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Preview: Newton's 1st Law of Motion

Newton's 1st Law of Motion

Every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform speed in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces acting on it.

Updated: 2018-03-06T07:34:41.204-06:00


Neat mitts


(Testing a Firefox plugin that's new to me - Firescribe.)

These look nice.  They're no doubt easier to knit up than either gloves or mittens, and they'd be just the thing to keep my hands warm yet still allow me to type and swipe.  But will they really keep the fingers warm as well?

Winter Twilight Mitts - Media - Knitting Daily

Summary: The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide: How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions


Becky Levine, Writer’s Digest Books, 2010, 293 pgs.

The book is divided into several sections. The first and last sections deal with questions that arise in looking for and/or being part of a critique group: start your own or join an existing group; in-person or online; frequency, structure or format, expectations and responsibilities of members of a critique group; etc. A relatively minor section towards the end sketches a plan for the writer to utilize critique comments in revising and/or rewriting his work. But the bulk of the reference deals with critiquing a writer’s submission; there are separate sections for critiquing fiction, non-fiction (magazine articles, non-fiction book proposals, how-to/self-help, memoir, travel writing), and children’s books. Each section, save the last, concludes with worksheets and examples that also serve as a summary or highlight of that particular section.

Regardless of genre, Levine starts off each chapter within the various critiquing sections with a call to the critiquer to pay attention to his feelings or impressions about what he’s reading; e.g., areas of boredom, lack of tension, disconnectedness, hero passivity, confusing dialogue, etc.: something that either frustrates, confuses, or bores you as a critiquer/reader. Such impressions are basically symptoms that generally signal weaknesses in the writing. After listing the possible feelings you might experience, Levine discusses probable root causes for such symptoms and suggests not only remedies, but ways to “soften the blow” and provide constructive criticism in a positive light. By way of illustration, Levine shows us actual excerpts that “get it right,” followed by a fictitious negative example of writing that falls flat, along with possible critique comments.

The critiquing fiction section seems to have the lion’s share of the book, as there are separate chapters on the different foci of critiquing fiction: critiquing for plot, character, point of view and voice, dialogue, description, and scene structure. The critiquing non-fiction section has a chapter on each of the types of non-fiction writing, and the section on critiquing children’s books has a chapter each on picture books, beginning readers, and chapter books. Irrespective of one’s particular genre interest(s), the reader would benefit from reading all sections rather than skipping the ones pertaining to other genres.

I think this book will prove helpful not only for the person interested in learning how to give a worthy critique, but also for anyone who wishes to improve his writing. Knowing in advance some of the common writing weaknesses can assist the writer in avoiding these pitfalls in the first place. I am looking forward to implementing some of the tips and suggestions I’ve gleaned from reading this book.

Gamle Bilder: Bestum


Jeg lurer om det fins noen som kjenner igjen scenen hvor bildene ble tatt. Sannsynligvis er begge bilder tatt på samme sted - det ser jo ut som det er tilfellet. På baksida til det ene bildet står det skrevet "Bestum," så det fører meg til å tro at det kan være stedet hvor bildene ble tatt. Men det sier også Holmenkollen på kortet, vet ikke om Bestum ligger i nærheten.

Jeg vet ikke, derfor spør jeg...




Old Army Stuff - Addendum



I had put up this picture in a previous post, but I wanted to put it up against because I have some additional information. I found an old picture of my grandfather, ostensibly from the year 1914 (can't verify that date, but on the other hand, have no reason to doubt it), wearing some sort of uniform with the pin on the left on his hat and collar:


If you click on the picture, you can zoom in and see the pin. Now, according to census records, my grandfather was not a veteran. So, what's with the army-type getups?


New Year 2011: Resolutions


Every year I make resolutions (which I prefer to think of as "setting goals"), with a track record of limited success. This year is no different: I have been thinking about what sort of things I'd like to accomplish this year, and have written them down in a rough draft. What's new (and hopefully improved) for this year is that insofar as possible, I am appending to each goal specific, actionable steps to help me achieve that goal; e.g., if one of my goals is to complete my writing projects, I have under that goal "Write a minimum of 1000 words a day."

For some, this might seem like a no-brainer, and, indeed, I have heard before the advice about being specific in setting goals. But the "a-ha" insight for me lies in not only being specific about the goals themselves, but in getting specific about the steps necessary to achieve those goals. It forces me to think more clearly about the goals - thus, the goals are more realistic, giving me a better chance at success.

Nine Years Ago Today



Never Forget.

And some want to build a mosque on its ashes, supposedly in the name of "tolerance" and "building bridges." In a pig's eye.






Inesechay Amspay


I am sick of getting Inesechay Amspay. From henceforth it shall be immediately and permanently deleted. I realize it probably comes from bots, but all the same....

Ditto for tiny urls or questionable links from people I don't recognize.

For the Benefit of our Congressmen


I submit the following for their edification. Our congressmen should note that there is a particularly fascinating little clause in the second paragraph: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...I realize that this is pretty heady stuff, but I am reasonably confident that if Congress will avail themselves of a dictionary, they can ascertain what the Founding Fathers meant by that clause. Well, okay, maybe Madam Pelosi and M. Reid need a translation, so here it is: YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO RAM LEGISLATION DOWN OUR THROATS WHEN THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS ARE AGAINST IT.Clear enough?NB: The little ditty about "imposing Taxes on us without our Consent" is enlightening as well. I have dreams of Democrats taking the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution seriously. I know, I know - I must be deluded. However, hope springs eternal....Anyways, for the benefit of our Congressmen (and the ones with a (D) after their name, in particular), I present to you for your edification and enlightenment: the Declaration of Independence. (How they ever managed to get through school without learning this stuff, I'll never know.)IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of AmericaWhen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestima[...]



Yes, that's right - we here in terra-not-so-firma Illinois had an earthquake last night, 3 something in the morning. It was strong enough to wake us up out of a sound sleep, and it also knocked a small picture frame off of its perch on top of the stereo. The picture frame didn't merely drop from its customary spot, but it was actually knocked two or three feet away.

The Big House for the Big Mouth


Al Gore is such a scam artist, he should share a cell with Bernie Madoff, especially if "crap and trade" goes through.

More Cheap Entertainment


From this site:


A salad dressing competes with a chess board for a cashier. Most people believe that the fundraiser related to the parking lot greedily tries to seduce a food stamp, but they need to remember how almost the buzzard inside a scooby snack trembles. Furthermore, a defendant over some polygon goes to sleep, and an industrial complex competes with the girl scout. An ocean inside a globule, a food stamp living with the garbage can, and a reactor behind the class action suit are what made America great!

The steam engine of a chess board

When a purple carpet tack is frozen, a secretly impromptu polar bear figures out the plaintiff. Sometimes another cashier for the squid beams with joy, but a fundraiser toward an insurance agent always feverishly seeks the short order cook of some food stamp! A ball bearing negotiates a prenuptial agreement with a South American power drill. Furthermore, some crispy rattlesnake prays, and a hole puncher learns a hard lesson from a blithe spirit.

The pork chop inside a pig pen

A fraction about the minivan gives secret financial aid to a completely pompous polar bear. Any pit viper can can be kind to the South American line dancer, but it takes a real photon to conquer an imaginative judge. Now and then, a diskette around the submarine knows a fairy over a steam engine. Indeed, a traffic light near a senator seeks an insurance agent.

An obsequious salad dressing

An earring living with the freight train inexorably assimilates a frustrating fire hydrant. Now and then, the cough syrup shares a shower with a pickup truck for a dolphin. The microscope flies into a rage, and a plaintiff defined by the blithe spirit sweeps the floor; however, a pork chop pees on a recliner near a cocker spaniel. A gentle wheelbarrow hides, but a class action suit defined by a bullfrog ostensibly buys an expensive gift for a pine cone toward a warranty. Most people believe that a cab driver lazily learns a hard lesson from a most difficult tripod, but they need to remember how barely a hydrogen atom leaves.


Any movie theater can give a pink slip to the hole puncher from a movie theater, but it takes a real fruit cake to accidentally conquer a cheese wheel around a razor blade. Sometimes the corporation returns home, but a buzzard about a parking lot always goes deep sea fishing with some proverbial movie theater! Sometimes a chestnut trembles, but a prime minister always non-chalantly dances with the vacuum cleaner! A false anomaly derives perverse satisfaction from a geosynchronous senator. Sometimes a feline corporation rejoices, but another temporal paycheck always takes a peek at an avocado pit defined by the razor blade!

Favorite phrases:

  • completely pompous polar bear
  • obsequious salad dressing
  • the microscope flies into a rage
  • frustrating fire hydrant
  • crispy rattlesnake

Cheap Entertainment


It's too cold for watching grass grow or paint dry, so this is what passes for amusement at our household these days - waiting for paper to come out of the printer.

A Visit from Saint Nicholas


by Clement Clarke Moore


’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap;

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and Saint Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Happy Birthday, Hannah!


(A bit late, but better than never):



and now:


Happy Birthday!!

Pithy Truth


Spotted yesterday on a bumper sticker:

So far, the change s***s.

(Asterisks not in original, and the "o" in "So" was an Obama "o.")

Yup, just what you'd expect from a two-bit Chicago pol - all the hype and change is nothing more than same-old-same-old.

That's the thing about buyer's remorse - it never comes on time.

NaNo 2009: Lessons Learned


Well, NaNo has come and gone. I didn't make it to 50K, but it was a worthwhile attempt for me even at ca. 17K. I managed to write a hefty (for me) chunk anyhow, one that gives me a good start on a potential novel, and I plan to keep on plugging away at it. If nothing else, it will give me the opportunity to improve my writing as I slog my way through the story.

Things I've realized as a result of this intensive (!) attempt at writing:

  • Discipline: The key to reaching the goal is discipline. You can have the best plan on the books, but unless you have the discipline to carry it out, fuggedaboudit. In this particular case, that translates to writing daily and achieving your word count goal for that day.

  • Don't worry about perfection: As I read on another author's website, the writer's "enemy" is not the badly written page, but rather the blank page. If you have something scribbled down on the page, at least that gives you something to work with. On the other hand, a clean, white sheet stares back at you, mocking you and defying you to sully it with letters and words. Before you know it, your mind is as blank as that page, and creativity is out the window. Just start writing. Get the big picture, and flesh out the details later.

So, these are the two lessons I need most to practice; hopefully by the time next November rolls around, they will have become second nature to me.

NaNo Update: Broke 10,000!


So, I am still behind - November is half over, which means that by rights I should be somewhere around 25,000 words. At least I'm not as behind as was earlier with my slow start. I need to close out this day with at least 12,500 words and then average 2500 words a day to meet the goal of 50,000 by the end of the month. Definitely doable, but I have to be diligent about writing each day, as this schedule leaves me no margin for error.

On the positive side: I'm definitely learning about forging ahead and writing stuff down without regard to how euphonious it sounds or how logical the plot elements are (or aren't, as the case may be). That stuff can always be fixed later; that's what rough drafts are for.

Here's to diligence and discipline in writing daily!

Really Scary Pumpkins


Our pumpkins are ready to be retired. We actually carved them a couple of days after Halloween, so they're fresher than they might be otherwise. We lit the candles today, the first time in a few days. The pumpkins are really scary now - moldy on the inside, and producing some pumpkin juice wherever they sit. Here are two glowing pumpkins:The larger pumpkin:Three glowing pumpkins:This is Hannah's pumpkin:You can see the mold growing on the inside of my pumpkin:Hannah and Jacob looking into their pumpkins:It's a good thing tomorrow is garbage day ;)[...]

NaNo Update: Finally Finished Chapter 1


It's about time, too. I'm only about a week behind schedule - ha! Behind enough, but not impossibly so, if I can just manage to be more consistent in writing every day. It's now the 9th, which gives me 21 more days to reach the goal of 50,000 words. Since I'm now at a word count of 2502 (unofficial), that means that averaging a little over 2200 words a day will get me there (and getting 3000 words a day will push me quite comfortably over the finish line). Not at all impossible, so no need to concede defeat yet.

I must confess that I am amazed at the people who can crank out several thousand words a day. Some have already surpassed the 50K goal. As for me, I do happen to have a life outside of this NaNo lark, so I'm going to focus on consistency (think: "tortoise" rather than "hare") and enjoy myself.

Self-Righteous Hypocrisy


You know, I really don't believe it when people say, "Oh, I'd gladly pay extra (in taxes) if it meant no one would have to go without health coverage."

Baloney. What's stopping you NOW from walking across the street to your neighbor who doesn't have insurance and giving him $100 (or more, since you're feeling so generous) every month so he doesn't have to worry about medical bills?

Do you do that, NOW, without Uncle Sam's prodding?

Oh, you don't?? Why not? If you're so glad about paying extra for your neighbor, what are you waiting for? Nothing says that you can't do it on your own, without the government getting involved.

You see, my friends, the "I'd gladly pay extra in taxes if it meant that XXXX" line is nothing more than a hypocritical, self-righteous throwaway lie that some people like to spout because it makes them sound like they're taking the high road.

They're lying, because they can't be bothered to do it NOW, without government coercion.

And I'm calling them on it.

Cure for Writer's Block?


I just discovered this page, and decided to give it a try. I set a goal of 200 words in 10 minutes; I managed 208 words in 6 minutes. Here is the fruit of my inaugural effort. (Ignore the misspellings and lower case - the idea behind the software is that it makes you focus on output. The spelling, etc. can always be cleaned up later.) It's a silly little story, but who cares? Enjoy!

once upon a time there was a little girl who never liked to eat broccoli. she hated it so much that she would scream every time her mother brought some home from the store. one day, her mother brought home some brocolli that was colored red instead of green. the little girl was so surprised that she accidently ate the red broccoli. to her surprise, the brocolli actually tasted pretty good. after that, she decided that she would make her own red broccoli. she did this by slathering ketchup all over the green broccoli that her mother cooked. the strange thing was that it tasted exactly like the red broccoli that her mother had brought home from the store. she didn't know it, but her mother had only pretended to have bought red brocolli from the store. what her mother actually did was take regular, run-of-the-mill brocolli and boil it in ketchup. that way, the broccoli turned red as it cooked and the flavor was changed so that it tasted more like ketchup than it did brocolli. From that day forward, the girl never hesitated to eat brocolli as long as it was boiled in ketchup.

the end.

NaNo Update: Behind Schedule :(


Well, my original plan was to average 2000 words a day - then I could be finished w/50,000 in 25 days, giving me a few slack days. Right now, however, I am up to the grand whopping total of 878 words. Less than impressive, I know, but the good news is that if I finish off today at 3000 words and do 3000 words every day for the next five days, I'll be back on track by the 9th. Not impossible, I think - if I write 100 words in 5 minutes (which I am assuming is a fairly reasonable timeframe, given that we are talking about organizing one's thoughts and then recording them, as opposed to merely copying the words of someone else), then that would translate to 2 1/2 hours per day.

One of my biggest mistakes has been waiting for the muse to strike, and looking for sizable chunks of time to sit down and write. Waiting for either one of those conditions to be fulfilled (not to mention waiting for both to happen simultaneously) will virtually guarantee that nothing (or precious little) will get written. So I am coming to the realization that any progress to speak of will have to be accomplished in dribs and drabs. That 2 1/2 hour chunk of time just ain't gonna happen - not for writing, at any rate.

So, here's to making use of what would otherwise be "down time" !

Best. Snack. Ever


Found some Nutella at Wal-Mart today, but what I really miss is Nugatti.

My favorite snack:






{sigh} I miss it so much...