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Well this was the sign that greeted me when I got to the office yesterday. It was hanging on the door to Bev's office which I usually past through to get to mine. While I was explaining that we had to use the other entrance to my trusted travel companion, Seven the Dog, Bev popped out to tell me about our guest.

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This is Snowball, the one eyed, seven toed, deaf cat friend that is staying with us for a while. She was living with Bev's sister who can no longer have pets, so she is in search of a good home. Usually, this is the first step in adding a long term addition to the Greenleaf family; the cat friend is just on visiting status for a while until we finally admit the truth. We haven't had any cat friends living here in over a year, so this may truly be short term. Honestly though, as soon as I saw the "one eye" and "deaf" on the sign, I was figuring out where to put the litter box. We're suckers for purring fur around here and a cat that is down on their luck gets bonus points and the seven toe thing is the icing on the cake (my Grand Pops use to think it was a good omen). I'm staying out of this decision, but I'm betting that we have a new cat.

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A while back I blogged a story about concerns over cell phones affecting the bees' navigation system. In a nut shell, it basically said that cell phones might be keeping bees from pollinating crops which would ultimate lead to the extinction of the human race in four years. Well I'm here to tell you we can all relax and turn our phones back on. The giant colony of bees that moves into one of our warehouses every year (above) arrived like clockwork from where ever it is they spend their winters. Unfortunately though, this eliminates one more excuse I've used to avoid my diet (why worry about a few extra pounds if we're all dead in four years?), so it looks like I'm heading back to the gym come Monday (uh, that's next Monday).

I hope everyone has a great Fourth of July now knowing that you can swat at those pesky bees and use your cell phone without fear of destroying the world. Now using charcoal however, well that's a different story. On second thought, since it was 41 degrees here this morning, we can use a little of that global warming around these parts, so fire up some of those charcoal brickets and have a fantastic holiday!

This is from our local paper. Very rare indeed!

Bear roams near Coopertown school

By Mark Boshnack

Staff Writer

Things were a little out of the ordinary Thursday morning at Cooperstown Middle/High School when a bear was spotted behind the building, officials said.

The incident occurred without any injuries to the animal or humans, those interviewed said.

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A bear stands against a tree in the yard of a home on Linden Avenue in Cooperstown on Thursday. The Cooperstown Middle/High School (not visible) is in the area directly behind the bear.

An adolescent-sized black bear was seen next to the property on Linden Avenue around 7:50 a.m., Superintendent Mary Jo McPhail said, and a fence around that section of the school helped keep the bear off district property.

After it was sighted, she said, "We made an announcement to keep students and staff in the building as a precaution.

"We went about regular business," she said, and local law-enforcement officials were notified, who made sure the bear got back into the woods.

Cooperstown village police, Richfield Springs troopers and Otsego County sheriff’s deputies were at the scene.

David Bertram, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, was able to take a photo of the bear. School and law-enforcement officials handled the situation well, he said.

He has been teaching at Cooperstown for eight years. Although Bertram said he had never seen a bear near the school before, there have been more area sightings over the years.

Cooperstown Police Chief Diana Nicols said the bear went back into the woods at about 9:10 a.m.

A trooper "encouraged" it back in at the west side of Grove Street, she said. "We went there to make sure people maintained a safe distance."

A senior wildlife biologist with the Stamford Department of Environmental Conservation, Bill Sharick, said such encounters are becoming more common in Otsego County.

If people use common sense, he said, there is not much danger in these kinds of incidents. But since a bear is a wild animal, people should be careful not to back it into a corner and make it defensive.

It could be a combination of things that brought the bear out, he said.

Young male bears are often traveling this time of year to define their territory. It’s also very possible it was looking for food, Sharick said. If this was the case, to prevent its return, common precautions include storing garbage properly, thoroughly cleaning backyard barbecues and getting rid of birdseed.

Source: The Daily Star - Bear roams near Coopertown school

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In case you were wondering where Greenleaf Dollhouse Kits ship from, I snapped this photo of the Greenleaf Packaging and Fulfillment Center on my way to work today. This building is located in Middlefield, NY which is about 15 minutes away from our main manufacturing facility. My sister Lisa's runs this facility, so we don't see each other much even though we work together.

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Click the map for a better view of the area

The black "L" shape to the right of the push pin is a birds eye view of this location. As you can see, there's nothing but corn fields and trees, so when I say we're in the sticks, I'm not joking! The closest noteworthy town is Cooperstown, NY (about a five minute drive) which is home to The Baseball Hall of Fame, The Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers Museum. I live just north of Cooperstown, so I drive past the our Middlefield plant everyday on the way to my office in Schenevus, NY (which is also known as the Dollhouse Capital of the World in some circles).

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Bev's tribute to the Cat's of Greenleaf

A sad bit of Greenleaf trivia; the Packaging and Fulfillment Center is home to the last two surving members of the Greenleaf Feline Strike Force. Ever since I can remember, we have always had cats at Greenleaf. Up until a few years ago, we had three cat friends working at the Schenevus location and two in Middlefield. When I say working, their job was to brighten everyone's day. We lost the Schenevus unit all over a 12 month period, which included Tiger, a 17 year Greenleaf Veteran. Now the Middlefield Team is all that remains, with Casey Jones and Muffin Jr. carrying the torch for all those cat who came before them.

Two cats, one man and no pet carriers; even as I write this it sounds like a bad idea! Seven the dog has no trouble behaving in the car. She commutes back and forth to work with me so she puts on more miles in a year than most humans. So with this in mind, I headed off to the vets office this morning with Booty the cat and his cat brother Chang and said the heck with those stupid pet carriers, it a nice day and my boys will enjoy the scenery. Apparently the only scenery they wanted to see was on the floor of the drivers side of the car, because they seemed to move as a cohesive unit to get down to where those interesting peddles reside. This started the minute I pulled out the driveway and continued until I was past the half way mark to our final destination.

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I'm please with the fact that they are finally calming down and acting like respectable travelers, so I grab my cell phone a take a quick picture to share with my gal who thought I was nuts for leaving without the pet carriers. It seems that Chang was concerned that I might be taking boring pictures, so right after this shot the decided to spice things up a bit by throwing up all over his brother. Of course, Booty's first reaction was to get the hell away from Chang, so he jumps into my lap and proceeds to use my cell phone, arm, shirt and shorts for vomit removal. After a few colorful phrases, I toss them both in the back seat while I attempt to cover the vomit with items laying around the car to prevent them from tracking it all over the place, but Chang isn't much concerned about keeping the car clean. In fact, he decided to remove any doubt I had about the use of cat carriers by taking a crap on the back seat. By the time we arrived at the vets, the three of us were a stinking mess!

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The first order of business at the vets office was to purchase two brand new cat carriers which are now stacked up with the other two I already had in the garage. Between cleaning the cats, my car and myself, this was a hard learned lesson!

I caught this article and started to wonder why I'm trying to loose weight if we're all going to be dead in four years anyway. It seems I can't pick up a paper with out someone trying to scare the pants off me about something!

There's a large colony of bees that show up in one of our warehouse every summer. If I don't see them by the Fourth of July, its Big Mac time!

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Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees

By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross

Published: 15 April 2007

It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.

They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.

Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: "There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK."

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees.
Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks.

German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.

Dr George Carlo, who headed a massive study by the US government and mobile phone industry of hazards from mobiles in the Nineties, said: "I am convinced the possibility is real."

The case against handsets

Evidence of dangers to people from mobile phones is increasing. But proof is still lacking, largely because many of the biggest perils, such as cancer, take decades to show up.

Most research on cancer has so far proved inconclusive. But an official Finnish study found that people who used the phones for more than 10 years were 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side as they held the handset.

Equally alarming, blue-chip Swedish research revealed that radiation from mobile phones killed off brain cells, suggesting that today's teenagers could go senile in the prime of their lives.

Studies in India and the US have raised the possibility that men who use mobile phones heavily have reduced sperm counts. And, more prosaically, doctors have identified the condition of "text thumb", a form of RSI from constant texting. Professor Sir William Stewart, who has headed two official inquiries, warned that children under eight should not use mobiles and made a series of safety recommendations, largely ignored by ministers

Source: Are mobile phones wiping out our bees? - Independent Online Edition > Wildlife

I thought I escaped the marketing genius of Nabisco, but the manager at the grocery store moved the Limited Edition Oreo's up to the checkout area. Luckily, I only had a few and brought the rest to the office for Bev to eat! Bev can stand to gain a few pounds, so I think that this slip has caused little damage. In the future, I will avoid food shopping on an empty stomach!

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Bev enjoys Oreo's, but not the camera!

The first week of May has done little to help me reach this months goal of dropping 15 pounds, but I feel confident that I will hit my mark by the months end.

Resize digital pictures quickly

While it's great that newer digital cameras can take beautiful 5-, 6-, or 7-megapixel pictures, using such large photo files on the web can become a problem. At our forum, these large files in a post or blog entry can limit the amount of pictures you can upload. Additionally, many users are on dial-up connections which can result in painfully slow image viewing. Resizing pictures before you post them is made simpler using a free Windows XP download called the Image Resizer, which is one of the many handy tools that make up the Microsoft PowerToys for Windows XP.

You can also use the Image Resizer to resize photos before you upload them to your Gallery. Thought the Gallery will resize your image to a maximum size of 800 x 600, uploading larger files can be problematic and time consuming. For this reason we recommend that you use the medium setting in Image Resizer before uploading images to any area of the forum.

Of course, this tool will come on handy outside the forum as well. For instants, e-mailing large photo files can clog up your recipient's Inbox. Resizing pictures before you e-mail them — or even before you burn them to a CD — is just a click away with this free tool. You can also resize photos so they'll fit on a compatible cell phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), or Portable Media Center so you can enjoy your photos while on the go. Using the Image Resizer is easy, and it will preserve your original photos for other uses you may have in the future.

Using the Image Resizer

You'll want to begin by making sure your pictures are well organized. Because your digital camera probably gives pictures an arbitrary and confusing name, such as dscn0809.jpg, be sure to rename your photos to something easily identifiable at a glance, such as flowers.jpg. Ordinarily, it's recommended that you make a backup of your original digital photo before resizing it. However, Image Resizer creates a duplicate file in the same folder as your original and resizes the duplicate; your original picture file is not altered in any way during the process.

1. Open the folder that contains the pictures you want to resize. In Thumbnail view, right-click any picture you want to resize, and click Resize Pictures.

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2. In the Resize Pictures dialog box, click the size you want your photo to be, and click OK. In general, Small is a good selection for most of your needs, such as e-mailing pictures or posting them to a Web site.

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3. The original file, flowers.jpg, is still intact; and a new, resized file, named flowers (Small).jpg, has been added to the same folder.

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Resize multiple photos at once

To resize a sequence of photos at once, click the first photo in the sequence, hold down the SHIFT key, and click the last photo in the sequence. All the photos in between those that you clicked will be selected. Follow the steps outlined previously to resize the sequence of selected photos.

To resize nonsequential photos in a folder, click the first photo, and hold down the CTRL key while you click the other pictures you want to resize. Once you have your photos selected, follow the steps outlined previously to resize the selected photos.

Advanced features

Image Resizer includes some additional advanced features. Click the Advanced tab to show the following options:

Custom lets you manually set the size you want for your photos.

Make pictures smaller but not larger constrains resizing to only sizes smaller than the original photo.

Resize the original pictures (don't create copies) permanently applies resizing to your original photo.

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With this easy way to resize your pictures, you just might start sharing all your photos—rather than just a few—with your friends and family.

Over the past few years I've been using my blog mostly for technical notes, but last fall I deleted all the entries so that I could use it for a tutorial on how to get the most out of our community blogs. Well, I'm no closer to writing that tutorial, but I figured I'd make it available anyway. There are a few key features I think are being overlooked, so as time allows, I will add a post about these features. This post will start us off and it's all about Content Blocks!

What are Content Blocks?

When you first set your blog up, you'll notice a stack of boxes, or "blocks" to the right of the entries area... the calendar counts as a content block, for example. So does the list of your most recent entries, blog categories, etc. These content blocks are customizable! You can re-order them, you can delete them completely. You can also create new ones!

Why Bother with Content Blocks?

Content blocks are a cool way to personalize your blog and further connect with your readers. You can use them to prominently highlight stuff that interests you, or is important to you. For example, I added a "What's Been Keeping Me Busy" content block, which links to the books I'm currently reading, movies I'm watching, games I'm playing and sites I'm browsing. You just need to glance over to the right side of the page and you'll know what I'm up to! You could create a content block about your current miniature projects, a brief bio, or create a block you update daily with your mood, what you're listening to, what's for dinner - the possibilities here are endless! If you decide to add pictures to your content blocks, the default width is 250 pixels so it's important that any pictures you add are small enough to fit.

How to Setup Content Blocks

  • Click My Blog

  • Click the Content Blocks Button

  • From the menu that drops down, click Add Custom Content Block

  • Type in a Block Name

  • Type in your text! Just like your blog entries, you can format it and include images and links.

  • Preview and/or submit

    • Click My Controls
    • On the far left menu, scroll down to Community Blog
    • Click Content Blocks Settings
    • Scroll down to add new content block or reorganize your existing blocks.
    • Even simpler, you can click on the title bar of any content block and drag it into a new position. So easy!
    • Done! That's all there is to it! You can now edit/delete your custom blocks right from your main blog page, which makes updating easy. I look forward to seeing how you put your Content Blocks to use!

Well it is Monday, the official start of my diet. Well a, no actually, I meant next Monday. Unfortunately, this is a little game I play with myself at the beginning of every week. I eat everything in site over the weekend claiming it's my last ho-rah, then Monday finally comes. I skip breakfast and then lunch. By this time of day I'm flat out starving and the whole idea of a diet is sounding pretty stupid.

I know many people will never understand what it's like to have a weight problem. I'm going to wait until next Monday (the new official starting date) before I reveal my weight, but lets just say for now that I'm not one of those types that worry about eating a cookie after lunch ... I worry about eating a whole box! My weight problem is significant and I will get it under control starting next Monday!

OK, maybe it's not me, maybe it's the day so I'm putting it to a vote. You may have noticed I left out Saturday and Sunday. That's because only a crazy person would think that those are great days to start a diet.

Living out in the sticks sometimes has it's draw backs, one of which is movie rentals. Back in the dark days, I would have to drive 20 minutes one way to find out what wasn't available at my local rental place and usually end up with something other then what I went out for. To make matters worse, I'd get stressed out about returning the movies before I was saddle with late fees.

Well that all changed when Netflix came online. Netflix was the first and largest major online DVD rental service, offering flat-rate rental-by-mail to customers in the US. It's simple enough, you create an ordered list, called a rental queue, of DVDs to rent. The DVDs are delivered individually by way of the United States Postal Service from an array of regional warehouses. You keep a rented DVD as long as desired but your limited on the number of DVDs (determined by subscription level) that can be checked out at any one time. To rent a new DVD, you just mail the previous one back to Netflix in a prepaid mailing envelope. Upon receipt of the disc, Netflix ships another disc in your rental queue (usually on the same day).

Now this might sound like a giant plug for Netflix, and that's because it is! Why? Because Netflix is about two of my favorite pastimes, the Internet and Television! I don't care where you live and even if there is rental place right next door, with over 65,000 titles and subscription plans starting at $5.99 per month, Netflix will bring a new level of entertainment to your home!

OK, enough of that! If you think that was bad, wait until you here my plug for Tivo! So with out a further sales pitch, here's what's happening in my Netflix account:

Next in my queue

As part of the "Why Blog" tutorial, I'm offering a brief description of each of my categories as examples of potential subjects that members might want to cover in a blog.

Sharing what happened way back when can give others some incite into who you are and what's important to you. For instants, reflecting back on when you got your first dollhouse and the events that led up to it might help communicate your passion.

As part of the "Why Blog" tutorial, I'm offering a brief description of each of my categories as examples of potential subjects that members might want to cover in a blog.

Like many of us, I have had a life long struggle with my weight. Documenting your progress and set backs can be instrumental in reaching your final goal regardless of the challenge. Besides holding yourself accountable you may also be a source of inspiration for some who is fighting their own demons.

As part of the "Why Blog" tutorial, I'm offering a brief description of each of my categories as examples of potential subjects that members might want to cover in a blog.

Well this is point of interest item that might bring people to visit my blog who want to know what I have in the hopper for our community. It's important to remember that though you might be writing for yourself, if you have nothing interesting to share your blog may very well go unnoticed.

As part of the "Why Blog" tutorial, I'm offering a brief description of each of my categories as examples of potential subjects that members might want to cover in a blog.

It's very easy to get lost in the details of a project, if it's at home or at work. Keeping a blog on your progress at these task sometimes brings a new perspective as you're collecting your thoughts and may also lead to the encouragement of others.

As part of the "Why Blog" tutorial, I'm offering a brief description of each of my categories as examples of potential subjects that members might want to cover in a blog.

Though it may not be very popular amongst some these days, my pride in being an American has never been greater. My love of country defines me as a person and is in the forefront of my daily life.

Sharing something you're passionate about in your blog will reinforce your beliefs and if done in a respectful way, may enlighten others. Though it is your personal blog, you must be considerate of others.

As part of the "Why Blog" tutorial, I'm offering a brief description of each of my categories as examples of potential subjects that members might want to cover in a blog.

In an attempt to keep things organized, I created this category for everything that doesn’t really fit into my other categories. The benefit of this is viewers can still use the sort option in case they’re just interested in random thoughts. Otherwise, they have to sort through entries about subjects that they no they have zero interest in.