Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Anachronistic Mom Blog has Moved!

Hi there: With all due respect to Google, I started using Typepad and I just can't go back. So you can see what I'm up to over at the Anachronistic Blog, or you can also check out my postings at the Silicon Valley Mom's blog. Thanks for visiting! -K

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A little something on virgin births

I love Obsidian Wings. Here's a recent posting of theirs all about reptilian virgin births. A little something to carry into family discussions in the next two days...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

So how about a Gore/Clinton race?

Here's a delicious article from Mick LaSalle (of the SF Chron) talking about the case (historical and otherwise) for why Gore might end up running for president after all.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bitch.com? Hoo boy, some mommies should be out gardening!

Howdy. I have now moved beyond those wonderful toddler years of gardening and making bread, and am back into the computer industry. But I have a great idea for mommies who need to ramp back into the world. Bitch.com. Check it out.

How do you use those 2.0 apps, anyway?

You know, I'm a busy mom. I am doing some consulting work right now, and I'm right in the middle of trying to swim my way through the jello that is the current web 2.0 world. I hate shopping for tennis shoes now, because there are too many choices. Consider how I must feel about software, or even these new (!!) improved (!!) 2.0 services that I keep hearing about. Some of the products float in my periphery and I have always wondered what they were. I mean, I kind of know, but I've never really used the product. Other products suffer from "2.0 insufferability," which is to say that they have really zonked-out names (zapgidget, wranko, lomar... stuff like that), and when you go to their site, they are nicely put together, with the requisite matching color scheme, maybe a tag cloud or two, but I have no freaking idea what they do. One of the highly irritating things about 2.0 is that they have gone the route of the washing tag. You know, the tag inside of your coat or your shirt that tells you how to wash it? Well... several years ago some morons decided that they would go "GLOBAL SYMBOLS" on us all, so they adopted these really irratating symbols, and nobody knows what they mean! Same thing here at web 2.0. Apparently having a button called "why the hell we exist" or even "our philosophy" is considered outre in the 2.0 set. Imagine. Software so cool that, if you have to ask about it, you're just not cool enough to use it. Cross-posted from my blog titled "But Does it Work." Bye! I'm off to see if I can get damn stumble off of my Mozilla browser, where it apparently glommed itself on without asking, and to install sphere, which didn't install although it should have!

How about that election?

OK, I'm happy. I'm still a little nervous, but there's hope. As far as I can tell, I have no idea if the Democrats control the Senate yet, but in my humble opinion, making Dick Cheney stand up and vote on every single tie is a wonderful way to pierce that Darth Vader-cool smooth exterior that's been presented to the world these past few years. Hello everyone. Sorry for not posting very often. I've been posting things over at Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Also, I started a new working blog called But Does it Work?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Why Mommy is a Democrat

I was clicking on some political news sites today, eyes half-shaded as I waited, cringing a bit, for them to load, and I was surprised with a belly laugh. Check this book out! "Why Mommy is a Democrat" sounds like a total hoot.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The complete works of Charles Darwin are now online

This stuff is so cool. Look what they're putting online now! The complete works of Charles Darwin

Thursday, October 19, 2006

strange idea of geek fun

Hello everyone. I'm here, honest. Just not ... here. Part of being a mom. You can read some of my more recent postings over at the silicon valley mom's blog, (under Kate) but the rest are stored up and will probably come out one of these days. Here's a post from boingboing about wierd geek fun that made me laugh out loud. For those of you who have never actually worked in tandem with lab-living denizens, this might sound odd, but it really reminded me of "lab fun" in my younger days.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


About a month ago, I helped a girlfriend whose brother is a meth addict. She was looking for information on a new treatment. I used to do medical research as my public service, so I figured I'd help out. I was amazed to see how much methamphetamine use there was. Sure, I'd heard little mentions of it, but when I started doing Google searches, I saw all of this stuff in (what I thought of as) verdant little hamlets in Tennessee, Ohio, Wisconsin, and so forth. I might be wrong about the hamlet thing, but studies are showing that our midwest and our "country" areas are being rocked horizontal by the meth stuff. Here's an interesting article that tells you about "meth" and shows you the affects of it on a user (who has since died, btw.) Courtesy of digg.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Boyfriend Arm Pillow, anyone?

I just love the stuff that the Japanese come up with. Hilarious. Here's the latest. A pillow for people who like to lie on their boyfriend's chest to sleep - but lack the boyfriend.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Kindergarten Readiness -- OH Yeah!

Aaargh! Oh, hello there. I was just reading some articles about Kindergarten readiness when I lost it a little. Let me catch my breath. Perhaps one of those nice homeopathic calmness pills, some of my imported Russian tea (in one of those lovely paper-white china cups) while I sit at my imported-wood breakfast table and ... ah, there we are. Where IS my new age music? Or perhaps just a glass of wine. Good morning everyone! I was just reading an article written by the National Association for the Education of Young Children that mentions how, in order to attend Kindergarten, your child should have good basic skills. He or she should be able to resolve conflicts, should know some letters of the alphabet, and be able to sit, among other things. Buttons too. It's a nice article. In particular, I liked this quote: "Kindergarten is a time for children to expand their love of learning, their general knowledge, their ability to get along with others, and their interest in reaching out to the world. While kindergarten marks an important transition from preschool to the primary grades, it is important that children still get to be children -- getting kindergarteners ready for elementary school does not mean substituting academics for play time, forcing children to master first grade "skills," or relying on standardized tests to assess children’s success." Unfortunately, the article also sounds like it was written on a different planet, based on my silicon valley experience. (OK, OK, not just the silicon valley. No need to be geographical here. I guess this applies to many areas populated by type-A suburban-raised-overachieving-parents-who-are-out-of -control -and-and-egged-on-by-wacked-out-pseudo-achievement-oriented-school administrators.) My understanding of the particular brand of achievement-based Kindergarten readiness practiced in this area is that, in order to keep up with the aggressive pressures of local kindergartens, Silicon Valley Kindergarten-ready children (especially those pesky, irritating, constantly-moving boy children, who should probably be drugged anyway) must be able to: * Know all of the letters of the alphabet, including their sounds. * Be able to write them all. * Both cases. * Be able to do rudimentary reading. * Sit quietly during all of the circle times. * Line up like little darlings. * Be able to act interested when the wall of their kindergarten is filled with scintillating letter combinations, like "ng." * Be able to add and probably subtract. Maybe a square root if they want to impress anybody. * Be ready and willing to be tossed into an language immersion program. * If they're in a language immersion program, be prepared to take the alternate school's language offerings, say, after school or during recess. * Be pliant and pleasant if their parents enroll them in yet a third language program, since, after all, the age of 5 is one of the best ages for shoving language knowledge into little brains (like foi gras). * Wait their turn calmly. * Quiescently participate in their soccer, baseball, theatre, fencing, chess, gymnastics, basketball, dance, ice skating, and swimming classes. Oh yes, and piano and tennis. * Start their day at 7 AM with before-school time (so mommy and daddy can work), go to school for 6 hours, and then go into a 3-hour after-school program (so that mommy and daddy can work). Contrast that with the American Acadamy of Pediatrics (AAP) Developmental Milestones by the End of 5 Years. Wow. (Although, for the cost of those designer clothes and lessons, this is kind of an unimpressing list, don't you think? Where is the French? The Tai Chi? Saute skills? HOW WILL MY CHILD GET INTO PRINCETON IF HE ONLY HAS THESE SKILLS AT FIVE????? Oh. Sorry. Homeopathic calmness pills. Breathe.) And of course, the kid needs to be ready for the stresses of ordinary life at five. Like what? Indiana University education professor Mary McMullen summarizes "new child schedules" pretty well when she says that (many) "youngsters are forced to deal with multiple transitions throughout the day, which can be stressful for 5- and 6-year-olds. Many of these children go from some type of early morning child care to kindergarten, then to special art, music or physical education classes, then after-school child care, and then home. Many are then shuttled off to sports events or other extracurricular activities. Some even have the added stress of multiple living arrangements because of divorced parents." Gosh, put like that, it sounds mildly insane, doesn't it? But that's life for our kids. What an exciting petri dish for young psyches! Mix that up with lots of television, the new video games (can you say unnervingly realistic gore?) and ... golly, what are we brewing for future generations? But for now, let's think about Kindergarten for a few minutes, since many of our kids are heading into it. Does anybody else out there think that it's time to get a bit militant and take it back? Maybe, like, along with childhood? Here's a great article by Linda Starr from Education Weekly talking about some of the insane things that Kindergartens are aspiring and have aspired to teach by the end of the year. Goals, if you will. And no, it' s not "raising your hand and waiting your turn." I'll pull a few quotes out but I'd urge you to read the article. Starr is a kindergarten teacher who totally rocks and her words should echo in your ears as you look at your own kid's class. One of my favorite mentions is that "The Kindergarten Content Summary for Lombard (Illinois) Elementary School District 44 says that kindergarten students will learn to "identify story elements: plot, setting, characters." The AAP says that five-year-olds should "understand that stories have a beginning, middle, and end."" Do you think that this is just some under-educated middle manager parsing wrong? Or will the kids be working on a playground-sized Hero's Journey model while playing with their poseable Jung dolls? Another example from Ms. Starr's article is: "The Cotati-Rohneet Park Unified School District in Rohnert Park, California, Kindergarten Curriculum requires kindergarten students (by the end of the year) to "count with one-to-one correspondence to 30" and "comprehend relationships between numbers to 30." The AAP says that average five-year-olds are developmentally able to "count up to 10 objects."" Um, yeah. Well, I'm still working on the number relationship thing. I hope my five year old can figure it out. Starr says "In trying to maximize our children's progress, we are ignoring the importance of their developmental limitations -- and we may be jeopardizing their future as well. We need to take a closer look, not simply at the age at which children enter kindergarten or at the experience they bring with them, but also at the developmental stage at which they enter; and then we need to develop a curriculum that meets those needs." She says a lot more, too. And we should all read it and take heed. Finally, she quotes David Elkind, a professor of child development at Tufts University (and a great author ) "To impose a strict structure on children in kindergarten totally violates what we know about early childhood development," Even worse, Elkind notes, "children feel stupid when they are asked to do something that they are developmentally unable to do." I'm done. I won't say more. Well, one thing. Please, as our children start Kindergarten and school this year, remember that it's OK to play in Kindergarten. Playing in Kindergarten, experiencing the world in a broad way while they're still young, and having fun in school gives your child a far wider base from which to live and achieve than trying to be academic before their time. And also, it might just be possible that the biggest goals in Kindergarten should be socialization and learning to like school and learning. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go back to reading Homer onto a tape player so that my child can absorb it subliminally while he sleeps... First published on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog

Vurtego - just what every 50 year old needs

There's been a big discussion on the ex-NeXT list about the vurtego site (OK, a tiny discussion, but hey, a blip on that list is as amusing as a deluge from another list. Heck, the last discussion was on the IT techniques and approaches used by porn sites!) The site pisses the NeXT aesthetics people off. It's hard to navigate, it's a poser design, etc. etc. On the other hand, they're trying to prosetylize an extreme sport (says another person). Personally, though, I just find it hilarious (I also wonder if this will kill me if I try it.... I'm not getting any younger, you know?) Read the article (nicely hidden behind the Chihuahua Bites Policeman sign on the home page). It was written in the Arizona Republic newspaper, talking about how a certain fifty year old man is using - you guessed it - a Vurtego to combat the thinning of his bones! Kind of explains the $350 price tag, doesn't it? Is this the future of pre-geriatric aids, btw? Canes, sold to blaring Aerosmith?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Books that matter for entrepreneurs

This week Business Week Business Week asked entrepreneurs which books were most influential in helping them build their companies. This list list includes book suggestions and commentary from Carol Bartz, Harvey Mackay, and Larry Spear. - thanks to Marylaine Block for this. It's from Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I've got the McMansion Blues

We live in the beauteous and restful neighborhood of Lindenwood, in Atherton, California. Today was another lovely summer day. We were awakened at 8 AM by a parade of dump trucks, a bulldozer, and a roller - approximately forty feet from our bedroom window. It’s almost 11, and the parade hasn’t wavered. Four years of these noises. Ah, the birthing pangs of another McMansion. My husband, a gentle soul, said this morning that our welcome gift to our new neighbors (in the flag lot behind our home) should be a stack of Marshall amps and an electric guitar. Given to our six year old. My personal preference is recreational jackhammering. I wouldn’t mind so much, but the neighbor dropped by our home a week and a half ago. “The house is done!” she said. “We’ll be moving in this week!” Great. Nice to hear. The original due date for the project was in February, but July is fine. Today at 8 AM, I got up in my bathrobe and walked to the back of our property. I climbed onto a tree trunk to look and groaned. There is no driveway in the house behind us. We have figured out that the parade of dump trucks probably belongs to the new swimming pool, and … there is no way that this project will be done before October. Really poor expectation setting there. Now I can’t blame the nice new neighbors. After all, they bought this lot for an exorbitant amount, and then didn’t touch it at all for four years. Lovely, quiet years - on the back side of the house. They are very nice and we’re looking forward to having new neighbors. The house is beautiful – a veritable mansion – and I shall be tempted to genuflect as I walk into it. But I am so very tired of the noise thing. When we bought this house I was 8 months pregnant. There was a quiet, wooded lot in the front of the house, across the street. When our son turned three months old, they broke dirt on that lot and kept building for our first three years. Napping during the jackhammering phase was a big challenge. Eight months after the front house was finished, the rear neighbor started. We are praying that the side neighbors stay healthy and happy. Despite the irritations of McMansion construction, I guess you could say that the benefits outweigh the pain. Sort of. I mean, such entertaining design choices. For example, the new house down the street. Despite being on a full acre, they have cleverly designed it so that you can see right into the neighbor’s yards from every upstairs window! Like many in the silicon valley, we do recreational house tours on Sundays. It’s been amazing to see how large and gothic window frames are getting, and to learn more about modern suburban living styles. Feels a little like "building materials of kings past," if you pay attention to all of the marble and stone. Apparently the latest trend is to buy a full acre lot, build a house that protects you from being overwhelmed by the yard (concrete, after all, is so much more civilized than bushes), and then build a full garage-cum-basement underneath the house (because, with such a large house, you don't have space for a garage.) My favorite example is in our neighborhood. It's a large home. The beautiful concrete/tile drive area in front allows the owners to drive into their property, make a full circle, turn and drive into the underground parking garage, and happily park fifty cars! This, indeed, is progress. The biggest driveway on their street. Certainly a masterful indicator. Took years to build! I have always wondered if the designer suffered from botanophobia. And what is located in the new, underground layer of these McMansions? The last one I looked at had a large exercise room (empty), a large movie room, a big hallway, a few other miscellaneous rooms and a laundry room. My first thought about the space was that it seemed like the perfect place to deflower the daughter of the house when nobody was looking, but that's probably just mom paranoia - forget I mentioned it, ok? We had thought to stay home today and enjoy the back yard and summer. Now I think I’ll go somewhere peaceful. Like Costco. Maybe they sell Marshall amps. This posting originally appeared on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The top 100 games of the 21st century

Like many silicon valley couples, my husband and I communicate via email. We have two offices in our home. Mine is called the "toy office" and I share it with our son, and is is called the "fire hazard" and he shares it with approximately fifty billion wierd technical books, CD's, games, and so forth. Did I mention games? Check it out. Here's a list of the top 100 games of the 21st century from Next Generation, ranked wholly on unit sales. Maybe I can get my husband to visit my blog with this one.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

50 Albums that Changed Music

I don't have much to say about this, other than I enjoyed it. Check it out. They looked for 50 albums that really changed the direction of things. This is a fun list. This was originally from: Neat New Stuff I Found This Week http://marylaine.com/neatnew.html

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A whole new wave in transportable tech: Pimpstar Rims

Have you seen the Pimpstar Rims video? Check it out. And you can change what your "rims" flash from a software program WHILE YOUR DRIVE! Soon, this will be t-shirts, my friends. Or shoes. Oh my.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Bday USA - Our first Blast Off

Today, NASA put a tent up right outside the Moffet Air Base so that NASA employees and the public could watch the space shuttle launch. A friend who works at NASA told us about it. We got up today and wondered what to do. Hmmn. At 10 AM was a parade in Redwood City, 11:30 was the kid's parade in Menlo Park where you could ride your bike with the other kids, , and at ... lemme see ... 12:30 or so was the launch. This is what we did. We had breakfast and hung out at home. At noon, my husband got into the shower. I did not harm him. I snarled a bit, and mentioned, using my family's patented "waspy clenched jaw" approach, that the shuttle was blasting off in THIRTY DAMN MINUTES AND HE BETTER HURRY. He did. Shower finished at 12:15. My son and I were dressed, and we finally got dad out of there at about 12:20. I personally have lost years of my life because I married someone with this particular style of living life. Shall we say, on the edge? We drove out and get onto the freeway. Yes, it's a freeway drive. Got there at exactly 12:30. Did I mention that the shuttle blastoff was at 12:38? But we didn't know that, actually. I think our interaction was: "Doesn't the shuttle blast off at 12:30? Honey, it's a blast-off. Those happen on TIME. We need to be there!" [insert chart of wife's blood pressure rising here] Response: "Nope, it's not 12:30. It's some other number." Brilliant, huh? Aargh. The next forty years should be a real learning and growing experience. But I digress. We walked in, and ... it was perfect. It was a lovely tent. There were about 150 people there, maybe more. There was a curtained-off area that was full, where a real, live astronaut was talking with people, surrounded by three large screens. For the rest of us, there were about five more screens, all over the place. There was a really neato cool 10-foot long model of the space shuttle, which we pointed out to my squirmy son. There was a totally nifty real "insides area" of the space station, including the vaunted frog egg experiment which a profoundly didactic woman managed to explain to us at amazingly great length, considering the fact that we only had 7.5 minutes to blast off. My son interrupted her to tell her his version of reality, but I picked him up to go and look at mission control and the launch on TV. So different from when I was a kid, but so similar. I remember watching this stuff on little tiny TV sets and now here it is on a big, six-foot screen. It's not funky little module now, either. It's a sleek, beautiful little airplaney-looking thing, that looks a lot like one of the Star Wars robots, if you consider the finish. I looked at my son. He seemed a bit nonplussed. Aren't little boys supposed to get stars in their eyes and try to salute or something when they are exposed to things like this? Important things? Cool things? Positive things that the whole country is proud of (rare though they are in today's nasty climate?) Still, he fidgeted. Until suddenly he stopped and looked around him. "Twelve, Eleven, Ten ..." The whole building had begun to count down with the mission control man. This was little boy territory; why were the adults doing it? I pointed toward the screen, and we watched. It was a wonderful experience, being in a room with all of those people who were fans of our country and of what we'd made and what we were doing. And mommy's a bit of a softy. "Three, Two, One, and we have blast off." He watched while the giant rockets left the earth, taking the beautiful little shuttle with them. And he listened while the entire crowd broke into loud, enthusiastic applause. We live in the Silicon Valley, surrounded by "thing-makers." The space shuttle is one of the coolest, highest-profile engineering projects around, and we thank the entire team for making it work. Wonderful to see such a great project in action. Thank you for the tent, NASA. It was way cool. And happy birthday, America. May that shuttle of ours come down safely, and may our country traverse this difficult time and come out strong, and fair, good, and safe.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

You've all been waiting for this: The Gifted and Talented Adults Blog

Remember when you were in school and you got labeled? Kind of comforting, wasn't it? Like, you're exceptionally good in THIS, and you get a little gold star on your forehead and you really don't have to worry about track because you can (enter your "star" quality here ______________) Or did I just have a wierd school experience? At any rate, I just found the Gifted and Talented Adult Blog! I swear to you that I thought it was a dating service, but (!) it's not! I personally find it highly entertaining (for five minutes), because it seems to describe what's wrong with a series of gifted and talented people (and types.) I know these people! Parts of it even sound like my dating diary from a few decades ago. "Extremely bright, but seems to belong locked in a closet somewhere." "Very bright, seems to be addicted to everything, including the new one: breath mints." "Will undoubtedly become a multimillionaire which is good; he'll be able to afford a LOT of therapy." I'm not sure if it's the Silicon Valley, or just bright people, but the diagnosis thing is just too easy. Naaa. I'm probably just over it. Like I said earlier, this stuff is probably best left to twenty-something dating women (I refer you to a classic from my twenties: If you can't live without me, why aren't you dead yet?) But it's always good to have a tool that provides social lubrication and entertainment. Can you find yourself in here? How about your business partner? cheers!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Recipe: Grilled onions with blue cheese

We get the San Francisco Chronicle, and I read it every day. Assiduously. Mostly to check Ann Landers and of course, the comics. We get the NY Times on weekends and I tend to read THAT paper for content. [meow] At any rate, the Chron has an absolutely stunning food section. Seriously. Did you know that they have two cookbooks? Here's the first one. A VERY good cookbook. On Wednesday (Unless they changed "food article day" and I missed it) I looked at the paper and something snapped. It was this recipe, which I made, and can report that it was wonderful! Here you go. It's not often that I read about something over breakfast and make it for dinner! Blue Cheese Onions 4 large red or white onions, sliced into 1-inch thick slices and skewered together, edge to edge, so they look like a row of large flat disks. Brush both sides with oil and put salt and pepper on them. Put them on a grill and cover loosely with foil. Cook them on low, turning occasionally, until cooked. about 30 minutes. The rest of the ingredients are: some balsamic vinegar (and a small brush) 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs 4-5 ounces crumbled blue cheese That's it. Brown the panko in a skillet on the stove, just to toast it. Mix the blue cheese in and put this on top of the onions. When the onions are almost done, brush them with balsamic vinegar, then top each slice with the blue cheese mix and press down firmly. Re-cover with foil and allow the cheese to melt. They are utterly awesome. I have another recipe where you hollow out small onions then fill them with 1 tbsp or more of balsamic and some butter, cover them, and bake for ... Oh, I don't know, maybe an hour? Until they are melting. Very nice. Plus a single, balsamic-glazed baked onion looks lovely on a plate. Just make sure to cook them a LOT.

He's learning well!

I'm sending my son to the German American school where the poor dear is rolling and bobbing in German immersion this past two weeks. I asked him how it sounded to him and he said "blab blab blab blab blab." Not with attitude, just reporting. My German is coming back, too. It's in my brain now, and I find myself trying to parse sentences, thinking "aaargh. This is the WORST grammar!" It's baaaack!!! I speak Danish, which is pretty darn simple. (Well, not the political science or technology parts of it, but you can avoid those.) I found myself wondering what wurde meant the other day. Is it, like, the past participle of "will," used by the first person? Oh my. Ah, well, it's just another voice in the background of my mind, except instead of mulling over interpersonal relationships or being screwed by garden stores (excuse me), this voice is saying things (in German) like "I need to practice so that I can brush up on my German ... um, how do you say brush up in the German vernacular?" No wonder I like learning other languages. Much more pleasant (if you have to obsess.) I really like the children and parents at the school. I haven't found a single woman who looks as though she's in Junior League! Nice (for me). Not scary. They look normal and act normal. And the children are nice, too. They told me not to put any sweets into my son's lunch, which is fine with me, since we're not a real "sweets" family. However, I found a box of, like, dragon fruit gummy thingies that I bought at Costco (so I have 50 of them), and put one into his lunch yesterday as a treat. It's the only sweet processed thing that I let him eat. His other lunch treats are: a home-packaged small baggie of potato chips, applesauce in a tube, and yogurt in a tube. Wooo. I have looked for years, but can't find anything else that I'll feed my kid in all of the fun packaged stuff, so that's it. So get this: I went to pick him up in aftercare and they were making pancakes! (Pfannkuchen to you). They gave one to my son and sprinkled it with chocolate powder. He ate it up. On the way to the car, he said ruminatively "they won't let me eat the fruit gummis, but they feed me chocolate powder? That doesn't make sense. There's a lot of sugar in the chocolate." I agreed with him, and stifled an internal laugh. Yup, I think he'll be juuuuust fine in life, thank you very much!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Great male writer/awesomely nasty amazon wish list

Just a note about a wonderful writer, Jim Harrison. I love this guy. One of my favorite writers is Alice Adams, even though she's a bit dated, I suppose. Lots of San Francisco and Marin County in the seventies and eighties with deep roots-female writing. Harrison feels like her counterpoint for depth. As female as Adams is, Harrison is masculine. Like Hemingway, but without that icky fifties cultural role stuff. If you haven't read him, I'd suggest Legends of the Fall, which contains a stunning novella called "Revenge." "Revenge" kicks butt. Here's a description of a movie that was made out of it, which apparently Tarantino adored. See? Masculine. Um, or something. "(The story of) an ex-Navy pilot squaring off against a wealthy Mexican and his goons, who left him for dead and tortured his mistress." The review goes on to describe, from what I can tell, the entire movie industry in about 4500 words, but I'd highly recommend the book. Speaking of which, check out this book list. I love it. Listen to what she says about Paradise Lost: "Milton is a pompous jerk, and his writing is irksome. Even worse, his theology sucks." Incidentally have you noticed that, with the advent of online writing, with the links and all, the old ways of using quotes feels increasingly outdated? I just took the quotes OUT of the book title and decided to italicize it. Nah. I'll just link it. And of course, if you put quotes around something you link to, it looks positively lousy. OK, back to the reviewer. She sounds like a real book lover. I am so sick of palliative thinkers. Give me someone with a meaty opinion. Well, unless they're some medicated wacko railing on the local "I hate Americans" right-wing radio channel. Those folks I can do without. Besides, I asked for an opinion, not a recital of the latest "Rapture" messages. Have you read the reviews on Amazon's listmania? They are hilarious. Here's one, about The Metamorphosis: "This book is amazing despite the main character being a giant beetle." Cool.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

a beautiful gift

I am a fifth-generation Californian. And I have never seen nor heard of weather like this year's. Today, however, on the 28th of June, for heaven's sake, it began to rain in the middle of the day. It was awesome. I bicycle my son to school when possible. I live in Atherton and his school is in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area, so I was biking through the Menlo Oaks neighborhood, which is the nicest neighborhood in Menlo Park. Little drops began to twinkle down on me. "Did you feel that?" I called to a man walking down the road. "Yup," he yelled. "Wonderful!" As I bicycled, I held my arm up, palm flat, in the time-honored "it's raining" way. A truck coming up from behind me beeped a soft beep and the driver gave me the thumbs-up sign. And the next four cars were driven by people with huge smiles on their faces. This was a gentle summer shower. We just flat-out don't get those here. It felt like balm, like a gift. And even more like a gift were the shared grins, thumbs-up, and smiles with my fellow Americans. How long has it been since THAT happened, folks? We share far too few smiles, waves, and grins with our neighbors. It was great to have an excuse for them today.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I love askapatient.com

Last year, to continue the "gardening" theme, I, um, exhibited poor judgment. It was a hot day and I was alone with my son, being enthusiastic about outdoor life. At some point, I decided that I needed to climb up on top of the pool house and, with a hand saw, try to trim the oak tree. Not a huge problem. This particular branch, however, was about a foot above my head, and was about six inches in diameter. So there I was (at this point, I start sounding a bit like Arlo Guthrie...), jumping up into the air and at the same time pushing as hard as I could because, heck, sawing UP is a lot harder than sawing DOWN, when I got a crushing headache. A real doozy, as we said in the mountains where I grew up (this is AFTER I grew up on a farm in Minnesota). So, um, I climbed down from the roof as fast as I could, luckily not breaking a limb, walked inside, and put my son in front of a video. This in itself, illustrates that I should have gone to the hospital, incidentally, since I'm not a bit fan of the evil death box (TV to you normal folks.) Then I called my husband, told him that I'd done something, and went to bed. Unusual behavior for a mom of a 5 year old. We don't typically go to bed, leaving our children alone in the house. Yikes. Luckily it was a mighty compelling show and nothing got burned down. At any rate, I ended up with one heck of a migraine. For three weeks. The only thing that worked was to take four ibuprufen's and a couple of tylenols. Every five hours. For three weeks. It was an interesting time. I went to see three doctors (the last was a neurologist, who gave me a MRI - yuck.). Each doctor loaded me up on painkillers. When I would mention these painkillers to people, I would be met with the bizarre response "oooooh, DARVON (or whatever) how cool." This puzzles me. My personal painkiller of choice is ibuprufen because it doesn't make me stupid. I've never really gotten into the stoner mentality, and the concept of codeine as something "nice" is just flat-out wierd in my book. Like, who are these people, anyway? At any rate (I'm almost here). The BEST WEBSITE for me during this time was a little website called www.askapatient.com. Especially since nothing worked. None of the migraine meds that I was given did a THING for this headache - BUT when I tried them, I'd be floored by pain for six hours, while I waited for the drug to get out of my system (at which point I would take some ibuprufen.) www.askapatient.com let me go in and read reviews of meds (like something or other with codeine) BEFORE I took them. Awesome stuff. The site was started by a doctor and I applaud her. The problem? Ah, yes. After the MRI, my neurologist told me that I'd apparently torn the dura covering of my brain. Only a little tiny bit. Kind of like what a weight lifter does during one of those jerk-pulls (or whatever they're called) Nice, huh? Some women turn their legs from wearing high heels. I tear my freaking dura from trying to pull he-man stunts on the top of the pool house. At any rate, it went away after three weeks, but I'm on a strict health program now. Agatha Christie novels. Yup. And finally, at the ripe age of 45, I'm starting to like chocolate!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Gardening versus Body Mutiliation

Well Hello everyone, and how are you today! Ever since I first read William Gibson,I've been waiting for people to start mutilating themselves. In my posting called Could Someone Please Hack Yahoo Avatars I mention morphing shark teeth onto avatars - an idea directly descended from Gibson. That said, let's talk gardens. My house has a garden. It's my first garden, and boy is it different from the gardens we had growing up, which were redolent of sweat, unpleasantness, and mom yelling at you. I have learned to garden, learned to landscape, learned to do my own sprinkler-fixing (instead of hiring 20-somethings on cellphones to rip me off and fail to think, incidentally), and learned to design. Incidentally, I am not artistic, although eventually, given enough years, I have been known to choose a nice color or two for my walls. If you're not artistic, you can either work on fixing up your house (aka "designing"), or you can work on the garden. Gardens are cooler. You work with nature. Or God, depending on whether you are a Darwin fan or not. So here's my theory. I think that the people who are working on the body modification stuff really are just demonstrating what a dearth of gardens does to young people. Shouldn't these folks be outside, making enormous crop circles and convincing Bill and Fred that it was aliens? (AHEM: note: This blog was written in response to a recent article on body modification which I have apparently DELETED (idiotically). Luckily I could remember one person from the article - Lizard Man - but I'm doing you all a favor by NOT providing a direct link. If you want to see the bizarre stuff that people are doing to themselves, feel free to scroll down in wikipedia and check out the "people who do this" links, but this is a warning - it's pretty off-putting." Should be interesting, however, to see what falls into the "norm" category next, though, since we've moved into the "fourteen holes in the ears" and other strange piercing stuff.... Of course ALL of this stuff falls neatly into the "really make your parents crazy" category, but gosh - shouldn't you be able to do that without plastic surgery?)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tufte: Powerpoint is Evil. Awesome stuff

Am I the only one that hasn't read this? I just stumbled onto Tufte's hilarious essay called "Power Corrupts. Powerpoint Corrupts Absolutely" and had to laugh out loud. I mentioned it to my husband and he said (of course) "Oh yes, I remember that." Well, I was out in the back, trying to tape oatmeal containers together to make dual rocket blasters for a few years, and didn't have time to read Wired much, let alone remember anything, so forgive me for mentioning this, but I loved the article. Ironically enough, we went on a school tour to a private Menlo Park school last year (which shall remain nameless). This school promptly made me itch. Like... was it bug bites? Hackles? A slight rash from ... Ah, who can say. But the place drove me nuts. In the middle of the tour, the HR manager (or whatever she was) talked about how wonderful it was that the third graders were giving PowerPoint presentations. Ack! We couldn't get out of there soon enough. So nice to know that Tufte agrees.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Chats with mom: On wife-beaters, menstuff, and the vocabulary of love and anger

My mother is never a boring conversationalist. She's been an educator for thirty years, and I remember her earliest jobs: teaching in the jail and juvenile detention center. Back in about 1975, she actually had a classroom at the jail. She'd furnished it in antiques and an oriental rug, if you can believe it (she collects things.) Today when I was speaking with her, thanking her for being my mother she told me something which I found kind of interesting. Wife-beaters, she said, have no vocabulary for gradiations of irritation. Isn't that interesting? She said the people who beat their wives will go from normal to white-hot anger, with nothing in between. They have no words for the subtleties of emotion in between. Naming something, she maintains, is necessary to understanding it. I was intrigued by this and tried to Google for it only to discover that "wife beaters" are apparently a slang term for some hip-hop thing that Keven ... um, Federline? (is that how you spell it?) does something with. Sigh. Since it was clear that the first 500 responses would include hip-hop info, I kept searching. I finally started looking at Anger Management and found some interesting sites. In particular, there's a site out there called Menstuff. You would think (if you were a Northern Californian) that they just sold, um... gel for chest hair and drums to use on the beach, but apparently they're much broader. Check 'em out. Here's their intro page. Menstuff was started in Berkeley in 1985. They have some very interesting perspectives on things.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sputnik versus the DARPA Grand Challenge

You know, back in the fifties, Sputnik motivated an entire generation of strapping young men to go into rocket science and technology. Here's a description from NASA archives: "The inner turmoil that Hagen felt on "Sputnik Night," as 4-5 October has come to be called, reverberated through the American public in the days that followed. Two generations after the event, words do not easily convey the American reaction to the Soviet satellite. The only appropriate characterization that begins to capture the mood on 5 October involves the use of the word hysteria. A collective mental turmoil and soul-searching followed, as American society thrashed around for the answers to Hagen's questions. Almost immediately, two phrases entered the American lexicon to define time, "pre-Sputnik" and "post-Sputnik." The other phrase that soon replaced earlier definitions of time was "Space Age." With the launch of Sputnik 1, the Space Age had been born and the world would be different ever after. " If you put the hysteria aside though, there was a pure rush - a touch - of power. The power of technology, "to boldly go where no..." oops, sorry. My husband watched the DARPA Grand Challenge for a while with my son tonight. "His eyes were huge," he said. He didn't understand all of these engineers, all of these robotics experts, all of these men driving these wierd robots into the desert so that they exploded. Ahem. Can we just have a minute of silence while we think about what the next generation will develop into? OK, I admit that I was raised (during my seminal pre-teen years) to the tune of the National Lampoon, so haughty, left-wing pseudo-intellectual gutter humor pervades my psyche. Hey, what can I say. But while Sputnik seemed to be a thin-lipped bloodless Drive to Conquer, the DARPA Grand Challenge seems to be modeled a bit on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Behind the wheel of a huge red convertible, with the tires filled up 40% too much, careening around freeway exits in big swoopy circles... cackling. Does anybody other than me notice the inherent whimsey in the DARPA Grand Challenge? My favorite, of course, was the first one. How far did everyone get? Like 50 feet out? What a hoot. At any rate, this is what our kids are seeing about technology today. Now tekkies have always had fun. (My favorite uncle adored Edmund Scientific.) Nobody's disputing that. I guess that it's just really neat to get a widespread audience being able to see the fun. And what new technology can do. Me, I'm really curious about how this stuff is processed by your ordinary technology-loving five year old. What's it going to come out as? The mind boggles.

My fingers are crossed: Rosa Brooks on "Battered Congress Syndrome"

I tend to be fairly political, although I just really cannot track things in our country right now without foaming at the mouth, so I try to not get too detail-oriented. Rosa Brooks' article gives you details, but also a whole new swing on things. Hey, have you seen those approval numbers? Let's all vote for Sanity, folks! I love the recent quote by a Republican saying "He's the dumbest president we've ever had." However, that's a bit pat. The really evil, corrosive stuff isn't from HIM! It's from the dark force. Groan. There I go.

Tips of the day: bullying class and free ebooks!

I love the Berkeley Parents Network list! I learn so much! Thank you to Ginger Ogle for setting the whole thing up so long ago - it's now got around 10,000 users, and the advice given is erudite, educated, with multi-culti values, good life perspective, and so forth. Today I discovered two things. First thing is something called kidpower, which is a program to send your kid through if they're being bullied. I hear that it works a lot better than sending a can of mace, for example (ahem, can you tell my child hasn't reached this yet? I'm still cracking jokes!) The other thing is this awesome site called Manybooks.net. They have 13,600 free ebooks that you can use for your PDA or ipod. Is that cool or what?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

So are we turning our kids into large lab rats?

You should read neurobiologist Susan Greenfield's comments on the effect of modern technology on brain development from her recent presentation to the House of Lords. Here's an excerpt: "Does this mean young people are acquiring or will need different skills? Memory, for example, may no longer be as essential as it was for those of us who had to learn reams of Latin grammar, but with everything just a click away, perhaps we are at risk of losing our imagination, that mysterious and special cognitive gift that until now has always made the book so much better than the film. I am not proposing that we become IT Luddites, but rather that we could be stumbling into a powerful technology, the impact of which we understand poorly at the moment." I really like the fact that she wants to try to figure out what the huge lifestyle changes (from media) are doing to our kids. Here's a Guardian article on same. When you think about it, this generation of children is being experimented on: with media; with more chemicals in their bodies and environment than ever before; with new scares about our food supply (tuna fish only once a week !); and in verdant silicon valley homes, with crushing levels of competitiveness and scheduled time - as early as possible. Have I mentioned crushing economic pressures and both parents working? Ach! My husband (he's the intelligent one in the family) has insisted that we teach media criticism to our son from about age 2. That's one step in the right direction. Recently I read a posting from a perceptive and dedicated teacher, Lorna Dils, in a curriculum unit that she proposes for 4th grade and up at the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. She calls it The Mystery of the Passive Students, and she writes: "I am concerned about my students. It seems that even though they are identified as Talented and Gifted (T.A.G.), they are increasingly passive in their thinking. They are used to easily comprehending all of the reading that they do in their other classes and there is no doubt about it: they do comprehend well. What they do not do well is apply, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate the information that they read. They also do not retain information for long periods of time because of the superficiality of their reading. I am afraid that my students think of the learning process in the same way they think of watching television. They are used to being passive consumers of television and it seems that, when looking for information in texts, they would like to “‘switch the dials” as they do the channels on their television sets, and have the information they want magically appear before them. They do not realize that searching for information and reading is a very active process, requiring both mental and physical energy. My students are also resistant to thinking at higher levels: these thinking processes require mental energy. They are too used to being passive in their learning; they are consumers rather than producers." Sure, you can buy organics, and you can get the best nanny possible. But how do you combat the inability to think and the little problem of perceiving reality as something you can "change the channels on" as it impacts how your kid will think and will navigate in the world? Novel idea: How about thinking hard about what's important and what your priorities should be. How about putting that stuff in the forefront of your brain and your life, and checking to see if how you live life conforms to your personal ideals and life goals for your kids? But what can you do? You can honor the earth, our world, and reality. You can turn off the TV set and the computer (this will take some discipline) and you can go outside and teach your kid how to play a wierd game of frisbee golf. Or hunt for bugs. You can regularly schedule fun into your desk calendar, and you can work to be spontaneous with your child. You can try to fix things that break in your home - instead of throwing them away or just calling someone - and you can sit around and make up stories together. And you can think of what you want an American child - your American child to embody.** So what are some epithets that I'd be happy to have applied to my kid? As a first pass? Well, in the olden days, Americans were always called "brash" by the British (just as the British culture's power was waning, incidentally), so let's keep that one. (Google brash american for a nod to today's brash Americans.) Or perhaps I should just use "irrepressible in a sometimes mildly irritating fashion?" Ah, Americans! Moving on: empathetic, resourceful, respectful of different cultures, able to entertain themselves by creating a game or toy out of a piece of wood and a rope or rubber band, resilient, will rise to a challenge, will defend what is right, will protect society, and the world, and will educate themselves, and not follow causes blindly. Doesn't sound bad, does it? For a start. Do you see anywhere in the abovementioned list, BTW, learn to game the system so that they can get the most AP units and go to an Ivy league school? Oh dear. I fear that I'm not getting with the program. My son is 5. This means that by high school, according to a local private school we toured (tuition cost: $29K if I remember correctly) he'll be doing 6-plus hours of homework a day! Mommy will have to develop one heck of a gin habit to sit by and smile while that goes on. **To foreign readers: hello! Feed free to list your own country and what you'd like to see your child embody.

Is it good practice to teach creativity at 30?

Here is a professional site on creativity. This one uses storytelling and games to teach groups of people to be more creative. Gosh. Like preschool, what? Oh. Wait a minute. Shouldn't preschoolers be learning how to write now? Did we goof this up somewhere? Here's a concept: why don't we just raise our children to be creative from the start, rather than fitting them into little boxes in a fear-based society, and then trying to instruct them on "higher concepts" like spontaneity when they're 30? Remember the Japanese? Everybody was talking about them taking over the world in the eighties. They had a rigid schooling system. Every smidgen of uniqueness was quashed ASAP, as part of the schooling system. Great. Eventually, when it became obvious that the entire country was lacking in innovative skills, what did they do? They imported American experts on innovation and creativity to come in and consult! And what did those experts say? Raise your kids in a less rigid environment! (Amazing what people get paid for, isn't it?) Fast forward fifteen, twenty years. Aaaarrrggh! China is going to take over the world! Or ... is it fundamentalists? Hard to remember. What should we do? I know, let's make our three and four year olds learn to read! That way, they'll score highly on the No Child Left Behind tests and the teachers won't lose their jobs and the kids won't get traumatized by teachers leaving and schools being closed and ... oh dear. this is giving me a headache. Incidentally, here is the government's No Child Left Behind website. I really like the Maoist color scheme... Question: has the current regime developed some sort of novel new salute yet? Or do we keep the old one?

Interesting test on how well students think

I'm looking for something else (story of my life) and ran into this description of a test called the Collegiate Learning Assessment test. Another link. Check it out. They give students a real-world, ambiguous situation, clippings, a problem, etc. etc. and have them solve the problem. The test measures how well students think. What an original idea! Hey! Let's teach to it!

Speaking of modern feminism

Here's a book review that had me snickering into my imported tea. It's a beautifully-written review of a book called "Mommy Wars" by a writer named Sandra Tsing Loh, who names her review "rhymes with Rich." My favorite excerpt (I think) is this (a response to Steiner's husband moving the family from NY to Minnesota for lots of stock options.) "Steiner's female-empowering argument is that her only choice, as a mother, was to return to full-time work at a plum Washington Post advertising job in order to gain the economic leverage needed to have a say in household decisions. It is a leverage that Steiner's own depressed, rum-and-Coke-swilling, stay-at-home -- if brilliant, Radcliffe-educated -- mother never had, since Steiner's cheerful lawyer father was the one who worked. ." Read it and roar. Undoubtedly much better than the book, which sounds like whiny pap.

Bipolar Disorder and Creativity

Hiya. I was actually looking through a professional site on creativity when I found an intriguing site that talks about bipolar disorder and creativity. I'm tucking it in here, right next to the recipes, and it might find its way into the Anachronisticmom.com website's medical section one of these days.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kindergarten Readiness

Ack! Sputter. Clang! Crash! Oh, hello there. I was just reading an article about Kindergarten readiness and it was reminding me of where I lived and what it was like. Let me just have one of these nice homeopathic calmness pills, some of my imported Russian tea (in my lovely paper-white china cup) while sitting at my imported-wood breakfast table and ... ah, there we are. Well good morning everyone! Have you seen the San Jose Mercury today? There is a lovely article about whether or not children are ready for Kindergarten. I just read it and was struck by something: Hey! That sounds normal! In the article, they talk about how, in order to attend Kindergarten, your child should be able to resolve conflicts, know the letters of the alphabet, and be able to sit, among other things. Buttons too. Wow. That's a difference. Forgive me, but I was under the impression that, in order to "keep up" with the "aggressive pressures" of local kindergartens, children (especially those pesky, irritating, constantly-moving boy children) had to be able to:
  • Know all of the letters of the alphabet, including their sounds.
  • Be able to write them all.
  • Be able to do rudimentary reading.
  • Sit quietly during all of the circle times.
  • Line up like little darlings.
  • Be quiet.
  • Be able to act interested when the wall of your kindergarten is filled with scintillating letter combinations, like ng.
  • Be able to add and probably subtract.
  • Be ready and willing to be tossed into an language immersion program.
  • If they're in a language immersion program, be prepared to take the alternate school's language offerings, say, after school or during recess.
  • Be pliant and pleasant if their parents enrolled them in yet a third language program, since, after all, the age of 5 is one of the best ages for shoving language knowledge into little brains (think foi gras).
  • Sit quietly.
  • Wait their turn calmly.
  • Start their day at 7 AM with before-school time (so mommy and daddy can work), go to school for 6 hours, and then go into a 3-hour after-school program (so that mommy and daddy can work). Here are the results of the joint assessment of kindergarten readiness for San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. After reading about what you need I think I'll drop the "reading drill" for today and we'll just go to the park!
  • Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Wierd Comfort Food

    Would that be a great title for a cookbook, or what? Heck, they published The White Trash Cookbook, didn't they? I don't own it, incidentally. I figured that I could just go out if I wanted that type of food. However I did purchase The WASP Cookbook (what can I say?) And then there's my absolute favorite cookbook: You've Had Worse Things in your Mouth, by Billi Gordon. Billi's cookbook is hilarious, although hard to find now. She divides food categories uniquely: Seduction, Destitution, Motivation, and Revenge. Her peanut butter and wasabe sandwich, for example, is custom-designed for the picnic where you haul your best girlfriend's panties (found under the bed) out and confront your boyfriend. You know? And her recipe for chocolate pudding containing chocolate laxative is a really great way of broadening your culinary view of things. Looking for the perfect graduation gift? Want your daughter to dump her scummy live-in? Give her the culinary tools for success. But I digress. I actually began this today wanting to write about wierd comfort food. The strange concoctions that we, as adults, tend to eat alone in our kitchen, hunched over the bowl or plate while reading shallow magazines or genre fiction. So... what's yours? Does wierd comfort food have rules? Sure! It has to be something that you eat at home. Entire chain restaurant menus (e.g. Ye Olde Pancake House) don't count. It has to be a specific food combination that you or someone in your family uses for nutrition and comfort. My husband, for example, puts cottage cheese on pasta. Oops, excuse me. He just corrected me. He puts cottage cheese on egg noodles because apparently they taste "totally different." I find that odd. If we have no cottage cheese, he will take plain penne pasta and put catsup on it. Now I find that cringingly bizarre. When I was growing up, my mother would often make me comfort food of some type or another. One favorite was soft-boiled eggs, chopped up small with some butter on top and homemade bread made into toast. Pretty dull, huh? I remember eating and thinking I was just like Christopher Robin. Stuff like this is why I'm such a freaking Pollyanna today. I suppose that macaroni and cheese might have been another family comfort food, although I don't remember it as such. And it was real macaroni and cheese. First you overcook the pasta (remember the WASP reference up top?) Then you make a homemade white sauce and put dried mustard powder, some white pepper, a dash of worcestershire sauce, and a lot of grated cheddar cheese into it. Stir it up into the pasta and bake! Put bread crumbs on top. More butter. Lots of butter. When my mother was getting her teaching credential, she sent us over to some real, honest-to-goodness white trash types for babysitting. It was amazing. I was twelve and I read probably 200 True Detective magazines (and all of their Reader's Digest Condensed Books) while there. Every time we were there, they would feed us this extremely strange food. It was ... macaroni and cheese from a box! The Kraft stuff. And, the real shocker - no vegetables! This family was amazing. They were like the poster children for healthy home cooking. They all weighed about 300 lbs, the mom wore a flowered housedress, and the dad routinely took little Bubba out back for a good whipping. Yikes. I haven't read a True Detective magazine (or purchased or eaten Kraft macaroni and cheese) since. And what's with that stuff, anyway? It takes just as long to make the real stuff as it does the wierd glow-in-the-dark orange stuff! But I suspect that it's the siren lure of comfort food. The real "wierd comfort food," though, and the stuff I'm most interested in, is the sometimes odd combinations that you developed as a child and still (somewhat furtively) try today. When you're a kid, you're just developing taste buds and a sense of, um, personal style. The results can be entertaining. Yesterday, I made a can of Campbells tomato soup. I put it on the table, and then got out the saltine crackers. Methodically, I crumpled about 10 of them onto the top of the soup. Then, I ate it. My son looked at me somewhat oddly and I tried to get him to taste it. He did, and then looked at me more oddly. "No thanks mom" he said, emphatically. Ah, well, he'll figure out his own comfort food. I also enjoyed homemade dill pickles dipped in milk for a few years. Might I add, though, that I was raised in a health food-conscious home in the middle of the country, and we had limited options? Like tea with honey in it if we wanted sweets? Frankly, I look forward to hearing what all of you suburban ex-kids used to eat as comfort food. I'll bet you can come up with some toe-curling oddities. Come on, I dare you. Share! BTW, as penance for the (shark noise please) Amazon link inclusions, here's a good booklover's link, just to even things out a bit.

    Friday, April 28, 2006

    Psst! Hey! Wanna buy a high-tech t-shirt?

    Today I cleaned out the garage. Nothing new in my life. Actually, I've been cleaning out garages filled with my husband's bizarre magnetized tech-trash, for about thirteen years. As part of cleaning out the garbage, I moved an extremely large box of high-tech t-shirts from the garage to the gardening shed. Fun fun fun. And then I came in to see a Valleyschwag link from my mate himself. How appropriate. But let's think about it. For $14.95, as they say, you can get a whole box of Valley Schwag, without having to pay the $3000 rent! Wheee! Gosh, where would we put it. Today I was looking at a lovely shirt. It said "The World of Supercomputing" on it. Remember Supercomputing? The company right at the front was ... Ardent Computers. So... show of hands here. Who can remember Ardent? Gosh, I'm getting old!

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Another ode to the Geek faire

    My husband just sent me this lovely article by Brad Stone about the Geekapalooza. I missed seeing "Woz" playing segway polo, but I did see him getting repeatedly dunked in the EFF "dunk tank." As we walked away I talked to my son. "Remember when we were at the Discovery museum on Friday?" He nodded. "Well, honey, it's on "Woz" way ... and that was Woz." He looked somewhat bemused, but it's his first meeting with someone who's had a street named after him, so I'll cut him some slack.

    Monday, April 24, 2006

    The Maker Faire - modern Americana

    We were due to have an Earth Day party on Sunday but we cancelled - thought it would rain although we barely squeaked by without it (it's been an odd year for weather here in CA). Instead, we went to the Maker Fair, which was a total geekfest. It was put on by the people who do Make Magazine, which is a magazine for people who ... make things. And heeere is the Make Blog, which today seems to feature a knitted motorcycle!! The Maker Faire seems to embody Silicon Valley and America to me. You know the Wierd Roadside Attractions that punctuate the obscure tourist roads of America? Shoe trees, large coffee pots, large twine balls,and giant cow hamburger stands? Well, the Make Faire is those same exact people - fifty years later. But now the tools are a LOT better than the occasional decorated concrete bunker in South Dakota. Honest. The people who make stuff in the Make Magazine articles are fascinating. They make really cool stuff. They're obsessed, they're creative, and ... let's be honest here: it's a lot more fun to visit them in a faire than to be married to many of 'em, in my opinion. Sometimes, I think that my husband's vocation/avocation (inventing technologies and creating companies) (also known as severely marketing-based entrepreneurialism - ahem) is kind of obnoxious. I mean, why can't he just decide to go and make wine in Umbria, for heaven's sake? (Can you tell I miss him when he's gone?) This making of companies is a real timesink. Then I meet people who spend literally years of their time assembling, say, Babbage's Difference Engine out of legos and Meccano. Can we talk about this? Show of hands from wives reading this please. Would you severely harm your husband if this was his hobby? Gosh, I wonder if there's a "hobbyist quencher" series of items cooked up by partners of Make exhibitors. Hobbyist zapper? I can see it now. "Honey, could you please take out the garbage." Three days later. "ZZZZZAAAAAP!!!" Gosh, I'll have to work on that. Makes some gaming and the odd planning of new products seem positively mainstream. BTW, the new Lego Mindstorms were shown at the show. They look very nice, although for the 8-plus range. Lego Mindstorms are programmable robots (and the soundtrack for that link will give you a headache within 12 seconds.) Coming up: A discussion about why there are lots and lots of games for the 4 to 7 range about all sorts of things, but ABSOLUTELY NO JUNIOR SIMULATORS. Is this moronic or what? Showing my geek roots, I remain...

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    What on earth is wrong with being a feminist?

    For years now, like the murmur of tiny little voices, I have heard references to young women recoiling in horror if the "f" word was mentioned. "Oh no, I'm not a "feminist" or anything like that" has apparently long been a popular refrain with the younger set. I'll be honest here. I don't have the highest opinion of many of my fellow creatures, and young, college-age girls whose opinions or trends are reported in the newspapers, unfortunately, don't strike me as being ... well ... anything to care about in the least. (Although Britney and Paris really are fascinating life models. Honest.) But I have read the reports. And I have wondered. What on earth is wrong with being a feminist? I came to the silicon valley around 1980. And because I did that, I got a glimpse, a whiff, of what life had been like for the sisters (yes, sisters) who entered the workforce before me. You know what? Those women went through hell to pave the way for the rest of us. And being a feminist MIGHT conceivably be considered as a really good way of giving them the nod, of thanking them. Here's an article about young women in Saudi Arabia who are just starting to think of women's rights. Women's rights. Doesn't it sound almost archaic now? And apparently the only people to mention feminism nowadays are the right-wing harridans looking for something to be against. (I heard Dr. Laura berating them the other day.) Um... the right wing's message is what? Feminists hate men? Give me a break. I haven't met a feminist in about 28 years who claims to hate men. Who claims to hate men? Girls in their twenties, that's who usually claim to hate men, for heaven's sake. I'd like to spend a few minutes talking about what feminism has done for us all. In 1980, I was doing technical illustration in my first job out of college. In those days, the workers in the technical areas came straight out of the military. I remember deciding to "hang out" with the guys in my department one day. That was fine with them. They let me come along - to the strip joint down the street, where they ate sandwiches, watched the strippers, and some of them got their checks cashed at the bar. Not comfortable. I remember an early job interview in the eighties. The guy looked at me (dressed in full business suit, pumps, probably even with one of those nasty little bows at my neck), and said "have you ever fixed your car?" Um, no. Didn't get that job. It was fine to have things like pinups on the walls of some offices (this depended on the company, of course - the silicon valley was much more rollicking back then). And I happen to know that the stripper thing wasn't an isolated incident at all. It was fairly routine for managers to take engineers out to strip joints and so forth. Guy's club. "Huuuyuuuh" (insert some guy noise) It wasn't that women were hated. It wasn't that women were disliked. Heck, everybody likes certain body parts, right? It was that women's roles were: schoolgirl, hot babe, slut, mommy, principal, grandma, wizened old (probably sex-starved) unmarried woman, and so forth. Professional women were mostly secretaries. And they were good at getting coffee. There were some other women, but being a woman was practically a blue-collar occupation in the olden days. And the women who broke through those barriers were really tough. I laud them. Nowadays, and I want you all to really listen to this: Nowadays, you can be a professional woman without putting on a suit of armor, and you can be more yourself than some puffed up "professional woman." Sure, you have to be professional, but you are allowed to own more feminine attributes - they're not seen as harbingers of emotional breakdown. Because some of the women who are now still larger than life and in their sixties worked for years, often wearing the *worst* clothes, to establish "female cred," the workforce finally "got it." Ohhhhhhh. Huh. I guess that it *doesn't* matter if you have boobs. You *can* use your brain for more than typing, huh? Do any of the young, feminism-rescinders out there realize that you could, in the "olden" days, have a MA from MIT in computer design and if you ever DID get a job, you would be expected to just type for your department? Forever? Until you met and married some nice man and stayed home to ... turn into an alcoholic or something? Several years ago, I bought a copy of "Free to Be You and Me" for my kid. "It's classic," I thought. I listened to it and it blew me away. So much of it was about how it was "OK if a mommy wants to be a lineman." Over and over again. Telling kids that it was OK if women worked in jobs that were traditional guy jobs. I found myself thinking "Big Duh. It's not rocket science that a woman can be a policeman." But it WAS back then, folks. It was back then. It's still tough on the younger women coming in, but as I drive down the street I see young women policemen, young women Cal-Trans workers, young women in construction gear. Is that cool or what? Do any of the "oooh, ick" non-feminists realize that years ago they just flat-out weren't allowed to have certain types of jobs? And, of course, that as a woman, you were paid a pittance. Money and power. Money and power. I'm out of time. Gosh. No time to mention that culturally in the fifties and sixties, it was pretty acceptable to walk away from your "downer" wife and kids without paying child support (at least in the eyes of the law.) I believe that it was in the seventies that the child support laws were established, which helped many of us who grew up during that time. And how about the fact that because of feminism, men are much more involved now in raising their children. You see, in the rigid role-bound culture of the fifties, Dad's role was "with the guys." In the 2000's, it's OK for Dad's role to be with his family, and as a family face what needs to be done financially. Stridency is a natural stage when a group of people are fighting for a new social status. And yes, feminists were strident. Guess what, our "sisters" were also strident when they demanded the vote! (Thank you for that.) Anybody who wants to do something differently in a society is strident. Get over it. Adrienne Rich ,example poem, once referred to feminism, or "women's liberation" as she preferred to call it, as "potentially the ultimate democratizing force": "It is fundamentally anti-hierarchical, and that involves justice on so many levels because of the way women interpenetrate everywhere. And the places we don’t interpenetrate--the higher levels of power--are bent on retaining power, retaining hierarchy, and the exclusion of many kinds of peoples." Too bad that the right-wing nasties have been able to put their evil-smelling spray on terms like "civil liberties" and "feminism," isn't it?

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    On Religion and 5 Year Olds, Rental Cats, and Osiris

    I have been hosting a homeschooled girl on Friday mornings (for about 3.5 hours ! ) to do art and play with my son. Her parents are extremely conservative Catholics, and the mom is pretty secure in it, since we’re as close to pagans as it gets in our conservative, respectable neighborhood. At any rate, I think it’s sheer earnestness of parenting (and a rejection of the strange “mainstream” values that we see in this area) but I seem to have befriended lots of people from very different cultures. Our friends include an Egyptian friend who was made to go to British schools and a German convent school while growing up. A Singaporean friend who is a very passionate, artistic woman, who went to a British international baccalaureate degree-typed school (which she characterized as “harsh), who is very disciplined and driven to raise her children without pejorative strictures. A very nice wife of the local Russian Orthodox priest, who was homeschooling, but has now found a Russian Orthodox church 45 minutes away, at which she volunteers so that her children can be taught there. And our neighbor, who is Russian Islamic, married to a Persian, who homeschools, but is now sending her daughter (sometimes) to the same preschool where my son attends. It’s a nice area. We like all of these people and are learning a lot from them. My son, of course, has received, instead of religious instruction while growing up, a good grounding in mythology and comparative cultures and religions. He can tell you about Scylla. Likes to play, as he used to call it, “feeseus and the minotaur,” has Ganeshes in the garden and a Buddha in the walkway, and so forth. The afterlife? Every time I think about the afterlife, I think of George Carlin’s views on religion. The result, of course, is that the my son's big knowledge about afterlife is that Cerberus lives there. Oh yes. And what he learned at “Lion King: the Musical.” Last week (this is why I’m telling all this), I was rolling on the ground. He was in the back playing with his friend whom we’ll call Rosalind. As I came back, they were arguing. Strongly. “Mommy,” said my son. Rosalind says that there is only one God. I say that there are many!!!!” “Oh dear,” I thought. “This is starting pretty darn early” I managed to diffuse it by talking about context (last week’s lecture whilst locked in the carseat, BTW.) “That’s because you are talking about the Gods that different cultures have believed through the years. Rosalind is talking about her personal belief..” Thank goodness that seemed to do it. Should be interesting when he decided to hammer out his own personal belief, though. I'm looking forward to it. Last year, he told me that our family worshipped Athena. Rosalind, that same visit, informed us very seriously, that “dragons are much closer to demons than to heaven.” I snuffed that one out, telling her straightfaced that “some dragons are extremely good and do good for the world.” The second interaction that made me laugh was today. They were playing with the cat and having one of those marvelous five-year old conversations. So adult, but so ... five. Rosalind, it seems, would love a cat but doesn’t have one. “You could get a rental cat,” said my son. Five year old conversations rock. - Kate BTW, from our archives. Good Egyptian myths What happens after death in Egypt And a new find: The Heathen Handbook

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    I love the valley

    I do. I just flat-out love the silicon valley. Sometimes I forget, like when I'm surrounded by minimally friendly, overly groomed mommies whose kids give mine the "Menlo Park Blank Stare" instead of a friendly "hi" at the park, but since I now go to Palo Alto parks, we don't encounter that any more. Last night, I went to an architecture SIG group meeting to hear our friend Tom Conrad discuss the new architecture of Pandora. It was grand. It was especially grand because I got to hear the first hour's worth of questions, in which everyone asked all sorts of non-architecture questions, and then I went shopping and came back. Perfect for my level of non-technical expertise. The architecture SIG reminded me the clean and pure part of the valley. Smart, classic geeks, who are interested in things, who have passions about things that they're interested in, talking about those interests. The head of the SIG told me that during the last space launch, they had someone from NASA come to the group to talk about the architecture of how they got stuff in space to work. (Um, nontechnical description) It's been a decade since I had the honor and pure, uncomplicated pleasure of working in an engineering department, and frankly, I miss it. I moved from there into marketing bunny territory (well, that's what the marketing departments were called at NeXT) , and I miss it. For over a decade, I felt like an honorary guy. It was typically me and about 20 hardware engineers and boy was it great. Like the time that someone mentioned blowing things up as a child and it turned out that (oddly enough) 22 members of the department were total pyromaniacs when they were younger. (Who knew?) It turned out to be good training for me to eventually become a boy-mom. I'm on the lovely Nexodus email list, which was started with the first major exodus from NeXT (get it?). That was back in the days, of course, when people held "NeXTorcisms" when you left the company, and when we were still proud at having created buzzword bingo at one of the vaunted Santa Cruz offsites. At any rate, someone just posted an old game from NeXT days. I remember this game! AcChen. Heard about it? While I was looking at the game, I checked out the rest of the site and was intrigued by the lego collection page. This, my friends, is what the silicon valley is about. Smart people having fun, being good at stuff. Oh yes, and that new thing - becoming wildly successful. You know, for years and years, though, the valley was here and doing extremely well without the expectation that you'd end up as rich as Croesus. I remember years ago, having someone tell me about what motivates engineers. I think that it's making really cool stuff, being part of an awesome team, and making money. The person telling me this (a manager), told me that if you offer two of the three, you'll get the engineer. Nowadays, when my friends say things like "We make 250K a year and we're just barely getting by" (and they're serious), it takes more money to live in the valley. Actually, it takes insane amounts of money to live in the valley. But deep underneath the exorbitant costs of renting or buying a home, and the $1.00- plus a pound prices for things like cabbage which rip-off places like Whole Foods charge... Deep underneath, in the subterranean rivers of the soul of the silicon valley, fun, creativity, and a real sense of respect and community still thrive. Long may it live. [first written 12/05]

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Boy Totems Snaps are IN!

    OK, please excuse the lousy cropping and layout, but here they are: some snaps of how my child's brain works. And mine, if you realize that I actually tracked these down and photographed them! Boy Totems.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    School Notes

    We have decided where to send my son to school. We'll be sending him to the German Immersion program at the German American school. This is not the German government-sponsored program in Mountain View. This is the more relaxed, more culturally inclusive program at the Menlo Park German American School campus. We are very happy about our choice. It's pretty funny - a dark horse choice. We looked and looked and I can tell you stories about some of the private schools that we looked at - but I'll probably have to screen the names or risk ... I dunno. What's the middle-class version of retribution? Shunning? At any rate, I have one thing to say about our entire school search. OK. More than one. Let's start with the obvious racism thing. There are so many people in the silicon valley - Northern silicon valley (Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton) who want their children to learn Spanish. Honest. And no, it's not just so that they can talk with their babysitters . Spanish is a very cool language. It's beautiful. It has wonderful children's songs. The Spanish, Mexican, and Central and South American cultures are rich. We live in an extremely wealthy area. Wealthy people are forever looking to see what their money can buy their children, in terms of better schooling. One of the best things to buy your kid is learning another language early. Of course it's best if the family is interested, and if the language comes with some understanding of the world and the culture that the language comes from, n'est pas? There are several international schools around. They teach French and Chinese. (And of course, the occasional German one.) In San Francisco there is a Russian school. There are no private spanish immersion schools. Interesting, hmmn? One school in Palo Alto (Escondido) offers a spanish immersion program. If you live in Palo Alto (I do not), you can enter your child in the lottery and if they win, they can be in the immersion program. Otherwise, you can go to one school in Mountain View, or Adelante school in Redwood City. Does anybody out there have any idea about the amount of interest that a spanish immersion private school would have? I'll bet it would be high. I have spoken with several teachers from South America who tell me that the standards for being a teacher in South America are higher, and the teaching more rigorous, than here in California. Is there awareness of this? Nope. I have not had time to do an incisive reportorial job on this, but have a few poorly-based comments to sling around anyway. A friend of mine tells me that she is considering pulling her child out of one of the public school spanish programs because he is bored to tears. She tells me that there is very little math or science in the program (compared to the private schools), and that as far as she can tell, there aren't even many good textbooks for teaching this stuff in spanish for California students. Interestingly enough, there seems to be a real understanding of what "chinese" culture means for education (pretty strict), and what "french" culture means for education (pretty strict- although I paraphrase :-)). But there doesn't seem to be an understanding of what spanish-based culture means for education. Is this because spanish is spoken by so many countries? Or is this because most of the people in this area don't talk with spanish-speaking people as peers, and they don't really even think of the spanish-speaking cultures as something that could GIVE? Beats me. It's a darn shame that this wealthy, spanish-redolant area cannot start a wonderful private spanish-immersion school. Amazing. I keep wondering if people are afraid that if they send their kids to one, the kids will turn out to be poor immigrants? The German culture for teaching children is a wonderful one, and the German approach at the German school is (uniquely enough, for the silicon valley at this point in time), not fear-based. Instead, it is inquiry-based. Well-structured, but focused on devoping intellect, awareness, good thinking, social context, and the ability to look at things and ask the right questions. The German school teaches to the International Baccalaureate degree, which we like for world view. We had thought to send our child to the Waldorf school, but it wasn't the right fit. The German International school seems to incorporate a lot of what we liked about the Waldorf education without a smidgen of anthroposophy. Since we're allergic to organized religion, that's nice.


    Now that I have cleared the decks and have absolutely no time in life, I have found the most seductive website! I am still a voracious reader, and this site is all about reading Readerville

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    Mom without a Mom's Club

    Yahoo! When I was younger, I could never imagine what those suburban women were talking about when they listed "volunteer work" in their (social) resumes. Huh? I was raised by hippies in the mountains. About the only volunteer work that I (or anyone I knew in the seventies, for that matter) did was attend the occasional protest. Now that I'm a real, honest-to-God forty-five year old suburban mom in a silicon valley suburb, I can testify to the whole "nonprofit/volunteer" thing. Been there, experienced it. Odd. Yes, I've always known that some people in the world like to be "pink ladies" and such. I've actually known some of them -- oh yeah, even as a child. Hmmn. Forgot about them. I guess that sort of thing goes into the "valued very little because it's just women and they don't get paid" bucket. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. I have never really liked people all that much, and being pleasant is such a severe psychological strain, that I would never greet people at a hospital. Give me a keyboard and a database. Tell me what's wrong. I'll get you a nice, comforting information structure thank you very much :-) Well, I've been in a women's club (just turned nonprofit) for two years, and just jumped ship. Given the amount of attendant wierd female-politics and such, I looked at the 21 huge things on my to-do list, looked at the new (real world) projects in my lap, and cut the cord. The interesting thing is, as far as I can tell, that if you DO get into a volunteer experience and you're competent, then more and more and more work just ... comes your way. Yeah. And if you're obsessive and tie your self-worth to that overachieving feeling, well... my goodness, you can dig yourself one huge hole! Especially if the powers that be find you too ... intense. The great news is that I am no longer getting two hundred messages a day about mom's club issues. Ick ick ick! The even better news is that I can work on, um, new things (said obliquely.) I recently spoke with someone who is doing a startup. He's done a fair share of nonprofit work, and his comment was that for-profits are great. "They're very clear," he said. "When people aren't getting paid," he said "they get wierd." From now on, I think I stick to boards and leave the worker bee stuff to the next generation, but I raise a toast to all of the hard-working nonprofit people out there. In the meantime, check out this url. Have you heard of microisv? Yeah. I knew you had. Time to get back to work. I like "clear."

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Notes on Camp

    I love the New York Times. Today it led me to a reading of Susan Sontag's "Notes on Camp" which I'd never read.

    Oh, my totemistic life

    I live with a preliterate. There are totems and meaningful arrangements of things all over the place. Sometimes I expect to find a little, feathered clump with a small hatchet next to it. Say, under the dining room table. We did this on purpose, of course. We have raised my 5.5 year old child on stories (mom and dad tell them - Simon now helps), and we have given him wierd-ass toys. Oh yes, and we haven't let the commercial nasties take up residence inside of his mind. We don't lock him up in the closet or anything. I just let him watch "dragon tales" the other day for the first time. It corresponds with a video game I got him for Christmas (darn it). He loves it and unfortunately knows the song already. He loves Jimmy Neutron and Toy Story. But his brain is not dominated by them. Today I went into the kitchen to see two children's chairs. One was upended on the other to provide a table. On the table was a little manniken next to a small paintbrush. On the table, next to them, was a wooden model of Apollo 11, on its side so that the door could open. Neatly arranged underneath it was a card ("magic 2" as it turns out. Who knew?). Neatly aligned with the spaceship were about 8 crayons, stacked so they looked like a pathway. Lord knows what the whole thing represented, although I will report that when the creator showed up, he began flying the manniken around on the paintbrush. Obvious, n'est pas? Yesterday, I heard "h'-aaaaaah!" repeated about 15 times coming from Simon's bedroom. I walked in to see Simon, holding one of his knights (we bought him knights in Paris - that started all sorts of things!). The knight yelled the battle cry and attacked the round glass orb that we gave Simon for Christmas. Why did we give our son a round glass orb? Well, it's cool, of course. It has bubbles in it and looks magical. At any rate, the knight was attacking the round orb and pushing it across the carpet. At the end of the carpet, the orb rolled onto the hardwood floor and the knight did a jubilant dance. Then they started over. We have played with as much "garbage" as we have new stuff. I have a hard time throwing away old toys because (I hate to admit this) but ... I have always *liked* those cars with the barbie dolls and toys glued all over them. They look like great fun! Perhaps when Simon's a bit older, we can buy a golf cart or something and give it a real "decorating job." In the meantime, I watch him and wish that we had a professional photographer living in the guest room for a few weeks. The arrangements that I find all over my house -- and their attendant totemistic powers and meaning -- are really, amazingly neat. I'll start taking photos, but in my mind's eye I see them up on the wall in an art gallery. If you think about it, and if you think about the more textural modern artists, what they seem to be able to do is to study and understand every aspect, every rule of art itself. Then, like Joyce, they throw away the rules and reach way down deep in themselves for an essence, a feeling. Perhaps it's what was going through their heads at 5, before they could read? The amazing connections to things, the magic attached to almost every item. The story? At any rate, I have seen arrangements like my son does, but they've been done by professionals. What a lovely thing to watch!

    Sunday, January 01, 2006

    Judaic Frustrations...

    OK, so I'm not Jewish. And I cannot convert because I happen to not believe in God and also find organized religion to be one of the most shameful and evil things in the world. But hey. Besides that, I think that Judaism is cool and have since I read Exodus at 12, living in the California mountains, where I had never seen or heard of a jew. At that exalted, 12 year old moment, I clutched the paperback to my breast and sighed "I wish I was Jewish." So here I am 32 years later, mad as a hornet, and not just because I've spent a day and a half searching for a hammer that I put down somewhere while hanging something. No. I'm mad because nobody will tell me what the damn letters on the damn dreidel look like. I'm hopping mad. I have just spent about 1/2 hour on the internet, looking for instructions. You know, if you type in "instructions for draidel game" you get a bunch of wackos? Then, if you realize that it might be a good idea to spell it right, you get some lovely sites. Really nice, helpful ones. Like askmoses.com. I kid you not. It's a great idea though. You can ask questions about Judaism and other people can answer them. Very nice. They do give the instructions for playing the game, btw. Yes, yes, and the letters are an abbreviation for "a great ... ummm. what is it again?...miracle happened there" (I think.) Great. So then if one of the letters comes up you get half of the pot (OK), and if Gimel (choose your spelling, btw) comes up, you get everything. Lovely. Nice. Very helpful. Which squidget is the Gimel, please? No answer. Nobody will tell me. I ask the one *real* Jew in the house, my husband, who was raised by socialists in the Bronx. He's got no idea. For this I made latkes last night? Sheesh. No help at all. I keep looking on the internet. ehow.com has some nice instructions. Lovely. What do the damn letters look like? Hooray! I found them! Here is a definition of the Chanukah letters! OK. Now all I have to do is find my &*()(*&) screwdriver, so I can put the AA batteries into the electrical dreidel launcher so that my kid and husband can buy dueling dreidels. Luckily, I do know where the geld is. And, of course, the chardonnay. Is that mentioned anywhere?

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    What's all this fuss about the Google Print Initiative?

    Troy Williams, a very respected academic librarian, is tracking the Google Print Initiative. He offers a very clear overview of the situation in his blog.