Where to buy Traci Robison's books

Buy The Taking at:

Buy Tangled at:

Buy Gates the Hours Keep at:

April 25, 2011

Cuteness Dog-on-ified

There's a new furry face at our house.  We spotted Tali on Petfinder, and after a couple of weeks checking the site and finding her still available for adoption, Jim and I went to see her in person.  She was so much smaller than I expected.  Listed as a golden retriever shepherd cross, she was the size of a cocker spaniel puppy.  Jim wanted a dog that didn't shed much.  In the few moments I held her, my coat was covered with hair.  I like co-operative, eager to please dogs.  Circling the adoption room, she seemed interested in everything but us.  I couldn't decide whether it was a sign she was smart and curious or antisocial. 

When Jim and I stepped out to talk about whether we wanted her, neither of us was sure one way or the other.  Finally, I said, "I don't think we should take her."

Decision made, we walked back in, and she rocketed across the room to us, her tail wagging and whole body wriggling with puppy joy.  Jim looked at me.  In his eyes, I saw we weren't going home alone.  Four weeks later, I'm glad we didn't.

I have no idea what breed of dog she is.  No idea how big she'll get or what her soft, fuzzy coat will look like when she's a grown dog.  I do know she and Sadie get along well.  She waits behind Sadie at the water bowl like a kid in line at a drinking fountain and trots along beside her when we go for a walk.  She cuddles Jim's neck when he picks her up.  She lays by my feet when I'm writing.  She's learned sit and stay and watches everything that goes on.

Sure, she's piddled on the floor and chewed on the deck and torn a hole in my yoga pants.  But when she tosses her toys or pounces on a daylily or runs laps around the house simply to run, I'm reminded of joy I've been in danger of forgetting.  That pup knows how to live. 

April 18, 2011

Calibre-E-book management

The Kindle Reader (A Young Girl Seated), after Renoir

 by Mike Licht
 When it comes to e-readers, I'm a little behind the times.  I hate reading long text on my computer and have clung to the idea that books with paper pages to flip through my fingers provide a reading experience e-readers can never match.  The smell of a book, the ink on the page, the dog-eared edges my own fingers have worn--those sensual aspects of reading are part of the joy.

What could compete?  A Kindle.  No, it doesn't smell like old book, but the text is as easy on my eyes as any ordinary page.  And the darn thing is so light.  My hands don't cramp when I hold it.  My backpack weighs next to nothing these days--I might even get by with a purse or a hot little messenger bag and still be carrying around a virtual library.  I love it.

And last week I found yet another reason to embrace my e-reader.  Using Calibre e-book management software, I converted my current drafts to MOBI format and loaded them onto the Kindle.  Now, instead of hauling around my laptop or a giant three-ring binder of printed draft pages, I can read my drafts on the Kindle.  Not only does it lighten my load and enable me to work on my drafts almost anywhere, reading them on the Kindle allows me to see my work with a fresh eye.  It looks like every other text on my e-reader.  It doesn't seem like my work, and so, I've been reading it with more acceptance than I usually grant myself.  Because I tend to criticize and over-edit and not accept anything I write as good enough, I think this psychological distancing from my work will help me shape a solid final draft.

Even if you haven't thought about getting an e-reader, I suggest you check out Calibre.  It's free.  It can convert text to multiple e-reader formats, manage your electronic library, and sync with your chosen device.  Or, you can use it to read the e-texts on your computer if you prefer.  You can even use it to fetch news from websites.

Isn't technology great?

April 15, 2011

Seeing History

I've recently come across a couple sites those of you interested in history might enjoy.

WhatWasThere.com ties historic photos to Google maps to create a virtual time machine, allowing viewers to superimpose street scenes from the past over those from today.  I particularly like the option to fade the historic photograph, which creates a ghost image over the present-day setting.  Anyone may register to upload photographs and basic metadata on WhatWasThere.com.  Currently most of the images are from the United States, but hopefully a wider range of sites will be represented as more people use the service.

History Pin  created by non-profit We Are What We Do in partnership with Google also matches up historic photos and Google maps.  Users can add stories about any of the represented places as well as uploading their own photos.  The images can be searched by place, subject, and date, allowing you to really pinpoint what you're seeking.  I wish this site had the fade function available on WhatWasThere.com, but other than that, I prefer History Pin.  Because History Pin is partnered with Google, registration was a snap with my already existing Google ID.

Some archivists express hesitance towards their archives participating in sites like these, primarily because of the wide-open access.  Anyone can post a photo and create metadata, which may or may not be accurate.  Also, putting your images out there, you lose control over who may be subsequently using them and for what purpose.  I think those are legitimate concerns, but in the balance between open access and intellectual control, I lean strongly toward access.  I like the idea of history being recorded and interpreted by anyone.  What do you think of these sites?