Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Parent Approved! 100% Kid-Safe Lead Free Paint

I saw the interview of Mike Whitworth the owner of this company on CNBC today; Whittle Shortline Railroad is located in Louisiana, MO; all toys must be sent to outside inspectors to check various safety issues, including toxicity of materials. They have lots of cool toys and you can order through their website. will have their toys on their website after December 5, 2007, according to this CNBC report. Here is the URL for this cool interview.
clipped from
America's Handcrafted Wooden Railroad Whittle SHortline Railroad

For generations, the story of The Little Engine That Could has been told and retold to
countless children and now the story comes to life with these solid hardwood toys.
Our Little Engine toys are of heirloom quality and will be passed down from generation to

These Little Engine toys are compatible with Brio and Thomas track but can also operate
without track. A simple adjustment to the Blue Engine's Wheels and the train is ready
for the kitchen floor or grandma's coffee table.
The Little Engine That Could Set, Book and Oval
The Little Engine That Could Set, Book and free shipping
Purchase the entire set of The Little Engine That Could toys and receive the Book.
The Little Engine That Could Toy Set and Book.
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

USA Clothing, Toys and Candy

This company, The Vermont Country Store is awesome. I am collecting information for friends and relatives on reliable companies that have USA products and reliable imported products. The toys they sell are tested for safety. This company has very cool, regional candies, soaps, perfumes and other products. I thought I would share with others.
Lanz Two-Piece Footed Pajamas Keep Boys and Girls Snuggle-Up Warm Right Down to Their Toes
Lanz Children's Footed PJs
In a festive Red Stewart plaid that's perfect for the holidays, these hard-to-find two-piece footed pajamas by Lanz keep kids toasty even when they toss off their blankets in the night or pad around the house without slippers. Machine wash and dry. USA of U.S. and Canadian material.


  • Top is finished with rib knitting at the Henley neck and cuffs
  • Elastic-waist bottoms have slip-resistant vinyl-soled feet
  • Flame-resistant polyester

Tailored to meet Lanz's high standards of quality, these PJs will look as good as new when passed down to younger sisters and brothers.

The Vermont Country Store
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Friday, November 9, 2007

All Yankee Doodle Dandies: Stand Up for Veterans

How long can the American government, especially the legislative and executive branch, ignore the growing problem of homelessness, poverty and mental health issues among our veterans? We all know the struggle that everyone faced when the Vietnam Veterans came home, and even the veterans from the Korean Conflict and WWII had issues that were often unresolved.

It is my hypothesis that the continual violent effects of war upon the generations extremely, negatively impact families and our American dream.

You can't ask people to come back from war and act like everything is normal. It isn't, and it won't ever be normal again.

The United States of America has actively participated in a world war or major military conflict through every generation since WWII. As a country, we have not come to grips with the fact that Americans are suffering because of it.

Firstly, we suffer because of the dead. These people are no longer available to help our country develop. Dead young people mean fewer husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons available to help our American culture develop.

Secondly, when veterans return, they suffer from culture shock. In some ways it may be likened to a similar phenomenon found among released prisoners. The returning veterans have been controlled within a rigid, conservative, militaristic society that is nothing like the culture to which they return. We know this culture shock, by itself, is very disorienting and disruptive to the psyche of these returning Americans.

To their credit, American veterans work very diligently to CONTROL their personal, mental and physical, environment. This emotional and physical protection often comes at a price for the United States of America, as a whole. It makes our country become more accepting of violence, rigidity and cultural control by "leaders" who prey on the worst fears of these veterans.

What we risk, as a nation, is the polarization of the society. I believe this is caused by the cultural division of the country as some veterans believe they must save the rest of America from itself, and the natural countervailing culture that forms in reaction to their protective, conservative positions. Veterans are frequently at risk of spurning the very American culture they left to defend.

As veterans fall back on their military training to cope in a civilian world, it is often too much of a good thing. This dependence of rigidity of personality often leads veterans to become vulnerable to those elements of our society that will take advantage of their need for structure.

Because they depend on their military training to help them stay sane, veterans frequently become more rigid in their thinking. It is this very protective mechanism, this rigidity in their thinking, that causes them to be caught in the crossfire of nonmilitary society. It is at these times that veterans tend to see the majority of the population, within the culture they were charged to defend, as immoral.

I believe that the overall consequence of this rigidity and vulnerability among our veterans is their tendency to be drawn in by the more extreme, rigid elements within the conservative part of our American society. The effects of their new associations frequently put women and children at risk because of unsuitable rigidity within our fluid American society that may spawn violence.

When America flourishes, our culture is less rigid so we can adapt economically. Americans must be adaptive in other areas of culture, and that means we MUST HELP these veterans be adaptive, not rigid. Their families, communities and country need to encourage them. We can't afford for these veterans to be lost to the adaptability of American culture.

Our government and our institutions owe them a debt. A debt that can never be repaid, so we cannot leave them alone to their own devices. Veterans must be positively engaged and also entrusted with helping build our future with everyone else. Americans must help them move back into our societies and families by helping them avoid calcifying their personalities. We need their creativity from their military experiences, not their artificially protective mechanisms of rigidity.

Veterans need excellent health care. Veterans need non-denominational support from clergy, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. Veterans need homes to call their own. Veterans need opportunities to support themselves and their families. When veterans have all these basic amenities, our culture will flourish from the addition of productive, relaxed, healthy citizens who will treat their families and the culture at large with fairness and respectfulness....BECAUSE WE ALL HAVE TREATED THEM IN THE SAME WAY. Respect is not something you say, it is something your is an action.

Thanks to my grandfather, Lester Cassius Mast, who served honorably in France during World War I. He was very lucky to be welcomed home after WWI, and he became part of a productive family where he was a valuable leader. My grandfather is my archetype for my ideal American veteran. He believed in education, equality for all, hard work and humility. I do so miss him.

Thanks to my uncle, the uncle I never knew. My father's smart and handsome oldest brother, Alonzo Pearce Jr, a US Marine, died on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941..."a day that will live in infamy".

Thanks to my handsome, strong, smart and loving uncles, my mother's brothers. Wayne Mast and Gary Mast, served in the Korean Conflict. Uncle Wayne died a few years ago, but my Uncle Gary is alive and well, leading his family in the way our grandfather, his father, taught him.

Thanks to veterans, one and all. We love you for your effort and devotion to the country we also love, the United States of America.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Penultimate Virtual Tour - Amazing

Hope you enjoy this clip; An Australian colleague sent this through Twitter, so I thought others might enjoy viewing this Virtual Tour of a proposed highway system in Queensland, Australia, near Brisbane. The virtual tour is amazing. You are viewing it as if you are flying over the road system in a helicopter.
Gateway Upgrade Project Logo

There are three versions depending on your connection type. If you have a dial-up connection, the lower-speed version provides a quicker download option. The other two options are better suited to high-speed internet connections. Please note that the files may take several minutes to open.

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45 "Smashing" Blog Designs

Really cool article with links to other equally cool posts on CSS, AJAX, web design, layouts, and design in general. This clip is taken from an online magazine called Smashing, a mashup of various technology topics.
However, not every weblog should look like a typical blog. After all, not every blogger wants his or her site to look exactly like hundreds of other ones. In fact, there is a small bunch of creative, outstanding and individually designed from scratch blogs.
the designs listed below were selected for their attention to small details.
he blog needs a solid visual structure, a profound hierarchy of site elements; it also has to be able to build some kind of a bridge between the content and its presentation.
precision, minimalism and sound use of illustration.
criteria were the ones we’ve used to select the designs listed

Below you’ll find 45 excellent blog designs which impress with creative approaches and attention to details; hopefully you’ll find new ideas you can develop further in your own designs.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

External Hard Drives: Delicate Need Not Apply

Since I have a tablet notebook, I need to have removable devices that are easy to install, use and disconnect. So began the quest for a durable, yet economical external hard drive.

When I decided to add external data storage to my computer systems, I didn't realize how many were delicate devices that may not withstand movement of any kind. I needed a workhorse, a data storage unit that could be moved frequently without breaking. I found just such a workhorse, a sturdy, easy-to-use, dependable, external hard drive made by Western Digital, called "My Book".

I researched hard drives at CNET, and I discovered that all hard drives in the My Book series are highly rated. I ended up with the 320GB My Book Essential Edition.

This external hard drive is fantastic. I bought this one from Sam's Wholesale Club for $129.00 in July of 2007. While there were other cheaper hard drives. this one was sturdy, fast and dependable.

Now, the price of this hard drive has decreased. It would be an even better deal.

To hook up this hard drive, I plugged it into the electrical outlet, then into my APC USB Port Dock and that was it. My computer found the device and started it up. SUCCESS!

Each time I turn my computer on, the "My Book" hard drive comes on, and this external hard drive shuts down when I shut down the computer. Some people mentioned problems with that in the reviews, but I haven't had any trouble. The manufacturer's instructions did have directions for how to overcome that issue, if you have it.

I was so happy to move my data to an external source. I have moved most of my archived pictures and documents that I don't need when I travel with my Tablet notebook.

The MyBook external data storage device is so efficient. I don't even notice. It is on and ready to save data effectively every time. To me that is the ultimate test of any gadget.

General Philosophy on Operating Systems

While I have used Apples and Windows operating systems, I am leaning towards opensource on everything computer related. Most scientists and many colleges use Linux based operating systems. IBM has released its new open source office software, Symphony, so there is really no reason to use either of the other operating systems.
Most people like to use the operating system they have used the most, or the one they have had the most success in operating.

Right now, I have a Gateway Tablet Notebook designed by Motion Computing, and I love its flexibility, speed and reliability.

I personally have never ever had a problem with any of my 4 Gateway computers that I purchased new, but I also know people who purchased Gateway's most economical, least capable versions. They are usually the people who didn't like Gateway's products and/or had "trouble".

Now, my first computer was a Packard Bell, and it didn't even have an operating system as we know them today....just a really cool GUI.

All of my computers are still working.

My recommendation to anyone who is thinking about changing their computer system is that you build your own NEW can have more power and more flexibility. Build your computer with capabilities to match the operating system of your choice. There are many videos, blogs, websites and TV programs that have specific instructions for how to build your own.

I purchase my computer parts and related gadgets from NEWEGG. Their prices are more than reasonable, and their service has been excellent.

It seems to me that anyone can research, explore and develop a personal computer system that is best suited for their needs, now and in the future.

Tech - Gadget: New to Whom?

Not all new gadgets are appropriate for everyone. ...
Not all new gadgets are appropriate for everyone. OK! We all know that, but it never hurts to "....say it to me one more time!"

While my teenage daughter and I are ready for some type of PDA or Iphone, our rural area makes it almost impossibly impractical. We know that will change. In the meantime, we have bumped our cell phone capabilities up a notch to the Samsung Sync level.

After spending days at CNET, ATT, and Samsung websites, she and I decided to order three Syncs. We have decided that we will upgrade to texting, messaging, twittering, and image sending. Then we will set back and wait for our area to increase WiFi coverage or data access on a family plan.

I have owned a tablet PC for almost four years now, so I know how handy portable, yet powerful gadgets can be. I love the integrated WiFi, the writing to text converter and other hardware and software tools too numerous to mention.

At the end of the past century, one of my friends used to tell me we were on the leading edge of technology in our teaching and our area of the state. She was right, BUT being a pioneer can get very lonely. If some troubles crop up, you have to solve them yourself. Sometimes the problems were so serious, it might shut down clusters of equipment. This lead us to rename our dubious status as being on the "Bleeding Ledge". This was a grand learning experience and a character builder.

Since then, I have become more relaxed with problems, ALMOST welcoming. You know they are inevitable, but, with persistence and adaptability, you can usually solve them.
So, the Samsung Sync may not be the latest trend, but it is out there towards the edge of the trends in gadgets.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

ClipMarks and a Firefox Update

This morning I received a notice that there were new updates for my excellent browser, Firefox, so I updated. As usual, the ending screen asked if I wanted to see the recommended Firefox add-ons. Certainly!! I always do.
As I was browsing through the add-ons, I noted a few that I might want to add, and then I came to Clipmarks. Oooooh!! ClipMarks has become my favorite social bookmarking community, so I thought "I haven't reviewed this add-on yet. I resolved that omission. I rated and reviewed Clipmarks for the Firefox review of Clipmarks that is available in the add-on download section.

Here is my review:

Clipmarks adds value to your browsing, browsing, clipping and sharing experience. Being a bookmark and hotlist aficionado, I was curious about ClipMarks. I already had, but I was drawn to the added feature of clipping quotable material.

I first added Clipmarks in early June, 2007 because it sounded like a great free tool for research. On the fly, I could copy snippets of the article I found important,as well as, properly quote and cite information for later use.

Being a teacher, I immediately could see the potential value for students researching a topic on the internet. When they found an article, they could clip it, store it online, and use it later for their research. I thought it would be especially helpful for teachers who ask students to find Current Event articles in their study area.

What I didn't know was that Clipmarks is a very powerful add-on program. You can clip snippets, pictures and save them to your online file. Also, you can tag your article in or magnolia. Your comments, are yours, they belong to you, so you can use them later in your research. Another striking feature is the ability to send your clipmark to your blog(there are several) or get code to embed in blogs, like MySpace, that are not supported. There are a vast array of other extras available in Clipmarks that you will want to use.

All your Clipmarks can be private, but by making your clips public, you have the added benefit of community. There is a community of "clippers" who can pop your clipmarks. The pop is a way to acknowledge your clip as interesting or important. They add your clip to their database...with credit to you. Also, people can comment on a public clip. Many times, clippers have led me to other similar articles.
Clipmarks is a wonderful online tool, with a tiny icon(w/dropdown menu) and a great community that is more agile and responsive than Digg!

You can lock in redundant bookmarking to, so I think everyone should add-on ClipMarks....

Did I mention that I love Clipmarks, and I am reviewing it after using it for several months? Yeah! It's true.