A Dickens of a Christmas

Every year, Spartanburg has a Christmas celebration called A Dickens of a Christmas. A lot of people dress up in Victorian outfits, sing and dance and put on plays and magic shows in the downtown storefronts. (By the way: I would be totally OK with top hats and canes coming back into style. Those are cool.)

Victorian SingersThere’s always a lot of music at these things, usually from local schools and churches singing traditional Christmas carols ranging from "We Three Kings" to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."

And it’s not just singing. There are string groups, handbell choruses, and brass bands playing all kinds of Christmas music.

There’s all kinds of food too, from the Marble Slab to Thai dinners to coffee to hot chocolate.

Morgan Square All Dressed UpThe celebration ends in the lighting of the Christmas tree in front of the BB&T building, to the sound of "O Christmas Tree." And I’ve got to tell you, it’s great to see Spartanburg all dressed up for Christmas.

This year was a particularly good one for the celebration. Turnout was excellent, and there were a lot of interesting performers and attractions all over the downtown area, even more than usual.

My only disappointment of the evening:

Push Button For Chorus

I pushed this button, but I did not receive my promised chorus. The South Carolina elementary school system has failed me.

:(

Overall, though, I’d call the event a big success for everyone involved. If you missed it tonight, I hope you can come and enjoy next year’s event. It’s really a lot of fun.

Beauty in Engineering: The Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 and Life without Permanent Paper

I always love it when I find a well-designed tool. A device works elegantly and without problems is even better than a work of art: Art’s just pretty. A well-engineered tool can make your life demonstrably better and be pretty. The Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 is a perfect example:

Scan Snap

oldnotesThis is easily the best scanner I’ve ever used. I spent the day scanning in my box of old notes from school (kept on the theory that it might be useful someday). The scanner had very few problems chewing through page after page of notes, from printed handouts to deteriorated notebooks.

And this thing is fast; I could never, ever have done this much scanning with a traditional flatbed scanner. If I had to scan each page, one at a time, first one side and then the other–I would never have bothered with this project, and I’d probably have dragged this box with me for the rest of my life, because "I might use it some day!"

Now I’m free of a box of clutter, and I’m much more likely to use this stuff, because it’s in easy reach. I have it in my computer sorted by class, rather than in a box where I’d almost certainly never find what I need.

norbauer at 43 Folders has a great post that goes into a lot more depth about the ScanSnap and when to use paper vs. computers. And he’s right: I’m a lot more likely to use paper for brainstorming and note-taking now that it won’t pile up and get in the way later. Just think, write, and scan.

Facebook Fixer: Get Rid of App Spam in Your News Feed

If you use Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen countless "popular items" from your networks cluttering up your news feed. You’re probably also tired of countless announcements of movie trivia contests and "likeness tests" too. Worse yet, there’s no setting to remove notifications from your friends’ apps from the news feed, so you’re stuck with a lot of spam in the news feed.

However, I’ve found a way to hide updates from any single Facebook application and at the same time get rid of the useless "popular items" posts. It’s really easy:

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Awesome Coffee Ad



Awesome Coffee Ad, originally uploaded by J. D. Harper.

I’m at a starbucks which is next to a coffee shop called “Liquid Highway.” This is the sign on the fence in between the coffee shops.

The Only Good Thing to Come from the Hollywood Writer’s Strike

The only good thing to come from the Hollywood writer’s strike (so far) is this generic episode of House on Metafilter:

CHASE: House, we need to cure this patient. He is very sick.
HOUSE: Did you try the medicine drug?
CHASE: I did try the medicine drug.
HOUSE: Only stupid people try the medicine drug. You are stupid.

Read the rest.