Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Da-da-da-da Da Da

That title to this post is a trumpet fanfare, just in case any one didn't figure it out.

Some readers may know that I consider myself an aspiring writer.  I have many of stories and settings and characters rattling around in my brain waiting for me to have time and focus in order that they may eventually land on paper.

I have to pat myself on the back a bit, though, because I'm very tickled.  I've now officially been paid for my writing.

I had a blast doing it.  I feel kind of bad taking money for something I enjoyed doing.  But Joe has urged me to add up my expenses and time.  The compensation is adequate.   But nothing to feel guilty about.

I might add that I don't feel guilty enough to return the check.  It will help pay for a fair portion of the little summer vacation upon which we'll be embarking in a few days.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writing, Researching, and Geocaching

A month or so ago, I was asked to write a story for the Northwest Regional Library for one of their summer reading programs.  This sounds like it will be a really fun program, when they get it all up and running.  In conjunction with the area state parks, the libraries hope to offer an Intro to Geocaching class.  The librarians have commissioned mystery stories, one for each park involved, to teach a bit of the history of the area of each respective state park.

The kids who attend the class will receive the initial part of the story, and after finding a series of caches will eventually find the end of the story.  I think this is a really great idea.  What a fun way to learn a little state history and get some fresh air at the same time.  And it also encourages people to make use of Minnesota's excellent state park system.

I was assigned Lake Bronson State Park.  I took a day off from motherhood and my other various vocations.   I escaped to latitudes further north yet than those I generally frequent.  I suppose, technically, Lake Bronson is within the same 48 degree latitude as our home.  Even though it takes an hour and a half to get there, latitudianlly speaking, it's approximately 46 minutes further north.  

After my hour and a half drive northward, I spent a day exploring the area around Lake Bronson and its history.  This task was made much easier due to the wonderful help of Cindy at the Kittson County Historical Society.  They have a fantastic museum up there.  Really.  I could hardly believe the extent of their collection.  The museum is in Lake Bronson and is free to the public but donations are accepted.

Eventually I got my little story done, thanks to Jolene at the library and others for their help in keeping it to the requisite maximum length story.  I originally thought it was Winston Churchill who once apologized for writing a long letter. But I see a couple of different phraseologies of the same idea attributed to Blaise Pascal in his Lettres Provinciales, "I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter."  (Boy, how embarrassing to have wrongly attributed this saying in the past.)

At any rate, I got the story done, had great fun with my day off for researching, and finally, I decided I should find out what geocaching is all about.   I'm not going to explain it here, since the web site listed below does it so much better.  But I'll just say it's a global GPS treasure hunt using Latitude and Longitude coordinates.

When we were at the library recently, Joe pointed out The Joy of Geocaching, by Paul and Dana Gillin.  I was reading it the other day on the way to a family outing at St. Hilaire City Park.  (Yes, Joe was driving.) We picnicked and the kids played and Joe fished.  After cleaning up, I took a little walk/run around the park.

When I got home, I checked the website to see whether there were any geocaches in this area of Minnesota.  Wow.  There are a bunch, including two in the St. Hilaire City Park.  Weird.  I probably was very near them during my walk/run.

But I had not yet gotten my geocaching act together.  Now I have.  Or at least I'm in the process of getting it together.  I have printed up the info on the two geocaches in St. Hillaire in case we are again at the park.  I've also printed up several other clusters of caches in other areas that we frequent, so when we have a few extra minutes we can do a little searching.  (There are two in Lengby, Amy; and four in Red Lake Falls, Laura.)

But today, yes today, I found my first cache.  Dustin and Adam at Carco put two new tires on the van.  (Thanks, you guys are great.)  On the way home, we detoured to see if we could find the Twin Pines cache near Cross Lake.   I really hate to have to admit, but...Joe found it first.  But I was right there on the cusp of the find.  Joe, however, does not have the geocache user name.  I do.  Hee, hee.

The cache by the Neptune Bridge has us stymied.  I was over there with Elsie the other day searching, and again today with Joe.  But it is surely well hidden.  Yes, David and Darlene, that is us tramping around across the river from you.

So we have a new family hobby.  I hope it is something we can all enjoy.  Perhaps we can take some coordinates along when we go on our vacation to the North Shore in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lots of nothing

I feel like I should write a post.  I have many thoughts and many posts rattling around in my brain, but they aren't coming together into any sensical form this morning.  But I can at least get a few updates written.

On the exercise front, I got rid of my exercise minutes ticker.  I really did finish it, but it wasn't important enough to me right now to update it.

I changed my miles to run ticker to indicate miles run by the end of summer.  I'm still plugging along, but much more slowly than I at first had wanted.

If anyone cares, I did have more quotes from the aforementioned book to post, but I'm tired of it.  Too many other things to spend my time on.   For those who are interested, the quotes are from Courage and Consequence by Karl Rove.  I will probably post a review on my Books blog when I finish it, but so far I'm only about 2/3 of the way done.  I've been reading lazy books lately and only picking up Rove's book once or twice a week.  I'm in the Iraq War part.  I find that reading it gets to be too much for me sometimes.  I don't enjoy re-living all the sadness of 9/11 and the later political fallout.  On the one hand, I want to just forge ahead and be done with the book; on the other hand, there are times I can't bring myself to pick it up.

The book is well written and often cracks me up.  It also often saddens me.  The world is very evil.  Rove includes a very extensive bibliography.  Anything a reader wants to check up on is cited.  The style of citation, however, is one to which I am not accustomed.  There are no foot note numbers.  But the various quotes are partially re-quoted in the back and then the full reference is given.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dawning of Political Interest Quotes

More quotes from the previous author.  More clues...  Keep guessing.

This first quote could have gone with yesterday's, because it too, exhibits a little bit of that childhood nerdiness that tickles me.  But I saved it for the dawning of political interest post.
At the age of nine, I declared I was for Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.  I got my hands on a Nixon bumper sticker, slapped it on my bike's wire basket, and rode up and down the block as if that alone would get him a vote.
The following two quotes are of those "blow my mind" types.  I am always a little bit in awe when I hear about someone who, not only was very bright in school, but who had ambition enough to put those brains to use in unusual and sometimes quite amazing ways. I just over year ago read the following book. 
At the age of thirteen...I had Goldwater buttons, stickers, and poster, a raggedy paperback copy of Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative, and even a bright gold aluminum can of "Au H2O," a campaign artifact that played on the candidate's last name.
And the two books listed in this final quote I still haven't managed to plow completely through.
Economics came on my radar screen when I was twelve or thirteen, When someone gave me a copy of Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman, one of the greatest defenders and advocates of capitalism....Reading Friedman led me to next plow through Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.  The pin maker, the division of labor, and the "invisible hand"--all of it made sense to me.
It makes me feel a bit under accomplished.  When I was thirteen, I don't really know what I was reading.  Nancy Drew, maybe.  Certainly nothing with any academic heft.  I always got good grades, but I was lazy enough to avoid any real work.  Shame on me!  But alas, that is perhaps why I will never be in the center of great world events. 

However, when I put on my "heavenly values glasses", raising a family is most definitly being in the center of a great world event.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Call Me Self Righteous,...

but some people have no conscience. 

I got a forward today that sounded too good to be true.  Turned out it was.  It was a pdf alleging to be of six coupons from FritoLay each for a bag of Doritos worth up to $5.00.  These could then be printed continuously and used until 12/31/10.

I thought this was a pretty generous offer and couldn't imagine how FritoLay could make money offering something like that.  So I did a little bit of checking.  Sometimes when I suspect a hoax, I really have to search to find out the truth.  Other times has already checked it out for me and their result pops up on a quick google search.  But this time there were tons of hits.  I was curious to know what others were saying about these coupons, so I opened up a bunch of sites to satisfy my curiousity.

Come to find out, internet circulated coupons constitute a huge area of fraud.  The problem is extensive enough that the CIC, which is a coupon use watch dog group established in the 80s, keeps a data base of all the fraudulent coupons floating around.  Many stores no longer accept even legitimate on-line coupons because they cannot usually tell the difference.

I just can't believe that people create these fake coupons and send them everywhere.  I also found a thread on a message board debating the morality of using them after one has found out they are fraudulent.  This just fries me.  Do people think Doritos grow on trees?

So, don't use internet circulated coupons without checking up on them.  You may inadvertently be committing a crime.

And do check out the above link.  You will be amazed at all the commonly used products for which there are fake coupons floating around.  Many companies offer rewards for finding the perpetrator.

Excellent Nerd Quotes

From what recently released book are these quotes?

The context of this first quote is part of a description of a summer job in the county clerk's office between the author's junior high and high school years.
The process of government was thrilling.  I spent most of my time filing crime and divorce papers, but I also watched trials and county commission meetings and even sat in on the Board of Equalization, though I couldn't figure out what they were talking about, other than that it had to do with money and taxes.  I was fascinated by county government and read whatever I could find about the esoteric disputes of county government theory.
This quote shares with readers the story of a teacher, a Mr. Tolman, who stretched his students' political vistas.
As luck would have it, he was my teacher in 1968, and he made sure I kept up with all that year's earth-shattering events.  But he also took me aside and in his prim, proper manner told me that if I wanted an A, I had to get involved in a political campaign.  At the time, I was a little over five feet tall, had glasses with thick frames, wore hush puppies, and carried a briefcase.  A's mattered a lot to me.
I find great joy in these quotes.  Aren't we all just a little geeky in our own way?  And this author was eventually in the center of major world events in spite of his nerdy youth.  What hope!