Wednesday, September 28, 2005

So here's a new addition to a social network...

Began online...will probably go offline as well...

Received email from someone on the new group - the "Pondies" as we call ourselves, we "Pete's Pond" fans...she emailed me off list to tell me that she saw I am a Montrealer, and so is she. We mused about that in a couple of back-and-forth emails and that was that.

Well, tonight, a bunch of us were in the Yahoo chat room for this group - waiting for the dawn and the color to return to the picture. This chatter walked in and I recognized her name - so we started to chat, along with the others. She said, "Funny, we're in the same city and yet here we are, watching a sunrise half a planet away." I said, "Yes, isn't life cool?" Then I said, "I'm a West-Islander, Cleo," She said, "No way! So am I!" She then said, "DDO." I flipped and said, "Okay, are you next door?"

Turns out we are within walking distance of each other - her kids are younger than mine but she homeschools them. We are fast getting to know one another. When another list member entered the room and we all introduced ourselves (chat names are different than our name in emails), both Cleo and I rushed to tell Gayle that we are neighbors. And Cleo said, "And we meet in Botswana." It was so well phrased...and made me realize just how small - and large - this world is...both on, and offline...

Pretty cool...

Okay, that's my musing for tonight - off to watch more animals at the Pond, and then to bed. I have a draft saved to publish tomorrow - more thoughts about tonight's class, and will tweak and publish tomorrow. G'nite all!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Time and Tools - Response to Francine

Francine - began this as a comment in your blog's "Time and Attention Management" section but it turned into a tome so I've decided to blog it here...('cause then I can play with the HTML)


Read this entry. Interestingly enough, as a writer, I am a proponent of various ritualistic tools - MUST be pencil and MUST be smooth (I use the Mirado pencils - they are awesome). I bought paper in the States years ago - tons of it - looseleaf with wide spaces (not the margin, the spaces themselves) - my handwriting is not the best, and especially when I'm in creativity mode, I fly across the page. So wide-spaced paper is another tool I've relied upon, as well as a good (preferably old-fashioned wood-and-metal) clipboard.

With the advent of computers in my lifestyle (and I DO mean life*style*) that changed. I found it much easier to sit down at the computer and let my fingers fly across the keyboard to create - with greater speed ('cause I'm a really quick typist) and accuracy and legibility (important!!) - the myriad ideas plummeting through my mind. I found myself creating short stories that were not only easily written (both in a physical and creative manner) but easily tweaked (I'm an admitted tweakaholic - have already tweaked this comment *mumble mumble* times) as well. It opened up the world to me. But was still not as portable as the writing.

Then, 2 years ago, as a gift to myself using part of an inheritance my mom left me, I bought my first laptop. WOW...good morning world! I had just become proficient at digital graphics as well, and I had been doing HTML and web design for a couple of years but this? This became my home-away-from-home. The laptop became my studio, my desk, my clipboard, my journal, my coffee shop, my arcade, my jigsaw puzzle table, my newspaper, my TV (with CNN online!) my window on the world, my mall, and my stereo (Harmon Kardon speakers, bay-bee! *g*).. .but then, 18 months after the new revolution...the display on my new toy flickered...and died...and the store put it in for service but - because I was in Learning Theories and needed the computer where all my work was stored - let me keep the machine at home. Hooked it to an external monitor and worked for 60 days from my kitchen table. So, I was no longer mobile..but I was still connected. It was suddenly a reversal of convenience even as it WAS convenience defined...

60 days later, the extended warranty I'd bought from the store allowed me a new computer. After bargaining with them (okay, ARGUING my point), they conceded to giving me the machine I own now - a real state-of-the-art machine. It is a laptop but more of a portable desktop (you've seen it - it's a monster *g*) - 17" screen, 256 MB Radeon 9600 dedicated graphics, the works...and I was back to being mobile, wireless, and happier than ever.


There is a book I like to refer to, called "The Writer's Book of Days" contains writing exercises - block-busters, boosters, whatever one wishes to call them - one for every day of the year. Along with the book's offerings, the exercises have kept me writing - even if it is forced at times - to the point of maintaining creativity in times of perhaps lesser inspiration. The book says, at its beginning, and I quote portions of it:

"Writing practice is best done by hand"*

And then - with the heading: Why Write By Hand

"Ah, what technology has brought us! First the typewriter, then the word processor, now the computer, even the voice-recognition computer. Why write by hand when there's all this technology, the nanosecond response to the very flick of the finger, the ability to alter sentences, relocate paragraphs, erase, or rearrange whole chapters with macro magic. And how our fingers fly. At last we can almost keep up with our thoughts. With all this, why still write by hand?

Legions of writers still do, and for their own good reasons. For example: feminist scholar and writer bell hooks said there's something about handwriting that slows the idea process. When working on the computer, she said "you don't have those moments of pause that you need." Writer and monologist Spalding Gray (my note: the late Mr. Gray) believes writing by hand is the closest thing he can get to his breath, and novelist Anne Tyler said the muscular movement of putting down script on the paper gets her imagination back in the track where it was. Master horror writer Clive Barker said that for him, handwriting is "the most direct association I can make between what's going on in my mind's eye and what's going to appear on the page."*

She goes onto give more reasons, including:

- Writing is a physical act; you should do it with your body
- Writing muscles include the hand and the heart.
- Writing by hand is sensual; it allows you to feel the movement of pen against paper.
- You can feel your heart beat when you write by hand; sometimes you can feel your pulse in your fingers.
- You are in control when you write by hand (no low battery or malfunction or save command or crash can interrupt you)
**my note: Windows XP has made even crashes palatable with its recovery feature in Word**
- You can write anywhere when you write by hand.*

She encourages writing by hand - even if only for a month of practices to try it out, especially if one is accustomed to (and most at home at) the computer for writing. When I took this book off my shelf (after a couple of years of its sitting there, cover uncracked), I went back to writing by hand. It was awesome - it felt right, it WAS portable (however, it was pre-laptop days) and it was primal. Then I began to share my writings with select people in my life - and one of these being an (*cringes at the term*) online friend - and it was necessary for me to digitize my writing. At the same time as doing the writing exercises, I was continuing to write creatively, on the computer. So I went right back to doing it that way.

Judy Reeves mentions writing in terms of time management. She likens writing to making an appointment with one's writer-self and managing that time. Not canceling the appointment. Perhaps changing the time from day to day, but keeping it as a routine. Writing in one's calendar the amount of time one will devote per day. 10 minutes one day. 2 hours another. Managing that time, sticking to it, making it priority and following through.

Took this book away with me on Labor Day weekend, and began to re-read it, with every intention of revisiting its pages of writing prompts. But the time management, the commitment aspect and the habit-forming element of writing spoke loudest to me.

Then, when Leona brought up her concerns, and we talked in class about manufacturing a blog for class struck me that this is precisely what the assignment can lead to. Sitting down grudgingly at an appointment (who likes the dentist's chair?) and feeling better once one is done...and then, that leading to more and more good habits (yes I floss more diligently before and after an appointment *lil grins*)...blogging has become that for me. I find myself - especially these last few days - turning to my bookmarked blog and adding to it. I will - hopefully - get more introspective, more insightful and more inspired as it goes along. But I have to say - I can see this blog reaching far beyond the final date of is feeling good and is inspiring me to do more - creatively, academically, personally - in so many ways.

I can understand your reasoning in blogging so that you wouldn't have to lug around a laptop to keep your notes and research together. I will - I know - eventually do the same. order to blog...I need the laptop because there are times I am somewhere with it (school lounge, or away on holiday) and open it up and start writing or doing graphics. In fact, it has become a happy burden to bear for's my all-in-one. It's like I joke with my (non-computer/online-oriented) husband, "I'm a cheap date. Computer...wireless connection..I'm good to go." For those in my world can empathize, I need not explain. The computer has not only helped me as a tool, it has helped me manage my time more efficiently - in creative, social, and now academic ways - and has helped me to expand my horizons, truly to all parts of the globe.

* Judy Reeves, A Writer's Book of Days, New World Library, California, Copyright 1999

New Group Acceptance

Well it happened yesterday - and I was tickled pink. It came from the Owners of the list...which was even more of an honor. They wrote:

Hello Lissa,

We sure like the frames you put around your shots. Two questions: "How?" and: "Is it easily done?".

We vinden de lijsten om jouw plaatjes erg leuk. Twee vragen: "Hoe?" en: "Gaat dat makkelijk?".

Pemmie en Eddy

The owners are dutch - as is a great number of the list members - and I have found that many of the North Americans are trying their hand at the translation machines. Quite humorous (translating into dutch and then back again is a riot).

I was beaming when I got that email...and wrote back instantly:

Thanks, Pemmie and Eddy - I do my graphics work in Paint Shop Pro - and for me, it's a passion, so easy or not, I love it. Some are easily done, some take more work. The longest process is adding the text (and deciding on my colors/effects). It's really a great love of mine, and doing it with these pics is a bonus upon bonus!

Thank you for the kind words!!


I'm validated as an artist whenever anyone comments on my work...but this was more than artistic validation. It was full acceptance of my work and how it fits into the list norms. I also got comments on the "incredible romantic" that I am (mostly 'cause I named the resident Nilotic Geese - George and Gracie - and commented on how sweet they are together every night *G*) and someone else followed up that compliment with a post about my poetic soul.

What I find interesting is that I don't reveal too much of my self unless I am REALLY comfortable with a group. And yet, those in the group were able to see - from a couple of my posts - my poetic and romantic side. Wonder what else is showing..?! *gulps*

Saturday, September 24, 2005

New Group - Great Class Experiment

Well, this was an interesting follow-up to class discussion on legitimacy and belonging. Friend of mine sent me a site where a live 24/7 webcam is set up at a pond in Botswana, and I have become a fan (okay, an addict) of watching the animals come to the area. I have been doing screen shots (one uploaded here to give you an idea) and it has been educational for me and my kids.

**You can find the site here.**

Reading through the site, I noticed a Blog section. It is run by administration but is an ongoing community chat place as well, with posters sometimes carrying on conversations within minutes of each other's postings. I also read of a yahoo group set up for those who take screen shots or wish to see them. All of this is linked to the main site and is very well done. Immediately, I jumped right in - sent my first posting to the blog section and signed up for the yahoo group.

I didn't know the rules of the group - and the only "rule" posted on the site is that offensive posts/language will be deleted. Makes sense and is fairly obvious (and universal to most groups). When I do a screenshot, I don't simply send the capture - I play with the graphics ('cause I'm a graphics junkie too) and I hadn't seen that in the group when I first joined. But I decided to just do it - and if it was asked of me to send the raw capture, I would gladly comply.

I'm proud of my graphics abilities, but I do it for myself to enhance a photo - to me, an untreated photo is like sending out handwritten essays to one's professor. Thus far, no one has commented on my graphics, but no one has asked me to refrain from doing so either. Being a member of other groups - mostly graphics - I am fully aware of minimum and maximum size requirements for emails and attachments, and am always considerate of those on dial-up (for whom loading can be frustrating if attachments are large). So I managed to keep my pictures and their graphic enhancements down to a minimum, and thus far, no one has complained.

I joined the group on Tuesday - and have become what I term a "main character" - posting frequently, getting friendly with the members, and slowly drawing back the curtain on those things about myself (and my self) that I wish to reveal. One woman did the same, even mentioning how last night would have been her 10th wedding anniversary had her husband not left their marriage, and she was planning on toasting the day/night with a glass of wine and the webcam feed - I admire her candor, and her strength, and I wrote her back, disspelling her fears of being too "chatty" (as she had mentioned and apologized for) and giving her my personal email to snag so we could chat off-list.

Today's conversation revolves around how we all want to get on a plane and go volunteer to run the camera at the Pond. And more personalities are coming to the fore. I don't know what previous posts have been like, but since I've come into the group, I've gotten to see more humor and jocularity than one might have expected from a simple "send your screenshots here" group. Last night, late (not telling HOW late, nuh-uh *grins*), the camera was out - the "remote camera guru geek" wrote the list - we didn't even know he was a member! - to give us first-hand info on the outage, and sent us pics taken directly AT the site, by the camera operator with whom he was in touch via email. So not only are we a group of enthusiasts, the Head Honchos are watching/participating and obviously appreciative of our efforts.

It did not take long - a day or so - for me to feel comfortable and a part of this new group but I have to admit to some trepidation as to how my pictures would be received. Thus far - utter acceptance and this has encouraged me to do and send more.

Found it interesting, given my new awareness of social computing...

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Friend of mine sent this to me - it completely defines a point that was touched upon this week, and one I think we can all relate to - enjoy the laughs!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Google Blog Development

Found this interesting:

It looks like blogs are becoming more mainstream - not for us young folk anymore. In fact, I got my 73-year-old father interested in what blogs are and how they work. Not to say he will actually begin his own (he's just getting comfy with composing email anew, in lieu of replying to one sent to him so he doesn't have to retrieve the email address of the person involved) - but in explaining the workings of blogging, I was able to help him see the usefulness of them. Who knows where it could lead - he knows he has a geekette in the family (and I say that with pride, fellow G's) - and one never knows if he might even decide to try his hand at it! That would be a coup...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Musing Number One

It occurs to me that social computing is a pretty selective activity. I have to wonder, as someone who considers herself to be quite social via electronic media AND in person, how it has come to be that those who are not as social online tend to look down upon the lifestyles created by online communities, online friendships, online anything.

Is this something that others have found, either with significant others in their lives, or friends (the misnomered "real-time" friends), or family members who disdainfully proclaim, "you spend so much time on that COMPUTER, why don't you get out more?!"....? It's a question I've pondered for years....

Comments and experiences are more than welcome....