Mental Floss

Posted in Cool Internet Stuff on September 29th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CNN.com links to a blog called Mental Floss.  Usually involving tidbits about pop culture in a top-10 format,  these articles can be quite entertaining.  For example, I came across a few the other day about fast food:  Who Approved That?  7 Food Promotions Gone Horrible Wrong and 10 Secret Menu Items at Fast Food Restaurants and enjoyed both of those.  Note the NY Yankees reference in the failed Pepsi promotion in the first article (sorry Jamiahsh!).

Mental Floss has featured other lists in their articles that have interested me; of note is 10 Homeschooled Celebrities (Agatha Christie, Mozart, Alexander Graham Bell, to name a few), 10 Things That Have Deflated the Macy’s Parade, and 5 Weather Events Worth Chatting About.  It’s a well-written, entertaining blog (like this one, haha) – Just thought I’d share it!

FOOTBALL! Time To Blog, Except…

Posted in games, Sports on September 13th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

…  I’ve gotten engrossed in another video game.  And because I’m a mom of 4 and don’t have a lot of extra time, my blogging frequency is going to suffer while I divide my spare time with mindless gaming, oh well.  With the start of the NFL season and back-to-school-time, I will have more time at home for my favorite quiet activities like reading the newspaper, blogging, and playing video games while my husband watches football (Go Bears!).  I thought I’d be rolling out blog posts, but then my husband put an N64 emulator on my computer, distracting me with what is quite possibly the best video game ever made – in my opinion, anyway:  The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  It’s an adventure game, which is my favorite genre of video  game, but I’m very picky – there has to be large 3D worlds to explore, as well as a variety of puzzles peppered with the perfect combination of inventory, fighting, and weaponry.  This version of Zelda has everything, and this is actually my second time playing it through.  Currently I’m in the second dungeon (Dodongo’s Cavern) which is probably my least favorite in the entire game.  Once I get past it though, I have lots of fun ahead – there are plenty of areas left to explore; including an underwater colony and the inside of a volcano.  This game also skips ahead 7 years, and you get to see what Hyrule (the country you are defending) looks like in the future when your character has grown into a young man from a little boy.  Here is a screen shot:

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…which makes me want to get back to it so I can kick some Dodongo a**!

GO BEARS!!!

CUBS Vs Sox

Posted in Sports on May 22nd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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I haven’t had a chance to blog much, but a few posts ago in my “To Hellinois…  … And Back Again” blog series, I mentioned that I might be partaking in a “very exciting, awesomely fun event” to which I promised, “more on that later”.

Now that the event is definite, I am bursting with excitement, so I will share –  hubby got us tickets to see the Chicago Cubs play the White Sox LIVE!  I’ve been wanting to go to a Cubs game for awhile (since our last visit to Wrigley in 2004), but last summer was out because I had a baby and unscheduled surgery from which I had to recover.  So, June 28 at Comisky Park US Cellular Field, we will venture into Chicagoland once again to cheer on the Chicago Cubs while on the turf of the Chicago White Sox – AWESOME!  My mom was nice enough to agree to watch all 4 kids for the day (and the eldest 3 for the rest of the week, BOOLYAH!), and the tickets for the BIG GAME arrived in the mail the other day.

They accidentally got thrown away in the garbage with the junk mail, but LUCKILY hubby was heads up and asked about the whereabouts of the tickets.  That’s when I realized that I probably had thrown them away – by accident of course!  Good thing he asked when he did – the tickets were found not too near the bottom of the garbage and salvaged, thank goodness!

But anyway, I am looking forward to this event like you wouldn’t believe.  Not only is it LIVE baseball, but it’s MLB, not AAA or AA.  And it’s the Cubs I get to go watch, and they’re playing the SOX – their arch-rival (especially as far as I’m concerned – I HATE those White Sox!!!).  So I would say yeah, even though it’s not even 2 months after our last Chicago visit, this visit will be well worth it!  So watch  for us – we’ll be decked out in Cubs gear to be sure to properly invade the South Side Sox turf.  The game is at 12:05pm local time on June 28 – the last of a 3-game series between the two teams, so it promises to be that much more exciting!  It’s scheduled to be shown on WGN, so if you get that channel, check it out, you just might see Taylhis and Co.!

GO CUBS!!!!

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Rehabbing

Posted in Everyday Life on May 9th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Where have I been all week, you ask?  Ok, maybe you didn’t ask (actually Mare Mare asked in her blog, but ironically, that was after I had started this post!), so I’m going to tell you anyway.  My husband and I have embarked on our first major self-done home improvement project!  We are now almost finished, and I think it’s safe to say that it went well!

We had a spare room on the first floor that we made into a craft room.  We put a bunch of arts and crafts in there for the kids, along with a big table.  They used it a lot, almost every day, but they would never clean up after themselves.  So, it became a storage room; which really means a place to toss junk and clutter.  Complicating the problem was the fact that our elderly dog was having accidents in there, so it smelled so bad no one even wanted to go in there.  So we ripped out the carpet, got on our hands and knees to pull out the nails the carpet left behind, scrubbed the floor, primed it and painted it.  Viola!  No more stench!  It was a lot of hard work, but it was fun, and now we have a brand new room for our family!  What to do with the new room?  We began with the idea that it was going to be a playroom for the kids, but then we realized that they don’t really need a play room – all their toys fit in their bedrooms or in the living room.  Plus, after all that work, we kind of want the room to ourselves.

So now the idea is to reward ourselves by repo-ing the room (we did save ourselves over $700 by avoiding the carpet installation!), and we’re thinking we’re going to make it a theater room.  We got some theater chairs last week on clearance from  our Kmart going out of business, and my husband is going to see about getting a projector and screen.  I think we’ll also have room for a table and our storage bins so the kids can still have their place for crafts and homework.  And, the room has a huge closet – so the plan is to move our famous game closet over to that room since our game collecting addiction has outgrown its current home.  All this means more work ahead, of course, but nothing can be as bad as crawling around on our hands and knees on the cruddy old floor – everything from here on out is the fun part!  Before and after:

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Another Wonderful Zoo Visit

Posted in animals, Travel on February 20th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

We went to the Toledo Zoo again last weekend (it was our second weekend to visit the zoo in a row; we visited on Feb 7 and 15).  Almost a week has passed since our last visit, but I had other blog posts lined up and ready to go, so that’s why I’m first writing about it now.

Having a zoo membership is awesome because you get to visit the zoo whenever you have free time, and you don’t have to worry about seeing EVERYTHING on EVERY visit since you know you’ll be back soon.  The last few times we’ve gone, we parked in the back parking lot and stay on that side of the zoo, which cuts the amount of walking considerably – a great option for winter months since this parking lot is free in the off-season and very close to the rear zoo entrance.  With 4 small children, this is the way that works best for us, even though it means skipping the other side of the zoo which includes the polar bears, seals, wolves, and giraffes.  No matter, we still see plenty, and now we have a whole half a zoo to see sometime if we go without the kids or are feeling extra ambitious.

Every zoo visit is different, which is one of the things I love about going.  The animals are always doing different things, and my favorite exhibits vary with each visit.  Here are the highlights from last Sunday’s visit:

Lions – The Toledo Zoo has white lions.  White lions are rare and the result of a recessive gene similar to the gene of white tigers.  The Toledo Zoo has 3 white lion brothers on loan from Siegfried and Roy, the famous Las Vegas magicians.  Normally during our zoo visits, the lions are sleeping and up on a ledge far from the viewing glass, but last Sunday they were walking around, and one of them even walked right up against the viewing glass!  I’ve seen lions up close before, but not for a long time and never the gorgeous white lion until last week.

Hippos – The hippos are in their indoor enclosure for the winter, and even though their room seems somewhat cramped, the animals don’t seem unhappy, and it’s very cool to see these HUGE animals up close.  It’s amazing to me that their small pool must get very deep very fast in order to allow the animal to be completely submerged.  As we watched, the hippo was bobbing for apples, and he caught his apple and swallowed it whole.  This hippo was so large that the apple in his mouth  looked about as big as a grape would look in the mouth of a human being.  And this provided an extreme close-up of his humongous teeth!

Gorillas – When we got to the gorilla exhibit, it was empty.  But a friendly zookeeper told us to stick around for about 10 minutes for gorilla feeding time.  We then got to watch as the keepers threw greens, fruit, and straw all around the enclosure; taking care to place some on the various ledges and hide some within crevices of the exhibit (seriously, am I too old to embark on this as a career?!?  I’m afraid so…).  Then they let the gorillas back in, and it was a frenzy.  Well, an orderly frenzy – there was no pushing nor shoving; just some excited gorillas foraging in their exhibit.  They quickly found all the hidden surprises, and we laughed as one of the females hoarded as much lettuce as she could carry and brought it up to a high ledge to enjoy it all by herself.

Elephants – The elephants were indoors, and the now 6-year-old baby Louie was using his trunk to eat jello off the floor.  I really enjoy watching elephants use their trunks; it’s fascinating to me how dexterous they are – almost like they have 2 fingers on the end.  But we’ve watched Louie grow up ever since we’ve been coming to this zoo when he was just a year or two old, and now he’s getting pretty big!  Last time we were at the zoo, he was trying to get down a step so he could get to the water, and he ended up going backwards down the step – it was so cute!

So great day, awesome fun as always!  Like I said, every visit is different, and I am never disappointed!  I am a zoo-addict!

Happy Birthday To My Blog!

Posted in Cool Internet Stuff on February 18th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

Happy Birthday to my blog!  Today is the one-year anniversary of the day I started my blog on tangents.org!  And 381 blog posts later, here we are!  So even though I haven’t been able to blog every day, there were a few days when I got more than one post up, and so in a 366 day year (leap year in 2008), I was able to make 381 blog posts, and that averages more than one a day, surpassing my goal I had when I started this thing!  So I’d like to thank everybody who trudges through my rambling garbage – those who have read all 381 My Food Chain Gang blog posts and those who pretend to have read them 🙂

Having this blog has been a great way to vent my feelings (from pride about my kids to my frustrations with Walmart), share news stories I find interesting (from funny police happenings to interesting animal tidbits), write movie reviews, and most importantly, keep in touch with my family and friends who live far away – especially when our lives are too busy to allow us to chat on the phone when we want.  THANKS AGAIN FOR VISITING my site!

Front Page News

Posted in Cool Internet Stuff on December 23rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , ,

My husband, aka Admin, logged into my computer to check stats, and never logged out, so my spellbinding account of unusualhotelsoftheworld.com was posted as an admin post and is now on the front page of tangents.org!  Just wanted to let you know what happened.  Check it out here – it’s called, “I Feel Like I Already Am Sleeping In An Igloo”.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things…

Posted in animals on December 10th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

animals.  Animals are my favorite things.  If I’m bored – yeah, right, with 4 kids, when does that happen?  Ok, if I were ever bored, my activity of choice would be to visit a zoo, wildlife park, pet store, or anyplace I could see animals.  Without leaving the house, I can also research animals on the internet.  One of my favorite animal sites is the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web.  It’s amazing how much they’ve changed the taxonomy (classification of animals) from when I first started doing research on the subject not more than 10 years ago, but it’s true – this field is one that’s ever-changing.

Every now and then, I think I’ll choose an animal to share on my blog.  Today’s animal is the pangolin.  What is a pangolin, you ask?  Well, it’s a mammal, and it’s not a marsupial, a group which contains some of the lesser known species.  See, in the classification of mammals, you begin by separating them into placental mammals (live birth) and marsupials (young live in the mother’s pouch – all but one type live in Australia).  Of course, there is also a third category – egg-laying mammals, but we won’t go there because I don’t want to lose people’s interest by getting too complicated.

So anyway, the pangolin is a placental mammal, yet it’s scaly.  The scales are actually made of a hair-like material, thereby preserving its status as mammal.  Check this out – does this thing look prehistoric or what?

But they’re not prehistoric; they still exist today – I wonder how come I’ve never seen one at a zoo?  I guess it’s because some animals do better in captivity than others, and I applaud the zoo community for recognizing this.

Interesting tidbits about pangolins, as stated on the Animal Diversity Web:

Pangolins are a small group (seven living species placed in one genus and one family, Manidae) of mammals that feed mostly on ants. They are found in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia.  Pangolins are conspicuous and remarkable because their backs are covered with large, overlapping scales made up of agglutinated hairs. But they are strange in other ways as well. Their tongue is extraordinarily long and muscular, arising from the pelvis and the last pair of ribs deep in the animal’s chest. As a result, the tongue and associated muscles are longer than the animal’s head and body, allowing the tongue to be extruded to an astonishing degree. Pangolins lack teeth. Instead, the the pyloric part of their stomach is thickened and muscular, with odd keratinous spines projecting into its interior. It usually contains pebbles and seems to be used for “chewing” in much the same way as a bird’s gizzard. Pangolins have the ability to close their ears and nostrils as well as eyes, presumably to keep ants out.

In short, pangolins are fascinating animals that are closer to you and me on the taxonomy tree than most people would guess – they are mammals, after all.  Yet they are a mammal that most people have not heard of, and surprisingly, there are more than a few mammalian species that have this in common – I will try to share little known facts about little known mammals in my blog.

And oh yeah, since there was a complaint in the comments of another tangents.org blog about this – the song I quoted in my title is “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

Call Of Cthulu, The Post-Script

Posted in games on December 3rd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Since it’s something I had never before tried, I’ve been dabbling in role playing games for a few months.  We’ve met with a small group twice to play “Call of Cthulu”, and it was a fun experience.  Here is a link to my blog post about the game – it reads like a novel, but keep in mind that all the action took place during two afternoons.  You begin a game by deciding characteristics you will attribute to your character, and rolling the dice to determine others.  There was a host, and he guided us through the game; telling us when to roll what dice and what events were occurring as a result of our decisions.  We are going to meet another time this Saturday for another scenario in this same game – hopefully we’ll get to keep our same characters since I got a lot of lucky rolls – so my character had lots of strong areas.  Here is the post-game wrap-up for the two sessions we already played.  My character is named Grace O’Conner, and she is a zookeeper at The Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.  The year is 1925.

(Wrap up from the original Call of C’thulhu scenario “Haunter in the Hills.”)

Within days of returning to Boston, Jason Carthage and Grace O’Conner had contacted each other and Ms. Dorothy Morgan and borrowed the diary they’d found in the Adams place. Each of the two had read it and both later wished they hadn’t.

The very meticulous diary had very little written in it towards the beginning and the earliest dates were from 1910. Most were about mundane things such as Dr. Adams’ move to the home in the Vermont Mountains and dealing with the folk in the area, including Dr. Haylett. There were some entries about Dr. Adams’ research but little until 1919, when he noted that he had suddenly found more and more proof that there are things in the hills that simply SHOULD NOT BE.

He made some notes about the research he was doing, including mentioning a certain book in the Moretown Memorial Library called “Legends of New England” by Eli Davenport and noting “some of the answers are there.” The journal alleged that he kept the main bulk of his research elsewhere.

Entries continued to get more disturbing and weird until May of 1922 when they took a change for the macabre. Without going into detail, Adams noted that he purchased several large dogs and hastily had a kennel constructed for them. He wrote “The dogs seem to hate the things. I hope they can warn me of their approach. I fear that they will not be able to protect me.”

He wrote more and more that the “things” were watching all the time and he feared he may have unintentionally gotten their notice with his investigations. He noted that they could easily conquer the earth but had not tried so far because he felt they had not needed to. They didn’t want to bother and could get what they wanted without it.

He also wrote that the town of Moretown was within the things’ grip and noted that he learned that some of the people in the town, and even elsewhere in Washington County, worked with these things, these “fungi,” either willfully or against their will.

By June, he noted that the house was now constantly watched and the that things were growing more bold, though they seemed to prefer the darkest of nights: those that were overcast or without a large moon. By the end of that month, he wrote that he saw the things’ prints around the house nightly and that he must often replace the dogs that were killed fighting them.

In July, he wrote that an attempt to stop him on his way to Moretown almost worked. A sign on Moretown Mountain Road detoured him to a dead end and the barking of the large dogs he had with him alerted him to the presence of the things. He noted on the 10th of July that the dogs again alerted him to something near the road as he drove.

In August, others seemed to have joined the mix. Adams noted continually getting new dogs and wrote that on Aug. 3, a bullet crashed through a window of his house, narrowly missing him.

The following week, there were more shots outside of the house on darkened nights and he found several of the dogs dead the following morning. He noted that he found more of the claw prints in the road as well as the footprints of men. He wrote that the phone lines had been cut and were dead.

The following day, he reported going to Montpelier and purchasing several more large dogs and a large-caliber rifle as well as supplies.

The next several entries noted the numerous cloudy nights and the exchange of gunfire that happened nightly. He wrote that there were at least three men in the group against him along with the numerous claw prints. He feared that he was trapped in the house and wrote that he is loathe to leave his home to the things.

On Aug. 20, he noted that the things called to him the night before in horrible buzzing voices, telling him things he dared not put down and making promises he feared they would keep. He mentions that the things want to take him to Yuggoth and beyond, something he dreaded. He wrote that he recognized one of the men that who was with the things: Erik Bartlett was among them.

The entries continued with the horrors of the night, of buzzing noises that made him feel lethargic, and sparks of light that burst against the house when he looked out the windows and left blackened burned marks.

The last entry, dated Sept. 6, noted:

“I will try to leave this place tomorrow. With the full moon, perhaps I can get as far as Northfield or even Montpelier, where I might take a train east to Boston or even Dover though I wish to leave these haunted hills. I only hope they let me go. I will leave this journal hidden here in the event of my demise. I fear that if the fungi do not get me, their human servants will.

“The things’ lair must be on the west face of Chase Mountain. There is a large cave there, covered with a great boulder too heavy for anyone to move. However, erosion has left a place where a man might wiggle though. That must be where they are.”

Both of them remembered the Montpelier newspaper article from the next day. Dr. Adams had attacked a man in Montpelier but had been stopped by police and returned home.

About This Blog…

Posted in Kids on November 4th, 2008 and tagged , ,

For some reason, I was inclined to go to my “About this blog” page today.  I knew it would be outdated, but I was still surprised about how wrong it really was, check it out:

This is a blog about my life as a mom of 3, (soon to be 4!), girls.  I am the matriarch of a family that includes 2 dogs, a parrot, and kids ages 8, 3 1/2, and 1 1/2, and coming soon, a newborn…  Wish me luck!

That was the old original version I slapped up in a hurry way back when I started this blog.  In case you’re not a regular reader, I should tell you that girl #4 was actually a boy (surprisingly, my doctor has a reputation in town for reading the ultrasound wrong when it comes to gender – I always thought the circumstances were exaggerated until it happened to us), and so I now have three girls, ages almost 9 years, 4 years, and 2 years old.  We also have a little boy who is almost 4 months old.  I was right about the needing luck part – 4 kids at one time, especially ones this little (and spoiled!), can be very needy all together and quite a handful.  We still have the parrot and the dogs, and they just add to the chaos.  It’s stressful, but that’s my problem, I have to learn to lighten up about some things.  Most of the time, I have great fun watching them all interact as the daily chaos unfolds.  The little guy loves his sisters!