Sunday, April 30, 2006

Leggett's Creek

After going to a retirement party for my uncle I went to Leggett's Creek to take some pictures with Mom's new camera, which we both adore. I went to my usual spot and took this one:

Then I went to the lower part of the creek. I haven't been down there in years and forgot where the deep parts were, so I came home soaked to the knees. The shoes I didn't give a fig for; they're already pretty much dead anyway. This is one of the pictures I took down there, making me remember why I like the upper part so much:

Why do people do this?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Publishers' Monopolies

When Catherine Coulter came out with Lyon's Gate, I declared a partial boycott of Penguin Books. I just can't bring myself to pay full price for the books in the new format. I wait until they get to my used book store (where everybody knows my name - my own personal Cheers). I even forbid myself from reading bits of them at Borders, since I know I won't be buying them there.

I've compared books in the regular and new formats and simply don't see enough of an improvement to warrant an extra $2 to $3. There is a minute increase of space between the lines but the obvious increase is the space around the edges. It's unnecessary and only serves to make the book larger. They say this makes it easier to read the book, but I've noticed no difference in ease of reading. In fact, they're harder to hold. If they truly had wanted to make it easier to read the books, then Penguin Books should have made them large-print trades, which they didn't. Penguin Books has cited the paper quality is improved. It is a little thicker and less see-through than other books, cool. However I, at least, was quite satisfied with the paper quality before. We didn't need the change.

I know that anyone reading this who knows what I'm referring to is wondering why I'm posting about something that happened almost a year ago. Well, I'm affected by it every four to six months. Catherine Coulter's Lyon's Gate was the last of her Sherbrooke series, so I can ignore anything else she publishes now. All of the other authors, but one, I've never liked. The exception is Christine Feehan.

Christine Feehan has two series coming out in this new format, both of which I read and collect because I enjoy the series so much. I've gotten all of those in the new format so far at The Book Swap for about $5.75 - a definite improvement over $9.99 plus tax. However, I have to wait to get them until someone else turns them in. I just got Dark Demon yesterday and it came out March 28th.

I know I sound whiny, but this format change angered me (and still does) so much that I wrote a letter to Penguin Books and carbon copied it to both Christine Feehan and Catherine Coulter when Lyon's Gate came out. I never received a reply from any of them - not even a form letter thanking me for taking the time to let them know how I felt they were doing, even if they disagreed with me.

I still buy books from Penguin Books. I don't have much of a choice, do I? With most industries a person can write a letter or in some way effect a change if something bothers them, but not the publishing industry. They have us over a barrel and they know it. We get addicted to the written word and our favorite authors, then the publishers change things on us - all in a move to make more money. Yes, yes, this is capitalism at work and their sole purpose is to make money, but where does business stop and exploitation begin?

In a way, I feel guilty about boycotting buying Feehan's books where she'd get the profits for the sale. After all, this is her living. However, by agreeing to be published in the new format, she sort of invited it from people like myself who have to plan out carefully what books they buy. I only work in retail (good wage, comparatively - but books are an expensive hobby) and I only have one small bedroom to store my books plus myself, my clothing and nearly everything else I own. I still have books in storage (for the last three years!).

A similar instance is with authors going hardcover. Congrats to them, they've made it to the Big Leagues of the Publishing World. Now I get to wait another six months to a year for the story. I'm actually happy (usually) for the authors of hardcover books at the same time my inner word addict is shouting "Why? Why? Nooooooooo!" Hardcover means more in the royalty checks, which means the bills and such get paid better and they can (hopefully) concentrate more on the next story, thereby getting it to me faster and feeding my "book habit", as I call it.

I just don't have the money or space for either hardcovers or the new, bulky format. Maybe others do and see no problems. I wish I was one of them. I also wish Penguin Books, Catherine Coulter and Christine Feehan had at least done me the courtesy of explaining what they feel the benefits are of the format change and why they did it. Even a letter saying, "We don't need your stinking money!" would have been preferable to being totally dismissed and ignored.

I need a new addiction.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Jumping The Mother's Day Gun

I just got Mom a camera for Mother's Day. I'm giving it to her today because I can't wait. I'll give her a card later. The camera is a Fuji Finepix 3100. It was originally $350 at work, but I got it for $85 with my discount, the camera being on clearance and a former display model. Wahoo! You can actually hold the damned thing and not be afraid to either lose or break it. It records short movies and you can use the viewfinder or the LCD screen. It can also take other lenses. It only has a 16mb xd-Picture Card, but I'm pricing larger cards already.

Here is the picture I took to give her a start. She was raised calling violets "bluebells" and they remain one of her favorite flowers.

I hope she likes it.


She likes it, she likes it. She was actually going to buy one at work tomorrow. It was a dinky little thing. This one's much better. She was happy.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Miscellany 2

The garden's in. I finished planting it last night. I was going to finish it today, but it's raining, it's pouring, the old woman is snoring...

In seven to ten days, I should see some shoots, hopefully. I really hope the Bells of Ireland grow.

By the way, I'm adding a new artist to my favorite singers list: Jack Johnson. I got the Curious George soundtrack weeks ago and have just gotten another album of his. He's also a member of One Percent for the Planet. It's kinda cool. Check it out.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Caregiving And Cultural Differences?

My friends and I were talking at lunch the other day about China's population woes. Of course, we have our own population problems here, but those are issues for a different post. This one is about caregiving.

In Chinese culture, the son supports and cares for the parents in old age. In Western cultures, the opposite is true. Well, I should say the daughters care for the parents if there are any (daughters) the majority of the time. Why is this? (I do know of at least two cases among my extended family or friends where the son is the caregiver. In one case, he was the only child. In the other, the mother prefers him to take care of her major needs, but one of his sisters does a lot of the daily work, too.)

Both cultures raise their daughters to be nurturers. I seem to remember an Irish proverb or blessing that had something along the lines of this in it: "May you have a daughter to comfort you in your old age." I can't find it at the moment, but I know I've heard it. You know, strong sons to work the land and a daughter to comfort you, yadda yadda. How do Chinese sayings refer to daughters? What about Indian sayings? Arab? Israeli? The various African tribes? The South American tribes? I know what most Western societies think.

I feel this is a valid question. How do other cultures deal with caregiving? Who does the majority of the daily work? Do the parents move in with the caregiver, or does the caregiver move in with the parents? Are extended families involved? I should ask my aunt if there are any studies on this.

Incidentally, I think she's been taken over by a pod. My grandma, too. Both are being positively pleasant lately. They must be softening up my mother and me for a major offensive.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Nice Kids and a good news article

Yesterday I went to see Thank You For Smoking, which was quite good. While I was waiting in line to buy my ticket there were about six young boys in front of me buying tickets to The Benchwarmers. In front of them were two elderly women. The boys were full of high spirits, teasing each other and a little shovey (is that even a word?). Well, as the two women were walking away, one's purse fell open and her change rolled out. The boy that seemed to be the leader of the little group immediately knelt down and started helping her pick it up. One of the others joked that he shouldn't steal her money and was smacked by another and told to "Shut up!" When he was done helping her, the boy gave her the money: she thanked him and he calmy started to order his ticket. A few seconds later the woman put a quarter or something in front of him, he said "Thank you" and went back to ordering the ticket. It was all over and done with in a minute or two, but it gave me hope for the rest of the day. Young boys with good manners and politeness, how cool is that?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

Well, I got half of the flower garden cleared out before the rain hit today. I still have to remove the azalea that is not growing back and dig out and turn over the earth of the other half. I'll be doing that tomorrow after work and planting my seeds on Saturday morning. I want to get it all done before TAFH gets here on Saturday morning, so she doesn't decide to "help" me. She'll pick out the plants she thinks should go in there and just plant them. She's done it before. Oops. I'll need to get some seed markers so she doesn't just get creative anyway. I also need some larkspur or snapdragon seeds. Maybe both.

Here's the list of plants that will be growing (if the gardening gods are with me, that is):

Growing on a trellis I'll be building out of six or seven foot dowel rods and twine. The morning glories should be open from morning until early afternoon. The four o'clocks open from early afternoon until night. The moonflowers open at night and stay open until the morning.:
Moonflowers: large, white flowers on a vine
Morning Glories: Burpee Mix, Grandpa Ott (deep purple), Milky Way (white with rose-star accent) - vines
Four o'Clocks: Burpee Mix - shrubby plant

Spread around the trellis and the rest of the flower patch:
Ipomopsis: a yellow, red and salmon annual that attracts hummingbirds
Oriental Poppy: a bright red perennial that will bloom next year.
Delphinium: a blue, stalky perennial that might bloom this year.
Viola: a blue, yellow, cream and purple mix of perennials. These are for Mom. She loves "bluebells", or violets. These are pretty close.
Lavatera: pink, white, rose and salmon blooms that last until the first frost; an annual.

I found a hummingbird/butterfly mix with all of these in it that I'll spread somewhere:
Crimson Clover, Annual Blue Flax, Austrian Winter Pea, Annual Baby's Breath, Four O'Clocks, Dwarf Cornflower, Dwarf Cosmos, California Poppy, Sweet William Pinks, Annual Gaillardia, Candytuft, Bishops Flower, Sweet Alyssum, Black-Eyed Susan, Siberian Wallflower, Rocket Larkspur, Scarlet Sage, Gilia, Annual Red Phlox, Spurred Snapdagon.

I'm not quite sure where I'll spread this out, actually. I might end up getting some flower boxes for the porch.

Anyway, I'm having fun.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Truly significant scientific research!

I found this extremely important study of library usage while wandering the web. I think it would be beneficial to everyone visiting here to check it out.

After looking at that, check out three other pages similarly inclined.

The P---s Page
P--- Research
The Big List of P---s Links

Cheers and have a Peepy Easter!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Democratic Primary - Pennsylvania Senate Seat

Alright, I've been paying very little attention to the whole thing, other than my extreme desire to see Santorum ousted as painfully as possible. The man's a bloody menace. I figured, like most Demmies, I guess, that I'd vote for Casey and be done with it. One small problem, Casey's sounding an awful lot like Santorum in disguise.

I just checked out the websites of the other two Demmies running for the Senate and was much more impressed by one of them: Chuck Pennacchio from Buck's County. Alan Sandals also appealed to me in a way, but maybe I was more impressed by the depth of the answers Pennacchio gave on the issues on his site. He went more in depth and actually mentioned solutions and ideas rather than vague "We need to find solutions to this that and the other thing."

Here are the various websites, including the Devil's Spawn - er - Rick Santorum's, in case anyone actually wants to vote for him (WHYWHYWHYWHYWHY!!!!!?????). ;p

Please get out and vote for whoever your chosen candidate is. A democratic republic is only as strong as the voters. If you want to vote Republican, vote. If you want to vote Democrat, vote. If you are an Independent and still want to vote in the Primary, you must register as either Repubbie or Demmie by April 17th! The title is a link to the voter registration site for anyone who wants to register. Please do so. Remember, if you don't vote, you can't complain later on.

Alphabetically, so no overt favoritism is shown. *coughPennacchiocough* Nyah Nyah.
Bob Casey
Chuck Pennacchio
Alan Sandals
Rick Santorum

Also, here is a pdf of the listing of 2006 Primary candidates for Pennsylvania offices. Check for your area and see who's running.

Cheers and get out and vote!

Monday, April 10, 2006

New Blog

For some odd reason, I've decided to create a new blog: History's Shadow. It's obviously a history site. I'm going to try to find something or someone notable from each day and post a small blurb about them and links to other research. I think I'll ignore some of the better-known facts and people in favor of obscure or unique events - like today's article about Madame Lalaurie, a woman who tortured her slaves in New Orleans until she was caught and driven out of town. Tomorrrow's will be about an astronomer. Eclectic will be the best way to describe the blog.

Any suggestions will be welcome.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wikipedia Birthday Meme

Birthday Wikipedia Meme

Find three events, two birthdays and one death using Wikipedia that happened on your birthday.

June 4
780 BC - The first historic solar eclipse is recorded in China.
1939 - Holocaust: The SS St. Louis, a ship carrying 963 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida, United States, after already having been turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, most of its passengers later die in Nazi concentration camps.
1989 - The Tiananmen Square protests are suppressed in Beijing and are covered live on television.
470 BC - Socrates, Greek philosopher (d. 399 BC)
1928 - Dr. Ruth Westheimer, German-American sex therapist and author
1942 - Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi official (b. 1904) – architect of the Final Solution

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Pirate Movie

"Mabel, your goosebumps have grown!"

Any purist fans of Gilbert & Sullivan probably had a heart attack when this wonderful movie came out. Kristy MacDonald and Christopher Atkins play the star-crossed lovers from G&S's Pirates of Penzance in an 80's rocked-up, campy version.

They had to have a great time filming this movie. It's so much fun to watch.

It was out of print for years and they finally came out with it again about a year ago. Widescreen, even. How perfect is that? Actually, it was a really good thing, because we had killed the vhs tape it was on years ago. I was in Pirate Movie withdrawal.

Now, if they could just bring out an unpirated edition of the soundtrack, everything would be hunky-dory.


What Tarot card are you?

I stole this blogthing from a friend of mine, Wyckedkittie. I find it disturbing and at the same time very cool.

You Are The Moon

You represent the unconscious side of life, what happens in dreams.
You are capable of great genius - but also of great madness.
Emotions tend to be primal for you, both your fears and your fantasies.
Your intuition is always right, listening to it is the difficult part.

Your fortune:

You are about to embark on a very important journey - and a very difficult one.
Some of your deepest dreams will be realized, as well as some of your deepest nightmares.
Follow your creativity and visions; stay away from your weaknesses.
You are taking a voyage to the center of yourself, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Synonyms (A Grandma Update)

Grandma got her sutures out on Friday. She had a seizure while she was at the doctor's office and was put on two extra Keppra a day. For anyone luckily not in the know, Keppra can make a person "irritable". Irritable is such a weak word for it; it truly is. My precious Random House dictionary defines irritable as "easily irritated or annoyed; readily excited to impatience or anger." One of the synonyms is irascible, which apparently means "habitually angry or easily aroused to anger." I tend to think this is more appropriate for my grandmother.

She is trapped in a failing body and is ready to leave, I think. So, she takes her frustration out on the two easiest targets: Mom and I. Last night it was because I made dinner. However, I made chicken and rice. According to my grandmother I would be lost without rice because that's all I make (not true). It is simply the easiest thing that I can make well. She hates it when I make pasta. She hates it when I make potatoes lately (please don't ask me why). She hates meat. She hates vegetables. She's living on pierogies, waffles (at times) and a few other things she'll actually eat for Mom and Bea. For me she fights practically everything.

I just want the same grandmother my cousins and brother have. She treats them nicely, decently and lovingly. She is interested in what they do. She laughs at jokes they make. She makes jokes with them. Why can't I have her too?

I ended up crying last night. I don't cry easily. I learned a long time ago that it just makes people think that you're weak and need to get over things/toughen up. I just couldn't help it. I called Mom at work to ask her for an idea of what I could make and she suggested a baked potato (which she didn't want). I ended up crying on the phone. I, of course, apologized to her, but she was saying it was okay to cry. I know it is at times, but I've been taught at the same time (by experience) that it's never okay to cry. You cry and people think you can't function in the real world, which is rough so shut up and get tough. Mom said I should let Grandma see that I had been crying; that it might make her realize what she says and does hurts me. Yeah, right. My grandmother is the original stoic. She doesn't cry for anything. I imagine she cried when my grandfather and her parents died, but that's about it. She's bottled everything inside and is now letting it out in full force on Mom and I.

Is this what I'll become?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

New York, New York

I just have to say it. I love New York. I can easily see myself living there after I get my degrees. I would love to work at the New York Public Library or the National Archives.

My trip wasn’t entirely successful; I didn’t find Concordia; however, the librarian at the Rare Books room feels the same way I do about it. It’s definitely heavy on the Catholic symbolism. I think I’ll try the Diocese and Vatican archives again. I did fill in little things and some details about the other printers, though. I’ll have some fun plugging the data into the list as it is. I wasn’t able to get the Roberts book, so I think I’ll have to lose the explanation for Elzevir’s mark. I can’t footnote it without the page number. Ah, well. Maybe on my second edition of the pamphlet (after I actually find Concordia) I’ll be able to add it. I may say I’m giving up, but I think I’ve discovered yet another lifelong obsession. Hah, “discovered”!? I’ve been at this about ten years now. I think it qualifies, along with genealogy research (and frogs) as an obsession.

Oh, just an aside. As Mom was driving me to the bus stop today, I saw a truck for Bates Casket Company. Just before we crossed out of Jersey and into New York, I saw yet another. I know you’re wondering why this is significant. After all, one often sees the same truck company in different places. Well, it’s only significant because I had noted the company’s motto (printed on the trucks) when I saw the first truck. “Bates Casket Company: Committed to the dignity of life.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but who (other than Dracula) uses a casket while they are alive?

Anyway, the trip into New York took twice as long as it should have. We left at 7:35 as scheduled and immediately hit the snowstorm. The driver took the turnpike and went around the worst area of 380 and we ended up at the Mt. Pocono exit after about one and a half hours. Traffic westbound was at a dead standstill for miles. We cruised along carefully. The drive through the storm was wonderful. Winter Wonderland truly defines it. Everything was covered in snow. It looked like Christmas. Of course, I was thanking the Gods for the sight at the same time I was imploring them not to let me get stuck and miss out on my chance at research. ;p

When we hit Delaware Water Gap, we had to pick up some poor commuters whose bus had died. One of the gentlemen said he’d called his boss to tell him why he was going to be late and the boss didn’t believe him that he was stuck in whiteout conditions. At that moment there was no snow in New York - at that moment. Hee hee. We got into New York around a quarter after 11 and went to the Port Authority to drop the commuters off. A couple of us got off there with them, including myself, since the Port Authority is closer to the library than the normal drop-off point.

We brought the snow with us. The storm chased right after us and brought flakes at least an inch and a half across. The snow couldn’t quite decide whether it wanted to be snow or rain, so it compromised. The huge flakes melted the second they touched anything and soaked everything. It was great. I got into the library soaking wet and look like a drowned rat in my picture for the library card. So much for trying to look nice today. I look like I took a handful of downers. The flash caught me in a blink.

It was a good day, even if I didn’t find Concordia. I didn’t really expect to, to tell you the truth. I figured I’d just be filling things in. I don’t know why. Maybe I’ve just lost any real hope of ever identifying Concordia. It’s been a mystery so long now. One of these days, I’ll turn around and there it’ll be, I think. Maybe I’ll get into cataloguing and creating a database of printer’s marks. I’ll be scanning them into the computer one day and it’ll be the next one. Actually, the librarian and I were talking about that. He (and I) was bemoaning the fact that the most famous marks that everyone knows get put into these databases, but not the obscure marks.

Everyone needs something to search for, right? Besides, it gives me an excuse to take a trip to another library when the opportunity presents itself. What a hardship.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

She's Home (A Grandma Update)

Well, she's laying on the couch watching Duck Soup as I type. Well, the end of it, anyway, since the Marx brothers just pitched rolls at Mrs. Teasdale and the credits came on. She's very unsteady. Mom and I are sleeping downstairs for the next few nights. I get tonight and Tuesday. We'll see how everything goes.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

On the Road Again...

I just had to share this. I'm off to New York City on Wednesday to do some research. Grandma will be home by then (theoretically) and Mom is off, so she won't be alone. Yippee!

Now, to something interesting. I see them all the time, but had to add one of my own, finally. Here is a map of the countries I've been to. Pathetic list, eh? Ah, well. I'll have to work on increasing the amout of red.

Get your own Visited Countries Map from Travel Blog

I know there's a site that does one for the states you've visited, too. Let me see if I can find it...

Here we go:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Of course, some of the red has been accomplished by driving through some of those states, but a lot of it is because of visits or living in them. Anyway, eventually all of the map will be red, poor Canada will be represented and then the world map will also be totally colored. I really need to hit the Powerball tonight.