Friday, November 28, 2008

Late to the game

Okay, so it's already noon...ish here on Black Friday, but that doesn't mean I can't still post about some Black Friday deals.  So, full disclosure here:  Yes, I am an Amazon Associate, which means I get credit if you click through my links and buy stuff.  I try to keep my links to stuff that I actually like and am interested in and not spam my readers with links for random crap just for the monetary opportunities.  That said, here is a link to's Black Friday deals.  (Hey, it's Black Friday.  I'm jumping on the monetary opportunities bandwagon.)  They have Deals of the Day and Lightening Deals, all kinds of fun stuff!  So, if you were planning on doing some shopping at anyway, you might as well show me a little love and do it from here!  :-)  

Also, has this thing called Amazon Customers Vote, which I had not heard of before but apparently they have done it in the past.  How it works is, they have six rounds, each round features 3 deals, and you vote on which deal you would like to have the chance to participate in.  From the voting pool, they will send emails out to randomly selected people, offering them the chance to participate in the race to buy.  So, there will be more participants than deals, and you have to hurry your butt over to to try to get the deal that you want.  I know I am not explaining this very well, so just go check it out yourself.  Some of the deals I am not that excited about, but Round 6 has a KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer (licorice) available for $69.00.  That is a freakin' deal, my friends!  Some other deals include a Samsung 46-inch 1080p HDTV for $699.00, a Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder, 60-minutes (black) for $49.00, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector's Edition for $50.00 (there are 1,000 of these available, and the first 35 will be signed by J.K. Rowling).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tesla Roadster still $109,000

Dang!  I was hoping the price would drop on these like it has on all of my stocks.  Cuz, you know, then I would be able to pick one up for the bargain price of $60,000.  HAHAHAHAHAHA! Hey, a girl can dream.  According to this article,** however, the Roadster seems to be holding its value.  Perhaps the guys from GM, Ford, and Chrysler could talk to the Tesla guys about developing an electric jet.  Seems to me that would be a win-win situation for everybody!   

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, go check out the Tesla Roadster. It's all electric, and it's HOTT!  The Prius is great and all, but it looks like a hamster.  Not that there's anything wrong with hamsters.  I talked about the Roadster before here, and if anyone wanted to give me one for Christmas, I would gladly add him (or her) to my list of people I wouldn't kick in the shins.

*BONUS*  I was searching for pictures of hamsters and I ran across this, which is super cute! and this which ties in nicely with the whole green revolution theme that I've sort of got going on here.  This is the kind of innovation our country needs, people!  Exercise your hamster, shred your documents, and create fresh bedding for your hamster all without using any electricity!

**1/13/09-I know this article was written on December 28, 2008, but the article that I had originally linked to seems to have disappeared, so I went in search of another.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's big purple suit time!

That's right, every year about this time, I pull out my big purple suit*.  Because I get cold.  Laugh at me all you want, but for me 72 degrees with a breeze blowing in off the mountains is cold.  The fuzzy socks are more of an all-purpose, year-round thing.  They make me feel like a Muppet, which is fun.     

*The big purple suit is basically a sleeping bag with leg holes and arms, and it's awesome!  It's like one of those footie sleepers that you used to wear as a kid but without the feet.  I wonder if I could wear this on the airplane. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thoughts on my Kindle

Okay, I've been meaning to do this for a while now, and with the shopping season upon us, I figured now might be a good time to put out a review.  

We have had our Kindle for almost a year now.  I think I will just break it down simply into Likes and Dislikes.  (All links below are to the Kindle versions of those items unless otherwise noted).


The Lookup feature-I didn't realize how many words I just sort of skim over because I don't really know what they mean.  Let's say you're reading along and you come across a word you don't know.  You can put your cursor on the sentence containing the word and hit Lookup.  You will then get a page that has the definitions of all the words in that sentence, well, all the major words anyway.  You don't get bombarded with definitions for pronouns, proper names, etc.  Once you are done reading, you select Close and you are back to the page that you were on which contained the troublesome word, which, if you are like me, you will promptly forget the meaning of as soon as you move on to the next sentence.

It's easy to read-The electronic paper is not all glare-y like a computer screen-it really is very much like reading actual paper-and you can easily adjust the text size (6 sizes to choose from, so to give you a Blogger equivalent, you can go from this to a little bit larger than this).

Automatic bookmarking-You can manually bookmark pages, but the Kindle will automatically remember where you left off if you spaz out and go to the main menu in the middle of your reading or set the Kindle down and forget about it and it powers off, which I am prone to do.

Options-Thanks to the wide variety of titles available from the Kindle Store you can go on vacation and have a mystery,romance,a biography,the latest book in the Twilight series, The Wall Street Journal,and all your favorite Dickens stories to choose from all without having to pay an extra baggage fee or hauling around a 93-pound carry on!   

Samples-You can get samples of books that you are interested in so that you don't have to commit to buying the whole thing, sight-unseen, as it were.  Sometimes this is a whole first chapter, sometimes not, but it's usually enough to let you know if you want to buy the book or not.   Magazine,blog,and newspapersubscriptions also come with a 14-day free trial period.

The newly-available Kindle book covers-The original book cover
only has a small tab and two corner pieces to hold the Kindle in place.  These worked ok, but not great.  Sometimes the Kindle would fall out and land on your face if, say, you were reading in bed with the book over your head.  (I never had this problem, but my husband always seemed to be close to losing an eye to the Kindle).  The new covers have 3 leather corners with a 4th elastic-and-leather corner that you can use or not and an overall classier design, in my opinion.  Also, my husband is now much safer.  


The newly-available book covers-While these are an improvement over the original, they still aren't terribly comfortable for long-term reading.  The edges are hard, and there is still nowhere to rest your hands that doesn't promote the accidental turning of pages.  The hard edges thing would be fine, after all books are the same way, but since you have to be cautious of the accidental page turning, you have to hold it weird, and that makes it uncomfortable.

Bad Ergonomics-See above.  You can use the Kindle without its book cover, but I think that makes it even more uncomfortable.  There just needs to be an extra inch or so of neutral space on each side where you can rest your hands.  Better yet if they would make a cover with some extra space, perhaps even a padded edge.  I'm a fairly small-handed gal; I don't know how people with big hands use these things.

No actual page numbers-The Kindle has locations, not pages.  For example, I just opened up to page 1 of Chapter 1 of The Reincarnationist,and the location is 158-64.  When I go to the next page, it is location 164-70.  What the hell is that???  If I change the font size to the next smaller font, page 1 becomes location 158-65, and page 2 is 165-73.  How are you supposed to quote anything like that?  I understand that it is hard to put page numbers on something when the pages aren't static-page 1 is going to end in a different spot depending on whether the font is 8 pt. or 14 pt. (or whatever the options are-I can't seem to find that information anywhere) I still don't like the locations vs. pages thing.  I don't know how to solve that issue, but I'm thinking if they can put a man on the moon, they can figure out how to put pages on the Kindle.  

The back burner effect-I have many good books and samples waiting for me on my Kindle, but I always have library books, and since those have deadlines, I read those first.  Also, I am reluctant to spend the money to get a Kindle book Now! when I know I can get it at the library if I am patient.  For something that was such an investment, I feel like I should use it more than I do.  I have been reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,for months now, and I am enjoying it and want to get back to it, but I have other stuff that I feel obligated to read first.   

There are a lot of other features that people love/hate about the Kindle, but these are the ones that are relevant to me.  If you've been on the fence about getting one, I hope I've helped inspire you one way or the other!  If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and I'll do my best to answer them.     

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday traffic

I took this as I was sitting in traffic because I was impressed with how high up the guy in the cherry picker was.  I was hoping to capture the blur of the street lights moving in order to show how windy it was, and I was kind of bummed when I was able to examine a perfectly clear enlarged view of this picture at home.  Then I noticed the street sign!

I took this as I was sitting (okay, driving) in traffic on my way home...(and talking on the phone.  Don't tell my mother-she'd have a heart attack.  I was being very conscientious though, you know, for somebody with no hands on the wheel.)  I didn't even realize I had the bird in the picture until I got home and was able to look at my pictures on the computer.  (And, in case you're curious, the cheap gas is $2.89).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


As I was driving home yesterday, I noticed a crowd gathered by the side of the road.  They all appeared to be looking at something on the beach. Huh, must be a monk seal, I thought.  Sure enough!

Not all that impressive from here, I know, but there are only about 1,200 of them left and apparently sightings are fairly rare (even though we see them a couple times a year on our beach!)

See?  She's a little cuter now that we're closer.  That's about how I feel after a day in the water!  (Also, we're not really closer, I'm just zooming in.  Don't yell at me for getting too close to the monk seal!)  Doesn't she look relaxed?  I think we all need to learn to do this more often.  Ooooooooooommmmm.

Aww, monk seals remind me of our old Basset hound-she used to do this thing where she'd look up at you and her ears would fall back, and she'd look like a seal.  Or maybe I would just hide her ears with my hands.  I can't remember now, but I know she used to look like a seal!  Also, the fin-to-body ratio on a seal is similar to the leg-to-body ratio on Basset hounds.  Basset hounds are also good at intense relaxation.

So cute!  Sorry about the pictures getting smaller, but I don't know how to fix that.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  There's a reason I'm not a professional photographer (or a professional web designer, for that matter).  

I hope you have enjoyed your Monday Moment of Zen, brought to you today by your local neighborhood monk seal.  

Thursday, November 6, 2008

R.I.P. Big Coconut Tree


We are having some landscaping done, and I am taking pictures of the process. I am excited about the landscaping-our yard right now mostly consists of California grass (read: really tall weeds)-but I am sad about one thing. We have (had) a beautiful palm tree in our yard that had to be removed. It was leaning toward the house, and if it ever came down, it would have taken out the entire front portion of our house, not to mention the possibility of our cars and anyone or anything which might have been in the yard at the time. We wouldn't have been so worried about the lean, but the ground looked like it was coming up around the base of the tree, and we get massive wind storms in December/January which could easily topple the tree right over onto our house.

This is what our tree looked like when they started.  See the man in the tree?

Now do you see him?  I think this picture provides a great perspective on just how huge these palm fronds are.  You can see how damaging just one of these could be coming down on your house or your car, now imagine the whole tree coming down!

Here is what our tree looked like after about half the leaves had been removed.
This picture makes me want to cry.  I feel terrible about having done this to our magnificent tree, but we just couldn't risk not having it removed.  It's hard to tell, but the man is standing against the tree and working on the top with a chain saw.  The picture sort of looks like he is kneeling with his feet sticking out behind him, but the part that looks like his feet is actually a piece of debris falling down from the tree.


You can see how much other stuff we had removed too because you can actually see our house in this picture vs. the first picture, where you could not.  I kept trying to do side-by-side comparisons of the two pictures and I couldn't figure out whey they didn't seem quite right.  It took me a while, but I finally realized that it was because one was horizontal and the other was vertical.  Duh!  I was trying to show the house without the tree, but I didn't think to take the picture vertically to show all the space that the tree was no longer occupying.  On the "Before" picture I didn't think about which way to take it; I shot it vertically because that was the only way to get the tree in the picture.  Once again, there is a reason I am not a professional photographer!  BTW, I did photoshop most of these pictures, but only to adjust for lighting so you could see the details better.  I didn't make the tree taller or the man smaller or anything! 

What I'm Reading Now-The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler-This book was heartbreaking to read. The author and her mother were both adopted, and after a chance encounter with a woman who had surrendered a daughter for adoption around the same time that Fessler was adopted, Fessler began working on an autobiographical project about her adoption, and during her presentations she would invite others to tell their stories of adoption. From this grew her book. She began to realize that many of the stereotypes that people had about women who had given up babies during the post-WWII era were false. Most of these women were woefully uneducated about sex and birth control. They just had no idea. Some of them knew how pregnancy occurs, some did not. Most of the time their boyfriends assured them that it wouldn't happen to them. These were not tramps who were out sleeping with everyone they met on the street; often they were in committed relationships and deeply in love. These were not frivolous women who saw adoption as an easy fix to a mistake. These were women (often girls) who lived in a time when being an unwed mother was about the worst thing you could be, perhaps only slightly higher on the social scale of acceptability than axe-murderer and Communist. Maybe.

According to Fessler, poor women tended to keep their illegitimate babies more frequently than middle class women while rich women came from families who were able to pay a doctor to quietly take care of the situation. The middle class girls who found themselves in trouble didn't have the money to obtain abortions, which were still illegal at the time, and their parents absolutely couldn't risk the shame and scandal of having an unwed pregnant daughter.

The solution was to send these girls away to a maternity home where they would finish out their pregnancies, deliver their babies, and surrender them for adoption. The girls were usually so horrified about all the trouble they had caused their families that they felt they were in no position to argue about this solution, nor did it even occur to many of them to do so. At the homes they were generally counseled about what a wonderful thing they were doing for all these married people who wanted babies and couldn't have them and what a wonderful thing they were doing for their babies who deserved so much better than they could provide. They were counseled on how to give up their babies, but they were rarely informed that keeping them was a legal option as well. They didn't know that keeping their babies was an option in most cases, so they did as they were told and signed the papers, all the time being told that in a few years they would get married, have other children and forget all about this. A few did inform the homes that they wanted to keep their children, but they were told that if they did so they would then be responsible for all of their medical and boarding expenses. Most of them simply did not have the money to do this, and often their families threatened to disown them if they decided to keep their babies. They were not counseled about any financial aid that might have been available to them. So, most of them played the role of the dutiful daughter, did as they were told, and tried their best to forget about their babies.

Not surprisingly, none of the women in this book managed to forget their first-borns. They lived every day with the pain of having given up their children and not knowing what kind of lives they had. They couldn't talk about it-many of their friends and family never even knew what had happened, although I'm sure many suspected that they hadn't really gone away to help take care of their sick grandmothers during their senior year. It just wasn't something that was talked about. Many of these women went 30 years or more never telling anybody about the baby they had been forced to surrender so long ago. It was a loss, and their pain was never even acknowledged much less dealt with. To make matters worse, the fathers of their children were often held completely unaccountable. Sometimes the fathers were interested in staying with the mothers and even raising the child, but often their parents would talk them out of it. While a young woman could be kicked out of school for being pregnant, no such punishment existed for the young men who had gotten them that way.

Some of the women in this book spoke of depression and mysterious physical ailments that they could never really figure out but that disappeared once they broke their silence and/or found their grown children. Depression seems to be a very common ailment among women from about my age through the baby boomer generation, and I'm wondering now if this might be a big reason for it. Dealing with the emotional pain that these women spoke of in isolation and without the skills to deal with it or even acknowledge it certainly must have contributed to countless cases of depression through the years.

I think this book would be extremely helpful for anyone who has suffered silently through the pain of a forced adoption-just knowing that other women out there have gone through the same thing has got to be a huge relief. Even women who willingly gave up their children, for whatever reason, could probably benefit from this book, as I'm sure many of them still wonder about their children. I think this could also be helpful for children who have been adopted and have suffered with abandonment issues, feeling like their own mothers didn't even want them all these years. So often the mothers DID want them, desperately, but they just didn't know that it was even an option. Like I said, this book was heartbreaking for me to read, but I'm glad I read it.

This book focused on the aftermath of surrendering a child for adoption which occurred in large part because abortions were illegal at the time and also because abortion went against many families' religious beliefs. I would be interested in seeing a similar follow-up of mothers who aborted children, both before and after it became legal, either by choice or because that's what their parents decided would be best for them. I'm sure many of them found themselves in similar situations-young, single, still dependent upon their parents, and scared to death. I'm sure many of them also lived with this as a secret that they were not allowed to talk about, but I think the big difference would be that they never got to hold, feed, and care for their babies after they were born as did most of the mothers who surrendered their children. I would like to know if they felt the same way as the mothers who were forced to give up their children, if they felt they had any choice in the matter or not, and if they have the same sense of loss. One of the things that many of the mothers in the book said was difficult was that they didn't know if their children were still alive or not. They lived everyday wondering about their children's fate. In the case of abortion, the fate of the child is obvious, but does that make the sense of loss any less or just different?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who had the best voter turn out?

Here in Hawaii 63% of registered voters cast their ballots in this historic election.  Since Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii, many people thought that voter turn out would be a lot higher because people would turn out in a show of local support.  Although Hawaii did deliver the second largest margin of victory for Obama at 72% over McCain's 27% (Washington DC was first with 93%) the overall turn out was still a bit low, historically speaking.  In 1960, 93% of Hawaii's registered voters participated in the general election, and it has since dwindled to its current 63%.    

So, how did your state do?    

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm being quoted internationally!

I'm not sure what I said, exactly, since this article was written in Portuguese and the translations via both Google and Yahoo are a bit wonky, but I think it was pretty good!  Check out the article if you get a chance, especially if you can read Portuguese.  If you don't speak the language, just do what I did and copy and paste into a translation device of your choice.  It won't be great, but you'll get the general idea.   

**11/5/08 update:  Wow, check out the comments on this post!  Heather J. was kind enough to forward this article to a coworker of hers who is studying Portuguese, and he, in turn, was kind enough to translate the whole article for me!  How cool is that??  Thanks so much to Heather and her anonymous coworker!