Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Electronic Democracy and Marillion

Back in the spring, I mentioned how I am part of an international team of researchers working on a multi-year project on online consultation and public policy making. Well, in a couple of day the group will be meeting at the University of Leeds for its second set of face-to-face sessions. This time our main task will be to make progress on the book, tentatively titled (R)E-Connecting Democracy: Comparative Perspectives on Information Technology and the Revitalization of Governance, we have all pledged to write together. For my part, I have prepared a short draft for one of the chapters that may shape up to be my central contribution to the volume. We'll see how it flies with my colleagues!

In the meantime, it just so happens that Marillion is embarking on a two-week holiday season tour of some of their hot spots. This includes a gig in Manchester one of the days I'll be in Leeds. How about that!? It goes without saying that we'll be jumping on the train that evening for the one-hour ride from Leeds to Manchester.

Did I say "we?" For years, it has been one of Desi's dreams to see Marillion in the UK, on their home turf. Once she heard about the Manchester concert, it was a done deal. No flying solo for me this time! "Somewhere Else," here we come...

~Steve

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Coming Down the Home Stretch

Well, it is nearly two years into our little Hardy Boys project and we are getting close to wrapping things up. This week, I started reading to Julie and Z Danger on Vampire Trail, the 50th book in the series. There are only eight more books to go, plus the Detective Handbook.

It has turned out to be much more of a proposition than I ever imagined that night when I sat down with Z in his room and started reading from the beginning of The Tower Treasure. It didn't take Julie long to join us, and off we went!

As we have pushed through the books, a couple of practices have spontaneously emerged.

Julie and Z race to grab the book first whenever we get to a page with a picture on it. Hey, they are brother and sister...

No one peaks at the cover of the next book until we finish the one we are currently on. At least I don't think they do!

Based on the title and abstract of the book, Julie and Z try to guess the name of the first chapter. They also try to predict the outcomes of various plot threads. Sometimes this is hard. At other times, though, it is pretty simple, especially as we have read more and more of the series. I mean, how many different ways are there for Mr. Hardy to unexpectedly appear at a crucial moment in the story?

What just happened? 3-2-1 (san-er-yi)... Z started this one on our first cross-country trip. Since we are reading each book over a period of days or weeks, we oftentimes have trouble remembering just where the plot left off. So a contest of sorts emerges to see who can shout out our last stopping point the quickest.

What just happened? Two years of great, old fashioned fun, with a few months left to go...

~Steve