Saturday, February 21, 2009

Atlantis Found ... Maybe

Google recently released an improved map database that includes underwater maps of the Earth's Oceans. Researchers who have been using this data believe that they may have found the location of the fabled Lost City of Atlantis. The map shows clearly visible linear features that do not appear to be a natural occurrence.

Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias. In Plato's account, Atlantis was a naval power lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules" that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune".

So is this the real deal or not? Some experts believe that the lines seen on the Google Map are just the result of imperfectly rendered data from sonar that is used to create the maps. Others believe that there might be something there. They believe that the data is inconclusive and additional research is required to rule out man made features. I guess time will tell.

Click here to link to Google Maps to see for yourself.

Wikipedia Article: Atlantis

Other Articles about Legends and Conspiracy Theories.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brad Montgomery Motivational Speaker

Jake isn't sure why his leadership is sending him to so many motivational seminars lately. Are they trying to tell him something? Last month they sent him to the "Get Motivated Seminar". Today they sent him to see Brad Montgomery, Motivational Speaker. Jake could be offended by this transparent critique of his motivation, but instead he chooses to be happy. And heck, Brad Montgomery is a hoot.

If you’re desperate for a humorist motivational speaker who is both inspirational and VERY funny — and if your business audience craves keynote speakers who blend laugh-out-loud humor with bona fide wisdom that they WILL implement, then you want humor expert and comedian speaker Brad Montgomery.

Organizations thirsting for funny speakers offering something fresh, motivational, and meaningful that is both humorous and a terrific business investment will love this guaranteed, can’t-miss hilarious speaker.

If your people deserve a boost to their morale, their bottom-line, and their energy level, and they demand a motivational speaker who will blow them away with a mix of high-content value and pure comedy … Just Book Brad.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Listerine Agent Cool Blue Glacier Mint

Remember those little pink tablets that they used to give us in elementary school to teach us about dental hygiene? We would chew the tablets which would color the dirty part of our teeth a bright pink color. Apparently those little pink pills are old school. Today's replacement is a product from Listerine called Listerine Agent Cool Blue Tinting Rinse, Glacier Mint.

With the plaque tinted blue, kids can easily see those places that they need to brush better. Agent Cool Blue is alcohol free and comes in two flavors: Bubble Blast and Glacier Mint.

We only used to get the little pink tablets about once a year in my school. With Listerine Agent Cool Blue, your kids can use this simple but effective tool every day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Water Powered Jetpack

This just looks like too much fun. You have been dreaming about flying a personal jetpack for way too long. Your wait is finally over! Stop Dreaming! Start Flying.

Jetlev Sports Inc. is proud to introduce the JETLEV-FLYER, the recreational jetpack almost anyone can enjoy over water. It is designed for safety, stability, ease-of-use, and precise and effortless flight controls. Learn to take off, fly, turn, hover and land in as little as six minutes.

(The proceeding has been a public service announcement from the Gotta Try That Department)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Goodbye Colorado Springs

It's 4AM. It's Snowing. It's time to leave Colorado Springs. Jake had a good trip to Colorado Springs this week, but I think he has had enough of the winter wonderland.

Step 1 - Clear the snow off the car. (Why does it have to keep snowing. I wish Molly was here. She loves the snow.)
Step 2 - Get to the Airport. (The defroster doesn't seem to be working. Just keep moving towards the airport lights. You can't see the road because of the snow anyway.)
Step 3 - Return the Rental Car. (Hey, Why isn't there anyone at the rental car return place. They probably don't want to be here at 4AM in a snow storm either. Just leave the car and hope for the best.)
Step 4 - Check in at the Airline Counter. (Why the heck is there such a long line. I hope the flight isn't canceled because of the snow storm.)
Step 5 - Get through Security (Why the heck is there such a long line at security. Don't these people know that it is 4AM in the morning. They are all flying somewhere warm in the south I bet. Don't those new Blue TSA uniforms look snazzy though.)
Step 6 - Get on the plane. (Why do I always get wedged in between two value sized passengers. Just for once, I would like to be the bread instead of the filling in the middle. We are going to have to wait for our turn for deicing. Great. We are going to turn off the ventilation while we are deicing. Extra Great. I can't really breath here in the sandwich anyway so just take your time.)
Step 7 - Make the connecting flight. (Our flight is going to be landing late. Of Course. The connecting flight is about a mile away. Of Course. )

All is well that ends well. Jake made it home in one piece and is glad to be back in Alabama where it is about 65 degrees today. Jake had fun in Colorado, but there is no place like home. (He said as he clicked the heels of his ruby red shoes together.)

Colorado Springs Attractions

National Junior Honor Society Induction

Congratulations Sarah Ray! Yesterday, Sarah Ray was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.

National Junior Honor Society, or NJHS is a worldwide organization that consists of many chapters in middle schools (grades 6-8). Selection is based on five criteria: citizenship, service, leadership, scholarship and character. Members must maintain a high grade point average (the national minimum is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale) and become good citizens (by participating in service projects). The NJHS requires some sort of service to the community, school, or other organizations. The projects help students meet the required service hour total monthly.

Click here to see the official NJHS Webiste.

Commodore Scribbles was also inducted into NJHS several years ago. Click here to see her induction photo and story.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

World War Z

Jake is still hanging out in Colorado Springs. He did some sight seeing the last couple of days, but there wasn't much daylight left after work today. Jake decided to just kick back with a book. One of the guys in his office loaned him a book called, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War This book written by Max Brooks is about a world wide plague of zombies.

What's interesting is that the book is written in the style of Studs Terkel's Oral Histories Books. Max Brooks tells the story of a zombie plague through the eyes of the survivors. We learn what they saw, how they survived and how they triumphed. We also learn the psychological impact of the dead rising up for a midnight snack. There is plenty of social commentary. Max Brooks examines how each of the major world powers dealt with the zombie infestation. He also discusses which segments of the population are likely to survive and which segments aren't. You'll be surprised by some of his suppositions. Jake isn't a big fan of Zombie Lore, but World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is worth the read.

Remember... You have to aim for the head. Anywhere else and you are just wasting ammunition.

Good News

Does it appear that every time you turn on the television or read the news paper, that someone tells you how bad things are in the world? Jake is no psychologist, but you probably don't have to be one to realize that constantly hearing how bad things are, is not healthy.

Jake set out on a quest today to find some good news. Guess what? There are plenty of good news stories out there. For example, did you know that Intel the maker of computer chips is investing a lot of money that will create new jobs in the US? Not something that you are likely to hear on the mainstream news.

If it is good news you want, you just have to know where to look. Here are a few links where you can get your daily dose of what's going right in the world.
So the next time you are standing around the water cooler and someone starts talking about how bad things are, turn things around. Tell them about one of the good news stories you read today.

(The preceding has been a public service announcement from the glass is half full department.)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ghost Town Museum

Jake's last stop of the day was at the Ghost Town Museum in Colorado Springs. Ghost Town Museum is a recreation of a Colorado Town from a bygone era. The main museum building was originally, built for the Colorado Midland railroad to serve as a maintenance building for the steam locomotives that hauled gold ore from the mining districts to the Golden cycle mill located right across 21st Street from the museum. Click here to see the Ghost Museum on a map of places we've been.

Each of the buildings inside the museum is filled with treasures from the gold rush days. The museum evolved from a desire to preserve a piece of this era. An impressive collection of everyday artifacts displayed in each of the town’s buildings, which are themselves a collection of the very structures left to decay around the pikes peak region; all looking much as they would have been left 100 or more years ago.

If you would like to see some additional Ghost Town pictures, click on this link.

Other Colorado Springs Attractions

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Jake's second stop of the day, was the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. This zoo is literally on the side of a mountain and has some breathtaking views of Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was founded in 1926 by philanthropist Spencer Penrose to house his growing collection of exotic animals. In 1938, after substantial development, Penrose deeded the Zoo as a non-profit public trust to the people of Colorado Springs.

Click here to see the zoo on the map of places we've been.

Jake's favorite exhibit at the zoo was the Mountain Lions. This exhibit allows you to get up close and personal to the big cats. Jake enjoyed this exhibit so much that he went back for a second look. When he arrived, he discovered that there was not a single Mountain Lion to be seen. Rachel who is one of the zoo keepers, explained that it was feeding time and all of the Mountain Lions had been moved inside temporarily so that food could be placed in the enclosure. When Jake explained that he really liked the exhibit, Rachel invited Jake on a short behind the scenes tour of the Mountain Lion enclosure. There he met Kaya and her three brothers who share the enclosure with her. Rachel explained that today is actually fasting day for the mountain lions. Today they only get bones to eat, because in the wild they would not be able to eat every day. After the bones were placed in the enclosure, the cats were let out of their cages and immediately attacked the bones. It was very cool to watch.
The zoo also has 20 giraffs and a family of lowland gorrillas. The day was a little windy, but Jake enjoyed his visit to the zoo and looks for ward to the next visit.

If you would like to see some additional zoo pictures, click on this link.

Other Colorado Springs Attractions

Helen Hunt Falls Colorado Springs

Jake is back in Colorado this week. Today he got the chance to do a little site seeing. His first stop was Helen Hunt Falls. The falls are actually a big chuck of ice at the moment and there was lots of snow of the ground in North Cheyenne Canyon. I wish Molly was here to share the winter wonderland with me.

Click here to see the location on a map

This visitor center is nestled at the foot of Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Canyon Park. It offers an introduction to the natural features visitors will find in the area. Visitors can experience the area through interpretive exhibits, scheduled hikes and walks, and by talking with the informative staff and volunteers on site. The gift shop features Colorado scenic guides and history books, maps, nature books, videos, gift items and drinks.

The Center is located at 4075 N. Cheyenne CaƱon Road and offers many programs for the summer. Summer Hours: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm everyday! For more information, please call (719) 385-6086 during the school year or (719) 633-5701 during the summer.

Other Colorado Springs Attractions

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Places We've Been

Click on the Map to See Places We've Been

I've decided to compile all of the places that we have visited on one page. That way when the kids say, "We never went anywhere", I can just refer them to this list. This will probably take me a while, because we actually have been to a number of places over the years.

View Larger Map


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Space Center Houston

Molly continues her trip to Houston Texas where she is attending the Space Exploration Educators Conference. The conference is taking place at Space Center Houston. Space Center Houston is the official visitors center of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) center for human spaceflight activities—located in Houston.

Space Center Houston is home to space artifacts and hardware including:
  • Mercury 9 capsule ("Faith 7")
  • Gemini 5 capsule
  • Apollo 17 CM
  • Lunar Rover vehicle trainer
  • Skylab trainer mock up

Attractions At Space Center Houston Include:
  • Martian Matrix/Kid's Space Place, a play place for children 5th grade and younger
  • Northrop Grumman Theater, an IMAX theater that hosts the movies "To Be An Astronaut" and "Inside the Space Station"
  • A Tram Tour of NASA, which goes to either Building 30 North and South (old and new Mission Control Centers), Building 9 (the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility), and Rocket Park (which contains a Saturn V rocket among other things).
  • Special tours, called Level 9 tours, are given at an extra booking cost, and visit all of the above buildings and other areas such as the Neutral Buoyancy Lab.
  • The stand where John F. Kennedy promised the safe launching to the Moon, landing on the surface, and return to Earth before the year of 1970 is located inside the Destiny Theater.

Let's Go Fly A Kite

It's the 7th day of February. It's supposed to be cold and winter-like right? Well apparently someone didn't get the memo. It was 70 degrees and sun shiny. It was definitely too nice of a day to stay inside. Jake began by doing a little yard work. A little while later, Sarah Ray asked Jake if he would like to try her kite. Jake initially dismissed the idea, but Sarah Ray looked like she was having a bunch of fun, and Jake hates to be left out when someone else is having fun. It didn't take long before Scribbles was also enticed into a little kite flying action.

Let's Go Fly a Kite Song Lyrics from "Mary Poppins"

Oh, oh, oh!
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!

Kite Fun Facts

Kites are named after the kite bird, which is a member of the hawk family.

• In some countries, kiting is also part of religious or seasonal observances, or is the focus of traditional festivals.

• Signature kites and festivals have, over centuries, become important cultural components in peoples' definition of who they are.

• Hawaiians used kites to claim pieces of land. The kites would be released in the air and ownership would be taken wherever the kite fell.

• The ancient Chinese believed that kites could ward off evil spirits and served as good luck.

• The largest kite in the world is flown each year in Hoshubana, Japan.

• In 1749, two Scottish scientists, Alexander Wilson and Thomas Melville, fastened thermometers to kites in order to record the temperature of the air at high altitudes. This was the first recorded attempt to obtain scientific data using kites.

• On April 4, 1975 Kazuhiko Asaba of Kamakura, Japan flew 1,050 kites on a single line, a world record.

Robonaut or Naughty Robo?

It's hard to look at this picture and not imagine that the Robonaut is about to goose Molly and her friend Diane. He's got a certain leer in his eyes.

Robonaut is a humanoid robot designed by the Robot Systems Technology Branch at NASA's Johnson Space Center in a collaborative effort with DARPA. The Robonaut project seeks to develop and demonstrate a robotic system that can function as an EVA astronaut equivalent. Robonaut jumps generations ahead by eliminating the robotic scars (e.g., special robotic grapples and targets) and specialized robotic tools of traditional on-orbit robotics. However, it still keeps the human operator in the control loop through its telepresence control system. Robonaut is designed to be used for "EVA" tasks, i.e., those which were not specifically designed for robots.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Science Geek Bling

So what do you give the girl who has everything? How about a necklace with a live worm in it? Kind of creepy, but I guess that's the sort of thing kids are into these days. Sarah Ray brought home a small vial on a string with a live Lumbriculus variegatus worm inside. Her science teacher passed them out to all of the students.

Lumbriculus variegatus, sometimes known as blackworm (or even California blackworm), is a type of oligochaete that lives in shallow water marshes, ponds, and swamps, feeding on microorganisms and organic material. They live throughout North America and Europe.

On average, an adult blackworm can have from 150 segments to 250, each of which has the ability to regenerate into a whole new individual when separated from the rest of the animal.

  • When touched, Lumbriculus will attempt to escape, either by swimming in a helical ("cork-screw") fashion, or by reversing its body.
  • The photoreceptors can detect shadows and movement. The posterior end lifts out of the water and forms a right angle. It is then exposed to air and is used to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Although, this exposes its posterior to its enemies.
  • If the photoreceptors detect a shadow or movement, the posterior rapidly shortens in response to a threat.
I wonder if Molly would like something like this for Valentine's Day?

USS Texas BB-35

While in Houston Texas attending the Space Exploration Educators Conference, Molly took the opportunity to do a little site seeing. Yesterday she visited the San Jacinto Monument and the USS Texas.

USS Texas (BB-35), the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the U.S. state of Texas, is a New York-class battleship. The ship was launched on 18 May 1912 and commissioned on 12 March 1914.

Soon after her commissioning, Texas saw action in Mexican waters following the "Tampico Incident" and escorted Allied convoys across the Atlantic Ocean during World War I. When the United States formally entered World War II in 1941, Texas resumed her role of escorting war convoys across the Atlantic, and she later shelled Axis-held beaches for the North African campaign and the Normandy Landings before being transferred to the Pacific Theater late in 1944 to provide naval gunfire support during the Battle of Iwo Jima and Battle of Okinawa.

Texas was decommissioned in 1948, having earned a total of five battle stars for service in World War II, and is presently a museum ship near Houston, Texas. Among the world's remaining battleships, Texas is notable for being the oldest remaining dreadnought battleship. She is also noteworthy for being one of only two remaining ships to have served in both World War I and World War II. Among U.S.-built battleships, Texas is notable for her sizable number of firsts: the first US battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns, the first U.S. ship to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers (analog forerunners of today's computers), the first battleship to launch an aircraft, the first to receive a commercial radar in the U.S. Navy, the first battleship to become a museum ship, and the first battleship declared to be a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Space Exploration Educators Conference

In an unusual role reversal, Molly is traveling as part of her job this week while Jake remains at home as Mr. Mom. Molly is in Houston, Texas where she is presenting at the Space Exploration Educators Conference.

This conference is for Grades K-12 – and not just for science teachers! Space Center Houston strives to use space to teach across the curriculum. The activities presented can be used for science, language arts, mathematics, history, and more!

The conference is three days of complete submersion into the out-of-this world adventure of space exploration! Attend sessions hosted by the actual scientists and engineers working on these exciting endeavors including the International Space Station, Mars exploration, and the planets beyond. Hear from the astronauts leading the charge in exploration! Come learn about the bold vision to send humans back to the Moon and off to Mars! Attend sessions presented by educators and receive ready to implement classroom ideas and experience minds-on, hands-on fun! Not to mention the wonderful networking with fellow educators, the multitude of cross curriculum ideas and activities you will take back to the classroom, and 24 hours of Continuing Professional Education credit.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Superbowl XLIII 2009

So, what do you do when you have an HD capable TV, but you are too cheap to pay for HD Cable? Well, you get a cheap set of rabbit ears, one hundred feet of cable, and you crawl up on the roof of course. There are probably easier ways to watch the big game in high definition, but Jake and Sarah Ray managed to get the job done after only two hours worth of work. There is apparently only one place in or around the entire house where you can place the rabbit ears and actually get reception from the NBC channel that was carrying the big game.

Congratulations by the way to Pittsburgh Steelers who managed to pull one out their back sides with only a few minutes left in the game. The Arizona Cardinals sure didn't roll over and make it easy for the Steelers. Jake has no voice left after screaming at the team as if they could actually hear him and would be willing to listen to him if they could. Well, they couldn't and wouldn't, but that didn't stop Jake from offering his enthusiastic advice.

So which superbowl commercial was your favorite? Our favorite was the Laughing My A_$ Off commercial from NBC.

We also liked the Bridgestone Tires Potato Head Commercial. Especially when Mrs. Potato Head put on her angry eyes. (You have to have seen Toy Story or this isn't as funny.)