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Archive for February, 2008

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Computational Engine (Computer) by Datamancer [Richard R. Nagy]. Photo by same.

What the heck is “steampunk”, you ask? I asked myself the same question when my friend, Anne, introduced me to the concept. Basically, “steampunk” means a combination of 19th century Victorian and modern technology (the punk portion of the name). Check out its Wikipedia entry here.

Personally, I’m more interested in steampunk styling of modern objects such as Datamancer’s refitted desktop computer (above). The thing that looks like a book is actually a scanner. He created an antique-book-shaped case to house the scanner in. When it comes to technology, the more you make something look like a credible, working 19th century precursor of whatever you’re retrofitting, the more props you get. Here’s an article on steampunk technology in the Boston Globe. In particular, take a look at the very cool photo gallery associated with the article.

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Steam Wars Imperial Walker by Monster Brick

This is a Star Wars Imperial Walker re-envisioned by inventor Monster Brick for the Steam Wars contest on the FBTB Forums. Actually, re-designing the walker to be more of a war elephant makes more sense than the original Lucas Film version. Come on, an all-terrain armored personnel carrier with feet that can be tripped up by a snow speeder essentially tying a rope around its legs? The Empire was clearly buying its war machines from some second-rate contractors. Check out more cool Steam Wars creations built with Legos here.

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Robert Brown (aka Dread Pirate Robert), lead singer of the steampop band Abney Park

I particularly like the leather vest Robert is wearing in this photo. Steampunk fashion tends to look a little Victorian/Edwardian and a little Mad Max at the same time. The members of Abney Park bill themselves as airship (diribile) pirates and perform in full steampunk gear on stage. You know a band is cool when it has both a doumbek player and a bellydancer.

Click here to check out the Aether Emporium steampunk wiki which has a nice set of links to for all your steampunk costuming needs.

Of course, wherever there is information, there will be a Steampunk Librarian.

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I’ve been reading a lot of detective fiction of one sort or another lately and thought I would share some of my favorite authors with you:

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Robert Crais–Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels. Best one: The Last Detective. Summary: Crais’ Elvis Cole novels are set in L.A. Cole is an ex-Army Ranger who has set up a detective agency in partnership with his friend, Joe Pike, a taciturn ex-cop/ex-mercenary. Crais is one of those rare authors who simply keep getter better the longer they write. My favorite is “The Last Detective”, a multi-viewpoint kidnapping novel where Cole searches for his girlfriend’s 10-year-old son. Although it sounds formulaic (buddy tough guy detectives solve mysteries), Crais injects both of his male viewpoint characters with humanity, vulnerability, and intelligence.

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Jim Butcher–Harry Dresden series. Best one so far: Toss-up between “Blood Rites” and “Dead Beat”. Summary: Harry Dresden is wizard/private detective living in a modern day Chicago where the supernatural world exists alongside (and is religiously ignored) by our mundane one. Dresden’s mysteries usually have a knotty, magic-related problems at their core. Butcher is another one of those authors who keep getting better as time goes on. Harry grows and changes and the characters keep getting deeper and more multi-layered.

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Terry Pratchett–Guards series starring Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork Night Watch. Best one to date: “Feet of Clay”. Summary: Commander Sam Vimes and the colorful cast of the Watch (dwarves, werewolves, trolls, zombies, and humans) strive to keep law and order in the sprawling city of Ankh-Morpork, Citie of a Thousand Surprises (many of them armed and dangerous). I like “Feet of Clay” because it gives a good picture of the day to day running of the Watch and as well as being a solid, stand-on-its-own mystery. Briefly, two old men have been murdered and the golems, magical clay statues that do the undesirable jobs in the city, are suspected. The Patrician, Lord Vetinari, has been poisoned and everyone is suspected. And Constable Nobbes is revealed to have a here-to-fore unsuspected noble lineage. It’s up to Vimes, Capt. Carrot, and Constables Angua, Littlebottom, and Detritus to solve the crimes, save the city, and see that justice is done.

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Down, down in the depths of the U. of Arnor library where us loyal staffers scurry rat-like through the maze, the fever’s got us in its grip. Spring fever. Yes, our pink, twitchy noses sniff the air (pausing occasionally for a sneeze and a Kleenex). Have we gained another five minutes of daylight? Is it too soon to start those seedlings for the garden? Why is all this snow STILL here?

We’re ready for spring to come. Now.

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Re: Sweet Music

47.) JamStudio–I have all the natural music talent of …ah …something that is not talented musically and isn’t good with similes, but I absolutely LOVED JamStudio. JamStudio is a website that allows you to create songs on-line using computer-generated chords and instruments. It’s billed as being for musicians, but I, a non-musician, was completely taken by it. It’s fun to string chords together to see what comes out and you can get something that sounds very professional just by goofing around. Creating an account at JamStudio is quick and easy to do and you’ll need to set one up if you want to save your songs. This site would be handy for teachers looking to introduction music and music theory to their class.

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Here’s a great idea I wish I’d thought of first. The editors of Smith magazine, an on-line zine, asked people to write their memoirs–in six words. The results are funny, uplifting, and poignant. You can write your own summary of your life and add it here at the Bryant Park Project blog. I’ve excerpted a couple of entries to show the range of responses:

Happy: “Life long ranger. Better than anything.”–Susie

Funny: “Job stinks. Art doesn’t pay. Dang.”–Peter Nelson

Sad: “Fifty dollars. Hurts to pee. Divorced.”–Jeff

Zen: “Learned something. Learned nothing. Still learning.”–Ananda

Mine: “Got older, understood more, judged less.”

A few words of advice: reject the cliche, the political (unless that’s what your life has been about), and write from the heart. Give it a try.

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Originally uploaded by dr.Ozda

Day four of 40 below temperatures and blanketing ice fog: The campus shuttle bus driver tells us about a dream he had where he put wings on the bus and flew to Hawaii. The passengers agree that this is a good idea and he should find a way to outfit the bus as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the wise Arnorian husky sleeps INSIDE during the freezing February nights ….

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46.) It’s been two years since Helene Blowers of the Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenberg Counties put together a handy self-study guide to Web 2.0 applications for the librarians at her place of work. Since then, this tutorial has burned a path across the English-speaking library world like a comet. But like the real world, the virtual world never stands still which is why the current Learning 2.0 webmistress is updating the original lessons.

It was fun to revisit the first ten lessons although Zoho Notebook doesn’t want to scroll down more often than not. I made it a point to recheck my blog address in Technorati and I’m pleased to report that “If This Be Method” is now ranked 2,124,756th. Yes! My journey to world domination continues! 🙂 I’m also pleased to report that Technorati’s indexing is much more on the ball now. My blog entries are caught up to the present although some of the images are not.

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