My guest post is up at 21st Century Dad!

Elliott, the 21st Century Dad himself, and pioneer of the 50-50-50 Plan for balancing work and family life, asked me to do a guest post on his blog. I gave it a try, and here is the resulting article, “Happy to be a Hapa Girl.” It’s a little bit about my experiences growing up half-Japanese in the midwestern United States, so if that sounds interesting to you, go read it. 🙂 Thank you!

Got a case of the “Mondays?” Here’s a fun avatar creator to try.

geekmom avatarNothing cures a case of the “Mondays” like doing something thoroughly unproductive for half an hour, right? Here’s an idea…

I love playing with avatar creators, because I’m no good at drawing, and I’m too cheap to hire someone to make me a custom caricature. Now that WordPress has built-in gravatar support, you might be looking for a new image to use when you’re out and about in the bloggy neighborhood.

Here’s one for you to try, from gamedition. It doesn’t build a whole body for you, but you can customize a cartoon head for yourself. There are even some cute and quirky accessories, like a pirate eye patch and 3-D glasses. [EDIT: I had initially linked this post directly to the flash file for the avatar creator, but GamEdition has redirected that to the main page, which contains thumbnails to games that are not G-rated. Just thought you should know before you click.]

Here’s what I came up with after about 30 minutes of messing around with it. I think I like it!

Spelling Geeks on Nationwide Crusade Against Typos!

I heard a story about the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL) on public radio, in a “guess which news story is real” game. The mission of TEAL (dedicated to a more perfectly spelling union) appeals to me.

You see, I try not to be uppity when it comes to language, grammar, and spelling. I know I’m not perfect! However, I am the kind of person who gets annoyed when there are errors in publications. I catch myself thinking, “Come on! Proofread that before you put it on television!” “Why didn’t you spell-check before that magazine was printed?” “Don’t they know the difference between there and their?” And don’t even get me started on the topic of apostrophic abuse (the misuse of apostrophes). Please!

Now, a TEAL team, led by passionate proofreader Jeff Deck of Boston, Massachusetts, is traveling the country to clean up spelling mistakes on public displays around the United States.

This March through May, we, sworn members of TEAL, will be taking a road trip around the country to stamp out as many typos as we can find, in public signage and other venues where innocent eyes may be befouled by vile stains on the delicate fabric of our language. We do not blame, nor chastise, the authors of these typos. It is natural for mistakes to occur; everybody will slip now and again. But slowly the once-unassailable foundations of spelling are crumbling, and the time has come for the crisis to be addressed. We believe that only through working together with vigilance and a love of correctness can we achieve the beauty of a typo-free society.

Armed with markers, chalk, adhesive letters, and white-out, they are circling the US, fearlessly correcting typos on all kinds of signs and labels. You can follow their progress on Typo Hunt Across America, and see before and after photos of their noble work. It almost makes me want to put a typo correction kit in my purse and do a little vigilante editing around my own town.

Keep up the good work, Champions of Correctness! 🙂

A neat little graphics tool: Stripe Generator

stripe generator sampleWell, despite the late winter blizzards we’ve been having here in the midwestern US, spring is officially just a week away! You know what that means: spring cleaning!

Do you need to freshen up your online home a bit? Is your background stale? Want to make your badges and banners a little more 2.0?

Here’s a fun, free online tool that you might like. It’s Stripe Generator 2.0.

You may be thinking, “So what? I can make stripes in my sleep.” Okay, yaay for you! 🙂

For the rest of us, this is a great shortcut. You choose the colors, angle, width, frequency, and gradient of your pattern. View a small sample, or try the full-page preview. Tweak the settings to your heart’s content, and click the preview update to see your changes *snap* just like that! When you get it just the way you want it, download it.

The best/worst thing about the stripe generator is that you can do whatever you want with it. If ugly colors and sickening angles that don’t tile well are what you like, you can do that! But, please, don’t put them where I have to see them.

For page backgrounds, I like light colors with soft contrast, so as not to distract from the real page content. Of course, there times when you need something bright and bold, too (see my sample above). I was thinking of spring tulips. What do you think?