Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday to

Dude, you're almost as old as ME! Remember when we were kids and would argue about our difference in age? I'd say, "You're about three years younger." And you'd say, "NO! I'm 2 years and 10 months younger than you! That's not three years, it's TWO years!!!" Heehee! We were such nerds! (By the way, you can CLICK on the picture collages below to see them much larger)

I'm sure glad that you're my brother. I consider myself lucky to have shared my childhood with you and blessed to still talk frequently with you today, as grown-ups. And I'm tickled that my son, Brandon Scott, gets to proudly carry your name. What an honor!

I love you, bro!

(Above are pictures of Scott as a child and below are pictures of Scott all grown up...lots of neice and nephew shots. Click on each collage or picture to see it enlarged.)

If you have a moment, please leave Scott a birthday message in the comments below. Thanks!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happy Four Months To Me!

Oh my. He's growing up so quickly. Just wanted to share his latest trick. He loves to sit up by himself (but we still stay close by for those little topples that do occasionally happen). I'll put up a new slide show or collage in a few days--still snapping pictures all the time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Small Town Nebraska

Just a few years ago we were living in a busy, bustling suburb of the enormous DFW, Texas area. We could pretty much go in any direction and inside an hour we'd bump into a mall or two. There were grocery stores, gas stations, and churches on just about every corner. Running any one errand could easily turn into a full day-long event due to traffic, long waiting lines, and other distractions along the way. We shopped anonymously--rarely bumping into those we knew. If anything happened to one car, then life, as we knew it, would come to an absolute halt--so we had to have two cars. A cell phone was imperative lest we lose our loved ones and only hear from one another once we were getting ready for bed each night.

Today we live in small town Nebraska. And while it's definitely not without its own set of unique issues and frustrations, life is much slower and simplicities seem more appreciated. We often walk to the library, to the video store, to the grocery store, and to church. The "police" are no longer some anonymous group of mean-spirited people out to get you--now they are Bob, whose children play ball with yours, and Joe, whose wife owns the adorable little bakery down town. The mailman still walks door-to-door to deliver mail and you bump into your doctor at the grocery store every Saturday. The teenager next door knows your phone number by heart because that's your ID number to check out videos where she works. When there's a parade, the question isn't "Will you be going?" it's "Which corner will you be standing on?" If you go to the state park or the movies (only one theater--four movies), you call a family or two to see if they want to come along. That's just what you do when you live in a town of less than 6,000 people (half of whom are students).

In small towns, I love how "family" includes more than those related by blood. It includes those who call to tell you they missed you at some local gathering and those who drop by a couple meals after you have a baby. You simply can't disappear for any length of time (or fail to blog for long) without having a neighbor or friend check on you. You matter. You belong. What once felt claustrophobic is now so comforting.

I want to remember that the "small, small world" syndrome is what we make it. We can all decide to take life more slowly and familiarize ourselves with others or we can close our doors and watch opportunities slip by. No matter where I live, I always want to know all of my neighbors and have block parties on 4th of July the way we've done here every year. I want to attend small business open houses, house warming parties, and fit in as many trips to the various home held Christmas parties open to the town. I want to get up early enough on Sunday mornings to stroll to church and not be in such a rush afterwards that we can't accept a friend's invitation to lunch.

Yes, I've done my fair share of complaining about missing the conveniences of big city life. It's time to make amends because I believe, in many ways, this secluded, small town life has certainly saved this family some future heartache. There are hundreds of eensy teensy precious moments that we might have looked right over had we not been forced into a much lower gear. The one we were in previously was far too fast. And being on cruise control only aided our inability to see more than we did. It's nice to finally savor the moment.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I am Elizabeth Bennet

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

I've always considered these tests to be so goofy. I must be really bored this morning because I did it anyway. I was thinking to myself, If I really were an Elizabeth Bennet, I wouldn't be taking this dumb quiz! What do you think?

Here is the final result: "You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hot Summer Days
Cool Rainy Nights

Just wanted to share more Miller summer pictures. The kids all love going swimming--even Brighton. We've been going pretty regularly. It's a very nice way to cool off on these near 100 degree days. The funny thing is that usually right after we get back home, we have a thunderstorm of some sort. They're often short downpours, but provide just enough clouds and wetness to cool things down before bedtime. It's also kept our beautiful green grass in the front yard nice and lush. On this particular day we came home around 5:15 and about 15 minutes later, an unexpected hail storm swept through. I shot the video below from one of our back windows. By the way, you can see that the green weed killer Lee made is working back there--LOL!

The rest of the pictures from this day can be found in our Picasa account HERE (including BJ's new antique school desk given to her by our local video store manager). ENJOY! Oh, and pix from LAST year's hail storm are HERE.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Story of Stuff

I know. It's odd. I've been offline for the better part of four days. There's a reason. I needed some time to regroup, to look, again, at the world around me--at the things I've accepted and believed about my world, to see what needs to be changed, and to see what role I might play in that change. This has been a LONG time coming, but something had to be the proverbial "last straw." And, of all things, it was an email forward from someone I respected. So today I'm going to bump a few other drafted, stock-piled posts I've been slowly working on for this one.

Most of you know that I don't usually do "forwards." I try to use email more to communicate personally, to write letters or notes to friends/family, to make personal announcements, etc. With all the information passed on email (by the way, I currently have over 2,000 unread NON-spam emails in my account to be read), I hardly have time to read email forwards, to check validity of some stories with snopes, and to decide where to file it, if anywhere. I have even less time to decide who, of my email friends, would enjoy it and whether THEY have the time or need to read it. So...on Thursday my friend Teddi, who also doesn't usually do forwards, forwarded me the following link to "The Story of Stuff," I was surprised...yet intrigued. This must be important. She warned that it was 20 minutes long, but well worth 20 measly minutes of my life. And I believed her because, well, she's Teddi. I could easily give 20 minutes of undivided attention to this video.

I've been humbled and literally silenced since watching this video. It's taken me a few days to find my public voice again. As a matter of fact, I've visited this story more than 4 times. The first time I watched, I was looking for political and other biases. Because, let's face it, there's always bias in every. single. message. But once I made it beyond the blame game and some not-so-subtle sarcasm, I found the meat of the message. It wasn't pretty.

Granted, a good portion of it is something I've known for a long while, but there were some underlying things in the second half of the video that I wasn't precisely aware of. It haunted me as I walked through my house looking at my "stuff."

Just a few examples (disclaimer: these quotes may not be exact, I was writing as quickly as I could while watching):

Only 1% of the total materials produced and purchased are kept beyond 6 months.

The average house size has DOUBLED since the 1970s.

We each create TWICE the amount of daily garbage today that we did just 30 years ago.

The US has less than 4% of our original forest.

We have 5% of the world's population, but we use 30% of the world's resources.

If the entire world consumed resources as fast as we (the US) do, we'd need 3 to 5 planet Earths.

Furthermore, I was stunned by the Planned Obsolescence and Perceived Obsolescence that grew out of the aftermath of WWII. That's what angered me most because I've bought it hook, line, and sinker. Planned Obsolescence was when designers purposefully discovered ways to create products to break fast enough to keep the consumer's business booming. Ever heard the famous phrase "They don't make 'em like they used to?" It's true. They don't. On purpose. And when breaking didn't work fast enough, Perceived Obsolescence stepped up to make it necessary to replace items more quickly.

An influencial voice of the post WWII time was President Eisenhower's council of economic advisors chairman who stated: "The American economy's ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods." So...produce, we did. Another influencial quote during the beginning of American consumer capitalism was made by Victor Lebow, a 20th century economist, who said in 1955 that:

"Our enormously productive economy ... demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption.... we need things consumed, burned up, replaced, and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate."

Since watching I've been making a list of items I've bought that we had to throw away within months to a couple years of purchasing for failure to work or for being outdated. And this is just a start:

several irons, several hairdryers, dozens and dozens of beeping, flashing toys, many broken picture frames, broken pots/pans/dishes/tupperware, 4 non-working computer monitors in just five years, hundreds of pens, furniture (book shelves, desks, chairs, beds, etc.), several cell phones, several home phones, answering machines, digital cameras, printers, DVD players, TWO ovens, VCRs, TVs, multiple baby items (car seats, etc.), many, many, many flashlights, many firestarters, yard stuff (broken hoes, rakes, shovels, etc.), tire tubes, many shoes, fans, old non-recyclable satellite dishes, and plenty more...

My list doesn't even touch the regular consumables that we threw away daily like plastics, diapers, styrofoam, etc. Ick! I'm rather pleased over the multiple treasures we've found that were used or discarded elsewhere--and the various items we've recycled either by donating to others or finding a decent new home for. But recycling isn't nearly enough, folks. The need for "stuff" is a crisis. I'll have to track down the quote, but I believe it's Dave Ramsey who says that it takes us 3 years to accumulate today what it took our parents a lifetime to acquire. Scary stuff.

There are many suggestions provided in a link at the end of the presentation. One of the suggestions was to go unplugged more often, which we did this week. Annie Leonard says that even if online communities give us a good jumping off point, studies show that advocacy has a greater impact on change when practiced in our own communities as opposed to online/Internet communities. Not only did I talk more with my surrounding neighbors and friends in my town, but I got far more accomplished in my home than ever before. WOW! I definitely think I'll do it more often. We've even discussed getting rid of our TV completely (if we could only get NFL games online in real-time, we'd probably make this change TODAY).

As always, I'm still sorting through this information--will continue checking other sources--learning what I can about my own community. I'm curious what you think about all this. If you do take the time to watch this video, I'd love it if you'd drop me an email or leave comments below.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Midwives Return to Austin Hospitals

Having spent most of my life in the area, I'm always delighted to hear news of progress in the birthing climate of Austin, Texas. You can read the full article HERE. But, in a nutshell:

Groups of Austin midwives practiced with physicians at Seton Medical Center and University Medical Center at Brackenridge until 2002. A doctors group canceled the program at Seton, and University Medical Center closed its program at that time. Both hospitals said the programs were money losers. (Emphasis mine)

These hospitals, among others around the country, closed midwifery programs due to "potential lawsuits" and "high medical malpractice premiums."

The article goes on to share the good news. Dr. Charles Brown, who leads University Medical Center's residency program in obstetrics and gynecology, took on four midwives in the last few years. Furthermore, Dr. Christina Sebestyen and Dr. Andrea Campaigne, of St. David's North Austin Medical Center, have pulled in another three midwives to begin working with their practice.

"At North Austin, the supervising doctor won't need to be at the hospital for the delivery as long as the physician can get there in 30 minutes should problems arise," said Dr. Ken Mitchell, chief medical officer for the hospital.

To make this decision, it says they reviewed "scientific studies showing that midwife deliveries are as safe and healthy for mothers and babies as low-risk deliveries by physicians are."

Sounds reasonable. It's just one of the reasons I chose to birth out-of-hospital with an attentive, well-experienced midwife--less than 10 minutes from a hospital. Midwives can handle far more than most are aware of IF the need arises. Good for North Austin for taking the time to review some scientific studies. Need I say that I wish more OB/GYN practices would practice evidence-based medicine?

Sebestyen trained at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she worked with midwives. She had a midwife deliver her son 2 1/2 years ago.

"Most midwives would say I'm a midwife in doctors' clothes," says Dr. Sebestyen.

And that, dear reader, is the only type of OB/GYN I would consider allowing near me while I'm in a healthy, low-risk pregnancy and delivery. It changes birth from a money-making, high maintenance, emergency (did I say money-making?) event to something far more natural, normal and peaceful. How wonderful for the mothers of Austin (who choose to birth in the hospital) to at least have a new option of working with a midwife throughout their pregnancies and during labor and delivery. Congrats y'all!

And thank you to my sister-in-law, Laura, for forwarding this new article to me. P.S. Is this a hint??? :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baby Time #2

I figured it's time again. At three months old, Brighton is growing and changing daily. Friends and neighbors are astonished at how talkative he is (and always has been). His hair is looking much lighter in color these days and he's growing quite long. Oh, and we're beginning teething. He's chewing on anything he can get in his mouth and slobber is always dripping from his chin.

I've never seen such a happy child. He has an abundance of giggles and gives a full toothless grin to any stranger that makes eye contact with him. He loves looking in the mirror and laughing at himself. Absolutely adorable!

You can click on the collage to see these pictures larger. I'll fix the red-eye and upload the individual pictures to our Picasa album soon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ALERT: West Nile Virus
Chadron, Nebraska

It's official HERE. West Nile Virus has been found in Chadron after sampling local mosquitoes. I'm supposed to report the two dead birds that I found in my yard in the last couple weeks. I don't remember the dates I found them and I don't even know if the birds are still out there considering all the outdoor cats living on my block.

I wonder what life was like before insect testing and public health alerts. What atrocity it must have been to go about daily routines without a worry on your pretty little mind. Mark my words, tomorrow every single child in the Chadron vicinity will be slathered with insect repellent full of DEET (also known to be toxic) and will be wearing long sleeves and long pants in the mornings and evenings (despite the fact that we're now having daily temps over 100). No one will step outdoors unless absolutely necessarily. Phone lines will be buzzing with the most recent alert as well as mothering chat boards with alerts of all to do to stay safe. Emails will constantly be mass forwarded to all in the surrounding area reminding everyone to be on alert for any changes in their children.

Not that the above are bad things--it's good to stay abreast of health issues. But I've discovered that most media outlets will not usually put things in perspective. It's all fear, fear, fear. So I'm here to do my part. Here's a little information for those who are interested. As of THIS year:

According to the CDC, there have been 28 cases reported of West Nile Virus in ALL of the United States this year. Of those 29 cases, 19 reported a fever and 9 reported encephalitis or meningitis. There have been no reported deaths.

In 2007, the State of Nebraska reported 163 cases of West Nile Virus. 142 reported a fever and 21 reported encephalitis or meningitis. There were 4 deaths in the state of Nebraska which is 2% of the total cases in our state. Across the entire nation, WNV deaths accounted for only 3% of those reported infected. When viewing these statistics, it's important to remember that many mild cases go unreported--MANY. The CDC reports that approximately 80% of those infected with the virus show absolutely NO symptoms whatsoever. That really blows that 3% stat out of the water. The death to infected ratio is much smaller.

Remember that DEET is considered toxic to some degree (even by the EPA) resulting in seizures and even death for a very small percentage of users. It has less negative effects if the user follows the strict directions on the label which is to NOT use it under clothing or on damaged skin (look for any cuts, scratches, or rashy areas) and to wash off after you are back indoors (and between applications). Use as little as possible, never apply indoors, do not let children apply it by themselves, and never apply directly to your face. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics requests that parents NEVER use DEET on an infant less than 2 months old. Keep in mind that it also may damage some synthetic fabrics and even plastics according to DHHS.

What do we do now?
First, no need to panic. Try to continue life as usual. You'll have an unusual awareness of all outdoor activities, obviously. Here are suggestions on how to maintain some level of safety:

1) Use some type of mosquito repellent. CDC suggests repellent with one of the following:
    • DEET
    • Picaridin
    • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus* or PMD the synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus
    • IR3535
"EPA characterizes the active ingredients DEET and Picaridin as “conventional repellents” and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, PMD, and IR3535 as “biopesticide repellents”, which are derived from natural materials."

2) Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. This primarily means stagnant water that is unmoving including water in flower pots, standing brush on your property, clogged roof gutters, old tires, etc. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services give a LONG list of ways to do this that you may not have thought of before. Click HERE for more information.

3) Repair (or install) window and door screens where mosquitoes may enter the home. (YAY! Finally an excuse to fix our front door screen!)

4) At dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most likely to be out and about, wear long sleeves, pants, and socks (or consider staying indoors).

5) Remember that not ALL dead birds are a concern. Click on the picture below to see what type of bird to look for--the ones with the green line are the important ones.

And, I'm out of time yet again. Since I never seem to have time to finish a post, I'm gonna go ahead and publish this as is. I'll have to finish up more research at another time and add on here if/when I find something important enough to add.

*UPDATE* One of my most favorite people sent me the following. Good stuff!

fyi, garlic, which i love to eat and mesquites hate is a wonderful repellent. the smell comes through the body and onto the skin as does the smell of blood. Skitters run...and if eating it is aint your thing, just plant it and green onions around--anything in the onion family. they don't like it. not a great repellent, but a start. also planting lemon grass (which smells lovely to us, horrible to mesquites) in those places you'd rather the bugs not be is a good idea. and its a tasty herb as well. look online for other homemade insect repellents. avon skin-so-soft body oil doesn't work for me but others swear by it.

For more information, you can visit the following websites:

Center for Disease Control:
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services:
Panhandle Public Health District:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Interruption Science

There's a very interesting new field of study called "Interruption Science." Did you know Americans usually switch tasks every 3 minutes? Did you know that distraction is said to cost American businesses 650 billion dollars per year? Why are we a culture with attention deficiencies? Why do most Americans joke about how we all have ADD? What is focus? How can we keep better focus?

The 8 minute video clip below is a Business Week interview with Maggie Jackson who is talking about interruption science by promoting her new book Distracted. She gives a good amount of information and things to consider.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fur Trade Days 2008 Parade

This year's Fur Trade Parade was, once again, a winner for the residents of Chadron. This is a huge event that brings in thousands of tourists from far and wide. There are booths set up all over, some times a carnival, lawn mower races, etc. It truly is a weekend LONG event. This year, the parade lasted well over an hour. The float people passed out candy, popsicles, beaded necklaces, frisbees, and even water bottles. And some floats threw water balloons and shot water guns at us! It was a fun day for all. See some pix below:

As always, you can find these pictures in full resolution for a limited time HERE.

I also shot these four very short videos, below. The first is of the mega-fast lawn mowers. If you've never seen lawn mower races, check this video out to see the kind of mowers they use! This clip is 30 seconds long.

Ever seen a really fast lawn mover do a pop wheelie? Check this one out! It's 10 seconds long.

Check out the adorable tiny cars. We thought these were kids from a distance. LOL! This clip is 13 seconds long.

And finally, the little marching band that played:

After the parade we had a relaxing afternoon and then headed over to Matt's and Brenda's for a cookout with a bunch of other friends. It was a very fun weekend!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Following Gardasil

I'm still attempting to keep up with news on Merck's new HPV vaccine: Gardasil. It carried the catchy theme "one less" which mis-led most parents into believing the vaccine was simply about cervical cancer rather than about 2 to 4 strains of sexually transmitted diseases which could potentially lead to cervical cancer. Now that thousands of adverse effects (and even deaths) are being reported and some are raising concerns about future fertility issues, many parents are taking pause to reconsider the necessity of this new vaccine: "When you read everybody's stories, they're too similar not to be related."

Judicial Report recently gave a report on more than 8,000 Gardasil reaction reports and a VAERS search shows nearly 6,700 reports of injury and death after Gardasil. Interesting stuff to keep up with:

Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order in February 2007 requiring that all sixth-grade girls get the HPV shot. But angry parents and conservative groups fought the mandate, fearing it condoned premarital sex and took away parental rights. The Legislature defeated the order last April.

The National Vaccine Information Center heralded the decision, saying that testing of the vaccine was not extensive enough in girls under 12. The nonprofit center had already started warning about the possibility of adverse reactions such as extreme fatigue, arthritis and loss of consciousness.

Read the Dallas News story here:


The "New FDS Records Detailing Ten New Deaths and 140 Serious Adverse Events" story here:

Read a US News article here:

Or simply do a news search for "gardasil" to find more.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dancing in the Wind

There's just something about watching that-which-is-invisible touch, move and transform our concrete world.

I am mesmerized.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Video Time!

After bathtime today, Brayla asked if I would lay Brighton across her tummy. So I did. He immediately began rooting on her--looking for some milk. She was so tickled. We all laughed and giggled for a while until I realized I needed to get my camera out. I just caught the tail end of the giggles, but you can hear Brayla saying, "I'm not your nipple!" What sweet, sweet babies!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Google Powers My World!

A large number of online tools I work with each day are brought to me by Google. From googling to YouTube to Blogger to Gmail to Picasa to Google Scholar to Calendar, Docs, Maps, Reader...and on and on. I won't go through the entire LIST of what's available through Google or what is currently being worked on in Google Labs, but there's like 50+ tools they've developed and I've probably used 20 different ones in the last few weeks and at least 5-10 per day. Seriously.

Life before Google wasn't nearly the same.

If you use Google for anything, what's your favorite Google tool?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fourth of July Pictures

Be sure to run your mouse over the picture to enable the magnifier. COOL! :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

YouTube in Big Brother's Pocket

Okay, so not necessarily "Big Brother's" pocket, but Viacom's. Viacom owns approximately 150 networks around the world including MTV, Noggin, Nickelodeon, VH1, Paramount Pictures, BET, COMEDY CENTRAL, Country Music Television, DreamWorks, etc. Thousands of YouTube users have "borrowed" (or stolen) bits and pieces from the productions shown on these networks, posted them to YouTube, and now Viacom is out for revenge. The judge has now issued a court order for YouTube/Google to turn over massive amounts of data to Viacom for an ongoing investigation. If you've ever watched a single video from YouTube (or even from someone else's website that uses YouTube services like a few of the videos on this blog with a play button on them) then you might want to keep reading.

A few tidbits from THIS article in the The Washington Post:

That data includes every YouTube username, the associated IP address and the videos that user has watched on YouTube.

Google will also be required to hand over copies of every video removed from Youtube for any reason (DMCA notices or user-initiated deletions).

WHO has the manpower to examine this much data?

And this article from BBC News had a couple interesting comments:

The ruling will see the viewing habits of millions of YouTube users given to Viacom, totalling more than 12 terabytes of data...Viacom said it wanted the data to "compare the attractiveness of allegedly infringing video with that of non-infringing videos."

:Big Sigh: But the following is interesting:

Google pledged last year to anonymise IP addresses for search information but it has said nothing about YouTube data.

Then just today a new Wall Street Journal article on the US court order was posted HERE. This quote is particularly funny:

I say this with the utmost respect, but Judge Stanton is a moron. And Google simply cannot hand this data over without facing a class action lawsuit of staggering proportions.

Some interesting data about Google/YouTube:

To give you an idea of how many users might be affected by the order, the WSJ reports that, according to comScore, Google sites, which include YouTube, were the top U.S. video property in April, with more than 4.1 billion videos viewed, or 38% of all online videos.

Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor says:

“We realize that there’s this giant vault of private information held by Google and YouTube and other companies, and [the ruling] makes very clear that any federal judge in the country can order access to it”

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is in an uproar:

The court’s order grants Viacom's request and erroneously ignores the protections of the federal Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), and threatens to expose deeply private information about what videos are watched by YouTube users. The VPPA passed after a newspaper disclosed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video rental records. As Congress recognized, your selection of videos to watch is deeply personal and deserves the strongest protection.


Accordingly, pursuant to this federal law, the Court may not order the production of “personally identifiable information”

The Court also stated that Google did “not refute that the ‘login ID is an
anonymous pseudonym that users create for themselves when they sign up with YouTube’ which without more ‘cannot identify specific individuals.’”

But this is NOT necessarily true. Consider this:

If any single one of the YouTube users in the Logging database picked a Login ID that does identify that user (i.e. if my YouTube login was kurtopsahl), then the Logging database' information about viewing habits is protected by the VPPA, even if others pick anonymous pseudonyms...Furthermore, even Google’s IP address statement only asserts that “in most cases” the IP address is not identifiable, certainly not in all cases. Putting aside whether a Google Public Policy blog's statement on an unrelated topic can waive the privacy rights of YouTube users, the statement means that at least some YouTube users are identifiable, and must be protected by the VPPA.

For those interested, the official Court Order can be found HERE.

I'm still learning about this case, but I have just a few thoughts so far:
1) Yes, it is breaking copyright law even if you just record a couple minutes of a movie, television show, or music video and post it online without explicit permission from the artist, publisher, etc.
2) Having millions of potential fans watching short clips *could* be considered really great advertising, dontcha think? Many have watched part of a pilot episode on YouTube only to go on to watch the real series on TV and purchase the entire season. And how many have watched a portion of a music video on YouTube and immediately went online to purchase the entire album? Just trying to see an up side here--even as a librarian I *can* do that. ;)
3) IMHO, Viacom has a great deal to gain by having access to these records completely aside from their copyright lawsuit. By comparing the viewing audience who likes Show "A" to those who prefer to wash Show "B" and cross-analyzing their other viewing habits--wow, can you imagine how valuable that information is?! They certainly stand to gain an enormous lesson in advertising for future viewership and sales.
4) Never, ever pick a login ID that identifies you by your full, legal name. 'Nuff said.
5) I wonder who's next to have to cough up all personal records. I thought the Patriot Act only applied to our government (not that I'm any more happy about THAT idea).
6) I just happened to do a blog search and came up with nearly 60,000 bloggers writing about this over the last couple days. :sigh: I guess I'm not so unique after all.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Book Review: The House That Cleans Itself

This year at MOPS we had a guest speaker come talk about home organization. I did happen to miss several meetings this year, but a meeting on housekeeping wasn't going to be missed no matter WHAT ailment I may or may not have had on this particular day.

The speaker went over a number of home issues such as clutter, use of space, aesthetics, routines, etc. But, for me, the best piece of information she shared was about a gem of a book entitled: The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. It was written for the perfectionist who happens to also be organizationally challenged. Yes, ME!

Clark's process may take you a couple weeks to 6 months to complete, depending on your home. You start with a 3-ring notebook, paper, and several interesting assignments. The reader keeps documentation along the way as they examine their home and discover the root of most messes. One of the first assignments in this book is to draw a floor plan of your entire house, garage and yard. Another unique assignment is to take pictures of every space in your house after letting it get dirty for a few days (some of us had to wait less time than others). Eventually you will use these pictures and outlines to apply the CONVERT system which will, at least in theory, revolutionize the way your home works. Every member of your house, from young to old, can productively work with this system once the routine gets established.

Some of the ideas in this book were so simple. I thought more than once, Now why didn't I think of this?! You'll re-examine the type of furniture and household items you purchase right down to the color, texture, and quality. Every detail affects the chemicals, tools, and time you spend on each item in your home. You'll re-consider where you put each cleaning supply, as well. Through Clark's suggested use of "stations," a family can eliminate losing precious utensils from pencils and pens to other necessary items like staplers and tape. I instantly discovered several valuable stations needed in my own home and am working to create them as time permits. They're already making a significant difference for us.

I'm still at the very beginning of the CONVERT process, but it's reassuring to see the larger picture--that glorious light at the end of the tunnel. It helps keep me focused and excited about the final product and ongoing maintenance. If things continue to move along, this looks to be something I will wish I had purchased long before I had a home of my own so that I could have avoided years of organizational and cleaning frustration. I really do hope that's the case.

For more information on The House That Cleans Itself, visit Mindy Starns Clark's website by clicking HERE or her blog by clicking HERE.

See two of my angels hard at work below:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Brighton's Birth Journey:
Taking the Red Pill

July 4th. What an important day for our country. Our declaration of independence--our cry of freedom, our proclamation of liberation.

This holiday I am still lost in the celebration of the birth of my 3rd child: Brighton. It was, indeed, a liberating moment for my family to birth in the privacy and comfort of a home environment after enduring two prior surgical births. I'm thankful that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, I was allowed to cross two state lines to birth my baby in peace and solitude, the way nature works best.

Our story, home birth pictures, and journey music can be found here:

While the AMA and ACOG are diligently working to pass legislation that will, without doubt, hinder a woman's right to birth in privacy, I will continue to shout my story of liberation and empowerment from the rooftops. It was a day to celebrate independence from the over-medicalized "birth machine." And I will bend over backwards, if necessary, to help just one more woman avoid the cascade of routine hospital interventions that too often lead to that first unnecessary cut.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I miss my Nana!

(click on a picture to see it full-sized)

May 26, 1922 - July 3, 2002

WALL-E Review

Oh. My. Goodness. We took the kids to see WALL-E this week. From the previews I was totally not looking forward to it. But we had some trustworthy friends telling us that it was great and that the previews didn't do it justice. Boy were they right! Waaaaaleeeee, we love you!

WALL-E is about a small robot that was left behind on Earth when the planet was evacuated by all other life forms. He continues to do his job basically as a trash compactor. Completely childlike and innocent in nature, Wall-E is a collector of interesting items and we see him finding and expressing pleasure at even the smallest objects we usually take for granted. He learns what human love is by watching an ancient video of a man and woman singing and dancing with one another (Hello Dolly). Eventually, EVE lands on Earth for a very important task and Wall-e is taken with her. He longs to express his love for her no matter the cost.

The film shows numerous jobs for each robot as we discover that no one's work is without value. Furthermore, one important message is about human contact--hand holding, primarily. At times we witness a universe very similar to The Matrix where humans have lost complete sight of the reality around them. When the humans' computer screens are turned off they are stunned by all they've never noticed before (this is also when they question authority). I personally detected a message from Ecclesiastes on the importance of work for humankind's discovery of meaning. A world without work leaves much to be desired. Hence, the ship captain's most exciting part of the day is getting to do morning announcements. Humans have also become obese and slow. They all drink the same thing, on demand, and don't get out of their chairs to do anything for themselves. They are displayed as being nearly helpless without the aid of their technological world.

Although children completely enjoy this movie, I think it's far more special to adults. There were subtle political nuances, some not-so-subtle environmental concerns, humorous humanity undertones and comparisons to other classic movies we've known and loved. I'm sure I missed something along the way as there was so much to take in. Several scenes were absolutely breathtaking and the well-matched music was enchanting.

I want to say that this movie is for everyone, but I don't know that everyone will "get it" for the most part. Our experience was wonderful. Adults and children alike laughed throughout and Brayla cried at the end asking loudly, "Daddy, what's wrong with him?" However, we were all back to smiles with a very happy ending and left with a 4 year old repeatedly asking when we could see it again or when we could buy it.

Overall, it was so worth it to drag our three very young children to a late movie. It was a beautiful evening as we walked to and from the theater with our jogging strollers. And Brayla was fast asleep before we ever reached home. We hope you enjoy the movie! Be sure to post any comments below if you've seen it. Here's a short clip with information about the making of the movie:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Children's Library Hour

Every Tuesday we have children's library hour. We enjoy walking to and from the library and bringing home new goodies each time. This summer the kids have been studying bugs by reading books, learning finger plays, singing songs, making crafts and watching movies.

These are two crafts we did at story hour.

During the school year children's library hour is on both Tuesday AND Wednesday. But during the summers it is just on Tuesday. This particular day there were so many kids that I believe we ran out of chairs. It's probably the biggest children's social event of the summer. Once we get home, Brayla draws many pictures and does bug crafts with her construction paper, scissors, glitter, and glue. She's extremely crafty and creative. We're always amazed at her self-invented projects.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Baby Time!!!

Just had to take a moment to post a new slideshow of Brighton. There are 33 images here and a link to see them larger in a photo album. He just turned 3 months on Friday and yet he's already wearing at least some 12 month outfits (especially with a cloth diaper on). He is the most giggly baby I've ever had and we all enjoy making him laugh. What joy!

You can also click HERE to view these images larger than here.

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