Thursday, December 09, 2010

Nickelodeon | SpongeBob SquarePants | Games - Love Hurts

These games are hard. But lots of fun.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Cool Shoe Lace Techniques

For anyone who likes tying their shoes in creative and funky ways, you should check out this entry on Monicel's Blog.

Source: StumbleUpon.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

100-Year Starship

Read about the possible planned long-term space flight at - Is NASA Covering Up the 100-Year Starship?.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trapped Mars Rover Finds Evidence of Subsurface Water - NASA.GOV

Despite the slightly sad fact that the Mars rover is essentially stuck in place and has been that way for a while now, the mission is not a failure. In fact, it's far from over! The rover's instruments all still work and it can still effectively send back photos and data. Yesterday it was announced that even the wheels spinning ineffectively in the Mars soil has uncovered some new surprises. There is really good evidence of subsurface water. Since the search for life on other planets always begins with the search for water, this is very interesting news. You can read more at

NASA Mars Rover
This is an artist's rendition of the rover. The article has a very nice photo. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell University.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gir - The Doom Song

I wanted to share this song from Invader Zim that we all know and love, but it would appear that the video cannot be embedded traditionally. So go to YouTube to see it in full.

Doom, doom-doom-doom, doom, doom-doom, doom-da-du-doo-doooom!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

News About the International Space Station

Today, the International Space Station breaks the Mir record for continuous human presence in space. The ISS will celebrate 10 years in space on the 31st. The final flight of Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-133) will launch on November 1st.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teens Against Bullying

Making a difference against bullying is something everyone can agree on.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Sounds of Jupiter :: NASA-Voyager Recording

Okay, here is a fair warning. This is pretty spooky.

Despite the fact that space is a vacuum, it is remarkable to note that the planets and the sun do make sound --even our own planet. We would never hear these sounds with our natural ears, but special equipment can pick it up and reprocess it into a range our ears CAN hear and this is the result. Here's the description from YouTube.

Fascinating recording of Jupiter sounds (electromagnetic "voices") by NASA-Voyager. The complex interactions of charged electromagnetic particles from the solar wind, planetary magnetosphere etc. create vibration "soundscapes". It sounds very interesting, even scary. Jupiter is mostly composed of hydrogen and helium. The entire planet is made of gas, with no solid surface under the atmosphere. The pressures and temperatures deep in Jupiter are so high that gases form a gradual transition into liquids which are gradually compressed into a metallic "plasma" in which the molecules have been stripped of their outer electrons. The winds of Jupiter are a thousand metres per second relative to the rotating interior. Jupiter's magnetic field is four thousand times stronger than Earth's, and is tipped by 11° degrees of axis spin. This causes the magnetic field to wobble, which has a profound effect on trapped electronically charged particles. This plasma of charged particles is accelerated beyond the magnetosphere of Jupiter to speeds of tens of thousands of kilometres per second. It is these magnetic particle vibrations which generate some of the sound you hear on this recording.

There are other video clips available with the sounds of other planets. I need to reiterate that some of them sound so spooky that I hesitated to post them here. But they only sound scary because of the processing and the fact that these are sounds we would not normally hear. There are entire CDs worth of these sound effect recordings.

Friday, July 02, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: The Last Airbender

My sister-in-law, my daughters and I saw the movie yesterday and here is my review of The Last Airbender.

Approximate Genre: Children's fantasy, live-action adaptation of a cartoon, adventure

Viewing Method: Theater (in Chicago), 3D

Written and Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

I am a big fan of the cartoon series and watched it with my kids when it was on Nickelodeon originally. For a kid's show, it showed some emotional depth and was part of a rich fantasy world that resonated as real.

Summary: It is a world of four nations and four elements; Water, Earth, Fire, Air. Aang is a boy who at the age of 12 learned he was the next Avatar, a spiritually important person who is imbued with the power to learn to control all four elements. Startled by this news, Aang runs away from home but gets lost in a storm and trapped in a block of ice for a hundred years. While he is gone, the Fire Nation begins a war of imperialistic conquest. Once Aang is released from the ice by his new friends Sokka and Katara, his quest to learn all the elements and defeat the Fire Lord begins.

Even at his young age, Aang is already a gifted Airbender. The cartoon series was three seasons long, one for each element that Aang needed to learn to master the four elements. The seasons each had a specific theme and were arranged in books and chapters.

The Movie

I enjoyed the movie and we had fun seeing it. The plot of the movie follows the first season of the show pretty closely, so if you've recently watched them all back-to-back (as we had), there will be no surprises. The biggest departure was an annoying one; they changed the pronunciation of many of the main characters' names. Hard vowels became soft and vice versa.

  • Aang became Ahng
  • Sokka became Sohka
  • Iroh became Eeroh

I can't imagine any reasons behind this change, except that the filmmakers specifically set out to annoy long-time fans of this story. As the movie played and the characters called each other by name, I found myself fighting the urge to shout out corrections at the movie screen.

Some other departures weren't as quickly noticed. For instance, Aang in the show is a fun-loving goofy kid who --at first-- can't be troubled to take the events around him very seriously. He's not afraid of danger and is quick to learn water-bending. In the film, Aang is more serious and doesn't goof off at all. In the show, Sokka is a brave warrior, but also a bit unlucky and drives much of the comic relief. The movie Sokka (played by Jackson Rathbone, better known as the vampire named Jasper in the Twilight series) is more serious and less capable. They could also have given him more screen time.

I very much wanted to love this movie from the moment months ago that I first heard they were in production. And though I don't hate it, the film failed to live up to my expectations. The fighting moves and bending moves just didn't impress at the same level that the cartoon series did.

Unfair Reviews

That being said, there are several really unfair reviews that are being circulated that I hope won't kill the possibility of a better sequel. For instance, E! Online asks "Is Last Airbender the Worst Movie Ever?". I think that's quite unfair. I mean "...Worst Movie Ever"? Really? There are so many other really bad movies that should better wear that title. For instance, here's a documentary available through Netflix that purports to document the 50 Worst Movies Ever Made.

Additionally, there was apparently some controversy prior to The Last Airbender's release involving the "whitewashing" of the cast. What this is referring to is that the story is heavily influenced by Asian themes, but very few of the main cast members are actually Asian. Whereas I'm all for fairness and equality, I don't even understand why there is a whitewash controversy at all! I want to be sensitive here, but I'm afraid this seems to me like an overreaction. Has anyone who may have been offended ever seen the original show? Granted the characters are all animated and perhaps there are different expectations for the casting of a live-action show, but I'm still left scratching my head.


All in all, the show is a great show and I urge anyone who hasn't seen it to catch it on Nick or put it in their instant Netflix queue. During one of the last episodes before the series ends, the heroes attend a play which was written about their own adventures and they get to see themselves acted out to applause. Hilarity ensues when certain secrets are inadvertently revealed and the young heroes don't link how they are portrayed. The play was pretty bad.

Watching this movie wasn't too bad, but it felt a little like watching that play. The actors didn't seem to be working that hard and as impressive as the effects were, they paled compared to the action in the cartoon. And I think that's the worst comment I can make about the movie. I liked it well enough, but I'd rather watch the cartoon on any given day. My hope is that the next one will be better, if it even gets made at all.

More Information

Monday, June 21, 2010

Last Airbender: Coming Soon

This is going to be a really good movie.

Update (2010-07-07): For anyone interested, I posted a full review of the movie.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Soda Is Not Good For You

We've been talking about diet and sodas and high fructose corn syrup after watching Food, Inc. but this short video has even more good health information.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dance Mat Typing

One important skill for students of all ages in the 21st will continue to be typing on a standard keyboard. Here is a great site for introducing touch typing. Check out Dance Mat Typing.

Dance Mat Typing logo

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Do You Remember "The Last Airbender"?

This show is getting the live-action treatment.

Star Wars Clone Wars: Boba Fett Returns

The son of Jango Fett, destined to be the best bounty hunter in the galaxy, rises to prominence to avenge his father's death from the lightsaber blade of Jedi Master Mace Windu.

Right-click and select the option to watch this clip in full-screen mode.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Star Wars Clone Wars Video

Did you know that the latest episodes of Star Wars Clone Wars are available for viewing on Here's a synopsis from the latest episode.

Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka form an uneasy partnership with four deadly bounty hunters to help protect a local farmer from Hono Ohnaka and his band of pirates

See the Video from Season 2, Full Episode 17: Bounty Hunters.

Even More Star Wars News

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Did You Know?

  • An average person walks the equivalent of twice around the world in a lifetime.
  • A typical lightning bolt is 2 to 4 inches wide and 2 miles long.
  • Golfers use an estimated $800 million worth of golf balls annually.
  • An albatross can sleep while it flies. It apparently dozes while cruising at 25 mph.
  • Every person has a unique tongue print.
  • The human brain is 85% water.
  • The can opener wasn't invented until 48 years after the can!
  • Mockingbirds can imitate any sound from a squeaking door to a cat meowing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Made to Order

The Cat in the Hat uses 225 different words.

Dr. Seuss' publisher, Bennett Cerf, wagered $50 that the author couldn't reduce this total to 50 in his next book.

So Seuss produced a new manuscript using precisely 50 words, and collected the $50.

The book was Green Eggs and Ham.

See the original entry.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Honoring Soldiers And Their Families

One of my friends, a soldier named Ryan Keeter, is featured in the video on the following page. Go to Springfield, Illinois WICS ABC 20 Newsroom. This quote is from that page.

The freedoms we enjoy often come from the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform. But many times the mission abroad leaves the families back home with their own struggles.

Sunday the National Guard paid tribute to the contributions of both the troops and their loved ones.

ABC News Channel 20's Mike Brooks takes a closer look.

Monday, March 01, 2010


Here's a riddle for you to guess.

A man walks into a bar and asks for a glass of water. The bartender pulls out a shotgun and points it at him. The man says "thank you" and leaves. Why did the man thank the bartender?

ANSWER: The man had the hiccups and the water helped him stop it, and the gun scared him which also help stop his hiccups as well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010