Summer Travel Season is Here – Run Away!

With Memorial Day behind us, the summer travel season is officially in full swing.  But before you decide to go “all in” on a big trip this summer, view the following video from website, which chronicles the worst of the worst in travel.  It may lead you to decide on planning an epic “staycation” instead.

Remembering How to be American

Our American society has been growing increasingly arrogant and ugly lately in this blogger’s opinion.  One need look no further than our politics, especially on the right, to see levels of disrespect ratcheting up to excruciatingly high levels.  But it goes beyond politics to infect other areas of our society as well.  From the wanton disregard we exhibit for our environment (see: BP oil-pocolypse) to the nasty stories about public figures captured by an insatiable papparazzi and a host of gossip TV programs and publications, our very American-ness seems to be coming somewhat unwound.  Leave it to baseball, the great American pastime to remind us all what grace, sportsmanship and aplomb looks like as many of us have seemingly forgotten.  The other day, Detroit Tiger’s pitcher Armando Galaragga – an immigrant to the US – pitched what should have been only the 21st perfect game in the history of major league ball.  In the last innings, the first base umpire blew a call, saying the runner was safe when replay clearly showed him to be out.  As a result, Galarraga’s perfect game was snatched from him.  Did this humble pitcher curse and spit and fume at the umpire for erroneously stealing his glory away from him?  Not at all.  A true asset to the great American pastime, Galarraga smiled and shrugged it off, maintaining a philosophical coolness about it that clearly demonstrates to baseball’s youngest fans (and really could serve to instruct many adults too) just what good sportsmanship looks like – American style.  Perhaps our leaders, both political and societal, could take a step back from their mendacity, rhetoric and invective to remember that we’re better than the pettiness and arrogance we’ve been exhibiting in the 21st century.  Perhaps this act of good grace can serve as a model for us to find our way back to the country and society we used to be – one that placed people before personalities and the welfare of the group above the enrichment of the individual.  Click here to read the entire uplifting story.

The Speed of Progress

I came across this fascinating article in WIRED magazine that made me feel like a dinosaur.  Sure, I am a “hip” blogger, using the latest technical application to produce my every-other-daily musings here at the Allen School Online Blog.  But I am old enough to remember life as it was before the personal computer and the grueling nature of writing without the incredible convenience of the word processor.  Before we could “process” words, we used to have to physically imprint them onto wood-pulp based sheets of something called “paper”.  To accomplish this task, we used a mechanized, manual, non-laser driven machine known as a typewriter.  There have been two generations now born into a world without knowledge of this ancient writing machine.  I suppose they would view the typewriter through the same purely historical lens as I might view the telegraph machine or the steam engine.  Yet there are still some people for whom the clacking, white out fumes and ink stains of the typewriter era holds a special place in their hearts.  This article in WIRED shines a light on the few remaining typewriter repairmen – the last of a nearly dead breed.  Have a read of this fascinating article and then count your lucky stars that you don’t have to run out and buy some more white out have the all the modern technology at your disposal when it’s time to write your essays.

Horrifying Ingredient List Artfully Presented

You know I have an affinity for whole foods.  Not Whole Foods the grocery store (which we refer to in my house as Whole Paycheck), but rather simple, healthy ingredients.  So much of what our diet consists of is adulterated, processed and downright chemical.  Case in point: the ham & cheese Hotpocket.  Don’t get me wrong, I will mac one of these at 2AM after a night of dancing and a few too many cocktails.  But I may think twice about even eating it on those rare occasions.  Have a look at this artwork, made of the ingredients in a single Hotpocket.

Gulf Oil Disaster: What Do You Think?

Click on image to see larger version

I am not going to reveal my personal feelings with regard to the whole issue of energy policy and what it means to the future of our economy and ecology.  This blog is not the venue for it.  But I do think it would be interesting to use this post as a sort of informal poll of average Americans to see what the prevailing thinking is on this very complex and difficult issue.  Have a look at this photo taken yesterday by a US satellite that shows the still gushing, underwater oil geiser.  Notice how it seems very likely that the oil will be swept out of the Gulf of Mexico by currents that will take the deadly slick around the Florida peninsula and, via the Gulfstream current, throughout the Atlantic.  Then answer the following question in the comments:
“Do you think this disaster – however unfortunate – is part of the price we must pay to continue to pursue our current energy policy which relies predominately on oil and fossil fuels?  –  Or  –  Does this disaster signal that we must immediately discard fossil fuels in favor of developing an entirely new, domestic energy market based on renewable sources like wind and solar – even if it means we must endure a good deal of economic disruption and upheaval in the short term?  In short, do you think it is possible to make this difficult shift in policy before we’ve irreparably harmed the global environment or do you feel that we cannot afford to change our energy policies and must focus instead on making the best of the fossil-fuel driven economic situation?” 
It should be interesting to see how your responses stack up.

Its Never Too Late to Learn

The Great Recession of 2008-2010 has destroyed alot of formerly good-paying jobs.  Many reports indicate that even once employment begins to pick up again, many of the lost jobs are not likely to return.  Either rendered obsolete by automation technology or outsourced to lower cost labor markets overseas, some gigs are gone the way of the Dodo. This may be for some of our readers, the very reason they took the prescient step of seeking retraining in a new field; one that will not meet with the same fate.  For those who may be considering striking out in this bold direction, the task may seem frightening.  “Am I too old to learn a new career skill?”  “How can I choose a new career when my whole adult life I have always been a <insert your lost job title here>?” Well, buck up.  Consider the story of Hazel Soares of San Leandro, CA who just graduated from Mills College at the ripe old age of 93!  Read her story here and then gather up the courage that surely resides in every member of the human race and get going on your new career in medical billing and coding!

Last Ever Space Shuttle Launch Today

Because so much of modern medical science trickles into civilian use through the work done by NASA and the military, I thought it was fitting to spend today’s post saying goodbye to the Space Shuttle program.  Today marked the final launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.  It will be the last launch of the entire shuttle fleet. I remember being in the fifth grade in 1980 when construction began on the first shuttle at the beginning of the program.  It was such an amazing innovation; a reusable launch and reentry vehicle where all prior space vehicles were non-reusable rockets and splash down capsules.  So much excellent scientific advancement has been yielded by this program.  So many advancements in medical understanding too.  It is sad to see the fleet retired.  One wonders what the next step into space will be for the USA?

The Truth About Eggs

How do you like your eggs?  This is a question that for years, I always answered either, “sunny side up” or “over easy” and typically followed by, “with bacon, well done and coffee, black.”  But a few years ago, after landing a stable virtual office job, I moved to the exurbs and having lots of outdoor space and a young son, I decided to raise some chickens for their eggs.  I did this so we would know more about the origins of the foods I was eating and feeding to my family.   Let me tell you, I learned a lot of things I just didn’t know before.   For example, did you know that most fertile chickens lay one egg per day?  Neither did I!  I started off with 12 birds and was collecting a dozen fresh eggs every day!  As a family of three, we couldn’t eat our way out of the problem of having too many eggs.  (We downsized to only 4 birds, but that’s another story).  Follow me over the fold for more egg-citing information including information you can actually use regarding misconceptions about the eggs most of you probably buy in the supermarket. Continue reading…

Flexibility is a Blessing but Structure is Important

Many online students point to the flexibility of online study as one of the main reasons they chose to go to school via the internet.  It is true for folks who juggle work, family and studies, being able to allocate one’s own time and formulate one’s own schedule is invaluable to succeeding in all these important tasks.  Sometimes, it is necessary to get creative with the schedule in order to accommodate the incidental issues that pop up in life.  In these cases, you may find yourself pushing study time into the late night slot, or scheduling family breakfasts instead of family suppers.  This may be a useful ability to have, but recent research seems to indicate that having a more stuctured daily routine is better for your mind and body.  Follow me over the fold for a synopsis and links to the research in question. Continue reading…

Happy Mother’s Day: How Will You Honor Mom?

Writing the blog for the Allen School Online poses a challenge as I must always weigh whether a given topic is going to be relevant to a large enough segment of our readers.  Some very interesting topics are put aside if I determine that they would only be of import to a smaller percentage of readers.  I am always seeking stories that will resonate amongst the largest common denominator.  Alas, every single person who may read this post has one thing in common.  Everyone has a mother.  This weekend as you know (and if you’re just reminded by my humble post then shame on you and hurry up with your planning) is Mother’s Day.  I have always felt that moms deserve more than just a single day each year for all the hard work and sacrifice they make on behalf of their children.  But I guess the holiday all but ensures that even if we forget to honor them all year long, at least one day each year, we take the time to convey the gratitude and love we feel for all our moms have meant to us.  In case there are laggers in the group here – too preoccupied with studies to have devised any plan yet to celebrate – I would like to ask our readers what they plan to do with or for their mothers this sunday.  Share your celebration plans in the comments and help those who may still be seeking a good idea for how best to honor mom.  And to my own mother who, as all good mothers do, proudly seeks out and reads just about everything I write in the public realm let me say, “I love you momma and have a fantastic Mother’s Day!”