Friday, September 30, 2011

Looking For A Few Good Books

Looking for a little geeky reading to kick off your weekend (and wrap up litterary awareness week aka banned books week aka reading freedom week)?  Two very quick links might be of interest to you!

First for those on the parenting scene:  Geeky books for kids (or life with kids) can be found on this top 10 list by ohdeedoh.  I haven't investigated these books personally, but some of them are on my to-read list.

Next, if you love science fiction, but aren't sure what to read next, NPR has a massive 100 book flow chart with over 325 decision points to help lead you to the favorites voted on by over 60,000 readers.  You can check it out at the link above, or after the break.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Written Word

It's banned book week.  It's just after Tolkien week, which is also literary awareness week.  And yesterday Amazon announced it's new line of Kindles (not getting rid of the Kindle 3), which includes their anticipated color tablet, and a touch kindle.  Seeing how I am really enjoying the Kindle 3 I got for my birthday in July, and I enjoy books that make me think.  I thought I'd share some observations on books and kids.

You see, I decided that one of the geekiest endeavors is to raise geeky kids.  I mean my kids don't have to be geeks, but how could they not be, they are surrounded by that culture every single day.  It's not the only things they are surrounded by.  They are surrounded by all the things that my husband and I feel are vital for a chance at a successful adulthood.  Seeing as my oldest is only in 1st grade, I'm going to focus on what that looks like from her perspective, and I'm going to start with books.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Importance of Touch

A little something different for you today.

The Importance of Touch

Your hand glides across my back, envolping it in touch
Instantly I feel so small
I know my place in the universe
How little I truly am
You make me safe in this place
In this time
Here I am safe
I am loved

You bring me to my senses, grounded in reality
Brought back to myself
I am reminded of who I am, my life
Of where I am important
You provide me with comfort in this exsistence
In the past
In the future
Here with you

You reach for my hand, clasping our fingers together
I am grounded in our committment
I know I will never walk alone
How we are united
You garantee security through all of our travels
For this moment
Anywhere we may go
You complete me

---- KtC

Thursday, September 22, 2011

There and Back Again, my childhood adventures with Bilbo.

It's Tolkien Week this week, something I ought to mention. We usually observe Hobbit Day as well (September 22nd), a celebration of Bilbo's and Frodo's mutual birthdays, because you can never really have too many birthday parties in the Hobbit tradition.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sky Rail, Not Quite the Jetsons

One of my favorite pastimes is dreaming up ideal solutions then bringing them back to something that is almost but not entirely a feasibility.  It's a great pass time with friends and a glass of wine, which happens less and less often nowadays.  Several years ago, my work from home job became a work from home and commute 45 mins each way twice a week job.  Commuting sucks, even if it's on mostly open highway.  It feels like such a waste of time.  That was almost 2 hours (when you count incidentals) every day that I could have been doing something else, even working!  It was such a waste!

Now, I used to love driving.  I started driving when I was 6 years old (in the field while my parents loaded wheat straw bales onto the car trailer the pickup I was driving was pulling).  I used to drive for my Papa on the back roads with the same pickup loaded down to twice it's weight capacity with grain.  He was a farmer, but he hated driving and since I liked it, he let me - as long as he was sure we wouldn't get caught and I was safe about it.  He taught me to drive tractor during the summers on his farm as well.  When I finally got to take drivers ed, I had a pretty good handle on what I needed to do, and my uncle, it turns out, was way more picky about my stopping than my driver's ed instructor - absolutely smooth all the way to the light.  I thought about getting a racers license for a bit, debating becoming a rookie at the local circle track.  My dad would totally have hooked me up with a stock car, although my mom would have preferred if I'd gone for an open wheel division.  I never did it though.  You get the point though, once I used to love driving.  Now, I could take it or leave it.  Sure it's a convenient way to get around, but for any routine distance, it's time I'd rather spend reading, writing, working, or playing with my kids.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Catching Money as it Flies Out the Tailpipe

I have been giving a lot of thought to the efficiency of my car over the past few years. Yes, I agree with the "green" movement when it comes to transportation. I think we drive too much and waste too much gas in vehicles that are bigger and faster then we need. However, this is much closer to home for me.

You see about 2 years ago, before my third child was born, we realized there was a need for a better family car. Our existing vehicles (a Jeep, a small truck, and a small Kia Sephia) couldn't hold 3 kids at once. Small kids have to be in the back seat and in a safe and properly installed car seat. We needed a new car.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ye Pirate Ship Hercules Set Sail - Pirate follow up!

Fer those what can't read it:  Welcome aboard the Hercules (name of school mascot)
formerly a frigate of the Brittish Navy
Now under the command of Captain Axman <-- and don't ye ferget!

There is also a found hook that appears to have been lost by someone.

Ahoy Me Hearties

Again she be Int'l Talk Like A Pirate Day.  It be the silliest internet tradition in these here parts.  I be plannin' a treasure fer them land-lubbing bilge rats at me school. Arrr.  Me mate, t' art teacher, be bringing in some scurvy melodies. I be looting ye dollar store fer rations and tar.  We'll swab the decks, me hearties. We be capturin' the signage to parlay with the locals.  Notices t' be kind be goin' t' be changed t' "Mind yer Capt'n ye scallywags or ye be headin' t' Davy Jone's Locker, ye is."  I be also thinkin' t' be makin' signs fer stuff like Ye Galley, fer ye food. I hope t' sprogs enjoy it.

What be ye doin' fer today?  Need ye some ideas?  T' official website if full o' learnin' and fun pirate booty!

Orcrist's guest post that was scheduled for today, will be up tomorrow!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Free Awesome Game now until Sept 20!

More and more educators are embracing the math and science in modern games to help with learning in the class room and get kids engaged.  Even if your teachers don't have an after school Minecraft class (more on that later), or you are a bit beyond the age for public school, doesn't mean you can't enjoy this fun learning environment.  This weekend, until the 20th, Valve is offering their award winning game, Portal, for free.  If you love it I recommend buying the sequel!  Check out Learning with Portals, for more information.  I personally have a Steam account and it's not intrusive at all.

This is a first person computer game that changes the way you think about space.  By using portals you can move through space in a unique manner.  Walls don't simply become doors to a new room, but can change the way you access the room you are already in.  With all my projects and new games from the Humble Bundles I haven't gotten very far yet, but not because it's not an intriguing game, it is!

EDIT:  You do not need to be an educator to reap this deal.  It's free for anyone!
Also links added so Orcrist can stop whining about not enough links :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Prepping for Our First Family Con

If you've been following me on Google+ or Facebook you already know something is up.  You know that in addition to making over my living room (yes I'm STILL working on that!) we've got something exciting in the works.  It's true.  We are getting all geared up and have our tickets for what will be our first family trip to a convention.  We are all going to Geek Girl Con in Seattle WA and we couldn't be more excited!  The kids have never been to a con and I haven't gone to one since high school and I'll guarantee it wasn't as big or as cool as this is going to be.

Geek Girl Con reports that the idea for their convention started at Comic-con (the mecca of all cons).  It's intention is to highlight women in geeky pursuits and the fact that more than ever girls are geeks too!  This is the first year for the con, but that isn't stopping it from having a pretty stellar guest line-up (I assume, I wouldn't recognize most celebrities if they were wearing name tags, it's not one of my skills) and a large variety of panels that all sound great!  Seriously, I'm already trying to decide what to do about two panels in the same time slot Sunday morning that I want to attend (Geeks Raising Geeks, and Girls Make Games Too - hey, my husband loves the time he gets to spend making a video game and it might solve that whole - what do I want to do with my life - issue).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out - RPGs

This week I have been challenged to share my geeky hobby with you all.  Wow, when I signed up to do this, I didn't think it would be a challenge.  I mean I'm a geek through and through, I even have the license plate!  I have a biology degree, but have spent more time doing cartography and programming than actual biology as a job.  I love science - all sciences,  I love debate especially with my husband (in a scholarly sense - that political/business nonsense can take a flying leap!),  I read all kinds of geeky literature (see here, here, here, for a few reviews posted previously), I enjoy writing here and on novels that never seem to get very far (although I keep making goals to change that my crazy schedule doesn't seem to cooperate), I like to make things, geeky things - things with just a bit of steampunk flair or a hint of geek, or my current foray into all out geek costumes for my kids (and possibly my husband and myself), I watch sci-fi and fantasy tv and movies and the occasional anime, but if I had to pick my biggest geek hobby, RPGs would win - every single time!

What is an RPG?  RPG stands for Role Playing Game.  How generic is that right?  I mean what isn't a role playing game (ok, maybe that's just my world)? RPGs are games where you play through a story, you take a role, you interact with the world.  Some RPGs have more story and less open characters, some have more open characters and less story.  Some RPGs come in a box, some come on a disk or a download, some come out of a book (or set of books) and some just pop out of someone's head.  RPGs can be a solo event, like my favorite series Final Fantasy, or they can be extremely social - think Dungeons and Dragons, although in my personal experience it was a White Wolf game called Exalted - I sooo miss our storyteller and circle!  But it doesn't have to be that fancy and fleshed out of a world, it can just be a great game of Harry Potter Clue.  -- Ok I love ALL Clue boards and grew up playing Clue Master Detective, which is by far the best clue ever, but Harry Potter Clue is a close second, it's just a great game!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Princess and Popstar

My kids and I wrote this review for the VeggieTales Princess and the Popstar that came out last month.  If you are still thinking about here were our early view thoughts (this was also posted on another site).  Enjoy.

(EDIT:  Hmm I meant to schedule this (okay I meant to post it just before the video came out) oh well BONUS POST for you!)

More Random Tabs

I have more than 70 tabs open in my main browser, so that means it's time for another random tabs day!

I bring you lots of distraction (I think I'm pretty loaded up here). So if you are watching the woot-off and need something to engage your senses, and occasionally your mind, then I've got some links for you!  If you're just having a boring day at the office, home, or whatever, these should hook you up as well.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lying in Bed....

Being home all day solo with the kids, and having to wake up early (so I could wake up my partially deaf husband and sometimes Paper Napkins contributor - who now has his own blog about being partially deaf and dealing with the world) after going to bed late meant that once again I slept like rubbish.  I woke up every couple hours and I know I was putting so much pressure on myself to get sleep while I had the chance that I couldn't sleep (don't you love how that works?)  However, unexpectedly, I was given the ability to stay in bed this morning.  Not comfortably and restfully, but laying there pinned by my hair (and subsequent scabs from hitting myself in the head with a crowbar last Monday) as my 19 month old son was laying as close to me as possible, fully on my hair.  With the scabs in my hairline so tender I couldn't move, I could barely breathe and even shifting my position was all but impossible.  So, I did what I normally do, I thought about stuff and decided to share it in a blog.  Normally, I'd save this to post automatically on Monday, but my posting is so irregular I figure there's no point, plus I'm hoping to get some more stuff polished up for you, we'll see.

So first you need some background.   For those of you are faithful readers or real life friends, you know that I had an emergency appendectomy with some serious complications 19 months ago.  You also know that I can't do anything about most of the complications, partially because I also lost my insurance - which is a long and drawn out story that if you are curious you can email me about at papernapkinsedgeofinsanity AT gmail.COM or ask in the comments and I might feel up to discussing it later, love reading comments!  Anyway, I have serious lower back pain that goes from annoying to really uncomfortable, and you think, well that's easy to help get some massage/chiropractor time (no money, but thanks) and do some ab exercises. I'm all for the exercises, the basic ones only need a flat surface, but then you run into painful daily issue number two - the doctors were in such a rush to push me out of the hospital that they made the decision to close my incision early and that left me with a surgical umbilical hernia.  When I first had the hernia measured by the doctor who had done the actual surgery, not his partner that chose to close the incision early, it was 2cm wide, it is now at least double that (from two fingers fitting in the hole, to 4 if you aren't so good with centimeters)   To understand what that means, look at your belly button, now push on it with your first two fingers.  Imagine now instead of tight resistance that you are able to push through right in the middle and that the resistance falls to the side of your fingers.  Also imagine that your intestines fall out through that hole every time you stand up pushing on it like a lodged object in an open wound.  Also imagine that if you have eaten recently, that pain is magnified, and the only way to make the pain go away is to lay flat on your back, and even then it takes until the wound is no longer aggravated from the pressure. Oh, and it also looks disgusting... I used to love my naval, it was tight and cute even though I'd had three children, it never bulged, and I loved it.  Now it looks like it's been through a war and is always red and miserable and has this wide red raised scar down the lower half.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Views Differ on Shape of Planet: Politicians


As life has sped up and I keep chugging away at fixing my house, being a mom, and working 2.5 jobs and applying for more (heh, there is a chance at getting half insurance with this one, we'll see) the last thing I want to break the silence with is a political post, but Wil Wheaton on G+ (here), Mike Lofgren (here), the New York Times info-graphic (here) and a variety of other posts and personal comments from friends over on Facebook to which I do not have links (although I thought I was saving some, but they are gone now) have pushed me over the edge into needing to discuss this at more length, especially since I have already explained this system to many in real life.

I think it is fairly safe to say that large sections of Congress are rather corrupt.  It is easy to say that this probably extends to the Supreme Court (Clarence Thomas anyone?) and into many government organizations and agencies.  It's also fair to say that we've built a system that promotes corrupting these agents and that system is very well funded and extensive.  The idea of discretion seems to be almost purely Victorian.  What we have is a mess.  A financial, social, cultural blob of mess that even Mickey Mouse and his magic paintbrush aren't equipped to make a dent in. Once again I have a hypothetical solution, but it's not minor, it's not really on the table, and it's definitely a drastic reorder of the way things are done, but hey what do you expect from the girl who wrote up multiple copies of the Empire's Guide to Government to bring for discussion on "Let's Make a Government Day" in high school? <-- "Fear will keep the locals in line"!

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