What Is This Place?
This entire website is dedicated to the books I know
and love (and covet). To a lesser extent, it is dedicated to
the perseverance of learning to build a meaningful, aesthetically
pleasing website from scratch. To an even lesser
extent, it is my virtual self, the online Lucy Day.
site is best viewed using Internet Explorer 6 on a Windows XP
operating system, since that's how I usually see it, and since I use
Microsoft FrontPage (or rather, Expression Web) to edit it. If
you're on some other platform, my site may look a little icky. Or
really icky, maybe. I know that a well
designed site shouldn't need a disclaimer. Well, so much for version
2 of my site! Enjoy it while you can, though I don't imagine version
3 will spring from my head as fully formed as Athena, in spite of
any splitting headaches I may experience.
News and Updates about Website, Books, & Other
We've arrived! Actually, we arrived on
Wednesday the 22nd. We're in a hotel, and I'm
back online, having brought
my computer and bought a new screen; a huge, flat
screen by Philips.
The illustrated saga of our journey is up on my
new site at
We do not yet have a home address or phone
number. Also, we do not yet have cell phones. Do
you have any idea how strange that feels? We are
We're moving! My
husband Aquinas has accepted a 3-year fellowship at the National
University of Singapore, to begin in mid-October.
We're very excited about the opportunity to live and work in
a new and different place. Singapore, a small island just south
of Malaysia, is only about 100 miles from the equator, and thus
has tropical (sunny but humid) weather all year. It also has a
government that censors media, executes drug traffickers, fines
gum-chewers and litters, and, as you may remember, canes
vandals. It has four official languages: English, Mandarin,
Malay, and Tamil (a south Indian language). The local flavor of
English, called Singlish, has been a bit distorted by the other
three. I hope to learn some passable Mandarin during our stay.
My husband is less interested in the languages, but is excited
about the variety of cooking and cuisines that Singapore is
When we move, we'll be putting up
various things for sale,
- our '92 Dodge Spirit ("gold" color, comes with Princeton
Garage repair history, NJ fraternal order of police support
stickers, trailer hitch, manual windows, manual locks, and
original cassette deck! And we'll throw in an ice scraper.)
- a portable dishwasher (black, has wheels, hooks up to the
sink, doubles our kitchen counter space)
- a thoroughly unspectacular but functional television
- a queen-size pillow-top mattress/box springs/frame set
- a men's mountain bike (available immediately; it's just
sitting in the basement)
- a basic round grill (black, and no, you can't have it yet)
- an upright vacuum cleaner (it sucks!)
- 3 space heaters (one ceramic, one oil filled, one other
kind with a technological name... none useful in Singapore)
- 2 computer desks (made from metal and pretend wood)
- other furniture and appliances TBD;
pictures and prices TK.
We'd love to find our friendly landlady another tenant; we
live on the second and
third floor of her old, well-kept house in Lawrenceville. Has large yard, laundry
machines in basement, off-street parking, convenient bus stop,
and Verizon fiber-optic internet hookup.
Please let me know if you're interested in my stuff or my
apartment, or if you wouldn't mind introducing me to any of your
personal or professional acquaintances in Singapore.
building a light box. Or a light tent. Or a macro photo studio.
(Whatever.) This, um, thing, will enable me to take better
pictures of small objects. The basic idea is that you don't want
direct light (e.g., the camera flash) shining on the object, so
you light the object through something white and translucent.
And you sit the object in front of a solid (usually white)
background (usually paper).
Actually, I'm building the Mach 3 light box now. The first
version was some interfacing I had lying around, draped over the
legs of a side table. The second version was interfacing I
bought, draped over the legs of a chair on its side. This made
the living room an interesting-looking place. Especially with
the floor lamp tipped over, resting on the chair. So I scrounged
a box (thanks, ACE Hardware) and cut holes in the side. Now the
setup looks more like an aquarium (and less like an obstacle
Meanwhile, I ordered new Rollerblade inline skates and skating
gear. Hope they fit. Somehow I can't believe they'll be a worse
fit than the skates I have now. Which I've had for something
like fifteen years. Since before the days of memory foam. On the
other hand, my skates are well broken-in. Heck, by this point my
skates are probably memory plastic.
I'm enjoying the first one-and-a-half books in Brandon Mull's
Fablehaven series, published by Shadow Mountain. It's children's
fantasy, with a didactic flavor that makes me like the story
more and not less; the characters' values and ethical dilemmas
are integrated without being overbearing. Clearly ethics are at
issue; Shadow Mountain belongs to the Mormons: "Deseret Book
Company also is working to expanded our list of books that
appeal to a values-based, general market through our Shadow
Mountain imprint." ("Deseret Book is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Deseret Management Corporation, the holding company for
business firms owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints.") At any rate, I like Fablehaven better than I remember
liking Leven Thumps, another Shadow Mountain series. WTG, LDS.
Goes to show, you never know what you'll find at BEA.
Another book on ethics, or perhaps on philosophy more generally,
Don Herzog's Cunning was fascinating. The prose is slangy and sarcastic, structured around anecdotes and
unanswered devil's-advocate-style rhetorical questions, with the
result that the text excites more than explains.
new website is, if not progressing much itself, teaching me new
things. Such as how easy it is to write a PHP program with a
security hole big enough to drive a truck through. In fact, it's
hard *not* to write that kind of PHP code, if you don't know
what you're doing. However, the Chilean hackers, having poked
and prodded my calendar script a couple hundred times, don't
seem to have been able to do any damage to my account. So I'm
sitting on my hands waiting for a book on security from Amazon.
I am tempted to believe, and in fact I usually assume, that
books can solve any problem, answer any question, and teach any
skill. Secure PHP applications? Yep. Swimming? Well, perhaps
not. Mixing drinks? Oh yeah. Now I have a book on that too.
Because who'd go to an actual bar with actual friends to learn
more about tasty alcohol-y drinks, when obviously you could just
read about them instead?
husband is planning to complete his PhD program this summer, and
is applying to post-doctoral research jobs in several countries.
We are excited about the prospect of living abroad starting
sometime in the fall, but we don't know where we'll go yet.
Meanwhile, you can, if you want, check out the mostly incomplete
site I've put up at www.somepeoplejugglegeese.com.
attended the Hunterdon County Library Book Sale at the
Flemington Armory yesterday. I bought a dozen or so Disney VHS
tapes as well as some kids' novels and some humor books.
Non-fiction selection was only so-so. I accidentally bought two
books I already had. (There goes $1.00. Oops.) And I bought
three books I already had on purpose. (Because they were nicer.
Or at least potentially nicer. Dang perfectionist streak.)
The bigger news is that I have bought the full versions of three
Collectorz.com programs (for books, movies, and music), and the
Flic Barcode Scanner that can be used to enter data fast. I had
spent a lot of time learning about barcode scanners online,
trying to find a way to buy one for under $100. But what I
eventually did was buy the software and scanner package (at a
discount) from a guy on eBay who bought it from Collectorz.com
and then decided he wasn't going to use it after all. Lucky me.
I have now scanned in over 1000 books. That's all the books of
mine that are scannable. (Some are too old or have damaged or
stickered barcodes. Or are foreign and can be scanned but not
looked up.) I haven't scanned any of my husband's books. His
collection is heavy on cooking, mysteries, math & computer
science, personal finance, Go, history, and travel, in addition
to some novels.
Data cleanup and augmentation will take forever, but at least
now I don't have to start from scratch.
Meanwhile, I've been playing an online game called Puzzle
Pirates. I found it by clicking an online banner ad. You might
see this as evidence that there is such a thing as advertising
revenue online, but first consider that I haven't given Puzzle
Pirates any real money; all I've done is use the free options...
and tied up a bit of their server bandwidth.
scored two books of Sidney Harris cartoons and a Madeleine
L'Engle box set (among other things) at this year's Bryn Mawr
book sale. I saw an astounding number of Wizard of Oz books.
flattened out the edges of my page elements; they were TABLE
borders; now they're DIV borders, and they look much better. I
also got rid of some of the space between my page elements. The
menu is now closer to the page title panel and the content
panel, and the page title panel is now closer to the content
panel. (The footer was, sadly, overlooked, and looks farther
away by comparison.) I also got rid of a phantom black box in
the title panel that was only, I think, showing up in Safari.
This sort of stuff is not fun, since my pages aren't made with a
dynamic template! Yes, it's dumb, but don't shoot me, I'm
already suffering enough doing manual search-and-replace
followed by manual QA to catch the boo-boos.
Happy Valentine's Day!
I attended the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing
conference in NYC this week. It was fascinating.
A thought on why I haven't launched a new website at the new
(well, not so new, actually) domain:
Much work remains
to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any
—definition of "planning" from www.despair.com
Martin Luther King weekend was less fruitful than I'd hoped. I
was trying to get my new web development platform up and
I spent many hours discovering that (1) I probably don't want to
have to install and configure Apache on my computer, that (2) I
could install and configure XAMPP on my computer instead, which
is, arguably but not obviously, less complicated, and that (3) I
should probably just develop on the remote server, which,
because my web host doesn't offer certain capabilities *period,*
I can't make the necessary connections, so that (4) I urgently
need to switch web hosts. (It's now a chicken-and-egg problem: I
don't want to switch until I have something that needs to be
hosted, but I can't really do any development until I have a
host I can connect to.)
Then followed several hours which revealed to me that (5) my new
software, NuSphere's PhpED, does not have a built-in system akin
to the FrontPage / Expression Web dynamic web template system,
that (6) it instead supports a clever, server-side,
database-enabled, php-friendly php/html code separation template
engine called Smarty, and that (7) actually, you don't have to
use Smarty, you can just use php itself as a template system.
It all seems obvious in retrospect, so I don't even feel as if I
actually learned anything, and I'm upset that I didn't have time
to make any visible progress or create any new content.
I am toying with the idea of creating content via some
book-collecting software by
collectorz.com. I am thinking I can input books via ISBN,
retrieve data from Amazon and the Library of Congress, and
export data in CSV files which I can then feed into my MySQL
tables. It may or may not be worthwhile for me to purchase a
CueCat barcode scanner to facilitate this process; it's not like
I'm unfamiliar with the keypad. If the CueCat were wireless, I
could carry it around to my books and then download multiple
ISBNs at once, but only the expensive scanners have that
There's a saying: "Easy, fast, cheap. Pick two." I'm beginning
to believe I'm destined to wind up with none of the above. On
the bright side, however, CSS doesn't seem all that hard
New Year! I am back from a long holiday in Chicago. I have new
books, new software, and (as always) new ideas for the new website.
past weekend, I attended the American Anthropological
Association conference in Washington DC to staff the Princeton
University Press book exhibit. I am always intrigued by the
change in point of view that I experience at academic
conferences. I often lose sight of the fact that book-making is,
as we claim, the propagation of knowledge. Going to a conference
means I see where the knowledge originates, how it is formulated
and transmitted, and how it is received. Humans are odd
creatures, to be sure.
On the way back from DC, Aquinas and I stopped at two
bookstores and a book... thing. The first of the two bookstores
was Second Story Books, clearly a well-entrenched used-book
store, complete with quirky section labels, decorations hanging
from the ceiling, and bookly quotations taped to unpainted
shelves. The second was a fundraising store called Books for
America. The space was full, but didn't have the same inhabited
feel. We ate at the nearby corner cafe, which was very
thoroughly inhabited with laptop users taking advantage of the
free wireless service.
In Baltimore, we stopped at The Book Thing. It is a place
where books are donated, and then given away. In anticipation of
visiting The Book Thing, I had stashed some inscrutable foreign
books in my trunk. They were happily received. If you're in the
mood to read some dinosaur or cell-biology textbooks in Danish,
head over to The Book Thing fast before someone else gets them!
have now developed a menu that knows what page you're on,
displays the appropriate submenu, and deactivates the link to
the page that you're on. It turns out that once I phrased the
question the right way (i.e., can I embed a script in the
template that is aware of the page's filepath) I pretty much
already had the answer.
Yesterday I made a gecko. Not easy.
Today I watched
a short film of
Flatland. I thought it was great! What more could a
person ask for in a short film than clever animation,
mathematical theory, and political philosophy? After all,
Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land only covers two of the three.
Christmas lists are
I am trying to think of a way to create a site from one
template file, and yet have each main category have its own
left-hand navigational menu. Alas, nested templates don't seem
you can expand and collapse by clicking. I don't want to be told
that CSS is the answer to everything, or shown how to make a
dropdown or "fly out" menu. I want different subcategories to be
visible depending on which folder you're in on the site. Without
creating a template for each folder. This is not the sort of
thing that's easy to look up. (Cursor tail? Easy to look up, but
no more desirable than a skunk in a submarine.) I'm not even
sure how to approach this problem, but there has to be a way to
avoid doing it by hand, which leads to mistakes. I don't want
mistakes in my menus! Can I embed a script in the template that
is aware of the page's filepath and have it output HTML code for
the relevant submenu? How?
Yesterday I went to the grocery store and bought some things in
the health and beauty aisle. This morning in the shower, I
realized that there were no less than FOUR orange items in the
shower, three of them new, out of a total of eight items present. In
a department full of pastel stuff, how did I manage to select
three new orange items by accident? My theory is that I was
responding subliminally to the approach of the end of October.
Meanwhile this month, I have been to visit family in Atlanta,
attempted (with some success) to sew polyhedra, joined Facebook,
started to build a quotation
database with php/MySql, discovered that self-reference is
probably my favorite form of humor, and become fascinated with
pachinko balls, other manufactured spheres, and plush dragons. I
also sold some legacy Apple hardware for $100 on eBay. (I love it
when someone else's trash becomes my cash.)
My computer is happy! It has three times the memory it had this
morning. I ordered 1GB from TigerDirect, and it came yesterday.
Today Aquinas and I opened up my computer case (fished out a
pound of dust) and inserted the memory. Aquinas also fixed my CD
drive, which has been unresponsive for months.
found I didn't need to buy more software or sign up with a
different webhost. Using the tools I already have, I have made some
more progress learning PHP/MySQL. I didn't anticipate having to
interactive forms, which is what I'm building now. I've also had
to go back and learn all about HTML forms; my website has never
incorporated any, so I never knew how to set them up. Forms are
how I'll insert book data into the database; I haven't gotten to
the point where I'm actually inserting anything. All the data
entry is still to come (hundreds and hundreds of books), as is
the design and implementation of the site structure, and the
retrieval of the data via the site... But any progress is better
I feel as though I could do anything, given enough time in front
of a keyboard.
Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone. (I'm not
going anywhere; good luck to those traveling.)
Laugh if you want, but now I'm really studying Chinese. I've
started to try to learn to write 5 characters every weekday.
Pronunciation, however, is lagging behind.
is coming up, so go
get him stuff.
I'm making some headway with PHP/MySQL, but am having trouble
finding a tool that can talk to my database on the remote
webhost. I'm beginning to think I need a new webhost. I want to
use NuSphere's PhpEd (I think), but 1&1 blocks direct
connections to MySQL databases and disables port forwarding. I
just don't want to (a) pay a lot of money to a webhost or (b)
become a webhost myself.
Let the Harry Potter marathon begin! Yes, I know, it's past time
to start re-reading books 1-6. I was too busy finishing the
Ramayana, which I started about a year ago. FYI, it was
worth finishing. Just think, there are, I dunno, a billion
people on the planet more likely to know the story of the death
of Ravana than the story of the crucifixion of Christ.
not manage to successfully travel to Atlanta for the 4th of
July. I was thwarted by weather and a bankrupt, uncaring
bureaucracy (Continental Airlines--not that any other airline
would have been better). It's a funny story now. Wasn't then.
Aquinas is still in France developing proof code for a paper,
though I hear it's reached a draft stage.
Another fiscal book year has ended; my very own personal book
purchasing quantity went up while price-per-unit went down.
Again. This is not good for the bookshelf situation, which isn't
changing at all.
Long day yesterday in New York City at Book Expo America 2007.
After 8 hours of what amounts to trick-or-treating, I was
carrying 41 books (30 of them signed) weighing 35 pounds in total. I cannot think of
a trade show I would rather go to.
Apparently, the popular way
to make a database-driven website is with PHP and MySQL. I'm
going to attempt to learn how to do this. Stay tuned.
your immediate environment to smell better? Try using Fresh
Wave! Available through a PayPal store I made at
of news: I visited Atlanta for my brother's graduation last
weekend. I placed an expensive order on Amazon for some web
design books I think will be useful. I went to another great
Ewing Library sale, and a lousy one in Bridgewater. I've updated
the Things I Want list a little, and also the Movies pages. I'm
almost done re-reading the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan
Cooper. I really enjoyed Dark Lord of Derkholm and The
Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones. I'm looking
forward to Towel Day on Friday.
husband and I went to India for three weeks in February.
We took 1200 photos, which I suppose I will sort through,
develop, and share. Eventually. Don't hold your breath.
March I went to the Bryn Mawr Book Sale again, and this year
found a lot of great books on language usage, word histories,
and writing. The book I'm happiest about, though, is a
hard-to-find paperback copy of Edith Nesbit's The Story of
My job gave me the opportunity to tour the facilities of
Lehigh Lithographers. Basically, they manufacture fancy book
covers (and transparencies, and board game lids, and some other
similar things). I saw---and heard---many things: some *huge*
German printing presses, some that print up to six colors
(rather than one, two, or four) and use UV light to dry the ink;
machines that etch printing plates; machines that emboss;
machines that foil-stamp; machines that laminate; machines that
collate (the biggest in the country, in fact); and stacks and
stacks of finished and partly-finished book covers. Being that I
know almost nothing about it, manufacturing seems to me to have
a certain aura, particularly when the end product (book covers)
is something I care about. Come to think of it, the raw
materials (paper, paper, and more paper, plus graphic design)
are pretty fascinating too.
I got some nice birthday presents this week. Thanks to those
My various hobbies are competing wildly: my interest in coins
has been recently reawakened (last week I spent $50 on coin
storage objects and old pennies); to my mother's delight, I have
a new fascination with sewing (I made a pair of beanie-baby-like
dragons from decrepit clothing); I learned some new kumihimo
patterns; I attended an origami gathering and ordered a new
origami book; I ordered a crewel-embroidery book (huh?); I
started working through a book on how to draw; and I now have
new web development software (Expression Web), along with some
books on web graphics, and a burning desire to learn more about
user interface design and information architecture. Oh, and I'm
trying to go ice skating on Sundays. It's like inline skating
but not. (I learned the hard way that one needs to wear
layers at an ice rink.)
In the spare cash department, I've been tutoring regularly,
babysitting intermittently and regularly, selling books online
(and in person, but with less success), and having my brain
scanned by Princeton post-docs.
In short, never a dull moment.
an option to complete the sentence:
"We stand before the dawn
of a new _____."
(d) all of the above.
The answer is (d) all of the above. "Dawn over a New World"
is an awesome song by a band called Dragonforce. They play
"power metal" (?!). Though technically we're standing *after*
the dawn of January 1, we're *mostly* looking ahead to 2007 at
this point. And, I am pleased to announce (drumroll. . . .) that
I'm finally launching a new site design. Nope, just kidding. Not
|Hey, where'd the other stuff go?
I've archived it.