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 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 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.