Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sleep Study

Both Rachel and I have noticed how I've been unable to get through the day without a nap. We'd also noticed that, even after 10 hours in bed, I was essentially exhausted upon waking up in the morning. What gives? This isn't normal, is it?

Well, a night at the local Sleep Study Clinic revealed that I was indeed having a hard time getting any rest, despite the amount of sleep I was getting. The testing showed that I experienced an average of 30-40 apneas per hour and 5-8 restless leg motions per hour. The clinician said it was a wonder I was able to get up in the morning, since a night's worth of sleep only brought me about 3 hours of rest compared to a normal person.

This might also explain why I had such long and difficult recoveries from both my pacemaker surgery and from the last couple colds & infections I got. My body had always given me stellar recovery, but I always slept a lot when I needed to recover. It my sleep now doesn't provide true rest, that would explain why I'm not bouncing back the way I used to.

The next step is to investigate my options. The most common remedy is a CPAP, a special machine that forces air in through your nasal passages in such a way that you don't snore or have apneas. However, CPAPs are heavy machines and are not very mobile. That's hardly the best solution for someone who has to travel a lot. So I'm also checking out other alternatives like surgery and oral appliances. None of them sound like fun, but I'm fed up with being tired all the time. Unless the surgery has a low success rate, I'm leaning in that direction.


Thursday, May 07, 2009


Great Sites to Add to Your Favorites

In no particular order ...

Bartleby Reference: combines the best of both contemporary and classic reference works into the most comprehensive public reference library ever published on the web.

How Cell Phones Work: Have you ever wondered how a cell phone works? What makes it different from a regular phone? What do all those terms like PCS, GSM, CDMA and TDMA mean? This HowStuffWorks discusses the technology behind cell phones so that you can see how amazing they really are. If you are thinking about buying a cell phone, be sure to check out How Buying a Cell Phone Works to learn what you should know before making a purchase.

Disaster Preparation and Recovery: Preparing for a disaster can reduce the fear, anxiety and losses that disasters cause. A disaster can be a natural disaster, like a hurricane or tornado. It might also be man-made, like a terrorist attack or chemical spill. You should know the risks and danger signs of different types of disasters. You should also have a disaster plan. Be ready to evacuate your home, and know how to treat basic medical problems. Make sure you have the insurance you need, including special types, like flood insurance.

The Old Farmer's Almanac: Since 1792, The Old Farmer's Almanac has published useful information for people in all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise tables and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and forecasts for those who don't like the question of weather left up in the air.

Prehistoric Time Line: Humans have walked the Earth for 190,000 years, a mere blip in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history. A lot has happened in that time. Earth formed and oxygen levels rose in the foundational years of the Precambrian. The productive Paleozoic era gave rise to hard-shelled organisms, vertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth in the mighty Mesozoic. And 64 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, modern humans emerged in the Cenozoic era. The planet has seen an incredible series of changes - discover them for yourself.

All Acronyms: is a free website with more than 600,000 published abbreviations. Initially, the web site was developed, supported and privately used by a group of acronym enthusiasts. The main purpose of the site is to have a convenient lookup tool for those who need to quickly find an acronym definition.

Discovery Channel: Discovery Channel online lets you explore science, history, space, tech, sharks, and more, with videos and news, plus exclusives on your favorite TV shows.

Gold Price: The No. 1 current gold price site for fast loading live gold price charts in ounces, grams and kilos in 23 major currencies plus advice on how to buy gold.

How Web Pages Work: Have you ever wondered how a Web page works? Have you ever wanted to create your own Web page, complete with titles and text and graphic icons? Have you ever heard the word "HTML" and wondered what it means? This HowStuffWorks site looks at the art and science of Web pages and experiment with a number of techniques that you can try out on your own machine today. Site offers a tool that lets you try out HTML and view it instantly. As it turns out, Web page creation is both incredibly easy and a lot of fun, and totally within your reach. By the time you finish reading this article, you will be ready to start assembling your own.

OpenCongress: OpenCongress brings together official government information with news and blog coverage to give you the real story behind what's happening in Congress. OpenCongress is a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource with a mission to help make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement. OpenCongress is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation.

DIY Network: Learn how to 'do it yourself' on the DIY Network, with shows covering auto repair, crafts, gardening, hobbies, home building, home improvement, living tips, and woodworking.

2009 Presidential Inauguration: Welcome to the District of Columbia's 2009 Presidential Inauguration website. This site will assist you in finding valuable information about the events surrounding the 56th Presidential Inauguration, including lodging information, transportation, security measures and closures.

Frontline: News War
"In a four-hour special, News War, Frontline examines the political, cultural, legal, and economic forces challenging the news media today and how the press has reacted in turn. Through interviews with key figures in print, broadcast and electronic media over the past four decades -- and with unequaled, behind-the-scenes access to some of today's most important news organizations, Frontline traces the recent history of American journalism, from the Nixon administration's attacks on the media to the post-Watergate popularity of the press, to the new challenges presented by the war on terror and other global forces now changing -- and challenging -- the role of the press in our society."

CBS News: Disaster Links: This site by CBS News provides links to hundreds of disaster links for quick reference. State information resource links to state homepage, symbols, flags, maps, constitutions, representatives, songs, birds, flowers, trees and much more.

US Airways Plane Crashes Into Hudson River: Google News coverage of the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 on January 15, 2009. Related sites:
- How Birds Can Down a Jet Airplane
- Latest Crash Photos
- How to Survive a Plane Crash
- History of Aircraft Crashes.

The American Presidency Project: "The American Presidency Project contains the most comprehensive collection of resources pertaining to the study of the President of the United States. Compiled by John Woolley and Gerhard Peters at the University of California."

I Do Solemnly Swear . . . Presidential Inaugurations: "Approximately 400 items or 2,000 digital files from each of the 54 inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to George W. Bush's inauguration of 2001. This presentation includes diaries and letters of presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music." This site is from the Library of Congress American Memory Collection.

Presidential Tax Returns: Individual income tax returns - including those of public figures - are private information, protected by law from unauthorized disclosure. Indeed, the Internal Revenue Service is barred from releasing any taxpayer information whatsoever, except to authorized agencies and individuals. Like all other citizens, U.S. presidents enjoy this protection of their privacy. Since the early 1970s, however, most presidents have chosen to release their returns publicly. In the hope of making this information more widely available, the Tax History Project at Tax Analysts has compiled an archive of presidential tax returns.

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English: A vigorous assessment of how our language is best written and spoken and how we can use it most effectively, this guide is the ideal handbook of language etiquette: friendly, sensible, reliable, and fun to read. Its 6,500 entries contain thousands of examples, both descriptive and prescriptive, and feature 4,300 hyperlinked cross-references.

CIA: The World Factbook: The U.S. government's complete geographical handbook, featuring 267 full-color maps and flags of all nations. Each country profile tracks such demographics as population, ethnicity and literacy rates, as well as political, geographical and economic data. Country information has been updated as of 5 March 2009. Economic data now includes 2008 estimates where available.

Library of Congress: Portals to the World Portals to the World contains selective links providing authoritative, in-depth information about the nations and other areas of the world. They are arranged by country or area with the links for each sorted into a wide range of broad categories. National Archives and Records Administration The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever. Those valuable records are preserved and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family's history, need to prove a veteran's military service, or are researching an historical topic that interests you.

FDA: Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts This page from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, includes the most significant product recalls, withdrawals, and safety alerts in the last 60 days, based on the extent of distribution and the degree of health risk. Related site: FDA Home Page.

Annual Reports Service Welcome to The Annual Reports Service, a FREE Service provided by PrecisionIR for the readers of Yahoo! Finance. The Annual Reports Service provides you with quick access to annual reports and other financial reports of companies.

American FactFinder Your source for population, housing, economic, and geographic data including latest population estimates.

Encyclopedia of Life The Encyclopedia of Life is an ambitious project to organize and make available via the Internet virtually all information about life present on Earth. At its heart lies a series of Web sites - one for each of the approximately 1.8 million known species. Each site is constantly evolving and features dynamically synthesized content ranging from historical literature and biological descriptions to stunning images, videos and distribution maps.

The Alaska Pipeline The Alaska Pipeline carries gas from Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Circle to Valdez on Alaska's south coast. This site is a companion piece to the Public Broadcast special called The Alaska Pipeline. The site offers insights into topics in American history including large-scale engineering projects, natural resource management, the American wilderness, life in Alaska, Native American land claims, energy sources and policy, infrastructure planning and development, and more. Related site: The Alyeska Pipeline.

100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English Here are the 100 words most often mispronounced English words ('mispronunciation' among them). There are spelling rules in English even if they are difficult to understand, so pronouncing a word correctly usually does help you spell it correctly.

Understanding Your Telephone Bill Consumers are often confused by the various charges and items on their monthly telephone bills. The Federal Communications Commission's Truth-in-Billing rules require telephone companies to provide clear, non-misleading, plain language in describing services for which you are being billed. Because one telephone company, usually your local telephone company, may include charges you incurred for another company's service on your bill, the company sending you the bill must identify the service provider associated with each charge.

HowStuffWorks: YouTube In February 2005, three PayPal employees launched the beta test version of a Web site called YouTube. They designed the site to let people share videos with the rest of the world. In this article, you'll explore YouTube channels and communities and learn YouTube tricks. Site also examines the YouTube video player, tours YouTube's main pages and explains the difference between the different types of YouTube accounts.

Sleep Disorders This site by the National Institutes of Health, provides current and reliable information on sleep disorders: latest news, overviews, treatment options, and other related online resources.

How Internet Search Engines Work Today, a top search engine will index hundreds of millions of pages, and respond to tens of millions of queries per day. In this How Stuff Works article, you learn how these major tasks are performed, and how Internet search engines put the pieces together in order to let you find the information you need on the Web.

Exploratorium: the museum of science, art and human perception Online since 1993, the Exploratorium was one of the first science museums to build a site on the World Wide Web. Our site now contains over 18 thousand award-winning Web pages exploring hundreds of different topics.

Frontline: Inside the Meltdown "Investigating how the economy went so bad so fast and what Bernanke and Paulson didn't see, couldn't stop and weren't able to fix. Web site companion to Frontline special produced by PBS." is your free "one-stop shop" with instant information on over 4 million topics. We deliver useful answers in a snap. Look up any word or phrase for the best definition or explanation on the Web. Not lists of links... just the information you're looking for.

The Official U.S. Time This public service is cooperatively provided by the two time agencies of the United States: a Department of Commerce agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and its military counterpart, the U. S. Naval Observatory. Readings from the clocks of these agencies contribute to world time, called Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time maintained by both agencies should never differ by more than 0.000 0001 seconds from UTC.

NASA Deep Space Network The NASA Deep Space Network is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.

Audubon Society Home page of the National Audubon Society. Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

Earth Image of the Day Welcome to the Image Section of the MODIS Web, where you can view the very latest in MODIS imagery as well as search an image collection that has been growing ever since MODIS first started acquiring data in February of 2000. The MODIS Image of the Day section highlights a new MODIS image every day. After a week, Images of the Day become part of the Image Gallery, which is powered by NASA's Visible Earth image archive. The Image Gallery opens in a new browser window, where you can preview and search over 4500 archived MODIS images.

Medline Plus The National Library of Medicine's authoritative and current database of health information for consumers and health professionals. Coverage includes conditions and diseases, drug information, dictionaries, physician and healthcare directories, and links to other medical resources.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.

U.S. ZIP Code Lookup Look up postal abbreviations, search for ZIP codes, and browse other information about the U.S. Postal Service.

National Atlas of the United States You've seen other atlases. They're typically big books of paper maps. The pages in this atlas are here on the Internet whenever you need them. This is a new portrayal of America in maps. We use new technologies, but we honor traditions of accuracy, reliability, and innovation. You've found the single best Federal source for national maps and geographic information on the Web. The people and places of the United States are here.

The White House Is Open For Questions President Barack Obama is planning an online town hall-style meeting on the White House's Web site March 26, 2009. The White House says the president will answer questions about the economy and other topics. Visitors to this Web site can determine what questions the president will answer.

HubbleSite Public education site from the Space Telescope Science Institute, featuring a showcase gallery of images, the latest news, technical facts and figures, and more. Related site: Official Site: Hubble Space Telescope.

BBC: Science and Nature The best of BBC Science and Nature, from TV and radio, to the web and beyond. Take a tour from the smallest atoms, to the largest whales and the most ferocious dinosaurs. Travel from the bottom of the ocean to the furthest stars.

THOMAS: Legislative Information on the Internet This service of the Library of Congress, features information on current legislation, the Congressional Record, links to Committee reports, and more.

Protect Yourself from the Conficker Computer Worm The Conficker worm is a computer worm that can infect your computer and spread itself to other computers across a network automatically, without human interaction. Most antivirus software could detect and block the Conficker worm, so if you have updated antivirus software on your computer, you are at a much lower risk of being infected by the Conficker worm. Information from Microsoft Security for Home Computer Users.

April Fools' Day Facts: Behind the Laughs "Learn about the origin of April Fools' Day, a yearly ritual for pranksters to try out their best jokes and how reality-based humor may get the last laugh." A National Geographic web site. Related site: April Fools' Special: History's Hoaxes.

Social Security Death Index The Social Security Administration Death Master File contains information on over eighty million deceased individuals with United States social security numbers whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. Birth years for the individuals listed range from 1875 to last year. Information in these records includes name, birth date, death date, and last known residence.

Cybertimes Navigator For more than 10 years, the Newsroom Navigator has been used by New York Times reporters and editors as the starting point for their forays onto the Web. Its primary intent is to give the news staff a solid starting point for a wide range of journalistic functions without forcing all of them to spend time wandering around to find a useful set of links of their own.

State of the Birds: 2009 Report "The first ever comprehensive report on bird populations in the United States, showing that nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to habitat loss, invasive species, and other threats." Site by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

PBS: Make 'Em Laugh Companion website to the PBS special "Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America," a six-hour comedy epic showcasing the most hilarious men, women, and moments in American entertainment and why they made us laugh. Hosted by America's favorite funnyman, Billy Crystal, the documentary explores the currents of American comedy throughout a century of social and political change, illuminating how comedy has tackled and poked fun at our political system, race relations, gender issues, and the prevailing American standards and taboos in everyday life.

Internet Crime Complaint Center Reports of Internet-based crime jumped 33 percent in 2008, according to a group that monitors web-based fraud. The Internet Crime Complaint Center said in its annual report released March 30, 2009, that it received more than 275,000 complaints last year, up from about 207,000 the year before. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. This site allows you to file a complaint with IC3. IC3 accepts online Internet crime complaints from either the person who believes they were defrauded or from a third party to the complainant.

Urban Legends Reference Pages The definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. 25 Hottest Urban Legends.

American Library Association: Great Web Sites for Kids Selected site for parents and children from the American Library Association.

EarthCam is the leading network of live webcams and, as the premier webcam portal, offers the most comprehensive search engine of webcams from around the world. EarthCam delivers real time live images of some of the world's most interesting and unique views and events. The portal offers the most extensive database allowing users to search by keyword or simply browse through the categories and subcategories. Users can see what is happening around the world right now -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

eHow: How To Do Just About Everything The eHow database of over 250,000 articles can help you. It's the world's most popular place to find clear instructions on how to do just about everything. Every month, over 17 million people visit our site. We have more than 180,000 articles that are professionally written with clear and concise directions on how to do things. We also have a rapidly growing library of articles created by eHow's members.

FDIC: Failed Bank List The FDIC is often appointed as receiver for failed banks. This page contains useful information for the customers and vendors of these banks. This includes information on the acquiring bank (if applicable), how your accounts and loans are affected, and how vendors can file claims against the receivership.

A Guide to Getting Through Tough Economic Times This guide by the US Department of Health and Human Services, provides practical advice on how to deal with the effects financial difficulties can have on your physical and mental health -- it covers: Possible health risks; Warning signs; Managing stress; Getting help; Other steps you can take. When you're tired of wasting money and time due to phone systems that require you to press 10 or more options in order to reach a real person and spending many minutes or even hours on hold, consult the GetHuman database of secret phone numbers and codes that immediately get an actual, live person on the line for customer service at nearly 1000 major companies.

Epicurious Epicurious is divided into eight main sections: Recipes, Features, Cooking, Drinking, Restaurants, Shop, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet. Click on any of those names in the top navigation bar and you will come to an Index page, which shows you what is in each section. Once you are in a specific section, a second set of links appears just below the top navigation bar, allowing you to quickly access the stories in that section.

MedlinePlus: Trusted Health Information for You MedlinePlus will direct you to information to help answer health questions. MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. Preformulated MEDLINE searches are included in MedlinePlus and give easy access to medical journal articles. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news.

Science Bulletins Current research about the natural world from the American Museum of Natural History. Site contains over 17,000 federal, state, and local governmental links.

Social Security Benefit Calculator Use any of the calculators on this Social Security site to estimate your potential benefit amounts using different retirement dates and levels of future earnings. The calculators will show your retirement benefits as well as disability and survivor benefit amounts if you should become disabled or die.

National Geographic: Visions of Earth Each month, National Geographic magazine features breathtaking photographs in Visions of Earth. Browse through visions of the world as seen through a photographer's eye.

The State of the News Media "The State of the News Media 2009 is the sixth edition of our annual report on the health and status of American journalism. Our goals are to take stock of the revolution occurring in how Americans get information and provide a resource for citizens, journalists and researchers to make their own assessments. This report is the work of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpolitical, nonpartisan research institute."


Wednesday, May 06, 2009



• The Federal Office of Business Activity and Productivity estimates that $502 million dollars are lost each year due to reduced productivity due to April Fool's Day pranks. When asked, the bureau declined to estimate how much it had cost to arrive at that estimate.

• As of 2008, no fewer than 84 different publicly funded institutes of higher learning had federally-funded programs to monitor so-called "pork barrel" spending.

• In the United States, approximately 3.431 percent of federal employees work on any given federal holiday.

• In an average year, 169 lawsuits are filed in Federal court alleging that having Christmas as a Federal Holiday is a violation of the separation of church and state.

• In 2006, there were 263 different federal offices and agencies in the United States that turned a profit.

• Information about poet e. e. cummings is blocked by nearly two-thirds of public school web filters.

• Due to his posthumous conviction for dueling, Alexander Hamilton is the only felon to have appeared on U.S. currency.

• Ironically, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was never officially baptized.

• If just the ink in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were spread out, it would be enough to cover a football field.• The amount of electricity used to inform everyone (via email, TV, etc.) about "Earth Hour" on March 28, 2009 was nearly twelve times as much as the expected savings.


Friday, May 01, 2009


Easter Morning

The girls in their Easter dresses just before church on Easter morning. From left to right, Kaylee, Savannah, Ava, Anna, and Katie.

We've had a long standing tradition with the Easter Bunny. When he comes to our house, not only does he hide the kids' Easter Baskets, but he also leaves riddles that they have to solve to find their baskets. In previous years, each of the kids would have to solve a riddle that takes them to the next clue, solve that riddle which in turn takes them to the next clue, and so on until the find their baskets.

This year, the Easter Bunny changed things up. He didn't tell us why, but I suspect that he changed things a bit to better accommodate a house full of kids. This year, the Easter Bunny appointed Emily to be the master of ceremonies for the basket hunt. Ellie, who was staying with us at the time, was the official videographer of the event and got it all recorded with the camcorder.

Emily had a special envelope that had a rhyming riddle that was also a madlib. The kids had to decipher the madlib and then solve the riddle to get even the first clue about where their Easter baskets might be. However, the Easter Bunny threw in an extra curve. In order to find out the words that could be used for the madlib, the kids had to act out the clue to all the others in a game of charades. Once they got it right, the master of ceremonies (i.e. Emily) was able to give the next kid a clue to act out until all the kids had acted out all of the clue words for the madlibs.

The girls had a ton of fun playing the games of charades and, on top of that, had another dose of fun trying to solve the madlib riddle which led them to the hiding place of their Easter baskets.

All of the kids got a load of candy, a DVD, and a CD that they'd been wanting. I had to explain to the girls that this was quite a huge haul compared to what the Easter Bunny used to bring to my house when I was a kid. I think they tossed my little speech into the same mental drawer as the "I had to walk uphill to school, both ways, in the snow..." speech that my parents used to give me.

The girls also got to do a fun Easter egg hunt at church, where they had a good time finding a mountain of eggs.

Why don't I have any pictures of Anna here?!? I dunno. Still, they're cute!




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