Friday, June 24, 2011

License Plates

In one of Lisa Gardner's books, a character notes that in Rhode Island, locals go and request plates with letters that are meaningful to them and low numbers.  As someone who has family up near the Rhode Island border, I would not have been able to tell you that prior to reading it, but it made perfect sense once I did, and helped with the setting (hopefully for Rhode Islanders too). 
I actually didn't believe the first person that told me the black Delaware plates were inherited.  (It turns out that now you can get authorized reproductions.)
But, I absolutely had noticed that Virginians, in addition to having a plethora of plates to choose from (much like Florida), are big, big fans of vanity plates.  One co-worker, when I discovered she lived in Virginia, I said, "Oh, so you must have a vanity plate."  (She did.  Seriously, play this game next time you meet a Virginian.  Then ask them which plate they got.)  So, I am unsurprised to hear that Virginia leads the nation in vanity plates.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Size Needle was That?

For those of you who think I knit on big needles, I present Phat Knitting

h/t to Craft-Zine for the link.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Embarrassment, Tools of the Parental Trade

My mother was (and likely still is) of the belief that the ability to embarrass her children was one of the few joys provided to parents of teens.  Due to the sibling spacing we had, my sister presented my mother with a button that said, "Be Kind, I Have a Teenager" and then told my mom that she had done the math and my mother would get to wear this for sixteen and a half years.  (My mother was thrilled.  She did wear the button though.) 
Now, my mother is a fairly creative person, so we were pretty lucky that a lot of her embarrassing was limited to things like waving at us.  My brother and I figured out pretty quickly if you waved back right away, she stopped, my sister was slower to this realization which led to very exaggerated waving on my mother's part followed by loud, "Hi, Sweetie Pie!". 
So, it is just as well, that my mother never quite had this idea.  Fortunately for the kid involved, he has found the humor in it now (although he apparently still find his dad in the Little Mermaid costume embarrassing.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Attention Cyclists

DCist linked to Girl And Her Bike's story about the idiot who decided it was super funny to bump her bike (with her on it) with his car, several times. The story is intriguing (and totally worth the click) because idiot does get caught, and idiot turns out to probably have had good reason to keep a low profile.  But, she is also trying to load the courtroom for his sentencing to send the message that no, nudging a person with your car is not cute or funny, it is assault and it should be treated seriously.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to Buy Things

Let's imagine there's a girl named Lindsay. Lindsay wants to get a new pair of shoes.  She goes to Big Giant Shoe Store and finds lots of shoes in her size.  After much debate she narrows it down to a green pair and a blue pair.  She tries them both on in front of the mirror and finally picks the green pair because they match her eyes, and they are from a shoe designer she really likes. 

Lindsay loves the green shoes. She wears the green shoes places.  She gets great compliments on her green shoes.  One day, at a shoe lover event  Lindsay meets Wanda Shoemaker, the designer of her green shoes.  Lindsay is thrilled.  As Wanda is signing a picture of Lindsay's green shoes, she asks Lindsay where she bought the shoes.  Lindsay tells her. 

Wanda's eyes narrow. She tells Lindsay that Big Giant Shoe Store is not where true fans buy her shoes. True fans order them directly from Wanda's website, the Exclusive Shoemaker.  Or, they buy them at Fancy Department Store.  And that if they must buy a pair at Big Giant Shoe Store, they should buy a second pair later from somewhere else to demonstrate their commitment.

You know what Lindsay thinks?  Lindsay thinks she should have gotten the blue pair. 

This tale inspired by the latest round of folks telling reader how to buy things.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You Don't Have to Like the Giant

To change out the soapbox, I saw on Twitter a picture that made me a little nuts.  The picture was of a Kindle like thing, with a note, saying that if you have a Kindle, Amazon owns you so indie booksellers can't sell you ebooks.  Now, I don't have a Kindle (although I do have a rarely used Kindle app), but misinformation makes me nuts.  Let's start with the good stuff.
1. Yes, independent booksellers can sell ebooks.  There are a couple of different programs, but the idea is that you still get the cool, groovy experience of going to your local bookstore, talking with a helpful salesperson, and still coming away with a book in the format you wish, be it e or p. 
2. Yes, as far as I am aware, Amazon does not themselves participate in any of these programs. 
3. However, Kindle (app or machine or both) owners can get ebooks from places that are not Amazon.  Yes, Amazon has a wide selection and makes purchasing through them really easy (if, un-facilitated by a helpful salesperson), but Kindle owners have choices like everyone else. (They might have less places than some, but still choices.)
4.  Yes, Kindles use a proprietary format.  But, um, so do Nooks. PDF's are a proprietary format. Yes, formats like epub (currently, because it is all a changing) work on most non-kindle devices, but again - most.  Not all.
5.  I recognize that as a giant internet based site, Amazon presents a challenge to brick and mortar stores. I get it that running a brick and mortar store is a big, scary thing these days.  But, if snarking at the competition is your best option, well, then I think you're not helping anyone. 
6. I like brick and mortar bookstores.  I want them to survive.  Selling ebooks of any kind is a great thing.
7. But you can do that without thumbing your nose at some of your customers, who, one assumes, have made the trek to your store, only to discover, you apparently like to mock their kind.  Don't worry, they probably won't come back. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Darkness Is

This weekend I read two YA books, one I loved and one that made me, even in my thirties, feel talked down to.  The thing about YA, is that good books are good books, just like childrens, or middle grade or adult with all its many genre's. 
Thanks to the many tweeple who passed on the link to Sherman Alexie's moving piece about how YA books are written in blood, speaking of meeting a teen with his own dilemna, "I could offer that young man nothing but my empathy and the promise of more books about teenagers rescuing themselves from the adults who seek to control and diminish him."
And also, Judy Blume's excerpted from her introduction to Places I Never Meant to Be, speaking of facing an editor who wanted to tame down a segment of a book, so that it wouldn't get challenged.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Dark, You Call That Dark?

So, apparently, the latest round of madness is the supposition that if one enters one of the last remaining large chain bookstores and ponders the offerings that everything for teens is all dark.  (No, I am not linking to this idiocy.) There are so many things wrong with this supposition, that it's hard to know where to start. 
1. Yes the covers (and the story starts with all the dark looking covers) are dark.  Often, at least. Not always.  There are pastel and light and bright colored covers too.  But, since even in the teen section (heck, even in the children's section) cover designers have developed a code that we as consumers are supposed to know, covers, particularly for paranormals are often dark. Unless of course they are not.  But, yes, one can easily find a shelf full of dark colored covers in the teen section.  Also the religious, cooking, and history sections.  I would probably only require stepping a smidge to the left (or right) to find a shelf full of bright covers. 
2. Teen books are not darker than they were before.  They may be darker than what you read as a teen, but I can absolutely, unequivocally promise you, that pretty since the rise of the novel, there have been dark novels.  And even if you try to tell me, well, yes, but the stuff for teens was all rainbows and glitter* (not, mind you, that there is anything wrong with rainbows and glitter) I will tell you that you are wrong.  Whether we are talking Huckleberry Finn** or To Kill a Mockingbird or Catcher in the Rye or Wrinkle in Time, there is a long, long tradition of dark young adult books.
3. Reading about bad things does not make you bad.  Adults read serial killer novels and do not become serial killers.  I read all sorts of things, including serial killer novels, and, if anything, I think reading about people making difficult choices makes me consider myself more carefully, and hopefully become a better person, but I couldn't swear to that.  I will swear that I am not a serial killer. 
4. Now the article purports that it's not that it makes you bad, but that by reading about a fictional person engaging in bad behavior then it makes your bad behavior okay.  (Follow that?)  Now, I think this is so short sighted.  If a person has an issue that requires attention (abuse, addiction, bullying) reading about another person experiencing that doesn't make you think it's okay so that you don't have to do anything.  It makes it seem like something that an otherwise normal, okay person has experienced and that it's fixable or treatable or addressable.  For all my issues with "Glee"s handling of the bullying (please, never go into a room alone to try and talk it out with your bullier) they did a wonderful job of showing that it is an issue that require involving adults and your other peers, and that there are solutions.  One of the hardest things when trying to screw up the courage to face an issue, is that niggling thought that somehow you are the problem, you are so broken, you cannot be fixed.  If a book can help you see that isn't the case, awesome.
5. To return to all the bright novels out there.  They do exist.  Whether we are talking about Judy Blume or Meg Cabot or Ally Carter or Sarah Dessen or so many others, they totally do.  Now some of you are saying, but wait, aren't some of those books about sex and ghosts and spies and thieves.  Oh, well, yes, they are.  And that, I think is the next point.
6. Books about rainbows and glitter or princesses and beauty queens and other regular type folks may seem bright.  (And hey, I'm not knocking bright at all.) But, often the stories that seem to just be about a girl planning for a prom, or a guy discovering that there's another guy with the same name as him, those stories are filled with all sorts of things like acceptance and treating people fairly and making good choices.  Hey wait, those sound a bit like the dark books. 
7. Aren't we supposed to be happy that teens are reading at all? 

A hashtag got started on twitter - #YASaves - there are some compiled here.  Also, NPR, has a great piece about here - in fact, let me lift this quote straight from there: "(I also took an entire class in high school were we read books about killing your family, double suicide, drowning, being murdered in your bed ... it was called "Shakespeare," I believe.)"
Many of these folks said it so much better than I ever could.

*Okay, I'm not sure how old glitter is.  Let's pretend.  No, wait, I checked, glitter is old.
**I know Huckleberry Finn is not as old as books, but it's old and most people have heard of it. Also, the article is of the opinion that young adult literature is only forty years old.

Monday, June 06, 2011

7 Things: The Walk for the Cure Edition

1. This past weekend was the DC (area) Race/Walk for the Cure put on by the Komen foundation.
2. I was asked how many times I had done this walk, and confess I was trying to count by t-shirts or scarves, and finally came to places I lived and left for the race from to come up with at least seven, possibly eight or nine.
3. For whatever reason (well, okay, there is some methodology) we always seem to plan to meet the other walkers by a fountain.
4. The first year I did it, one friend asked later if we actually knew anyone who'd had breast cancer.  My other friend and I both had a co-worker and a family friend (same co-worker, different family friends).  This year, I added a new person to the list on the back of my shirt, but the good news is more of them are survivors (than, you know, no longer survivors).
5. I can only hope that the people carrying their company's signs were getting paid. 
6. The number of people wearing pictures of their loved ones seems to get bigger every year. 
7. Some good news was announced this weekend concerning cancer, here's hoping things continue that way.