Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Jan 30 2004

Not That Kind Of Bear

I have some stuffed animals I often place in my office chair when I'm not sitting there, so that folks won't see just an empty chair when the webcam is on. I always thought it was cute and endearing to have a bear take my place. Now I've been notified of a link to this bunch, who might actually find my innocent little bear a source of enjoyment in ways I never even thought of. I see from their site that some of them lust toward Beany Babies too. Is nothing sacred?

posted at: 11:19 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Jan 29 2004

It Dung Get Any Better Than This

I somehow missed the story about the cow in India that swallowed a packet of diamonds. I loved the last line in the news article about folks gathering around to cheer every time the diamond trader recovered another diamond from a new cow pie. Just think about it. It's a perfect metaphor for election year dynamics in the U.S.

posted at: 07:55 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Wed, Jan 28 2004

What Am I Bid For This Perl?

Who would have thought that all the bad spellers could use their unusual insight to discover eBay goodies that someone else misspelled? The New York Times reports that people are finding bargains and meeting with less competition by seeking out these word variations.

posted at: 07:40 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Tue, Jan 27 2004

Hi Rick. Hi Kathi. We Haven't Met, But...

I've been hoping to blog about other things today, but have instead been spending quite a bit of time wading through spam messages and emails containing attachments which are really the MyDoom virus going around. Is all this really because of someone's wrath at SCO? Then why do I have to be bothered by it? I don't have anything to do with SCO's management choice to make money by spending more on lawsuits than on real R & D.

The real puzzle to me is how so many total strangers have my email address in their email address book and how I end up getting an email from them as part of the virus working. Maybe the virus is not only replicating, but spoofing email addresses too. (I do realize that some emails come from these massive spam lists that spammers have stored on drives, but not all of them fit into this category). I was also told this morning that some email addresses may be targeted by a computer's temporary internet file being accessed and any email addresses are harvested from those files. True? Whatever the case, I actually took some time this morning to look up a few of the email addresses bearing the dreaded virus attachment which I dared not open. Supposed senders included someone at National Geographic, a sports writer at the Chicago Tribune, and a media marketing and promotions specialist in Nashville. You know, if I wasn't so ticked off about the virus, I'd almost be flattered.

posted at: 12:37 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Mon, Jan 26 2004

It Rhymes With Stitch

A look at Subversive Cross Stitch (which is not for those who favor refined language) started me wondering about the old cross stitch samplers young girls used to make when they were learning needlework. The ones I've seen consisted of Bible verses, the alphabet, poetry and other relatively high-minded subjects. Were the little vixens keeping one sampler for public viewing and another (like a secret diary) for expressing more forbidden topics?

posted at: 13:04 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Sun, Jan 25 2004

Thanks, Mr. K

We said farewell to another fine human this past week. Bob Keeshan died at the age of 76. Like Fred Rogers, Bob Keeshan was a friend to both children and adults, but unlike Mr. Rogers, Mr. Keeshan did much of his communicating through the character of Captain Kangaroo. By adopting a grandfatherly-looking character, he was able to give himself a presence that spanned several decades of his own life, and ours. His gentle humor and acceptance of odd events (such as the ping pong ball showers) as part of everyday life had a subtle way of preparing children to face the more serious uncontrollable things that might happen to them away from the TV. And I have a confession. I watched him as a teen and as a (so-called) grown-up many times, and each time I was able to go back to a safe place in my memory and find centering and comfort.

We all know what Captain Kangaroo looked like. How could we ever forget that funny haircut and those big coat pockets he kept having to empty of ping pong balls? But take a moment now to look at this picture. That's Bob Keeshan. Because of him, we'll never really lose Captain Kangaroo.

posted at: 09:15 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Sat, Jan 24 2004

Regulation? From What Source?

I wonder what he meant when Pope John Paul II spoke of "regulations" for media. My respectful suggestion is that we should let folks in the media be "regulated" by the same Higher Power that Pope John Paul II must someday answer to for his own choices in communication.

posted at: 14:29 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Fri, Jan 23 2004

I'm Not Listening! I'm Not Listening! I'm Not Listening! I'm Not Listening!

One little gem that caught my eye this morning was an online article saying that CNBC employees, employees' spouses and employees' dependents "will not be allowed to own individual stocks other than those of their employer". Really? I'm going to listen to the stock market patter of folks who aren't even allowed to get their feet wet in the real market? Me? Who listens to people who try to give me financial advice (free or paid) and then asks, "That's very interesting, but tell me--what do you to with your money and how much is your portfolio worth?"

posted at: 08:31 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Jan 22 2004

Looking For Country Choral SATB

I've been looking for some new pieces for our choral group, and had a great time browsing at The-Sheet-Music-Store. They have a nice cross-section of pop, classical, jazz, spiritual and other music genres, and they carry some accompaniment tracks and instrumental sheet music too.

One of my other favorite online stores for sheet music is J.W. Pepper.

But has anyone else noticed how tough it is to find SATB arrangements of Country songs? We've been wanting to add something Country to our repertoire because so many people enjoy Country, but SATB arrangements seem to be scarce. What's the deal?

posted at: 11:34 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Wed, Jan 21 2004

You Say To-Ma-To and I Say To-Mah-To

Well, this was not my favorite thing to read this morning. High-tech workers have already taken a big hit in this country, and Silicon Valley has been hit particularly hard. In Creative Class War, several days ago, Richard Florida put together several trends that he sees resulting in a changing demographic in both the United States and in other countries, largely due to both polarizing political tactics in the U.S. and the increasing lifestyle perks offered to creative and scientific minds going to other countries. Mr. Florida is supporting Howard Dean as a presidential candidate, which means very little to me, but I did find his comments on the current hostility toward creative industry in America thought-provoking.

I know a lot of nurses, accountants and agricultural field workers who are employed now. And I know a lot of struggling (if not altogether unemployed) scientists, electronic engineers, commercial artists and entertainment artists right now. Are the creative thinkers among us being pushed out in favor of a sort of "reverse elite" class of workers? This may become a frightening social issue much bigger than just "election year politics".

posted at: 09:54 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Tue, Jan 20 2004

You Want To Make Something Out Of It?

For all the crafty (and those who'd like to be crafty) among us, check out EDPS for things such as note pad making supplies, clock kits, transfer paper and embossing supplies. They also have tutorials on some basic techniques.

For those who'd rather bend someone else's arts and crafts into something mildly disturbing, check out Eddie's Head.

If you think you have no materials with which to craft, how about this sphere of Picnic Utensils?
Do you feel inspired to drag out the old hot glue gun? Or do you just crave some fried chicken and potato salad?

posted at: 15:23 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Mon, Jan 19 2004

He Left Us Hope And A Good Example

I really liked A 12-Step Program From A True King. Sometimes I am embarrassed to admit I am a member of the human race when I read the news headlines and see how humans treat one another, but I have to remember that we are all in this together, and that we need each other in order to celebrate our existence. I admired Martin Luther King for his choice of words and for his choice to not only talk the talk, but to walk the walk. He lived in very angry times, when people expressed their frustration and oppression with violence and rebellion. Martin Luther King reminded us that we all have one Father, and that being good to one another isn't only a dream. It's a logical step on our trip here toward Heaven.

posted at: 06:56 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Sun, Jan 18 2004

Who's Reporting On The Watchers?

I must be behind the times (again). I'm just now hearing about the hoopla concerning Peter Ludlow, whose Alphaville Herald blog got him into hot water with the folks over at EA Games who gave us The Sims Online. Apparently Peter was reporting (among other things) all the mafia/gambler/pimp/prostitute/scam artist activities by players (including underage activities--I'm still unclear on how much is actual underage players and how much is legal age players creating underage characters/avatars.) A gentleman named Kenneth Lamb thinks Alphaville is another instance of society using toys in ways that reflect their lack of trust (and even acknowledgement) of God, in When God Is Dead.

Regardless of the right and wrong of the roles players choose in such interactive communities, it would seem to me that when the folks who presented the playground in which to play the game decided that Peter Ludlow should not be reporting on the cyber/fictional activities in the Alphaville Herald (or at least should not be linking to that particular blog during active play), something else began to happen that is a theme that has been played out again and again in the history of human nature. It's true that there is no God in Alphaville. But there is an entity, if you will, that considers itself at least a god (with a little 'g'), and that would be the folks who sell, present and "run" the game online.

The issue isn't really Alphaville and its tawdry, seamy cyber-society. The issue is that someone always thinks they can create worlds and kingdoms and empires and businesses that improve on the original world in which we actually live. And when they can't improve on that system of things (even in cyberspace) they get angry and attempt to control things and people with their own set of rules. Not only is Peter Ludlow not "playing by the rules" (to them), but he's playing outside the universe the gamemakers have created. (There are also auctions online trading money and avatars of The Sims Online. Will the gamemakers try to step in and "play god" if the auctions become what seems to them a violation of the TOS (terms of service)? The gamemakers will be a lot more fun to watch than the gameplayers from this point on.

posted at: 16:23 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Fri, Jan 16 2004

He Said He Dug, She Said She Dug A Little Bit

I keep hearing about the studies the UCLA Center for Communication Policy released this week. Some reports focus on the "gender gap", while others tout the findings that indicate internet users are social, reading, non-TV-watching, non-geeks. I guess the study is interesting, as far as it goes. As for the "gender gap" issue--I'd be much more interested in seeing the different ways in which men and women use the internet. I think a lot of women use the internet as a social connection, in much the way they might use the phone to chat or to set up face-to-face lunch meetings. I still meet more men who use the internet as a way to research and buy products, gather and share technical and career information, and (let's tell the truth here) seek and share sexually-charged material. I'm speaking in generalities, of course. There are always exceptions.

I have noticed one other interesting sideline. I'm one of the few females in my social circle who spends many hours a week "online", and I find that most women I know who use the internet for looking up information on topics tend to give up much too easily. I don't know if this is an attention span issue, or impatience, or lack of knowledge in searching techniques. When I talk to the females who come to me for assistance in finding information they've failed to find online, I learn that their time spent searching has usually been very minimal, with only a surface amount of hunting. Men who ask me for assistance have usually done a fair amount of digging for the information first, often having exhausted most of the same resources I would have used in a concentrated search. Again, there are exceptions. But I have to say that the men I run across online are better about doing their homework in this particular area.

So maybe that old adage about men "not asking for directions" is true, but it may be true because men are much more likely to enjoy hanging in there and doing the active hunting and work it takes to find things. It may turn out that women prefer a quick fix with a minimum of field coverage. Whoever tackles that study will get some heated discussion going.

posted at: 10:10 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Jan 15 2004

IMAX With 1-Megapixel

Since my husband used to work with digital cameras, he'd be the first to say that everyone shopping for a digital camera should read this article on the NASA Spirit Rover's picture-taking abilities.

Dalsa is a Canadian company, and it's fun to be seeing their technology integrated into a NASA project. It was arrogant of the U.S. to try to freeze Canada out of the contracts for reconstruction in Iraq, and I'm glad the President Bush saw his way fit to sit down and work that out with Prime Minister Martin.

Humans are strange creatures. We reach out into the vastness of space, hoping to find other sentient beings with which to interact, when half the time we can't get along with the folks next door. If Spirit's picture-taking on Mars brings us closer together here on Planet Earth, it's been a well-named little machine.

posted at: 09:59 | category: /Science | link to this entry



Wed, Jan 14 2004

Back To The Future

I emailed (via their service) a story to someone from the Santa Cruz Sentinel this morning and was then given a page telling me that my note had been sent and that they were "forwarding me back" to the original story.

Forwarded back: Who would have thought we'd be saying such things in 2004 and that such phrasing would be perfectly correct?

posted at: 10:53 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Tue, Jan 13 2004

Would You Like Fries With That Retirement? Well, Sure. Who Wouldn't?

Michelle Malkin speaks today of sharing retirement money with illegal aliens in the Desert Dispatch. It seems that one person goes to jail for such things, just as our government is working to make it an everyday reality. Even some of our president's fellow Republicans see the lunacy of such policies.

We can't make life better for legal citizens and legal alien residents by lowering the standards for illegal aliens. While our esteemed president visits with Vincente Fox and checks out the scenery in Monterrey, Mexico, those of us just north of Monterey, California would like some consideration too, please.

posted at: 10:34 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Mon, Jan 12 2004

Was It I Forgive You, Honey--Or Just--Not So Fast, Buster?

Reuters managed to give two different spins to one story. If you go to the reuters.com site, you get this benevolent headline, reporting on a woman who cut down her cheating husband when he tried to hang himself. If you go to the UK site for Reuters you'll get a slightly angrier take, making it sound as though she thought the guy was trying to take the easy way out before she was finished dealing with him.

posted at: 08:54 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Sun, Jan 11 2004

Take A Ride On The Dark Side

I pruned fruit trees and cut branches all day, so I had little chance to browse web sites. But I did run across a great tribute to all those Funhouse places. You'll have a great time at Laff In The Dark. There are still some rides left, including ones at Ocean City, Maryland and at the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, just up the road from where I live.

posted at: 17:20 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Fri, Jan 09 2004

Made Me Look

I don't like most reality shows, but hubby wanted to tune into The Apprentice last night, and I enjoy observing Donald Trump's type of thought processes, so I sat and watched too. I wanted much more background detail than they gave us. I wanted to know more about the screening steps that led up to the choice of finalists. I wanted to know how much Mr. Trump would be personally involved in the decision-making process of who stays and who goes. My first impression is that he is relying mostly on his two long-time associates for most of his knowledge and trusting their instincts. I'm disappointed. I wanted to see more of Mr. Trump's direct involvement. As time goes on, maybe he'll zero in a bit more and give us a glimpse of what he's really looking for in an apprentice. For now, I see his position as that of having fun playing a sort of Godfather, but maybe a growing discomfort that his fun will affect these people a great deal. It's not just a game. It never is. It might start out that way, but people are very emotional creatures, and they can't help but get emotionally involved in such things.

Of course, as hubby Ron pointed out, each of these people (except the surviving apprentice) will have a dubious brag to put on their resume that will get them a particular kind of notice from now on. "I was personally fired by Donald Trump."

posted at: 10:46 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Thu, Jan 08 2004

Didn't Atkins Have An Unhealthy Heart Too?

I meet people almost every day who still think this meat-laden, low-carb diet regime is not at all risky. Yet when I mention that they'd better have a very healthy heart and kidneys if they're on it, they look at me with big eyes and say, "Really? Why?"

Find out why, please. It could save your life. Check into the physiology of what happens when you restrict carbohydrates from your system and what happens when you pile on the protein. Here's one tiny bit of information on the (lack of) long-term effects from the Atkins diet, for instance. It seems that there really is very little information in this area, because people don't seem to stay on the diet for long periods of time. This article mentions dehydration. These low-carb diets all seem to recommend drinking copious amounts of water, so why are people becoming dehydrated? Something is wrong. If you still opt for a high-protein, low-carb diet after reading all the material you can get your hands on, at least you've made an informed choice. But do educate yourself before you leap headlong into something that could give you (for instance) heart palpitations and renal failure.

posted at: 11:00 | category: /Science | link to this entry



Wed, Jan 07 2004

Not Everybody Wins In Budget Crunch, But Everybody Can Act Like A Winner

While I appreciated Wilma Chan's comments, what she suggests is probably impossible. I've never lived anywhere in which the needs of every citizen are fully met. Life just isn't fair and disasters happen, plus sometimes people slip through the cracks. And some people make continual poor judgements that affect their own prosperity and happiness, along with the prosperity and happiness of those with whom they come in contact. In the end, we'll have to settle for doing what does the most good for the most people in the state of California. The tricky part for our governor and our legislators will be figuring out who fits into that majority. In California, the vast majority is made up of lots of small minorities--racial, ethnic, educational, religious and economical. No matter what gets cut in the budget, some of us are going to find our lifestyle in worse shape than it already is.

Meanwhile, all those police and firefighters who seem to be the "scare tactic" scape goat group legislators want to tell us will be cut first from the budget are doing what they can to make life go on. If you want to keep your local police and firefighters, don't just vote. Do local things that help them. Get involved. I've lived in plenty of places that made it with an entirely volunteer fire department, and they did a fantastic job. The community pitched in and did more than just dial 911 when something was on fire. They were there for the firefighters every single day. We may have to be willing to pay for our state budget with time and elbow grease, and not just with more money thrown at legislators who hoard it for their pet pork projects.

Speaking of pets (but not pork), check out this great fundraiser for the California State Firefighters Association Education Fund.

posted at: 10:55 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Tue, Jan 06 2004

Now Hear This

I recently had occasion to help sort through a boatload of earrings, so I guess my mind has been drifting toward the subject of ear ornaments lately. How about some Lobe Strobes?

If you've been wanting to hang something from your ears, but can't bear the thought of having your flesh pierced, you could try some Ear Wraps.

Of course, if you want your ears to be both attractive and practical, you might prefer a Lobelobber.

posted at: 11:58 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Mon, Jan 05 2004

Voters Everywhere In A "Throw The Bums Out" Mood

While Steve Irwin reacts with disgust to the folks who accused him of putting his son in danger, the real crocodile story is going largely unnoticed. People in Hong Kong have just named a crocodile "person" of the year (renamed to personality of the year). The critter has been on the lam for a couple of months now, and someone put it on the list as a joke. But never underestimate the power of pop culture, even in Hong Kong. The people rallied around the croc and gave it top billing. The elusive reptile beat out hospital workers and politicians, including Hong Kong's own leader, Tung Chee-hwa. And get this. Crocodiles are not native to the Hong Kong area. So not only is the croc a dark horse--it's an immigrant.

I'm telling you--this is big, and it represents a big political shift on the planet. Voters are simply in that mood to latch onto someone from another country. Just ask Arnold Schwarzenegger.

posted at: 08:20 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Sun, Jan 04 2004

Spirit Phoned Home With Pictures

I was disappointed that the Beagle didn't phone home, but it looks like Spirit has given us all something to cheer about (and yes, I did end that with a preposition).

I think this is great medicine for our space programs, and it couldn't hurt our general anemic economy either. With all the woes on earth, this is a fine way to kick off 2004.

posted at: 07:57 | category: /Science | link to this entry



Sat, Jan 03 2004

Don't Give Me That Old-Time Religion

The days when Christian churches could sit in sequestered places and expound on their particular "take" of the Good Book's wisdom are rapidly headed for distinction. I noticed in this article on Cowboy Church, there is an emphasis on church relating to the lifestyle of people today, instead of people adjusting their schedule and appearance to coincide with the teachings of a church. Twenty-somethings want relevancy in their church services too. Who doesn't? After a long week of work meetings, running errands on lunch hours, trying to fit in a little exercise, grabbing a little food on the run and keeping children busy and happy with school and activities, most adults don't want to put on a suit and give up their weekend to warm a pew and be preached to about worldly things. Most everyone nowadays is just trying to figure out a way to pay for the few worldly things we need to keep a basic lifestyle going. Churches that promote a "come as you are" atmosphere are the ones picking up members and making a big difference in their community. They're adding gyms, child-care, entertainment and refreshments to busy, exhausted people. One church in Alexandia, Kentucky makes the point with interactive services and chooses a "director of fun" along with other church officers.

Form and ceremony mean a lot to some people, but churches who choose to open up possibilities along with doors may see a real return for their efforts. It makes perfect sense to me. I have always thought the Lord was a lot more interested in taking Sabbath (or Sunday, for those of you in Sunday-keeping churches) into the other six days of the week than in making it as different from the other days as possible. The latter way only succeeds in making most of us feel schizophrenic and short-changed in our spiritual experience, and maybe even a little phony.

posted at: 13:45 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Fri, Jan 02 2004

Messing In Their Own Nest

I had been seeing work in neighboring Watsonville, and wondered what it was. It turned out to be the beginnings of a 6-mile Wetlands Trail System. Unfortunately the linked article mentions some vandalism on the part of local youth. I've never understood people who trash their own neighborhood in either protest, anger or some other display. Pride of ownership usually comes with ownership, and I can't figure out if these people have never owned anything and have no concept of ownership, or if they have just never been taught to respect the property of others, or even their own. The trails will be a community-owned project, so why not take community pride in them and get involved in positive ways. When you have things handed to you, and you trash them, you're setting up a system of anger and resentment that is going to come back to bite you in your rebellious little butt. This world is loaned to us, and we are stewards. If we don't teach kids that trashing property is wrong, we do them no favor. They will grow up to react the same way to their educational opportunities, career paths, and their own neighborhoods later. We are the grown-ups and we have to serve as an example. It's natural for kids to test their boundaries, but then, kids left to wander on their own don't really have boundaries to begin with, do they?

posted at: 08:11 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



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Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavor. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.
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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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such varmints when they least expect it!