Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TOP 10 TUESDAY: Childhood Toys

Have you ever thought about your favorites? Perhaps it's cars or movies, authors or vacation destinations.

Here's my Top 10 Childhood Toys:
  1. Matchbox cars and trucks. Hands down my most-played-with childhood toy. I still have the carrying case with many of the original vehicles. If only I had the little cardboard box they were in when you bought them. They would be worth much more.  As a big kid, I've continued with my collection and it numbers well over 300.
  2. Tinkertoy Construction Set. I spent hours creating one structure after another. Patterned after Ferris Wheel construction, Tinkertoys were originally made of wooden dowels and discs.
  3. Spiro-Graph. A birthday gift from an uncle, the Spiro-Graph was a series of plastic geared shapes with holes for colored ink pens.  You used the pen to push the shapes along the gears to create all kinds of patterns.
  4. Steam Engine. An actual table-top steam engine.  You put water in the boiler and then ignited a fuel disc to heat the water to the boiling point.  Once you had steam, you could open a valve to make it run. There were add on pieces that connected with drive belts, just like life-size versions.
  5. Ventriloquist Dummy. His name was Willie Talk. Maybe if I had stuck with it, I would have been another Jeff Dunham.
  6. Lionel Train Set. Every kids needs a train set. I was lucky the house where we lived had a large basement, so I had my train set up on a 4 x 8 ft. table.
  7. Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. I never owned the Robots myself, but my cousin did.  We always played with the toy that allowed us to "Knock your Block Off."
  8. Drawing pads. Not much of a toy, but I think I went through a pad a week.  I used to like drawing house plans. Yeah, I was a junior architect! Maybe that's why I studied graphic arts in college.
  9. Snap-together Road set.  I don't know what else to call this, and it seems like a lame toy, but I used to build roads for my Matchbox cars all over the living room.
  10. My Bike. Of course, in the summer I used to ride my bike. My favorite was had a banana seat, chopper handle bars and a sissybar on the back.
When I look back on these toys, I see a theme: imagination and creation. Do kids today get that from their playthings?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weird World Records

If you're a regular user of Google search, you have most likely seen a few "Google Doodles."  Those are the fun little headers honoring various anniversaries or events.

Saturday's Doodle honored the 125th anniversary of the World's Largest Snowflake.

Really?

My first thought was, "How do they know that?" My next thought was, "Is someone still tracking this oh-so-important bit of information for a record-breaker?"

Then I really got thinking, which was a good thing at 5:30 am on a Saturday morning... "What else do people record that really doesn't need to be recorded?"

Since I was already on the Google site, I searched to find the Weirdest World Records.  I think there was a world record of replies for web searches.

And since you're still reading, I'll share a few of what I found to be the weirdest, along with my comments.

Largest Airplane Ever Eaten. Michel Lotito, better known as Monsieur Mangetout (Mr. Eat Everything) is basically a normal guy, except he eats things like metal and glass. Have others really attempted this one? Doctors found his stomach lining is twice as thick as normal stomach lining.

World’s Fastest Strip Down. A man in Japan who can take off all of his clothes in just seven and a half seconds! Wanna see the video? It's G-rated and looks to be from "Japan's Got Talent." Video

World’s Largest Maze. Farmer Tom Pearcy created a tribute of the 40th anniversary of Star Trek. It covers 32 acres. This is actually pretty cool, but I don't think it's the latest record-holder. It seems like everyone who builds a maze makes "The World's Largest Maze." 


World’s Longest Eyebrow. Leonard Traenkenschuh of Port Townsend, Washington, has a three and a half inches eyebrow hair (and still growing!). I once saw a guy with the BUSHIEST eyebrows -- they had to be a world's record.  He was at a funeral I attended (no, he wasn't the deceased). I could barely contain myself.

Most Rattlesnakes in Mouth. Jackie "The Texas Snake Man" Bibby is THE Snakeman. His world records include most live rattlesnakes held in the mouth (8), sat with in a bathtub (81), and shared a sleeping bag with (109).

Okay, this is where I draw the line on world records.

Guinness World's Records has published millions of copies of their books over the years.  People simply love setting records.

Ever wonder why people set weird world records?  I suspect it has to do with all the Guinness Draught (beer) they're drinking when they're trying to set these records!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Birthday Boy

Last July I celebrated the 11th anniversary of my 39th birthday. For readers scratching their heads or reaching for a calculator: I turned 50.

My 50th Birthday Cake... a camping bear!
I spent it camping in Canada relaxing and enjoying the summer's warmth. Really, it was just another day.

Today is my great-nephew's eighth birthday. He's been celebrating for a week!

Last weekend his parents loaded up he and his sister (who secretly idolizes him) along with two of his friends into the SUV and headed to East Lansing for an MSU hockey game. I'm sure hot dogs and nachos were part of the birthday/hockey game celebration. (MSU lost in a shoot out. Boo!)

Then, of course, there was fun at school where he shared birthday brownies with his classmates -- and Gram who is the elementary secretary.  Maybe the kids sang Happy Birthday to the birthday boy.

Yesterday, was a family celebration with a couple great-grandparents, two pairs of grandparents, a great-anut and a couple great uncles, mom, dad, sissy and the family dog. He was bouncing around the house, filled with excitement.

I should have a tenth of that energy and be so excited about another birthday.

It's fun to watch him, and all my great-nephews and nieces, growing up. Some change their looks during the weeks and months between seeing them.  Others are growing up before my eyes.

I count my blessings I can be part of it, and it's a joy to be part of birthdays that are not just another day.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

One thing leads to another

Last night I had to reinstall my anti-virus software, which was necessitated by an impending expiration date.  Of course, couldn't get the website to accept two different credit cards.  GRRRRR.

So, after screwing around for far too long, I found a sales and service  contact number, so I called.  Ann answered.

After explaining my problem, Ann told me that the online credit card processing is "done in Germany and doesn't work so well. We process your payment in California."  My credit card number is so well traveled!

Ann also told me that I would be emailed to an email address they have on file, by 7:00 pm Eastern Time.

I had a sinking feeling.  I've been avoiding that email account.

Well, here goes nothing. I logged in and voila!  I had over 3000 unread messages. Over 2200 of them were sent to me since January 1.

I have a serious problem. There's no activation code for my anti-virus.

But while I was searching, I managed to spend nearly two hours clicking and reading and unsubscribing and clicking and reading and unsubscribing and... DELETING.  Anything over three weeks old is gone.

Sorry if you sent me something.

Finally, sometime around 9:15, the activation code arrived and I had a topic for another blog entry.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's not always bad having Words with Friends

A couple months ago, Alec Baldwin got kicked off an airline flight as LAX for refusing to turn off his cellphone.  He was busy having Words with Friends.

Well, I guess having isn't quite correct.  PLAYING Words with Friends is more like it.

WwF is one of the many games Facebook users can play with one another.  It's basically online Scrabble.

I play it from time to time, but have really lost interest when I can never win.  I'm busy putting up words like dog or me for single-digit points, while my opponents are hitting triple word scores dropping tiles to form words such as: acquest (An act of asking politely or formally for something).

Seriously?

Far be it from me to suggest that any of my Facebook friends would cheat.  But I will say there are at least a half-dozen website devoted to cheating at WwF (like wordswithfriendscheats.net).

Sometimes I play the game a little differently... and shoot for a score UNDER 100 points.  I've not succeeded at that.

But with the rack of letters shown in the picture at the right, I don't think any site could help me cheat.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Do we need a pill for a broken heart?

Death is part of life.  We don't like to talk about it and none of us are really ready to face the heartache it brings.  Depending on our relationship to the deceased, their death can bring a nearly overwhelming flood of emotions, pain and sorrow.


I think that many people who will tell you that all those emotions, pain and sorrow are part of the natural grieving process.

So how is it possible that grief could be considered a disorder?

Proposed changes to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), has launched a debate about the definition of depression. Psychiatrists say the current wording, which excludes "bereavement," hurts people who need help coping with their loss.

If the bereavement exclusion is removed, medical professionals could prescribe medication for depression. But isn't the death of someone you care about even a little bit, depressing?

When I first got into EMS I read Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross' book On Death and Dying where she outlines the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Passing through one stage into the next is how we all grieve until we find acceptance with the situation.

This is how we grieve!

I think it will be dangerous for people to be taking medication to avoid grief, when we have a natural process to get us through.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Statically Speaking

I'm excited by having succeeded at posting a blog entry for eight consecutive days.  I've caught myself thinking about skipping a day, but I know myself well enough.  One will turn into two which will turn into 20 and before I know it, it'll be a defunct blog. (I already have one of those floating out there in cyberspace!)

This can easily turn into a habit!

What's more exciting are the statistic provided to me by the Blogger software which hosts BNB.

Click the graphic to enlarge.
With a few clicks of the mouse, I can see graphs and diagrams and sources viewers used to come to the BNB blog.

As you can see from the graphic here, during the first seven days I've had 125 pageviews.  The number amazes me pageviews amazes me.

More amazing is are the pageviews from Japan and Venezuela.  THAT astounds me!

Sorta.

Largely, the viewers of the BNB blog come to to the site via Facebook, so I have a sneaking suspicion the views might be that of my Facebook Buddy Andrew Rummel who lives there. But I have no way of knowing.

Venezuela?  I'm guess that BNB was seen from those countries by someone clicking the "Next Blog" at the top of every Blogger Blog.

It's also interesting to see the browser and operating system used during the pageviews.  Mobile Safari browsers are (I believe) from an iPhone, while the Android OS is from another handheld device. Readers are checking out BNB while on the move!

Regardless of the stats, as long as I have one reader a day, I'll (try) to keep posting.

Happy One Week Anniversary BNB!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Four Stooges

As a kid I remember watching Curly, Larry and Moe -- the Three Stooges -- on TV.  They were just silly and made a living at being silly.

Last night I watched the Four Stooges: Newt and Mitt, Ron and Rick. And frankly, they're not funny.

Annoying is the word that comes to mind.

Brian Williams tried to moderate something NBC News was calling a Presidential Debate.  It was anything but Presidential. Mitt's relentless badgering of Newt and his record nauseated me.  I'm all about Newt, but come on.

Bottom line: I DO NOT WANT ONE CANDIDATE TELLING ME HOW MUCH THE NEXT CANDIDATE SUCKS!

I have a brain and I use it.  Each candidate needs to tell me their position on the topics. Then I can effectively form my own opinion and cast my vote.

Sadly, they spend far too much time beating on each other. 

If I were in charge, no campaigning would be allowed before June 1. There would be a national primary in mid-August and the top four "vote-getters," from whatever party, would then be on a national general election ballot. The candidate who receives the majority of the POPULAR vote would be our president.

Just my two cent.

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

It really is a mad mad mad mad world.

I'm not talking about the 1963 movie about a nutty group of people in a cross-country race to find some treasure.

I'm talking mad as in A N G R Y !

This weekend I ran into so many people who are on-edge, stressed-out, over-the-top angry. And angry for really no good reason.

It seems like people are just angry all the time.
It seems like everyone is about ready to snap.

I'm not sure the cause, but Dr. Phil is making a fortune analyzing, discussing and telling us about why we're so angry.

I don't watch Dr. Phil so I'll draw my own conclusions:

1. The economy.  Money is tight and people are worrying about how to pay bills.

2. The weather. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is caused by the lack of sunlight in our lives. Grey and gloomy days of January can make some sad. For some it makes them cranky.

3. People push their buttons.  Okay, I have to admit, I'm regularly exposed to someone with an assine personality. Just knowing they are breathing the same air as I sets me off.

4. They're miserable, so they want others to be miserable. They say misery loves company.  So why not be angry and share the misery with others?

Regardless of the reason, I think we all choose to be angry or not.  We can identify what makes us angry and move on.

So I'm going to try to focus on the good, the happy, the fun; and ignore the stuff that makes me angry.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Two Fat Ladies

If you're like most Americans, your television has 200+ channels with nothing to watch.

Oh sure, we all have our favorites, but often I find myself changing the channels looking for anything interesting.

Clarissa Dickson Wright & Jennifer Paterson.
For some reason, I've more than once found myself stopping on the cooking show "Two Fat Ladies."  How politically incorrect this that title?

TFL was produced by the BBC from 1996 to 1999 featuring Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson. I'm drawn to this show as much by the stars accents as I am watching them prepare dishes that sometimes seem medieval.

These gals are not shy about handling a freshly butchered hog (Jerked Whole Boar/Pig Recipe), nor are they shy about pouring some liquor into the dish they're preparing.

The show was filmed at various locations across the U.K. and the pair were often film riding together on a motorcycle and an appropriate "doublewide" sidecar. Their offbeat antics just added to the show's at-home feel.

They mixed recipes with their hands and often made comments that were either inside jokes or something only those to understand British humor would grasp.Cooking with lots of real butter, whole cream and lard, they were the Paula Deen of their day.

I doubt I would eat anything they cooked, but I still love watching their show.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

BNB's Lessons in Blogging

When I decided to start writing a blog I only wanted to brush up on my writing skills. Well, brush up on my writing skills so I can launch a future blog on the overhauled website for Internet company, AVCI.net, that employes me.

So this blog is a learning experience and a test run for a much more professionally-focused blog. Of course the AVCI.net blog of the future will be part of an overall Social Media Marketing plan. It also won't be "naked" like this one.

There are some valuable life lessons to learn when you're blogging:

Do it Daily! Setting aside time daily to write requires discipline. This is something I lack. I'm trying to make it a habit, then it will become much easier. I admire my friend, Wanda Eichler, and her blog From Under the Willow. She's been writing for years and blogging since about 2008. Last year, she committed to writing a daily blog post as a short "letter home to her dad."  That is discipline!

Have an Idea or Two. The subject manner of my blog is the biggest challenge. I've been at this for just a few days and my Blogger Dashboard (that's the behind the scenes control panel for this blog) is loaded with six or seven unpublished starts to future blogs.  I'm trying to jot down a few notes, and quote I heard or other idea and save it.  Then I go back to it another time.

Don't over think it. This is one of the greatest challenges I face when writing.  The backspace and delete keys get a good workout when I'm writing. I often start in one direction and end up making a lot of left turns.  This paragraph was rewritten a couple of times.

Have Fun. This should be a no brainer.  If it isn't fun, it won't work. As long as I'm having fun, I'll keep it up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away"


Yesterday was a sad day in photographic history when Kodak, the 132-year-old trailblazer and leader of the film photography world, filed for bankruptcy protection.  Somehow they failed to capitalize on the digital technology the pioneer helped develop.
Other than the Amish, Kodak played a roll in capturing memories for nearly everyone in the 20th century. It is well known and well trusted by millions. Because of it's familiarity, to a degree we're all saddened by this announcement. There's an emotional connection.

It was my usual choice of film products of all types.

At one time you could step into nearly every American home and find film or photo or point-and-shoot Brownie and Instamatic cameras with the Kodak logo. In the last five year, that scene has all vanished.

Kodak once employed 145,300 worldwide. Today that number as been reduced to 18,800.

It's a sign of the times.

I was slow to jump on the digital bandwagon, finally purchasing a digital camera just before a trip last February.  In a small way, I contributed to today's announcement.

Regardless of the final outcome, there will always be plenty of Kodachrome slides holding onto history for years to come.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The word "Kodak" was first registered as a trademark in 1888. There has been speculation on how the name was originated. The truth is that Eastman invented it out of thin air.

He explained: "I devised the name myself. The letter 'K' had been a favorite with me -- it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter. It became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with 'K.' The word 'Kodak' is the result." Kodak's distinctive yellow trade dress, which Eastman selected, is widely known throughout the world and is one of the company's more valued assets.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA and PIPA


Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the past couple of days, you’ve probably read or heard about SOPA and PIPA.

And while seeing those two words makes me hungry for a good chicken enchilada, they have nothing to do with Mexican cuisine.
 
SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial bill with far reaching powers to control Internet content.  Some say to control it much like the Chinese government which is, essentially, censorship.

While the legislative debate in Washington begins, a host of large Internet companies have begun to protest and urge users to voice their opinion to those elected to represent them.

The online protests include Wikipedia's webpages going completely black, while Google put a big black box over their prominent logo on its home page, with a link to a page from which users could sign a "Tell Congress: Don't censor the Web" petition.  Traditional street protests are scheduled for cities including New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

One of my favorite comedic sites, http://theoatmeal.com/ even got in on the act. (Mature content warning!)

PIPA, the Protect IP Act, is the Senate’s version of SOPA. IP is Internet talk for Internet Protocol, which is a series of numbers that guides internet traffic around the world.

You can read much more about both SOPA and PIPA at the CNET website: http://tinyurl.com/7y7k9xk

Like so many of our laws, there are far too many loopholes and a serious lack of checks and balances in the SOPA and PIPA bills pending in Congress.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C) sums up my feeling: “I support intellectual property rights but oppose SOPA and PIPA because they are misguided bills that will cause more harm than good.”

In my opinion, SOPA and PIPA are far overreaching and gives the government more authority beyond what is reasonable and should, therefore, both be tossed in the trash.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Here I go... Naked or Not!

People start writing blogs for a menagerie of reasons.  For some it's an outlet, a sort of therapy. Others use the blog to connect family and friends.

Many blogs are single focused, perhaps looking at politics, sharing recipes or other causes dear to the writer's heart.

That focus for creating the blog gives the writer a foundation for their blog posts.

Me? I got nothing.

I only want to focus on writing again.

For some, writing comes very naturally. The words simply flow from the brain through the hands and fingers where rapid-fire movement on the keyboard creates a written piece that someone besides your mother wants to read.


I envy those who are create with great ease.  I tend to pour over each word, changing my thoughts and direction time and again until I convince myself to let it go. It's worthy of sharing with others.

So here it is, Bare Naked Bill, Naked or Not.