Thursday, December 23, 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse December 21, 2010

The Chicago area missed out on the Lunar Eclipse since we were busy getting a few inches of snow. I've enjoyed looking at the photos from observers who were able to see -- and photograph -- the eclipse. Here is one I found on Flickr.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Hallelujah Chorus' sung in German

From Mozart's 1789 revision of Handel's 'Messiah' KV 542.

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100th anniversary of deadly 1910 stockyards fire

Twenty-one Chicago firefighters were killed in this devastating fire at the Union Stockyards 100 years ago today. It stood as the single greatest loss of professional big-city firefighters in U.S. history until September 11, 2001.

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Christmas music

One of my favorite Christmas songs, especially when I'm trying to relax!

Download now or listen on posterous
2-12_Still,_Still,_Still.m4a (7932 KB)

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life

What a great movie and what a great ending! Great appearance of an accordion by Bert the cop (Ward Bond) at the end too!

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This should be an interesting night

The Chicago area is under a winter storm warning for tonight and tomorrow. It was relatively warm today (mid-30s) and some of our snow on the ground was melting. However, rain began this afternoon and temperatures are dropping. The rain is just now beginning to change to snow and the area is suppose to receive between 2 and 7 inches of snow.

That's not the worst of it.

On Sunday the temps will drop even more and the wind will be howling. I heard the wind speed will be close to 50 miles per hour. The Bears play the Patriots at Soldier Field and so that game will be fun to watch. As the week begins, the high temperature will be in single digits.

Only five more months to May!

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Tumblr is down!

Blogging platform Tumblr has been down since last night and has finally come back this evening. I know a number of people who use Tumblr and I know they have been upset at the slow response.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

There really is an app for that!

I am constantly amazed on how much we use our smartphones for tasks other than making telephone calls. I have had my iPhone 3GS since April and have added a number of apps to it. Several months ago, I added the Walgreen's app so I could order prescription refills for my mother. The Walgreen's app simulates the ordering process that can also be accomplished on the Walgreen's website. Nothing particularly special about it, but useful just the same. A few days ago, iTunes notified me to an update to the Walgreen's app. I downloaded and installed it and then quickly forgot about the update. 

This morning I needed to refill one of her prescriptions and I turned on the app to go through the normal refill process. The update introduced something new called "Express Refills by Scan." You simply aim the phone's camera on the prescription bottle or box until you have focused in on the bar code. Instead of taking a picture, the app recognizes the proprietary bar code and automatically captures the it. The app automatically converts the scan into the refill number and lets me accept the information before proceeding with the order. I think it took two button clicks to finish the order. I'm really interested on how these apps will continue to change our lives going forward.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tornado warning

We have had an interesting weather morning. High winds were forecasted to begin overnight and, sure enough, winds were howling when I got up this morning. Then, around 7:10 a.m., I saw a Twitter post announcing a tornado warning for Elburn, Illinois which is about 8-10 miles southwest of my home. Almost immediately, Kevin and I heard tornado sirens going off. We woke my mom up and Kevin went turned on the basement lights. Then the sirens blasted the "all clear" signal so we did not go out. I took my cell phone onto the deck and recorded the clouds as they went by overhead. You can really hear the wind gusts! The news is hyping this as the worst storm in 70 years. Already there have been wind gusts of up to 70 mph recorded in Tazewell County, south of us. This is suppose to go on through Wednesday.

I posted an earlier video showing a large tree blocking the road east of Plato Center, Illinois which is a small town a couple miles west of my home.

Can't wait to see how the rest of the day goes!!!

Download now or watch on posterous
IMG_0026.MOV (23335 KB)


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Storm damage

Download now or watch on posterous (3232 KB)

We are having a significant storm this morning and high winds are expected to continue Tuesday through Wednesday. There was already a tornado warning in Elburn. This tree was knocked down east of Plato Center blocking Russell Road. I came upon after dropping Kevin off at school.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Katie's haircut

Katie got a desperately-needed haircut today! She was getting very, very shaggy. She looks so much better now.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Posterous iPhone app

I'm trying the new Posterous iPhone app that I downloaded this morning. Has anyone tried it?

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Where has the summer gone?

I know every year I ask the same question. I just can't believe we are already in August. The stores have had their "Back to School" items out for a month now and NFL training camps are in full action. Seems like summer gets shorter and shorter. I'm looking forward to fall only because of the cooler weather and football. Still can't believe it's almost over!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Missed it by that much!

I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but we missed a storm -- and a lot of rain -- by a few miles. Folks in Wisconsin are getting hit by a LOT of rain -- over five inches in many places! We can see lightning in our northern sky, but it is still dry here and the forecast for Friday is sunny and 95°.

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What a difference five months makes!

These two photos were taken from a nearly identical location on my deck. The photos are of housing vacant lots immediately south of my house. The "winter" photo was taken February 22 and the "summer" photo was taken July 22 --  five months apart. It's currently 90° outside with high humidity and the "winter" photo looks oddly refreshing to me. Quite a contrast!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Lisa and her garden

Lisa surveying her NEW garden because you can NEVER have too many flowers!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Garbage Day!

I have to admit to taking some perverse enjoyment when the first garbage day after a major holiday comes around. The Fourth of July this year was officially observed on Monday, July 5th. In Elgin, as in most communities, city offices were closed and city services curtailed. That means that anyone whose garbage is normally picked up on Monday had their garbage picked up on Tuesday and everyone else was backed up a day.

Our normal garbage day is Thursday and -- "Ta-Da" -- most of my neighbors forgot and had their garbage outside ready to be picked up this morning! Guess I'll wait until tomorrow!

Twitter…and late breaking news!

This is why I use Twitter for late-breaking news. Someone with the Twitter name "Paul_Mar" just posted the following: "Late breaking news! Sources claim [LeBron James] may go to the Cavs or the Knicks or the Bulls or the Heat!"

You can't get that kind of insight anywhere else! If you're on Twitter too, you can follow me at:

We DID get some rain!

It was nice to finally get some rain yesterday afternoon and even overnight. I'm not sure how much rain we received, but it was certainly welcome.

It's in the mid-70s now and it's forecast to be in the low-80s by afternoon. I hope my lawn greens up again.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Storm clouds on the horizon

I'm hoping these dark clouds contain a lot of rain as we desperately need the moisture.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The "Summer of LeBron"

I wonder how many people outside of Chicago, Cleveland, Miami and New York/New Jersey are following NBA free agency this year? With LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh all looking to sign big contracts, it's interesting to watch teams and their fans pull out the stops to woo them to their respective teams.

Whenever there is big news going on, I look to Twitter to follow news, leaks and opinions. I maintain several Twitter searches to keep up with the news! Like a lot of other people, I will be curious how it all turns out!

Chicago Bulls: NBA free agency remains in holding pattern for Bulls -

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walter Payton Runs The "Wildcat"

Here's some video from the 1984 season showing Walter Payton running what we now refer to as the "Wildcat" formation. RB Payton lines up at the QB position and either runs out of the formation or drops back to pass. The drive, while promising, ends with an interception.

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Lisa and Maddie

Nice picture of Lisa and Maddie taken in June.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just who are "they"?

As I write this, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen more than 200 points on news that consumer confidence "unexpectedly" plunged. Confidence was expected to be lower, but "they" did not think it would be this low. Also, the past few weeks have seen spikes in weekly jobless claims even though "they" thought it would be lower.

Just who are "they"?

"They" must be a group of influential economists or market makers who gather together in some bunker and make predictions about the monthly economic reports. It seems like "they" are way, way overconfident. I wonder if "they" do this to make money on the market when it goes lower. That's the only reason I can see for "they" to make such silly predictions. Anyone who is out there looking for a job or trying to qualify for a loan or just keeping their heads above water will realize our economy is in serious trouble. Instead of building false expectations, "they" should spend time with real people to better understand what is going on and to come up with a solution to this mess!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Blogger themes

I have used Blogger since 2004. Hard to believe it has been that long! I chose the Blogger platform initially because of its ease-of-us and the fact that it supported custom themes. In fact, it was the themes that first drew me to Blogger.

Since then, theme support has been non-existent and other blogging platforms (most notably WordPress) have added to the variety of themes offered.

Today, I logged into Blogger and discovered and wide variety of new themes that were offered. I was hesitant at first to change my theme, but I changed it to this theme and the change was very, very easy. As easy, in fact, as Posterous is to change their themes.

I like the change and think it has reinvigorated my blog!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Apple iOS 4 software update

I just completed the installation of the new Apple OS for my iPhone 3GS. I bought the phone a couple of months ago after Apple confirmed that the new OS would be compatible with the 3GS. The new OS -- called iOS 4 -- was an easy download from iTunes and the installation was a snap. The OS was made available this morning at 10 a.m. PDT so I had to wait until just after noon to download it here in the Midwest.

The new OS contains many, many upgrades, but the one I am the most interested in using is Folders. You can now combine your apps together into folders to ease the clutter on your desktop. I combined like-apps together such as Facebook, Twitter and Seesmic into a folder that Apple named "Social." I'm keeping the name, but you can rename the folder. I combined my Google Maps, Google, Gmail and YouTube apps together and named the folder "Google." I also have a "Reference" folder and a "Utilities" folder.

In addition to Folders, the new OS supports multi-tasking. I have not yet experimented with that one yet!

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ScribeFire for Safari 5

Apple released their new browser yesterday -- Safari 5. This is the first Apple browser to support extensions. ScribeFire released their new extension so I download Safari and then installed the new extension.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Amazing photo from the Cassini Saturn probe

Amazing photo taken by Cassini of Saturn's moon Rhea. The smaller moon below it is Epimetheus. It appears smaller because the distance between each other is the approximate distance between Earth and our moon. Cassini was about 750,000 miles from Rhea when the photo was taken -- and Epimetheus was 990,000 miles away from Cassini.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Seesmic Desktop 2 Preview

This evening I downloaded the preview release of Seesmic Desktop. This new version -- written in Silverlight -- allows you to connect to Twitter and Facebook as well as a number of other social networks. Since it's a preview release, not all of the functionality is there yet.

Overall I like it a lot, but I do have some issues:
  1. I have a number of Twitter user lists. I displayed three or four lists. I left the computer for a couple of hours and, upon my return, I reopened Seesmic and they were all missing. I had to go in and redisplay them. This happens in the original Seesmic Desktop and Seesmic for Windows. Very annoying!
  2. Even though I have a large monitor, screen space is at a premium and the left menu column takes up a lot of space. Previous versions of Seesmic allowed you to minimize the column. It would be appreciated here too. Auto or manual resizing of columns would be appreciated too.
  3. The plugin directory doesn't work, but I assume it's because it's not the final release.
  4. No support yet for, but they say it's coming. Makes sense as Seesmic owns
The look is very elegant (if that's the right description to use). Seesmic and Tweetdeck are the top two desktop Twitter/Facebook platforms and each company release ups the ante.

Try the new preview release of Seesmic Desktop here.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chicago Blackhawks poll

The Chicago Blackhawks begin conference semifinal playoff action Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks. How far will the Blackhawks go this year?

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finally took the plunge!

This afternoon I finally took the plunge and bought an iPhone 3G S. We switched over from our T-Mobile family plan and joined my wife (and her iPhone) on a family plan at AT&T. I've been spending part of the day loading apps onto the phone and syncing it with iTunes. So far I've played with the Facebook, Tweetdeck and Yahoo! fantasy baseball apps. Looking forward to downloading more apps including one from Gibson that will let me tune my guitar. Still trying to decide between Foursquare and Gowalla.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Microsoft Docs

I just signed up for Microsoft Docs at This is a new service currently in Beta that works with Facebook to share documents (Word docs, Excel and Powerpoint) within the Facebook platform. They are now accepting invitations so I have been unable to use the service. Apparently you need Office 2010 to be able to upload and download files to your computer. That might be a limiting factor for many. Does anyone know if Office 2007 will be supported?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring football

Most college football teams held their annual spring game (scrimmages) the last two weeks. Nebraska held their game last Saturday and drew nearly 78,000 fans. The largest crowd to see a spring game was defending national champion Alabama with over 91,000.

Spring reports are here and here.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

SNL: Larry King and the Iceland volcano

Sunflower photo

I like to take sunflower photos, but mine are mainly of flowers we grow in the backyard. Here's a real nice picture I found on Flickr. It looks like it might be HDR, but none of the tags associated with the photo indicate that it is HDR.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trying ScribeFire for Posterous

I have ScribeFire as a Firefox plug-in. I use it to create short blog thoughts "on-the-fly." ScribeFire just released an update to include posting to Posterous blogs. They also released an Alpha extension for Google Chrome that also now supports Posterous. I'm creating this post using the new Chrome extension.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Looking at things differently

I went grocery shopping today. Because of traffic, I parked near the opposite entrance to the store that I usually use and proceeded to shop in the opposite direction. At a minimum, I go to this store on a weekly basis so I know it inside and out.

Or so I thought!

By shopping "backwards," I managed to forget where most of the items on my list were located and it probably took me an extra 5 minutes or so to finish my shopping.

How about you? Have you ever shopped "backwards"?

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The Endless Rows of Arlington Cemetery

Another beautiful, yet somber, photo from stuckincustoms.

I have been here twice. The first time was in the early '60s with my parents and then Lisa and I spent most of the day here in the late '90s. Very beautiful, awe-inspiring place!

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Having a stressful day?

Click here to download:
02 Barber_ Agnus Dei, Op. 11.m4p (8250 KB)

Relax and listen to this beautiful soothing music! It's Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei sung by The Sixteen.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Sexual addiction?

The 2010 Masters Tournament is over and the main storyline dealt with the appearance of Tiger Woods in the tournament. As we all know, Mr. Woods is involved in a sex scandal and has been allegedly undergoing treatment for sexual addiction. More recently, someone named Jesse James (not the famous outlaw) announced an addiction to sex after found that he had been cheating on his actress-wife Sandra Bullock. The first I ever heard of sexual addiction was when former professional baseball player Wade Boggs announced he was a sexual addict. The announcement was made after it was discovered that he had been often accompanied on road trips with a woman who was not his wife!

Apparently sexual addiction is the province of wealthy men, professional athletes and celebrities and is only evident after their philandering is made public. Medical researchers are yet to discover evidence of this "disease" in truck drivers, welders, market research analysts and other males of more modest income levels.

Bach: Violin Partita in F Major - Prelude

One of my favorite classical works. This is Rachmaninov's transcription (for solo piano) of Bach's Violin Parita as performed by the late Ruth Laredo.

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Taking a break

Kevin is taking a short break to rejuvenate his creative juices. Look for new posts soon.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Twitter apps for iPhone

With the recent news from Apple that iPhone OS 4.0 will be released this summer, I am giving very serious consideration to getting one. I have a 2+ year-old Motorola RAZR 2 from T-Mobile and it no longer is practical for what I want to do with my cell phone. I was hoping to get the Nexus One, but Google has made it difficult for existing T-Mobile customers to obtain one (I have a family plan). My wife bought an iPhone around Christmas and loves it. Now that Twitter has announced the purchase of iPhone app Tweetie, I'm more than ready to get an iPhone. My wife has experienced no problems with AT&T's coverage (we live in the Chicago area) so network performance is not a concern.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Is anyone experiencing problems with Firefox? I have the newest version (3.6), and have had nothing but problems with it. It's slow to boot up, slow to load and it's hung on me a couple of times. I have heard from others that there have been problems with it. Too bad. It was a great browser when first introduced, but Chrome has become my browser-of-choice...for the time being.

Obama vs. Palin

President Obama recently responded to Sarah Palin's criticism about his nuclear policy. “I really have no response,” he told ABC News. “Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.”

A video has now surfaced (they always do!) in which Candidate Obama admitted in 2008 to not fully understanding America's nuclear policy.

ScribeFire for Chrome now available

I'm testing out a new Chrome extension. It's ScribeFire and it's a blogging platform previously available as a Firefox extension. The Alpha version is now available for Google Chrome. More information is available here and you can download and install the extension from here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

U.S. Softens Sanction Plan Against Iran

I don't understand why we continue to have problems with our "allies" in getting Iran to open up about their nuclear plans. Apparently Russia and China are insisting that we back off stronger measures in dealing with Iran. I thought that with our president bowing and apologizing to everyone, we would have more cooperation.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Late Show video: Rod Blagojevich Top Ten

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich appeared on David Letterman's show and presented the "Top Ten Questions Rod Blagojevich Asked Himself Before Appearing on 'Celebrity Apprentice.'"

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Glenn Beck’s interview with former Rep. Massa

Part of an interesting interview that Glenn Beck had with former New York Congressman Eric Massa. The entire interview can be found on Fox News.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Funny or Die's Presidential Reunion

Barack Obama gets a surprise visit in the night from ex-Presidents Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Clinton, Ford, Reagan and Carter to get a few pointers about the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Submarine Volcano Fukutoku-Okanoba Erupts

An underwater volcano near Japan is erupting. NASA's Earth-Observing-1 spacecraft is keeping an eye on it.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

The Well-Tempered Clavier

Kevin is learning the Prelude in C Major from Book I of J.S. Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. This is a recording of the Prelude and Fugue by András Schiff.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dunes of Mars

From the NASA website:

Dunes of sand-sized materials have been trapped on the floors of many Martian craters. This is one example, from a crater in Noachis Terra, west of the giant Hellas impact basin. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this view on Dec. 28, 2009.

The dunes here are linear, thought to be due to shifting wind directions. In places, each dune is remarkably similar to adjacent dunes, including a reddish (or dust colored) band on northeast-facing slopes. Large angular boulders litter the floor between dunes.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Trivia about The Vast

  • There are 100 The Vast episodes posted.
  • The blog site has over 1,000 site views.
  • Out of the 100 episodes, Henry only appears in nine of them.
  • Currently, there are only three major adventures.
  • Roundy is one-foot tall.
  • The background pictures actually changed facial expression in December 13 and December 27.
  • The most-viewed episode of The Vast is October 5 with about 191 views.

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Happy 66th birthday to James Patrick Page a/k/a Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin!

What a truly great guitarist! Enjoy this video of Kashmir.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Amazing Grace

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20 Amazing Grace.m4a (3381 KB)

Acoustic guitar solo by Randy Scruggs from the Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 2 album by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sedona in the Snow

Here's another Flickr favorite -- this time from Flickr user Laura Travels.

Although I lived in Arizona for a couple of years, I never did make it up to Sedona in the wintertime. Wish I had!

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