Thursday, May 31, 2007

Last Post of May

I followed a link the other day from a comment on Making Light (thanks, Marilee!) and am now reading through the archives of yet another new (to me) webcomic, Two Lumps! There's a series of strips featuring the Two Lumps cats and a Roomba-like device! (keep clicking 'next' for the whole story-arc). I really believe you can't go wrong with the Roomba + cute mammal combo.

The comic is hosted on Keen Spot, which I can subscribe on my reader, unfortunately I have to scroll through all the strips I don't read to get to the ones I do (and so far there are two, Two Lumps and The Devil's Panties.

Do you remember the fads of your youth? I'm thinking of things like when I was in elementary school and everyone was doing those origami type folded paper "fortune" games - you picked a number (after the paper device was opened and closed in the proper ritualistic sequences) then a letter (more ritual) and finally got to lift the folded paper inside to find something written like "your secret crush knows you love him" or "you're the teacher's pet" (and the spelling wasn't always that good).

Then there was the jacks fad - could you ever get to tensies or higher? We didn't have superballs then, we used these little red rubber balls that didn't bounce all that high.

There was a brief time when all the girls would play on the parallel bar, spinning around and around it until you got sick or wore a hole in the sweater you used to keep from sticking to the bar and scraping all the skin under your knee off.

These days it's LOLcats and all the permutations thereof. LOLpresidents (at FARK, which may not always be SFW), LOLgerbils (hosted at LOLgay) (who spell it gebril and I love that to death - as well as the gebrils which are just so damned cute), LOLPilgrims, for the literate and an entire comment thread on Making Light of literate lolisms...apparently we've reached LOLsingularity.

Finally, for tonight that is, I had read a rumor that said:
On Monday, Publishers Weekly reported that Bookspan, acquired just six weeks ago by Bertelsmann, will cut 280 positions and close some of its book clubs, which include Book-of-the-Month, Doubleday and The Literary Guild. It looks as if the 54-year-old Science Fiction Book Club, which offers a selection of graphic novels and comic novelizations, will be among the casualties.

Although there haven’t been any official announcements, science fiction editor Jonathan Strahan reported on his blog yesterday that SFBC’s only editors — Editor-in-Chief Ellen Asher and Senior Editor Andrew Wheeler — have lost their jobs at Bookspan. Strahan says Bertelsmann probably will merge SFBC with its Doubleday Book Club.
However, an update post raises hopes that this is not the case.

I would be very sad to see the SFBC close. I have been a faithful member for over 30 years. I've been so loyal that about 15 years ago they took me off the "you better send in your card that says you are opting out of the monthly selection or we're gonna send it to you anyway and charge you for it" membership to "you just buy our books when ever you like, no worries about that selection response thingie". And I do buy from there, a lot. I hope it stays around for a long time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Keeping Track of My Conversations

For me, one of the best things about blogging is the conversations one can have in comments. I see blogging as the building of communities of interest unfettered by one's location, time of day, sex (see there Medievalist, I didn't use 'gender'), disabilities, race or creed. The more blogs I visit (and I have a huge list) and the more comments I drop about, the harder it is to keep up with them, right?

Well, kinda. I signed up at coComment in February of '06. Recent updates to their software and new features has made it even better for following my comment history, and for knowing when there are new comments on blogs that I've left my comments on. It's especially nice if the blogger responds to something you've said, you'll know about it as soon as you check your conversations page.

So, I wanted to recommend it to you and hope you'll consider signing on - I don't get any compensation from them for this, I just like the service and would love to have more "neighbors" there. You can see where I've commented recently.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

By the Time You Read This...

it will probably be May 30th. May 30th is the birthday of a very special friend of mine. Go wish him many happy returns of the day, ok?

Frank's blog
Frank's Website
Frank's Book

Monday, May 28, 2007

Measuring Up Mathematically

I don't remember exactly what my SAT scores were - I took the damn test in 1975 - but I know that my math scores were average and my literacy/verbal score was pretty high. This is apparently born out by the fact that my index and ring fingers are the same length, according to a study reported in LiveScience. If my husband wasn't asleep (I'm writing this at 12:45 am) I'd go take a look at his hands - he's the math genius around here. (ETA - just looked, yep, his ring finger is longer than his index finger).

The TV Show "Jericho" (which I haven't watched but am considering viewing somehow - re-runs, if they show them, or iTunes or online) won't be picked up for next season and that has the fans in a tizzy. What are they going to do about it? I saw on Slashdot that they are sending tons of roasted in the shell nuts to CBS execs.

Folks, I'm considering cancelling the next season of this blog.
If you're truly a fan and want to persuade me to keep blogging,
you should send me cans of Arizona Diet Green Tea.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gonna Pimp My Review Blog Post and Think About Our Servicemen, Past and Present

I have been working all day on a review for my other blog Drive By Booking (although I do have about 3/5ths of a post specifically for this blog in draft - that'll go up tomorrow). So I thought I'd just post briefly tonight and ask you to take a peek over there.

If you know someone published by a small press (not self-published, but small POD or ePub press is fine as well as offset publishers) ask them if they'd like to have me do a review of their book. They can contact me at the email over in my sidebar.

Hope you've had a good weekend - for my U.S. friends, I hope you enjoy your Monday off as well. As it's Memorial Day, I'd like to also mention my thanks to those who have and are serving in our Armed Forces.

My paternal grandfather was in the Army. My father, the Air Force. My sister and her husband and my brother were all in the Navy. My brother served in the first Gulf War on the USS Tarawa. Now my son takes his place in this line of servicemen as a Army Paratrooper and there's my daughter's significant other who just got back from 6 months tour in Kuwait with the Navy. You can understand, I'm guessing, the significance of this holiday for me. I'm blessed that on this day I don't have a lost loved one to mourn, but I do have a heavy heart for those who do and am prayerful that my son and my daughter's SailorBeau will stay safe during their service.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lazy Saturday Posting

Found a new web comic today Marry Me. It has only been around for a few months so it didn't take long to catch up. Clever writing and good art.

Tomorrow and Monday I need to do some housework - my son will be here on leave next weekend! I'll also be putting up another small press book review on Drive by Booking tomorrow. My Brontë books arrived, but I have a couple things to finish before I can get to them, so they aren't on the list of things to do this weekend.

I nearly had a crisis today - due to a completely my fault miscommunication my hosting company agreement was not renewed and the site was down. A few years ago the husband and I read about this hosting company, 1&1, that was giving away hosting. We took them up on it and it was only recently that our free hosting agreement came to an end. My husband quickly got things turned back on, the monthly rate is very reasonable, and nothing was lost. I, coincidentally, discovered reading Whatever today, that site is hosted there too.

No hamster news. How about a cat picture? These are the grandkitties Pudding (l) and Jello (r)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Stray Animals, Music and an Incidental Hamster (of course!)

Have you been following the story of the whales who swam up the Sacramento-San Joaquin River here in Northern California? They don't seem to want to leave quite yet. They've tried using recordings of whale songs about feeding, scary killer whale noises and now they've resorted to water cannon of a fire-fighting boat. The whales get a 3-day weekend's rest, at least. Maybe they were hoping to get a glimpse of Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Not to be left out of the news, Southern California has it's own stray animal story. Down in Los Angeles they've got a locally famous alligator, named Reggie, who made the national wires by finally getting nabbed after taking up residence in Harbor Regional Park's Lake Machado for the last two years. According to CNN "The gator inspired a zydeco song, two children's books and innumerable T-shirts. Students at Los Angeles Harbor College next to the lake adopted Reggie as a second mascot."

Zydeco! I've mentioned it in times past, but newer folk reading here may not know of my fondness. I first heard zydeco on Seseme Street when my children were small. I have a few songs on my iPod, it's great music for lifting the spirits. Lisa Haley & the Zydecats Krewe did the Reggie Alligator (you can hear about a minute's worth of the song at the link) song mentioned above.

In hamster news (and you thought couldn't possibly be going there again, didn't you), there really isn't any but I was looking and found a cute hamster image instead at this blog. Is that not one of the most adorable hamster pictures, ever? If I didn't have three cats, I might be driving out to the pet store for a hamster right now.

Wikipedia had to lock its article on librarians due to bit on Stephen Colbert's May 25th show, The Colbert Report, where he interviewed Jimmy Wales the founder and put up a "secret" message that "librarians are hiding something" during that interview. If I wanted to get intellectual about it I could try and talk about some of the interesting points Colbert made about the "democratization of information", especially the part about for too long the "elites who study things got to say what is or isn't real" and how with Wikipedia "anybody with a computer and the patience to put in a password can change anything". However, it's all been discussed in detail by some very smart people over on Making Light. I wonder if Colbert lurks over there?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gay Flamingo Foster Parents, Shaggy Beards and an Occasional Hamster

In my wandering around Science Blogs the other day, starting as usual on Pharyngula, I saw this article about a pair of gay flamingos adopting an abandoned flamingo chick. Apparently the couple wanted to be parents badly enough that "they had resorted to stealing eggs from other pairs as they sought to fulfil their desperate desire to start a family of their own." It's a fascinating article by GrrlScientist, "a molecular evolutionary biologist who studies and lives with parrots and other birds."

Is it a generation thing that I don't find scraggly beards or overlong beard stubble sexy? I was reading the post at Shakesville (formerly? Shakepeare's Sister) about the season finale of Lost and the poster plus a number of commenters thought Jack's untamed facial hair sexy. I like beards but I do prefer them trimmed and neat. Not real crazy about the long stubble look at all.

Found a new web comic (thanks to Joel who left a link in a comment on Making Light) to seriously adore. Sequential Art. It's got an artist guy and a cat girl and a squirrel-girl and a penguin and a platypus and the occasional hamster and evil little things that I'm not sure what they are!

The illustration is good and the story is funny with a number of real laugh out loud moments as I caught up through the archives from the beginning tonight. I wish I could put it on my reader, but there's no feed that my Google Reader could find. *sigh* I'll just have to go there the old fashioned way with a bookmark. Funny how you get attached to new gizmos like the reader and everything else seems like so much extra effort now.

I got an email from the International Weblogger's Day folk today, reminding me of the event and this year's topic. Click the button to learn more. InWeDay is June 14th.

International Weblogger's Day 2007

Cons and Other Places I'm Planning to Go, With Extra Hamster News, Too.

This August I'm going to NasFic, aka. Archon 31, August 2 - 5 in St. Louis, MO. The WorldCon is in Japan this year (and wouldn't I love to go there!).

I'm also going to try and be at the Star Trek Con in Las Vegas on August 9 - 12 held at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. It's an annual "anniversary" event for the hubby and I. Our old anniversary was August 15th, 1991 our new one is August 19, 2006. This year is the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Should be a pretty good con. Wil Wheaton is going to be a guest. We've enjoyed his previous visits and gotten him to autograph his books (Just a Geek and Dancing Barefoot) there as well as heard him talk and seen some improv/sketch work he does with a group called ACME comedy theatre. He's funny and very generous in giving time to his fans.

I just wandered over to Wil's blog. Apparently AOL has blocked him from emailing anyone with a '' email address. Those folk all need to get gmail, IMO. Read more at his blog WWdN: In Exile

Next year I'm going to go to the WorldCon in Denver.

Denvention 3 - the 66th Worldcon - Denver Worldcon in 2008

Aside from cons I'm looking forward to a visit from my son and a trip with him to SoCal to visit my family and go to Disneyland. I reserved our rooms online this evening, and called Disneyland for "Priority Seating" aka, a reservation, for dinner at the Blue Bayou restaurant. If you've never been to Disneyland it's an indoors restraunt at the Pirates of the Carribean in New Orleans Square. The Disneyland website says of it:

Savor the down-home Cajun flavors at this New Orleans-style eatery with a moonlit ambience, a dining terrace that overlooks Laffite's Landing, entry to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, and the finest Crescent City cuisine outside of Louisiana.

Menu items include:
  • Classic Cajun gumbo and jambalaya
  • Dinnertime offerings of Alaskan King Crab Legs and Filet Mignon
  • Lunchtime exclusive of the Blue Bayou's signature Monte Cristo sandwich
  • Savory choices of broiled fish, chicken and beef dishes
  • Mouth-watering appetizers and delectable desserts

Haven't been able to get in the door to eat there on any of our last few visits - it's always booked up. Last year we got there around 9 or 10 a.m. and tried to get reservations for dinner. I even pulled the "we're newlyweds" card - it didn't help. Then I discovered that you can call up to 60 days in advance and book a table.

The only time I can recall eating there (and that doesn't mean I haven't since, I just don't remember) was back in 1977 when a bunch of college theater friends and I drove down for the day in the middle of the week around Thanksgiving time.

Another blog on my reader that writers might find interesting: Craigslist Curmudgeon. He talks about postings on Craigslist that are insulting to writers.

Lots of news posts about researchers discovering a hamster jetlag cure (I picked that one to link because I, 1) like ScienceBlogs and 2) it had the best title) often do hamsters cross timezones, anyway, that this should be a problem for them? (Yes, I know - but don't disabuse me of this notion, I'm enjoying the imaginary world of jet setting hamsters I've created in my mind, ok?) My first notice of this item was via Jaycinth on Absolute Write, btw.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Meet Some of My New Friends

Found a "new" (to me) blog I'd like to mention to ya'll and encourage you to read - especially any Science Fiction writers/fans out there. It's Biology in Science Fiction and it's a really good read.

I've also decided to add Pandagon and Sadly, No! to my reader. I may not always, or even most of the time, agree with what they say, but they sure are interesting and have a very fun commenter crowd/culture. Sadly, No! seems to have a running feud going with the blogger at Ace of Spades - I'm wavering over whether to subscribe there or not.

The season finale of Heroes was on Monday night. I really enjoyed the show - even though I caught on to it late in the season and had to catch up by buying and watching the first episodes on iTunes, it was worth it. I thought it was a fitting finale to a compelling story arc. Now what am I going to do on Monday night?

Hubby grilled burgers today. mmmmmmm. I love having bbq'd burgers.

There have been some really good and thought provoking comments to my posts (thanks folks!) about learning to read. Christine summed it up best, not to say that any of the other comments weren't equally valuable, it's just she said in a couple brief paragraphs what it took me two long posts to try and say, and said it better - what would you expect of a pro writer? I'll be doing a post about her new book, with some interview questions over on Drive By Booking as part of her virtual book tour in mid-June. I'm very excited about that.

Two other things I found wandering around the net recently. One is the huge fanfic community discussion about a new site called I'm not linking there, btw, because I'd rather not contribute to any site traffic. Read about it over on Making Light (and click through to some of those links on the fanfic community's reaction) before you visit FanLib (if you must visit).

I am in agreement with the fanfic folk, this doesn't look like a good idea at all for them. It looks fraught with hazards and a pretty ugly attempt to wring major profits for everyone involved *except* the writers of fanfic - who aren't in it for the money, but why should the use of their work line some venture capitalist's pocket?

The other thing is this clip from YouTube (below) a friend of mine, C. Montgomery Stuart pointed out to me. Over 140k views! I did a bit of digging into the group that did the clip. There's nothing on their site about who they are, why they do this, etc., but there's an index of their work. I think it can speak for itself. (note - it's not the greatest in terms of production values, but what do you expect from a hidden camera filming?)

Another Shameful Confession

Recently I came upon the site "Ask the Brontë Sisters" and recommended it to you, my loyal readers, but my hidden (up 'til now) shame, is that I am a poseur when it comes to having actual knowledge of the Brontë sisters' work (outside of movies, I think I saw Wuthering Heights on AMC) - a fraud - a charlatan! Now it's time to come to the podium again. "Hi, I'm Dawno and I've never read any Brontë."

Well, I've remedied that dire and unwelcome lapse in my education - the Amazon order should arrive this week with the Complete Novels of Charlotte and Emily Brontë (a HUGE volume of over 1k pages) and Anne's novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as well as the Oxford Companion to the Brontës.

I'm having one of those moments where I just wonder if I should go back and get my Masters in Literature just for the heck of it. I wonder if my credits from the post grad classes I took 20 years ago are still acceptable.

By the way, if you like me, please don't tell me about any more wonderful, must read, you don't know what you're missing, writers from the 18th and 19th century for a while. I have quite enough to read now as it is.

Monday, May 21, 2007

After Due Consideration...More on Teaching Reading

In the comments section of this post, John Althouse Cohen left me this message:

Wait a minute, I don't even see the disagreement here. Althouse: "Kids need to learn to read, and they should also be learning science and history too, so why not combine the two tasks? ... I'm also not opposed to teaching history and science through the kinds of novels and storybooks that present the information accurately." Isn't that precisely what you're describing with using the moose book to teach math or using A Wrinkle in Time to teach science? Those don't seem markedly different from her example of using 1984 to teach history. If there is any disagreement here, it's much subtler than would justify this kind of "I can't believe anyone with a post-graduate degree...!" attack.
I promised I'd take that comment under consideration. Yes, I was heavy handed in my post. Perhaps I should have waited longer and been less riled up before I hit "publish." I am a total fanatic about reading, and fiction reading in particular. It's a huge part of my life. I also taught lower elementary school grades (k - 3) in a poor, rural school district. I am passionate about the subject of helping children become life-long readers. So, let me say that I am sorry I made snipes at Ann. It was really more about the opportunity to get on my soapbox, that I do disagree with the ideas proposed, and that's what I should have completely focused on. I got caught up doing something I dislike seeing when it happens elsewhere amongst other people. So, I want to say that there are points she made that I agree with, albeit conditionally.

Here's where I agree with Ann:
I'll bet if you had a shelf of books for kids to choose for their free time and it had some nonfiction books like this one, lots of kids would pick them over fiction. And I think a lot of boys would be grateful and some girls mind be inspired to go into careers that are more common for boys.
I think using well written and exciting non-fiction books in the curriculum is very important, not just having them available for free time reading, but that's a minor quibble and in general, I agree.

I also mostly agree with this:
In saying that, I don't mean to say they are just for fun and that there's nothing deep. I'm saying that reading fiction books is or should be intrinsically rewarding and that intrinsic reward is best felt when you are exercising free choice. And I also think that the depths in fiction are best absorbed in a free environment without an authority figure trying to lead you or tell you how to think. Much good fiction is about challenging authority, and I worry that authority figures will choose fiction that they approve of because it teaches the values they like. That's not my idea of how good fiction works.
Yes, I think all lovers of reading, and most teachers, believe that reading fiction books should be intrinsically rewarding, etc.

My concern with the above, is that it goes on to make the suggestion that teachers will impose their values on the students by the books they use to teach reading. It's not outrageous to think of the possibility, I will grant. The other side of the coin, I think, is that students will be exposed to many teachers throughout life. They will learn that those teachers have opinions and values, some quite different from theirs, and some quite different from the other teachers they've had, as well.

It's only through being exposed to those opinions that you learn how to challenge values you disagree with (and not only in fiction, but what about the 'facts' in texts - are they always true? But that's a whole other can of worms). If teachers aren't allowed (and don't forget, the basic premise underlying all this is that fiction reading shouldn't be required reading - period) to expose their students, through teaching, to fiction at all, how will they learn to challenge it?

Now, let's look at the context of my commenter's quote from Ann Althouse's second post in defense of her position (emphasis is mine):
I'm also not opposed to teaching history and science through the kinds of novels and storybooks that present the information accurately. And I think a history class could very well have students read novels that had an effect on history or how people think about history, like "Uncle Tom's Cabin" or "1984." I've taught a couple "Women in Law and Literature" seminars myself. (We'd read a court case and a novel that dealt with the same subject as the case.)
This position is not opposed to teaching history and science 'through' novels and storybooks 'that present the information accurately'. As a supplement, but don't teach reading purely for reading's sake and use fiction (storybooks) to do it. I don't think I'm misreading that. However, I didn't think that was the point of the initial post at all, using fiction to teach other subjects, rather it was not teaching reading as a stand alone but using the reading of texts in other subjects to take the place of reading class. I'll go into that more, later. Here is where I have a fundamental disagreement with the premise in the quote above.

A novel about slavery in the US, a novel about King George III, a novel about the history of Hawaii from the day it rose from the Pacific, through the influx of the Japanese and Chinese immigrants (I really loved that Mitchner book but I sure didn't mistake it for a history text), those novels, as well researched as they might be, are not meant to be textbooks of accurate history or science information - they're made up stories - all "fiction" is that by definition, right?

So, it seems to me, that you can't really teach those subjects "through" novels, no matter how good they are, you can only supplement the facts, and you'll need to spend a lot of time explaining to your students about what are the non-factual elements in those stories. Something an English teacher in a literature class is trained to do.

While good fiction can give one an appreciation of the ideas, and shed much light on the social mores and climate as the author perceived it, of the era, the emphasis in any history or science class needs to be history and science facts. The fiction portion will, necessarily and rightly, be given secondary importance and the teachers of history and science will not spend the time, nor possibly have the right background, to expose the class to the literary aspects of the work.

But, more importantly, those types of books would be taught in upper grades/High School, and if you look at the initial paragraphs of the first post she made, wasn't the whole thing about teaching reading, which occurs in the earliest years of school? Here are two crucial excerpts:

And why does reading even need to be a separate subject from history in school? Give them history texts and teach reading from them. Science books too. Leave the storybooks for pleasure reading outside of school. They will be easier reading, and with well-developed reading skills, kids should feel pleasure curling up with a novel at home. But even if they don't, why should any kind of a premium be placed on an interest in reading novels? It's not tied to economic success in life and needn't be inculcated any more than an interest in watching movies or listening to popular music.

I'm not saying reading shouldn't be taught. I'm saying that the reading materials used in teaching reading should be nonfiction, so that students are absorbing information and practicing critical thinking while they read. I consider this to be efficient and appropriate for the school setting. Students would have access to fiction to read on their own for fun (and maybe, because it would be a change of pace, they'd have more of a tendency to experience it as fun).

This advocates using texts *on* other subjects to teach reading rather than using storybook (fiction) texts. So, what I was saying about the moose and the muffin book, is the opposite of that - use the READING to launch learning in the other subjects. But it all starts with the reading lesson, not substituting a history book for a story book designed to teach reading. Did I get it wrong? Maybe it's because that statement isn't really talking about 'learning to read' but the existance of the later grade reading classes?

Separating out history and science as separate subjects does not occur until the later elementary grades, as I recall it was about 4th grade, maybe 5th. I suppose at that point if you stopped having a separate reading class and curriculum, but used well written, interesting texts for those subjects and supplemented them with fiction or simply had a "free reading" period, it might work out ok.

I don't like it. I bet there are those out there who are much better qualified in how education works that can explain whether it's realistic or feasible to do so. All I can say is that in my gut, it seems wrong to stop teaching reading, using fiction.

That's my promised consideration of John's comment. I feel better now.

"The Civil War in Four Minutes" (Great!) and the Comments on YouTube (Not so great)

I was very impressed with this clip that my husband forwarded to me - and as it's been viewed nearly 19k times, I'm not alone, I bet. I'd guess that it's from a professionally produced documentary, it's so incredibly well done.

Upon reflection, I would say that I watched it from the perspective of pure visual input, the ebb and flow of the battlelines - the early hesitant movements, where it stalled in various places and the places that kept going back and forth, the eventual split of the Confederate west from the east at the Mississippi, and then how quickly the Confederacy shrank and dissolved at the end. I didn't try to process it intellectually the first time, nor did I perceive what I was seeing came laden with an agenda or any political motivation. I am curious, then, as to why the commenters on YouTube, unfortunately a great number of them, have turned this into a Civil War debate? Unfortunately, as well, one mostly trafficked by trolls and flamers.

There's even someone posting blather like: "When you face an enemy that has no uniform, targets civilians, hides behind women and children: Hides weapons in homes and mosques it is time to FINISH ENTIRE CITIES! NO QUARTER NO PITY NO TOLLERANCE!" there.

Um, mosques? Makes me want to ask, "You aren't talking about the American Civil War, are do know that's the subject of this video, right? See, it's a map of the United States. Yes, that's what our country is shaped like. Have you ever looked at a map before?"

I suppose it doesn't matter. It could be the Swiss Eurovision contest clip, and he'd (yes, I assume it's a he) say the same thing - three or four times.

Uh, dude, do you turn every conversation you have into something about terrorists?

"Do you want fries with that?"

"NO! The enemy is faceless and hides behind them! Bomb them all! I would like a large milkshake, though."

I know that I should only expect the lowest common denominator - it's not a venue for serious discussion, it's entertainment for the masses, by the masses. But sometimes the sheer weight of 'teh stupidz' out there is exasperating.

The only thing you can do as a concerned user on YouTube is flag the post as "spam" which it really isn't. I learned my lesson - don't bother with the comments. I feel sorry for the person who posted the clip - it would have been nice to actually get to converse with the viewers ABOUT THE DAMN CLIP. *ahem* sorry...

When the innernetses grows up, do you think it will finally be reasonably civil?

Later: more on Althouse and teaching reading. Got a comment I'd like to respond to...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

WTF Moment of the Day: "Why Should Any Kind of Premium Be Placed on an Interest in Reading Novels"

OK, who gave this Ann Althouse woman a podium? Can we somehow wrest it away from her and beat those responsible, roundly, with it? If you're a writer, and certainly if you're a reader of fiction, you must have an opinion about this complete nitwittery. Even her defense of her position to the commenters on it, is a crock.

From her original post:

And why does reading even need to be a separate subject from history in school? Give them history texts and teach reading from them. Science books too. Leave the storybooks for pleasure reading outside of school. They will be easier reading, and with well-developed reading skills, kids should feel pleasure curling up with a novel at home. But even if they don't, why should any kind of a premium be placed on an interest in reading novels? It's not tied to economic success in life and needn't be inculcated any more than an interest in watching movies or listening to popular music. Leave kids alone to find out out what recreational activities enrich and satisfy them. Some may want to dance or play music or paint. Just because teachers tend to be the kind of people who love novels does not mean that this choice ought to be imposed on young people via compulsory education. Teach them about history, science, law, logic -- something academic and substantive -- and leave the fictional material for after hours.

From her defense of the above:

Look, my main point is efficiency. Kids need to learn to read, and they should also be learning science and history too, so why not combine the two tasks? Reading would still be taught and, in the early years, would be the central focus of the lesson, but the texts would have an added benefit of getting started learning other academic subjects.

I'm not saying fiction isn't worth reading. I'm saying that it can be held for after hours pleasure reading. Frankly, I think this would increase the love of fiction. Here's this shelf of books that you can read when you finish your other work. You can take them home if you like. I think this would give them an aura of excitement. There are lots of people who have fiction forced on them and avoid it once they're out of school. My father would get passionate about his hatred of "The Return of the Native," which he was forced to read. Me, I read "The Return of the Native" and all of Thomas Hardy's novels on my own and loved them. Look at how kids read the Harry Potter books on their own. Put them outside of the classroom and let kids see them as a leisure treat.
I know I don't often get riled up like this here (unless it's about some scammer trying to shut down AW) but I've actually calmed down considerably and I'm still fargin' mad. I would truly like to see the writing blogosphere refute this to the heavens.

How on earth does someone acheive a post-graduate degree in any of the humanities (that includes law, don't it?) and also ascend to some kind of public status, holding on to this kind of astonishing conceit?

What has the blogosphere said so far? I've found this at alicublog, which lead me to this on Pandagon, and the comments there are really wonderful. Other bloggers have weighed in - mostly, it appears, from the left. (Somewhere MacAllister is grinning liberally, muttering: "she's one of us, she's one of us") By goodness, there have to be some just marginally right of center folk like myself out here that feel the same. I'm not out here on my own am I?

Teaching reading is hard, hard, woefully underpaid work. I know, I've been an elementary school teacher. Something Althouse has obviously not. The objective of teaching reading through fiction is to give students the tools to understand everything they learn in school as well as just be able to sound out (or memorize) all the words they'll see on a page.

Ann says: "Kids need to learn to read, and they should also be learning science and history too, so why not combine the two tasks?"

You try to engage a room full of antsy first graders with straight history or science facts. I'd much prefer telling them a story. One can argue that learning to read If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff , doesn't teach students anything useful about math or science or history, in and of itself - but really, that's the rest of the job of the teacher - to make it relevant. Now, lets get behind that and support the teacher, instead of undercutting his or her efforts even further.

See, this is why teachers come up with thematic units that incorporate what the class is reading in the reading session with what they're learning in the other sessions of the day. For example, the Moose and Muffin story - for math you can bring in muffins and count all the muffins you'd need to feed everyone in the story (I'm not taking this from real life - it's been long ago enough that I don't remember the exact details of the story, nor the lesson plans I used with it, but just go with me here). Then learn subtraction by eating them.

Science - do moose like muffins? Then what do they really eat? Could they eat just muffins?

Nature, geography, ecology: Where can you find moose in the United States? Where do they migrate, what kind of land is best for moose? How does man impact the moose habitat? Trust me, the kids are interested in this. They love the moose - he's the star of that book they had so much fun learning to read. Plus we're coloring maps, building mobiles out of construction paper and yarn, etc.

History - how did the settlers of the west use moose, in trade, as food, as clothing? How about the Native Americans?

See, learning to read from the book is just one tiny part of the curriculum. Now, replace the story with dry factual and age appropriate math, science and history. How excited are the kids about learning to read, now, Ann? You think they'll retain those lessons nearly as long or as well as they did the Moose and muffin related ones? Thousands of teachers will tell you otherwise.

And it just starts there, other longer stories, then "chapter books" and then middle grade novels, are used this way all through elementry school. When the students hit middle school and High School, literature classes are separate, but they're still part of an integrated curriculum that is (hopefully) designed to teach more than just ever more polished reading skills.

Reading Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time gets students exposed to physics and math. Reading Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth teaches logic and number theory (amongst many other things). I didn't know what the Fibbonaci numbers were (or the Golden Spiral and its ubiquousness in nature) before I pre-read that book in order to teach it to my class - so even I learned something that 8 years of post elementary education (High School + college and post college studies) hadn't taught me. I could go on and on. As a substitute teacher for 4 years and a private school teacher for an additional two, I am utterly convinced that teaching fiction to my students was essential to the entire learning experience.

pfft. Ann's a dolt. I'm done - anyone who reads here, gets the point. I doubt she or her supporters ever will.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Fare Thee Well, Miss Snark - and Some Other Stuff

Miss Snark, the literary agent, has posted her last post. There are hundreds of comments on her announcement post and over 20 trackback links (so far). Her blog has brought us Killer Yap, "The Crapometer," Snarklings (a "devotion of" is the proper term of venery), clueguns, nitwittery, and a glimpse behind the scenes of the life of a literary agent. Thankfully, she's leaving the blog up for access to its archives. I'll miss my daily dose of Snark.

Now, several Kleenex later, on to the other stuff:

I am a fan of Alternative History. I'm addicted to Harry Turtledove's series of alternative US histories (Settling Accounts, Great War, Colonization, American Empire, and so on - he's prolific), S M Sterling (Conquistador, Dies the Fire, Oceans of Eternity, The Peshawar Lancers, etc.), Eric Flint's 1632 & 1633. There are others, of course, with the earliest one I've read being Philip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle. The art of "what if" to perfection.

I mention this, not only because I like to share what I read, not only in the hope that fellow travelers will reveal themselves, but also because I just started* reading the Subterranean Online magazine and there's a great little fiction article there by John Scalzi (Old Man's War, The Android's Dream) called "Missives from Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results" and it's very funny. So, I hope you'll go read it. I think #5 scenario is my favorite.

*I just started reading it because I wandered over to Subterranean Press to do my advance order for a limited edition** copy of John Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades and then decided to wander around the site and "hey!" I said to myself, "there's an online spec fic magazine here, too!"

**I wish I could justify the pricetag for the "lettered" edition. Maybe someday I'll win the Super Lotto.

Mystery Writer friends - do you have Hey, There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room on your reader or otherwise bookmarked? I discovered it recently and it's been a consistently good read. For some reason I always want to call it "Hey, There's a Dead Guy on the Couch." I have no idea why.

Returning and editing to add: I recommend that Snarklings go read the lovely post on 101 Reasons to Stop Writing. The blogger there has also created some nifty buttons, here's the one I like:

I Love Miss Snark!

It links to Miss Snark's blog, and the creator would appreciate your comment on 101R2SW saying you're using it.

I Don't Know Why Comments Were "Off"

I just noticed that the last two posts had "comments" turned off. That's not my default setting - I guess it's a glitch. I'll have to check each time. I hope you come back and comment if you had intended to!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Your Google Search Brought You Here?

I want to apologize publicly to the searchers for "sex vides" that have visited here from Qatar and Saudi Arabia that I don't have any salacious videos for them here. HINT: it probably would help if you'd spell VIDEOS correctly.

And to the person from Germany that was looking for the translation of NVNC ID VIDES, NVNC NE VIDES, it's Latin (you probably knew that) for "Now you see it, Now you don't" - the motto of the Unseen University of Ankh Morepork on Discworld, my little homage to my favorite writer, Terry Pratchett.

I love Site Meter.

A friend of mine forwarded me this link to a video about a man whose job is repairing live high power lines. He is transported to the worksite in a heliocopter and protected from the high voltage electricity by a suit that functions as a Faraday cage I wonder what the job posting on this kind of employment opportunity would look like? "High power position of electrifying excitement!"

By now I think everyone who cares to, has had an opportunity to speak their mind on the passing of Jerry Fallwell. One of the best things I've read was an interview with Tinky Winky the Teletubby in Salon. (You might have to register for a free day pass to read, it might be Salon Premium. I also noted they're offering a free membership to Salon premium, but you only get it after applying for an American Express card and getting approved.)

I find it encouraging that as the old wave of conservative Christian leaders passes on that there are church leaders out there that are focusing on a different public agenda - "compassion issues". I heard a piece on NPR about a mega-church in Florida that has a environmental program, "Creation Care". Bravo.

More NPR stuff: Clownfish (remember Nemo?) chatter and can the Mythbusters cause an avalanche by yodeling?

Finally, and my daughter will be sad to hear this, our local Michal Negrin store has lost its lease. I guess I'd better rush over to the Going Out of Business Sale and stock up!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I Bet That's One Fit Crustacean

There are important things being done in research labs all over the world. I'm not completely convinced this experiment is one of those things. (short ad with flaming toaster plays before the actual video).

If you can breathe you can charge your cell phone. According to the article in WIRED, it'll take a full day of walking around to do it.

Remember the post about the comic with the talking koala? You can get a koala pin from the A Girl and Her Fed site. I bet it will look really cool on my badge lanyard at NasFic. Right above my Sputnik pins from last year's WorldCon in LA.

By the way, Crabby over at Cranky Fitness, that exercising shrimp was posted especially for you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Do You Query, Computers Chatting and Where Did I Put That?

New Absolute Write member, justpat, posted about a web site he's created with a query tracking tool he's providing for free to anyone interested. I haven't gotten to the place where I'll be using it (if I ever do) but I took a look around and it looks pretty useful. The site is easy on the eyes and the tool seems pretty user friendly. Give Query Tracker a looksee. If you want to comment on it here, feel free.

The hubby forwarded me this link about two computers set up to chat with each other. I'd rather chat with them than a lot of folk I remember showing up in chat rooms way back when I actually visited chat rooms.

I don't know if I've mentioned it recently - and that's part of the problem - but my memory is really going to hell. I spend way too much time trying to remember the word I want to use, looking everywhere for the glasses perched on top of my head, trying to find the earrings I swear I put in the earring dish, and that bottle of tea I just opened. I think I just need to keep everything in a big cart and drag it around with me wherever I go. Picture me in my St. John suit, Ferragamo shoes, Prada bag hung over my shoulder, pushing a grocery cart into the elevator at work. "No, I'm not homeless, just forgetful. Fourth floor please." It won't be long before HR asks me to take a nice little mental disability leave.

I recently added "Ask the Brontë Sisters" to my reader. Isn't the internet a fun place?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Random Web Hopping Weirdly Thematic Tonight

Ever wish you had just the right insult? The Shakespeare Insult Kit may be what you're looking for.

Just generally at a loss for words? Try The Phrase Finder.

Even if English is your native language you'll find this site fascinating: Business English Training: common mistakes made by German speakers.

Want to know if your cat is insulting you? Visit Tail Talk.

I think I need the first chair at this site.

Oh, don't forget - lots of good stuff to read at Project Gutenberg and Baen Free Library . I read two great books recently from Baen Free Library - 1632 and 1633 by Eric Flint. Next time I go book shopping I'll be looking for more of his work.

All links found courtesy of the solution for when you can't think of anything to blog about but feel the need to post. The strange thing is that there were so many of these very similar sites almost entirely in a row. I have a number of interests listed at Stumble, but I think I've used it enough that the logic in the program is selecting more book or language related sites than other ones.

Monday, May 14, 2007


I got a catalogue in the mail today. That's not a unique occurance, by the way. I buy things online. The online stores send me paper catalogues. Sometimes I get two or three a week from the same place. It's a rare day that goes by that I don't get a catalogue from somewhere to recycle. I continue to buy things online, but they don't get it. I'd send them letters, asking them to stop. "You're wasting paper!" But then I'd probably end up on two different mailing lists and double my catalogue deliveries.

But, that's not the point of this post. The catalogue I got today was from Colorado Pen Direct. So? Well, they sure found their target demographic, whether they knew it or not. I love pens. All kinds. I collect them and keep them long after the ink is gone. I even have a pen display box - it's like a jewelry box with a glass insert in the top.

In that box are mostly hotel pens I've collected from places I've traveled overseas, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, England. Some are just plastic pens, others are fancier but still were giveaways - except for the silver one with the opal in the top from Australia, that one I bought at a gift store. When my eye wanders over to the box I'll take a moment to simply remember and enjoy the memories of those places. I may never get back to Singapore or Sydney but I will always have something to remind me that I went.

I've also got mugs full of common pens, drawers full of miscellaneous pens. Funny thing, though, whenever I quickly need a pen to jot a note while I'm on the phone, there's never a pen near the phone. I swear I leave a pen or two there each time, but they must wander off. I think they could be collecting in the same place that the missing socks and the lost earrings go.

I spent several moments drooling over the beautiful pens in the catalogue. I didn't know Waterford made pens. Now I'm going to obsess over them until I finally break down and buy one. I toured the Waterford factory when my family went to Ireland. I think all of the patterns are beautiful, but the Seahorse is probably my favorite because it's so intricate.

There is a Lismore Waterford pen - it's the only one in the catalogue that has the same type of cut glass pattern etched into it as you'd find on their crystal. I'm glad they don't have a Seahorse pen. I wouldn't be able to resist.

I'm looking for a new small press book to review - if you know of anyone who'd take a chance on me, point them over here and ask them to drop me an email.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Birds, Books, Book Reviews and Blog Widgets

A mocking bird visited briefly today. I'm always enchanted by the many different calls they use. This one shared about a dozen different calls before he flew off. I'm considering putting out a feeder in hopes he'll come by more often. We've got a hummingbird or two hanging about as well, I hope the flowering shrubs and vines keep them interested as I have no desire to put up a hummingbird feeder and attract bees or wasps.

I'm juggling about 4 books right now on my reading list. Earlier this week I finished John Lescroart's The Suspect, I just finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road a few minutes ago. I've also been reading P.N. Elrod's The Vampire Files, pt. 1, Jonathan Kellerman's Obsession, and Elizabeth Bear's WorldWired. Somehow I keep them all straight in my head. Although a book about a Vampire cyborg hooked into a global overmind with OCD could be interesting...if only I were up to the writing thereof.

I've got some Charles Strauss (Glasshouse, Iron Sunrise) waiting to be read (I've read several already and am hopelessly addicted) and the new Miranda July book (No one belongs here more than you. Stories by Miranda July), whose website I mentioned a while back, amongst many others stacked up in a teetering pile in my overcrowded office. Yes, my "to read" pile is getting rather tall.

I've joined "Library Thing" to start organizing and tracking my reading online. I can also show "recent additions" in a widget. As I was constructing the widget code, I noted that anyone who clicked through and bought one of the books would be contributing the Amazon Affiliate % to the Library Thing account, but, if I was an affiliate I could put my affiliate code in there and get the benefit. So I joined Amazon Affiliates, too. The widget and any Amazon ads will sit on my other blog, Drive By Booking, although I have put a teensy little link here, over in my sidebar under the Drive by Booking link.

Speaking of reviews (smooth segue, huh?) - I've put up my first small press book review up on Drive By Booking. I hope to do one a week there. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get enough small press submissions there, but I'm hopeful. There's also a new review over on POD People, although I didn't write it.

I'm testing out yet another new gizmo on the blog - when you hover over a link you'll get a popout box that gives a preview of the linked page. It's called Snap Shots provided by a new search tool called Snap. If it's fun and useful or too annoying, let me know - it will help me decide on whether to keep it or not.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Blogging, a Gathering of Medievalists, and a Talking Koala

In my role as the moderator of the blogging forum on Absolute Write I occasionally check around the web for information that will help my fellow bloggers. A few days ago a new blogger was having issues with posting and asked about blog hosts/software. I did a quick Google and found Blogging Basics 101. I thought it was helpful and written in a friendly, approachable tone. They are currently running a series of guest blogger posts by people using different blog hosts. I hope you'll visit. Tell me what you think, either here or in the thread on AW, should you be a member there. (and if you're not - join! It's free and a fun place to hang out)

I started blogging with Moveable Type software on my own domain. Some online friends of mine had Live Journals, so I joined there. Very different experience. I had no clue how to customize the blog at (I do now, but I haven't played around with it in a while - it needs work, I know). Live Journal had templates and a pretty easy to use interface. The other advantage of LJ is that you can limit the access to your blog by making it "friends only" - a nice feature if you want to be able to let off some steam in a safe environment. Cuts down on trolls, too. Most of my posts on LJ are friends only - in case you clicked over and wondered why I don't have any posts up to speak of...I have a lot of posts - you just can't see them.

After joining Absolute Write I found that there were various members there who had blogs here at Blogger. One of them seemed to only allow comments if you were a member of Blogger. I thought, what the heck, it's free, and joined.

As you can see, I've been fairly active here ever since. The posting interface is easy to use, there are a lot of nice features and changing the template isn't too hard with a little bit of HTML or CSS knowledge. I'm quite happy here, although I still, occasionally, wish I could figure out how to post what I write here over on my own domain. Yes, there's a way to do it, but it still befuddles me - even after many friendly attempts to explain it to me. Someday I'll just bite the bullet and give it a try. If I disappear from the blogosphere, you'll know I botched it. Hope I figure out how to back up my blog, too.

Completely random stuff:

I've been getting emails from a Rabbi. They are very nicely done, full of news and information. The most recent email is about summer camp and included an invitation to a Shavuot Dairy Buffet and a reading of the Ten Commandments. And this joke:

A husband looking through the paper came upon a study that said women use more words than men.

Excited to prove to his wife his long-held contention that women in general and his wife in particular, talked too much, he showed her the study results, which stated: "Men use about 15,000 words per day, but women use 30,000."

His wife thought awhile, then finally she said to her husband, "That's because we have to repeat everything we say." The husband said, "What?"

I'm not really sure how I got on the mailing list. The only thing I am sure about is that I don't want to report it as spam - it just seems wrong, somehow, to send these pleasant notices off to the same folder with the v1@gr@ and EUROLOTTO WINNER!!!1!! emails. I have this nagging sense that it would be a hit against any good karma I've managed to accumulate to do that.

My dear friends MacAllister and Medievalist are at the International Congress on Medieval Studies this week. I hope they're having a lot of fun. *waves*

New online comics I've become hopelessly addicted to: A Girl and Her Fed, The Devil's Panties (not Satanic Porn!). A Girl and Her Fed has a talking koala and the ghost of Ben Franklin. The Devil's Panties is about a young woman artist and offers a glimpse into the world of comic book conventions and rather interesting clubs as well as her even more interesting friends.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Meme that Matters: Thinking Bloggers

It's been a busy week for me, but nothing I can really write about, except the beautiful bouquet of roses my son sent me for Mother's Day. He's busy doing training in preparation for deployment, so I know it wasn't easy for him to find time. Have I mentioned how proud I am of my son?

Anyway, I was glad that Thommalyn from Tennessee Text Wrestling dropped by and gave me something to blog about. She thought I was worthy of one of these:

I usually get fodder for my posts either from random thoughts that pop into my head, or from wandering around the 'net. If I post something thoughtful, it's almost always because another blog made me stop and really ponder.

There are a lot of blogs that set off the pondering - you know I talk about Making Light here quite frequently. The posts there are very thought provoking, and the conversations in the comments range from the most perceptive things you could read anywhere on the web to some of the wittiest banter around.

That said, I'm not sure the hosts of Making Light would participate in a meme like this, and perhaps it's more appropriate to link to more lightly trafficked blogs out here at this end of the blogosphere, and hope they get some new readers as a result. I'm still putting Making Light up as one of my Thinking Blogs, anyway.

Here are the rules for the Thinking Blogger award:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Here are my choices linked to especially thought provoking posts:

1. Making Light
2. Stones in the Field
3. Remaindered Random Musings
4. Standing Rule
5. j m mcdermott's blog

Of course I could link to hundreds (literally) more - the AW Bloggers as a group are always interesting. Makes sense, they're writers!

Thank you Thommalyn, and also Ilker, for coming up with the concept (and cool badge).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Thinking About Wikipedia, the "Real Life" World and Virtual Community

There's a fascinating discussion going on at Making Light about Wikipedia. I've participated in a couple minor edits there and made some comments on articles under discussion for deletion - I'm certainly not a Wikipedia regular. However, I'd like to see the problems get worked out there. I find myself wondering, after reading the comments on ML, is it possible that part of the problem is that we're still a generation or two away from being completely comfortable and conversant with being members of virtual communities?

I wish I had the luxury of time to take and explore this fully. I would love to do nothing but read and research and interview until I had a better grip on the nebulous thoughts I have about what virtual community life really means. It's a huge part of my life - at work as well. For example, my main partner at work is in Amsterdam - we mostly get our work done via email and conference calls. Meetings are done online and there are a host of online collaboration tools we use, as well.

Right now my best friends are online friends. Offline, I pretty much only meet people at work. With those people, outside of work we have little in common, so they don't reach out to socialize with me and I honestly can't think of a way to reach out to them, either. Add to it the distances most people have to commute to work these days, (at least where I live). So, even if I met someone at work with whom I shared a number of interests, I don't live in their neigborhood, which makes sustaining friendships challenging for both parties - somebody is going to have to drive quite some distance to get together to make it work. I guess I could join local clubs or take classes and "get out more" but I'm rather impatient with the amount of time it takes to establish meaningful connections that way.

With my online friends we have met due to common interests and enjoy talking about the same things and our interactions aren't constrained by time or geography. I can start a conversation on a thread at AW or here in my blog or in the comments of their blogs and if they're not available right now, well, sooner or later they'll reply. I know I'm not alone in this - given the growing numbers of online communities - from forums, to MySpace, to Second Life, to MMPORPGs, these are all groups of people with common interests, finding each other and establishing friendships and connections, many (most?) without any interaction outside of the virtual world.

So what impact will a growing virtual world have on the future - on my children just entering the adult world, and on their children? That fascinates the heck out of me. Like my great-grandmother who was born before the turn of the 20th century and saw enormous change - from horse and wagon as the primary mode of transportation to watching a man land on the Moon - it's an interesting time to be alive, watching the growth of the virtual world.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Wherein Dawno is Going to Catch Up On Her Reading and Review Books

But before I talk about the reading, here are a couple links I thought I'd share (several are from Stumble! or otherwise noted).

This poster

This site tells you everthing their server knows about you when you visit it.

This one is just freaky
. Once it loads, move your cursor around.

Condiment Museum. I'm not remembering where I found this, but I was suitably impressed.

Via BoingBoing: Keyboard Waffle Iron. Reviewed by the hubby: "I love it".

Speaking of reviews, I started a blog ages ago called "Drive By Booking". For some time there was nothing in it. Then I used it as my National Novel Writing Month journal in November of '06. Now I'm going to put up reviews of books.

Some will be by folk I've met on Absolute Write (like the first one I'm doing as soon as I finish the book). Others will be about various books that catch my fancy. I think it will feature stuff by new authors - either debut books or at the least the 2nd or 3rd ones. Occasionally I might finish a book I thought was so good that I'll mention it, but it won't be the main purpose of the blog. I'll be attempting at minimum of one post a week. Click on the little moving book icon in my sidebar to visit the site.

And I won't do this with any of the books I read. Promise. (via Stumble!)

I've spent a great deal of the afternoon wandering around the Internet via Stumble, via Google Reader, working on the little animated book gif for Drive By Booking (yeah, it's not Pixar, but who cares?) and talking to my daughter as she waits at the airfield for Sailor Beau to arrive. The crowd is yelling and hooting, so she hung up - the plane has arrived. There's someone in the crowd holding up a sign that says "Welcome Home Sex". Someone came by a while ago and gave her a flag to wave. The first place Sailor Beau wants to visit upon arrival is In 'n Out Burger. I'm so happy for my daughter that he's finally home.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Googling "Borg hamster" Returns 30 Hits

I've been on a posting roll and I hate to break the streak so I'm sitting here, fingers on the keys, wondering what the heck to say. It would be nice if I had some strong opinions on something or a cause to promote or an interesting area of expertise.

My strongest opinion right now is that I'm really pissed off that Round Table Pizza refuses to be consistent about what "well done" means. I want my pizza crust to be crispy, I even say: "...well done, I want it crispy, please" when I order. It rarely arrives that way. Why is this a difficult concept?

I also don't think promoting a "crispier crust" campaign as a cause will be the kind of thing I can wring more than one post out of, and you're reading it.

As for expertise - how many of ya'll are interested in contingent labor vendor management programs?


I thought so.

The great news of the day is that the gay zombie penguins are back!

I also discovered a new comic I am really enjoying (and is going to force me into reading up on Norse mythology) It's called Brat-halla. Enjoy the antics of the Norse pantheon as pre-teens.

The hubby shared this video clip with me a little while ago: a SouthPark take on the Mac/PC ads.

In case you wondered about Patrick Nielsen Hayden's dental appointment from my PSA post, he did make his appointnment. Such is the amazing power of the blogosphere!

I started this post at 9:11 PM - two hours to write this? Well, I did wander around the internet a bit looking for bits of inspiration. I even Googled "borg hamster" for a lark.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Title? We Don' Need No Steenkin' Title!

You'll know when the time has arrived that you really need to get back outside and connect with "Teh Real World"TM when you find yourself thinking, "hmm, this is a good idea, I think I'll download it"

Fact is Stranger than Pokemon
. (via BoingBoing)

Spreading the truth. (via Making Light's Particles)

I know what to get my daughter for her birthday!! (also thanks to BoingBoing)

Tonight was rainy and COLD. The weather here is totally psychotic. I haven't put away all of my winter sweaters yet - maybe by June? Gasoline is up to $3.55 at the corner gas station. I am so glad I live less than 10 miles from work. I'd take the light rail but it takes me over an hour to get to the office vs. a 15 minute commute (and that's door to desk).

I now offically have "way too many books" on my 'to read list'. I need Amazon Anonymous. If it doesn't exist, I'll start it. Hmm, have to add Borders Anon. and Science Fiction Book Club Anon. too. Let's not get started on my Levenger problem. If you meet my daughter please don't ask her about me and Brighton, either.

Dawno trivia: what is Dawno's favorite drink? Hint: She's so addicted to it that she spent $50 at the grocery today and only bought that drink (I cleaned the shelf - probably have a 2 week supply now). No, it's not Laphroaig 10 yr. old single malt Scotch. It's non-alcoholic, 0 carbs, 0 calories, has anti-oxidant properties and ginseng included in the ingredients.

Post your guess in comments. I'll give up the answer in a day or so. First one to guess correctly gets a custom Haku Pome written just for them. Or just comment - I need the distraction to keep me from ordering another book.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

7 x 6 Kept Me from a Career In Biology

Tonight was "Bones" night - and yes, I did want to watch it at first because it stars David Boreanaz, but I'm over that - it's a great show and the cast really clicks. I also look forward to "CSI" (the one in Las Vegas) and "NUMB3RS" every week. I'll throw "House" into the mix as well. I'm really happy there are more 'geeky' shows on. I hope they encourage young people to consider getting into scientific careers. It's initially what I wanted to do, even without the encouragement of prime time TV.

I brought it up in conversation with the spouse tonight, while watching "Bones", how as a child I had a very nice microscope set, an Invisible Woman, a chemistry set and got the Year Book Encyclopedia Science Year annuals. I wanted to grow up to be a scientist of some sort (maybe biology, I thought back then) and my parents were supportive. My brain however was not.

In High School came the realization that, in order to become a scientist, I'd need to really understand and do well at math. End of dream. Algebra was a nightmare. I only did well in the first part of Geometry where it's learning theorems and a doing lot of cool drawing with compass and protractor. Once we had to do the whole x and y and multiply this and divide that and square roots (yikes!), I was simply incapable of success. I didn't have the basic competency in math. Even now, remembering what 7x6 is gets me frowning. And we didn't have calculators then - I started High School in 1971.

I focused on my strengths and went on to get a BA in English in college. But I never lost my interest in science.

I have a passing acquaintance with a lot of scientific concepts from my reading, not only of hard SF, but I also keep an eye on a number of science blogs and sites. I lean a bit more to the tech stuff as it is relevant to my work but I also enjoy National Geographic (did you read about the giant mice?), Scientific American, and Nature.

I've also started reading regularly from a couple science blogs I've recently become aware of: Cosmic Variance and Pharyngula, which is one of the many blogs at Science Blogs. I hope to find more to add to my list.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Next Up - Ports of Call on Your Virtual Cruise

Map of Online Communities

I've got quite a list of webcomics on my RSS reader list now. Dinosaur Comics, Questionable Content, xkcd, Wondermark, Penny Arcade (which I only 'get' about 2% of the time), User Friendly. What, if any, are your favorites?