A few quick notes

First, a quick late Happy Anniversary to ideaphile plantnerd and the Brit, and a quick early Happy Birthday to my dad, who I understand pops on here like, once every blue moon. I love you all!

Second, via peri-renna, two very excellent blog posts on what to do if you think someone important to you is dealing with depression here and here.

If you’re following me on twitter, you might also want to follow @chancedog and @kayleedog. Kaylee’s the more talkative of the two.

Peppermint iced tea, while delicious, makes you cold, so I really ought to stop drinking it in the winter.

Had fun watching the Super Bowl tonight. Pitchers and catchers report in 12 days, 9 hours, and 30 minutes.

I’ve now been staring at this screen for 5 solid minutes, so I think maybe I should go to bed. Goodnight!

Reading List

“Big Read”‘s 100-Book List
kirabug — stolen from peri-renna’s site.

If you choose, look through the following list of books and:
1) Bold those you have read.
2) Italicise those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) * Put a star next to the ones you’ve only partially read.
5) Strikethrough the ones you refuse to read.
6) Reprint this list in your own LJ (or in my case, the blog).

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 * The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 * Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 * His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 * Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 * Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 * The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 * David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 * Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown (I own it, does that count for anything?)

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert (own that too)

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 * The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Alborn

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Not a bad showing, if I do say so myself.

On Blogging, and the worlds therein

I was reading a post by our own peri-renna earlier where he noted LiveJournal’s new policy of removing the option to create new Basic accounts and he mentioned how it might just be time to leave LiveJournal as a blogging base.*

I can’t agree more, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

Let me say up front that having a membership to most of the places below is certainly worthwhile, because it allows you to a) comment on folks’ posts, and b) establish a web presence of your own because your comments will thus link back to your blog (your real one, or a LJ page that tells folks where to find your real one), thus giving you a consistent face across the web. If you don’t want a consistent face across the web, then you don’t have to worry about it.

And I practice what I preach. I have jump pages on Geocities, Comcast, Xanga, LiveJournal, and Blogger…. I have a profile on Facebook if you can find it, I sure as hell can’t…. I have a WordPress.com login but their software is smart enough to point straight to my WordPress.org blog so I don’t have to maintain an extra jump page there. I think that’s all of them. Probably.

But the ‘net’s a lot like maintaining residency. Except for this site, all those pages above are just PO Boxes that forward contacts to my home, which is here. And why is my home here?

Well, let’s look at the options.

I always viewed Myspace as a co-ed high-school sleepover when the parents were out of town. When I was old enough to hold those kinds of sleepovers, we held them on Prodigy’s chatboards, not on our own web space, because most of the planet didn’t know what web space was. So I don’t have a Myspace account — and I’m a snob — I’m proud of that.

LiveJournal’s like living in the college dorms – more civilized, but you’re still sharing a bathroom with your 20 closest neighbors, even if you don’t like them. (Xanga’s the same, only at a small private junior college that doesn’t advertise well.) Livejournal is totally about community, which is why I’m amused that they’ve shut down basic accounts. My only (totally uneducated) guess is too many “kids” (who turn out to be 35-year-olds who aged well) who move in, slip ads for the latest stock/penis/Canadian drug scam under everyone’s door 35 times a night, get kicked out, add a fake mustache, and then try it again.

Blogger is LiveJournal’s sister university, only with a different password.

Facebook is a college in the middle of the city with six separate campuses that require me to learn both the bus and the subway in order to get to class, buy groceries, hang out with my friends, or even I swear to God find the bathroom. And they tore up all the maps. There must be some skill to navigating that place that only those under 25 are privvy to, because damned if I (or most of the people my age at work) can figure it out. What’s the cheat code to see the map? Up up down down left right left right select start? The only way I find anyone is to wait until my sister’s friended them and then steal her friends.

Anyway, at some point, you graduate. Sometimes you get your own place before they boot you out the door and charge you $30 for your own damn diploma, and sometimes you don’t. I moved out early, to Geocities, which like its sister tripod resembled having your own studio apartment over a bar in a rowdy section of town — and the landlord had hung neon signs for the bar and exotic dance studio right outside your window so everyone who visited could see them. Plus, it turned out that much like MySpace now, most of your neighbors were colorblind and addicted to the blink tag drug. So regardless of how many pretty flowers you planted or how clean and usable your apartment was, just living in that neighborhood left the impression that you were just as bad.

So I moved to Earthlink, and then when we physically moved, to Comcast. But I still don’t have any address of my own on either of those (in fact on Comcast I had to use my husband’s webspace because he’s primary on the account – teh suxxors!) and like an apartment with a laid-back landlord, I’m not allowed to gut the wiring or tear out the walls even if I can paint, install shelving, and upgrade the coffeemaker. Plus, I knew that the next time I moved, I’d have to change my address *again* and after moving all these boxes and files 3 times, that was getting old.

I could have moved to WordPress.com. They’re a nice dorm-style apartment with free blogging similar to Livejournal, lots of features, and a generally mature set of neighbors. In fact, they’re mature enough that the primary topic of most posts and blogs appear to be politics and news, so maybe they’re less dorm and more graduate housing.

But honestly, I needed to feel like I had a permanent place of my own — one where as long as I pay the mortgage on time every December, and don’t break the law (read: terms of service) I get to keep my address and all my stuff. I’d been blogging for close to 5 years by then if you count Geocities, and I had pictures, thoughts, and memories from all that time stored up. (Someday I really am going to get all of them imported into here btw.) So I shopped a lot of hosts, using Google as my real estate agent, and finally settled down here.

And even having moved here, we changed mortgage companies once, from Midphase hosting to Hostmonster. Maybe mortgage company’s a bad analogy, because they also own access to all the utilities — rabid homeowner’s association maybe? — and once Midphase had cut off my power and water one too many times for no good reason, I signed up with Hostmonster. I have only excellent things to say about Hostmonster.

As for the actual house, well, your host doesn’t provide a very good one, just a foundation and connections for all your pipes. (OK, maybe it’s more like an RV park?). So for a while I built all my own walls all the time, but that’s inefficient, especially when you’re ready to do something like change the fonts. That’s when I decided to hit the hardware store, and boy, WordPress has been awesome. (I hear Drupal is just as good, but I haven’t tried them.) You go to their website, download their software, install it, and then you’re free to do virtually anything you want. You can download someone else’s interior decoration or build your own, paint, tear out the walls, redo the piping, add free furniture, it’s all available. I’ve even found a way to add an addition (what the rest of you call a forum) and as soon as work settles down I’m going to look into perhaps building that addition.

Granted, just like finding a residence, the more features you want, the more responsibility you need to take on. I wasn’t allowed to replace the floors in my apartment, but on the other hand a guy came out to fix the leaky toilet and didn’t charge me, either.

So there you go: the hierarchy of hosting options, dressed mostly-cleanly in a housing market analogy. If you’re one of the many folks getting the itch to upgrade your digs and find yourself a new home, give it a shot! There’s no reason to torch the old place yet… but maybe you just don’t need to live there anymore.


*Editor’s note 2017: since half of these sites have disappeared since 2007, former links are now underlined.

Well, they got me.

What American accent do you have?

Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you’re not from Philadelphia, then you’re from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you’ve ever journeyed to some far off place where people don’t know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn’t have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?

Kudos to ideaphile peri-renna for posting this interesting item on his LJ.