Monday, June 23, 2008

Pedal power

Those crafty folks at Humboldt State University have set up a bike-powered washing machine. I've had two basements that would have been ideal for this: I could have set up a TV in front of the antique washer/exercise bike combo and gotten in a workout while watching TV and getting the laundry done. Personally, I think this is a WONDERFUL idea, but I'm pretty sure I'd last about a week.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Outside the box

More papercraft: paperboxworld has some of the cutest papercraft I've seen. Best of all, it's easy! And free! I made a tiny paper cat in about 10 minutes. Can't beat that!

(via PaperKraft)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

NYT surprised that a romance writer has... a heart?

Nicholas Sparks, author of romances The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, sponsors his town's high-school track team: In North Carolina, an Author Underwrites a Successful Track Program - NYTimes.com

I've never been able to make it past about chapter two of any of Nicholas Sparks's books—and I've really wanted to; I love the premise of gentle romance set in the idealized small-town America of generations past, but just can't get into Sparks's style—but I think it's fantastic that he's doing this. I just don't understand why the Times considers him "an unlikely benefactor." Here's a guy who is not just giving money, but also time and energy, to build a school-based athletic program; why is that so unlikely? Are successful authors supposed to be miserly recluses who live alone in the woods, only coming out of their ramshackle hovels to pick up the weekly mail and growl at the locals? Or maybe a guy who writes romances can't possibly be interested in athletics. WTF, NYT?

Hindsight is 20/20, and all that.

It seems to me that if we had listened to Jimmy Carter 30 years ago we might not be in so much trouble now.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Exsteaminate!

Take a look at Alex Holden's model of an awesome steam-powered Dalek:

He explains his method and his madness here: My Motley Meanderings - Exsteaminate!

Just two things:
  1. Dalek bubble bath? At Woolworth's? The English are soooo cool.
  2. Model engineering is a career path? Where do I sign up?


(I know I found this somewhere, but now I don't remember where)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Techcrunch: Can Google Trends Predict The Election?

An interesting analysis from Techcrunch: Can Google Trends Predict The Election?

If so, then right now Obama's chances look really good. In the state primaries that were used as predictors, searches spiked right before the elections, so we'll see how it looks come October.

More printables

Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Activities and Printables

Printable coloring pages featuring Wubbzy, Widget, and Walden. These were a HUGE hit with Borg Boy, who is just starting to enjoy using crayons.

We just discovered Nick Jr.'s Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! this week, and have successfully weaned Borg Boy from Playhouse Disney by capturing it on ReplayTV in the middle of the night, then playing it in the morning while we're getting dressed.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Printables

Oh, joy! After my earlier experience visiting other people's favorite blogs, I needed to find something like Dabbled to restore my faith in the Internet. I love printables (some of my favorites are here), and Dot offers a wonderful robo-spaceman Birthday Party Invite & Thank You Note under a Creative Commons license. I'm a big fan of the 80s-style robo-lettering, too.

Weird.

Do you ever stop to read a blog you've never read before, but have seen linked by lots of people whose blogs you like, and it's so incredibly awful that you feel like you should wash your eyes out with soap? Maybe it's not badly written, but evil radiates off the screen because the blogger hates everyone and everything he or she comes in contact with in real life, including his or her own spouse and children. Maybe it IS badly written, but in Blog Voice, so you can tell how hip and trendy it is. Maybe it mentions "the Interwebs." More than once. Maybe it goes into great, laborious detail about the blogger's children's bathroom habits (or the blogger's OWN bathroom habits). But something about it just makes you want to leave and never come back.

Yeah. That's happened to me TWICE this week. I'm not linking to anyone, because lots of people like these blogs, so clearly it's just a personal problem on my part.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Happy Convoymas!

Krupskaya at The Edit Barn has a great idea for celebrating the sixth of June, immortalized in the 1975 novelty hit "Convoy": McCallsday, or Convoymas.

I was a couple years older than Krupskaya in 1975, but the song always reminds me of traveling that summer from Tulsa to Tucson and back... and then back to Flagstaff in the fall, and back to Tulsa. Much of this trip was along Route 66 (or I-40, where it paralleled the Mother Road). Along the way, we had breakfast every morning at a chain called Hobo Joe's, where they served hot chocolate with whipped cream, even in the middle of the summer. On the second trip, we detoured to White Sands, and on to Carlsbad Caverns, on the way back to Tulsa. Whenever I hear "Convoy" I think of those trips. So happy Convoymas to all, and to all a good drive.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

Oh boy.

Now that I have so much access to Quantum Leap (all seasons, most episodes) via Netflix, I find that the episodes I find myself watching are the ones in which Sam leaps into a woman. Those really weren't my favorites in the first run; as long as he was leaping into the 50s or 60s, I was happy enough, and it used to bug me to watch him clomping around in high-heeled pumps with his chest hair poking out of the bodice of some dainty little piqué number. However, I think these days I'm seeking out those episodes because I can actually relate to Sam, uncomfortable in too-tight clothes and heels... trying to put his lipstick on right... figuring out how to act like one of the girls. I don't have trouble with the lipstick and heels, thanks to coming of age in the 80s and living in a dorm full of beauty pageant winners for several years (they were generous with the beauty tips). And I'm fine one-on-one with other women, usually. But put me in a room full of middle-class moms and their kids, and I feel like Sam: the clothes don't fit, I can't walk right, and I'm always saying things that betray my true identity—the identity that is so not a middle-class mom (MCM).

Before I had Borg Boy, most of my female friends were single or in committed, non-married relationships. Then one of my good friends, an engineer, got downsized out of her job, and within a year she was married, pregnant, and living in another state. Another, a programmer in Silicon Valley, sent me a birth announcement out of the blue, via email, to let me (and approximately 560 of her closest friends, apparently) know that she and some guy I'd never heard of were now the ecstatic parents of [insert generic Jane Austen heroine name here; everyone I knew who had a baby girl that year named her after a Jane Austen heroine]. I mention their career paths only to emphasize that these were ungirly, geeky women who somehow managed to make the leap that I have never been able to make—from geek grrl to MCM. None of my other geeky women friends have children, and they were almost all completely puzzled by my decision to have one. I think that's because none of them could even contemplate joining the ranks of the MCMs, whose seemingly inborn knowledge of things like How To Cut Grapes So That Toddlers Can't Choke On Them and How To Get Your Kid To Sit Still For Library Story Time is just a mystery to us.

Sam was always teaching someone in another era about women's rights, even in that RIDICULOUS episode where he leaped into Dr. Ruth and inadvertently advised a young woman named Anita that speaking up about sexual harassment was always the right thing to do. I know that my friends and I are extremely lucky to live in a time and a place in which we have a choice about these matters. To work in a traditionally male-dominated field, if that's where our interests lie. To get married or just live with somebody—or neither one. To have children, and to have just one or a whole passel of the little dears. But those of us who didn't necessarily grow up with the assumption that OF COURSE we'd have children someday also grew up with huge gaps in our knowledge of how children work... and how mothers do too.