Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)




Sat, Jul 31 2004

Avoiding Online News Sources That Make You Sign Up First

Sometimes I forget to notice the very helpful "subscription" note that Google provides on search results. I've gotten caught more than once, and then felt aggravated at both myself, and the news source. I used to like to cite the San Jose Mercury News, but I've gotten leery because they make folks sign up to view the articles I'd like to link to. I just found a great tip over at Blogoscoped. If you're doing a search on Google News, and you don't want to see the articles from sources that will require you to sign up before viewing the article, you can just do this.

posted at: 14:29 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Jul 30 2004

Old West, New Southwest, Great Britain

Thanks to Fire Ant Gazette, I just had to try my hand at writing this sentence using all those words:
The guard raised the back door of the lorry and then jumped when the head honcho of the gunslingers leaned out and poked a bony finger into the guard's forehead. "Ya'll got any fajita bars in England?"
I seem to have failed. That's two sentences. But we should still have great fun seeing what kind of traffic we get from the search engines.

posted at: 08:47 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Would Liz Claiborne Spam You?

A lot of the spam I receive has to do with opt-in lists that are actually opt-out lists. The email welcomes me to some new group of mailings that will bring me good fortune or bargains, and then tells me I can certainly unsubscribe with one click. I don't ever use that click, because I've been told that spammers will only use that to verify that my email address is a hot one that works. I check other things and attempt to find out where the message actually originated. Some attempts are more successful than others, but it's been helping the task of building a blacklist a little easier.

I got an email this morning which claimed to be from realnewsletters. The actual mailing seems to have come from a machine at 64.125.142.111.available.above.net. So I went and looked up their domain. At first glance, they would seem to be a legitimate hosting service, and their news page even claims ties with Liz Claiborne and other widely-known companies. Is the reason AboveNet is listed as an offender at Spamhaus because they also host companies or individuals who have set up accounts to spam? I wonder if the folks at Liz Claiborne (and other legitimate businesses) know that they are being put on email blacklists because they use the services of ISPs like AboveNet.

These days it would be a wise move for a business seeking an ISP for its communications to consider these things. A company could be very legitimate, but because of the reputation of the ISP, they could cripple their own ability to market their products and services.

posted at: 08:03 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Thu, Jul 29 2004

They're Scaring Me

This whole thing is creepy. I have no idea if the lawyer mentioned was quoted correctly or not, but if he actually believes that a woman who could spend 18 months terrorizing total strangers is "perfectly normal", I'm a little worried about his own state of mind.

posted at: 18:11 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Wed, Jul 28 2004

It's Not Easy Peeing Green

The Crow's Nest is a popular seaside watering hole (and restaurant), so it makes sense that they would be interested in water conservation in the rest rooms. They have managed to make great use of waterless urinals in recent years. Some of you men may have used them already. Being female, I haven't actually encountered one of these no-flush wonders, so I looked up some information on how they work.

I wonder what will happen to all the old urinals as this sort of thing becomes more popular. Maybe they can be recycled.

Basic, water-assisted urinals are found all over the world. Outdated plumbing provokes a few clever remedies. Some urinals, though plain themselves, offer a scenic overlook. Some offer you extreme security. Some take things to an artistic level, making one think of bongo drums, and floral fantasies. Some units approach artistic overload. And while not a urinal, this golden toilet almost makes one think of streets of gold and other possibilities of Heaven. Will people even have to pee in Heaven? Who knows? But in the meantime, the innovation of these waterless urinals might help to preserve a few more gallons of water, which is getting to be as precious as gold itself.

posted at: 09:33 | category: /Science | link to this entry



Tue, Jul 27 2004

Self-Portraits Of Someone A Little Bit Like Someone We Think We Might Look Like

Uh-oh. The Dawn Patrol led me to another time thief. Unfortunately, there are few stock features that can match the extreme oddities of my particular face, so I will spare you the very creepy results of my attempt at a self portrait.

It was an interesting activity, though. I felt a little as though I was drawing a police sketch of myself.

Whenever they put up a police sketch on TV, and then they catch up with the suspect and put an actual photo of them side by side with the sketch, I always look at them and know for certain that I would never have recognized that person from that sketch. Anyone else ever feel that way?

posted at: 16:09 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Mon, Jul 26 2004

Writing In A Wiki Kind Of Way

A tip of the Stetson goes to Matthew G. Kirschenbaum for leading me over to WriteHere.net, where you can present writing projects and let others respond, and where you can add to the work of other writers, making the whole place a sort of Wiki roundtable for writers.

posted at: 11:38 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Are We All Feeding On The Feeding Frenzy?

I noticed a quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher earlier this morning, one I read and started to move past, but it dragged me back to read it a second time, and then a third time.

"Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend."


I wondered how that would work in today's world, where events have sound and video readily transmitted as they happen, and where the public, at least in the USA, has developed such a thirst for information. I started to allow myself to think about it. What would happen, if, for a period of even one week, as far as possible, all USA media (including internet content producers) voluntarily adopted a stance of not reporting or showing even one terrorist act, or commenting on any act, if it was known that the act was that of any terrorist faction or group? We would not allow ourselves to show beheadings of civilians, bombings of mosques, people with weapons and hoods standing over hostages, and the like. Media would volunteer to not cover such activities and viewers would volunteer not to demand coverage. Politicians might volunteer not to comment on any terrorist actions. Maybe artists would volunteer not to promote any existing project that showed terrorist actions and not to produce any new project that showed terrorist actions. Just for a week.

Is it possible? Could this ever happen? Would we ever let it happen? If we did, I wonder if things would change. I wonder if the terrorists would change. And I wonder if we would change.

posted at: 10:02 | category: | link to this entry



Sun, Jul 25 2004

Straining Gnats And Swallowing Camels

It's been a long time since I took a formal course in geography, and I realize that we've had some border disputes on the planet, plus we've had regime changes and the occasional political overthrow of a whole country. But the last time I checked, Shreveport, Louisiana had not been relocated to Texas.

Why did the pilot have to call Flight Services in order to prove his point? Why didn't the people questioning him verify his flight plan? Don't they give the police and Secret Service phones or radios? Don't the people they hire to monitor these things know where Crawford is?

Meanwhile, the pilot they really needed to question went on his merry way.

Dear Mr. President: Did they tell you about this? In spite of all the catty remarks we make about your work sometimes, this kind of incident is not funny. We are spending billions of dollars on National Security. Our Secret Service, state police and local law enforcement officers are supposed to help keep you safe when you travel to your home state. A lot of people will have great fun with this story, and they will use it to their own advantage. Personally, I think it makes the point that we can spend a boatload of money and have a mile-long list of security measures solidly in place, and things can still go very wrong.

Because this was a situation where no one got hurt (in the physical sense), the story will probably just go away over time. But what if this had been some sort of domestic or foreign terrorist action to test the protective airspace around our country's leader? Before we laugh it up and make fun of the people involved, I hope we remind ourselves that other people tested various air security measures just a few years ago, and that those of us living since September 11, 2001, will never forget how that turned out.

posted at: 09:15 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Sat, Jul 24 2004

Do You Know What A Moonrider Is?

You've seen a dictionary, but have you seen Dicshunary?

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



Fri, Jul 23 2004

The First Line Is Always The Contest

I love the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I always intend to enter, but get distracted with everyday things and never make it in time. Winners in past years wrote these.

Those long entries, straining at the bit with underscored humor, saddled with maverick clauses corraled at the whim of some unseen ghost rider's rope, often changing horses in mid-stream and cutting one-thought-too-many out of the herd, and often branding the whole thought irrelevant to the rest of the oncoming stampede, could surely give a reader the idea that brevity was shot and left for buzzards to surround, back on some lonesome trail.

And so someone did The Lyttle Lytton Contest.

posted at: 08:39 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Jul 22 2004

Trimming Fat To Five Hundred Words

Inversion Online is looking for fiction of 500 words. You must be clever at telling your tale, and you must be precise in your word count. Find out more at The Fiction 500.

posted at: 09:09 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



A Bit Like Alphabet Soup

There are some people who are a very bad influence and who lead me to crazy ways to waste time. I couldn't see any directions for the game, but I finally figured out that you're supposed to type the letters as they appear.

posted at: 08:52 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Wed, Jul 21 2004

Hankering For A Hemi

I thought maybe I was a stereotypically doomed, clueless female when I started seeing all those TV commercials full of Hemi talk. Thank goodness there is also at least one male on the planet who has also been wondering what a Hemi is.

A lot of car commercials are completely lost on me. I like watching the car carrier ones Chevrolet did, but I don't think of them as something that pulls me to a car dealership. They were more like stunt clips from unmade films.

I think the part of the problem with car commercials, at least for me, is that they tend to go way beyond even the usual anthropomorphism of many product commercials. While the Michelin man may be cute and strong, his presence in commercials doesn't try to make me feel like I want to be a strong, wrinkled, smiling tire. The dancing ice cream bars in movie theatre concession commercials don't try to make me want to be a dancing ice cream bar. But car commercials seem to try to appeal to some fantasy that one can put their hand on life and change gears with ease, or go from zero to 60 in no time. That sexy, low-slung, road-hugging animal is not what people want their vehicle to be. It's what they want to be. If a truck has a Hemi, maybe they feel they too, have a Hemi, and are a stronger and more capable than most other humans.

This is what I think the car commercials are aiming for, but I'm not sure. For me, a vehicle represents something a bit different. It's a tool to get somewhere, and it's a tool that should have an enjoyable inside atmosphere during the journey. I know I can plunk down my money to buy that. But I know I can't just buy those other attributes. Those are things that take time, effort and sacrifice.

If you're going for the fantasy of being what you think the car is, I hope you'll at least take time to get the best deal you can get.

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



Tue, Jul 20 2004

Guerilla Drive-In Movies

Never forget that California is the place where Hollywood was born, the place where the movie industry brought the magic of film to theatres, and later, to TV screens. But California also exhibits leftover traces of the Old West attitude, where trailblazers open the way for new ventures, playing it tough against the grain, and quietly seizing spaces that once belonged to others. When you combine the spirit of Hollywood and the spirit of the Old West, maybe what you get is a sort of homesteading of art space. Local bridges (and other public places) have often been a place for homeless people to congregate. You might see a lot of drinking from bottles in paper bags and catch the lingering scent of various plants as they're rolled and smoked. That's still going on. But now the crowd is all facing a large wall, and they have somehow come together with a single purpose in mind. They have situated themselves in the space with a single purpose, at least for a couple of hours. They're all watching a movie.

It's the Guerilla Drive-In, and in all fairness, Santa Cruz doesn't have the only one there is. The groups have sprung up in Florida, Minnesota, Texas and Pennsylvania. You can even start your own. There's a site for the Los Angeles area Guerilla Drive-In, complete with news of upcoming features. And here's more on doing your own, including where to find film rentals.

It all presents some interesting questions. Who owns public space? Is it truly public? If a projector sits on public property and places an image on the outer wall of a private building, is that a public issue, or a private one? If the police keep homeless people from congregating to sleep under a public bridge at night, are they also obligated to chase away people who congregate at the bridge to show and view movies? Since most of the films being shown are not the property of the people setting up the event, should film owners have a say in where movies are played? This will be an interesting issue to watch.

posted at: 12:13 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Mon, Jul 19 2004

Company Branding, And Now, People Branding?

I had no idea that skin decorations were such a big thing among San Diego law enforcement officers. I also had no idea that people were subjecting themselves to more than the fine needle of a tattoo gun, or a little paintbrush dabbed with henna. Apparently, this sort of thing has been very popular in early earth history, especially with people who tend to have darker skin tones. And it's been making a comeback in certain circles.

After I read the above article, I thought it was time to educate myself, so I went and read this Scarification FAQ. I see there is something called laser branding, which the FAQ briefly compares to using an arc welder. An arc welder? On purpose? Ouch!

Write Lightning's go-along theme is the Old West, and I know all about branding, but I always thought of it as something used for ranch animal identification. I suppose this sort of thing in humans might be a way to declare one's identity or announce being a slave to someone else's interests. I think I might opt to do that with jewelry, because I could swap bracelets whenever allegiances changed.

I'm used to seeing people point to one scar after another and spin a tale of this or that mishap that led to the unfortunate mark. Sometimes a person who has been through many surgeries will sit and chronicle their complete life history for you, by pointing to one surgical scar after another, describing the ailments that led to the various incisions. I'm even recalling religious references to what is probably the most famous scarring of all--that of Jesus.

I suppose I'm just used to a scar being a mark that means a person has overcome some sort of trauma, accident or abuse, and lived to tell the tale. I never heard of a scar itself being the point of the whole thing. It wouldn't bother me if a cop came to the door with a tattoo showing. I will be honest and say that I'd look twice if he or she was sporting a decorative scar. But at least now I've been educated enough so that I'll know that they didn't get slugged with the decorative end of a wrought iron fencepost.

posted at: 11:27 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Sun, Jul 18 2004

Are You A Real Journalist?

This week The National Debate pointed to a comment from an article at USA Today online. According to that news outlet, Tom McPhail, who happens to teach journalism in my old home state of Missouri, feels that bloggers are not in the same category as journalists. Response was swift. Dan Kennedy presented his thoughts on Boston Phoenix Media Log. The comments at miss-information.net include some valid points. Old Hag let loose with a few comments under the topic "Welcome To Our Pretend Journal". Unfogged mentioned, and then corrected, a report of Doctor McPhail's comments on bloggers. Over at ryan.freebern.org the idea came up that maybe the older professor is just not keeping up with the times.

It's clear that Dr. McPhail has definite opinions and is not afraid to share them, as he showed in this article on war coverage last year. I'm sure he's a very learned man, and he certainly holds more degrees and can boast more academic accomplishments than I can. And he's in a place where he can reach the minds of many young journalists who are just starting out. Which is exactly what concerns me. Most students will work in new media that will endure long after Dr. McPhail has passed away. I don't have as many years of life experience as Dr. McPhail has, and I would never dare to define the world in which young journalists/writers will communicate their thoughts in the future.

Traditional media has usually been handled with somewhat of a top-down kind of reporting, with a newspaper or TV network able to approach news reports with much more power in terms of headlines, sources, front page stories and editorial slant. Mainstream media coverage changed slowly in the early days of print. Industrialization brought with the ability to get massive amounts of information out to people at a faster rate. Add to that the advent of radio broadcasts, telephones and movies (and things like the newsreels that ran in movie theatres during World War II, opening up a new way to mix news and entertainment). Then came television, transistor radios, cordless phones, computers, mobile phones, cell phones, digital cameras, camera cell phones and wireless computing. It just keeps getting faster and easier to communicate the news (and everything else). And this is only the technological side of the issue.

It would be next to impossible to include here all the influences that have contributed to the changing face of jounalism. Dr. McPhail has probably, in his teachings, had occasion to bring up the name of George Seldes, who chronicled much of the history of the last century, though it meant bucking McCarthyism, big business and big politicians. Seldes' methods have sometimes been unconventional and brash, and his determination to report the liberal side of things, plus his documentation of that determination, have given writers, including journalists, an ideal to hold to when pay is low and a pat on the back can rapidly be followed by a sharp stab. He's made a lot of people very angry, and he has exposed many underhanded moves that more traditional journalists would never have dared to handle in their work. Some might say he has been a pretend journalist. I believe he realized that reporting is only part of the job, and that admitting human foibles, and embracing one's own human stance, is just as important as the gathering of the "who, what, when, where, why and how".

I'm not really certain what Dr. McPhail means when he refers to those who blog as pretend journalists. If he means to say that a journalist should only be defined as someone who writes for a print newspaper or print magazine, his definition is extremely narrow, but is probably the most traditional view. It's a view that isn't quite up to speed with modern forms of media, but it does fit the traditional view.

Perhaps he means to say that only journalists who get paid to write by some third party are real journalists. If this was true, I would expect to see a few more journalists whose salary and benefits were in keeping with their real journalist status. I have been paid by the column inch method at times, so perhaps I would have qualified as a real journalist in his eyes, at that point.

If the whole thing is about remaining neutral in one's reporting, I would remind the good professor that no one is an unbiased observor. We each come to a source, an editor, an interview or a story, with a lifetime of personal experience that colors our questions, our observations and our words. The story is seen through our eyes, even when we listen to someone else tell that story and then report it.

If the professor feels that only a real journalist presents many sides to a story in order to report it in a fair manner, I would remind him that a journalist is often at the whim of the editor, who is often at the whim of the advertisers, who are often pouring money into both news media and politicians' pet projects, and that these same advertisers and politicians might be very likely to pull their support if a story is told in a manner unflattering to their particular industry or platform. And if the good professor will allow me a bit of leeway, I would say that the pressures on broadcast journalists are just as great. Sadly, the pressures would seem to be increasing.

If what Dr. McPhail intended to convey was the idea that real journalists have a code of ethics, he might have gotten a better reaction from bloggers if he had mentioned the fact that many of those real journalists have fallen far short of the mark by writing fiction and presenting it as fact, and that some blog writers are more accurate and fair than the real journalists he might hold in higher regard.

As an educator, the good professor has a chance to channel the enthusiasm and fresh voices that come to him for knowledge and background in their craft. I hope writers, including blog writers, and especially young blog writers, will take his comments, not as a threat or a limitation, but as a challenge to be the best writer/reporter/pundit/journalist they can be, whether they are writing by the column inch for a big-city newspaper, or commenting in their online journal. I would ask fellow bloggers not to be too hard on Dr. Tom McPhail. He's been working in Missouri, and I know how things can be back there. It's the Show-Me State. I would hope that all he is saying is, "Show me."

posted at: 15:11 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Jul 16 2004

Someone Else Wrote These Headlines

Headlines are intended to give a hint at the article to follow, but some people only scan the headline and never read the full material. Those who tend to scan headlines and also tend to take things literally must be despondent at this one:
Just Two Hours Of TV Can Turn Kids Into Obese Adults (Toronto Star)
(Well, that explains it. I think I watched my two hours on August 12, 1960.)

The rest of these must have been written by people on some strange cosmic wavelength...

Hawking's New Hypothesis: Black Holes Dribble After Swallowing (smh.com.au)
(Dribble? And this makes us feel better how?)

He's back...
Don Quixote To Ride Again On Cosmic Rescue (Houston Chronicle)
(I wonder if he dribbled out of a black hole.)

They're back...
Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon Back At Number 1 (Roger Waters Online)
(And there you have it. Pink: The color of dribble.)



posted at: 10:15 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Jul 15 2004

Where Is Felon Seeking Felon?

I was reading an article from Reuters this morning, and an ad over on the right side of the browser window caught my eye. I don't usually pay much attention to dating service ads, but this one had some phrasing that was a bit different. It said something like "no married people allowed and we screen for felons". Being the curious sort, I ended up going to their site and checking out the hype. There's a graphic at the bottom of their home page that says "Warning! Criminals and married people will be prosecuted". Who knew that one day married people would be lumped in with the criminal element? I guess that's why George Bush was so anxious to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. You know what they say. Know your enemy.

The dating service site also claims to do background checks on people who sign up for the service. I started thinking about that. Felons are screened out. So where does the average felon go when he or she wants a dating service? I did a search on Google for "dating service for felons" and found nothing. I tried "dating service for ex-convicts" and still got no reponse. Nothing came up for "dating service for people with a criminal record" either.

So there you go, aspiring entrepeneurs. The U.S. Bureau of Justice claims, if current trends continue, 1 of every 15 people will serve time in a prison during their lifetime. There are probably more than a million people in prison this very minute. Some of them are going to get out. Soon. And some of them are single. Even if only 1 tenth of them used your dating service for felons, you'd have a chance to get possibly 100,000 people to sign up. If you charged 100,000 people only $35 apiece, you could be talking good money here.

And let's face it, folks. With the recidivism rate of crime being what it is, the possibilities for repeat business could be endless.

posted at: 10:11 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Wed, Jul 14 2004

Just A Few Interesting Sites

A whole blog about Wal-Mart

Fun with False Advertising

Tips on dining out alone at SoloDining.com

Color your own Jackass Penguin

Could you be the next champion cup stacker?



posted at: 14:16 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Tue, Jul 13 2004

And Did He Stay At The Y-M-C-A?

I missed a bit of Sunday humor from A Fly On The Wall. It seems George Bush gave a speech and almost had a Village People kind of rally going on.

posted at: 16:48 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



It Slices, It Dices, It Keeps Me From Doing The Simplest Of Tasks

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that Microsoft's Windows operating systems were not really designed for people like me. I have been through upgrade after upgrade, and patch after patch, and update after update, and I still find myself unable to do the simplest of tasks--tasks I need to do quite often. I did a search for a file this morning, while the cute little animated dog graphic scratched and made big eyes at me). I needed to be able to print that list of found files. I couldn't find any way to do that. Earlier I had clicked on a directory in Windows Explorer to see its contents. I needed to print that list of contents. There is no print function in Windows XP for Windows Explorer--at least not one that I can find. The little dog is cute, and I'm sure whoever did the code for it had a great time making it work. But if I want to watch a cute little dog, I can go get one of those desktop pet critters. I do care about finding a file quickly, printing a directory list, and doing several other things on a daily basis that Microsoft folks don't seem to think are important enough to spend time on for simple-minded hard-working people like me.

I must not be the only one still hoping to easily print a file directory listing someday in some version of Windows, without having to switch to a DOS prompt or run through 3 other functions or jump through hoops and stand on my head first.

I can hear all of you with Apple computers snickering at me. You've all been telling me I should make the switch. Judging from the amount of time and trouble some folks go to, I guess more and more of us are experiencing Apple Envy.

posted at: 11:25 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Mon, Jul 12 2004

Blog Birthday Tomorrow

I just realized that tomorrow is July 13, and Write Lightning will be one year old. I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to everyone who has given advice and support, and also to any of you out there who read often, but don't ever say anything to me directly. This is a great medium, and a great way to connect with some really fine people. It's also a good form of discipline for writers, though it can be its own form of procrastination at times. I hope each of you who read this are getting as much fun out of reading and writing blogs as I am!

posted at: 17:29 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Drag-And-Drop Web Design With A Price That's Right

The Rabid Librarian found a simple WYSIWYG web page editor. And it's free.

posted at: 09:23 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



A Rose By Another Name

I had to laugh about Axl Rose (of Guns N' Roses) this morning. It happened when I read the story of a judge tossing his request to stop an album release by a company who had bought the rights to some of Axl's earlier recordings. The topic itself isn't funny at all. I just never knew Axl's given name until now. He is William Bruce Bailey. How cute is that? He's in the music business, and his name is Bill Bailey. Someone told me his stage name is an anagram for "oral sex", which I never noticed either. I have no idea whether he did that on purpose or not. I really know very little about him as a person, and have mostly seen tedious replays of his drunken acceptance speech at an award show, aired whenever his name comes up, as though that's the sum total of his experience in the music world. I can't do much about that. But it's fun to know that, underneath all the negativity that seems to surround Axl Rose, he has a part of him that's a Bill Bailey. I can't help but muse about what kind of music a guy like Bill Bailey would make.

posted at: 07:50 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Sun, Jul 11 2004

Wouldn't You Like To Be A WECF Too?

Personality quizzes are kind of fun, but when I read my results and then go and read the other personality types, I get the same feeling as I do when I read horoscopes. Something in almost all of them speaks to the me I think I am. That probably says a lot more about my personality than the tests themselves. If anyone cares to know, here's what the quiz said about me.
Wackiness: 56/100
Rationality: 36/100
Constructiveness: 62/100
Leadership: 52/100

You are a WECF--Wacky Emotional Constructive Follower. This makes you a candle burning at both ends. You work until you drop, and you play until you can stand to work again. You have so much enthusiasm that you can find it hard to control on your own, and you appreciate the guidance that channels your energy and lets you be your best.

In a relationship, you require lots of attention and support. You often over-contribute and end up feeling depleted and cheated. You may benefit from more time alone than you grant yourself.

Your driving force is the emotional support of others--especially affection. You can run on empty for miles if you have positive energy behind you. Without it--as it occasionally must run dry--you are depressive, listless, and difficult to motivate.

You need a lot of affection. Get it any way you can, but never at the cost of your self-respect or well-being.
Curious? It's only 20 questions long. Find out what this particular quiz thinks your personality type is.


posted at: 09:34 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Sat, Jul 10 2004

Clancy And Crichton Don't Get This One--It's Mine

I cannot remember who provided a link to Brown Equals Terrorist, but do go and have a look at the site. Be sure to read the Artist Statement.

Along with dismay at the possibility of racism against Ian Spiers, I couldn't help but wonder why the DHS and other law enforcement agencies are so diligent in some areas, while they completely ignore other security issues. If you don't live in the immediate San Francisco area, you may have missed hearing about the explosive theft this past week. Crystal Springs Reservoir sits alongside Interstate 280 in the San Mateo area. It's a spot where fog often settles long after the mist has cleared over other areas. It's possible that this fog kept someone from knowing that a particular system of solar alarms had failed. It's a wooded area, and even if one found their way in, they would have to get through locks and doors, but if they persisted, they might eventually make their way to a storage bunker which held about two hundred pounds of explosive materials. There was no armed guard to stop the eventual thief, no barking dog, no alarm. The thief simply got the drop on the FBI and on local agencies who share storage there. They do have a suspect who has a long history of social and legal trouble.

I don't know what might be hidden around Seattle's Ballard Locks, where Ian Spiers was detained with his photography project, but I can't help but wonder. Was his experience a case of racism, or was it some sort of panic on the part of agencies seeking to steer people away from secret bunkers? Of course, it still seems odd that they singled him out with all those tourists snapping photos of everything in sight. Maybe Ian Spiers' mistake was his careful attention to lighting and exposure, and his careful documentation--the very details that might otherwise have proved his innocence. And if no one guarded Crystal Springs and its explosives, what on earth might be hidden near the Ballard Locks that brought all those men from several agencies to question Ian?

This sort of speculative intrigue would make a great jumping-off point for a blockbuster. I just might use it for that (so don't steal my idea). What isn't so great about it is the irony of two very different (seemingly random) incidents which, placed side by side, are very telling of the delicate condition of our present national, and personal, security.

posted at: 17:14 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wood Talks, In Her Hands

Stories aren't always told with words, and sometimes that makes profound art. But some lucky artists find a way to combine the two, and some even make words and alpha characters a part of the art itself. Go have a gander at the wood sculpture of Eleanor Glover. She has also worked at carving her own rubber stamps, teaching, business, and bookmaking. When she's not busy elsewhere, she apparently works in a studio situated above a chocolate factory, where music from nearby studios drifts in, along with the enticing scent of chocolates under construction in the workspace just below hers. Can you imagine a workplace where chocolate and music combine? Now, that's inpiration.

posted at: 10:41 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Fri, Jul 09 2004

Z-Coil: Heels With A Difference

We have new meaning to walking with a spring in your step. These things look a bit like an athletic shoe with heels. But I hear they are really comfortable. We don't have a store close to us that sells them yet, but I can't wait to try on a pair someplace.

posted at: 09:58 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Thu, Jul 08 2004

STDs: Can We Talk Each Other Out Of Them?

While AIDS and HIV have gotten a lot of media attention in recent years, it looks as though syphilis has been quietly mutating and becoming tougher to get rid of with simple cures like azithromycin pills. You might think syphilis is a disease of inexperienced teens, but some statistics show otherwise. The gay population is statisically at high risk, but the truth is that anyone who has unprotected sex risks trouble. Even protected sex may not save you from certain kinds of STDs if you have multiple partners (or have sex with someone who has had multiple partners in the past)

And let's not forget that Hepatitis B is also often sexually transmitted, and we have a vaccine for that one. If it's so easy to eradicate, why is it still spreading?

There's one thing I've always noticed about sexual topics. There are always a lot more books and magazine articles (and now internet articles) that give tips to parents on how to talk to kids about sex. I see very little information given to kids on how to talk to their parents. We know kids are interested. So, I can't figure out if the many articles aimed at parents are because parents don't want to talk about sex, or maybe because they don't know how and when to talk about it.

A lot of people blame the increase of STDs on the media and it's exciting scenes of spontaneous sexual encounters unacompanied by morals or personal responsibility. Repression and secretiveness doesn't seem to have helped lower STD statistics. The freedom of the sexual revolution doesn't seem to have helped. Scientific knowledge and modern medicine haven't helped. Has formal sex education helped? I don't know. How about it, kids? Do you feel as though your generation has more information and wisdom to assure you a happy, healthy life with sex as part of that?

Church and family values groups seem to throw statistics at people, along with moral phrases and cautions about the dangers of sex. They battle with groups like Planned Parenthood, and they argue that abstinence is the only answer for every sexual problem that young people could possibly have. One group hands out condoms and another group condemns the practice as irresponsible and immoral.

So, how are we doing with all this talking? Some statistics say STD cases are up. Some say STD cases are down. With everyone arguing, and with everyone this confused, I have no idea how we expect young people to make choices that keep them safe from STDs. Sex has gone from something everybody did, but nobody talked about, to something everybody still does, and everybody talks plenty about, at least from their pet viewpoint. When we finally get all talked out, maybe we'll listen and observe, and the real learning and healing can begin.

In the meantime, I hope kids don't give up on all of us clueless adults, including ones like me who don't even have children. I would just say to teens that we mean well most of the time. Maybe our first step should be to admit to you that we are just as dazzled and overwhelmed by the fun and power of sex as you are, and that we don't have all the answers. And that sometimes we don't talk about sex because we know you'll notice it if we talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. You're much smarter than we are that way.

posted at: 10:53 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Wed, Jul 07 2004

Just Ask Grandma

The Rabid Librarian found us a great Jewish grandmother to go to for advice and comfort. And wouldn't you just know it? Bubby blogs too.

posted at: 09:14 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Tue, Jul 06 2004

Scratched

A wrong move over the holiday weekend resulted in my right hand getting a swift strike from a cat. It's not serious, but is making typing a bit difficult for a day or two, so postings may be a bit short. The whole thing had me making joking remarks to friends about getting cat scratch fever, and so I was prompted today to look up exactly what that is. I found that the preferred term is now cat scratch disease. As I also learned, it's much less common for an adult to get it. My chances of getting it are reduced even more by living in the West instead of the humid Southeast.

A lot of us remember Cat Scratch Fever as a song by Ted Nugent. Awhile back, Ted got his own severe case of scratch, when he was injured filming. He ended up with 40 stitches in his leg after a mishap with a mean old chainsaw.

posted at: 12:00 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry



Mon, Jul 05 2004

Masters Of The Game

Do violent video games incite young people to commit actual violent crimes? Some say yes. I believe there is a lot more than video games going on when a person turns violent. Still, as manufacturers churn out games with more action, more kill features and more gore, some folks would like to see the law itself step in and keep kids from buying these games. Some lawmakers are very eager to oblige, and are even leading the pack. The article I've linked to below mentions some game manufacturers doing things like changing the color of blood in games. As I recall, some filmmakers have also been pushed to use green blood, rather than red, in their work. But when the article mentions The Sims games as being set up with no violence, it doesn't account for the fact that people who want to play on the darkside of life aren't going to let a little thing like the color of blood or technically nonviolent game moves stop them. Remember the whole story of the mafia-like underworldthat grew out of the Sims Online game? Alphaville (like other cyber-regions not sanctioned by the original game makers) opened the gate into a back alley full of prostitution, drug trafficking and other cyber-exploitation.

Lawmakers never seem to learn their lesson about these things. They pass a law, and if that law isn't reinforced all down the line, they never realize that something else could be wrong in the system. They just pass another law. The more laws there are, the more difficult it is to reinforce them all. If legislators can't control the game makers, the distributors, the retailers, or the parents, they think one more law just might do it. The lawmakers perceive themselves as doing good. Instead, just like a kid addicted to some game, the lawmakers are hooked on passing just one more law, to get one more little bit of control over their world, and ours. Now, that's a scary game.

posted at: 17:09 | category: /Politics | link to this entry



Sun, Jul 04 2004

The Stuff Legends Are Made Of

When we hear about The Wild Bunch, we hear mostly about Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh. Harry would be better known to most people as The Sundance Kid. Did Harry really die in South America in 1908, along with his pal Butch? Maybe so. But there is at least one man who thinks maybe Harry lived on until 1936, and went by the name of Henry Long. It brings to mind all the speculation on another fellow who lived roughly in the same time period as Harry or Henry. Quite a few men couldn't figure out what to do following the Civil War, and some of them became outlaws. Ambrose Bierce did something even more outrageous than turn to a life of crime. He wrote, both as a journalist and as a fiction writer. Bierce is commonly thought to have gone off in his early 70s to find Pancho Villa in Mexico. After awhile, all correspondence from him stopped, and he was presumed dead. But the stories and the speculation continue, as they do with The Sundance Kid, Jesse James, Billy The Kid and others.

I found a great example of just how complicated things can get when it comes to stories about old legends of the West. Arguments and claims come from every corner for and against the stories, even when there seems to be hard evidence to confirm certain odd associations. Speaking of associations, you will notice that actor Robert Redford, who portrayed The Sundance Kid in the 1969 film, keeps showing up in movies (and in real places) connected with some of these men. Is there another story brewing here? I definitely think we should stay tuned to the fun.

posted at: 17:31 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Step Right Up, Folks, And Get Your Genu-ine Jesus Tree

I guess we all missed the chance of a lifetime when we didn't bid tens of thousands of dollars on the rights to publish the Jesus Christ Kinship Report. They do advertise a CD of the report, which I guess you can still order for a few bucks.

As my husband pointed out, unless you are an atheist (in which case, you wouldn't care anyway), their claim to having the list of Joseph's genealogy is interesting, but irrelevant, because only Mary's family would have any true kinship to Jesus in the genealogical sense. From a divine standpoint, the genealogy would be pretty simple on the paternal side, and would not involve Joseph's ancestry in the least, if one believes the biblical accounts. For those who believe, the paternal side is one generation, traceable by faith, and open to all.

Still, it's an interesting form of medicine show. But if the IRS gets wind of all these family connections, the members listed in the Jesus tree are doomed. The inheritance taxes will be hell to pay.

posted at: 10:22 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry



Sat, Jul 03 2004

Get Well Wishes for Joe

Everyone, please pop over and wish our fellow blogger Joe Kelley a very speedy recovery.

posted at: 11:30 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Jul 02 2004

Ah, But Can He Walk And Chew Bolts At The Same Time?

This looks like fun: A toy robot that runs for up to 6 hours on three AAA batteries? It was designed by NASA scientists, costs just under a hundred bucks, has 67 pre-programmed functions, can do kung-fu moves, disco dance, be silly and rude with burps and farts, and is expected to be one of the hottest toys this coming Christmas.

cover
Robosapien Robot


posted at: 14:35 | category: /Playing | link to this entry



Sure, I'll Do That Right Away

I got an email a few days ago which was legitimate and reasonable, except for the disclaimer at the bottom, which went like this:

This message and its attachments are sent by a lawyer and may contain information that is confidential and protected by privilege from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from printing, copying, forwarding or saving them. Please delete the message and attachments without printing, copying, forwarding or saving them, and notify the sender immediately.
I couldn't help but think of the joke often called the West Virginia virus:

You have just received the West Virginia Virus. As West Virginians don't have any programming experience, this virus works on the honor system. Please delete all the files on your hard drive, then manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list. Thanks for your cooperation.
You can see the resemblance between the two items, both of which depend heavily on the gullibility of the recipient honor system.


posted at: 11:04 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Jul 01 2004

First Aid In Security

I was doing some research earlier, and I found myself on a page linking to the Department of Homeland Security site. I took a look at the DHS page that reports (someone's idea of) the current level of threat advisory. The page also includes very broad indications of what security measures are taken at each level. It also features a link to a .pdf entitled Citizen Guidance on the Homeland Security Advisory System, and it mentions the fact that this guide was developed with input from the Red Cross.

Think about that for a moment. They don't mention (or link to) the CIA, FBI, National Guard, American Border Patrol, Center for Disease Control, or Boy Scouts of America (although it's certainly possible that any or all of these groups may have contributed valuable information).

The Red Cross is probably the one organization on the planet that can show up almost anywhere, at any time, and be accepted and trusted to do the right thing with a minimal threat to anyone else. They help humanity survive in a crisis. They deliver water, food, medical supplies and shelter to people affected by war, epidemics and natural disasters. They got their people in to visit Saddam Hussein. Could even the governor of your state get in to visit Saddam Hussein? The Red Cross is a very interesting force to be reckoned with, in very quiet ways I'll bet most of us never even thought of.

Some years ago, a man (who has since passed away) told me about his activities with a volunteer ham radio group, and said that their work with the Red Cross afforded them special consideration in the event of certain situations. He said that in a true hands-on-the-missile-buttons kind of emergency, if martial law was to be declared in our country, those who served with the Red Cross would be able to move about freely in ways the rest of us might not be able to do. I never researched his claim. I thought about what he said, on 9-11. I thought about what he said again this morning, when I saw the DHS web site, with its special mention of the Red Cross.



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



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For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof; the work for which all other work is but preparation.
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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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