Sunday, May 23, 2010

15 Tweets by @annvevera!

I joined Twitter three months ago. As of today, I have 45 followers, mostly writers, and I follow 58, same people who follow me, plus a few extra.

Twitter is really fun. It's a great place for making web-friends and networking.

Writers tweet about writing, of course, post links to blog posts and articles, post messages about random thoughts, reply to other people's tweets, and share other people's tweets (retweet!).

So what do I tweet about? As of today, I have posted 226 tweets, and I am going to share 15 of them in chronological order. (If you want to read all 226, you just click on the blue bird at the top right corner of this blog.) Remember, each post is only allowed 140 characters.

Here I go.

Mar 15th. 4:44 am. @Chumplet Thank you! Still trying to learn all this. How it works.

Mar 23rd. 1:40 pm. Ah..., I just figured out what the things do in the sidebar. I was wondering how I could see if anyone had replied on my tweets.

Mar 28th. 2:38 pm. @ACRead Thanks. I decided to follow a few people on your list.

Mar 31st. 1:51 am. Wednesday is trash-day. Do you leave neat, organized piles (control freak?), or drag it out there leaving a long trail of crap (slob)?

Apr 3rd. 8:51 am. If my mom was on Twitter: "I cleaned the hallway closet today."

Apr 5th. 5:08 pm. School is great. I am learning lots of cool stuff. But I have no time to write!

Apr 7th. 1:06 am. @BigWords88 Actually, teachers! And you never want a teacher to be your student --that's the absolute worst combination.

Apr 9th. 5:38 am. @TKToppin Great article! Very interesting. The masses are exposed to very few choices in the traditional bookstores. Not good.

Apr 10th. 4:53 pm. Skyped my mom. Have to. Every Saturday morning at 9 am. She talks for 30 minutes. I listen. Then I tell her I have to make breakfast.

Apr 11th. 6:07 am. My dad will call me at 9:30 sharp! I talk for 5 minutes. He asks about the weather, then cuts me off with: "Next week same time okay?"

Apr 18th. 4:34 am. Some people just deliver interesting and fun blog posts like it's as easy as making a ....., well something that is easy to make!

Apr 26th. 1:02 am. How about giving a 20 million dollar sign-on bonus to a writer with a promising manuscript? Why only in football?

Apr 28th. 5:10 pm. What's going on out there? I'm trapped in an evil bubble: work, eat, read, read, eat, sleep, shower, coffee, work...

May 6th. 1:04 am. The snowbirds are leaving Florida.

May 19th. 3:40 pm. First day of my summer semester. It doesn't look like I am going to get much writing or fiction reading done over the next 12 weeks.

Previous post: Twitter. Not Just Oprah does it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May Reading Update: John Steinbeck.

My goal for this year is to read fifteen fiction novels. It's mid-May, a third into the year, and I can't say that I've read five books, but I'm pretty darn close. The number is four! They are:
  1. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand,
  2. The Hobbit by J.J.R Tolkien (Got bored, and finished half!),
  3. White Fang by Jack London (So far, this year's favorite!),
  4. What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami (This year's big disappointment!)
And now, I'm working on Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck. It's a thin paper-back novel, only 207 pages. I chose it because I wanted a quick read, but I discovered a real pearl! This is my first experience reading John Steinbeck. He and Jack London have a lot in common. They were both experts at human behavior and skillful masters at creating vivid metaphors.

Here is a little taste from Tortilla Flat:

"Pilon and Pablo entered the little house joyfully. Pilon lighted a candle and produced two fruit jars for glasses.
-Health! said Pablo.
-Salud! said Pilon.
And in a few moments,
-Salud! said Pablo.
-Mud in your eye! said Pilon.
They rested a while.
-Su servidor, said Pilon.
-Down the rat-hole, said Pablo.
Two gallons is a great deal of wine, even for two paisanos. Spiritually the jugs may be graduated thus: Just below the shoulder of the first bottle, serious and concentrated conversation. Two inches farther down, sweetly sad memory. Three inches more, thoughts of old and satisfactory loves. An inch, thoughts of bitter loves. Bottom of the firts jug, general and undirected sadness. Shoulder of the second jug, black, unholy despondency. Two fingers down, a song of death or longing. A thumb, every other song each one knows. The graduation stops here, for the trail splits and there is no certainty. From this point on anything can happen. (p.23-24)"

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Finals!

I will not be able to write a regular post this weekend. I have four final exams next week and so I have to study. That's life sometimes. This will be the first time since November that I haven't posted something, not counting this announcement. Wish me luck. Next weekend I plan to post as usual.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How Zap Your Poetic Creativity!

Writing poetry is fun. But it's not easy. It's a matter of going to that creative zone with our senses wide open. It takes concentration. We want to avoid all those trite and tired metaphors often found in popular music, magazines, and films. We want to produce an original. But this doesn't mean we need to go crazy with difficult words which mainstream readers have never heard of, unless of course, your plan is to annoy them! A poet needs to find ways to use ordinary words in new ways.

So where does a poet find ordinary words that can be used to create new and original poems? There are a lots of ways. Have you ever seen refrigerator magnets used to create poetry? It was a popular gift for a while. The words were typed on magnetic strips. And they were sold in boxes with different themes like gardening, parenting, romance etc. But it's not necessary to buy magnetic words. You can do it yourself. Not magnets, I mean that you can decide on a theme and find words! I decided to write down words that I encountered at the office where I clean. One rule, I could only write down words that I saw written on different objects. It was kind of fun. So I created the office theme!

Now, what do we do with all our words? Sandford Lyne has written a great book called Writing poetry from the inside out. Finding your voice through the craft of poetry. Sandford uses a method that he calls Poem-Sketching. He makes word groups. Each group has four words: a couple of nouns, an adjective, and a verb.

Here are an example of a few groups from my office list.


  1. Wall, Hewlett Packard, extra wide, laugh.
  2. Knight, department, husky, love.
  3. Handicap door, mommy, perfect, lead.
  4. Xerox, budget, durable, smoke.
  5. Project, peanut, simple, injure.
  6. Tony, in-box, damp, change.


Okay, you get the idea. If you want to mix groups and change things around, go right ahead. You make the rules. The idea is to zap your creativity started and get the poetic river flowing from your brain. All the little words like: he, she, and, then, how, if, in , on, you add as needed. Let me know if this works! Which themes did you come up with?

Previous post: Great News! My Poem Was Published

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Naming Fictional Characters. Here Are A Few Tips!

Names are important. Naming our fictional characters can be as difficult as naming our children. Maybe harder, because we often need more than one name! The name has to fit the character's age, gender, background, and ethnicity. Best of all, when we've found a really great name, it reflects and color our character's personality.

A character's name is a huge deal! Memorable names touch us deep inside and stay with us a long time after we've finished reading. Some of our favorite fictional characters stays with us forever.
  • Frodo Baggins from The Lord of The Rings,
  • Wilber from Charlotte's Web
  • Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the wind,
  • George Milton and Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men,
  • Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird,
  • Larietta "Carrie" N. White from Carrie,
  • Betty Rizzo and Danny Zuko from Grease,
  • Darth Vader from Starwars,
  • Edward Cullen from Twilight.

Okay, so maybe you don't share my picks above, but you can surely come up with your own list.

So where do we find names? Besides the phone book, friends and relatives, the Internet is the most obvious modern resource. Having the Internet at our fingertips, it's hard to imagine how authors like Steinbeck found so many suitable names for his characters.

Here are a few helpful sites:

1. Popular baby names.
The Social Security Administration's homepage is a great resource. There you can search most popular names for a particular year, or decade. It's very user friendly. Just type the year you want into a little search window. But I can save you time by telling you that Michael was the most popular boy's name between the decades 1960-1990. Guess a popular girl's name!

2. Babynames.com
This website has all kinds of good stuff. Boy names, girl names, meaning of names, celebrity names, a cool name list, soap opera names, names from fashion, dog names, cat names, and more!

3. TheNameSite.com
Maybe you're looking for something more flavorful. This site has names with information about their pronunciation, meaning, origin country, region, and gender. How about the name Abdalla. Guess if it's a boy or a girl? It means servant of God.

4. The Internet Surname Database.
Here is every American surname is alphabetical order. Just click on the letter you want and get information about its origin, history and variation in spelling.

5. Exotic Pet Names
This is from About.com. It has names for exotic pets, alphabetical list of pet names, and names for pairs of pets. How about a name like Magnum PIg for your potbellied friend?

So how about it, which are your favorite fictional character names?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Death. Is It Funny Or Sad?

Is it appropriate to write a blog post about death? I hope so. So far, I've been spared from painful losses, so my personal experience on this topic is limited. I can't decide if this is an advantage or a disadvantage, as far as writing is concerned. Since I am inexperienced, I allow myself to joke about death. Though, it is very likely I'm an insensitive idiot.

The first time I was confronted with death was when my grandpa died. I was eight at the time. His passing didn't affect me that much since we weren't really close, but it was hard to see my mom grieving. I went to his funeral even though my mom had given me the option to stay at home. I was curious, and I wanted to impress her. She was moved by my participation, and mistakenly thought I was a sensitive and mature child.

I remember sitting there during the funeral observing my mom's and relatives' sad faces and wondering if grandpa could see us from heaven, and if he could see that I wasn't crying. The casket was shiny and big, and very quiet. I remember wanting to ask my mom if she was sure grandpa was really inside it, and if she was really sure that he was dead. What if he was actually sleeping?! When they lowered the casket down in the ground, I remember feeling conflicted with thoughts of my grandpa waking up from his sleep and calling for help. Nobody would hear him from down there!

My second memorable experience with death came eleven years later. It happened during my CNA training. We went on a field trip to a funeral home. "You're lucky," the funeral director told us and winked. "We have an open casket funeral this afternoon." Upon this statement, he lead us to a dimly lit room with chandeliers glittering in the ceiling and rows of chairs facing the same direction. In front of the chairs, surrounded by flower arrangements, was a casket with an elderly woman. Her face was made up with pink cheeks and red lips. And she was wearing eyeglasses. My common sense told me she was dead, but in a different place, I would have believed she was napping.

After this viewing, the funeral director showed us the embalming room. He proceeded to tell us about one time when he was so busy that he had nine "stiffs" at the same time. They had to be stored on top of cabinets until their funeral dates. Since he didn't have time to go home and eat that night, his wife had brought him a pic-nick dinner. The faces on the others in my group were serious, probably in shock, but I was panicking, trying not to burst in to laughter. It didn't help matters much that the funeral director had a left eye that was stuck looking sideways.

Now on to a recent date. How did I think about writing a blog post and sharing my experiences with death? Last Friday, I had my first cadaver lab. It wasn't at all as weird and creepy as it might sound. As I am in college studying to become a physical therapist assistant, this was a extraordinary opportunity to learn about the human body. Not humorous really, okay maybe a little. It was hard to go home and make our usual Friday roast beef subs and not think about what our muscles look like after we die, but this is probably a normal reaction.

Obviously, the atmosphere and the interior of a cadaver lab is vastly different form that of a funeral home. It has high ceilings, white walls, concrete floors, and fully illuminated by industrial lights. In preparation for the smell, I had rubbed Vicks inside my nose which I quickly regretted when I felt it burn every time I took a breath. But the pain was forgotten once I entered the lab and I saw the metal tables with bodies. Two hours of studying the human body flew by. I left floating on clouds. It had been such a fascinating experience.

To tie up this rather incoherent blog post, I have one final reflection to share. One of the bodies in the cadaver lab was a woman that had died from leukemia. My teacher inquired if anyone knew a sigh of this disease. I was the only one who knew. A giant spleen! I know this because my mom has leukemia. Eventually, death will affect us all. Even me!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April AW Blog Chain. Meet Rags!

I decided to take part in the April blog chain on Absolute Write, a writer's forum I visit often. The topic is fictional characters. And a question was posed: What would it be like to meet your novel characters?

Since I'm in the middle of the chain, a few writers have already written their posts. You can read about their characters here: Proach, RavenCorinnCarluck, AuburnAssassin, DavidZahir, xcomplex.

Now on to my own contribution. I'm a beginner novelist. My first finished novel, "Sam and Stella" , was created during last year's National Novel Writing Month . It was my second attempt at a longer fiction story. Before that, in August of last year, I started a story that I titled "Trucker", but it was never finished.

It is from "Trucker" that I like you to meet Rags. I don't know much about him yet. He dropped in on my lead character Jake who is in the hospital. Jake totaled his truck, and Rags is a fellow trucker who he has known for several years. Here is an excerpt from my first meeting with Rags during that hospital visit.

Jake heard a familiar shuffle coming from the hallway. His heart started beating faster in anticipation, hoping to confirm who he longed to see. Then there he was. Rags appeared in the door way, wearing his sideways grin. Only five-four, his cowboy boots helped elevating his confidence two more inches. On most days his wiry, steel colored hair resembled a dish brush. But not today. Today it was tied back in a ponytail, the braid in his beard was gone, and he was dressed in a charcoal suit. Jake barely recognized him. He didn't recall having ever seen him in anything other than tattered jeans and flannels.

"Who died or got hitched?" Jake teased.

Rags pulled his lips together and pushed his chin out.

"I see you got the flowers," he said and nodded towards the water pitcher with sunflowers on Jake's bedside table.

"Yeah man, tell the guys thanks! They brighten up this sterile hell hole."

Rags sat down.

Jake continued. "Rags, you don't know how freakin glad I am to see you. I miss work like crazy."

"So they think you'll be back to driving soon then?" Rags face perked up.

Jake wished he could he could say yes. The question was so hopeful and brutal at the same time. He wished he could get up, take his bag, and return to his life, the way it had been before the accident. His thoughts stirred up a surge of emotions and he fought to hold back a sob. The painful swelling grew in his throat and he bit down to hold it together. Embarrassed, he turned his head towards the wall.

A few quiet minutes went by. Then Rags broke the silence with a question.

"Did you ever meet my old man?"

Jake nodded and met Rags eyes.

Rags' dad, Oscar Junior, went by two names: O.J. by day and Wild by night. His fondness for Jack Daniels coupled with an explosive temper had earned him his nickname. O.J. had retired when Jake started trucking, but sometimes he showed up for a barbecue, or tagged along on one of Rags' trips.

"Yeah well, my mom died when she had me. And since my dad and grandpa drove trucks and were gone most of the time, I was raised by my uncle Frankie. He owned one of Minnesota's largest turkey farms. Guess what my dirty job was? Every day after school!" Rags chuckled.

Jake smiled. Rags was a storyteller.

"You guessed it." Rags continued. "Shoveling turkey shit! But I didn't complain. Frankie paid me to do it. He had some grand scheme that I was gonna save the money for college, get a suit degree, and help him with the farm. Can you see me with and briefcase?" he laughed and tugged on the braid that wasn't there. "Frankie and auntie Emma couldn't have kids, so they tried their darndest to turn me into a civilized citizen."

----

This is probably a good place to stop. I need to work on Rags voice. It's a little stiff. Also, my husband thinks that Jake behaves and thinks like a girl. We'll see how it goes. It's a learning process. My plan is to post more excerpts from "Trucker" in the future. The story Rags has started is a sad one, and I'd like him to finish it. So it's to be continued! If you like, you can also read an earlier post about my novel "Trucker" . It has the synopsis.

Next on the Absolute Writer's April blog chain are: FreshHell, leahzero, Aimeelaine, Anarchicq, Breddings, *RomanceWriter* , ForbiddenSnowfake, razibahmed, CScottMorris, Aheila, LadyMage.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Time Management. How Is It Done?

I just read four blogs with posts on the topic time management. Well actually, I read three posts about time management, and one about simplifying our lives, but same difference, right?! If we have too much going on, something got to go, or we have to learn to be ultra-efficient. Like modern wash detergents, a little wash a lot. That's my method, by the way, I steal a small portion of my "prime time" (usually morning hours) to get as much done as possible.

What has to get done during my prime time is writing and studying. In other words, my brain has to be completely awake and rested. Being a part-time cleaning lady by night, a full-time college student by day, and a mother, I have to be wise and structured to stay on top of my commitments.

What has helped me are a few things.

Not having cable TV is a major help. My husband and I gave up on it three years ago to save money. At first I thought I would miss all my favorite shows, and I felt guilty that my daughter couldn't see her shows. But with having Internet and Netflix, it turned out we don't need it. During weeknights, everyone reads books in bed, and on the weekends we watch movies, without commercials!

Sharing chores and responsibilities might sound like something obvious, but as a college-mom, I hear too often how women try to handle all the parenting and house chores themselves. All I can say here is: DELEGATE! And stop cleaning. You're home doesn't have to be spotless. Spending time with your kids, and I mean some kind of interactive activity (playing), has to be number one on your priority list, but taking them to the dentist can be a shared responsibility!

Finally, I am going to reference The Positivity Blog: "Focus on what is important for you. Let go of the rest." Meaning. Let go of stress. Don't worry about all those things you're not doing. Don't feel guilty for what you are doing. And live in the moment. (I know. It's hard. But it's good to be reminded!)

Good luck.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ice Skating In Florida, A Cold And Dangerous Adventure.

It's a Saturday afternoon. The sun is shining and I have the windows rolled down in my car. I'm guessing that it's close to 75 degrees outside. Where am I going? To a birthday party at the Arctic Zone with my ten year-old daughter. It's sort of ironic, since I thought I had left the cold and ice behind when I moved to Florida.

I grew up in Sweden, so you think I would know how to dress for going ice skating, but both of us are wearing t-shirts, jeans and flip-flops. After having lived in this summer paradise for nearly three years, it's hard to think: socks, gloves, hats and jackets. Instead, I'm thinking: How cold can it be?

How cold? My memory returns as we enter the ice-skating rink. It can't be more than 45 degrees inside. Of course, the Hockey Town Pro Shop makes most of it's profit on people like myself and sells knitted gloves for three dollars a pair.

There are fourteen guests at the birthday party, and except for a couple, none of them have ever put on a pair of ice-skates. Their fingers are fumbling with the long strings. And I can't hold back a smile as I enjoy watching their confused faces. They are concentrating so hard and wondering what the deal is with the paired row of metal hooks. My mind takes me back thirty years to a winter white landscape, layers of clothes, and my mom helping me tie my skates. They had to have a snug fit to keep my ankles from buckling. If I had blood circulating to my toes, they were too loose!

After lacing 28 ice skates, it's off to the ice. The party guests discover that it's a cold, slippery and painful adventure! Being a dry and safety-cautious Swede, I wonder why the Arctic Zone isn't insisting on having their patrons wear a helmet. I think: What if one of them falls and splits their head open on the ice? I find myself having a moment of an internal conflict. Sometimes it's hard as a parent to know if one should do the right thing, or let it go and hope for the best. This time, I just let it go.

I guess I can't be overly critical. The Arctic zone has thought of something. Instead of helmets, lets give the kids something to hold on to. And lets give the parents some entertainment!



Previous posts:
Shopping For An Alarm Clock, A Not So Obvious Milestone.
Do You Have A Tweenie At Home?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Reading Update: A Memoir By Haruki Murakami

It's the last day of March. My goal for this year is to read 15 books. So far, I have finished three and a half (see links to previous posts below!).

"What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by Haruki Murakami. The title jumped out at me from a display table at Barns and Nobel. I was there Christmas shopping. The word --running-- peaked my interest. So I reached for the thin paperback book and read the back cover: "An intimate look at writing, running, and the incredible way they intersect, from the incomparable, bestselling author Haruki Murakami."

I held the book tightly in my hands while my head was spinning. This book had everything. I love to read memoirs and biographies. It's that nosy side of me. And I run and write! And obviously the book was written by some sophisticated Japanese writer who won prestigious writing awards. As I am rather uncultivated in the area of fine literature, this book was perfect for me, educational and interesting!

So I started reading, existed to learn what writing and running could possibly have in common except being favorite activities of introverts like myself.

Page 10: "I'm no great runner, by any means. I'm an ordinary --or perhaps more like mediocre--level. "

I though: Cool! I'm mediocre. This guy is like me. But I quickly learned differently.

Page 11: "My peak as a runner came in my late forties. Before then I'd aimed at running a full marathon in three and a half hours, a pace of exactly one kilometer in five minutes, or one mile in eight."

And this is the book in a nutshell, a detailed list of mediocre accomplishments. Actually, his story reminded me of the movie Forest Gump. Everything Haruki Murakami tries, he is successful at.

Living in Japan, as a twenty year-old, he ran a successful night club. Then one day, while watching a baseball game, he had an epiphany-like experience.

Page 27: "I can pinpoint the exact moment when I first thought I could write a novel. It was around one thirty in the afternoon of April 1, 1978. I was at Jingu Stadium that day, alone in the outfield drinking beer and watching the game."

Six months later, he finished his first novel, and submitted the manuscript to a contest and won. The novel was published. His writing career was born.

After this, still running his night-club, he wrote a second novel, and on the side, began to translate some short fiction by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Is it just me, or is he spreading on a thick layer? Or do most club owners keep a frayed copy of The Great Gatsby behind the bar? (I don't mean to insult any bartenders!) But really! How can a person, especially an award winning fiction author, be so removed from the real world of average people? Does he have a terrible editor? Did nobody feel like telling him that he comes across as an arrogant name-dropper?

Okay, so after telling me about running a 62 mile ultra-marathon, and competing in seven Boston marathons, four New York marathons, four triathlons, he finally runs out of juice. As a 56 year-old, his body is no longer the machine it once was. And it can no longer produce distances in the same amount of time as earlier, no matter how much he trains.

Page 147: "So in the end I missed the four-hour mark by just a little. I did complete the run, after a fashion, which means I maintained my record of completing every marathon I've ever been in (a total of twenty-four now.) I was able to do the bare minimum, but it was a frustrating result after all my hard training and meticulous planning. It felt like a remnant of a dark cloud had wormed its way into my stomach. No matter what, I couldn't accept this."

This is it. Haruki Murakami refuses to accept that there is something called normal, mortal limitations.

Previous post: How Many Books Are You Reading 2010? February Update

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blogs Are Like Wild-Flowers

A skilled writer knows all the right words to produce a coherent story with perfect grammar. After this statement I have two questions: When will this be me? And, if I can't write well, should I keep writing publicly on a blog?

They are fair questions. Or aren't they? My view is this. I have recently realized that I like blogging because it's not elitist. Anyone can start a blog and express almost anything they want. The masses can choose to read it, or ignore it. But the best part is. In the blogging-world, there are tons of unskilled writers who are authors to super-popular blogs. Grammar certainly helps, but what rules in this genre is creativity and content.

Blogs are like wild-flowers. If you don't like them, you call them weeds. They don't conform. They poke up anywhere they feel like growing and expand into all shapes and sizes. This is why I like blogs. Because of their boldness and their imperfections. It is why I like to read blogs, and why I am a blog-writer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Am Not A Chicken!

When I was a kid I sometimes fantasized about being a bird. Especially at times when I was upset, or scared. Then I would close my eyes, spread my imaginary wings, and fly to my hideout in a leafy tree-top.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, my imagination never worked well enough to mentally transport myself to a tree-top. My ears just didn't want to collaborate on that level. They picked up on all the sounds of things going on around me.

As an adult, I sometimes catch myself looking up at the sky and wishing I could join the flock of birds flying above my head, especially on days when life is dishing out more than I can handle.

But only a weakling run (or fly) away from her fears. A strong woman face her fears, endure, and come out stronger, or something like that. Did I learn that in psych 101, or have I watched too much Oprah? Maybe it was Biggest Looser.

As I returned to the dentist this week and had my teeth cleaned, my dental hygienist encouraged me to face my dental phobia and have my cavities filled without sedation.

Actually, she said: "Nobody I know gets sedation during fillings."

Her comment made me feel embarrassed and hurt at first, but I was able to stay cool and not get angry and defensive. There was some truth in what she said. Sedation is an easy way out. Why am I choosing to be a such a chicken? It's not like I am going to be tortured. Well, just a bit, but I can handle it. I should be able to handle it --like normal people do. And more, I'll save a chunk of money!

Before I left the dentist office, I scheduled my first return visit to have a filling done traditional style! If I tolerate it well, I may find the courage to fill the remaining ten cavities the same way.

As I drove home in my car, I had mixed feelings of pride and fear. Did I make the right decision? Why do I have to face my fears? What's wrong with being a chicken?

I'm going to buy myself something real nice with the money I save, darn it!

Previous post: I Avoid Going To The Dentist

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Watch And Hear About Our Aquarium Fish

More video. This time, I am using a better camera. The video-post card, in my last post, was taped using my cell-phone. It didn't do a good job. I was really disappointed with the quality. And it got such good reviews! If you're shopping for a cell-phone and want a good camera, don't buy a Sony Ericsson C905a, it really bites!

Previous post: Video-Postcard. Spring Break 2010!

video

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Video-Postcard. Spring Break 2010!

This is my very first video ever. Meaning, it's jumpy and out of focus. And yes, the title says Spring break, but there are no bikini-girls in this one, sorry!

Just a pretty Florida sunrise, the beach, and some birds...

video

Twitter. Not Just Oprah Does it!

Last Sunday night I showed my husband that I had joined Twitter.

"Look honey, see the blue bird button on my blog, now people can read what I tweet about," I said and pointed to the computer screen.
"Great." He continued feeding his fish without turning his head.
"But look, isn't it cool!" I tried again.
This time he came and sat down and gave me a sideways smirk. After a few quiet seconds of pondering if he was going to be nice or spicy, he chose the latter.
"Paris Hilton twitters about what dress she is going to put on her Chiwawa. What are you going to twitter about?"

Okay, so I am not Paris Hilton, obviously, and I am not sure yet what Tweets I'll compose, or who will read them, but I am always excited when I learn something new. Internet, blogs, social networking sites, they all fascinate me.

It's kind of interesting how programs like MySpace and Facebook are more socially acceptable than Blogs and Twitter. Tons of people have FB accounts, but very few Twitter. And yet, Twitter is a combo between SMS and FB!

Twitter and Facebook were launched at the same time in 2006. And my husband is partially right, Twitter has become known through celebrities who Twitter. One well-known Twitter is Oprah Winfrey. And we all know, whatever Oprah touches turns to gold.

But Twitter is not just a medium for famous people to share what they have for breakfast. It's a fun place like FB. Anyone is welcome, and lots of "ordinary" people are part of the community. Many of my blog and writer friends on Absolute Write Water Cooler Twitter. You can read what they say when you click on my blue-bird-button.

Finally a few words about the Twitter lingo. My AW friend Benbradley, typed me the following:
"---a Twitter post is a tweet, the verb form is to tweet and past tense is I/you/we/he/she/ tweeted."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Int. Women's Day. A Day To Be Grateful!

This International Woman's Day 2010,
I am grateful
for all the doors that stood open in my path,
and
for all the women who struggled opened them.

Last Sunday, March 8, was International Women's Day. It went by quietly, as it usually does every year, but I thought it deserved some reflection.

I don't think I am a hard core feminist. But I believe it is important that women are given the same opportunities as men. Over the last hundred years, many tough women from my grandmother's generation, and my mother's generation have fought hard for the rights I afford today, many of which I take for granted, like a higher education and a career outside the home.

My grandmother's life was very different from mine. She finished six years of a compulsory education, and she never worked outside the home.

When she turned sixty-five she received her first social security check. She belonged to the first generation of Swedes who received a national pension check. This was a big day in her life. A sum of money was given directly to her, and it came from someone other than grandpa.

This was the first time grandma had ever had her own money. Grandpa, a man who didn't part easily with his earnings, had always supplied her with an allowance for household expenses. But as they lived on subsistence farming, this meant she was given a small sum to pay for salt, sugar and coffee, or whatever else they couldn't produce themselves. These were the old fashion days of the 1930ies and 40ies.

Two generations later, I afford independence and choices that my grandmother had never even dreamt about: an education, a paycheck, a bank account, a credit card, a car, and so much more.

Previous post: What Should I Do With My Life?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Surface You Run On Matters!

Running on concrete is the worst thing you can do to the joints in your legs. Sadly, most sidewalks, where it is the safest to run, are all made of concrete!

Like an idiot, I used to curse when I drove passed people who walked or ran in the street. But asphalt, the black covering on most roads, is softer than concrete which makes it a much better running surface. The safest way to run is in the direction where you face the traffic. It means running on the wrong side of the street, but it beats getting run over from behind. At least you have a fair chance to jump to the side when a driver doesn't see you.

Running on hard surfaces can lead joint injuries. Read my post below about the importance of good running shoes.

A soft running surface is grass. Parks with soccer fields are perfect for running. The only drawback is if you don't live close to one. Then going for a quick run turns into a hassle where you first have to travel.

Finally, if you live close to a school with an outdoor track, it provides a softer than asphalt running surface, and usually an exact distance like 400 meters. The only drawback here is boredom. The scenery doesn't change, and it's boring to run in circles.

Source: "The Complete Book of Running for Women. Everything You Need to Know About Training, Nutrition, Injury Prevention, Motivation, Racing and Much, Much More." By Claire Kowalchik

Previous posts:
How Long Does It Take To Form A Lasting Running Habit?
Don't Fall For The Temptation And Buy An El Cheapo Running Shoe.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How Many Books Are You Reading 2010? February Update

Time! I wish I had more of it.

Being a full-time student, a part-time cleaning lady, a mother, a wife, a writer, and a runner, I have to steal five minutes here and there to get a chance to read. Or multi-task: cook and read, eat and read.

I didn't always enjoy reading, especially fiction. The first few novels took some effort getting through, but in the last five years or so, reading fiction has increasingly turned into a daily activity. It has become something I crave, a drug of which I need a small daily dose.

My reading goal for 2010 is 15 books. So far, I've only been able to finish one. I read half of book number two. You can read my January Update (link below) about how much it dragged. But now I am really close to finishing book number three: "White Fang" by Jack London.

Since I started reading "White Fang", it has climbed higher and higher on my personal list of favorite books. What makes it such a good read is the depth of the characters and the plot. The story comes alive by creative metaphors, vivid descriptions, and Jack London's ability to display human and animal behavior in shades, blends and layers that jump off the pages. But best of all, I have enjoyed the balance between all the elements is the story. It is romantic, sensitive, heartbreaking, and raw-naturalistic story telling with an undertone of irony and humor.

It was hard to pick a favorite passage, but here is one that I think exemplifies Jack London's superior way of describing characters:

"Backward, from the apex, his head slanted down to his neck; and forward, it slanted uncompromisingly to meet a low and remarkably wide forehead. Beginning here, as though regretting her parsimony, Nature had spread his features with a lavish hand. His eyes were large, and between them was the distance of two eyes. His face, in relation to the rest of him, was prodigious. In order to discover the necessary area, Nature had given him an enormous jaw. It was wide and heavy, and protruded outward and down until it seemed to rest on his chest. Possibly this appearance was due to weariness of the slender neck, unable properly to support so great a burden.
This jaw gave the impression of ferocious determination. But something lacked. Perhaps it was from excess. Perhaps the jaw was too large. At any rate, it was a lie. Beauty Smith was known far and wide as the weakest of weak-kneed and snivelling cowards. To complete his description, his teeth were large and yellow, while the eye-teeth, larger than their fellows, showed under his lean lips like fangs. His eyes were yellow and muddy, as though Nature had run short on pigments and squeezed together the dregs of all her tubes. It was the same with his hair, sparse and irregular of growth, muddy-yellow and dirty-yellow, rising on his head and sprouting out of his face in unexpected tufts and bunches, in appearances like clumped and wind-blown grain."

Previous posts:
How Many Books Are You Reading 2010?
How Many Books Are You Reading 2010? January Update

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Science Of Love


I signed up for the February blog chain at the Absolute Write Water Cooler (a forum I visit often).This month's subject is LOVE!

As I am a bit of a nerd, and since I enjoy reading non-fiction, my post will explore the scientific side of love, or more specifically, falling in love.

A researcher named Dr Helen Fisher has researched what happens in our brain when we fall in love. She has found that our reward center, a "feel good center", in our brain gets stimulated by chemicals when we eat, drink, sleep, and have sex.

Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, Dr Fisher has discovered that this reward center is involved when we fall in love. As there is an area in the brain that deals with our emotions (feelings), this would be a logical place for love --but initially this emotional area is patiently waiting for a later stage in the process. When our love has matured beyond this first stage known as LUST.

What Dr Fisher concludes from her research is that first stage of love (lust) is nothing different than an ordinary physiological reward --like eating a piece of chocolate.

If you like to read more on The Science Of Love http://www.youramazingbrain.org/lovesex/sciencelove.htm

Upsidedowngrl is next on the list to write a love post - http://noellenolansblog.blogspot.com/

Here are the previous writers on the AW February blog chain:












Previous post: Guilty Pleasures!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Avoid Going To The Dentist

I went to the dentist today. It's been seven years since my last appointment. Yeah, I know. But it's not like I am neglecting my teeth, I brush and floss everyday. And it's expensive to see a dentist. High cost is a reasonable excuse, but it's not why I don't go. My number one reason is fear.

Growing up, I had horrible looking teeth. My baby teeth were shades of beige, brown and black. According to my mother, they got this way because of sugary cough syrup. I was sick a lot with flues and colds as a toddler.

When I was five, I had to have a tooth pulled. One of my baby molars had a giant black crater right down to its nerve. And below it, in the gum line, there was a red, swollen bulb of pus. My mouth radiated with tooth ache.

My poor mother was instructed to give me sedatives to make the extraction possible. As the story has been told to me (a few times), I was too drugged to walk, but once I got into the dentist chair, I fought to keep my mouth shut. But with my mom's tight hold around my body, a shoot of novacaine was pressed into my jaw, and the tooth was easily plucked with a little wiggle, and a small tug.

My muscles tense up when I think back to my childhood dental visits.

Just walking towards the building with the dental office made me want to run and hid. The smell in the elevator gave me stomach cramps. The anxiety filled waiting room. I got so nervous. I couldn't pay attention to the books and comics my mother read.

I can't remember my dentist's name. But I have a clear picture of what she looked like. Her gray hair was cut into a geometrical-shaped bob (sharp lines) that gave her face a firm expression. There were rarely any smiles. I don't think she liked kids. Or maybe she just didn't like difficult ones.

If my terror was moderate-to-bad in the waiting room, it climaxed as I watched my dentist perform her predictable ritual in the exam room: wash her hands, dry her hands, sit down on the roll-stool, tie the paper mouth-guard, adjusted the light on my face. I knew all the steps. When she reached for the metal hook tool, and the little mirror-stick, my heart jumped inside my chest, and my mouth locked shut. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

Today I am thirty-seven, but I still feel like a little kid when I get into a dental chair. I fear it's going to stick with me until I die. Few innovations have been introduced to make dental procedures less uncomfortable for patients.

The smell is the same. And "gentle dental" still means sedatives.

Previous post: Elvis --My Most Memorable Birthday Gift

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How Long Does It Take To Form A Lasting Running Habit?

Forming habits. Some habits seem to form themselves with minimal effort on my part. Things like eating breakfast, sleeping in on the weekends, sitting down at the computer and checking my e-mail, snacking on junk I shouldn't eat, and buying crap I don't need.

And then other habits takes maximum effort to establish. They seem completely impossible to program into a routine. Things like planning dinners before I go grocery shopping, making the bed every morning, and cleaning the house once a week.

Forming running habits takes maximum effort. I've been working hard at it for nearly four months, and it's not until now that I feel like running is slowly becoming a regular part of my weekly routine. When it's time to put on my shorts and shoes, I don't have to motivate myself as much anymore --unless it's raining of course!

If I am going to believe John Tesh's "intelligence for your life" radio show, it takes six months to successfully form a lasting habit. He was referring to eating healthy foods, but maybe it crosses over to exercising? This means I have two more months to go. And I am hopeful. I feel like it could happen. For the past month, I've been running three miles four times a week, and today I increased my distance with another half a mile. Making progress is an awesome motivator!

Previous posts:
Why I Run
Want To Run Comfortably?
Don't Fall For The Temptation And Buy An El Cheapo Running Shoe

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Trucker": My First Attempt At A Novel

Something new, I am going to start posting snippets from my first novel: "Trucker".

It's a half-finished story, a project I began last August, three months before I even knew anything about NaNoWriMo. Since then, it has been resting and maturing in a computer file, and now I am ready to dust it off and tinker with it again, and share it with you.

This being said, I am preparing you for amateur fiction. I am a beginner. My fiction is highly juvenile. So smile, shake your head and have fun, but be gentle on the criticism.

Now then, what is "Trucker" about? In this post I will start this fiction series by giving you a small synopsis of the story.

Jake is 40. His life follows the same old patterns, and he likes it that way. It's safe and predictable. He drives his truck, chats with Rob on his cell, and spends holidays and vacations at his mom's house in Florida.

The only thing missing in his life is a girlfriend. He daydreams about meeting a pretty, but trustworthy, brunette with low expectations. A girl who isn't needy, and who likes truckers.

One early October morning, as Jake heads south on interstate 57 towards St Louis, he crashes and totals his truck. He is a survivor, but no longer in control. He is dependent on friends and hospital staff to recover and adjust to a new life. A life that is full of difficult lessons, hard work, and surprises.

Jake meets Sara. She is perfect, but belongs to someone else.

Previous posts: National Novel Writing Month 2009

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Walmart Shoppers Are Going Green

I care a lot about what I eat, and lately I've been converting more and more to organic products. But I'm not shopping at those crazy-expensive health food stores. I shop at Walmart and Publix.

In the last couple of years, I have observed with great enthusiasm how the number of reasonably priced organic alternatives have increased. They are slowly but surely finding their way into every section of the big, chain, grocery stores. Publix is doing a better job than Walmart --but Walmart is not far behind.

Most of the environmental news I read about in the media is depressing. So I feel that this new influx of organic products in stores like Walmart is a positive trend worth pointing out. It gives me hope for the future.

Just think about it for a moment. Walmart hasn't changed. They don't care about the environment. They care about profit and sell what people buy. So what has happened? The change that has taken place is in the way their customers are shopping.

Every time you purchase a product, you "vote" for that product to be reordered and restocked on the shelf. This means that enough Walmart shoppers have decided to "vote" organic. It's really that simple.

Many times I think we forget that I, the consumer, have all the power, not the rich corporate executives. I shop; I vote! So next time you ask yourself: "What can I do about the environment? I am just one person." Buy an organic apple!

Previous posts: Foods I No Longer Eat

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Elvis --My Most Memorable Birthday Gift!

Little, adorable Elvis, only eight weeks old, he was a German Shepherd puppy. Back in February of 1996, I bought him for $500.

Elvis is my most memorable birthday gift. Notice that I am using the word memorable and not the word best.

As I am turning 37 this week, my daughter brought up the topic of favorite birthday gifts. Did I have one? It was a difficult question. I couldn't think of many, but then Elvis popped into my head. He was a gift to myself when I turned 23.

Elvis was what you call a spontaneous purchase. He wasn't planned. I saw an ad in the paper: "For Sale. 3 male German Shepherd puppies. No papers. $500." It sounded cheap, so I decided to go and take a look.

(You never just go and LOOK at puppies!) My mom, being older and wiser, asked if it was a wise idea. She reminded me that I had just started school full-time.

Did I listen? Of course not!

I was just going to look. But of course, I brought money with me, just in case. Yeah well, "just in case" went out the window (along with my come and sense) as soon as I saw the puppies. In that moment, holding Elvis in my arms, he was so soft and so cute --almost like a little wolf cub; I knew that I wasn't leaving without him. So I gave the breeder my money, and put Elvis in the car.

When I got home I had to dash to the pet supply store to buy dog food, bowls, a leash and toys. I was completely unprepared to care for a dog. In more ways than one, I would soon discover.

As I had no experience with raising a German
Shepherd puppy, things didn't go so well for Elvis and I. I treated him like he was my little baby. This was before Cesar, the Dog-Whisperer. Cesar would have told me to be the Alfa-leader. Consequently, Elvis though I was a dog, and since I wasn't Alfa material --he decided to lead.

His leadership meant I couldn't leave my apartment. When I left, to go to class, he barked, howled, and chewed and destroyed furniture, mail, kitchen cabinets, wallpaper, just about anything. And when I took him out, he nearly pulled my arm off. I wore leather gloves to keep my skin intact.

After six months of dog-owner Hell, I called the breeder and begged her to take him back. Lucky for me, she did. Though, she had moved half across the country--so the return trip became a real goodbye-to-Elvis-adventure.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guilty Pleasures!

Guilty pleasures. They are activities we do when we think no one else is watching. Activities our mother wouldn't approve of, or our colleagues at work would have a field day, if they knew of!

Simply stated, they are things we do that we don't boast about to others.

Why am I bringing up this topic? Guilty pleasures was the theme for the January blog chain at the Absolute Writer Water Cooler forum.

"And what the heck is a blog chain?" you ask.

It's where a bunch of bloggers write on the same topic, and also comment on, and link to each others blogs.

Though I am not part of this blog chain (it's still going on), I had so much fun reading these that I wanted to share a few with you.

Here are three samples, enjoy! Fresh Hell , Lostwanderer5 , Lindzy1954

Do I have any guilty pleasures of my own? Sure! I am ashamed to admit that I am frequently on Youtube watching old 80ies music videos. What can I say? I grew up with MTV! Maybe worse, I like those stupid home videos where animals and kids do funny stuff. And being human, and female, I am not a stranger of clicking on Omg! (famous people gossip), or eating chocolate!

Which are your guilty pleasures?

Previous posts: I Found A New Blog For My Web Collection , How Many Books Are You Reading 2010?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shopping For An Alarm Clock, A Not So Obvious Milestone

When my daughter was a baby, I took pictures and documented every little step in her development, but as she has grown older my documentation has slowed down dramatically.

It's not like she isn't growing and developing anymore. She's only ten! But somehow, I've become more lazy, or maybe since I can't see the physical development happening as rapidly, I forget to look and don't notice. Am I a bad mother? Perhaps.

Now, I will rectify this poor behavior by writing down and sharing something that happened the other day. My daughter asked her dad if she could have her own alarm clock since she wanted to get up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings. This was after she asked him to wake her up earlier, and he said no.

My husband shared this with me, and asked if I could take her shopping. Well, you know! The first thing that crossed my mind was BOYS! My little baby wants extra time to fix her hair. Later, after some reflection, I realized how huge this was. She is taking a small step towards adulthood and trying to become independent. Ohh.., I was proud. (You can't see it, but I am wearing a great big smile as I am writing this.)

Soon it will be time to shop for bras and talk about those boys...

Previous posts: Do You Have A Tweenie At Home?
New Year's Resolutions Parents Need To Make For 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why A Pink LV Handbag Is Creating Political Turbulence In Sweden

Being Swedish, I try to keep up with what is going on at home by reading the leading national newspaper "Dagens Nyheter" on-line. I do this in the mornings, before it's time to head off to work. It's my quiet-cozy-relax-read and eat period of the day. I sit down with my cup of coffee and my two, open faced, cheese sandwiches (a typical Swedish breakfast!) and skim through the latest headlines.

This week, Dagens Nyheter has been busy covering the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. But the leading national story is centered around Mona Sahlin, the female leader of the (blue-collar) Social Democratic party, and her new, pink, and very expensive, Louis Vuitton handbag. There are several pictures of her with the pink LV bag dangling in her hand, walking alongside her political left-wing colleagues in the halls of the parliament.

As 2010 is an election year, the political parties are polishing their slogans and turning up the heat on their opponents. But what is the deal with this rather controversial handbag? First, Mona Sahlin is hoping to win this year's election and become the next Swedish Prime Minister. Second, Mona Sahlin has, by openly advertising her high income, stepped outside the cultural norm. But most importantly, is it possible to be a leader of a socialist-environmentalist (the "Green" party) coalition and also be a snob?

To understand this controversy, a brief description of the Swede is necessary. Swedes are suckers for luxury items just as much as Americans. But contrary to the the culture here, it's not socially acceptable for Swedes to "stick out". The mantra in Sweden is: "Don't show that you're poor. And for heaven's sake, don't show that you are rich." This is especially important if you're a public figure. Be "regular" and blend, is the golden rule. Moreover, Swedes are sticklers for following rules. From a world-perspective, Sweden passes environmental laws, always pays the right amount for its membership in the UN, and always takes the right number of refugees. Swedes are a bunch of goodie-two-shoes. They are people who always do what's right and (sometimes) not do what they're supposed to do!

Now, there is another side to this story. Mona Sahlin didn't buy the LV handbag with her own money. It was given to her when she turned 50. Also, the current Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, wears a Longines watch. But Reinfeld represents the conservative right, and he is a man, and his watch is discreetly hidden underneath his Hugo Boss suit cuff.

According to statistics from 2005, the average salary income in Sweden is roughly $2000 per month. I wonder how many Swedes have Googled "Louis Vitton handbags" and "Longines watches"?!

Previous posts: "Super snake" Fear In Florida.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How Many Books Are You Reading 2010? January Update

This year I have decided to try to read 15 books. We are already three weeks into January, and so far I am doing fair on my reading goal. I can report that I have finished 1,5 fiction books. The first one was Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand, see review below. And the second one, the one I didn't finish, was The Hobbit by J.J.R. Tolkien.

I really tried with The Hobbit. But after two renewals at the library, I finally gave up. Every time I was in the mood to read, my hand reached for another book, or a magazine. Life is too short to finish a book which isn't doing its job. Entertain me! Of course, I am not even thinking of checking out The Lord of the Rings.

Currently I am reading White Fang by Jack London, and two non-fiction books about running. Compared with The Hobbit, which was a disappointment, White Fang is climbing my personal Top Ten List. Jack London wrote like a poet. His metaphors and ways with words takes my breath away. I read and shiver form goosebumps. It's funny. I find myself re-reading passages because they're so beautiful. That's a first, actually, for me.

Book Review: Barefoot By Elin Hilderbrand.
Barefoot is a light and easy read. It's the perfect book to bring on a long plane ride, or for a lazy weekend in bed. It contains all the key chick-novel ingredients: romance, love, heartbreak, obsession, drama, and all sorts of twists and turns. I found myself quickly attached to Hilderbrand's characters, and they held my attention throughout the entire 504 pages.

A bit curious about Barefoot? Here is the back cover synopsis:
"---Vicki is trying to sort through the news that she has a serious illness. Her sister, Brenda, has just left her job after being caught in an affair with a student. And their friend Melanie, after seven failed in vitro attempts, is pregnant at last --but only after learning that her husband is having an affair. They have come to escape, enjoy the sun, and relax in the calming seaside air. But into the house [on Nantucket], into their world, steps a twenty-two-year-old Josh Flynn. --"

If you want to read this book, you can leave me a comment, and I'll mail you my copy!

Previous Posts: "What I Didn't Know About J.J.R. Tolkien" , "How Many Books Are You Reading 2010?"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Super snake" Fear In Florida

Snakes are a common sight for anyone who lives in Florida. This little snake, about two feet in length, I have identified as a (non-poisonous) Eastern Garter Snake. (It's possible that I am wrong, of course!)

I saw him (her?) laying dead in my street one morning when I was driving to work. Curiosity got the best of me, and I couldn't resist popping out of my car and take a picture.

Since there are six poisonous snakes in Florida, I have to be careful where I put my feet and hands when I am outside, or if I am rummaging around in my garage. Poisonous rattlesnakes are known to slither into warm and cozy human homes (hiding in laundry baskets, behind/inside dryers...).

But homes are not the only place where Floridians have to watch where they put their hands. Since I moved to Florida in 2007, I have read about two cases of Pygmy rattlesnake-bit-incidents at Walmart. Both of them occurred in the garden section, so be careful when you reach for those lovely Geraniums!

This morning when I was reading the news on-line, I came across the Latimes.com story about the new "Super snake" that lives in the Everglades. Its real name is African rock python. This monster gets bigger than the Burmese python which is another inhabitant of the Everglades. These are gigantic, hungry snakes. During a state-coordinated hunt last week, they found a female African rock python which was 14 feet long! And they can lunch on animals as big as goats and crocodiles, and even small children!

But what is the real problem with these big snakes? The Fort Collins Science Center gives a better overview of the real issue. In plain words, they're not as much of a threat to our pets and children as they are to the vulnerable Florida ecosystem. Because of how well they adapt and reproduce, they can live anywhere, grow quickly in numbers, and drive endangered animals to extinction.

Here is a summary:
1. Giant constrictors grow very fast (20 feet, 200 lbs), produce many offspring, and a females can store sperm and have more than a 100 fertilized eggs.
2. They are so called generalists which means they can live just about anywhere, even survive freezing temperatures.
3. They live in trees as young snakes and feed on birds.
4. Don't mind living in the city.
5. The are hard to see, "sit-and-wait" hunters.
6. They are hosts for parasites and diseases.

Sources:
http://hernando.fnpschapters.org/wildlife/snakes.htm
http://www.fort.usgs.gov/FLConstrictors/
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-super-snake15-2010jan15,0,6729623.story

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Don't Fall For The Temptation And Buy An El Cheapo Running Shoe

It was time to buy a new pair of running shoes. Last year during the after-Christmas-sale, I bought a pair of New Balance running shoes for 35 dollars at TJ Maxx. They've worked well, looked nice, and held together fine, until I became a more committed runner. This was a few months back, or November, to be more exact.

My cheapo New Balance weren't supporting my feet. As I increased my running distance and frequency, I began experiencing sore shins and calves, and my shoes started losing their form. It was time to decide whether I was a runner, or whether I was a runner. I decided; I was --a runner! In other words, it was time to invest in a real pair of running shoes (the expensive kind!).

Do your research before you buy a new pair of running shoes. You might not know this, but there is more to buying a running shoe than just stopping in at the closest Foot Locker. You have to find and buy the right kind of running shoe. Every foot is different, and it's important to find a shoe that supports it in the right places.

Where can you learn which running shoe is best for you? If you feel like learning the ins and outs about different kinds of feet and shoes, there are lots of articles on the Internet or in books on running. And there are several places on the Internet where you can find deals on running shoes. But If you are a first time buyer like I was, you might want to go to a shoe store and get fitted by an expert. Then, next time, when you know what you need, you can get the second pair off of the Internet.

Find a store which specializes in athletic shoes, or running shoes. They have people who can look at your feet and advice you on what kind of running shoe you need. A good pair of running shoes cost between 60-120 dollars. Spend the money! If you are serious about running you need shoes that will protect you from getting injured. Then you can be comfortable like me. My new shoes are great. My shins and calves are better, and it feels like I am running on a spongy mattress.

Previous Posts: "Want To Run Comfortably?" , "Why I Run"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Found A New Blog For My Web Collection!

When I was out hunting on the Web today, I stumbled upon a real blog-jewel! It was hiding as a link behind some words on a rather dull and disorganized author's blog (no names!). I was going exit when something told me to click on the link, and to my astonishment, it was a gateway to "The Positivity Blog" . The author is a Swede (!!!) named Henrik Edberg.

What's The Positivity Blog about? Check out his list of content!
-creating new and better habits;
-improving self-discipline;
-expanding your consciousness and realizing your possibilities;
-reducing procrastination;
-setting goals you can reach;
-learning to live in the present moment;
-understanding what is stopping you today from doing what you want;
-improving your people skills and relationships.

Does it seem like Mr Edberg has watched a few too many Oprah Winfrey shows? Maybe, but it's working. He has found his niche in the blogging-world.

Pop in and read some of his stuff. I am going to place a link to his blog in my sidebar. After all, he is a fellow countryman! (We're both Swedish.)

Previous posts: "What Should I Do With My Life?" , "I Have To Stop Trying To Write Perfect"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Many Books Are You Reading 2010?

Lost Wanderer's reading goal for 2010 is 75 books. That's an impressive pile of books. I wish that I could even come close, but it's just not possible. I'm such a slow reader. If I divide her list by 5, then it's still pushing my reading limit, but it's a list within my reach. Nobody said all the books had to be 500 pages, right? Thin books with large print must count?!

So here it is, my 2010 reading goal: Ann is reading 15 books this year.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What Is A Tag?

On Google's Blogger it's called a label, but tags and labels are the same thing.

So, why should you care what a tag is? You shouldn't, if you're not a blog writer. But if you are, you should care a lot. That is, if you want more traffic to your blog than from your closest friends and your mama.

Tags are keywords or phrases that represent the content in your blog post. They are the words that people place in SEARCH when they want to look up stuff on Google or Yahoo. Let us say, you have a dog, and he keeps doing his business inside, and you want to find out how to get him to hold himself until you take him out. Then you might pull up Google and type words like "housebreaking" + "dogs" + "training" and so forth, into the search window. Those words are tags!

On Google's Blogger, tags are placed in a special window underneath the compose window where you write your blog posts. It's called a label (Why the usage of different terms --you have to ask the Blogger people!).

With tags, quantity is important. More tags are better. We're talking 10-20 tags per post! (Blogger has a 200 character maximum!) And yes, it's a lot of work. But the more tags, the better the chances are that your post will be picked up by the Google, or Yahoo search engines, and bring those wanted readers your way!

Here are some examples of tags I will use for this lovely little post: tagging, tags, search engines, labels, blog tags, blogging, blog traffic, keywords, blog posts, find blog readers, optimization, search engine optimization, keyword phrases, links, description tags...

I show some of my tags in the sidebar, the upper right side of my front blog page. They're there to show Internet browsers, stopping-by-ers, what I am about. What I write about. They can click on tags that they find interesting and read my posts. On Google's Blogger, it's possible to choose a few representing tags (out of the growing bank of keywords) and place them in the side bar. It's very easy! You click on edit sidebar, the layout page, to do this.

Previous posts: "My Rookie Blogging Tips!", "How To Make A Word Into A Link"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Books On Writing. My Review List. 1

This is not a review list yet, but I hope that it will become one. As I read books on writing, I will post my reviews on them here, and tell you what I think.

First out is Stephen King's "On Writing".

Title: On Writing
Author: Stephen King
Rating (poor/fair/good/very good/excellent): Good!
Comments: The first half of this book are King's memoirs, and the second half are his views on the craft of writing. Somehow, this book-sandwich (two subjects slapped together inside the same book cover) didn't work for me, hence the low rating.
Favorite Quote (s):
"Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around.” (p.101)
"One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.” (p.117)
“The most interesting situations can usually be expressed as a What-if question: What if vampires invaded a small New England Village? ('Salem's Lot')” (p.169)

Previous posts: "What Should I Do With My Life?", "What I Didn't Know About J.R.R Tolkien"

Monday, January 4, 2010

Here I Go Again!

I submitted another poem. Now, I am nervous that I had beginner luck with "Unwanted Gift", my first submission and first publication. Rejection is crushingly painful, but something I have to learn to handle. My logic tells me I can take a rejection and keep sending a poem to different places until it finds a home, but my inner critic tells me to give up, and to stop embarrassing myself.

This new poem is called "Tattered Joe To-Go". It was inspired by a discovery my daughter and I made during a walk. We found a blanket and an empty milk carton on the ground. They looked "left" there, right next to a trash bin, underneath a bridge. It was just garbage, but it got us talking. What is life like for someone who is homeless?

Our conversation prompted my poem about a homeless man, Joe To-Go. I wanted to give a voice to the individual who had slept under the bridge. My mind tried to go there, wake up on the ground, wrapped in the blanket. Who am I? What was my night like? Where did I go after I awoke?

Previous posts: first publication, rejection.