Monday, July 1, 2013

So Your Vacation was a Nightmare

Not a horrible nightmare -- no-one was hospitalized, nothing was ripped apart. A tear your hair out, what do you have against fun kind of nightmare. I can relate. In fact, my whole family can! It's not that we didn't have lots of fun. You'd be surprised how much fun two adults, three kids, and a dog can have in a sixteen foot trailer with a Coleman lamp and a port-a-pottie. When my family talks about the camping trips we took when we kids were really still kids, we'll reminisce about seeing Old Faithful and finding cool rocks and tramping through the woods. But then the real stories come out. Like the time we got together with a bunch of my folks' friends and all their kids. Playing Uno, shouting "R R R" and Raaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnneeeeeerrrrrrr Beeeeeer" with some other campers, being told by the park ranger to settle down. That was the trip where we went canoeing. Dad and his buddy were forced to trade places and the guides vowed never to let married people in the same canoe ever again. Said guides claimed to often see wildlife on the river banks. The only wild life seen that day was us. I ended up sharing my canoe with a couple of pre-teen boys. When we got close to the dock, they both reached for it -- we were much too far away -- and in we went. "Remember when the canoe tipped over?" my mom will say. "You're face was so red! I've never seen anyone with a face that red." Then we all laugh. Like we laugh about the time a kid threw a game across the trailer. ("Everyone was ganging up on me!" my now adult brother still rightly insists. And laughs a bit.) Like we laugh about the time we were NOT lost. We could see the building we were looking for. The only thing separating us and it was a couple dozen yards of blackberry bushes. We made the crossing with grim determination. Except the dog. The dog had to be carried. No fool, that dog. At the time -- nightmatres, all of them. Now? Good times. Good times.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

26 Monkeys, also the Abyss by Kij Johnson

This is a short story, so neither Good Reads nor LibraryThing is an appropriate place for it.

I found 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss online. It's available not only in print, but also audio. It appeared in Asimov's in July of 2008, and was a 2008 Hugo and Nebula award finalist. It won the 2008 Asimov's Reader's Award for best short story, as well as the 2009 World Fantasy Award for best short story.

Summary (contains spoilers, highlight to read, review below): The story tells of Aimee, her magic monkeys, and her boyfriend Geoff. Aimee bought the monkey show at a fair for $1, the price the man she bought it from paid for it. She needed to buy it, and the man understood. The monkeys do slight of hand (poorly), have an animal trainer act, and disappear from a claw foot bathtub. It's the last trick that perplexes Aimee. She has no idea how the monkeys disappear, though she suspects Zeb has something to do with it. She has no idea where the monkeys go. They return after a few hours, sometimes with treasures -- Moroccan slippers, foreign coins, cards, blocks. Sometimes one will come back pregnant or with another monkey. Eventually, an empty looking man comes up to her at a fair, saying he needs to buy the show. Aimee understands, and sells it to him for $1. A few months later, one of the monkeys turns up at Aimee and Geoff's apartment.

The story has 24 very short sections. It takes perhaps a half hour to read. It's a thoughtful, wondering kind of story. The language is mater-of-fact and descriptive. It's a telling story, rather than a showing story.

The monkeys-disappear-from-a-bathtub-onstage is never explained. It does, however, provide the base for philosophizing -- Where do the monkeys go? How do they go there? Why do they come back? Where did the come from? Which question is more important? What is "home"? Does everyone have one? How do so many monkeys of so many species get along so well? Why did Aimee need to buy the show? Why did someone else need to buy it? Why does anything happen, really? And does it matter?

Monday, August 24, 2009

I dunno. My friend set it up.

Creating a web based email account consists largely of filling out forms. It can be time consuming and tedious, but it is rarely particularly difficult. So there's really no reason, if you want a web based email account, not to set it up yourself. It avoids conversations that go something like this:
"I can't log in to my email account." "
Are you sure you typed everything in correctly?"
"Go ahead and click on Password Recovery. That'll get you your password."
"It says What's your frequent flyer number. What's that mean?"
"Just type in your frequent flyer number in that box. It's your secret question."
"I don't have a frequent flyer number. Why is it asking me for one? Am I supposed to set one up?"
"When you set up your account, you chose a secret question. It's whatever you put for your answer."
"Oh. My friend set it up. Is it his frequent flyer number? I don't know what his frequent flyer number is."
(No, but he knows your username, password, and secret answer. Maybe he changed the password and that's why you can't log in. In fact, even now he could be sending threatening emails to the President of the United States from your email account because he thinks getting you a visit from the Secret Service would be reeealy funny.)
You might need to contact your friend and get that information from him.

Remember, if two people know a secret, it's only a secret if one of them is dead. Don't let your friend set up your email account for you ranks just above Don't tell anyone your password on the How to keep your account secure list.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


No, not the planet. The Machine-Assisted Reference Section of ALA. Every year, MARS releases a list of the best free reference web sites of the year. There's also a combined index. Past (and even present) winners are not checked for continued existence, free-ness, etc., so that's something to keep in mind when using it. The combined index dates back to 1999 and, unlike the current year's list, is not annotated. So, here's 2009 and the combined index. All in all, a useful resource.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Learning 2.0 Wrap Up

So, my thoughts on Learning 2.0. I used lots of stuff I probably would never have even looked at otherwise -- Google Docs, Flickr, and Bloglines, to name a few. Some I'll keep using, like Flickr and Bloglines. Even more than doing this myself, I enjoyed helping others. Do I think it was worthwhile for me to do? Yes. Despite my tech rep, I really am afraid of some of this stuff. This has helped with that. It's also been nice to show other people that I don't know everything. All in all, I think it was worthwhile.

Downloading Audiobooks with Overdrive

This was pretty easy for me. I've done it before, but went through the whole process again just for the practice. I was able to do the Windows Media Player security update with no problem, following the instructions. I wasn't sure I'd be able to, since that kid in the library the other day couldn't. He did everything right, just wasn't able to get to it. The error message did give a website to go to, and he was able to download from the site. Still, it was frustrating for all four of us -- the kid, his mom, the first librarian to help him, and me. (He had a laptop, it wasn't one of our computers.) I even transferred a book to my iPod. It was easy using the transfer wizard (or whatever it's called). I left the default setting for downloading, so it took longer than if I'd followed the suggestion to change the setting. Still, like I said, easy. For me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


My mom is on Facebook. We're Facebook friends. She joined because her friend in American Eskimo Dog rescue asked her to. It had nothing to do with me, or my brother, or our cousins who are all on Facebook (and who are now her Facebook friends). Until the Eskie lady asked her to join, she "didn't want to put a bunch of personal information out there" and it was "too hard." (It's still hard, but she makes up for it by being able to drive a standard transmission. More than two pedals, and I'm in the passenger seat.) Like a lot of people, she joined because of a particular cause or group or interest. In her case, Eskie rescue. In some other people's case, a political cause, or social action, or Learning 2.0. Facebook lets people connect with others who have similar interests, share a hobby, went to the same school, like the same TV show, or think their Attorney General has wittier press releases than other state's AGs. (The group Our State's Attorney General is Funnier than Your State's Attorney General has 88 members as of this writing.) Then there are the fun apps (applications) like bowling and pieces of flair. Can people get in trouble on Facebook? Sure. It's easy, really. But just remember, never put anything on Facebook you wouldn't want a potential employer to see. Or your Mom.