I’m home with a sick little girl today — major digestive disruptions (or should I say, eruptions, all over the bed and in the underwear) last night and this morning. You know an almost-five-year-old is sick when she is lying on the couch for hours looking pale and grumpy.
So of course one part of my primitive brain center is screaming at me, “Swine flu, AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!” Totally irrational, but there it is. She’s just got a stomach bug, and so she’s lying on the couch with a hot water bottle and sippy cup of chamomile tea.
On a seemingly unrelated front, I just opened a Twitter account and will be using it primarily for freelancing business and to promote the EFA (my personal promotion only, at this point).
Then this morning, these two aspects of my life came together in my feed reader:
So much of Twitter is like this. Not any of my followers, of course! Now I need to figure out how to put a Twitter widget in my blog do some editing.
Kid home sick. Floor unvacuumed, dishes unwashed. Client unhappy.
Something to lighten my day.
Happy April 1!
Filed under computers, life
for sending me a link to this. Because you knew the intersection of Jane Austen and Facebook had to happen sooner or later.
There’s this little piece of software/social networking/website recommendation engine/incredible time waster called StumbleUpon. You tell it what you’re interests are, and it finds applicable websites, blogs, images, videos, and so on. I like stumbling for photos, especially white sand beaches in Bora Bora just waiting for me to arrive and order a fruity drink.
But I digress.
Yesterday evening I decided to stumble about a bit, and the first site that came up was a photo essay about the Shipbreakers of Alang. Evidently this is the world’s leading site for shipbreaking, where huge tankers, container ships, and other ocean vessels are broken down to be recycled for scrap.
By “broken down” I mean with sledgehammers, saws, chisels, and bare hands, for the most part. These men work in unimaginably unsanitary, dangerous conditions, doing incredible physical labor for fourteen hours a day. They are exposed to toxic chemicals, life- and limb-threatening accidents, and infectious disease. Next time I feel put upon by some annoying part of my suburban, middle-class life as I lounge about on my comfy chair using my laptop, I’ll remember these people and get some perspective.
It’s hard to decide what to think about this. The men are freely choosing this work, and some say the wages are better than what they can get elsewhere. But the conditions are so horrible, and the environmental impact is potentially significant — not only are there absolutely no safety measures taken (some workers don’t even have shoes, no less hard hats), but their work releases petroleum products, asbestos, and other nasties directly into the air and sea onsite.
There is also worldwide concern that ship owners (and governments, particularly in the West) are knowingly violating international treaties and legislation designed to prevent transporting hazardous materials across international boundaries, particularly into the Third World. Other groups are working to solve associated human rights issues such as child labor and workers’ rights.
More information can be found here about these issues and proposed solutions.
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Photos by Gabuchan.
…gang aft agley.
I like reading author blogs because it gives me insight into both their creative process and the overall publishing process.
One I like especially is Neil Gaiman’s Journal. He is funny and personable, answers emails, and writes both about being an author and his life–cats, daughters, raising bees, traveling around the world, his relationship with pandas.
But even such a prominent, successful author can see his work go rather agley.
Here’s what he posted about his recently published book, The Graveyard Book:
I’ve also heard from a few people who have misbound versions, missing or repeating a “signature” of pages: it was misprinted, on pages 248-217 the pages are backwards (which is why I listed the numbers backwards) upside down, and cut off, tragically everything bad that could happen to a book in printing as one correspondent sighs, and pages 217-248 are missing and in their place are pages 249-280 printed twice. I am hoping that this is just a fluke in the time-space continuum, but perhaps people should be advised to double check to make sure those pages are there as another points out. So check your books and if it’s misprinted, then return it to the bookshop for a correct copy. (If you got a signed copy that’s misprinted, I’ll do what I can to make sure you get a signed one to replace it.)
Even in this day of computerized publishing, even in a publishing process where dozens of people (like myself) read over the book numerous times, things can still go very, very wrong.
And for an amazing contrast to today’s word processing, watch this video on seriously old school hot metal printing. Try to count how many times things could be seriously messed up there!
1) If you drop your laptop on the top of your foot, you won’t break any bones, but the top of your foot will turn blue and swell up and hurt like a motherf hell a lot.
(Don’t worry, I’m fine. I can even walk. And the laptop is fine, too.)
2) If your child comes running into the house crying and bleeding copiously, just say a prayer of thanks that you are calm in an emergency, you have plenty of clean towels, and that your child chose to wear a red shirt that day.
(Again, don’t worry. SillyBilly took a header in some gravel and got a 1 cm scalp wound. Nothing that lots of crying, cold water, and New Skin can’t fix. And yes, we consulted our Grammy the ER Nurse before attempting home treatment.)
3) If you’re moving 2,200 miles away in two weeks, and you’ve been eagerly awaiting something important for a long time, it will definitely be delayed.
(SillyBilly almost got his hearing aids today. The audiologist discovered that the otherwise wonderful $2,400 [each!] hearing aids did not come with the little doohickey that prevents the tiny battery from falling out when you open them. The tiny choking-hazard-toxic-chemical-hazard battery. So she’s reordering them.)
WARNING: This post is liberally peppered with links. Sorry if it’s annoying, but I’m really excited by this topic and just want to share the coolness.
I just came across this article on the Guardian’s website about book-swapping websites. As one of the largest such sites, BookMooch was featured prominently.
I’ve been a BookMooch member since…oh, heck, I have to go check my member page…la la bum tee bum…here we go, January 2007. I’ve mooched 40 books and given 37 (bad Mama: you’re really supposed to always give away more than you get, but thanks to a points donation by Helen, I’m still in the black!)
Aside from clearing out books I don’t want anymore and finding books I either can’t find elsewhere or that I’m willing to read but not buy, I also love the open-source, Free Culture, Creative Commonsy aspect. The Guardian article touches on some of BM founder John Buckman‘s thoughts about how book swapping doesn’t really take any profits away from authors and publishers
And recently a few new interesting things have popped up in the Moochosphere: swapping shipping materials, which is a brilliant use of the BM network to reuse and share exactly what BM members need, and actual cooperation between a free book-swapping service and publishers. Added to the existing cool stuff like the ability to donate your BM points to charities, the ability to download every bit of information in the BM database (except user email and snail mail addresses) for free, and the constant tinkering with what it means to collaborate between reader/swappers, authors, and publishers, these innovations make me love BM even more.
Now I just need to find some more books to give away….
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Interested? Read more about BookMooch here or here.
Filed under Books, computers