Monday, 28 June 2010

Why only 24 hours in a day??

I've been spending so much time adding designs to and trying to promote my Animatastic store on zazzle and the associated website I set up that I haven't had time for anything else recently. My ArtformTheHeart store desperately needs reorganising and I desperately need a life, so I was wondering why there are so few hours in the day - I think I need an extra 10!!! lol

I know the length of a day is determined by the earth's rotation around the sun and that it really doesn't matter if there are 24 hours in a day, or 12 hours that are twice as long (following?) but who decided on 24 as the number of hours? Apparently, or so the theory goes, it was the ancient Egyptians who began the process (clever people huh?). They divided their nights into twelve segments based upon different star patterns that appeared throughout the night. Later in time the Greeks formalised the system by dividing daylight hours into twelve segments also. The 24 segments became known as equinoctial hours (based upon there being  12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness on days of  equinoxes).

by wayart

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Differences between USA/UK; fun facts

Whenever I'm in the USA I get asked what it's like in Scotland. More often that not I now say "It's much the same as here" But I guess on my first trip I saw a LOT of differences. Of course, I've only been to Northwest Arkansas (and just over the state lines into Oklahoma and Missourri) so some of my observations may be state-specific, but here are a few of the differences that I recall noticing that first trip.

In the UK we:
  • don't have drive through banks (nope, got to find somewhere to park your car, walk to the bank and get your cash). We don't have drive-through pharmacies or Utility providers either.
  • don't have 50 different fast food chains (pretty much we have McD's, BK, KFC and Dominos the same as USA but that's about it - yes there are a few others dotted around but not real nationwide chains)
  • get a lot more rain!
  • we think 77 Degrees Farenheit is a hot day!
  • sit on the right and drive on the left
  • have a lot more smaller cars with smaller engines (probably because our gas prices are around 3x those in the USA)
  • already have tax included in the ticket price, you buy a £20 shirt, it's £20.
  • call it a supermarket (as opposed to a grocery store) and it's pretty standard in the UK to buy your cigarettes and alcohol there as well as your groceries
  • call a grill a barbecue and a broiler a grill (still causes confusion when I visit the USA)
In the USA they:
  • don't have a National Health Service (most people I personally met can't afford to visit a doctor when they get sick,  and one or two even went thousands of dollars into debt when they needed an operation, a scary thought to me!)
  • have drive-in movies (I went for the first time ever last summer, lay on an airbed in the back of the pick-up truck and thought it was sooooo cool)
  • are really Patriotic and it's common to see small versions of the US flag in people's gardens
  • don't have roundabouts (okay, where I  have been in the USA they don't)
  • can turn right at a red traffic light
That's the tip of the proverbial ice-berg, but spending time in the USA, I hardly notice a difference at all anymore. Feel free to comment with any observations you've made.

More patriotic gifts here.

Monday, 21 June 2010

My attempt at micro/flash fiction.

I recently set up a new zazzle store called Animatastic, filled with fanTASTIC ANIMAls. I filled it full of cute cartoon animal designs, some PD and some original creations. To help advertise the store and products, I created an off-zazzle website hosted on weebly, again called Animatastic. To make the website a bit more interesting than just a duplicate of the store, I decided to have a go at writing some micro/flash fiction using the characters I had created. This is my first attempt:

One boring afternoon Perkin was sitting in his favorite spot lazily munching on a juicy bamboo shoot. Suddenly something very bright and colorful flashed quickly infront of his eyes. It was gone again so quickly that he hadn't been able to see what it was but he liked the pretty colors and looked around to try to find it again. He looked behind the bamboo tree he had been sitting under. He look behind the big rock he had been leaning against. He looked along the banks of the stream that ran close by, but he could not find the pretty, colorful thing that had caught his eye.

'Hmph! Nothing fun ever happens here' he said out loud before plopping back down and picking up his bamboo shoot once more.

Just then Perkin saw another flash of the color pass by and go right behind his head. He turned around to look and as he did, a bright and pretty butterfly landed right on top of his nose, tickling him and making him giggle.

'Hi, I'm Bella. Would you like to play?' the butterfly said.

'Oh yes!' Perkin replied, 'I'd love to have someone to play with.'

'Let's play tag' said Bella, flying off of Perkin's nose 'You're 'it'.'

image copyright Animatastic 2010, all rights reserved

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Health Check

I had to go have blood taken today :(

It was my six-month check-up for my cholesterol levels. I found out last year that I have excessively high fasting cholesterol levels after going to see my GP about yellow/white patches around my eyes. It turns out those marks were fatty deposits that can be associated with high cholesterol. I was only 37 so didn't really think there was going tobe a problem, but, it was in the back of my mind that my dad had passed away at the age of only 40 with a massive heart attack. Still, I was pretty shocked to find out that my cholesterol level was almost off the charts and that I'm going to have to take statins for the rest of my life to bring it down to a 'normal' range.

So, I did my 'fast' from 10pm last night, woke up grumpy and groggy after a restless night and couldn't even have a coffee to wake me up. I went to the Health Centre where the nurse kept me waiting for 15 minutes, then went through to have the blood taken. She poked around in my right arm for a minute or two, wiggling the needle around, then finally told me she couldn't get a drop. It started getting warm in the room and I was thinking "uh-oh". We decided she should try to find a vein in my other arm so she put the tourniquet on and I pumped my fist for a minute or two, finally a faint little blue vein showed up. At that point the nurse decided to use a baby needle (butterfly), how embarassing. But, she got the blood no problem and it was over in a few short seconds, except that I suddenly started burning up and feeling extremely nauceous and faint. So after the baby needle, the nurse had to baby me; giving me a glass of water, puting a cold cloth on the back of my neck. Even more embarassing! Thankfully, it will be another 6 months before I have to go through that again.

EDIT: got my results and my cholesterol is back up a bit, not too much but enough to warrant another check-up in 6 months, ho-hom.

Friday, 4 June 2010

RedGage update

I posted recently about a website called RedGage, it should only be a post or two below this if you want to read the details. Basically, it's a networking site which can drive targeted traffic to your wesbite/blog/flickr etc, build backlinks for SEO, and at the same time earn you money for views of your content. I promised an update once I found out how well it was working for me, so here it is:

As far as RedGage and earnings go, in less than 24hrs of joining the site and with very little effort on my part, I had earned $3.18, not bad for uploading existing content from here and my other blogs/websites. As I browse through the site, I see many users with earnings in excess of $100, of course they must have good content to achieve that but it is encouraging.

On my first day at RedGage, I had 24 entries for the $25 daily raffle - I didn't win but the entries were easy to accumulate.

Also within the first 24hours, my six pieces of content had received 54 views. That's not bad in my opinion but what I really want is for those views to convert into click-throughs to this blog and my zazzle store and I rely mainly on google analytics to determine that. Unfortunately, the google analytics code is only on the main page of my zazzle store so I can't track when someone clicks directly on a product link rather than a homepage link. Anyway, that little glitch aside, after the initial 24 hour period, it doesn't seem that I had any clicks through to my blog (maybe I need to be smarter and upload only an exerpt to RedGage rather than the entire post) but I had 3 visits to my zazzle store's homepage.
Something I may have forgotten to mention in my original RedGage post is that you can upload links, photos, articles, videos and documents not just blog content, so you could be earning cash from other people looking at your holiday snaps, favourite family recipe, gardening tips, anything at all.

My verdict? RedGage is definately worth checking out!!

Edit on 7th June: I'm now getting modest traffic to both my blog and zazzle store from RedGage, and I have earned $6.36 in the 7 days I've been there. Pretty cool for posting the same stuff I already have around on other websites that don't pay a penny! I've also seen some users with total earnings upwards of $400, here's hoping!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The 4th July and some funny questions I have been asked.

I have been lucky enough to spend the last two 4th July's in the USA with my fiance, unfortunately circumstances this year may mean that I can't manage, time will tell. But thinking back on the memories causes me to smile, and sometimes have a giggle at questions I have been asked as a Scottish visitor to the US of A. Here are some of the questions (honestly!! and I have been asked them more than once!):

Q    "Do you have 4th July where you are from?"
A     Yes, and we also have 5th July, 6th July,.......

Q    "Do you celebrate 4th July in Holland?"
A     Well, Independance Day is actually a celebration of the United States of America gaining their  independance from rule by Great Britain (of which Scotland, where I come from, is a part) so no, we don't celebrate 4th July and I'm pretty sure that Holland don't celebrate it either.

Q     "So Scotland is part of England right?"
A     ~silence~

Q     "Do you have hillbillies/rednecks in Scotland?"
A1    Yes, we call them Aberdonians.
A2    Yes, we call them 'neds'.
(note, I may have to change my answer to this after reading up on the origins of the terms 'hillbilly' and 'redneck', see two posts down for more info.)

Q    "Do you have Christmas in Scotland?"
A     When I stop laughing, I usually point out that Christmas is (or should be) a Christian celebration and that Christianity is an almost worldwide religion, so yes, we celebrate Christmas too.

Anyway, I hope that gave you a giggle. Here are some fantastic zazzle products that celebrate 4th July for you to browse: