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Home » Archive for January 2009

The story of a micro-loan

Posted on January 14th 2009 by Amy in Personal

Back in December, CafePress (CP) forum moderators and CafePress Voice (CPV) members formed a giving team at and challenged the CP community to a fund-off. A team of shopkeepers and a team of CP employees took up the challenge. Kiva is a truly wonderful organization, helping provide loans made by anyone in the world to entrepreneurs who might otherwise not be able to get a loan. This video explains the Kiva concept by showing what happens when a team of accountants in London makes a $25 loan to someone in Cambodia.

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Loan
from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

We were proud to join the shopkeeper team, Butterscotch Brigade.

How popular is your name?

Posted on January 13th 2009 by Amy in Funny, Life in America

I came across this fun site called Poke My Name the other day. You can enter any name and see how popular it is in the United States. During my entire school career, even when I was in grade school classes of just 12 total students, there was always at least one other Amy in my class. And I never knew anyone named Arthur until I turned 26. So I was very surprised to find that Amy is less popular a name than Arthur! More »

Funny Foto Friday: Sniffing Strictly Prohibited!

Posted on January 9th 2009 by Arthur in Foto Friday, Funny, Travel

In March 2006 we visited the beautiful Junagarh fort in Bikaner on our trip through Rajasthan. Somewhere in the large complex, which was built by Raja Rai Singh in 1588, we found a lone basil plant sitting on a small table in the middle of a large empty room. In India, holy basil, which is called Tulsi, has been known for thousands of years for its healing and medicinal values. It is therefore an important symbol in the Hindu religious tradition, and obviously they don’t want passing tourists to touch or sniff this holy plant. Still, I thought that the sign with the plant was rather funny: “Please do not touch basilicum & don’t sniff”. First time I saw a sign telling me not to sniff something.

"Please do not touch basilicum & don't sniff"

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Woodstock Bed and Breakfast from Groundhog Day

Posted on January 7th 2009 by Arthur in Illinois, Movies

The movie Groundhog Day (1993) with Bill Murray is one of my favorite movies. It was filmed in the town of Woodstock IL, just a half hour from where we’re living. Groundhog Day is an annual holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada on February 2nd in which a groundhog, also known as a woodchuck or marmot, emerges from its burrow to predict the weather. If the groundhog sees its shadow it will retreat into its burrow and winter will continue for 6 more weeks. This traditional event takes place in several towns across the USA and Canada, but the most famous groundhog is of course Punxsutawney Phil. The movie takes place in the town of Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania, but was actually filmed in Woodstock.


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Craziest Thing I’ve Ever Seen: Banjo Surgery

Posted on January 6th 2009 by Arthur in Craziest Things I've Ever Seen, Science & technology, Videos

Banjo player Eddie Adcock recently underwent brain surgery to fix a tremor in his right hand that prevented him from playing his famous bluegrass music. During the procedure Eddie was awake and continued to play the banjo to help doctors navigate to the exact spot in his brain that would restore his talent. The surgeon poked different spots inside his brains and he would say if he could play the banjo better or worse. Reminds me of getting an eye exam, except the eye doctor doesn’t poke around in my brains to get my prescription!!

After the tests the surgeon implanted a remote-controlled electrode at the spot to stimulate the brain to improve his tremors. This clip from ABC’s Good Morning America shows Eddie Adcock trying to write and play the banjo with the electrode turned off and then on. The improvement is incredible. This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!

Deep Freeze

Posted on January 5th 2009 by Arthur in Photos, Weather

We have another cold front coming in here in the next few days, with several snow showers. Also in my native country of the Netherlands they are having very low temperatures these days. There’s a great post on The Big Picture today of all things frozen around the world, which includes this nice picture of Dutch skaters:

Skating in the Netherlands

Finished Season 1 of Stargate SG1

Posted on January 5th 2009 by Arthur in Television

I’ve watched Stargate Atlantis since it started in 2004 (big fan) and I also very much enjoyed the Stargate movie from 1994 with Kurt Russell … but somehow I never got into Stargate SG1. I’ve wanted to start watching SG1 for a while, but I’d have to start from the beginning and 10 seasons were very intimidating. Throughout December Amazon had some incredible deals, including (for one day only) all 10 seasons of SG1 for only $99 (marked down from $329). I couldn’t resist this awesome deal and ordered the set. Next week is Atlantis’ final episode (boo-hoo!), so this gives me a chance to catch up with SG1 until the third series starts this summer.

SG1 complete series boxset

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Where to go Birding in the Netherlands

Posted on January 3rd 2009 by Arthur in Birds, Life in Holland, Nature

Here is a list of my five favorite birdwatching places in the Netherlands and some of my favorite photos of birds that we’ve seen. My top 5 birding locations are:

  1. Lepelaarplassen, Flevoland
  2. De Muy & De Petten on Texel, Noord Holland
  3. Starrevaart in Leidschendam, Zuid Holland
  4. Zuidpier in IJmuiden, Zuid Holland
  5. De Putten, Noord Holland

Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher near De Lepelaarshut
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Our new Wingscapes Birdcam

Posted on January 2nd 2009 by Amy in Birds

For Christmas I got a Wingscapes Birdcam from Santa. It’s a weather-resistant outdoor camera designed to take photos and videos of birds. I’ve had it take photos for the last couple of days and the backyard Birdcam bird count is up to twelve species. Here are some of the photos we’ve gotten so far: Blue Jay; American Tree Sparrow; Mourning Dove.

Blue Jay

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Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Posted on January 1st 2009 by Arthur in Birds, Chicago, Nature

Yesterday we drove down to Lincoln Park in Chicago and briefly visited the Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary. We had heard that a Great Horned Owl had been sighted there the last few days so we went to have a look for it. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it, but it was still nice to see the bird sanctuary.

Lincoln Park 017 (31-Dec).jpg

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