Soft Cookie, Warm Cookie, Cookie On A Shirt

Posted by TechyDad on January 30, 2015 under Food, Fun

After my "Soft Cookie" post the other day, I thought I was done what that parody song.  However, I began thinking of other images I could base off of it.  Eventually, I came up with this:

cookie_song_mosaic_web

I liked how it came out so much that I thought "That would look good on a t-shirt."  You know what?  It does!  Here’s the link in case you want to buy a t-shirt.

On a related note: Did you know I had a Zazzle store?  I didn’t.  I opened it awhile back intending to sell products with some photos I took but never did anything with it. I’m resurrecting it to offer my "Soft Cookie" products. Does this make it a Zombie Zazzle store?  (The things you think of when you’re writing your post at 12:40am.)

The only bad part about this graphic? It’s making me hungry for cookies! I think I need to run to the store tomorrow.

Note: The cookie graphic I used is by sonoftroll and is available via OpenClipArt.org.

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Evolution of a Parody Song or Little Cookie of Fur?

Posted by TechyDad on January 28, 2015 under Fun

My boys haven’t been allowed to watch The Big Bang Theory of yet. While there’s a lot in the show that we could geek out over together, there’s just too much (e.g. sex talk) that is inappropriate for them.  Still, we’ve introduced them to some elements of the show such as the Soft Kitty song.

If you’ve never seen Big Bang Theory, the Soft Kitty song is the tune that Sheldon Cooper’s mother sings to him when he gets sick.

While in the kitchen the other day, I began – just out of the blue – singing "Soft cookie, warm cookie."  That’s when JSL chimed in.  Unfortunately, he completed the line with the line "Little Cookie of Fur."  Suddenly, there was much laughter – mostly from me as I envisioned a furry cookie.  (Furry cookies don’t seem appetizing to me at all!)

After a moment of thought, I continued my verse with "ball of cookie dough.  Chewy cookie, chocolate cookie…" And that’s where I was stuck.  I couldn’t think of a rhyme for dough that would work.

Not to be deterred, I kept at it as I worked in the kitchen.  Finally, I came up with:

Soft cookie
Warm cookie
Cookie dough rolled up
Chewy cookie
Chocolate cookie
Eat them up!

This sounded really good… except the repeated "up" nagged at me.  It always strikes me as cheap when a singer rhymes a word with itself.  Call it nitpicking, but an entire song can be ruined for me because the lyrics include self-rhyming.  After some more thought, I sang:

Soft cookie
Warm cookie
Get them in my tum
Chewy cookie
Chocolate cookie
Yum! Yum! Yum!

This was better, but now the "tum" line bothered me.  Still, it was pretty good so I decided to leave it be.

A short while later, I went upstairs to hook up a new printer (one my in-laws weren’t using anymore).  While cleaning up some space for it, I came upon some old finds: VHS tapes, old Free Comic Book Day comics, and a rhyming dictionary.  I wondered if this would have a good word so JSL (who had come to keep me company/play) and I looked up "yum."  I could have slapped myself.  How could I forget the word "crumb"?!!!  That both rhymed and fit the cookie theme.  So here is the full Soft Cookie song:

Soft cookie
Warm cookie
Little cookie crumb
Chewy cookie
Chocolate cookie
Yum! Yum! Yum!

Of course, I had to have a little graphics fun as well to come up with this:

Soft Cookie Web

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Common Core and Fourth Dimensional Math

Posted by TechyDad on January 22, 2015 under Math, School

I couple of weeks ago, I saw a video on Twitter.  In it, a girl tried to solve 1,568 + 1,423 + 680.  First, she tried to solve it using a Common Core tactic.  Next, she tried to solve it using the normal "stacking" method that kids have been learning for years.  Take a look:

Not only did the Common Core method take her 10 times as long, but the complexity resulted in an incorrect answer.  Meanwhile, the old-school stacking method was faster AND more accurate.  Even if she had made an error using the stacking method, it would have been easier to check and would have taken less space to write out.

However, while watching this video, I saw another problem.

common_core_math

Doing the common core math, 1’s were represented by dots, 10’s were lines, 100’s were squares, and 1,000’s were cubes.  Suppose the problem had been 15,680 instead of 1,568, though.  How would the child have been able to represent this?  Sure, she could draw 15 cubes, but the natural progression seems to be to add a dimension to the figure for each additional place value.  Going by this logic, we’ll have grade school children drawing hypercubes to solve math equations.

128px-Hypercubestar.svg

Yes, a simple math problem like 15,682 + 23,624 would require tapping into the fourth dimension to solve.  Clearly, this is yet another non-scalable Common Core method.

Why do we continue to confuse our kids when traditional math teaching methods work so much better?

In New York, sadly, the answer is that Governor Cuomo has decided that the public schools must go to clear the way for charter schools.  He attacks teachers – even going so far as to insinuate that teachers oppose high stakes test scores being tied to their jobs to protect teachers having inappropriate relations with students – and calls public schools "monopolies" while he backs the charter schools and pushes for more of them.  If Governor Cuomo has his way, all public schools would be charter schools run by private businesses.  After all, privatization fixes everything, right?

The only bright spot is his claim to support "anti-creaming" legislation which would force charter schools to not only accept ESL, low income, and special needs students, but to report on how many they have at the beginning and end of every school year.  Still, having one good idea doesn’t make me support all of the bad ideas he wants to implement.

Maybe it’s time to stop seeking overly complicated answers in the fourth dimension and when a real world simple solution is present.  Fund public schools fairly and let our teachers teach instead of forcing them to focus on how well the students can perform on multiple high stakes tests.  No hypercube is needed to solve this problem.

NOTE: The hypercube image above is by mate2code, was released into the public domain, and is available from Wikimedia Commons.

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Geeky TV Addictions

Posted by TechyDad on January 20, 2015 under Television

TelevisionFor the longest time, I actively avoided getting attached to television shows.  It seemed like every time I got hooked on a show, for example Pushing Daisies, the network would cancel it.  It didn’t matter if the show had a big following or was a virtual unknown.  If I began to watch it, it would get cancelled.  Despite my attempts to remain aloof to new shows, however, a handful of geeky TV shows have hooked me.

Arrow (CW)

I know, I know.  As a network, the CW seems more likely to air "teenage comedy/drama #73" then a geeky comic book show.  To be fair, Arrow does have more than its share of "young adult drama" (the characters aren’t teens).  Still, it tends to be tolerable and easily overlooked to see the journey of Oliver Queen from rich playboy to castaway to deadly vigilante to hero.  Oliver Queen is a spoiled brat/party animal who takes his girlfriend’s sister on the family yacht with him when the boat sinks killing everyone on board (including Oliver’s father).  For the next five years, Oliver goes through hell and emerges a changed man.  He’s on a mission to punish evil doers who threaten his city.  Along the way, he picks up some allies and makes some new enemies.

The Flash (CW)

Barry Allen is a geeky police forensic scientist.  He’s got a huge brain, but slow legs.  He’s also dedicated his life to figuring out who killed his mother and pinned the blame on his father.  His only lead: It was a man in a yellow suit who surrounded his mother with red and yellow "lightning."  Then a particle accelerator malfunctions and he gets struck by lightning.  Nine months later, he wakes up from a coma able to move at incredible speeds.  Unfortunately, the particle accelerator also creates other "metahumans" – many of whom decide to use their new powers for illegal personal gain and/or to hurt people.  Barry becomes the Flash to stop them.

If Arrow is a Batman analogue (vigilante not afraid to hurt people to enact justice), Flash is the Superman analogue.  He has a strong moral code and sees the world in terms of good and evil.  He wouldn’t dabble in "grey realms" to get the job done.  This show is more humorous (they actually name their metahuman opponents) and much lighter in tone than Arrow.

Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD)

After the Clone Wars ended but before a new hope emerged, there was a period of time when the Empire ruled the galaxy.  In this dark time, anyone and everyone cowered before their might.  Well, maybe not everyone.  Star Wars Rebels introduces a small group who are doing all they can to strike blows against the Empire.  They don’t have the might to strike directly at the Empire, but they can certainly can act as an annoying thorn in the Empire’s side.  It’s also helpful that their leader is a former Jedi.  Especially since they meet Ezra – a thief who happens to be strong in the Force.  Along the way, they’ll meet some allies, some powerful enemies, many new faces and a few familiar old ones.  All while trying to survive and stick it to the Empire any way they can.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC)

After the battle of New York City in Avengers, Agent Coulson lies dead and some dangerous technology is loose in the world.  So Nick Fury has a small team gathered to operate outside of most of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s red tape.  This team is led by Agent Coulson who had mysteriously returned from the dead.  As the show progresses, not only do they pursue a mysterious enemy who always seems to be one step ahead of them, but they deal with repercussions arising from the events that take place in Thor 2: The Dark World and Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier.

I missed this one when it first aired.  I forgot to set my DVR and wound up a few episodes behind with no way to catch up.  I eventually wrote this series off as one I’d probably watch "eventually."  When it showed up on Netflix, I happily devoured season one, amazed at each twist and turn.  Every time I was sure which way the show would head, it would turn and head in a different direction.  As the series came to a close, though, I realized that season two was too far along for me to view the beginning.  So here I am again needing to wait until they repeat the season or until season 2 hits Netflix.

Agent Carter (ABC)

I had heard that Agent Carter was coming to TV, but to be honest wasn’t too interested.  After all, she isn’t a superhero or part of a team of secret agents.  She was just the woman Captain America loved during the war, right?  How wrong I was.  After Captain America "died" and the war ended, Agent Peggy Carter found herself working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve – and by working, I mean she’s been regulated to performing secretarial chores while her co-workers make demeaning comments about how women can’t do "the real work."  Agent Carter puts up with it, never letting it drag her down, but when an old friend – Howard Stark – gets in trouble and calls on her to help, she takes him up on it and works to unravel the mystery.

I love how Peggy Carter works the system on the sly, manipulating the men and their prejudices for the advantage of her investigation.  For example, in one meeting – where she is deemed "not essential" – she shows up seemingly to serve the men coffee.  They see this as "a woman’s normal behavior" and thus don’t suspect that Peggy is only there to gather intel.  Agent Peggy Carter is smart, tough, and relies on nobody.  She’s equally at home figuring out where the clues lead and in a fist fight.  She might not be a super soldier, but she’s a hero all on her own and I can’t wait to see where they take this show.

 

We’re definitely living in a golden age of geeky television.  What television shows are you hooked on?

NOTE: The "Hi-Def Television" image above is by bnsonger47 and is available from OpenClipArt.org.

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Freedom To Offend; Freedom To Be Offended

Posted by TechyDad on January 16, 2015 under Life

file0001964396712_smallThere have been some horrible events in France recently.  In short, in case you’ve been living under a rock without access to Wi-Fi, some gunmen took offense to some cartoons.  They decided that the proper response was to kill the cartoonists – and anyone that stood in their way.  While the world mourns the dead, it has also opened up a very important question:  Is it right to offend people?

I’ve heard from various people, most recently the Pope, who say that you shouldn’t offend other people’s religions.  That those things should be held sacred and not poked fun at.  However, I think being able to ridicule is an integral part of free speech.  Suppose we accepted that you couldn’t belittle religion.  Where is the line drawn?  Can I say that Jesus wasn’t the messiah because I don’t believe he was?  Or am I forced to be quiet because that might offend someone who believes he was?  Can someone who thinks Jesus was the son of God say so or must he remain silent just in case he offends those of us who don’t believe that?

Furthermore, what about scientific advances that move explanations from "God did this" to "here is a detailed scientific explanation as to how this happened"?  Should all research on the beginnings of the Universe be banned because the Big Bang Theory, and all the evidence in favor of it, offends those who think the world was created 10,000 years ago?  Should any fossils be crumbled into powder lest they offend by their age?

As you can see, banning anything that might offend someone’s religious sensibilities turns into a quickly widening circle.  You wind up banning everything.  The only alternative seems to be picking and choosing which religions (and subsets thereof) are "important" enough for protection from offense.  So maybe Catholicism is deemed worthy of protection, but Buddhists are declared fair game.  (Fat jokes in 3… 2… 1…)  This doesn’t seem like an equitable arrangement at all.

So let’s say we allow for people to make materials that offend other religions.  Does this mean we’re not allowed to be offended?  Of course not.  I’ll be the first to admit that I get steamed if people joke about certain things.  If you laugh about how you’re "retarded like an autistic kid" you’re going to get an earful from me (or at least a stern glare).  By all means, get offended when people say things you don’t like.  Just like they have a right to offend, you’ve got a right to be offended.  The key is in how you express your taking offense.

The ideal way to express your offense is with words.  Tell the person just why their action offends you.  If the person is working off of a misconception or is being offensive due to ignorance (for example, perhaps not knowing how offensive a word like "retarded" can be), talking with them can inform them.  If the person knows exactly why they are offending, at the very least you can begin a dialog.  If the person doesn’t care to start a dialog and just wants to offend for the sake of offending, you can at least bring up counter-arguments to other people who might fall under the first two groups.

If words alone don’t work, peaceful actions can.  Organize protests and marches to show the support for your side.  Keep the protests peaceful and your message will come across loud and clear.

The operative word in that last sentence, of course, being "peaceful."  Nothing distracts people from your counter-message like violence.  Attempting to hurt or kill those who offend you is a sure way to lose the argument before you begin.  Yes, you might silence one person, but dozens – if not hundreds – more will take that person’s side  in sympathy.  What’s more, you don’t have the right to threaten and claim it as free speech.  Saying "I’ll kill you if you don’t shut up" is not presenting your side of the issue.  It’s attempting to stifle a person using the threat of violence.  Rightfully so, it’s illegal.

Protecting a person’s right to free speech – including their right to offend – is rarely easy.  There are many times when I wish I could just say "free speech for everyone except this group – they’re too icky."  As a pastor once pointed out, people in Nazi Germany supported taking away certain "undesirable" groups’ freedoms bit by bit because it didn’t affect them.  When their freedoms started to get removed, however, they found nobody willing to speak up in their defense.  Were I ready to sacrifice the freedom of speech of some groups because they’re "icky" or "offensive" or "loony", I’d be setting a dangerous precedent that would more than likely spread to include my own free speech.

My general mantra when it comes to rights comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:  "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins."  So I can say whatever I like so long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.  Hurt, in this case, meaning causing actual physical harm or egging others on to do physical harm.  Offending people might hurt their feelings, but I doubt anyone is going to claim that we need to be nice to all people all the time.  If your response to my offensive speech is to hurt me, your swung fist has not ended where my nose began (possibly literally).

The Freedom To Offend and The Freedom To Be Offended are two sides of the same coin.  So long as people are peaceful about it, offending and responded to offenses can open up dialogs, clear up misconceptions, or challenge long-held – but perhaps no longer relevant – beliefs.  It can break down and improve upon the status quo.  Taking those away would cost society – and all of us – dearly.

NOTE: The image above, "screaming mouth open" is by EmmiP and is available from MorgueFile.

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