By Dave Demerjian December 23, 2008 | 5:05:28 PM
Santa Claus may be able to fly around the world in a sleigh, but even he can't cross North American airspace without NORAD knowing about it.
For more than 50 years, the joint American-Canadian air command that safeguards the continent against aerial attack has used its sophisticated tracking technology to follow Kris Kringle's journeyand provide real-time updates on his location to children worldwide.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command gave us a rundown of how it does the job.
The North Warning System, a network of 47 radars strung across the continent's northernmost frontier, tells NORAD when St. Nick takes off from the North Pole. Infrared satellites track the jolly old elf's flight path once he's airborne. "The satellites actually pick up an infrared signature from Rudolph's nose," Navy Lt. Desmond James told us.
Once Santa touches down, a little-known network of surveillance cameras called "Santa Cam" transmit images of St. Nick making deliveries. The global network went online 10 years ago, and NORAD officials swear it is used only on Christmas Eve. Four C-18 fighter jets escort Santa through Canada before handing the job over to F-16s as the sleigh enters American airspace. Canadian Air Force Capt. Matthew Maurice is among the pilots assigned to the job.
"He's looking forward to the responsibility of making sure Santa makes it through Canadian airspace," the pilot's mother told the Burlington Post. “He’s busy making preparations. They’re training on a daily basis to handle whatever comes up.”
Tracking Kris Kringle became part of NORAD's mission in 1955, when the organization was called the Continental Air Defense Command and Col. Harry Shoup was the man in charge. Sears-Roebuck had put an ad in the local paper listing Santa's phone number, but the number was misprinted. Instead of ringing the department store, it rang CONRAD's ops center. Shoup got the first call, and rather than being a Scrooge, he told the tyke, "Let me check the radar."
A tradition was born. (You can hear Shoup talk about the experience here.)
In the half century since, NORAD has expanded and updated the program, which provides updates in seven languages. "We added the online component ten years ago," James says. "And today, Google software outputs images from the Santa Cams, and Google Maps and Google Earth track his trajectory."
These days, kids can track Santa's progress online, by cellphone or Blackberry and even by Twitter. Volunteers have been doing most of the work for a few years now, and the whole thing is funded largely through corporate donations. Last year, more than 1,000 volunteers answered 94,743 phone calls and replied to 10,326 e-mails from kids around the world. Another 11 million people visited the noradsanta.org Web site.
Track Santa's progress by calling 1-877-HINORAD, sending an email to email@example.com or by logging on to noradsanta.org. NORAD says its intelligence indicates Santa will be departing the North Pole at 6 p.m. EST.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
In which direction is the bus pictured above traveling?
Do you know the answer?
The only possible answers are "left" or "right."
Still don't know?
Keep reading for the answer and explanation...
When pre-school children were shown this picture and question, they all answered "left." When asked why, they answered "Because you can't see the door." Feel pretty dumb now, don't you? I did too!
But this teaser illustrates a good concept to remember whenever you start thinking your memory is terrible. While most of us think our memories are pretty lousy, imagine if our memories were absolutely perfect. You might have been able to answer this puzzle correctly, since you could compare this image to all the school bus images you have in your head, and only the ones going left would match.
On the other hand, imagine having eidetic, or photographic, memory and remembering every single detail of every single day of your life. It would be insurmountable to filter through all that data retrieve useful information. (In real life, there have been very few people with eidetic memory, and some people speculate if there is such a thing at all.) So, your mind remembers things that it pays attention to because they are deemed important. Think of emotion-laden memories. With good or bad experiences- the memories are detail rich. Therefore, if you need to remember more - either do things that are more meaningful to you or find a way to ascribe meaning to what you're trying to remember.
found at Sharp Brains
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn't looking I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and trust.
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn't looking I looked at you and wanted to say,’ Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'
Friday, December 19, 2008
Google Chrome 1.0
Google recently released their first full version of the web browser Chrome,
and by most accounts, it's a valuable addition in this particular area of applications.
Visitors will note that the focus here is on the pages that people are viewing, rather than the sometimes cumbersome applications and tools that are gathered around the borders.
Chrome doesn't really offer many plug-ins, but it does have detachable tabs which can be rearranged as users see fit.
This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP and newer.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Memory loss that disrupts everyday life is not a normal sign of aging. It may be a sign of dementia, a gradual and progressive decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease.
The Alzheimer's Association has developed a checklistto help you recognize the difference between normal age-related memory changes and the possible warning signs of Alzheimer's disease. Make yourself familiar with the 10 Warning Signs © of Alzheimer's disease on the Alzheimer's Association Web site.
If you or someone you love is exhibiting the 10 Warning Signs, don't assume it's Alzheimer's. It may be difficult to decipher between normal changes and changes that are related to dementia. Set up an appointment with your doctor to share your symptoms and obtain a diagnosis.
You may fear a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or feel hesitant about approaching a doctor with your concerns. Although this is common, keep in mind that early detection of the disease offers significant benefits. In the early stages of Alzheimer's, individuals still have an ability to understand their symptoms and make decisions regarding care and planning. Those who are diagnosed correctly can begin treatment immediately and explore participation in clinical trials.
For more information about Alzheimer's disease, or to connect to care and support services, contact the Alzheimer's Association. Information is available online at www.alz.org or by calling the 24/7 Helpline at 1.800.272.3900.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
With more than 3,000 members, the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association is one of the largest organizations of its kind in Canada and is one of the very few with ownership in its building and facilities. We have a straightforward objective...the enrichment of senior life. We are a non-profit, charitable organization, GWSA partners with the City of Guelph in the operation of the Evergreen Seniors Centre, a state-of-the-art recreation facility.
The GWSA also operates in other civic places such as the West End Community Centre and, in the not-too-distant future, will be a key partner with the City of Guelph in the design and use of the new South End Community Centre.
GWSA makes available some 90 organized programs, activities and services throughout the year as well as special events and public interest forums.
We are supported by the active participation of the more than 500 volunteers who make it all possible.