Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yikes! Not another one!

I've been drafting a couple of different blog posts with the Katrina Anniversary in mind, but now we have Tropical Storm (possibly Hurricane) Gustav down in the Caribbean, soon to be in the Gulf, and things in this area are going in to hurricane preparation mode...which means I must do that also. So, unless Gustav changes his mind and heads for Texas or Mexico, I will be probably be offline for a few days. (I hope it won't be longer than that--it depends on where I evacuate to, if evacuate I must, and whether the electricity goes out.) Bye for now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Alternative Olympic Sports

My last post noted that the IOC has added BMX racing to the Games this year. In an earlier comment Steve Malley had listed BMX as one of the sports on his list of fantasy Olympics games. His others are pole dancing and dodgeball.

I suggested the addition of pogo stick. Steve Malley immediately came up with a list of pogo stick events: "single pogo, team pogo, triple-bounce for height and again for distance, single-bounce the same way, perhaps even a sort of pogo-obstacle course!"

Lana Gramlich suggested bungee jumping....(Cool, but really scary to me--no heights, please!)

Shauna Roberts suggested cat herding--it "would require athletes with speed, balance, and agility." (Claw-proof uniforms, too...that probably would be the most challenging Game of all.)

Bzzzt! (Light bulb above head) Faithful readers, what are your ideas for alternative Olympic sports?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Olympic Sport Added This Year

In response to Excelsior, my August 12 post about the Olympics, Steve Malley commented with his typical dry wit, "I'm waiting for pole dancing, BMX biking and dodgeball to be admitted as new sports..." Well, Steve, one-third of your wait is over: BMX is now part of the Olympics, beginning with the Beijing games this year. Who knows, maybe in 2012, the IOC will add pole-dancing and dodgeball, especially since they're removing softball.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Few Interesting Links

I recently came across some interesting blog/website links to share with you. I can't recall where I found two of them, so if those two came from any of your blogs/websites, I apologize for not being able to credit you:

1. On Indexed Jessica Hagy cleverly converts all kinds of ideas and concepts into graphs and charts. Humorous and good for a daily laugh. This has become so popular she has produced a book, which you can buy from any of several popular online booksellers through links on her website. The book's description on states:

A unique, hilarious take on the modern world

Jessica Hagy is a different kind of thinker. She has an astonishing talent for visualizing relationships, capturing in pictures what is difficult for most of us to express in words.

At, she posts charts, graphs, and Venn diagrams drawn on index cards that reveal in a simple and intuitive way the large and small truths of modern life.

Praised throughout the blogosphere as "brilliant," "incredibly creative," and "comic genius," Jessica turns her incisive, deadpan sense of humor on everything from office politics to relationships to religion.

With new material along with some of Jessica's greatest hits, this utterly unique book will thrill readers who demand humor that makes them both laugh and think.

2. Contrarywise is a website featuring literary tattoos--tattoos based on books, poems, lyrics, and many other things. The site is simple: a photo of each tattoo, with a blurb underneath setting out the exact language used in the tattoo, and usually an explanation of why the person chose it. Some of the tattoos are copies of illustrations from books rather than quotations, such as the rocking-horse fly by Victorian illustrator John Tenniel from the 1871 first edition of Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

It's fascinating to see the quotations people choose to wear on their bodies. I'm not into tattooing myself, but if I were to get one it would be a quotation from a book. For example, an excellent one recently posted is a quotation from Gandhi: "My life is my message."

3. On The Ninth Muse, my friend roz m has a link to Wordle, which she says "makes a word cloud that visualizes the word frequency in a passage you copy to the wordle site. You can experiment with different layouts, colors, and fonts until you find the image that makes you most content. This seems like a good tool to use in writing; it could allow you to see what the dominant words (and the ideas linked to them) are in a chapter or scene." Clever idea. Thanks, Roz, for the link and for your description of it. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to experiment with it on my aging and cranky home computer, but I plan to try it on my office computer next week.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Crusie's "The Double-Edged Blog"

(Yikes, two posts back-to-back! Is the world ending?)

I just read Jenny Crusie's latest entry on Argh Ink, "The Double-Edged Blog." Jenny's a best-selling author of women's fiction, known for her great sense of humor. She blogs about her works-in-progress, the businesses of writing and publishing, and life in general. She's found that while her blog gives her a chance to express herself freely on topics beyond her writing, it also results in the occasional flame-war from readers who don't like her opinions. She analogizes blogging to a double-edged sword:

I found out that blogs were a chance to say anything I wanted and I was hooked. For awhile, everything was lovely, and then I posted something a lot of people didn’t like. I can’t remember what it was now, but it was the first time somebody said to me, “You know, you should stop blogging, it’s going to hurt your career.” I said, “How is that possible?” and she said, “If they don’t like what you say on your blog, they’ll stop buying your books.” That was incomprehensible to me then, and it’s still puzzling to me now. ...

Then I tripped again, this time because I was thoughtless (this happens a lot). One of my friends got a ludicrous letter from a reader and I posted it with her first name on it. That was flat out wrong of me, and I did apologize and take the name off the blog but basically, I screwed up. First lesson: Never blog when you’re really angry but not admitting it to yourself. Practical application: Wait twenty-four hours before you post something you’ve written.

Then while I was being careful on Argh–well, careful for me–I lost my temper on somebody else’s blog and became The Author Who Is Pro-Plagiarism (because that was more fun for people to get upset about than The Author Who Thinks This Is Being Handled Badly and People Should Stop Author-Bashing Until They Know the Facts). This annoyed some people so much that they’re still mad at me; some of them cornered Bob [Mayer, Crusie's co-author on a couple of books] at Thrillerfest to tell him just how awful I am, as if he didn’t know the black depths of my heart already. And of course, they’re never going to read me again. (Actually my fave comment about the whole mess was on another blog: a reader said she was never going to read me again and then followed it up by saying she’d never read me before either. I kept thinking of the old “Doctor, will I be able to play the piano after my broken arm heals?”/”Of course”/”Funny, I couldn’t play it before” joke, but that’s probably just more evidence of how depraved I am.)

I always enjoy Jenny's blog entries, whether or not I share her point-of-view on certain issues. I'm baffled by the people who incite flame-wars because someone has an opinion that differs from theirs. Or, even worse, those who begin online campaigns against a particular writer because they don't like his/her point of view.

Jennie's blog entry is well worth reading, especially for anyone who's had a similar blog-experience. Several of the comments following it are thought-provoking, too.

As Jenny says:

I feel strongly that anybody who evaluates the rest of the people in the world by how closely their attitudes and statements agree with her worldview is in danger of structuring a life much like the Alberto Gonzales Justice Department. We don’t learn from the people who agree with us, we learn from the people who make us say, “Wait a minute,” and that learning goes both ways. I learn a lot from the critics who intelligently analyze my books and find them wanting; I’ve also learned a lot from the people who have thoughfully and calmly disagreed with me on this blog. Haven’t learned a thing from the shriekers and condemners, though.


I'm taking a break from my vacation to immerse myself in the 2008 Summer Olympics. I am a total non-athlete, yet I love the Olympics. My sleep/wake cycle has been disrupted as I try to follow the late-night/all-night broadcasts.

This year's opening ceremony was the most fabulous ever--amazing, beautiful, enchanting, overwhelming--with such creativity in its different elements. And, wow, what a way to show off China's huge population: over 15,000 individuals performed in the spectacle. I did wonder, while watching the segment of 2008 drummers beating huge drums, whether this wasn't meant to remind all of us that China has one-fifth of the world's population.

I always enjoy watching the Parade of Nations, when the athletes from the various countries make a circuit around the stadium. I particularly like seeing the native costumes some of them wear.

I prefer the individual sports such as swimming, diving, and gymnastics to the team sports such as volleyball and baseball--although I will watch the basketball finals if the USA ends up in them.

The TV coverage in the U.S. is limited to whatever NBC wants us to see. I wish I could pick and choose what I see. NBC shows different sports on various cable channels it owns, but I don't have access to several of them. If I had a newer computer, I could view video of other sports I'd like to see (such as archery and equestrienne events) on NBC's Olympics website. My computer, however, is aging and temperamental and it limits my online activities. It no longer will play videos.

Ah, the same old story: an info junkie who either can't get enough info, or is inundated with so much info it's overwhelming.

I have enjoyed watching Michael Phelps achieve his record number of gold medals in swimming, and the US gymnastics teams win silver and bronze medals.

A different type of entertainment is hearing the sniping and petty politics, such as:
  • The press discovered that the little Chinese girl who sang at the opening ceremony was in fact lip-synching to the voice of another little girl whom the Chinese government deemed insufficiently pretty to represent their country publicly. (Stewart Sternberg posted a good blog entry on that.)
  • Famous gymnastic coach Bela Karolyi complained that the members of the Chinese women's gymnastics team surely are underage. The rule of the international gymnastics organization is that they must be 16 years old.

International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) officials have accepted the passports of the Chinese women, which indicate all are old enough to compete. Karolyi is originally from Romania, and he says falsifying documents is a common practice in totalitarian regimes such as Romania, Russia and other former Soviet bloc nations.

The solution, he said, is to not have any age limit. He believes if a gymnast is good enough to earn a spot at the Olympics or world championships, that athlete deserves to go. He said some juniors today are just as proficient as the age-eligble competitors.

To me, almost all of the Chinese team look younger than 16--one looked to be no more than 10 or 11. I don't know a lot about gymnastics (except the bits I pick up every four years while watching the Olympics), but it's obvious that child-size gymnasts are lighter and more flexible, and can do better contortions, leaps and flips than adult-size bodies. On the other hand, since the age limit presumably is there to protect the very young gymnasts, I don't agree with Karolyi's solution of doing away with age limits.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Good Site for Post-Katrina Photos

As we swelter through The Month That Contains the Third Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (better known to most of you as August 2008), I may be posting only Katrina-related entries. Or maybe not. For right now, I'm linking to Pontchartrain Pete's blog, in which he's recognizing The Anniversary Month by posting a new Katrina photo every day of the month--his theme is "One K a Day."