7 Novels of Other Worlds on Earth

I like science fiction, but one of my favorite kinds of books is the kind set on Earth, in the present or recent past, but in a subculture that is really vividly described and interesting.  A good example is The Chosen by Chaim Potok, one of the Books That Blew My Mind.  Here are 7 others that, while not quite as mind-blowing to me personally, also have that ability to transport me to a different “world” on this planet: Read more…

A Family Vacation by Public Transit

We took our six-year-old son to visit New York City; Montclair, New Jersey; and Philadelphia, leaving our car at home in Pittsburgh and traveling by train or bus the whole way.  It was great!  We felt it was more relaxing than driving, more pleasant than going by airplane, and generally pretty easy to do.

I’m not claiming that we saved time or money by taking transit.  That’s not the point!  Leaving our car at home reduced pollution, made getting there part of the fun, and allowed us to go 10 full days without driving, which made it a real vacation for us! Read more…

7 Quick Takes on visiting New York City again after 21 years

I grew up in Oklahoma, visiting my grandparents in New York City every summer from age 6 to 14.  Then my grandma died, and my grandpa began spending most of his time in Arizona.  I had two more brief visits in New York before he sold the house when I was 17.  I had thought I would move to New York when I grew up, but I fell in love with Pittsburgh.  I kept wanting to visit New York, but it kept not working out, until this summer.  These are just a few of the things I noticed: Read more…

Grildebeest

I’ve done it again–suddenly thought of a word that nobody else ever used or, at least, that Google says nobody else has written on the Internet.

Scientists will breed the grildebeest especially for barbecuing.

This raises the deep moral question of whether it is very sad for the grildebeest or the grildebeest ought to be happy to exist at all.

I bet the grildebeest won’t be a very deep thinker, though. Read more…

3 Fun New Games for All Ages!

Well, maybe not all ages, but children as young as 3 can play Seven Dragons.  This card game with beautiful art includes modified rules for preschoolers.  It’s not just for kids, though; it’s a great game for parties because it’s easy to learn and involves some strategy without being stressfully competitive.  Seven Dragons debuted at the Origins Game Fair two weeks ago, and my six-year-old son Nicholas and I never got tired of it during four days in which we lost count of how many rounds we’d played!  It’s a picture-matching game in which each player tries to connect seven pictures of the dragon shown on his secret goal card. Read more…

Where’s the Facebook “like” button?

This question was asked of me in a spam comment, but I thought it was worth addressing.

As best I can tell, in order to have a “like this on Facebook” button on a WordPress site, I would have to have a Facebook account.  I am boycotting Facebook.

I tend to be skeptical of anything that “everybody” is doing, such as cell phones.  While I’m pretty sure Facebook does not cause brain cancer, I’m seeing on an almost daily basis that it has negative effects on people’s ability to socialize normally in real life or to do what they’re doing without being detrimentally distracted. Read more…

How to use old tofu and turn ramen noodles into a full meal!


The trouble with tofu is, if you don’t use the whole block in one meal, you’re supposed to store it in a container of water and change the water every day.  That is pretty annoying!  It’s easy to forget it for a couple of days.  Then, when you remember, it doesn’t smell so good.  I mean, plain tofu doesn’t smell very good to me even when it’s fresh, but when it’s old…ewww…even a thrifty, waste-avoiding person could easily conclude that it’s not food anymore.  Well, there is a point when it’s no longer safe to eat, but it takes at least a week to get there (even if you forgot to change the water at all) unless it’s visibly moldy, so follow this handy 4-step process to give new life to old tofu! Read more…