Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lessons in humility

I've had two things happen that are teaching me to be humble this week. First, I found out I need surgery on my ankle, and I'm going to be in a cast up to my knee for 8 weeks, starting July 2. So there goes my relaxing summer by the lake, right? I'm actually quite freaked out about it - no walking or putting any weight on it for 8 weeks. That royally sucks, especially because there are like 30 steps from our driveway to our doorway, and they're not all nice and easy, either. Our house is built into a hill, so they're uneven, stone, etc. I guess I'll have to scoot down on my butt if I want to go anywhere, even if hubby drives me. That's all I can think. And I'm lucky in that our bathtub is against the wall on the right side, and the surgery is going to be on my left ankle, so I'll still be able to take a bath with my leg hanging out the edge of the tub. But they're cutting a huge amount out to get good tendons to replace the bad ones. So I'll have a big scar, and the idea of it is just really gross. And the whole thing just has me really scared.

But here's what I realized... there are people who don't have mobility all the time. I'm being all dramatic because I'm losing my mobility for 8 weeks. There are people who will never be mobile again in their lives. There are people who lost legs in Iraq. And arms in Afghanistan. And just have diseases that keep them from being able to walk around whenever they want.

I feel like it's my duty to take care of this body, which largely works, in honor of the people who don't have bodies that work 100% like mine does. So that's Humbling Incident Number One.

The second one is that I got busted using Wikipedia on my Renaissance English History Podcast. I say "busted" like I was trying to get away with something, and that wasn't the case - I'm just super-embarrassed because I know better than that. Soooo.... that's humbling incident number 2. Lesson learned. No more wikipedia without fact-checking.

The other thing is that I'm engrossed in Agincourt: A Novel about the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. I've never ready anything by Bernard Cornwell before, but I'm definitely going to become a fan. It is just all-consuming. I find myself sneaking a sentence at a red light. Not very safe! But happy to find a new author I love.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More cool stuff (and I really need to schedule time to write)

So this was my second day on my own with Hubby gone and I made good use of it. Woke up early with a bed full of snuggling cats who missed their human-papa. Went out early and took pictures with my schnazzy new camera. That was super-fun. I took a lot of pictures of sunflowers (notice the bee in this one??). Then, because there was more fun to be had, I went to the lake and paddled around in the water, which was much warmer than it was last week, thank goodness. Read my book, listened to some podcasts, and ate a hot dog. Yay for hot dogs.

This afternoon I worked on my Renaissance English History podcast and put out a new episode of that on the Pilgrimage of Grace. Those silly northerners - thinking they could follow their own conscience and defy Henry.

I've been thinking a lot about my productivity lately - there are so many things I'm into, and I just don't seem to have enough time to do them all, and yet I know that's not exactly true because I seem to have time for facebook. If you have time for facebook, you have time to follow your passions. So I've been poking around discovering online productivity sites like inboxzero, which is rocking my world, and then yesterday I found 43folders, which is also filled with tips, inspiration, and ideas on how to make time for what's really important.

So this week I'm going to actually schedule time to write, and not just take it when it comes, so to speak. And I'm going to work when I'm at work and make sure my evenings are free of work. Gotta figure this stuff out now because when a little one comes, whenever a little one decides to come, it won't be any easier...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Alone Time

I'm being a Single Girl this weekend because hubby is away till tomorrow night. I'm having fun watching Girly Movies and catching up on work.

A couple of highlights:

First, I got my new camera in the mail yesterday. A Nikon D60, which isn't the newest model, but will serve me well for my photography class, which is starting in a couple of weeks. I really needed something besides a point-and-shoot if I'm going to take this whole photography thing seriously. I'm such a beginner with it all, I really don't know what kind of camera to get. So I got this good deal on t he D60 on ebay and will use it to get myself started. I'm sure in my classes I'll learn a lot, and will find out what I like to use and be able to make a more informed choice in a year or two. But for now, this will serve me nicely. I even have hubby's good lenses from a couple of years ago when he went through a photography phase. I spent time poking around out in the yard just to get used to holding it, and liked this picture the best. I like how the leaves have a silvery lining of light around them. Makes me smile.

Second, we had another Meetup today at the Science Center. Very cool people, but I wound up getting separated from everybody, which was a bummer. Need to figure out how to avoid that in the future. Very cool people, though. I like all these folks I'm meeting at the Meetups.

It's hot - summer is officially here, and that's really odd considering it snowed two weeks ago. But I'm not complaining. I'm going to the lake tomorrow. Hopefully the water will be warmer than it was last week, when I felt like a polar bear, only without the fur.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Food Stuff

In an effort to keep up with my new year's resolution (since the year is half over - ahem, see previous entry), I am going to be posting my daily food and exercise intake here on my blog. So here's the what's so for today.

Breakfast - 7:30am
homemade breakfast sandwich - 3 egg whites, slice of cheese on an english muffin
Activia yogurt
homemade iced mocha using skim milk.

Snack - 11am -
somebody brought chocolate covered toffee stuff into the office - I had one piece.

Lunch - 12:30pm -
pb sandwich
coleslaw left over from Memorial Day
container of raspberries
crackers that I nibbled on for the rest of the afternoon
5 hershey kisses

while driving back from the office - 4pm - a handful of chips, and a diet cherry coke from sonic half-price happy hour.

Dinner - 7pm
brown rice
catfish - baked, with a bit of butter, and seasonings
caesar salad with light dressing
fudgy pop

Drank plenty of water and took my vitamins.
Didn't work out though.

Check-in: done

more pet peeves (and an eMusic rant)

Feeling like a curmudgeon today. Looked up what "curmudgeon" means, and saw that it means "a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas."

Yep, that's me.

Like today I get an email from emusic. I love emusic, I really do. I love their cheap downloads and extensive classical catalog, and great independent artists. Since they got some major labels, I've stopped loving them with such a passion, but I'm still down with the emusic love.

But I get this email today and it just makes me think of all the stupid people in the world. See if you can catch the stupid:

We're officially at the year's halfway mark, which means it's time to take stock of the Best Records of the Year...So Far

I mean, seriously, did no one proof that email? How many people read that and didn't think, "uh, gee, there are 12 months in the calendar. And five have gone past. Half of twelve is six..."

Listen, eMusic. July 1 is the halfway mark. Not June 1. Ok? Yeah, it's petty and it's not a big deal, but seriously. If I can't trust you to count, how can I trust you to catalog all my favorite music? And I have a bone to pick with you about that, too. I've written to your customer service asking for you guys to invest a couple grand to hire a music librarian because seriously, there's no consistency in your classical stuff. This takes a music librarian because of the authority control - I know, that's a big word for you so let me break it down:

Classical music is tough because of a few things. First, many people search by composer (in pop music, you don't often search for songwriter). Second, there are literally hundreds of recordings of the same pieces. Also, a lot of musicians are cataloged by last name, then first. You don't often see Boy, Fall Out. It's always just Fall Out Boy. So a simple search for a Paul O'Dette as an artist brings back the following results:

Drew Minter & Paul O'Dette
Paul O'Dette - lute,
orpharion and cittern
David Douglass, Paul O'Dette, Andrew Lawrence-King
The King's Noyse with Paul O'Dette
Paul O’Dette
Ellen Hargis, Paul O'Dette, Andrew Lawrence-King & Hille Perl
Paul O'Dette & Andrew Lawrence-King

And then how's this for fun? There are two John Taverner's in classical music. One contemporary. One from like four hundred years ago. You have albums that are 400 years old under the compositions of the modern one. Sort that out, PLEASE!

Finally, search for William Byrd as a composer. Look what comes up:

William Byrd
WILLIAM BYRD (1543-1623)
William Byrd, arr. Peter le Huray & Thurston Dart
William Byrd?, Consort Lessons
William Byrd- Pieces From The "Fitzwilliam Virginal Book"
William Byrd, arr. Edmund Fellowes &
William Byrd & arr. Fellowes
Joen Dowland/William Byrd
Byrd, William

Nope, that's not frustrating at all. PLEASE EMUSIC!!! You just got all those major labels. You raised prices. PLEASE SORT THIS STUFF OUT. Hire a classical music librarian. I can help you find one. Heck, I can even do a lot of this stuff. I'll do it for cheap. Seriously.

I love emusic, but I just can't stand the stupid today.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why I just can't get into eBooks (and what Amazon could do to get me as an eBook customer)

I work in the library world, which means that I see a lot of what's going on in the eBook world from a different perspective. I signed my name on behalf of my consortium to this Open Letter to eBook creators. The fact is that libraries pay an enormous role in getting the word out about books, literacy, reading, etc., and any publisher needs to have a very close relationship with libraries if they really want to reach all the audiences out there. People who use libraries read more, and, though I've not actually seen any numbers to support it, I wouldn't be surprised if they bought more books (just like the people who illegally download music actually buy more music as well).

I just saw this article reporting from BEA (Book Expo America) in Wired Magazine about how the publishers all want a universal publishing format and are tired of all this proprietary stuff between kindles and ipads. I didn't realize that when record players first came out, Edison and Victor made records that couldn't be played on each others' machines. And the whole beta/vhs debacle is still fresh in my mind (we were a beta family). So this isn't a new thing. But it is a game-changer for creators of books - authors, publishers, etc.

Since I'm writing a book, I get very excited about the role of eBooks and how, if you're clever at marketing yourself, you really can publish your book yourself online and make some money at it. Companies like Smashwords are making that more of a reality.

The thing is, as much as I love reading (check out my amazon profile for proof), I just can't get into the whole ereader thing. I'm a luddite, I guess. But I love my digital music. Love it. I got my first mp3 player in 2002 and I've hardly bought any cd's since. But here's what I realized... with music, I could load my entire music library onto my hard drive and listen to it on my devices. With books, I can't do that. So now I'm going to have a $300 ereader, AND I'm still going to have my piles and piles of books because there's no easy way to convert them.

The impetus for me to buy an ereader would be space-savings. To start with, when reading on a plane, you have to turn off your ereader during take off and landing, and I find that annoying. I'll take a good old fashioned book that doesn't have electronic parts over that any day. Secondly, my favorite place to read is in the bathtub, and I think I'd be petrified of dropping the reader into the tub, and therefore not read in the tub as much.

But even if they made a waterproof version that I could use the entire time I'm on the plane (and not have to turn off for about 15 minutes on either side of the flight), I still wouldn't go for it because I STILL own somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 books that I still need to cart around.

Now here's something that WOULD get me to invest in a Kindle. If Amazon told me that I'd get a huge discount on any eBook if I already own the physical book. So I wouldn't have to buy all those books again to have them on my ereader. So if amazon said "Ok, so you own the entire Harry Potter series. Type in the ISBN of each book, and the last word on the bottom of page 33 (to check to make sure I had it), and you get to buy each book for 99 cents." That, I would do. I would spend a couple hundred dollars to have all those books on my ereader and not have to pack them up every time I move. Heck, for what it would save in moving costs, it would probably pay for itself.

Or, how about a trade. I sell a lot of my books used on Amazon. What if I sold a book used through the Amazon Marketplace, and then instead of paying me cash for it, you gave me a credit to buy the digital version, if I wanted it instead.

But I'm just not willing to pay $9.99 to have all those titles again when I own them already. So Amazon, give me a way to buy the titles I already own at a discount, ESPECIALLY if I bought them from you in the first place, and I'll buy a Kindle the next day. Really, I will.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Saw the Sex and the City movie over the weekend, and loved it. The clothes! The bags! The scenery! I realized after about 20 minutes that I was sitting there with a dorky grin on my face, and had been wearing it since the first credits rolled. I don't care about the crappy reviews. My girls were back to their adventures, and wearing great clothes at the same time, and I was happy to watch.

So now I'm listening to Empire State of Mind and thinking about my own time in NYC. I was there in 2003, soon enough after 9-11 that when, in August, the lights went out on the entire East Coast, the thing no one wanted to ask at first was whether it was a terrorist attack.

One of the big things I miss in Southern California is being able to walk everywhere. It's such a blessing to be able to be mobile on your own, and not have to rely on a car, car insurance, gas, etc., to get to great museums, clubs, and parks. On the other hand, it really sucked in the winter when you were freaking freezing and still had to go outside and trudge through the snow to work.
Because everyone is packed on top of each other, the energy is amazing. I really felt like I could do anything. Absolutely anything. It was an awesome feeling.

But New York is not for the broke/cold/sensitive. It can, and will, chew you up and spit you out, and I was happy to leave when I did. I remember yearning for fields and the ability to watch a sunset and not just catch glimpses of it at the cross-streets. I wanted to walk on grass and not just concrete all the time. New York is a great town to be a tourist in, but you've got to have thick skin to move there and figure it out on your own, especially when you're young and broke like Carrie was, or I was.

I found myself getting that thick skin, and then really hating myself for it. I didn't want to be mean. I wanted to breathe fresh air and hear birds instead of sirens. I miss 34th and 9th sometimes, but I'm glad I traded it when I did. Carrie gets to see the city through a different set of glasses, and I love watching her view. I wasn't so keen on my own, though...

Ok, I'm going to sound like a grumpy old person now...

One of my favorite podcasts is the BBC Americana show, a British perspective on American culture, society, history and politics. I love it. And I was so disappointed this week when they were talking about Alexis de Tocqueville, walking along the streets of Washington DC, asking people what they thought of this guy, who so shaped our view of ourselves, and the world's view of America. The original road-tripper. He did the American Journey of Discovery a century before Jack Kerouac. I'm no expert on de Tocqueville. I believe I read Democracy in America in school, or at least skimmed the Cliffs Notes, and I don't expect for people to be able to quote him. I don't even expect for everybody to know who he was. But for pete's sake...on the streets of our capital, where people are running our country, and are supposedly smart, nobody knew his name. One guy was even like, "why don't you ask me about politics?"

Listen, dumb*ss, asking about de Tocqueville is asking about politics.

Reading his quotes on religion that are excerpted on Wikipedia makes me think that the Tea Party folks could do with copies of Democracy in America sent to them. Oh, yeah, he's French, so they probably wouldn't read it anyway.

I'm so seriously disappointed.