Thursday, February 02, 2012

6 More Weeks

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, indicating 6 more weeks of winter. For more abut Phil and this silly tradition visit Groundhog Day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Time for Eagle Cam!

Last winter I got hooked on Eagle Cam: Decorah Eagles (in Iowa). Watching these magnificent birds hatch and raise their eaglets was amazing and addictive. I was so proud and sad to see them grow big enough to leave the nest.

At the same I discovered another cam: Eagles at Norfolk Botanical Gardens. This eagle family suffered a tragedy when the mom was killed by an airplane. The dad eagle couldn't feed three rapidly growing eaglets alone, so they were rescued, raised, and later released by the Wildlife Center of Virginia. I, along with thousands of other viewers, became very attached to "our babies" as we watched them grow at the Wildlife Center. Watching their release into the wild was stunningly beautiful and emotionally overwhelming.

And it's all starting again with the new nesting season! Mom and Dad Decorah have been seen mating and nesting. Dad Norfolk has a new lady. They, too, are mating and nesting. Soon, both sets of parents will be protecting their eggs as we watch in awe. I learned so much about eagles (and other wildlife) last year that I'm looking forward to this season. I wish both sets of eagle parents safe and long lives with many healthy eaglets.

Want to join the Eagle Nation? The web cams are free and both sites include links to lots of info about Eagles. The Wildlife Center of Virginia also has lots info on animals is it treating and their own wildlife cam.

Warning: Eagle watching can be addictive may lead to lack of housework and cooking, excessive Eagle Cam viewing to the exclusion of TV, DVDs, etc., and obessesive talk of "beaking," "nesting," and "branching."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting Ready

I started a Tai Chi class in the fall and I love it. I feel so relaxed and energized after each class session!

Since I won't be able to lift or drive for 6 weeks after surgery, that also means no Tai Chi. :(

I'm taking the class for stress reduction so now that I'm feeling really stressed what does the doc say? No Tai Chi. Oh, the irony.

I have a phobia about general anesthesia (based on bad experiences I had during multiple ear surgeries as a child) and I'm starting to get nervous about my abdominal surgery next week. Since I can't do Tai Chi, I'm working on my Tai Chi meditation with lots of positive and healing imagery. It's helping some (but so does anxiety medicine). At this point, I'll just be glad when the surgery is over.

I have a few work-related things to do Monday. After that I'm really going to focus on relaxing and de-stressing. It will be hard but I know it will help with anxiety and healing, or so my doc, nurses, and Tai Chi instructor all tell me. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 09, 2012


I'm expecting to lie around a lot during my recovery from abdominal surgery. Since I may not even be comfy with a laptop on my lap, I splurged and bought an iPad 2.

I have to admit, it IS cool. So thin, so light, so pretty! (Of course it's pretty, it was designed by Apple.)

My husband loves his iPad and recommended lots of work-related apps:

Course Smart (access your textbooks as e-books)
Blackboard (access your online classes)
The CIA Factbook (a favorite reference tool)
Pages (like Word for the iPad)

He also recommended AppStart which introduces you to many useful apps (described by category) and Netflix (watch movies and TV shows, including every episode of Star Trek every made).

Of course, everyone suggested I download the Angry Birds game. ($%^& addictive game!)

So far, I love my iPad. I can't access the instructor tools in Blackboard so I'll still use my laptop for grading, but the iPad will be great for travel and for when I'm recovering from surgery. So far my favorite app is Netflix. I'm watching the BBC's new, modern Sherlock Holmes.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Surgery (Again!)

In the fall I learned I have a painful condition called Adenomyosis. It's "a condition in which endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, is present within and grows into the muscular walls of the uterus."

I'm thankful I only have pain and not all the other symptoms listed on the Mayo Clinic web site! Strangely, I don't have any of the risk factors (childbirth or prior uterine surgery). Since I'm in my 40s, I thought the symptoms were the beginning of menopause. Nope.

Unfortunately, the Adenomyosis getting worse and the only cure is a complete hysterectomy. I'll be having surgery Jan. 18, so I had to scramble to re-do my lesson plans at the last minute and make arrangements to work at home. Fortunately, my on-campus class does not mind becoming an online class during the 6 weeks or so while I can not drive. Thanks, guys! You made my life a little easier.

I'm hoping that, like my elbow reconstruction surgery, I'll feel better immediately after the surgery. Not lifting or driving for 6 weeks will be hard, but at least I won't have cast! Yay!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Titanic Books is Here at Last!

I spent my summer working on this book with 10 of my Titanic friends. It finally arrived Christmas Eve. I am proud to work with so many prominent "Titanicologists"!

The format is based on the report for the British Inquiry but we've included 100 years of research and forensic analysis. We know so much more than we did at the time of the disaster and the book reflects the most current research on every aspect of the disaster.

I worked with George Behe on the treatment of the Third Class Passengers and the question of gates. Were passengers really locked in and left to die? Most Titanic scholars have long believed this to be a myth since no gates are depicted on the blueprints, but George and I have some interesting passenger accounts to the contrary. You can read a summary in Ch. 8 and excruciating details in Appendix J.

Where can you purchase this magnificent book?
Amazon UK (available now) and Amazon US (available April 2012). In the meantime, you can also visit the official book site.


I got out of the habit of blogging when my arm was in a cast after my elbow reconstruction. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to begin blogging again. Happy New Year!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

99 Years Ago

99 years ago today, Titanic sailed from Southampton to Cherborg. Her next stops would be Queenstown and history. She had only four more days to live.

This is the last known photo of her.

God bless all the souls who died with her.

Friday, April 08, 2011

I Met Tony Shaloub Today!

Actor Tony Shaloub was guest lecturer today at Mott Community College (part of the Ballenger Eminent Persons Lecture Series). Actutally, it was more of an interview, with the stage set to look like the office of Dr. Bell, Mr. Monk's psychiatrist.

Shaloub was funny, gave lots of good advice for young actors, and talked about his career. At the end many of us walked up to the stage to get our programs autographed. Although the organizers did not take this into consideration and Shaloub had to move on to his next engagement, he signed programs and DVDs for as many people as he could. I didn't really get a chance to talk to him but I got a big smile when I handed him a wipe to take on the plane (they never clean those tray tables, you know). :) What a wonderful, funny man. I'm just sorry he had to rush off.

Congratulations on the
Arab American of the Year Award you'll be receiving tomorrow night, Mr. Shaloub!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Worth the Wait: One was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming

For Julia Spencer-Fleming fans it's been a long wait, but One Was a Soldier was worth waiting for!

Since Episcopal Priest Rev. Clare Fergusson re-upped in the military to serve as a helicopter pilot in Iraq at the end of the previous book, fans have been eagerly awaiting this new installment in the series. The plot focuses on Clare and other vets adapting to civilian life. When a young veteran appears to commit suicide, Clare disagrees with her lover, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne, and investigates the case as a murder (with help from her fellow vets). I'm afraid to say much more about the plot for fear of giving anything away but, like her other books, the plot is compelling, the characters complex and unforgettable, and the end leaves the reader eagerly awaiting the next book. Let's just hope we don't have to wait three years. :)

For those who haven't read the series yet, the Kindle version of the first book, In the Bleak Midwinter, is currently on sale for $2.99. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download free Kindle software for your desktop, laptop, cell phone, or iPad.

Thank you, Julia, for this wonderful book and for the opportunity to review an advance reader's copy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Here's a word cloud based on this blog, created by Wordle. (You can click on the image for a larger view.)

Apparently all I write about are Ray Bradbury, The Lord of the Rings, writing, and my cats!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tenth Life Fund-Raiser

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Cat Who Fetches

Misty, our 9.5 month old kitty, likes to fetch. She brings toys for me to throw, but she also likes to explore the basement and bring me whatever she finds. Here's what she's fetched so far:

* bubble wrap sheets (on several occasions)

* a strip of dried caulk (I have no idea where she found that!)

* a phone jack

* a tupperware lid (I have no idea where the matching freezer container is)

Isn't she clever? She certainly keeps me guessing! I just hope she doesn't start bringing me mice. (So far, so good.)