Sunday, October 31, 2010

So, There Was This Rally

It was big. I mean, I've done large events on the mall before, but most of them involve motion. (Things like the Walk for the Cure.) So, I guess I've managed to avoid many of the large stand in one place and all stare at the same thing things. My first clue was the insane traffic on my street. The sardine packed metro trains were the second. When I got on the third train (by standing like a tourist on the edge of the platform and lucking out when the door ended up right in front of me) Archives station had shut down due to a suspicious package. Heading down Seventh Street, all I could see was a sea of people. (And seriously, it seems like the reported numbers indicate that this was a sort of medium sized event. I suspect my decision to watch larger events from my couch has been a wise one.)
They're everywhere
There were some good signs. One of my favorites (which, sadly, I did not get a picture of) was, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Sanity Clause."
And Signs
People were climbing anything climbable - stop lights, sculptures, trees. It became clear why - the sound system was not quite up to the crowd and the wind and the masses. Sometimes you could hear, but more often it was like listening to a flickering radio, catching words here and there.
If I held my camera up it looked like this:
The stage with more people I couldn't see.
This is what it looked like from my eye level:
This is what it looked like for me.
At one point there was some excitement in my section when one dude began trying to climb up a tree (I don't know if he was friends with the folks already up there or not). He had some struggles, lead to the crowd chanting encouragement, including, "Go! Go! Go!" and, "Yes you can!" and, "Almost there!". He did finally make it up to where there were some branches.
After a bit, I grew tired of being squished on all sides and moved over to the lawn by the Gallery of Art where you could still hear, but I could sit, and knit, and reach out my hands and not touch anybody! Some folks tried to creep up to a fence by the back area of the gallery, only to be shooed away by a security guard.
Some of my favorite signs were about DC rights, what can I say.
Another Favorite Sign
One of the Better signs
Having experienced the joy of riding metro down, and seeing the updates about continuing madness, I decided walking home was a better choice. Interestingly (or perhaps not, considering the theme of the rally) I was far from the only person with this idea. Sure, a few people stopped off at bars and restaurants along the way. (Seriously, I saw nothing that didn't look far busier than usual for mid-afternoon. Not in Penn Quarter, not in Mt. Vernon, not in Logan, not in Columbia Heights.) The crowd of folks headed north continued all the way back, such that a curious guy in front of an apartment building on 14th wanted to know if there was a party.
I headed off for a nice relaxing drink before making it home. And then I read up on the parts I couldn't hear. (TBD has a lot of coverage, like this.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Wowee?

My brother was of the perfect age for us to head off as a family to see “An American Tail”. And being the musical theater and repetitive movie watching family that we were, we had the soundtrack and later the video tape in heavy rotation. (Although, if I recall, not as badly rotated as some which may have magically disappeared for a time so we could move on to other movies.)
Now, for those who may have missed out, (and seriously, it’s cute and funny and Dom Deluise and Christopher Plummer sing) a family of Russian mice immigrate to America via New York city, but their son Fievel gets separated from the family and has to make his own way. Along the way he runs into Gussie Mausenheimer, who is voiced by Madeline Kahn, and like many Kahn characters has a speech impediment so her r’s and l’s sound like w’s.
This leads to the following exchange (which several members of my family can do with minimal prompting:
Gussie: We should have a rally? (NB: Remember, “Rally” is pronounced “wowee”.)
John: A wowee?
G: You know, a large gathering of mice for a reason.
J:Oh, a rally.
G: That’s what I said, a rally.

So, this Rally to Restore Sanity thing (or Rally for Fear and/or Sanity) - that’s what I keep thinking of. Hopefully it will also turn out to be amusing and memorable.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Young Adults in Church (or it's Equivalent*)

According to the UUA, a young adult is someone 18-35. (Yes, a little different from the book classification). Now certainly this is a brad age group, and some of the things the 18-35 year olds might be up to might well be more appealing to the 36-45 year olds (or older) and often young adult groups within congregations consider their events age inclusive (which is to say that they are targeted at the core age, but would not exclude others).
I am no longer a young adult by that definition (I am an old adult now,a s far as I can tell) but since I joined a congregation as a young adult, despite it's having a terrible lack of young adult activites (when I first joined they had a group that had been a young adult group, but had apparently not picked up anyone new who still qualified to be referred to as such in some time), it has been a big issue for me.
And I remain convinced that it is part of maintaining a vibrant community, that you can have a great religious education program, a great high school program and then if those high schoolers all graduate and you have nothing to offer them until they are parents you will lose them. Sure, I joined, but not everyone will. And I wasn't raised anything, so I didn't lose my support group of congregants, since I had never had one.
This post here addresses some great things. My church actually has a website (although I am not a huge fan of it's redesign) and a regularly updated Facebook page.
I co-led a workshop on attracting young adults once, and one of the things we said(which is echoed nicely in the linked post) was that you don't have to reinvent your church, but look at ways to use the things your church does well and how you can best use that to attract young adults (and others, the best ideas will attract lots of people).

*My church is technically no longer referred to as such, it is a congregation. While I understand and even agree with the word choice, I do often fall back on the word church for it's ease of use.
h/t to ChaliceChick for the link

Monday, October 25, 2010

Teens + Books

As anyone who has ever wandered from section to section in a bookstore (or music store, or, heck in their email foldering system) knows the subdivisions, or genres as people often refer to them are just a starting point so that if you know you like a certain kind of thing, you can start over there on the left rather than having to comb the shelves for hours or until you give up and pick one because it’s purple.
But, of course, there can be issues with such subdivisions. Someone, or even a committee of someones, decided that this book was this because of this, but really you read the description or heard a recommendation from your friend and you thought it was this. And sure, most people expect this and they have nice info people (hopefully) and/or kiosks where you can look it up and eventually find it. I’ve told people the story of searching for _Seabiscuit_ and checking “Biography” and “Animals” and “Celebrity Biographies” before asking and discovering it was in the “Sports” section (which makes sense, don’t get me wrong, but I think all of mine were not crazy also).
So, with the rise of young adult as a category becoming less things that people think will be good for young adults* to read, and a broader description of young adult as a category of books where the main protagonist(s) are young adults. Period. How is this different than before? Well, the biggest difference is that books that previously might have been shelved in the adult section (which I think is usually called "Fiction", unless of course it’s a mystery, sci-fi or romance) due to adult themes (abuse, sex, rape, drug use) are now being shelved in young adult.
Now, when I say shelved, certainly some bookstores and libraries are making their own choices, I’m just speaking at the level of broad categorization.
Some examples of books that based on this classification are young adult:
Romeo and Juliet
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
To Kill a Mockingbird
Catcher in the Rye

Now, I just want to point out, that I read all of these books in school, so clearly the idea that these books were appropriate for school aged children is not new. And no, I do not mean to suggest that Shakespeare intended his play to be only for young adults.
Because this brings me to my next point, there is no upper age limit (or lower for that matter) for readers of young adult. Nor is there intended to be. The new classification is intended, just like that of fantasy or romance, to assist readers (of all ages) who are looking for a certain type of book to read.
So, when I hear someone (who does not deserve the linkage) suggesting that signage further breaking down the young adult section is a terrible sign heralding the death of publishing, I beg to differ. Because, as you may be able to guess, if the broad category of young adult only really tells you the age of the protagonist, well, then, what happens if you like reading about teens but only mysteries, or romance, or paranorma? I’ve seen quite a few bookstores segment the YA section so you can better find them. And if that causes further confusion, well, thank god for info people and kiosks.

*In the case of books, young adults generally refers to 13-19, high schoolers in particular. Although there is overlap sometimes with the middle grade (11-13 - ie middle school) and adult, and there is some discussion of a post-YA category targeting the 19-22 range.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things People Should Know: The Sensitivity Edition

Okay, this has been well covered, but it is seriously so insane I feel the need to rehash it.
So, as is typical, different neighborhoods get their trash/recycling pickup different days of the week. If service is suspended on a day - such as a Federal Holiday - that day often gets skipped or postponed, which sucks, because you can easily get enough junkmail in a week to fill up your supercan, and it especially sucks if you find out (or remember) after you've hauled everything to the curb, but really, this is not the worst thing that can happen to your day.
Why are we talking about this, well, sadly the DC Department of Public Works, the very one that handles trash and recycling collection, had an incident last week, where, sadly, someone strode onto the lot and shot and killed a sanitation worker. Now, it seems to me that people should realize the following things:
This is a terrible tragedy.
The lot where this occurred is now a crime scene.
The employees who witnesses this are going to be shaken, upset and likely need to also be interviewed by police.
Rolling trash and recycling trucks across the scene of a crime is frowned on while the police investigate.
Asking employees, whether they witnessed their co-worker's death or just found out about it upon arrival to continue their day as normal, in insensitive and ill advised. (Do you really want grief stricken folks manevering large vehicles through your street?)
And yes, grief is a long process, certainly not done in a day, but waiting a day or even a week for your trash and recycling pickup is not really a hardship. Inconvenient, sure. But I also think we can agree this is not an ongoing issue, this is (hopefully) an unusual circumstance and we can all make it through. But apparently some neighbors on a local listserv thought differently. (Follow that link at your own risk. May cause anger or disbelief.)

h/t to DCist and TBD for the linkage.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Neil Talks

Yes, this is another pointing post, as in pointing you over to this article with Neil Gaiman discusses many things, including how the internet changes our approach to privacy (or doesn't), how music has less of a generation gap, and why he thinks YA has started to take off again. Well worth a read.

h/t to the Monkey See blog for the link.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sheep and Sheep Again

To take a break from some more soapboxy items, I present this sheep themed post. First, thanks to the lovely Yarnagogo, we have plaid sheep. (Go look at the picture, I’ll wait.) Now the text of the article mentions something about a wool crisis and I read it very quickly and all, but I feel very certain that the gist of it is: please buy more yarn! (Buy yarn, save the sheep, People.)
And then, continuing our sheep them (which is really just two items, but hey, they are sheepy), I send you here for a clever google ad. In fact, I think, if the animal fiber challenged folk don’t mind, we should just make this the secret fiber folk password. Imagine speakeasies with folks furtively knocking and saying “battlesheep” to gain entry.

Monday, October 04, 2010

It Gets Better

So, I first heard about the Trevor Project a few months ago. It was started to provide support to LGBTQ youth so as to reduce suicide in that group. Then, not too long ago I heard that some anti-bullying programs were being challenged for being anti-Christian. Now my google-fu has found that there is a lack of clarity about who is mad at what, perhaps because the group in questions realized that being seen as pro-bullying was not the way to go.
And then I heard about the It Gets Better Project. Started by columnist Dan Savage, various folks with vary levels of fame have recorded or posted messages to say that, as crap as it may seem right now, it gets better.
And here's the thing - I encourage everyone to check these out, LGBTQ teen or not, because these are messages that speak to everyone who's had a day where you think - that's it, this life thingy is the dumbest ever (and we all have). I am a partcular fan of Kay Bornstein's and not jsut because she offers a "Get Out of Hell Free card" (should you believe in Hell).