Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thinking About The Situation

My friend Judy and I discuss on a regular basis life, our students, and how our peers interact with the internet, which is (quite frankly) rarely. As a result, she and I are about the only commenters on each other's blogs outside of family members. I told her my daughter's peers have a different mindset (as does her daughter's) and that this younger generation regularly reads and comments on each other's blogs. Or Facebook pages.

I read a lot of blogs. Some dismiss them as narcissistic, lightweight and completely self-referential. Are they? I'd say no more so than personal essays that are published in the newspapers. (Or poems in various collections.)

But the difference between the published accounts and these "free web" accounts is that critical word: "free." I've thought for some time that the web could be a vehicle for publication of some kind, whether it be this blog-self-publishing version, or whether like Pioneer Woman, a blogger is picked up by the major publishing houses for a book, thereby legitimizing what is written by the act of putting ink to page, money into bank account.

In all cases, the goal is to build an audience. When I was at my writer-friend's home the other night, she had several books that she talked about. One was her friend Holly's book, a softcover book that didn't have enough sales so it didn't merit a contract for a second book. So, Holly's done. In a way. Much the way I felt after hitting 400 posts and the only comment was a "encouraged" comment from my husband, as well as a comment from my friend Judy, mentioned above.

Hitting 400 posts is not the same as batting .400, or hitting 400 balls out of the ballpark, or publishing 400 novels, or 400 personal essays, or raising 400 children, or baking 400 cupcakes. It's viewed as someone just sitting down at their computer and larking around with words, text, photos, illustrations, in other words, not serious writing.

But it is seductive for just that reason: a blogger/writer can mix, match, cull, steal, borrow, video, write, doodle, in short, lark around with all the various types of media that are out there. And it's immediate. And given the writing compulsion of the writer to write, it's easier than wading through publishers, agents, convincing the world out there that supposedly doesn't read, to Please! Notice Me! It's Web 2.o at its finest, and all free.

And if the blogger/writer picks up ads on the side, potentially lucrative. I noticed that Nienie has now opened up her cooking blog and the cynic in me noted that the ads were front and center. Given the proclivities of my generation I don't ever anticipate getting paid for my internet writing. But it's not only ads. Do prizes attract viewers? Do free giveaways bring in the blog numbers? In many cases (mostly those of the under-thirties generation) blogging has become about getting paid for the copy that is put forth into the world. We have come full circle. Does getting paid for maintaining a blog legitimize this endeavor?

Or is ink to paper still the only way for a writer to earn their credentials?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

With This One, It's 400 Posts

Route 400 to Somewhere

400 Fantastic Issues!

400-Watt Ultrasound

Daytona 400, also known as the Pepsi Netzero 400 (apparently)

By 2020 China will have 400 new cities.
We are busy in the U.S. trying to keep our cities from dying.

Seating for 400 in a ballroom.
(Thanks, but no thanks. I'm through with all of our wedding receptions.)

The Atari 400 computer, from 1978
Designed primarily as a computer for children, the Atari 400 has an "advanced child-proof design featuring pressure-sensitive, wipe-clean keyboard."

Boeing 747-400 airplane

World's first 625 line television: The Philips TX-400.

Fundraising pitch from art gallery.

My first post: Thursday, September 14, 2006

Door to Heaven
Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles, California


It's been a nice journey. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hot Dog Distributor

My horoscope for yesterday:

For Tuesday, September 22 -If work were a camping trip, you'd be in charge of the grill. Why? For one thing, everybody trusts you when it comes to handling fire. You can light it, you can keep it burning, you can make sure it doesn't get so big that is sets the paper plates and tablecloths on fire. Further, people trust you to distribute the hot dogs fairly, equitably and fully cooked. Yep, it's no wonder you're the office equivalent of the grill chef -- who else is as trustworthy as you?

Now you know why I read these things. It's just in case I ever have an identity crisis.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mother's Wheat Germ Bread

I think about the fires recently in the hills around us here in Southern California, and remember back to the Oakland California fires in an earlier era. While many stories were poignant and very sad, one that has stuck in my memory is the story of the woman who lost everything in the fire. Interestingly, she despaired the most over the loss of her recipes, some of which were family treasures passed down for several generations. (I have a few of those as well.)

Some weeks after the fire, one of her neighbors found out where she was living, and brought her a loaf of her own bread, with the recipe attached to it. Little by little, her recipes came back to her, because she had shared them.

My mother cooked for a crowd: her family of seven children. I remember coming home as a teenager to the smell of this bread, freshly baked. It was perfect in the afternoons, just warm crumbly bread, some homemade jam, and a glass of milk. Of course the fantasy memory might include then happily skipping off to do the homework, but I think the real memory probably was slicing one more slice, in order to avoid leaving Mom’s kitchen and her good bread. This is one recipe I don’t want to lose, so I’m posting it here. It's also over at Elizabeth's Kitchen.

Mother’s Wheat Germ Bread

Combine in a mixer bowl:
1 1/2 cups boiling water
6 Tbls. shortening (I suppose you could substitute butter)
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt.

Dissolve 2 packages yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and add to above mixture. Then add 2 eggs, mixing well, but not overbeating.

Add: 1 cup wheat germ and 3 cups white flour and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed. Blend in 2 1/2 cups more flour.

“Blob it in” (the recipe says) into 2 greased loaf “tins,” and let rise to within 1″ of the top of the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter.

I find that I’m used to a more complete recipe these days: Do I turn the loaves out onto racks immediately, or let them cool for 10 minutes in the pan? When do I brush on the melted butter? How long do I mix the dough? This is a recipe from days when most women cooked, and cooked regularly, and knew what to do. I smile at even earlier recipes that say things like “Cook in a moderate oven until done.” Translation, please?

No photo of the bread. When it stops hitting temperatures past the hundred-degree mark, I’ll make some, for old times sake, and post a photo then.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Birds on a Wire

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

To quote from Mr. Agnelli:
Reading a newspaper, I saw a picture of birds on the electric wires. I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes (no Photoshop edit). I knew it wasn't the most original idea in the universe. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating.

I sent the music to the photographer, Paulo Pinto, who I Googled on the internet. He told his editor, who told a reporter and the story ended up as an interview in the very same newspaper.

Here I've posted a short video made with the photo, the music and the score (composed by the birds).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And Dinner Tonight Was. . .

White Fish with Green Gazpacho Sauce. Make extra sauce (included in my version) because it you'll find yourself wanting to eat more. Since it's so lo-cal and good for you, no guilt when you do.

Head over to Elizabeth's Kitchen for the recipe and comments (click on image to your right, in sidebar).

And the update on Tattoo Student is this:
He wrote a pretty good paper. It has some problems, but he was able to nail quite a few of the elements.

And he complained to the Dept. Chair that because I'd asked him to walk around OUTSIDE, instead of IN my classroom, I wasn't accommodating him on ADA guidelines. Turns out he's most worried that I'll drop him. I told the Chair that Tattoo Student's problem is that he doesn't read and he doesn't listen.

If he read the syllabus that I gave to him when he came to class (he missed the first day and the Age Old Tradition of the Reading of the Syllabus) it clearly states that I don't drop students. I tell them, you got yourself in here, you can get yourself out. And if he'd listened, he'd have heard that I offered him the chance to lie down on my classroom floor with his pillow if he wanted (although with budget cutbacks and sporadic custodial service, who'd want to?).

I just carried home 55 papers to grade this weekend. That should explain why I took time out to cook a nice dinner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Okay, Here's Some Fun!

You have to try this. Head over to this article in the New York Times, and try to drive and text. Yes, they've set up a driving test (do the Test Drive to get the picture) and then they send you text messages on this phone to the right. You're supposed to drive and text. If there would have been people on this imaginary roadway, I would have wiped them all out.

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Welcome Back to My Real Life

I returned to the classroom yesterday, feeling pretty jetlagged, but ready to go again. We had Peer Review on their first essay, which is a section of class where they bring in their essays, trade with a classmate and then evaluate each other's essay. Not only does it 1) give them an earlier due date so I don't have to read first drafts, it also 2) gives them a chance to have someone else take a look at their essay and 3) improve their editing skills.

See? I've thought it all out.

Except what do you do Student A brings in the SECOND essay to be reviewed? The essay that I'm going to assign tomorrow with a spiffy assignment packet, a presentation and all sorts of tips and strategies?

I met with Student A, a highly decorated (tattoo-wise) military veteran who is in his late twenties, and gently asked him why he chose to do the second essay.

He unfolds a note from his orthopedic doctor explaining that he's going to have surgery soon and he'll have to get up and move around, may not be able to sit. I said that's no problem, just please take a seat on the very back row so you don't disturb others if you have to move. And it's okay to get up and walk around OUTSIDE. As a teacher, can I just say things aren't looking real great?

So I herded him back to the subject at hand.
--Why did he do the second essay?
--Because I want to get ahead.
--But you can't really do that one yet because we haven't finished the first one. Besides, I haven't given out the assignment sheet yet.
--I looked in the Course Calendar and read what you said and went off of that. (He pulls out his notebook, stuffed with papers every which way.) See? Here's all my research for my paper on Tattoos.

Note to self: add "tattoos" to the list of banned topics. And I'm wondering if while in the service, that not only did he enjoy the local tat parlor but also the local drug dealer? *Focus, focus.*

I start him on brainstorming some topics to write about. He reassures me that it's no problem to write an essay about the first time he served in combat--It will be a wonderful essay, he says. Really wonderful.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Surf's Up in Munich!

Head over to Traveled Mind for the other surfer clip.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Why We're Going to Munich

Short answer:
Because I erased the photos from my hard drive on one fateful afternoon in Washington D.C.

Long answer:
Because Dave has a conference and he knew I wanted to re-take all the photos I'd lost on one fateful afternoon in Washington D.C.

The photo above is about the only one left, and it's really not from Munich, but is a picture of me in the dirndl I made after going to Munich. We were, at the time, living in Washington DC so jetlag was only a 6 hour change (instead of the 9-hour change it is from here). I'd purchased fabric from a store in Munich, struggled through a German-language version of a dress pattern, and made this dress. I found out later that our pattern books have an English-language version.

Someday I'll wear this to church. I usually wear it at Christmastime, but we'd just merged wards in our stake last year and I didn't want the newbies to think I was flat out weird. Now they know I'm just flat out weird, so there's no worries.

Here's a closer up. Yep, she's a middle-aged honeybunch, but doesn't she look Bavarian?
I was also pretty not-feeling-well when I was over there before (gallstones) so I'd like to go when I'm in pretty good shape. Or as my Dad says, travel now, while you're young.
I like that he thinks I'm young.

Visual answer:
Theatine Church, Munich.

Most of this church is done in white stucco, so the day's shadows, lights, darks, sunlight streams all play off the shapes, creating their own tonality.

Food answer:
Maybe to get some Bavarian Apple Strudel?

(This picture is all over the web. Maybe I can come up with a new one.)

Dave's answer:
Benzene conference (he's an expert).

Wait, let me get you another picture of the classic benzene ring.

Whoops. This is a local band, The Benzene Ring, and you can click to listen to their tunes.
(One review says: A compelling combination of short soundscapes, creepy chants, and five-minute-plus epics ... Breathing Water in a Dream is diverse and fresh enough to pull in listeners from both the prog and indie camps.)

Okey, dokey for all you progs and indies out there.

Yes! That's it!
But let's not stop there. Here's one from the United States Army, the chemical division, with a traditional six-sided benzene ring:

Wonder how I can get one of these for Dave? Better yet, everyone at his conference? The description reads:
48th Chemical Brigade Distinctive Unit Insignia:
The green dragon grasping the sword alludes to the chemical operations of the Brigade and the unit's mission to combat chemical and biological warfare. The benzene ring is adapted from the branch insignia.

And then there's this guy, August Kekulé, who dozy-day-dreamed about a snake swallowing its tail, which taught him the structure of the benzene ring, basis of all organic chemistry.

Let's hear it for naps.

Or for staring into space.

At any rate, we're off tomorrow, beating the Labor Day rush to get out of town to celebrate the last day of summer.

Follow us on our travel blog, where I'll post when I feel like it:

The Traveled Mind.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dinner Tonight is Tuscan White Beans

Over on Elizabeth's Kitchen, I posted the recipe/how-to for our dinner tonight. Stay cool, and out of the fires.