Learning Curve

So I hate to brag but I’m writing this post from the iPad.

Many people will not know this but I’m married to a man whose idea of a romantic gift is a sexy piece of technology. Do you see me complaining? The only issues are: 1) the learning curve that comes along with the new piece of technology and 2) the frustration that accompanies that learning curve.

So far, though, so good with this one. There are things I’m figuring out about the iPad like taking work on the road etc etc and doing it from this little, light touchscreen object that are pretty exciting. Maybe I’ll keep a record here.

But maybe not. I like to be original. But let’s see whether this changes the way I write and read poetry. In keeping with Nic’s 10 Questions.

Fall Cleaning

It’s time I got my life in order. This semester was a good one, not too hectic, with manageable courses and reasonable marking. Next semester I may be back to teaching English which is a far heavier load when it comes to marking — no group presentations and papers, and you have to read each word carefully and help students figure out their weaknesses.

I have been suffering from online snafus for the better part of a year now and have decided to take control. So I’ve begun! I’m going through my emails and am streamlining, streamlining. I’m gonna make enable the checking of mail from my iPhone at last (been ducking that because of all the high-class JUNQUE that I have been getting in my email boxes). I’m reconsidering my subscriptions to various RSS feeds and rethinking how I’m gonna follow them. I may even retool how I’m going to deal with the various blogs I have, which are mushrooming. Addicted to blogging, that’s what I am.

Continue reading

So long, MJ?

I’m not normally starstruck. And when my husband told me, twenty minutes ago, that Michael Jackson had been found not breathing at his home, having suffered cardiac arrest, I didn’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for him.

The reason? I’ve been convinced for the last twenty years or so that Michael Jackson died after Thriller, and that the person we’ve been calling MJ is the clone.

But now that the word is out that they couldn’t revive him, that he might be dead, it’s hit me. This is the boy who sang me through my childhood. Fine, so he was four years older than me, and Randy is closer to my age, but Michael Randy ain’t, and fifty is way too young to die.

Course, if it was the clone … well, as anybody knows, copies lose quality as they replicate, and lose length of life. So fifty for a clone …

Subtropic March

Tried to post this last week, when the air was still clear like bells and the sky was being washed not swaddled by clouds, when the birds hadn’t started their return journeys yet. It’s been unusually cool all season; but yesterday the weather broke and rain came. And not the rain that precedes cold fronts, but real summery rain complete with heavy air and thick sleepiness.

Summer is upon us now.

Where are the sounds of spring? Ay, where are they?

Summer is here

93 degrees F and plenty of humidity.

May is usually the first month of the rainy season.  No rain yet — is this the drought returning or is it just that the rains are taking long to come?  Definitely plenty of humidity, though sitting outside on the porch feeling the breeze — blowing from the south-west, the trades have turned — is pleasant.

We just turned on the air conditioning.  It’s the first time for the year   Because oil prices are now so high we have been putting it off.  We’ve spent two afternoon/evenings in our pool (new enough to still have us broke) but you can’t sleep in the pool.  We’re testing the air conditioner tonight.

More in the morning.

StupidFilter :: Main / FAQ


StupidFilter :: Main / FAQ

Sometimes I follow the links that WordPress helpfully leaves at the bottom of my wp-admin page on my privately hosted blogs.

Today I did that with regard to a so-called StupidFilter, and got interested in the whole idea.

In short, it would appear that stupid comments are categorizable. The method used to identify them is questionable (of course) but still. It’s an interesting idea.Here’s CNN Money on the subject:

The stupid-filter team is trying to accommodate this behavior with a variety of rules of thumb. For instance, Ortiz, who studied linguistics as an undergrad, recently noticed a pattern in the way some writers use letter repetition. The clueless tend to repeat consonants: “This video is amazinggggg!!!” By comparison, says Ortiz, “when you repeat a vowel, you’re being sarcastic — ‘Yeaaaaaah.’ We’ll be using several different methods to try to mediate this.”The first line of defense is context — using well-established markers of standard English to judge a piece of writing. For instance, if the rest of the sentences in a comment are grammatical, and difficult words are spelled properly — Ortiz mentioned “zucchini,” which I had to look up — the message ought to get by the filter. If the rest of the comment is unintelligible, it will be screened.

Controversial? Yeah. Elitist? Sort of the point. Cool?

You betcha.

What kind of writer am I?

You Should Be a Film Writer
You don’t just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.

You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.

Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.

And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

What Type of Writer Should You Be?

Well. Let me just say this.

There weren’t the right answers in that test. I don’t know who made it up, but they need to read. More.

So there.

Film??? Hollywood? Ptui!

Borderline Manic



It’s official.

I have been Diagnosed.

Last night, my uncle-the-psychiatrist informed me that I’m borderline manic, whatever that means.

All I did was announce that I want to take all of the next generation of cousins to Disney World. There are seven of them, ranging in age from 13 to 3, not counting my brother’s son, who’s 4 months and nowhere near weaned.

What’s so manic about that?

I gotta thank Scotty for this one



Forget about donating your body to science after you die. Donate your body to art.Full-body Thomas Peipert / AP file

A full-body “plastinate” is displayed at Gunther von Hagens’ “Body Worlds” exhibit in Dallas. The show, which puts real human specimens on display, has been fiercely criticized. Von Hagens, depicted in the background, insists he’s helping viewers understand how their own bodies work.

Well, medical art, that is. Here’s how you do it: Continue reading

Magic in the hands

This post, by Perry on Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, illustrates pretty well what I mean by knowledge that we don’t know in our heads. She describes how she does her daughters’ hair this way:

My husband does not understand it, but when I first begin braiding I actually have to concentrate. I cannot discuss what I want to have for dinner that evening, or laugh at a witty commercial on TV, or opine about the merits of one summer camp over another. The simple rote act of correctly crossing three strands of hair to make neat rows of crop-like patterns requires all of my PhD-bound brain power.

Often I must comb out unsuccessful rows and begin anew. Almost always, my first attempts at sectioning hair into parts with the tip of my pink rat-tailed comb are ragged and rough. Sometimes early on I try to rush the process, combing through a section of hair before all the tangles are out–resulting in predictable pain and cries.

I have been known to poke a patient little girl in the ear lobe or eye with a comb, brush, or thumb.

Continue reading

I drive like a guy

and a girl.

Your Driving Is is: 55% Male, 45% Female

According to studies, you drive both like a guy and a girl.
This means you’re a pretty average driver, with typical quirks.
Occasionally you’re frustrated and or a little reckless, but that’s the exception – not the norm.

All true, except that last bit. Occasionally isn’t the right adverb.



67 snob points (out of 100)
You have a mighty respect for the English language, and its tortuous misuse by the uneducated burns your soul. You can barely restrain yourself from grammatical vigilantism. You often find your friends pre-emptively apologizing for their language goofs, fearing your wrath, or at least merciless teasing.
My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on snobbery

Link: The Grammar Snob Test written by dbang on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I want me one of these

The latest in fall fashion

An invisibility cloak that works in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum has been unveiled by researchers in the US. The device is the first practical version of a theoretical set-up first suggested in a paper published earlier in 2006.

The cloak works by steering microwave light around an object, making it appear to an observer as if it were not there at all. Materials that bend light in this way do not exist naturally, so have to be engineered with the necessary optical properties.

“Materials that bend light in this way do not exist naturally.” No duh.

Just another Monday morning. Anybody got a pill to make it go away?

Know your Bible

You know the Bible 100%!


Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses – you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Hell. I figured if Harry the Atheist could get 92%, I must be able to beat that.

Good to see my upbringing was not in vain.

But Harry is right — it’s much too easy a quiz. And (not to be a pedant, but) it’s not entirely accurate either. Some questions have two correct answers.

And Baalam’s transportation was an ass.

Sick Day

which probably explains why I felt it profitable to be distracted by shiny, silly things like this:

What American accent do you have?

Your Result: The Northeast



Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.




The Inland North



The Midland



The South






The West



North Central



What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Shiny and silly, I say, because I am not, and have never been, an American.

That said, there are plenty of connections between my country and the USA that go back well into the wells of time. The two countries were permanently settled by people from beyond these continents (are my politics correct enough?) within 30 years of one another — 1621 for the US, 1648 for The Bahamas. The settlers were nonconformists. Ours depended on the kindness of stranger-relatives in the Carolinas for years. So there’s really no surprise that my “American” accent is similar to the north-east. It’s probably even closer to Boston, when it’s not masking itself with generic British, and when it’s not getting mistaken for more southern West Indian.

(I do not, under any circumstances, say “mon”. God. Maan, more like.)

Now this, in the main, has a ring of truth to it:

What mental disorder do you have?

Your Result: OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)



You have odd obsessions that you cannot seem to control. You may even perform rituals to make you feel better. Counting and continuously obsessing over things happens frequently.

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)






GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)



Manic Depressive



What mental disorder do you have?

I’m not paranoid. Stop looking at me like that.

Some interesting links

The “Poe Toaster” strikes again

For the 58th straight time, a mysterious Poe toaster left an enigmatic tribute at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe this morning, the most faithful viewer of the event said …

Starting in 1949, a frail figure made the visit to Poe’s grave. In 1993 the original visitor left a cryptic note saying, “The torch will be passed.” A later note said the man, who apparently died in 1998, had handed the tradition on to his sons.

Poe, who wrote poems and horror stories such as “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” was born in Boston and raised in Richmond, Va. He died Oct. 7, 1849, in Baltimore at the age of 40 after collapsing in a tavern.

And this one, thanks to Harry:

Taryn Simon documents spaces that are integral to Amerian’s foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience. She has photographed rarely seen sites from domains including: science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security and religion. Photographed with a large format view camera (except where prohibited), Simon’s 70 color plates form a seductive collection that reflects and reveals a national identity.

The end of the year

Everywhere I look in the cosmoblog, people are posting posts that reflect on the year that has gone before or on the year to come.  There’s Rob’s, there’s Hedgie’s, there’s Alan’s, there’re Frank’s links, there’s Harry’s, there’s Smoog’s (!), there’s oh dear heaven, so many many retrospectives.

I’m not ga do one.

Instead, I’ll ridicule this story.  And I quote:

Harry Potter’s arch enemy, Lord Voldemort, is odds-on favourite to kill off the boy wizard in the final instalment of the series. …  A William Hill spokesman said: “… the general consensus seems to be that Harry is the final Horcrux and to ensure that Voldemort dies he will need to be sacrificed.”

It’s got to be a publicity stunt.  No writer in her right mind would end a series like the Potter series like that.

Harry Potter’s all about redemption.  So somebody good is going to die.  I won’t predict now, not until the release of the book is imminent, but I know who I’d kill off if I were Rowling.  And it wouldn’t be Harry.  The hero has to live.  It could; but this is a series of book for children, so the hero will live, though not unchanged.

Not much ridicule, but there it is.

Why the Internet is messing up Christmas

Santa and Reindeer Well, because of all sorts of things, not least of which has been described in this post, which had me laughing out loud.

Course, I don’t have any kids, otherwise I might’ve not laughed quite so hard. Still, as my nephew (5 years old) confided to me that he spoke to Santa on the telephone, I’m not sure that it would make a whole lot of difference to him; children know that they understand the world better than grown-ups, and they are of course right.

Maybe the problem is that more and more people have only one kid, which means that they believe that they can keep the silly-Santa thing going longer than it actually ought to. (By the silly-Santa thing, I’m talking about the idea that Santa actually exists on the same plane of reality as everybody else, which, as any child knows, is palpable nonsense.) If Google Earth doesn’t do the trick, somebody’s big brother or neighbour or cousin or friend-at-school will do it. The thing is, if a child’s belief in Santa is destroyed by his or her learning that Santa doesn’t live on our planet, then they were half-ruined to begin with. Every sensible child knows that Santa lives in the same world as their “imaginary” friends, who are not imaginary at all, but visitors from another reality, like Peter Pan, the Tooth Fairy, and Alice’s White Rabbit.

And then there’s this.

The trouble with all of this panic is that our assumptions are so small. Everybody with good sense knows that Santa doesn’t live at this North Pole; every sensible person in the world knows that the Arctic Ocean is exactly that, an ocean. Everybody (who isn’t European, who have their own misconceptions about Santa Claus, who lives alternately in Finland or Greenland) with good sense knows that there is a parallel world inhabited by Lost Boys, fairies tooth-collecting and otherwise, Puss in Boots, Santa, flying reindeer, workshop elves, leprechauns, unicorns, gryphons, and other magical beings, and that there are holes in our world that get us there and back. And everybody with good sense knows that ordinary physics and geography just haven’t got the tools to discover the ways into that world.

Merry Christmas.

How to bring this blog to life again

Maybe I need to post some information on the progress of the novels.

Here’s what I said on NaNoWriMo a day or so ago, discussing a mini-block:

Before I started writing this morning, I was totally lost, that the novel was floundering because, though I should be moving towards the high point, more and more suspects just keep popping up their heads and waving their hands and saying “See me here!” And when I was writing that I was 3000+ words behind.

But I sat down and started to write. Not all of it was good, I promise you. A lot of it was repetition — I’d done the same thing before, earlier in the week, But as I wrote, something happened. I found out who the murderer was! And it came to me so naturally it was as though I really and truly was solving the mystery myself.

I think this ending is going to be better (messier, for sure, but better) than the ending of Night Into Day, where I knew all along who the murderer was but where I cannot for the life of me figure out yet why he murdered two people the way he did. That book is going to take work — and it was the favourite of the three, if you can imagine. So, of course, will this one; but though I liked this one least, it has come off best so far.


NaNoWriMo is the best thing I know for breaking writer’s block. The need to write almost 2000 words a day overcomes all obstacles, from lack of inspiration to the writing of complete dreck. Dreck can always be deleted. The point is to write.

So maybe I’ll start writing about writing. I know this is boring. I’ll try to keep it a little lively.

Broke 40,000 today. I would like to break 42,000, as I have only 5 days left to write and I want to take some of the pressure off later.

Well, there it is.


See, I wouldn’t do this for anybody else, but this meme came from home (Home, Bahamas), from zonk, and so I’ll succumb. I was tagged on my moribund livejournal blog, which is very near to being made redundant, so I directed people here.

So here goes.

1. When I was seven I started a series of adventure novels about a group of teenagers called the Tremendous Ten. I created their books out of a large sketch-pad () by folding it four times so that I had books that were 32 pages long. Then I drew the covers of the books and illustrated them. I imagine that was the way I outlined in those days. Nancy Drew meets Secret Seven. I kept writing those books until I was about twelve (that was the last time I remember writing them), though I graduated to making them out of 8 1/2 x 11 typing paper folded over and stapled down the side. I always illustrated them first, and then hoped to finish the stories later. The first book, which introduced the characters, was a kidnapping caper. The heroine, who was rich and spoiled and thoroughly unlikeable (and telling the story in the first-person singular too) was kidnapped and rescued by the down-to-earth po’ boy who’d just been ridiculed for getting a scholarship to attend her swanky school.

Oh, and. Most of the main characters were white. When I was seven, I had yet to see a main character in anything who wasn’t.

Fat Albert was a few years down the road.

2. I grew up communicating with alter egos. These were not the same as imaginary friends, because I turned into them when I went to sleep, or when I imagined myself having a different life from the one I was already in. The first one, and my favourite, was a tall tough guy. You must forgive me; I met him when I was, oh, five or so. He hung around until I got to high school, but he left me when I got my first boyfriend.

3. I wanted to be a horsewoman and own a stable. I talked my way into riding lessons when I was 11 and fell in love with two ponies at the stables I rode at: a bay mare (an inveterate kicker) and a tough-minded dun. Two years later, when the dun was up for adoption, I wanted to adopt him. My father wouldn’t let me; he was looking ahead, and worried about burying him when he died. I never adopted my pony. I no longer ride.

I’d like to, though.

4. When I was 12 I started another series of novels, a trilogy. These were fantasy novels, set somewhere imaginary, or in the future, at a time of war. The story was told from three different perspectives, the perspectives of three different individuals from three different parts of the empire (there are always empires in these things). I kept writing that throughout high school and finally stopped when I went to university.

5. I like onions. I really, really like onions. Always have. When I was very small (5, 6) my favourite sandwich was made of white bread (the local equivalent of Wonder Bread), mayonnaise (had to be Hellman’s), iceberg lettuce, and onions.

Lettuce and onion sandwiches. Yum.

So now. I shall pass this on, as I’m supposed to. Let’s see:

Hedgie (this I really want to see)

A little something while on vacation

Culled from Julie.

Dylan Thomas! You scored 75 Demeanour, 63 Debauchery, 54 Traditionalism, and 90 Expression!
Man! Do you love to party or what! If it’s not fun, you probably haven’t done it in a while. But that doesn’t mean you’re not serious about some things. You are a person with deep passions and a respect for beauty and craft. The world is a better place for having you in it. Too bad you won’t be around that long. Drink up! You’re masterpiece is “Under Milkwood”.
My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Demeanour
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Debauchery
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Traditionalism
free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Expression

Link: The Which Famous Poet Are You Test written by Torontop on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Well, no duh

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?



I’ve been tinkering with blogs all day, off and on, in between playing that awful game somebody posted a link to (I think it was at PFFA) — a challenge and an addiction. I am developing carpal tunnel finger.

The blog thing is an addiction too. The magic of immediate responses never really goes away. Like letters in the olden days, only faster.

Blessing. Curse. Blessing and curse, to paraphrase Adrian Monk.

Good night. I have to work tomorrow. In my nice yellow office in the nice historic building.

I need to get me a plant.


Well if you want a cliché title, that’s it. Summertime, and the livin’ is easy — not. Not that it isn’t easy, but around here, summer’s the nasty season.

Unless you’re a schoolkid, of course.

Summer in Nassau is hot and muggy and (this year, finally) rainy. We are having a lovely wet summer, and things are as they should be. Today was thundery, and I was happy I married a man who must live in air conditioning (we don’t talk about what he would do if he’d been born 100 years ago. I suppose what we don’t know doesn’t hurt us.). For some reason I shan’t do too much to discover, the electricity went off twice today — once for an unusually long time (two hours or so) and then again briefly. When it goes off, of course the internet cable hook-up goes too. Sometimes the power cut is localized which means that if we crank up the generator (a recent purchase, the fruit of three hurricanes and too many weeks without power) we can get back online. Today, though, the power seemed to have been turned off all over the island, with the result that the internet nodes were down.

So I’m sitting here, surfing the net, half thinking about poetry and killing mosquitoes. I have become quite accomplished at the last task. I can kill them with one clap, usually — especially when they hover against a bright background. I have blood all over my hands.

Eating Meat

Last night, for reasons I don’t particularly want to divulge, hubby and I went out for dinner. I wanted to sink my teeth into some red meat, and so I ordered some. As I ate it (it was delicious, done perfectly, exquisitely seasoned, and finished off with gorgonzola — a heart attack in every bite) I found myself thinking about this thread over at PFFA.

But I must say this. That as I chewed the meat — which melted rather in my mouth, and which was absolutely divine — I thought, in a most wayward fashion, how good those antibiotics and steroids tasted between the lips.