Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Liquid Brain Storm

Hey! We're back. At least for today, at least for this entry. Will it continue? Don't know. I'm not putting any expectations on this thing anymore. It's now an organic continuum. Feel free to read any meaning you'd like into that phrase.

I'm a believer. If you need to kick start the creative process, head down to your local tavern with at least one like-minded person and have a beer. Or two. Two is better. It's truly the best way to get your juices flowing. The alcohol loosens you up, the atmosphere pulls you out of yourself, and the company keeps the dialogue moving.

Don't believe me? Try it. At worst you'll get no results.* At best you'll solve whatever issues are pressing at you. And if nothing else you'll have fun supporting the economy.

*There are actually far worse potential endings than simply not getting any results. You could wind up quarantined in the bar after a fellow patron begins exhibiting symptoms of some heretofore unknown super-virus, forced to eat nothing but peanuts and blooming onions for an untold number of days, ultimately leaving the bar not of your own volition but as a result of your untimely, horrific demise. But this is fairly unlikely.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Positivity Wrapped Up

Hello followers, thanks for sticking around, we have truly appreciated your support throughout the year. I cannot believe it's now 2010 and that we've managed to complete this experiment to it's fullest. I've never typed this much in my life. I can say that I was only happy with about 60% of my entries which I know is not very positive. But, I'm aware I am not a stellar writer and this brought that more to the surface for me. I prefer to write in fragments, brief thoughts, and poetic verse.

This blog has traveled with me through the start of my photography career, losing my job, nine months of unemployment, my medical assistant pursuit, to my now teaching aspirations, to my new job in day-care, to my beautiful wedding engagement. 2009 couldn't have been more life alternating for me and now I have it completely documented. I've kept up journal writing through most of my younger years and this process has been very therapeutic in that same regard. I feel I know myself better. I feel more confident in my own skin. I think this experiment effected me more deeply than Jason, just because I was writing during such life changing times. I became a stronger person when I was unemployed and got to explore all my passions. I did love and appreciate this experience. I know now that I need calming devises around me when my life gets tense and stressful. Exercise, music, films, and my favorite foods to name a few. I feel more positive, I really do. Whenever I sense Jason getting negative, I catch myself getting negative with him. I don't like when I do this and I'm glad I'm immediately aware of it, so I usually find myself stepping out of the situation and concentrating on the positive.

Top big projects that we need to stay positive about are selling the Towson House, affording all the bills including our two mortgages, getting my teaching certificate and becoming a teacher, getting the city house finished, getting my photography career moving and shaking again, and getting a wedding plans together. We have each other to get through these tough projects. We can achieve anything together.

Things I think of when times get me down: My loving mom and dad, my sister and Allen, and their wonderful growing boys, Kaiden and Blake. My grandmom, who needs positivity more than ever. My new dreams of helping and teaching children achieve and grow. Cooking delicious food with my wonderful fiance, Jason. My new loving family- Jan, David, Steph, John, Lou, Karin, Grandpa, and Jackson. And all of our other family members and friends. Starting a new garden next Spring. Starting any new project with Jason. Finishing our city home together. Being a bride walking down the aisle to my beautiful, kind, heartfelt soon to be husband, Jason.

I love you dear, we can move mountains together. I hope all your writing dreams come true. I believe in you- Stay Positive!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year of Positives

This is it. My last entry for the year. I'm amazed that the experiment is nearly over. Not only can I not believe that I've written nearly 365 entries (I know I must have missed a few) for this blog, I can't believe Kate and I managed to come up with topics for the 750-some entries between us.

It wouldn't be true to say that it seems like just yesterday that we started the blog. Granted the year flew by, but I was aware of the passage of time, and I think both of us were always aware of the obligation we made to each other. We were always focused on making sure our blog entries got written each day. And I can remember all of the ofttimes difficult brainstorming sessions, when entry ideas weren't low hanging fruit.

But here we are, 365 days after we started our experiment, poised at the precipice of completion. Has the experiment been a success? That's a hard question to answer. No, I'm not so sure how much my outlook on life has changed as a result of the blog. I still find myself leaning pessimistic sometimes. And, oddly enough, sometimes the process of focusing on the positives of life made the negatives stand out in stronger relief. So I can't say that I've shifted from half-empty to half-full in general, but I can say that I'm more aware of the dichotomy.

That's what I'm taking from this. I think I still favor half empty glasses of milk sometimes, but I've discovered how many half full glasses are out there. And I'm more aware of when I veer towards pessimism and can course correct sometimes. And anytime you become more self-aware, you've made positive progress.

But really more than anything this experiment has helped me realize how much I enjoy writing, and that's a benefit I wasn't expecting. I feel at least that I've gotten better over the course of the year, and realized how important it is for me to get my thoughts out into the written word. And, as a corollary, I've discovered how much I have to say, and how much I'd like to be able to influence public discourse. The more that I write about the issues that are important to me, the more I discover that needs to be said.

So maybe I'm entering a new phase of activism for the public good. If I don't lose momentum I can see that as my logical next-step. And I think it will feel really good, writing in an effort to affect change. We'll see. On that front, who knows how powerful this blog experiences has been?

I am sorry to see it end. I won't miss the constant pressure to write daily entries, but I will miss the routine. So keep following us. We may not enter as often in the coming year, but we may keep up the practice. Happy New Year!!

When Your Beard is the Perfect Length

Those of you who can grow facial hair will relate to what I'm about to say. There is a perfect length that usually hits between four days and two weeks of growth, where your facial hair length is long enough to feel like a beard, and not just stubble, but not so long that it starts curling back on itself and starts itching your face. It's where all the individual hairs line up in perfect unison, like a facial pelt. That is the perfect beard.

There is something reassuring about this beard state. It's like a soft, warm blanket for your face. It encourages you to stroke your chin, which not only makes you appear more thoughtful and intelligent, it also depletes nervous energy, freeing your mind from stress, actually rendering you more thoughtful and (potentially) more intelligent.

Over this vacation I haven't been shaving regularly, and just today I discovered I'm enjoying entry into this magic hour of beard growth. It's perfect. I'll be able to ride this period of perfection out till Sunday, right about when my beard might start turning on me, and then shave for work on Monday.


Even though I'm not the biggest fan of rolling around in it I have to say that snow is beautiful. When you wake up and look outside to see the ground covered in a beautiful white cover it's just so beautiful. Watching the snow flakes fall from the sky is so miraculous. It's one of natures true miracles. I'm glad to live somewhere that fully has all seasons. It wouldn't be Fall without the leaves changing color and it wouldn't be Winter without snow. It was great waking up this morning with snow covering the ground. This New Year's Eve is going to be memorable.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Resolutions Part 2

My next New Years resolution will be to stop biting and chewing my fingers and finger nails. I've had this nasty habit my whole life and now it's time I stopped. I have this beautiful ring on my hand now and it needs beautiful hands surrounding it. We'll see if documenting this will actually make this happen, it's going to be tough. Whenever I'm stressed I go straight to my nails. It would be such a wonderful thing to have pretty nails as I walk down the aisle. And no, we have not set a date yet nor do we have any plans made.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nuclear Power: The Thorium Revolution

I've written in support of nuclear power before, and I stand by everything I've said, but I'm even more excited after reading the article below.   It's an introduction to a whole new type of nuclear power which seems like it could be the answer to the world's energy crisis.

Nuclear power from Thorium. Here's a link to the article in Wired magazine.


Allow me to sum up. Nuclear power is the best bet we have for replacing coal and other fossil fuels. It's safe (with today's technology), relatively inexpensive, and clean...except for all the dangerous nuclear waste. And that's no trivial issue. Nuclear waste requires hundreds of thousands of years to decay to the point that it is no longer dangerous. Finding a place to keep it safe that long reliably is difficult, as is transporting the waste to storage facilities. And all the while there is the very real possibility that the waste could be weaponized, if highjacked.

Thorium solves all of these problems...a little bit of history.

Thorium reactor technology dates back to the '50s. It was being developed simultaneously with the Uranium-based reactors currently forming the core of the nuclear power industry. Oddly enough it was one of Thorium's benefits that caused it to be ruled out. Thorium-based reactors produce very little waste because of Thorium's low radioactivity and the fact that it can support a very long chain-reaction. Uranium on the other hand produces plenty of radioactive waste, some in the form of Plutonium, an element commonly used in the construction of nuclear weapons. Since nuclear energy and nuclear weaponry were developing in tandem, the U.S. government favored Uranium, as it supported both efforts.

As a result Thorium technology was scrapped. But it's making a resurgence now, thanks to a dogged band of scientists. Here are Thorium's benefits over standard Uranium reactors.
  1. It's a carbon-free energy platform, just like its Uranium cousin, but...
  2. It produces minuscule amounts waste compared to Uranium. Waste that requires only hundreds, not hundreds of thousands of years to decay.
  3. It's very common in nature, and given the small amount needed for reactions, the supply is nearly limitless. Just the amount that's stockpiled by the U.S. right now could power the entire country for a thousand years.
  4. It creates a very efficient, long lived chain-reaction, meaning that very little is needed to produce large amounts of power.
  5. And because it's common in nature and extremely efficient, it's a very inexpensive way to produce power. Per gigawatt of power output a Uranium reactor requires 250 tons of raw Uranium at a cost of 50 to 60 million dollars. A Thorium reactor, per the same gigawatt of power output, requires only one ton of raw Thorium, at a cost of only $10,000.
  6. Because of the nature of its chain-reaction, contained in specially engineered reactors, Thorium is infinitely safer than Uranium. It's self-regulating, meaning that if it begins to overheat it loses part of its mass, dropping the temperature automatically, returning the reaction to safe limits. This entirely eliminates the chance of a meltdown.
  7. A standard Uranium reactor requires 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of space, plus a low-population density buffer area surrounding it, in case of meltdown. As states, a Thorium reactor has no meltdown risk, so no buffer area is necessary, and the reactor only requires 2,000 to 3,000 square feet to be built.
  8. There is no nuclear weapons proliferation risk with Thorium. Its waste is minuscule and cannot be weaponized. This is not true with Uranium.
You don't need to be a nuclear physicist to see that the benefits of Thorium-based nuclear reactors are staggering compared to standard nuclear power, coal power, and even other green power initiatives like wind, water, and biofuel.  The question is whether the political will exists to allow the Thorium revolution to take root.  I for one hope very much that it does.

Chemicals and Biology: A Love Story

I knew this was coming. After all the shoveling I did during the "Large Snow Event" a week ago, the baggage lugging for our Florida trip, and the help I gave moving Kate's parents into their new house, I knew a back-tastrophy was potentially lurking around the corner. And I was fine until around 2:30 yesterday when an innocent hands-over-the-head stretch snapped something, causing the usual muscular ripple effect, locking up everything in my neck and upper back.

So, like many love stories, this one starts with heartbreak, or at least backache. Thankfully we understand so much about our biology we've been able to develop a huge battery of chemicals tailored toward specific restorative purposes, chemicals we're all come to depend on and...love.

My particular sweethearts right now are Prednisone, a steroidal anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory, Flexeril, and muscle-relaxant, and Vicodine, a Hydrocodone and Tylenol based pain-reliever. These three made sweet love to my biological processes yesterday and made it at least possible for me to sleep last night. Today I'm still bound up pretty bad, but the spasming has stopped for the most part. I'm about to take my next dose of Prednisone, followed by a Vicodine/Flexeril cocktail.

Oh, my little chemical menders, how I love thee. Let me count the ways...1 *swallow* - 2 *swallow* - 3 *swallow*....

Mama's Recipes

I love making recipes pasted down from my mom. She will tell you herself that she does not enjoy cooking, but she does have a few recipes up her sleeve that are just delicious. Yesterday I made her creamed chicken casserole and it turned out wonderfully. It's so creamy and delicious, it has always been on the top of my favorite food list. I changed it up some my adding fresh steamed cauliflower and by adding spices like onion and garlic powder. You always cook up some buttery rolls to go with it. It's kind of like chicken pot pie when everything comes together. Thanks mom for passing these wonderful creations down to me we can't get enough of them.

Other top Mom Recipes:
Creamed Spinach
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Broccoli Casserole

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Good Ending

Good endings are hard to come by. So many times I watch a film all the way through and it ends on a horrible note. That can just kill a movie for me. Why is it so hard to end a film on a bang? Last night we watched the b-horror film Drag Me to Hell. It was campy, nasty, and all around good fun. Sam Raimi is back to doing his cult horror style. The film had a great ending, one I'll never forget. It just really came together superbly. Thanks Raimi for bringing back the b-horror. Allison Lohman did an excellent job and the scary old woman was gross and very scary. Loved it!

A Positive, Broadly Defined

Pickled cucumbers are called pickles. Pickled tomatoes are called...pickled tomatoes. Pickled eggs are called pickled eggs. In fact every other pickled food, from pickled pigs feet to pickled turkey gizzards all fall into the "pickled -object-" nomenclature.

We must assume from this that cucumbers were the very first object ever to be pickled. Why else would their pickled counterpart deserve the singular title, "pickle"? Clearly mankind cut its pickling teeth on cucumbers, and then moved on to trickier foods like asparagus, beets, cabbage, chicken feet and probably in certain Asian countries, dogs and cats.

Which all begs the question. If dogs had been the first "edible" to be pickled, would we call those delicate pickled morsels "pickles"? I think we would. Pickles would in turn be horrifying food items never found on American grocery store shelves, and companies like Vlasic and Claussen (Kraft Foods) would be famous for manufacturing pickled cucumbers, not pickles.

The lesson here, and I think we can all agree on this, is that it's an extremely positive thing that pickles are not brined, preserved puppy dogs.

*It turns out that, strictly defined, "pickle" refers to any brined, spiced, preserved food item. So if you pickle something, strictly speaking, it's a pickle. A pickled doberman is just as much a pickle as an egg or a cucumber. Whether the cucumber was the first food to be pickled isn't so much at issue. But it is the most popular pickled food and has, as a result, become the only one favored in common parlance with the designation, "pickle."

I've never eaten a pickled pup, but I have had pickled eggs, pigs feet and tomatoes, and I'm quite clear on why cucumbers dominate the pickled products market. The eggs especially are #$%@ awful!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010: "Twenty Ten" Has Only Three Syllables

I'm looking forward to the turn of the new year for multiple reasons, but one of them is purely linguistic. "Two Thousand and Nine" has five syllables. It's a mouthful, as has been every year for the last decade. "Twenty" is a much speedier way of saying "Two Thousand", but it hasn't worked for the last ten years. Saying "Twenty Nine" is confusing and makes you sound like you've gone two thousand years back in time.* But with "Twenty Ten" we can finally get back to the proper year designations we were used to in the 20th Century.

Start practicing now. Don't be one of "those people" still using the "two thousand" designation into the double digit suffix period. You'll sound silly, or worse, pretentious. It will elicit the same response from people that you get today when you begin an email with, "This is just an FYI" (FYI stands for "For Your Information"...it's not a noun. Get rid of the "an".)

"Twenty Ten". It's cool. It's efficient. It's the future. In five days.

*People could have said, "Twenty Oh Nine". That was good enough for the first decade of every previous century, and it would have been one less syllable. But that wasn't dramatic enough for people obsessed with the millennial switch. "Twenty Oh One: A Space Odyssey" doesn't pop nearly as well as "Two thousand and one." I'm sure it's the newness of the experience, because I know I've heard people refer to the year 1009 as, "the year Ten Oh Nine".