Thursday, March 29, 2007

Buttons



KTE_animate[1]
Originally uploaded by Random Ranter.
Really, not a button slut.

Rogue Knitter

After reading about process versus product knitters, I felt well neither fish nor fowl. But I have finally come up with terminology to describe my knitting that makes me happy. I am a rogue knitter. I knit past errors more often than I rip back. I substitute yarn way more often than I use the suggested yarn. I substitute wool for cotton and cotton for wool with little thought for the consequences. (In my defense, it is only recently that I realized there were consequences beyond the changes in washability.)
I hardly ever swatch. Yes, everyone says, it's better if you do. I rely on the gauge listed on the yarn band. Which for someone who knits a bit tight, is heresy I know. And I am sure as I experience more yarns and more patterns I may have to reform my ways. I do know that I am nuts. I have heard the stories of sweaters too big, too small, or totally deformed because the substituted yarn did not have the necessary drape. And at first, when I thought I was only going to knit square things, it didn't matter. And now that I am on a clothing streak, I should reconsider my ways. I'm sure that I should. But much like a child who understands that the advice given is well meaning, I still forge ahead.
However, perhaps influenced by the lovely talk about Geeky Things in No Sheep For You I knit a swatch. Now I didn't keep it, or mark it or do any of the things that would help me next time I try to substitute this yarn.
But I bought some TLC Cotton to make the Cables & O's cardigan. And then realized that the pattern calls for DK weight. So, I swatched. And the needle size went down, down, down. Until I had an epiphany that - checking with a little knitty math (no pun intended) - I could knit one size smaller on the fives and be at the right gauge. So there. I finally made a swatch. But I didn't save it, so I'm still a rogue.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bubble, Bubble

I'm sure each year everyone has one show on the bubble. And I'm sure that the high amounts I watch contribute to my feeling that TV execs don't want me to be happy. But according to various sources the following shows that I watch are in danger.

Veronica Mars: Come on. Don't make hate those dolls. It's a good show with loyal viewers. Isn't that enough?

How I Met Your Mother: Nothing for sure here, just one oblique reference that seems to point to them not being loved. It's a great show that has the potential to be "Friends"-like in its success.

Gilmore Girls: This is contract issue, and I'm fine with however that shakes out.

Friday Night Lights: Best new show this year. Seriously.

Standoff: Cute seems like the wrong word for a show about hostage negotiation, but it kinda is.

The Game - Very cute. And I really think they've done a great job developing the characters this year - being funny without being dumb.

Book Rave #6 (or thereabouts)

As you know, I went to Boonsboro to fulfill my promise to be Lani Diane Rich's stalker - at least in the mid-Atlantic region. At one point, I was standing in line peering at the books laid out in front of Lani, trying to figure out which ones I would be getting that day. (They had move all her books down in front of her, so I was not able to get them before getting in line. Which as fine, but it led to this.) At this point most of the line was angled towards La Nora, so another author (I will get her name, it escapes me right now - Cordelia Frances Biddle!) saw me leaning and mationed me forward. I explained I needed to choose before I apporached, otherwise I would choose them all and my budget would be very mad at me. After perusing from afar, I chose Maybe Baby and The Fortune Quilt.
While they are unrelated, I read Maybe Baby first, since it was published first. It is the thoroughly enjoyable story of a woman who has to visit her estranged mother to ask for money to save the family business, and runs into her ex-fiance who is in the process of moving to California to take a job with her nemesis. And there's a bird and a kidnapping or two. Very fun.
I read some other books next to space out and savor the Lani-ness. But then, a listserv I'm on exploded with people talking about it and I knew I needed to hurry up so I could stop closing my eyes as I skimmed passed those emails. So I read it this weekend. Oh my god.
The Fortune Quilt is a quick read. Not because it's short, but because it just reads fast. It is the story of Carly, who is given a quilt by a woman who makes quilts that tell people's fortunes. Except Carly doesn't believe in that crap. Carly is the no nonsense eldest sister, who raised her siblings after her mother abandoned her father and them and she doesn't go for woo-woo stuff. Until her life falls apart. It's funny, it's sad, its a story about family and how to deal with conflict and change and community.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Perhaps I am Strange

I prefer to read and view things in order, for sure. But it doesn't bother me to drop into a series - television or book - when things are already full steam. Sure, there are things that won't totally make sense to me for a while, but good storytelling is good storytelling in the end.
I read the first JD Robb in an anthology. It was immediately clear to me that this was part of a series that I wanted to read, and I hunted down the rest.
The first of Laura Lipmann's Tess Monaghan series that I read was the sixth. It turned out to call back to the first, so it made reading the first after that really cool.
The first episode I watched of "Veronica Mars" was the third (so okay, not that far). And you know how that turned out.
"Buffy" was opposite "Ally McBeal for a while, so I wasn't watching it (pre-DVR). It wasn't until I read an article with Joss Whedon that I decided I should check it out. But I kept forgetting. So the first episode I watched was part two of the second season finale. There was all sorts of stuff I didn't get, but I saw enough to know I needed to start tuning in.
Same with "Battlestar Galactica". All the TWoPpers kept saying it was totally awesome and finally I decided to check it out. I was sure that I would hate it but at least I could say I tried. It was second season (not counting the mini) and so again, many nuances I missed. It was at the point where they had a team down on Caprica and the President was imprisoned and all sorts of things that had taken all this time to build to were going on. But it was clearly great. So, I started tuning in.
So, this talk by all the networks that people get lost or can't come in mid-season - I'm not sure I buy it. I think a lot of the people you lose, are people who never would have stayed anyway. These are not people who want an arcing series, they want a sitcom or a cooking show (not that there's anything wrong with that). But maybe I'm strange.

I Am Not Anti-Sheep Per Se

...but I love Amy R Singer's No Sheep For You. I love the information. I love the patterns. Seriously - I think there's maybe one pattern in there I don't want to immediately cast on for. I love the fact that it is circular needle friendly (let all you straight needle aficionados do the knitty math for a change - not that I'm judging). I've got a Cable & O's cardigan cast on. I have plans for a Tuscany shawl and a Morrigan sweater. The pictures are all beautiful, but without the weird, tilted catalog poses you sometimes see that scream this pattern only looks good on special people and only when they stand like this. So, I will have pictures of my knits in progress (KIP) soon. (Left the camera card at home.) And I have joined the knitalong. And the swap. Oh yeah.

It's Been too Long

So, I am joining another swap! The Knitter's Treat Exchange. So, I'll be posting a questionaire and such soon!

Perhaps I Should Stop Reading in Public

Or - Another Book Rave

I started reading Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer on Sunday. Coincidentally, this weekend they announced the RITA finalists Sunday, and Adios is a double nominee. Let me tell you, despite the discussions going on (Smart Bitches, Super Librarian, etc) as to the relevance of the RITA, I feel this is so deserved. Adios is the story of Ali Montero, a seventeen year old musician who sneaks off to audition for a new television show to find the next Latin superstar. Ali makes it in and then, as the title suggests, things begin to change. She is the youngest finalist, and the show requires her to have a chaperone to avoid the appearance of impropriety since the show is being aired throughout Latin America. Competition heats up and the show also puts them through some reality show challenges. But really, it's a great story. A story of a daughter coming into her own, and her father's adjustment to that. A story of a teen in the middle of one of the craziest things that could ever happen to a person, finds herself falling in love with a production assistant on the show, and the potential tangles that could cause. A story of two best friends trying to figure out what their separating paths might mean to their friendship. And the story of a young woman standing up for herself and stretching herself.
By the end of my mornign commute on Monday I was halfway through. I went grocery shopping last night, so had some time before the next bus. I stopped at Starbucks and read for a few minutes before making my way to the bus stop. And, the book made me cry. So here I am in Starbucks, and the book is making me cry. So, i had to put it down and try to think non-emotional thoughts for a moment. I may need to keep alternate in public reading of some sort on hand.
Anyway, it was totally worth it. It's a great story. Much like "Buffy" and "Veronica" weren't just high school stories, neither is this.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Since You Asked

[Warning: Long post ahead.]

This past Sunday was the youth-led service at my church. The youth were wonderful, eloquent, and generally awesome. During a transition between pieces of the service two folks seated behind me whispered that if these teens were so invested in the church, the congregation and Unitarian Universalism as a whole, why do they disappear. Well, it was certainly not the time or place for me to throw my two cents in, but, as a young adult myself, this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.
I participate in the youth program at a congregational and a district level, and have done so for four years. The youth program as I have watched it, works a lot like a covenant group, although conferences that have large participation can clearly change that up. The conferences I have attended used family groups (or touch groups) to try to alleviate that. People check in with each other, usually have a topic(s)to discuss, but are also open to suggestions based on other participants' input.
Youth worship is typically circle worship - where the leaders encourage group participation (rather than square worship, where people are talking at you and your participation is standing and singing at the appropriate times).
All of this leads to opportunities to get to know the people sitting next to you and near you. Certainly the structures of conferences where there are several days to work the process are different from what you can accomplish in a single day or morning. So these kids often come away with close friendships, or at least a clear sense of community - deeper than the we all go to the same church feeling.
Then they age out or bridge into young adulthood.
Now, I hear that there are churches and congregations with really active young adult programs. I have participated in some young adult stuff at my church - covenant groups and pot lucks - and within the state. But they tend to be monthly, sporadic. Certainly that has to do a little with the fact as you move into young adulthood, schedules fill up.
But I think a lot of churches just assume that hey, young adults are just like everyone else now, so square worship is all fine and good. And if you want to get to know folks, join a committee! And when they look around and see that they don't have many young adults, they say that it is because young adults don't like church. Young adults want to sleep in. They'll come back when they have kids. And certainly some will come back. And some will go somewhere else, because it's closer or offers more support and community to people like them.
And I don't want to knock the hard work that many people are doing for and with young adults. But I think there are a lot of people who don't understand any reason that young adults need anything different than people in their forties (old adults?) or fifties or nineties. Or who have written it off as a natural part of the growing process to leave the church you were raised in for a while.
I was looking for a church in college, but I kept finding traditional stuff. Nothing that inspired me to choose it over sleeping in with any regularity. There was a Thursday evening service at one church but it wasn't my kind of church, so despite the convenience of the timing, I didn't go back.
The other piece is that, having spoken with the folks who run the middle school program, a lot of kids are lost before they hit middle school, so they spend a lot of time trying to get some of those kids back. I know we never get the full population of rising eighth graders. So it is as both sides of this that people are being shaved off of the whole. And sure, the older you get, the more choices you are likely to have about how you spend your Sunday mornings, so some of that is inevitable.
So, I guess, to nutshell it, instead of asking why they don't come back, I think we should ask what we are doing to keep them connected, to make them want to come back.

ETA: Clearing out the backlog in my email box, I came across this, written by a former YRUU member and current young adult. Ethan touches on something I didn't get into of fear of writing a novella, the risk of losing experienced UU leaders

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Question of Taste #2

As a follow up to knowing yourself enough to make good purchasing decisions for yourself (or at least most of the time). I was reminded of this reading the Amazon reviews for The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride by MaryAnn Johanson. Reviews included the following notes:
*I thought it would be an insider's guide rather than a geeky guide.
*I wasn't that familiar with the movie before I read the book, so I didn't totally get it.
*The author liked the movie for different reasons than me.
Now, to clarify, all of these are totally valid reasons for not feeling the book was a good fit for you. And I am a little torn, because I certainly feel that this helps me understand the biases that led each of these people to the grade they gave. But really, all they tell me is that you didn't read the description before you bought it. (If the description was misleading, this would be helpful, but really, it is not.)
And I realize these are your thoughts, you have a right to them. They are your expressions of your feeling about your purchase. But I find such reviews as annoying as, "I like everything this author has ever written!" because, while possibly true that doesn't give me any information about the product in question that helps me make and informed decision.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Warm Fuzzies

Warm, fuzzy (or smooth) knitterly thoughts to all the folks lucky enough to be in NYC for the US launch of Yarn Harlot's Cast Off aka Knitters Represent. I know you all are having a great time, and I am totally jealous.

Updated:
Amy at the Knitty Blog has a round up of some great entries.
And the Yarn Harlot herself, talks about it.

My Flag Boy...

I am reading No Good Deeds by Laura Lippman at the moment and in one part, one of the characters starts (in her head) singing snippets of "Jock-a-mo". So, therefore, I have had it stuck in my head all day. I remember for some sort of talent show in middle school acting out verses of the song with some friends, but do not currently recall much of it. (Interestingly, I still recall the entire melody to my high school song, and some of the words. Just something I discovered in another wandering conversation this weekend.)
So, back to "Jock-a-mo", which Wikipedia tells me was also called "Iko Iko" in some iterations. I started wondering what the rest of the words were, and did "iko iko" mean something or were they just nonsense words. And so, clearly, I looked it up. What did I do before the innertubes? Apparently the story is of two parades colliding - so that's what the flag boys were doing! And there is some French Creole and some Indian chants thrown in there.
This link lists a number of variations on the lyrics, the song has been much covered, and while it was written in the sixties, has already evolved quite a bit. Just thought I'd share the fruits of my "research".

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chilling and Heartwarming

Chilling in that a guy tries to drug his date's drink, not once but twice. Heartwarming because someon in the bar saw it, and intervened.

Thanks to ALOTT5MA for the link.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Things People Should Know #20

Most people find it easier to have sex than to talk about it. However, amusing Monty Python skits aside, teaching your children (or other people's) by having sex with them watching is not an age approriate teaching method. Now, the boyfriend's statement seems to imply he viewed it as less of a learning opportunity and more of a it's natural so we're not going to hide it thing. Which I sort of get. Sure, they've been talking over at Lipstick Chronicles about how to continue a happy, healthy sex life post-kidlet. And certainly parents should not have to only have sex when they are under a different roof from their children. But there is an important difference between not padlocking the door and encouraging your child to hang out with you while you have sex. Somehow I don't think that's what people mean when they talk about quality time with your child.

On the Needles

I am in a Mason Dixon phase. Don't worry my starter-itis has plans for a No Sheep phase and maybe a Knitty Gritty phase also. So.
Log Cabin Blanket - Still in progress. I was in the local craft store and they did not have more of the Patons SWS yarn, so I may make it a lap blanket. Or change to standard Paton Wool for the outer edges. We shall see. The joy of log cabin is that it is very pliable that way.


Baby Kimono - I am working on a baby kimono which I have adjusted to fit a one year old. Although I am starting to worry that the one year old in question, might need more of an 18 month size, so we shall see. I am using Sugar N Cream yarn due to its durability.
Perfect Sweater - I am using TLC Cotton yarn, so I am tweaking the size a little since I don't know that the TLC stretches quite as much as Cascade. The TLC also has gorgeous stitch definition which is great, although it hides no errors.


Abstract Blanket - Still in progress, though not much progress being made right now.

We All Do It

While I hesitate to speak for all of humanity, it seems a common affliction, the if-you-just-knew-what-I-knew disease. And certainly, as someone who enjoys discussions where people share their thoughts, motivations, and ideas, and who enjoys sharing her own, it makes sense to me. Certainly I don't consider myself an expert on everything, but also I know a good deal. And so, I often encounter a stance or decision that I can only make sense of by believing that the person must not have all the information. Or at least the right information.
And I try to watch this, because certainly not everyone thinks like me. And certainly, just as I have (and likely will, again) made choices that are not in clear alignment with the information I have, my expectation that others should do so, is unrealistic. And - to borrow from "Grey's Anatomy" - it is possible, that even in my condescension, I am also correct.
And of course there are certainly discussions and forums and spaces and places that lend themselves to expressions of partial viewpoints. I'm certainly not suggesting that political debates or even all cocktail conversation should move away from partisanship. I am simply reaching an awareness, that just as telemarketers who are trained not to listen to your objections, that I sometimes don't know when to stop. That by recognizing that there are other ways for people to get where I want them to get, or not.
But it is hard to find that balance. To say to someone that you feel they are missing information, and to share it but to let the information speak to them as it will. This is not to say that I strive for objectivity or anything like that. But it is hard to remember to leave space for others to process the information themselves. Just as you wouldn't hand someone a great book and tell them what they should think or how they will feel once they read it. So, that's something I am working on, sharing the information I have, but letting people process it for themselves.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Not An Accident

There are all sorts of discussions about owning your success. Whether its a girl thing or a sort of introverted thing (my answer keeps changing on that test, and really, I don't blame the test) or whatever, I have a tendency to downplay success. And we're not even talking great success here, we're talking I started volunteering here or found this great thing. I noticed I have a tendency to describe how I came to such places or things as this series of coincidences or happy accidents. And there's nothing terribly wrong with that, after all patterns and coincidences are fascinating. Except that I was giving the impression that things happened to me only through luck or some sort of fate. I wasn't taking responsibility for any of it, I was distancing myself from the result.
My father used to be bugged when I would get a compliment on my clothing and I would respond with the price tag or a comment that it had been on sale. Now part of this, was my dad didn't get that in the girl culture you are supposed to respond to a clothing or accessory compliment with a provenance of sorts. My dad's point was that I should gracefully accept the compliment and not try to downgrade it by demonstrating the cheapness. I explained that I was proud of the cheap, and in fact viewed it as bragging about my shopping skills. But it was an interesting point about how other people might perceive my response.
All this leads me back to how I describe myself, my job, my volunteer work, and other things I spend my money or time on. I recognized that certainly one could view the choices I've made as a series of patterns and accidents. But of course, that is only a surface view. I have been offered other choices, could have applied for other jobs, given plenty of opportunities to dedicate time and money to, and I don't take all of them. In part because I can't, but also because some of them didn't appeal. So, while the choices I ended up making may seem like a series of coincidences, they are the ones I chose to take advantage of. So instead of describing my paths as Candyland where I drew the best card, I could frame it or own it as having weeded out the best choices for myself right now.

Oh My: Someone Else's Travel Story

However your day is going, here's hoping it's better than this.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two Hours Forty Five Minutes

That was my commute home last night. See, I work in Rockville. As I experiment with the various methods of getting myself home, I have hit sort of a rhythm. Even driving, the getting home part always took longer. As I headed out yesterday, I noticed a helicopter hovering. From my vantage point it seemed it was hovering over a fairly uninteresting office building. I looked around to see if I could see something else that seemed of interest - nothing. Okay, I planted myself at the bus stop and hey, look, at that, a bus showed up immediately. Cool. The bus driver told me he was not the Q2, but a shuttle to Twinbrook so no payment was required. At this point I have now at least figured out that something is going on, but I still don't know what. I dug out my mp3 player and put the radio on.
As we pull up near the Rockville metro I can see the number of flashing lights and that access in and out of the station has been blocked. So, now I know what the helicopter was looking at, but still, no idea what's happening. (To be fair, I haven't asked either.)
We get to Twinbrook in reasonable time considering the mess the pike is that time of day. And now there are people amassed on the sidewalk. Reflectively attired WMATA people are asking them to please let us off before swarming onto the bus. More WMATA folks are letting those of us headed downtown just pass through the turnstiles. (Okay they are not really turnstiles, but you know what I mean.)
A train is pulling away as I get to the platform but another one arrives shortly. I see on the screens that they are busing people from Twinbrook to Shady Grove due to what is being described as a "police situation" at Rockville. While the first few stations are aboveground, there are tunnels in between to I keep getting interference on the radio - I hear an update that mentions Rockville and Dupont - what? - but no real details. The train stops longer than normal at Grovesnor, and the driver tells us there is a single tracking issue. We pause again at Bethesda. At this point frustrated people are getting off before their stops and finding other passengers to split cab fare and such. I figure I am so close to either of the stations I normally disembark from that it makes little difference.
I get off at Cleveland Park where the station manager, after hearing that another gentleman and I have arrived from stations north, lets us through the gate.
And, as expected, I have arrived mere minutes after the H bus has passed through, and since we are now at 8:40, the next one is expected at 9:17. Fine - I'll go to Starbucks. Except that the Starbucks there closes at eight. Which annoys me in part because I could have gotten out a Tenleytown - where the Starbucks would still be open - and caught the same bus. But fine. I treated myself to dinner and fortunately had a good book, some knitting, and an Express or two in my bag. And of course, even driving, all this nutso-ness would have impeded me. My experience was that overall WMATA had things in fairly good shape. Although I wasn't trying to retrieve a car from the Rockville lot. (Although that happened once when there was a gas spill in Silver Spring, and really, I just metroed home figuring it would be better by tomorrow.) So, I made it even if today my lack of normal decompression has me dragging.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Things People Should Know #19

I've talked about this before. When calling people in order to do or obtain something illegal, it is a really good idea to understand who you are calling. And not just pick a number out of your son's cell phone and call for drugs. It turns out the guy was happy to help, help arrest her for drug possession that is. Because he was a cop. Her son had the number since he had himself been arrested for drug charges. Apparently, he told his mom if she needed help to call him. He just meant a different kind of help. So maybe the message is to listen to your child better.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Book Rave

Last summer, which in so many ways seems so long ago, I went to Atlanta to be a super fan. And there were readings from upcoming books. I didn't mention at the time, but I am one of those people who doesn't read the excerpt from the next book that they stick at the end of books. Sure, like most rules, I've broken it a couple of times, but generally I don't. Because if it's good, it makes me really mad that I can read the rest. So, during the readings I had moved myself to the edge of the room refreshed my drink and otherwise tried not to hear too much. After all, Into the Storm wasn't out for a few weeks, and as it turns out Atlantis Rising wasn't out until now.
Alesia (who has taken on the alter ego Alyssa Day for this series) had Eric do the reading, since the excerpt was from the point of view of Conlan, our hero, and prince of Atlantis. And it was so good. So even with the vampires and such, it was on my list.
And oh - it was so good. It was Alesia - only paranormal. The heroine of this story, Riley was wonderful. She is one of those shiny, happy people who just say what they are thinking, which offered a really nice counterpoint to the death, dying, potential end of the world stuff. (And not in a goofy, what do you mean it's dangerous kind of way either.) And prince Conlan is tall, dark and handsome.
I've mentioned before that I think the little details are the ones that take it to the next level. Obviously the baseline is good writing, great plotting, and fascinating characters - which this has. But little things from Riley calling in to work to take a few vacation days, to her sister calling the Atlanteans little fishys, to Riley asking what it's like to be a tiger, make it so much fun. The snippet version is that Atlantis exists and the Atlanteans have been hiding from yet trying to protect humanity. Prince Conlan is recently released from seven ears of captivity at the hands of vampire goddess Anubisa. And the trident - required for the ascension to the throne - has been taken. In their search for the trident, Conlan finds Riley, an empath - when Atlanteans thought there were no empaths. Oh - and they seem to have a burning hot connection on a mental, physical and emotional level.
I really do need to remember, that I cannot read Alyssa/Alesia's stuff in public because I have no poker face when I am reading, and when I try to achieve one I feel sure I look even more ridiculous trying to stifle laughter, concern and oh yeah, the hotness.
There will be an anthology - with Maggie Shayne - in May, and the next full one's out in November, and no, I didn't read the excerpt. (Okay I skimmed just to figure out who's story it was but then I stopped.)
Edited with correct next book info.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Things People Should Know #18

I understand there are jobs that have you on the go, and sometimes, that can make it hard to attend to personal things, such as peeing. After all, it sort of made sense to me that the astronaut would want to limit her stopping on her way to convince someone to love you instead. (Time is clearly of the essence there. Of course.)
And let's face it, some highways (NJ turnpike anyone) have their exits twenty seven miles apart so you may hit a critical phase bodily-function-wise and have a ways to go.
However, there are places where it would be disgusting (or more disgusting) to spit, much less pee. And if your job takes you to one of those places, well, you may wish you had a diaper. And if you don't you just have to wait. Say, for example you were a press photographer, covering a funeral for a soldier. The call of nature can be hard to resist, but when you are on the job in a cemetery, resisting is the best action. Especially when your fellow photographers are there to photograph you relieving yourself.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oh Yeah!

Legislation regarding DC's voting rights to be put before the House this month. Or so they say.
Yipee!

Contrasts

A few weeks ago I heard a segment preview on "Good Morning America" that had me ready to hate. The segment was entitled "Why Praise Can be Bad For Kids", but as with many things, inflammatory title aside, it was quite interesting. Children who received good grades or test results were either told that they must be very smart or that they must have worked very hard. The kids told they must have worked hard did better in the long term. Now of course, that makes sense. As we have tried to move away from heaping too much praise on things kids really can't control - such as their attractiveness - somehow we forgot that they can't really fix smart. And that the more important lesson is that if you work hard, you do better.
In contrast, raising the ire a UU blogger or two, we have "The Secret". Apparently the secret is that by thinking about good things, you will get good things. Now of course, the concept is very appealing. And certainly as humans I think we strive for explanations, be they karma, past lives, superstitions or other patterns that can help us make sense of the things that happen to us - good and bad. (For a great example listen to the third act of "Kid Logic" over at This American Life.)
But bad things happen. To everyone. And good things may happen if you wish for them. But as any good knitter knows, time and effort gets you so much farther. And sometimes, even when it doesn't work out as planned, at least you could say you worked on it. It's much harder to claim failure on something one hasn't even tried. Although perhaps that, in the end, is the real appeal of the methodology.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Book Rant #7 (Or Something Like That)

Being a native Washingtonian, I often hear from people that I am the first native that they have met. On a tangent - I also get asked, usually by locals (either native, or with enough seniority), what part of DC and they often respond, "Oh the actual city." It used to bug me that people said they were from DC when they weren't. Until a high school friend went to college in Indiana. After spending a good part of the first month trying to explain to people where Maryland was (no it's below New York, no, above Florida, no it's not near Wisconsin), she gave up and started saying she was from DC. Because if people don't know where DC is, well, they don't ask. Or so it seems.
So, back to the native point. So, in a book that takes place primarily in Alexandria, VA, it would not surprise me to have a character state that they grew up in DC and have someone respond that that was unusual. Unless - the person who responded was from DC themselves. And they were sitting with a third person who grew up in Alexandria (which ,you know, was part of DC originally). Because those of us who grew up here know pother people who grew up here. Sure some of them left, some of them later came back, but some of them are still here. As anyone who grew up here would know.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Question of Taste

I want to state unequivocally that absolutely everyone has the right to dislike or like whatever they want. Especially when it comes to entertainment. That having been said, I confess to some amusement. I read a lot (you may have noticed). A lot of authors work in multiple genres. This is apparently confusing to readers and booksellers. So, even though there are often things on the spine that would help identify the genre that this particular story falls into (although admittedly, even that is only so helpful) since booksellers often try to help readers by putting works by the same author in the same place, some authors use multiple pen names to try to differentiate between their stuff. And yet, no matter what, there is always someone who complains that the furturistic story was too futuristic. That the serial killer book was too icky. That the book marked novel spent not enough time on the romance. (I have yet to hear someone complain that there was too much romance, but perhaps I just hang with the wrong crowds.)
And, in many cases, the author is held responsible for this. Now, if it's not your taste that's fine. And it's a hard thing to separate your taste from good or bad, but if a story goes places you don't like going that's one thing. And no one's saying you have to be happy you spent money on it, or go buy more of them. (Or at least, I'm not). But if you find serial killers creepy, don't read about them. I find vampires incredibly ooky, and so, for the most part, stay away from them. (Sorry, MJ.) I have made exceptions, and sometimes I'm happy with that and sometimes not. But it's not any author's fault that I have vampire issues. And it's certainly not their fault when I pick up a book I know full well has vampires and start reading it.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say here is we all have boxes or boundaries or likes and dislikes. But, if it's not you stay away. Or if you are really worried you're missing out on something because of predisposition and you give it a shot but it doesn't work - fine. But stop blaming the author.

More White Stuff

Since they are calling for winter precipitation of a sort, I thought it might be timely to share how to properly clear your car. If pictures like these are any indication (and my own experience says that they are), there are quite a few drivers in these parts that don't quite understand.
There are three reasons for properly clearing your car when planning to then drive it (if you don't plan to drive, feel free to let it melt off at its own pace). First, it is so you can see out of your car, in all directions, thereby enabling you to travel safely on a day when the roads are more treacherous. Second it is so that the snow on your car does not blind other drivers, who may then crash into you. And third, it prevents a friendly policeman from having to pull you over in the cold to inform you that you have not properly cleared your car. So really, it is all about helping you.
Front Windshield - This area needs to be completely clear. If a little ice or whatever is clinging to the area outside the range of your windshield wipers or over your inspection sticker, fine, but a little circle for your head is not enough.
Driver and Passenger Windows - Also clear. If the back two aren't clear, that's fine. But if you don't clear these you can't see well enough to turn or the check your mirrors.
Driver and Passenger Mirrors - anything covering the actual mirror needs to be cleared. Most mirrors don't have defrosting strips, so if you want to drive, you need to take care of this.
Back Windshield - This area need to be clear. If you want to let the defroster do the work, that's fine but don't start driving until it is done. If you are in a hurry, do it yourself.
Roof - This needs to be as clear as possible. If the stuff is really sticking, that's fine but any loose snow needs to be brushed off. If you don't, the first time you stop it's going to end up sliding forward onto your windshield and you will wish you took the time.
Hood - Clear this also. Again, if it's really stuck, that's fine, but anything loose will blow up into your windshield as you drive, lowering your visibility. Also, it's a good idea to make sure your lights are clear - for you and your fellow drivers.
Back - Please clear the loose stuff here to. Otherwise it peels off infuriating and impeding your fellow drivers. And if they skid because they can't see, guess who they are going to skid into.
It takes time, but in the end, you and your fellow drivers are all better off. Thanks and stay warm!

Things People Should Know #17

Okay, I can see - in a twisted way - how breaking in to your ex-girlfriend's house with a sword might seem like an exciting idea. (Still creepy and illegal, by the way, but I can see the appeal.) However, where this idea goes from kinda dumb to crazy stupid is when your ex-girlfriend's roommate is a sword collector. And he's home. So, several charges and an arm slice later, one guy has hopefully learned that lesson.

Dear Folks #7

Dear Folks,
Yes, I'm sure the Next Bus system that the good folks at WMATA say is coming soon will be fabulous. However, since it is still in the coming soon phase, all it is now is an ad for a future system that also tells you the time. So, don't act like you have discovered something amazing. If you press the button, it tells you the time. And really, between my watch and my cell phone, I got that covered. If you are lacking in time keeping devices, sure, it's useful. But there is no need to hit the button repeatedly over the course of a few minutes. Certainly you may, but don't expect applause or adulation. It tells the time. Really not that exciting. (Yet).
Sincerely,
Your fellow rider

Monday, March 05, 2007

I Prefer the Term Super Fan

Yes, that was me. Lani Diane Rich, author, Cherry, Literary Chick and TWoPer sent out a request for a stalker. And some crazed internet defenders. I volunteered. She said she was out of applications when I saw her at the Turn the Page signing, but I'm not letting a little thing like that stop me. I have travelled across states to hang out with authors - I just had to cross one measly border. (And okay, I'm not planning on giving up my day job for this, so I'm willing to share here.) But I can be a stalker, er, super fan. I can show up where there are books being sold and signed. I can tell people how much I love what they do. Really, I've done it for people I didn't even know. In the cold. Showing up at a bookstore is a piece of cake. Well, some bookstores, but like I said I'm willing to share.

This is Not the Day

This is not the day. Not after "Battlestar Galactica" went and killed off my favorite character last night. Never thought I would wish her to be a Cylon, but that's all I'm left with. Or magic bracelets or something.
So this is not the day for the web filter at work to have added Pandora to their list of blocked sites. Rude.
And travelling by metro (yes, still) means I get more reading done during my commute, but it also sometimes means you arrive at the station right as the hero just proposed to the heroine and aaack!
Not the day.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I Must be a Hero

I recently was in a group where we each revealed the super power we most wish to have. (I opted for "Heroes" Peter's power, that to absorb everyone else's.) Well, it is possible that my powers are starting to reveal themselves. It all started yesterday. I had a meeting in Bethesda and since I am still trasiting publicly, I took the bus. The rain had mostly stopped once the meeting ended but I was still soaked from my earlier outing, so sat in the bus shelter helpfully provided at the stop. It was also so I could hunch up and try to stay warm as winter weather and wet wool are not the warmest combination.
I knew I had a wait since the prior bus had gone by while I was waiting to cross and the one River Road bus is once every thirty minutes, so I reached into my bag and grabbed a Soduku. Apparently, depsite the streetlight placed close to the shelter, and the shelter's clear side placed to make me visible to approaching traffic, I was rendered invisible such that the bus blew right by me in my tan clothing. Well, I was understandably annoyed, especially as perusal of the schedule revealed that the next bus was not for an hour and I had started to shiver. But I decided that I would keep a better eye out to try to better flag down the next bus, and attributed it to not being a super busy spot for passengers.
Well, a second Soduku later, I saw the next bus and it already had it's blinkers on and was slowing down. Yay! I stood and was ready when it stopped, but waited for the disembarking passenger only to have the driver shut the doors. Once I knocked on them he did re-open them, only to ask me where I came from. So, clearly, I have developed the power of invisibility.
What remains to be seen are the parameters of this new found power. Does it only work at night, only in bus shelters? Or could I learn to use it at work or family functions? I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Book Banning Some More

Just in case you weren't sure that bookbanning was bad, Doppelganger breaks it down.

Dangerous Poetry

I saw on Bookslut yesterday that a teacher has been suspended pending investigation after a seventh grader showed her mother a poem that the teacher had given her that the article said was sexually explicit. Today Bookslut has a link to a poem and it is certainly less flowery than one might expect for middle school class.
Now I am all for recognizing that sex is part of life and good literature and poetry is sometimes going to recognize that and really people get a little bent out of shape. However, as with so many things, context is king. I hesitate to make any determinations while the situation is under investigation, but certainly I can see why this could be an issue. First of all the student showed the poem to her mother, apparently to explain that the teacher was making her feel uncomfortable. While I know that teens are very aware of their ability to cause problems for teachers by calling creepy, it doesn't mean that sometimes they don't have a valid point. (I also recognize that most students who feel uncomfortable don't say anything at all, so this is not to imply that any large percentage of students who are brave enough to come forward are without merit).
It appears that this poem was not something that the class was reading, but rather something the teacher shared in a closed door meeting with two students. And in that scenario a poem that talks frankly (if prettily) about sex would take on a different meaning. Now perhaps there is some reason that the teacher chose this poem or the book that contained it or such. Or perhaps this was a teacher who didn't think through the implications enough. We shall see.