31 August 2006

Nothing "mid-evil" about it

How cool is this?!?

Update your Periodic Tables NOW!

A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Bushcronium." Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an Atomic mass of 311. These 311 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. The symbol for Bushcronium is "W."

Bushcronium's mass actually increases over time, since each reorganization causes more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Bushcronium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass."

When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates Foxnewsium, an element which radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since it has 1/2 as many peons but twice as many morons.

(Thanks to Mary Jo Waldo for this)

30 August 2006

First day of school

At long last, the first day of school arrived today. Ethan was, as you can imagine, beyond excited! Last night before bed he practiced opening his Cars lunchbox, using his backpack, etc. He even declared that the wanted to make his own lunch!

As you can see from the first picture here, he opted for an old standby, PB cracker sandwiches. he makes a mean PB cracker sandwich though, so I was happy for him to have these for lunch.

Ethan was a great sport about us taking a zillion pictures of him. We did the deck, in the house, and also on the front porch (seen here). It was only after we got to school and I wanted to document his walk down the sidewalk into the building that he seemed to realize how silly I was being with all the paparazzi action. (I stopped!)

Today was a full day with other kids whose last names begin with P-Sm (I think). He'll find out who his teacher is Friday during a meet the teacher hour, and begin in his regular classroom next Tuesday, the day after Labor Day.

27 August 2006

Spending time with a dictator & a Mexican food

Well, it's Back To School time, and I find myself surrounded by a colorful assortment of characters once again. I have one student whose name is disturbingly similar to that of a former dictator, another named for a Mexican recipe, and another who reminds me of a former Soviet leader. Were they intentionally named for these men and items, I doubt it, but then, I sorta doubt they even know these things exist. They're that on top of things. I've got people from all over too - several from OK, one guy from the West Indies (!), and two in Hawaii. Gotta love the Internet!

Seriously, though I know I will be pulling my hair out trying to explain what an apostrophe is and how to use it (and, that it's not the same as a quotation mark!), I do admire these people. From what I know, many of them have had far from great educational experiences in the past, so even being willing to try again says something for them.

25 August 2006

Project Rungay

If you've not already been there, you need to get yourself over to Project Rungay right now for the best, most hilarious blogging of Project Runway ever.

24 August 2006

Slo-Mo Home Depot

I SO wish I'd been a part of Slo-Mo Home Depot. Why does everyone else get to have all the fun?

More "divine design"? ;-)

In my wack-a-doo house with the marshmallow couch (see my post on 11 Aug about that), I think I shall complement the piece with the Concerto iPod table.

Pulling my hair out

In what part of the universe would it ever be a good idea to tell one's writing instructor on Day 3 of a new class that you don't think spelling and grammar should always "count" when writing?!? Would you be surprised that such statements might send your instructor into orbit? See, I ask this because I, being a normal person, think spelling and grammar always count. If only my students agreed...

It should be an interesting block of classes!

When not dealing with these bright lights, I'm slogging through an editing job on the most wordy, densely packed ms on 16th century Italian art with mythological themes you could ever imagine. The contrasts here are staggering.

16 August 2006

Snakes on a Plane

As Samuel L. Jackson said back in 2005, Snakes on a Plane – it’s exactly what it sounds like. They changed the name to “Pacific Flight 121,” But there seems to be a clamor for it to go back to “Snakes on a Plane” and I’m part of the “Snakes on a Plane” group - that’s one of the reasons I took the job. I either want to see that movie or I don’t. Because that’s what it is.

Well, it's more than just a movie, as you can read here.

As for me, I love reading the net chatter about the movie, how fans have affected the script, etc, but I'll pass on it. (See, Sam was right - the name tells me all I need to know.) I'm way more interested in seeing Edward Norton in The Illusionist.

14 August 2006

12 August 2006

After touring Molvania...

After I've completed my tour of Molvania, Phaic Tan, and Mustachistan, I plan to head over to Turkmenistan to visit the world's newest great pyramid.

I love the 'stans!

11 August 2006

Congratulations, Mike!

Congratulations, Mike! They're lucky to have you, though we will miss you and Liz!

(sniff, sniff)

Magnetic attraction

As you know, I am, nothing if not the soul of practicality in all things. As such, I think it's time to place and order for this bed which can also serve as a dining table or plinth. You know what a pain it is to have to leave the dining room and go aaaaaalllllllll the way upstairs to sleep, so I see this as a really handy, practical item for the home.

While I'm buying practical furniture, have I mentioned how much I love the Nelson Marshmallow sofa (above)? I'd never put it in the house, but would love to have a lobby someplace to use it.

10 August 2006

I am a cool mom :-)

I am officially a cool mom, or at least, an influential one. As I type, Ethan is laying on the floor in my office, playing trains and singing "Vogue," by Madonna. He stops every now and then to vogue. (Mitch taught him how on one of our trips this year.) I already loves that he begs to hear Bono and steals my shades cos they look like fly shades on him, but this is, perhaps, true evidence that he's a Cool Kid. It's one thing to think Bono is tha bomb (that just shows superior intelligence), but to also choose other cool music indicates to me that he's being raised properly. Though really, should I be surprised he likes Madge? When pregnant with him he always freaked out and kicked extra hard when I played Prince CDs.

The Wayback Machine

Special kudos go to Liz today, for this supercool link. I got "Silent Running" by Mike & the Mechanics stuck in both our heads at lunch today (while talking about 80s songs I HATE, no less!), so she really would have been justified in sending me something awful as retribution.

You're a good friend, Liz, I owe you! :-)

09 August 2006

Search me

Two recent events have got me thinking about how our online selves could appear to those who don't know us, but encounter us this way. The first thing that got me thinking about this was my friend Gillian's own blog post to this effect. Then, this article in the NY Times about the accidental release of AOL search data has made me think on it even more. What would someone think if they got hold of my search data? (And really, what might I think of myself if I saw all my Google queries laid out in black and white?)

Out of curiosity, i've looked up my own search history for the past few days:
nc click @ dmv
brushed nickel clock
"i'd buy that for a dollar"
comma picture
david huffman
depeche mode construction time again
bedford desk

So, what does this tell you? Not much. Off hand, it doesn't even tell me that much! I have no idea who David Huffman is, though I do vaguely remember googling him... You can see I looked up some links and pictures for use on this blog, and you might surmise that I realized this morning that one of my cars' tags had expired.* I can only imagine what odd things I might find if I went back over the past three months, like the woman in the article.

A year or so ago I was doing a heavy edit for an ESL client pursing a Masters degree in Economics at the Australian National University. He was from the UAE, and had written his thesis on the economic ties between UAE and Australia. As any decent editor does, I checked a zillion of the sources he'd cited, noting when data was needed, missing, etc, and so had quite an array of information in my search history. If you'd been reading it, you might have seen me query many of the UEA's government Web sites, information about Emirates Airline and their flights to Oz, NYC, and other parts of the world, where to find halal food in Canberra and Sydney, and would have come across several Arabic-only sites. I shudder to think what one paranoid, Patriot Act-loving government official might have made of my innocent searches. Was I looking to see when and where Emirates flies so I could do something illegal? Some might wonder, what with my choice of the Arab-owned carrier, but really, I was looking at how often they flew because many UAE wholesalers fly fresh fruits, veggies, and flowers to Oz every day during the winter.

Though I'm not too worried about my data being out there (or else I'd not have shared the above search query list), it does give me pause. Who are we, and how does what we look for and think about reveal things we might or might not want others peeking in on?

*It was the Saab, Mitch, and I've already taken care of it :-)

08 August 2006

I'm one of "those fans"

Yeah, I will admit - I'm one of "those fans" he's referring to here (though I've never written a letter of protest to a critic).

Check out this article in Entertainment Weekly about an upcoming Michael Hutchence biopic.

LOL about the "definition of sex" comment - true, true...

My pick for who should play Michael? Well, I'd have said Val Kilmer back before he was claimed by Jim Morrison, but now not so much. I could live with Jonathan Rhys-Myers though.

This final pic is one of my favorites, taken in St Louis just two months before he died. The photographer? Mitch!

07 August 2006

An editor's dream, or nightmare?

It's articles like this that make me proud to be an editor. See, there IS something smart and good about listening to the editors, grammar pedants, and English teachers of the world!

Construction Time Again

Like the fabulous old Depeche Mode album, it's been construction time again here today. I'll begin teaching a full slate of classes in a few weeks, so it's time to stop dawdling and finally (after only 6 months...) get my office set up properly.

I'd done some preliminary looking online, but never could seem to find what I wanted at a price I was will to pay (who pays $2100 for a desk?!?) I also had it in my head that I wanted white bead-board style pieces (which would match our interior doors here), which is not the simplest look to find. Long story short, I went out looking this morning and fell in love with something totally different, the black furniture you see here (though I did not get the hutch that goes on the desktop). After only a few hours of building (and two trips schlepping it all home), I now have office furniture! Now i just need to get the boxes and boxes (and more boxes still) of stuff labeled "Nanci's office" out of the garage and into some sort of decent order. I think I'll wait on that though till the skin on my hands stops aching from all the manual labor. I def. feel like a prole today ;-)

06 August 2006

Hey Mr DJ . . .

I firmly believe that God and the universe work to send us what we need when we need it. My iPod’s shuffle feature works this way, too. Now, I think this has extended to include random, self-made CDs. I keep tons of CDs in the car, the bulk of which are blanks I’ve burned myself and hastily scribbled a date onto with a black Sharpie marker. How I am to remember that “July 2005” will have a specific set of songs that “May 2004” does not I don’t know, but I do it anyway. Occasionally though, a CD will make it to the car without being labeled at all. Those are ones I view with a mixture of suspicion and excitement. I shouldn’t be suspicious, given that I was the author of the CD combo, but some mixes turn out better than others.

Today, as I was driving around alone (a rare and welcome event in and of itself!), I put in one of those unmarked CDs. Imagine my surprise to be greeted with songs that I’d not heard in (I’m not exaggerating) years. I’ve been on a bit of a Roxy Music kick lately, so hearing “Love is the Drug” was a treat, and so was “Do Wot You Do,” one of INXS' most infectious dance tunes ever. Here’s what the CD gods bestowed on me, and thus made my day with:

Uptown Girl – Westlife (live from the Brit awards, 2001)
Do Wot You Do – INXS
All Along the Watchtower – Lenny Kravitz
Dancing Barefoot – U2
Love is the Drug – Roxy Music
Breathless – The Corrs
Invisible Sun – Sting and U2
Praying for Time – George Michael
King of the Mountain – Midnight Oil
Spring Hill Mining Disaster – U2
Win/Lose – Ollie Olsen (from the "Dogs in Space" soundtrack)
Subterranean Homesick Blues – John Lennon
Sunday Bloody Sunday/Bad (from Live Aid) – U2
True Love – The Marching Girls (also from the "DIS" soundtrack)
Message in a Bottle/Fragile (live from Central Park) – Sting

Now, anyone who’s ever ridden any distance with me in a car can expect that U2, INXS, and Sting stuff, but the George Michael tunes are not what most people play anymore. I think this is sad. George, in spite of all his personal problems of late, remains one of the finest pop songwriters of his generation, I think. Sure, he has an over-exaggerated view of his prominence in the US, and bad taste in hook-ups, but I can forgive all that. I wish everyone else could. Me, I still listen to something by the man at some point nearly every day. At least he’s not gone the Boy George route and ended up organizing his own drug bust! ;-) That being said, if I was in Lower Manhattan on 14 Aug, I might well show up to see if Dalton Ross’ proposal bears fruit.

This is random, but does anyone know if the guy in the "Uptown Girl" video is the same actor who played David on Cold Feet?

My kind of camping

Now this is my kind of camping!

Read more about these nifty "tents" here.

The Solace of Leaving Early

I recently read a wonderful book, Haven Kimmel's The Solace of Leaving Early with my real-world book club. I enjoyed it so much that I recommended it to my online club. Most of the online members are in the Uk, however, and have had some trouble finding it. I logged on last night to see what people were saying was particularly enjoyed this reply. I think you will too.

There's something about librarians that, even now, puts me on my best behaviour. Memories of the junior class crocodile trooping into the local library and being awed by the elderly ladies who could silence 40 children with one "shh". They inhabited a strange world behind the tall counter, a world inhabited by card indexes and rubber stamps. Maybe they lived in the library, roaming the shelves at night and sleeping in the inner sanctum where ordinary mortals never entered.

Now, of course, libraries are different places, and most librarians look refreshingly normal. Some are even men, for heaven's sake! I approached one of the bright young things at the information desk.

"Do you have 'The Solace of Leaving Early'?"

"No", she replied, "I'm here till 7 when we close."

I gave an embarrassed smile and scuttled off to find another of the species. This one was more in the traditional mould and would have been recognized anywhere for what she was.

"I'm looking for 'The Solace of Leaving Early'."

She adjusted her ear trumpet and thought for a while before replying "'The Importance of Being Earnest'?"

We established that no, it was a different title, and that there were three copies in Cheshire, all of which were booked out and unlikely to be available for some time. Our library concentrates on the classics of literature - Jilly Cooper, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steele - so doesn't always have space for the more quirky volumes such as this.

My next stop was a popular high street bookseller where the staff are all impossibly young and good-looking. I mentioned the title to one of them. He disappeared into the basement and returned shortly with 'So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish', an undoubtedly worthy volume, but not quite what I wanted. Although, coincidentally, the song refers to the dolphins who left early, by their own means, before the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspatial bypass.

BTW, someone has offered to send the guy a copy from the US, so finally, he will, indeed, find some solace!

01 August 2006

It's all an allusion...

It's amazing what people don't get when they are reading. A friend of mine (thanks Kim!) just sent me this article about literary references. I love it.

Maim That Tune

Check this out whenever you have an earworm (the technical term for a song stuck in your head).

I Want My MTV

Today is MTV's 25th birthday. I remember back in The Good Old Days when they played videos. They were a major source for all that was cool, and MTV kept me busy, out of trouble, and away from my chemistry homework for more hours than I'd care to calculate.

Looking back on it, I would say that MTV played a huge role in the formation of my musical tastes. 120 Minutes and Post-Modern MTV (with Kevin Seal and Dave Kendall back when I was watching) not only exposed me to music not getting much airplay in Tulsa (and much of which I still listen to today), it also has left me able to conjure up a zillion different videos in my head whenever i hear their songs. For that, as weird as it sounds, I am grateful. As I say, one never knows when one will on Jeopardy and need this information!

The most shocking thing I ever saw on MTV came in 1989, when my beloved INXS (and even more beloved Michael Hutchence) appeared. Michael went from looking like this:

to appearing at the VMAs looking like this:

Now, this short haired picture isn't so bad, but the way he looked that night (I can't find a pic of it, sadly) was just not what my 15 yr old brain was wanting to see.

Other memorable things:

The game show Remote Control. The show had Colin Quinn, Adam Sandler, and Dennis Leary before anyone knew them apart from Sing Along With Colin, Stud Boy, etc. Oh how I want(ed) to be on that show! The final lightning round where the winner had to ID video clips was the best - I recall being amazing at that part of the show. Fr the record, I wanted to sit in the middle chair, so if I lost I'd be flipped upside down as I was drug back behind the wall.

Fav VJs: Martha Quinn, Kevin Seal, Chris Connelly, Adam Curry (big dandelion hair, silly chains leather jacket and all), and Downtown Julie Brown. I wonder if Kurt Loder is still there doing MTV News? (I hope Tabitha Soren is not.)

Oh, and yes, I will admit, I had Dial MTV's on my bedroom phone's speed dial so i could request the latest INXS, U2, Bon Jovi, or whoever video.

Wubba Wubba Wubba, good bye and God bless!