Pluto is a Planet Again … in Illinois

Posted by Arthur in Illinois, Space

Despite the State of Illinois’ deficit of nearly $9 Billion and a recession with record unemployment, the Illinois Senate has apparently plenty of spare time to vote on trivial issues such as whether or not to make Pluto a full planet again. A bill that was unanimously-approved by the ninety-sixth general assembly of the state of Illinois declares that as Pluto passes overhead through Illinois’ night skies (whatever that means?!), it be reestablished with full planetary status.

Uh, shouldn’t they leave this sort of astronomy stuff to the astronomers? Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet in 2006 after the International Astronomical Union defined the term “planet” for the first time and reclassified Pluto as a member of the new category of dwarf planets along with Eris and Ceres.

Solar System
Source: IAU

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March 7th 2009 | 1:21 pm CET | No Comments »

Do you Twitter?

Posted by Amy in Websites & Tools

Twitter has been in the news a lot lately. From stranded mountaineers using Twitter to audience members tweeting from the floor during President Obama’s address to Congress, the media seems caught up in a Twitter frenzy. I first remember hearing about Twitter in the media when a student in Egypt tweeted his way out of jail. Twitter also came up during the Mumbai terrorist attacks and eye-witness photos from the Miracle on the Hudson flashed through Twitter like lightening.
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March 6th 2009 | 2:13 pm CET | No Comments »

Colbert Wags Finger at God for being Dutch

Posted by Arthur in Funny, Television

Last night on The Colbert Report, Stephen wagged his finger at God for being Dutch! Apparently, a Dutch artist named Johan van der Dong set up a phone line in Holland that you can use to leave messages to God. The number of God’s Hotline is +31644244901 and will be up for the next half year for people to call and leave a message. Stephen believes that the number is for atheists who do not have the nerve to break up with God in person.

Fast foward to 3:05 in the following video to see the segment:

March 6th 2009 | 1:37 pm CET | No Comments »

Craziest Thing I’ve Ever Seen: DIY Bacon

Posted by Arthur in Craziest Things I've Ever Seen, Food

In this video from ScienCentral, chef Elliot Prag of the Natural Gourmet Institute shows how easy it is to make your own vegetarian bacon. Just add some salt and olive oil to shitake mushrooms, put them in the oven and voilĂ : pig-friendly bacon! Great to toss in a salad for some extra taste. We recently tried the Veggie Bacon Strips from Morningstar in a BLT and were pleasantly surprised by its strong bacon taste. I am going to have to try these mushrooms too, it looks so simple.

March 6th 2009 | 9:57 am CET | No Comments »

Foto Friday: Chott el Djerid

Posted by Arthur in Foto Friday, Travel

Today’s photo is from our visit to the largest salt lake in the Sahara, the Chott el Djerid in Tunisia. A road of 60 km crosses this 7,000 km2 salt pan. We were passed by hundreds of white Land Rovers racing south to take tourists on desert safaris when we drove this road from Tozeur to Kebili. There were some rest stops with refreshments along the way and at one of these places they had left this row boat.


March 6th 2009 | 8:50 am CET | No Comments »

Welcome Chickadees

Posted by Arthur in Birds

It’s been slow at our bird feeders since we moved in here. In the weeks since we put them up we’ve only had two different birds visit our feeders: one goldfinch and a few dark-eyed juncos. Whoop-te-do! So you can imagine our delight when we saw two Black-capped Chickadees at our feeders this morning. That makes three different birds so far. We’re getting there.

Chickadee 3

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March 3rd 2009 | 9:42 am CET | No Comments »

Short Visit to Nippersink Forest Preserve

Posted by Arthur in Forest Preserves, Illinois, Nature

Yesterday we went to Nippersink Forest Preserve for a walk, which was rather unpleasant because of the freezing wind. We saw only two other people there that were crazy enough to be outside in the cold. We made only a quick walk around the lake before our faces froze off but did see most of the area and trails. It seems like a nice place that we’ll need to check out further in the spring, when it’s warmer.

Here’s a panorama photo (16 pictures stitched together with Windows Live Photo Gallery) from a lookout point at the south side of the park:

Nippersink Panorama Photo

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March 2nd 2009 | 11:36 pm CET | No Comments »

Foto Friday: Little Bee-eater

Posted by Arthur in Birds, Foto Friday

We saw this Little Bee-eater at Kotu Creek in The Gambia. He was flying around catching bees and kept returning to the same place on this branch. Every few minutes he would get a bee and hit it repeatedly against the branch to remove the sting. Then when the bee wasn’t moving anymore he would squeeze venom out before swallowing it. You can actually see a little squirt of venom come out of the bee. We watched this colorful little guy and some of his friends do this over and over again.

Little Bee-eater

February 27th 2009 | 10:51 am CET | No Comments »

My Bad Experience with UK2 Web Hosting

Posted by Arthur in Personal, Websites & Tools

Over one year ago, at the beginning of 2008, I signed up for a web hosting package at UK2. I needed an SSL certificate which they offered with a special package, so I ordered that too. I had lots of issues with their service and the SSL never worked. After dozens of emails with the UK2 support desk I decided to get my money back and I canceled the service. I thought that that was it. Fast forward to this year. In January 2009 I suddenly received an invoice from UK2 of £54 for a website I never heard of, a real estate site. I sent UK2 an email about the mistake but never got a reply. Several days later the amount was taken off my credit card. I did a whois on the domain and found an address in London with my email address! Obviously UK2 had mixed up my details with another customer. More »

February 26th 2009 | 5:27 pm CET | No Comments »

First Backyard Bird

Posted by Arthur in Birds, Illinois, Nature

We moved into our new digs in Round Lake Beach ten days ago and hadn’t seen a single bird in our backyard. All that changed today when we saw a goldfinch on one of two bird feeders that we put up five days ago.


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February 22nd 2009 | 12:33 pm CET | No Comments »