Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jane: My newest blog

I'm writing a blog with my journalism students during the last few weeks of school. My posts here might be fewer and farther between.

But you can follow my journalism blog (and find links to some of my students' blogs) at Jane's Journalism Blog.

If you go to my students' pages, feel free to comment. They'd appreciate it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Robbie: More Link and Friends 3 / Engrish on Youtube

Here is another Link And Friends 3 comic

Here is a finding of engrish.

So I was looking at glitches for New Super Mario Bros. and found some Engrish in one of the comments:

as doing so when Mario moves backwards the camera does not pursue???????

(This is a guy asking how to get to challenge mode (L R L R X X Y  Y))

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jane: Book review

The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown is this year's All Iowa Reads book. I just read it and have that bittersweet feeling about finishing a book--I could hardly put it down as I was reading, but am sorry to be done because it was such a "serious pleasure" (words from a blurb on the back) to read.

It's a coming-of-age book about a girl in contemporary New England. The story begins on her 10th birthday when she meets two people whose lives become entwined with hers: Theo, an African American boy her age (his mom is white, dad is black), and Kenneth, an ailing artist who came back to the small town.

The people in the book are richly and complexly drawn--Alice's dad, a college professor and widower who loves his big family; Alice's 5 brothers (some drawn more carefully than others); Elizabeth, the family's housekeeper and Alice's "babysitter." And of course sensitive, artistic Alice; hyper, brainy Theo; and Kenneth who is looking for rest and maybe redeption through the two children.

The writing itself in this book is wonderful--every sentence full of detail beautifully rendered. And the closely-observed details of the summer Alice, Theo, and Kenneth spend together are not random details, but symbolic and meaningful.

Let me know if you decide to read it! I'm wondering if there will be Iowa Reads activities with this book. Our Linn Area Reads activities (linked to Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas, which I reviewed here earlier) are in full swing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jane: Protecting Birds

On Thursday, something very sad happened.

A red-bellied woodpecker collided with the big sliding glass door by the kitchen. I was home and heard it. I dashed outside, and saw the bird on the ground.

I recognized him--he'd been coming to our suet feeder all winter. We'd always enjoyed seeing him.

I gently picked him up,and he died in my hands. I think he'd broken his neck.

After a brief period of mourning, I decided to do something about this. Birds have hit the window before. We found a dead house sparrow on the patio this winter, and I've heard thumps before that might have indicated non-fatal injuries.

I'd heard about window decals to keep birds from hitting the windows, so I googled "bird window" and found what I was looking for at WindowAlert.

Today I put them up on the windows--it's a glorious day and great to be outside! And the decals look nice on the windows--the ones I bought are little maple leaves about 4"x4". They look like glass etching to us, but the UV-reflecting materials in them make them look like a bright light to birds. This helps the birds register that the window is there.

The website included many comments from customers who found they worked very well. I hope they work for us--and our bird guests--too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jane: Happy Birthday, Eli!

Eli is 12 today! We will celebrate with his friends Ben and Ben at Planet X.

The turkey vultures always come back to town for Eli's birthday, too. They got here yesterday so they could get ready to celebrate.
They live in the tall white pines near the Brucemore Mansion a block from our house, so we see them often.

And happy Pi day to all, too (March 14 is Pi day because it's 3/14, 3.14 . . . )You might enjoy this Pi Piano music my boys are listening to now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jane: Glove Problem

I love this painting.  My mom and I saw it at the Lenbachhaus Gallery in Munich.  I got the postcard.  

It's called "Der verlorene Handschuh" (The Lost Glove) painted by Carl Strathmann (1866-1939)

I got it out because I keep losing my gloves!  I lost one in January, (I replaced the pair), but then I lost another in March (the right one AGAIN so I couldn't use the extra one I had)--and then lost another a week later (luckily the left one).

No gloves in the stores at this time of year.  So I'm wearing a mis-matched pair. 

At least they're both black.

The only good thing to come out of this silliness is that I got out this postcard again and remembered how much I liked it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jane: I love crochet!

Bruce says this crowd of amigurumi I've made is a testament to how long the winter has been. Well, maybe. It's also a testament to how much I've been enjoying crochet, and especially amigurumi!
Lots of reasons I enjoy this so much, besides the usual--you know, it's nice to be doing something with your hands while you sit and rest, it's a break from reading, I've always enjoyed crochet, it's in my blood (look at the afghan my Grandma Hoffman made for me in the photo above . . . )

Besides those reasons, crocheting amigurumi is a cheap to free hobby. I use yarn from my stash and inexpensive acrylic yarn that I often pick up at thrift stores. The patterns I've found on the internet and in books.

The mouse and strawberry were made from patterns in Amigurumi! Super Happy Crochet Cute. I found the mushroom pattern online--there are tons of amigurumi makers who are also bloggers and online pattern sharers.

Have you ever seen an amigurimi like this one? It's from a pattern in Amigurumi! too. Robbie insisted I make it! Very fun--this fish shows how adaptable crochet is to very artistic yarn creations--it can make 3-D rounded shapes like the fish head, long odd shapes like the bones, and textured shapes like the tail.
I finally finished a project I've been working on for a while, also from the Amigurumi! book. Eli thought I should make this Punk Bunny. He stands 15" high at the ears, so it was a lot of crocheting. But I had everything I needed in my stash except the black plastic eyes, which I ordered from an on-line crafting store.

I should crochet a skateboard for him!
Eli took this picture of Punk Bunny with the TV remote.
I'm going to take a break from amigurumi for a while. You crochet them with a very tight stitch, usually using an F hook for regular worsted (which usually takes an H or J) and I could feel my right hand getting tight--oh no, carpal tunnel syndrome from crocheting!

I may get back to a granny square afghan I started a year ago--found the beginning of it down with my yarn this week.
These are made with a standard hook-to-yarn ratio, so won't be as hard on the crocheting hand. Still, I may take a break and read for a while instead. Any book suggestions?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Robbie: ICs

I found some of these ICs amidst my heaps of circuit parts and found out what some of them are. I would have shown more but the camera died...

<741> I have two of these. (basic amplifying IC as name sugests)

<339> I have two of these too.  (this is four of the 741 stuck together)

These two I have no idea what  they are. All I know is that they have 14 pins. If you know post a comment on what it does and how to wire it up.

When I get a bredboard I will show off some circuits.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Robbie: Link and Friends 3 installation

Sorry about this being late. The standard has been lowered to 1 comic a week.
Algebra homework does this to a person >: (
Comment if you read these comics!!
I need to know how big my fanclub- er... audience is.

Jane: Happy National Grammar Day!

I don't have this shirt, but I am wearing my Word Nerd shirt in honor of National Grammar Day.

You can celebrate, too, by buying a shirt at the SPoGG website, checking out this fun blog Bill told me about, or just by appreciating (and using) good grammar!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jane: Thanks, Michelle Obama!

This is the official portrait of our new first lady, and apparently it's been the talk of many blogs. Well, not just the portrait, but Michelle Obama's arms!

Here are a few comments from a NYTimes blog, On the Runway:

"many women would sell their family members or various bodily organs to have such exquisitely toned upper arms. If you got it, flaunt it, I say."

"she looks absolutely stunning. and those arms! many hours in the gym. love her."

"If I had those biceps I’d be wearing that dress too!! Michelle…you Go First Lady!!!"

"Her arms are just perfect. Many of us wish that we had such beautiful and well toned arms. "

I am just feeling thankful to the first lady for drawing attention to a body part that I can show off, too. But it wasn't always that way for my arms. When I was younger, my arms were stick-like and they seemed too long. I envied friends who had rounded, pretty arms, and I rarely wore sleeveless clothing.

Now as I've grown older and have had a long-time regimen of lap-swimming and Tae Kwon Do, my arms actually look youthful and toned at an age when many people are covering their jiggly upper arms. I guess this is the reward for having stick arms in my 20s!

So, thanks Michelle Obama for drawing the world's attention away from bosoms, which some of us do not possess, and toward lovely toned arms!