Monday, April 30, 2012

A-Z: Could Spend My Life Watching Zoo Cams

Elephants and Lions and Otters, Oh my!

Animals are amazing, IMO. That's why watching them on zoo cams is one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.
Please note - if you computer and speeds are fast enough and you have enough broadband, you can stream any of the video feeds. Do not try to stream them all at once or your 'puter will hate you.  Pause or stop the others before hit play on the next.

I'm not really a birder, but I really enjoy watching these eagles in their nest. Aren't they beautiful?

From the Woodland Park site:
Woodland Park Zoo's Bear Cam features two grizzly bears in the award-winning Northern Trail exhibit at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo’s two grizzly bears are brothers named Keema and Denali and are 17 years old (2011).

The brothers arrived here from Washington State University in 1994. WSU maintains a small population of grizzlies in order to conduct long-term studies on bear nutrition.

Various artificial elements including rockwork, a stream and deep pool that maintains 20-30 live trout, many that have lived in the pool for several years. The bears actively “fish” for the trout, occasionally teaming up to corral and capture the trout.

NOTE: Sometimes the bears are out of view from the camera when they are fishing for trout in the pool. They are also much less active during the colder winter months.

The bears are scatter-fed throughout the day --- i.e., small food items are placed throughout the exhibit, allowing them to wander searching for their food, just as they would in the wild. This gives them the opportunity to explore the full area of their exhibit. Since this is a large exhibit, they may not always be visible.

Brown (grizzly) bears are an endangered species in the lower 48 contiguous United States (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). We partner with the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project to protect bears and teach local communities how to live in harmony with these magificent animals.

Learn more about the bears and Woodland Park Zoo's other amazing animals at 

Herd of elephants, including babies? Follow the link to the San Diego Safari Park Elephant Cam.

The National Zoo (Smithsonian) has a multitude of zoo cams for creatures ranging from cheetahs to ferrets to lions.  (Note: depending on your browser, you may need to install a Windows Player Plug-in to view some of the zoo cams.)

Sometimes you can see something amazing, like this hatching of a California Condor chick.(There were once only 22 of them left alive. With an intensive breeding and recovery program, there are now going on 400, with many living in the wild again.)

June 2009 - Grand Canyon, South Rim. Flying free.
California condors are extremely ugly and clumsy on the ground, but amazingly graceful in the air. It's very hard to tell when they are aloft, but their wingspan can reach up to nine feet. I feel very privileged to have seen several during my trip that summer. (Yes, I cried like a baby.)

Navajo Bridge over the Colorado. If you can spot the ID tag, you can go into the ranger station and they will look up the bird and her/his history. The heads don't become the telltale red until they reach about 4-5 years old, and they can't breed until they are 6-7. This bird was a young female. Condors are very social creatures and she seemed to like showing off for an appreciative crowd, though I did not get the best aerial photos of her.

Zoos in general leave me with mixed feelings. When I was a little girl, zoos were more arranged for the convenience of the visitor, rather than the captive animals. In recent years, that has been changing; habitats have been expanding, animals that are social, like elephants, apes, etc.  are now being kept in groups with their own kind, rather than the equivalent of solitary confinement. If the visitors can't easily see the animal, rather than penning the animals close to the windows and fences, they may add a zoo cam.

Yet, the animals are still confined and kept in an unnatural environment. There is something magical about seeing a wild animal in person; seeing the way sun or water glistens on its coat or scales or feathers, smelling the scent it exudes, hearing the cries and noises it makes, and if we're lucky, looking in the creature's eyes, that all the zoo cams and Nat Geo extraordinary photos can't reveal. And yes, most zoos are participating in one or several conservation programs that are truly bringing back animals, like the California condor, that would have gone extinct in the wild (mostly because of human action).

Still, I feel a bit guilty whenever I watch zoo cams or visit a zoo, and try to donate whenever I can to conservation projects. Minimize my carbon footprint and all that. It seems ludicrous to crowd animals into extinction so we can all watch hi-def video of the way they used to be, on our flat screen TV's.

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

I hope you enjoyed your visit today, and the rest of my posts on this theme.  Maybe are even Following me, yeah!  Which I totally appreciate and am so glad I'm here.

Following you back... *looks down, embarrassed* Right now my blog roll is severely constipated, and until I figure out how to unplug some of the stoppages, Google won't let me add more. So I don't auto-Follow back because I can't. Now that the challenge is over, if you Follow me and comment semi-regularly, I will find a way to do the same. Just haven't worked out all the kinks yet.  (It's not you, it's me.)

Can you spend hours watching critters on zoo cams?
What's your favorite animal to watch, either via zoo cam or in the wild?
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "Z"?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Here's What I Read in April
When I Was Too Burned Out To Write

I mentally separate my reading into four kinds of books:
  • Pay It Forward
  • Research
  • Enlightenment/Self Edification
  • Pleasure 
    Pay It Forward
    books are those written by authors I've met, either online or in person.  I'm hoping to love their books, be able to write a review that encourages other people to buy their work.  Sometimes I can, sometimes I feel like I can't write an honest review that says, "Buy this book, you'll love it!" which is a little awkward, but I'm always happy to support other authors, at the very least with my dollars.
    Research books are those in a genre I'm writing, or interested in writing.  (Christmas novellas, for example.)  Or which offer a very different take on something I need to learn.
    Enlightenment books are those which help me (in theory, anyway) become a kinder, wiser, gentler person.  Or at least catch me up to being a civilized and educated human being who's read the classics.
    Pleasure - sometimes it's a new pleasure, sometimes it's an old pleasure (Little Women) revisited, but books I think of as "Pleasure" are those I read for the pure joy of them.  Without any thought at all as to whether I will Learn Something I Can Apply To My Own Writing.

    I try to mix them up, although it would be very tempting to read for pleasure, all the time.

    What often happens in RL (Real Life), of course, is that there's all kinds of crossover.  I read Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing for research, but Mignon Fogarty's style is so light and witty that I ended up reading for and with pleasure.  Likewise Eden Bradley's Pleasure's Edge, and Rebekah Weatherspoon's Better Off Red, which I read as a combo of Pay It Forward books (having met both authors - lovely, lovely people) and as Research into erotica.  You know how there's some books you're willing to lend out, and some books you're not willing to let others get their sticky little paws on, ever, because those books don't leave the bedroom?  Yup.

    Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #1)Born Wicked - Jessica Spotswood

    I received this as an ARC from a contest I entered last year. Am fleshing out ideas for a paranormal I want to write, and this features witches, so I thought, okay, good Research. It's set in the late 1800's America, but not our 1800's America; it's an alternate history where witchcraft was real and welcomed - until it was suppressed by The Brotherhood. A time when teen girls think longingly of the freedom other women have in places like Dubai (I know, right?), and risk being executed for displaying any signs of witchcraft.

    The lead character, Cate, is a 16 year old witch, and so are her two younger sisters. Because her mother is dead, and her father is too often absent (and has no clue, apparently, that his late wife and his daughters are witches), it falls upon Cate to protect herself and her sisters. There's a love triangle, and a pressure in the patriarchal society to commit to a husband by one's 17th birthday, but that's not the main focus.

    It starts a bit slow, but is really, really well written, and although this is Not My Usual Thing, it sucked me in. There's a dynamic of love/competitiveness/overprotection between Cate and her next oldest sister Maura, that rang quite true. I will be eagerly looking to read the others in the Cahill Witch Chronicles.

    Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger
    I loved The Time Traveler's Wife, and so wanted/expected to love this book, too. I didn't.

    Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
    Set primarily in London, there's a double set of twins, a very interesting cemetery, a ghost haunting an apartment, and multiple secrets. But the plot was too convoluted (IMO) to follow clearly, and the characters, meh. The primary twin sisters, Julia and Valentina, are simply 20 year old blobs without anything much going for them, personality-wise than their bond with one another. There's a neighbor with a paralyzingly strong case of OCD, who is a fairly interesting character; the ghost aunt Elspeth is interesting (and, it turns out, despicable), and her lover, Robert, who is also personality-challenged. But there's nobody and no ending I was really rooting for, by the end of the book.  I will probably read another Niffenegger book, eventually, because her writing is so strong, but this one disappointed me.

    Better Off Red: Vampire Sorority Sisters Book 1Better Off Red - Rebekah Weatherspoon

    Vampire are Not My Thing. Lesbians - whatever floats your boat, but they don't "do it" for me. Sorority sisters? Like, no, d'uh!

    So I expected this book to be a sludge, hoping to find some slight thing I could praise, because I know the author (she'll be guesting here, later this year) and I wanted to find something, anything, nice to say about her debut novel.
    Instead, it was cover to cover pleasure. I wouldn't have read this book if I didn't know the author, but I can honestly say that I loved this book despite my normal indifference to its main elements.

    Ginger, the lead character, isn't really "into" the whole sorority thing, either (girl after my own heart), but agrees to accompany her roommate Amy through 'rushing,' with an eye to protecting her. She find herself joining a very different kind of sorority, and being paired with Camila. I don't want to give it away, but I will say that Camila is a fairly young vampire, despite being very powerful. She makes mistakes, which lead to some interesting plot twists, but also allow the relationship between her and Ginger to be more of love between equals, than between one superpowerful being and one naive young person, which I very much liked.

    There were a number of secondary characters and B-plots which I know will turn into interesting stories as the series continues. And the sex scenes were sizzling hot; I did not expect that they would be so, uhm, INTERESTING, to a person who doesn't swing that way. They are. *fans self, gets cold drink*  If you enjoy erotic fiction of any sort, read this book. You will not be disappointed.

    little book of SITCOM - John Vorhaus

    This was a Research book that I not only enjoyed, but can honestly recommend. I don't write Sitcoms, but I do write (or try to write) comedy, and I thought it might be helpful.  It is/will be.

    I don't want to give away the store, but this book offers many practical tips for getting UNstuck when you get that way, ways to present humorous ideas in a different way, and things that will help me with structure (one of my personal weak points) when trying to plan a novel. Basic ideas about how to pull stories out of thin air (so to speak).

    Currently it is only available as a Kindle e-book, but it is definitely worth the price, even if you, like me, have no intention of ever writing a sitcom.

    Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better WritingGrammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing - Mignon Fogerty

    I think for most people, reading a grammar book is right up there on their to-do list with having a colonoscopy - Do I have to?

    Or maybe that's just my own association, since I kept my own book in the bathroom and read it in bits and pieces. (It does lend itself well to that.)

    There are many things about writing I need to learn, which I hope will imprint themselves in my little pea-brain if I read them enough times. Fogarty not only offers the grammar rule, but clear and "sticky" examples that should help anyone but the most boneheaded imprint these rules and guidelines into her brain. Her own writing style in this is light, witty, and thoroughly enjoyable.

    I can (and probably will) spend much more time in the bathroom, perusing this book.

    Skinny: A Novel (P.S.) Skinny by Diana Spechler

    This book was picked by my Chick Lit Readers group. I'm not alone in saying I found it very disappointing. The cover and blurb made it sound very interesting, but in the end... The plot wasn't one, the main character was an unlikeable, self-absorbed bitch who really didn't seem to grow or learn anything throughout the course of the novel.

    Gray signs up to be a fat camp counselor because she wants to get close to a girl she thinks is her half-sister, then pretty much ignores this troubled teen so she can bang the camp phys ed instructor. Despite having a boyfriend at home.

    The closest thing to a likeable character is Bennett, the hot and studly phys ed instructor, but even as Gray is in his bed, he is reinforcing her eating disorders by complimenting her on her own weight loss, which she achieves basically by starving herself. Spechler does an excellent job of portraying the sensual feel of binging, and the high of starving oneself, but she doesn't model any good eating and exercise behaviors of anyone in this book. Most of the characters, from the sleazy, unqualified camp founder (really, would any parent drop $11k to send their kid to fat camp for 8 weeks where NOBODY was credentialed in any way?) to the kids themselves, were portrayed in an unflattering light. There's supposed to be a big mystery about the death of Gray's father, but in the end, the pay-off just felt... weak and rushed.

    I hate to bag on any author - writing a book is hard, hard work. This is not the worst book I have ever read. But, if you have issues centered around body-image, binging, anorexia, or other eating disorders, this book will neither help you learn new ways of dealing with life, nor help you feel better about yourself.

Heir to the Underworld - E.D. Walker
    Heir to the Underworld
    I loved that this book mixed Greek and Celtic mythology in a (fairly) believable way, and brought it to SoCal. (Why not, we got every other freak here, lol.) I also loved our lead heroine's voice - she sounded 16, whereas in a lot of YA the 16 year old sounds more like she's 60.

    What threw me a little in the beginning was the title compared to the plot; I thought the heroine, Freddy, was (or was supposed to be) the Heir to the Underworld. That refers to Polydegmon, the young man she falls in love with, though she is some kind of divine offspring, herself.

    I did love Freddy, and her powerful archery and sword-fighting skillz, though I thought her mother was a bit weak and vapid, until the very end. I also wished I had gotten to see Persephone, my own favorite of the Greek myths, but although the story involved her sons, daughter, and husband, she was MIA.

    The story concluded in a logical and satisfying fashion. Been puzzling over what didn't work for me, and conclude it was the pacing; some sections seemed to move a bit too fast, others seemed to drag a bit. But all in all I can recommend this as a good read and I'm looking forward to see what this author comes up with, next. 
    On Writing - Stephen King
    What can I say? I read it, like everyone recommends. Really liked it, like everyone said I would. I could add my own review, to the 1,080 currently on Amazon, or the 54,000 on Goodreads, but why?

    Tourist TrapTourist Trap - Sue Ann Bowling

    I have always wanted to go on an extensive, physically challenging vacation with a group of close friends. Maybe not while somebody with serious paranormal powers was trying to kill me...

    This book is a sequel, but also works as a stand-alone, to Bowling's Homecoming, which I also read and loved.  Another YA fantasy - the main character, Roi, is about 18 or so, as are his three best friends. It's very much a coming of age story, and for those who enjoy Mercedes Lackey (I'm a big fan) this type of story will feel both familiar and excitingly new.

    Bowling does a great job, IMO, of blending in sensual details: the look, smell, sounds and textures of the different areas as the quad learn to run dogsleds, hang-glide, horseback ride, and more. It felt like taking an entire vacation without leaving my couch - not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing!

    Loved this book, am really hoping she continues to write more in this universe.

    And now, for something completely different...  Music!

    Electric ForestElectric Forest - Gekko Projekt

    While there's nothing like hard rock to vacuum to, there are times something a little lighter, but still with a driving energy, hits the right spot. Electric Forest is one of those albums.

    It feels to me like Genesis (in the Peter Gabriel era) meets Emerson Lake & Palmer, with a little Rick Wakeman and Alan Parsons sprinkled in. If you like any of those groups, you should like this album.

    Not being a musician, I can't speak to all the points about syncopation and chord changes so dear to a professional musician's heart. I just know that I really am enjoying it; my fav parts being the keyboard and guitar solos that never take me exactly where I was expecting to go, but make me like it anyway. And how can you not fall in love with a song called "Cognitive Dissonance?" 

    Left on my TBR list from December:

    The Birthday of the World - Ursula LeGuin
    Messalina: Devourer of Men - Zetta Brown
    Uncut Diamonds - Karen Jones Gowan
    On Writing - Stephen King
    Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
    Daisy Miller - Henry James
    Bet Me - Jennifer Crusie
    Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffeneger
    Falling Leaves - Adeline Yen Mah
    Picture Perfect - Jodi Picoult
    Giving Up the Dream - J.L. Campbell
    Automagically - Sommer Marsden
    You Can Heal Your Life
    - Louise Hay
    Little Black Dress - Susan McBride
    Tourist Trap - Sue Ann Bowling
    Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
    Confessions of an Improper Bride - Jennifer Haymore

    Added to my TBR list, already on my Kindle or bookshelf:
    Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing - Mignon Fogerty
    Pleasure - Eric Jerome Dickey
    the little book of SITCOM - John Vorhaus
    The Darkest Surrender - Gena Showalter
    Bond Girl - Erin Duffy
    The Last Will of Moira Leahy - Therese Walsh
    Chasing Kate - Kelly Byrne
    Unravel Me - Christie Ridgway
    A Heart to Mend - Myne Whitman
    The Doctor's Lady - Jody Hedlund
    Born Wicked (ARC) - Jessica Spotswood
    Dev Dreams - Ruth Madison
    My Cheeky Angel - Mimi Barbour
    Katie's Hellion - Lizzy Ford
    The Inner Game of Stress - W. Timothy Gallwey
    First Grave on the Right - Darynda Jones
    Romance Novel - PJ Jones
    Living in Gratitude - Angeles Arrien
    Heir to the Underwood - E. D. Walker
    Bossypants - Tina Fey
    Train Your Mind, Change Your Life - Sharon Begley
    Better Off Red - Rebekah Weatherspoon
    Water - Terra Harmony
    The Cowboy's Pride - Charlene Sands
    The Bird Sisters - Rebecca Rasmussen
    Mercury Rising - Daisy Harris
    The Brenda Diaries - Margo Candela
    Hollywood Ending - Lucie Simone
    Are You There, Vodka?  It's Me, Chelsea - Chelsea Handler
    Devil's Kiss - Zoe Archer
    Melt - Natalie Anderson
    Inside Heat - Roz Lee
    The Sleeping Beauty (A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms)  - Mercedes Lackey
    Marriage Made on Paper - Maisey Yates
    Beloved - Toni Morrison
    The Awakening - Kate Chopin
    His Strength - Kiru Taye
    Just The Way You Are - Barbara Freethy
    Bloodchild and Other Stories - Octavia E. Butler
    Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo
    Just Like That - Margo Candela
    Twelve Times Blessed - Jacqueline Mitchard
    The Lantern - Deborah Lawrenson
    Danger Zone - Dee J. Adams
    The Possibility of You - Pamela Redmond
    Beauty and the Werewolf (A Tale of the Five Hundred Kingdoms)  - Mercedes Lackey
    Daughter of Fortune - Isabel Allende
    Alpha Wolf - Linda O. Johnston
    Asphodel (The Underworld Trilogy) - Lauren Hammond
    Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

    This damn thing's growing faster than my Visa bill.

    The details and sign-up are at Vicky's blog, Books Biscuits and Tea.

    Are there any books you're moved off your TBR pile so far this year?  
    Have you read any of the books I read?  
    Do you classify & separate the type of reading you do?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A-Z: You Knew YouTube Was Coming, Didn't You?

A picture may say a thousand words, but sometimes a video says all that and more. Which is why YouTube is one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.
 After all, we have to know what's trending, right?

 A few months ago, I stumbled across this video clip on somebody's blog, and fell in love...

Loved the song, loved the performance (both musically and visually), loved BeardGuy.  Loved loved loved. Bought their last album plus this single and played this song on my iPod, over and over and over again. (Seeing as this clip has had 9 bazillion hits and counting, I am not the only one who fell in love.)

And then I found the original version of this song, by the original artist, Gotye. In some ways I like it better than the first, and in other ways, it's almost too intimate, and I'm not referring to the nudity. (This one's SFW - Safe For Work, the nudity is artistic.)

Yes, I bought his album, too, and that also has received many many plays on my iPod. It's great.

Sometimes I see something on YouTube that touches my heart and makes me cry...
(if you want the entire story on Christian the lion, it's on YouTube, not just the short clips.  Start here

Sometimes it's not music, but some other weird "thing" that's got me mesmerized...

Totally hilarious, these two clips are totally NSFW (Not Safe For Work) but I can swear that most women have experienced one side or another of these portrayals

Since I read and write erotica, sometimes it can be... challenging to finish a scene and no boyfriend in sight. But now all I have to do is watch one of those clips, and somehow it takes the edge right off.

No further urge to shoot pool, with or without a rope.

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Do you get hooked on YouTube videos?
What's your favorite - comedy clips, music, self-help?
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "Y"?

(P.S. I am going to be incommunicado for part of the day, so it may take me a little while to approve your comment. It's not you, it's me.)
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Friday, April 27, 2012

A-Z: xkcd - So Funny in a Geeky Way.
Or Geeky in a Funny Way?

Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language. What's not to love?

Sometimes it educates my brain with Very Important Knowledge, like this dietary fact. Especially invaluable for those peeps who stocked up on the post-Easter candy sales. *looks at ceiling, whistles*
Cadbury Eggs
from xkcd
Sometimes the posts are something that leave me giggling, other times scratching my head and feeling sooper stoopid.

This is why xkcd is one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.
Like this strip. Is it about geeks, or romance, or both?

from xkcd
You'll notice sometimes when you roll your mouse over a cartoon in just the right spot, you'll get a pop-up text box with additional or behind the scenes information.  (Try around the girl's knees - well, where her knees would be, if she had knees - in the last cell of the cartoon, above.)

Talk dirty little astronomy secrets to me, baby.

Orion Nebula
from xkcd
Give me the full geek.I can take it, baby.
Wisdom of the Ancients
In case you were worried, xkcd not only allows sharing but even allows and encourages hot-linking. Yes, there is also merchandise you can buy: signed prints, posters, and even a book, which sends part of the profits to build a school in Laos through the charity Room to Read.
 For simple little stick figures, the artist makes them say a whole lot of stuff.

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Were you already an xkcd fan?
How about hooked on Cadbury Cream Eggs? 
(I miss the runny fillings, don't you?)
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "X"? (Liar!)
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

A-Z: WikiHow Knows All

Even if you weren't raised by wolves, there's probably more than a few things your momma or daddy didn't teach you.

That's where a site with more than 135 thousand How-To articles, complete with pictures and video, comes in handy. That's why WikiHow is one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed to your main reading site, or as an iPhone app, and get a sample of new articles every day. As I view it today, it suggests articles on How-To:
and much, much more.

It's the extraordinary eclecticism that continually catches my interest.

I will probably never need to know How To Take Apart a Bogen 3047 Tripod Head. But if I wanted to, I could, with the step-by step directions.

via WikiHow

And I actually do want to know How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake. Talk about taste the rainbow!

Source: via Beverly on Pinterest

And How to Fix Cut Flowers That Are Too Short. And How to Develop Psychic Abilities.

I wish I'd had the wit to read How to Avoid Common Beginner Blogger Mistakes, oh, about a year and a half ago.
Encourage comments.
Via WikiHow
 There are lots of associated articles linked at the bottom, too. (Oddly, none have to do with kittens.)

Besides the RSS feed, you can follow WikiHow via FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, and lots more. There's a search feature, a random article feature, and a Browse by Categories. I can (and have) spent hours on WikiHow.

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Are you a WikiHow fan?
Have you ever written or edited for the site?
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "W"?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A-Z: Vhat's a Venn Diagram?

If you're a sighted person, you've seen a Venn diagram. If you're like me, you had no idea what those circle thingies were called, but thought it might be cool to create your own, someday.

Let's ask Wikipedia:
Venn diagrams or set diagrams are diagrams that show all possible logical relations between a finite collection of sets (aggregation of things). Venn diagrams were conceived around 1880 by John Venn. They are used to teach elementary set theory, as well as illustrate simple set relationships in probability, logic, statistics, linguistics and computer science (see logical connectives).

Are your eyes crossing and your brain hurting? Me too. A picture is worth a thousand words.
This is a Venn diagram I created all by myself with the free version of Lucidchart
Note the high level of sophistication in my colors and design.

What other cool free graphics programs are there to play around with?  How about Wordle?

I used Wordle to quickly & easily create this, based on the words used in my Tiny Buddha post.
Unfortunately, getting your Wordle posted to your blog ain't that easy.
Sorry, this blog post is totally lame.  Here's a V site that's fun:

You can sign up and take quizzes to test your own vocabulary, look up words in the dictionary, or check a vocabulary list, like 100 words every High School Graduate Should Know. There are tips on frequently used homonyms, like discreet/discrete, faze/phase.

There's also a blog you can follow. And, you can sign up through FaceBook, but choose the option so only you see the posts it might make on your wall.  (Okay, now I have almost redeemed this post. (And pissed away time improved my vocab skills by taking 10 word quizzes.)

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Have you ever created a Venn Diagram?
Tested yourself on
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "V"?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A-Z: Pimp Your Vocab with Urban Dictionary

This didn't always have a disgusting secret meaning.
Is your dictionary chiseled into stone tablets? Is your vocabulary so ancient and dry that mummies are making fun of you? Are you puzzled that people snicker at the title of the Little Golden Book, on the left?

If so, you're a lot like me, which is why Urban Dictionary is one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.
Sometimes I want to know what something is, and my cobweb-covered Webster's has no clue.  Like what "emo" is. Urban Dictionary will at least point me in the right direction. (There are 1000+ definitions of emo there, but they all seem to include guys in heavy black eyeliner, tight jeans, greasy hair, and melodramatic music.)

Or, perchance, I might want to write dialogue for a character who is not 9 billion years old. And avoid making people toss their cookies by making a dumb reference to tossing a salad.

Urban Dictionary is a living, breathing thing.  People post their own made up words or phrases, and others vote on them (or make them popular, with or without thumbs up votes).

I grew up as the daughter of a Recyclopath, but I didn't have a name for him at the time.
 n. 1) A person who militantly engages in recycling and is so hostile to simply throwing away garbage, it borders on mental illness.
2) Pejorative for an extreme environmentalist
Leigh pees in a bucket and uses it to water and fertilize her garden--what a recyclopath!

My plan is to avoid nowhere stories, either telling or hearing 'em, as much as possible.
A tale or recount of an event or events that doesn't ever reach a particular point or meaning.
Duder 1: "So the other day I went into Foot Locker and saw a girl working there so I thought it was Lady Foot Locker, but it turns out it wasn't."

Duder 2: "Wow dude, thanks for that nowhere story."

Now see, I would totally have thought this was about the board game.
A veiled invitation for sex.
"Do you want to come over and, uh, play Trivial Pursuit?"

Granny (Looney Tunes)Granny (Looney Tunes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)I still have a few friends who do this (and not a one of them under 30 40 50). Bless them.
Unwanted, non-personal email received from a family member, friend or colleague.

Granny spam has usually been forwarded several times and concerns such inane topics as childish jokes, dubious political propaganda, spurious computer security alerts or claims of monetary recompense in exchange for forwarding of said spam.

Subject lines are often of the form "FW: FW: FW: FW: bullshit"

I know peeps who play Words with Friends... If they play this version, I really don't want to know.
Playing the popular online game Words With Friends....while going to the bathroom.
Everytime I go to the bathroom, I bring my cell phone so I can catch up on my Turds with Friends games.
Urban Dictionary also offers name fun. So like, if I ever get that name thing figured out with numerology, I can pick the best name.


A wonderful quirky artsy girl. Shy on the outside, yet complex and misunderstood underneath that shell. Very sexy, big boobs, great curves and loves to give pleasure as much as recieving. [sic] Super intelligent and very loyal. A keeper, a BFF, a soulmate
Bev is a BFF that will always be there for you in good times and bad, one that will never let you down
Awww, isn't that special?

Then again, maybe I want this kind of vibe:


n. one who is bringing sexy back; one who is a mammajamma; one who is straight up gangsta; one who is a BFF; one who takes M-Diddy to prom; one who mingles with chemistry teachers; one who has hott buttery buns; one who is hillbilly
Beverly is Jackocrackolyn, yo!


A girl who does not take shit from anybody, who is always ready to fight.She has a lot of friends but people tend to think she is annoying. Other then that she is very gorgeous, feisty, intelligent, and has a nice body. She is talented. She is unique and different.
Did you see Beverly today? she looked pretty but not her attitude. UGHHHH!!! she can be annoying sometimes

Okay, I'm annoying and ready to fight- but I at least I have hott buttery buns. And Urban Dictionary to help me figure out what an epiphanot is.

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Ready to pimp that Vocab?
What does Urban Dictionary say about your name?
(I know you went and looked it up.)
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "U"?
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Monday, April 23, 2012

A-Z: Tiny Buddha = Huge Life Lessons

Tiny BuddhaTiny Buddha (Photo credit: Lebatihem)I used to think of the concepts of Buddhism - with or without the religious beliefs - as a bit woo-woo, kind of "out there." Then I actually slowed down and took another look.

Turns out there is much power in that little round belly. And much wisdom in the site called Tiny Buddha, which has become one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.
Here's what site creator/writer Lori Deschene says about it:
Tiny Buddha is about reflecting on simple wisdom and learning new ways to apply it to our complex lives–complete with responsibilities, struggles, dreams, and relationships. Over the last three years, Tiny Buddha has emerged as a leading resource for peace and happiness, with more than 15 million views to date.
My name is Lori Deschene. Though I run this site, it is not mine. It’s ours. It’s not about me. It’s about us. Your stories and your wisdom are just as meaningful and useful as mine.
The site features tips and authentic stories from readers of all ages all over the globe. You’ll find posts about happiness, motivation, inspiration, love, relationships, meaning, possibilities, mindfulness, and letting go. Much of it has its roots in Buddhism, but this is not a site about religion. It’s about ideas that make sense and make a big difference when applied.
Sometimes the stories and posts - by Lori, by a multitude of guest bloggers - touch me deeply on a personal level. Other times they inspire on a creative level, or often, a blend of the two. Like this one from Tiny Wisdom - What It Means To Live the Dream:
Have you ever felt a sense of internal conflict about enjoying the present moment while also working toward your dreams?
Vietnamese devotional statue of the historical...Vietnamese devotional statue of the historical Buddha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)This is something I revisit over and over, because I know life happens now, and in order to fully live it, I need to accept what’s in front of me and experience it with complete awareness.
Yet I also want to expand, spread my wings, and see just how far I can soar.
A big part of that is visualizing what the future might look like—and then making and following a plan to get there.
This is where it gets tricky: what’s the difference between planning for tomorrow and living for it? What’s the difference between attaching to a possibility in a way that causes us pain, and believing in a possibility in a way that causes us joy?
To read the rest, click here.

Then there's 4 Reasons To Let Go Of Jealousy and Celebrate Your Greatness:
Realization #1: Being anything less than happy for others was blocking my own chance at success and happiness.
Like attracts like, so by ruminating in the idea that you don’t have what someone else does have, you’re simply attracting more of what you’re feeling: lack. This means you are actually pushing away the very things you’re craving.
Yet, if you are able to celebrate in the successes of others, you are sending a very clear message to the universe: “I’ll have some of that too, please!”
To read the entire post, click here. (Not that I've felt even momentarily jealous or envious of another writer's success. *rolls eyes*)

There's an overflowing abundance of inspirational quotes on Tiny Buddha. (Which, if you have WordPress, you can even set up a daily quote import on your own blog through their plug-in.)
Don't Postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson. ~Alan Cohen
Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens. ~Epictetus
Stress is cause by being 'here' but wanting to be 'there.'  ~Eckhard Tolle

There's a book full of goodness, too. Mine's on its way to me.

Every time I visit Tiny Buddha, there's a part of my soul or heart which feels fed.

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Are you a Tiny Buddha fan?
Got another quick way to get your Zen on?
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "T"?
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Saturday, April 21, 2012

A-Z: Snopes Has the Dopes on Urban Legends (Photo credit: biggraham)No matter what your aunt Bertha says about the perils of Burundanga soaked business cards, and no matter how many times other people forward the warning to you, it ain't true.

But sometimes, after you've heard it so many times, you start to think, hmm, well, maybe it is true, after all.  If only there was somewhere I could check it out...

We're in luck; there actually is. (Thank you, Internet! Back in the Dark Ages, we had to go around fearing there really were spider eggs in our Bubble Yum and kangaroo meat was being served at McDonald's. So that's why the meat is so... bouncy.)

This is why aka, Rumor Has It, is one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.
You may have used Snopes to verify whether President Barack Obama's birth certificate was legit or a forgery.  Or to check if any of the virus warnings zipping about the Internet were true.

But there's also some fun stuff here. On the day I visited, the question was posted, "Was the song 'American Girl' based upon a student's suicide at the University of Florida?

Just in passing, I wish a show like Burt Sugarman's Midnight was still around today. (What, you're still wondering about American Girl? Sheesh, click the link.)

I'm reproducing no quotes here, as the authors have specifically requested this not be done, not even their FAQs, with attribution.

Titanic via Wikimedia Commons
Fun areas to explore: The Hot 25, currently including the idea that the Titanic sank with a cursed Egyptian mummy in the hold. Whether water boiled in a microwave, then cooled, will harm plants.

We can search by categories. I had to find out what the Glurge Gallery was. (Don't read the description of what "glurge" is while eating.) We can see what urban legends currently exist about such subjects as crime, Disney, movies, sports, weddings, and much more.

I love the Lost Legends section.

Did you know Mr. Ed was not a horse? Or that there was a silent version of the film The Poseidon Adventure (where a ship hits an iceberg and sinks) was being screened on the Titanic as it hit the iceberg? That Sing A Song of Sixpence was code for Blackbeard the pirate recruiting a crew?

There's a Randomizer, there is odd news. It's like a trivia treasure chest.

I could (and have) spent a lot of time on And will again.

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Are you a Snopes junkie?
Ever believed an urban legend and found out it wasn't true?
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "S"?
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Friday, April 20, 2012

A-Z: Give Me that Old-Time Religious Tolerance

What?! Religious tolerance isn't an Old-Time value?! I am shocked, shocked! (Plus a little bit jazzed because I got to use an interrobang in the first two sentences.)
The symbols of fourteen religions are shown. Clockwise from the North Pole, they are: 
Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Wicca and some other Neopagan religions, Zoroastrianism, and Druidism.
IMO, religious tolerance is a heavenly pretty good idea, as our world becomes ever more filled with people who live and worship differently than we do. And if you hear about other religions and want to learn more, without having peeps in starched shirts knocking at your door (not that there's anything wrong with that), Religious Tolerance, the website, is a good place to start.

That's why Religious Tolerance is one of:
My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.
Want to see how long till TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) according to some interpretations of Mayan prophecy? We got your countdown timer right here!

(Call me a skeptic, I'm still making plans for New Year's Eve, 2012.)

Okay, back on point. The site is rich with information, essays (over 6,000), hot topics, forums, and religious news.  A good place to start is their Is this your first visit? page. A short excerpt of the viewpoint of the Canadian and American creators/volunteers who operate this site:
Some folks, particularly religious conservatives define "religious tolerance" as the belief that all religions are equally true, valid, and equally beneficial to the culture. We define the term differently: to be tolerant is to follow the Ethic of Reciprocity, a.k.a. the Golden Rule. That involves working towards a culture in which every person should be able to:
  • Follow their own religious beliefs, as long as they do not harm others;
  • Enjoy freedom of religious belief, speech and assembly, without discrimination or oppression
  • Change their religion if the wish, and
  • Make non-harassing, non-manipulative and on-coercive attempts to convert others.

We all have our own prejudices and upbringing as to what is "right" and what is "wrong" about religion and spiritual practices. Often, people with strong religious views wear their opinions on their sleeves. (Perhaps that should be, as their sleeves.)

When someone presents a religious view that is different from our own, we often have preconceived ideas about it, based on rumor, media presentation, or perhaps even from the representatives of that belief system, themselves. This site offers many answers to FAQ's about different religions.

Every time I visit, I find some belief system I had never even heard of. Druze. Ifa. The Creativity Movement. (Which sounded cool and kind of writer-ly until I clicked on the link and found it's basically white supremicism registered as a church/religion.)

Even if you think you're well-versed in your own belief (or disbelief) system, it may be worth a visit to see if there's anything about it you did not know. And for a writer attempting to portray people of various religious backgrounds, Religious Tolerance offers an invaluable starting place. (Note: there's a lot of pop-up ads, which can be rather annoying, but a site this big that gives content for free has to pay for itself, somehow.)

My A-Z theme is My 26 Favorite Ways to Piss Away Time Do Valuable Research on the Interwebs.

Truly, sometimes an idea from a "pointless" fun site or post or photograph does result in pages and pages of writing. Or at least a blog post or two.

Have you visited the Religious Tolerance site?
Do you think TEOTWAWKI is coming in December 2012?
Got other fun sites beginning with the letter "R"?
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