Friday, January 30, 2009

Weak Geek Seeks Peak Fitness

OK I readily admit to being a geek. I spend a LOT of time online. Here I am sitting in my lounge chair and THINKING about exercise and also about Web 2.0. What can I find for a geek seeking fitness tools?
  • Life Ledger: This blog has a lot of interesting entries about diet and exercise. It looks like one I may want to follow.
  • Promoting and Prescribing Exercise for the Elderly--This article is really for promoting exercise for elderly individuals. I was drawn to it because I am campaigning for my dad to get an evaluation by a physical therapist to be followed up with a regular exercise program. Happily, this is happening next week for him.
  • These first two are interesting but I really expected more. I revised my search terms a little and hit paydirt! Here is a great list of 15 sites!

Ouch! Taken to Task by Former Student

I was just gently chided by a former student for not getting with an exercise program. Novella Byrd, you are right in the comment you added to my previous entry about exercise. I am on my own case about this also. I can make an excuse and I will, but that does not negate the fact that I am neglecting something important. My excuse is the extremely challenging new job duties I have acquired in the past year. But Novella, you are right to give me a nudge. I do walk every day, but not nearly as far since my good old dog has come down with arthritis. He kept me active until very recently. Anyway, I am publicly proclaiming again my resolve to get back into an exercise schedule. Tomorrow I fly to Brownsville to help with a class, then home Sunday. Here is my latest promise. Tomorrow I will take a long brisk walk, at least 20 minutes, and hopefully 30, on campus at UTB. I will post in and either fess up or brag.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two nifty new links

I've said it before and I' ll say it again...Twitter is fantastic for finding great links to interesting and useful sites. Here are two samples from this week:
  • MIT home page has got to be the coolest university home page ever. As far as I can tell, every week or so they put up a new challenge. The one up right now is for their students and could yield some fantastic creations but could easily be adapted for kids: Cardboard creations. Take a look!
  • I just picked up a great tweet with lots to share, Carl Harvey: He is editor for Children's Book Insider. One link he shared is a very long list of cliches, which could be used a number of ways with students, with the ironic title of Cliches, Avoid them Like the Plague. Be sure and scroll all the way down for the euphemisms for the word stupid. My favorite is "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.":

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wordle for Inagural Benediction by Rev. Lowery

  Wordle: Rev. Lowery Inauguration Benediction Test

Wordle for Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander

  Wordle: Wordle for Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander

Today, January 20, 2009

Random thoughts leading up to ceremony:
  • Elder President Bush seems very old today, having difficulty walking
  • Clinton looked grim going down the hallway to approach the stand
  • The advantage of NOT being there is person is being able to see the long shots of the amazing crowd. What a
  • Clinton coming out in the open, breaks into a big smile and stops to shake hands with onlookers.
  • Wow! Here comes the Bible! Again a great thing to see up close.
  • Right now they are showing the moving van with people taking things INTO the White House. Guess that is Obama's stuff! Pretty cool to see the family's stuff going into their new home.
  • Awww here come the Obama girls! So exciting! They are bundled up and wearing big smiles.
  • Oh my goodness...very, very negative crowd sounds as Bush comes out. He has a very set expression on his face. What must this feel like to him? All those around him look very tense as well.
  • I just POWERED OFF MY IPHONE because NOTHING is going to interrupt the next minutes...Obama just appeared. Olbermann says Obama looks a little nervous, something I noticed waiting for him to be officially announced.
  • I did not get a little teary when he appeared as I had anticipated. Instead I had what was more like a breakdown.
  • Warren's prayer was least favorite thing, though glad he spoke about tolerance. Maybe he will heed his own words...
  • Love Aretha's hat!
  • Wonderful touch of class, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, et al with composition by John Williams...harks back to cultural emphasis in Kennedy years. Here is my latest tweet: "ohhhhh love the music, mix of familiar and new in composition, just lively, all musicians wearing big smiles lifting spirits just great" Shades of Aaron Copeland, very appropriate.
  • Here it comes! John Roberts introduced
Here are comments that I thought were striking as I heard the speech.
  • Greatness never a gift, must be earned
  • Scripture quote
  • America bigger than sum of individual aspirations
  • Starting today we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves out, and begin the work of remaking America
  • We will transform our schools to meet the demands of the new century
  • False that we must choose between safety and ideals and we will not give them up for expedience sake.
  • New era of responsibility
  • Fantastic conclusion!
Comments immediately afterwards:
  • One of my tweets just posted an Inauguration Day haiku...great activity for students!
  • Take yourselves and your students to the new site. It was up immediately after the inauguration, or maybe during.
  • The recent newsy site at does have updated information.
  • I cannot get to load. I wonder if this satirical site is regrouping. Surely it will not go down??? UPDATE: It is up now and as uppity as ever.
  • Looking at Ted Kennedy as he waits to be seated at the luncheon after inauguration. He actually looks pretty good!
Comments 9 PM
  • Seeing the first couple at the balls is wonderful. Graceful, elegant, with touch of glamour. Nice change.
  • Spoke with my dad, age 96. He had a wonderful day. Slight regret that I was not there with him.
  • Ironic that I commented on Ted Kennedy looking so good and then he fell ill soon after. I am relieved that he is now improved and hope he is able to see health care move forward.
  • This was a long work day for me as well as watch day. Just finished all my must-do's. Sitting back and basking in good feelings.
  • Signing off with great feeling of gratitude.

Inaguration Day Recollections and Musings Before Ceremony

Who is not focusing on the momentous events of this day? I have been thinking about past inaugurations that I remember. My family was always very interested in politics. something that I have written about before. My dad was for years the Democratic Party Chair for our Texas county, and elections were family affairs for us. Thus we always followed elections and subsequent events very closely. Here are some recollections:
  • As a young girl, I remember that my entire class was taken in cars to my teacher's home on inauguration day. We were seated on the floor in front of her television. For some kids, this was the first TV they had ever seen. We watched the inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower. Yes, I am that old. I remember thinking to myself, "This is nice, but Adlai Stevenson should really be up there!" I was probably the only kid in the room with a partisan attitude. All the same I remember feeling that this was a momentous event.
  • The next one I really remember was the Kennedy inauguration. What struck me that day was seeing Robert Frost. By then I had decided I would major in English in college and was already a poetry lover. I remember how Frost's hands shook as he held the sheets of paper with his poem, and the tremulous voice with which he spoke. I don't recall how much longer he lived, but clearly he was in the later days of his life, and I felt lucky to see and hear him. It wasn't really until the next day that people started repeating the "ask not" phrase and I began to realize the historical quality of Kennedy's speech.
  • I watched the Carter inauguration sitting on the floor of my living room with my little one. She was about two years old. We got out pots and pans, at her insistence, and she banged on them with a wooden spoon to keep time with the bands in the parade. During the pledge we both put our hands over our hearts. I wanted her to have the same strong sense of citizenship that was part of my upbringing. The thing that struck me about this event was that the Carters walked the length of Pennsylvania Avenue rather than ride in a limousine. I remember thinking what a courageous act that was in view of past violence against presidents. I did feel very hopeful that day, because I was glad to see this good and decent man fill the office.
I just now realized I have been sitting watching the events with my hands clasped before me in a position of prayer. This was an unconscious yet appropriate attitude to assume. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to be watching this event today, and to know that my dad, age 96, is glued to his television in his own living room. He very much wanted to see the end of the Bush years. To him, they have been very painful as so late in life he saw our country mired in such distressing times. I once asked what was the most scary and distressing time he could remember, this man who lived through two world wars, the depression, all the assassinations and other hard times since his birth in 1912. His reply was...NOW. He was extremely worried about terrorism, the Iraq war, and all the other upsetting events and issues from the last eight years. He has also said that, in a way, he is glad my mother passed in 2000, before the 911 event and all other distressing times since her death in June of that year.

There is in my family a regret that my brother's wife, an ardent fan of both Obama and Clinton, died in October and thus did not live to see the outcome of the election. My thoughts are with my brother today, who has the great good fortune to be in Washington DC. I know he realizes that he is there for both of them and that Nancy's spirit is with us all on this day. I am glad that he is the one of us that got to go, because I think the optimism and excitement will buoy his spirits even as he wishes his wife could be there with him.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

OK maybe that is an exaggeration. But...I wouldn't be the first to prematurely to make this announcement! One of my New Year's Resolutions was to go to the university health center and begin exercising. Naturally I did not mean to go over there just one time and that would be it, but that would be a beginning, right? As the 3rd year of making the same resolution began, I did at least do just that. I took myself over to the gym/exercise area and walked a brisk mile on the track, feeling very virtuous. I did this on Wednesday, and had to leave Thursday for a trip to spend the night with Dad and then go on to Laredo today for a seminar, a review, and an all day class, thus nixing my chances of going back a second time. But I am giving myself a modicum of credit. What about next week? I am just home Monday-Wednesday, then off to Denver for ALA Midwinter. I have a meeting Tuesday and plan after that to work from home with my TV home as I soak up a little bot of hope after eight heavy-hearted years. AFTER THAT...I'LL BE BAAAACK AT THE TRAAACK!

Because I do not feel good about a posting that lacks a single bit of useful and topical information, I will close be sharing a link that I just came across today: Factbites:
At first glance, it looks promising for ready reference.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I will join everybody else in doing a couple of entries about favorite things from this past year. This one will be about technology, and the other about books. Here are my favorite gizmos of the year. I will do a top down list a la Letterman. I am extremely lucky to be able to have use of all these items. Since I teach technology classes, I get to try out a number of things, some which we buy for everybody and some that, after test driving, we find to have more limited use.
  • PoGo Polaroid Printer--Maybe I should not even list this one. We just got one right before Christmas and so far I have not been able to try it out. The reason is because it does not hook up to my iPhone so I cannot use it that way. Next I tried to use it with my MacBook Pro but it does not like Macs. By the time I got a bluetooth USB device installed on my PC clunker, the printer charge had run down, and the cord was in my office. I should add that no, I did not check ahead of time for compatibility. BUT I think they should have told people in the web description that I did read about these issues. I found out by web search which turned up other peeved users who found out after the fact. Plus, while I kind of understand with the iPhone, I do NOT understand not making it work with all Macs, since everybody knows Mac users tend to love images. End of vent. I will write about it again soon, once I get it to work. But it is still last on my list as a matter of principle for having problems. Oh, and of course it works just great with THEIR CAMERA, says the they are trying to force you to buy the cam. Irritating. At the same time I think this is technology to watch. This is the very first iteration of what I suspect will be a new generation of printers.
  • Eee--Actually I LOVE the Eee but think unless you have a real use for it, you might want to refrain from buying just because it is so sleek, light, and inviting. It is all of these things and more. It has a built in camera that you just click and voila, your face appears on the screen and you are ready to film. That is my hands down favorite thing about it. I am not put off by the fact that it is not meant to be a carrier for a lot of memory-hogging software. It has plenty of zip with MS Office, which came on mine. I added Firefox and so far nothing else. What holds me back are two things:
    • I REALLY have problems with the small keyboard. And the shift key is waaay in the wrong place, and it has a way of losing my place when I am keying in stuff because I manage to hit other wrong keys. Given time, I could overcome this, but do I need to?
    • It is NOT a workhorse but rather a device which is lightweight and easy to carry. For these attributes, it is fantastic. But while I travel a fair amount, when I go I like a computer that has a bit more memory and carries everything I need.
  • Sony eBook Reader--I really LOVE this device. I tried it out over Christmas and plan to do a longer blog comparing it with Kindle. It is even smaller and sleeker than Kindle. The huge drawback for me is that it does not have web access. For that reason I regretfully put it aside in favor of Kindle.
  • Motion Computer--What a fun device! Actually I have had access to one for about 13 months. No keyboard, you just run it with a stylus, and write with the stylus as well. I LOVE it for taking notes in meetings and at campus and it has great WOW value. Whatever I write goes right into MS word. But again, it is not a workhorse and has limited use. I like it better for my own traveling than Eee, at least so far, due to my problems with the Eee keyboard.
  • FlipCam--Fantastic! Not one complaint! Works like a champ right out of the box and WITH ANY COMPUTER. I think I expected the PoGo to be as versatile as the FlipCam and it certainly is not. The reason it is not higher on the list is that I just use it less.
  • MacBook Pro--The last three things are pretty much tied for first place. I got my Mac about eleven months ago, after being a PC=only user for about 8 years. I love this computer and have sung its praises before. I do not find that I have compatibility issues Mac/PC very often at all...except for PoGo which I have complained about enough already
  • Kindle--The best eBook reader ever! Again I have blogged about it before but my devotion to it is undiminished. I did finally give it a name, settling on Grendal. I LOVE the fact that I can use it to get to the Internet, follow blogs, and get other online resources as well as Amazon's store.
  • Electric Bike--Oh how I love PeeWee, my little red electric bike. Yes it is a green choice and that makes me feel good. But better than that, with it I have NO PARKING WORRIES at my university job. PeeWee just rides up the elevator with me to my office. Best of all, it is tons of fun to ride. Having a fun way to get to work and back, as opposed to a long commute or even a short drive, contributes a great deal to my day to day disposition.
  • iPhone 3G--Could not live without it. I had a 1st generation iPhone that I lost, and was bereft. Waiting until I could get my new one was torture. I like almost everything about it. I know there are other great mobile devices out there, but for me the iPhone resonates in every way. I love apps, think the camera is fine, and really enjoy all the features.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Colbert, Lessig, and Remix! Recipe for FUN!!!

The other night, as is usual to me, I tuned in to The Daily Show followed by Colbert Report. Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of both shows. I even got to go to The Daily Show when I was in NYC on a trip. I got called out by the warmup comedian who said "You look like a little lady who makes apple pies all day and then drinks gin at night." I was thrilled! I do make a mean apple pie as a matter of fact. Anyway, Stewart's guest was a big name, Dana Perino, White House Press Secretary. She acquitted herself very well, and now that I think of it that may be a great verb choice on my part. Anyway, Colbert's guest was some guy named Lawrence Lessig. The name sounded vaguely familiar but did not really grab my attention.

Then Lessig came on and began talking about his book Remix, about copyright. My librarian sensors immediately started to tingle. His premise was that copyright laws are updated, impossible to enforce, and inadequate for today's media. In particular he wants us to "stop making criminals out of kids" for the mashups, remixes, derivations, and other cool things they do with publications today. Of course Colbert hogged the limelight, but their conversation was both entertaining and informative about the problem. And Colbert was once again daring viewers to take something from his show and make something more from it, as he has done in the past with his green screen challenges. Great stuff!

I immediately thought of all my cohorts on LM_NET and TLC who would love the sequence, and posted about it to both lists. Weirdly, the next day the clip had been TAKEN DOWN from the Colbertnation website "at the request of the publisher, Penguin Press." I got several messages about this the next morning from people who went looking for it. Good grief! I thought, this is rich irony if Penguin is blocking the clip about making material available. I still don't know the real story behind this, and it seems odd in view of the fact that the entire book will be available at Creative Commons. Anyway, you can go to the Colbert site now and see the entire episode, or if you just want to see the copyright part, move the slider over to the last part of the show. Doug Johnson, I know you are out there. This goes so well with your recent presentation about copyright!

And here is the best part! Go to YouTube and search for "Colbert Lessig" and you get the remixes of the clip about Remix! Someone emailed me about them yesterday, when I think there were two. Now there are at least three, all fun, and I am willing to bet there will be more. Colbert was clearly calling for them. The dance music one is probably my fave. Putting this all together you have A GREAT LESSON ABOUT COPYRIGHT AND CREATIVITY! Oops...I will be blocked from the TV sites and, of course, from YouTube as well. Still, go and see for yourself. I love it when you can laugh, learn, and think all at the same time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time time time

OK now the music box in my head is playing another old song, Pete Seeger's "Turn Turn Turn." Only the words I am hearing are instead "Time time time," as in I never, ever have enough! I am thinking about time for a couple of reasons.
    • This week my university is still on break, though of course I am working every day. However, I have allowed myself to work from home most of the time and also have indulged in some things that I have been dying to do but not having time, such as trying out the Sony eBook Reader, the Asus Eee, and some other new acquisitions. I also took time for my computer startup smackdown, described in my previous entry. This really took all of two minutes to do, but first I had to get the three computers all lined up, have my iPhone out to use the timer, and then execute. Another thing I did today was try out an external cd/rw drive I have had for around ONE YEAR and have never taken time to unbox. It worked with the Eee right out of the box with no installation or problems of any sort. Trying it out took about 10 minutes. But first I had to FIND the drive and get it in place, plugged in, and connected to the netbook. Needless to say, having it is a huge plus and I cannot believe I let it sit unused for so long. I don't know how to free up time for anyone other than myself, but do recommend finding a way to sneak off and do the things you know you want and need to do.
    • The other reason I am thinking about time is that I am working on an article (gotta find time to do THAT) about making wise purchases of equipment and software. I queried LM_NET, EDTECH, and TLC members for examples of purchasing mistakes and have received a number of sad stories. In a large majority of the accounts, a big reason why a poor decision was made was because it was something that was done in a hurry. "Haste makes waste" is very, very true. I will be writing an article about this but would offer this one suggestion here and now: Just as librarians do for books, have a consideration or wish list of equipment needs. Make this list after researching the products via reviews, listserv inquiries, visits to vendor booths, and if at all possible, personal experience with the item. And when you do place an order, start with just one of the item rather than buying in bulk. Try it out first and then order more if it meets your requirements and if you have interested and committed users.
    • By the way, I do presentations about time management, which may seem a bit ironic to anyone who knows me. But there are some great online tools out there that can really help with organizing your life and getting things done. Here is a link to a presentation that references some of these great tools: Two of my favorite tools from the presentation above are 43 Things and Tadalists. They are ones I use all the, uh, TIME.

Startup Smackdown!

Is there no limit to my geekiness? I have been wanting to do this for ages: Race my two fast-starting computers and see who wins. My workhorse is a MacBook Pro that I have had for about a year, and which I dearly love. One reason I like it better than any PC in recent memories is how quickly and cheerfully it starts up or wakes up. She is ready to go so far ahead of my 2 year old Compaq clunker that it is stunning. BUT, right now I am trying out an Asus eee and have noticed that it is quick off the blocks as well. So I whipped out my iPhone, went to Stopwatch, and had a race. I pressed the ON button on my Compaq first, giving it a head start. Then I pushed the Mac and Eee buttons simultaneously. I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but I actually got a bit of an adrenalin thrill from doing this. I was pulling for Mac, because I do love her so much.

And the winner was.....DRUMROLL...Eee with 45 seconds!!!

Mac came in with a respectable 1 minute. Poor Compaq finally got to the login screen at 2 minutes, but after that I know there is another couple of minutes before he actually gets himself ready to go to work. I should add, of course, that the number of apps per machine does enter in, and probably some other stuff that hurts my head to think about. But there you have it, Eee is a fast starter. Next I will get my Eee to race with a new Dell Latitude that is up at my office, thus pairing up a netbook and a very small notebook. This time I am betting on Eee. I do plan to do some more serious comparisons and discussions about new equipment that we are trying out:
  • Eee--really cool!
  • Polariod PoGo Printer--compatibility problems so far
  • Dell Latitude--love it
  • Sony eReader--like it
  • Kindle (not really new but I will be comparing it with the Sony)--love it
Here is an aside... Do you have a constant soundtrack running in your head? I do. And it plays, without my summoning, appropriate songs for the moment. As I was doing this little experiment, I noticed a song in my head, and NOT one I would consciously call up. It was that George Jones canard, "The Race is On." And guess what else I learned because of this? There is a MySpace Karaoke Page. It came up when I searched for the song. I think you have to log in and maybe friend the page to hear the whole song but I heard enough to satisfy me and, since I cannot carry a tune, do not feel the need to join. But how cool that MySpace provides karaoke tunes! Who knew?

Waking up in 2009

Oh it really 2009? This is the longest I have ever neglected my blog. At first I was not posting because of holiday activities. Then when I felt guilty for being such a slacker, I started telling myself my first blog of the year should be REALLY GOOD, but not feeling any of my ideas were scintillating enough so postponing more. That gets me to today, when I hope to start up again no matter what! Sooo...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I will go the resolution route albeit belatedly. Two years ago my resolutions were to launch a blog, start up a wiki, and get myself over to the campus health building for regular exercise. I achieved the first two. Last year I vowed to become a Twitter user and to go to the gym. I achieved the first goal. Yes, there is a trend here. I am now entering my third year of promising to use the gym. In 2007 I did zero, zip, nada. In 2008 I did get over there ONE TIME and tour the facility which is great. I am counting that as a baby step in the right direction. I am telling myself that this year I will really, really start using, and putting it out there publicly in the hopes that doing so will spur me on.

And here are goals for this year:
  1. Post to blog at least 3 times/week (previous goal being 2/week), even if some posts are short and just sharing a link or tidbit.
  2. Yeah, yeah, get over to the gym and get with the program. Anyone who wants to email and nag me about this is encouraged to do so.
To all wishes for a HAPPY NEW YEAR as this historic and unique time in our history unfolds.