Monday, February 28, 2005

A cosmic question

My husband is very interested in space and the stars right now. He's been going outside at night and trying to find various stars and constellations. I've been going outside with him. One thing I have noticed is that the constellations really don't look much like what they are named after. However, I seem to remember seeing on the news a few years ago (ok a few could be as much as 10 years) that someone had figured out what the night sky had looked like a few thousand years ago. When you look at the constellations from that time, they look more like their names' sakes. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find confirmation of this anywhere (anywhere being defined as a five minute google search). Any one know?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Review: KidPix 3

I bought my daughter KidPix 3 sometime ago. (I had an earlier version growing up and just loved it. ) She loves it. She can draw pictures, use stamps, and add music.

When we first got it, she was too small to understand how to work the mouse, so I would draw things for her like flowers and manta rays. Now she can work it herself. She likes the sound effects it has and likes to erase her pictures by blowing them up.

This program is a little buggy. (I noticed that Kidpix 4 is out now, so they may have fixed some of the problems.) Paint brushes and colors don't always change correctly. Also, the box claims you can e-mail your pictures, but you can't really, you have to use their website. It bothers me that you can't save the pictures as jpegs, only KidPix's format. But my daughter doesn't mind, so it's perfect for her.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


I was reading this thread on obedience at
millenial star and noticed one of the comments about being a mother. My church encourages that mothers be home with their children. I agree and so I am home with my children, but it entailed a big adjustment. I remember one of my co-workers telling me that his wife had a hard time when she stopped working to be home with their baby. I was fortunate (sort of) that the company I worked for
went out of business about a month before I was due, so not only did I get some time to adjust to being home by myself, I couldn't go back even if I wanted to.

I've had to learn to enjoy doing things with my children. This isn't to say I don't have my own hobbies, because I do, but I can't devote the time to them I could when I was single. I remember a story in Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" (I think that's the reference). This woman has to work chipping bricks and hates it. Someone recommends she make it interesting for herself, so she learns all she can about bricks, how they're made, etc. She becomes an expert on bricks and becomes highly sought after. This is what I try to do, find aspects of taking care of my children that I enjoy.

Friday, February 18, 2005

On the Joys a computer saavy toddler

My daughter is very good with the computer. I guess it comes from having two parents with computer science degrees. She even has her "own" computer, an old clunker that is a little slower than my husband or I would like. She uses it to play Dora the Explorer at, KidPix, a key banger my husband wrote, and Early Learning Fun (a program my husband played when he was young). She's learned to play all these games by a combination of trial and error and asking mom and dad for help. She prefers Mom and Dad's computer, but we usually don't let her use it.
She can turn on "her" computer, launch firefox, and find the Dora game she wants to play. Now we have an interesting problem. My husband likes to be on the computer when he is home from work, I like to be on the computer during the day to check my mail, etc. When we're on the computer, my daughter wants to be too. The American College of Pediatrics says that kids shouldn't have more than an hour or two of TV and computer combined. So how to keep my daughter off the computer? Maybe I should get one of those programs that kicks kids off the computer after a certain amount of time. I guess I should view this as a chance to review my own computer habits.

The Tofu is Coming

I think I'm going to order a vegetarian cookbook. I'm going to get the Vegetarian Family Cookbook. It got good reviews on and the Family Fun magazine.

My sister is a vegetarian and I never know what to feed her. She ends up eating a lot of rice-a-roni or beans and rice at our house. I'd also like to get used to eating less meat, but I don't know that many recipes. This should help with that. Plus, I can grow vegetables in my garden, I can't do the same with a cow or chicken.

(I have no problems with eating meat, I think it tastes great, but I would like to expand my horizons and eat more vegetables.)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Peaches, millions of peaches

I'm excited for spring. It should be here soon which means I get to prune my peach trees. Here are some good references on pruning.
and here

This year I'm going to prune and thin more aggressively. Last year I didn't and I got a bunch of mediocre peaches.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Oil and Applesauce

My mom told me you can substitute unsweetened apple sauce for oil in a recipe. I tried that today. I made some experimental whole wheat oatmeal raisin muffins. They actually turned out pretty well. I substituted apple sauce for about 3/4 of the oil and the last 1/4 I used oil. I think they'd taste better with butter on them, but that would defeat the purpose. My daughter likes them because they have raisins in them.

I've learned that if you are substituting ingredients to make something healthier, substitute about 1/2 to 3/4 of the amount and leave the rest what it was supposed to be in the first place. That way, the recipe's taste and texture are a lot closer to what you are expecting.

For example, my recipe called for 1/2 c oil. I instead I added 3/8 cups of apple sauce and 1/8 cup of oil. The easy way to do this is to add 1/4 c apple sauce, fill the 1/4 cup about half full with apple sauce and the rest with oil.

Friday, February 11, 2005

New Chinese Gourmet

restaurant: New Chinese Gourmet
type: Chinese buffet and Mongolian BBQ
cost: $6.50 for lunch, 7.99 dinner
what is good: everything. The Mongolian BBQ (like stir fry), sesame chicken, and General tao's chicken is especially good
what isn't so good: dessert. Their deserts are not good, but you can eat a fried biscuit instead.
What to watch out for: They aren't kidding when they say the chilli sauce is hot. You can make not only your Mongolian BBQ too hot for you to eat, but the person's cooked after yours.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Strongbad is funny (sometimes)

I'm not always a fan of, but this Strongbad e-mail is really funny:

Strongbad gets an e-mail with a virus in it. Best quote (after Strongbad's computer is shot): "It's in a better place, Strong Bad. Or rather, it's in the same place, but now it's got a big hole through it!"

How I made a website to sell software

I've finally finished the website I've been working on to sell my network monitoring software, PingerThinger. It's at

PingerThinger is network monitoring software that uses ICMP packets (ping) to monitor IP addresses on a LAN / WAN.

It's been a lot of fun going through the process of getting a program ready to sell. It's taken me about a month and a half to get up a simple website and get PingerThinger ready. Here's what I did (Disclaimer: I've never done this before, so there are probably better ways.)

For the website:
  1. Went to and found a page layout that I liked
  2. Found a color scheme I liked
  3. Played around until I got something that looked OK
  4. Used the gimp the create a simple logo
  5. Bought a domain from
  6. Set up the subdomains
  7. Set up the email for
  8. Read about writing advertisements
  9. Wrote many pages of information including product information, FAQs, about us, downloads, and an introduction page
  10. Got a product testimonial
  11. Spiffed up the product documentation
  12. Took new screen shots to reflect the code changes
  13. uploaded the website
  14. Set up a form for e-mail
  15. Set up a PayPal Premier account
  16. Used PayPal's button creator to create some "Buy it now" buttons
  17. Tested out said buttons
  18. Had various relatives proof read the site
  19. Entered the URL in various search engines.
  20. Put website in wincvs
For the PingerThinger code:
  1. Put it in wincvs
  2. Added in a registration box
  3. Added in a help button that would take users to my website documentation
  4. Fixed some stupid stuff that should have been fixed long ago
  5. Tested, tested, tested
  6. Rebuilt the installer using nullsoft
  7. Generated registration codes, so a user can enter it to register PingerThinger
  1. Wrote e-mail messages for my future customers (e.g. thank you for ordering...)
  2. Set up a separate bank account
  3. Looked at related software to get an idea of pricing.
  4. Looked at posting PingerThinger on or .
  5. Posted on (it may take a while to show up, there are 1200 programs in front of mine, unless I want to pay them)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

They used to think, but now we know...

In college, I took a class about the relationship between science and literature. One thing the professor said really struck me. We were talking about the earth-centric view of the earth and how Keppler changed that. He said that a lot of times, we say something like "they used to think, but now we know..." , but that we need to be careful about it. The paradigms people had in the past worked well and explained things. He talked about how the earth-centric view (the earth is the center of the universe) actually worked pretty well. It only need to be updated a few times in several hundred years.

What got me thinking about this was a blog entry I had read about simple answers. The author mentioned the bible story of how God created the earth in seven days. That that explanation isn't wrong, just simple. The people at the time didn't need more. I think though sometimes when we make explanations like this, we have this implicit assumption that "of course, today we'd completely understand it, unlike those poor ignorant people in the past." The thing is, God hasn't added much else to how he created the earth which means either it isn't really important to our salvation or we aren't as advanced as we think. What a nice kick in the pants :)

Closed Captioning, Cont.

I turned on the T.V. the other day at 4:30 am and channel 2 had closed captioning for the news program. I am so excited.

I wonder if that means that the 4:00 news doesn't have closed captioning, but the 4:30 does or if they've started closed captioning. Either way, I'm thrilled. Next time my son wakes me up at 4:00, I'll have to check.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Wal-mart carts cont.

Today I got a call from the manager of the Wal-mart near by. He was very polite. I had e-mailed about the cart situation mentioned here. He said they were looking into what they could do, other cart systems, etc. but that it was set up at corporate level. At least I've made my voice heard. If enough people mention it, maybe they'll do something about it.

I was impressed that the manager called me back. Come to think of it, the last time I e-mailed a complaint / suggestion to Wal-mart the manager called to let me know they were working on the problem (and they did fix it). I think it was very nice of them, good customer service.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Cart first?

I've recently run into a logistical problem. I have 2 kids, ages 2 1/2 and almost 6 months. The problem: shopping carts at wal-mart. I need a cart that will hold both of them. I guess I could do what my mom did and put the baby in the front and the older child in the back basket, but this is an issue for 2 reasons 1) I buy a lot of stuff at walmart and 2) the little picture in the cart says you shouldn't. Walmart has carts with 2 toddler seats, but these don't have a place to put a baby (my son is too big for the carrier now, so he has to use a car seat). I guess I could use 2 carts, but that sound like way too much work.

I want wal-mart to get the carts like Macey's and Albertson's have. They are shaped like cars with room for 2 toddlers in the front and a basket for a baby in the back. Perfect.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

cell phone websites

Here's a good website for finding a cell phone. I'm using it in my never ending quest for a fair deal. Another site is, but I find their site a little confusing.

Ward Socializing

I was reading a blog post here about how do you socialize in a family ward. I wrote some of my ideas, but I got to thinking about if guys get a lot of socializing in a ward. Women have enrichment, visiting teaching, and usually there's a playgroup in the ward. But guys don't seem to have as much. Maybe they don't need it, I don't know. Also, I guess most men work outside the home and have their friends at work, but it seems that it would be important for them to have friends in the ward too.