Audio: Five Farms – A year in the life of 5 American farmers

Once, most Americans were farmers. Now, only about one in a hundred works the land. And yet, the work of farmers is as central to our lives as ever. We are what we eat. While providing our food, farmers and ranchers are the stewards of almost half of the nation’s land — a billion acres. And family farmers still produce most of the country’s agricultural harvest.

FiveFarms.org is a lovely audio documentary (with photos) of five American farms and how they work and how their operators feel about the work they do for an entire year. I caught a glimpse into the audio while driving home listening to NPR and was instantly hooked. Each of the five episodes is one hour long, so get snuggled up ^_^

You can listen directly off the web, or download each episode as an mp3 (appx 50-60mb each). There are also eight segments of NPR’s All Things Considered in their audio section, which is probably what I heard ^_~

Detailed Guide to the Infinite Presents Trick for Farmville

With the help of another Farmville neighbor, the two of you can unwrap an unlimited number of presents (that is, as many presents as you care to unwrap within the amount of time allowed to unwrap them, which is until January 7th, 2010). All you need to have to begin is your Holiday Tree loaded with at least 20 presents, a neighbor with at least 20 presents (and who will cooperate with you), and at least one present in your Farmville gift box. The trick involves the fact that Farmville will pop up a message that you can post to your wall, notifying your friends that you’ve gotten your tree filled with at presents totaling 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100. If you’ve got any of these numbers, you can open as many as you like but for this trick to work you need at least 20 minimum.

Step 1

Make sure your tree has at least 20 presents by moving the mouse cursor over it to check the total.

Step 2

Click on it and select Look Inside.

Step 3

Click OPEN on one of your presents.

Step 4

Wait for the present to open, then click Okay when appropriate. It can be any present, not just the one shown in the picture.

Step 5

Hit the red [X] on the upper right corner of the Holiday Tree window, without opening any more presents yet.

Step 6

Go immediately to your gift box.

Step 7

Click Use on a present (doesn’t matter which kind) to put it in your tree.

Step 8

The present will be added to your Holiday Tree, making a total divisible by 20. At this point, just WAIT for a Farmville message window to appear. It may take a few seconds longer than usual.

Step 9

A message will appear saying you’ve found a bunch of presents, so click SHARE.

Step 10

Publish the story to your Facebook wall. You don’t have to type anything in the text area, just click Publish.

Step 11

Have your neighbor check your Facebook profile’s wall, and find the post you just made, have them click the Get a special Present! link and a new present will appear in their gift box in Farmville.

Once the neighbor now performs Steps 1-11 as shown here on their own, that person’s profile will show a link for you to click and get another special present for yourself. After to click on it, just go back into Farmville and repeat Steps 1-11 again, and continue alternating as much as you like.

Never get below 19 presents unless you’re done cooperating with your neighbor. If you open too many by accident, just go through your Facebook news feed and click special present links from other neighbors if they have any until you get back up to 20. You may need to sell or place a few items out of your Gift Box to make room for more presents. Enjoy!

J-Pop Wrap-Up: Koharu Grad’s, Haircut Theory, AKB Ranking

Koharu Graduates Morning Musume
Although I got the commemorative graduation disc off H!O, I pretty much just glanced through it except for the parts when Koharu first joined, which I do actually recall. I think she was the only one I’d actually seen join and eventually graduate (although I’ve been wishing Mitsui would find it in the kindness of her beady-eyed heart to part ways also, and possibly take LinLin with her). I honestly put more time into the English translation of the others’ remarks to their departing sister of the morning. I was expecting the graduation ceremony to be on the graduation commemorative disc, but didn’t see it, if it was.

Saki Nakajima Photobook Released With Dopey Title
My darling Saki-Naki from C-ute has finally been permitted the much-needed opportunity to be immortalized in photobook form (and even better, in a photobook Making-Of disc) — but not without some criticism. Me, criticize a great opp’ty to see more Saki? Could someone please slap whoever greenlighted the Photobook’s title, NACKY? Seriously? Nacky? Maybe it’s a nickname, sure, but.. It reminds me of a combination of nappy and maybe lackey. Oh well. I got my wish, I guess.

Umeda+Kanna Departure / Maimi Haircut Cover-up Theory
Initially I had been optimistic about Maimi’s disturbing tendril-severing haircut that, perhaps, they could style it in a nicer way or add extensions… but after seeing most of the recent photos and videos showing the tragically-severed locks, I must say that the floodgates barring outright opposition to the change have been blown open. I’m so irritated by the change, that I’ve come up with a possible cover-up story. Perhaps Airi, in her quest to usurp the captain/leader role that Maimi appropriately holds (aside from already getting way too much PV face-time), somehow tricked Maimi into a compromising position and cut a chunk out of Maimi’s glory to use as a personal trophy to prove her dominance, and it was necessary to off-load Umeda and Kanna as an excuse drastic enough to warrant cutting Maimi’s hair as a sign of ending a period of life, instead of just getting it cut to conceal the gaping hole that Airi wrought. Unforturnately, I don’t know Japanese (or a translation source) enough to know what in the world Maimi is saying on her radio show, so she could have very well explained it and perhaps even fielded a few calls on the matter.

Initial Pre-Ranking of AKB48
I’ve gotten to know a fair collection of the names of gals from AKB48, and have formed the initial stages of my ranking of favorites. Oshima Yuko remains at #1, Shinoda Mariko holds steady at #2, but #3 is so close that it’s got its own separate ranking scheme, and #4 is a massive tie between all of the other girls I don’t know yet. With as huge of a lead that Yuko and Mariko have with their top positions, the third place cluster is its own clump of nearly-tie placers that are ordered in a 3a, 3b, 3c fashion. Although they’re not lined up specifically yet, I would estimate Watanabe appx 3b, Kashiwagi at appx 3f, and Fujie to be whatever the last-est #3 subrank is. What complicates it even more is that I will suddenly show interest in one of these #3 gals to the degree that Mariko then becomes a #2a issue, sharing a quasi-2.5 rank with that interest-stirred 2b gal. Currently challenging that #2b position is the bizarre-(in a good way)-voiced Sato Natsuki.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Ablestmage.com!

This is just a quick note to acknowledge the passing of Ablestmage.com’s second year in operation. The domain was technically registered in October 2007, but it wasn’t until around December 10, 2007 that I left my real job to pursue the site more intently (and ended up getting a part-timer in June 2008 to pay the bills). I still don’t make a single cent from the site, and I’m not altogether certain making the site a full-time job will ever become a reality like I’d hoped, but I still plan to keep running it for the forseeable future ^_^

Last year‘s goal (from Oct 9th), after hitting 100,000 hits was to break 250,000 hits by the following year, and I’m glad to say that the 250k-mark was reached a bit early in this past summer, and we’re actually up within 300 hits of 380k. The site pulls around 600 hits per day, and the winter months really seem to spike presumably as people have more stay-inside time on their hands =)) I’m sure we’ll be able to squish out the 500k mark this coming year.. but when?

For more detailed site stats, check the text link at the end of the sidebar with all the little flags, on the right side there =D

As for goals for the coming year, I hope to post more of my own art pieces on the site. A new year’s resolution of mine is to complete (not necessarily start, which allows permission to finish one that’s already started) one art-something per month. However, I’m not going to say that, if I miss one, then I’d resolve to complete two by the next month — no — that uncompleted month will stand bare-chested as open-air failure. I’m also doing away considering doing away with the creative writing prompt inside the daily random image (although not discarding the random image feature, to be clear)… I guess we’ll see what comes about!