennel too but never stays very long. It's probably not very comfortable for her.

I think that look says it all. If it's so dreadful, why does she keep going in?