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Archive for December, 2008

Family Home Evening

Family Home Evening

Hope your holidays were lovely and memorable.

It’s Monday, and we try to make all of our Mondays lovely and memorable by observing a tradition of our own: Family Home Evening.

Oh, yes, our family nights are often messy and disorganized, and all too often they devolve into a morass of movies and munchies, but we’re all in the same room, and that has to count for something, right?

Here’s the planner I use to try to impose at least a modicum of organization on our family nights: fhe.lds.org. The site suggests activities and lesson topics, artwork and an actual fill-in-the-blanks planner for organizing family home evenings.

Share some FHE tips of your own by clicking the Comments link, and I promise not to put you in charge of conducting the opening song.

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Brick Testament

We’re having a bit of a blizzard here, so Church got snowed out today. And a glorious Shabbat to you, too.

Perhaps I shall compensate for the lack of fellowship and community worship by studying my favorite translation of the scriptures: The Brick Testament, a Lego-ized pictorial representation of Biblical stories. Sometimes serious, sometimes satirical, it’s difficult to discern what motivates the maker of this site. But it’s all good fun.

In the spirit of the holidays, and demonstrating that a picture actually is worth a thousand words, I present the Brick Testament version of “The Birth of Jesus”:

Birth of Christ

To be ecumenical, I should probably also give kudos to Assembling the Temple and Brick of Mormon, two other efforts to bring scriptural stories to life — or, at least, to Legos.

Play on.

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Hassle MeI operate many mailing lists; sometimes a week or so can go by without my remembering to moderate the messages — and then all sorts of chaos ensues.

I’ve found the solution: Hassle Me, a helpful little resource that sends me abusive emails every few days reminding me to go moderate my lists.

Use it to remind yourself to go to the gym (“Get off your fat backside, you lazy twit”), eat fruit (“Lay off the burgers, you massive carnivore!”), or to think positive thoughts about yourself (“You’re really quite lovely, and not at all obese.”)

Sometimes, you just need to be nagged.

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Stock.XCHNGIt’s time for the biennial — okay, bi-decadal — update of our primary website, so I’ve been out hunting for artwork. Lo and behold: I stumbled into a third of a million images, all legit, and all free, at Stock.xchng, a free stock photo gallery.

Just goes to show: People are pretty darned cool. Oh, and generous. This is just a great time to be alive. Merry Christmas, fellow web builders!

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The OWL at Purdue

Online Writing Lab

It’s finals week for the college kids, and they’re frantically dashing off papers and sitting exams. Mom’s helping the essay writers, natch’, by being harder on them than their own English professors would be. And I’m insisting that their papers reflect perfect MLA style.

My go-to place for online MLA style arguments: The MLA style guide page from the OWL at Purdue. It’s just one of dozens of OWL writing resources that every parent of a high school- or college-aged student should have available.

Honestly, how often do we get to prove we’re smarter than our teenagers?

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MDBGI’m teaching a Chinese class to the kiddies in my daughter’s homeschooling co-op next quarter. But my fluency ain’t what it used to be. To bone up on my 中文 vocabulary I’ve been playing with the MDBG Chinese-English dictionary. It’s fascinating. Enter a word in English, if you wish, or in Pinyin, or even in characters, and get a list of every permutation of that word.

Click the icons to hear pronunciation, read etymological details, and even watch the character being drawn in a Flash demonstration.

Fēi cháng hǎo!

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dog6So Saturday I took care of a friend’s three third-graders, all of whom wanted to watch Daddy Day Care at a high volume. Now I’m a big Eddie Murphy fan, but c’mon. It’s not exactly his best work. And I wanted to work on my book.  By the time we were past the first Angelica Huston scene,  I still hadn’t written three words.

The solution: Great headphones and Simply Noise — a white noise generator that masked Eddie and a room full of shrieking kids.  Simply Noise plays a continuous loop of, well, static fuzz. To my ears, the white noise and pink noise are annoying, but the brown noise is perfectly soothing. Low-pitched, oceany, and full enough to drown out pretty much anything. I may have just found the cure for Adult ADHD.

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