Saturday, September 30, 2006



I had a nice chat with my brother today. He's a security expert in the technical realm. When I mentioned my password key idea, he gave me a few more resources that shows this has already been done. He said that people can save their passwords on an encrytion-enabled Flash Drive (a.k.a. thumb drive, lipstick drive) and track their passwords using a free internet service called KeePass.

So, why is my blog post entitled "Resentment?" Because this technology has obviously been out there for a while and I resent not having heard about it. I'm a reasonably well-informed individual, as reasonably well-informed as any one person can be given the amount of information there is out there. I try to keep up with technology via my Wired magazine subscription, by coasting around the internet, listening to the news, watching T.V., and reading, reading, reading, yet I'm still behind. Maybe I wouldn't feel such resentment if techies didn't seem quite so blasé about what's happening in their world. Tech advances may be old news to them, but I didn't get the memo. Did you?

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Music from Overseas

My kids and their friends (who else?) introduced me to these videos on YouTube today. One is from the Romanian group O-Zone with their song Dragostea Din Tei , also called Numa Numa. Have a listen and you'll know why it's called that. Very catchy. (The video link I've selected is a karaoke version, so you can see the words. If you can translate O-Zone's website, more power to you. My Romanian language skills are woefully lacking.)

The other is Ievan Polkka for Alex. Ievan Polkka translates to Eva's Polka and is a traditional Finnish story song. The singers in the video are remarkable. Happy listening!

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Friday, September 29, 2006


Why blog?

My brilliant, insightful husband asked me a good question yesterday. He asked me why I started a blog. I would absolutely be lying if I said this wasn't an ego trip on some level. Any writer who writes and expects to have her writing read by anyone but God has to have some sort of ego, especially to survive the inevitable critiques that are sure to come her way. But, there's more to this than ego. As a writer, this is one format for my writing that allows me to put stuff out there that isn't necessarily all polished up. The blog also allows me to present snippets of writing (ideas, commentary, opinions) that would not be marketable in another format. I mean, really, where in heaven's name would I be able to explore Frankensteining the Talent Pool?

I also blog because I'm just plain ornery. Being published is every writer's dream, but finding a publisher can be a difficult thing. Here is an opportunity to be published and find an audience without having to depend on someone else to sanctify my work.

The blog gives me a web presence. I also like messing with technology, and learning the ins and outs of blogging is fun. That's paydirt in and of itself.

I take my blogging very seriously because I know that there is an audience out there. Whether that audience is 4 people, 40 people or 400,000 people, every one of you reading this deserves my respect and gratitude. The blog gives me a voice and you are the listeners.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006


Kickin' Back

Regular relaxation is essential to creativity, so I'll be kickin' back tonight, taking a much-needed break from the computer.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The Akashic Records in Zeros & Ones

Ever heard of the Akashic Records? In mystical circles, the Akashic Records are supposed to be all the thoughts, words, and deeds of everyone who has ever lived, floating around in some ether world that surrounds us. You can find a complete description of the concept on the Edgar Cayce website. (Edgar, who is no longer living, went into trances and helped people find solutions to medical problems via these trances.)

I believe that we are trying to make the Akashic Records "real" through our activity on the internet. We're all just furiously filtering stuff out of the Records and recreating it in zeros and ones. Don't be fooled, though. For as real as computers seem to make all of this info, and for as much influence as computers and digital info have on the world, when it comes right down to it, the stuff is really no more tangible than ether. Think about it. If you don't have a machine to read the info, if the server is down, if the software is outdated, if, if, if . . . then it matters not how much we've downloaded from the Akashic Records, it's all still inaccessible. Sounds so negative, doesn't it?

Yet, I don't feel negative about the Akashic Records or digital technology. I think the idea of the one and the reality of the other are truly exciting. If we humans can dream it, we can do it. That's the lesson here.

I've always been fascinated by mysticism, and equally fascinated by science and technology. The mysticism seems to come primarily from my mom's side of the family. My grandma was especially interested in hoodoo woowoo stuff. She had an Aunt Mary who was a chiropractor and crystal ball reader. I've only recently found this out through my mom. When I was a kid, there was a crystal ball in our game closet. It was in a tattered brown paper box and was a bit smaller than a pool ball - just as heavy though. My sister and I used to try and read it. We'd follow the instructions included with the ball and wait to see if a mist would develop inside the ball. Images would've been nice, but they never came. Turns out that this crystal ball was the VERY ONE used by Grandma's Aunt Mary. If only I could find it again.

My interest in science comes equally from my mom and my dad. My dad was a chemistry major in college and seemed to be very interested in scientific topics and TV shows while I was growing up. My mom could've been a doctor, she was so in tune with medicine and the body. This was probably due to the fact that she suffered from polio as a small child and underwent many, many operations before she was 18.

What really attracts me is the intersection between mysticism and science & technology. That's the fervently interesting gap where art & music & literature, heck - CREATION! - occurs

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006



Every have a situation in which you are inundated with reading material, all of which promises to be fascinating, and you don't know where to start? At this moment, that's me. Here's the blow-by-blow of what sits in a pile on the floor next to my side of the bed. Great tripping material, if nothing else.

I got the new Wired magazine in the mail two days ago. This is one of the few magazines I'll read cover-to-cover. (Discover is another one.) Wired helps me pretend to be at least a modicum up-to-date on digital technology. (A girl can dream, even though she knows she's woefully behind and always will be.) Wired uses a clever technique each month that encapsulates the major theme of its magazine. Next to the date, there's a little box with a snappy descriptive line. This month (the October 2006 issue), the line is "Take With Food." The cover story is called, "The Thin Pill: How Big Pharma turned fat into a disease - and then invented a drug to cure it."

On Monday, one of the books I had placed on hold came into the library and I was able to pick it up. This book is one I've been chomping to read. When I placed it on hold, it was still being barcoded and brought into the library's collection, so I believe I'm the first one to check it out. (God, that sounds like boasting! But, really, I'm just incredulous.) The book is called "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More." It's by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. I read one of Chris' articles in Wired and was really impressed. When I saw he had a book coming out on the same topic, I knew I had to read it. It's just pulsating with energy, begging me to pick it up. But, alas! There's that Wired mag to read, along with . . .

Two books by Seth Godin, marketer extraordinaire, and one book by Jay Levinson and Seth Godin. The book by Jay and Seth, which I'm almost through, is called "Get What You Deserve!" The books by Seth are "Free Prize Inside" and "All Marketers Are Liars." The latter shows Seth peeking up from the bottom of the book while wearing a Pinnochio nose. I can't wait to see what he has to say in this one.

And, finally, I was missing reading some fiction, so while I was at the library picking up "The Long Tail," I checked out a book called "The Syringa Tree" by Pamela Gien. The story, according to the dust jacket, is set in South Africa. When I was in college simply ages ago, I had a social studies class in which each student was assigned a country to follow in the pages of the Christian Science Monitor. I was assigned to South Africa. This was shortly before Apartheid was dismantled. I can't recall the details of what was going on. I just remember getting my Christian Science Monitor every day and pouring through it looking for articles on South Africa. My interest in the country went into dormancy until this past year, when I found myself writing a short story that featured the Boer War. (Specifically the second Boer War.) Now, here's where it gets a little weird. My grandpa died this past spring at the glorious old age of 95. He was an artist and I identified with him very strongly in this interest. It wasn't until he moved into a nursing home a couple years ago that I discovered he was a writer, too. After he passed away, my sister had me sort through some of his short stories and I found one he wrote about . . . drumroll, please! . . . the Boer War!

There you have it. I'm inundated. It's purely my fault and I thoroughly enjoy it. It's waaaaay better than having nothing to read.

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Password Key Update

It's been done. No more than two days ago, I posted an idea for a password key that would operate like a Flash Drive. Today, at work, to my shock and awe, the Sr. Vice President of Product Development of Motion Computing, an Austin, Texas, company, came in carrying a nifty little tablet PC that functions pretty much like a regular computer. No keyboard, but there is a pen for entering info. I was curious about the tablet, so I asked John Doherty (the VP himself!) a few questions. It's produced by Motion Computing, so no surprise that John had one. He showed me a few features and I told him about my Password Drive idea. He said that such a thing has already been created. In fact, his tablet had such a feature, but it was way cooler than my idea. It uses a thumbprint reader as security for both the computer and the password management feature. How James Bond is that?

John also mentioned that there is a company called Softex (also based in Austin, TX) that manufactures something called the Omnipass that works like my Flash/Password Drive idea. Unfortunately, the Read More links on Softex's website didn't work when I selected them, and the image on the front page makes the drop down menus wonky (I can't see them!) Also, when I did get a product page, it was all description and no pictures. It appears as though Softex caters to a big company sort of clientele, rather than to individual consumers. No prices, no shopping carts, so it looks as though their technology hasn't filtered down to the unwashed masses, yet.

Motion Computing's tablet PCs, however, seem very accessible. Their website features photos, descriptions, prices, and the all-important Buy button. The tablets are a little pricey, yet. But what do you expect for James Bond technology? Q is alive and well and living at Motion Computing.

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Monday, September 25, 2006


FtTP - Ultravox + Madonna

Ultravox was one of my favorite bands in high school. I've also been quite fond of Madonna through her various incarnations. (It's fun to see what she'll come up with next.) However, I never would've thought to put the two together. Thankfully, someone else did. I was searching for Ultravox on YouTube yesterday and found this dandy video: Madonna vs. Ultravox-Love in Vienna. It's a fascinating splice of Madonna's Substitute for Love and Ultravox's Vienna. It was posted by the avatar Avestan. I can only assume that Avestan is the one with the creative mash-up skills. Very cool.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006


99% Perspiration

Thomas A. Edison said that "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." It's that perspiration stuff that most of us can't live up to. It doesn't take much to filter the vast amount of stimuli that is thrown at us on any given day and splice it into some new, fresh idea. How many of us have the time, energy, or the other resources necessary to bring that inspiration into the world? Maybe if we could stop at one idea or inspiration, but we humans are filtering and splicing machines. Go ahead. Have your ideas. Generate lots of them, but don't be scared to let most of them go. Do what you can do. Leave the rest for someone else. If one of your ideas really grabs you, you'll find that you have all the perspiration you need to bring it to fruition.

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Password Key

In publishing a blog, I've discovered that there are all these services one needs to sign up with in order to really immerse one's self in the blogging community. With every service, one needs to enter a user name and password. It's getting darned hard to keep track of them all. Of course, to be on the safe side, passwords must change from site to site and include not only letters, but numbers or punctuation marks. It's driving me crazy, so I came up with an idea that I want some tech genius to run with.

Can't someone please invent a password key that looks like a Flash drive? (I like to call Flash drives Lipstick drives because the first one I saw reminded me of a tube of lipstick.) The Password Drive would plug into a USB port and collect passwords when they are entered into websites. The website address would be recorded along with the password. These Password Drives would have to be heavily encrypted, so if one went missing, someone couldn't easily hack it. Also, there'd have to be a service that would backup your recorded passwords, once again as insurance in case the thing got stolen. This service would help you to change passwords before the thief could do any dammage. I'd also build a little program into the Password Drive that would clear the cache or temporary memory of whatever computer the Password Drive was used on. This way, when using public computers, those passwords wouldn't get left behind.

Who's up for producing this million-dollar idea? If you want the idea, it's yours. If you got the idea from me and run with it and become wealthy, just be sure to mention me as your idea source - no other strings attached.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006



President Bush spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19, 2006. I caught his speech on MPR. One line in particular struck me. He said:

"This morning I want to speak about the more hopeful world that is within our reach, a world beyond terror, where ordinary men and women are free to determine their own destiny, where the voices of moderation are empowered, and where the extremists are marginalized by the peaceful majority."

(Emphasis mine. The full text of the speech is at The New York Times online.)

I believe that extremists become terrorists precisely because they are marginalized. (This does not excuse their horrific behavior, but it certainly does explain things.) What passes for the peaceful majority may not be so peaceful. How many of those peaceful majority are squishing and squeezing the extremists until they can't stand it any more? Through his inadvertent choice of the word "marginalized," Bush identified the current state of affairs.

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FtTP - Natasha Bedingfield + Oprah

Every time I hear Natasha Bedingfield's song Unwritten, I think it would make a great theme song for The Oprah Winfrey Show.

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Rocket Science & Brain Surgeons

Okay, I simply can't pass this up. Ever since I mentioned rocket science in my post on How to Stop a Terrorist, and then again in my Rocket Science post about how the shuttle is stopped, I swear I've heard the term rocket science used at least a half-dozen times - all in the manner of how difficult something is to do in comparison to rocket science. The other term people use to indicate the difficulty of a job is to compare it to brain surgery.

I was on Seth Godin's blog (where else?) and he linked to The 8 Free Things Every Site Should Do. One of those things was to sign up with Digg, so I went over to Digg to see what the site does and found an article that has me in stitches. It's called Rocket Scientists Not As Smart As Originally Thought. Guess who did the research that came to this grand conclusion? The American Association of Brain Surgeons!

The article reads as though it was taken directly from the pages of The Onion. It was written by humorist Andy Borowitz, so it's obviously a spoof, but what a good one.

Frankly, instead of building up the egos of the rocket scientists and the brain surgeons, I think we should start comparing the difficulty of things to the Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe brings attention to on the Discovery Channel. How many brain surgeons and rocket scientists would be willing to do these essential dirty jobs?

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Friday, September 22, 2006


Do you hear what I hear?

Have you ever listened really closely to a piece of music? I mean REALLY closely. Pick your favorite piece and try it some time.

I've done it with Dave Matthews' song Dodo from his solo album Some Devil. Easily my favorite song of all time. Here's what I discovered. It is much more intricate than it might seem at first blush. The vocals are the most obvious. There aren't that many lyrics to Dodo. The most poignant line is

When was that killed
the very last dodo bird?
And was she aware
she was the very last one?

Dave's voice is gentle, like a pearl rolling on velvet. The song is a lullaby of sorts with that voice.

After listening for the lyrics about 50 billion times, I started honing in on what was going on with the music. The song begins with a ripple effect, reminiscent of water dropping into a shallow pool. A bass line plunks out notes that are picked up by the guitar and repeated through the rest of the song, like a mantra -dunt, dunt, dunt, de dunt da - dunt, dunt, dunt, de dunt da - like a hopping, pecking bird. Behind this are drums, the bass, and maracas or a tambourine (or both). As the music continues, horns come in with steady notes at first, eventually building and sliding, building and sliding. Toward the end of the song, a sax solos, the notes distinct and comforting, and rising - a dodo burbling, perhaps. The effect by the end is enough to cause an out-of-body experience. The song finishes with a bongo, a tambourine and a deep laugh.

The layers are astounding. When I listen closely, I hear something new every time. Exquisite.

What is your favorite song hiding from you? Have a listen and uncover its secrets.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006


Rocket Science

This observation comes from my husband this morning. Have you noticed the technology NASA uses to stop its space shuttles when they come back to earth? Parachutes. Two teensy (in proportion to the shuttle) parachutes that look as though they're straight out of a cartoon. That's rocket science for you.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I like . . .

. . . the squishy softness of wet sponges.

I thought a little levity was needed after that monster of all posts yesterday.

Project Runway is on tonight. Narrowing down to the last three designers, I think.

9/22/06 - Update

The episode that narrows the designers down to three was not on Wednesday night. They unexpectly repeated the last episode of Project Runway. Next Wednesday they'll be running the final pick episode.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Blogging Primer

Here's a post for the newbies. When I started blogging (heck! I'm still a beginner!), I didn't have a clue about this online format. I was starting from scratch. After a little research, I know a few more things, which I'd like to pass along so it's not as difficult for you other beginners.

A blog (short for web log) is an online journal with a reader feedback mechanism. That's the comment link you'll find at the bottom of my posts. These can be disabled on blogs, so you might not see one. On Seth Godin's blog, for example, the comment feature is shut off.

To start a blog, you need some sort of blog creating program or service. I'm using Blogger, which is a free service. It was started by a couple of guys, who sold it to Google, the current owner. In order to maintain the free service, Blogger requires that its tool bar appear at the top of each blog's page. You can click on the Blogger icon to go right to its website.

Another popular blog service is TypePad. There is a fee for this service.

Two books helped me launch my blog. One was Publishing a Blog with Blogger by Elizabeth Castro. This skinny book is a Visual QuickProject Guide full of color photos and easy-to-follow instructions.

The other book I used was Blogging in a Snap by Julie C. Meloni. This has much more depth, though it's still easy to understand. Good illustrations, too. This book helps readers to alter their Blogger templates, which is a task that is not for the faint-hearted. You have to understand html (hypertext markup language) and css (cascading style sheet) code in order to fuss with the template. Html and css are computer languages that are used to build websites. If you want to see some of this code, just go to the View menu at the top of your internet browser and select Page Source. You'll get a screen of code that looks like gobbledygook to the uninitiated.

There were some other terms being thrown around while I was trying to wrap my head around blogging. RSS feed, feed aggregator, trackback, permalink, ping, & captcha. I thought that these things would all automatically come with a blog service. Not so.

The permalink comes with the blog service. Each post gets its own url address. (That's the address you see up in the address bar at the top of the screen.) If you want to see one of my post's permalink addresses, just click the # sign to the left of my name at the bottom of the post. Permalinks allow others to link directly to one post in a blog.

A trackback is a link to someone elses blog that references a post in your own blog. So, if I mention something in one of Seth Godin's posts, I can trackback to his, but only as long as he has the trackback feature, too. If he were to mention something about one of my posts in his blog, he can send me a ping, which, as far as I can figure is like flicking someone in the back of the head in order to get his attention. The ping lets me know he's mentioned my post. I'm still learning to use these two features, which are not a part of Blogger. To get trackbacking, I am using a free blog commenting service called Haloscan.

When I started my blog, I used Blogger's commenting service, which allows for the use of CAPTCHAs. That's an acronym, folks. It stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test. This is a test that allows computers to tell the difference between humans and other computers. It normally involves a human retyping a set of Salvidor Dali-esque letters and numbers that appear in a box. A human can usually do this (if the letters and numbers aren't too squiggly). A computer can't. This means that computer-generated spam can't get through to the comment section of a blog. When I changed my comment service to Haloscan, I lost the CAPTCHAs, but Haloscan assures me that they have good spam blockers, so they don't need CAPTCHAs.

RSS, as in RSS feed, stands for Really Simple Sydication. Having a blog is like writing a newspaper column. It can be published on the web through the use of a feed. Blogger has an internal feed, but there are external feeds as well, such as FeedBurner. These feeds help to get your blog more widely distributed.

There are millions of interesting blogs out there. Impossible to read them all or keep up with changes to even a handful of them. For this there are feed aggregators (a.k.a. news aggregators). There are all sorts of these aggregators that will look through the blogs you're interested in and send you a little synopsis with updates. I'm using Bloglines.

There were a couple of other terms that I learned in my blog research: lurker and troll. A lurker is someone who reads blog posts, but doesn't comment. Perfectly acceptable behavior that I often engage in myself. You can learn a lot by lurking around blogs. You'll especially pick up some lessons about how blogs work. The other term, troll, is not complimentary. A troll is someone who flames others with negative or inflammatory statements. A troll purposely tries to get a rise out of you. For this particular problem, most blogs give you the option of comment moderation.

Okay, this post is far too long already, but I thought it was worth it to explain this fascinating technology that is still in its evolutionary stages as far as being a creative medium. If you need help with blogging, I don't know a lot, but you can send me a comment and I'll try to point you in the right direction. Happy blogging, happy lurking.

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FtTP - Bill Clinton + Rupert Murdoch

Verbatim, here's a Frankensteining the Talent Pool post from my brother:

"Here's one that wouldn't have been possible prior to the year 2000...Bill Clinton & Rupert Murdoch working together on a global warming initiative.
Now, with it being 2006 & the specter of politics removed, they are now working together on just such a project through the Clinton Global Initiative ( ).
Here is a link to a Fortune Magazine article on the CGI site about the CGI:
I wonder what could have been accomplished when he was in office, with the politics removed. It's proof positive that politics are nothing more than a grab for power by the power-hungry, damn anyone who gets in their way & fuck the people that they are supposed to be serving.
Cheers with beers,

Clinton was just on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night, with repeats running today, talking about his Global Initiative. He said that Barbra Streisand and Rupert Murdoch, neither of whom were likely to ever work together, were both donating to the cause. Snaps to President Clinton for his FtTP.

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This Just In

I'm on's email notification list. Every once in a while they send me petitions to sign. They just sent me one on an appalling maneuver being tried in Congress. Seems that . . .

"This week, the Sentate is planning to quietly hold a vote that would pardon President Bush for breaking the law by illegally wiretapping innocent Americans without warrants. Acoording to Senator Leahy, the bill would "...immunize officials who have violated federal law by authorizing such illegal activities." (quote directly from the email)

If this doesn't scare the crap out of you, I don't know what will. If this bill passes, our Presidents - both current and future - will be above the law. Exactly what was it we were suppposed to be doing in Iraq? Oh, yeah. Spreading democracy. If we're successful in Iraq, maybe we can move there after our democracy crumbles into useless offal.

Interested in signing's petition? Try this link: PETITION

If the link doesn't work properly, send me an email via the sidebar (under the FtTP heading) or use the comment link below and I'll forward it to you.

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Monday, September 18, 2006



Seth Godin talks about newbies to the blogging world in his post "in the middle, Starting." He indicates that we simply can't catch everybody up if they find us somewhere down the line, long after we've started our blogs. I agree with this sentiment to a point. However, newbies are a market unto themselves, and as such, someone can rush in and work to get them up to speed. We can't completely ignore them and hope they'll eventually catch on. That's a recipe for losing customers.

The blog aggregator PubSub lost me this way. Their interface wasn't working for me. It wasn't intuitive like Technorati. I emailed for help and was ignored. I complained, but was again ignored. Lesson? Don't use PubSub. They don't listen to newbies. Lesson for PubSub? You're losing customers and don't even know it. That, and now I'm badmouthing you. Double bad. (Notice the link to Technorati? I'm not going to bother to link to PubSub.)

Incidentally, Mr. Godin kindly assists newbies with his post What's a trackback?

Way to go.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006


It's All About the Bread

My daughter made a grilled cheese sandwich today that was to die for. She used a standard-issue square of processed cheese. You know the kind - brilliant orange, melts with the slightest provocation, have to unwrap each piece. The secret was in the bread - Brownberry's Country Classics Buttermilk bread. White and creamy. Fry with butter in order to enhance the creaminess. Be careful not to cook the sandwich at too high a temp. The bread will burn easily. Done right - DELICIOUS!

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How to Stop a Terrorist

Make him/her so happy with day-to-day life that (s)he has no desire to topple buildings with airplanes or bomb a country's infrastructure.

Recipe for general happiness: Food, clothing, shelter, health care
, education, a living wage & fulfilling work. Mix with a few close personal relationships, a general atomosphere of safety & security, and a societal attitude of acceptance of personal differences.

This isn't freaking rocket science, folks.

For a great discussion of the biological means of happiness, see the book Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment by Gregory Berns.

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Made-up Words

If the President can be The Decider and misunderestimate situations, then I can make up words too. There's Neezuls, which was my placeholder name for this blog, 'til I came up with the much more appropriate Filter & Splice. This morning, in that dusty state between dreaming and waking, the word "glio" came to me. I looked in my dictionary. It isn't a word on its own, although a couple of words - gliobastoma & glioma - start with it. They have to do with glial cells. If "glio" was a word on its own, how would you define it?

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

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Invoking Evil

On Countdown with Keith Olbermann (MSNBC) last night he replayed his Special Comment on Ground Zero, a scathing, right-on-the-money smackdown of President Bush's use of the 9/11 tragedy for his own political ambitions.

Powerful stuff.

Two thoughts:

(1) The President and his Administration have STOLEN this country. Who's going to take it back?

(2) When the President named his Axis of Evil, he actually invoked evil and brought it snarling and slobbering to America's (nay, the World's) doorstep.

According to Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God series, we draw to us that which we most fear. We have a vocal sect of ultra-fundamentalist Christians running our government. They are obsessed with the idea of the Apocalypse. Guess what they fear most. Guess what they are trying to create. How are they doing?

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FtTP - Stratospheric Guitar Heroes

My husband was watching Steve Vai videos on YouTube last night. The camera operator sure knew to get close-ups of Steve's guitar playing. He is a virtuoso. There are others, of course. Stanley Jordan, Ottmar Liebert, Leo Kottke. What if these guys all got together for a concert? Would the result be garbage or a masterpiece?

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Tricky Dick

What would happen if Deep Throat, the Watergate informant, was actually two fifteen-year-old girls? The movie Dick deals with just that premise. I've caught it a couple of times on Comedy Central. It's brilliant. The teenage girls, Betsy and Arlene, are played by Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams. They spend gobs of time squealing and their wardrobe is to die for. Deborah Everton, the costume designer for the movie, should've won an award.

Betsy and Arlene unwittingly find themselves at the center of Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal. They manage to become the President's dog walkers and get themselves in deeper. Arlene eventually falls for Dick, plastering her bedroom walls with his photos as though he's a rock star. Supremely cute.

The movie was released in 1999, but I don't remember seeing any previews for it. It pays to revisit our culture's past creative products. We can't catch them all the first time around.

By the way, according to the Washington Post, the real Deep Throat wasn't two teenage girls. It was W. Mark Felt, the number 2 man in the FBI. I bet he never walked the President's dog.

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Friday, September 15, 2006


The Style of Mowing

Guess what? Too much physical labor makes my head doppy, too. I went practically comatose tonight after mowing the lawn. Okay, I have to admit that the lawn was more of a mat, it was so long. About three quarters of the yard worth, anyway. The other quarter is a sand lot masquerading as a pathetic lawn - sort of the comb over of lawns. It's been this way since we excavated for an addition a few years ago. Can't get anything to grow in the soil, especially on the north side of the house. As for that really long stuff, honestly, I thought maybe a quail or pheasant would flush up out of it. It took me several passes to shorten it to a decent length.

What's up with us that we haven't mowed for so long? Our Minnesota summer has been surprisingly devoid of rain. We mowed maybe two, three times in all of June and July. Normally, we're mowing every week. August rolled around and we got some rain. The grass grew, but we were out of the mowing habit. We finally got around to it, or rather, our kid did and the mower died. Right on the eve of leaving for five days.

Did the grass behave itself while we were gone? No! It kept right on growing. And we with a broken lawn mower. Turns out it was just the spark plug that needed a good cleaning. That done, I got to work and starting thinking . . .

It's been said that there's no legislating taste or style. There was a discussion on Minnesota Public Radio the other day about the how older housing is being torn down by developers and private home owners because they want something bigger and more modern. The upshot of this is that we are losing the history and style of older neighborhoods. The discussion ran to the difference in style that people have and how some gaudy stuff was going in next to classy stuff. How you define gaudy and classy is up to you.

So, how does this relate to lawns? Our lawn style is to let it go au naturel, doing as little as we possibly can to it. If we had the time and money, we'd probably replant a bunch of our yard in wild flowers and prairie grass. When we visited my brother in Portland, Oregon last year, we noticed that a lot of yards were done this way. Cool look. But not as far as some of the neighbors are concerned. Their tastes run more to that of the perfectly manicured Persian rugs of grass, with nary a weed in sight. They spend lots of time on their lawns, spraying chemicals and fertilizing their precious blades. Fine by us (except maybe some of those chemicals). Really, we don't mind the look at all. To each his own. However, they don't seem to care for our taste in lawns.

Thank goodness taste and style aren't legislated.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006


Life of the Mind, Life of the Body

Most of us have heard of the phrase "life of the mind," usually used as a positive reference to someone who leads a life with lots of mental work. I love mental work and do a ton of it. However, if I do too much in one sitting, my head starts feeling doppy. When I look up from my mental work or step away from it, I feel as though I'm living in a half-dimension. My vision is blurry. I've been away and it's hard to come back to the real world.

But, oh! That real world is so critical to the mental world. I've found that it's just as important to live a life of the body as well as a life of the mind. Now, some might think the phrase "life of the body" seems akin to living a life of the flesh, as though I'm promoting prostitution or something. Regardless of your thoughts on THAT topic, we don't tend to give a lot of credence to our physical selves until they fall into a disease state. Then we realize how critical our physical selves are to our mental selves. In fact, too much mental work, which I've been indulging in lately, tends to make my physical self ill. It's as though my body is screaming for attention. And it is. Rest, outright snoozing and engaging in physical labor all make me feel better and recharge my creative energies.

When I behaving sanely, I always intersperse my writing time (major mental work) with something physical. It feels a little crazy to admit this, but I like to take dance breaks. Sometimes I even warm up for writing by dancing first. It gets the wiggles out and settles my mind.

Songs I use to warm up:

Queen: Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy & A Kind of Magic
Michael Buble: Fever
Ultravox: Vienna
ABBA: Take your pick of songs
: All of these are from the album Star -Feed the Tree & Slow Dog & Gepetto (This last one will really get your blood moving)

Once in a while I'll throw in some Gwen Stefani or Madonna.

Now, if people could see my dancing, they'd probably laugh at me. Tough cookies. As long as I do it alone, what's the problem? It's just me and God and God doesn't care how I look.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The All Important Profile

Is cageyness an asset or a liability? In Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's book Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, they discuss how important transparency is in a blog. But, dang! What about identity thieves? I heard Jon Gordon, MPR's host of Future Tense, comment on how over forty percent of people online use pseudonyms or avatars. He wondered why they were doing so. Has he ever seen Dateline's show featuring the capture of online pedophiles? If only one person decides to be dishonest about his/her identity, even if the reasons are noble or just for fun and creativity, the rest of us are put at a disadvantage.

On the other hand, professionals who want to get noticed and credited for their work are quite open about their backgrounds. If a criminal tried to steal the identity of a well-known person, hopefully the rest of us will catch on. Of course, this doesn't mean that well-known people plaster their social security or credit card numbers all over the internet.

So, here's the deal on my profile and the revelation of personal information. I'm on the fence. I'll reveal some, but not so much that I think it'll be a personal safety hazard. Hey, it's the best I can do. At least I'm using my real name.

By the way, wouldn't it be wonderful if criminals could put those creative minds to something more societally constructive?

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Jealousy in a Skimpy Black Dress

As a creative type, I hate to admit this, but I get jealous. Not in a bad way, though. More in a spur-me-to-do-better way.

I just finished reading Susan Jane Gilman's Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless. The book hilariously details Gilman's years growing up in New York City and her years beyond. She seems to have been quite the outgoing, but self-depricating child/teenager/young adult. I can't count the number of friends she discusses during her wild escapades. The chapters that really struck a chord with me were "Mick Jagger Wants Me" and "Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress." The former details her near chance encounter with Mick Jagger as she and a friend stand outside a recording studio waiting for him to appear. First Keith Richards appears. After they exchange greetings, Susan panics. She doesn't want to meet Mick this way, as a groupie outside a studio door. She had always imagined being introduced to him. She flees. Later, she gets the surprise of her life at a dinner party. Mick Jagger shows up and she is introduced to him. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens.

I can fully understand that notion of wanting to be introduced to a celebrity, as though one is a normal person and not some moony-eyed slavering devotee. There are very few celebrities I have a hankering to meet. The celebrities that really get my attention are those with incredible talent and artistry. Their writing or art or music or whatever, has to strike a chord with me. (Isn't that the way we all feel?) I hate that larger industries and the media place these people so out of reach from the rest of us. Author Michael Joseph Gross has written a wonderful book on the interrelationship between fans and stars. It's called Starstruck.

As an aside that fits this post, I had a dream last night in which my family and I hooked up with the neighbors and headed to a local park, where I was thrilled to see Dave Matthews performing (I think he was doing a solo gig, because I didn't see the rest of Dave Matthews Band). The audience wasn't very big - which is not the usual scenario at a Dave Matthews concert. Dave left the stage and headed to a spot in the grass nearby. I and several other people walked over to meet him. He appeared lost in another world. I came around behind him and gently touched his arm to get his attention. It was sweaty because he'd just been performing. Thing is, the feeling was so real for a dream that I woke with the sensation still in my fingertips. I saw that he was on a cellphone and I walked away. Meeting him simply wasn't worth bothering him.

Freudians, you may start analyzing now. I think I was considering/recognizing the humanness of a celebrity who seems to be more than human. In any case, Susan's Mick story hit home.

As for her Hypocrite chapter, man, I laughed and cried as she described her adventures in buying a wedding gown. And I cheered her on as she found one that fit so beautifully that she felt like a princess. Everyone should have a personal tailor or fitting expert.
Here's where the jealousy part comes in. Susan has such a fine grasp of language that knock-out descriptions pop up all over the place. For example, this one from page 93: "She used the tone adults use when they haven't the faintest idea how to relate to children - the vocal equivalent of aspartame." Can't you just feel the rotten taste on your tongue? Oooh! Green envy! I wish I could write so well. But, I have to remember, this isn't a competition between me and other writers. It's a competition between me and myself, with other writers serving as prods to my improvement.

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Monday, September 11, 2006


It's GRIS GRIMLY, Stupid

It bothered me that I couldn't remember the illustrator who worked his magic on four of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. I was at the library tonight and found the book again. The illustrator is Gris Grimly. Silly me. I apologize for my memory.

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Forever Behind

On Seth Godin's blog today, he listed percentages of people who aren't functioning to full digital capacity - who doesn't have a blog, who doesn't have an iPod, who doesn't have internet access, etc. I may now have a blog. My daughter has an iPod and digital camera. We have a wireless router and two computers. At work I'm constructing a website. I read Wired Magazine faithfully. For all of that, I perpetually feel behind on the technology front. It's enough to give me a complex. Will I ever catch up? Probably not. The cogs and gears and cookies and packets keep moving. They're relentless. The question becomes: How does one know when to adopt a new technology? Followed by: When does the benefit of adopting a technology outstrip the learning curve it takes to adopt it? Answers anyone?

By the way, I'm a Museum Manager by profession. We still believe that paper is the best technology around. It needs no machine to read it and never goes obsolete.

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Too Many Thoughts

The trouble with wanting to do a blog and not doing it right away, when the thought strikes, is that too many ideas back up and I don't know what to cover first. I have a notebook filling up with thoughts I want to post. Yesterday's post was not in my notebook and an utter fluke. Not really. I find so many fascinating, creative things that I want to comment on that the Brackenwood series was just one in a long line of cool stuff in this world.

I'm changing my tagline again. Yesterday it was "Better than Neezuls." Today it is "Thoughts on creativity, writing & life, commentary about other creative beings, and some ideas thrown in for good measure." Yes, it's wordy. I beseech the heavens to send me something cool and pithy, but I'm not going to push it. That's exactly when creativity leaves the room.

Today was a writing day for me. Mondays usually are. I'm off work, the kids are in school, the husband is studying for college. I clear my slate of household chores over the weekend so I can get right to work on Monday. If something happens that prevents me from writing, I practically vibrate in frustration. It's not a pretty sight. I've talked to another writer in my writers group who says the same thing. Writing is like breathing for us. Gotta do it. My brother, an IT security tech by profession, a musician by desire, told me about his need for three or four hours of uninterupted studio time. Time to get set up. Time to warm up. Time to get in the zone. Time to lose track of time and really get something accomplished. Sounds like a writer's life to me.

I finished a story today. Something that's been in the works for a month or so. It's called "As Above, Not So Below" and I envision it as an illustrated story. After seeing the Bitey of Brackenwood series, I can imagine who I'd like to have illustrate it. There's another artist, I can't quite recall his pen name, Grimsley I think, who illustrated a collection of four of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories, whose style would work well with the story. The premise of "As Above, Not So Below" is nature's reclamation of the stuff we people make. I use pavement as my example in the story, but it happens with barns and bridges and tools and fabric.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006


Bitey of Brackenwood

My youngest son (with some help from my oldest son) just clued me into this astoundingly good animated series. It's called the Bitey Castle series, created by Adam Phillips. The scenery is luminous. The music is reminiscent of the Celts. The characters are humorous. Bitey, a satyr, is the main character and he's always causing trouble, usually by picking on someone smaller than he, like the baby Sasquatch (cute!), the Prowlies, the Yuyus, and the witch - Lemonee Wee. Bitey always gets his come-uppance, though. This really should be a full-length feature. It's enchanting.

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Frankensteining the Talent Pool

I mentioned my original idea for a tagline - Frankensteining the Talent Pool - and I need to explain that. It's a game the whole family can play. When it comes to famous creative people, have you ever had the notion that a particular star should work with another star? I'm always wanting to do this.

For example, what would be the result if Gwen Stefani and Michael Buble worked together? I caught Buble's Public Television show and that man can romance an audience. He even draws in those who are sitting in the upper balconies. He's smooth, with a voice of liquid satin.
(I've got Buble's website up and his music is playing as I type. Sweet! Why don't more musicians do this?)

Ms. Stefani, who gained her fame with the quirky ska-esque group No Doubt, has a wider range than her No Doubt and solo work. She appeared on The Brian Setzer Orchestra's album The Dirty Boogie. Song 7 - You're the Boss. Go ahead. Have a listen. She's fabulous & playful. A sexy kitten vixen. A perfect match for Buble's style.

That's Frankensteining the Talent Pool.

I'll be posting more of these ideas and I encourage you to do the same. Who do you want to Frankenstein?

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Saturday, September 09, 2006



How is it that succeeding at something so small can feel so good? Yes, it was an exuberant color issue. The tagline color was identical to the background. I'm going to keep messing with that tagline until I get something I like. From "The building blocks of Creativity" to "Better than Neezuls". Hey, it's a start.

I got permission from Seth Godin, marketing guru and Creative God, to link to his blog. Really interesting stuff there. I'm absolutely fascinated by marketers, who tend to be fanatical trend watchers, another of my interests. Really, if Mr. Godin wanted the job of President and decided to work for world peace, I think he'd have us all holding hands, wearing flower wreaths in our hair, and singing ala the old Coke commercial. He's that persuasive. Honestly.

In the process of starting my blog, I talked to my niece, who had already started her own blog on Blogger, but wasn't posting anything. She felt inspired after our conversation and made a post. You go girl!

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A Sign?

Here I am, personalizing my blog and lo! I've lost that stinking tagline. It was "The building blocks of creativity" last night. Lame. But now it's gone. It's a sign from the universal forces. Either that, or I've gone crazy with the color changes and the lettering simply matches the background. I must get to the bottom of this. I do have links, though. That's something.

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Friday, September 08, 2006



I'm sticking my toe in the water - deciding whether to get my feet wet. I've had an idea for a blog for well over a year. What's taken me so long? The name. Of course. I had a screwy placeholder name written in my notebook because I couldn't come up with something decent. The name, I hate to admit, was Neezuls. Sounds very Winnie-the-Pooh-esque, doesn't it? A little dorky, too.

I had a very focused idea for this blog of mine, which I'll describe in a later post. And an appropriate name finally came to me: Splice. I loved it. I even had a great tagline: Frankensteining the Talent Pool. Could I leave it at that? No! I wanted to be able to expound on more than my very focused idea.

Back to the drawing board. I thought I could just change the tagline, but the thing was slippery. I couldn't come up with anything. Well, it wasn't that I couldn't come up with anything, but that I couldn't sum up what I wanted to say in a pithy, witty line. You'll note that the one I'm using for the time being is pretty lame. (The building blocks of Creativity.)

As I messed with the tagline, I decided that the name of the blog should change. Here's the deal: I'm enamored with creativity - what makes people creative, how they can enhance their creativity, what is the nature of creativity - stuff like that. Creativity for me is about filtering all of these vast experiences that come hurtling at me and then splicing them together to create something new. Hence, Filter & Splice.

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