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I'm doing Nanowrimo again this year! I'm already over 21,000 words, and I think I'm on my way to winning. As I've been working on my novel, I've made an observation. The internet is an *invaluable* tool for writers! I know I'm saying anything earth shattering here. I'm sure most writers use the internet a lot. However, this just occurred to me. I don't write as much as I should or would like to, and often when I *do* write, it's fantasy or sci-fi. When characters have magic or futuristic technology there isn't much you can't explain or do. I'm still doing fantasy for Nanowrimo, but the setting is a quasi-medieval world, so I want at least some realism, especially considering my main character has no magic. A few times while writing I've found myself Googling the information I need. It takes a few minutes, I put the information in my story, and I'm done! Before the internet I would have had to look up what I wanted in a book, assuming I had the one I needed. It not, I would have had to go to the library to look up what I wanted to know. Going to the library is certainly not a hardship, but if you're on a roll with your story, you don't want to stop. And what if you're writing when the library isn't open? You can always wing it and guess, but if you're like me, you really want to make sure things are accurate, even in a fantasy world. So, yes. I'm probably *at least* ten years too late in realizing this, but the internet is a valuable tool. Use it!
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I just finished reading J.K. Rowling's first book for adults, "The Casual Vacancy". Honestly, I wasn't thrilled with it. I'm not sure if this is because the book isn't great or because I'm generally not big fan of general fiction. I think most of the people who read this know I prefer sci-fi and fantasy. I probably would never have picked up this book if it didn't have J.K. Rowling's name on it. I'm going to put the rest of my thoughts under a cut in case some people don't want to be spoiled.

The Casual Vacancy )
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More precisely, thoughts on the season 7 fall finale. Cut for those who haven't seen it yet. )
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I just found out Neil Armstrong died at age 82. This is so sad. Armstrong has always been kind of a hero of mine. When I was in kindergarten I wanted to become and astronaut, and I thought I was going to be the first person to land on Pluto. I used to read astronomy books for fun, and I thought it was amazing that Neil Armstrong got to walk on the moon. The words "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed," always give me goosebumps. I wasn't alive for the moon landing, and I wish I could have witnessed it. I'm sure July 20, 1969 was an amazing day for humanity. I still think Neil Armstrong is an amazing man, and I'm very sad that he's no long with with us. Armstrong's family said, "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request: Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink." Neil Armstrong will be missed.
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For anyone I don't know on Facebook who wants to see my photos of Chris Colfer at ALA here's a link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100946692357815.2731171.9425247&type=3&l=fdaabeb0d2.

He just spoke behind a podium, so there weren't many "action shots". Instead I tried to capture different facial expressions.
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I saw Chris Colfer (Kurt on Glee) speak at ALA yesterday. I have photos, but they'll be posted later. I didn't bring the cord to transfer photos from my camera to my computer, so I won't be able to post photos until I'm back in PA. However I want to write about Chris Colfer's talk while it's still fresh in my mind. I was a very good talk, both interesting and funny. I got in line early, so I had a seat in the front row.

Chris Colfer opened by saying, "I'm going to talk about my book in moment, but first I want to say that Disneyland is right here. It's within walking distance. There are, what, 1000 of us here? We could stage a coup and take it over. They're not going to arrest 1000 librarians and Chris Colfer from Glee. It would be terrible publicity. Like clubbing baby seals." After some laughing and clapping from the audience he moved onto talking about his book The Land of Stories. The plot involves two kids to get a magic book that pulls them into the fairy tale world. He really likes fairy tales, and apparently he's had this story idea in his head since he was 10. He showed us a scanned picture of cover art he drew when he was 10. Obviously it changed a little for the book, but it wasn't bad! He also created a map for the world in MS Paint when he was in high school. Since the story had been in his head for so long Chris Colfer had definite ideas about what he wanted the pictures in his book to look like. He corrected the artist on the drawing of Rapunzel's tower, a crown, and a sword. He also said of the title on the cover, "Can the "of" in "The Land of Stories" be 3 millimeters smaller then the rest of the print so the title looks straight and not arched?" He then said he proceeded to get out a ruler and measure it! He's pretty sure the artist hates him or was at least really frustrated. He talked about how his first editor was his grandmother. He'd show her a chapter, and if it was good she'd tell him. If it was bad she'd throw it in the trash and say, "You can do better than this." Chris Colfer said he enjoyed the whole writing process, although he did sometimes think his book would never be published. At those times he just kept pushing forward. When asked about who would play what parts should the book ever be made into a movie he said he'd prefer it just to remain a book. There was clapping and cheering from the audience at that. There will also be a sequel to the book since he was given a two book deal.

Apparently he's also gotten some strange questions from reporters about this book. Some examples:
Reporter: So, is there singing and dancing in your book?
Chris: No, it's not like a hallmark card where you open it and music plays.

Reporter: Where did you get the idea?
Chris: Actually it's been in my head since I was 10.
Reporter: Wow, so you've been thinking about this for 5 years?
Chris: ...12 years.

Reporter: Is the book about a gay teen struggling for acceptance?
Chris: No.
Reporter: So what is is about?
Chris: It's about two kids who get a magical book that pulls them into a fairy tale world.
Reporter: Is it autobiographical?
Chris: Um, no... A, I'm one person, not two. And B, I've never gotten a magical book that pulled me into a fairy tale land.

Some other tidbits gleaned from his talk:
-The publishers originally wanted a memoir, but Chris Colfer refused. "I don't want to be that 22 year old guy writing about his life experience."
-He has a cat named Brian who tries to sit on his lap and/or keyboard when he types. He gets out a laser pointer to distract the cat when this happens.
-He likes fantasy and biographies best for reading.
-He once wrote a play called "Shirley Todd", a parody of "Sweeney Todd". He would love to see it produced on Broadway.
-He thinks we shouldn't use the term "bullying", and use "harassing" instead. "Bullying" implies the schoolyard, and something that may not be taken too seriously. "Harassing" sounds much more serious.

California

Jun. 21st, 2012 12:01 am
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I've been in California since June 10th. I started out in Fresno to visit my aunt and uncle. My cousin and her children Sam (almost 3) and Nora (3 months) were there too. It was my first time meeting Nora. She's very cute, and so strong! She can't crawl yet or anything, but she loves being held so she's standing. As she's doing that she'll flex her leg muscles. I'd met Sam once before, but it was back 2010 so he didn't remember me. However Sam is pretty friendly, and he warmed up to me very quickly. Before too long he was asking me to play with him and watch him do things like brush his teeth, put on his pajamas, etc. What really impressed me is how well Sam can talk and communicate. Within my first couple days of meeting him Sam informed me of the following: "Glass is breakable, we don't walk in the street, we need to wash our hands, and we don't touch grandpa's guitar." He also used the words "actually" and "steep" correctly. I also love the way he talks. Often, instead of just "yes" or "no" Sam will say, "I think yes," or "I think no." And instead of just demanding someone do something for him (as I've heard kids do), he'll say, "Would you like to..." Example: "Elizabeth, would you like to play with me in my tent?" (My aunt and uncle have a play tent set up for him in the living room.)

The weekend of Father's Day my other uncle, my other cousin, her husband, and her kids Nathan (age 7) and Talia (age 3) visited, and we had a mini family reunion. We went to Storyland (http://storylandplayland.com/) which I remembered loving as a child. It's changed a bit since I was a kid, but it was still fun. Sam, Talia, and Nathan loved it. Nora was too young to appreciate it. We had a barbeque, and just caught up with each other. I hadn't seem my other cousin since 2004 or my other uncle since 2006. It was my first time meeting Nathan and Talia. Overall it was a good weekend, and everyone had fun.

Now I'm in Anaheim, CA. I drove down from Fresno today. I will be going to the ALA Annual Conference here as well as spending two days in Disneyland. Tomorrow I'm getting my registration info from the conference and then going to Disneyland. I'll spend Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at the conference. Then on Tuesday I'm going back to Disneyland. I'll drive back to Fresno, and spend two more days with my aunt and uncle before flying back to PA. I'm very excited! I loved ALA last year, and I know I love Disneyland. I'm also excited that Chris Colfer (Kurt on Glee) will be at ALA.
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My dad is coming home from the hospital tomorrow! He'll still be on antibiotics when he gets home, and the neurosurgeon wants a follow up, but over all he's doing much, much better. Thanks to everyone for all the good thoughts and support you gave me while dad was in the hospital. I really appreciate it.

Knoxville

Apr. 18th, 2012 08:48 pm
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I was in Knoxville, TN this past weekend. I left Thursday and came back on Monday. This was my first trip back since moving to PA. I had a lot fun. On Friday I wandered around the UT campus a bit and visited the botanical gardens. I also went to McKay's. For those who don't know it's an awesome used book store. I love McKay's so much! I picked up a few books there and then took a short nap at my friend Crystal's apartment (where I was staying) since I had been up late the night before and was tired. Later I had dinner at Stefano's. That's a local pizza place, and it's really, really good. McKay's and Stefano's are two of the things I miss most about Knoxville.

The next day Crystal and I drove into the Smokey Mountains. Being close to the Smokies is another things I miss about living in Knoxville. We drove around and I took some pictures of some pretty plants and views. From there we headed to Pigeon Forge and got stuck in as huge line of traffic. We'd failed to realize there was a classic car show in town. However we finally made it to our destination: the Titanic Museum. By coincidence we were there on the 100th anniversary of the sinking. Because of that it was pretty crowded, but it was still fun. The museum is excellent with a lot of artifacts. It also had a replica of the Grand Staircase based on the ship's blueprints. In addition there was a room where you could touch an (artificial) iceberg and feel water that was the temperature of the ocean water the night the Titanic went down (28 degrees). In addition to the building of the ship and the sinking the museum included a small section about the movie and a part about the discovery of the wreck. The whole thing was narrated by an audio tour, and all the staff were dressed as maids or butlers from the ship. I thought it was very well done. The only things that bothered me were two items in the gift shop. One was a set of earrings and a necklace with replicas of the Titanic on them. It seemed wrong to wear replicas of a ship that killed over 1000 people. Also, the way the charms were hanging the ship's bow was pointing down like it was when it sank. The other thing was a pen that had a sliding picture in it. It slid around depending on which way you turned the pen. This one had a picture of the Titanic sliding to and away from an iceberg. However, aside from those things, I liked the gift shop. I got some postcards and a book signed by the author who was there for the 100th anniversary of the sinking.

On Sunday I just relaxed a bit. I played some video games and went back to McKay's where I got a few more books. That evening Crystal and I had dinner at Olive Garden. Overall, it was a very good visit. I had a lot of fun.
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I saw this article about a Katniss Barbie doll on Yahoo earlier today. I don't have any huge objections to Barbie; I played with Barbie dolls a lot as a kid. I know their proportions are all off, and all the other complaints, but it doesn't bother me too much. Maybe it should, but it doesn't. However the Katniss doll does disturb me. For one thing, the article states that the doll is "make-up free", but it doesn't seem that way to me in the picture. Okay, her lips aren't red or pink, and there's no blush, but she doesn't exactly look "make-up free" either. In fact before I read the article I was looking at the photo and wondering why she was wearing eyeliner and mascara. Apparently those are not there, and I'm just seeing things. That's not my biggest complaint though. My biggest complaint is that the doll looks perfect - no cuts, bruises, burns, etc. I know very few people would want a doll like that, but to me it would make it truer to the books. Katniss (and everyone else) went through horrible, horrible things. And here she is, standing there looking perfect. I know I'm probably reading waaay too much into those. After all, it's just a doll. But that's how I feel.
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I'd actually like to go beyond our solar system, and even beyond the galaxy. However, if I'm going to be confined the solar system I'd like to visit the following places: the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto just to name a few. When I was in kindergarten I thought I was going to be the first person to land on Pluto, or maybe stand on an ice chunk in Saturn's rings. Obviously I didn't have a grasp of just how far away those places are.

I really thought (and still think) that being an astronaut and going into space would be the coolest thing ever. I was not meant to be an astronaut though. I'm not all that interested in math or science. I'm also just not good at math. However I've heard rumors about space tourism, and I used to hope someday I might still get into space. Unfortunately I got proof that it was not meant to be. The proof came from a ride in Disney World that opened in 2003 called Mission Space. I was in Disney World within a year or two of it opening, and I was extremely excited to try the ride. Real astronauts had ridden it and said it was "pretty realistic". I got on the ride and started feeling sick a little ways into it. By the end I felt horrible. I had to sit down when I exited, and my mom told me I looked green. I know I have a sensitive stomach, and I'm prone to sea sickness, but it honestly never occurred to me that going into space (or simulating it) would make me that sick. I was very disappointed and let down. As I said, this was actual proof that me going into space is not a good idea. I'd still like to get to the moon, Mars, or even just into orbit as a "space tourist". But it's not in the cards.
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So we finally confirmed our travel plans for California this summer. We're leaving for California June 10th, and coming back home June 30th. I know that's a long time, but we haven't seen my aunt and uncle since 2006. I haven't seen my cousin Natalie since 2004, and while I saw my cousin Lisa recently (relatively speaking - 2009) my mom and dad have never met her son, and none of us will have met her daughter who will be born around March 1. We're flying to Fresno where my aunt and uncle live, and my cousin Natalie should be there also. Some of is will be staying in a hotel, and others at ay aunt's house. We haven't decided who will be staying where yet, but there's not room for all of us in the house. My cousin Lisa may also come visit with her husband and kids, or we may go to San Leandro (across the bay from San Francisco) and see her. That's something else we haven't worked out, and it partly depends on how she feels about traveling with a 3 month old baby. Besides visiting family we haven't planned a whole lot. There's been talk of seeing Yosemite, but so far all we have firmly planned is when we'll be flying out.

The other thing we've confirmed and planned is that I get to go to the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim. I'll be renting a car and driving from Fresno. I'm not too worried. Mom says it's a straight shot on 99 and I-5, and I'll have my GPS. I'm really looking forward to the conference! Besides getting lots of free books (so, so many free books!!) it looks like Chris Colfer (Kurt on Glee) is going to be there! I definitely want to hear him talk, and I've already had two people ask me to have him sign something for them. I'd like something for myself too! And of course the conference has useful/interesting panels and discussions and such. I've also scheduled in an extra day after the conference ends to go to Disneyland! I'm really looking forward to that!! I've been going around all day saying, "I'm going to Disneyland!" I feel like I'm in a post Super Bowl commercial. (Elizabeth Koerber, you've just registered for the ALA Conference! What are you going to do now? I'm going to Disneyland!) I am really excited about this trip though. It should be fun.

As a side note, I'd like to say the book "11/22/63" by Stephen King is really good! I've never read anything by him before, but I'm really enjoying this. A character in the book goes back to 1958. I wondered what I would do if that happened to me, and my first thought was, "I've got to go find Issac Asimov! I get a chance to meet him!" Obsessed with Asimov, me? Why do you ask?
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There's an article in the new issue of Time titled "The Upside of Being an Introvert". I'd link to the article, but Time is being stupid and will only let current subscribers read the full article. (For those of you who saw this on Facebook, that link may not work either. Although I have no idea why they offer you the option of linking to it on Facebook if they're not going to let people read the article.) Anyway, I really liked the article. I am most definitely an introvert. I've known this for a long time, and I didn't need the 20 question "quiz" in Time to tell me. (I answered "yes" to all 20 questions though.) I really think this article does a good job of explaining what an introvert is. For example, there is a difference between being shy and being an introvert, although I happen to be both. It also explains that introverts find social situations with a lot of people tiring. This is true for me. I find the idea of leaving the house to do something, even if it's something I enjoy, tiring and sometimes stressful. I'm perfectly happy to just stay at home. Not 24/7 of course, but more often than not I have no problem with it. I think this is also the reason why I find the idea of living with a roommate very unpleasant. I would much rather spend more money and live alone then split rent with a roommate. (Of course that's kind of moot at the moment since I'm living at home, but that won't last forever.) I remember my prom as a senior in high school. We held it at a local hotel, and part way through I walked out into the lobby to get away from all the people inside. My date asked what I was doing out in the lobby, and I explained I'm not good with big crowds of people. In retrospect, I don't think he understood. I've been that way my whole life. However I think I am starting to get better. I'm not as intimidated by huge crowds as I used to be, but I will never be completely comfortable with big groups of people. Some of my extrovert friends don't quite understand. It's not that I don't feel like going out "now" or "today", it's that I'm going to find the idea of going out stressful and tiring any day. I hope extroverts who have introverted friends will read the article. I'll end with some of my favorite quotes from the article:
"While extroverts draw energy from mingling with large groups of people, introverts find such social interactions taxing. Simply being an introvert can also feel taxing - especially in America, land of the loud and talkative."

"Extroverts are a little bit like addicts who are always in search of a high, seeking out stimuli - in the healthier form of social situations - that would make an introvert's head ring."

"From the moment we wake up to the second we go to sleep - preferably after relaxing with a book in bed - introverts are living in an extrovert's world, and there are days when we'd prefer to do nothing more then stay at home."
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Who knew planning a trip, even a trip across the country, could be so complicated?? My family is trying to go out to California this summer (theoretically in June) to visit my mom's family. If I was just going alone, it wouldn't be so bad. However not only are my parents going with me, but we're trying to coordinate with my cousin so we can meet her new baby who will be born around March 1. We're also trying to coordinate with my other cousin who lives in Indiana so we can all get together and have a mini family reunion. The other thing that's been thrown into the mix is that the ALA Annual Conference is being held in Anaheim this year at the end of June. I would love to go, but that would add further complications. I'd have to rent a car, drive from Fresno (where my aunt and uncle are) to Anaheim (about 4 hours). I mentioned this to dad, and he said it would be a lot to fit into one trip. I said that maybe I wouldn't be able to do the conference this year. He then said, "Well, we are going to be right there, especially if we spend a day in Disneyland. Maybe we can make it work." (For those who are unaware, Disneyland is in Anaheim. In fact, if I go to the conference I refuse to leave Anaheim until I've spent a day in Disneyland.) So right now we're trying to plan everything, and frankly it's giving me a headache. I just wish we could come to some decision without going on about all the maybes!
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I have lots of favorite quotes, and I keep a quote book. Here are a few of my favorites:

"Qui vit sans folie n'est pas si sage qu'il croit." (He who lives without folly is not as wise as he thinks.)

"If you can say calm while all around you is chaos, then you probably haven't completely understood the situation."

"Reality is for people who can't handle science fiction."
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Under the cut. I'm not sure how exciting this will be. 2011 wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either.
2011 )
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I choose option 3: all full. Half full of water/milk/tea/whatever you're drinking, and half full of air!
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The link below is an article about a law Bolivia is trying to pass. This is AMAZING! I love this idea, and I wish the US and other countries would pass a similar law. A quote form the beginning of the article: "With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans."

http://www.pvpulse.com/en/news/world-news/bolivia-set-to-pass-historic-law-of-mother-earth-which-will-grant-nature-equal-rights-to-humans#startOfPageId776
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Okay, the link my last post was not the right link. This one should work! There are photos from my entire Florida trip including Walt Disney World and Harry Potter World.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10100522055837805.2667301.9425247&type=1&l=ef23daf9b5
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Yep! He was called the Doctor and he traveled in a magical blue box. We ate fish fingers and custard. I made dolls and drawings of him. I kept waiting for him to come back, and it took him a long time.

Oh... wait... that was Amy Pod. Never mind!
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