About this blog...

Here you will find information, musings, and pictures about life, the natural world and writing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Former House Guest Wins Conservation Award!

File this under "Good News." Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu, an Indonesian dentist, received the Whitley Award, presented to her May 12, 2011, by HRH The Princess Royal (that would be Princess Anne). Hotlin is co-founder of Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI),an Indonesian organization that links the health and well-being of rainforest villages with important wildlife habitat in Gunumg Palung National Park in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The US fundraising arm of ASRI is Health In Harmony, which you may have read about in this blog. (Click HERE to refresh your memory.)

I met Hotlin when I hosted a fundraiser at my house. She's a short, energetic, charming woman who showed me how Indonesians cook rice: boil water, add rice, boil until done. Too much water? Drain some off. Not enough? Add more. Perhaps I've made too much fuss about rice...

She and Dr. Kinari Webb established ASRI to provide health care to some of the poorest people in the world and have linked the health of people to the health of the environment. I was especially impressed that they asked the villagers what they needed, rather than announcing the services they chose to deliver. ASRI is innovative in many respects, including helping to protect and restore Gunung Palung and its orangutan population. Orangs are not doing well at all as Indonesian is deforested for palm oil plantations and other crops, so this is important.

Give a thought to ASRI as one of the charities you support. You get two bangs for your buck--healthcare for people, habitat for a multitude of tropical species. Can't beat that!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

MS Word for Authors: Out with double-hyphens

Double hyphens do the work of em and en dashes, but the same way a piece of rope works as a belt or a door plus two sawhorses makes a table.

You aren't stuck with double hyphens. MS Word will be pleased to insert a far more stylish em or en dash if you ask it to. These live at Insert/Symbols. You may need to dig deeper: More Symbols/Special Characters. I generally use an en dash (the width of the letter N, a bit shorter than the em dash).

Instead of digging through menus to find this symbol every time you need it, you can tell MS Word to substitute a dash when you type a double hyphen. MS Word treats "waht" as a typo and changes it to "what". It can do the same for "--".

First, get yourself a dash. Open up MS Word, find Symbols, and insert a dash so that you can see it on the page. Then highlight it and copy it so that it is stored in the buffer.

Next, find AutoCorrect Options. Use Help if you can't find it under Word Options.

In AutoCorrect, look for a small empty box labeled Replace. Type -- (two hyphens) in that box. Next to it is a box labeled With. Click in that box and Paste the dash into it. Back out by clicking OK.

Now test it and see if it works. Let me know if you can't get this to cooperate.

We are experts at dashes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

MS Word for Authors: Help for fumble fingers

MS Word has a feature named Auto Correct that you might want to get acquainted with.

Perhaps you've noticed, with gratitude, that Word will fix some of your typos the instant you make them.

Perhaps you've noticed that some of those "typos" weren't actually anything that needed changing.

Perhaps you wish Word would fix some of the other mistakes you commonly make.

All this is set up in AutoCorrect and you can tailor it to your needs.

Go to Options and review AutoCorrect. (Use the help to find it if necessary.) AutoCorrect has a few options to check or uncheck. Following that is a long list of characters that Word will automatically replace with other characters. Scroll down this list and see what all Word is up to.

If you really want "nwo" to be left alone and not changed to "now", you can delete it here.

If you are forever typing "Amn" when you mean "Ann" you can add it here.

And you can set up AutoCorrect to change two hyphens (funky) to an en dash (classy). But you have to leave a comment on this blog to get me to reveal the secret.

I love hidden features.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Today: M.E. Kemp, mystery author and pig fancier

Today is a first for this blog: A guest blogger. Please welcome M.E. Kemp, author of Death of A Bawdy Belle, Death of a Dutch Uncle, and Death of A Dancing Master.

A Pig in a Poke

On the very first page of my historical mystery series (featuring two nosy Puritans as detectives,) I introduced a character who was to become a favorite with readers. So popular was my Priscilla that I wrote several short stories featuring her, one of which one first prize in a New England Writers Network contest. Priscilla is a pig -- a very intelligent pig. Indeed, from the children's book, Charlotte's Web, people may have a vague idea that pigs are intelligent animals, as indeed they are. Probably the breed of the highest intelligence is the handsome pig known as the Tamworth. Ginger-colored and long legged, not your regular fat white pig, the Tamworth is the George Clooney of Pigdom. It is a descendant of the European wild boar, less that ferocious ancestor's truculence. In olden days the breed was known as the Irish Grazer, no doubt for its ginger coloring.

Not one to stint on my research, I visited a heritage pig farm as I wrote my first book featuring Priscilla. In upstate New York is located Flying Pigs Farm and its hospitable owner. Mike took me on an informal tour and answered my questions as we tromped over the hills (they felt more like mountains) to get to the field where he kept his pigs. The pint-sized piggies came a-running and a-squealing to greet us. They are very social animals, Mike said as the piggies nibbled on his jean-legs. They'll eat anything, he said, including trying to eat a cell phone that was dropped in the field. Their favorite treat are apples and Mike arranges to take the "windfalls" from a local orchard -- the piggies don't care if there's a brown spot or a mushy spot on their treats.

Much to my relief it turns out that everything I had Priscilla do in my book a Tamworth would do, including 'going on walk-about,' as the Aussies say. A Tamworth will take off to explore the countryside for a couple days and then he/she will return home to the farm. I came away from my tour with a greater admiration for pigs than ever before. And yes, I do have a collection of pig-mobilia.

That night my hubby and I went out for dinner at a local restaurant. I noted that on the menu they carried pork from Flying Pigs Farm. "Oh," I said to the young waitress, "I just came from there! The piggies are just the cutest things!" At which the waitress said she wished I hadn't told her that, covered her mouth and ran for the bathroom. Needless to say, I didn't order the pork.

Read more about M.E. (Marilyn) Kemp HERE.

Read about Death of A Dancing Master HERE.