Tuesday, May 31, 2005

How Was Your Weekend?

Mine was really good. I went to not, one, but three movies. My oldest wanted to see Madagascar, which was a really cute kids' movie with great music. In fact, I bought the soundtrack, kind of for him, kind of for me. It will make a great workout companion. I also show The Longest Yard with my husband. The remake did justice to its predecessor. Finally I saw Star Wars: Episode III. I have to echo the sentiments of Average Jane; it felt more like an obligation. Yesterday, I took the youngest to the N.E.W. Zoo in Suamico. We were both pleased with the set-up and animals on display. He did a fantastic job of finding them. Every bird was a "quack-quack" while every large animal (think moose) was a cow and every mid-sized was an "Elle." We worked on some of the names. In all, it was a good weekend. I hope your's was too.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Memorial Day

Memorial Day always reminds me of my uncle Mel and putting flowers on gravesites. It was something that he did every year. In the back of my head, I know that Memorial Day is more than a three day weekend, but for what purpose is it truly to serve? All uniformed men and women? Just those lost in battle? I googled it and found this site. The origins of Memorial Day vary quite a bit, but I did find that it is a day to honor all those who have died in battle. But I'm not the only one who doesn't know the traditions surrounding the holiday.

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country...But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
On Monday, during the picnic, the zoo trip, the movie, remember not just those who fought in battles, but those who died during battle and those that were left behind to enjoy the freedoms they earned.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

What's New with the Kids

Thomas the Tank Engine's popularity is waning in the house. There is no forerunner in the race for his replacement, but Blue's Clues and Bob the Builder are neck and neck. Blue might even have the edge. A typical day is spent watching at least one of the clue hunts with either Joe or Steve (we like Steve better.) The kids even have their own handy-dandy notebooks, even if they don't have a picture of the Thinking Chair on the cover. But they both delight in carrying around the notebooks and drawing in them. Until they draw on the fridge and I am forced to ask, why? for the 18th time that day. But I think I figured it out. Picture this: The littlest one dragging me into the kitchen all excited. He's jabbing his chubby little finger at the fridge, yapping away. My brain is ignoring him, focusing instead on the crayon mark that wasn't there a few minutes ago, because I had just washed it off. As I start to ask why he wrote on the fridge, again, I realize what he is saying to me. "A clue! A clue!" Just like his friends, Blue and Steve.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Archiving A Website

Jen of Searching for Me recently posted about archiving her website from Typepad. I truly appreciate this posting as I need to the same to my own blog. I want to keep it for my kids, but also, because I journal. Or used to, at least. It's more difficult to do these days, but I try to through my blog. I just need to remember sometimes, that the very people I wish to write about will be reading it. Then I follow the excellent advice of Anne Lamont from Bird by Bird. When writing about people you know, she states, give them an unattractive feature, like a small penis. Then they won't believe that it could possibly be them.

His Dark Materials, a supplement

Philip Pullman has written a wide variety of children's novels, but the Dark Materials series is my favorite. He continues the story with Lyra's Oxford, a short story that takes place after the trilogy has ended. It's a slim volume, both front to back and top to bottom. Holding it while reading made me think of a secret journal or code book, instead of a novel. I loved being reminded of my tenth summer, when secretly reading diaries of my friends was one of the thrills each of us had. I hope that the release of this story signifies more novels of Lyra's world will be published. I'd hate to think that I've read all there is to about it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Something to do this Summer

The Oshkosh Public Library is sponsoring a summer reading program for teens called Express Yourself. Part of that expression includes catching a dream, a drumming circle, journalling and setting up a blog. (The last bit to be sponsored by yours truly.) Registration starts on May 31 at the Library's information desk or by calling 236-5202.


I started using Bloglines to keep track of the blogs I read. It's an aggregator, for those who aren't familiar with it. It feeds me the new items for each of the blogs I read. Using it is pretty straight forward and I like it better than checking each and every individual site. One feature that I only recently explored was the script it provides to post my feeds to my blog. I've added a few blogs that I read, but never adjusted my template. Thanks to Bloglines script, my blog roll will adjust as I change my feeds there.

Monday, May 23, 2005

One of Those People

Do you have one of those people in your life where no matter what you do, it isn't right? No matter how nice and pleasant you are, it just pisses them off? I had one a few years ago. No matter what my mood was, she was crabby at me. Pleasant to everyone else, but noticably crabby to me. Other people in the office commented on it. One even asked what I did to make her so mad. As I didn't know, I couldn't answer. I have a good idea, but nothing concrete. I have one of those people again. It doesn't seem to matter where I work, what grade level or position I am in, what clubs I join, what church I attend, it is inevitable that a some point in my dealings, another one of those people will be present. I have to speculate that the problem is me. But I've heard grumblings that others are having the same problem with the current person as well.

Another Fix in the Artemis Fowl Series

Eoin Coulfer did it again. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception is a brillant tale that twists every known convention of fairy tales, heros and antagonists. Imagine my delight when Artemis (antagonist) and Holly (protagonist) join forces and reawaken Artemis' memory in order to beat Opal, which, of course, they do. If you haven't read this delightful series, read the first book Artemis Fowl. See if you can resist the rest.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Happy Birthday, Raspberry Latte!

Today is the one year anniversary of my first post. Was it ever pathetic. I'd like to think that they have improved since then, but I am often delusional. I started posting because I wanted to learn more about HTML and web design. I have, but I still haven't learned enough to customize my template. I'm going to. That's my second year goal. I quickly realized that blogs work best if they have a theme of sorts. Sticking to it can be a challenge, but it can be done. I try to give stories of my life and day, but add in the things that interest me, along with local events. Shortly after I started posting, a very close relation passed away. I wrote about it here. It still is the best lesson that I learned in the last 365 days. What's your best lesson for the last year?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mom, I'm Bored

Wisconsin Online for all the things to do in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee area is covered pretty well, at least. The Valley could use something like this. It's a great place to find bike trails, bike tours, bird watching hotspots and local events. It's one of my stops to answer the age-old question, "What do you want to do today?"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Movie Industry

What was the last movie you saw in the theater? I think it was National Treasure with Nicholas Cage. An excellent movie recently released on DVD for $19.99. I know our tickets cost $16, since my husband and I pay out of one money pot. I'm pretty sure at least soda and popcorn were involved, but sometimes we find things in our pockets or my purse once we are already inside. I have no idea how that happens. If we did get the popcorn and soda there, it would have been the combo that's about $10. Crazy, isn't it? For $20 I could own the movie, but instead I had a one time experience with it on the big screen for $26. Every year the movie industry states that ticket sales are down. Every week, they report the highest grossing movie, usually making millions of dollars. Yet, I can own it for $20, if I am willing to wait 3-6 months for the DVD release. Sure I have to provide my own popcorn and soda, but for the extra six bucks, I can buy a box of microwave popcorn and a six pack of soda. If my fellow viewers prove to be talkers, I can throw popcorn or a pillow at them instead of shh-ing them to no avail. I am not subjected to a commercial loop or promos that I don't want to watch. And I get behind the scene clips that are usually as entertaining as the movie. Unless it is going to be totally awesome to see on the big screen, I'm skipping the theater and going straight to DVD section of Target.

Monday, May 16, 2005

It'a A Boy...or a Girl

The ducklings have hatched. My husband went out to check on them as he always does and comes back in, "I'm a father!" which really wasn't news as both of his boys were in the same room as us. We saw three of them in the crook of the tree. The momma duck has tolerated our looks and glances well. The babies are a little more adventurous and actually let my husband pet them. But yesterday afternoon, when he went to show them to a neighbor, they were gone already. We live near a creek and figured that she took them down there. They were already two days old, we figure. I'm just glad we didn't have to haul out the Baby Names book.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Concrete Light Bulb

This looks absolutely fab. I need to make one for my desk at work.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

It's only 226 days until Christmas

My husband says that I'm impossible to buy for. That he never knows what to get me. I decided to help him out by setting up a wish list at a few of my favorite stores. Just click on the link below and search for my name. It will show you what I've been wishing for. This is more fun than a wedding registry, let me tell ya' Amazon.com and click the link "Wish Lists." When you search for my name, use the one with the right birthday. Evidently there is another me out there. NordicNeedle.com and click the link "Search Wish Lists."

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

There's Another Side to Every Story

And Marian Keyes captures it in The Other Side of the Story. The novel begins with Gemma, whose father has just left her mother. Gemma herself was recently jilted when Lily stole her boyfriend. Lily just published a best seller and now JoJo, her agent, calmoring for the next book. JoJo is looking for her next best selling author and believes that it might just be Gemma, who has been writing about her own life. Or at least, what she wishes it was. This is the first Marian Keyes novel I've read, but I'm going back for more.

Google compared to Wal-Mart

Is it possible that Google is the Wal-mart of the electronic world? Wired seems to think so.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Interactive Food Pyramid

Remember health class? The four food groups and the lovely square, at least if you are my age or older. I remember the shift to the pyramid, in order to incorportate fats and oils and split fruits and veggies into two categories. But the USDA has hit the 21st century and gone hi-tech. The new Pyramid is interactive based on age, gender and activity level. If this isn't enough for your tracking needs, they also have added a food and exercise journal, much like eDiets or Weight Watchers online. It takes your 1 cup of Honey Nut Cheerios and converts it to the equivalent grain serving and the percentage of your daily intake that it meets. It's slow, but pretty cool, if interested in tracking your food intake in detail. The only glitch that I found was that the pyramid generated from age, gender and activity level is different than the comparitive one inside the food intake equivalent. The differences aren't huge, but enough that you should decide which really is the one to follow and remember the percents from the first chart, if it is the one to follow.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Rites of Spring, Part II

Rummage sales are a favorite past time in my house. For most of us, at least. My kids love being able to park the vehicle and walk from one to the next, in search of treasures. I love looking for bargains that I want, know someone that whats it, or never knew that I had a need for it until I spotted it in the seller's garage. For instance, the wicker baker's rack and chair that I got last summer were a steal. As soon as I saw them I knew that they would be perfect in my back porch, even though I hadn't actually been looking for them. Books are one of those things that we always find on sale. My kids love to read and I love finding them for 10, 25 or 50 cents. My husband seems to have missed the finer points of rummaging. It's not so much about getting it done, unlike running errands. It's more about the time spent looking for those unknown treasures, walking from one to the next and the time spent together. I have obnoxious kids, I'm the first to admit it. But when it comes to rummage sales, the five year old has an agenda -- look for SpongeBob, Thomas, books and Blue's Clues. Movies and books are the stacks he looks for first, going for the toys last while I persue the adult books and kid's clothes. He is pretty good, unless it is close to lunch or there isn't anything for him to look at. Our rummaging party this last weekend included my husband. It wasn't until after I threatened to drop him off at home, that he understood I was serious about not rushing and taking our time. The kids weren't behaving nearly as bad and he thought and yes, we weren't looking for anything in particular, we were just looking. If he plans to come each and every time I go, I'm going to have to train him a bit better. After all, this is definitely an activity where the journey is more important than the end.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Novels of Self

Laurie Notaro has got to be one of the bravest writers I know. Average Jane mentioned her on her blog, once upon a time, and I noted the name, curious to see what sort of stories Jane was reading. I am always surprised that people intentionally read non-fiction. I usually come across it by accident, as I had when I picked up Pledged. It was in the Lucky Day section and caught my eye. Ms Notaro writes tales of her life. The first book The idiot girls' action adventure club contains the tales that anyone who is single would normal wish to hide. Or, at least, pretend during the re-telling that it happened to a friend rather than yourself. I laughed outloud at her descriptions of the crazy corners of her life that most of us won't admit to having. The second book Autobiography of a Fat Bride didn't make me laugh outloud. I still enjoyed it, but not to the same degree that I did the first. Perhaps her tales of new marriage and growing old struck a little too close to home. Or, perhaps, it just wasn't as good as the first. At the time of this posting, these are the only books of Ms Notaro's that the Oshkosh Public library has. I plan to keep an eye out for others, should more crop up.

Recent Referrer Stats

Ever since I posted about wanting email quizzes (thanks, by the by, Kelli) I have been getting tons of page hits from people looking for them. I haven't a clue to whether or not this is the sort of one that they are looking for, but I aim to please. Kelli sent me two versions, which I then combined and promised to return to her once I had completed them with my character descriptions for the latest novel I am working on. (See, Kelli? I didn't forget, I just haven't gotten them down yet.) The questions are... 1. What is your full name? 2. What color underwear are you wearing? 3. What are you listening to right now? 4. Legs crossed? 5. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? 6. How is the weather right now? 7. Last person you talked to on the phone? 8. First things you notice about the opposite sex? 9. Do you like the person who sent you this? 10. How are you today? 11. Favorite drink? 12. Favorite alcoholic drink? 13. Hair color? 14. Eye color? 15. Do you wear contacts? 16. Siblings? 17. Favorite food? 18. Last movie you watched? 19. Favorite day of the year? 20. Saturday or sunday? 21. Are you too shy to ask someone out? 22. Summer or winter? 23. Hugs or kisses? 24. Chocolate or vanilla? 25. Do you want your friends to write back? 26. Who's most likely to respond? 27. Who is least likely to respond? 28. Living arrangements? 29. What books are you reading? 30. Did you wake up before your alarm went off? 31. Buttered, plain, or salted popcorn? 32. Favorite crisps? 33. Favorite car(s)? 34. Were you named after anyone 35. Do you wish on stars? 36. When did you last cry? 37. Do you like your handwriting? 38. What is your favorite lunch meat? 39. What is your birth date? 40. What is your most embarrassing cd? 41. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? 42. Do you have a journal? 43. What are your nicknames? 44. Would you bungee jump or sky dive? 45. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? 46. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? 47. Shoe size? 48. Silver or gold? 49. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? 50. Who do you miss most? 51. What color pants and shoes are you wearing? 52. Last thing you ate? 53. Favorite sport? 54. What did you watch last night on tv? 55. Favorite sounds? 56. East coast rap or down south? 57. What's the furthest you've been from home? 58. Do you have a special talent? 59. What is the biggest secret that you’ve kept and for how long?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

On Being a Woman

I've been reading Jory Des Jardins' blog Pause... for some time now. I like her sense of humor and style of writing. In a parallel universe, I'd be Jory. Her latest post What do Women Want had me nodding my head in recoginition and, occasionally, embarassment as I found traits of myself in her post. She recently attended a marketing seminar focused on marketing to women. Her thoughts about the seminar reflect what I feel on most days.

I mean, I'm a woman by definition, but I've never felt I was a typical female. I've spent an inordinate amount of time being the anti-female. Not male, per se, but not exactly a card-carrying, silicone inserting, meal skipping, child-bearing, strappy-heel-wearing type either. I figured perhaps they could enlighten me, as I often struggle with that question; not so much, "What do women want?" but "What do I want?" Maybe, by being surrounded by other women who could provide statistic breakdowns of what we seem to want, I would get some ideas. Maybe, along with some swag and a few business cards I'd score an epiphany. I felt fortunate being there on a don't-really-need-to-know basis. Those whose livelihoods depend on marketing to women are fairly screwed; imagine resting your career on an ever-shifting market. The opening presentation, given by Frank About Women, asserted that demo targeting is a no-no when marketing to women. Afterall, who is, say, the typical mother of a small child? Today, she's in her teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or older if she's the primary caretaker of a grandchild. She's got a husband, or no husband, or maybe a wife. She spends her husband's money, or she spends her money on her husband. She floats between monikers of stay-at-home Mom, career woman, desperate housewife, DIY home renovator. Whoever she is, she prefers that you provide her with a solution, not a lifestyle option--she's already made her choices there, thank you.
Read on at Jory's site.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Home Sick, Part II

Everything is better, today. As it turns out, the baby did have croup, but is doing remarkably well. Today it is me that is homesick. Not actually sick, I'll be going to work, but I want to stay home with him another day, just to play with him and be with him. Yesterday really showed me some of what I'm missing by being a working mom. Maybe a rich relative that I know nothing about will leave me enough money so that I can. On the other hand, by the end of this next weekend, I'll probably be ready to go back to work on Monday as they will have driven me nuts over the weekend. Never can have what we want, eh?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Home Sick

It's not me, though, it's the youngest. This is the worst part of being a parent. He woke-up with a raspy breathing and cough. No fever; it's a little below normal actually. I'm thinking, I'll stay home from work and my husband thinks, he can go to daycare. I have no idea which is the right response. Am I being too cautious? Is my husband too practical? Afterall, every other time we've taken him into the doctors, it has been a virus that they can't/don't treat. Who's to say that today isn't any different? I erred on the side of caution, but I'll probably being kicking myself after the doctor's appointment. Anyway, I'm at home today, instead of working. Well, I'm still working, just not at work.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bookworm Report, April 2005

You have to live in Wisconsin to truly appreciate snow on the first day of May. I'm so ready for warm weather. I haven't rode bike in two weeks I bet. For the month of April, I read 2,606 pages or 8 books. In 2001, I read 3,027 pages/15 books; 2002, 1,858 pages/3 books; 2003, 2,589 pages/6 books; 2004, 1,166 pages/3 books.

For the year, I've read 30 books, or 9,877 pages, which averages to 8 books a month, or 2,469 pages per month, and an average book length of 329 pages. I really need to get out more.