Archive for the ‘cool stuff’ Category

Screen Time Tracker

In the new update for Apple devices (phones, tablets, etc), you can choose to track your screen time usage.

I did, and I just got my first 1-week summary. Holy Crap.

On my iPad, I averaged over 2 hours a DAY! On my phone: about 40 minutes a day!

What the heck am I doing all that time? Yes, some of it is watching Netflix and YouTube podcasts while I’m knitting in the evenings, but I spend way more time than I thought on social media, especially Instagram. It’s a bit frightening.

I know I am addicted. If I’m ever caught waiting in line, I get that urge to pull out my phone and check it. If I’m in that same situation without my phone, I definitely feel antsy. And if I go to work without my phone, I feel a bit lost!

I was unsure about letting the device track my usage so specifically, but I think it’s a worthwhile thing to do. I see the apps and sites I’m spending a lot of my time on and when I’m using my devices the most.

You can set limits on app use, but I want to see if even just being aware of my usage will help reduce it.

Unfortunately, we can’t use it on our kids’ iPads, because they’re too old for this update.

How do you feel about screen time tracking?

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A Kayak

I’ve always enjoyed being on the water.

A few years ago, when our oldest was a toddler, I took kayaking lessons and it was heavenly. I even learned how to do a wet-exit!

Since then I haven’t done much kayaking…only when we rent a cottage that happens to have one.

Earlier this summer, I went over to a friends house and saw she had bought a kayak. She talked about how awesome it was to go out on her own, and it even fit IN her car, so it was pretty easy.

I was inspired, so hunted around for a used sit-on-top kayak that could fit in my small SUV (and 8-footer) and found this one:

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 4.34.06 PM

I’m not planning on going all hardcore and paddling several times a week or anything, but I’ve been out once with that very friend who inspired me and it was completely perfection! I hope to get a couple more outings in before it gets too cold.

Making My Own Pendants

As I wrote last time, one of the birthday gifts I bought myself with my birthday money was a kit to make my own glass pendant necklaces. I promised to post when I was done, so here’s how it went!

I bought the kit from LilyDSCraftSupplies on Etsy and followed their online tutorial.

I first made a template using PowerPoint (I know, I know…I’m sure there are better programs, but this was easy) of the shapes of each pendant using the given measurements.

Then I chose my images and fit them into the templates and printed them on matte photo paper.

Their tutorial used the following steps:

  1. Seal the images with a micro-glaze (this took me a while to track down, and cost ~$15)
  2. Glue the glass carbochons on the images
  3. While waiting for this to dry, seal the pendant trays with their glue
  4. Cut the glass/image out
  5. File any jagged paper edges with a nail file
  6. Seal the backs of the images (now attached to the glass) with their glue
  7. Glue the glass/image inside the tray.

I ran into several problems with the method:  a) not using enough glue so the corners of the images would come away from the glass, b) moving the glass around too much when bonding to the image, causing some images to rip, and c) some images would start pulling away from the glass when I was cutting with an exacto knife.

So, after going through one of the sets of glass carbochons, I re-did two pendants as above and then went a different direction. Instead, I:

  1. Sealed the images after printing.
  2. Cut the images out.
  3. Sealed the pendant trays.
  4. Seal the back of the images.
  5. Glued the images into the trays.
  6. Glued the glass on top of the images.

I ended up with a range of success, which is probably par for the course on early attempts. Here are the finished products:

IMG_0436.JPG

Though they’re not perfect, most are pretty good (the rectangle and circle at the right are the worst end product and probably not wearable). Considering I was looking at these types of necklaces on Etsy for $15-30 a piece, I think this was worth the expense (about $40 total) and time (perhaps a couple hours total?).

One huge benefit of doing it myself is being able to choose the images, so I’d be happy to try these again in the future for myself or even as gifts for others.

I’m a Real Author!

And by “real”, I mean paid!
My first ever paid article was published in the current edition of Canoeroots magazine. It’s a short description of what can be seen in the night sky in the late summer/early fall, geared toward younger children. 

Fig. 1: The actual article in an actual magazine!

I’m very proud, and I hope this is the start of many similar projects!

Why the Blogosphere is Awesome

A couple weeks ago, I was lamenting about my lack of pregnancy wardrobe. That’s when GMP, from Academic Jungle, came to the rescue and offered to send me some of her maternity clothes.
Not being one to turn down an amazing offer, I gladly accepted, and now have a much wider variety of clothing to choose from that can hopefully get me to the end of the pregnancy.
And this is one of the reasons why the blogging community is awesome! GMP and I can hardly say we “know” each other – I didn’t even know her name – but she was willing to help me out anyway.
Thanks, GMP!!!

Am I an artist now?

The second local Awesome Foundation project to get funded was Caring Between the Lines. The idea is that people can submit a photo, about 20 would be chosen to be printed in large format in high-contrast black and white, and then put on display for others to color with crayons. After being on display for a week, the pieces would be auctioned off, and the money would go toward a charity of the photographer’s choice.
I thought this was literally an awesome idea, so to show my support I submitted a photo.

 Fig. 1: My submitted photograph, titled “Mmm…candy apples”, taken at a local chocolate shop.
Well, mine was chosen to be part of the exhibit! I’m pretty excited, and we’re definitely going to take part in the coloring in early May, and the subsequent auction. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a giant, crayon-colored version of my own photograph?

Link Round-Up

I am really starting to like the idea of doing a weekly round-up of some of the more interesting things I come across. There are so many things I’d like to share, but don’t want to do an individual post for each thing (I do on Facebook/Twitter, but not all my wonderful readers are on them). Not sure if this will be a regular thing, but we’ll see.
Here is what caught my eye this week:
On Thursday, I went to a psychology lecture at the local library, and it was all about how our brains develop in relation to our experiences and environment. The speaker was asked a question about those “brain workouts” we see advertised on TV, and he highly suggested reading up on Adrian Owen’s work on the subject, which was published in Nature last year. (Short answer: no, they don’t work.)
 
How do you feel about a Somoa airline charging passengers by weight? Though this seems like a “logical” thing to do (this is what’s done for mission to space, for example), the idea clearly has some downfalls.

If you’ve been following what’s going on with government-funded scientists here in Canada, you’ll be interested to know that there will be a formal probe into the muzzling of government scientists. Let’s hope this pours some light on the subject!

Here’s a great post about how to put together a better conference talk by Emily Lakdawalla. It helped me have an epiphany this week: if I feel stupid during your talk (and I have a relatively decent background in the topic), it’s not because of my lack of knowledge, it’s because of your lack of explanation.
 

PBS’s NOVA did a great special about the recent meteor strike in Russia. Two researchers from my university are interviewed throughout the piece. Beware of some sensationalism though (like “Death rocks from space!!!”). Those outside the USA might not be able to view the above video, so here it is on YouTube.

Finally, a really cool DYI project for your kids!

What are your “must reads” of the week?

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