Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Holiday Roundup

So far . . . .

I've managed to buy more presents for myself than gifts for other people. I'm easier to shop for, and I always know what I want. This time of year I make sure I get it!

That said, I'm making good progress on my gift list. It gets shorter every year. More and more people get cards with a nice handwritten note, and there's nothing wrong with that. Less stress on me to accomplish and less stress on others who may feel pressured to reciprocate.

I bought a generous collection of candies at the local chocolate shop as a collective gift for my coworkers. They even had some vegan chocolate, allowing me to respect everyone's food choices. After the clerk wrapped all the little packets up in a decorative box, I realized she hadn't removed the price stickers, so I had to open the box and remove the little tags. And wouldn't you know it, then all the little packets wouldn't fit back in the box again. Oh well. No one will ever miss those pretzel sticks dipped in white chocolate, will they?

This weekend I have two different holiday events to go to. That's a pretty big deal for me, as I usually like to stay home. One's a boat ride which is likely to include my idea of hell (40 degrees and raining); the hardy among us will be honor bound to make it a good time anyway. The other's an open house that also includes shuffleboard (a sport that deserves more respect, and for which my host is trying to spur a resurgence). Again, cold weather will make that an adventure, but why not?

I also have vacation time to look forward to. Once all the festivities are over, I'll get a nice long break . . . . to enjoy those self-gifted presents!

Monday, December 11, 2017

I Have Lived

Photo: Karen Chadwick

This picture was taken two years ago and it still amazes me.

Pictured is Cannon Springs, which is usually covered with Ocklawaha River water, raised behind a dam that no longer serves any purpose. (If you'd like to learn more about the plight of the Ocklawaha, there's a wonderful short film that tells its story, River Be Dammed.)

Ongoing work strives to create the political will needed to remove the dam, free the Ocklawaha, and allow Cannon Springs and others like it to resume their beauty.

For now, they wait.

And I'm reminded that my life has had its transcendent moments.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Prove It

Image result for captcha
Photo: captcha.net

Sometimes when I comment on a blog, the host is using CAPTCHA and I have to do that extra step.  It's not a problem. I totally understand that it's a bot protection device and I'm all for that. 

I finally got curious about CAPTCHA and did a little research. Did you know that CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart? Kudos to Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University, who did some great work and coined that catchy name in 2000. Who knew? 

(By the way, the CAPTCHA site is super readable -- especially for a computer site! -- and has a lot of interesting background information on what it does and why it's needed.)  

Most of the time CAPTCHA is just a little wordy game that I kind of enjoy. I especially like the one with the photos that asks me to "Click every square with a traffic sign" -- although it would be more fun if it wanted me to, say, click every square with a flower. 

But there's one that asks me to "Please prove you're not a robot." Often this takes me into the realm of wild thoughts: 

What if I'm a robot and I don't know it? 

Books have been written on just this subject. It might make a good reading challenge. 

Once robots can read a word with a squiggly line through it, how will I prove myself? 

And doesn't the question itself seem a little aggressive?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dread & Read Challenge 2018 - Progress & Reviews


Here's where you can follow your progress toward those dreaded reading goals. (Learn more about this challenge and sign up here, before December 1, to join in.)

If you're determined to move some of those perpetually looming books off your reading lists this year, you've come to the right place!

Here's how it works: Let me know your progress in the comments on this post as the year goes on, including a review link or some comments about the book. When you knock those books off your TBR list, you'll get a sweetener in the mail as you reward--in case having them in your literary rear view mirror isn't enough!

Still plenty of time to sign up!

Neer at A Hot Cup of Pleasure (sign-up post coming soon) 

Host: J.G. at Hotchpot Cafe (sign-up post coming soon) (not eligible for prizes)

Reading Naturally Challenge 2018 - Progress & Reviews


Are you reading naturally this year, as part of the Reading Naturally Challenge? (Find out more and sign-up here before December 1, if you want to join in.)

Personally, I'm looking forward to the extra incentive to "get around to" the nature-related books on my shelves. How about you?

Please let me know how you're doing as the year goes on (reviews and reactions would be nice, even if just 1-2 sentences). I'll post your progress, congratulate you, and send out your prize as quickly as possible.

Be the first to sign up!

J.G. at Hotchpot Cafe: (sign-up post coming soon) (host: not eligible for prizes)