Thursday, April 30, 2009

Odd Things That Capture My Interest...

I wanted to make a blog entry this evening, but I was staring at a blank screen and the little blinking curser and I couldn't think of a single interesting thing to say. First I thought I would tell the story of my trip to the DMV today, but it actually wasn't unpleasant, and my friend Rebecca had a much better story about her visit today over at her blog. Then I thought I would write about what the Hubs and I did on his day off yesterday (and today), but we really didn't do much and my big purchase of the day yesterday was Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi which was finally out in paperback... but, I haven't read it yet and just buying it wasn't really all that exciting......

Now What? AHA! I know! I'll fall back on the bookmarks in Firefox in the little folder called... Wait for it.... Possible Blog Entries. Yeah, I'm kind of boring like that. Sigh! So, What have I thrown in there recently. Hmmmm...

You can sendyournameMSL_thGo Here and enter your name and it will be included with others on a microchip on the Mars Science Laboratory rover heading to Mars in 2011! I'm such a geek, I did this one. It would be a great way to get the kiddos interested in the space program. After you enter your name, be sure to look around. There are a lot of cool things. Like being able to talk to the virtual Dr C. about Mars. You type in the questions and he answers them. Yes, I am a space geek. This was neat, and would be a great jumping off place for a study of the universe, the space program, or anything else you or your children might be interested in. It's part of the Nasa main site.

dogtagimage2 This link just amuses me. Dog Tags with the location of Earth on them.... just in case the little green - uh, I mean gray guys -stop by, pick you up, and accidentally drop you on the wrong planet. These dog tags will be all you need for some one (or thing) to be able to locate Earth and hopefully drop you back off here. A real bargain at $12.99 + 2.50 shipping and packaging. The perfect insurance against being left wandering around the universe like Arthur Dent......

peopleBotWeb O.k.... How about one more.... Tweenbots. How cute is that name? What is a Tweenbot?

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

Go to the link and see how some friendly New Yorkers help the little robots get to their destination. In the creators own words:

Given their extreme vulnerability, the vastness of city space, the dangers posed by traffic, suspicion of terrorism, and the possibility that no one would be interested in helping a lost little robot, I initially conceived the Tweenbots as disposable creatures which were more likely to struggle and die in the city than to reach their destination.

The results were unexpected. Over the course of the following months, throughout numerous missions, the Tweenbots were successful in rolling from their start point to their far-away destination assisted only by strangers.

Pretty Cool, Huh? People can be kind and helpful, even in New York and even when they can't expect anything in return. Gives you hope for the human race!

There you go, three links to odd things. Just goes to show you some of the really weird things that I find amusing/interesting. Hope you enjoyed them!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bookstores - Dinosaurs or Here to stay?

It seems that many people fear for the continuing existence of bookstores. Over the last few months I have read about the struggle many bookstores are facing, and in fact, know of two local stores that are no longer in business.  I was shocked when I dropped in the mall a couple of weeks back and realized that there was no longer a bookstore there. I remember when there would always be one, if not two, bookstores in any mall.

Why the closings? When the question is asked, many talk about the economy, disposable income, and online bookstores as some of the problems faced by today's book retailers. One problem is  online stores have less overhead, can stock more titles without worrying about shelf space, they don't charge taxes, and many are now offering services such as no shipping fees. In order to stay in business bookstores are feeling a need to compete.

What got me to thinking about this? This article about a bookstore in England that thinks it has found a way to compete... at least with the problem of out of print or sold out books. They have installed a machine that prints out a book for you, cover and all, in the time it takes to brew a cappuccino! The techno geek in me was fascinated by this attempt to be competitive.

While the techno geek in me was going WOW!, the part of me who loves books wasn't so sure. See, I don't buy my books from online stores, and still trek down to the local bookstores on a regular basis. I may read about and decide I want a book based on recommendations, both online and from friends in the solid world, but I still go to the bookstore to buy it. Why? Because half the fun of going to buy new books is the experience of wandering thru the store and coming across a book that you might not have discovered if it hadn't caught your eye. Checking out the Just Arrived Shelves, wandering in the sections for other genres than the ones you normally read, picking up a book that the title or cover has caught your attention and opening it up and reading a little to see if it catches your interest... I've discovered many the treasure in an author or book that I wouldn't have ever found  if I was just shopping online.

Would I still read/buy books if I could only order them? Yes. Would I miss being surrounded by books and wandering around amidst them to see if I might find a hidden jewel? Oh Yes! I don't see Bookstores being replaced, but I do see them changing to reflect new technology. A machine than can print off a book not in stock  on demand, a place to download an e-book to your reader instead of buying a hardcopy, having people working in your store that love books and are ready to recommend something you might like? Definitely. But, not to have the opportunity to pick up, touch, and see books... I think that the world would be a little less bright if that happened.

Opinions? Thoughts? Do you order all of your books online? Do you go to the local bookstore? A little of each? While I have no problem buying a book online, I would not be happy if that was my only choice.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quest the First --Book 2

For my second book -- New Moon by Stephenie Meyer 



This is the second book in the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. I was late coming to this series, but since I enjoyed the first book, was looking forward to dipping back into this world. In the first book, there were hints that the local Indian tribe knew about Vampires in general and Edward's family in particular. In this book, due to circumstances that cause a separation of Bella from Edward, we get to discover more about the why and how of this knowledge.

This book is mostly about Jacob and Bella, and the growing friendship between them. I liked the character of Jacob that we met briefly in Twilight and enjoyed learning more about him. With Jacob we now have the third leg in what is to become a triangle.

Mild spoilers alert:

Edward left Bella to protect her, but she seems to be a magnet for the supernatural. First there is Jacob and the newly forming Werewolf pack, followed by the return of a the female vampire from the first book... who's reason for reappearing is to seek her revenge against Bella for the death of her mate in Twilight! After Bella commits what appears to be suicide, Alice returns. With the help of Alice, Bella travels to Italy and an encounter with the Volturi, the reining 'royals' of the vampire world, to save Edward.

All in all this was an enjoyable romp in a well thought out world. There were enough twists and turns to keep you interested and reading right along. I look forward to the third book to be released in paperback.

Want to join in the Once Upon a Time III Chalenge, stop in over at Stainless Steel Droppings and you too can play along!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

One Project Finished... Another Started!

First, the finished project:


I completed this afghan a little over a week ago, and it has already found a wonderful new home. This was a 'scrap' afghan made out of some yarn I had left over from some project I had abandoned (or maybe never started). The blue, burgundy, and off-white were in my stash. I added the green because I thought it need an additional color. I was really pleased with the end result, especially since a couple of people (read the hubs and my friend who has claimed the afghan) didn't think the colors were going to go well together. Both of them were surprised and delighted with the finished project.

Here are a couple of more shots that give you a better look at the pattern and the colors:



This is a great pattern to work with in the summer. Because it is done in strips, it is very portable. The strips are also cooler to work on since you don't end up with the whole afghan sitting across your lap making your legs sweaty.. well, except for when you are putting all of the strips together! It is also a simple pattern that doesn't require carrying around a pattern.

I've already started a new project to keep my hands busy.  It is going to be the same basic pattern, but with a really soft yarn called Simply Soft Eco. It is a yarn put out by Caron that is partly made out of..... recycled water bottles! Really! I feel so.... Green! I chose to use 4 colors and soft white for this project.

white BabyBlush

LilacBud sprig


The four colors will be the centers and the soft white will be the accent/connecting color. I thought they would make a very bright 'springy' colored afghan. What are you all doing to stay busy this summer?