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Willard Wigan micro sculptor

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This is almost unbelievable. Talk about creative in a whole new dimension.

Canadian Meteor & Beyond the Galaxy

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This is pretty amazing video.

Same video replayed a few more times with more information delivered in a slightly snarkier tone courtesy of Countdown.

For the first time, astronomers have captured images of a distant planet in a different galaxy.

Pretty cool stuff.

Miriam Makeba

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Miriam Makeba collapsed while giving a concert in Italy on November 9th and died shortly after. People have been remembering her over the last few days. She was more than just a beloved musician. She stood up and spoke out against injustice. Here's a video of her appeal to the United Nations to help her people suffering under apartheid in South Africa.

And I've collected some of the songs that were posted. Here's a live rendition of Under African Skies with Paul Simon:

Miriam Makeba singing her hit "Pata Pata" in 2007

Miriam Makeba with Hugh Masekela- South Africa Freedom Song

Soweto Blues written by Hugh Masekela

As one commenter put it, here's "One of the sexier band introduction segments I have ever seen!"

Here's another song from that appearance at Bern's Salonger: Miriam Makeba - Mayibuye

And another song titled Kilimanjaro

Forbidden Games (lyrics)

When I've Passed On

The African National Anthem: N'Kosi Sikeleli Africa - With Miriam Makeba

[via hairylarry and Deoliver47]

Celebrating St. Martin's Day in Germany

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I saw a couple of references to St. Martin's Day on November 11th which is Veteran's Day in the US and I wondered what it was. The Local which provides "Germany's News in English" offers this delightfully-written Q&A on the origin and customs of St. Martin's Day.

The medieval help desk

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The medieval help desk ... users haven't changed. Via David Brin's website

Another creative thing

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One of my sister-in-laws is a scrapbooker and she's done some wonderful books like the one for our in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary. She even goes away to a scrapbooking house for scrapbooking weekends -- that is, a house specially furnished for scrapbookers who bring their own meals, sleep in dorm style accommodations and spend their days/evenings creating at tables spread all around the communal areas, chatting and drinking wine at night. At any rate, that's my point of exposure to the world of scrapbooking and all the stuff that goes into it.

So my curiosity was piqued when I followed the link for the 7-year-old blogger Stas who got a letter from President-elect Obama about his blogging and encouraging people to vote for Obama. [via]

Clearly the pictures on Stas's blog were not done by Stas and in one of the posts, the following credit appears.

(LO & Photo by Ann Hetzel Gunkel; Digital supplies from Scrap Girls)

So I went to check out Scrap Girls and I'm not sure what to think. Looks like you can pretty up pictures as Stas's mom did for his blog but what else do you do with what you create in digital scrapbooks? Print them?

Unfortunately, you won't learn from this website. Though access to the "raw materials" is there, both free and for a price, there does not appear to be any explanation or FAQ of what one does with digital scrapbooking for people who just wandered across the website without any prior knowledge of the subject. And that's unfortunate, because it looks like it could be interesting for those who are creative or not-so-creative and willing to purchase the building blocks of creative layouts from others.

The White House Tour by Jacqueline Kennedy

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An interesting history lesson on the White House, here's the original White House television tour conducted by Jackie Kennedy. Huffington Post is polling whether or not Michelle Obama should do another White House tour. [via]

Yo-Yo Ma & the prelude from Bach´s Cello Suite No. 1

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A mental health break:

The Creative Class: Reverse Graffiti

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Huffington Post has a really interesting post about reverse graffiti, also known as clean tagging or grime writing.

Reverse graffiti is form of street art that involves carving into the dirt and dust that surrounds us. Artists subtract from a surface in order to create a negative image within the positive, often quite dark layer of grime.They use methods as simple as dragging their finger across a dirty car window or as elaborate as carving elaborate stencils, which they then mount on a surface and spray with a high pressure water hose, to impress a finely wrought illustration or message. Reverse graffiti is a form of activist art, in that the work often draws attention not only to a particular image etched into a surface, but also the extent to which these surfaces - and our cities - are caked with pollution.

Check out this video and then go view the slide show at HuffPo.

A story to make you smile

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Here's a story to make you smile, especially if you're over 50 or getting close -- from kossack SnowItch.

Have to tell a funny story about silver-hair.

I've taken up rowing (sweep rowing to be exact - long boats with eight rowers you see every 4 years in the Olympics).

The team that I row with fields a boat in the 50+ category (I'm the baby in the boat at a youthful 48 years old). The races we participate in are called head races, which means that all of the boats start at the head of the race and are timed on how long it takes them to complete the course. The boats in head races don't row against each other, they are started in 15-30 second intervals one boat after the other.

Two weeks ago, we rowed in a 5,000 meter race in which we were the 2nd to last boat to start. We ended up passing 6 of the boats in front of us, including one crew from a University. We were thrilled with our performance, but took special pleasure on passing the college boat.

The icing on the cake was when we were leaving the rowing venue. There is a very steep hill from the river going up to the parking areas. As we were slogging up this hill, a group of young men came running past us. Following the young men was their coach in a golf cart. The coach was yelling, very loudly, "and you'll keep running these hills until you're able to beat a boat of grey-haired old men"

I'm still smiling...

More from the Creative Class

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The first one is via Kos

The second makes the point about the executive experience of a mayor of Wasilla, Alaska ever so well. It is a dramatic reading of the minutes of the meeting of the town council of Wasilla courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

Kudos to the actor, Chris Schneider. Don't think I've ever seen such an entertaining reading of minutes before.

Twitter in Plain English

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You've heard people talk about twitter but don't know what it is. Well, here's a plain english explanation.

The Creative Class strikes again

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I've noted before how much the creative class has produced on the pro-Obama side. Here are two more examples.

From UnclassifiedProducer, here's Wake Up, America:

And this one from schmoyoho.

If you really like it you can download from his myspace page.

Behind blue eyes

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Paul Newman has died but he's left behind such vivid memories for the rest of us.

Salute to a man who lived, loved, shared and gave of himself in a remarkable way.

MSNBC has a wonderful slide show of Newman photos throughout his career.

122 years of British history in a bread ad

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Via Sully, this is pretty cool for a bread company ad and an interesting way to view history.

bring it on, cowardly human!

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I use Flickr for my web photos and a few years ago I stumbled across a photographer named rebekka from Iceland whose work is just stunning. Every now and then I check in to see what new works of art she's posted. Today there was this one.

I'd embed the photo here but evidently Flickr's blogging option and my blog set up are not compatible so you'll just have to go there to look at it.

It's gorgeous.


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I'm on an email list-serv of people who are all connected to ELWA in LIberia and a letter asking for prayer for Sarah Palin has started an interesting exchange. The other thing it did was to prompt one of my childhood friends, actually a peer of my younger siblings, to contact me. We've had an interesting private exchange of letters as well.

The point of this is to say I've spent a lot of time in the last 24 hours thinking about how our childhood roots affect what we do and think as adults and wondering how people who've experienced the same general experience in childhood can develop into people with widely divergent views.

At any rate, I pointed out to my friend that the label Democrat covers a much broader range of people and views than is typically assumed. There are a lot of people who were moderate Republicans who are now Democrats. And the Democratic party stretches a lot farther into the center and even the center-right than many realize these days.

And then I ran into this video from Mississippi's Ronnie Musgrove and it is so touching. And I think that part of the reason that it hit home so strongly with me is that I'd already been pondering how our roots affect us. See what you think.

Early morning at Clear Lake

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I was digging through some old files and found a picture that I had taken in the mid-90's at a campground in northern Wisconsin that our family has enjoyed for many, many years. We were just there this summer and it looks the same. Absolutely gorgeous.

clear lake sunrise 199x-cr550.jpg

And it's so peaceful in the early morning. Though I'll admit, this time we left the 'sleeping in tents' to younger family members and enjoyed our early mornings at the hotel.

Items of Interest

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-- If you've been looking for the right epithet and find yourself saying, "Frak", then thank Glen A. Larson "who first used the faux curse word "frak" in the original "Battlestar Galactica." The word was mostly overlooked back in the '70s series but is working its way into popular vocabulary as SciFi's modern update winds down production." There's more on the history of frak from CNN and how it spread if you're curious.

-- Do black holes and the event horizon pique your interest even a little? Then you'll want to read about the Closest Look Ever At Edge Of A Black Hole from ScienceDaily.

-- Speaking of space and telescopes, here's an update on the race to save the Hubble telescope from Discover Magazine.

-- More from ScienceDaily. Like sports? Participate in them or even just watch them a lot? Believe it or not, you're helping your brain according to one study just released by the University of Chicago.

The research was conducted on hockey players, fans, and people who'd never seen or played the game. It shows, for the first time, that a region of the brain usually associated with planning and controlling actions is activated when players and fans listen to conversations about their sport. The brain boost helps athletes and fans understanding of information about their sport, even though at the time when people are listening to this sport language they have no intention to act. The study shows that the brain may be more flexible in adulthood than previously thought.

-- Opposable thumbs and "junk" DNA -- it's amazing what they can figure out from the study of human DNA and comparison with the DNA of other animals. In this case, what was termed "junk" DNA seems to have some very interesting information buried in it including the signal that tells other genes when to develop opposable thumbs during the growth of embryos.

Put Barney Smith before Smith Barney -- Republicans for Obama

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Discussions of Obama's TV ads and what would make effective TV ads for the campaign, referred to the ordinary people who spoke at the DNC shortly before Obama's address. I think that we missed that part in flipping back and forth to see what the chattering heads were saying so I just finally watched Barney Smith and Pamela Cash-Roper tell their stories as Republicans who are going to vote for Obama. They have powerful stories if you didn't see them.

Watching their stories made me curious about the others who spoke and while I was searching for those I found videos about Republicans who are voting for Obama. This video by Virginia Republicans voting for Obama brings home the whole war and support for the troops issue in a powerfully touching way.

And then there's this one by Republicans in Indiana who gathered together to talk about their personal reasons for choosing to support Obama.

Here's a little more video from that same gathering. Susan Eisenhower called them and did a short conference call with them.

This next video is a discussion by Republicans from Colorado Springs about why they're supporting Barack Obama and it demonstrates the power of families and habits in voting and how they are changed.

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