Would you want to come home after an incredible trip to the Alaskan wilderness? After a week-long road trip, Sarah and her family certainly did not want to.
Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category
Collecting stamps and coins is like collecting mini works of art.
Loving a handwritten letter inevitably makes me love stamps. Now that the Postal Service seems to be slipping into the past, it makes me want to collect these tiny little pieces of art even more. Stamp collecting may seem like a super dorky pastime, but I can’t help but admit that I like it. Despite a disgurntuled and impatient postal worker helping me, I know I will never buy a boring or ugly stamp ever again. (No offense to postal workers; I’ve had a lot of nice ones too!) Some of the new 2012 stamps include the strange and wonderful. This year you’ll find Aloha Shirts, Innovative Chorepgarphers, Weather Vanes, Twentieth-Century Poets, Bonsai Trees and the Carmel Mission just to name a few. (Check the 2012 USPS new issued stamps at Stamp News Now.) Here are a few pics of some of my own stamps, although I do have to give credit to my mom, and my brother Ryan as a kid, for collecting a lot of these. You’ll find Haitian birds, stamps kids love, notable Americans, a few foreign stamps, Olympic stamps, 6 cent botanical stamps, and my old climbing helmet that I put a 32 cent stamp on for a reason I don’t totally remember. Oh, and of course if you can’t find a stamp you like, you can always make your own! I’ve never done it, but who wouldn’t want to receive a letter with my dog’s picture on the stamp!?!!
The first manned missions to outer space by both the United States and former USSR in 1961 were short trips that last no longer than two hours. However, the former USSR went on to complete a few missions that lasted more than 24 hours before the US completed its first 24-hour space flight in 1963. The increasing durations of the space flights by both the American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts make one thing very clear: at some point, the crew must eat.
The first food delivery systems were, of all things, tubes. They had the look and feel of a tube of toothpaste, but what came out of these tubes was anything but minty. The former USSR’s Yuri Gagarin, who in 1961 became both the first human to travel into space and the first to orbit the earth, dined on three 160 g toothpaste-type tubes: two servings of puréed meat and one chocolate sauce. The combined crew of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975) ate tubes of borscht and caviar, along with canned beef tongue and packaged Riga bread.
While NASA effectively borrowed the food tube idea from the Russians, they also experimented with their own delivery system: bite-sized cubes with gelatin coatings to prevent crumbs. During Project Mercury (1959-63) and Project Gemini (1965-66), foods were dehydrated before missions and rehydrated once in space, allowing the menu to expand over time to include the astronauts’ preferences. Items such as shrimp cocktail, chicken and vegetables, toast squares, butterscotch pudding, and apple juice were available on the menu. Even though rehydration methods improved during the Apollo program (1961-75), food presentation and presentation were still the same as during the previous space programs.
By the time the United States’ space station, Skylab, was operational in the mid 1970s, astronauts indulged in “normal” meals. The astronauts would literally come to the table during mealtimes. A dining room table and chairs, fastened to the floor and fitted with foot and thigh restraints, allowed for a more normal eating experience. The trays used could warm the food, and had magnets to hold eating utensils and scissors to open food containers. Unfortunately, a new problem came to light. The astronauts trained on the ground with the very food they brought with them to Skylab, so they fully expected the food to taste the same. However, they soon realized that the microgravity environment dulled their senses of taste and smell due to a head congestion from weightlessness.
The food tray developed for Skylab was apparently well-designed and deemed sufficient for the Space Shuttle program (1981-2011). As you can see, the food trays between both space programs differ in design slightly, but the functionality, as well as mobility, of both trays allowed astronauts to take their food with them wherever they worked.
In 2009, the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” gave viewers a rare glimpse into the development of space food technology. Andrew Zimmern, along with astronauts Michael Foreman, Leland Melvin, Michael Massimino, and Garrett Riesman, were presented with a number of food items that were flown on Space Shuttle missions and are currently available on the International Space Station. They rated each food item and gave their thoughts and opinions of each item to the food scientists. Andrew noted right away that a fruit punch drink was much sweeter than he anticipated, and other foods were very flavorful or spicy. As previously discussed, past astronauts complained of dulled senses of taste and smell due to the microgravity environment. Food scientists countered this phenomenon by preparing foods with extra flavor.
The culmination of years of work by NASA’s food scientists can be seen below.
What does the future hold for space food? Apparently, we do not have to wait long for an answer to that question. According to Mashable:
“[NASA] is looking for applicants to eat astronaut food for four months during a simulated trip to the Red Planet. Participants will try instant foods, and ones with shelf-stable ingredients, and scientists will record their reactions. The goal of the experiment is to discover what foods people like to consume consistently.”
If you want to shape the future of space food, NASA is giving you a chance to do so.
Many people set out to make healthy changes for themselves, especially as part of their New Year’s resolution. As a result, gymnasiums see a spike in memberships around New Year’s Day. However, it may have been years since someone has exercised to any extent, let along set foot inside a gym. Not only are these people out of shape, but they maybe rusty in technique, as well. Attempting their first sit-up in years, for instance, they will find it much harder to do than when they last did it. In fact, according to recent studies in biomechanics, what they learned about sit-ups and crunches years ago maybe flat out wrong.
Researchers have found out that the full motion of a sit-up puts an unhealthy strain on your back at its weakest point. The back of the spine contains the most nerves, which is the very part that bends and strains during a sit-up. Excessive flexing of the spine over time, doing just one type of sit-up or crunch repeatedly, could lead to disk herniation, resulting in back and leg pain, weakness, and tingling. Trainers working closely with new clients have observed that the excessive flexing of the client’s spine is due to their focus on just one muscle group, the rectus abdominus, with little regard to other abdominal muscle groups such as the transverse abdominus or obliques (internal and external), or other “core” muscles. People must understand that core strength training and abdominal exercises complement each other, and that the latter cannot be done instead of the former. The core muscles that are involved include:
- Rectus Abdominus
- Erector Spinae
- External Obliques
- Internal Obliques
- Transverse Abdominis (TVA)
- Hip Flexors, which include the psoas major, illiacus, rectus femoris, pectineus, and sartorius
- Gluteus medius and minimus
- Gluteus maximus, hamstring group, piriformis
- Hip adductors
Why must we focus on these core muscles? The muscles of the core make it possible for us to stand upright and walk around by controlling movement, shift body weight, and move in any direction. The goal of core stability is to maintain a solid foundation and transfer of energy from the center of the body out to the limbs, thereby protecting the back. What are the exercises required to strengthen the core muscles? The following exercise equipment, as demonstrated in these YouTube videos, work very well towards developing your core strength:
- Medicine Balls
- Stability Balls
- Balance Products such as the Bosu Ball, balance boards, wobble boards, et al.
Consider these pieces of equipment tools that can assist you in your core strength development. However, you can also develop your core strength without them, relying on your body weight alone. Body weight exercises involve abdominal bracing, or the contraction of the abdominal muscles, and focus primarily on the transverse abdominis. This, along with ten other equipment-less exercises, can be done to develop your core strength and include the following:
- Abdominal bracing
- Plank exercise
- Side plank exercise
- Back bridge
- Hip lift
- Oblique twist
- Lunge with twist
These exercises will ensure that you develop core strength in the transverse abdominis, the deepest muscle of the core, so that you can maintain trunk stability and keep your waist tight. It should not be surprising, then, that you would reap from the benefits of core conditioning when you work on abdominal conditioning concurrently. Conversely, you maybe disappointed at the results of your abdominal conditioning should you do little core conditioning alongside it.
Abdominal conditioning focuses on two muscle groups: the rectus abdominus, often referred to as the “six-pack” , and the obliques (internal and external), which are located on the front and side of the abdomen. These two muscle groups are on top of the aforementioned transverse abdominis, which is adjacent to your vital organs. The abdominal muscles are special because they provide postural support, which contributes to a healthy back. As long as you work on core conditioning, as well, you will be pleased with the results of your abdominal condition. The number of abdominal exercises to choose from, however, raises another concern: what are the most effective abdominal exercises? The Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University answered that question by measuring the muscle activity of a number of test subjects as they performed
13 12 different ab exercises. Using the traditional crunch as the baseline of muscle activity, this is what they discovered for the rectus abdominus:
|Activity in Rectus Abdominus|
|Ranking||Exercise||Activity, mean %|
|4||Vertical Leg Crunch||129|
|6||Long Arm Crunch||119|
|8||Crunch with Heel Push||107|
|12||Exercise Tubing Pull||92|
as well as for the obliques:
|Activity in Obliques|
|Ranking||Exercise||Activity, mean %|
|5||Vertical Leg Crunch||216|
|8||Crunch with Heel Push||126|
|9||Long Arm Crunch||118|
|12||Exercise Tubing Pull||77|
What does this mean for your workout? Think about your workout in three steps, in order:
- Stretching (as always)
- Core strength training (to maintain a solid foundation and transfer of energy from the center of the body out to the limbs)
- Abdominal exercises (to strengthen your abdominal muscles)
When you go to the gym or work out in your garage, do not start with abdominal exercises. Always work on core strength training first so that your abdominal exercises thereafter produce the six-pack abs you have wanted in the first place.
The majority of people, like me, just cannot wait to use their new computer once it is removed from its box, especially if that computer is replacing an older, slower computer. However, as a person trained in network administration, I would make a list of the applications and plug-ins I have been using on my old computer so that I can download the same items on the new computer, making the switch feel transparent. From our standpoint, while the switch to faster-performing hardware is welcomed, the case is not the same for software applications, where retraining may be required, an added cost that businesses and organizations are, more likely than not, do not welcome with open arms. Whether we are upgrading our own computer or the PCs in a computer room at a university, we feel much more comfortable using the same software we had always been using.
What applications should you install on your computer to maximize its usage? Whether you received a new computer for Christmas or own a four-year-old computer that is showing its age, you should download the following items.
Even though the latest versions of Internet Explorer (IE9 and IE10) are much more secure, earlier versions (IE7 and earlier) have been plagued by many security vulnerabilities and concerns: much of the spyware, adware, and computer viruses across the Internet were made possible by exploitable bugs and flaws in the web browser’s security architecture. Firefox and Chrome, meanwhile, deployed different security models seemingly in response to the vulnerabilities found in the older versions of IE, giving the perception of greater security, at least until IE was updated with a much improved security model. Unfortunately, the number of security vulnerabilities found in all versions of Firefox and Chrome combined pales in comparison to the large number of vulnerabilities found in IE, which is why I strongly recommend Firefox or Chrome as your default web browser.
Add-ons and extensions
Web of Trust (for Firefox, Chrome et al.)
I cannot begin to stress the importance of using an Internet website reputation rating tool such as Web of Trust (WOT), which shows you which websites you can trust for safe surfing, shopping and searching on the web. With the WOT add-on, you can see the website’s reputation based on other users’ experiences and carefully chosen trusted sources, such as phishing and spam blacklists. You can also rate websites yourself based on your own experiences. Whether you are looking at search engine results, links in your news feed on Facebook, or links in your timeline on Twitter, WOT indicates to you right away if the link posted is safe or not. WOT is indispensable if you have young web browsers in your house.
If you want to improve your web surfing experience, install Adblock Plus (ABP), a content-filtering extension that allows users to prevent page elements, such as advertisements, from being downloaded and displayed. Once installed, you will notice right away how much faster websites load without the burden of extra images or flash files for animated ads. If you are still using a 56K modem, or if you live with a bunch of bandwidth hogs, you will be able to view your content more quickly with this extension installed on your web browser.
Anti-malware and virus protection
Highly effective at finding malware such as rogue security software, adware, and spyware, Malwarebytes is the software that people turn to as soon as their computer begins to show possible signs of malware infection. I find it unfortunate that people turn to anti-malware software only when an infection is discovered instead of installing it early on as a preventative measure. I am telling you right now: install Malwarebytes as soon as possible, and run it once a week. You may catch malware that was downloaded but, thankfully, wasn’t installed onto your computer yet. Best of all, the free version is fully functional and will delete any and all malware, should any be found.
Microsoft Security Essentials (from Microsoft)
Why do I recommend Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE)? Like Malwarebytes, MSE is also highly effective at finding malware. However, features such as real-time malware prevention and automatic updates are not included with the free version of Malwarebytes, where they and other features are bundled with MSE. Indeed, MSC is freeware. From the school of thought that no single anti-malware product can find and remove all malware, MSE is a highly recommended complement to existing anti-malware and anti-virus software you have already installed.
I recommend CCleaner very highly for its simple task of cleaning potentially unwanted files and invalid Windows Registry entries from a computer. The applications we use daily generate lots of temporary files, especially web browsers, and CCleaner, when used weekly, will help your computer run smoothly without getting clogged and overburdened with files the computer no longer needs. When using the program with client computers, I was shocked at the amount of junk files that remained on the hard drive. It’s one thing when your computer is running slowing because you’re running out of free disk space, but quite another when the daily usage of that computer is the reason for that clutter. Use CCleaner regularly so that gigabytes (yes, GB) of junk files do not accumulate over time.
The best you can do after running CCleaner is to run Piriform’s other product, Defraggler, which defragments individual files on a computer system. Why? Removing gigabytes of junk files creates a lot of gaps between legitimate files on your hard drive. Some files, especially large files, may be fragmented, or spread out all over the drive partition. Opening that one file may take longer than it should because your hard drive has to go to different parts of your hard drive just to read it. Running Defraggler effectively reunites all those parts of a file as best it can so that reading the same file after defragmentation will be much faster, since the majority of that large file is physically in the same location on the hard drive.
Adobe Reader (from Adobe)
If you work in an office, you probably work with an office suite, compiling documents in, say, MS Word or Excel and later converting them to a format that is generally read-only to most people, such as Portable Document Format, or PDF. Adobe Reader is part of the Adobe Acrobat family of application software developed to view, create, manipulate, print and manage files in PDF, although Adobe Reader itself only allows you to view and print PDF files. For most people, that capability is all they need when coming across a PDF file on the Internet. When you install Adobe Reader, an Adobe Reader plug-in for your web browser is also installed so that the application itself does not need to be opened if, for example, a PDF file link is clicked in Firefox or Chrome.
Adobe Flash Player (from Adobe)
If you watch streaming video and audio, play online games with animation, or go to graphics-intensive websites with GUIs embedded into the site, you will need to install Adobe Flash Player, which executes and displays content from a provided SWF file. Flash Player supports vector and raster graphics, 3D graphics, an embedded scripting language called ActionScript and streaming of video and audio. Like Reader, the installation of Adobe Flash Player also includes plug-in support for your web browsers. Despite HTML5 as a possible replacement, Adobe Flash Player, emerging as the de facto standard for online video publishing on the desktop, will be around for years to come.
When deciding how you would like to structure your personal finances with multiple streams of income and you are a full-time worker, you may wish to supplement your income with a second job. However, just like your first job, your salary will still be subjected to income tax. Moreover, the salaries from both of these jobs are considered linear income. What you would like to do for yourself instead is earn residual income.
What is linear income? It is the income you are earning from your full-time or part-time job. With this type of income, the amount you earn is tied to how much you work. The more you work, the more you earn; the less you work, the less you earn. Let’s face it. Sick time, vacation time and PTO can only cover so much of your off time before you start not getting paid for not working.
On the other hand, residual income (also known as “passive income” or “royalty income“) involves doing the work once and being paid for this work many times over, over a period of months or even years.
From the viewpoints of residual income, many types of professionals are not as wealthy as they appear. Doctors, dentists and chiropractors only see a fixed number of patients per day. Salesmen can only speak to so many potential customers per day. Attorneys can only meet with so many clients per day. Overall, these professionals are earning a linear income.
Because a linear income shows almost immediate results, people tend to get caught in the trap of viewing a linear income as being of little value to them. For those who would genuinely like to live off a linear income in the future, the hard work must be put in now. Once you’re working a steady job with a linear income, you can begin working on your plan to create a stream of residual income, setting aside two to four hours after work each day or part of your weekend to make this dream a reality.
If you do not know the types of residual income you can earn, here is a list to get you started:
- Savers earn interest
- Songwriters earn royalties on their songs
- Authors earn royalties on their books, whether it is a traditional book, audio book, or e-book
- Insurance agents get residual business
- Securities agents get residual sales
- Network marketers get residual commissions
- Actors and actresses get a portion of box office receipts, DVD or Blu-ray sales, and fees from online downloads
- Entrepreneurs get business profits
- Franchisors get franchising fees
- Investors get dividends, interest, and appreciation
- Visual artists get royalties for their creations
- Software creators, game designers, and inventors get royalties
- Partners can get profits
- Mailing list owners get rental fees
- Real estate owners can gain from strong positive cash flow
- Retired persons can get pensions
- Celebrity endorsers, such as George Foreman, get a percentage of gross profits
- Marketing consultants get a percentage of profit or gross revenue
Believe me, this is not an exhaustive list of the types of residual income you can earn. Nonetheless, if you ask yourself this question right now, “What percentage of my day did I spend creating residual income?” and your answer is zero, you may wish to spend this evening or the weekend examining how you can turn residual income into a second source of income for you. But as the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day.” With careful, consistent, and persistent planning, the royalties, profits, fees, or revenue earned from your endeavor will earn you residual income for years to come.
Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website that is localized to major markets in the United States and Canada. The website was launched in November 2008. It was first used in Chicago, later expanding to Boston, New York City, and Toronto. Soon it was used by many parts of the United States. Groupon serves more than 150 markets in North America. Now, for those who are not Internet savvy, here are steps on how to use the website:
- Sign up at Groupon.com.
- The site will send you e-mail updates on the daily deals in your city.
- Purchase the deal at the discounted price. Most of the time, these deals will be at least 30% off the original price. If you are very lucky, you may find a deal as much as 90% off!
- Once enough people purchase the deal, it is activated (tipped) and you will receive your discount. If the minimum number of deals is not purchased, however, the deal is cancelled and no one gets it. Fortunately, almost all deals on Groupon are claimed due to a large membership base and a low minimum number of users required to purchase the deal and trigger a tip.
- Once you receive your deal you can claim it at the store you got it for, usually within a period of time before it expires. The website will also give you all the details about the Groupon you have purchased.
Saving money is a great thing to do nowadays, especially with the current state of the economy. Websites such as Groupon will help you to save time and money. Instead of shuffling through newspapers to cut out coupons, you can just print them at your convenience.
As we come to the end of July 2011, let’s take a look at what we have to look forward to in August 2011. I’m sure most of you have heard of weekly observances such as “American Indian Heritage Month” but, believe it or not, the list of weekly observances is pretty long. There is also a list of daily holidays that aren’t recognized on most yearly calendar.
- Exercise with Your Child Week
- Feeding Pets of the Homeless Week
- Knights of Columbus Family Week
- Elvis Week
- National Resurrect Romance Week
- National Aviation Week
Holidays in August
- August 5 – National Chocolate Chip Day
- August 6 – National Mustard Day
- August 7 – Purple Heart Day
- August 8 – Sneak Some Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch Night
- August 12 – International Youth Day
- August 19 – Hug Your Boss Day
- August 26 – Women’s Equality Day
So if you enjoy celebrating holidays, I hope this list has enlightened you on some new ones. Whether you feel they its appropriate or not, people came up with them for a reason. Let’s hope that this August is the best one yet! After all, it is “National Happiness Happens Month”.