Adventures into the Madness

Street Song


My Orff Percussion group is playing this piece on Sunday the 15th! It’s one of the coolest and best of Carl Orff’s pieces in the Music for Children series. Here is a recording from many years ago when we put together an ad hoc group:

Street Song

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16 Miles of Courage


Just got back from our annual family and church community trip to Estes Park, CO and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Talk about inspiring!

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The Mom Frants – Responsibility vs Behavior


It took me a long time to realize I was often confusing behavior with responsibility. Behavior is how a child (adolescent, grownup, anyone) conducts themselves in a given situation. Do they follow rules, speak appropriately and politely, keep themselves under control? If it’s my kids, behaving means NOT TOUCHING EACH OTHER FOR FIVE FREAKIN’ MINUTES!!!!! Ahem.

Responsibility is accepting both the tasks and consequences of a job over time. Responsibility is self motivation and earned trust. What I’ve had to learn is that forcing my kids to “behave” with bribes or punishment is not the same thing as teaching “responsibility”.

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The Mom Frants


I have receive what I think is the nicest and most heart-warming compliment to date: My sister told me she thinks I’m a good Mom. Been floating on cloud nine ever since, because what parent doesn’t like to hear that? As the older sister, most of my technique has come through the usual combination of trial-and-error informed by desperate bouts of hitting the books. I can’t say I’ve done everything right, but I have found some touchstone wisdom (gleaned from others, of course) that has helped me greatly on the journey.

Now that my sister is expecting, she’ll be starting on that journey for herself very soon, and I’ve decided to write a few articles musing about the things I’ve found most helpful.  I offer these as a gift of love to my sister. She is an amazing, talented, brilliant woman who is going to be all those things as a Mom, too.  She doesn’t need my advice, so I’m not writing advice. I want to tell some stories in the loving hope that she’ll someday return the favor and tell me hers. I want to share frustrations and challenges so she’ll know she’s not the only mom who has them. I want to wish her well, sit back and enjoy watching her become the great Mom I know she’ll be.

I can’t wait to find out what she’s going to teach me.

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Don’t sit on your Kindle…


I learned a new, important aspect of owning an e-reader: Don’t sit on it!

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Kindle vs. the iPad


The other day, I had to pull my head out of reading a long, academic blog and take my daughter to gymnastics. I really wanted to continue reading. Kindle usually goes with me to gymnastics, but its web browsing is very limited and I couldn’t assume I could get to the blog. The iPhone zapped up the content in a heartbeat, but the screen is so tiny that the scrolling and zooming quickly became very annoying. It was at that moment that I “got” the iPad (if it is anything like a giant iPhone). But I have yet to see it as a “Kindle-killer”.

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The Kindle Experience meets the iPhone


I seem to have reached a bit of a peak in my consumer electronics frenzy. My kids gave me a Nintendo DS for Christmas (son got tired of me stealing his to play Brain Age II). After deciding to change our cell plan, I have also ended up with an iPhone of my very own.  So every night I go to bed with the big 3 on my nightstand: Kindle, DS & iPhone.

What I am finding amusing is the overlap of uses between the devices. The Kindle (see previous posts) is pretty much a pure reading device, and excels at that narrow task. The DS is pure gaming, of course. It does offer my favorite version of Sudoku. The iPhone has surprised me with how much I love the constant/remote access to email and twitter, etc. Here is where it gets muddled though – the iPhone has a Kindle reader on it, so I have already logged into my Amazon account and flipped through a few chapters. The iPhone is also a pretty wicked gaming device with a lot of gaming choices (if admittedly not what a gaming fanatic would find acceptable). It is the “mashup” of devices, jack of all trades, master of none.

So here’s my summary of the big three:

DS will probably fall through the cracks and get passed on to the youngest. I don’t play it enough to invest in the expensive-by-comparison games and it’s bulky enough that I don’t just carry it around for when I have a spare minute.

I want to “learn” to really get the most out of the iPhone and understand the impact this type of device is going to have on future culture, technology, etc. It’s around for the duration. I’ll play games on it and occasionally read my kindle literature when I’m bored and find  myself without it. I’m extremely interested in the genre of “augmented reality” that this little guy has brought to the consumer level.

I love my Kindle. It’s kind of an irrational thing. It’s one of those devices that generates loyalty (like my TiVo). I spend the most time, by far, with this device. Although its focus is narrow, it’s hit a sweet spot that fits me very well. When I started taking it to the gym this winter so it could “read” to me when I run on the treadmill, that early “crush” became absolute “True Love”. It will be hard to replace, simply out of appreciation for the ground it has broken.

Now.  Any other devices out there I’m lacking? Anything? Anything new or fruity coming our way…? Oh…right.  That!

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Tepring’s Frant about Serial TV


This journal entry was written more than two years ago and has suddenly become relevant all over again with the wacky buzz around Sy-Fy’s newest spinoff in the Stargate franchise, Stargate: Universe.   As a (big fat) fan of the previous incarnations (SG-1 & Atlantis) and as a very amateur student of fandom (I read Henry Jenkins, my single claim to expertise), I have been fascinated by the fan tizzy and ‘blog wars’ that have ensued.

Insert SG:U for BSG in the below, and you’ll see why I decided to dig up this old frant.

Frant: Serial vs. Standalone (June, 2007)

Since I’ve been in an “input” stage, rather than an “output” stage, I’ve been clearing out the Tivo of those episodes of shows I like, but not well enough to care about keeping up with, or even know what day of the week they are on. So far, I’ve worked through 4 Battlestar Galacticas in the last couple of days, which always makes me wonder: So why *don’t* I like it more?
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Tepring’s Review of SG:U


I rather enjoyed myself at last night’s Stargate: Universe premiere party.  There were great snacks (a lovely zinfandel, courtesy my husband’s already open bottle) and three awesome die-hard SG fans.  Me, Laurie, and Erin snarfed up the goodies and settled in for a long winter’s nap – I mean two hours of new SG.  Erin had us all beat on the SGU trivia and clarified things along the way.  As a TIVO baby, I’m not used to watching “live” and found these things called “commercials” to be rather intrusive, but they did surprisingly offer opportunities to chat along the way.

So, here’s my review of the SGU premiere but first, where I’m coming from in offering it:

– I’m a longtime SG fan, starting with the movie.  I picked up SG-1 several years into the series, but happily caught up.
– Atlantis will always and forever be my favorite of the franchise.  As super-Daniel-thunkers and SG-1 preferrers, Laurie and Erin have been helping (laughing at?) me through the trauma of losing the favorite – they’ve done it already and just looked at me with snarky sympathy when I’d randomly blurt out “but where’s SHEPPARD????”
– I’m a critic.  Meaning, I have read a lot about screenwriting and TV production, even taken a writing class (woohoo, take them credentials!)  I spent years in college and graduate school learning to analyze art and do have an ability to separate “I like” from objective quality evaluations – they’re not necessarily the same.  I can like something that’s kitchy and poor quality.  I can be completely uninterested in something I recognize as high quality and well produced.  I usually try to make that opinion distinct.  Mostly.  At least a little.

So here goes:

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The Kindle Experience – Love of books


I love books.  While I’ve described myself as a reader, but not an avid reader, I do admit that I simply love books.  I have shelves packed full and stacks on dressers that are waiting to be read.  I love to go into bookstores and soak up the titles.  When I buy a book, it’s the coolest thing in the world, even if I don’t get around to reading it for…um, ever.  So when I was thinking about getting the Kindle, I really wondered if I’d get that giddy ‘gotta have that book’ feeling when I was browsing Amazon or the Kindle store from the device.  I truly didn’t know if my love was linked to the “having” of the physical thing I could hold and carry home, or if there was some other fascination that would carry into the Kindle Experience.

After several months now of reading and buying books on and through the Kindle, I can say with absolute certainty (for me) that shopping for ebooks is just as cool and heady and inspiring as walking into a bookstore.  For me, a book is about potential.  What I adore is all that information just sitting there waiting for me to soak it up.  Sometimes, just knowing I have a book with an answer in it is enough, even if I don’t read the thing from cover to cover.  I know it’s there, I know I can draw upon the knowledge when I need it.  I know I can enter the story-world when I want to.

In some ways, having the store available anytime, anywhere through the device is temptation bordering on torture!  I’ve taken to putting books I just really can’t afford to invest in (financially or timewise) into my wish list so I can keep a little of that potential within my grasp should I need it.  It is very easy to make an impulse buy in a weak moment.  I almost wish the thing didn’t have quite so much memory so that I could have the excuse of storage space to rein things in.  As it is, I’m doing OK by allowing myself to get a new book only when I’ve finished another one.  Sort of.  Not really.

There may be those who truly associate reading with the physical, tactile experience of touch and smell and sight.  But reading e-books doesn’t have to mean that you will give up being a book lover.  A book is so much more than paper or e-ink.  A book is an experience, an idea, and an escape all at once.  It might adapt to a new venue, but it does not lose its potential.

In other, much more mundane Kindle experience news, some daringness has been achieved with my beloved toy and I acutally read in the bathtub for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  It was a major step.  While I have never actually dropped a paper book in the tub, there have been enough damp pages and close calls that I was wary of getting the Kindle close to the water.  And even having managed it, I was nervous enough as I was reading that some of the bubbly relaxation was negated.  A friend who is Kindle-hostle declared that bathtub reading was absolutely imperative for acceptance, so I got curious and looked up accessories that might make water reading more palatable.  Sure enough, there are a few water-proof case/covers to choose from!  Problem solved.

Even more daring has been my Kindle’s trip to the pool this week.  Last week, I took a hardcover book to wade through while my children were wading in the kiddie pool and sat too close to the sand box.  Some enthusiastic digger managed to fling an entire shovel full of sand over my shoulder and onto the book (and neck and hair and lap, etc.)  So now, I’m careful to pick where I sit when reading.  And I certainly worry more about leaving my bag by the chairs, etc. when I have the Kindle with me.   In both these cases, cost of the device is the barrier to my being comfortable with it in the same settings I am quite comfortable taking a book.  Hopefully someday, that will change, too.

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