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Results 1 - 21 of 21
1. Starting Next Week: Blogging 201

Blogging 201: Branding and Growth starts Monday, October 20. If you’re a recent alum of Blogging 101 looking to build on the skills you’ve developed so far, or a blogger looking for new ways to grow your site and its audience, this is the course for you.

What will Blogging 201 cover? We’ll introduce tools to increase your traffic within WordPress.com as well as through other platforms, discuss ways to develop a coherent, effective brand for your blog, and show how to use your archives and your site’s stats to build your readership.

During this two-week course we’ll give you a daily task and provide you with all the necessary resources and information to complete it (there will be no new tasks on weekends, to give you time to explore more on your own, or just publish a post or two). You’ll also have access to The Commons, a private, staff-moderated space where you can chat with other participants, ask questions, and give feedback.

Ending right before NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo kick off in November, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth will help you get your site ready for a new wave of viewers — as well as to keep them coming after their first visit.

Like all Blogging U. courses, there are no prerequisites for Blogging 201 (if you’d like to follow the courses in sequence, though, that’s fine: Blogging 101: Zero to Hero will be back in November!). Self-hosted blogs and blogs from other platforms are just as welcome to participate.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, sign up for Blogging 201: Branding and Growth using this form:

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Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Resources

17 Comments on Starting Next Week: Blogging 201, last added: 10/15/2014
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2. Starting Next Week: Blogging 201

Blogging 201: Branding and Growth starts Monday, October 20. If you’re a recent alum of Blogging 101 looking to build on the skills you’ve developed so far, or a blogger looking for new ways to grow your site and its audience, this is the course for you.

What will Blogging 201 cover? We’ll introduce tools to increase your traffic within WordPress.com as well as through other platforms, discuss ways to develop a coherent, effective brand for your blog, and show how to use your archives and your site’s stats to build your readership.

During this two-week course we’ll give you a daily task and provide you with all the necessary resources and information to complete it (there will be no new tasks on weekends, to give you time to explore more on your own, or just publish a post or two). You’ll also have access to The Commons, a private, staff-moderated space where you can chat with other participants, ask questions, and give feedback.

Ending right before NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo kick off in November, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth will help you get your site ready for a new wave of viewers — as well as to keep them coming after their first visit.

Like all Blogging U. courses, there are no prerequisites for Blogging 201 (if you’d like to follow the courses in sequence, though, that’s fine: Blogging 101: Zero to Hero will be back in November!). Self-hosted blogs and blogs from other platforms are just as welcome to participate.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, sign up for Blogging 201: Branding and Growth using this form:

Take Our Survey
Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Resources

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3. Content Marketing- 5 Powerful Traffic-Generating Strategies

The greatest way to drive traffic to your website is through content marketing. If you’re not sure what content marketing is, it’s simply a marketing strategy using content to create inbound traffic to you and your website. It’s also the strategy of using effective copywriting techniques to motivate your readers to take a desirable action. Content marketing includes copywriting, SEO writing,

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4. You Are How You Drive?

I’m just curious, do you think someone’s true personality comes out when they get behind the wheel or does the protection of a ton of metal magnify some suppressed aggression?

Everyone knows “that guy” – the one who is too good to wait in line to merge with the rest of us. So he goes as far as he can, perhaps driving in the median or passing over a solid white line before entering traffic.

Do you think he cuts the bathroom line at the fair or knocks down the old lady at the self-checkout line because she is taking too long? I always wonder.

Yes, I have a specific driver in mind. He drives a white BMW and takes the same route as me to work every day (Although I do so legally and courteously). I am a mellow driver and don’t wrestle with road rage often. When I happen to see him cutting people off, I don’t fume. Rather, I have this dream scenario where I am at the perfect angle to wedge my old truck in front of him and seal off his escape. Then I hop out and interview him like Bob Barker on a game show. Oh, I don’t pummel him (probably), I just humiliate him into contrition – showing him the error in his ways and giving him opportunity to apologize to me as representative of all of the drivers he has treated so rudely over the years.

Funny how life plays out sometimes. I was sitting in the exact spot I had envisioned when I saw him coming up on the shoulder. As fate would have it, the line in front of me started to move at precisely the right time and I had what I think was the voice of Ferris Bueller whispering “Do it” in my ear. So I lurched my truck to the right and cut the imbecile off.

mad

He slammed on his breaks and pounded the horn as I got out of my truck. I wish I’d had the skinny microphone and cheesy tie on – that would have been too perfect. I rounded my truck while he sat red-faced in his ultimate driving maching about to explode in rage. This was gonna be good!

Wearing my best disarming smile, I walked slowly toward his door. I wonder what he thought about the 6’, 3”, grinning, bald guy headed his way. Whatever was going through his dense mind, he didn’t feel compelled to roll down his window as he did in my dream.

Not surprisingly, he was kind of a little fella. I felt like I was forgetting something even though I knew my line was,“Tell him what he’s won, Johnny…. Well Bob, This rude driver will be late to work today!”  (cue applause)

I have to say it got a little awkward with me standing there waiting to talk to him and all the rubberneckers around us wondering what was going on.

What had I forgotten?

Oh yeah, BMW’s go in both forward and reverse. They actually go pretty fast in reverse and spit up all kinds of roadside crap on any wannabe gameshow host who might happen to be standing in front of the car. In a matter of seconds, he was gone. He zoomed around me with a final honk and a proper salute while I watched, dirty and alone.

It was too late for me to go home to change and get to work on time. I just told everyone at the office that I had helped an old lady change her flat tire and let them think I was a saint instead of an idiot…

 

It’s better that way.

 


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

5 Comments on You Are How You Drive?, last added: 8/26/2014
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5. You Are How You Drive?

I’m just curious, do you think someone’s true personality comes out when they get behind the wheel or does the protection of a ton of metal magnify some suppressed aggression?

Everyone knows “that guy” – the one who is too good to wait in line to merge with the rest of us. So he goes as far as he can, perhaps driving in the median or passing over a solid white line before entering traffic.

Do you think he cuts the bathroom line at the fair or knocks down the old lady at the self-checkout line because she is taking too long? I always wonder.

Yes, I have a specific driver in mind. He drives a white BMW and takes the same route as me to work every day (Although I do so legally and courteously). I am a mellow driver and don’t wrestle with road rage often. When I happen to see him cutting people off, I don’t fume. Rather, I have this dream scenario where I am at the perfect angle to wedge my old truck in front of him and seal off his escape. Then I hop out and interview him like Bob Barker on a game show. Oh, I don’t pummel him (probably), I just humiliate him into contrition – showing him the error in his ways and giving him opportunity to apologize to me as representative of all of the drivers he has treated so rudely over the years.

Funny how life plays out sometimes. I was sitting in the exact spot I had envisioned when I saw him coming up on the shoulder. As fate would have it, the line in front of me started to move at precisely the right time and I had what I think was the voice of Ferris Bueller whispering “Do it” in my ear. So I lurched my truck to the right and cut the imbecile off.

mad

He slammed on his breaks and pounded the horn as I got out of my truck. I wish I’d had the skinny microphone and cheesy tie on – that would have been too perfect. I rounded my truck while he sat red-faced in his ultimate driving maching about to explode in rage. This was gonna be good!

Wearing my best disarming smile, I walked slowly toward his door. I wonder what he thought about the 6’, 3”, grinning, bald guy headed his way. Whatever was going through his dense mind, he didn’t feel compelled to roll down his window as he did in my dream.

Not surprisingly, he was kind of a little fella. I felt like I was forgetting something even though I knew my line was,“Tell him what he’s won, Johnny…. Well Bob, This rude driver will be late to work today!”  (cue applause)

I have to say it got a little awkward with me standing there waiting to talk to him and all the rubberneckers around us wondering what was going on.

What had I forgotten?

Oh yeah, BMW’s go in both forward and reverse. They actually go pretty fast in reverse and spit up all kinds of roadside crap on any wannabe gameshow host who might happen to be standing in front of the car. In a matter of seconds, he was gone. He zoomed around me with a final honk and a proper salute while I watched, dirty and alone.

It was too late for me to go home to change and get to work on time. I just told everyone at the office that I had helped an old lady change her flat tire and let them think I was a saint instead of an idiot…

 

It’s better that way.

 


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

0 Comments on You Are How You Drive? as of 8/27/2014 2:37:00 AM
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6. Beyond Traffic: Three Stats You Should Check Today

Whether you're a spreadsheet enthusiast or allergic to numbers, digging into your site's stats can help you better engage with your audience. Let's take a look at three stats that can make a difference beyond page views.

14 Comments on Beyond Traffic: Three Stats You Should Check Today, last added: 5/20/2014
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7. Monday Morning Edition

In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com, from new features to great blogs to discover.

4 Comments on Monday Morning Edition, last added: 4/8/2014
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8. Virugambakkam, Home Away from Home When We're in Chennai

When we go to Chennai, we stay with Rajan's eldest brother, Ranganathan, and our sister-in-law, Soundara, in an area called Virugambakkam, and we visit other relatives from there. (Chennai is so huge and sprawled out, that areas or districts have names of their own, almost like mini-cities.) Imagine street after street after street that looks like this, going on for miles and miles. And to get a real feel for traveling in the city, go to this site. 


As soon as Ravi and Ranganathan brought us from the station, Soundara brought us good, strong coffee with milk and sugar. Let me say, there is nothing as heart-warming as South Indian coffee. (And I speak as one who loves the coffee in Spain.) There's a special technique in making South Indian coffee and combining the hot milk, pouring it back and forth and then serving it, and it was just the thing to shake off our travel weariness. 




(There is also a special technique to drinking this coffee in such a way that the cup never touches one's lips. Everyone makes it look so effortless that I once tried it, sure that it was easily done. Well, it is not. I got coffee all over me!) You can learn more about making it and serving it and the utensils required at this blog site. 


Ravi (our nephew) had to go to work after he dropped us at the house. Later in the morning his father (Rajan's 2nd brother) came over, and the morning was spent with the brothers visiting and other relatives telephoning to set up times for visits. Later in the afternoon, Soundara and Rajan and I walked over to visit with Kalyani's family three streets away. (Raghavan and Kalyani -- another brother and sister-in-law -- live in Pittsburgh, but they own the house at Virugambakkam.) A couple of weeks after our return from the trip, Kalyani's mother passed away; it's a time of sadness for them all, so I will wait to post about the paintings Renukka (Kalyani's sister-in-law) does. This just isn't the time.


Each time we go to India, by the third day I feel I've been there forever. Time seems to stand still there, and India has a way of just seeping into

16 Comments on Virugambakkam, Home Away from Home When We're in Chennai, last added: 3/15/2012
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9. Answers About Press Release Structure

Answering your questions about Press Release structure. Timing: Press release can be “for immediate release”, or “release on a specific date”.  It is recommended to use the first preference since the latter may not be honored at all times.   Target: To whom the press release is intended. When targeting a specific group of people or professions, it may read like the following: Attention sports editors, Attention business editors, Attention entertainment editors.   Headline: This can be opted to write in all capital letters. Consider using shorter titles and make it interesting. Alliteration can be of help or giving tips.   Sub-Headline: This is optional. However, sub headlines are used to get the attention of readers and audience. This also provides a description of the target niche or specific topic.   Date: It is necessary when reporting, such as news clip or other events specified with a date. For example, a press release written for some key speaker for ... Read the rest of this post

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10. Duck City: Where Are You, Little Zack?

Where Are You, Little Zack?It seems like I am always writing about books set in New York City! That is not intentional, but there certainly are an abundance of them.

I'm quite surprised I have never come across Where Are You, Little Zack?before. Co-written by Judith Ross Engerle and Stephanie Gordon Tessler, Where Are You, Little Zack? is a classic tale of "lost in the city." The authors have added in a fun counting exercise, so while 3 ducks, Brick and Brack and Thackery Quack search for their brother, they are joined by 4 busy commuters, 5 taxi drivers... you get the idea. They are also joined by 80,000 Yankee fans, but don't worry, you don't have to count that high. Of course, the brothers are united in the end (after traveling on the number 9 train on the number 10 track) and all is well.

Around here, we are big fans of Brian Floca's illustrations, but I think it's interesting he does not list this book on his website. True, it's not as spectacular as his more recent books, such as Moonshot and  Ballet for Martha, but his artwork is still appealing. Even while the duck brothers are still searching, little eyes can locate Little Zack playing among the many landmarks of the city. The search also takes the reader to locations high and low, wet and dry, crowded and sparse, and fast and slow around New York. The reader will certainly understand that the city is a varied and interesting place!

This book is lots of fun, and judging by the lack of reviews on Amazon, I'm guessing it's not well-known, which I find surprising. I think it would be a lov

4 Comments on Duck City: Where Are You, Little Zack?, last added: 9/13/2011
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11. Diverse City: Busing Brewster

Busing BrewsterRichard Michelson has written a thoughtful, intelligent picture book about the a young African-American boy and his brother who are bussed to Central the "white school." (Little Rock Central was a High School, this Central is an elementary school.) Richard Michelson's Busing Brewster is about a heavy topic, but while it does not shy away from the negative experience of the boys, neither does it pass judgment on the busing policy.

For the most part, illustrator R. G. Roth illustrates the city at the beginning and end of the book, evoking the urban landscape with spare playgrounds surrounded by chain link fences, brick walls, brownstone stoops and city lights out a bedroom window. Brewster and his friends play stick ball, a classic city streets game (with which my husband is obsessed). I also really liked the two page illustration of the school bus passing through the city, accompanied by Brewster's observation that the bus was passing a Jewish cemetery and a Catholic church. This not only  suggests how central to the community the bussing event was, but that a diverse community does not just mean black and white.

An author's note at the end of the book will help children place the story in a wider context. The story also includes a wonderful hip-hip-hooray for librarians, which I thought was a nice touch. It's a well-done book that deserves to be included in any study about diversity in our schools.

Want More?
Conversation with the author (and lots of artwork from the book) at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.
Read an interview with the author at Cynsations.
Read Rasco from RIF's take on the book.
Visit the author's website.

Big Kid: I could be president, too. [Brewster wants to grow up to be the president.]

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12. Commuter City: Rush Hour

Rush Hour Starting in the morning when everyone wakes up, yawning and ending at night, when "moms and dads are home at last," Christine Loomis' Rush Hour is a rhythmic, rhyming whirlwind tour of the adventure that is every city commuter's day.

Little Kid is so obsessed with this book, he can "read" it page by page to himself. I'm not surprised. Loomis' uses words guaranteed to give any toddler and preschooler a heady buzz: "Whizzing, zipping, clickety clack, rumbling, roaring, jiggling, jumping, left turn, right turn, backing, bumping."

Mari Takabayashi's illustrations are busy, busy, busy, reflecting the crowds and bustle of the city. What I like best is the immense variety of experiences she illustrates. For example, when "people have begun their jobs,"  she doesn't stop at the standard police officer, teacher and business person -- there are more than 20 careers pictured. There are small details one might not normally think about: a man retrieves his mail from a row of apartment post boxes, a kitchen lacks adequate counter space, in the middle of the day, subway platforms are much emptier. It's the kind of city life detail I enjoy seeing in urban picture books.

Even though the city depicted is New York, none of the text is specific to NYC. I almost wish that the pictures were more city-generic, but of course my boys like to recognize the buses and trains they see everyday.

If your kid loves things with wheels, this book is sure to be a hit. But you might have to read it 12 dozen times.

Fair warning.


Want more?
Visit the illustrator's website.
Watch this you tube video of a crowded subway in Japan. Can you imagine if we had these white gloved "helpers" in NYC!

Little Kid says: Rush Hour, please!

2 Comments on Commuter City: Rush Hour, last added: 3/23/2011
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13. A Need for Flag Men or Traffic Cops

Every morning I drive through San Vicente to get my daughter to school and me to work. The construction of the four-lane highway is in full swing. I hate it.

I can't stand the idea of our small community school being situated on a 4 lane highway. I didn't like the demise of the Roundhouse.

But just now, I can't stand (even more than my dislike of the overall objective of the project) that it takes from 6 to 10 minutes to drive south the half mile or less from SVES to clear pavement. Ordinarily this takes about a minute or two.

Worse, I feel for all of those trying to turn left from Dandan and the eastern roads of San Vicente village. Cars are lined up 10 and 20 deep, with no hope of finding a space for turning. The traffic on Isa Drive goes in both directions, and is now so slow, that those waiting to turn onto Isa must wait for kindness from both directions. But it's hard to be kind to those waiting to turn when you've been waiting a long time just to go straight, and being kind to one will mean forcing the long line of traffic behind you to wait longer.

It's a mess.

A simple fix would be a traffic cop or flagmen directing traffic.

Of course, there is going to need to be a more permanent fix, so we don't end up with a dead child when the traffic from Kagman comes zooming along on the new 4-lane highway and fails to adequately slow down in the village when kids are walking to school. And probably there won't be any sidewalks added, because no one thinks of pedestrian traffic, even if it's our school kids going to a school right there smack dab in the middle of the village on the main road.

We're setting ourselves us for a disaster.

I just can't stand any of it.

4 Comments on A Need for Flag Men or Traffic Cops, last added: 2/7/2010
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14. Illustration Friday: Wilderness


Well, for this coyote it's more like 'lost wilderness.'

No worries, there's lots of conservation land behind him!

(You know I like happy tales...and happy tails!)


watercolor and ink for Illustration Friday's prompt: wilderness

27 Comments on Illustration Friday: Wilderness, last added: 1/22/2010
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15. Your Best Promotional Tool

salesEvery week I get questions like this: “I don’t have a book out yet [or my first book came out last year], but do you think I need to have a website, a blog, a newsletter, be on Facebook and LinkedIn, and also tweet on Twitter daily? Is all this self-promotion necessary?”

I wish I knew!

A Voice of Reason

If you believe everything you read that “they say,” you might think you needed to do all that self-promotion. However, I’m inclined to think James Scott Bell in his new book The Art of War for Writers is closer to the mark.  In talking about self-promotion, he said, “The more anxious you are about forcing success through self-promotional effort, the less creative energy you have for the writing itself.”

Why? “Because,” Bell says, “the most important promotional tool you have is your best book. Period.”

Creating that “best book” of which you’re capable takes hours and hours of writing and revising, learning new skills, honing your craft, your heart and soul, your blood, sweat and tears. He cautions writers not to dilute their strengths by obsessing over promotion. (Isn’t that a breath of fresh air?)

Good, Better, Best

Bell gives an interesting list of the “ten best forms of self-promotion.” Only one item on the list deals with the Internet. He simply calls #4 on the list your “web presence.” Guess what SIX of the items on the list are. Your book. He says that a good book-and the word of mouth it generates-will do more for your sales than all the Internet marketing efforts put together. That has been my experience personally, but it’s rare to find such a successful author say so. Rare and refreshing!

Concerning the questions I receive weekly about Internet promotion: I think I’m going to start quoting Bell’s book from now on. His simple guideline for “how much” self-promotion to do is this:

“Do what you can without (a) taking away from the quality of your writing time; (b) taking away from the quality of personal relationships, and (c) taking on debt.”

Now that’s food for a lot of thought.

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16. The Rules Apply to You, Too.

 

There’s a strange phenomenon that keeps happening, recently: the enormous number of cyclists and even drivers who think that traffic signals don’t apply to them.  When I’m crossing the road, especially in a busy place such as London or Brighton, between the two of which I spend much of my time, I don’t especially wish to come across a vehicle, either of the two- or four- or more-wheel variety, when they should be stationary at the lights.

The number of times I’ve been about to cross the road, only to have to step back abruptly because of a cyclist, I’ve completely lost count of.  As for vehicles with more than two wheels – and this includes buses – this is my plea to drivers of them to not carry on until they cross the line and block the way.  This is especially noticeable outside the Angel Tube station, where I find myself two or three times a week.  Please – all of you – let pedestrians across without making them dodge your car/hummer/bus/whatever.  It’s not much to ask. 

Quite apart from the fact that dodging lights is illegal, it’s downright dangerous.  Those signals are there so that we can all use the roads as safely as possible and it’s only when someone thinks they’re the most important person using said roads that they become infinitely more dangerous than they need to be.

If we were all a bit more considerate to each other, I wouldn’t be writing this.  Car drivers may wonder sometimes why there might be a thud on their bumpers when they’re waiting at a signal but have gone too far across.  Look behind you – someone’s bag might accidentally-on-purpose have bumped against your car because it’s in the way!!!  Is it any wonder pedestrians get angry, sometimes?  We have as much right to use the roads as you, so when we get treated like second class citizens, it’s irksome, to say the least.

Car drivers, bus drivers, motorbike riders, I’m asking you to learn (or re-learn) a simple but extremely useful art: that of simple respect.  Perhaps then, we would all be happier when using the roads.

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17. The Rules Apply to You, Too.

 

There’s a strange phenomenon that keeps happening, recently: the enormous number of cyclists and even drivers who think that traffic signals don’t apply to them.  When I’m crossing the road, especially in a busy place such as London or Brighton, between the two of which I spend much of my time, I don’t especially wish to come across a vehicle, either of the two- or four- or more-wheel variety, when they should be stationary at the lights.

The number of times I’ve been about to cross the road, only to have to step back abruptly because of a cyclist, I’ve completely lost count of.  As for vehicles with more than two wheels – and this includes buses – this is my plea to drivers of them to not carry on until they cross the line and block the way.  This is especially noticeable outside the Angel Tube station, where I find myself two or three times a week.  Please – all of you – let pedestrians across without making them dodge your car/hummer/bus/whatever.  It’s not much to ask. 

Quite apart from the fact that dodging lights is illegal, it’s downright dangerous.  Those signals are there so that we can all use the roads as safely as possible and it’s only when someone thinks they’re the most important person using said roads that they become infinitely more dangerous than they need to be.

If we were all a bit more considerate to each other, I wouldn’t be writing this.  Car drivers may wonder sometimes why there might be a thud on their bumpers when they’re waiting at a signal but have gone too far across.  Look behind you – someone’s bag might accidentally-on-purpose have bumped against your car because it’s in the way!!!  Is it any wonder pedestrians get angry, sometimes?  We have as much right to use the roads as you, so when we get treated like second class citizens, it’s irksome, to say the least.

Car drivers, bus drivers, motorbike riders, I’m asking you to learn (or re-learn) a simple but extremely useful art: that of simple respect.  Perhaps then, we would all be happier when using the roads.

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18.

Rolling Through Stop Stop Signs: Stop the Madness!...

This may be a rant apropo of nothing, but here it goes:

Why why why why why does no one stop at stop signs? WHY? I'm a pretty laid back kinda gal. I go with the flow, roll with the punches, all that stuff. But numerous times each day during my 3-mile round trip commute, none of the other driver seem to ever stop at stop signs. And at the 4-way stops--they don't take turns! It's anarchy! Today on my way to lunch the lady coming the other way didn't even bother to slow down, even a little. I'm on the brink of road rage.

I have a vivid memory from Kindergarten of the very first time in my entire life that I ever raised my hand in class to answer a question. (This was a big deal; I was painfully shy.) We were talking about stop signs and traffic lights and my teacher Mrs. Hill asked why it's important that cars stop at red lights and stop signs when they are supposed to. It was quiet for a spell and when no one else answered, my tiny hand tentatively went up. "Because a car might be coming the other way and you could get in an accident," I said. How very wise I was. If 5-year-old me can figure this out, why can't everyone in the greater Nati area who is on the road when I am?

Perhaps if all teachers go over this stuff in Kindergarten and each subsequent year of school and parents start talking about traffic laws at an early age, I'll be a happier commuter. I've spent a little time on Amazon to see if there are any kids books that would be helpful, and I found a few to share with all of you (who I'm sure are very good and conscientious drivers). I might have to stop in a bookstore soon to check these out, so I can start to read to Murray about the rules of traffic. He'll remember it all when he's 16, right? (At this point I'm sure he's onto the stop sign thing--he generally witnesses my rants to other drivers from his car seat).




2 Comments on , last added: 7/3/2008
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19. Samurai: Heaven and Earth


Samurai: Heaven and Earth
Writer: Ron Marz

Artist: Luke Ross

Cover Artist: Luke Ross

Colorist: Jason Keith
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN-10: 1593073887
ISBN-13: 978-1593073886

Samurai: Heaven and Earth is simply astonishing. Both the artwork and the story are just gorgeous. It is the story of Shiro, a Samurai warrior who was the only survivor in a great battle. He returns home to find his love, the beautiful Yoshiko, only to find she has been taken by the victors in the battle. Determined to find her, he sets off to the stronghold of the Warlord Hsiao only to find she has been sold and sent to Europe.

What follows is an incredible tale of love and devotion, of Shiro’s vow to Yoshiko that nothing on Heaven or Earth will keep them apart.

Shiro travels to Europe, meets the Musketeers, even lands in the palace of Versailles. He will do anything, go anywhere to get Yoshiko back.

The story is mesmerizing and riveting and each page is a dream. The pages look like paintings, they are so lush and vivid. The battle scenes are action packed and vividly intense. The sword fight with the Musketeers is just unbelievable and realistic. The page where the Musketeers and Shiro are in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is just glorious. The light literally bounces off the page and you get the feel of light bouncing off mirrors. Incredible!

Samurai: Heaven and Earth is one of the most beautiful and evocative comics I’ve ever seen. Shiro is an incredible hero – determined, completely ruthless and vicious in battle yet so tender and devoted to Yoshiko. It’s quite the contrast and completely compelling. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

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20. 300


300
Author: Frank Miller
Colorist: Lynn Varley
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN-10: 1569714029
ISBN-13: 978-1569714027

The Battle of Thermopylae is one of history’s most important battles. In 481-480 B.C, the Spartan King Leonidas and his army of 300 met the huge army (more than 100,000 strong) of the Persian Emperor Xerxes and were annihilated. Still, it gave the Greeks time to gather enough force to defeat the Persians. For three days those 300 men stood against that incredible army. How they managed it just defies imagination.

Frank Miller knows how to tell a hell of a story. While his account isn’t historically accurate, it’s a darned good tale and adds to the incredible story it already is. The art is astounding; the battle scenes are just the most intense, bloody and violent as only Frank Miller can make them. No one does blood and guts like Frank Miller.

In 300, Miller focuses on King Leonidas, the young foot soldier Stelios, and the storyteller Dilios. His portrayal of the Spartans makes them human, makes them so much more than just unbelievable historical shadow figures, at least for me. His characters embody the strength they must have had to stand up against that massive army of Persians. Their faces are almost carved of stone they are so chiseled, so rugged, so raw. The hands and fingers are almost square blocks and they are huge.

I love how Frank Miller’s sparse but deeply telling text accompanies his astounding art. His 300 will ignite a whole new group of people to research the history of the Battle of Thermopylae. How great is that? I see kids at the library asking about books on Sparta and I wonder – did you see 300? Did you read the graphic novel? What has you asking about it? I bet some of them are in there because of Frank Miller. Highly recommended but keep the younger kids away – this is graphically violent.

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21. 185. Random Thoughts

The traffic lights were out in places on the drive to school & work this morning. It was busy. People were not stopping or taking turns. No police were directing traffic at the intersections. It was not the way to start the day.

It seems we will continue to face this problem, as CUC continues to have power problems. I wish the Legislature would address the traffic light issue with a simple law, and the police would enforce it. If a traffic light is out or malfunctioning, it should become and be treated as a stop sign. This slows traffic down--true. But then everyone knowns what to do, and everyone gets a chance to get through intersections, even if they're--heaven forbid--turning left.



Don Farrel's letter in the Variety today-here--is really good. The Governor, Howard Willens, Cinta Kaipat, and possibly Deanne Siemer all seem to be trying very hard to spread misinformation and fear as the means to combat the federalization effort. I know that there are important issues that the US Congress must tackle, but the CNMI needs their attention and an end to the current mess. We are stuck in this quaqmire, the worst of which may be listening to the distortions being thrown about by our current administration. Could we just get on with federalization now, please?


January in Saipan is my favorite month--weather-wise. The moon at night is huge, with a deep field of stars playing back-up. Days are sunny, warm, with a cool breeze coming in. Green and lush, tangerines and star fruit still plentiful. It's a tough life in the tropics, but someone's got to live it. :-)

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