Sunday Sundries

A few assorted links & tidbits to start off the week:

iTunes nixes network rentals

Sadly, there are some things you just can’t get via Netflix (either streaming or disc) so Dede is relieved that we squeaked in Glee: Season 2 just before the hammer fell. According to the ZDNet article Apple Finally Drops TV Rentals From iTunes, Apple quietly pulled the option to rent television episodes from its iTunes online store in the the past few days.

Kick it up a notch with Kickstarter

Kickstarter is an innovative new website that lets would-be entrepreneurs submit a pitch about a project they need help getting off the ground. Via crowd-sourced fundraising, projects have a set amount needed and defined funding levels—most start at very affordable $5, $15, $25 levels—and in addition to helping get the project going, all “investors” (that’s you and me) get a little something extra as a reward for having some faith in the product and/or its creator. And a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands, which protects both project creators and investors.

So with Kickstarter you can help breathe life into cool ideas like:

World Gone 2 the Dogs

My brother Rich has jumped into the fray with his own World Gone 2 the Dogs blog. Head over there and join the conversations!

Khan Academy – Free online tutorials!

Speaking of Rich, he sent me a link to Khan Academy several weeks ago and I never took the time to check it out. But then just this weekend I read an article in Wired Magazine by longtime fave writer Clive Thompson called How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education and it really grabbed me. Khan Academy features a library of over 2400 free videos by Sal Khan covering K-12 math, science, finance, history, and many other topics. Each instructional video presents material in easy-to-handle chunks lasting 7-15 minutes. Students can watch videos at their own pace and can even practice math problems online. Be sure to read Clive’s article for more info! Сlassroom rental sounds a good idea for discussions and teamwork.

One of the really interesting by-products of Khan Academy and other online video tutorials is that they are enabling teachers to flip the classroom. That is, some teachers are experimenting with the idea of inverting traditional school model, delivering instruction online outside of class and using interactive classroom time for homework.


Have you heard about this? We were completely unaware of the concept of planking until our friend Ryan explained it to us last night. You can read all about it here but basically, planking is to lay down (like a plank) in some unusual setting and take a picture to post on the Planking Facebook page. I looked at a few of the pictures and found them amusing. It seems like harmless fun but some do take it to extremes and put themselves in danger to take the photo. Ryan is into a variant called owling instead of planking because as this poster sums it up, planking is just so two months old!

Update:   According to Rich, we’re still behind the curve—planking & owling are out, Batmanning, is in!

Pearls Before Swine

Not long ago, I stumbled across the hilarious comic strip Pearls Before Swine and it just clicked with me right away. Well, just yesterday I discovered that the twisted & creative artist behind this, Stephan Pastis, writes a great blog that’s also named after the strip Pearls Before Swine. (Okay, sometimes I’m a little slow.)

Even before I had read that Stephan, a former lawyer, credits classic comics as Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County & Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes as influencing his work, I had already picked up on the similar sharp & snappy satire of the Pearls characters. And you can easily tell that Pastis also draws plenty of warped inspiration from Scott Adams’ Dilbert and Gary Larson’s The Far Side. He also pays homage to loads of legendary comics by occasionally inserting their characters into the Pearls strip.

Pearls Before Swine - 02/21/2009

Pearls Before Swine - 02/21/2009

Pearls Before Swine - 09/20/2010

Local Celebrity

You could call him a microblogger or maybe now even a microcelebrity, but you certainly can’t call James Cross a microgardener!

Nope, James (a.k.a. DoubleDanger) goes decidedly large-scale with his urban gardening ventures!   In fact, his green thumb & backyard gardening projects landed him top billing in the following news feature that KWES NewsWest 9 aired last Friday, Feb. 27th:

Big props go out to a fellow Basin blogger!

September 2008 Blogtipping

Blogtipping iconLately, our West Texas weather has been unseasonably mild and we’ve had much more rain in the past several weeks than we normally get all Summer.   These cool & overcast days have made it feel like Fall is arriving early and there’s just something about that which makes you feel like firing up the oven.   Plus, as new parents, we’re trying to cook more at home anyway…

So this month’s Blogtipping is focused on cooking & recipe sites.

Now, these sites don’t have recipes for, as The Curmudgeon would put it:   "Teeny, tiny portions of pigeon meat, set atop a brillo pad and covered by a contrasting caramelized ooze, resting next to a little dollop of white turnips or a slice of some vegetable you’ve never heard of."   No, these blogs offer easy-to-make dishes that real people would enjoy containing common ingredients you’ll be able to readily track down — or may even already have on-hand.

As you may recall, "Blogtipping" is an chance for us to share 3 things we like — and offer a tip or constructive comment — about 3 blogs each month.   So here are our picks for September:

Kalyn’s Kitchen by Kalyn Denny is a great blog that combines a love for cooking with a commitment to healthy, lower-glycemic food that fits within the South Beach plan.   It’s definitely worth a look because of:

  1. The site is a great resource for all sorts of low-carbohydrate info & practical tips to help keep on track with that style of dietary goal.
  2. Lots of great low-carb recipes that are anything but lacking in flavor or variety.
  3. Simple & clean site layout makes it easy to navigate around.
  • Tip: There’s so much content on the main page, it can be a little overwhelming, but it’s well worth taking the time to explore the sidebars.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks is just one section of an impressive & diverse website by Ree, a.k.a. Pioneer Woman, a transplanted Californian in dusty Oklahoma.   Why do you need to check out her site?

  1. Step-by-step instructions with detailed photos makes even more involved dishes easy.
  2. The very active community of readers means there’s always other ideas & tips related to Ree’s articles.
  3. The recipes offered are tried & true, using mostly common, simple ingredients.
  • Tip: There’s so much going right on this site, I can’t think of a single thing to add!

The Peanut Butter Blog is a fun, fairly new blog dedicated to peanut butter!

  1. Loads of great, easy recipes!
  2. Links to all sorts of fun & funky peanut & peanut butter -related food & accessories.
  3. You can subscribe via RSS feed to stay up on the latest stuff.

Do you have a favorite food-related blog or website?   Post a comment and share it with us!

August Blogtipping

Blogtipping iconI like words with dual-personalities and so it’s all the more fun that I can say that the sites I’ve selected for the August Blogtipping are indeed an august (meaning noble, honored, impressive, or eminent) group.   This month’s picks are all part of the ever-growing and diverse ranks of Permian Basin bloggers:

Double Danger is James Cross’ foray into gardening, barbeque, & all sorts of other interesting stuff and it’s worth a look because:

  1. Loads of practical tips for making the most of your time in the backyard.
  2. James isn’t afraid to share his gardening dissappointments right along with the successes.
  3. Simple & clean site layout makes it easy to navigate around.
  • Tip: Hey James, maybe you could post some photos of your outdoor cooking gear?

Your Photo Tips from Damien Franco provides useful digital photography tips, techniques, & tutorials:

  1. The content is clear enough for even rank novices can understand & apply.
  2. The impressive photos featured on the blog!
  3. Keep up to date with either email or RSS feed subscription.
  • Tip: I’d like to see more regional photos to showcase some of the West Texas that’s not as well-known.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sticky Doorknobs by Jimmy Patterson, veteran blogger, seasoned writer, and a man whose charitability clearly outweighs his fear of heights.   This blog is always at the top of my Google Reader list because:

  1. Jimmy’s wit & wisdom shine through in his writing.
  2. I admire the sense of community that "Sticky Doorknobs" inspires.
  3. Jimmy’s musical tastes & trivia contests keep me on my toes!
  • Tip: Hey Jimmy, when ya gonna beef up that "About" page a bit?

Bonus:   Not only is this site a part of the thriving virtual neighborhood of the Permian Basin, but Clems’ house is barely half a block down the street, so how could I not mention Clems & Soph’s   While it’s not a blog per se, their website has some great photo galleries, including lots of pictures of their daughter Sienna as well as Clems’ latest home improvement project that’s really amping up his house’s "curb appeal."

networked neighborhood

Be sure to check out the list of Midland-Odessa area bloggers over on the 2Dolphins Favorite Sites page.   And if you know of any regional bloggers whom I’ve omitted, please leave a comment and I’ll add ’em right away!

July 2008 Blogtipping

Blogtipping sign icon"Blogtipping" was created by Easton Ellsworth over at Business BlogWire to offer 3 complements & a tip or constructive comment to 3 fellow bloggers each month.   With so much going on in analog world, Dede & I have barely had time to keep up with anything digital, so our Blogtipping for July is another assortment of unrelated, but still very cool blogs that we think you should take a peek at:

Let’s Explore by Amy Anderson offers lots of inventive & inexpensive activities, crafts, & even snacks for kids.   Dede wanted to highlight this site because:

  1. It features loads of things to keep kids hands & minds busy.
  2. Amy proves that kids’s stuff can be both frugal and fun!
  3. Great mini-reviews of children’s books.
  • Tip: Hey Amy, maybe you should add an "About" page so we can get to know a bit more about you?

The Simple Dollar from Trent Hamm offers "cents and sense" with simple ways to manage finances, save a little money, and improve your life.   This is a recent find that quickly landed in my Google Reader list because:

  1. Truckloads of practical finance & lifestyle tips.
  2. The blog is frequently updated with fresh & interesting new content and has lots of helpful reader comments.
  3. Clean & easy to navigate site design, plus email or RSS feed subscription.
  • Tip: The content is great, but I’d suggest adding a few more images to visually jazz up the posts.

I Do Things So You Don’t Have To is chocked full of all sorts of things, from kinda ordinary to adventurous to downright wacky, that JD is willing to let her readers experience vicariously through her.   There’s plenty to like about this blog:

  1. The author’s sharp wit makes even mundane "things" fun & interesting.
  2. Who else would live with a rodent, go on a crazy diet, have a tooth pulled, watch a crummy movie, or live through an allergic reaction — and then blog about it?
  3. You can subscribe to the RSS feed or have updates sent to you via email.
  • Tip: I can’t think of anything to add but I’m anxious to see what JD gets into next!

Now it’s your turn!   Have a new blog you’d like to share?   Post a comment!

Junetipping v2.0

Blogtipping iconWith most of the monthly Blogtipping posts I’ve done, there’s been a central topic or theme to tie together the 3 blogs I’m showcasing.   (It seemed relevant for this past April’s post, for example, to focus on finances for the sake of April 15th a.k.a. "Tax Day.")   However, June’s featured sites don’t really have a unifying theme;   It’s just another grab-bag of assorted, but very worthwhile blogs I’d like to recognize & share:

Glassy Eyes by Ira Mitchell aims to pull the curtain back on the mystifying & monopolistic world of prescription eyeglasses to show you how you can get quality glasses for as little as $20!   (Dede & I hadn’t discovered this blog before we gambled on , but given how well that worked out, I’m likely to try this for myself next time I’m ready for some new specs.)

  1. Ira’s not just talking smack here — he really wears glasses that were purchased online — several pairs, in fact.
  2. He arms you with all the info you need to confidently purchase eyewear online at a fraction of the prices of places like LensCrafters or EyeMasters!
  3. The site is chocked full of research, forums, articles, customer stories, retailer links, & even discount codes!
  • Tip: I’d sure like to see the forums moved from Google Groups to a more capable platform like vBulletin or PHPBB.

[Geeks are Sexy] is a group blog from Canada that focuses on a wide variety of fun technology news.   [GAS] is one of my regular reads because:

  1. Offbeat science & tech news & commentary.
  2. Frequently updated content means there’s always something fresh & interesting to read here.
  3. The website is clean & easy to navigate, but you can also subscribe via email or RSS feed.
  • Tip: Hey Kiltak, maybe you could arrange for more cool freebies like tech vendor swag?

The Art of Manliness calls itself "a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man."   Sure enough, it’s an incredible resource for guys — and even has a few things that’ll appeal to gals as well.   There’s lots to like here:

  1. Tons of useful & practical tips & techniques.
  2. Thought-provoking articles with loads of reader comments to keep the conversations going.
  3. I like the classic feel that the old-school artwork & photos give the site’s excellent design.
  • Tip: I can’t think of anything to add — this blog is awesome!

Now it’s your turn!   Have a new blog you’d like to share?   Post a comment!

Blogs May Be Tipping

Blogtipping iconBlogtipping is a chance to give a nod to some noteworthy fellow bloggers — after all, everyone likes a little pat on the back, right?   And you never know, this could be the tipping point for some lesser-known gem of a website to become an overnight sensation.   May’s installation is a grab-bag of assorted blogs that don’t have anything else in common other than, well, we think they’re worth checking out:

Blue Skunk Blog is a recent discovery but I’ve been enjoying keeping up with Doug, both on the blog & via email.   Doug Johnson, who is the Director of Media & Technology for the Mankato (MN) public school system, uses this as a sounding board for education- and technology-related topics among other things.   What’s not to like:

  1. Some great reading material about kids & technology.
  2. Be sure to check out Doug’s free e-book.
  3. Nice, clean site layout makes everything easy to find!
  • Tip: I’d like to see a page aggregating some of the reference material links that’re peppered throughout some of your posts — like the Alliance for Childhood’s Tech Tonic.

Simple Green World by Jeneflower is a brand new blog that Jen has spun off from her Three Sons and a Princess adoption blog.   Dede & I like this one because:

  1. Practical eco-friendly tips drawn from personal experiences.
  2. Jen’s "Living Mindfully" attitude is inspiring & infectious!
  3. Posts target the bigger picture — not just being greener, but also increasing the health of your family, decreasing expenses, reducing waste, & just being a better overall person.
  • Tip: I’d like to see a few more images & photos!

4 Reasons Why from brothers Mark & Sean Evans is a fun blog that I recently added to my Google Reader subscription list because:

  1. Each post features a short list of 4 (sometimes 5) items to support an idea or argument.
  2. I like the controversial angle that these guys take on topics.
  3. Very clean site design makes it easy to navigate & discover lots of interesting stuff.
  • Tip: Guys, your "About Us" page could use just a little more info and maybe include a photo so we know what you look like?

Now it’s your turn!   Post a comment to share one of your favorite blogs!

Are You Aware?

RSS Awareness Day banner

You’ve no doubt seen the acronym "RSS" or the now-familiar little orange icon on some of your favorite websites, but do you know what it is?   Do you know what RSS feeds can do for you?

As I mentioned in my Lose Weight With RSS article a few months ago, an RSS feed reader allows you subscribe to, organize, & easily keep up with websites that feature regularly-updated content.   And you don’t have to remember all of those individual web address URLs.

Daniel Scocco over at DailyBlogTips has declared May 1st to be RSS Awareness Day in an attempt to help more people become familiar with RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed reading & its benefits.   Head over to to learn more!

By the way, Google Reader is still my reader of choice and one of the features that I really like about it is the ability to share favorite blog posts with others.

ProBlogger Today, Rolling Stone Tomorrow?

Hot on the heels of my first venture as a guest blogger over at NeonScent — well, hey, it only took 8 months — I’ve had another guest blog article published!   This time, I’m deeply honored that highly-esteemed professional blogger & author Darren Rowse chose to post an article of mine on his renowned ProBlogger, one of the foremost sites for blogging techniques, advice, & skill-building.

So, pop over to ProBlogger to check out Geoblogging – How to Geotag Your Blog for a look at a relatively new way to place your blog or website on the map — literally!

Now that I’ve had another tiny taste of fame, it makes me wonder what’s next… maybe the cover of the Rolling Stone?