Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflection: 'Play Dates' For My Blog?

I am not sure whether I just arranged 'play dates' for my blog or signed it up for summer camp. I wrote in Out and About in the World of the decision to make this blog fully public and searchable, and in For an Audience of One, of feeling that, if I was going to be perpetually inspired to do my best work for an audience of one or two, then I'd do well to try and harness the products and let them serve me in more pragmatic ways...

If you've ever gotten the impression that my more business-oriented websites hold this one in disdain -- oh, no, they adore this blog; they just wonder what others (clients, colleagues) would say. (I've known human beings to think along very similar lines.) Anyway, the websites had a meeting today. They felt they had a superb community program for this blog to enroll in. "Evening Nigh" they said, "How do you feel about going on some 'play dates', doing show and tell -- that sort of thing?"

Translated, that means that I decided it would be good to enroll in a creativity challenge, where my blog could discuss and share creative works with other bloggies. (I do want to note that the other websites view this one as a most valuable contributing member of the 'family business', and they very much want it networking and making friends -- however, they don't all necessarily very much want it networking and making friends with their friends.)

Note: This picture is a Creative Commons piece -- thought it would do well for an article with a children's lit/storybook theme, then also decided to use it here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reflection: Listening Across Time and Space

I've been listening to my Squidoo page, Going Greyhound Without Going Crazy. Now you might be thinking that there are a lot of interesting people in the word to converse with, and wondering just what my Squidoo page would be doing that's got me listening to it with such rapt attention. Well, you see... it sings. I added an Amazon module with some clips of road songs and other songs about going home: It's got two separate songs titled "Home" in addition to "Homeward Bound", "Travelin' Blues", "Teach Your Children Well" (You, who are on the road, must have a code...)

So I am intending to have 50 of those pages completed and become a 'Big Squid' along about this summer. Some webpages have more of me in them than others. This Greyhound piece is a fairly straightforward commercial piece, with the exception of a couple things like... well, the ad modules. My netbook is recommending a particular carrying case for travel. If one reads the fine print of that Amazon module, they will see that, in addition to its other fine attributes, the netbook case is quite comfy, or at least that I've heard that it is, though I can not actually fit inside it myself.

I'm not real good at doing the commercial thing -- I tend to do what pleases my heart and/or aesthetic sensibilities. But, since so many things in life have 'theme songs' that Amazon module is handy. I'm planning on putting up a couple more 'lenses' soon that include music modules: Amazon and YouTube. One lens is going to use, as its main text, an essay from I wrote a few years back. School will resume next week -- with just a few more weeks before semester break, but honestly, the most useful thing I can probably do this week is keep my nose to the... internet: internet writing, internet teaching...

I've got projects -- some personal, some bigger than personal -- that I'll write about soon.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

PS Reflection: A Dalai Lama With...

This is a postscript to my "Inside the Rains Begin" post. One thing that was lost in that plumbing-related flood I described: a small book of Dalai Lamas that, though slightly oversized, have come in handy as postcards.

I pulled the sopping, not quite mushy little Dalai Lama book out from under my bed and reluctantly declared it unsalvageable. To the trash bin it went. A few hours later, though, I found one remaining Dalai Lama amongst the personal pictures in my photo box. The real kicker: He was carrying an umbrella.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Reflection: Deck the Walls With Cherry Blossoms...

...Fa la la la la la la la la. I think many of us are born to one type of land or another. I seldom took a photograph during my Tucson days, but soon after I set foot in Seattle, I equipped myself with a FujiFilm camera. I gave Seattle calendars to friends that first year (or was it the second?) This year, the calendars -- like so many other things -- are going online.

Here are links to my January calendar and one of my 2010 'yearly' designs. They're hosted by Mediafire, another great upload yourself (or at least your documents) to the internet program. I am putting a Seattle calendar page on Squidoo, and will have a link for that soon. It looks like the calendar lens, not the Greyhound one, will be lens #13. It will be to my advantage, in various ways, to reach 5o lenses this summer.

PS And here it is: Step Into Seattle... Calendars. Sure there are a few ads on the page, but, friends, just ignore them. I may add it to the list of lenses on the sidebar, as well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reflection: Aunt Karen Reads "A Visit From St Nicholas"

It's Christmas Eve, and here I am still. If I don't don't manage that Greyhound trip before post-holiday responsibilities, there is a semester break in another month. Now here is my read of "Twas the Night Before Christmas".

If you know me, stay tuned. There will be more Christmas gifts online. Other things will have to wait.

PS: That picture is from quite an old Christmas card!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflection: Inside the Flood Begins...

I thought one's apartment just got flooded like this on TV. I think they must have been working on plumbing/ replacing pipes at my apartment building. Bad timing on my part. I turned on the faucet and found it not working, and then failed to turn it the right way to 'off'...

A bit later, the water came on not in a regular way, but in a the-dam-has-burst-way. It happened in extraordinariyly little time. I was laying in bed when I heard a sound I could not at first place. When I came out of the closet (the one I sleep in), I found that the waves had spread out from the bitty bathroom and into the main part of the studio; obstucted by a mattress that I had carried up from the "free things" area downstairs, the water formed a wading pool in the part of the studio nearest the bathroom.

Well! It looks like I am going to lose very little of monetary or emotional value from that particular mishap. My dear netbook was safely on higher ground, and I swooped a bit of tech equipment from the vicinity when I realized what was happening. (When I woke the netbook up and asked it how it was doing, it told me it detected some wireless networks in the vicinity -- pretty much what it usually says when it wakes up from a nap.) Most of the paperwork that was stacked up (and staunching the flow) in the corner was old worksheets, though I may have lost some receipts and records. The closet I sleep in is near the bathroom, and there were items that got some water-soaking/water damage. I staunched the water flow with lesser a couple old pillows and various articles of clothing that needed to be thrown away, mended, or turned into household rags. Eight grocery bags later, I was seeing dry land.

As I noted, this particular 'minor calamity' won't even cost me much money-wise, much less emotionally. That is more than I can say for many of the events of the past couple years. Sure money is a bit of a stressor -- I may decide to move out of this apartment -- but ultimately practical losses occupy the tiniest fragment of my mind, very unlike the emotional ones... I was having trouble finding any tags to fit this post, so I created a couple new ones, naming one of the categories 'minor calamities'.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reflection: Oh, How the Years Go By

My younger niece was about this age when I last saw her. Now she's two. (Oh, how the years go by.) Now, me, I'm trying to gather the money and the courage to go home this holiday season -- by Greyhound, of course, where one doesn't need a lot of notice.)
Perhaps this is another aspect of my monotropic-ness (or at least a cousin of it): I sometimes actually prefer the Greyhound with its one direction endlessness over the aisle-winding, the multiple starts and stops and dig-around-in-one's-purse moments of an airport world. I'm starting a lens, "Going Greyhound Without Going Crazy". I thought it was a reasonably catchy title, though I have personally never found that there was anything whatsoever about the bus that made me crazier than I was already (even when, as on the local 49 this morning, certain little incidents have necessitated a visit from the police).

It can be a little difficut, of course, to maneuver the bus station with half a dollhouse. The dollhouse in question is to become my older niece's -- and, you know, it's hard to carry even a 1:12 replica of a two-story house (or all the pieces) at once. Ah, but here's my Dollhouse to Grow Up With lens. I have also been working on creating a ... well, can't tell.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Refection: Outside the Rain Begins...

For most of my adult life, I've had a rain song: some particular song that begins playing in my head, in almost clockwork fashion, when those torrents come. Sometimes it's been the same song for years at a stretch. When I lived in Tucson -- yes, across that whole span of years -- the song was "Outside the rain begins, and it may never end..." (Kind of an odd image, I know, for Tucson -- with its sudden downpours and its months of drought.)

When I moved to Seattle the song abruptly switched: "The fog meets the beaches, and out on the reach, it is rain-ning." Later it became "Come in from the rain." And for a period of time, following a drought, the lyrics were my own odd creation: "Rain on Seattle, the way it should be..."
Our minds are so different, aren't they, in ways that aren't at all apparent from the outside? There's a reason why I so often quote song lyrics: I scarcely have a thought, or a feeling, that doesn't trigger a lyric. Ah , and it doesn't necessarily even take a true emotion or true thought; a simple two-word phrase may have some stock lyric attached to it. Perhaps eventuallyI'll be able to explain the neurobiology of it. Today I'll just describe: The word "Thank you," -- flashed across a computer screen, after I've filled out some form or other -- well, that triggers "Thank you for the kindness and your stories of the road..." And that "home" button on each page of my blog (under the bottom post and above the eduFire button and the quotes)? "How much I wanted you home."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reflection: The Velveteen Rabbit... and Internet Magic

The notion of someone in Saudia Arabia listening to my recording of The Velveteen Rabbit via its Drop.io link -- well, that's pretty fnny, but pretty cool, too, I think. Someone from eduFire has been posting links to Hannukah and Christmas songs on the "Fireside chat" forum for a while now; I believe someone else posted some children's holiday activity sheets the other day. Yesterday, I posted my read of The Velveteen Rabbit. Another tutor commented, on the forum thread, that it was actually the first he'd heard of "this Velveteen Rabbit". According to his profile, he lives in Saudia Arabia.

The Velveteen Rabbit was the first thing I recorded with my USB headset. The link to the Drop.io file has been on the sidebar for some time. I put up a link to my Velveteen Rabbit Multimedia Squidoo page recently. Some of the projects that seem whimsical are actually rather pragmatic. I'll post more soon.
(Credit: Photo derived from this Flickr pic)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reflection: More Horse-Themed Metaphor

I'm contemplating why it is I've sometimes impressed people as passive. Partly it's because that strong will comes out in such narrow areas, while in most areas of life, I'm -- if not exactly lackidaisical -- at least without strong opinion or urge to act. I think that false perception results also from my willfulness being turned inward. Have you ever noticed that people who get in yelling debates on the bus never convince each other of their arguments? They always have exactly the same opinions at the end as they did at the beginning. It's so obvious: No matter how sure a person feels about being right about something, they still can't exert their will on others -- that's dangerous as well as futile. Lying on the couch and crying, on the other hand is merely futile. Those tears, though, are generally perceived as passivity and not as inverted will.

Someone dear once said that his bouts of self-aggression were expressions of inverted anger. Well, outward anger was no more apparent in him than that strongwilled streak in me -- indeed the suggestion could seem laughable. I'm thinking of the ways in which we're similar and the ways in which we're different. There really isn't a lot of anger in me -- but ah, that streak of willfullness... So here's my next horse metaphor: Just because one thinks they should have the reins, it doesn't mean they're mad at the horse.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reflection: My Widget's Under the Weather

I checked in on the website of the "Link Within" widget a few minutes ago -- I'm referring of course to that nice widget that makes the cute little thumbnails under each post. The message still said that the site was down for maintenance, and to try back in a few hours. I was glad for that much news. You see, I grew concerned when my friend, the widget, up and vanished.

The widget is hosted by a company that probably has aspirations to make money someday, but right now seems to be at the stage of just saying to people, "Psss... Look! Widget! Cool, huh?" Cool, indeed! I would not want to see the enterprise fail. I am concerned that their site might be seriously under the weather. If I had a way to do so, I would send the widget a get well soon card. My blog here is feeling a little glum today, missing its widget. It did not even feel motivated to put up a picture. Sure, it has other widgets, but it is so very fond of that particular one. Pictures just aren't as much fun, it expressed, when you can't share them with a special widget someone.

PS The widget is back, and my blog is again feeling inspired.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reflection: Squid Angels

I have reason to be tired, the past few days, between eduFire, the public schools, and trying to do work on the freelance projects. I didn't want to neglect this blog, though. I was playing around on Photofunia, trying to create a Squid Angel, but I was not successful. First, the face recognition software failed to recognize a face in that nice octopus toy, then it failed to recognize one in this Creative Commons picture. Hmmm... Well, I guess she looks okay without wings.

I wrote, in a more serious vein, of squid angels in the previous post, Riding a White Horse With a Toaster Oven. Looks like some angels have been by, based on forum replies.

That so-important-to-me monotropism piece is linked to on the sidebar now, too, along with a handful of other lenses... 'neath the 'octopus reflection' picture.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Reflection:Riding a White Horse With a Toaster Oven

I made this blog searchable along about September 23. Posts before that time don't show up as thumbnails in the Link Within widget. A few are linked to there on the side under the heading "Favorite Soapbox Posts". Today, I'm posting a link to some off-site writing, and I'm also including a snippet from an older post:

"Being monotropic... it's as if you got born with a giant power cord growing out of your back. Plugged into an outlet -- a suitable obsession -- your energy is high and the level of drive and dedication can seem surreal. Unplugged... well, appliances just don't work so well unplugged.

Being monotropic can mean there are times when you're growing up that people see you lying there immobile, and imagine you need a knight-in-shining-armor. But it can be hard to be a knight-in-shining-armor to a person who runs on obsession the way an appliance runs on electricity. It's a little like hoisting a toaster oven up onto a white horse and expecting it to start doing something."
When I write blog posts, I strive to make them reasonably short and snappy, as well as colorful. My Squidoo writing sometimes goes into much more depth on a particular subject. "Making Sense of Monotropism" is the most complete piece of writing I've done on this subject. It's the 10th Squidoo lens I've written, and the 2nd one I asked for a "Squid Angel Blessing" for. Maui's lens has garnered blessings from several 'Squid Angels'. The angels have more clout than regular members, and the ability to boost a page's lensrank a little -- the page may then be seen by more people.
I do want people to see this. My friends -- there are some friends out there -- will you be my squid angels, too?


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reflection: A Blue Light Off Ravenna Creek


My blog's wearing a new header, and for the first time, the header is made from a picture that I took myself. I was out last weekend taking pictures to illustrate various projects. I knew there was a brilliant light reflected off Ravenna Creek; I was surprised, though, when I scanned, how very blue the one picture looked -- and how well the tones matched the blog's color scheme. The cover picture on this 'Animoto short' is made from the same picture as the header. All the pictures in this bitty video are of Ravenna Creek -- two taken a few years back, the rest just the other day -- and they're paired with a song clip I very much like.

I've been doing a lot of off-site writing: Expect links links within a day or two... to some writing that means a lot to me, and that I really want to share.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Reflection: Where Would You Wear...

I must have been tired last night, because when I saw a forum thread titled, "Where would you wear an eduFire T-shirt?" my first thought was, Huh? Well, I'd wear it the same place I wear my other shirts! (An eduFire T-shirt might be snazzy and all that, but you still wouldn't catch me wearing it on my head.)

On a more serious note, something as simple as being tired often does have a big impact on how a person reads anothers words -- especially in emails and on forum posts. I came across an excellent article on that topic some months back -- I couldn't find it tonight, but I did come across this blog post on PsyBlog.

The photograph, by the way, is Mair -- it links to her mathematics class page. (Mine has linked for a while from a button at the bottom of the page... between a couple quotes that people have probably hardly ever scrolled down far enough to find.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reflection: The Big Squid Want You!

I know, I know -- that there is not a big squid, it's a little one -- but little squid do grow up into big squid.

On Squidoo, there are "big squid" who have some perks, promotion wise. Sometimes a person will get a big squid nomination when they've just written a few lenses. The thing is, though, that you have to have 50 lenses to be a big squid. So the nomination basically amounts to, "Keep doing what you're doing, but do more of what you're doing, and do it faster."

For some people, Squidoo is a pretty good source of supplemental income -- but if a person sees it as just that, it's less likely that they'll ever get to the pont where they see any income at all. There are going on 900,000 lenses out there, and a lot probably do fall into the category of 'spam'. Those with ranks of 85,000 or above are earning at least pocket change, either for the writer or for the writer's designated charities. As the lenses move up in rank, that share increases. I think it's a good strategy to have a large number in at least Third Tier, and a handful that one's striving to drive higher.
I use the word stategy, and strategy it indeed is; there's a lot more than just writing involved. That's okay with me. I believe that this world contains umpteem microcosms that each have their own forms of popularity contest and their own particular strategies. The question isn't necesarily whether we're willing to play popularity games, but which ones we're willing to play. If we do manage to follow some particular rainbow through to the other side, will we have reason to cherish what we find there?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reflection: Authors and Their Own Lives

Some years back, a psychiatrist suggested I had a childhood experience worth writing about. "There’s a market for stories about early onset OCD," he said. "It will help people," he told me. And so I began.

But once I defined my audience and my topic, it began to define me. It wasn’t just a matter, to borrow Ursula Hegi's words, of "what to tell first -- though it hadn’t happened first -- or what to end the story with". It was a matter of what went in and what got left out. So much of childhood experience wasn’t relevant to a tale of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and so out it went.

In time I realized I was defining my story not just for some future audience, but for loved ones, too. "Why do they insist on defining certain behaviors in terms of OCD?" I would wonder. I have partly myself to blame; some people would scarcely know what the word means but for me. Ironically, OCD might not have been the 'best fit' label in the first place.

Many people imagine a memoir is a writer's own soul bleeding onto the page. Ah no, often memoir writing is extremely audience-conscious. Me, I've never written for self-therapy -- always for an audience of one or more others. (And putting my writing journal online has lead to a great increase in output.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reflection: With a Nod and a Wave

I have several posts tagged "atypical anxiety" -- one of my favorites being "Please Don't Email the Drops." It's a bit off the wall in places... but also so very serious. On that serious note, I'll add that I've found it vital to maintain a least one email address that I use just for business. As long as I don't share it with anyone I love, I don't develop anxieties around it: I don't close out the screen (or the account); I don't lose messages because I am too fearful to open the inbox.

Speaking of inboxes and their habits: When I started with eduFire, I noticed that there were a lot of small 'badges' that the system attached to people's profile pages. Most of them were at least somewhat serious and positive. One that was neither serious nor positive: the '1,000 unread inbox messages' badge. When I first heard of that one, I thought, I wonder if I could get one of those for my Yahoo! inbox. In its own unique way, my Yahoo! inbox is very deserving of badges of distinction.

Moving along: recently a wave has swept over eduFire; invites have been spreading like wildfire, and some collaborative efforts that began on the platform are moving onto Google Wave. Ah, so if you were to look at my Wave inbox, you would think that eduFire was pretty much what I concerned myself with on a daily basis. But appearances can be so very deceiving.

As I hinted in "Please Don't Email the Drops", telemarketers always manage to get a hold of me -- the same goes for all persistent telephone wielders, including loved ones. Over the years there has been more than one sticky situation involving more than one person from more than one juncture in our spider web network of origins. There are responsibilities I have been taking care of.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reflection: Once More You Open the Door

I knew that it existed -- that old FujiFilm camera with the film not yet developed -- and today I took it to Bartell's. When I went to collect it, the attendant greeted me with, "You have a beautiful cat." That was not such a painful moment as it might seem, as I knew quite well (or at least had a deep suspicion) that Maui appeared in those pictures. What I'd doubted was whether the film, kept nearly a year past its "Develop by" date, would produce discernible images.

Most of the pictures were discernible and something beyond discernible; it was one of the most stunning collections of images Bartell's (or Walgreen's) has ever handed me. There were things I didn't remember until they stared back at me. I've thought to do another verse of "Time After Time" (with more faces from co-op days), and there's fodder for that project as well.

Other pictures were less potent emotionally, but still good illustration material. Speaking of which: At Madrona Grocery Outlet -- I still go there in daylight hours -- I found, for eight dollars, a package of three disposable FujiFilm cameras...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Memory: Snow in Ravenna Creek Ravine

These snow scenes were taken in previous years -- though something gloppy did fall on me the other day. (Whatever it was, it became quite wet when it hit the sidewalk.) I have a couple versions, set to different snippets of music, and I'm not sure which I prefer. I did figure out how to add these little pieces to my Squisoo pages -- there are a couple extra steps to complete. I think I also know how to add musical slideshows to Blogger as widgets on the sidebar... though my teaching blog actually made a snide remark the other day about this blog's attire. "Just because you own it," it cautioned, "it doesn't mean you need to wear it all at once."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reflection: Using Love and Logic With Your Blog

As I noted before, on eduFire one can teach just about anything that's legal. I was thinking about doing a follow-up to the free "Upload Yourself to the Internet" class: one that focused specifically on Blogger. I was also thinking about the connection between raising a blog and raising a kid. Things to consider when raising a blog: helping your blog make friends -- and helping your blog find and articulate its values, resist peer pressure, and discover social service opportunities... Of course there's also the 'Link Within' widget, and other fun educational games you can play with your blog.

I have training in a classroom management system called Love and Logic. At first, I couldn't think of any connection between Love and Logic and raising a Blogspot blog. Then I thought of something. In Love and Logic, you're supposed to give I-messages instead of "Don't" messages; for instance, you might say, "I am now passing out construction paper to the children who are sitting quietly." Well, I'm thinking one might say to their their blog, "I am now passing out links to those websites that are following editorial guidelines."
The thing is, though, that if I were to say that to this blog, it would likely just think, "Oh, now she's passing out links to those websites that are following editorial guidelines," and continue with whatever it was doing. It has some motivation to help out my other sites -- up to a point. It is very willing, though, to bypass having the other sites link to it -- so that it can have more liberties when it comes to doing its own thing. Well, that gets to one of the deeper tenets of Love and Logic. We may give rewards or consequencess based on what we think we know about what motivates 'kids' or what motivates 'people' -- but some won't respond to those things. (Just as some blogs aren't motivated by SEO.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reflection: The College Board Won't Test Your Pet...

... even if she shows up at the testing center with two forms of ID.

The following paragraphs also appear in my new Squidoo, which I will post the link to later. This is the most entertaining section (assuming that you're just looking for a 'reflection' and are not actually taking the CLEP yourself). Here goes:

"I came across this well written and humorous article a few months back. Wanting to expose 'diploma mills' -- fraudulent online programs -- Kevin Collins, CEO of the Better Business Burea of Central Georgia, had a novel idea. He helped his cat earn her high school diploma.

The article does go on to note that the company Collins exposed was in no way affiliated with the GED, a legitimate program.

The CLEP is another legitimate program -- it's managed by the College Board. The company I work with, eduFire , is also on the up and up. EduFire uses experienced teachers to help students prepare for CLEP examinations. The instructors post standards and prerequisites. They will not work with your cat on webcam. (Moreover, the College Board will not test your cat, even if she shows up at the testing center with two forms of ID.)

Click here to read an article by the eduFire CEO: "Education: My Fundamental Value".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reflection: Dreams Ablaze

This blog has 69 posts. The teaching blog, begun 2 1/2 weeks later, has 19. Only three blog posts contain blocks of shared content. This is the 3rd of those posts -- and if you know me, you may recognize that the voice here is just a bit different. This bit of news was first reported by the teacher persona:

"...It’s been a couple weeks since I updated this blog – busy weeks, both online and off. I’m honored to be a part of the eduFire CLEP team, one of six people who spent this past week writing a syllabus and planning a curriculum. There we were: two in the US, two in the UK, one in Bolivia, and one in India, separated by oceans, but united by a wiki, a platform, and a vision. When the team leader unveiled his design for class avatars, several of us were together, commenting in ‘real time’.

I am linking to the official eduFire blog announcement, in which CEO Jon Bischke explains how the CLEP program relates to his original mission of reaching out across cyberspace to those who, for economic or geographic reasons, have been denied educational opportunities. That includes so many people right here in this nation!

The CLEP examinations have helped many students graduate from college in a shorter time frame and (importantly!) with less debt. EduFire is offering support for six subjects...

If you’ve read my posts before, you’ve probably guessed that my subject is English Composition. Oh yes, I do believe education can transform lives… and so can words. I am linking also to a short passage from one of my published pieces. It’s about my mother – born in rural Kentucky in abject poverty – and how she graduated from high school at sixteen, and put herself through college.

Here’s another tidbit about my mother. She was editor of the Baylor Lariot in the pre- civil rights era. Decades later, she showed me the piece she was most proud of. Ah, and you might guess, too, what she wrote about — there’s a hint in this paragraph. And in this post, you can see her, two decades before my birth, dreams ablaze in her eyes."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In-Between Reflection: U-District Serenade?

I have always sung to myself, under my breath, as I'm walking around. I've been doing it so long that I generally just take for granted that nobody can hear me. I wonder if I was audible this evening. A couple people looked back at me and laughed. A quick scan revealed that my fly was zipped, and there was no toilet paper attached to my boots... so I'm guessing probably I was audible.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reflection: With Apologies to Journey...

And now I've turrned to you-u with O-open Office... (Don't worry, I won't do a video for that one.) Several of my colleagues were discussing, in a forum thread, how to move presentation slides from one type of file to another (ie PPt, Adobe, Open Office) without losing formatting. Turns out... if you save a slide as a PNG, you can't alter it -- it's permanent -- but you sure can preserve it! You can almost see the lacquer, preserving the text as image, holding the formatting inside.

Ah, so here's another metaphor: Some files are designed for flexibility at the expense of stability, while others are designed for stability at the expense of flexibility. So it is, too, with people. Me, I'm of course hyperstable, abnormally so. I can be uploaded, downloaded, imported, exported, all with no change in formatting, no loss of emotion or memory. Some people are the opposite: They're remarkably easily to work with, from an editing standpoint, yet others are oft left wondering where the formatting went.
(Nothing to hide, believe what I say, 'cause here I amm, with O-open Office...)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reflection: All Things, Strong and Fragile

That's my mother on a mule. She was a bilingual flight attendant in the years before I was born. I used her picture on a slide in the online class I taught last night; the particular slide was about which languages are supported by the knol platform. I'm not including the slide itself as a picture, even though it's in png form; it's a big file so it uses so much more space to host it. (If all my pictures were that size, it would still take about 500 posts to use up the picture hosting capacity Google has alloted me -- ah but, like most things I do, I am in this for the very long haul!)

The 'CLEP channel' will be launched next week on a particular e-learning platform. There are six of us -- two in the US, two in the UK, one in Bolivia and one in India -- holed up with our computers, writing CLEP prep syllabi, each responsible for a subject, but collaborating by wiki... It's pleasant work. It always amazes me how so much of the world assumes that it's the unknown that causes anxiety. I experience very little fear of the unknown, and am pretty low, too, when it comes to performance-based anxiety. Oh no, it's the people I love that cause pain and fear, that turn me into the kind of glass ornament you see in kiosks before Christmas. Does that mean I don't want them in my life? Heavens, no! -- glass is beautiful, and some is priceless. Says The Little Prince: "You run the risk of tears when you let yourself be tamed". There are moments when it does behoove me to leave my phone off the hook while I concentrate on some "matter of consequence" (I take for granted that my performance will be high if I shut out all incoming news) but the phone will go back on soon.

The song that's playing in my head is "The Riddle" aka "There's a reason for..."

PS Just edited this -- The Little Prince discusses "matters of consequence" not "matters of nonsequence". (Then again...)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reflection: Trying to Set a City to Music


This little clip was not included in my Seattle Squidoo Page(though eventually I will put one in). I selected a song clip that I thought was appropriate for a piece about a place, though the line "Time and time again, I've watched you sleep," did give me slight pause. It gave me more pause when... well, I'd included, amidst the nature photos, a picture of 45th Ave, with Seattle's Best Coffee in the background and a "Don't Cross Here: Use Crosswalk" sign in the foreground. On the line, "I've watched you sleep," what do you know, that picture appeared, and I won't go so far as to say that the sign got up in my face, but it did move forward a bit.

This is how the program works: I put the photos in order, and, after analyzing the pictures and audio, Animoto does the animations and transitions. Our combined artistry was lower on this piece, but I'm fond of listening to it, nonetheless. I may have enough photos of Ravenna Park in the snow to do that as its own 30 second video. Theoretically, I can put it onto Squidoo.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reflection: Sometimes You Picture Me...

Verse 2 of "Time After Time" begins "Sometimes you picture me..." I imagine a lot of people do picture me sitting in more or less the pose captured in that old photograph. People remarked upon the posture often during the days of co-op (group) living; I think it was just once that someone actually snapped a Polaroid and gave it to me. Body language... it's gotten better in the years since childhood. I watched a little girl in a video, trying to make the gesture, long distance, of embracing someone. That child folded and unfolded her arms several times because she genuinely couldn't figure out which way the arms were supposed to fit together. How well I remember. I remember, too, at twelve or thirteen, puzzling over something. I knew that people generally turned toward a person to smile at them, but I sometimes turned away. I couldn't figure out why I would pivot in the wrong direction. I knew the difference between turning toward a stimulus and turning away -- but that didn't mean my body could differentiate, in a split second, between the two. There were years of my life people were certain I'd been molested. Sure, I came from a family where there was little physical contact, but I was also a child whose body couldn't distinguish 'toward' from 'away', much less how and when to fold itself. There were things that didn't help: the constant apologies that well-meaning others would make for frightening me (when I wasn't even frightened) or the way, when I turned away, the world seemed to, as well.
I'm studying this post much as the man in the photo is studying the picture before him. Will I upload this to the internet? I reckon so. The internet is handy for the likes of me. See, no one can upload their whole body to the internet, and when it comes to those media that can actually be uploaded, I think I express myself.
PS The picture was created by scanning that old Polaroid and uploading it into a frame on the 'Image Chef' site. You gotta kind of hand it to 'em on that one.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reflection: In Seattle and Online

My "Step Into Seattle" lens. It debuted last night at number 800-and-something thousand (I guess that's how many pages there are on Squidoo!)... but it's got ambitions. I took some creative liberties with this one. Amidst the more pragmatic and informative stuff, I have snippets of the 'Steve Salamander' Seattle piece (written and audio versions) and various pictures, including a photo nature slideshow.
Seattle is still a beautiful city... It's been a painful couple of years, and, yes, it's reflected in my finances, but it's not something I spend a lot of time fretting about. I figure 1) I'll survive and 2)I've got more pressing things to fret about. Why spend time fretting about money if one doesn't have a loved one needing bunches of it for their survival/security?
It looks like I'll be getting an eduFire CLEP English composition course. I've mentioned the eduFire e-learning platform before -- a good site. One can use their platform to teach just about anything that's legal, but certain areas do have an application process, and those tend to be ones that are more lucrative, and that the company is really promoting. They want their CLEP courses run something like real-world test prep courses, with a detailed syllabus, and enough homework to really push people to achieve.
The class I'm teaching on eduFire this next week is more of a for-fun thing. A lot of teachers teach free classes as they're establishing themselves (and sometimes beyond). This one is about freelancing. I called it "Upload Yourself to the Internet" -- that's something that I do indeed do on a regular basis...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reflection: Okay, I Sang It...

Here's another Animoto short: verse 1 of the "Time After Time" project I was talking about. Okay, I did end up singing it! The artist is listed as "I'm singing rather poorly" -- but this is really for just a few people, and I think they'll see why I'm proud of the piece regardless.

I mentioned before... The "Thinking of You" card that appears in here was given to me by my friend, Bette.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reflection: My Purse (Is Small, I Know...)

My purse is small, I know, but it is not yours, it is my own... Addendum to an earlier post: At the Madrona Grocery Outlet on Saturday, "My hands are small, I know," was playing -- not just going 'round my head, this time, but blasting forth from the loudspeaker. On the way back, I was accosted again -- yes, a second time on that same stretch of Union. It gets dark early these days, and I did have a moment's hesitation before heading to Madrona. Before going out, I'd removed all the photographs from my purse (photos from scanning projects done and undone) -- because I'd had this thought that if someone were to go after my purse again there on Union, I didn't want to lose those pictures. Isn't it interesting that, in that brief flash of premonition, it was the pictures that I felt the need to protect?

There I was in the bike lane on the other side of the row of parked cars -- the most lit area --carrying the purse under my arm and close to my body. Two young men sprung at me, both tugging hard on the purse. I shrieked at the top of my voice, and they let go and darted off into a side street. They were no more than teenagers (probably) this time, and I guess they thought they could peel the purse off me and be gone before I knew what hit.

I think it finally has been impressed upon me that that it's unwise to walk that stretch of Union in less than full daylight. But physiological fear from the encounter did not remain with me. My mind was its normal self (normal for me) before I hit 23rd. And my thoughts and fears were... well, the same thoughts and fears they always are.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reflection: Mauicat Tribute

This little music video "Mauicat Tribute" was easy to make, using a site called Animoto, and some pictures. I'll add it to Maui's Squidoo page later -- that looks doable.
Maui's Squidoo

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

page

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reflection:...Hear the Clock Tick, and I Think of You...

The card pictured here -- "Thinking of You" -- was given to me by my friend Bette when I came to Seattle. It was one of several things that I scanned for use in a particular project. I decided a while back that I wanted to do a homemade video -- I want to open up, in Windows on my computer screen, faces and places from long-ago co-op days, all to the tune of the song "Time After Time". (The idea grew from a play on words in an earlier post: "You're watching through Windows, you're wondering if I'm okay...")

Well, my free Jing program allows me to record five minutes of screen capture as video, and it will also record whatever audio... that I record into the microphone. Hmmm... It was not actually my intent to sing the song myself; it's not something I was cut out to do...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Reflection: Linking to My Writings...

What was it that caused me to mistitle "The Mill Wheel in Motion" as "The Mill Creek in Motion"? Was it that I really do prefer my creek? I did put in an application to About.com -- the very day I said I wasn't going to do it, after wrtiting this short piece about the daylighting of Ravenna creek. It could take as long as 8 weeks to hear back from them, and I don't actually know what stage in the process they're at -- I believe "Seattle/Tacoma" will be posted as open til they've hired someone. Well -- I can always turn Seattle into a Squidoo page... or two. I just began, yesterday, to involve myself with the Squidoo community, to post on the forums, and leave comments on other's pages... And I wrote about MauiCat. Portions of the piece were adapted from this blog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reflection: Our Motions

Sitting on an airplane, I passed a book of writing prompts to a friend. He selected the prompt, "Describe how you move," but instead of describing his physical movement through space, he wrote an extended metaphor. He declared himself a squiggle. Yes, I had caught glimpses of that squiggly line, but I thought instead of a zig zag; it moves at a good clip until it smacks -- Thunk! Ouch! -- into an obstacle, and then richochets at a wide angle.

Physically, I have a tendency to zig zag, or swerve, from side to side on the sidewalk. I have tried to watch that habit -- and minimize it -- ever since it was brought to my attention in college. (Evidently people found it difficult to walk alongside me without being rammed off the sidewalk.) Metaphorically, though, I am the straightest line you'll ever meet. When I come to a wall, I may do one of several things, including sit down in front of it and cry. After a time, the tears start to dry, but I still sit by that wall, contemplating all possible motions.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Memory: My Hands (Are Small I Know...)

I don't think I was intentionally clowning around in this old photograph; my hands were simply making themselves comfortable by hitching a ride. I have a batch of pictures, taken when I was about four, and in shot after shot, those hands steal the show. I don't have many old photos -- I don't know what my brother did (or did not do) with the pictures that remained in the apartment after my father died. I'm glad that I do have this batch. There is an odd rhyme that I made up when I was a child: "Goodness knows, the puppy's pose/It's more to life than what it knows." Indeed. It may be that those hands (and arms) are a clue to the things I was diagnosed with and the things I never was. It may be that my posture (and few people who've met me have failed to note the posture!) is a clue as to genetics. Time will answer.

I wrote in an earlier post (Modeling the Latest in Hypertonic Arm Posture) how people have often interpreted the arms-drawn-up-to-the-chest posture as fearful. But in multiple pictures, you can find a bright, laughing four-year-old with her arms drawn up like a chipmunk -- it's indicative merely of muscle tone. Hand wringing is also a neurological thing. It's no sign of distress, but it can be a source of distress when people misinterpret it. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but my body language has often caused people to invent some other person, with an entirely different set of strengths and weaknesses.

Walking near Madrona Grocery Outlet -- the area where I was once grabbed and robbed -- I find myself singing, "My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours, they are my own." In some ways that song may not seem to fit me. Ah, but it's my heart that I give away to other people! My hands are, and always have been, my own.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Reflection: Self Expression... of Expresso?

My own city is on the 'application block', and I'm not sure I'm poised and ready to do anything about it.
I have been researching self-publishing platforms, and also browsing one 'cut-above-the-others' site that isn't self-publishing in the classic sense. About.com. I spend lot of time on the internet, and long ago reached the conclusion that About.com is more credible than, say, Ehow. There is a reason. Freelancing for About.com is a job, and there is a stringent application process. The process is a bit like a reality show... Every week, they vote someone else off the island.

Actually, you apply to be a guide in some particular area of expertise -- one that is currently on the block and accepting applications. About.com selects some potentially qualified applicants and guides them in setting up a pseudo-site; over a period of weeks, all the selected applicants write their assigned articles and blog posts. At the end of that training-and-trial period, About.com selects the best site.

I've had mixed feelings about even applying at this juncture in my life. About.com writers make a fair size upfront commitment. For me, it's not just a matter of not wanting to put too much on my writer's plate. There are some situations in my life that make me feel fragile -- and, as I hinted in a previous post, my monotropic mind refuses to see career as a true motivator. I do take all forms of commitment seriously, though, and give a lot of thought to contingencies before I engage in commitment-making.
One of the 'expertise areas' in which applicants are currently sought: Seattle/Tacoma... A bit of temptation, that! Hmm, not sure if I'll send a writing sample and application, or continue to concentrate my 'offsite' writing at Squidoo, a site I do indeed like, that I give to as I see fit... If one wants their Squidoo webpages to rise in the ranks, it's not just a matter of content, or even giving links to friends or posting them on blogs. One can also choose to be active on the Squidoo site itself: visiting other people's webpages to leave comments, announcing their own new pages on the forums. It's something I have yet to do. I do see that a 'Squidoo Fairy' has visited one of my lenses -- one of the three that I set up has moved out of the unranked category. Five little stars twinkle out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In-Between: The Mill Creek in Motion

I'm recording Robert Louis Stevenson poems; several I recognize from my first and second grade anthologies so long ago! I can recall the moment when I read "The Swing" -- at six, feeling already so much less a child than the little narrator who declared that going up in a swing was "the pleasantest thing ever a child can do." Ah, but this is a more serious, nostalgic poem from that same collection:




See more Audio at TeacherTube.com.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Reflection: For an Audience of One

I came across a book, Boxen, comprised of stories that CS Lewis and his brother wrote when they were kids. The editor noted that neither boy had written for any of us, but rather "for an audience of one, his own brother". I am no CS Lewis, but those lines struck a chord. It wasn't so many years back that I had no published pieces (no lit journal or anthology credits). I garnered my first five or six in a bit over a year. Some of the people who know me may place that statement into context by thinking about what else was going on in my life at the time -- and breathe a collective oh.

Across so many years, the pieces that I consider my best... well, they were written with a dual audience in mind. On one level, they may have been for people-in-general -- ah, but they were always really written for one or two. So little drives me, that isn't, at its heart, created for one or two...
I've got so much stuff up on the internet now, but I've thought at times, this little blog here might be, or become, my best site. I reckon I've got to write for a dual audience, and harness those things that are, at their heart, for one or two. And my multiple web personas have to cooperate. They're cooperating pretty well at the moment -- hands held out to each other in the darkness, like that orange hand-holding Squidoo octupi avatar. (The acronym in my Squidoo pen name, TBTEN, is actually an amalgam of the two main web personas.)

This piece is written primarily by the teacher persona, and it's largely a business sort of thing, as I'm getting ready to teach a free class online for parents of homeschoolers. Gotta add some more resources to it... lesson plans... When I include links to teaching profile/ teaching site, I like to have a lot, lot of content so it doesn't feel like an advertisement.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Memory: When the Music Plays...

I walk into Walgreen's, and I hear that song... Flashback to a time when children made friendship pins for their sneakers out of beads and safety pins -- and those pins were easier to come by in drama class than they were in regular school. I was Mathilda Mouse that year in a production of Aesop's Falables, a jazzed up versions of Aesop's fables, where the stories all blended into each other and the characters made cameos in each other's fables. There was a wolf who was focused mostly on how hungry he was until... well, I think he did get reformed by the end of the play.

Sitting in a Safeway parking lot long ago, I told my brother that the song "Hungry Like the Wolf' reminded me of our drama class. (My take on that song was at the time quite literal.)

Back to the present: Alan, of eduFire, has a number of web resources designed to use music as a bridge across populations, cultural as well as neurological. Some of that material is on the sidebar now. And I am linking right here to another WS video -- this one of a young woman singing "The star Spangled Banner" before a game.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reflection: Watching through Windows

This picture is a screen capture done on my computer. I used it for an article about eduFire that I posted on Squidoo. My little netbook is so proud of its first modeling gig!

Now I'm thinking about casting the bitty computer in a video (something personal, not my eduFire teaching video).

A few weeks back, I posted a blog entry with a play on words, drawn from the Cyndi Lauper song, "Time After Time": "You're watching through Windows, you're wondering if I'm okay..." With the same free program that snapped the one screenshot last night, I can also capture up to a five minute recording of my computer screen as video; I'm thinking about opening up places and faces in Windows, to the tune of that song. I've already scanned pictures of both long-ago housing co-ops -- the Spadefoot picture shows snow coming down on an Easter (yes, Easter) morning.

I am linking to the Squidoo page I put up yesterday. It's about an e-learning platform, and most of what I wrote is reasonably serious and informative. I did link to one particularly silly eduFire forum thread. People from long-ago would recognize me in the 'chocolate laptop discussion' -- but they might not recognize me amidst the technology. Ah, but I've learned that technology is very handy for giving a voice to the likes of me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In-Between Reflection: Messages From God!?

Among the many gadgets you can add to an I-Google homepage: There's an app titled 'Messages From God'. It pays to read the fine print, though -- 'cause guess what? God didn't develop the app, and God didn't upload it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reflection: Not Quite a 'Rock Star Teacher' ... But Working On It

Soul Reflections



I am doing a bit like I sometimes do on 'the other blog' -- my teacher blog -- and talking about some internet sites I've happened into. First off... there's Edufire, an online learning (and teaching) platform for adolescents and adults. I studied them for a few weeks before taking out an account. At first it seemed that all the networking and the forums made the platform just too much of a free-for-all. Ah, no, I've come to think very highly of them, and I'll be talking about some of our projects. There's a lot more going on than people just posting their own tutoring services and classes. For instance, there's a group organizing to try and make free classes (English, microenterprise, and medicine) available to people in Afghanistan.

I believe the slogan, "Be a Rockstar Teacher" is intended to refer to a bit more than just doing video of oneself in action and uploading it to YouTube! They do encourage the YouTube thing, though. When I am ready to put a video up, I think I'm more apt to go through TeacherTube. Now here's a music video message from TeacherTube: "...I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm short, I'm tall... I'm deaf, I'm blind -- hey, aren't we all?" I think the message in this song is applicable to more than just the elementary school set.

As for the musical presentation embedded within this post... another useful multimedia site, AuthorStream. (I've linked to two 'reflections' presentations on the sidebar as well.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reflection: A Page Set with Few Pages

Before I write more about monotropism -- or the mind in general -- I want to talk about the word 'experience'.

I think that people often confuse two very different concepts: To talk rationally about which life pursuits are (or not) important is one thing, but to experience motivation is something else. Experiencing motivation (or experiencing interest or fear) is largely a neurochemical reaction in which arousal levels are either heightened or subdued.

Depression is, on one level, a disorder of motivation. I am using the word monotropism to refer to a very different sort of disorder of motivation: one that is less mood-dependent, but in some ways more pervasive. It's like being a website with few pages. Most things in life are experienced simply as links leading off of or onto one's pages.

I believe it's possible for a person to simply lack the hardwiring or neurochemicals that are needed in order to experience motivation normally -- by that, I mean that there's a lack of intrinsic/instinctual motivation toward very basic things like comfort, security, or cleanliness. A monotropic person may experience, at the neurochemical level, very little motivation by anything that doesn't relate to their particular passion (their cause or purpose, their relationship, their career...)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In-Between: Whoops!

I just put up the pretty little rhododendron post, and then -- whoops -- looks like I made a clumsy hand motion and ended up flagging the blog for inappropriate content. It can be hard to operate a touchpad without accidently... well, not exactly clicking, but setting off something you don't mean to. Ah, well. I imagine it happens, and doubt anything much comes of it. (I was trying to get to that 'next blog' button.)

PS: I looked under 'help topics' again, and several people have threads going about accidently flagging their own blogs... no one seems to be answering them, though.

Reflection: Blooming Out of Season

It was January, my first year in Seattle, when I dreamed about a rhododendron putting up pink out-of-season blossoms. "Stop!" I told the rhododendron. "Don't bloom now. You won't bloom when it's time." The rhododendrons will bloom before I get to Seattle, I fretted. Deeply sleeping, I didn't realize that I was in Seattle already.

A day or two later, I passed this small rhododendron sending out blossoms: not as many as in this picture, but a few riveting pale pink clusters.

A few years have passed... I hesitated for a long minute before selecting this particular rhododendron as my Squidoo avatar, but only because this particular rhododendron is there no longer. They removed the lovely little shrub, pulled it out by the roots -- this one and its partner, the other blooms-out-of-season rhododendron that used to regale a parking lot up near Safeway. Ah, where are you now? Do you blossom yet?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reflection: My First Squidoo

I am including a link to my first Squidoo 'lens', both here and on the side margin. I am also including the link to another Williams Syndrome video here -- this one featuring the antics/communication of a small child. There are folks I know who may find this interesting.

I will continue to add 'modules', which are units of text, links etc., to the lens. I decided it was ready to post, though, and that I'd add more over time. I'll improve the visuals, too, eventually. I recently signed on with an online tutoring company, Edufire, and a fellow tutor is teaching a free class in using very basic HTML -- that's so we can add custom graphics and have more choice about where we insert hyperlinks. That skill should help with these lenses, as well. Since I haven't uploaded a profile picture, Squidoo gave me an avatar of two orange octopi holding hands. Unbeknownst to them, that may actually prolong the time until I upload a picture of my own. I like the octopi -- they kinda go with the 'hands' theme. (See previous post.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Reflection: With Squidoo (And My Own Two Hands)

I recently took out an account out with a site called Squidoo, which allows readers to publish single web pages -- lenses -- on topics they hold within their hearts. The lensmasters (no, not lenscrafters!) attempt to rise through the Squid ranks, and raise pocket money for themselves or their favorite charities. They may also use their power-of-words to drive readers to their own sites. I’ve studied other related sites, but I was so taken by this particular one that I created a user name and was on my way within a few hours of stumbling into it…
I can be verbose -- indeed an avocation seems to be posting things on both my own and others’ sites -- so I may, over time, post a number of lenses. But my first one... well, I knew what it would be. It's an introduction to the neurogenetic disorder Williams Syndrome. I’ve been working on creating an amalgam: my own writing, interspersed with links, Amazon books… and this cool video, which I first watched a year or so ago. On my own computer now (and not the library’s silent one) I can hear the accompanying song for the first time. It gives me chills. Lyrics tend to play relentlessly in my head -- and I like a good song about... hands!

PS: Here's another video by the same folks, this one set to "My Daughter's Eyes". I am realizing that several things I have elected to put up -- including a blog feed -- are from these same folks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reflection: The Road Not Taken

The title of this post links to a reading of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken", as does a new audio link there on the side. For me, this piece was a quieter read than "Going For Water".
I may put up a link to Audacity, which is an excellent open source audio recording and editing program, and to Drop.io, which I have been using to host audio files.
When I click the Drop.io link in my Google notebook, it takes me straight to the upload page; on that page, I also see some message about new applications or upgraded (paid) accounts. A couple times lately -- I kid you not -- the message has said, "Your drop is lonely. Call it on the phone." Well, I don't think my drops are lonely: I check in on them, I listen to them. I honestly don't recommend you call my drops either. As I explained in a previous post, the drops don't answer their email! They may not pick up the phone either! But they do like to be listened to. I know people who are like those drops. It's truly an art, the art of listening.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reflection: To Seek the Brook if it Still Ran

My multiple web personas are collaborating on recording public domain audio: right now, they're doing the poetry of Robert Frost. This post links to a particular favorite: Going For Water. I don't think you'll be able to tell, listening to it, that I'm actually a bit sick. I had pretty good control over my voice at the point I recorded (though it took a few reads); an hour or two later, after medication had dried out my voice, I was sounding more ribbit-like. I'll continue to add audio to the link lists there on the right. I actually put this clip on the link list last night. At one point, when I did a test-listen, I got a Drop.io" Who's Online (2)" message, meaning there were two people tuned into the drop --and only one of them was myself! (By that, I mean, I'd had the drop open in only one window.) Apparently, someone else was listening to the wee drop at the same moment, be it a friend, or someone who merely stumbled in by way of the "next blog' button.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reflection: A Meow From the Chair

Folks from the local Humane Society have spoken of having such experiences; for me, it's a first. When I got home the other evening, I heard a meow from the easy chair: distinct, converational. I almost felt the need to look around for a kitty that had somehow gotten trapped in the studio... almost. I didn't do a search. I was pretty sure there was no cat, and besides I knew the meow.

This picture, scanned at Online Coffee, may also appear as my Poets & Writers Directory profile portrait. (A writing profile is less formal than a teaching profile -- indeed, I gave P&W this website address.)

A Related Post From the Archives: Kitty Cat Dreams

Friday, October 2, 2009

Reflection: Pearls Before Breakfast

The title of this post (Pearls Before Breakfast) connects to a human interest article of the same name. Joshua Bell, a 39-year-old virtuoso violinist and consummate performer, who routinely performs in concert halls where tickets sell for $100 or more, decided to try a brief stint as a street musician. The experiment was planned to the most minute of details: Bell took a taxi to the Metro to avoid possible harm to a violin that cost more than I'll make in a lifetime. So what did happen when he played? Most people hurried past him, some flipped quarters, only a few recognized that they were listening to a very talented professional. The performance was captured on video, and a number of witnesses were interviewed afterwards.
This experiment is obviously more scientific, but one of the themes reminds me a bit of a favorite passage from The Little Prince: I have serious reason to believe that the planet the little prince came from is Asteroid B-612. This asteroid has been sighted only once by telescope, in 1909 by a Turkish astronomer, who had then made a formal demonstration of his discovery at an International Astronomical Conference. But no one had believed him on account of the way he was dressed… Fortunately for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator ordered his people... to wear European clothes. The astronomer repeated his demonstration in 1920, wearing a very elegant suit. And this time everyone believed him.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reflection: Out and About in the World

I did decide to make Evening Nigh Reflections a public blog, searchable on Google Blog Search and elsewhere. It's been out and about in the world for over a week now, cautiosly poking its head here and there, visiting a couple other wee bloggies to leave comments. I listed it as my website for a Poets & Writers author directory listing that was confirmed today. The 'Steve Salamander' Seattle piece I've been reading from isn't listed as a credit. It may just not have confirmed yet; either that or the anthology listed it as some category other than creative nonfiction (creative nonfiction being the only genre I have enough credits in).
My teacher blog doesn't admit to knowing this blog -- and isn't apt to -- but I make get Evening Nigh a little button that says it's an Edufire writing tutor. I'd been conversing in an online forum with language teachers, and maybe that's why I did such a double take when I went in Trader Joe's this afternoon. Trader Joe's guarantees there's nothing on their labels that you can't pronounce! Wow! They must be pretty durn good at accent reduction, because I doubt the most skilled among us tutors would make a claim like that...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Memory: Standing at the Corner of 15th & Someplace I Did Not Intend to Be


This short audio link is also from "Til Steve Salamander Returns" -- a much lighter segment.

There really is a corner of "Bellevue, Bellevue, and Bellevue East" -- not in Bellevue, but in Seattle. I have a photo of the street sign, and plan on scanning it and adding it to this post, hopefully in the next day.

PS No, it's a different picture I added... theme-related, though.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reflection: Netbook Attachment/ Beautiful in my Eyes

I was thinking about a previous post regarding the distinction between dependency and attachment -- and I was also thinking about this bitty netbook here. An acquaintance said a person can only be termed 'attached' if they're unwilling to trade their special something for something else of equal or greater value... Well, I surely agree, and I guess I'm a little attached to my netbook; I can't envision trading it for a laptop of twice the price. Partly, the attachment has grown from personifying the bitty computery-wutery in my posts, a bit like I once personified the great city of Seattle (though not to quite the extent). It's not a person, it's not a kitty-cat; ultimately, there's a limit to how much I would pay to get it repaired -- yet there's this pang in my stomach when I say those words. Ah, attachment! There's a limited number of objects I'm attached to -- and a limited number of people. Attachment often traces back to some initial recognition of positive qualities in the 'other', but it wouldn't be attachment if that's as far as it went. Dr. Laura titled a chapter of one of her books "Stupid Devotion" -- and then wrote about women who tried to change people because they really weren't happy with them at all! That's not devotion. Again, I think it's dependency. If you're devoted to something, then that something becomes, in the words of Joshua Kadison, "beautiful in (your) eyes."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reflection: Please Don't Email the Drops

I'm using a site called Drop.io to upload my audio readings to the internet. They call the uploaded files 'drops'. Some people use Drop.io for online collaboration (like a multi-media Google Document); I guess that's why they assign the drops their own email addresses and their own telephone numbers with five-digit extensions. They really do have those drops set up! Please don't email my drops, though. There are people who can attest to me not reading my own e-mail -- I'm afraid the chances are slim to none of my drops reading theirs... Now I'm going to backtrack and briefly mention my bad-news phobia: A couple years back, I was explaining my telephone anxieties to my friend-whose-name-is-spelled-the-same-forwards-and-backwards. ("You can have your address put on a list so telemarketers don't call," he had said, showing a lack of undertanding of just what it was that made me startle when the phone rang. Of course it wasn't the telemarketers I had been worried about -- it was the people I knew. I was worried about things happening to the people I knew.) Now, though, I'm wondering if telemarketers -- automated ones -- are going to call my drops up on the telephone. Do you suppose they might tell my drops they can save money on auto insurance, or that their new satellite dish will be installed tomorrow?

Memory: Superman by Night

My business site does have its itty-bit blog now, and I try not to cross-pollinate too much between them, but there are a couple personal paragraphs that I'm going to reproduce here:

When my brother was seven or eight, he founded a book company and hired his little sister (me). Kevin was a mild-mannered book editor by day and Superman by night. His other interest at the time: trucks. The short piece of writing I scanned and linked to is one I’m pretty sure my brother put me up to. From across the years, I can almost hear him say, “Write about a little boy who loves trucks…” It‘s a direction I followed to the letter — there was no deliberate attempt at humor in this piece, and I lacked the sophistication to write something so over-the-top on my own prerogative...
As for my brother, he is now a Phoenix-area real estate agent and a dad to two small girls. He no longer leaps buildings in a single bound — he just sells them. In the eyes of his little girls, though, he’s Superman. Here’s a bit of writing from a long-ago little girl: Writing: Age 5-6

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reflection: Your Hometown

The audio link, Your Hometown , is a segment of "Til Steve Salamander Returns", a piece that I wrote during my first trial summer in Seattle. This is one of a couple serious segments in a largely humorous piece. At least, it's one of a couple segments that were originally envisioned as serious. The events of the subsequent years, including the death of the kitty cat who appears in the opening scene, change the character of a piece, at least for a small group of people. I'll record a few more segments of the Steve Salamander piece soon, but it may be a while before I do them all and join the whole thing together...

A week into the experiment, the audio is getting better. The copy of "Artichokes and Desert" rain that appears in the link list is not the one I originally recorded. The second version does include one particularly audacious (Well, I did record it in Audacity!) mistake. I said that Chris danced around a lightning pole. That took me aback a bit -- but I didn't want to re-do it then, as I'd been having technical difficulties, and had already made several false starts. If I hadn't reacted, who would have caught the mistake? In the first version... well, I had to listen to it a couple times myself before I was, like, "Whoa, did I say 180 degrees?" (It was 108 degrees in Tucson, or thereabouts -- it wasn't 180.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reflection: If You Need Anything, I'll be in the System Tray

Several computer giants are competing for the allegiance of my small netbook. My Google toolbar offered to import my Microsoft favorites, and then Microsoft told me it could post to Blogger for me, using Windows Live. I clicked on the Windows Live icon out of curiosity even though I don’t have an account. Lo and behold, a Messenger showed up, and, like a genie sprung from a bottle, it refused to leave. I clicked on the Messenger’s ‘X’ and it told me that, just in case I were to need something, it would still be running in my system tray. I actually was writing this particular entry in Microsoft Works, offline, when an ad appeared for Hotmail -- 'Get it now!' -- with a picture of a guy whopping himself in the head like he just realized he could have had a V-8. So the other day, I was installing a security program that Radio Shack had given me as a promotional giveaway… I unchecked a couple boxes as the program was installing. If I hadn’t unchecked those boxes, you know what the security suite was planning to do? It was fixing to set Yahoo as my homepage and install my new Yahoo toolbar…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reflection: Flashback to Warm Nights...

Here are some lyrics I've loved since I was a kid, with just one little change that reflects our lives in this modern world:

After my picture fades, and darkness has turned to gray
You're watching through Windows, you're wondering if I'm okay

Are you watching through Windows... or using a Mac?

P.S. The next blog entry will probably appear under this one. There's something in my drafts folder that I've been working over.
Alright -- it's there now: 'Further Chronicles (and Audio)'

Reflection: Further Chronicles (and Audio)

Maintain a poker-facer and an expressive voice... That seems to be the trick of recording audio with a less-than-professional quality headset. If I so much as raise an eyebrow while I'm recording, or spread my cheek into a smile, the headset will bounce a bit and the sound will be recorded...
I picked a copy of Further Chronicles of Avonlea off the bookcase downstairs for two reason: 1) I knew it was public domain. 2) I was locked out and needed something to read! The piece that I ended up recording, and linking to here, is by far my favorite of the stories. Even so, there were lines that were hard to record because they didn't ring true for me. There's a character in the story who, years back, had broken off an engagement because she believed her fiancee's mother when she said her fiancee was merely infatuated with her youth and beauty -- which wouldn't last -- and that she had nothing, but nothing, else to offer.
Back in high school, I had a friend from India whose parents were incensed that she wanted to date an American; I think that they actually made a brief threat to disown her. But my friends spent six years convincing those parents that their relationship was sound, and at the end of that time, they were allowed to marry. As for why my friends wouldn't go against the parents' wishes -- well, part of it was because they were Ba'hai, and, while the Ba'hai faith prohibits arranged marriage, it does require parental consent. My friends were bound by what they believed. I honestly think either one of them would have -- like the girl in the story -- broken off their engagement if they believed they would be a lifelong burden to the other; yet I can't imagine either of them believing it. Going back to the story, it's hard for me to imagine a girl who says you're right, I have nothing in this world to offer, but for a fleeting beauty -- a girl who lacks the drive to fight that she's somebody. But there's a lot in this story I do like: It may be an archaic societal criticism, but it's societal criticism, nonetheless. Now, without further ado, here's The Little Brown Book of Miss Emily.

Monday, September 14, 2009

In-Between: Links to Audio Files

I am putting up new 'link lists' on the right side for audio files; a link to my first 'public domain' reading attempt (The Velveteen Rabbit) is up. I will probably re-record it before I put it on my teacher site, but I figure it's ready at least for my brother to download for his little ones! (I think moving the headset around too much might have caused the recurrent little background noises.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reflection: A Thing and its Opposite

There are multiple reasons a person will sometimes allow another human being to insult him: It might be that he believes what the other person is saying, or it might be that he believes none of it. It could be that he lacks ego strength -- or it could be that he has enough ego-strength that the insult wasn't an issue. Many things look, on the surface, like their opposite, and I think that's one of the biggest barriers to understanding between and among human beings. I wrote in an earlier post that I thought Dr. Laura blurred the distinction between attachment and dependency -- two things that, as I see it, are not only distinct, but often functionally opposite. We're all constantly making inferences about one another, often at such a subconscious level we don't even realize we're doing -- yet in that split second in which we infer, we may, in fact, be choosing between opposites. Here's an example of how tricky it gets: Those repetitive motor behaviors associated with autism and other disorders... well, according to neurologists, they can reflect one of several things, like 1) a massively overstimulated nervous system, or 2) a massively understimulated one.