i did a cool thing today! the local libraries exchange was on campus to record 5-minute book reviews for their podcast, and i did TWO books! (unfortunately, i was the only one who signed up, so i guess it was a good thing i brought a second book!)
i had listened to a few of their podcasts before i headed into this foray, and i was worried about being able to spend enough time talking about my books. well, after i rambled on and on about the first book (“the dreamers”), the interviewer said that it was almost exactly 5 minutes. i was worried i wouldn’t be able to talk about it enough!
then i talked about “a walk in the woods” which one of the interviewers had also read (and loved the author), so we almost tag-teamed on the interview, and that one was really fun. hey, if you haven’t read that one and you enjoy memoirs and humor, this is the book for you.
THEN they invited me to come to their space over the summer sometime when they’re recording podcasts about specific genres of books! OMG. i asked if harry potter was considered a genre, and then we got excited about a podcast talking about HP.
i’m reading “station eleven”, a book about a major health epidemic that wipes the majority of the population from the planet. enter apocalyptic world.
i read a lot of books that involve some method of the world ending, either by EMP or nuclear war or health issues, among many others. and for some reason, they are all very similar: humankind somehow devolves by 300 years. maybe 400.
which got me wondering:
what i don’t understand about post-apocalyptic fiction – all systems degenerate and we go back to life in the 1800s. WE HAVE ALL THAT KNOWLEDGE. i mean, not EVERY engineer is dead. it shouldn’t be so abrupt and permanent.
in MY post-apocalyptic world, here’s what i think will happen.
first, if it’s something like an EMP attack or similar, i don’t think it would take long for some enterprising engineer or scientist or rando to come up with some way to fix the grid. communications systems might be out a while, but i think they would come back on eventually.
human population declines by quite a bit? people power not quite what it used to be? maybe there will still be enough people to have the wherewithal to check out utilities and other operations. if not and the world needs to rely on non-computerized operations to survive at the moment? well, the pony express was a thing. we used to have steam-operated trains. i can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be difficult to retrofit. and it’s not like LIBRARIES will go offline – get thee to a library and figure out how to get stuff done! our ancestors were an enterprising bunch even without the library.
now i’m not saying there won’t be issues, especially in metro areas. i can imagine looting and violence and hysteria. meanwhile, rural folks will pretty much have it made. farms nearby, resources, space to put in gardens. space in general.
i think the thing that’s slightly irritating is the helplessness of the situation. like a world without phones and lights and fax machines is one not worth living in so i’m going to throw myself into a lake. i think when the apocalypse comes, it will boil down to the resourcefulness and stick-to-itiveness of humans that got them to the point in the first place. like i said, we have all the knowledge! and people who know this stuff aren’t just going to disappear. someone just needs to get it done.
tomorrow afternoon, i’m finally going to see star wars. i’m disappointed in my nerd self for waiting this long. and so far i’ve done a fairly decent job of avoiding spoilers, though not that great of a job. i have discerned quite a few big ones, which makes me kind of sad, but what do i expect by waiting so long to see this movie.
i thought about watching all the other star wars movies in preparation, but i just never had the time or the oomph to sit down and do it. plus i don’t own the prequels, and did i want to spend any more money on them? not really. if i’m severely confused by this movie tomorrow, i’ll sit down and watch all of them
perhaps i’ll do a movie review tomorrow night! we’ll see! (i’ll title it spoilers.)
yesterday, my sisters and canada dave and i went to wizardworld in minneapolis. completely awesome to be surrounded by nerds. if you’ve never been to a con, i highly recommend it, and make sure to dress up as your favorite nerdy character.
(as an aside, liz and i dressed up to be cupid-esque (her cupid, me -esque). next time i would definitely go as ash williams from evil dead since i have that costume and it’s awesome.)
we got pics with karl urban (squeeee!), kevin sorbo (i’m so glad i did!) and brent spiner (last minute decision, but yay!). jane and dave got a pic with the guys who play the weasley twins in the harry potter movie. i asked questions at karl’s and kevin’s panels. i enjoyed karl’s panel, but i have to say kevin’s was the highlight of the day. karl’s become a big star, a far cry from his cupid and caesar days on xena/herk, but kevin still seems to keep some down-to-earth, albeit conservative christian, appeal.
notes for next time: skip the professional pics and get in the autograph lines. we paid $20 for a picture with mr. sorbo vs. the $60 pro shot with karl. i highly prefer the kevin pic.
i’m campaigning for bruce campbell and lucy lawless next year.
april, you fickle beast, you.
i guess i shouldn’t be one to talk; i have christmas decorations yet on my chandelier and a greenhouse with baby tomatoes reaching for the light 6 feet away.
while you tease me with 76º on the way home from work one afternoon, you drop to 64º within the hour after i happily donned my shorts and tank top.
then after a drenching rain, you drop completely to under freezing so i’m forced to bundle up the next morning for work.
you’re certainly living up to your reputation of april showers, as the next week holds the promise of drops from the sky, which ARE needed here, as 80% of the state is in a drought.
but after months of running on a treadmill, i finally got out of the house for runs, and that’s all i want to do – no going back to the treadmill this season.
but the WIND the WIND the WIND. not only is it maddening overall and a beast to run in, but it stirs up stuff on the ground and gets in my eyes and nose and lungs, and i’m sniffly and snotty and gross.
so i wait: hopes a little quelled; watching for the perennials to pop up; running shoes tapping impatiently; tethered to the 10-day weather outlook.
soon the weather will stabilize into above-freezing nights; the grass will green; my plants will get in the ground; my running shoes will hit pavement.
but until then.
april, you fickle beast, you.
this is going to be a blog post about blogging. how meta.
i went to the minnesota blogger conference today and learned stuff about blogging. here are the top takeaways i got from the conference.
1. your blog post needs to be at least 300 words for google to index it. not 280. not 299. 300. THAT is the biggest thing i learned, and i believe the most useful for work, where i just started a news blog. the more we can get out on google, the better.
2. another useful thing i learned that i will apply to work: it can take at least 9 months for a blog to really take off. i’ve gotten more than one comment about how no one’s reading the blog (they are) and it’s useless (can’t say that yet!) so why are we bothering? if we are still getting the numbers we are getting now, which are not horrible (the most read post is 500 views), then i will put a kibosh on it.
3. i found out a useful wordpress plugin that gives a calendar view of posts versus a listing.
4. a personal thought process from novice to expert: “this is neat. -> i might be good at this. -> i’m a _______.”
5. find 6 characteristics you value and use them as a filter for everyone and everything you work with. does content serve your audience? does your content fit your values? don’t dilute your message with extraneous crap. be the guardian leader of your blog. *
6. be the best answer. what can i be the best answer for? what is it i’m best at? what do i want to be known for?
* what are my 6 values?
1. eat well, but remember to eat socially as well.
2. pay attention – beauty is in places you least expect.
3. be cynically optimistic. or optimistically cynical.
4. it’s ok to be excited about weird stuff.
5. be an environmentalist. we only have one earth.
6. still working on this one!
i’ve been meaning to get up early enough to take photos at sunrise for a long time. looong time. we’re talking years long time.
on saturday, i finally did it. i had scouted out where i wanted to take pictures earlier in the month; i knew i wanted to do it along hwy 16 down here in southeastern MN, which is a scenic byway.
i pulled out and drove east on hwy 14 at about 6:35, and the horizon was just starting to get a little dusty. i drove a winding way down to whalan, which is near lanesboro. the topography is interesting: you have pretty tree-less prairie land with occasional hills, which are loaded with commodity crops; then suddenly, you drop into a river valley where the land is nothing but hills covered with trees.
at one point on my drive, i was on a hill on the prairie, and i could see south for miles. fog had rolled in overnight due to the below-freezing temps, and it looked spooky with the hills poking out of the grey-ish white fog in the barely there pre-dawn dark.
(at this point, i was thanking my lucky stars, because i had always wanted to get up in the morning and take some fog pics too.)
i drove to whalan and found my barn, but sunrise was another 15 minutes away, and it would take longer than that for it to crest the hill enough to be visible. i drove out of the valley, just up a gravel road, and parked my car next to a field where i waited for the sun to make its appearance.
sunrise light is beautiful. it makes everything look new and crisp, and with the frost still on the ground, the crops and grass looked mystical.
after i got some photos on the prairie, i went back down into the valley and got my barn pictures. all in all, they weren’t my favorite photos taken that day, and the barn was the reason i drove out.
i drove into lanesboro afterward to try my hand at waterfall pictures (epic fail, and i almost biffed it on some ice), and took about a mile walk on the bike trail, getting flat on the ground at one point.
as a bonus, i was able to take in the lanesboro farmers’ market, which i’d been meaning to check out all summer. small, and i wouldn’t make a special trip, but it was worth checking out. i bought another pie pumpkin and some garlic to plant.
i left lanesboro and the valley around 9:30 and got home around 10. it was only mid-morning and i felt like i’d been up for half a day already. but it was totally worth it.
now that i know what to expect, i’ll do sunrise pictures again.
i wrote this for my column in the newsleader way back in 2002! some of my predictions did not hold true…
I have a confession to make: I am an internet geek. While some people may shy away from the internet and all it holds, I grasp it and embrace it, holding it and all it offers dear to me. You want to hear the geekiness? I used to find coupons that would get me $50 of merchandise free, I know what mp2s are and I remember when Hotmail was owned by Hotmail, not Microsoft.
Lately, however, the quality of the internet has rapidly declined. How so? Well, the afore mentioned $50 coupon? I’m lucky if I find a coupon for free shipping these days! So many web site upstarts were blossoming in 1998-99, free stuff on the internet was easy to find. One web site would offer up to $25 of free merchandise, and all I had to do was pay shipping. Another web site had an offer where if I created a “wedding web site” (I wasn’t getting married, nor am I married now, but what do they know?), I would get $50 free merchandise from a high-quality internet site, and all I had to pay was shipping. Once, I actually found a $20 coupon that INCLUDED shipping; I was ecstatic.
I can’t find anything these days. Amazon.com boasts free shipping on purchases over $100, but when am I going to spend that much? The mp3 craze is so high that finding any mp3s on the internet is nearly impossible, even those you pay for! (Copyright issues: another subject.) Yessiree, the internet is darn near impossible to fanagle any free stuff out of these days. Those were the good old days, when I could get $50 of items for $3.50.
Not only is finding free stuff a futile battle, but pop-up ads are insane. It used to be that only “risque” web sites had pop-up ads with advertisers taking you to their other web sites. Now, everyone and their neighbor is trying to find a good way of advertising on the internet. Advertisements don’t work online. No one pays attention to them, and this is the problem web-companies have; how are they going to sell advertising if research shows web site ads are useless? They have to find some way to fund their web sites, so they inundate us with pop-up ads and monkey target practice and musical dancing bears and $20 free if you click the arrow which is moving so slow a two-year-old could click it. The latest ads are pop-up ads which are almost transparent and have no X to get you out of them! No X means I have to search for five minutes before I can close the ad. Sure, no X means that I have to look at the ad while I’m trying to close it, but it also means that I’m so frustrated I wouldn’t buy from the advertiser anyway!
This is not a good thing, though, because it means to fund these web sites, soon the owners are going to start charging us to view their web sites. I see in the future no more free internet. OK, the internet isn’t totally free now because of the $20/month we pay our internet service providers, but pretty soon we’re going to have to automatically pay X amount of dollars to have internet-based e-mail (Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) and pay a monthly fee to see certain web sites. The Wall Street Journal already charges to look at the entire paper online.
The new trend is going to be upon us soon. You know the old-age adage: “I remember when Twinkies were a nickel, movies were a dime, a bottle of pop was eight cents and gas was 15 cents a gallon.” When I feel I’m ready to spit out an adage of my own to my kid(s), it’ll be “When I was a kid, my e-mail was free, I didn’t have to pay to find out weather information from weather.com and they actually gave me stuff for free, even if I wasn’t married!”