Wednesday, 24 December 2008
By Dave Demerjian December 23, 2008 | 5:05:28 PM
Santa Claus may be able to fly around the world in a sleigh, but even he can't cross North American airspace without NORAD knowing about it.
For more than 50 years, the joint American-Canadian air command that safeguards the continent against aerial attack has used its sophisticated tracking technology to follow Kris Kringle's journeyand provide real-time updates on his location to children worldwide.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command gave us a rundown of how it does the job.
The North Warning System, a network of 47 radars strung across the continent's northernmost frontier, tells NORAD when St. Nick takes off from the North Pole. Infrared satellites track the jolly old elf's flight path once he's airborne. "The satellites actually pick up an infrared signature from Rudolph's nose," Navy Lt. Desmond James told us.
Once Santa touches down, a little-known network of surveillance cameras called "Santa Cam" transmit images of St. Nick making deliveries. The global network went online 10 years ago, and NORAD officials swear it is used only on Christmas Eve. Four C-18 fighter jets escort Santa through Canada before handing the job over to F-16s as the sleigh enters American airspace. Canadian Air Force Capt. Matthew Maurice is among the pilots assigned to the job.
"He's looking forward to the responsibility of making sure Santa makes it through Canadian airspace," the pilot's mother told the Burlington Post. “He’s busy making preparations. They’re training on a daily basis to handle whatever comes up.”
Tracking Kris Kringle became part of NORAD's mission in 1955, when the organization was called the Continental Air Defense Command and Col. Harry Shoup was the man in charge. Sears-Roebuck had put an ad in the local paper listing Santa's phone number, but the number was misprinted. Instead of ringing the department store, it rang CONRAD's ops center. Shoup got the first call, and rather than being a Scrooge, he told the tyke, "Let me check the radar."
A tradition was born. (You can hear Shoup talk about the experience here.)
In the half century since, NORAD has expanded and updated the program, which provides updates in seven languages. "We added the online component ten years ago," James says. "And today, Google software outputs images from the Santa Cams, and Google Maps and Google Earth track his trajectory."
These days, kids can track Santa's progress online, by cellphone or Blackberry and even by Twitter. Volunteers have been doing most of the work for a few years now, and the whole thing is funded largely through corporate donations. Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers answered 94,743 phone calls and replied to 10,326 e-mails from kids around the world. Another 11 million people visited the noradsanta.org Web site.
Track Santa's progress by calling 1-877-HINORAD, sending an email to email@example.com or by logging on to noradsanta.org. NORAD says its intelligence indicates Santa will be departing the North Pole at 6 p.m. EST.
Saturday, 20 December 2008
If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.
If Matt, Dave and Bill go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.
When the bill arrives, Matt, Dave and Bill will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.
A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.
A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.
A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.
Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.
Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favourite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!
Friday, 19 December 2008
As the 2010 retirement of the space shuttles Discovery, Atlantis, and
Endeavor draws near, NASA this week released proposed post retirement plans
for several of the space shuttles.
The initial release was designed to gauge
interest from potential buyers who would be willing and able to put the
retired ships on display.
Intended for schools, science museums, and other
organizations that might be interested in showcasing one of the three
remaining shuttles, the proposal contains what would be a prohibitive price
for most organizations.
NASA estimates that it will cost around $42 million
dollars to get the shuttle ready for it's final destination. It is
important to note that the $42 million will only get the shuttle to the
closest major airport, shipping fees beyond that will cost extra, most
likely a lot extra, as the space shuttle "will not be disassembled for
transportation or storage." One of the shuttles appears destined for the
Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, but the other two are up for grabs. If
$42 million is too much for some, NASA is also offering some of the main
shuttle engines for the bargain prices of $400,000 and $800,000, and no,
this doesn't include shipping.
From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2008.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Everyone knows that you wear a hat in winter to keep in the body heat. Wrong--a new study reported in the British Medical Journal claims that keeping one part of the body covered has just as much effect as covering any other. So when it is cold outside, wrap up, but wearing a hat won't make a big difference.
And the one about cutting back on the sugar for the children because it makes them hyper-active? This seems to be a figment of parents' imagination--the study says that tests show that there is no difference in the behaviour of those children that had sugar and those that didn't. This includes sugar from candy, chocolate and natural sources.
The third myth is hangovers--there is no cure for hangovers. Never mind the aspirin, bananas, water--the only cure is drinking less.
Here's a delicious surprise: late night snacking is not more fattening. It's just a matter of how much and how often you eat, not when.
Suicides over holiday periods? No again; there are fewer before, more afterwards. And surprisingly, the numbers are lower in the winter and higher in the summer.
And lastly, bring on the poinsettias....they are not toxic. An analysis of all the so-called poisoning by the flowers showed that no one died from eating them and more than 96 percent of the cases didn't even need hospital treatment.
seen at Treehugger.com
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." - Abraham Lincoln
"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." - Aesop
"Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life.
It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to
serve others by using them." - Thomas Kinkade
"Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than
on outward circumstances." - Benjamin Franklin
"I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can't make
it through one door, I'll go through another door -- or I'll
make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark
the present." - Joan Rivers
"Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as
possible." - Charles Dickens
"The man who says he is willing to meet you halfway is usually a poor judge of distance." - Laurence J. Peter
"Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary." - Robert Louis Stevenson
Sunday, 14 December 2008
This item, courtesy of Don Sandin. Unfortunately, we don’t know the name of the author.
I am flat broke from overspending at Christmas time. But I need to go shopping again soon because I am completely out of self-respect. I've said things I wish I could take back and I am not feeling too good about myself.
I also want to exchange a carton of self righteousness for an equal amount of humility. I hear that it is less expensive and wears well, and while I'm at it I'm going to check on tolerance and see if there is any available in my size.
I must remember to try to match my patience with the little I have left. My neighbor is loaded with it and it looks awfully good on her. I was told the same department has a repair shop for mending integrity. Mine has become frayed around the edges from too much compromising. If I don't get it refurbished soon, there won't be any left.
I almost forgot the most important thing of all – compassion. If I see some – no matter what the color, size or shape – I'm going to stock up heavily regardless of the price. I have run out of it so many times and I always feel ashamed when it happens.
I don't know why it has taken me so long to get around to shopping for these items. They don't cost nearly as much as some of the frivolous things I bought at Christmas time.
And I'll get a lot more satisfaction from them.
Yes, I'm going shopping today and I can leave my checkbook and credit cards at home! The things I'm looking for have no price-tags.
What a joy!
“From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet ‘e-zine’ for Christians with a sense of humor."
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Even among TreeHuggers, computers have a sadly short lifespan.
With the holidays rapidly approaching and so much temptation to go out and buy a shiny new computer, we thought it was worth putting up a fun little reminder that your computer can last a really, really long time as long as you show it the love it deserves.
Read on for some stats and tips to help you nurture a long term, committed relationship with your computer.
The LoveThe1YoureWith website notes that the energy required to produce a new computer is enough to run a computer for 10 years, and the energy saved by extending the life of your computer by a year could run it for 2 years.
By doing a few quick fixes, you can keep your computer happy and lighten your environmental load. Defragment your hard drive regularly, reinstall the operating system or switch to Linux, add RAM, treat the battery right, uninstall programs you never use, and most importantly, be patient.
If you have more tips, please leave it in the comments. We want to learn and share as many tips and tricks as possible.
Friday, 12 December 2008
Anyone can type in a simple image search into Google, but this new
initiative sponsored by both LIFE and Google takes these searches to a whole
new (and rather interesting) level.
Working together, the two businesses brought together several million images from the 1750s to the present day. Many of the images have never been seen before, and it's quite a bit of fun just to look around their offerings.
On the site's homepage, visitors can browse photos by decade, or by a set of basic categories that include "People", "Places", "Events", and "Sports". These categories include everything from Jacqueline Kennedy to the Winter Olympics.
If visitors like certain shots, they also have the option to purchase various prints from the site.
It's also a bit fun to type in any number of phrases to see what they
offer, such as "medicine ball", "lacrosse", or "Robert Maynard Hutchins".
From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2008.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
from the Farmer's Almanac
A common saying about a cold is that it “lasts for a week if you treat it, seven days if you don’t.” As amusing and true as that may be, it’s not fun to have a cold. What can we do to help our bodies through this seven-day healing process so that we can savor the joys of the season?
1. Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated during times of dry indoor air.
2. Hot soups (chicken, of course) clear nasal passages. Try Granny’s Best Chicken Soup steaming hot and seasoned with garlic.
3. Herbal teas bring relief. Rose hip tea is full of vitamin C.
4. Eating foods heavy in garlic, onion, or horseradish may aide recovery as well.
5. To ward off spreading colds during the holidays, wash your hands frequently!
See more herbal cold remedies as well as ways to avoid colds and the flu before they start!
Simply stay warm, rested, and wait. In seven days, we all have the same amount of time!
Good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings. –Publius Syrus (c. 42 B.C.)
In the effort to kick the water bottle habit, we’re open to all suggestions on alternative water containers. But that doesn't mean we like anything that isn't a disposable plastic bottle.
There is a new product idea getting attention called the 360 bottle that uses paper instead. But it doesn’t appear to be any sort of ideal solution. While the containers are made of recyclable paper, it is still a disposable product and therefore far more wasteful than any solution we would prefer.
Read on for five better ideas that area already on the market for water bottles at Treehugger
Monday, 8 December 2008
Kalle Lasn, co-founder of Adbusters, whose brain child is the Buy Nothing Day campaign recently wrote. "It's our culture of excess and meaningless consumption - the glorified spending and borrowing of the past decade that's at the root of the crisis we now find ourselves in." The crisis that it would lead to people lining up all night, just to save a few bucks on some junk at Wal-Mart. TH Lloyd thinks we do need a Buy-Nothing Day, if for no other reason than to honour the memory of Jdimytai Damour, the Wal-Mart employee who was crushed to death, as shoppers stampeded for their precious cheap stuff. :: more ::
Saturday, 6 December 2008
"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you
believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you
-- From A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh
"There are no classes in life for beginners: right away you
are always asked to deal with what is most difficult."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
"Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture
of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously.
Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the
picture... Do not build up obstacles in your imagination."
-- Norman Vincent Peale
"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you
help them to become what they are capable of being."
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"I believe that uncertainty is really my spirit's way of
whispering: I'm in flux. I can't decide for you. Something is
-- Oprah Winfrey
"One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to
beat him at politeness."
-- Josh Billings
"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test
first, the lesson afterwards."
-- Vernon Sanders Law
"Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with
-- Robert Louis Stevenson
Monday, 1 December 2008
Being a Girl Scout has come a long way from making jewelry out of tree bark and safety pins and selling cookies. And it’s a good thing, too.
On November 22, 25 Girl Scout Juniors and Cadettes participated in a day-long camp focused on improving energy efficiency in buildings. They learned the bulk of the lessons by performing an energy audit of the Math and Science Center and the Program Center at Camp Dellwood in Indianapolis, IN.
However, the training is intended to do more than just teach about energy efficiency.
The scouts used Trane’s Energy Analyzer Software to determine the efficiency of the buildings, based on everything from lights to air conditioning to windows. They also got a chance to conduct experiments on energy efficiency, and learn about the different engineering specialties that create the different parts of buildings and their efficiency improvements.
Have to admit, I’m a bit jealous. Makes you kinda want to be a Girl Scout for a day. And makes you proud of the next gen of girls – apparently they’re an “untapped resource.”
"Girls are the single greatest untapped resource for engineering talent in this country," said Sommer. "They make their decisions on whether or not they want to pursue math and science-related fields by the time they're in middle school. We need to get to them early with options on how engineering can be fun and how it can truly make a difference on the economy and environment."
Yaaaay! It’s a relief to hear that kind of encouragement. It only means even more hope for the planet in the future with young people getting this kind of training early.
seen at Treehugger.com