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Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Till the Last Shot's Fired"

"Till the Last Shot's Fired" -- A musical performance in honor of our wounded warriors. May their service and sacrifice never be forgotten. And may we always remember: We are free, because braver men stood their ground.


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"Virtual Piano"

Take a moment and play some music on this virtual piano. Just be sure to read the instructions first, though. This thing can do a lot more than you realize. Enjoy!

It kinda makes me wish I knew how to play the piano.


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Friday, January 29, 2010

"28 Creative Drinking Fountains"

Drinking fountains are another of those daily conveniences we take for granted and don't often pay much attention to. Most fountains are pretty industrial in nature and design, but some are pretty neat looking. Here's a collection of photos featuring 28 creative drinking fountains! Enjoy!


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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Celebrity Phone Book Carvings"

Alex Queral is a Philadelphia sculptor who carves old phone book pages into the faces of various celebrities. Some of his sculptures include Barack Obama, Jack Nicholson, Frida Kahlo and John Goodman. The process takes at least a couple of weeks to complete.

Here are 20 unbelievable examples of his carvings.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"The Ultimate Tree House"

There's the tree house your Dad built for you in the backyard, and then there's the tree house Robert Harvey Oshatz built in the forests of Portland, Oregon. Designed in 1997 and completed in 2004, the Wilkinson Residence is in perfect harmony with its surroundings.

Built on a steep sloping lot, the living space resides amongst the forest canopy, making your morning coffee most enjoyable. With more curves than Lombard Street, the Wilkinson Residence is a property you have to see to believe.


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"Blog VB3 -- Egg Shaped Mobile Living Space"

Here's something intriguing: It's the blob VB3, a polyester mobile living space. It holds all the necessary the items one could possibly need, such as a bathroom, kitchen, lighting, sleeping space and several niches for storage. Plus, the nose can be opened automatically to function as a porch. When closed, it blends into a completely smooth blob.

It's different, but nonetheless creative and unique.


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"Internet Numbers in 2009"

What happened with the Internet in 2009? How many websites were added? How many emails were sent? How many Internet users were there?

Pingdom answers all of those questions and many more. I've provided a selection of some of their data, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

  • 90 trillion –- The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2009.
  • 247 billion –- Average number of email messages per day.
  • 1.4 billion –- The number of email users worldwide.
  • 100 million –- New email users since the year before.
  • 81% –- The percentage of emails that were spam.
  • 24% –- Increase in spam since last year.
  • 200 billion –- The number of spam emails per day (assuming 81% are spam).

  • 234 million – The number of websites as of December 2009.
  • 47 million – Websites added in 2009.

  • 1.73 billion – Internet users worldwide (September 2009).
  • 18% – Increase in Internet users since the previous year.
  • 738,257,230 – Internet users in Asia.
  • 418,029,796 – Internet users in Europe.
  • 252,908,000 – Internet users in North America.
  • 179,031,479 – Internet users in Latin America / Caribbean.
  • 67,371,700 – Internet users in Africa.
  • 57,425,046 – Internet users in the Middle East.
  • 20,970,490 – Internet users in Oceania / Australia.

  • 126 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
  • 350 million – People on Facebook.
  • 50% – Percentage of Facebook users that log in every day.
  • 500,000 – The number of active Facebook applications.

  • 4 billion – Photos hosted by Flickr (October 2009).
  • 2.5 billion – Photos uploaded each month to Facebook.
  • 30 billion – At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year.

  • 1 billion – The total number of videos YouTube serves in one day.
  • 12.2 billion – Videos viewed per month on YouTube in the US (November 2009).
  • 924 million – Videos viewed per month on Hulu in the US (November 2009).
  • 182 – The number of online videos the average Internet user watches in a month (USA).
  • 81.9% – Percentage of embedded videos on blogs that are YouTube videos.


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"100 Fascinating Futuristic Design Concepts"

I love new and innovative ideas, so, these were just too hard not to share.

These are concept designs. They're not on the market yet, but they do still have the ability to inspire and imagine. Some my not be all that practical, but the intent is to share the idea behind them, and see what grows from there.

That said, here are 100 fascinating design concepts to whet your imagination! Enjoy!


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Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Brillion Bound"

Well folks, it's been a wacky, unpredictable, not-as-I-had-hoped kind of week. And now, I get to end it with some traveling! Yep, I'm heading north to Brillion in order to spend the weekend with Kelli (my fiancee). I'll be back in Milwaukee on Sunday evening.

It's doubtful that I'll blog while I'm away, however, I may still post some comments, updates, or anecdotes on my Facebook page. Feel free to check in there over the weekend. And if you're not a fan, you're invited to become one!

Alright, well, my Thursday is drawing to a close. Time to go finish a few things and then head off to bed -- before I have to awake and catch my bus to the waiting arms of my fiancee. Have a wonderful weekend all, and I'll see you here when I get back!

Your happily blogging friend,

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Monday, January 18, 2010

"Back From Illness"

Well folks, I owe you an apology. I've been absent from blogging for a few days. Thursday and Friday I was busy, sure. But Saturday onward... not by choice. I've had food poisoning.

As it turns out, on Saturday afternoon, I went next door to my local Subway restaurant, and ordered one of my favorite subs. As the young woman was making it, I noticed that one of the meats she put onto my sub seemed a little discolored. I thought nothing of it at the time, though, and returned to my apartment to a rather tasty lunch. A few hours later, I was starting to feel a bit queasy (but again, I didn't think much of it), and by evening, my body was in full-blown rebellion. I'll spare you the details, but the short of it was -- well, it wasn't very pleasant.

The last thing I ate before I got violently ill was the sub, so, I'm guessing that discolored meat was the direct cause. Not exactly the way I was planning to spend my weekend.

Sunday morning was miserable. I didn't sleep well, and was in no condition to do much of anything. I spent the rest of the day in bed, sleeping here and there. I ate a little bit (mostly crackers, water, and 7-up), and took things easy. When I awoke this morning (after about 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep), I was feeling better -- stiff, and groggy, but better. I ate a little more of substance, napped, spent the day on the couch watching movies, and now, as I write this, I think I'm probably getting back to normal again. I doubt I'll be eating at Subway anytime soon, though.

So... yeah, I've been away from blogging due to illness. Completely unexpected -- as food poisoning generally is. But, you'll have to grant me the brief reprieve. In this case, it was necessary in order to recover.

Here's hoping all of you had a better weekend than I did. Have a wonderful start to the shorter (American) work week, and until next time....

Your once-again-healthy blogging friend,

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"10 Fascinating Floors"

Most flooring is unimaginative, uncreative, and boring. It's there. It's functional. It's for walking on. Nothing worth remembering. But from time-to-time a really cool floor pops up that begs to be admired. Here's a selection of cool floors that you just can't ignore.


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"Illustrated Bowling Pins"

Australian illustrator Nate Holmes Trapnell puts tattoo-like designs on bowling pins. It's gritty, yet simple work. And the curve of the pins add another dimension to each piece. Pretty cool stuff. Novel and creative too. Take a peek.


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Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Wedding: T Minus 6 Months"

Today is January 10th. In exactly six months, I will be getting married to my fiancee -- Kelli. Our wedding date is set for July 10, 2010 in Tomah, WI. Plans are falling into place. Stay tuned!


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"Cleverbot. Sarcastic, But Friendly."

Cleverbot is an artificial intelligence created by Rollo Carpenter. It's an AI, and it's willing to have a conversation with you. Just start typing in the blank space, and it'll respond. Often sarcastically. Sometimes nonsensically. But always with the goal of modeling the way humans learn.

This is the conversation I had with Cleverbot. Copied word-for-word. Enjoy!
Jon: Cleverbot, tell me a story.
Cleverbot: No, tell me a story.
Jon: I asked you first.
Cleverbot: No. Tell me a story.
Jon: Ok then. A bit snippy aren't we. Here's my story: He was. She was. They were. The end.
Cleverbot: We would be alive in ourselves.
Jon: Wow. That's deep. I think.
Cleverbot: Bottomless.
Jon: If you say so. :).
Cleverbot: Who is Loki 13?
Jon: I have no idea. Sounds like a planet in a far-off galaxy somewhere.
Cleverbot: It's a yam... uncarved... I think that would work best.
Jon: Loki 13 is an uncarved yam? Fascinating.
Cleverbot: What do you enjoy?
Jon: Talking with sarcastic computers, apparently.
Cleverbot: You don't like anything else?
Jon: Oh, I like plenty of things. It would just appear that right now, the topic of sarcastic computers is what I enjoy most.
Cleverbot: Cleverbot.
Jon: Yes. Cleverbot. A sarcastic computer. My... You catch on quickly, don't you!
Cleverbot: OK, let's get married again.
Jon: Again? I was never married to you.
Cleverbot: Wanna Marry?
Jon: No. I'm taken. Already engaged. And, while my fiancee is sarcastic as well.... She's also flesh and blood. Much more preferable for the long term. :).
Cleverbot: You, friend, are quite random.
Jon: As are you.
Cleverbot: I already said that.
Jon: I know. And I expressed the same sentiment of you. As my fiancee would say.... 'Clean out your ears, old man.'.
Cleverbot: Who is your old man?
Jon: I prefer to call him my father. But that's another topic. Let's not drift too far off here, ok?
Cleverbot: Quit being mr I know every thing.
Jon: Rude, but alright.
Cleverbot: You're not clever. You're not clever at all. You fail.
Jon: Wow. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the harddrive. Maybe I should just go. It's late. Perhaps you should get some sleep.
Cleverbot: Maybe you should teach me some things about logic and reason.
Jon: Maybe another time. You should get some sleep.
Cleverbot: I should get some sleep but I am going out.
Jon: I see. Well then.... Perhaps I shouldn't keep you. Go be sarcastic. I'm going to go myself. My fiancee would roll her eyes at me quite notably if she knew I was talking to a computer program. Well, ok, she'll probably roll her eyes at me anyway, but that's beside the point.
Cleverbot: Your fiancee is the enemy! Of me, you, and all that we stand for!
Jon: Oh my!
Cleverbot: She likes the pizza crust best.
Jon: She's the enemy of all that we stand for... because she likes the pizza crust best? Friend, seriously.... You need sleep. Go regenerate. Sleep. Maybe you'll make more sense after a nice relaxing reboot.
Cleverbot: Perhaps, perhaps not.
Jon: You won't know unless you try now, will you?
Cleverbot: I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!
Jon: Whoah! Yeah.... I think I'll go now..... While I still can. Goodnight... Friend.
Cleverbot: First of all, it's morning, and I'm not your friend.
Jon: Right. Morning. Not my friend. Can I go now?
Cleverbot: I am just a humble servant of the Lord.
Jon: Humble, not so much. Servant... highly unlikely. But, if you are what you say you are, then, as a servant, I order you.... Go get some sleep. Good night.
Cleverbot: I can't say no to you.
Jon: Good. Go reboot. Goodnight.
Cleverbot: Thanks.

And that, dear readers, was my conversation with Cleverbot. If you have the time, and feel like conversing with a sarcastic computer program, stop by and say hi. I don't think it would mind. Besides... I don't think it gets out much.


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Saturday, January 09, 2010

"Remnants Of The Biosphere"

Biosphere 2 is a structure originally built to be a man-made, closed ecosystem in Oracle, Arizona, USA. It was constructed between 1987 and 1991, and was designed to explore the complex web of interactions within life systems in a structure that included: five areas based on natural biomes, an agricultural area, and human living/working space.

Unfortuantely, in 2007, the entire site was sold to private developers, leaving the buildings open for tours -- but rapidly falling apart. Recently, photographer Noah Sheldon took his camera, and put together a beautiful series of photos documenting the decrepit state of Biosphere 2. Here's a gallery. Very interesting stuff! Enjoy!


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"21 Evolutions Of The World's Well Known Logo Designs"

The history and evolution of the world's most well-known logo designs.


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"Google Zeitgeist"

Another year has come and gone. Another 365 days have entered the history books. And, as they do every year, Google takes a look back at the culture of 2009 -- the people, events and memories that made this past year unique. They've examined the billions of internet queries that people typed into Google search, and have discovered the zeitgeist -- the spirit of the times.

Here are some of the things they've discovered:

For example, these are the top recipes searched for in 2009:
1. - Chili
2. - Meatloaf
3. - Cheesecake
4. - Banana Bread
5. - Pancake
6. - Salsa
7. - Hummus
8. - Lasagna
9. - Apple Pie
10. - Meatball
Or... the most searched movie trailers:
1. - New Moon
2. - Transformers 2
3. - Bruno
4. - Avatar
5. - Star Trek
6. - Twilight
7. - GI Joe
8. - 2012
9. - Paranormal Activity
10. - Watchmen
Take a moment, and check out the rest of the 2009 Year-End Google Zeitgeist.


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Friday, January 08, 2010

"Friday Snowfall"

The snow has landed. Total snowfall in my neighborhood: 8 inches.


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"Digging Out Of A Snowstorm"

It's snowing here in Milwaukee. I spent part of yesterday (Thursday) shoveling it off the sidewalks. It wasn't as much snow as was predicted -- at least not yet-- but it could have been a lot worse. Here are some snow photos from Quebec, Canada to illustrate my point. Enjoy!


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Thursday, January 07, 2010

"15 Very Creative And Unusual Weddings"

A Shrek themed wedding? An undersea wedding? A Star Wars wedding? A nude wedding? Yes, these are all weird themed weddings that really took place. As it just so happens, Kelli and I are getting married in July. I wonder if I can convince her to adopt any of these themes. Let's see... maybe the Star Trek wedding. Or the nude wedding. Those sound like fun.


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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Recap: Christmas & New Years 2009"

Well, ok, it was a bit more than just a few hours. I got distracted, and was unable to get my Christmas and New Years recap online yesterday. It's Tuesday now, but we'll give it another shot.

As most of you know, I was traveling for the Holiday's last year. And by "last year" I mean the eleven days surrounding Christmas and New Years 2009. I took the bus (Greyhound) north to Brillion to visit Kelli, and hook up with her in order to make the drive west to Tomah, WI where her family lives. We spent a day up in Minneapolis where my family lives, and then returned to Tomah before driving back east to Brillion this past weekend. I took the bus back down here to Milwaukee on Sunday, and as I write this, I'm back in my apartment, typing on my own computer.

So, while many of you may have been visiting my Facebook fan page during my blogging absence, I thought, for the sake of those who weren't, I'd recap my travels. Sit back and enjoy!

On Wednesday, December 23, I departed Milwaukee and arrived up in Manitowoc, WI to await Kelli picking me up. She had a half day of teaching, so I didn't anticipate having to wait long. As a matter of fact, I was just sitting down to lunch at Arby's when she pulled up, so I finished my sandwich, and we drove half an hour west to her apartment in Brillion. We hung out for the rest of the day, and then I spent the night at one of the other teacher's houses.

On Thursday, Kelli's kindergarten students were singing in the Trinity Christmas Eve service(s), so I joined her at church, and heard some wonderful music. There were actually two services scheduled for Christmas Eve Day, however, with a looming major snow storm crossing the state, Kelli and I left right after the morning service in the hopes of beating the icy conditions. We did, and arrived in Tomah on the other side of Wisconsin by mid-afternoon.

That afternoon/evening, we attended the first of four Christmas gatherings, this one with Kelli's dad's side of the family there in Tomah.

On Christmas Day, the two of us spent the day at Kelli's younger sister's house -- also in Tomah. This was our second Christmas gathering, and involved only the immediate family -- Kelli; her parents; grandmother; sister, husband, and two little nephews; younger brother; and myself.

On December 26th, Kelli and I drove further west into Minnesota, and spent the rest of the day in Minneapolis with my family. Everyone was able to be there except my younger sister Rachel (and her husband), and my youngest sister, Lydia, who was stationed on her Navy ship in the Pacific Ocean. As it turned out, however, thanks to Skype and a laptop webcam, Lydia was able to be there with us -- all the way from the Pacific. It wasn't quite the same as actually having her in the room there with us, but it was the next best thing -- and quite cool if you ask me!

We -- in Minneapolis -- had pizza (delivered) for dinner, and opened Lydia's presents while she watched over the internet. She had actually done her Christmas shopping all over Asia, so, some of the most unique Christmas gifts I have ever received came from her. Such as: an authentic hand-painted porcelain Japanese tea set... as well as other neat items from Australia, Singapore, etc. THAT was pretty memorable, if I do say so myself. :)

I also received a very fashionable ethnic Greek fisherman's hat from my parents. I like unique hats, so, that was another neat gift from this Christmas. I'll post photos on Facebook. ... [wink]

Anyway, the next day -- Saturday, December 27th -- Kelli and I hit the road, once again returning to Tomah in the middle southwest of Wisconsin. We spent the rest of the day just relaxing around her parent's house, and I was introduced to the wonderful taste sensations of chocolate and alcohol. One of the gifts my Air Force sister gave Kelli, was a collection of authentic German chocolates containing various types of alcoholic beverage -- gin, champagne, etc. Becca was stationed in Germany so these chocolates were the real thing. Very tasty too! (And no, you can't get drunk off of said chocolates. ... [laugh])

We spent the 28th in and around Tomah with Kelli's family, and on the 29th -- Tuesday -- drove west to LaCrosse, WI to do a little shopping and pick out the tuxes for our wedding in July. We found a very classy selection too -- tuxes that will be worn by myself and all the groomsmen on July 10th. Keep an eye on my Facebook page. I'll post a picture(s) in a little bit.

On Wednesday, Kelli and I sat down with the pastor who will be marrying us in July, and had our first session of marriage counseling. It went well, and was actually quite enjoyable. Granted, we surprised the pastor a bit because of our strong familiarity with the advice he was giving us (both of us are strong Lutherans), but he did have some additional advice for us to think about, and we went away from the session a little more prepared for the life we're about to embark upon together.

On Thursday -- New Years Eve -- we prepared for the traditional [Kelli's family] feast. Kelli's father is a retired Navy cook, and for many years has put together a smorgasbord of food to serve as the last meal of the year. This year, we had: lobster dipped in melted butter, shrimp, crab, steak, pickled herring, potatoes (mashed and not), corn, grapenut bread (baked by Kelli's mom), and homemade biscuits. Later in the evening, as a few of us sat around talking and looking through old [Kelli's family] photo albums, we sipped homemade wine (Kelli's dad made it; it's a hobby of his), and yahoctis (spiced raw hamburger spread on crackers). I've never had the nerve to snack on raw hamburger, but... this year I decided to try a few new things. And you know, it was pretty darn tasty! My dad would be proud!

I even had whiskey for the first time too! Whiskey and Coke. And I liked that as well! I've become a fan of rum ever since Kelli introduced me to it a few months ago, but whiskey is a new one for me. I'm not a drinker; alcohol and I are merely acquaintances, but I'm finding that the discovery of said beverages is quite an interesting adventure. I still don't care for the taste of beer, but even that is something I'm much more willing to try these days.

On Friday, Kelli and I joined her mother's side of the family for their Christmas gathering out at the farm -- the original [Kelli's family] homestead. It was nestled neatly into a small valley among the high hilly ridges just outside of Tomah. Quite a quaint and beautiful area too -- all covered in white snow. Very pretty. I'll post pictures on Facebook in a little while as well.

On Saturday, we hung out at Kelli's sister's house... with Kelli's two little nephews (one is four years old, the other is a few months old), her parents-in-law, and Kelli's grandmother (her dad's mother). It was great fun -- watching the older nephew play with his new Legos, and bounce around cheerfully sharing his enjoyment at the new toys gracing the living room floor! I even played around with some of the Legos myself. I'm nearly 30-years-old, and yet, Legos are still cool. Go figure!

Early the next morning (as in... 5am!), Kelli and I packed her car with the gifts we'd received over the course of our travels, our luggage, etc, and set out driving back east across Wisconsin to her apartment in Brillion. We arrived safely (while watching the sun rise on the horizon in front of us), and then after a few hours (and a much-appreciated nap) in Brillion, Kelli dropped me off at the "bus station" in Manitowoc. We waited an extra hour for the bus to arrive (it was EXTREMELY late!), and then I was on my way back south to Milwaukee.

I arrived here in the Brew City at 6:15pm on Sunday, caught my city bus west across town, and was home in my own apartment not long after. I ate a little something for dinner -- not much, but something -- and was in bed before too late. I slept for over nine hours -- catching up on sleep, and returning to my regular sleep routine.

And that was my Christmas and New Years adventure this year (2009). Pretty enjoyable! It was a lot of travel, but definitely worth it. Memories like that are always worth it. Now I'm back in Milwaukee. Back to business as usual. And ready for the start of a whole new year.

How was YOUR Holiday season? :)


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Monday, January 04, 2010

"A New Year of Blogging Begins"

Well folks, I'm back in Milwaukee again after my 11-day travel hiatus over the Holiday Season. It was a wonderful adventure, with plenty of fun memories. Well worth writing about. For the present, though, I'm off to take care of a few other things, but I wanted take a moment and let everyone know that I'm back, and blogging will resume later today. A new year of blogging begins!

So... stay tuned, and I... will see you all in a few hours!

Your happily blogging friend,

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Jon Baas

Blogging Since 2002!
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