Friday, February 29, 2008

So, you've whitened your teeth... now what?

Maybe you want to give a little attention to... the other end?

And after you've had your Daily Candy, you might have a taste for this Candy Blog.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

North Dakota Road Trippin'

Visit Ghosts of North Dakota.

Pop the top on a can of your favorite beverage, sit back, put your feet up on the dashboard, and enjoy this ride:

Around the 9:00 mark, you'll find yourself on the two-lane, going over some low hills. This is what I remember of my childhood trips to North Dakota. There were no interstate highways then. We'd be driving along and come up behind, say, a tractor pulling a wagonload of hay. Dad would pull into the other lane to pass, Mom would exclaim "RUSSELL!" and we would all hold our breath hoping we'd get back in our own lane before someone came barreling at us over a hilltop.

Well, this is as good a time as any to tell another road-trip story or two. Back when there were no interstate highways, there were no rest areas either. One used the facilities at gas stations, restaurants, or well-placed shrubbery en route. This presented a problem for parents with children in the throes of potty-training, so my parents brought along a large white enamel pot with red trim and a matching lid. This child-sized "convenience" sat on the floor of the back seat in our '53 Buick (hey, you won't find that much legroom in anything short of a limo these days). Somewhere between Michigan and North Dakota one hot summer day, we got stuck in a long traffic jam out in the country due to an accident somewhere up ahead. It was a bumper-to-bumper park-and-wait situation. Timing being what it is, one of us kids had to go... you know... Number Two. And as it turned out, there was not a pot-lid in the world that could contain the essence of that job. My mother insisted my father take the pot out into the field beside the road to dump it, which doubtless created quite an entertainment for all the cars behind us. Over the years, every time my mother told that story, I think my father blushed a little.

And, as long as he was blushing anyway, Mom would tell the next story, of the night in a mom-and-pop motel somewhere in the U.P., or maybe Wisconsin, when her monthly visitor showed up and she had no feminine hygiene products on hand to meet the demand. It was 10 p.m., everything was closed except the bars, and so of course my father would have to go out to a bar and prevail upon the barmaid to procure him a Kotex from the powder room. Unfortunately no Kotex was available, but the barmaid did not send him back to my mother empty-handed. He came back with a couple of clean bar rags to tide her over until morning.

Need a rest room break before we cruise around in town?

Now, in case you've gotten the wrong idea about North Dakota, here are some people who will set the record straight.

And one last thing:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Calendar Magic (Freeware)

PC World Downloads - Calendar Magic: "Any interest in calendars beyond the January half-price sales is amply rewarded by this program, which offers an astonishing 23 calendar systems for use, study and comparison. There are also numerous tools that calculate and convert data, from a global distance calculator to a pregnancy calculator.

Approximately 16 functions in the program deal with calendar- and date-related information. You can also chart the positions of the sun and moon relative to your physical location. Four tools deal with time: an alarm clock, a stopwatch, an addictive reaction timer, and another that reveals the current time almost anywhere on the planet. Five more tools manage your personal notes and event reminders, while another ten are primarily concerned with mathematical calculations and conversions."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cornell University Library Stuff

Some online exhibitions from the Rare and Manuscript Collections:

Pastimes and Paradigms: Games We Play
(the evolution of games since 1800)

The Evolution of the Medieval Book
(book history from the 9th to the 15th centuries)

Beautiful Birds
(the history of ornithological illustration)

Not by Bread Alone: America's Culinary Heritage
(influences & inventions that have shaped
American food habits over the past 200 years)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Download My Favorite Free Tools

JRuler enables you to measure pixels on your screen. There's nothing to install; just unzip and launch this tiny program to see a resizable ruler you can use to measure anything on screen. You can adjust the size of the ruler itself, rotate it 90 degrees, and set it to display pixels, inches, picas, or centimeters.

Nattyware's Pixie is a colour picker that includes a mouse tracker. Run it, simply point to a colour and it will tell you the hex, RGB, HTML, CMYK and HSV values of that colour. You can then use these values to reproduce the selected colour in your favorite programs.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Want Books?

Another great online library tool is WorldCat, which enables you to search for books by title, author, or subject. WorldCat can tell you what libraries have a particular book and how far those libraries are from your home zip code. You can add a book from your search to any of your own lists. How might you use this tool?
  • If you're planning, for example, a genealogy research trip to another part of the country, you can make a list of books you want to use at your destination libraries.
  • You might make a list of books you plan to borrow from your own library.
  • You might search by subject and create a list of book resources for a term paper.
  • You could make a list of books you read and enjoyed. You can add personal notes, reviews, and comments to the items on your list.
You'll know better how it will serve you if you see an example of what it does. Here's a link to one of my lists: Poetry by Bonnie Elizabeth Parker. Click on Dark Tigers of my Tongue to see what kind of information becomes available to you.

Just below the WorldCat header, you'll see a tab called Search. Click it and select Search for Lists. Type genealogy into the search box that appears, and you will find all user-created lists that pertain to genealogy. You'll find all the other lists I've created so far in this category. Some lists include books I already own but think others might want to know about if they have chosen to view a particular list.

A free account enables you to create as many book lists as you want, and you can choose to make each list private or public.

I've added a WorldCat search box to the Internet Buffet sidebar.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Got Books?

Why would you want to use Library Thing to catalog your books online?
  • In case of fire, you could file an accurate insurance claim.
  • You could keep track of who borrowed which book from you.
  • You could write a review of a book for others to read, or keep private notes about the book (for a cookbook, say, you might make note of a favorite recipe, or one you tried and didn't like).
  • A social networking feature enables you to find others with similar reading tastes.
You'll probably discover other reasons of your own.

A free account enables you to catalog up to 200 books. You need only enter a unique user name of your choice and a password. There's no need to use your real name, so your privacy is protected.

I'm not sure how many books I have, so I decided to start by cataloging my reference books. By entering a book's ISBN in the search box, I found the majority of my books have already been entered into the system, so no data entry was required from me. I had only to select the title from a list. Some of my books predate the ISBN system, so I searched by title for those. If I didn't find them in the system, I was able to add them manually by entering data in a form.

Images of most book covers have already been uploaded by Amazon or other users, and you usually have the ability to choose an image that matches the cover of your particular edition. If no image is appropriate, you can upload one yourself.

You can add tags to your books, thus enabling you to find titles easily. I've cataloged 100 of my books so far, and through tagging, I was surprised to find that about half of them are dictionaries. I've never considered myself a collector of dictionaries, although I was aware I'd accumulated a wider variety of them than the typical user who's just interested in spelling vicissitudes. If you'd like to see which ones I have, scroll down to the Library Thing search widget in the sidebar and type the tag dictionary into the search box.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Michigan State University Memorabilia

Lovers of historical memorabilia and students of Michigan State, both past and present, will find a well-presented collection of interesting historical artifacts at this Michigan Agricultural College website.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

Waterfalls, License Plates, and Other Cool Stuff

You won't find any Oregon waterfalls at the amazing website, Great Lakes Waterfalls and Beyond, so before you go there, have a look at a few pictures I took during a visit to Silver Falls State Park in 2005. (Oddly, perhaps, it was letterboxing, and not the waterfalls, that finally motivated me to go after living here for almost 2o years.)

There are 10 waterfalls in the park. All of these are pictures of North Falls, which I found particularly interesting, not just for the falling water...

...but for what's behind it, a huge cavern-like ledge that's actually part of the trail. (In the photo above, the ledge is the dark horizontal streak in the middle.)

Not that the waterfall itself isn't beautiful... it is!

North Falls splashes down onto giant basalt boulders.

The photo opportunities were legion, and just as lovely from behind the waterfall.

You can click on these last two photos for a larger view if you'd like to learn about tree casts, which are visible in the ceiling overhead when you are behind the falls.

How did I happen to go off on waterfalls today, in the middle of winter? Well, I'm glad you asked. I was visiting one of my new favorite blogs, Michigan in Pictures. I grew up in Michigan and, while I'm very happy to be living in Oregon now, it's nice to be reminded of what's interesting about my old home state. See today's post there for a waterfall photo more in keeping with the season, and browse the archives. It was there that I found a link to a great photo tour of the Michigan License Plate Factory. You're bound to find something equally interesting, even if you've never been a Michigander.

By the way, I've added a Michigan in Pictures widget to the sidebar. It features links to recent posts.