Monday, August 31, 2009

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!

Boy, that was quick.

I was just getting used to the idea of having a computer again, figuring I had at least a couple of days to enjoy life. And then WHAM! Right before we leave for a piano lesson, the phone rings. I'm powdering my nose (metaphorically -- look, I may be a hothead, but I have occasional moments of delicacy, okay?), and I hear my son yell, "Hey! It's APPLE calling!"

Oh, man.

My husband's now waiting with bated breath to grab my little woogum and drag it off to the scary place, but I told him I need to generate a random number first. We have, let's see...nine contestants. Okay. Hang on just a second.

Okay, okay, I'm hurrying! Sheesh.

And it's --

Michele, Mom of 8!

I am the worst person in the world to do this kind of thing, because immediately I start feeling really bad for everyone else. But I did get some other Darwin stuff from various publishers, so I'd like to have another giveaway when Sofonisba comes back from the shop. Kind of a celebration.

(What -- you guys don't name your computers? I'm the only one? Huh.)

Anyway: Michele -- email your mailing address to:

Deborah @ 2ds dot org

See you all when I get back to the electronic planet...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The living-on-borrowed-time giveaway

So they took my computer away from me.

What's funny is that I am in many ways the most technologically stunted person in my entire county. It's Los Angeles County. There are ten-year-olds with more equipment and savvy than I have.

I can't, as a kind reader suggested, check out new "apps" for my phone because so far as I know, my phone doesn't have any apps because my phone is several years old and I refuse to give it up. I already don't understand this one. Even if I had the money for a new one, I don't see the point in getting something that I'll understand even less.

My address book is made of paper and missing a cover.

I've never texted in my life.

I don't know what a blackberry is unless you're talking about the fruit.

This blog is as boring, visually, as it is because this is what someone else set up for me and I don't know how to put nifty pictures and stuff on it.

I do have an iPod and was ridiculously excited, marching around the house singing about the fact that I now had the POWER, because after owning the thing for months, I finally learned how to plug it into my computer, pick the stuff I wanted to load onto it, and sync it. Before that, I'd hand it to my husband with very explicit instructions as to what audiobook or comedy album I wanted to listen to now. If I own a CD and want to hear it via my iPod, guess who I hand it to?

So the idea of being without a computer horrified me partly because although I have a love/hate relationship with email, I am rather in the habit of checking it often. Mostly, though, I hated the idea of not being able to write. I do work longhand, but it's frustrating because I can type so much more quickly, and hitting "delete" is so much tidier than all those lines and carets my paper pages always end up being covered with.

I was feeling pretty fidgety when, an hour after they'd left with my darling laptop, the Y-chromosomes called home to report.

"WELL?" I asked.

Given what our luck has been this summer -- the car losing its air conditioning abilities and charging a reasonable but significant ransom for them right before the only heat we've had all season kicked in, the other computer needing replacing -- I almost didn't want to hear the answer to that question.

It actually turned out to be pretty good news.

The lovely nerds over at the Apple Genius Bar (and if you don't know what a compliment I'm paying by calling someone a nerd, you haven't been listening) have never been anything but all things good and beautiful so far as our needs are concerned. They go above and beyond, they really do.

My super drive needs replacing. They didn't have one. So they wrote up a work authorization, handed it and my computer to my husband, and told him that he could bring them both back in when they got the part in stock.

I love that they didn't just say, "Okay, thanks, we'll call you when this is fixed," and then leave my computer moping around, no use to anyone, while they waited for the necessary part to come in. They could have. They didn't. I have the use of my computer until they call. That's Christmas in August, is what that is.

"They're required to tell people it'll take five to seven days to do this kind of repair," my husband added. "But she told me that it'll probably be more like one or two."

Which is another present under the tree. Still not looking forward to that day or two, but I take what I can get when I can get it.

To celebrate, I thought I'd have a little spontaneous giveaway.

In my article about reading Darwin, I mention buying a paperback copy of The Origin of Species that included some supplementary material -- a good introduction, some footnotes, and other tidbits clearly aimed at readers of about high school age. The fact that I utterly failed to finish it is because this edition does have one fault: the fact that I'm an idiot.

So since I had to go in pursuit of way more footnotes, I thought that some reader who's perhaps a little brighter than I am might like this copy of Darwin's most famous work. It's a mass market copy, priced $6.95. The cover's fine, but you can tell that this book spent some time banging around in my purse.

I'll throw in a copy of the current "hooray for Darwin" issue of SHM to go with it. If you're already a subscriber and would like to enter, you could give the extra copy away to the library, or a friend, or some fundie you've been longing to horrify.

What I'll do is open up the drawing to anyone who posts between now and the time that Apple calls and tells me that it's time to start crying again. Right before I let them wrench my baby from my frantic grasp, I'll generate a random number and announce the winner, who can email me privately with his or her address, which I will receive as soon as I return to the happy planet of people who can check their email whenever they want.

Sound good?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More computer woes (in a minor key)

My computer has had a couple of trifling ailments for some time now. Every time I go on the Internet for longer than a minute, it starts heating up like I just asked it to cook a nice pot of chili for dinner; and it has also decided that this whole CD and DVD thing is just too last millennium, so at the slightest taste of a disc, it either spits it out or makes threatening grinding noises.

Not exactly emergencies, although it would be nice to be able to watch Buffy on my laptop while I do labels and such. But my warranty is about to run out, so tomorrow the family Y-chromosomes are wrenching my computer out of my frantic grasp and taking it in to be repaired. Which means that I'm going to be deprived of it starting tomorrow (Sunday the 30th) at around noon. Apparently the work will take at least a day or two.

Could you excuse me for just one second, please? You shouldn't have to hear this. Thank you. Back in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

MY BABY! MY EMAIL! ALL MY WRITING! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Sorry. I forgot to shut the door.

Okay. So anyway. I may be even more behind than usual for the next several days, because I'm already way behind and I'm going to do my best today and early tomorrow to get caught up just a little...

You know, the hysterical laughter was really not necessary. Or nice. Or particularly helpful.

Oh -- that was me? Sorry again.

Okay. So I'll post again to let you know when I'm back on the planet. For now, I'm going to go and pretend not to flip out about all the stuff I won't be able to do for however long it's going to be.

Thank Shiva I have a lot of books and games and other stuff to review. If I had to feel completely disconnected from work for even a day, I think you'd hear me screaming even with the windows shut.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Secular Lonelyhearts (or, They've started arriving!)

Although I started sending issues out on Saturday, today is the first day that I could feel officially sure that subscribers might start receiving their copies of SHM. The ones I mailed on Saturday went out in public mail boxes, and I couldn't be sure what time they were being picked up. On Monday, I took two huge boxes to the post office, early. So today was the first day that I could feel sure people might actually open their envelopes.

I got a very welcome confirmation of that fact from the first subscriber to send her info to include in the new "Secular Lonelyhearts" segment of the magazine.

It's not as romantic as it sounds. But it's free. And it might help you find that secular homeschooling friend you've been dreaming of.

Here's how it works.

You send us whatever information about yourself and your family you feel comfortable putting out in public. The subscriber who just emailed me included the name of her hometown, her children's ages, and some info about their homeschooling style, as well as her email address.

We will print this, free of charge, in the September/October issue (and as many other issues as she'd like us to run it) of SHM.

We will all devoutly (so to speak) hope that she gets a response from and makes friends with another secular homeschooling parent in the area.

You do not have to be a subscriber to be listed. This is a community service. I feel incredibly guilty about having it so easy when it comes to secular homeschooling buddies. This city makes me scream at times, but it is good for that. So since I can't share the wealth any other way, at least I'll do what I can to help people connect.

Spread the word!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So, here's what you get...


This is the issue that was originally going to be the All Darwin All The Time issue. Then it was going to be the Darwin/Critical Thinking issue, because I had some articles in a critical-thinking vein and figured they were thematically appropriate. I mean, Darwin was all about critical thinking, right?

And then, when the great divide came down and we went bimonthly, this issue went back to being a Largely Darwin With Some Other Stuff issue.

So here's what's in it.

"Books About Darwin" is just that. It's a very long review section of books about Darwin for all ages. Most of the books reviewed came out this year, in honor of the double anniversary. A few were published previously, but were just too valuable not to talk about. Kristan Lawson's Darwin and Evolution for Kids gets a huge review, because I wanted to give a lot of information about how the book could be utilized, what kind of information it offers, and just how excellent it is.

In the section about books for teenaged and adult readers, I express my love for Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True, which is so amazingly wonderful that I just can't say enough about it. It's solid science that's utterly accessible even to a science bonehead like me. Please, for the love of heaven, read this book.

"Teaching Darwin" gives details about a class I'm teaching to some young homeschooled friends. It's anecdotal, but I hope it offers some worthwhile information about teaching about Darwin himself and the theory of evolution to fairly young children.

"Reading Darwin" is about my misadventures in reading Darwin's own writing. The other Darwin articles are written in serious, straightforward prose, but this one's a little goofier. I wanted readers to be able to laugh at me for having such a hard time -- you'd think the guy wasn't writing in English, for Pete's sake -- and maybe feel a little better if they've had a tough time getting through The Origin of Species, too. I also talk about the various editions of Darwin's autobiography and how they differ from one another.

"The Barbed-Wire Fence" is an article I sought out. A man on my statewide support group's email loop, Paul Adem, posted a wonderful analogy from his own life about homeschooling and why some people are against it. I wrote to him off-loop and shamelessly begged him to consider expanding what he'd posted into an article. He graciously agreed.

"A Day in the Life of a New Homeschooler" is a funny, heartwarming piece by Nancy Gauvreau about -- well, exactly what it sounds like. Not only is it deeply reassuring (hey, I guess we are doing okay!), but it offers some great resource ideas.

"The Badman Report" is my own report on how and why the British government is trying to make life difficult for homeschoolers. The Bitter Homeschooler loses her sense of humor for this piece.

"The Threat to Homeschooling in Sweden" -- pretty self-explanatory. I felt a lot of pressure writing this one, because I'll be sending some copies to the Swedish national support group. They said that being able to show their government that the eyes of the world are upon them might help. Here's hoping.

"Starting a Homeschool Co-op" by Brandy Bergenstock is an excellent how-to article. Bergenstock shares her expertise on this subject, offering valuable advice on how to work with other homeschoolers in a "class" setting. This article was of personal interest to me, since I once taught some homeschooling classes through our local YWCA. I felt rather guilty about not being able to continue teaching for reasons of my own, and reading Bergenstock's article made me realize what had been missing in the structure in which I'd been working. Now I feel inspired to try again, implementing her suggestions.

"Baseline" is by Sue Landsman, whose humor writing has been a regular feature in SHM for some time now. This piece is a lovely meditation on how important it is for homeschoolers to hit "pause" now and then.

The rest of the articles are regular columns. I will add that anyone who read last issue's "Home Scholars" and was concerned about how the Ninja Reindeer would fare against the evil Dr. Bratwurst will not be disappointed.

More about "Home Scholars" soon, since there is one change I made that I'd like to talk about here. For now, I have to go address some more envelopes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Things to look for (or, Too bad "payback" is such a mean word...)

Nobody but my son will ever play Monopoly with me, because I'm incredibly immature.

Does anyone else ever do this? I hoard one-dollar bills. Then, whenever I land on someone else's property, I pay the rent with them. That'll teach you to buy Boardwalk.

I had a little flashback to the days when I had time to lounge around playing cut-throat games yesterday when my husband came home from running two magazine-related errands. (Hey, I can't do everything. I spent the day learning about the new confusion of postage and then taking my son to the special violin store, an hour out of town, for a next-size-up instrument. He's not full-sized quite yet, but it's pretty close. As his teacher said, "Don't build a relationship with this one. This isn't a marriage. You'll just be dating for a year or so. So don't get too attached.")

Anyway, my husband came in with two bags. One of them was full of boxes of big envelopes. The other was stuffed with several hundred one-dollar bills. Real ones.

We worked out who is owed how much on their orders if they paid $7-per-copy prices. It would be cruel to everyone involved to send a check for one, two, three, or four dollars. (One incredibly loyal subscriber got a whole extra issue, which should tell you something about how big a check she sent us in the first place. If you're reading this: I love you, Ms. Simone.)

So: if you're an old subscriber (and old in this context means that you subscribed sometime before last week), open your envelope with care. There'll be a little cash in it. I'm tucking it just inside the front cover of the magazine, snuggled up with the table of contents.

With it will be a little note from yours truly, thanking you for your support and explaining why the heck I'm sending you seemingly random bits of cash.

If your subscription runs out this issue, there will also be a note shamelessly begging you to resubscribe. These notes are going out to people whose address labels have the number 7 on them.

And now I'm going to spend this beautiful summer day (and most of the night) stuffing envelopes with Buffy, Angel, and the usual gang.

(It's okay. I had to stay home anyway. My lizard really needs a sunbath, and it's been foggy most of the week.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yours with deepest respect and confusion...

I don't take pot shots at the post office. The other day I mailed something to a friend, just a regular stamp on an ordinary envelope, and she got it the next day. That's way faster and more organized than I'll ever be. The grocery store is only two blocks from me, and I'll improvise around the fact that we're out of bread for days. (Graham crackers only work for certain sandwiches, by the way. Nut butters, yes; bologna, no.) I've got passion and creativity; I let others handle speed and directness.

If anything, that's where the fault (if fault there be) lies. The post office seems to think that I either am or want to be as efficient as they are. When I went in this morning with a copy of the new-weight magazine and asked for help figuring out postage, the lady behind the counter was very disturbed because the only exact solution involved four different kinds of stamp on each envelope.

"That's fine," I said. And it is. True, I'm used to three different stamps per envelope; but it's still four stamps total. Not half a dozen, which was what I thought I might end up with when I heard what the postage per copy is now.

Okay, I just said I wouldn't gripe about the post office, but can I just ask something? This is their system. They came up with it. They're the boss of me. So why, if I'm mailing something of a seemingly normal weight and size, did they decide to baffle their employees and me with a price like $1.73?

$1.73 isn't a multiple of anything. Really. I'm pretty sure 173 is a prime number. Certainly it has nothing to do with 44, which is how many cents a first-class stamp costs these days. Why does the post office have weights and prices that aren't based on what they've decided is their main currency? What's next? Am I going to go to the store and find loaves of bread selling for a farthing apiece -- one per customer, exact change only please?

Let others complain about the rising cost of postage. I live in a city populated by some pretty desperate people, none of whom have ever been hard up enough that they'd be tempted by my generosity if I offered them 44 cents to take a letter to a friend or a check to the electric company. I think what the post office charges is fine, and they're fleet of foot to boot.

I just wish they'd make sense now and then.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick, clean the floor!

Just got the call from the printers! Baby's coming home!

I really do have to de-grit the floors before they get covered with boxes. My mother-in-law's coming over tomorrow, and it's not her, it's me. I just can't stand the thought of hearing her crunch her way across my tiny living room. This way she'll just have to leap awkwardly from one small clean empty patch of floor to the next, like Eliza on the ice.

(I might just send a free copy of the new issue to the first person who posts where that reference is from.)

Believe it or not, things will be calming down considerably once I lug those big baby boxes up the stairs. My email is working almost entirely properly again! I'm even getting the postings from the one group that had been holding out no matter how I messed with the settings! I can write to my friends (hello, Antonia and Micki!) and ignore my enemies on purpose (instead of just not having time to do more than give their missives the searing look they deserve).

For now, time to party with the Swiffer...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random cheerful thoughts on receipt of hate mail


Thought the first:

I had a visit some time back from someone whose ideas about childrearing are profoundly different from my own. She had a four-year-old and a not-quite-one-year-old. The baby was sleeping when they arrived; as soon as he awoke, his older brother ran to him with a look of eager glee on his face and proceeded to wallop him repeatedly on the face and head.

The mother restrained him, eventually, without reproach. Later, she was standing with the baby near where the older brother was sitting. Since he was in reach, and since he'd been taught that's what siblings do, the baby reached over and clouted the brother on the head. It was a good strong blow; you could hear it across the room.

The older brother was shocked. He was startled by the pain; more than that, he was righteously outraged. "HE HIT ME!" he shrieked.

I relate this story because I'm analyzing an infuriated email I received regarding the straight-to-DVD article of the current issue. The older brother's behavior reminded me of something I learned while attending public school: there's no one more indignant than a bully who just got taken down a notch. A bully will call upon the powers that be and report his injuries with a completely straight face. Because when he gets hit, it's bullying. And bullying is wrong.

Thought the second:

A line from the "Peacemaker" track on the latest Green Day album:

"You thought I was a write-off. You'd better think again."
 
Thought the third:

Don't bother trying not to wake it. This dragon never sleeps. And your armor conducts heat beautifully. If you don't admire the fire, stay away from the cave.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I think I can see the head...

Went to the printers this morning to see the baby. Everything looked fine, and it'll be coming home in a few days. Wish it were tomorrow.

We have some free-to-read articles posted on the site now. This issue being the first in the new bimonthly format, we did some new stuff with the free materials.

First, one of the articles is online only. When I've got 60 or more pages to play with, I can put in whatever the heck I feel like; when it's 48, I want every print page to count. I had a blast ranting about that "Teacher, Revised" guy, but I didn't think it was worth bumping other articles for, and it's timely. So it's strictly electronic:
 
http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/007/teacher_revised.html
 
The article on books about Darwin was huge. Putting the whole thing online would have been too bulky; so we put a good chunk of it up instead:
 
http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/007/darwin_books.html
 
And I did finish that humor article I was kvetching about here some time back. It's what I expected: not as funny as the Wish List, but I think it makes some good points.

I'm interested to hear what the community thinks of it. In its own way, I think it breaks as much new ground as the List did. It brings up things we don't usually talk about. I hope that some homeschoolers will be happy to see they're not the only ones who secretly wish they could have all the good stuff that comes along with homeschooling, but not have to share their chocolate all the time:
 
http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/007/pros_and_cons.html
 
More soon!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Early to bed...

Well, it was early in that "it's so late it's early" sense that some of you party animals may remember from your wild 20s.

I crashed into bed last night, or rather this morning, at 3:30. Which wouldn't be so hateable. My son's 11 now; it's not as if I have to get up and nurse him. It's a summer week -- we "school" year-round, but take breaks now and then. I had no appointments today, other than getting the new-issue file to the printer as soon as I hit consciousness. I could, in theory, hit it hard and get some decent sleep.

Except that I think I've mentioned I live in an apartment backing an alley, just across the way from some very wealthy home owners. These people have decided that with the economy the way it is, the least they could do is completely relandscape their backyard, so that the apartment dwellers who have to see and hear all the noise and breathe all the ick from the work will have even more reasons to be bitter.

I wear industrial-strength earplugs when I sleep. Doesn’t matter. Once the huge trucks start rolling in at eight o'clock, it's like trying to sleep through an earthquake.

I know it's more convenient for the people who live there to have all this stuff going on around back; but why should it be convenient for them? They're the ones who decided to have this done. They're the ones who already had a pretty yard and will now have a prettier one. Why shouldn't they have to deal with all the tromping back and forth?

'Cause that kind of thing is for apartment-dwelling povs, apparently.

So I staggered out of bed, took a shower that I really needed twelve hours ago, washed about half the dishes, threw some leftover pancakes at my son (homemade, rye and cornmeal, want the recipe?), and then screamed us out to the car to go to the printers.

We got to the parking lot, and I realized -- dang nab it! -- I'd forgotten the copy of the magazine I like to bring as a visual clue. It's easier than explaining what I want done, and I never remember all the technical stuff about what weight the paper is and things.

Well, that was okay. They could probably just pull the specs from the last order I placed.

Bringing the disk for them would have been a nice touch, though. You know -- the one with all the text and layout of the new issue?

The one sitting quietly on my dresser at home?

Give me some credit. I didn't say even ONE thing that could have qualified as a bad word.

Don't give me too much credit, though. A cop had just pulled into the lot, and even if he couldn't arrest me for having that kind of mouth around an eleven-year-old, I still didn't want to have that kind of conversation.

I pulled out of the parking spot I'd just pulled into and made it back home in record time, thanks to the Bare Naked Ladies. (The rock group. Not the other kind.) Ran upstairs, grabbed the disk and a copy of the current issue, ran out again, drove back to the printers, and realized I'd forgotten my wallet.

That last one's a lie. Trust me, you'd have heard the screaming. Would have made a great story, though. (And anyway, these printers don't make me prepay, bless their little hearts.)

I'll be checking the baby's galleys on Monday -- the first in what I hope will be a long line of bimonthly issues of Secular Homeschooling. We'll be posting officially on the site tonight, but it's 48 pages and it will cost $6 a copy.

If you already placed an order or have a subscription, don't worry. We'll do right by you.

And now I’m going to go dream of sleep.

Irony at 3 a.m.

I'm giving the issue one more red-ink going-over before bringing it to the printers tomorrow. I'm so over this. This whole editing thing. Seriously, get me out of here.

So I'm reading a product review, and a word jumps out at me. It looks wrong. I just don't know. But although my Gregg manual's in my lap, the dictionary is all the way down the hall.

Bleargh.

So I think to myself in so many words that I don't care. I really don't. I don't care how this word is spelled, and my readers shouldn't, either.

Ready?

The product review is for a proofreading workbook. The word about whose spelling I could not care less?

"Copy-editing."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

More bad times with my email and Sweden

Just found out that I’m still having trouble with my email. Which is super annoying, since I just signed an electronic petition to protest anti-homeschooling legislation in Sweden, and in order for my “signature” to be valid, I have to acknowledge an email message. Which I haven’t received. Nor have I received postings from various Yahoo groups, and I did check my settings. So until further notice, assume that I may not be getting any email you send. Grrr...

We’re typesetting an article about the bad news in Sweden right now. For more information, you can go to the web site of Rohus, the Swedish homeschooling support organization. While you’re there, you can also (if your email’s working properly, anyway) sign a petition even if you don’t live in Sweden. You can send a letter to the education ministry if you’re so inclined, and even make a donation if you’re feeling rich. I can’t afford a lot, but I’m going to go give a few dollars. It’s something, anyway. Hey, I sold a subscription today — I can give that much, at least, right? And still have enough to pay the printer when the time comes.

Here’s the Swedish site:

http://www.rohus.nu/?English_information

Do please drop by and sign the petition when you can. It means so much to the homeschoolers in Sweden to know that their global neighbors support them in their struggle.




Still straightening...

Okay, so we had to replace the big computer. And now I want to thank every single person who has ever purchased SHM. I sock away every penny that doesn't go to the printer or the post office, and I wouldn't have any pennies if it hadn't been for you. Thank you. You're how we paid for the evil creature now crouching on the desk that I officially refuse to dust.

I was stupid enough to try. Just once. Right after the old one was declared officially dead. We cleared a lot of clutter off that work surface in the course of installing the new beastie, and since we're all allergy sufferers, regular dusting and cleaning is a real issue. And the room really needed it at this point. So I kind of snuck my way over, with my surgical mask and my bandanna and my special dust-eating dust cloths. I acted all casual, starting with the bookshelves. (And by the way, I got a lot of grief from my allergy doctor about my insistence on cohabiting with all these books. I'd just like to point out that books are friendly creatures that never commit suicide, no matter how much you dust them.)

So I finally got over to the desk. I dusted the printer that doesn't work with my computer (not that I'm bitter or anything). I dusted the printer that's supposed to work with my computer, but only does so when it feels like it. I dusted computer-related objects that I don't understand and that act all important with their flashing lights and occasional small, urgent sounds. I started to feel safe.

And then I dusted the keyboard to the new computer, and the computer started chattering and blinking and flashing its lights. It was kind of like when you think you're about to die and all the important events in your life crowd into your mind. Except that what rushed into mine was everything my husband has ever done to annoy me, ending with his glib assurances on just how utterly dusting-friendly this new monster is.

Suffice it to say that my husband is now in charge of dusting the desk and all its ominous inhabitants (my relatively innocuous little laptop is excluded from this count), and he doesn't have to do it the same day I do the rest of the cleaning in here, but he does have to do it on something like a regular basis.

I'm sure that's not what you came here to learn, but I just had to mention it.

In other news, it looks as if, starting with the very-soon-I-promise upcoming issue, we'll be putting out a 48-page issue every other month. Our costs for printing and mailing will be going down fifty cents. The price of the magazine will be going down a dollar. Probably a stupid business decision on my part, but it was important to me to be able to bring the per-copy price down for the customer by a good round amount. And what — I’m going to pretend to be afraid to be broke at this point?

It also looks as if we'll be offering half-year subscriptions as an option once we're bimonthly. Still working on the method we'll employ to ensure that everyone gets what they paid for up to this point. We're cautiously exploring the option of whatever cash refunds would be necessary.

And we're also looking at what kind of changes having a smaller page-count will have on regular columns. The kids' section will stay as it is, although it looks as if I'm going to take the ongoing fantasy story online so it can be read for free, commented on, and updated much more frequently. Homeschool Horror Stories may become an every-other-issue column -- we're not getting that many contributions, we've had some negative feedback about it, and I don't want it crowding out articles that might need the length. Money Matters was a nice idea, but it's not something I'm very good at writing and I'm not getting much in the way of contributions to it, so it might be better to just prominently post the fact that we accept money-saver articles on the "Calls for Materials" page. And I'm still pondering the fate of "Hot Chocolate!" and "Here We Go Again..." I'm going back and forth like mad on those crazy twins.

I think that's it for now. Just wanted to let you know that we're all alive and reasonably well (minus the dear departed computer, of course). More news soon.