Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.
You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.
BEST NASA PHOTOS OF EARTH
In celebration of Earth Day this year, NASA released a selection of their best photographs of Earth taken from space.
This one is Cairo and the Nile Valley at night:
You will find NASA's collection of 40 Earth Day photos here. If you have never explored the website, do take some time for that – it is amazing in many different ways.
FREE CLOSED CAPTIONING FOR PHONE CALLS
People with hearing loss now have a new tool – a free one, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – to give them easier access to the telephone. Clear Captions is an internet service that provides real-time closed captioning on your computer as you are on the telephone.
Currently, it works with landlines and iPhones but other mobiles phones will be added this year. The captioning also works with an internet-connected iPad and iPod Touch. Here is a video about the service:
For the moment, this brand-new service works only with incoming calls, but outgoing calls will be added. The captioning is done by live – that is, human – transcribers and not voice recognition software.
It seems to me that this is a terrific service. Find out more here where you can also sign up. Remember, it is free.
HOW TO EDIT YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Sometimes those YouTube videos you want to post on your blog are just way too long and you want only a portion of them. Hard to do if you're not into video editing.
But now there's a free service, TubeChop. Enter the URL of the video (the link that's supplied on the video page when you click “share”; not the one in the address bar), click “search” and follow the simple instructions. Anyone can do this. Give it a try.
BABY DUCK V. DOG
The audio on this video – the unrelenting barking dog – is really annoying. But otherwise, it's funny.
I know this building in Greenwich Village. It's on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 11th Street. I must have passed it a thousand times. I picked up newspapers and magazines there hundreds of times.
The phone booth is long gone now and I don't recall the detective agency name painted on the second-floor window but it could easily have been there once. Check out the other details – the fire hydrant, the stained bricks, the trash at the curbs.
Vintage photo, right? Wrong! It is a miniature sculpture by artist Alan Wolfson who creates every tiny bit of his urban sculptures from scratch of wood, cardboard, paper, plastics and metal. Here's Wolfson's Brooklyn Bridge subway station.
There are a whole bunch more you can see at his website.
PEOPLE WHO FIND YOU ON FACEBOOK
Another graph from my friend, Kent McKamy.
It always amazes me how easily dogs and cats, with all that fur on their faces, convey how they feel with their expressions. This dog goes further, behaving amazingly like a kid who has been caught out. (Hat tip to Darlene Costner of Darlene's Hodgepodge)
STUPID STATE DEPARTMENT TRICKS
If a proposed U.S. State Department Passport Application idea – the Biographical Questionnaire – goes into effect, about 74,000 people who would be required to use it each year will probably be denied a passport. Before you read further, take a look at the questionnaire [pdf].
Among the impossible-to-answer-questions is to list “all residences in and out of the United States starting with birth until the present.” WHAT? I've lived in 42 places – I don't even remember at least a dozen of them.
Or, how about: “Did your mother receive pre-natal or post-natal medical care” requiring name of hospital, name of doctor and dates of appointments.
This is a joke, right??? It doesn't appear to be. The announcement of the proposal and request for public comment is here. Of course, by the the time I learned of this the period of time for comment has ended.
There is more information at the Identity Project blog which reports that the State Department estimates it would take an average applicant 45 minutes to compile all the information. What are they thinking? I wouldn't be able to do it at all. Period.
THE FLEETING LIFE OF SAND CASTLES
Thanks to Darlene Costner, I now know that there is an annual sand castle contest right here in Oregon at Cannon Beach. And what sand castles they are:
Building begins as the tide goes out and must be finished and judged, of course, before it returns to wash away these amazing sand sculptures. Take a look at these from the 2010 contest – all the more astonishing for their ephemeral nature.