naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
There's a whole series of these, and many of them are also available as audiobooks. They are pleasant, and teach all kinds of useful life lessons in an accessible way.

I've found many of them decently priced used via Amazon Smile, and our local public library has some of them.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
So these are all somewhat dated, but there's useful stuff in them, presented in a way that makes sense to me because my own parents (who are utterly wonderful and awesome) used the early printings of these books in raising me.

The Father's Almanac by S. Adams Sullivan

The Mother's Almanac by Marguerite Kelly

The Mother's Almanac Goes to School by Marguerite Kelly

Marguerite Kelly's Family Almanac
naturedance: this is me reading Walden (me reading Walden)

I want to read planning books by Eugenie L. Birch.

I want to read The Creative Habit by Twlya Tharp.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)
I've realized that I'm going to be babbling in this journal a bit about coursework from my MSIS program. I'm going to stick it behind lj-cut tags because I suspect not many people but me will be interested.

how to think about whether to agree or disagree with a premise/discussion/conclusion )

The text we're going to be debating, btw, is Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage by Nicholas G. Carr.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)
And I'm OK. Yay!

I'm still excited about the material, but the buzzwordspeak is daunting (and seems a bit downright silly in places in the readings) and I'm having to concentrate very, very closely in class to understand the instructor's accent.

One of these years I'm going to get better at understanding accents, I hope. One of the drawbacks of growing up in a place where everyone sounds really really the same is that I stink at understanding accents.

On the plus side, the amount of reading for this Claremont class is less than I'd have expected based on my experience in Caltech classes, even if some of it is chock full o' buzzwords and acronyms. I'm kind of puzzled by some folks in the class grumbling good-naturedly about the amount of reading required. And yes, I do read fast, but I also don't have any experience at all with most of the terms and concepts I'm reading about, so speed isn't much of an advantage. *rolls eyes*

Now if I could just figure out where UPS and Amazon have put one of the textbooks I ordered which should have arrived two days ago, in time to read it for the group project that's due Thursday evening... hmph. It says "delivered" but I didn't get any notice about it. Perhaps it's down at the apartment office, and they only gave me the first box when I pestered them for my packages last time.

And I still need to pull some rabbits out of my miracle-worker hat at work.

Oh, that reminds me... while I was at the local bookstore last night (looking in vain for a copy of the textbook I need) I spotted part of the huge Harry Potter display. It's so neat to see people excited about a book release. But the really cool thing was boxed sets of big black goosefeather quills and inkpots. Adorable! I love that in this world of ever-increasing technology, there will be some subset of this generation to grow up familiar with ink and old-style calligraphy!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
I could describe this situation in greater detail to give you all more context, but I'm not sure that's the right thing to do right now.

In any case, here's the simplified summary: someone asked me a bit ago if I could suggest some books that could help men understand women. This is not the first time it has happened... I found myself asked to give bullet-point lists of things for men to remember about women at one point. I still shake my head at the memory of that conversation.

Anyway... two titles which came up in this most recent discussion were The Secret Garden (which is a lovely childrens book and I do love it, but doesn't really seem to me to teach anyone anything about women) and Little Women (which I started to read twice and got bored of), and the magazine Cosmo.

I was so flabbergasted right at that moment (in my worldview men and women are more similar than different, after all, and all intelligent people have been thinking for years about the inequalities in our culture between the genders -- and, yes, rationally I do realize that not everyone is like me about these topics but on some gut level it always shocks me to see it in person) that the only thing I could think of off the top of my head was to suggest that watching Absolutely Fabulous might a good quick way to see the logical conclusion of the encouragements women get from consumer/fashion/makeup culture. Which is true, but not a great answer to the question.

Especially for men raising daughters, I hereby recommend the following books:

The Father's Almanac, ISBN 0385426259 (I also highly recommend the companion volume The Mother's Almanac)

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, ISBN 0345418786 (I also recommend Shelter of Each Other by the same author)

Smart Girls: A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness, ISBN 091070726X (I highly recommend this book for gifted women of all ages, and those who wish to understand us, in all of our infinite variations)

Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, ISBN 1580050751 (don't let the title deter you, and be sure to check out the the resources section in the back of the book)

I also have a list of books my favorite books at

I also recommend Bitch Magazine (again, don't let the title deter you) and The Vagina Monologues, if you can't see them performed in person, watch the DVD.

Also, please check out and and feel free to surf over to the links on my page at

That reminds me... thanks to everyone who's taken the time to fill out the gender curiosities poll in this post.

Do you know of any other fabulous books that belong in this post? Please share.

(And for anyone who still says, "I don't understand [insert gender here]" here's my advice... find someone of that gender and listen to them. Don't assume, ask and listen. And remember, before we are any gender, we are all people.)

Book meme

Jun. 3rd, 2005 08:35 am
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
So [ profile] riffraff814 tagged me here and while I don't usually do memes here, books are always endless fun to blather on about, and I'm waiting for my morning tea to kick in...

1. How many books do you own?

I have no idea. I think I currently have about 90 linear feet of shelf-space taken up with books (five tall bookshelves full plus a pile or two)... that means about 1080 inches of spine-space.

2. The last book you bought?

Hmmm. I don't remember. Possibly the copy of The Greek Way by Edith Hamilton at the used bookstore, or possibly Out of Gas by David Goodstein, or possibly one of the glorp of new books I bought all in a bunch but am still working my way through, including The Cultural Creatives by Ray & Anderson and A Consumers' Republic by Cohen and No Logo by Klein.

3. Last book you read?

The World of Null-A by A. E. Van Vogt, for a book club meeting last weekend, though I wouldn't otherwise have chosen to read it.

Before that was Smart Girls by Barbara Kerr, some chapters of which figuratively hit me over the head like those ACME cartoon anvils.

I'm currently in the middle of My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Errol Flynn's autobiography.

4. Five books that mean a lot to you?

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Our Bodies, Ourselves by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Norton Anthology of Poetry
Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures

Actually, a while back I put together a list of books my home wouldn't feel like my home without. It's about halfway down the page here if you're curious.

5. Tap five readers on the shoulder...

I think most of you reading this have already done this meme. If you haven't, and you'd like to, consider yourself tapped.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
And I came up with a list of books that my home wouldn't feel like my home without. I also had a couple lists of memorable books from my childhood and young adulthood that I often find myself telling people about, so I finally put all of my little lists together someplace where I won't lose it (and I can point people to easily)... it's now up on my page about homemaking.

While I was puttering around a bit with my website putting that up, I also added pages for gardening and knitting.

I love the web.
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
The Burbank farmers market was fabulous again this week. Between work stress, car stress and headaches this week, I really needed the brisk morning breeze and the sunshine and the flowering trees along my walk, and all sorts of fresh goodies to haul home. Puttering around in the kitchen helped de-stress me some, too.

Made a wonderful chicken soup yesterday, and am experimenting more with making homemade stock... every time we roast a chicken from Trader Joes, we've been boiling the meat left on the bones and then freezing the stock for use later. We did this last Thanksgiving, Yule and Christmas (yes, we ate a lot of chicken!) and have been working our way through the stash of frozen stock, so when we roasted two small birds last week, it was time to make more broth.

I tried making vegetable stock last weekend, too... The Joy Of Cooking has instructions for everything. Yesterday I tried making celery stock for the first time since there was a really good deal on huge tall bunches of celery at the market and they were too tall to store in the fridge unless I trimmed the tops off... it smelled up the kitchen nicely as it was cooking down.

In other news, I moved the rainbow maker from the living room window to my bedroom window this morning, and it's currently driving my cat batty. She's chasing the rainbows and I haven't seen her this active in a long, long time. I hope she doesn't give herself a coronary or anything...

*pounce!* *batbatbatswatbatbatbat!* *boundboundPOUNCE!*

Hon, if you're going to jump onto the bed, you have to actually, you know, jump all the way. Changing your mind mid-jump means your rump doesn't get up to the level of the mattress and then you land ungracefully, dear...

*stalkstalkstalkBOUNDboundPOUNCE!* *batbatbatbatbatbatbat*

OK, now she's just flopped on the rug, with her nose and eyes and ears swiveling all over the place... well, her tail's still going a bit batty, but she looks OK. Every now and then she glares at me accusingly as if to say, "You let a whole flock of these unsmellable unhearable butterflies in here for me to chase, and now I can't grab hold of any of them!"
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Work was a bit crazy this week, especially Tuesday and Wednesday, because our lead sysadmin/developer is on vacation. It was (so far) better than this time last year, but Tuesday was really disheartening and my pessimism reared up. Last year was so, so bad. This year (so far) has just been busy. It takes me and one of the other sysadmins an hour or two to figure out things that the vacationing sysadmin could probably do in fifteen minutes, you know? But at least we're figuring things out. And the documentation is better now than it has been in the past. I've been working late to keep up with my own tasks, but I've stayed mostly on top of them. Just means I'm tired, and real life stuff has had to be put on hold because I'm at work, or too exhausted when I get home. I suppose if I were a different person I'd just let the work stuff slide...

That reminds me, I need to doublecheck that all of the documentation for what I do at work is up to date before I take some long weekends over the next few months.

Last weekend I put in a container garden on our balcony. I already had flowers and succulents on our front walk, and I cleaned them up and weeded them and topped off the pots with good potting soil. The marigolds look nice, a good counterpoint to the older Martha Washington and the other geraniums.

The balcony garden has cilantro, chives, lemon grass, spearmint, basil, oregano, something like nine or ten different kinds of peppers, and four pots of tomatoes. I cheated a bit and bought one big plant with green tomatoes already half-ripe.

Starting so late in the season seems strange, but the plants seem to be doing OK. The big plant was looking unhappy on Thursday evening, so I moved it to the front walk temporarily so it could get more sun. I think the east-facing balcony will get enough sun during normal days, but most days this week were overcast in the mornings, so they didn't get enough light. I think it's happier now. If the days are clearer, I'll move it back to the balcony.

Mom and Dad sent me an article link a bit ago... Dietary Supplements Relieve Migraines. Because some of my headaches are "simply" allergy and/or sinus headaches, and some are allergy-or-sinus-triggered migraines, I'm still figuring out what helps best. Natural foods, enough exercise, enough rest and not too much stress seems to be the best prescription for everything...

Roommate and I enjoyed the first harvest from our balcony garden last night at dinner... fresh chives and spearmint garnish for our onion/mushroom/beef broth soup. Quite tasty!

Hmmm... what else is going on? Lots, of course.. oh, Wil's new book Just A Geek is out!! :-) Yay!

Also, I spotted this on my friendslist thanks to [ profile] sigje: her friend [ profile] adaintum is doing the San Francisco Avon Walk For Breast Cancer. Even if you can't donate right now, you can leave an encouraging comment for her here.
naturedance: this is me reading Walden (me reading Walden)

Buy Dancing Barefoot from

What are you waiting for?

I could say all sorts of complimentary things about this lovely effort from a first-time author. I could provide a more descriptive summary of the stories within it, because that’s a standard reviewer’s trick, right? I could try to put into words how oddly wonderful it feels to read stories from the perspective of an unashamedly introspective geek. I could try to explain how jarringly comfortable it is to get past the chasm that celebrity status builds between people and read simple honesty from this guy that a lot of people think they know, who really is just a guy, and because of that is remarkable. I could tell you how loud I laughed, unexpectedly, and how much I sympathized. I could mention how much it simply got to me, in the nostalgic and reminiscent ways that likely only thirtysomethings’ writings can to do to other thirtysomethings. I could write about how great it feels to be a Trekkie right about now… or I could just stop typing and grab a Kleenex, and you could stop reading this and just go order a copy of the book.

Are you still reading this review?

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Sometimes I really love working at Caltech. I picked up a flyer in the coffee shop this morning, and I just have to share it with you... my Mom highly recommends the book and its author, and the actors... well, you'll recognize the names. *grin*

There was a miniseries made of another of the author's works, which I have on DVD: Longitude, which starred Jeremy Irons, Michael Gambon, and Ian Hart (you might recognize him as Professor Quirrel from the first Harry Potter movie). If you get the chance to read any of the author's books, or to watch Longitude, I highly recommend all of them.

A one-time only special performance!

An Evening With Galileo and His Daughter
to benefit The Planetary Society and celebrate the Galileo Mission and its Team

starring John Rhys-Davies & Linda Purl
directed by Robert Picardo
written by Dava Sobel

Monday, September 22, 2003 at 7:30 pm

The Pasadena Playhouse
39 South El Molino Avenue
Pasadena, California

Help honor the Galileo Team

At the reading, Claudia Alexander, John Casani and Torrence Johnson will accept a special award on behalf of the Galileo Team

On September 21, 2003, the Galileo spacecraft will plunge into Jupiter on a targetted trajectory of self-destruction, ending a remarkable voyage of discovery. The Planetary Society will pay tribute to the mission and to the team that made it possible with a special theatrical event - a one time reading based on Dava Sobel's best selling book, Galileo's Daughter.

"An Evening with Galileo and His Daughter" explores the dynamic relationships among science and religion, reason and faith, and father and child. Dava Sobel bases her story of Galileo's scientific discoveries and subsequent battle with the Inquisition in letters written to him by his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun since the age of 13.

John Rhys-Davies is best known for his roles in the three Lord of the Rings films and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Linda Purl is known for her stage and television roles, including Getting and Spending and Happy Days. Star Trek actor and director Robert Picardo will direct the reading.

Reserve your tickets now!
Tickets for the reading only are $60 for standard seating and $75 for premier seating.
Tickets for the reception only are $100.
Tickets for the reading and reception are $150.

Buy online at or call Barbara Rayworth at (626) 793-5100.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix sales figures links, as well as photos from around the globe that are just simply amazing.,1,12035,00.html

Anything that gets people reading, especially children, is great... but this sort of volume, all across the globe, of adults, teens, and children... is just absolutely amazing. And this is not a simple, charming little lightweight book, by any measure!

Yes, I bought my copy between midnight and 1:30am in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and I've read it once already. Yes, I loved it. No, I didn't have much clue what to expect from the moment I cracked the cover open, and I won't ruin the surprises, be they good or bad, for anyone else!

If anyone is looking for excellent young readers books to fill the time between the Order of the Phoenix and book six, I've made an Amazon list of some of my favorite books from when I was a pre-teen and young teenager. I also made a list for very young readers.

There are a great number of wonderful books out there for all ages, and the idea that international zeitgeist is leaning more towards reading is really, really wonderful, whether long or short works, fiction or nonfiction.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
What am I doing awake at this hour? Well, it's been a doozy of a couple of weeks. Because this LJ is intended as a good vibes kind of place for me, I'm just going to say here that good news of any kind is greatly appreciated right now, and leave it at that.

So, on to the good news!

It's cool to see someone hitting his stride... Wil's first book is now available on

Congratulations, Wil!

And yes, I don't care if anyone says I'm a geek or whatnot; I am still driving around with ads for the book in the back window of my car, and I submitted a review to Amazon.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Independent publishing is so cool... some students here have put out a book of all of their comic strips that ran in the campus paper. Crippling Depression: Life At Caltech is now immortalized with its very own ISBN number!

Some of the humor is very, very context-specific, but I think my favorite is this one:

If anyone reading this would like to buy the book, but is not near enough to campus, drop me an email to arrange for payment, and I'll make the purchase for you. Quantities are limited!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
I know I've mentioned this before, but the shipment arrived today, and I just finished reading it, and I just have to mention this again...

Go order yourself a copy of Wil Wheaton's first book, Dancing Barefoot.

I could say all sorts of complimentary things about this lovely effort from a first-time author. I could provide a more descriptive summary of the stories within it, because that's a standard reviewer's trick, right? I could try to put into words how oddly wonderful it feels to read stories from the perspective of an unashamedly introspective geek. I could try to explain how jarringly comfortable it is to get past the chasm that celebrity status builds between people and read simple honesty from this guy that a lot of people think they know, who really is just a guy, and because of that is remarkable. I could tell you how loud I laughed, unexpectedly, and how much I sympathized. I could mention how much it simply got to me, in the nostalgic and reminiscent ways that likely only thirtysomethings' writings can to do to other thirtysomethings. I could write about how great it feels to be a Trekkie right about now... or I could just stop typing and grab a Kleenex, and you could stop reading this and just go order a copy of the book.

Are you still here?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
So I'm walking from my car to the office this morning, and I overhear not one but two separate conversations between passersby on the sidewalk concerning the geek test. A guy and a gal were lamenting that they weren't geeky enough in specific categories, and two guys were apparently considering using it as a checklist for developing new hobbies.


For the record, I took the test one evening a few weeks back after seeing it mentioned in the Soapbox messageboards at I think I'm a recovering geek. Or something. I used to be much geekier than I am now.

Currently: 37.47535% - Major Geek
At the height of my geekiness: 45.36489% - Super Geek

I have mixed feelings about this. For instance, I do not regret that I no longer play WH40K. But I suspect I should have gotten bonus points for carrying around my Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet canvas bag and posting advertisements for Wil Wheaton's new book across the back window of my car.

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
I got some work on personal projects done over the three day weekend, and spent a bit of time on work stuff, too. Though I'm not finished with the work stuff and some of the personal stuff, I did finish a few things, and that feels great. Done is such a nice word!

I wish I could somehow bottle that kind of good accomplished feeling to sip a bit of during the times when I'm feeling really down.

I bet Wil's feeling the same way right about now...

If you haven't pre-ordered a copy of Dancing Barefoot yet, why not?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Growing up soaking up PBS like a happy little sponge, and fostering an ever-present interest in ancient archaeology, I have a particular soft spot for books and documentaries by Michael Wood.

In Search Of The Trojan War was one of my favorite miniseries growing up, and I've always been disappointed that I somehow managed to miss seeing Legacy: The Origins of Civilization. Many of those shows have companion books, and Michael Wood has written books not associated with his television productions. I have a hardbound copy of this version of Legacy, and there's a paperback version that's still in print. They're both available used online.

I can't seem to find DVD or VHS versions for the home viewing market, but Legacy is available on VHS for public viewing, though that of course makes it expensive, $500. And I see that DVD for public viewing will be available in June 2003... for $300. *sigh*

Another of Wood's recent series is already available on home VHS and in book form: In The Footsteps of Alexander the Great. Unfortunately PBS doesn't seem to be ahead of the curve on offering their shows on DVD. Perhaps I'll get the book and wait for the DVDs to come out...

Why am I blathering about all of this today, you ask, especially at such length? Well, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning and couldn't get ancient Babylon out of my mind. Yes, this is normal; it happens from time to time, though it's sometimes ancient Sumer, Akkadian city-state warfare or mythology, Neo-Babylonian culture, the Hittites... but I've been trying not to think too much about any of this because of recent events in Iraq.

Seriously, that sand is so bloodsoaked that it's difficult to be optimistic about our species sometimes. We've been battling over the same piece of roasted desert for over five thousand years... that's at least a hundred and fifty generations. And that's just since we settled in city-communities from the marshlands of southern Iraq... and much of what is now desert did not used to be so. Civilization, literally meaning the settling of humankind into cities, has always damaged the surrounding environment, and has always included warfare. Until we maintain family-unit dwellings in cities which are net-zero impact on the environment, and until we learn to get along with our neighbors both near and far, those patterns are not going to change.

I also read an article yesterday on Slate that got me thinking... seven ways to reduce ethnic and religious tension in Iraq.

I highly recommend reading Legacy, especially the chapter about Sumer and the chapter about the barbarians of the West. Wood denigrates the idea of sovereign nation-states, which differs from my own opinion, but otherwise the trends he draws attention to in the book are quite profound.

As a side note: I don't trust world-scale government. I feel that government, even representative government, as removed from its constituency as my own California state and US national governments are, is significantly out of touch with reality and this can lead to both dangerous governmental behavior and lack of accountability.

But back to Legacy... I took Western Civ in high school. I took world history in middle school. And I learned some mythology in elementary school. I grew up steeped in Midwest American Protestantism and Catholicism. And still I have the deep-in-the-gut impression that civilization and rationality flowered most brilliantly in my cultural heritage in Classical Greece, or perhaps in the Enlightenment...

*buzzzt* Wrong. Those were important steps along the way, but did not exist in a vacuum. They were firmly tied to their own cultural heritage, and most of that came from outside Europe.

I think I'm going to end up typing a brief history of Western Civilization here in the next few days, just to try to keep everything straight in my mind... because there's a traceable path from Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq through the ancient cultures and ethno-religious traditions of the Middle East and through the Greek and Roman cultures of the Classical period straight through to modern times.

And unless I regularly feed my thirst for ancient history, I tend to forget that those influences exist. For some reason, the idea doesn't stick.

It's far easier, far cleaner, to assume that the flower of Western (yes, you can read that as American if you like, most Americans do) culture has strong stems in Rome, and broad, clean leaves in Classical Greece, with its toga-clad philosophers and playwrights and gleaming architectures... and that our culture's roots are so obscure that either no one knows about them or they are so old that all reliable records have been destroyed or lost to time. We're willing to own up to our Roman, Greek, and even Egyptian interests and influences... check out the Egyptian obelisk Washington Monument, or the Doric temple Lincoln Memorial, or the Greco-Roman Jefferson Memorial.

Our roots aren't that hidden. Our influences go deeper than we want to acknowledge, and we are simply another step along the path humanity is walking. And our school systems need to be teaching that.

Another idea that wouldn't leave me alone this morning is tied in with the nation-state sovereignty issue. The global economy, if free trade is allowed, will self-select for specialization... countries will use their resources (both material and human) to produce and export goods and services if they can do those specific things priced competitively, or they will be forced to import those goods or services. National governments may try to place trade barriers on items going in or coming out, to try to tune what their countries produce and import, and that is both a good and a bad thing (that's probably fodder for a whole separate essay!). The exchange of ideas, however, really does need to be free. Without the free trade of ideas, I personally think we'll all be in big, big trouble.

That said, there's an interesting line in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about the babel fish... communication without civility or tolerance will also probably lead humanity to disaster.

I've always enjoyed the BBC's production of the book, and have it on DVD.

The Babel Fish is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it.

The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel Fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel Fish. Meanwhile, the poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.

And no, my brain's gears aren't really slowing down much today. That's helped me get work done this morning, and hopefully the trend will continue this afternoon, as I have a bunch of documentation to type up. If it's still churning away tonight I may do that brief history entry tonight... and cling to optimism rather than pessimism about our species and our world.

Don't panic!

February 2017

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