Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shocking Political Article (Not)

"Study: Liberal leanings hurt Republicans' place in history"

I know, I know.  You're so shocked.  So was I.  (...Ha ha.)

Here's just a snippet:
Political science professor Joseph E. Uscinski, one of the study’s authors, said the new analysis shows that the overwhelmingly liberal academic community consistently ranks Republican presidents about 10 spots lower than the public would.

“I don’t think anyone is surprised,” Mr. Uscinski told The Washington Times. “Among the political scientists and historians that I work with, Democrats outnumber Republicans 8 to 1.”

What was eye-opening, he said, was the stark difference between the historians’ assessments of Republicans and the grades given by the public.

“On average, all the Republicans get the short end of the stick,” he said. “But the one it impacts the most is [Ronald] Reagan. It’s often difficult for people to fathom why he’s ranked as low as he is.”

. . .

In the C-SPAN rankings - the focus of much of the University of Miami analysis - Reagan in 2009 broke into the Top Ten, behind Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, Dwight Eisenhower and Woodrow Wilson.

But on other surveys, the late conservative icon falls much lower. A 2010 Siena College poll has Reagan at No. 18, behind Bill Clinton, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Barack Obama.
Come on.  Who could seriously rank Obama above Reagan?   (Or Clinton, for that matter, but whatever...)  If nothing else, wouldn't you require more than two years to form a solid, realistic opinion of a presidency?  I guess they figure Obama's ranking using the same clairvoyance (precognition, to be precise) that the Norwegians used when they decided to give him the Nobel Peace Prize.  :o\

Friday, May 20, 2011


Since getting the Kindle, I've been spending more time looking around at books online, and I have to say, I'm amazed by the number of "niche" mystery series there are available today.  There's something for everyone, no matter what your hobby or interest (assuming you like cozy mysteries, which I do).  I already knew there were series about cats, knitters, and crocheters, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the number of other niches... but I am.

Here are some of the niche cozy-mystery series themes I've seen so far:
  • Knitting or Crocheting (as stated)
  • Salons/Stylists
  • Candy store
  • Food/Restaurants in general
  • Cheese shop
  • Wine country
  • Travel agent
  • Pet-sitter
  • Crafts (soap-making and so on)
  • High fashion
  • Vintage clothing shop
  • Card-making (another craft)
  • Quilting
(And I'm sure there are more.)

It reminds me of Barbie dolls.  There's one for (nearly) every career or interest!

Personally, I think the card-maker mysteries seem the strangest of the bunch.  I'm not sure why... It just feels so completely random.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Three Things

Thing One:
For those keeping track, I am a very bad photo-blogger, but I have been taking at least one photo a day, and eventually I'll make myself upload them.  Maybe.  (Meh, we'll see.)

Thing Two:
"New report finds medical costs to rise 8.5 percent in 2012"

Oh boy. Thank you, Obamacare!

Thing Three:
In lighter news, the CDC warns the public to prepare for a "Zombie Apocalypse". (Sort of.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Trixie Jumps Through the Hoop

Trixie jumps through a hula hoop on command. Er, well sometimes she does.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trixie "Finds It"

We play a game called "Find It" with Trixie. We take one of her toys, hide it somewhere (while she waits in another room), and tell her (as you've probably already guessed) to find it. She enjoys it, and I think it's fun to watch as she sniffs and puzzles out the toy's location.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Things I Like About the Kindle

There are a few obvious things that you know you'll like about an e-reader, before you even hold it in your hands. 

There's the amazing portability of enough reading material to keep you busy for years (unless you read a lot more and a lot faster than I do).  You can carry a whole little library around with you (in this device that weighs less than some paperbacks!).  

Then there's the to ability to load something new from Amazon in seconds, when connected to a WiFi network.  (There's also a certain degree of ability to access other parts of the Internet, though it's definitely not what the WiFi Kindle was designed for-- and it shows.)  So far, I much prefer to shop on my regular computer than on the Kindle itself, but it's nice to know that I can get new reading material while on the go (as long as I can find a hotspot).

I knew that I would love all the easy access to free books.   (Technically, most of them have been free for years on-line, but I don't like reading off a computer screen for hours at a time.  Reading from the Kindle screen is nothing like reading from the computer monitor.  It's easier on your eyes, more portable, and more intimate, somehow, if you that makes any sense. (g)) There are many wonderful works in the public domain, and occasionally you'll find a more recent title available for free (as a promotion).  Some people complain about the lack of a live table of contents in some of the free classics, but personally, I tend not to skip from chapter to chapter very much, anyway.  Either I read from start to finish or I go directly to a favorite part (which is fairly easily estimated and jumped to, if you've read it enough to have a favorite part).  Of course, you can often get a version with the live table of contents for just a dollar or two, if it's important to you.  Most of the time, I think I'll be happy saving that dollar or two for something else.

So, those are some of the things I knew I'd like, but while using it these past few days, I've also already found myself appreciating a few other features that I hadn't really thought as much about before purchasing it...

First, no-hands reading.

This may be less of an issue if you typically read hardcovers (particularly those that are well-loved/beaten into submission), but often I find that when reading a book, I must keep at least one hand on it at all times, to hold it open to the right page.  If I want to eat while I read or just not have to hold the book open constantly, I must find something heavy enough to weigh down both sides of the book.  It can be difficult to position the makeshift weights so that they don't either slide off or block the text.

With the Kindle, of course, this is not an issue.  It's so lightweight that holding it up for hours is less likely to become tiring, but if you like (and I find that I often do), you can just set it down in front of you (or prop it up on something, to get a comfortable angle).  There are no pages trying to snap back shut.  You still have to press the button to the page, but until they figure out a way to let you control the e-reader with your mind, I guess we're stuck with that.  ;o) 

Second, dictionary look-up.

When I was young and full of aspirations-- when time seemed to stretch ahead of me in years long and many ;o)-- I was more likely to stop and look up an unfamiliar word when I came across one in a book.  These days, of course, that happens somewhat less often (thank goodness), but when it does, but I find myself less and less likely to bother looking it up.  I rely on context clues.  Educated guesses.  Call it laziness, if you will (though that's awfully judgmental of you, don't you think?).  In any case, I rarely bother to stop reading and flip through a dictionary (or run to the computer).  That's where the Kindle comes in, with its fancy built-in dictionaries and look-up system. 

I have to say, I'm impressed.  I've tried out the Kindle's default dictionary a few times already and found it very useful.  You just move the cursor to the front of the word you want defined, and up pops the definition.  Hit another button if you want to read more about it in the dictionary, and go back to your book with another single tap, when you're done.  It's so quick and painless, I think I'll be looking up unfamiliar words more often than ever!

Third, status bar (and "status dots").

When reading a non-digital book, I like to be able to tell at a glance approximately how much I've read.  It's just a useful thing to know, and it can be motivation to keep reading or save the last few pages, depending on your mood.  I hadn't really thought about the fact that when reading a digital copy of a book, you might not be able to gauge the length of a book so easily.

Fortunately, whoever designed the Kindle did consider that.  There are no page numbers on a Kindle, but at the bottom of every "page" (screen?), there's a thin, unobtrusive progress bar indicating how far you've read in that particular book-- and the numerical percentage of the book you've read (40%, for instance).  Another neat little feature is a tiny inverted triangle that marks where you were when you started reading in this particular "sitting". 

Something I think I'm less likely to use, but which is also potentially nice to know about is a row of "status dots" below each title in the Kindle's "table of contents"/home screen.  Under each title, there are a row of dots.  You can tell two things from these dots.  First, the length of the row varies in relation to the length of the work.  (I'm not sure how it's calculated, but you can tell at a glance whether it's a short story or a lengthy novel.)  Second, the dots become emboldened to indicate how far you have read in the work (which is how it works as a status bar). 

In closing, I still like it. (g)

(Incidentally, I opted for the slightly cheaper "Kindle with special offers", and in my opinion, the ads and offers are completely unobtrusive.  They only show on the screen-saver and in a thin band at the bottom of the "home" screen-- never when you're actually in the middle of reading something.  I find them very easy to ignore-- if anything, kind of interesting to look at-- but then again, I'm not easily bothered by non-noisy and non-pop-up ads, in general.)

...Well, enough rambling about that for now, I guess.  :o)

Friday, May 6, 2011

E-Reader Convert?

Whatever Could It Be...?

Whatever could it be?

(Ha. As if I haven't been stalking the USPS delivery status page for the past few days...)

My Day 6/31:  Kindle!

Yay! It's my Kindle!

For a long time (well, as long as they've been around), I wasn't sure how I'd feel about an e-reader. I certainly wasn't sure enough that I'd like one to put (what I considered to be) a lot of money into buying one. But then the prices went down some... and I had a small gift card to use (thanks to Amazon Associates)... so I finally gave in...

And I think it's love at first sight.

Kindle 3

I can already tell that I'm going to do a lot more reading because of this little gadget.

It's pretty neat.

...Now I'm off to do some reading. :o)

"Yes! Its Hurts"

This blog post/photo gave me a laugh.  (g)

It's a sticker found somewhere in Stockholm reading-- in part-- "I ❤ Tattoos" and "Yes! Its Hurts".

Yes, I think that falls under both "bad motto" and "bad grammar". 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Delivery #1": Arrived!

We got the call earlier this evening that the baby finally ended up being delivered by C-section.  (Sounds like it was a long, hard day.  I hope everyone involved will get a good night's sleep tonight!)

It's a girl, and mother and baby are both well.  :o) 

(As far as other details go, I don't have a great memory for numbers... 8 pounds something, and I think either 20.? or 21.? inches... I do remember that Mom said she looks like she'll have very curly hair, like Kimberly did when she was little.)

Congratulations, Carrie and Victor!

The details:

. . .
Clarabel Arden 
born at 6:17 PM (Central Time)
on May 5th, 2011
. . .
weight: 8 pounds 10.2 ounces
length: 21.5 inches
. . .

(Objectively, I still think it's a little strange that when a baby is born, almost the first thing everyone wants to know/wants to tell is his or her weight and length.  I guess it's just because there's simply not much else to say-- quickly, easily, and non-sentimentally-- about a brand-new infant... Anyway, since it's probably been the custom since babies began, who am I to buck tradition? ;o))

Welcome to the world, Clarabel Arden!  :o)

Waiting for Updates

Regarding "Delivery #1":
As far as I know, the baby hasn't arrived yet.  From what I've read, it sounds like it's probably been a long, hard past couple of days, but it shouldn't be much longer...

Regarding "Delivery #3":
Why doesn't USPS update their "Track & Confirm" information more often?  The first, last, and only info I have from them is from May 3rd, which is kind of ridiculous when I expect the package to arrive either tomorrow or Saturday.  (I think that at least once before, we received a package before they updated their info to indicate that it was anywhere in the area.)   If they're not going to update more often than that, why bother having a track/confirm feature at all?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Not a Gamer

On a whim, I just played a game of Pacman.  However, I have decided that once was enough.  I can't take the stress.

Seriously, though, computer games / video games stress me out.  Surely I'm not the only one...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Delivery #1:  Pending. 
It was beginning to look like Carrie and Victor's baby would come on his/her due date, but now we're not so sure.  The last I heard, things were slowing down, and the hospital was probably going to send them home for the time being-- but I guess things could start again at any time.  (This must happen a lot. It seems like you rarely hear about a pregnancy that doesn't have at least one false start.  Failing that, the baby comes all at once, without much warning at all, and a non-medical-professional has to step in and be the hero/heroine.  [Obviously, my knowledge of this subject comes primarily from TV shows.])

Delivery #2:  Arrived.
Some much-needed rain can through, and it brought with it an incredibly refreshing cool breeze.  How I've missed you, fresh air!  This type of weather at this time of year is bittersweet, because I know we won't get much more of it before the long, hot summer sets in (and refuses to budge until October).  I am already jealous of the relatively cool summer Sweden will probably enjoy.  Meanwhile, the Swedish papers will report how disappointed people are by the lack of sun and warmth.  Oh well.  None of us are allowed to be too happy.  ;o)  At least we have our windows open this afternoon.  (Bliss!)

Delivery #3: Just waiting for the USPS...
I'm expecting something in the mail, now that Amazon has finally seen fit to ship it.  (Yay, Amazon!  I take back those mean things I was thinking about you earlier today. (g))  It's fun to have something to look forward to in the mail, but it's hard to be patient...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Well, You Can't Make Everyone Happy...

Apparently, some Islamic scholars "criticize" Osama bin Laden's burial at sea as a "violation of Islamic tradition".  And then there are others-- myself, for example-- who did a double take at the news that he was buried at sea at least partially to comply with some Islamic law that dead bodies be buried within 24 hours of death.

Um, 'scuse me a moment... What?!

Ok, I get the whole "no nation would have wanted his body, and we didn't want to give them the chance to make a 'shrine' of a specific burial spot" aspect-- so fine, burial in a non-disclosed location or at sea-- but I don't really give a bleepity-bleep how he would have wanted to be buried, and personally, I'm astonished that they even took the "rules" of his religion into consideration at all.  My opinion?  Just be thankful that we're a decent enough, civilized enough nation that we didn't put his sorry carcass on display somewhere.  (M'kay?)

And the argument that this "disrespectful" sea burial will entice retaliation?  Oh, come on.  We know they're going to want to retaliate, no matter how he was disposed of.  They've wanted to kills us, all along.  That's not going to change anytime soon.  (Oops, maybe I should've labeled that with a spoiler alert...) So basically, just shut up, scholars and clerics.

Oh, and have a great day.