Spring Into Springfest!

Children's Miracle Network logo

Springfest, annual street fair/carnival benefiting Children’s Miracle Network, is next Friday, May 4th from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the MCH Main Parking Garage.

Springfest is open to the public and will have 18 different booths with tons of great food, activities, and raffles.   Several of the MCH departments have teamed up with vendors and area sponsers for awesome raffle prizes, including lots of electronics goodies from our IT department and a chance at a helicopter ride, courtesy of CareStar!

Also look for Mike & Dana from KICKS 99.1 FM who’ll be broadcasting live from Springfest.

Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 dedicated to saving & improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals.   Each year the 170 affiliate MCN hospitals provide the finest medical care, life-saving research and preventative education to help millions of kids overcome diseases and injuries of every kind.   All proceeds go directly into MCH’s NICU & pediatric programs to provide a wealth of services for Permian Basin children.   Last year’s MCH Springfest 2006 raised almost $25,000!

Two Tool Tuesday

It’s been awhile since my last "twofer" utility post, so I thought I’d toss out a “twofer” of Tuesday tips from the (software) toolbox:

  • WordWeb is a quick & powerful free utility for thesaurus & dictionary functions within virtually any Windows program, without requiring you to go online. WordWeb displays word definitions, synonyms, pronunciations, usage tags, & links to the Internet for even more functionality.
  • MixMeister BPM Analyzer has become an oft-used tool in my MP3 app arsenal. This freebie analyzes your MP3 files, calculates the beats per minute of the music, and updates the appropriate ID3 tag field with that info. You can then use that number to help create music playlists with a consistent tempo for walking or working out. You’ll have to experiment a bit to find a BPM that sets a comfortable pace for you but I find songs in the 105-115 BPM range are good for starters and 125-130 BPM for when you’re really eager to sweat.)

    Update: Refer to this handy chart to find the right BPM for your workout playlist.

    And as I’ve mentioned in a previous “Tuesday Utility Twofer” post, Florian Heidenreich’s excellent Mp3tag is an absolutely essential MP3 tag editor. Don’t wait, go get it now!

Track and Field

Dede & I don’t usually send many packages but recently we’ve done quite a bit, between racing around to prepare & ship reams of paperwork needed to update our expiring Russian adoption dossier documents, ordering supplies for our upcoming master bath redo, and having our wayward digital camera shipped home after our most recent Brady trip…   (Thanks again, Glenda!)

So I went Googling for a better way to track all of these packages rather than having to go to each company’s website for each item shipped.   And I found Jason Young’s Simple Tracking which lets you enter a FedEx, DHL, or USPS tracking number to get quick info on the whereabouts of your packages in transit.   Even better, it provides a link you can use to subscribe to an RSS feed for automatic shipment tracking updates.

Want to see it in action?   Type "859552121988" in the form below & click the Track button:

Powered by SimpleTracking.com

While you’re at SimpleTracking.com, be sure to sign the online petition to allow them to do UPS tracking!

Joan Jett at Joe’s?

We went to our favorite store, Ikea, in Round Rock (near Austin) on Good Friday.   We went shopping for shelving for our upcoming bathroom remodel and for the living room.   We were excited to be visiting a newly opened Ikea and were pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was to get to than the other Ikea locations we’ve been to.

Amberly (a.k.a. “Joan Jett”) came along and provided the road tunes. It was classic rock all the way there & back!   We accidentally found a Joe’s Crab Shack (another of our favorites) so, of course, we had to stop there for a late lunch & a slushy beverage. Here’s “Joan” enjoying (sorta) her drink.

Amberly sporting her purple haze look at Joe's Crab Shack

Pot vs Kettle

By now, you’ve probably read or heard something about radio host Don Imus and his reference to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" on April 4th.   MSNBC & CBS Radio suspended Imus for two weeks as a result of that remark.

Despite having issued an apology for the insensitive remarks, Imus has come under numerous attacks in the days since.   Notably, infamous Rev. Sharpton called Imus’ comments "abominable and racist," repeatedly demanding that Imus be fired.   Notorious champion of the people, Rev. Jesse Jackson & his enraged entourage picketed with signs, shouting "Imus must go," and insisting that Imus’ comments contribute to “a climate of degradation.”

There’s no defense for his ill-conceived, hurtful comment — and I’m no great fan of Imus’ droning patter anyway — but just the same, I really appreciate Michelle Malkin’s candor & perspective in her blog entry: Imus vs. the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks Chart   (Warning: Strong language.)

One dumb shock jock’s insult is a drop in the ocean of barbaric filth and anti-female hatred on the radio.   Imus gets a two-week suspension.   What kind of relief do we get from this deadening, coarsening, dehumanizing barrage from young, black rappers and their music industry enablers who have helped turn America into Tourette’s Nation?

Malkin lobs a well-deserved grenade of guilt at the self-righteous Reverends & their opportunistic cohorts for being quick to condemn Imus for a one-time gross error in judgement yet conveniently overlooking the onslaught of vile racial- & gender-degrading junk (a.k.a. "music") that consistently dominates the media. (See Billboard’s top 10 Rap songlist.)   In short, Malkin’s well-stated indictment syncs with my rants about much of urban music is morally bankrupt.

Update:  Imus has been fired.   Great.   Now that they’ve established that there’s to be no tolerance for racist or misogynistic language, maybe those same outspoken community leaders can focus their moral outrage at the media & advertisers for their promotion of – and profit from – the negative characterizations, vulgarities, & antisocial behaviors found in most Hip Hop & Rap culture…

Dolphin HotLine Open For Business

Friendly dolphin chat

Not content to just be busybodies of the ocean or scandalous seafaring rumormongers, now dolphins in south Florida are getting a phone line so they can be all the more chatty!

Okay, actually a marine mammal rehabilitation facility near Key Largo opened a dolphin "chat line" of sorts on Saturday, April 7th, hoping to teach a deaf dolphin’s unborn calf to communicate.

A twice-stranded pregnant Atlantic bottlenose dolphin named Castaway has been recovering at the Marine Mammal Conservancy since Jan. 30th.   Not long after she was nursed back to health, marine biologists began to suspect that Castaway was deaf.   Testing performed in February by the National Marine Fisheries Service confirmed that Castaway doesn’t respond to auditory stimuli and is considered to be essentially deaf.   Dolphins rely upon their sense of hearing for echolocation — the means by which they hunt, socialize, navigate, and defend themselves against predators.   MMC specialists doubt that Castaway could’ve continued to survive in the wild without this most elemental skill.

So the attention now turns to Castaway’s unborn calf who, given it’s response to ultrasound testing, is believed to have normal hearing abilities.   So the conservancy’s staff decided to electronically connect Castaway’s habitat to that of a lagoon at Dolphins Plus, a marine research & educational facility a few miles down the Florida Keys Overseas Highway.   Underwater speakers & microphones were installed at both locations and connected via phone lines.

MMC’s president Robert Lingenfelser hopes that this will give Castaway’s calf, due in early May, an opportunity to get acclimated to normal dolphin vocalization sounds and learn how to communicate. You can visit the Marine Mammal Conservancy’s Castaway page to follow the story as it unfolds.

You’ve just gotta love Vann Hall’s tagline on this phone chat newsbit:

         "We’re wet, naked, and waiting for your call!"

April Blogtipping

Hey, we’ve arrived at the first Monday of the month so it’s time for the next round of Blogtipping. You may recall from my March Blogtipping post that this was coined by Easton Ellsworth and is an opportunity to give three compliments & one useful tip to three fellow bloggers.   Now, I didn’t set out with "guy-stuff" in mind as the theme for April’s spotlight blogs but as I was assembling my props for the month, it just sort of evolved… Blogtipping icon

Dumb Little Man is Jay White’s collection of tips to make the everyday person more productive in life. What’s to like about his site?

  1. Jay & Mark post tips that are practical & relevant.
  2. New articles are posted often and categories make the content easy to navigate.
  3. You can subscribe to receive updates via email.
  • Tip: There doesn’t seem to be a way to email suggestions or contact the author directly.

Dethroner is Joel Johnson & Alex Colby’s head-on, two-fisted, & unflinching daily digest dedicated to men’s grooming, fashion, home life, & other toils of the modern man. What’s not to like?

  1. Useful or just plain entertaining content covering the gamut of guy stuff from TV shows to DIY projects to half-naked coffee baristas.
  2. They’ve even got manly discussion forums!
  3. Did I mention beer?
  • Tip: Some posts might make even The Duke choke up a little!   Rhino Egg Harvesting?

Toolmonger features tool reviews, commentary, news, & projects. You’ll find yourself returning to this blog because:

  1. Articles on a wide variety of stuff – not just the kinds of tools you’d find in your garage.
  2. New tool content & reviews are added continuously! (Thank goodness for RSS feeds!)
  3. I sent these guys email & they answered very quickly!
  • Tip: Needs more of those cool "’One Beer Projects" how-to articles!

As a bonus capper for this testosterone-fest, be sure to jet over to the Miller Lite "Man Laws" site to catch up on all of the latest unwritten guy rules decreed by Burt, Jimmy, & the other distinguished "Men of the Square Table."