Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Zany Zzyzx Zoning

If you happen to live in Southern California, and have ever made the drive to Las Vegas as so many of us SoCalies have done, you may have noticed a sign in the middle of nowhere for Zzyzx Road. The oddly-named sign appears to lead to nowhere, and is surrounded by miles of nothing but desert, mountains, and the I-15 you'll be driving when spotting the sign. So what's the deal with Zzyzx?

Zzyzx is a name that was made up in 1944 by a man named Curtis Howe Springer, who claimed that it was the last word in the English language. Up until Springer took "possession" of the settlement, it was known as Camp Soda, or Soda Springs. It was originally federal land, but Springer created the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa there after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres surrounding the springs.

Source: Christopher Mann McKay on Wikipedia
Springer then began bottling water from the springs, providing drinks for travelers as they made the long drive through the exceedingly hot desert, which can reach almost 120 degrees Farenheight (that's 49C)! He also imported animals from all over the country, just to attract more visitors (and their donation money) to his ranch. He also made claims that "his" water and other tonics could cure people of all their ills.

The land was later reclaimed by the government after the U.S. Marshals arrested Springer in 1974 for food and drug law violations, and he was evicted from the settlement for the misuse of federal land. He did not own the land or have the correct permits to be able to use the land under California's zoning laws. The government did not change the name back, however. It officially became Zzyzx, California in 1984, and is part of San Bernadino County.

Instead of the spa, the settlement is now the home of the Desert Studies Center, which is a field station of California State University (CSU). Also located at the site is Lake Tuendae, which was an artificial pond used as part of the spa. Mudhens and the Mohave tui chub were introduced there, possibly after the Mojave River flooded into the pond, which now serves as a refuge habitat for the endangered chub.

There are miles and miles of hot desert preceding the settlement when driving north on the I-15, but the closest town after passing the sign is Baker, California, which is about 7 miles farther north. The closest large city to the site is Las Vegas, which is a good 100 miles after that. It's truly in the middle of nowhere!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Yellow Yarrow Yard

For the record, I also thought about writing this post around "Yummy Yellow Yolks," because I'm a fan of eggs. Yarrow is just too special not to write about, however. My mother used to plant yellow yarrow when we lived on the farm, and my mother's absolute favorite color is yellow. Whenever I see the bright sunny color, I think of her.

When I looked up yellow yarrow for this post, I was met with a surprise: yellow yarrow is not what we thought it was, at least not officially. In fact, there are two different types of yellow yarrow that get confused. The one that my mother used to plant is actually officially known as fernleaf yarrow for its common name, and Achillea filipendulina as its scientific name. It is always yellow.

Fernleaf yarrow, or Achillea filipendulina
(the kind my mother used to plant)
Source: Wikipedia
But there are two types of Yarrow that are always yellow, and only one of them is officially known by the common name yellow yarrow, or golden yarrow: Eriophyllum confertiflorum. Both types of yellow yarrow are in the Asteraceae family, commonly known as the daisy or sunflower family.

There is also a plant commonly known as ... guess what? Common yarrow, or simply, yarrow. The scientific name of common yarrow is Achillea millefolium, and it is always white in color. Wait, it's about to get even more confusing!

Eriophyllum confertiflorum:
copyright by Curtis Clark,
from Wikipedia
The yarrow that is known as yellow or golden yarrow isn't really known by any other common names. But that yarrow isn't actually commonly thought of as yellow yarrow, at least around California, where yellow yarrow is actually a native. When you mention yellow yarrow, most people think of the variety planted by my mother, which is native to southeastern Europe.

Achillea millefolium,
from Wikipedia user O. Pichard
And then the confusion deepens, because common yarrow and fernleaf yarrow are commonly known by many other names, and some of those names overlap. Common yarrow is also known as yarrow, gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man's pepper, devil's nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier's woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal. Fernleaf yarrow is also known as yarrow, milfoil, and nosebleed.

See how one of the other fernleaf common names is simply "yarrow"? That's because many people think that all yarrow is yellow like the yarrow my mother used to plant. Some people don't realize that white yarrow even exists. Perhaps that is because white yarrow doesn't really stand out, while yellow yarrow bursts with color.

Bright yellow yarrow is a plant that everyone will notice right away. That happy yellow color is enough to brighten anyone's day. It's gorgeous and brings a smile to your face, just like my mother.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

'X-Files' XXVI: X

"The X-Files" is one of the best sci-fi TV shows ever created. XXVI is the roman numeral for 26, as in the 26th episode of "The X-Files," when the character X was introduced. X was created in order to replace the character Deep Throat, who had been killed off in the first season finale, "The Erlenmeyer Flask." He served as an informant to Mulder and Scully.

X was portrayed by Steven Williams, who is a very distinguished-looking actor, with a fantastic voice. He made his debut in the second season episode "The Host" (the 26th episode), although he was off-screen. He first appeared on-screen in the 28th episode (XXVIII), "Sleepless."

And to think that X was almost a woman! The narration and deleted scenes on the DVD for the show indicated that the actress Natalija Nogulich was originally cast for the role. The sad part is that she was not replaced until after shooting her first scenes. She simply didn't have the chemistry with the other characters needed to pull off the role.

On a side note, it's too bad, because I would have liked to see how a woman could have done that role. I don't have to wonder about it too much, however, since X was later replaced by the female character Marita Covarrubias. Unfortunately, the character came off as a bad parody of her predecessors. I'm not sure whether that was the fault of the actress or directors, but I would have loved to have seen a woman who could pull off that role really well.

X was killed in the Season 4 premiere, "Herrenvolk," which was the 74th episode (LXXIV) of the series. Thankfully, he appeared two more times after his death. One of those appearances was very special because it was in the 100th episode (C) of the series: "Unusual Suspects." This episode was all about the origin of The Lone Gunmen, and was set before his death.

The second time X appeared after his death could be considered the most special episode of the series, because it was in the series finale, "The Truth." This time, he appeared as a ghost. It would have been cool if the episode could have been the 200th episode, but it was actually a two-parter, which served as the 201st and 202nd episodes (CCI and CCII, respectively).

I wasn't a fan of the final episode of the series, but it was nice to see X again. Unfortunately, he was only a ghost in the episode. He couldn't really be anything else. He was dead after all.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wacky Wheat Widens Waistlines

I've actually never been a big fan of wheat products. Even back when I ate at fast food restaurants, I would throw away extra pieces of bread. Even when making burgers and sandwiches at home, I would tear off extra pieces that went over the side, opt for open-face, or just eat the contents plain with no bread. I've actually always preferred hot dogs with no bun.

This is pure evil ^_^
So, I was actually happy to hear on Dr. Oz that wheat is bad for you. In fact, it's nearly impossible to find wheat anywhere that has not been genetically altered in some foul way. The "Frankenwheat," as they called it, is highly addictive, and causes a higher insulin response than even a candy bar for most people.

Many people actually become highly addicted to wheat. Because it is not something that can cause withdrawal symptoms, they recommend that you stop eating wheat cold turkey. In fact, Dr. Oz and his guest recommend that everyone stop eating wheat, as it has almost no nutritional value, and can cause weight gain.

Yes, you can have pizza!
Since I don't even like the stuff, quitting was fairly easy. At least I wasn't hungry for it. The only thing that was somewhat difficult was finding things to eat that didn't have wheat. When I realized there were tons of foods out there that are both organic and gluten- or wheat-free (same thing), it was easy.

The crazy part is that we had actually gone totally organic, and had been making our own organic whole wheat bread for some time. But the researcher on the Dr. Oz show said that even whole wheat is bad. It's all "Frankenwheat." I'm inclined to believe that, because cutting out organic whole wheat is exactly what worked for me. I was able to find "heirloom" organic wheat, so I'm thinking that may be OK, since it's not "Frankenwheat." I haven't actually tried it though, because going wheat-free has been working so well for me.

... and S'mores!
As soon as I stopped eating wheat, I stopped gaining weight. The wheat-free diet, coupled with eating olives at each meal, has helped me to lose the extra pounds I've gained over the years, without changing anything els in my diet or exercise routine.

One last thing I want to mention is that I've become very in tune with my body. I really always was, but didn't realize that I was making the right choices until now. I think that not becoming easily addicted to anything helps in that regard, which makes me feel bad for anyone who has to deal with an addiction gene. Without an addiction problem, it's much easier to let your body guide you in making the right food choices. When you eat a food that doesn't sit well, you can just stop eating it.
I love these crackers!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Very Vehement Vagrants

For the four years I went to UCSD, I didn't have a car. I only lived on campus for one of those years. After I moved off campus, I took the bus everywhere. I had a few scary moments, some humorous moments and some strange moments. The two weirdest moments I had while taking the bus involved homeless people. The first one was on the bus, and the other while waiting at the bus stop.

Homeless guy story #1
One dark evening, I was on my way home after a long day at college, and another college student was sitting next to me near the front of the bus, in the seats that face toward the middle. She made a comment about something, and we began discussing our day. I was happy to possibly be making a new friend.

At the next stop, a homeless man got on the bus and sat by himself in the first set of seats facing forward, so he was looking at me from the side. There was one empty seat facing toward the middle between us.

It's hard to describe the smell. It was pretty much the worst thing I've smelled in my life. This guy smelled worse than a garbage dump. I don't know what was wrong with him, but he smelled as if he did all his business right in his pants, and never changed out of them at all, for years. I mean, it was an incredibly foul smell. And he wore about five layers of clothing, despite the fairly warm weather.

by Flickr user Joshua Putnam
The woman sitting next to me was way too obvious in her disgust. I could feel the homeless man's anger as he stared at us, seeing my new friend hold her nose and say, "Peeewww, grooooooosssss!!" I kept trying to shoot her a look, and even nudged her and shook my head slightly for her to stop, but it was too late. The guy got up angrily, flung his coat in my face, and sat right next to me.

My new "friend" finally shut her stupid mouth. I was a bit angry with her at this point, for not taking any cues. I know I can't blame her too much. Some people just don't understand social cues. But at the time, I was sort of upset, and just wanted to get home so I could wash my entire face with soap. That is exactly what I did when I got off the bus: I ran as fast as I could, all the way to my bathroom, and washed my mouth out (his clothing touched my mouth), washed my face, and took a shower.

Homeless guy story #2
One morning, I was sitting at the bus stop with other college students, waiting for the bus to get to our morning classes. A homeless man walked up, and stood around for awhile, staring at us. Thankfully, this man did not smell bad.

by Flickr user Senia L
He walked back and forth a few times until he finally decided to take a stand against "learning." He focused all of his anger at a poor little guy who was clearly the softest target of the bunch. He accused him of thinking he was wise because of his schooling, but in fact, had no idea what wisdom was. He claimed that wisdom only comes with age, and that he didn't know anything about life.

This homeless man claimed to have all the wisdom that comes with living for a long time on the streets. Clearly, harassing students who are trying to learn how to make a career for themselves creates great wisdom indeed.

He was so wise, in fact, that he decided to pull the kid's UCSD cap off his head, and throw it in the middle of the street. In his great wisdom, he saw the error of his ways, and walked slowly into the middle of traffic. With all his wisdom, he knew the cars wouldn't simply run him over, despite their screeching and honking horns.

When he brought the cap back, however, he must have forgotten why he had gone to retrieve it in the first place. I guess wisdom can be forgetful. He sort of wondered in circles, seeming to wonder why he was even holding a cap. When the original owner of the cap tried to grab it back, the homeless man yanked it away. He seemed to think the cap belonged to him now. So he put on his shiny new UCSD cap, freshly stolen and thrashed by automobiles, and walked away.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A to Z: Ugly Urban Utilities

First, another note on "Defiance" and catching up
They were supposed to publish the "Defiance" preview yesterday, but didn't get to it until today. So here's my preview, along with the first four minutes of next Monday's episode! Also, I'm going to be catching up on comments a bit here and there until the weekend, and especially the end of the month, when I'll be able to catch up on everything. I'll get to commenters on my own articles first, then work my way to everyone else. I really appreciate all the comments and awards and such! I'll be putting up the awards and nominating others soon too! Thanks!

Now, for those ugly utilities
I grew up part of my life on a farm, and one thing I took for granted was the natural beauty of everything. We didn't have any utilities. We had a well and a generator, and built our own water system. We could make our self-made utilities look as nice as we wanted them to look. Even now, living on 3/4 of an acre, there is a nice amount of nature outside my door. Except when I look up at the side of my house and see all the gross looking wires and boxes.

I know some people get to have underground electrical wires, but I get to have these disgusting wires hanging right over the middle of my yard. After some high winds (which we have all the time around here), those wires are now three feet closer to the ground. I can actually reach up and touch them now!

And then there are all the ugly telephone poles. The only thing good about them is the cute little woodpeckers that like to peck at the sides of them. One of the woodpeckers is Woody. He's got the red topknot and everything. Once in a while, a ginormous crow will sit right on top of one of them and give it a few good pecks as well. I hope they peck it right to the ground. Well, not really. They do serve a purpose other than being ugly.

Then there is the ugly Verizon FIOS box, sitting prominently right on the side of my house. Why do they give you such a big, ugly, off-white box? They give you awesome cable and Internet service, so why can't their box look awesome too? For the prices you pay, that box should be fully customizable.

This ugly box isn't even hidden on the back of the house. It's right on the side of the house, where we have our lovely patio set up with nice outdoor furniture. It's right outside the back door. And it's so big!

And don't even get me started on the new "Smart Meter" electrical box, installed by the town. Yeah, it's really smart at blowing out three surge protector strips. I just learned today that I'm not crazy. I was on the phone with Verizon setting up a new box, and they said that they've heard of many other similar cases, and that they probably won't do anything about it until a few houses burn down. Nice. I would love to shove that stupid -- sorry, "smart" -- thing up their you-know-whats!

The water meter isn't the worst thing in the world, except that it must remain accessible, and is an ugly piece of concrete in the middle of my otherwise unbroken natural landscape. You'd think by now they could come up with a better way to do all this metering in an easier, less ugly way. At the very least, they could make these meters and such look cool. They don't have to be gorgeous or anything.

It would also be nice if the buildings where you pay your utility bills, and that provide the utilities, were not so ugly either. I don't think I've ever seen a nice utility building. Why can't they at least come up with a pleasant building that blends into the area, instead of a monstrosity of an eyesore?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Teensy 'Talks' to Tippy

First, a note about my new weekly articles
I had mentioned in my S post that I would be writing recaps and previews for the new show "Defiance" each week. Well, I'm doing the previews, but the recaps will have to wait. They are postponing them for a bit, but I'm not sure for how long. It's OK though, because the previews are way more awesome than any recap could ever be anyway. Check out my latest exclusive preview for next week's episode!

Teensy and Tippy
I've talked about all of my animals so far, except these two kitties. They couldn't be more different, yet they are both "odd ducks."

video
Tippy goes nuts around the mid-makeover
emptied pool and yard
White-tipped tail Tippy is the most laid back of all the kittens, yet he has brief moments where he completely loses his mind and flips out. I'll be sitting in the living room watching TV, and he'll suddenly shoot through the doggy door, through the living room, and somewhere into the back of the house. Where? I have no idea. He'll be completely quiet back there for a few minutes, then suddenly blow past us in the other direction, and back outside.

Tippy casts a shadow
We have been working on a makeover for our backyard, so the pool has been emptied in preparation, and a few invasive "weed trees" have been chopped down. All the kitties love to play in the empty pool, and among the fallen trees. It's like a new playhouse for them. Tippy takes extra advantage of the new play area, however, by running and jumping wildly during his freak-outs. Just check out the video to see what I mean.

Tippy also enjoys being around people. He comes up to me, and nearly trips me trying to rub up against my legs and wind his way between them. He's also the only kitty who loves to have his tummy rubbed.

Teensy hides under the table
Teensy, on the other hand, loves to play with the other kitties, but takes off whenever a human comes around. She's the only kitty who is still not very tame, although I can scratch behind her ears when she comes in the house and sits on one of the dining room chairs. Consequently, all of the close-up photos I've ever been able to take of her are on the dining room chairs, or under the dining room table.

Teensy "talks" to Tippy
These are the only two kitties that rarely play with each other. They do play, but almost never. I often see Tippy playing with any of the other cats, and Teensy playing with any of the other cats as well. So this photo I took of the two of them sitting near each other, with Teensy yawning in a way that appears to be "talking," is a rare one indeed.
The perfect Tippy photo:
all eyes, white tippy tail, and little white chin and whiskers

Teensy relaxes under the table


You'll notice many more Teensy photos.
That is because it's more difficult to take
photos of Teensy, and she's so adorable.

Teensy appears to be posing, with her cute
little mouth slightly open, as if to speak.
Tippy lounges by the side of the empty pool.

Why, hello Teensy!

Teensy takes a regal pose, as if to say,
"I'm special."

Monday, April 22, 2013

I WILL Catch Up on Comments and Follows!

I'm way behind on comments and follows, but I'll be catching as soon as I can. I may have to wait until this weekend or the end of the month because of a project I have to finish by then. I will still be commenting whenever I have a chance until then, but it will be sparse. I will also be writing posts for my two new award nominations as soon as I can, but that may take a little time as well.

I'm really enjoying all the blogs. I also appreciate all the comments I am getting, so I want to show that appreciation by commenting and nominating others for awards. I'll get around to everyone soon! Thanks so much for all the comments and follows so far!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A to Z: Special Sunday Stuff

I'm doing my S post early, so I can have Monday off for work stuff. In fact, my new writing gig for Monday is part of what I'm going to talk about today. I've had three exciting things come up this past week, so this post is going to serve as a miscellaneous post to talk about those things.

"Defiance" articles
I'm a Yahoo Contributor, and have six weekly assignments writing about six different TV shows: "Grimm," "Suits," "Person of Interest," "Go On," "Elementary" and now "Defiance." Those first three were the first beats I ever got, based on a fan article I wrote about the show "Grimm."

Those three allow me to write about any topic relating to each of those shows each and every week, even when the show is on hiatus. The other three are for recaps only. I'm really excited about "Defiance," because it's a brand new show, and the recaps will include fun elements that have not been detailed yet.

My first "Defiance" preview article!
Along with the new recaps, I will have a second new weekly assignment for "Defiance." This other assignment will allow me to write about an exclusive preview video of the show each week before it airs. This will be my highest paying assignment so far, although I will not be paid for views.

The reason it will pay so well up-front is because it is a quick-turnaround piece. In fact, I got the assignment by doing the first video in the series on Friday. I had 30 minutes to complete the article, including the time it took to view the video, think about it, and look up the names of the characters and actors so I could get the correct spelling!

These new preview articles are not linked to my Yahoo Contributor profile, but they do link to a "blog" profile that will list all of my preview articles. It won't list my other articles, but it is kind of cool that my name will be on them, and that it looks as if I'm one of the Yahoo bloggers. I don't actually have access to that blog account, but it does put my name in a higher profile position, especially since all of these articles will be listed as "featured videos" on every page of Yahoo! TV.

My cousin's invention
My cousin Jesse invented a new kind of baby bottle! I'm so proud of him. He's so talented! Whenever I visit Jesse, we end up staying up for hours, just talking about various ideas and things we would like to invent. The baby bottle idea was undoubtedly spurned by the fact that he has a brand new baby daughter. Check out his invention, and vote for it if you think it's a good idea! Feel free to share it with your friends!

Three blogger awards
I'm so happy to have three blogger (two Liebster and one Very Inspiring Blogger) award nominations! I know these awards are just a way for bloggers to get more eyes on their blogs, but I feel honored to have been selected!

My blog is so new, and I don't even have a theme. As the title of my blog states, it's just "random musings." I suppose I just needed a way to get my thoughts out of my brain. I'm not really selling anything, and I don't even have a completed novel yet. I'm just laying down my thoughts -- and I love it! Who knew that random writings could make me so happy?

Perhaps it is because I've set aside a place for the blog in which I am free to write ... whatever. Someone asked when I thought I'd be done with a post I was working on, and my instinctive reaction was to say, "Please don't ever ask me a question like that when it comes to my blog." I was surprised to actually hear those words come out of my mouth, but that's how I feel.

When I write an article for payment, I have a schedule and deadline. But when I write for my blog, it's different; it's totally free writing: no limitations; no deadlines; no critical thinking; no thought put into removing sections, or tightening up for length and readability.

Extra stuff: Wild Kitty Cat Food and Ant Free bowls
The cute little packet on the right is mixed with water
and raw turkey to create the delicious (to a cat, anyway)
slop on the left. And it's placed in an Ant Free Pet Bowl!
I was so happy to find Wild Kitty for my cats! I just take a packet of vitamins and minerals, and mix it with some water and raw organic turkey. The kitties love it, and I'm so happy that they are getting fully digestible raw food, filled with enzymes. The main reason you can't just feed cats raw meat all the time is because it's not like what they would get from eating an animal in the wild; many of the nutrients are missing. So, Wild Kitty fills in by adding those missing nutrients back into the raw food. I love this stuff!

The other awesome find is the Bergan Ant Free Pet Bowls. Now that it's not freezing anymore, the cat food was beginning to swarm with ants. I had to put small bowls of food within larger bowls of water to create a mote. So I thought, there's got to be something that works this way without the horrible mess. I searched Amazon, and finally found something that is completely ant-free, because it has a built-in mote! They have smaller bowls, but those aren't entirely ant free. I wanted something fool proof for my active kitties, and this is it!


OK, I know I sound like a commercial, but I really do love these products. I'm not a Wild Kitty affiliate or anything. I did, however, use an Amazon affiliate link for the pet bowl. Hey, I have to make a living somehow!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Remembering Rugged Roads

I used to live on a farm for awhile when I was younger, and some of my favorite memories had to do with the dirt roads around the property. Some of the best memories I have were actually scary moments at the time. We had almost 500 acres, so we had plenty of roads around the area so we could get around with the tractor and truck

Part of the farm, where we had our mobile home, was on what I like to call the "upper level." The only way to get from the upper level to the lower level was via a very narrow, steep dirt road. My mom and dad never seemed to have trouble driving the truck down this narrow road, even though I always got nervous every time.

The tractor, on a wider road
The tractor was another matter. My parents had to do all sorts of finagling to get that thing down the road. It always looked as if it would simply tip over the side. There was nothing on the side of the road to stop it from doing just that. There was a hill that went straight up on the right, and a sheer drop-off on the left. But they always managed to get the job done.

Another memory I have involving those old roads is one where my only older cousin tried to get me to outrun my dad's van. This was on the lower level, where there was a long road alongside the creek. It was almost a forested area, with many trees on one side, and a steep hill with more trees on the other.

Me, when I was young,
with the wildflowers
This road was much wider, so the van could drive on the left side, while we had room to run alongside on the right. I was three years younger than my cousin, and much shorter. But he kept pushing me, telling me not to wimp out, telling me I could do it. At some point, however, I just couldn't go another inch without dying (or at least passing out).

One last memory I have involving the farm roads is from a time when my parents returned from a trip out of town. Whenever they came home from somewhere, I would run up to greet them on the road. This time, however, there was more than just my parents there to greet me.

One of the hills I used to hike down
I ran up the little hill beside the mobile home, and up to the main road. I was so happy to see them, and stood in the middle of the road to wave at them while they waved back.  Before I could walk up to get in the car, an enormous tarantula walked across the road between us.

I'm terrified of spiders! I froze, mouth agape, watching this monstrosity walking leisurely with its eight hairy legs as if nothing was wrong. From its perspective, there was nothing wrong at all. All it saw was some dirt, with maybe a place to eat on the other side of that dirt. All I saw was pure horror. My dad had to get out of the car to convince me to move my legs so I could get out of the middle of the road and ride back home.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fx5: Having Bananas and Water While Playing Hopscotch with Cats

I've joined the Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun Blog Hop. I found it on Sidetracked! while blog hopping for the A to Z Challenge. You can find out more and join here.

This week's statements:
1. I hate __
2. I used to love playing _____ as a kid
3. Common sense says ______, but I tend to ____________
4. Once, I was surprised to find myself __________________.
My answers:
1. I hate bananas that are not either green or in Bananas Foster.
2. I used to love playing hopscotch as a kid
3. Common sense says wear gloves when you pick up cats that aren't totally tame but I tend to use a lot of Neosporin.
4. Once, I was surprised to find myself swimming, after having been terrified of water since the time I was born.


Questing Quirky Qwerty

First, a bit about following and commenting
I'm about a day behind on commenting and following, but I'll be back to it in the early evening tonight and over the weekend. As you can see at the bottom of the right sidebar, I follow a ton of blogs, and have quite a few more that I have not yet placed in the sidebar but will soon. I'm pretty good about following up with comments on all of the blogs I follow.

When I find a blog that is listed somewhere as needing new comments, I usually follow them on Google Friend Connect, Google+, Networked Blogs, and Linky. I don't follow on social networks unless they follow me first, just because it takes so long when I'm following so many people. I do follow other bloggers back, however.

One thing that makes it much easier to find new commenters is when they leave a link to their blog when they comment. That way, I don't have to go searching for their blog. In fact, there have been one or two blogs I have not even been able to find. You can just paste the link in plain, or create a link like this:
<a href="YOUR_BLOG_URL">YOUR_BLOG_NAME_OR_URL</a>.

For example, I have the following typed into a plain text editor, which I bring up and copy for pasting into comments when I'm browsing through blogs:

#atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: <a href="http://kristenhead.blogspot.com/">kristenhead.blogspot.com</a>

Note that the part in quotes after href requires the "http://" at the beginning of the link. These comment signatures help so much!

My Macbook Air qwerty keyboard
Now, on to quirky qwertys
When I worked in a regular office, I had what was called an ergonomic keyboard. It looked weird and took some getting used to, but it was truly helpful at combating carpal tunnel syndrome.

Yes, I used to have carpal tunnel in my right arm, and it was extremely painful. The pain seemed to start in my hand, and went all the way up to my shoulder. I started using this weird special carpal tunnel hand mold they bought for the office, and it worked really well. The mold taught me how to do the correct hand exercises to reduce the pain.

The most worn keys
Soon after getting the mold, they started buying ergonomic keyboards at work. They stopped after people got frustrated with them and tossed them aside. I decided to give it a shot, and actually became a big fan. It really does help.

Now that I work from home, I no longer have that special keyboard. Additionally, the keyboard on my Macbook Air is wearing out. So, I thought I may buy a new ergonomic keyboard to use with it.

The culprit fingernails
I actually have a travel keyboard that I use with my laptop at times, just so I can set the screen farther away from me and just have the keyboard on my lap. But I think that would be much easier if the keyboard were ergonomic. I'm just beginning to feel a few pains of carpal tunnel again, and I really don't want to have to deal with that.

What is a qwerty keyboard?
In case you were wondering about the title of my post, most keyboards are also known as a qwerty keyboards. That is because the letters on most keyboards, reading from left to right, begin with q-w-e-r-t-y. Some companies tried introducing new keyboards in which the keys were in a different configuration, but they never took off.

The reason for the new configuration was that researchers had found that the most optimal configuration of keys that allowed the fastest possible typing was not the qwerty configuration. The reason nobody bought the new configuration, however, was because they were already used to the qwerty configuration. That's really too bad, because I would have liked to try it out ... but then I would be the only one using it, and I would have had to switch back to qwerty.
This is similar to the ergonomic keyboard I used to have.
Check it out here.

I was considering buying this adjustable travel ergonomic keyboard,
but I'll have to look into the reviews. It snaps into its own cover, to keep it safe!
Check it out here.