Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Did You Call It?

I am so glad that the New York Times started making their articles free. Without them, I wouldn't have stumbled upon this delightful little gem, "What Did You Call It?" about acceptable words for a woman's private parts. In my opinion "down there" always sounded like a bad After School Special and the word my husband and I currently use is the same as the first name of the mechanic on the old "Dukes of Hazzard".

Which really demonstrates, as the article details, that there is a vacuum in popular discourse showing a need for a word for female genitalia that is not clinical, crude, coy, misogynistic or descriptive of a vagina from a man’s point of view.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit

The writer in all of us is always looking for a way to short cut that dreadful period of time when you are sitting in front of the computer all set to start furiously typing and mysteriously can not get the black on white.

Free Lance Folder's "7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit", gives ideas on how to stop fearing the moment of starting your term paper, new novel, angsty poem, or blog entry and to just start writing. Try and remember, folks, to 'write for the trash can'. The most difficult part of writing is the act of putting the pen on the paper.

Monday, October 29, 2007

15 Unreasonably Useful Websites

This extremely well thought out list from WebUpon, "15 Unreasonably Useful Websites" not only includes no brainers like YouTube, Craigslist, Wikipedia and IMBD but also pure strokes of genius like MusicTheory (a website that contains lessons, trainers, as well as several other utilities) and Freedocumentaries (a catalog of documentaries covering a zillion different topics that you can browse by region, theme, or title. The videos are free!!).

For even more ridiculously useful sites, check out WebUpon previous article, "15 Ridiculously Useful Websites". Which includes "Retail Me Not" (an online coupon hunting site I cannot live without) and the very exciting "What Should I read Next?" which calculates future books that should hop into your library based on what you have already read.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Poison is Sexy

I...well, truthfully, I had all sorts of blogs planned. Funny blogs from, serious blogs about women's images in advertising, thoughtful blogs regarding ways to concentrate at work and sources for inspiration while writing. But they were all trumped by this article about the "Top Ten Poisonous Plants". There are so many uses for this article outside of the realm of poisoning your enemies (Not that I am condoning that). There is infinite foder for realistic fiction writing, realistic non-fiction writing, creative D&D names, Steam-punk survival manuals, poetic analogies, creative Halo handles and even creative Shakespearean insults. It's like all of my blog threads rolled into one. I don't even care if you people don't find the list relevant. It is just so totally frickin' cool to know these plants.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sim City is the New Scary

The new Sim City game is dubbed "SimCity Societes" allowing you focus on the social aspects of your urban creation. Build an artistic city, an Orwellian city, a futuristic city, a green city, a spiritual community or any freaking kind of society you want.

Did you love the natural disasters element of the original (including letting Godzilla destroy your hard work)? The forthcoming installment of the classic urban simulation franchise, Sim City, will include a global warming variable. Should players choose to build their cities dependent on the types of sources for power that conserve in-game money with little regard to the environment, their carbon ratings will rise and, at reaching critical levels, the game will issue alerts about the threat of the various new natural disasters like droughts, heat waves and more. Alternatively, players can strive to create a greener environment and avoid hazards caused by excessive carbon emissions by choosing from a variety of Alternative Energy low-carbon power options (sponsored by BP, so get ready for some heavy-handed in-game branding). Informative real-world snippets about power production and conservation will also be available in-game, informing players of global warming issues both virtually and in reality.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The etymology of swearing

The New Republic has a delightful article, "What the F***?", on the origins and versatility of English swearwords, most notably the "F" word. This topic is of particular interest to me ever since I started dabbling in fantasy novels. What makes a good swear word in an invented culture? What exactly do we find offensive in our own culture? What is taboo? Which is more taboo, sex words, religion words, or excrement words?

In the Goofy Foot Press's, "The Guide to Getting It On", Chapter Three is dedicated to "Dirty Words". The chapter is not concerned with the fun and perhaps sexy kind of dirty words, but instead is pointed to make you think why, especially in the U.S., swear words are most often sex words. In Sweden, for example one of their very dirtiest words means "yellow snow" (Yes, the dirtiest kind of yellow snow) and the Norwegian word for "devil" is treated in the same way as our F-word. They also touch on why most of our dirtiest words revolve around calling each other slang for female genitalia. Even little girls do it on the playground as if to say "You're the woman in sex, you piece of garbage!" whether she is talking to other girls or boys. Why does our culture associate cowardice and filth with being a woman or having a woman's genitals?

Finally, in Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue", he admits that until the 1870s, the words "Damn", "Jesus" and "Hell" were a great deal more taboo than "F_* or "Sh_*" in English (a fact evidenced by which words I feel comfortable writing in this blog in order for it to remain relatively clean). When did swearing by sex become more forbidden than swearing by God?

Ponder this, the next time you generate a random Shakespearean insult. (Okay a the random Shakespearean insult generator is just good SCA fun, but ponder anyway).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Manly Drinks

Don't be deceived by the title of this article. "Manly Drinks" isn't a list of imbibements that will quickly get interns drunk, or a list of blue-hued atrocities shot at bachelor parties with bad ass names like Zombie, Cement Mixer or Mind Eraser. It is a list of classics. The drinks of wise, confident men and, in my opinion, the drinks of those women in the drop waist twenties dresses with a feather and a few spangles in their hair, the kohl on their eyelids, listening to the Billie Holiday in tiny but well appointed apartments with the red glasses from dime stores in a pretty cabinet and a bottle of rye under their beds.

It's a cute but succinct article from Campus Squeeze, which caters mostly to males but could benefit from the instruction of some of those women afore mentioned. Any one of these drinks could be your never fail fall back upon entering a dive bar or for when the liquor cabinet is at a strain, whether your male or female.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Interviewing Cheat Sheet

Whether your looking for a job, looking for someone to fill a job or trying to ace your next job review, everyone should take a look at HR World's "Interviewing Cheat Sheet:100 Resources for Interviewers and Canidates". This incredibly detailed article collects guides and links to sources such as the Wall Street Journal and FOCUS magazine, organizing great study resources like the most common interview questions (so you can practice your answers) and strategies for different types of interviews (including group interviews, telephone interviews and the dreaded dinner interview). The Cheat Sheet also pops up with more uncommon tidbits like how to be a short story teller so you will be remembered by interviewers and how to dress for your dream job (the link from Washington State University is most excellently illustrated). In short, the cheat sheet is the yellow brick road to all the interview necessities in emerald city. Bookmark it in your favorites, now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

SteamPunk Magazine

SteamPunk Magazine is offering a free pdf download of their devastatingly interesting “A SteamPunk’s Guide to the Apocalypse”. The 56-page guide is illustrated by Colin Foran who's drawings remind me of the stylings of the webcomic "Ice" (a neo-apocaclyptic treat that can be found in my Sweetshop).

From descriptions of the appropriateness of clothing made from patchworked upholstry scraps to the fundamentals of hoarding toothpaste, the guide is a creepy, punky scream somewhere between this side of Gormenghast and A Canticle for Leibowitz. Enjoy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Discover the .edu underground

This amazingly useful compilation "Discover the .edu Underground" comes straight from via its popularity at Digg. Now, I don't usually frequent sites with names like "Lifehacker" (or so I say) but the pure genius of this compilation is undeniable. I'm only surprised lifehacker is the first one to publish it. The gist is this: literally thousands of .edu sites are bursting with incredibly useful and interesting information and resources, but they are vastly underused and neglected by the internet community because most of them don't pop up to the surface of average search engines. Read Lifehacker's list, conveniently divided by Art, Science, Space, Humanities, Photography, History and more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Free online money management

Mint: Refreshing Money Management, is a free, on-line source to help track spending and bills to manage your money. Mint connects to your banks, credit unions, and credit card providers and keeps your transactions and account balances in one place. It will even auto-balance your checkbook and (especially wonderful) auto organize your transactions, showing you how much you spend on gas, groceries, parking, rent, restaurants, DVD rentals or whatever. An advanced alerting system highlights any unusual activity, low balances, unwanted fees and charges, and upcoming bills to give you an intimate and amazingly accurate view of your financial life.

Terrified of putting your finicial info "out there"? Mint uses high level security standards (including encryption, auditing, logging, backups, and safe-guarding data) while never knowing your personal identity. It also uses Yodlee to connect to your financial institutions, which is the same back-end aggregation system used by Bank of America, Fidelity, and Microsoft Money. Yodlee's security practices are audited by the NSA, Visa, Mastercard, and numerous other major banks.

Finally, in an interesting twist, Mint doesn't just spit out reports on your finances, it searches through thousands of offers from hundreds of providers to find better deals on everything from bank accounts to credit cards, cable, phone and Internet plans, tayloring suggestions based on your individual spending patterns. The suggestions aren't annoying pop-ups either. You visit a seperate tab if you're interested in shopping around (an honestly who isn't?).

Try it out. I am.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Consumer Consequences, the Online Eco-Game brought my attention to this resource, Consumer Consequences, an online game that calculates your overall ecological footprint designed by American Public Media. Create your own character, then face a series of questionis about lifestyle, buying habits and transportation choices while background graphics reflecting your in-game "world" of waste and consumption slides across the screen.

Consumer Consequences gives interesting snippets of information, tailored to your state and lifestyle, along the way and allows you to compare your score with others within your demographic. Even better, it offers suggestions on how to improve your lifestyle if you receive a less than perfect score.

Also, check out the treehugger article for an in-depth review.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Do You Recognize These 10 Mental Blocks to Creative Thinking?

Whether trying to finish that story, solve a problem at the office, work out new Suduku patterns or just trying to find the last change in a "what's different about these two pictures" puzzle, changing your perspective and seeing things differently than you currently do is essential for creative results.

Copyblogger has a wonderful article "Do You Recognize These 10 Mental Blocks to Creativity" which focuses on releasing practicality and logical thinking in favor of kicking your inner "editor" out of the same room as your inner "artist".

Monday, October 1, 2007

Star Trek Writers Are Right Again has an exciting article "Parallel Universes Exist" regarding the nature of parallel universes and the studies of their realities. There's not much more to say about this awesome topic except that Dr. Who, writer Steven Moffat probably just squeed.