Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MMM: Monday Movie Meme, Tuesday edition, with some whining thrown in because it's my blog and I can whine if I want to...

It's MMM at Nicole's place, The Madlab Post, and I for one feel like I've finally found a blogging kindred “best of intentions but real life DOES come first, meme or not” buddy. I met Nicole in January and it was friends at first sight, but the way both of our lives are going, it's like we're traveling very parallel (as in equally crazy) but different (everyone has different issues plaguing their priorities) paths that leave not as much time for our “me” as our “shoulds”. So she published her MMM Monday evening. Great. I'm publishing mine Tuesday morning (this is where you say great). I mean seriously, if Monday Night Football can have a special Thursday edition...

Today's theme of the meme (it's early, let me use some stupid puns, will ya'?) is missing. Haha! Ok, seriously, it is. Kidnapped or missing people.

This was the first movie I thought of because it's a recurring nightmare. Young child gets kidnapped during a crowd scene. It stars Mel Gibson and Renee Russo. And yes, someone who's been on my top five list* for years: Gary Sinise. Here's where the stolen picture from imdb would go...but I'm being a good girl. Click on “Ransom” though...and you'll be at imdb reading all about the movie. Seeing the picture, too.  That's true whenever I do a MMM, by the way. Click on title. Got it?

I loved this movie. But I wasn't rooting for them to find the husband, so sorry. I've got a serious crush on Russell Crowe, but five is a small number and since Bruce Springsteen's name is there in sharpie, never to be erased, I only have four working slots. (See foot note about top five game) Russell has occupied one, from time to time, depends on if he has a current movie out...yes, I'm fickle. It's my list though. I was rooting for the explosive chemistry between him and Meg Ryan. Did keep the movie interesting: satisfy the fans, kill of kidnapped husband, Meg and Russell run off together, leaving dangerous South America behind, or go with the Hollywood ending, find husband alive, family reunited, blah, blah, blah. I still recommend it!

     

Here's where the movie part of the post ends and the whining part starts. Feel free to leave. I'm certainly not in the mood to listen to whining today...

I'm in some kind of mood this morning, aren't? Yup. It's called prednisone.

I'm sending you to the NIH sight. Be sure to scroll down to the long list of side effects – that's my point in sending you...if you're interested in exactly the level of hell I've been occupying since 8/5. I have 90% of those side effects, including the serious ones (yes, I've called my doctor.  I've had four appointments in 10 days...) And have two more weeks of fun ahead of me (at least). Call me crazy, which I am, but breathing is a priority. I have an old post on bed rest from 2010 you can read since you're not busy...or are the sympathetic sort and want to write me an email and say, “Oh poor baby.” I've been on bed rest for almost all of August except for three glorious days when I felt OK. I went to the grocery store. And the bank.

*If you haven't played the top five game, or heard of it, it's probably not for you since it's been around so long. I feel you deserve all the facts though, so I'll give the tame version: your top five celebrities of the gender you'd enjoy...spending some quality time with.*  Mine?  You want to know MY list?  Well, OK.

Bruce Springsteen
Ryan Reynolds
Gary Sinise
Ed Harris
Bill Murray

Yes.  I suppose that makes me weird.  Is that really news?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Introducing New Tab: Nickname Translator

I added a tab up there. It's my nickname translator. Do me a favor and make sure the tab works, and then please leave me a comment about whether my descriptions should be shorter, longer, etc. In other words, EVALUATE. You can leave the comment here, or on that page. I plan to keep adding to it like I do my “about me” tab, but if I'm already doing it wrong, I want to know. Seriously. Hit me. Thanks.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Link Back Signatures: Spammy or Not Spammy, that is the Question...

You came back! Glad you're not sick of me, yet ;-)

First of all, I'm not here to “sell” you on the idea of having a link-back signature. I'm not here to convince you that you need to change. The real beauty of Blogland for me is that we all get to be who we are. Or who we want to invent ourselves to be – we're all in one big boat, there's infinite room, and we get to hang out in any class we want, behave anyway we want (provided it's legal - my lawyer made me say that.)

In addition, the opinions expressed here are MY opinions. The opinions of Tina Downey do not necessarily represent the opinions of the ENTIRE A-Z TEAM. I do know that they are shared by some of the A-Z Team members. You can identify them by their, um, link back signatures at the end of their comments :-)

I think we'd better start with the definition, since 25% of our responders didn't know what the question meant. A link back signature is a hyperlink, just like any clickable piece of text on any website you visit, and by clicking it, you land on that person's blog. Sometimes it's their front page, sometimes it's on a particular post they'd like you to read. It's a wormhole, for you sci-fi fans, instantly transporting you past what I'm about to reveal, and lands you safely on the commenter’s blog.

Many of you pointed out that it's not necessary to have one, people can find you anyway. Yes. Patient, technically savvy, experienced bloggers can. They know that they can click on your name or your picture, pull up your profile, see the list of six blogs you own, guess which one is most active, click on that blog, find out you haven't written anything there for two years, stay patient, click on another blog, find that one more active, but still not the A-Z blog...and that's where I give up. Maybe it's different when you're a host and have to visit 300 blogs in the first three days. You're not quite as patient.

Another example. My friend Jeremy Hawkins (I could make his name clickable and you'd be right there, but he's in the sidebar, so you can easily click there) has MY blog listed in his list. That's because he's my admin. He built my beautiful sunflower and flamingo blog from scratch. I have him listed as a blog owner. I don't have to – but why wouldn't I want to advertise for someone who did such a nice thing for me, just out of friendship? He's freelance, word of mouth. I've got a button for him too. BUT, if you were trying to find HIS blog, you'd see Life is Good listed, might click there, and wouldn't be at his house at all. You'd be at Rydell IV, not the international space station. Am I making sense?

As a team, before the challenge started, we had a guest poster who wrote a FANTASTIC tutorial about how to make a hyperlink signature. You'll find it here. Check it out! Then you can choose how you'd like to operate, fully (fuller?) informed about this option of easily getting people to your blog. You are blogging to get people to read your work, right?

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Survey Results Are In!

First of all, these should have gone up yesterday.  They did at the A-Z blog and I was going to put a link here and send you there...and then I ran out of "me" time and had to go to WALMART on a SATURDAY because I love my child and he didn't get the right school supplies the first time.  So...

Your anxiously awaited survey results are in! Most of you know I'm a math nerd...mathematician by degree. Yes, weird for a writer. You've probably already noticed the weird part without me pointing it out...

There are lots of ways to present statistics to mislead. I shall not go into that here, because we have plenty of commercials from both sides of the political aisle giving us examples of that...

I'm going to give you “just the facts, ma'am”. I will probably not resist some comments along the way about what I found. I promised you MY answers, those will be in the comment section. I feel strongly about one of these questions, so you will get an earful about that one. You've been warned.  But that's tomorrow.

Note to all readers, math-nerd or not: IF you bother to add up the percentages for each of the questions, the total will NOT come to a nice 100%. There are three reasons for this.

  1. Some people gave more than one answer to a question.
  2. Some people didn't answer all the questions.
  3. I rounded.

Question #1: AS A BLOGGER, how do you interact with your commenters?

3% : on my blog, if it's a question, by email

27.5% : visit back and comment (one person said but don't comment)

27.5% : reply in blocks in the comment chain

4% : reply in the reply box in my comments

1% : Twitter

1% : interact, um yes, that was the question, you missed the how part, but am acknowledging your answer ;-) Can't leave any stats out you know. Wouldn't be honest. We have some lovely parting gifts for you. (I'm teasing, by the way. I do that.)

14% email

1% : phone (proud to say this is one of MY readers, who answered at my blog, and he's an amazing supporter of all levels of writers and bloggers, BUT, I couldn't drag him to the A-Z, and I REALLY tried...)

Question #2: AS A COMMENTER, what is your preferred method of being noticed for taking the time to leave a comment?

23.5% : visit my blog

18.5% : I don't need to be noticed (aw...you give, without expecting anything back, what great people hang out here)

29.4% : in the comments, but I don't always go back and check

6% : direct reply (don't know what this method is...but couldn't just assume so I included it)

11.8% : email

6% : varies, but I like email

6% : comment back

6% : respond (see how hard this is?)

6% : acknowledged (as I was saying...)

Question #3: Now here's the rub: are those answers the same? Why or why not?

(Note to survey writers, don't ask why or why not...give multiple choice questions. THEN the percents will add up. And the results post won't be War and Peace...)

64.7% : The Golden Rule – I respond the way I do, because that's how I want others to respond to me. Ah...we have such nice readers, don't we?

17.6% not the same way (with LOTS of explanations – go see the comments, or I'll be writing War and Peace AND The Brothers Karamazov...in one post)

6% I'm more forgiving of others than myself – I work hard to interact, but it doesn't bother me when no one acknowledges me. (I just had to include this one. Quality blogger. Not that you're not...just sayin'...)

6% Everyone is different. I can't expect that what I do is what another does. Everyone gets to choose. (Very sensible and observant. Had to include this one too. This is a patient, caring person. Not that you're not...sheesh...gotta quit these side comments...)

6% Same but different (????)

6% I just try to visit as many people as possible, regardless of whether they comment or not (aw...I keep telling you we have great people around here!)

Question #4 :Do you tend to read blogs that are similar to yours, say a writer learning from another how to market well, or to get tips, etc?

53% no
35% yes
17.6% yes, but I don't limit it to that
6% yes and no (???)

Question #5 : Do you read a variety of blogs, and if so why?

79% yes

5% I read my blog roll

12% no, there's not enough time

Question #6 : How do you decide who goes in your blog roll in your side-bar? Is it ALL the blogs you follow?

26.3% those I've developed friendships with

5% I investigate, then decide

5% I choose 25, otherwise it would be ALL of them, and that would be ridiculous

20% the ones that I don't want to miss a post from

47% I don't have a blog roll

Question #7 : Do you return follow just based on unspoken etiquette principle, or is there more to your decision?

10% yes

21% no

16% I follow if I'm interested

16% I return follow unless the blog is objectionable, or they are just fishing for followers

10% I investigate their blog, and then make a decision

5% If I wouldn't hang out with them in real life, I don't follow their blog (gotta say, this was my favorite answer...)

5% a bit of both

5% I add them to my google reader, then make a decision after a while

10% I used to, but now I use the google reader instead

Question #8: To you have link back signature? If not, why? If yes, why?

40% no

18% yes

25% I don't know

This one I really want to discuss. REALLY want to discuss. So I'm going to write a separate post about it on Monday, August 20th. Come on back!

Did these results surprise you? Are you “normal”? Are you “unique”? Talk to me.  Just a note of tabulation, since only two people answered all the questions here, I combined your answers with the 20 I had at the A-Z Blog.  Resistance is futile.  You have been assimilated.  You hear that, Brian?  LOL.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And The Survey Says...

I was a big fan of Family Feud growing up...and I've been formulating a bit of a survey in the back of my head as I read the wonderful guest posts here (referring to the A-Z Blog, where this post also resides today) and observe the interactions between bloggers and readers and writers and others who drop by. We thank you ALL for visiting. The A-Z is NOT just for writers. There just happen to be a lot of us who joined. However, it is an event for BLOGGERS.

So to all you BLOGGERS out there...here's your chance to participate in the behind the scenes survey that they revealed the results of on the show. Of course, the answers will be public, but if necessary, I will do a follow up post tallying the answer should there be (gasp!) so many comments (I hope..) that you can't possibly read them all.

Please read each question carefully. Some will sound a bit alike. Are you ready?By the way, no right or wrong answers, just hoping to start a dialogue, or perhaps if I get lucky, a knock-down, drag out DEBATE! I love those comment chains...so lay it on us, total truth please:

  1. AS A BLOGGER, how do you interact with your commenters?

  2. AS A COMMENTER, what is your preferred method of being noticed for taking the time to leave a comment?

  3. Now here's the rub: are those answers the same? Why or why not?

  4. Do you tend to read blogs that are similar to yours, say a writer learning from another how to market well, or to get tips, etc?

  5. Do you read a variety of blogs, and if so why?

  6. How do you decide who goes in your blog roll in your side-bar? Is it ALL the blogs you follow?

  7. Do you return follow just based on unspoken etiquette principle, or is there more to your decision?

  8. To you have link back signature? If not, why? If yes, why?

Also, please feel free to only answer the ones you're interested in, but for survey tallying, please number your answers for this math nerd. I do love long, rambly comments, but for the sake of my purpose here...please play along according to my admittedly, totally, control-freak bossy tendencies.

As Brenda (The Closer) would say, “Thank you, thank you so much!” Or something. I've only watched one episode and am hooked. In my netflix queue. Feel free to correct my quote...

If you'd like to learn more about this control freak, math nerd, chatty to a fault writer, check out my "About Me" tab.  I add to it fairly regularly.

If you missed my April 2012 A-Z Challenge "Postcards from Sweden", it's not too late to read those either ;-)


P.S Of course I'll answer all of these myself. But at the end of the day so as to not influence the totally truthful results. Snork.

P.P.S This is my post at the A-Z Blog today, so if you'd rather answer there, go ahead.  I know that comment chain will be really interesting because we've already had several debates about some of these isssues...Not that my commenters aren't interesting...oh, just shut up Tina.  Just read this SOMEWHERE.  Please?  Sigh.  I really do need to join Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Group.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

MMM: Monday Movie Meme @ Madlab Post: Dreams

Oh, I love what Nicole's chosen for her MMM: Monday Movie Meme this week: dreams. I'm a dreamer. I dream in full technicolor, and I can usually fly away when things get bad. I take off by leaning back, turn myself over, and then do the Swedish breast-stroke (you don't put your head under water with each stroke...at least not when swimming in the frigid lakes. I suppose you might if you were in the Olympics...)to achieve whatever height I need for that particular dream.

Nightmares are bad though, can't fly at all, can't move, can't do a cartwheel (which used to be my form of escape back when I was a gymnast – I'd madly and quickly cartwheel away from the bad guy – but in nightmares my feet never land, I always fall on my side).

I also have dreams within a dream within a dream within a dream. These are freaky because it's always normal stuff. I'm taking a nap, someone comes in wakes me up, stuff happens. Usually normal stuff. THEN I wake up and realize it was a dream, and more stuff happens, and so on. I've done four levels. Then when I'm finally, REALLY awake, I wonder why I could possibly have thought I was awake before because NOW everything is real. Which brings me to my favorite dream movie. Any guesses? 

I'd go to IMDB and steal the picture, like I used to, but apparently that is frowned upon these days. So I've linked you. I think linking is still OK. I mean, they want you to see the movie, right? I know it's a fairly well known movie, but I don't want to give anything away. However, it's a perfect example of dream-in a dream-in a dream times four. I LOVED it. See it. Watch carefully. Then lets debate the ending.

Don't forget to visit Nicole and see what dreams she picked, or put up your own post and link to it in her comments.

What movies do you like with a dream sequence, theme, etc? I love getting recommendations. You might have noticed we watch a LOT of movies around here...

P.S YES, it's Tuesday.  I'm late.  Sorry.  Getting ready for back to school while on bed rest isn't exactly the easiest task with all your relatives out of town for the wedding you had to miss...but enough whining for now.  You know you can always come back another day for more ;-)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tour of Tracy Arm Fjord: YOU Asked for More Pictures...

Tracy Arm Fjord was my favorite part of the cruise. Four hours of traveling a box canyon of startlingly tall and steep mountains, in water of Caribbean blue, while playing the name the ice-berg game. Haven't played it? It's like name the cloud.

Well, not quite. You've got 350 balconies whose conversations you can hear who are also participating. That might sound annoying, since sound carries well on water and certainly bounces off mountains that look so close you could reach out and touch them, but it wasn't annoying. It was one of those bonding things, and the guys on the balcony next to us let us borrow some of their binoculars, we lent them our corkscrew, it was all great. I'll let the pictures tell the story.  

Balconies to our stern.  

iPad guy - NO iPAD! (see last post for story) 

We have to make that narrow turn and not do a Titanic...

For scale.  that's a fairly good size fishing boat. 

Out of which these guys got into a motor boat...

We passed a LOT of icebergs.  I'd say this one was the size of a Kia.  

The icebergs that calve from the bottom of the glacier, the ones that have been scraping along the bottom, next to the ground for thousands of years, aren't as pretty...but wow, totally cool to learn about.  

So here's one of those streams I talked about in my former post, and you can also see that it isn't just big icebergs.  Some of those are dinner tray size.  

Our first glimpse of the glacier at the end of the fjord.  Somehow, I hadn't wrapped my brain around the fact that a fjord ends at the glacier which formed it...and we have to somehow turn this giant boat around...

So here we are at the end.  You can't see it from any of my pictures, but with the binoculars from next door, we could see a colony of seals living on the ice which floats a bit away from where the glacier calves.  It's a pretty flat sheet, and they lay around on top like little sausages (until you get binoculars) and were really amazing to get to see.

So how did we turn around?  We pivoted.  He kept us in place, the center of the boat not moving, and just spun the ends around.  Then we went back out the way we came, only we got to see all the cool stuff on the other side!

Wanna play the name the iceberg game?  I just have two for you since this is getting so long, but let me know what you see in these, and next time I post, I'll tell you the 350 balcony consensus.  Ok, there was no consensus.  As there cannot be.  Beauty of this magnitude is in the eyes of the blessed beholder.  


#2 a and #2b (foreground)

If you're still reading, bless you.  I know vacation pictures aren't popular, but two people asking was enough for me to want to share this amazing experience with you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Alaska: Obsevations, and only 3 of 250 pictures!

As I write this, some of God's most amazing creation is in view from this fabulous balcony. Rugged, tree covered mountains are dotted with snow-caps melting, causing waterfalls of cascading, individual pearly ribbons on their way down to the sea. All of this glory is peeking out between the hovering, misty layers of cloudy bands, so strand-like I want to wind them into a ball of fluffy whitish-grey yarn. 

We're approaching Juneau, though still three hours away, there are power lines, fishing boats, sailboats, houses dotting the shoreline. Birds. An otter poked his head up to say “Hi!” about 50 yards from the ship! Yesterday, I saw a “teenage” whale breech four times as it traveled the length of our ship and disappeared astern. Reminded me of a skateboarder showing off. “Let's go! You know they want a show! I'll do my twirling breach – they'll go nuts!”

During my breakfast - fetched from the sumptuous, varied for all cultures buffet and brought to my balcony - the onboard naturalist gave us a brief glacier lecture, as we passed a hanging glacier. I didn't learn about this type on my last trip. It's a glacier the ends part way up the mountain and doesn't move much. Thus the hanging, I guess. Took me a while to spot it, until I saw a baby-blue dragon's head and followed it up the mountain. I know it's weird, but the dragon was wearing a princess dress, spread all poofy in it's hoop, with the hem at the top of the mountain. I didn't have my camera, and the iPhone photo is horrid so here's a link to a wiki article with a goodpicture. Mine was bluer though!

The water has changed color dramatically, from “ocean” to a gorgeous green-turquoise color. 

I think it's because it's shallower. Glad that there are 350 balconies on this starboard side because I was writing, not looking, when a little girl alerted me, “Daddy! Come quick! The water just changed color completely!” Sure enough. Thanks for the info!

We totally scored getting the upgrade to a private balcony stateroom. We have a roof that extends past the railing by a whole balcony width, so we can sit out here in the rain and not get wet, and we can sit out here in the sun and not get burned. We could also throw things at the three levels of balconies below us, which are staggered like a terrace.

I want to throw a ping-pong ball at the guy in the front row of balconies who has barely put down his iPad since we boarded. Seriously? You don't want to see any of this? Did you get dragged here? Probably. A dad type guy is out a lot with his binoculars.

If you had the chance to see all of this natural beauty, would you be sitting there in the virtual world, for a mighty stiff price I might add, or would you be taking in the scenery? C'mon, be honest. Ping-pong balls don't really hurt. That much.

Have you been to Alaska?  What's the best trip you ever took?