Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Grandson's Blog

Getting ready to go to Kentucky has left me with little time for blogging. Ran several errands today getting things I need before the trip and filling the refrigerator and pantry with food for Cindy. I also bid a tearful "adieu" to my office late this afternoon when I finished cleaning it out and converting it into a storage room.

I wanted to mention that my 7-year old grandson Mikey has started a blog. He has his first post up and it's how to do a file check in Windows. He's like a little Bill Gates, lol. His Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Amber each gave him different programming language books for Christmas and his mom tells me he has been putting them to good use. Last I heard he had written a program in PHP to create a calculator. He simply amazes me.

Anyway, because of his young age I don't want to make his blog address public, but if you want to stop by and see it and I know you, feel free to send me an e-mail and I'll reply with his URL.

Obviously, he makes his granddad proud, and not just because he is smart and has an insatiable need for knowledge, but because he is a good kid with a good heart who pwns his granddad's heart.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's SUIT, Not Suite!!

Twice this week I've read the phrase "That's not my strong suite" on two different websites. It made me cringe. And it made me scratch my head. The correct phrase, of course, is "not my strong SUIT" (soot) not suite (sweet) so they don't even sound similar. And I don't think they meant that they had a strong set of hotel rooms or furniture. What really, REALLY hurts was that in each case the websites belonged to writers.

I just would have expected better.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I LOVE The e-trade Baby!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Neil Gaiman Wins Newbery Medal

Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman was announced on Monday as the 2009 winner of the prestigious John Newbery Medal for his novel "The Graveyard Book", and it is a more than well-deserved award for the best-selling science fiction and fantasy writer. "The Graveyard Book" is the story of an orphaned boy who is raised by the spirits in a graveyard, a story that Gaiman says was inspired by Kipling's "The Jungle Book", and an occurrence with his own 2 year old son some 20 years ago when he allowed the toddler to ride his tricycle in a cemetery across the road from their home and was inspired to ask, "What if a young boy was raised by dead people?"

I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman's work since his run as writer on DC/Vertigo's "Sandman" comic book series and have been entranced by a host of his novels like "American Gods", "Anansi Boys", "Stardust", "Neverwhere" and many others. He is also a prolific blogger, which is a favorite in my RSS feed, and he has apparently fallen in love with Twitter and delights those who follow him (that would be me as well) on that social-media tool with multiple tweets on a daily basis.

Newbery winners have included such favorites as Louis Sachar's "Holes" and Kate DiCamillo's "The Tale of Despereaux" as well as a favorite of mine from my own childhood, Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle In Time" which won in 1963.

On Gaiman's blog, he writes that "The Graveyard Book" is not just a children's book. It's "a book for pretty much for all ages, although I'm not sure how far down that actually starts. I think I would have loved it when I was eight, but I don't think that all eight-year olds were like me."

No, but some of us were, lol.

Congratulations to Mr. Gaiman on this illustrious award!

Inauguration Photos

Thanks to my friend and co-worker Valerie for sending me this link to's The Big Picture where they have assembled a stunning collection of inauguration photos from the U.S and around the world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, R.I.P.

Word came today that prolific American author John Updike had passed away this morning as a result of lung cancer at the age of 76 in a hospice near his home in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts.

The first book of Updike's I read was "Couples" when I was 14 years old. I know that is a strange story for a 14 year old to be reading but I wanted to see what his writing was like and that was the latest book of his on the shelves. I liked it, but then I'm sure all the sex scenes had some part in contributing to that, especially in a young teenage boy.

Later I read one of his "Rabbit" books (I don't remember which one) and did not care for it, enough that I did not even finish reading the book. Other than an occasional work of his in The New Yorker or some short story I may have come across here and there, I've never really read anything else penned by him.

Our sympathy goes out to his family and friends.

Amazon Dropping Microsoft & Adobe e-Book Formats

If you like to order e-books in the Microsoft or Adobe format from Amazon, you'll be interested in knowing that Amazon has decided to no longer offer those formats in the future, concentrating instead on their proprietary Kindle format and the Mobipocket format, which they also own. Here's the article from Publishers Weekly: has notified its publisher and author clients that it plans to cease offering e-books in the Microsoft Reader and Adobe e-book formats. In the future, the online retailer says it plans to offer only e-books in the Kindle format (for wireless download to its Kindle reading device) and the Mobipocket format, both of which are owned by Amazon. The online retailer’s note asks publishers and authors to make sure that Amazon has written permission to offer their books for sale in the Mobipocket format.

Amazon did not specify how long the Adobe PDF and Microsoft formats will continue to be available. A search of the site turns up mostly technical works and e-docs in PDF form and very little in the Microsoft format. Amazon offers tens of thousands of titles in the Mobipocket e-book reader software, which allows e-books to be read on a wide variety of handheld mobile devices. The company said it will now be urging customers to buy e-books through Mobipocket. Amazon also sells more than 200,000 titles for use on the Kindle.

Good thing I use the Mobipocket format for reading e-books on my laptop and BlackBerry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

USAirways Flight 1549 Hudson River Recovery

If you're interested in seeing the recovery of the USAirways Flight 1549 plane from the icy Hudson River, there are some great photos in this gallery taken by the crane operator.

$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

You like Amazon, right? Want to win a $100 Amazon gift card? Then head over to Miss Musing's blog and see how many different ways YOU can get in on the contest. This post means I've taken advantage of every option available to make as many entries as possible. I HAVE to...have you seen my Amazon Wish List? LOL

Sunday, January 25, 2009

EMPTY Prototype Community Of Tomorrow

My step-son and his fiance are tying the knot in about 6 weeks and they asked if Cindy and I would get their photographers into EPCOT this past Saturday so they could take some pre-wedding photos. It has been quite a while since Cindy and I have had the opportunity to enjoy EPCOT (or ANY of the parks, for that matter) alone so we decided to stay and tour the World Showcase and enjoy a light lunch.

But we really had no idea HOW alone we would be. We have never seen so few people in EPCOT on a Saturday, not even after 9/11. I told Cindy instead of Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow it was EMPTY Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Look at this sparse street scene in the normally crowded and bustling United Kingdom pavilion.

That was at 2pm in the afternoon, and it was almost like having the park to yourself. I'm NOT complaining as it made the visit much more enjoyable, but I AM stunned at just how few visitors there were that day, not only in the World Showcase but in the Future World area as well.

Here are a few more photos. First up are two picture I took with my BlackBerry and uploaded to TwitPic to share with my Twits who follow me on Twitter; here is Cindy at EPCOT and then me at EPCOT.

Then here is one I shot of Wendy, Jeremy and Cindy when we first arrived at the park before we went our separate ways.

Cindy with Spaceship Earth in the background across the lake.

Finally, just one of my "art" shots, lol.

I was not happy with almost all of my shots because a camera setting was wrong, but I may try to work on them in Photoshop and possibly upload the salvageable ones up to Flickr in the next few days.

We enjoyed a light lunch at Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion, a quick-service restaurant that dishes up a small assortment of sandwiches, quiches, French pastries and beverages. I had a turkey and cheese on baguette with an apple tart for dessert and Cindy had a ham and cheese croissant with a chocolate eclair for dessert. We sat on the stone planter in the courtyard and watched people (the few there were) walk past us.

It was while watching those people that I observed something I had not seen before and it left me somewhat confused. If you've ever seen what I'm about to describe, I'd be interested in hearing about it. A very attractive young woman and her, I assume, boyfriend, walked past. I could tell she was attractive because she was wearing tight jeans and a form-fitting, low-cut top. The confusing part was she was also wearing the traditional Muslim hijab, but with the front lower portion that would cover her chest thrown back across her shoulder which exposed her cleavage. It was a true clash of values or views or however you'd like to phrase it. The casualness of most Western attire with the symbol of modesty (in this case, almost modesty since the front was thrown back) required of Middle Eastern females appearing in public. Very difficult to reconcile, for me.

Anyone else ever witnessed this or something similar?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shout Out On Dot Com Pho Video

Today "Dot Com Mogul" John Chow offered to do a shout out on his Dot Com Pho video to those who twittered him their blog site URL. As you can see in the screen capture below, The Word Of Jeff (last listing on the screen) was included.

UPDATE: My friend zengrrl made it into the shout out too!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Proofreading Tips

My friend Michelle Twittered me this little spelling jewel from a feed she gets;

"not that I'm byast, but you should stay at MGM Grand"

That arrived almost at the same time that an RSS feed showed up in my reader from Copyblogger. Shane Arthur's "14 Foolproof Proofreading Tips for Bloggers" gives some excellent advice for how to proofread your blog posts, but they could apply to any writing. Some of these I already practice and I'm sure I'll try implementing the others as applicable.

Of course, proofreading involves more than just spell checking. Proper grammar, correct citations, working links and just making sure that the piece reads comfortably and correctly are all important components and aspects of successfully proofreading a post or article. Check out Shane's post and see where his tips may help you.

Not that I'm byast or anything...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

50th Anniversary Of The Aluminum Can

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of the aluminum can for the packaging of, originally, Coors beer followed by other beers and soda drinks. I remember my dad seemed to really enjoy the taste difference over the old steel cans when Budweiser and Schlitz adopted the lightweight metal containers.

The advent of the aluminum can, besides allowing for the easy recycling of the container, also led to the almost total obsolescence of the can opener due to the creation of the pull-top-tab that the aluminum can made possible. Those pull-tabs, unlike the stay-tabs of the past 30 or so years, were razor sharp lethal weapons, especially to people walking barefoot where someone may have pulled the tab and dropped it to the ground.

In fact, as I recall, it was the danger of those tabs that seemed to cause a whole separate practice to arise; the creation of pull-tab bracelets, necklaces and "chains" constructed by bending the sharp tab around successive tab rings. I used to know girls that made it an art form.

Happy Anniversary and thanks on behalf of all the can-crushers who like to show off in bars.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Top Ten Favorite George W. Bush Moments

Dave Letterman helps us say good bye to George W. Bush with his Top Ten Favorite GWB Moments.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Happy Day. A Historical Day. A Day Of Hope.

The Internet and Blogosphere are filled to overflowing today with posts, articles and photos about the inauguration. I don't think I have much else to offer other than a few personal observations.

I turned on the TV this morning to find hundreds of thousands of people already gathered before sunrise in the National Mall, made even more incredible by the frigid temperatures. By the time the swearing in ceremony took place, the Mall was filled with Americans and visitors from around the world who came to see history in the making.

At 12:06pm this afternoon, Barack Obama stepped into history when he was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. We, as a nation, have much hope that he will indeed be the leader we need and the man that a majority of us believe we saw in countless speeches, appearances and debates. A man of intelligence who is able to capably express himself verbally and in writing. A man with an innate ability to inspire others. A man who sets aside grievances with former adversaries to concentrate on fashioning a positive future, and initiates dinners with far-right, radical conservative media pundits who have savaged his character and fitness for office either directly or through innuendo, in order to find some common ground from which to move forward.

Shortly before our new President was sworn in I twittered: "I'm a grown man, and I'm getting goose bumps because of what is about to happen in our nation's capitol!!" Then, just after his speech I twittered: "This President possesses the leadership ability and skill that we have sorely been without the past 8 yrs. What a change we can believe in. What a great speech from a man who promises to be a great President for our great country." Of all the twitters I read during the speech, this one from John Frost of The Disney Blog was the most poignant; "'and the Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day.' How can anyone not be moved by this moment?"

Obama brings with him the sense of hope that we have so long been without. The hope that the rule of law will return, that science will not be swept under a rug of religion, that an unwarranted invasion will end, that our economy will be strengthened with commerce and production instead of weakened by debt, that the needs of our world's environment will not be ignored in the name of corporate greed and that America will once again rise to the role of leadership by example in the world.

That hope is tempered by the realization that change will not come overnight. Eight long years of poor administration and lack of leadership brought us to this point and it will not be changed in the blink of an eye, but it WILL be changed if we all commit to following the leadership and example of our new President. Better times are ahead for us, both as individuals and a country. That is the hope he has given us this day.

At approximately 12:10pm this afternoon the official website of the White House,, switched content to reflect the new administration. I immediately added the blog feed to my RSS reader.

It's difficult to describe the joy I felt knowing the shrub and his cronies were out the door. Obama, as always, was gracious, but I cheered when the man stepped onto the helicopter and left our nation's capitol. I'm obviously not as nice as our new President, that's something I'll need to work on in the future.

But before I do, did anyone else think that Cheney in the wheelchair looked like evil old Mr. Potter from "It's A Wonderful Life"? Really, look at that photo. He looks like Old Man Potter.

Out with the old, our long national nightmare is over. Today was a happy day, a historical day and a day of hope for our country. Congratulations, President Obama.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Burger King Says, "We Out Of Meet"

Have it your way, even if it's misspelled.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Andrew Wyeth, R.I.P.

Andrew Wyeth passed away quietly in his sleep 2 days ago on January 16, 2009 at the age of 91. Wyeth was a legendary American painter who was categorized as a "realist" style of painter, often painting from scenes of his life in Pennsylvania and Maine.

Probably his most famous work is "Christina's World", a sparse yet riveting depiction. I have a framed copy hanging in our bedroom (a gift from my mother-in-law when she discovered I liked the work) and I plan to place it in my office when we move to Sheepback Mountain. Sometimes I just stand in front of it or lie on the bed and stare at it. Even knowing the story behind it, I sometimes get lost in thought and create my own stories about it; about the house, the barn, the field and the girl. But overall, the painting always leaves me with a feeling of contentment and pleasure.

Our sympathies go out to his family.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Band From TV

Last night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno "Band From TV" made what I believe is their first appearance on television and it was spectacular.

If you're a fan of shows like "Heroes", "Desperate Housewives", "House" and others, then you should love that some of your favorite actors and actresses from those shows have formed a musical group, known by the clever name of "Band From TV", along with some fellow musicians who jam with them and stars from other shows who sometime join them at concerts.

The regular lineup includes a powerhouse of well-known and acclaimed actors including: Greg Grunberg of "Heroes" (drums); Adrian Pasdar, also of "Heroes" (guitar); Teri Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives" (vocals) who I did not see in last night's performance; James Denton also of "Desperate Housewives" (guitar); Bob Guiney who appeared on "The Bachelor" and is currently seen on TLC's "Date My House" (vocals); Bonnie Somerville who is starring in ABC's new fall series "Cashmere Mafia" (vocals); Hugh Laurie, star of "House" (keyboards); Jesse Spencer also of "House" (violin); and rounding out the band are accomplished musicians Chris Kelley, Barry Sarna, Jon Sarna, Chris Mostert and child-star turned bass player Brad Savage.

They have a CD/DVD available of a live concert performance available exclusively on Amazon, titled "Hoggin' All The Covers" which promptly went on my Amazon Wishlist.

Even cooler than all this talent coming together for some musical fun is the fact that the majority of proceeds from concerts and CD/DVD sales go to charities that the performers support.

Here's a video of last night's performance from YouTube.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Twitter Page

I grew tired of the standard default page for my Twitter account, so I decided to personalize it a bit and to add information on where else I could be located online, though I recently found that one of those will change. But more on that later.

The background is my favorite shot of part of the woods on our property in North Carolina up on Sheepback Mountain. Over on the left is a head shot of yours truly (the same one used on this blog as I'm trying to keep the information consistent across all my sites), my logo from this blog and a list of my "Other Online Presence" so those who want to can see all my current online locations.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

USAirways Flight 1549 Hudson River Crash

I'm sure everyone is aware by now of the water crash into the Hudson River of USAirways flight 1549 en route from LaGuardia airport to Charlotte, NC at approximately 3:30 pm EST today.

I've flown that same flight and taken the Circle Tour around Manhattan that takes place partially on the Hudson River and boards at a dock/pier right where the plane came down, so it's easy to picture most of that situation.

Kudos to the pilot, crew and ferry and Circle Line boat captains who all contributed to there being no fatalities. They were cold and wet, with 21 degree air and 40 degree water temperatures, and perhaps some broken bones, but no deaths or serious injuries according to all reports at this time.

New Obama Official Portrait Released, the website for the office of the President-elect, released the new official portrait yesterday morning of the man who will soon be President Barack Obama.

Interesting to note, to me anyway, is that his is the very first official Presidential portrait taken with a digital camera. That's very fitting, considering his abundant use of technology.

His ears may be big, but at least he doesn't look like he's saying, "What, me worry?"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Well, It's Not A Chicken In Every Pot...

During the presidential campaign of 1928, the Republican Party circulated fliers with the promised that, if Herbert Hoover won the presidency, there would be "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." Many people mistakenly think that Hoover himself made that promise, but it was the party backing him that pushed that slogan out to voters.

Eighty-one years later, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (probably the most famous doughnut franchise in the country, although personally I can't stand them) is promising a FREE doughnut to every single American on Inauguration Day next Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

It's a nice gesture, but someone else will have to eat mine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The End Of The World As We Know It

My friend ZenGrrl and I were discussing upcoming movies at lunch today and she asked me if I had seen the trailer for 2012 and when I indicated that I didn't think I had she gave a description which stopped short of being a spoiler. When I came home and watched the trailer online, I realized I HAD seen the trailer at the last movie Cindy and I went to see. The film is one of my favorite genres, the "disaster" story, and deals with the Mayan Doomsday theory that the world will end on the last day of the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012.

At some point over this past weekend, Cindy and I were discussing the news that Yellowstone National Park sits on a massive volcano and that recent small earthquakes may indicate a massive eruption is imminent. Scientific theories postulate that such an eruption might very well blanket half of the country in volcanic ash. In researching that news, I came across Armageddon Online, a website dedicated to all the various and sundry ways that life on this earth may come to an end, both natural and man-made. Despite its name, I've not seen any indication in the content that the site is anything but a science based source of information.

It can be quite depressing to peruse the different ways this world may expire.

But as the R.E.M. song says, "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine."

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Blog Additions

Astute observers will notice some new additions to The Word Of Jeff blog, but for those who have better things to do than look over this blog's design contents or who read it via RSS, here's a short rundown.

Quotes Widget
- over on the right hand column content is a new Quotes Widget that displays a different quote each time the page is refreshed. I like famous quotes and find them fun to build upon in some of my posts and writing, so this was more for me than you, lol, but I hope you might enjoy it as well.

Search This Blog - also on the right hand column content is a Search This Blog button courtesy of Google. It works just like the Google search page; simply enter your word or term and it will list all occurrences of your query within this blog.

Social Bookmark Widget - added to the bottom of every post (even past ones) is a new feature that allows readers to email or bookmark the post, submit it to Digg or or post it to Facebook or MySpace and more. I was able to find the code that would work in Blogger at AddThis, thanks to a recent great post by Susan Johnston of The Urban Muse, 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Blog.

By the way, you may recall that back on October 2, 2008 I posted the Top 10 Blogs For Writers. Of the three that I listed as being blogs I would try out, The Urban Muse is the only one that I kept on my RSS feed. That's because of the quality, helpfulness and easy readability of each of Ms. Johnston's posts which always make her posts so enjoyable and educational. If you haven't already, you should definitely add her to your reading list.

Anyway, I hope you'll try out some or all of the new additions and let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Delightful Dinner Visit

Tonight Cindy and I had the pleasure of dinner with our friends Kirk and Laura and Laura's parents who are in town from Michigan. Being on the road as much as I have been it's been at least 18 months since I've seen Laura's parents and almost as long since I've seen Laura. Kirk and I had the opportunity to get together for lunch the last time I was home for a few days.

Dinner was very nice, but did not last nearly long enough to catch up as much as any of us would have liked.

We exchanged Christmas gifts and Kirk gave me a book that caused me to burst out laughing right in the middle of the restaurant. "How To Profit From The Coming Rapture - Getting Ahead When You're Left Behind" and is described as "The investment guide the Antichrist doesn't want you to read." I can't wait to start reading it!

Hopefully we'll all have a chance to get together again before I get called out or Laura's parents return to Michigan in about 10 days, whichever comes first. We always have such a good time together it's a shame when there is such a prolonged period of time between our visits.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Weekend With Heather

I picked up our 3-year-old granddaughter Heather on Friday afternoon for a weekend with Grandma and Granddad.

Friday night Grandma took her to visit some friends of ours who have a 3-year-old daughter, Rowan. A few weeks ago Heather spent a night with Grandma and met Rowan and the two have been asking to see each other since. The girls had pizza while Grandma and her friends sipped tea and watched the girls play, dance and share dollies.

Saturday morning we met Cindy's mom and dad at Cracker Barrel for breakfast with Heather (as well as buying Heather a heart-covered bear and a purse with a little doggie poking out of it ala Paris Hilton) and below are a couple of pictures I snapped with my BlackBerry.

Here's Grampy showing Heather how to look at pictures on his cellphone.

Here's Heather sipping her milk while modeling her hoodie jacket.

Lunchtime gave Heather and Rowan another chance to get together, this time at McDonald's where they ate lunch and played in the playhouse, then afterward went to a playground to run and play off some of that youthful energy. Cindy took some photos with her new camera.

Here's Heather and Rowan riding a play car with every woman's dream...2 steering wheels.

Here's Heather and Rowan holding hands.

Then in the early evening it was trip over to Uncle Jeremy and Aunt Wendy's house for homemade calzones. Here's a picture of Heather making her own calzone. She did a great job and actually ate more than half of it!

Sunday afternoon it will be back to mommy and daddy's, but Grandma and Granddad will have great memories of an enjoyable weekend with our little Heather.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The 500 Most Popular Passwords

You know that password you use that you thought was so "you" that no one else would think of using it? Yeah, well you were probably wrong about that.

Over at What's My Pass? a website dedicated to "Password Recovery Tools and Info" they have posted a list of the 500 Most Popular Passwords and there are some, as my dad used to say, "doozies", to say the least.

I should warn you that some of these are NSFW or for the easily offended, though frankly I wonder why you would use such a word for your password.

I will also note that none of my passwords appear on the list, so I feel good that I don't fall into that category of having chosen one or more of the 500. However, as my friends know, I would be partial to #47. But that is exactly the reason I don't use that one, lol.

NOTop 1-100Top 101-200Top 201-300Top 301-400Top 401-500

Are any of YOUR passwords on the list? If so, a change might be in order.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ben & Jerry's NEW Flavor - Yes Pecan!

You can always count on the Ben & Jerry's folks to tap into the latest cultural zeitgeist in marketing their flavorful frozen dairy products, and their latest offering is no exception.

Say "Hello" to "Yes Pecan!", described as "An Inspirational Blend!" containing "Amber Waves of Buttery Ice Cream With Roasted Non-Partisan Pecans."

Actually it's not a new flavor at all, just a renaming of their Butter Pecan to the new name which sounds very much like President-elect Obama's campaign slogan, "Yes We Can!" The company's founders endorsed the president-elect's campaign for our nation's highest office back in February of 2008.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The "possible immoral" Double Ended Male Adapter

I'm going to give the creator of this sign the benefit of the doubt and assume the person was attempting to be funny with the reference to the double ended male adapter being "possible immoral", but it would have been much funnier if they had used the contextually correct wording, "POSSIBLY immoral", instead.

You can teach people to use a computer, but you can't increase their CPU.

BTW (even though this is wildly off-topic for this blog), I did find that a patent has been submitted and issued on October 9, 2007 for the "Double male two-prong electrical connector apparatus", but I could not find any documentation that Underwriters Laboratory has approved it for use.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Losing My Home Office

Cindy and I spent all day last Friday cleaning our respective home offices, but there was one tiny little difference in the final outcome; I was cleaning mine out for good.

It's akin to Superman closing down his Fortress of Solitude or Batman giving up his Batcave.

But truth be told I had not been spending a lot of time there over the past 2 years. One of the reasons I bought my first laptop was to be able to do my research in the living room in the company of my wife (though I still do my writing, most of it, in solitary), so that brought down the amount of time I spent in there. In addition, my traveling has kept me out of there and over the past several months it had become more of a place to throw any boxes I shipped home to await my arrival and unpacking.

The major reason though is that we are still optimistically hoping to follow through on our plan to build a cabin on our property in the mountains later this year and sell this place, despite the crappy economy. Though we are dramatically reducing our amount of "stuff", we will still need a room to store some things while we do some remodeling, repainting and re-flooring and since Cindy still uses her office quite a bit...well I drew the short straw. Plus, have you priced storage units lately? For a room the size of my office we'd have to make another monthly mortgage payment!

So the only things from my office that will remain in that room for now will be my two bookshelves, a rolltop desk for my laptop and a credenza for the scanner and printer, all pushed into one corner of the room but still useable when needed. The rest of the room is already filling up with tubs, boxes and crates, even as I continue to clean out more "stuff" from the office that we have been giving to family, friends and the trash collector, or donating to Goodwill and the library.

So while I AM a little sad, it's not really THAT big of a deal. Plus, when the cabin is built, I'll have an office that looks out over our creek and the mountain. Not a bad trade.

Monday, January 5, 2009

List Of Science Fiction And Fantasy Book Reviewers

Over at Grasping for the Wind, John Ottinger has provided us with what is probably the most comprehensive list of science fiction and fantasy book reviewers on the Internet.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Arabian Nights Photo

I know I posted a group shot I took when we were at Arabian Nights back on December 20th, but I wanted to put up this official portrait taken by the staff because it has ME in it, which is a rare occurrence because usually I'm the one taking the photos.

It was a fun night.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Reading Digital Magazines

When I'm traveling on the road, Cindy puts together a "care" package for me every month or so and mails it to my hotel. The major content of those packages is my mail and the major portion of my mail is magazines to which I have subscriptions.

My subscription to PC World magazine was about to expire a few days ago, in fact so close to expiring that I decided I should go online and renew it before I missed the next issue. As I prepared to submit my payment and enter my bank information, I noticed a new and interesting option; I could replace the dead-tree subscription with a DIGITAL subscription for a few dollars less.

Since I'm for just about anything that will help stop depleting natural resources and love just about anything digital, it only took me about 2 seconds to decide to give it a try.

As soon as I submitted my payment I received a link in my e-mail to download the program that's used to display the magazine, an application called the Zinio Reader. The current issue of PC World was already there and future issues were promised to be emailed when newsstand issues hit the shelves (do you hear that LAPTOP magazine?). To be honest though, I had expected the digital version to be a .pdf file, so at first I was a bit nonplussed at the prospect of having to use yet another program to view the magazine.

But that changed after opening the magazine and taking the reader for a whirl.

The screen layout is a 2-page view that is exactly the same as you would see if you were holding an open magazine. Having read this particular magazine for over a decade, I could see no difference in the print version and this digital version. Font, layout, and graphics are all precisely as they appear in the print magazine. That helps to lend an air of familiarity to a new experience.

When you "turn" the page by clicking on the corner of the page with your mouse, the reader mimics the actual turning of a page. By that I mean that you actually see the page turning as if you were turning the physical page of a print magazine. Again, an air of familiarity.

Plus, all those links that are contained in articles are live and clickable. I can't tell you how many times I've manually entered a link from the magazine into my browser when I wanted to see a program or look at an older article. Now, that's a thing of the past, it's live on my laptop.

Finally, getting the digital version means there will be at least one less magazine Cindy will have to put in the "care" packages she sends me. I say "at least one" because I see that Zinio offers digital versions of a great many magazines, so I'll be going through their list to see what else I can convert from print to digital.

After all, this IS the 21st century.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 List Of Banished Words

Lake Superior State University has issued their 34th Annual "List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness." Thanks to my friend Rebecca for passing this link along to me.

Here's the list.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


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