Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Notes on a Napkin

One year, someone had on the list of tasks for the bachelorette to perform the request to get someone in the restaurant/bar to write some advice on a napkin. The guy chosen wrote what turned out to a several paragraphs, the gist being that marriage gave you a travelling companion in your life journey and was worthy of framing in our opinions (alcohol fuzzed thought they may have been).
So, I was excited to hear that Esquire had conceived of the Napkin Project. While there interface is a little stodgy, in my opinion, the idea is great. Give folks a napkin and see what they come up with.

Thanks to 50 Books for the link.

Dear Folk(s) #5

Dear Sir,
I understand that the need to sing just overcomes you sometimes. This is especially true when listening to your Walkman*. And sometimes the fact that you are on public transportation is not enough to hold it back. However, when you make the decision to serenage your fellow bus passengers, please keep in mind that a song that seems to consist almost entriely of the phrase, "to the left" may not be the best choice to endear you to your passengers. Perhaps there were other words that only you could here. After all I have no idea why the song only ever seemed to want to move people left wise, unless it was a song about a guy who sang an annoying song on the bus and his fellow passengers pushed him off. Or something.
Sincerely,
Your Fellow Passenger

*It really was a Walkman.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Things People Should Know #16

Now, I am not nor have I ever been a dog owner. I like dogs, but they require more care and attention than I have to give right now. Someday when I live in my own place with a yard or a lawn, this may change. Who knows. Of course the other reason I have resisted dog ownership is the need for walking. And the corresponding need for scooping. Sure I have to dispose of my cat's stuff too, but I have a automatic litter box so I scoop up the stuff from one convenient receptacle into another. And try not to think too hard about it.
But I feel certain that there are rules about doggie stuff. Such as, you should not let your dog do stuff in other people's yards. Or on other people. (hey - it happened to me - sitting in a park and, I thought, minding my own business. Ruined a really cute pair of shoes.) Yeah you can't really make your dog relieve itself exactly when you want, but it would seem you certainly could control bits of it, by controlling where your dog walks. After all, you manage to keep your dog out from under moving cars, I assume, so you have some control. Other people's yards are the same. Especially their gardens.
Over at the Rage Diaries a fascinating discussion is developing. Lisa and her spouse noted people letting their dogs pee in the potted plants they have placed in their yard. Plants they had been hoping to consume. In each case the owners moved their dogs after being directly asked about it. Although not until the dog had already emptied itself. And I realize that cats that roam free probably do this too. It's not that I feel cats are exempt. If I was standing right next to my cat, I would certainly stop her. Right now my cat doesn't go out anyway, so yes, it's all very easy for me. And certainly, the joy of growing things outside is that they are exposed to, um, all sorts of stuff. But, stuff that just happens is very different from stuff you essentially lead your pet too.

Brea Bag

Continuing my addiction with Noro 224 and other purples (it's all cafemama's fault here), I combined the Noro with the Cascade 220 for the Brea bag. LYS, Woolwinders was having a knit seminar with the pattern. Considering it starts with a cast off of 126 stitches, support was appreciated. It really is a nice pattern and you knit with the yarn doubled. By using the Noro you lose some of the stitch definition - it might be fun to try with just Cascade in contrasting colors, or with some Lamb's Pride - which shows stitch definition so beautifully. But I love, love, love this Noro colorway, so I don't care. I got a good portion through it at the knitting salon and this is only my second cabling project so I feel qualified to say it's an easy pattern. It takes a few rows to get the rhythm, and you have to watch out for when the cabling starts, but really it's great. And as we discussed in the salon, bags always fit. And with bags you can use yarns that require a little more washing care, since people tend to wash their bags less. With the yarn doubled it goes fairly quickly and creates a good sized bag that is sturdy. I am debating getting the handle they have on the pattern - which you can order. I'm going to take a look at the fabric shop and see if they have an equivalent trim I could use.

Monday, January 29, 2007

If We Promise Not to Get Any Ideas

DC might get a quarter. What astounds me is not that they are considering giving DC and the territories quarters - although, very cool - is that first, it apparently takes an act of Congress. Clearly I am not up on my governmental structure because I had no idea the mint or treasury needed Congressional approval to put stuff on quarters. Stuff that's in the US. And the second thing that astounded me is that apparently this bill has been proposed before and failed to pass. Why? Are people afraid we might get ideas? Might consider ourselves in geographic areas that are actually part of the United States? We might think if there's a pretty quarter celebrating where I live that I should also have rights? I mean, I do think i should have rights, but really, it was never tied to the quarter. Promise. Just give us the freaking quarter. It will go nicely with the pretend voting rights.

Who Am I?

I remember listening to Dr. Laura way back when, and someone wanted to try to find their adoptive parents in order to understand their medical history but their adoptive parents were against it. Dr. Laura mentioned that she lost a number of relatives in the Holocaust so lost family history, medical and otherwise, and really you move on. Now Dr. Laura wasn't, I don't think, trying to be heartless. Her point was that medical history, while helpful, is not the be all end all we tend to cider it. And if you want to meet the people who contributed to your genetic identity, that's one thing. But if you think it will bring you closure, or completeness or necessary medical information, you are fooling yourself.
I recognize that I am not adopted. While I occasionally wished that I was a foundling unrelated to the people I grew up with, my genetic connectedness to them was abundantly clear. So, I am forcing my sensibilities on a situation I will never be able to understand. But.
There is proposed legislation for Virginia* to ban anonymous sperm and egg donation. The person who brought this to the attention of the legislature is herself the result of an anonymous sperm donation. And after hearing about someone discovering some interesting medical history, she tracked down her donor. And therein lies my point. Donors who want to or are willing to be found - can be. And some parents choose to use an anonymous donor. And they should be able to.
I would also like to point out that, from the looks of the "Montel" show, there are a number of children not conceived with a donor, who also don't know who both parents are, so we are only looking at a piece of the puzzle here. (Yes, I know, as my old manger used to say, we focus on the parts we can control...)
Clark, who is in contact now with her donor parent said,
"If anonymous gamete donations were made illegal, then it would force the potential donors to seriously think about the repercussions of their actions, to think about the possibility of someday coming face to face with their biological child, and they have to be OK with that."
And that is the problem. People who agree to be donors do just that - they agree to be donors. They are not agreeing to be parents. They are agreeing to help someone else - whether a one, two, three, or ten parent family - be parents. And by changing the legislation they may well limit the people who wish to become donors. And that helps no one that I can think of.

Thanks to DCist for the link.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hand Warming Scarf

Based on an idea I saw on Craft Magazine, I made a scarf with pockets to tuck my hands in. I finished it in December when there was a possibility it would be come a present, and it did - for me. I have enjoyed the hand pockets, especially using them when I have either misplaced my gloves or taken them off so I can do something that requires more dexterity.

Just Because You are Underage

My theme for the week appears to be: must we legislate? The latest that has me wondering is the legislation being discussed by my very own councilmember, Mr. Jim Graham. In the wake of the death of a teen at a DC nightclub, various discussions are occuring as to whether persons under the age of twenty one should be allowed in clubs. And I recognize the event is being used as a trigger point to start the discussion, but this girl's age had nothing to do with why she died. Certainly her age makes her death a bit sadder. But since the person with the gun was having an altercation with the bouncer when the gun went off, her death is tragic but unrelated to her age.
DCist has links here, here, and here, but the upshot is that apparently teens are saying that at some clubs the staff charges a you-are-underage-but-I-will-serve-you fee and certainly I think that is a concern. The legislation is still in its infancy and there are a couple of variations floating from barring underagers from all venues that serve liquor to restricting underagers presence at club venues but allowing it at music or concert venues.
My church, through a partnership with a local high school, offers a regular Friday night event that showcases local (usually high school) bands and sodas and snacks so that there is a place for high schoolers* to hang out and listen to music, in a substance free zone. And I think that is important. And certainly places like the 9:30 club, or the Black Cat have built a reputation for housing all ages shows and being metro accessible - in location and most concert times - so it would be a shame to see that change.
And also, a number of music industry folks have chimed in that since the teen demographic is one they want to reach, having no small venues where teens are allowed would hurt them. I am somewhat less concerned, personally, about restrictions to clubs, although I will wait to see what the proposed legislation looks like.
I am terribly sorry that this seemingly wonderful girl was killed. And perhaps the club needs to evaluate their security policies, although this does seem like a set of cascading circumstances. But in the end, her age did not put her in more or less danger, stray bullets cannot detect age. I recognize the temptation is to try and fix it, I just don't think this is the way.

*There is no age restriction, but somehow I think college kids would feel a bit old.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Bitter Taste

I know, I never talk about anything new anymore. Just the same old, same old. Well, on the topic of "Top Chef", I am increasingly annoyed. First*, further work avoidance reading has clarified some sketchiness on the part of the editing/story crafting team for the Chef. Seems, careful watchers noticed that Elia still has a head full of hair when the team goes after Marcel. Which at least suggests that maybe the idea was to shave Marcel (who does do weird pointy things with his hair, but personally I like the hair of none of the remaining contestants so, whatever) and it was only after that failed that they decided to shave their own heads. Now, the order may not matter. But if not, why shift it around?
Chef Colicchio mentions in his blog that he wanted to send all but Marcel home for sheer idiocy and have Marcel win by default, but the producers nixed that. While I would have missed watching the two episodes in Hawaii, I think that would have sent a powerful message. Instead on of the finalists is Marcel, who while I feel sorry for him, I do find annoying and a bit immature. Not shaving other people against their will immature, but not ready to run his own kitchen yet, from what I have seen. And the other finalist, Ilan, the guy who wanted to borrow a camera to film shaving another contestant's head against their will, the guy who watched a contestant wrestle the other to the ground (and captured it on tape), the guy who in one competition openly dissed his fellow contestant's dish, and the guy who convinced another contestant to talk to the judges about a fellow contestant's alleged cheating even though they had no examples to back it up. And the victim of all of these, is Marcel. So I am left with two people who are varying degrees of immature. And particularly in a reality competition where the primary element to determine worthiness (taste) is unavailable to viewers, what makes me want to watch. Sure, a little cattiness or drama can be interesting, but this is nuts. And wouldn't Bravo have sent a great message to future contestants by sending most of them home? Instead, while giving lip service to the fact that it is the food and not the drama that is the issue here, they are letting the drama take over. If repeatedly attempting to sabotage a fellow contestant in a competition where your skills are supposed to matter more than your strategy (in contrast to something like "Survivor" where this would all be totally acceptable behavior) - why are they letting such idiocy be rewarded? And why would I care who wins?

*I have the ennui when it comes to the proper linking, but look at TWoP, Bravo, and ALOTT5MA for stuff.

On Behalf of the Disenfranchised

Yes, as you may have heard, DC and the other non-state (read territory) delegates are getting their pretend voting right back. Yes, back under another majority Democratic Congress, the non-state delegates were given the opportunity to vote on things that didn't matter. Well, Mr. Gingrich ditched that pretty quickly when the majority changed and, while he did a lot of crappy things to DC under his reign, I can only mourn the loss of patronizing pretend rights so much. Well, they're back! Yes - the non-state delegates, the disenfranchised (DC) and the untaxed (territories)can now vote again. As long as it's only on amendments to original legislation and does not affect the outcome of the vote. Wow. I feel so much less oppressed now.

Legislating Awareness Revisited

Well, as more areas consider requiring or strongly suggesting the HPV vaccine for school-aged girls, there is more discussion. CUUMBAYA feels this would be a positive step for the Indiana legislature. I have nothing against the vaccine amd do think getting it is a great idea, but still wonder about whether the government should be in this. After all, HPV is primarily spread through sexual contact, so un-vaccinated children do not pose an immediate health threat to their classmates or teachers. And of course, the vaccine only prevents some kinds of HPV. Again, that is better than nothing and I do feel this is a huge advance and I think girl people 9-26 (the approved ages for now) should get it, but I don't see why it should be required.
Of course, some are saying - or so I hear - that the only reason people in DC are suggesting it is because they believe that back girls are slutty. While I certainly have no access to the internal thoughts of the DC councilmembers, I think wishing for better health, even sexual health, does not require a racial element. Certainly there are more black children in DC public schools than non-black children. But the high cervical cancer rates in DC would seem enough to prompt consideration of any and all prevention measures. Perhaps I missed it - but are the anti-smoking rules because more black people smoke? Are all regulations suggested for DC based solely on the racial makeup of the city? I'm not naive, and I understand that DC is the Chocolate City and certainly there are choices that will be made for DC with the understanding of it's racial makeup.
But suggesting that getting a vaccine to prevent against a sexually transmitted virus is based on a racially based concern of promiscuity is, well, nuts. First, the reason the vaccine is administered at a young age is because, as with most vaccines, it doesn't really work if you are already infected. Since something like 75% of the population gets HPV this is not a statement about promiscuity, this is a recognition that at some point in their lives, even if it's after they graduate, these children will probably have sex.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clarification

I agree with the idea that if people in the grocery store can't tell you are not related to the fictional characters on television, the problem affects all of us, not just Islamic people. However, I disagree with Snell's assertion that most of the current terrorism is carried out by Islamists. Certainly "24" has had several seasons, and not all of them involved Muslim terrorists threatening the world but there are terrorists all across the world. And some of them are Jewish or Christian or atheist or pantheist or of some other spritual tag. Just because our news tends to spotlight terrorism carried out by people claiming Islamic background does not make that a representative portion of world violence.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Square-Along


Another knit-along. What can I say - I'm a joiner! This is fun because it is squares and then I mail them off and someone else has all the putting it together in a cohesive blanket part. I bought some fun yarns, sock yarns, skinny yarn, DK yarn and have been playing with combinations. It took me a whole square to figure out the rhythm of the pattern so that I didn't have to stop and count for each row, but it is great. Pictures soon!

Voting Rights Again

Catching up on my DCist reading, I ran across the snippet about a call in to Mark Plotkin suggesting that Ward 3ers lack interest in the voting issue. And so I clicked on the comments. It seems in general people were in agreement that Ward 3 (upper Northwest, running to the Bethesda/Chevy Chase border, and in fact where I grew up) is full of all sorts of people, including *ahem* the shadow reps for DC and so, as with most generalizations, it's pretty stupid. But then I saw some other stuff.
Let me start by saying that while I favor voting rights, I accept that there are a range of viewpoints on this issue. Some favor territory status, similar to Puerto Rico, where DC would not get voting representation in Congress, but would also not be subject to federal taxes. I'm okay with that too. What annoys me are comments to the effect that until DC gets its act together it doesn't deserve voting rights. Because here's the thing. No other place in this country has to do anything to "deserve" voting rights. They just have them. Other cities, towns and states have corrupt or failing government, budget issues, problems with the schools and so on. There is no point at which their failure to provide these things, correct their problems, or anything else subjects them to an audit as to their voting status.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Scuffles, Words, Blame and Apology

And isn't that a depressing header. I've been thinking about television and testosterone, co-workers and pranks, altercations and annoyance. Why - you ask? Well, last night I fired up the DVR and watched "Ellen" and "Top Chef". T.R. Knight of "Grey's Anatomy" was appearing on "Ellen" and they touched on the October on set incident with Isaiah Washington. Now, I agree with others that multiple variations of the incident have been reported and I hate to use the Richard Gere standard of truth-finding*, but it does seem that there is agreement that a scuffle occurred involving Washington and that inappropriate words concerning Knight were used. Reports were that the word in question was, "faggot", and following the incident, Knight, who had previously been out among co-workers but had not addressed his sexuality publicly, confirmed that he is gay. Word from the cast and crew had been to the effect that it was an excess of testosterone that had been blown out of proportion. Washington had issued a statement apologizing and it seemed the "Grey's" team wanted to move on.
And then "Grey's Anatomy" won the Golden Globe, so the cast was all in one place and surrounded by press. The incident was brought up, Shonda Rhimes the show-runner was at the mike, but Washington moved to the mike to answer for himself that he never called anyone a faggot.
On "Top Chef" there have been the typical tensions one find when, in reality show fashion, a group of contestants are all forced to live together. Marcel has been the brunt of a lot of hating for being a dork, an arrogant and I'm sure annoying dork, but mostly just a dork. Well, last night was the final challenge before, well, the finals, and so some steam was let off after. In what may be sheer luck on the part of the producers, one of the contestants had borrowed a camera in order to film some of the celebrations. Elia, the remaining female, confessed that she had always wanted to shave her head. Two of the guys agreed to do it also, if she would. It appears one of them did not really believe she would, since he did not, in the end shave anything. But Elia and Ilan - bald. And then the idea came that they should shave Marcel. Marcel had somehow managed to sleep through this frivolity so they went over to him, and Cliff grabbed him and held him down, calling for them to bring the clippers. It seems that the fog of sleep deprivation, celebration, and alcohol had cleared for the others at this point. None of them were shown objecting, but neither did anyone arrive with the clippers. Marcel was struggling to get away from Cliff. Cliff starts to realize that this is not a good plan and finally releases Marcel. Marcel then decides, wisely I think, to remove himself to a room with a lock, away from these fools, which ends up being the bathroom. Ilan did try to follow him, and it was clear that Marcel's chest was all red from the wrestling.
Well, since the standard reality show contract is in play, Cliff was asked to leave. While he seemed genuinely surprised that they chose to view the behavior as threatening, he accepted it, said on camera that things got out of hand and he acted stupidly, and apologized to Marcel before leaving. Marcel graciously accepted. (It will be interesting to see if Cliff pulls a Keith and tries to rewrite history at the reunion, but so far, I'm impressed.)
Certainly reality show contestants are viewed differently than actors, but the juxtaposition is interesting to me right now. Several TWOPers have commented that had Washington used the n-word, the chances that everyone would try to brush it aside would be much less. Clearly Washington is feeling pressure from the media attention, but it seems strange to try to go back now and say that he didn't say the offensive word in question. Sadly I imagine he was trying to quell the talk, and instead he has inflamed it. In fact, up until now most of the cast had seemed to be willing to assist in playing it off. And maybe it's a bit of a Star Jones thing, where Washington has been told that his contract is in jeopardy but not to talk about it yet, and so he is instead trying to talk about the incident.
I'm almost tempted to suggest that one or all of the "Grey's" folks should just do one long slog of a press conference, and get it all out. I'm not sure it works as well in real life as it did on the "West Wing" but I think the initial official quiet on this, has kept it going, paired with the seeming glossing over of two potentially serious issues (assault and insult). Now, I'm not sure it's really any of my business how the people at a TV show address issues with their employees. But by saying publicly that it got blown out of proportion and everything's fine, I think they spawned speculation, with people wondering how do you maintain a professional relationship with someone who assaulted or insulted you without apparent repercussions. As I said, maybe there have been some. And maybe what they are is none of my business. And maybe I'm naive to think that something along the lines of, "we are handling this internally" would have helped anything. But it couldn't hurt.

*Based on the idea that if you hear the Richard Gere and a gerbil story enough times, it sounds true.

Catching up on my TWoP reading, I see poster yingyang made a similar comparison between behavior and results.

1/23/2006 - According to the NYT article, ABC stated that they had addressed the situation with Washington at the time of the original statement, and are re-addressing it now.
And. Top Chef-wise I was directed to the Chef Tom blog (I hate the coding on the Bravo site, so usually avoid it like the plague - and I agree with Tom. They should have sent them all home.

Guide to Being a Good Fan

One of the listserves I am on got into a discussion about fan behavior. And here's the thing. I have been to a range of games, school sponsored, independent but amateur, and professional. There are bad fans at all of them. (There are drunk fans at the professional ones too.) But it seems that there needs to be an understanding of what constitutes a good fan. So, here we go.
*Good fans root for their team. I know this is pretty basic, but I want everyone to understand before I get into the hows and all of that, that I understand the basic premise here.
*Good fans may get mad when things go badly for their team, but know how to express it properly.
*Good fans recognize that behavior that is acceptable in one's living room is not the same as what is acceptable in public.
*Good fans remember that good sportsmanship extends to the fans too. In fact, in some pro-level sports, bad behavior by fans can lead to the team being penalized, and good fans would of course not want that. At the amateur level, especially child and youth sports, fans should be modeling good behavior.
*Good fans remember no matter how freaking annoying anyone's play is - these people are trying. Comment on the play, not the player, and even then, remember, you don't want to be that guy in the Southwest ad.
*Good fans remember, amateur or pro, this is a family event. There is no level of sports that isn't catering to, marketing to, or trying to appeal to families. Remember that and moderate your behavior accordingly. You laugh, but at NHL games, they ask fans not to swear. Really.
*Good fans remember, while some fan interplay can be interesting, fans of opposing teams are not inherently evil - misguided in their team loyalties though they might be. And remember that sportsmanship thing? Still applies. (The addendum to this rule is that if someone is wearing gear for a team not in play - you may ask them if they are lost. But still, that is under the guise of helping them get to the right arena or stadium.)
*Good fans know that early cockiness can come back to bite you.
*Good fans also know that winning is good, and celebration is appropriate, but after a certain point, it speaks for itself. Really - everyone can see the scoreboard.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why Do the Vending People Torture Me So?

We have a crack, I mean, vending machine in our office. It is irregularly replenished. (Although our Stamford office is down to one bag left in their machine. And that was a few weeks ago so someone had probably caved and eaten it.) But the irregular bothers me less that the fact that in an attempt ti offer me variety they always replace everything I like. My perfect vending machine would have the following - pretzels and fruit snacks. As a back up to my salty and sweet needs, I like pretzels, Cheezits, Fritos, Doritos, Baked Lays, Almond Joy, Twizzlers, Kit Kat and/or Snickers. I don't expect all of these things to be in the machine - but would two be too much to ask? Oh - Smartfood - Smartfood rocks too. But there seems to be a rule in place that one, but occasionally two, of these things can be in there at a time. And usually it's two in the same category (salty or sweet) rather than one of each. Now, I'm not asking for the moon - in the two and half years that we have been here all of these things have been in the machine. But they keep rotating it out. Which - rather than impressing me with their variety, just reinforces my belief that I need to provide my own snacks. Which I do.

I have to say, this makes my love for the episode of "The Office" where Jim calls the distributor to help Karen find her chips - even greater.

Objecting in Advance

One of the prerogatives of age and such is that as you experience more, you get a better sense of the things that work for you - be they dates, jobs, roommates, books, or movies. Of course, the flip side of this, is that sometimes things you were sure you had pegged, turn out differently than you expected.
For example, I don't really like beans. I love chili, but make it myself bean-less. When eating it elsewhere, I tend to pick around the beans. I don't think they taste good, and they are weird and squishy. So, I had not tried hummus, because it is a bean dip. But I was at a cocktail party, and we were in the early phase where there were just a few of us and someone had brought a hummus that they made themselves, so I felt pressured to try it. I dipped just the smallest point of pita into the hummus and ate it. It was delicious. Now of course, hummus eaters know that hummus is really more about garlic and other yummy things, the beans are just creating - along with the tahini - the canvas, if you will. So, now I love hummus.
But, as I discussed previously we have a book reviewer reviewing a book that hasn't been written yet. (And when confronted he still maintained that he was certain his review will be correct.) We have a video game associated with a popular yet controversial series of books that apparently does very few of the things it was condemned for. And now we have a recapper being charged with bias before he completes his recap.
Now, as I mentioned in the comment I left, I don't watch "The Apprentice" so I am in no position to comment on what did or did not happen on the show or to compare what was shown with what Jacob said in his recaplet*. Television Without Pity's reviews are not straight recounts, they are analyses, and sometimes editorials. They are targeted towards a viewer who has already seen the show. (Which is not to say that I haven't used them to catch up when I missed one, because I have.)
Certainly this person is allowed to disagree with the recapper's take on what happened. However, it seems really premature to essentially ping someone's boss and say I can already tell this person is going to suck at this, so I think you should consider replacing this person.
Apparently this person watched the episode and did not see any homophobia in anyone's actions. So, I can see how it might be surprising to go to the recaplet and read that the recapper saw something you didn't. And I can see how it seems like logic to assume that because you know that the recapper is gay, then the recapper must have watched the episode through gay-colored glasses. But in fact, that is bias also. Because if the recaplet had stated that they spoke French and you were sure it was German, you would not assume a French-bias or a German-Bias. And yes, the speaking of French or German is an imperfect example because it is concrete and a lot of discrimination is more subtle.
Now I'm not trying to say that this person is mean or horrible or even homophobic for saying this. It seems like homosexuality is a hot button issue for this person. And certainly there have been incidents in the media where folks have cried, "Homophobia!" a little too quickly. But instead of assuming that people's errors (if they are errors) come from their differences, why not assume it is a disagreement. And why not wait for the full recap to see if maybe, you see what you didn't before? Even if you don't - at least you will know what you are complaining about.

*On Television Without Pity the recaplet is the short, one page version of what happened that goes up the day after the episode. The full recap takes a few more days.

Eeek! Misinformation

Hi! Let's just go right ahead and assume that Jesus Christ existed, as represented in the Bible. I say let's assume because there are some discrepancies between the historical facts and the Biblical documentation, and then there's the whether you believe that guy was the son of God discussion. I am not trying to talk anyone into or out of any particular viewpoint concerning Jesus and his status as a deity or messiah. Promise. But. Just because the Bible is an old book does not make it a history book. This whole the Jews killed Jesus is driving me nuts. I make no claims to Biblical scholarship but the Jews did not kill Jesus. He was arrested by the government in part for claiming to be King of the Jews. Certainly the people who arrested, tried, convicted, and executed him were likely Jewish. But that's like saying every time we execute people in the US that the Christians killed him/her since our country is predominately Christian.
After the "Passion of the Christ" raised controversy, in particular Jewish groups complaining that the movie implied a Jewish plot to kill Jesus, something Christian authorities and scholars agree is incorrect, I had a co-worker ask why they were so concerned since the movie was "historical". I corrected that it was "Biblical". And I have since learned that many Biblical scholars find the movie inaccurate.
Well, here we go again. I learn on DCist this morning that Delegate Frank Hargrove said to the Daily Progress, "Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ? Nobody living today had anything to do with it. It would be far more appropriate in my view to apologize to the Upper Mattaponi and the Pamunkey”.
I actually have a bit queued up about slavery and reparation so I'll leave that piece of it for now. I love parallels and comparisons, even faulty ones, but this drives me nuts. What Jews are you planning to ask for apology? (And why does it make more sense to apologize to the native peoples than slaves?) This makes as much sense as the gentleman from Oregon comparing our Iraq policy to "Star Trek". (Watch "The Daily Show" - It's astounding.) You won't be asking "the Jews" for an apology because they did not kill Christ. The government and the country that existed back in BC no longer exists. So, you will have to, as they say, get over it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Things People Should Know #15

It is apparently that kind of day. My mother was the one who pointed out to me way back in the day, that many of those reviewer-quote-movie trailers have either only one word (and who knows if the surrounding words lent the same positive air) or are fom some obscure paper you've never heard of. Not all of them clearly, but many. So when the scandal broke that some studios had paid reviewers, well, I was underwhelmed. And there has been discussion recently, particularly as anyone with internet access thes days can call themselves a reviewer, about reviews for books that seem to suggest that the reviewer has not in fact read or finished the book. Chalice Chick reviewed the Left Behind game on her blog and got a canned response that there was misinformation afoot, even though that's what her review said.
But of course it is one thing to review something and have a minority opinion, or to get things a bit wrong. It is quite another to review something that has not, in fact, been written. Particularly if one is a 'professional' reviewer. Certainly one often feels one knows what to expect from a filmmaker or author, but you can't be certain if it hasn't even been written.

Thanks to Smart Bitches for the link to the review story.

Things People Should Know #14

I graduated college and moved back home. And got a job. And yes, I lived with my parents for a couple years after college, in part because I had entry-level jobs, one where I was paid monthly and not always on time. But once I got a job with a company that actually does payroll so I had a regular pay check, I found a place to live and moved out. (I did move back in a few years later, after my father died at my mother's request.) So, I get that some of us need/crave/enjoy a little cushion before heading fully out into the world. My sister in contrast was out, and even off to a different state within about two months of graduation.
But here's the thing, while there are differences between being a high schooler living at home and being a graduate or other-wised non-schooling person living at home, one things is still true: your parents still get to make some of the rules.
For example, a woman in Louisiana told her son he needed to get a job if he wanted to continue living at home (he is 31). It appears, that his response was to set the couch on fire while she was next door. This led to the house burning completely down. So, now he really needs a job because I feel fairly certain his mom is really kicking him out now. Or she would be, if she had a place to kick him out of.
Thanks to Red Orbit for the story.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Recognition of...

It's very interesting when you think about it. While I have yet to work at a company that observes Martin Luther King Day, it has an interesting significance compared to the other "Days" on the calendar. I recognize that once upon a time George Washington's birthday and Abraham Lincoln's birthday were honored separately and they have now been rolled into one generic President's Day, but nonetheless at this point in time Americans have two Days that are about one person - MLK Day, and Columbus Day. (I recognize that for some people, Christmas falls into this group, but since that is only the case for some people, I am leaving it out.) Certainly there are other days about people, but they are broader. And it is interesting and weird to put Columbus - a guy who bravely got in a boat and sailed for a while, but clearly needed to bring a globe with him since he thought he was in India, and named the native peoples Indians - in the same category with King who became a leader in a movement - a person who believed in non-violence and strove for racial equality who was tragically and a bit ironically assassinated.
But my point is, that it is quite cool that one of the two people we have graced with such specific honor was someone who wanted equality, that so simple yet so difficult to achieve thing. Just the chance for everyone to succeed of fail on their own merits.
King quotes found on about.com:
"Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody."

"Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

"It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important."

"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."

Completed Scrap Wrap!

I finished the scrap wrap Sunday, and just have to attach the button to it today (all necessary tools are in my purse). The weather has nicely cooperated, we are expecting a balmy 69 today, just perfect for a wrap. I just adore this wrap. I wasn't convinced I was a wrap person, but I really love this. The pattern (despite my missteps) was very readable especially when one considers I had never cabled before. While I ended up frogging my first try, that was a combination of my misreading where I should change yarns, and feeling that the green alpaca I had originally chosen made the Noro look too contrasty. It's still stripey, but the purple is more subtle. And for my picky skin, the Debbie Bliss alpaca silk works wonderfully with the Noro to create a softer texture.
Pattern: Sarah Gilbert's Blue Ribbon Scrap Wrap
Yarns:
Classic Elite La Gran - Green - "Scrap" yarn - partial skein
Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk - Wine - 1 skein
Noro Silk Garden - 224 - 2 Skeins
Needles: Denise 10.5's with the 40" cord.

For some reason the picture does not want to rotate, even though it was not sideways when photographed. I apologize for any neck cricking caused. It has also been uploaded to flickr where it is oriented correctly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Journey (So Far)

I realized I had not shared my conversion story, although I think of it more as a finding story. I imagine I was holding back, trying not to make anyone feel I was trying to tell them how to believe. But of course I have shared my Nora story and TV stories and so I need to get over that hang up. And yes, people are less worried about book lovers or TV lovers showing up on their doorstep to try and bring them into the fold. Here we go.
My father was Catholic, my mother was raised Episcopalian. Both my parents went to church every Sunday growing up. Both attended religiously affiliated high schools, and my father also went to a religiously affiliated university. My parents were married in the Episcopal church but by the time I arrived a few years later, they were not even C&E Christians. My siblings and I were baptized Episcopalian and attended a Presbyterian elementary school. We were encouraged to attend church on visits with the grandparents, we celebrated the pagan bits of Christmas and Easter (presents and egg hunts), but that was it. My parents told us they wanted us to be able to decide for ourselves. (What we were deciding was never very clear to me.) It was at school where I learned about religion, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
I went to what may be considered a religiously affiliated university*. By that point I had done some soul searching. I decided that I believed in God and had taken to heart the idea that Martin Luther had in part inspired – that a middle person was not necessary to a relationship with God. But I also felt like maybe the rituals and the community that church seemed to provide would be nice. I read Gorman Bechard’s The Second Greatest Story Ever Told** and loved it. Again, I took away the idea that some of the dogma was getting in the way of the important stuff. I went to church a few times in college, primarily on my own, and liked it but still felt a little off.
In my twenties I decided that I didn’t know what the difference between Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Quakers and all the other branches of Christianity were. I knew some about Judaism and Islam, but not really anything about Buddhism. So I got books. Idiot’s Guide to World Religions. Dictionary of Religion. And I talked to people who told me more about Scientology or the Presbyterian council on sex (which I’m sure was not the official name) and gave me more to read. And in a book that someone lent me, I found Universalists.*** It appealed to me this idea that there was no need for only one right way to believe. And sure, Unitarian Universalists are not the first or the only group to allow such freedom. Catholics have the primacy of conscience, Quakers have attenders, United Church of Christ makes similar allowances.
I was unaware until later that there had been a UU ad campaign where people said, “I was a UU all of my life, I just didn’t know.” I went to the internet, found the UUA site with the guides and FAQs about UUs. And I went to congregation websites and read sermons online. And it felt like a good fit to me. And I found the church where I read one of the sermons and was actually mad that I hadn’t been there to hear it in person.
I shared my results with a friend and she went to a UU church near her, and called me afterwards to tell her it was the first time she hadn’t felt like a hypocrite in church, which seemed like a great description to me.
So that’s how I ended up where I am. And I ended up involved with the youth program (a story for another day) which I think has helped even more.
Is this the answer for everyone – goodness no. Is this the answer for me – yes. For now, and as far as I can see, yes. But time will tell.

*The original purpose of universities was to educate clergy. The University of St. Andrews was formed in the 1400’s when the decision was made that the relationships with France and England were unstable enough to demand a Scottish university. While Presbyterianism is considered the church of Scotland, there are no religious education requirements at St. Andrews, and the university chapel is non-denominational and also provides services for other faiths.
**It is the story of Ilona, Christ’s sister, coming to save us. She states that organized religion has muddled up the message which is, at it’s heart, “be kind”. It is a fictional story that also examines what it may be like for a child of God in the media age and a great read.
***The book was written prior to the merger of Unitarians and Universalists.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Scrap-Wrap Update

Well, after realizing that I goofed and used the special yarn for about twice as long as I was supposed to and finally changing, I decided that while the Noro I am using has both green and purple, there is really more purple so the purple alpaca blend I bought was a better choice (I was indecisive in the store) because it would create more subtle striping allowing you to better see the cables (and what would be the point of all that if you didn't really see the cables) so I re-cast and tried it out (leaving the green-green-purple version aside - as yet unripped). I like it better. I apparently can't get through this without messing up the cables at some point - I had to tink back the cable fives since I found I had skipped a cross but, it's looking good. Now my biggest problem is that I have reached that zen level where I knit without looking and blow right by a stitch was supposed to purl instead of knit or the other way around. Fortunately I seem to catch myself before I finish the row at least.

Another Book Rant

I recognize that it used to be difficult to find a book where the main characters would even spare a sentence in the direction of birth control and sexually transmitted infections and that we have made serious improvement. It still irks me when the characters step over the STI portion and focus solely on the contraceptive aspect, but it's something. And I recognize in real life people have trouble with these discussions to (myself included). And certainly people should not be looking to books for role models in this respect. But, my god, it's almost worse to watch/read two characters have a half-assed discussion than for them to have no discussion at all.
In a recent scenario I came across, the two characters are well on their way to getting it on when the hero remembers he needs to go get a condom. The heroine tells him he doesn't need to. He stops to clarify - she responds he told her he got all his shots and they don't need birth control and so they continue on sans protection. Now first, I'm going to assume that "having all your shots" is being used in some sort of euphemistic way because it is a stupid, dated, and inaccurate phrase for two people in their thirties to be using, in my opinion. (The book was printed 2003.)There is no mention of her health status. And of course the two never follow up on the conversation to clarify what she meant about birth control being unnecessary. Because it could mean many things.
-It could mean she doesn't mind getting pregnant.
-It could mean she thinks this is a "safe" time in her cycle.
-It could mean she has a moral objection to birth control.
-It could mean she is infertile.
-And it could mean she is on some sort of birth control already.
Now of course the hero assumes she is on birth control and the heroine meant to say she had been told she was infertile since she had previously been unable to conceive. But of course it turns out she is not infertile. Now fortunately they fall madly in love and both apparently want children so this is a happy surprise, but since neither of them discussed their feelings about children that is due more to luck than anything else. And oh my god that irks the hell out of me. (In case you couldn't tell.) Because they could have just used a condom. It wouldn't have hurt the story, it just would have saved the surprise pregnancy. Or they could have completed the conversation. Or the condom could have failed, leading to a follow up (which I have seen done beautifully). There was no reason for the characters to make such assumptions except for contrivance.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Guide to Hitting Reply

It has become apparent to me in recent days that people just don't understand how to properly reply to emails. I won't even get into all the people who don't reply, right now I am focused on the huge difference between reply and reply to all.

Example One:
Someone sends an email accidentally to a list that includes the entire company. Various people across the world, hit reply to all to explain that they believe that they were sent the email erroneously.
Suggestion: If for some reason you feel certain that the thousands (not exaggerating here) of people who received this email have not already communicated the error to the sender, hit reply, and let the sender know. Just the sender. All of the other people who didn't need this email don't need one from you.

Example Two:
Someone sends an email to a large team, introducing new members. Two members have worked together before on another project so one hits reply to all to say hello and catch up and mentions information will follow a little later thereby leading to confused responses from some of the other people who don't understand what is being asked.
Suggestion: Hit reply, or hit reply to all, but strip off some of the other people who do not need to know that you are buddies or that you are sending someone else information later.

Example Three:
Someone sends an email to a listserve asking for assistance. Someone hits reply to all, offering possible assistance and personal health and financial information.
Suggestion: This one is admittedly gray. Perhaps the replier really did intend to share all of that info with the entire listserve. More likely they mistook it for a smaller listserve or didn't realize they hit reply to all. They may have felt that others needed to know assistance had been offered, and maybe one email to the list with a follow up to the person would have been more appropriate.

Example Four:
Someone sends an email requesting everyone email them with available times. Everyone hits reply to all.
Suggestion: Again there is some gray here. I find it usually works best to narrow the time - to a specific day, or a few suggestions. Often it makes sense to have one person collect times and reply back to the whole group with the best choice or top two for review. But really, I don't care if Wednesday is better for you or Friday for you, mostly I care when we are meeting.

Conclusion:
As with other technology, reply to all is meant to help you. Certainly I tend to err on the side of using reply. But you can also hit reply to all and strip out people. Or send a short response to the whole group and follow up on specifics with the people who really need the info. We're all really busy. We all get too many emails. Help us out.

Legislating Awareness

Have I mentioned that I also teach sex ed? Anyway, I was pointed to this article
about the HPV vaccine. For those of you who fast forward through all those cancer from a virus commercials here is the cliff notes version. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) refers to a collection of similar viruses that like to hang around human genitals. The viruses can lead to warts, and some other symptoms but often result in no symptoms. Approximately 80 percent of the population has some form of the virus. It is in fact the most common sexually transmitted infection. However, it doesn't get a lot of after school specials because in most cases it resolves on it's own. HPV is highly treatable with antibiotics. However, in some cases, untreated HPV leads to other issues, including cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine protects the recipient from most forms of HPV. Currently the HPV vaccine has only been approved for use on girls ages 9-26.
DC other some jurisdictions are considering making it a required vaccine. The DC proposal would allow parents to "opt-out". This concerns me. As I was reminded recently, some of the laws and rules we have are because people are stupid. So sure, making the vaccine a requirement might make people who are not aware of the vaccine, aware. And the more people who know about it, the more people who will consider getting it, or getting it for their kids.
Some groups have expressed concern that the vaccinated might then feel that they have a blank slate to be promiscuous. I find that silly, although certainly I would hope that the medical professionals administering the vaccine would explain that just like the flu vaccine doesn’t mean you will never get sick again, the HPV vaccine offers some protection but not complete protections since it doesn't even protect against all forms of HPV, to say nothing of the many other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). (The vaccine also only protects you if you have not already been exposed to HPV.)
I recognize that there are many ill-informed people out there, but no one worries that getting a chicken pox vaccine makes you hang out with the poxed people so I don't understand the thinking there. But, that said, I'm not sure anyone should have to have a vaccine that protects against a STI in order to attend school. I attended high school in Maryland, but I wasn't required to get the Hepatitis B vaccine in order to attend school. The article covers that and sponsor Councilmember Catania seems to be suggesting that with the high rates of cervical cancer in DC, the aim is to make parents aware and get them talking to their kids. While I commend those aims, I'm not sure that it is a governmental responsibility. (I do understand that part of this is also some federal funding that's on the table.)

Thanks to DCist for the link to the article.
Link: http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/STDFact-HPV-vaccine.htm

Smoking or Non-Smoking

I have a tendency to route for the underdog. (As do we all. There are no inspirational movies about the big guys winning - fair or not.) This sometimes leads to to take a position in a discussion that I feel is under-represented. For example some of us were recently discussing the new smoking ban in DC, which now covers bars as well. Here's the thing, for me personally, the smoking ban rocks. I don't smoke, I hate smelling like smoke, it grosses me out when my hair smells like smoke, which leads to my pillow smelling like smoke, it's horrible. I also have mild asthma so I'm not supposed to smoke, my lungs are already working too hard, and I'm supposed to limit my exposure to smoke.
But, smoking is legal, and yet legislatively we are treating it as a dirty habit. Sure, there are rules about where you can pee (although you can still do that in bars, just in the designated area) and where you can have sex and where you can drink alcohol but we are slowly making it difficult for people who smoke to do anything. They can smoke at home, that is as long as they live in a detached dwelling. If they are in an attached or multi-family dwelling with old ventilation, they may have to limit their smoking at home. They can't smoke at work (unless they work at a tobacco shop) - so they have to go outside. Which means people are traipsing outside to smoke - lowering productivity and creating a cloud of smoke people entering or leaving the building now have to walk through. People can smoke in their cars, but not on public transportation. People can't smoke when they shop (unless they shop in tobacco shops), when they go out to eat, or go out to drink or dance.
Again, I never smoked when I did any of these things, and it benefits me personally to have these areas be smoke free, and certainly there are people with oxygen tanks and the like who now have a greater number of places they can safely visit. But is it fair? Is it fair to people who engage in a behavior we deem legal to be so restricted that the sidewalk is about the only consistent place they have left to smoke? Are we trying to backhandedly outlaw smoking by making it almost impossible to do so? (I'm not even going to talk about the crazy taxes they pay on their cigarettes.)
And yes, smoking is not the same as other personal behaviors in that the smoke can have a harmful affect on the health of others. So does driving, emissions, drinking alcohol, and all sorts of other things. There are all sorts of risky behaviors that are legislated differently. I remember in history class one of my classmates wanted to know how Prohibition ever got passed. My teacher said that no one wanted to be the legislator for was pro-alcohol and drunkenness. I wonder if that's part of what's happening here. That no one wants to be seen as pro-cigarettes and pro-lung cancer, so these things pass. I'm not convinced these laws aren't better for us, I'm just not sure we have properly examined if they are.

DC Councilmember Carol Schwartz (who rocks) has some interesting thoughts on the issue - a statement from 2005.

Update: I posted this and then learned via DCist that the ban is now being similarly enforced in Congress.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Life Imitates "Veronica Mars"

Meg Cabot has talked about the phonomenon of creating a great story and then having it happen to someone. And certainly, this example is small enough that it probably happens more often than we know.
Veronica Mars, Season Two, "Happy Go Lucky"
Beaver discovers someone has keyed "Amber is a bitch" into his car. Problem is, he doesn't know who Amber is. Veronica's response, "How's Amber gonna know she's a bitch?"

Real life, Bay City, MI
Two teenagers had a "lover's quarrel" at a party, leading to the female leaving the party. The male wanted to talk and get a goodnight kiss, so he pulled up behind her car, called her on her cell, and told her she should pull over. She responded that she was stopped. So, he rammed the car repeatedly. The driver of the car, not the rammer's girlfriend as it turns out, called 911. No word on if he ever got the goodnight kiss.

A Day Late and All That

So, football. This was a good weekend for NFL fans (well, some of us more than others clearly). No, I not bitter that the Redskins were the only NFC East team not to get themselves into the playoffs. Of course the fact that only the Eagles remain helps with that.
And, oh my, that Seattle - Dallas game rocked. There was the thing, and then the other thing, and then there was like no time left and Dallas was going for a field goal and the QB bobbled the snap and oh - my - God!
I had expected, as I imagine many did, that the Indy - KC game would be the one to watch, possibly even the best of the playoffs and no. It was a game of mediocrity and jitters. It was a weird thing for me, I didn't care (too much, although I adore Tony Dungy) who won which is usually a problem for me (and the very reason I didn't even turn on the battle of the New's - Pats and Jets) because if you can't route for something it's just, you know, athleticism, and really I needed this game to streamline who I might be routing for for the playoffs. (Clearly it wouldn't be anyone from the NFC East.) Of course the best and worst would be if it ends up Indy and Seattle since I want great things for both teams. And the other best and worst would be Pats and Eagles because I dislike both teams, although I do thing McNabb deserves great things, but he won't get to play so, that wouldn't really make me (or, one imagines, him) happy. And I'm still horrified that Runyan got away with murder with that ridiculous late hit (and I hope he gets fined when they review the tapes on that).

Free Books

There is a contest where you can win 150 thrillers called, um 150 thrillers. And seriously how can you go wrong? (Well except if you win and I don't...wait, why am I sharing this?) You do have to sign up for their email list in order to be entered, but really 150 books - free.

Thanks to JA Konrath for the link.

Monday, January 08, 2007

DC Schools

I sent a letter to then presumptive mayor (after he won the Democratic nomination before the general election) Fenty about the proposed plan for the mayoral takeover of the DC schools. My concern is and was that as someone who lived through the control-baord era, and who is already an disenfranchised DC resident, I worry about anyone stripping power from people I elect. Now, of course I can vote for the mayor so it is not a perfect parallel. But I worry. Not to be a pessismist but any time politicians promise to "streamline" the bureaucracy, the result is usually anything but. And really one imagine the mayor's day was sort of busy before, which means now there will be mayoral appointees (ie people I can't vote for) who do the day-to-day overseeing and how exactly is that better than the school board. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the schools don't need help and assitance and money, but I am not convinced that shuffling around the people who oversee it is the fix. I also feel that the revolving school superintendent door has been a problem to - so more changes won't fix that either. Which is not to say that I think we should "stay the course" either. But Robbie over at Beyond the Mall has pointed out some similar concerns. And of course, that Mayor Williams had suggested a similar plan and then Councilmember Fenty was against it. Now, I have no problem with politicians (or anyone) doing more research and changing their minds (really I am for that), but here's my big question. All these fabulous things that happenedin New York and other places that did this - was it because it was the mayor, or because it was someone who wanted to make it change? And if so, is there any reason that we can't make all that happen within the current structure?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Things People Should Know 13#

There is a time and a place for funny. The hard part is that it is always funny to the person making the funny because, well, they know it's supposed to be funny. But when other people don't - well that's when things can get sticky. For example, we all know in wedding ceremonies they ask each participant if they agree to be married. Well, a bride in Austria answered, "No," and the officiant broke off the ceremony. The officiant refused to resume the ceremony, and it had to be rescheduled.

Other People's Cool Plans for 2007

At Literary Chicks Alesia Holliday is unleashing her dark side and her healthier side.
Yarnagogo (and others) are going to walk, run, somehow get 100 miles by April 1.*
Lisa at Rage Diaries is trying to remember to reduce, reuse and recycle - a little each month.
And Elizabeth is actually giving up clothes.



*Link found through January One

You Should Be Watching

This week's "Friday Night Lights" was further example of it's awesome-ness. Seriously, there are shows that are only about adults that are not this good.
Exhibit A: In the continuing story of Jason Street, former star quarterback now recovering from a a spinal injury that has left him paralyzed: this week he and his cheerleader ex-girlfriend tried to move past her sleeping with his best friend by sleeping together and found some - uh - equipment difficulties. What made this storyline so wonderful was that his response was to go talk to quad buddy Herc who said, it will happen but things aren't going to work like they did before and you may find that what turns you on now is different. It was treated respectfully, and as a normal question (which of course it is) that will get better but maybe not in one neat episode. Lyla (afore-mentioned ex-girlfriend) hunted up a video (from the eighties if the hairstyles are anything to go by) about quad sex, watched it, and then brought over to watch with Jason.

Exhibit B: New QB Matt Saracen's dad came home on leave from Iraq. In very realistic fashion, he expected things to have been exactly as they had been when he left - namely before his son matured when handed leadership responsibility - both in football and in life. (Remember how silly the freshmen seems once you were a sophomore?) So when told by Coach Taylor that his son was a great leader, his response was - let's hope that keeps up. When he finally clued in that what Matt had been telling him about Grandma's slide into dementia* really was such that she couldn't be unattended for very long - he said great, let's put her in a home. Except that in Dad's absence, Grandma was acting as Matt's guardian. Okay, let's move Matt to Oklahoma. (Exacerbating tensions was the fact that the person they talked to had mentioned that in light of having a minor child with no real guardian, he would be eligible to end his service, Mr. Saracen had responded no.) It was beautifully handled, not making the elder Saracen a villain, just a guy who's out of touch with his family.

*I am forgiving them for acting like dementia and Alzheimer's are unrelated conditions. Perhaps the government classifies them separately.

Dear Folks 4#

Dear Fellow Drivers,
I understand that we all lead busy lives and wish to get to our destination as quickly as possible, and so it can be challenging when other drivers appear to impede our progress. I want to assure you that I am not making my driving choices with an eye towards messing with you, as tempting as that might seem. I have confirmed that it is legal, normal, and even accepted for me to make a left turn, and that sometimes, in order to execute that turn I will have to wait for a break in oncoming traffic. In order to lessen your confusion about what I am doing, my car has been outfitted with this handy dandy light that flickers to indicate the direction I am planning to move my car. I hope this will ease your frustration.
Just a few seconds,
Turning Left.

Dear Co-worker/Co-Building Worker,
I too mourn the loss of the trash can that used to be placed near the door from the parking lot. However, it has been several months now and really it is time to move on. I recognize that this creates a quandary as to what to do with the detritus of your take out lunch, but might I suggest that you continue to carry it with you until an appropriate receptacle can be located. Leaving it on the stairs may seem expedient, but it is a tad inconsiderate of all the rest of us who have to step over it for the next few days. Nobody likes a litterbug.
Trying to Get to Work Here

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Promising news

DCist informs me that Nancy Pelosi mentioned DC voting rights (or really, lack thereof)in the swearing in of the black caucus. However apparently (I haven't seen the clip) she goofed on the number of residents, shortening it to 700 (census numbers put it at about 450,000). But still, people are talking.

Great article here about the proposed bill.

Statues and Naming

I have nothing against Reagan. Promise. But I think there should be some parity in representation, naming, and statuing. Because let's face it, even if - as one person I know does - you feel Reagan was the greatest president ever - does his name get slapped on everything we can find? Or might we be willing to allow that other great people have, do, and will exist and maybe we should leave some space for other people to be honored. Because a multi-purpose building on Pennsylvania Avenue was really more than most people get so I kinda thought that was enough. (Remember when the requisite number of years have passed, you can be sure people will be clamoring for the Reagan memorial. So, even though we won't see it for a while, I am counting that.)
And then there was the airport, which besides being a hugely ironic choice, and being an airport that had really already been named after a president (Washington) if in a de facto way, was a huge headache since the very people who insisted on remaning it then wanted all the local folks to bear the cost of the name change (higher since it's a metro stop also).
But okay fine, so we have a building and an airport and likely a memorial. And this is just the DC stuff too. But now, they are changing the statue in the Capitol. As you may be aware each state gets two statues to showcase prominent people from their state. Now of course I compeletely believe that this decision is solely up to the people in California, not me. And I am biased, because the gentleman they are proposing to replace was prominent UU Thomas Starr King. There is an interesting article comparing Reagan and Starr King. Clearly these are snapshot views, and of course changing out the statue doesn't make Starr King less of a cool person, and ceratinly Reagan is a very well known Californian. But, enough already.

*Random fact - Kamehameha I is the only statue who is considered not fully clothed. For while this meant he was placed behind a column so as not to offend visitors delicate sensibilities.

Thanks to Radical Hapa for the link.

Thoughts About Character

To pool together various things I have been reading, watching, and thinking about. I watched "Dirt" on Monday and found Lilly Julia not annoying - well annoying in a very different way so I was impressed. I thought there were good bones, and am willing to tune in next week. However, there is nothing in what EW said in their Snap Judgement that I can disagree with. Tying in with a recent discussion over at Smart Bitches about character I started to wonder.
In the snap judgment they talk about starlet Kira who, while a storyline of the week, probably has about five minutes of screen time. Kira we meet at a Hollywood party where she shares with a friend some ecstasy she got from "some guy". We then learn she had a fling with a player and, oops, ended up pregnant. Kira is distraught as the player is an idiot and she doesn't want to have his child but responds that she is "too Catholic" to have an abortion. Now of course we all know people, Catholic and otherwise, who hold onto certain parts of their faith or moral code or what have you and yet have no issue discarding others. So, Sure it does not make logical sense that Kira would be too Catholic for abortion, but not too Catholic to forgo extramarital sex (perhaps the lack of birth control was due to the too Catholic-ness also) and not too Catholic to do drugs while pregnant. (Although, I'm not sure the Bible specifically references drug use, I still feel sure there is a principle here.) The behavior may not be logical, it could well be in character except that we just met her (and she won't be back) so it just seems like our friend plot contrivance has come to visit making her too Catholic to believe in abortion so that her dilemna seems less easily resolved. (Not that abortion, even fictional abortion is easy, but you know what I mean). Part of my comment on Smart Bitches is that we as readers (or writers) understand that people do things that are not in character, but you need to understand the parameters in order to understand things that are strange. Since television views rarely have access to character's internal monologues we have only what we see to determine those parameters, and in a character of the week scenario, it wasn't enough time to really make those determinations so we are left with a really illogical starlet.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Book Meme

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
I have more paperbacks because they are cheaper (I buy a lot of books) and more portable. Certainly there are some books where my love of the cheap and the portable is trumped by my desperate need to read it now, but I am trying to work on that. Sort of.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it….
Read Me.


3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…

Today it is: Love isn't how you feel, it's what you do." Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle.

4. The author (alive or diseased) I would love to have lunch with would be…
Well, I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of authors, but one I regret not having had a chance to meet is Madeleine L'Engle.


5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be…

Can I bring an e-book loaded with a few? Also, how long will I be there?

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…
Is like a morphing book. See, rather than en e-book (which has all the DRM issues and doesn't actually look like a book) I want the book to be what I want ot read and then change into what I want to read next. This would save on shelf space (although it would make it hard to lend books) and solve the where did I put that book (although if I lost it that would be really bad) and I could take my whole book collection with me everywhere. Oh, did you want a realistic invention...

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of…

Happy times reading.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…
I think either Meg from The President's Daughter or Vickie Austin from the Meet the Austins series were the two I spent the most time imagining that I was. I adored Too Deep for Tears in high school but even then recognized that all of those characters suffered crazy amounts before their lives got a little better so while I maybe wanted their husbands, I never wanted to be them.

9. The most overestimated book of all times is…
Wuthering Heights.
Even more than Romeo and Juliet it suffers from mis-marketing - this is not a remotely functioning love story and the fact that the two main characters claim to love each other while they do hurtful things to everyone around them does not make it any more romantic. If it was billed as a disfunctional story, perhaps I would have liked it better - although I doubt it.

10. I hate it when a book…

doesn't work. I recognize that is somewhat of a judgment call - but it is actually more frustrating when it comes really close but a couple of things just ruin it.

Meme hijacked from 50Books

Blue Ribbon Scrap Wrap Knitalong


Another Knitalong. I went to the local yarn store (LYS) Saturday and got my yarn for this. This pattern was crafted by Cafe Mama who won a blue ribbon for it. I went out and purchased the called for Noro Silk Garden (purples and greens) and alpaca yarn. The pattern suggested Blue Sky or Frog Tree which my LYS's either don't carry or just discontinued, so I ended up with Debbie Bliss. I have already made good progess with this which is good since Cafe Mama would like us done by MLK weekend. I am enjoying the pattern immensely, and it is my first cabling experience which has been going well. I did cross on cable the wrong way, but thanks to my recollections of Yarn Harlot's cable fixing tutorial I think that has been fixed.
My bigger oops was that I remembered the row I supposed to change yarn incorrectly, so I have much more of the accent yarn than I should.
It is sort of wierd, the purples and greens look really neat together but I keep remombering that I spent much of childhood convinced that purple and green did not match (and they don't always) and even though I am older and wiser, and realize that there are all sorts of greens and purples that look great together and I like how this is turning out I keep getting stuck on that. I'm sure once I'm done I'll be over that.

For 2007

I know that goals, resolutions and such are supposed to be SMART. But I find, often when I do that, especially goals that are up to me and have no immediate effect on someone else, I end up not quite hitting the mark. And often I get mad at myself and yet still don't fix it. So for the big goals, I lean more towards picking a direction that I want to aim myself, and then figuring if I work towards that somehow, some way, than that's good. If I say I will lose fifteen pounds, I might get mad it myself if I don't do that, but if I say I will try to think more about being healthy then there are a lot of ways that I could work towards that, and some of them would have the end result of me losing weight.So my directions for 2007 include*:
Think more about being healthy
Participate in NaNoWriMo again**
Go somewhere new
Be more aware - of my surroundings, of other people, of myself

*I always like to leave room for other ones that will come up.
**Okay, that one is SMART - but it has a support system and anyway I said participate, not win.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Yet Another Book Rant

Okay I am noticing two things going on in books. Now I have been reading a lot of book that are parts of series, even if it is my first or second in the batch, so that may add to my feeling that there are disturbing trends out there.

Issue #1
The use of Geezus and Keerist in place of Jesus and Christ. Even stranger, in each case, the character who thought, "Geezus" later said aloud, "Jesus" so it was not some mandate to prevent the use of Jesus or Christ. I realize I am nitpicking to a high level here but when someone says or thinks, "Jesus" I know what it means and how it sounds and I can continue reading apace. "Geezus" and "Kee-rist" look weird and require me to stop and re-read. It annoys me. And since it's not an effort to prevent the use of H/his name and it is not a colloquial change, as beeyotch is, stop it. Please authors, stop it.

Issue#2
Again I return to my pet peeve - safe* sex or lack thereof in fiction. Again I want to clarify that I do not expect fictional characters to be any better at this than real people, and I have really even given up for the most part expecting characters to acknowledge the need for discussions or parameters surrounding their sexual behavior. However, there are some scenarios that are so stupid I have to wonder if I am expected to think that the characters themselves are stupid. Because if not, I need the book to explain more - otherwise I default to stupid. Two recent books I read had the characters forgoing or forgetting condoms. Now in one they talked a smidge, she said ditch the condom, and he did. So apparently they had psychically established a level of trust (remember in most of these books these people are having sex within hours of their first meeting, so we're not talking a lot of time for trust to build here) where he was sure she wouldn't suggest no condoms if she wasn't disease free, and he knew he was disease free (although she never asked but she must have known psychically) so they were all good. Again, these characters seem to have forgotten the reason contraceptives are also called birth control, or perhaps that psychic connection extended further than I realized.
Another story had the two characters (met that day, reason to suspect one of them is a terrorist) 'forgetting' the condom. Forgetting is in quotes because the heroine actually started to remember and then decided internally it was probably okay so didn't bring it up. When the hero later mentions the big oops (since they have now repeatedly forgotten) she says its okay because when she was raped the guy used a condom. And okay, her life had been stressful so I understand that getting herself checked out medically was not high on her list but - arggh!
Again, we have totally skipped the birth control aspect. Perhaps one or both of them is working under a "I'll probably die anyway" attitude and therefore figuring it doesn't matter. (I don't need everything spelled out, but that - I can't infer from what I was given.) But condoms do a lot of things, but they do not protect you from all communicable diseases. But, anything that a condom wouldn't prevent, would kind of put a damper on sex anyway so why would we waste valuable time talking about that.
And part of what is ticking me off is I feel that these half-assed discussion are worse than no discussions. Imagine a special episode of [insert TV show here] where the resolution was that yay, we fixed that whole racism issue. It would be ridiculous. Worse than having a show set in a major metropolitan city that never seemed to have non-white people. And I may be overinterpeting, but I feel like it's trying to say, oh they're in love, and people who are in love don't need condoms. So, it's all good. And that annoys me.

*I know that safe sex is a bit of a misnomer, but everyone understand the parameters associated with safer, responsible sex, so I'm going with the term.

Overheard

I was downtown yesterday and walking along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Old Post Office Pavilion and a group of women who I feel certain were tourists were in front of me. The group paused in front of the statue, as one member pulled out her camera to take a picture of Franklin. One of the other women, says (in an "I knew it" tone, "I thought that looked like Franklin! You know, Franklin Roosevelt!" I had to walk very quickly away from them to avoid bursting into laughter right next to them, so I am unable to tell you if one of her companions corrected her that the statue said Franlin on it because it was Benjamin Franklin (very confusing when people have first names for their last name).

It's Good to Be Single (Sometimes)*

The universe has granted me several signs in the last few days that being single can be preferable, or at least advantageous. State law in several areas, including Maryland and DC has been adjusted so that separate state W4's are now required. Of course the emails we received from our centralized HR were a bit confusing, so several people in our office did not understand that this meant they needed to fill out a state W4 or be taxed on the next paycheck as single. And the deadline for having that submitted is tomorrow. Except that somebody made some "updates" to some of our servers which resulted in our entire office being unable to print. I get taxed as single anyway, so while I probably should submit a form, I am in no rush. (Printing would be really nice though.)
Also, I have friends who are in the midst of some difficult dealings with spouses, blame being cast for having an illness and the like and while I know we all have weak moments, there are days when I am quite happy to not have that on my plate.

*In my haste I originally typed the headline as "It's Good to Be Singe" which is a whole other twist.