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. I spend lot of time on the internet, and long ago reached the conclusion that is more credible than, say, Ehow. There is a reason. Freelancing for 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. 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, selects the best site.

I've had mixed feelings about even applying at this juncture in my life. 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

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, which I have been using to host audio files.
When I click the 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" 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.