Jan
29
2009
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Sea Kittens?

Save the fish. Eat steak!

Save the fish. Eat steak!

Surely this is a joke . . . I’m especially fascinated by the Omaha Steak advertisement on top!

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
29
2009
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What’s an RSS feed reader?

Even though I read last fall that RSS adoption is only around 11%, I am frequently surprised to meet people who don’t use RSS feed readers, and don’t even know what that are. I don’t know why these people haven’t adopted RSS, because RSS is definitely better than a cute puppy.

This makes me sad, because RSS feed readers are wonderful tools.

I’m not a techie. Really, I’m not. But I love my Google reader. I love it because it sends me cool information and pretty pictures and interesting articles. Best of all, I don’t have to remember the names of the sites I like or visit them to see when they are updated. It’s wonderful.

If you are part of the 89% that has not adopted RSS, never fear. You can have a part in the RSS feed happiness.

You can get started by reading this nifty page from Google about RSS, feed readers, etc. After you read it, and get your Google Reader all set up, then you can subscribe to my feed!

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
26
2009
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A More Important Prayer Request

I often pray that God would give me a good day. By that, I usually mean a productive day, with nothing particularly unpleasant in it.

Perhaps there is nothing wrong with that prayer. However, after reading the beginning of Job today, I am motivated to pray differently. (more…)

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
22
2009
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Stuff to read

Several fascinating pieces from the Wall Street Journal

“Alternative” Medicine is Mainstream by Deepak Chopra , Dean Ornish , Rustum Roy and Andrew Weil

The Opacity of Hope

Judge Obama on Performance Alone by Juan Williams

Conservatives have Answered Obama’s Call by Arthur C. Brooks

Government Spending is No Free Lunch by Robert J. Barro

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
20
2009
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Discipline: A Key to Success in Learning and Life

I have always been fascinated with people who are experts in their fields. What makes them so successful?

One thing that seems clear (to me, at least), is that people who succeed are disciplined. They may not be disciplined in every area of their lives, but they at least apply discipline to their field.

Ron at the Wisdom Journal wrote recently in The Myth of Self Discipline about discipline. He asserts that discipline is a tool rather than a character trait. I’m still thinking about the implications of thinking this way, but the idea appeals to me. Thinking about discipline this way makes it more achievable. Of course, it puts the burden back on me, but that’s ok. I would rather be responsible for something, because at least then I can control it. (more…)

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
15
2009
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The problem of sweatshops

Nicholas Kristof’s opinion piece in the New York Times (Where Sweatshops are a Dream) brings up a fascinating point about sweatshops. Kristof talks about people whose lives are so miserable that working in a sweatshop seems like a dream. He suggests that sweatshops offer people a way out of poverty.

I think Kristof may have made a mistake by using the term “sweatshop.” A factory sounds infinitely better than a sweatshop.

Beyond that semantic point, the whole topic leaves me with very mixed feelings.

I feel sad for the people all around the world who are living miserable lives. I truly wish that all of them could have nice jobs, homes, and plenty of food. I don’t want them to work in a dump or a factory.

But I also realize that we can’t wave a wand and get rid of their poverty. Furthermore, it’s easy for us to look at their situation from our ivory American towers and declare that children should not have to work long hours in a factory for less money than we spent on our morning lattes. But what if that is the only way that child has a chance at a better life?

I read the editors’ picks of the reader comments on Kristof’s article, too. Those comments were just as interesting as the article itself. I came away with the sense that we’re all sad about these awful situations, but it’s difficult to know what to do about them.

Is it possible that a job in a factory could be someone’s dream come true? Yes. And maybe we Americans need to accept that.

Can we accept that while still abhorring slavery, and encouraging factory owners to provide clean, safe working environments and fair wages? I think we can, though we will need to remember that fair wages there aren’t the same as fair wages here.

And I will keep my opinions about minimum wage for another time.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
09
2009
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Help in Achieving Your Goals

Leo Babauta’s New Year’s Challenge may be just what you need to achieve your goals. Be sure to check out the other resources on his website, too! I hope to read his new book Power of Less soon, and I enjoy reading his blog.

His New Year’s challenge involves picking one new habit, and committing to practice that habit 10 minutes each day, for thirty days. Visit here to get the details.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
08
2009
2

New life for this site

As some of you (the faithful few who keep checking…) may have noticed, we haven’t posted much on TimAndAshley.com for quite a while. We have been investing our energies in other pursuits, but you can expect to see more here in the near future. We’ll keep using this space to communicate news that would be of interest only to our family and friends, but basically it will serve as an aggregator for other blogs. At the moment, Ashley’s blog (Shameless Academic) is the most active, and so you’ll see a lot of posts coming from her in the near future. She’s also working on some creative stuff over at Scattered Fancies, so you might have a look there, too.
Written by in: Uncategorized |
Jan
07
2009
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The very best measuring cup

I’ve told several people about my amazing measuring cup, so I thought I should share the joy with everyone (everyone who reads my blog, anyway!).

I really, really like my Oxo measuring cup. What makes it so special? Instead of having measuring markings on the side, this cup has measurements on an angled piece of plastic inside of the cup. This means that you can see the measurements while you’re pouring liquid, without breaking your neck to look at the side of the cup.

As measuring cups go, I think this one is a little expensive, but the convenience factor is definitely worth it.

This measuring cup makes a great gift. I know, because I was delighted when my sister-in-law gave it to me. I wanted to give one to my mom, but someone else beat me to it.  So, if you’re thinking about giving one to your mom for Christmas, you’d better change your mind and give it to her for Valentine’s Day, before everyone else beats you to it. If you fill it with chocolate, I’m sure she’ll love it.

And no, OXO did not pay me for this post. I just really like this measuring cup.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
07
2009
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Making Resolutions Stick OR Achieving Goals

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but everybody else is talking about them right now. After reading half a dozen blog posts about New Year’s goals or resolutions, I can’t help thinking about my goals and all of the things I’ve been meaning to do.

I’m not very old, but I already know that resolving to do something is practically useless. Maybe it works for you–if so, congratulations!–but I will promptly forget my resolutions and not think about them again until a particularly depressing day in March. Goals are a little better, though I’m not likely to remember my healthy eating goal until I’m 7/8 of the way done with my bowl of ice cream.

But this post wasn’t supposed to be failure confession time. Instead of talking about lofty goals for the future, I would like to mention three things that help me achieve goals.

Small Goals

I like bite-size goals because they are easy to achieve. I find that it’s easier to motivate myself to complete a small goal and harder to come up with excuses for not meeting it. Granted, my daily progress is small, but over time, it adds up.

Daily Goals

I operate best when I plan in advance to accomplish things today. This helps guard against distractions and helps insure that I am making progress toward my larger goals. This corresponds to the first area, in that the goals have to be small enough that they are definitely achievable today. It also gives me less time to forget my goal.

Using Peak Energy Times

I’m currently working on making better use of my peak energy times. Like most people, my motivation fluctuates. Of course, my work is much better when I’m enthusiastic, and it is so nice to get things done without forcing myself!

For example, take the matter of washing dishes. I have nothing against washing dishes, but when I have fixed the supper and then stuffed myself with the supper, I have no desire to wash dishes. However, if I will fill my sink with hot soapy water when I start cooking, I can wash dishes as I go along. I save time by cleaning up while the food cooks and I have more time to relax after supper! I definitely have more energy before supper than afterward, so this is wise use of my energy.

It’s a mind game

I firmly believe that accomplishing goals/keeping resolutions/whatever occurs mainly in our minds. We use our minds to set the goal, to plan for the goal, and to motivate ourselves to achieve the goal. So rather than setting huge, unattainable goals, why not craft a strategy to help ourselves make daily progress on the things that are really important to us?

Written by in: Shameless Academic |
Jan
03
2009
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Christmas Presents

We exchanged presents with Tim’s family at Thanksgiving because that’s when we were in Illinois. So I didn’t have a lot of time to get ready, but I was able to make some wall art for my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nieces.

The first one was for my mother-in-law. I was able to achieve the look that I wanted with the black, white and red. Overall, I was very pleased with the end result, except for the fleur-de-lis stamp. When first put the stamp on, the paint had trouble sticking, so I tried to stamp again. I wasn’t able to get the two stamps lined up perfectly, so I got a bit of a fuzzy look. I finally had to hand paint over the stamped area so that the paint would be bright enough to see. I think part of the problem was that I had already sealed the paper, and the paint had trouble sticking to the paper. Oh well. Lesson learned.

This next one was for my sister-in-law, Kris. Kris likes crafts, so I was trying to give this one more of a craft look. I also was trying to match the colors in her house. I had fun threading the chipboard buttons, and everything went smoothly at the beginning. I really like the background paper and flower, and I wanted the flower to stand out. So I decided to mat it on some contrasting papers.

When I got ready to layer the papers, however, I realized that I did not have the chocolate brown paper I needed. I was working on this project late at night, so a quick trip to Michael’s was out of the question. Fortunately, however, I had some brown paint. I painted my tan paper brown, and ended up with paper that matched and almost looked like leather.

The nieces' present

My three nieces share a room, and their mom has done a great job of decorating it in bright, fun colors. I wanted to make something that would fit with their existing color scheme. On this piece, I used a 12 x 12 pre-stretched canvas. Since I was also using a 12 x 12 scrapbook paper, I could not wrap the paper around the edges like I normally do. So I started by painting the sides and edges pink, and originally planned to use the whole paper on the front. However, I decided to use the paper in blocks instead. I also changed my mind about the pink and ended up painting over the pink with a very light blue. After placing the paper, I decided to trim the edges with ribbon. Finally, I added the embellishments–felt flower stickers and pieces cut from another paper.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the results. I would like to make some more pieces for kids’ room, though probably on a smaller scale.

Written by in: Scattered Fancies |

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