Greetings from Derbyland Season 2
Our show brings awareness to Roller Derby in the VA, DC, MD, NC, WV, and DE region through Bout footage, MVP Interviews, and News.

Greetings From Derbyland is a show with the goal of bringing awareness to Roller Derby in the VA, DC, MD, NC, WV, and DE region through Bout footage, MVP Interviews, and News. We just finished season one a few weeks ago. There were a lot of challenges we faced with season one, from sound to video and bout coverage. We are volunteers in the world of Roller Derby and we want to keep this show coming to you for free. For that we need your help. Please watch the video below and then click the link to learn more, like the new page, and subscribe to the new channel. And if you can’t donate, just share or like this post to help spread the word. We only have until February 10th. Thank you all so much! 

Lahar's Bakery—Recent (and not so recent) diversions

Catching up on a few things that I’ve made the past two months. Unfortunately I have not yet realized that I always have a camera in my pocket and don’t have pictures for everything.

- Peanut butter cookies (yet another America’s Test Kitchen recipe): I had made these a few months back as a graduation gift for someone who could not have chocolate and they had come out pretty well. This time they tasted great, but unfortunately did not hold together very well (partially because the bag they were in took a lot of abuse as I was running through the rain while also carrying two pieces of luggage). This was either because (a) in my impatience on the night before leaving town, I didn’t bake them long enough; (b) the natural peanut butter I used wasn’t mixed well enough and was too runny; or © using whole wheat flour to replace half of the flour, instead of a white whole wheat or just all-purpose flour.

- Chocolate sheet cake from The Pioneer Woman: This one turned out a lot better than it ever should have, thanks to some hacking. I needed a simple chocolate cake recipe as a gift to my non-baker hosts, and this fit the bill. The recipe is unfussy and straightforward although a bit rich—the cake and icing require nearly a pound of butter—so a small slice is enough. Even a small slice was really good when warm, even if re-heated in the microwave, and served with some greek yogurt, making a great contrast to the rich, warm cake. Definitely a thumbs up and something I’d make again if I needed a quick cake.

- Strawberry rhubarb pie (from you-know-where): I have learned (albeit several weeks after the fact) to make sure that you keep your various white powders straight. The filling tasted great, but was a complete runny mess, compounded by my attempt to pull the hot pie from its baking sheet full of pie effluvia and place it into another pie dish, only managing to get it half way in before the juice solidified into (delicious, delicious) glue. A few weeks later while cleaning out my spice cabinet I realized my little bag of cream of tartar had gone missing…cream of tartar that closely resembles arrowroot, of which I actually had a very large bag. Oops. Thankfully cream of tartar isn’t as toxic as raw rhubarb leaves…

- Southern carmel cake (you cannot get me to say “caramel”): This is a grand cake meant for a special occasion, such as a farewell party for a colleague (for which it was indeed made). It’s fairly easy to assemble, as layer cakes go, and the carmel icing firms up beautifully as it cools. The “grand” bit comes from the fact that this is a rich cake that uses nearly a full pound of butter between the base and the icing. The result is appropriately delicious, but between the six of us we could only eat a quarter of this cake. The remainder was much appreciated at the lab the next day. - Fig bars, from Jennifer Reese’s Make the Bread Buy the Butter: provided you can find a pound of reasonably-priced dried figs (I bought three 6-oz bags of Sun-Maid figs for something like $2.50 each) the hardest part is rolling these together since the exterior is as uncooperative as any other pasty crust. (It also didn’t help that Reese says to pile the fig mixture along the “spine” of the rectangle, a term I don’t remember being used in my geometry class. She means along the middle in the long direction, or along the major axis, if you prefer that term.) These beat the pants off of any Fig Newton. The outside is crispy and delicate, the inside fruity and not too sweet. These do better when cut wider, as in the lower of the two rolls in the picture above. - Ultimate banana bread Yah, I did this one before, but this time I used frozen black bananas that I thawed in the microwave, which allowed me to skip cooking the bananas and then straining and reducing their liquid. As noted in the recipe frozen bananas don’t need to be cooked to release their liquid—freezing ruptures the cell walls and allows the liquid inside to pour out—and the liquid that did come out was pretty thick to begin with. This cuts down on the fussiness substantially and allows you to have a loaf in the oven in half an hour. I skipped the banana-shingling again and just topped it with a lot of chopped walnuts—my girlfriend had recently made banana bread that was completely coated with walnuts, which I chickened out on—and again with some granulated sugar. The bread was again very flavorful, and not overly dense or underbaked, and had a crunchy topping. I’m really starting to believe that America’s Test Kitchen has been gilding the lily again. I’m so disillusioned…I should eat more banana bread…

UFO 2009 11 02 - Mexico Texapan - 02

UFO 2009 11 02 – Mexico Texapan – 02

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UFO 2010 PLAYLISTE = Diesen Bericht habe ich bei entnommen November 2009: Zeuge filmt bizarre Flugobjekte über Tepexpan Texapan/ Mexiko – Im vergangenen November gelangen dem Ingenieur Viktor Gonzales zwei…

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Greetings from Derbyland Season 1

Hey guys our show Greetings from Derbyland just wrapped up Season One a few weeks ago and we are getting ready for Season 2 to start very soon. We are doing a small survey to see what people think of this season and see what you would like to see more of in this next season. Its real short and real quick and it would help us out a lot. 

Lahar's Bakery—Kinda gooey snickerdoodle cake

It’s nearly baseball season, although you wouldn’t know it here in Jerseyland by the freezing temperatures (and the size of my power bill), and my thoughts turn to my beloved St Louis Cardinals, coming off of a second consecutive year just short of another championship. OK, really, I haven’t been to St Louis in many years and certainly never actually ate any of the local food (ice cream in an inverted miniature batting helmet doesn’t count). In fact, the first time I heard of “gooey butter cake” was in the 5 Spot, 1500 miles away in Seattle.

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While looking through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook the st. louis gooey butter cake caught my eye and I decided to go ahead and make it. There are no special ingredients in it, just a lot of sugar and butter with a little flour and cinnamon.

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Not having been patient enough to soften the butter properly resulted in both a cookie base and a “gooey layer” that were both pretty stiff and hard to spread properly, so it took a bit of work to get it to form it in the pan, and really the gooey layer wasn’t much less viscous than the substrate.

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The “snickerdoodle” part arises from the layer of cinnamon sugar on top, which the author claims to be a lot but doesn’t make a real thick layer in my 13-by–9 pan with too much parchment paper. It was enough to make a nice crispy layer on top once it came out of the oven.

I may have overcooked the cake a bit, so the gooey layer seemed more like just an undercooked layer, and I don’t know how people at work really took to it other than the fact that it disappeared pretty quickly. I thought it was pretty good, although next time I’ll skip the pretense of the St Louis label and just make snickerdoodles.

A Brief History of the Pietà
  • A Brief History of the Pietà
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class

While Michelangelo’s sculpture of Mary holding the deceased body of Christ is the most famous depiction of that moment in art, that scene has been the focus of many works. And once, the famous version took a trip across the ocean.

Here’s a link to our notes and research.

Photo of the Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica by Stanislav Traykov (GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Photo of the Pietà Palestrina by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Photo of the Pietà Bandini by By Sailko (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Photo of the Pietà Rondanini by © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Where Your Elements Came From
Image Credit: Cmglee (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Explanation: The hydrogen in your body, present in every molecule of water, came from the Big Bang. There are no other appreciable sources of hydrogen in the universe. The carbon in your body was made by nuclear fusion in the interior of stars, as was the oxygen. Much of the iron in your body was made during supernovas of stars that occurred long ago and far away. The gold in your jewelry was likely made from neutron stars during collisions that may have been visible as short-duration gamma-ray bursts. Elements like phosphorus and copper arepresent in our bodies in only small amounts but are essential to the functioning of all known life. The featured periodic table is color coded to indicate humanity’s best guess as to the nuclear origin of all known elements. The sites of nuclear creation of some elements, such as copper, are not really well known and are continuing topics of observational and computational research.

19 Free Alternatives to Photoshop
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Adobe Photoshop is a powerful raster graphics editor which supports layers, masks and several color models. In addition to the built-in tools and functions, there are plugins available to expand its capabilities. Photoshop is known by most as the industry standard in image editing, and its name has even become a verb in the modern English language.

So, why doesn’t every one use Photoshop? Well, all those features come with a larger pricetag that many casual users are comfortable with. So if you’re looking for image editing software without the price tag, here are 19 free alternatives to Photoshop.


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By The GIMP Development Team (GIMP and GTK+ installers for Windows web site) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free image editing program available for several operating systems including Windows, OS X and Linux. GIMP is also open source software which means you can access the program and modify it to suit your needs as necessary. This has enabled the generation of many 3rd party plugins which expand the capabilities of this already powerful software. GIMP is probably the most well-known free alternative to Photoshop.


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Paint.netis a free photo and image editing software for Windows. support layers, its undo has unlimited history, and it comes with many special effects and editing tools. With a large user base, it’s easy to find helpful tutorials on their forums or a plugin to help you achieve your desired effect. ( was also included in this list of 15 powerful free computer programs.)

3. Gimpshop

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By CrazyTerabyte at en.wikipedia [GPL (], from Wikimedia Commons

Gimpshop is modification of the open source software GIMP. The programmer who created Gimpshop was attempting to make the user interface feel more like that of Photoshop. It’s available for the Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Its impressive features include layers, filters, masks, channels, levels and more. Their site includes a video tutorial library to help you master the effects and tools it offers.

4. Photofiltre

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Photofiltre is image editing shareware available for the Windows operating systems. The software offers brushes, masks, filters and more. There are also two premium paid versions which include layer capability, animated GIF formation and vector adjustments.

5. Pixia

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Pixia is a Japanese painting program. The program was translated to English and is available for Windows operating systems. Their site includes tutorials and links to user generated filters.

6. Seashore

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Seashore is an open source image editor available for Mac’s OS X. It’s based on GIMP technology but modified to allow for more user friendly image editing. Seashore includes layers, brushstrokes, and other tools. However, the software is still in development and users are likely to encounter bugs, according to their website.

7. Cinepaint

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Cinepaint is raster-based image-retouching software available for linux and Mac operating systems. According to the original about page, Cinepaint has been used by Sony Picture Imageworks (and other studios) in the creation of animated films. This GIMP-based software supports high fidelity image file formats and up to 32 bit color channels.

8. Inkscape

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By Ramón Retamar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Inkscape is a free, open source, vector graphics program available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Inkscape is full of built in tools and functions with more available through user created add-ons. They boast a large community which can be found on their site forum and on several social media platforms.

9. Xara Xtreme

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Xara Xtreme for Linux is a graphics editing program available for Linux. It is an open source, vector drawing program based on Xara Xtreme for Windows. There are tutorials and videos available on their site as well as a group forum.

10. Krita

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By Tyson Tan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Krita is an open source, raster based program designed for illustrating, sketching and painting. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Krita has layer support and includes transforming, brush and drawing assistant tools.

11. Chocoflop

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Chocoflop is an image editing program available for Mac. Although development of this software was discontinued it still runs on OS Leopard. The software supports layers, has several filters and tools and allows for non-destructive image editing.

12. Photoplus

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Photo courtesy of Serif website

Photoplus by Serif is an easy and free photo editing software for Windows. It has the basic tools you’d need for cropping and retouching images, removing red-eye and restoring old photographs. The Photoplus starter edition is free. For extra features you can purchase the full program.

13. Fotor

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Fotor is free software that provides photo editing, filters, borders and batch processing. You can download the program for Windows or Mac, the app for iOS or Android or just use it online in your browser.

14. Pixlr

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Pixlr is a photo editor which includes effects, borders, overlays, stickers, refining, editing and stylizing tools. (If you prefer to pay for the pro version you’d have access to even more tools). It’s available as a download for Windows or Mac, an app for iOS or Android or for use in your browser.

15. Sumopaint

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Sumopaint is an impressive photo editor full of tools, filters and capabilities (including layers) that you can use directly in your web browser. If you prefer to have a downloaded copy to work offline you can do that for a small fee.

16. Picmonkey

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Picmonkey is a free online photo editor which has tools, filters, borders, overlays and more. You can use Picmonkey for free or upgrade your account to remove ads and increase the number of filters and tools available. (The majority of images on this tech tips site were generated with the help of Picmonkey).

17. Canva

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Canva is an online photo editor that includes built in design elements, text overlays, predesigned layouts and more. There are also stock images available (for a fee) to help you kickstart your design. For additional options, including the option to save working images in team folders, you’ll need to pay for the upgrade to Canva for work.

18. Pixenate

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Pixenate is an online photo editor that includes basic picture editing tools and functions like redeye reduction, teeth whitening and brightness adjustments. There are also tools for writing and adding shapes on top of your image.

19. Ribbet

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Ribbet is an online photo editor which gives you the ability to store your photos (and editing history) online. The stored editing history gives you more flexibility in making (and undoing) changes to your pictures. There are filters, overlays and stickers available to add to your picture. Or, create a collage from several of your photos and upload them directly to Facebook or Flickr.

Which is your favorite free alternative to Photoshop?

Featured photo credit: home-office1 / Steve Wilson via

The post 19 Free Alternatives to Photoshop appeared first on Lifehack.

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Saint Paul Island
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Photo: B.navez (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia CommonsSometimes you feel like an explorer. A modern-day explorer, who spends way too many hours reading books and searching the Internet. You’re fascinated by remote places that few have ever heard of and even fewer could pinpoint on a map.…

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Clawing my way up through the trough of disillusionment with learning analytics

See on - Informática Educativa y TIC

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(image: Jeremykemp at English Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons) Warning -this is a bit of a moan post. Last week I attended the Jisc Learning Analytics Network meeting. It was a really good day, lots of people there, lots of good sharing, moaning, asking where next-ing.  One of the…

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Upcoming class: Modernizing enterprise data centers for fun and profit

Cern datacenter
Photo credit: By Hugovanmeijeren (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been struggling for years to convince executives in large enterprises to fix the incentive, reporting, and other structural problems in data centers.  The folks in the data center know that there are issues (like having separate budgets for IT and facilities) but fixing those problems is “above their pay grade”.  That’s why we’ve been studying the clever things eBay has done to change their organization to take maximal advantage of IT, as summarized in this case study from 2013:

Schuetz, Nicole, Anna Kovaleva, and Jonathan Koomey. 2013. eBay: A Case Study of Organizational Change Underlying Technical Infrastructure Optimization. Stanford, CA: Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, Stanford University.  September 26.

That’s also why I’ve worked with Heatspring to develop the following online course, the third instance of which starts May 2nd and goes through June 12th, 2016:

Modernizing enterprise data centers for fun and profit  

I also wrote an article for the September 2015 issue of DCD focus with the same name, which describes the rationale for the class.

Here’s the course description:

This is a unique opportunity to spend six weeks learning from Jonathan Koomey, a Research Fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University, and one of the foremost international experts on data center energy use, efficiency, organization, and management.

This course provides a road map for managers, directors, and senior directors in Technology Business Management (TBM), drawing upon real-world experiences from industry-leading companies like eBay and Google. The course is designed to help transform enterprise IT into a cost-reducing profit center by mapping the costs and performance of IT in terms of business KPIs.

Executives in this course will gain access to templates and best practices used by leaders in your data center. You’ll use these templates to complete a Capstone Project, in which you will propose management changes for your organization to help increase business agility, reduce costs, and move their internal IT organization from being a cost center to a cost-reducing profit center.

I’m excited about this class, but we need more signups by early May. Please spread the word by sending this blog post to upper level management in the company where you work.

Sign up, or find out more…

Mythic Monday: Brigid's Day

Mythic Monday: Brigid’s Day

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By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

On the ever turning Wheel of the Year, today marks the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the onset of spring. The sun grows stronger, as the light outwits the darkness. The holy day is celebrated under various names, including…

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