What Color is Your Parachute?

I received a package today containing a “card sorting” exercise designed to help a person learn what kinds of things he likes to do. The card sorting exercise grouped tasks into four categories: ideas, things, people and data. I played one game of solitaire, with the following results: My interests are focused 70% on ideas, including questioning, connecting, inventing, creating, designing, developing, and writing; and 30% on data, including collecting, analyzing, and editing.

In a similar vein, I sat down with my son this morning and (after about an hour) got him to rank six possibilities on a scale of from 0 (he will never do this thing) to 100 (he will definitely do this thing):

don’t go to college; live at home (score: 1)
go to college; live at home (score: 0)
go to college in Florida; don’t live at home (score: 10)
go to college out of state (score 60)
don’t go to college; move away from home (score 50)
join the military (score 30)

Since there was only one alternative that scored anywhere near the realm of action, I then asked him to create a list of states in which he would might maybe consider going to school. Those states are:

Massachusetts, Montana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Nebraska, and Colorado.

He is now supposed to be compiling a list of colleges in those states. Found a cool college search engine here. It lets you filter schools by various criteria (e.g., major, tuition, bagpipe band).

Beware of DHMO

I recently read Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, which featured a dangerous form of solid dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) known as “ice-nine.” I thought ice-nine was a fictional substance (and Vonnegut’s ice-nine is), but I was surprised yesterday to read this article that talks about “ice-seven.” According to Wikipedia, there is also a substance known as “ice IX,” although the chemical properties differ from Vonnegut’s ice-nine.

I’ve always found it fascinating that we live on the only planet known to have an atmosphere that at times may contain solid, liquid, and gaseous dihydrogen monoxide. I spread grass seed over my lawn yesterday, in spite of the fact that meteorologists predicted a 70% chance of liquid DHMO today.

You can learn more about how this ubiquitous compound affects you and the environment at the Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division, www.dhmo.org.

The Black Screen of Death

I have experienced several “KSoD” episodes with my Sony Vaio notebook computer. In my case, it seems to be related to the video card and has required at least switching from the external monitor to the computer’s monitor to see what I’m doing while trying to close applications, or hard booting the computer up to three times to get it to start up correctly. Haven’t been able to notice any pattern leading up to the problem and it has happened very infrequently.

Innocence for the Innocent

Please congratulate those Blake High School students who participated in the “Innocence for the Innocent” project. Students created drawings, paintings, and photographs expressing the theme of innocence. The artwork will hang in the Child Abuse offices at the Tampa Police Headquarters to help transform that office into a space that is kid friendly and that offers a more comfortable environment for children who were victims of child abuse.

Last night the student participants were honored with a reception at the Tampa Police Headquarters and each was personally presented with a letter of appreciation by the Chief of Police. Blake Principal Jacqueline Haynes also congratulated each student during the presentation. Some of the artwork can be seen here.

Audio Books

Perhaps you are already aware of this …

LibriVox is an online digital library of free, public domain audiobooks, read by volunteers. In October 2009, it had a catalog of 2,700 unabridged books and shorter works available to download. About 90 percent of the collection is in English, although LibriVox recordings are available in 26 languages altogether. -Wikipedia

The several LibriVox titles that I checked were also available through the Project Gutenburg website.

Synesthetic Geometry

One of these shapes is named “Bouba” and one is named “Kiki.” Do you know which is which?

Reading Lists

I came across two lists—the top 100 novels of the 20th century, first as selected by the editors of Modern Library ( a division of Random House) and then as selected by an online poll of readers.

I have read ten of the novels on the editors’ list and 13 on the readers’ list.

Amazingly, there are five Heinlein novels on the readers’ list that I have not read. Here are the Heinlein novels that I have read, two of which are on the readers’ top 100 list:

Farmer in the Sky
Farnham’s Freehold
For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs
Glory Road
Starman Jones
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
The Number of the Beast
Time Enough for Love
Tunnel in the Sky

Over the last several years, I have compiled a list of the novels that I can remember having read in my life. I think everyone should do this. You don’t need to remember them all at once. I just remembered one tonight … that I read in 1978.

If that’s not up your alley, here are 10 Books Not To Read Before You Die.

Pay for Popsicle Stick Writers

Pay for Popsicle Stick Writers

My children asked me how much money is earned by the people who write jokes for popsicle sticks. Here is some info I collected off the internets in 2004:

  • Comedy writing for night club entertainers: Gags only, $5-25 each. Routines, $100-1,000 per minute. Some new comics may try to get a 5-minute routine for $150; others will pay $2,500 for a 5-minute bit from a top writer.
  • Party toasts, limericks, place card verses: $1.50/line.

Based on this information, I’d guess that a popsicle stick joke writer earns about $1 per word. Take that, you Rat! POW !!

One Square Inch of Twilight

One Square Inch of Twilight

My daughter is reading (and re-reading) the Twilight novels and I am reading One Square Inch of Silence, a book by Emmy Award-winning acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton.

Coincidence? You decide. Forks, Washington, the setting for the Twilight novels, is only 31 miles from “One Square Inch of Silence,” the quietest place in the United States. One Square Inch was designated on Earth Day 2005 to protect and manage the natural soundscape in the Olympic National Park backcountry wilderness. The logic is simple; if a loud noise, such as that made by a passing aircraft, can impact many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a 100% noise-free condition, will also impact many square miles around it.

Legalize “Rolling Stops” for Bicyclists

The Idaho Stop Law is a traffic provision that basically allows bicycles to proceed at a slow speed through stop signs if the coast is clear. As cycling for transportation becomes more organized and popular, many cycling advocates across the country are hoping for similar changes to the traffic code in their state. The basic reasoning of the law is hard to translate to the non-cyclist, but this animation by Spencer Boomhower does a fantastic job of making it all come together. First seen at BikePortland.org.