Friday, March 28, 2014

YouTube and Turkey

So now YouTube is blocked.
Not that this is a surprise. 

Here is what CNN, BBC, and Reuters has to say about the "why" of it all.

Those of us on the ground know it is because of the election on Sunday that all of this is going on.  I'm interested to see what happens at the polls.  There is great speculation among my friends that the election will be rigged in some way. I really hope the UN is here to ensure free and fair elections.  There have been several stories of trucks filled with pre-completed ballots turning up in CHP strongholds. 

Here is to history in the making for good and for bad!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Twitter and Turkey

If you have been living under a rock today, you might not know that Twitter has been blocked in Turkey.

There are a number of stories that are covering the why, but here are a few I think you should read: BBC, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.

I'm addressing this issue here, in part, because I can not join in with the Twitter outcry.  I live in Turkey and as an American having any aspect of free speech limited makes me nervous.  I picture things like Nazi Germany and the restrictions that started small but became massive.  I'm not saying that Turkey is Nazi Germany... but it brings that type of irrational limitation of discussion to mind.

Erdogan, the prime minister, and Gul, the president, are at odds on the issue. Erdogan in my understanding is not a user of technology and has a certain amount of fear about it (perhaps because he is up to no good and he keeps getting caught out?).  On the other side of the coin is Gul, who is an avid user of technology and instead of fearing that which he does not understand he has worked to develop is use of the tool for the good of his political party. 

I just checked and Twitter is still blocked.  The election is just days away, on March 30th, and I'm interested to see how all of this plays out.  Similar to last year's Gezi Park protests, I hope to see an up-swelling of outrage from the center and liberal Turks as they consider the direction the country should go.  What I don't hope for is violent protest that serves to unify the conservative religious movement or sway part of the middle to their side.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

October Flash Back

I'm preparing a presentation on how to create and execute a field day for a conference I'm going to next month.  I was looking through my files and discovered these videos that students made of the beach clean up field day we had in October.

They have some mistakes.  Remember, some of these kids had only been speaking English for 8 weeks at this point and they made these videos!

February Reading List

February had me addicted to George R. R. Martin books.  I was so into the series that I did not read anything else.

1-3. Storm of Swords, Clash of Kings, and Feast of Crows by George R. R. Martin-- this series is addicting.  I flew through the 2,700 odd pages in just about three weeks, so that tells you something about how engaging the story is.  I love things with dragons and magic and adventure, as you know if you have read any of my previous posts about books, but this series has something special.  The multiple view points and the way the story is revealed is captivating.  I love and hate some characters all in the same moment.  I applaud and am horrified by the actions of others simultaneously.  I don't know how it works that way, it just does.  I thought this series was all hype, but now I'm a convert.  Is it "high literature"? No way. However, the characters are vivid and the story is compelling.  It's great Saturday curled up on the sofa, or for a few minutes every night before going to bed.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Waiting for a Reply

This week I've been waiting to hear about something that might be exciting. 

Every time I open my email, which is getting to be about 100 times a day, I'm getting butterflies in my tummy.  The anticipation is both exciting and nauseating.  Added to this is the fact that email can be delivered at anytime. 

This makes me think back to when I was in high school and I was waiting for my college acceptance letters.  I am old enough that these things were still sent through the USPS, not electronically like many are today.

I lived at the end of a dirt road, on the top of a hill in Eastern Washington.  Our mail box was a good 200 yards down the hill and going to check the mail took some time if you had to walk.  Weekdays, the mail was in a pile at the end of the kitchen counter because my mom would pick it up in the middle of the day while we were at school.  But on Saturdays when I was waiting to see which universities wanted me, I remember walking down the hill with this same feeling of "will I know something today?" that I have now. 

The biggest difference was that I knew what time to expect the mail; 10:30 each day, or there about, the mail lady would drive up and make her round of my road.  There is a unique sound that a car makes on gravel.  When that sound was paired with the distinct squeak that our mail box door made, and the rattle of the flag going up on the side, I knew it was time to walk down and see what was there.

What I'm going through now is not as picturesque as what I remember getting mail to be like, and in fact it is likely way worse for my health.  Instead of building up my worry and anticipation one time a day, I'm getting that same feeling dozens of times.  That can't be good for my heart.

Now, I need to try to discipline myself to check my email only once or twice a day.  This is going to be nearly impossible I think.  Anyone out there got any hints on how to control myself?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

December and January Reading List

Well, as usual, the holiday and end of term testing whirlwind has kept me from talking to you about books in December and January.

I've had lots of time to read, as I spent hours in transit traveling and waiting for traveling to happen, so let's get on with the book reviews!

1. The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer-- This is a short story/novella that takes the "Lunar Chronicles" from the point of view of the moon wolves and the training they get.  As I love how the same story can be changed when you tell it from different points of view, I liked this little ditty.  It's very short and can be read in one sitting.  The story is from one of the guard wolves that eventually makes his way to Earth and shows up in the second book of the series.  You get a different look at what it is to be glamored and start to understand how war/soldier training can change a person into a (literal) animal.

2. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston--  If you like twists on Shakespeare, you will like this book.  The question this book asks is "what if fairies are real?" and then it goes on to ponder what if those fairies had given some story to Shakespeare to tell... "Midsummer Night's Dream" comes to life as one girl discovers that she was stolen from Fairie and is really a princess of the realm.  This is a great book for kids into fantasy and is at a middle school level.  There are more books in the series as well.

3. Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne--  This is a thriller about obsession and what people do in the name of love.  Set in high school, one girl is secretly glad when her abusive boy friend turns up dead in a car crash, but the book turns dark as she becomes the focus of a serial killer who is showing his love by killing those who have hurt her.  A very creepy story.  I give the writing a B-, but give the story plot an A for keeping me sucked in.

4. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan-- At what point does art imitating life become life?  The dreaded English senior project "the Tragedy paper" was intended to make seniors think about what tragedy is, but the project becomes its own brand of tragedy after people start to end up in the hospital.  Told from a male voice, this high school coming of age story will make you wonder how much of life is changed by those assignments teachers give out.

5. Stardust by Neil Gaiman-- I had no idea this was a movie, but I can see why it would be.  In the vein of "Legend", that 80's movie where Tom Cruse runs around in a loin cloth, this book creates a world where dreams can come alive.  A star falls from the sky and turns into a woman.  A man makes a promise to bring back a fallen star, not knowing what he was getting into, and there is a missing heir to the throne mixed in as well.  Magic and wonder will keep you engaged in this book, and the writing is top notch as well.

6. A Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin--  To tell the truth, I've seen an episode or two of the HBO show and was not really that into this story.  I thought the show had too much T and A for me, but that can be said of most HBO shows. The books have been sitting on my Nook for nearly three years, and I ran out of things to read during a flight, so I opened this one.  It turns out I really enjoy the story and the writing.  Take nights, fair maidens and add a dash of zombies and you get this book.

And that is all she read for the months of December 2013 and January 2014... Over all, not too shabby if you ask me.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

More London Snaps

Big Ben and the London Eye

Westminster Abbey

The Abbey

Inside the Abbey in one of the few places you can take a picture

One fat squirrel-- Check out the video to see how they get so fat.

More fat squirrels in the park