New Web Service 

I've recently been looking into live streaming for our church services. I didn't understand where to get started. I saw tutorials for Linux and wondered if I could pull it off using Windows. Different tutorials said to use different software. So several months ago, I was quite confused and just gave up.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a really nice website that gives all the steps to setting up a shoutcast server in Windows. The streaming concept is pretty smart, and that's what I learned about. You use the Winamp plugin to encode the stream and it sends it out to a DNAS server. This is just a program running on a high-speed internet connection that receives the stream from the source and distributes it to clients.

So we now are capable of live streaming our church services on the web!
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Ohio Weather - Nuttier than an Acorn 

What a weird place Ohio is. Wait 5 minutes if you don't like the weather, because it'll change! I know that's a dumb and over-used cliche...

Yesterday, it started getting warm in the afternoon. It was a little chilly in the morning, but rose to the mid-40's after church in the morning. It was windy, but it seems to have been windy for the past several months. There's a random thought for ya' -- when the wind stops... Anyways, it rose to 50 degrees and was quite pleasant for this time of year. At church in the evening, it was windy but sunny. Then it started to rain, and boy did it! The lights flickered a little and you could hear the rain beat on the roof of the church. They buzzed a little more near the end of the service and then the torrent came! It turns out it was hail hitting the roof with blistering speed. My dad couldn't hardly preach with that much noise, so he had to end his sermon rather impromptu, though at the regular time.

After church, I went home and discovered all the lights were off. We were out of power. Instinctively, I tried turning on several light switches, and guess what -- none of them worked! The church had power, the bank had power, BK had power, McD had power, the apartments next door had power, the stores across the street had power, but we didn't. That was kind of stinky.
So we had a candlelight breakfast for dinner after church. Cereal and milk was the specialty of the evening. The power was out from about 7:30 to 9:30pm. They got it on pretty quickly.

Well, after the torrential downpours of the previous evening, today we got a fresh snowfall. I'm beginning to get sick of this cycle. Uggghhh! It should get warm or we should get a huge snowfall that sticks. Well, now it's cold and all that water's going to freeze. Yay.

Hurry up spring!
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Yay!!! Today I figured out how to do some AJAX. Yesterday I found a simple script that would perform an AJAX request, but I wanted something a little more in depth. I found just what I needed at

Generally, I avoid Javascript altogether. I really have no need of it and just plain don't like client-side scripting. But this AJAX stuff is pretty cool! If you have any good links or material, please post a comment.

Here's my first AJAX app. Sounds pretty nerdy!

AJAX links:
* ... ering+Ajax
* ... index.html
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Code-Bin Update 

Here's what I'm working on to improve the codebin:

Here's my post from a year ago:

3. Make a search feature. (difficult)
--Would be able to search by topic, type of code, poster...
Still working on this one... (Yes, I know it won't be THAT difficult)

5. Stop bots from rating the scripts. (easy - I think!)
-- Search engines go to every link they find, and thus rate one script 8 times, leaving an average of 4.5. They do that to this blog too. Arrrggghhh!
DONE. It was simple

Other updates:
1. A favicon.ico!!! Like it?
2. Implemented GeSHi, a syntax highlighter
3. Support for many more types of code
4. Cool web buttons on the left column

Make your own buttons -->
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Hog-wild on Gray Matter 

A Medical Mystery Unfolds in Minnesota

February 5, 2008

AUSTIN, Minn. — If you have to come down with a strange disease, this town of 23,000 on the wide-open prairie in southeastern Minnesota is a pretty good place to be. The Mayo Clinic, famous for diagnosing exotic ailments, owns the local medical center and shares some staff with it. Mayo itself is just 40 miles east in Rochester. And when it comes to investigating mysterious outbreaks, Minnesota has one of the strongest health departments and best-equipped laboratories in the country.

And the disease that confronted doctors at the Austin Medical Center here last fall was strange indeed. Three patients had the same highly unusual set of symptoms: fatigue, pain, weakness, numbness and tingling in the legs and feet.

A man whom doctors call the “index case” — the first patient they knew about — got sick in December 2006 and was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic for about two weeks. His job at Quality Pork was to extract the brains from swine heads.

“He was quite ill and severely affected neurologically, with significant weakness in his legs and loss of function in the lower part of his body,” said Dr. Daniel H. Lachance, a neurologist at Mayo.

Tests showed that the man’s spinal cord was markedly inflamed. The cause seemed to be an autoimmune reaction: his immune system was mistakenly attacking his own nerves as if they were a foreign body or a germ. Doctors could not figure out why it had happened, but the standard treatment for inflammation — a steroid drug — seemed to help.

The Common Thread
A survey of the workers confirmed what the plant’s nurses had suspected: those who got sick were employed at or near the “head table,” where workers cut the meat off severed hog heads.

“Blowing Brains”
As each head reached the end of the table, a worker would insert a metal hose into the foramen magnum, the opening that the spinal cord passes through. High-pressure blasts of compressed air then turned the brain into a slurry that squirted out through the same hole in the skull, often spraying brain tissue around and splattering the hose operator in the process.

The brains were pooled, poured into 10-pound containers and shipped to be sold as food — mostly in China and Korea, where cooks stir-fry them, but also in some parts of the American South, where people like them scrambled up with eggs.

The person blowing brains was separated from the other workers by a plexiglass shield that had enough space under it to allow the heads to ride through on a conveyor belt. There was also enough space for brain tissue to splatter nearby employees.

“You could see aerosolization of brain tissue,” Dr. Lynfield said.

The Theory
At first, health officials thought perhaps the pigs had some new infection that was being transmitted to people by the brain tissue. Sometimes, infections can ignite an immune response in humans that flares out of control, like the condition in the workers. But so far, scores of tests for viruses, bacteria and parasites have found no signs of infection.

As a result, Dr. Lynfield said the investigators had begun leaning toward a seemingly bizarre theory: that exposure to the hog brain itself might have touched off an intense reaction by the immune system, something akin to a giant, out-of-control allergic reaction. Some people might be more susceptible than others, perhaps because of their genetic makeup or their past exposures to animal tissue. The aerosolized brain matter might have been inhaled or swallowed, or might have entered through the eyes, the mucous membranes of the nose or mouth, or breaks in the skin.


“Clearly, all the answers aren’t in yet,” Dr. Osterholm said. “But it makes biologic sense that what you have here is an inhalation of brain material from these pigs that is eliciting an immunologic reaction.” What may be happening, he said, is “immune mimicry,” meaning that the immune system makes antibodies to fight a foreign substance — something in the hog brains — but the antibodies also attack the person’s nerve tissue because it is so similar to some molecule in hog brains.

“That’s the beauty and the beast of the immune system,” Dr. Osterholm said. “It’s so efficient at keeping foreign objects away, but anytime there’s a close match it turns against us, too.”

Anatomically, pigs are a lot like people. But it is not clear how close a biochemical match there is between pig brain and human nerve tissue.


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