Sunday, March 26, 2006

In Amsterdam

Here I am in Amsterdam. Wish I could put up a picture or two, but I didn't bring the cord. The internet is only free if you have a laptop - you have to buy access cards to use their computers. Since I had to email our friend in Paris, I had to buy a card - and I might as well use all of the 30 minutes I had to purchase, right? The trip over was problems there. But Royal Dutch Airlines definitely spoiled me last year - US Air just can't compare. Especially when it comes to food. We're about to head out to the Rembrandt Museum, and hopefully the line for the Anne Frank House won't be too bad - it's usually around the block, and I just don't want to wait that long when I could be doing other things. Have a good week!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Odds and Ends

Plans have changed yet again. (By the way, how are you feeling about The-Trip-That-Everyone-Except-My-Mother-Is-Tired-OF-Hearing-About? Tired of it yet?) ahem. We'll get into Amsterdam Saturday, and go to Paris on Monday to get there before the strike. There's enough stuff to do within walking distance of Friend's apartment that we can keep ourselves occupied while the Paris people do whatever it is they're going to do - or more realistically, not do - on Tuesday. My mother's two pieces of advice (I'm paraphrasing here): 1.) Please stay away from crowds that look like they're up to something. I do not want to see you on CNN; and 2.)Watch out for contruction crews. Ok, to get the last one, you have to know that I fell in Scotland on my honeymoon last year, on a curb that was under construction. I spent 7 out of 9 days on a gray cane, which came to me courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. So I am basically killing time at this point, wanting it to be this time tomorrow. I've called my mom, talked with the sisters, packed almost everything. I'm waiting for the bank to open at 9 so I can go drain my paycheck out of it. There's tons of little things I should probably do, and will, once I can drag myself off of the computer. In news that surprisingly has nothing to do with The-Trip-That-Everyone-Except-My-Mother-Is-Tired-OF-Hearing-About, I am now officially a copy-editor for Siren Publishing. It's a freelance thing that I can do on my lunchbreaks and in the evenings...enough to pay for my coffee addiction and part of my love affair with the winery that opened up down the road. Many Kudos to sis for telling me about it. My husband has decided to torture me by putting The Three Stooges on TV and walking out of the room. I think this is some kind of a test - how long will I last with this on before I go crazy? It could be any second. I am sooooo not a Stooges fan. Google's Page Creator thing finally sent me an invitation last Monday. I've spent all of about twenty seconds on it making my page, but I'll probably play around with it when I get home. Feel free to check it out, but I warned you - it's pretty boring at the moment. And that's all I can think of to write about at the moment. I'm sure I'll have lots of fun things to write when I get home. I may even have a chance to make a quick post or two while I'm gone. That doesn't mean I will - I've found that wine severely limits one's ability to write coherant thoughts.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What would you do if you had $35,000

Would you donate it to charity?
From NPR's Blog:

March 23, 2006 · "99 red balloons, floating in the summer sky. Panic bells, it's red alert."

Yesmy friends, you too will have this song in your head the rest of theday. And if you're desperate, you can watch the video over and overagain on VH1 this weekend.

Apparently,some poor fool -- I mean, good-hearted soul -- gave $35,000 for Katrinarelief through a VH1 fundraiser. The gift entitled the donor to programa full hour of videos on the network. This guy decided on Nena's "99 Luftballons " again and again and again. No word on whether VH1 will be alternating the German and English versions or not.

I am in awe, and a bit frightened.

That's pretty cool that they let him do that. What would you choose if you could program an hour of videos?

Did Barry Manilow even make videos? Hmmm...

Wrapping things up

{stream of conciousness, "on"}

At work. On my fifth cup of coffee. Very little sleep last night - practice ran late, because I had to practice/teach Panis Angelicus with/to L. Much fun, very pretty - but that took 45 minutes after practice was over. My choir director told me he'd be out of town the day after I get back from my trip - which made our pianist look at me and say "you ARE going to be there on Sunday."  I think he wants to change around some of the music, so I guess I'd better look and see what we're supposed to be doing in the first place and then what we can do instead. I started working 7:30-4:30 this week, which means I have to be at work 30 minutes earlier than usualy. which is all so that I can go to the stupid gym after work.
Have I mentioned that I don't particularly like to work out? This isn't as horrible as what my hubby does, but it is still far from enjoyable. Oh well. I've lost about 10 pounds in the past month, so it must be worth it. Stupid body that needs exercise.
And while we're on the topic of stupidity - the stupid french people have succeeded in re-arranging my travel plans. We're staying in Amsterdam til Wed. Which means one less day in Paris. Stupid people. So now we're talking about finding the horse-back riding place that's just outside of Amsterdam so we can see a little bit of the country outside of the city. Since I love horses and riding, this is the thing that is saving France from  my wrath, which they should fear. :) The hotel we're staying at in Amsterdam is being wonderful about allowing us to wait til the very last minute to decide if we're staying for the fourth night - in case the strike doesn't actually happen.  These people are so nice, they're in the perfect location for us. I'm pretty sure that any time we go, we'll be staying with them.
New cup of coffee, new paragraph. I haven't even packed a thing yet. When I get off today (I wish I could leave early) I get to go work out again (see above paragraph for my thoughts on that), then take hubby to pick up the dearly beloved motorcylce, which has been having it's tires changed and some maintenance work done. I've been dying to get it back, so that we could go for a ride. I've been waiting for a week for the stupid thing to be ready, and now that it is, I have to wait more than a week. but I'd rather go on vacation than ride the bike, so I'll stop complaining now. :)
I really need to go to Wal-Mart tonight. I need to do laundry. Best Friend's coming over tonight, too - so I may have to cook a little something. A VERY little something. And I'll send her home with the leftovers. Luckily, she's not tired of pasta and red sauce. And if she is, then she's too good of a friend to tell me.
After food, comes packing. Which takes longer for this kind of trip than it does if I'm just going to visit family for a week. Who knows what we may end up doing over there? I need different types of clothes, but I also need plenty of comfortable, let's-go-be-tourist clothes. and I need to limit myself to one suitcase, since I need to leave some room in the big one to bring back stuff in. I have one friend that's sent me a shopping list, a woman at work that wants me to go looking for a skirt (That might not happen, since I'm supposed to go to the Left Bank to find it - and I don't think hubby'll allow that right now), and I have to buy presents for people. And then there's the shoes to consider....Luckily, I'm good at packing lots of stuff in the big suitcase. And then, I can always make hubby cart it all over the place for me, while I pull along the smaller one. After all, if he's going to work out and get all those muscles, he should use them for a practical purpose, right?

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to work out again - I'm trying to cut down on the guilt I feel when I eat whatever the hell I want, because that's exactly what I'll do. Then I have to go to the bank. Tomorrow's pay day, so I have to convert a big chunk of that into traveller's checks. Back home in time to run to Wal-Mart again for something that I'll forget to buy tonight (I've learned to leave time for that - the older I get, the less memory space I seem to have). Hubby's friend is picking us up about 12:15 to take us to the airport. Where we will sit, bored out of our skulls for a couple of hours. Then we'll get on a plane and go to Philadelphia, where we will be bored for yet 2 more hours, before finally getting on a plane and sleeping.

Well, I guess I can just use this blog post as my checklist for the next 24 hours, to make sure I've done everything. Of course, I'll still have lists for things I need to pack, things to buy, chores to complete, things to tell Best Friend about the cats....

And damn it, I forgot I have to get in my first edit to Siren before I leave. I better go make s

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Love an Adventure

Willour train leave The Netherlands next week? Will we get to Paris in timefor our flight out on Saturday 4/1? Will we be perpetually stuck inAmsterdam? Will I develop an undying love for windmills and tulips?Will I be fluent in Dutch this time next year, serving *coffee* in a*coffeeshop*? Or will I just have to do the expected thing, go to Parisand have a good time? The future is very unclear right now....
France, caught in a standoff between the government andunions on a new work law, is bracing for a disruption of services onMarch 28 {my travel day}, after transport and power company workers said they'll join the walkout.....

Protests are widening. Workers at Gaz de France SA and Electricite deFrance SA filed today a strike notice with the companies for March 28.Similar notices were filed at Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer deFrance, which manages the national railways and part of the Frenchcapital's suburban train network, and at Reseau Autonome des TransportsParisiens, or RATP, which manages the Paris subway. Transport workersplan to strike from 8 p.m. on March 27.
Since there's absolutely nothing I can do about the whole situation -and I refuse to stay home (as some people have told me I should) - thenI'm spending time imagining four days free to roam around TheNetherlands, Belgium, and whatever other places I can get my greedylittle fingers on. Do we have a place to sleep? Nope, but we can justtake long train rides and sleep on the way. :)
I think I may be I'm even more excited about the tripnow that I don't know what's going to happen. At least I know I'll havea good time - until I run out of money!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Paris, I beg of you...

...just let me get in and out. I'll keep myself safe while I'm there.
And if fell like compromising - just let me get there safely. You can keep me in the country for a while, just let me get there.

From the International Herald Tribune(emphasis mine):
French students and unions have stepped up pressure on the government, calling for a day of demonstrations and strikes March 28 to fight a hotly contested new labor law that makes it easier for companies to fire young employees.
Have I mentioned that March 28 is the day I'm arriving in Paris? We're taking the train from Amsterdam, so this paragraph caused a bit of worry:
Though French unions account for less than 10 percent of the country's work force, their concentration in the public sector, particularly in transportation, gives them the ability to wreak havoc on daily life, putting enormous pressure on the government.
Now, would it really be so bad if I had to spend an extra night or two in Amsterdam? No, not really. It's a beautiful city. Very friendly people, lots of fun stuff to do and some great shopping. I'm sure I'd find a way to keep myself occupied, and I'd have a blast doing it.
But I'd really like to see Paris.

george makes a prediction

Washington Post Headline wins the headline of the day award: "Bush Predicts 'Tough Fighting Ahead' in Iraq."
Because, you know, everything's just been easy as pie so far.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


The official countdown has begun. If I were as cool as my sister, I would put a neat little counter on my blog, letting you know how many days, hours and minutes til I leave on Friday. But since I'm not that cool.. I'll just have to talk about it.

As I'm writing this at 9:45 AM, I have 6 days 5 hours and 15 minutes until my plane leaves. After a flight and a three hour layover in Philadelphia, we will be on our way to Amsterdam. Three days of fun there, and it's off to join our friend in Paris for four nights. I cannnot even begin to put into words how excited I am. :) I LOVE to travel. I love to walk around new places, and watch people (I get that from my mom), or just sit around and watch people. People are crazy. They're weird. And they don't mind letting the world see it.

But the absolute best part of travelling is the food. I love eating new stuff (I get this from my dad). I'll try anything once...and I do mean anything. Blood pudding? Loved it from the moment I smelled it. I'd make my own...but where does one get fresh pig blood in this day and age? Then there's the problem of finding something big enough to mix all the ingredients in. Haggis? (there's a definition below, but if you've got a squeamish stomach, then don't look. Stacey, that means you). I was dying to try it when we went to Scotland. It's pretty good...but the two times I had it, it was a little mushy (because it's boiled), and I like my sausage-type foods to be crispy around the edges. Give me the blood pudding. The one and only time I've been offered caviar (a story which made StepSon green....but not with envy), I got to try about 6 different kinds. It was a wine/seafood tasting from my restaurant years, and by the time I noticed the caviar station I'd samples several wines and...well, I remember that I liked the caviar. I just wish I remember which ones I tried and which ones I loved. Probably the ones that I'll never be able to afford or the ones that are now illegal.

Eating any kind of animal brains seems kind of weird...but this article on cow brains makes it seem normal. I'm willing to try it once . And if I liked it, I'd eat it no matter what it was. There is one thing I don't think I could get myself to try - the Thousand Year Old Egg (which is really only 100 days old). I've seen pictures, and it looks kinda nasty. But looks aren't what would keep my away. I simply don't like pickled stuff, which is what this seems to be. The smell is supposed to be particularly....pungent. I'll have to ask my dad what he thinks about it.

But I was going to talk about The-Trip-That-Everyone-Is-Tired-Of-Hearing-About. :)

We went to Amsterdam last year on our honeymoon, but we had no money to do anything fun. We went to one museum - the Unofficial Sex Museum. It was pretty cool - my favorite part was looking at the 'porn through time' collection. They had a room that was devoted to postcards, magazines and other pornographic images over the past several hundred years, and that was pretty interesting - it was all pictures of naked women, but boy were they different! What was considered beautiful 150 years ago is very different from what it is today. But anyway, on the last trip we couldn't afford the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt Museum, the Anne Frank House, or The Official Sex Museum. And the only full day we were in the city - Friday - was the one day a week that the Royal Palace was closed. So we're doing all that this year. We are going to completely leave aside the question of what "Official" versus "Unoffical" means in the world of Sex Museums.

And before you ask - the Red Light District really wasn't as exciting as all the hype builds it up to be. It was just a bunch of women in bikinis moving around behind windows. I expected them to be in corsets, or sexy lingerie or something. But it was just one bikini after another. And a lot of them weren't particularly revealing bikinis.

One of the parts of our trip that I'm really looking forward to is taking the train from Amsterdam to Paris. My first train experience was on our trip last year, and I loved it. This time, we'll be going through some beautiful country. It's only a four hour trip - and knowing me, I'll fall asleep as I always do when in a moving vehicle (something else I get from my mom). But when I wake up: Hello Paris! Clark's meeting us at the station, and we're staying at the apartment he's renting. We'll only have about 3 1/2 days in Paris, and there's so much to fit into that time. And I haven't checked on those riots in a few days. I should probably keep an eye on that...

Haggis ingredients: I'm not going to pretend to know how to make this stuff. There's no one single way to make it - as with most good sausage type foods, you can use just about anything. The casing for haggis, though, should be a sheep's stomach. A very clean, washed, sheep's stomach. I'll just remind you that traditional sausages are stuffed into animal intestines. The stomach seems somewhat better, to me.

The filling should have lots of organs in it - liver (from sheep or deer), heart and lungs along with some suet seem to be the most common ingredients. Other than that, it's your typical sausage-stuffers: some onion, pepper (white, black, cayenne, etc), stock, oatmeal and seasonings. Stuff it in the stomach and boil it - and voila! you have haggis. One stomach seems to feed about 3 or 4 people. And did you know Robert Burns wrote an ode to the Haggis?

Told ya it was pretty good.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Google Publishing?

I really don't want this to turn into another Google Blog, so I promise that I'll try and stop talking about them. Well, I will if they quit doing cool stuff.


Anyway, our daily edition of Google News comes from ZDnet, in an article on Google getting into the Publishing world (good luck, Google - you kinda pissed everyone off with that whole free-books-online thing):

"The new offering would allow people to sign in and purchase immediate, browser-based access to books, Google said on its site. Purchasers would not, however, be allowed to save a copy of the book to their computer or to otherwise copy pages from the book."

This both makes me happy and makes me sad. I like Google - and trying to bring books to people is good. Plus, I can easily see them coming up with a log-in service that would track which books you have access to, so that no matter what computer you access your account from, you'll always have access to your ebooks. They could even incorporate it into their Gmail. The possibilities are endless for this. Not to mention the wonders it could do for the epub industry. Yay! for Google and accessibility.

But then there are eReaders - always the Catch 22 when talking about ebooks. Yeah, a good one is probably still not close enough for me to be able to afford it - but it's going to happen, probably in the next few years. Is Google going to have their own proprietary format for the texts they provide access to? If so, will it be compatible with an eReader? If it is (not sure if eReaders are happy with 'browser-based') , what if I'm on a plane, or on a roadtrip, or on the beach - and I want to read my ebooks? How in the world will I get Internet access in order to get to my books? Boo! for Google. Unless Google really does have those plans for a world-wide wireless network hidden somewhere. Then, Yay! for Google.

I'm sure that there are going to people upset that Google will charge for these books (some peopel seem to think that everything Google does should be free - I've met several). I'm not one of them. They have to make money somehow, and they have to pay those legal fees to deal with the publishers suing them over free access. It's going to be hilarious if they fund those lawsuits with the money they make off the sale of ebooks. :)

Attention: Whomever Makes The Weather

Please consider making March 24th a bright and beautiful spring day. Thank you.

I love my local Meteorologist's weather blog. There's always a cool story, fun picture, or just interesting meteorological tidbits of information around there. They also put up weather discussions...and something popped up this afternoon that is not making me happy.
"FRIDAY (March 24): Winter weather fans will love the 12Z GFS... itpaints a deep surface low moving across the northern Gulf of Mexico,with heavy rain developing across the Gulf coast states, and asignificant snow event for the northwest part of Alabama and intoTennessee."

Now, he does go on to say this, immediatly after: "BUT REMEMBER... this is all voodoo at this point. No confidence inanything specific here, and this feature might go away in future runs.But, we will be watching for trends. Something like this is certainlypossible in March... but I am not saying it will happen. Just too faraway."

He's not one to be an extremest, and he always makes the point that his blog is about weather discussion, not weather prediction (that's on the weather homepage). That's one reason I love him - he doesn't jump on the "we're going to have snow!" bandwagon. And he can't control his models. But, since I am leaving for The-European-Vacation-That-Everyone-Is-Sick-Of-Hearing-About on that Friday:

I do not want any snow on March 24. You can have a tornado on the 23rd and a blizzard on the 25th. But please, for one day, let me have sunshine.

Thank you.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Google moves in on taking over the Universe

Google Earth captured everyone's attention when it was launched. How much fun is it to find satellite images of your house, your work, your church, your mother-in-law's-bridge-friend's summer home? You can spend hours looking at every place you've ever been to.  Well, my house if far enough away from a big city that you can't actually get much closer than a blob (our neighborhood) with lines running through it (our streets). But it was close enough to say "hey! I live somewhere in that white blob!" One of my co-worker's lives in a trailer park, and you can actually see the cars parked in the driveways.  And my library's parking lot comes in so clear that I can plainly tell it was a weekend when they took the picture - it's the only time it's that empty.

But don't you feel like the other planets are kind of missing out on the fun? I mean, what if we could look at Jupiter's Red Spot (or the newest addition to Jupiter's Meteorological wonders, Red Jr.)?  How about a close up look at Venus? What if we could look at Mars?

Ahhh, but you can look at Mars! Those computer whizzes in Mountain Springs, announced this morning that Google Mars is now ready for public consumption.  So go ahead, play around. You know you want to.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

An afternoon at the theater

StepSon's high school had their spring musical this weekend. They did Little Shop of Horrors, something that I knew nothing about. One friend told me that it was a spoof of all those horrible "B" movies. Wrong. The acting was actually much better than I expected. The musicians were great. The singing was even mostly very good. And the lighting - StepSon's role in the weekend's entertainment - was, of course, spectacular. The play, however, sucked. The first act was mostly ok. There were a few funny lines, the music was ok, the {thin} plot was somewhat interesting. Not great, not bad. But by halfway through the second act, things got screwy and I totally did not understand why people think this is a hilarious play. Maybe talking venus-fly-trap-like-things just aren't my cup of tea. The lighting, however, was unbelievably good.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Godfather and Satan

Last weekend, Hubby had a friend over. It was the night before the Oscars, so that was the general topic of conversation. While I played on my computer, they talked about who should and shouldn't win. After a while, they started talking about the greatest movies...and the conversation (of course) led to The Godfather - because 99.9 % of men believe that The Godfather is The Greatest Movie Ever Made. One of the points of their conversation was that The Godfather is everywhere - people constantly reference lines from it, and many of it's themes have become a part of our culture. Ok - as for the second part of the title, Satan: I've just finished reading a book called The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots (it's a facinating book, and I highly recommend it) by T.J. Wray and Gregory Mobley. Somewhere in the middle of chapter 3 the discussion is on Solomon and his penchant for taking foreigners as wives - a big no-no, because women can convice men to worship the wrong gods. In fact, that's exactly what happened with Solomon. And then I read this quote: "It is not surprising then, that jealous Yhwh {God} flexes his muscle and sends a few troublemakers to stir things up a little for Solomon. Granted, it is not exactly a horse's head in the bed, but the sending of adversaries is designed as a warning: shape up, or else. Did you get the Godfather reference? In a book about Satan. The Godfather really is everywhere.


I love coffee. I think we all know that by now. And today, one of my favorite food blogs, Accidental Hedonist, has a little on the history of coffee. So, for all you caffeine junkies out there:

Quite fun fact: Not only is coffee the world's most traded foodcommodity. It's also the world's second most traded commodity period(with petroleum being the first).

One of the many discovery stories of the bean goes as follows: Theancient people of Ethiopia were a collection of nomadic tribes, ratherthan one centralized government or even a series of a city states. Theywould take their flock of animals from place to place, looking for thebest place for their domesticated animals to feed. A goatherder tookhis flock into a new area, and found that his goats were a bit morefrisky than normal. Upon inspection, he found them eatingbrownish-purple berries. Tasting the berries himself, he discoveredthat he could watch his flock without becoming sleepy. He introducedthe berries to the local imam who verified the ability to keep oneselfawake with the berries. The imam, in turn, gave the berries to hisflock (so to speak) in order to keep them awake during his sermons. Thebean, through time, became an ingrained part of several religiousceremonies.

What the bean wasn't used for was in drinks. Instead it was eaten rawor in a paste format, probably mixed with the leaves of the coffeeplant. It's a fair bet that this was not only used in religiousceremonies, but also taken before battles.

Now the goatherder story is nice and family friendly, but it's probablytaking a fair amount of liberties with the truth. It's also just aslikely (if not, more so) that people who were familiar with theeuphoric effects of khatwere looking for a new buzz, so to speak. Khat is a plant in which a'high' is obtained by chewing on the leaves of the plant. It is notoutside the realm of possibility that a single khat addict foundthemselves eating the leaves of many dozens of plant products to see ifany of them had an affect similar to khat. When they discovered thecoffee plant, they noted the affects of the coffee leaves and beansupon their system, and things progressed from there into the hands ofthe local imam.

2006 Top Ten Banned Books

ALA (American Library Association) has announced the Top Ten Banned Books of 2005. The awards go to:
  • “It's Perfectly Normal” for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;
  • “Forever” by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
  • “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;
  • “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;
  • “Whale Talk” by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
  • “Detour for Emmy” by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
  • “What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
  • Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;
  • “Crazy Lady!” by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and
  • “It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, andFamilies” by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.

I'd love to write a long, thoughtful post on how much I hate the fact that books are banned for any reason. How I think that parents who would rather keep their children from finding out about the real world - rather than teaching them how to handle reality - should be horse whipped. How small-minded people must be to think that by keeping kids from reading about sex, homosexuality, bad language and/or violence they are doing something to be proud of. How all knowledge and ideas should be shared in order to create dialogue between people of different backgrounds, ideaologies, and beliefs. How I think that the first sign of an intrusive government is that  it tries to dictate what its citizens can and cannot read (because most of the time, it's Boards of Directors who decide that a book should be pulled from the shelves).

And how if it weren't for Judy Blume there would be at least two generations of people who probably would have learned about sex about 5 years later than they did.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Remember the General Lee?

From the Duke of Hazzard? Remember the car horn, that when honked, played the first few notes of "Dixie"? There is a car that drives in my (small) city that has that same horn. I've heard it several times now. It just drove by again. I think it hits the horn every time it drives over the railroad tracks by my house. Every time I hear it, I just have to laugh. In case you were wondering, The South is alive and well in Alabama.

Just a Junkie

I’m an NPR junkie. I have an hour commute to work, whichgives me two solid hours a day of my favorite NPR shows.  There are two main stations that I can pickup in Birmingham, and luckily theyeach have a counterpart in Montgomery– which means that if I begin to lose the north signal in the beginning of astory, I can always switch to the Montgomerystation to hear it. Ten years ago I would have thought I’d be dead beforesaying this: I only listen to music about 15% of the time that I’m in my carthese days. And when I do, I usually have a CD in.

So I’m an NPR junkie. And I’m proud of it. Which is why Igot very excited today to see that they’ve started their very own blog – Mixed Signals.Considering the way so many of their programs and affiliate stations have jumpedon the Podcast bandwagon, I’m surprised that more of their programs haven’tstarted their own blogs.  For somethinglike All Things Considered or Morning Edition, a blog just seems to be a naturalcounterpart. But then,  I’m also a blogjunkie. So maybe it’s a good thing that NPR doesn’t have a blog for every show….causethen I’d be an NPR Blog Junkie. And that might require rehab.



Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Too Geeky

My sister comes across some really good, geeky inventions. The pen, for example, is a great idea. So maybe she'll appreciate this. But it's just too geeky for me.

Funny, but I'm pretty sure that my father would be able to tell time using this clock....

This is a little more my speed:

Where are the lights

It's 9:45 on a typical Wednesday morning. This means that everyone is working at their desks, trying not the think about the fact that the week is not quite half-over. We're not on the downhill slide yet, and none of us are happy about it.

This time of day is also when we get the Newsies. These are the Professors, Instructors, and non-student military people that stop by the library once or twice a week to read the papers. We just started receiving the USA Today and The Wall Street Journal again (our courier had quit, and it took weeks to find another one - hey, I'm in Alabama), so that means that we have more people coming in the mornings than we were last month. And since the papers are in the section in front of my desk, I get to look at them all read the paper, and wish I could just sit around and read last week's edition of The Sunday Times and Le Monde. Not that I would understand what they were saying in the first, or even be able to read the words in the second - but being able to just sit around and read the paper in the middle of a weekday morning is going to be a small part of whatever heaven I eventually make it to.

Anyway, the newsies have set up camp in front of me. There are a few hardcore researchers on the computer (which are also in front of me). The librarians are desperately wishing it were Friday, or that someone would at least call a meeting about something so that it would break up the monotony of it all. And then, the lights started to go off, one by one. It started in the back, where the stacks are, and worked it's way towards the front of the library, then around the corner to the reference and circulation desks. In a matter of minutes the whole library was black. I desperately hoped that I  had gotten pulled into a time warp, and that the clock had magically jumped to 5 so that I could leave...but then I remember the lights don't get turned off til 10 PM during the week - and I didn't want to fast-forward that far.

The Researchers are frantically pulling out thumb drives, floppy disks, whatever they can save their work to. They are all on the trail of the PERFECT citation for their book/paper/masterpiece-of-research, and cannot afford to loose what ground they've gained. The Newsies are supremely annoyed. They enjoy watching others research and revel in the fact that they aren't doing grunt work at the moment. The blackout means that not only can they not watch the Researchers writhe in Research Hell, it also means they can't read the Washington Post that's three days out of date (they could get the current stuff online - we get it through a database - but that makes them look like a Researcher, not a Newsie).

I'm at my desk, trying to figure out why in the world they would fix a broken light switch - the masterswitch that shuts off all the lights in the stacks and research areas - at one of our busiest hours of the day. 3 PM is just as busy, but that's when the students have descended on us, and they don't complain nearly as much about being inconvenienced.  I saw the Newsies frowns and the Researchers Panic...and then they all started to look around for someone who works here. So what did I do?

I went up front. "Fled" is probably too strong a word, but I did walk quickly; I also tried to look very important on the way. :) I ended up going right back to the computers to calm the Researchers - after all, I remember that hopeless feeling of a power outage when you're 3/4 of the way through a paper and you realize that you have no idea if you've hit save in the past ten minutes, or if there's an auto-save because you aren't on your own computer.
The Newsies...I let them fend for themselves. They seemed to have found a new camaraderie in the dark, and I wasn't about to disturb that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Read an Ebook Week

Whether you know it our not, this week is Read an Ebook Week. AChase's 2006 Calendar of Events has a (very) short description:  "Mar 5-11. A week set aside to learn about and/or read an electronic book (e-book)."
Well, that's really not very illuminating, but the title kinda speaks for itself.  An article on MobileRead Networks (written by the founder of Read and Ebook Week) gives the purpose of the week as: "to educate readers about the advantages of electronic books and to promote the fledgling industry."

So, if you've never read an ebook - why not start now? You don't necessarily have to purchase one. There are several good websites that offer free ebooks, most notably Project Gutenberg, which has a great collection of classic literature. They got started back in 1971, which makes them the oldest ebook service.

There are other places to get free ebooks:
  • Electronic Text Center - makes over 2000 ebooks available for use on a PalmReader or Microsoft Reader'
  • - makes reference and fiction ebooks available for your PDA;
  • - has a page dedicated to free ebooks, and a notification service to let you know when they've added more free titles.
These are only a few of the services online. Author and publisher websites are also a good place to keep an eye on - you never know when they'll have free stories up! A search on Google for "free ebooks" (with the quotations) brings back over 5 million hits!

So get out there, read an ebook, and tell someone else to as well.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Writing, Not Writing...Writing, Not Writing

Why is it that I always feel creative at the wrong moment? And that when I actually have a chunk of time to sit and write, it's the last thing I feel capable of doing?

This past weekend is the classic example. We had StepSon this weekend, which always makes it harder to get anything actually typed. Sure, I can brainstorm - but getting actual words on paper is almost impossible. This weekend, though, he had lots of play practices to get to - so that meant stretches of time spent running around, but it also meant stretches of time spent home alone.

On my lunch break Friday, I was fired up. I had the break room to myself, and my pen was flying over the paper as I munched my grapes. I couldn't wait to get home. StepSon was in practice til 9, and hubby would be going to pick him up - which would give me about an hour and a half of complete alone time. My computer is basically in my living room. We only have two bedrooms, and the computer won't fit in either one. The laptop goes where I go, though, so I usually take it outside if the weather's nice so that I can have that 'alone' creative time. Friday night, Hubby wanted to have some 'together' creative time. No problem, I thought. I'll just write a steamy sex scene while he's picking up kiddo.

When they got home, I was asleep on the couch, with my laptop on my stomach. I had written about 50 words - and none of them were worth reading. I thought about staying up, drinking some coffee, getting the juices flowing through my fingers...but hubby won't go to sleep til I do (he'll get in bed and try, but he's not sleeping), and StepSon had on some movie that required a round of machine gun sounds to fill the house every 6.5 minutes. So I went to bed, secure in the knowledge that StepSon would be at practice for 8 hours on Saturday, which would require hubby to make two separate trips to get him. At least an hour apiece.

Saturday morning I was up early, before StepSon, and got on the computer. I was on a roll for about 30 minutes. But then the phone rang, there were problems with some plans we had for the afternoon...schedules had to be re-arranged and I suddenly had only 10 minutes to get dressed and out the door. All day, I had thoughts and ideas percolating in the back of my mind, ready to leap out of my hands. But we shopped ran errands for about 6 hours before heading home. By the time I was alone and in front of my computer, I could barely remember how to form a complete sentence. And then suddenly, the boys were home with the pizzas and it was movie night. Not to worry - Sunday's only a few hours away!

/sigh. Sunday wasn't much better. I did get some time alone Sunday night while Hubby went to a meeting. Did I feel like writing? No. Did I make myself? Yes.

And all day today at work, I've had the itch. I just need a couple of hours alone with my computer!

Now, where have I heard that before?

Erotica in Libraries

One of the Library blogs ( that I read had a good post last week on the lack of EC titles in libraries. She did some reasearch on the current list of titles in print EC has on their website to find out how many libraries carry those titles. The highest number of libraries with any one title is 11. That's nationwide! She goes into a pretty good discussion on why, and has a list broken down by title.
So what do you think?  And do your public libraries carry any erotica?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Books I've Read

At the beginning of the year, I talked about having a blog on eHarlequin's site dedicated to the books that I read this year. I had problems getting it set-up - something about not being a member, but registering for the blog. Anyway, the lady that I emailed back and forth with seemed to be confused about why I wanted to do it. Duh. They were giving coupons for books! I didn't want to join another group, and I actually forgot about it for a month until I got an email reminding me that I wouldn't get the coupons unless I posted to my blog. I never GOT a blog. So I took a hint form my sister's blog. She has a little list on her sidebar of the books she's read in 2006 (don't know if it's exhaustive or not). Since imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery (or something like that), I'm going to flatter her. Not to mention, she just plain has good ideas. (how was that for shameless flaterry?). If you scroll down the page, over there on the sidebar you'll see a list of what I've read this year. There's a lot of Nora Roberts' stuff over there, because last year I got a huge box of her books off of eBay and I'm still working my way through them. There will probably be a lot more ebooks added to the list, because they're cheaper. And speaking of ebooks - I've been toying with the idea of getting a reader (if I can find one that I can afford). My laptop is just too big to hold comfortably for long stretches of time. If anyone has any suggestions of readers that they've used...I'd love to hear them!

How Open Minded Are You?

I wish I remember which one of the Divas put this on her blog... So how open-minded are you?
You Are 80% Open Minded
You are so open minded that your brain may have fallen out! Well, not really. But you may be confused on where you stand. You don't have a judgemental bone in your body, and you're very accepting. You enjoy the best of every life philosophy, even if you sometimes contradict yourself.

Stupid Dentists

I went to my Maxillofacial Surgeon (whatever the world that means) on Thursday, just as I said I would. Sat in the waiting room, filled out all the forms for a new patient. Then went back and was told that they needed X-Rays. Which was a problem. My insurance policy, like most, only pays for x-rays every two years. And I had a set taken back in November when I started seeing my new dentist. So I told the assistant that there wasn't any way I could afford to get more done. I had no idea how much it would cost, but I knew that I couldn't afford it. I told her that my dentist had promised to send them, so she went to check. Sure enough, there in my folder was a note that said they would be mailed...and they weren't there. Ugh. So, after screwing up my courage for days and hours, I had to reschedule the appointment. I tried calling my dentist, but got no answer. And since they're closed on Fridays, I won't get any info from them til Monday. And maybe it was cowardly of me, but I rescheduled my trip for after we get back from Amsterdam/Paris. No way did I want to have a sore mouth while I'm gallivanting around Europe. :) And to deal with the stress, I stopped at the liquor store on the way home. This weekend, we have StepSon, and he's in a play at school next weekend. This means that we're basically spending the weekend taking him to and from play practice, which is 30 minutes away. He didn't get done til 9 PM on Friday, had to be there from 10-5 today, and has to be back at 1 PM tomorrow. The boys just got home with pizza, so I'm off to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow while we eat. I know nothing about it and StepSon assures me it's a GREAT movie...but since his taste runs to Anchorman and Dodgeball...I'm a little worried. :)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dental Fun

I'm having a tooth pulled in 2 hours and 50 minutes.
I'm trying to get some work done, but I'm too busy dreading the oral surgeon guy who will be busy ripping things out of my mouth.

I tried arguing with the dentist - after all, the stupid tooth isn't even causing me any pain! I'm not using it, because there's no tooth above it. So why not just let it sit there and be happy? Sure, part of it's missing - but at the moment I'm not in pain. And I'd like to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, my dentist did not like my uneducated opinion. He gave me a choice: Have it pulled, or get a root canal and a crown.

Umm...root canal? Crown? I'm too young for that kind of language! And besides, do you have any idea how expensive it is to have that kind of stuff done? Yes, I have insurance, but it won't cover it all, and my dentist has already gotten more than $500 from me in the past three months. I told him I wasn't going to spend that kind of money on a tooth that I don't even use, for goodness sake!

Okay, he said. Then you'll have it pulled.

So, here I am, dreading the oral surgeon guy he's sending me to. Or maybe he's an Orthodontic Surgeon. Or a Periodontal Surgeon. I don't remember his title (and I'm not sure of the difference), other than the fact that 'surgeon' was on the end of it - which probably means he enjoys sticking sharp implements in people. It doesn't really matter - he'll stick some painful needles in my gum, then he'll grap my tooth with something that looks like one of those utensils you use for eating escargot and start pulling.

The only thing I'm hoping for is that he'll give me some gas. My dentist doesn't even have any. He just likes to put needles in my gums. I'm hoping this guy will give me the needle and the inhale-able stuff.
Okay, to be honest, I'm also hoping that this new Dental Monster is generous with his prescription pad. The last time I had a tooth pulled, I got a bottle of Lortabs, which almost made me forget about the new hole in my gums.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What to write about...

Earlier this week, my sister accused me of dropping off the face of the earth....I guess I have been in a hole of some kind for the past week. It's not that I have nothing on my mind. I have quite a lot on my mind. But lately, nothing I do or think or read seems quite 'blog-worthy.'
As soon as I wrote that, I realized that the last sentence implies that I am now analyzing my life - what I see, hear, read, think, do - and putting everything into one of two categories: That which is/will be worthy of being blogged, and that which isn't.

I don't like being put in neat little boxes. So I have just decided to write about things that probably aren't very blog worthy, but now they are by the simple fact that I have blogged about them. See how I can create realities for myself? wink

Today I'm working on an email reference request that came through our website. It's not one of the most exciting questions, I've ever answered, but it's better than others. I'm helping some guy from Scotland with a Marginalia Study. What, you may ask, is that? That's when someone who needs to write a dissertation decides to analyze what has been written in the margins of books. I've seen studies that focused on one person's collection - what they wrote in all their books - and I've seen ones that focus on one specific book, then try to find out what many different people wrote in the margins.
It's kind of interesting if you have a copy that has been actually written in. It's even more interesting when they write interesting comments.
When they only underline, it's kind of a bore.
My book has about 20 underlined sentences.

Today is Ash Wednesday. I'm celebrating by having Chicken Rotini Soup for lunch (I have fallen in love with Progresso's soups), and probably a beef soft taco from Taco Bell for dinner. I know, it breaks both the
abstinenceand fasting laws that I'm 'supposed' to follow. I haven't done that in years. Just call me a bad, bad girl.

Last weekend it rained. A lot. It rained so much, that my parking decal that I have to keep stuck on the outside of my windshield came off. Don't ask me why the government can't come up with decals that could be stuck on the inside of a windshield.

Oh, but the rain was really inspirational. Or maybe it was the fact that I got to spend the whole weekend with my husband (hadn't spent an entire weekend with him in about a month), and half of it was spent in the bed, and....
Oops. Mom, just forget you read that. kiss

Back to the inspiration (and not what caused it)- I went to work on an already-started story at one point, but ended up plotting out this really involved ....Thing (not sure what to call it). Not the whole thing, but the whole back story and the beginning of the 'real' story. In fact, I made the back story so interesting, I might just have to make it interesting enough to write more about and make it have its own story.

So, what have you been up to?