Monday, October 29, 2012
7 Things: The Powerless Edition
Now, admittedly last week's experience was entirely different because it affected only part of my building (which was terribly annoying because I could see people with power, there was even power in the hallway right outside my door). But my experiences in prior hurricanes and outages have offered up these tidbits. For a more complete (ie, less frivolous list), please go somewhere like here. There is also a hurricane app.
1. LED candles, camping lanterns, these types of things are your friends. Real candles are pretty but require lots of vigilance. If you like the flickery light, you can get LED flickery bits.
2. Crank radios or radios that operate on a form of batteries you have a large stockpile of are a great idea. Some of them even have attachments that will charge your other things.
3. Crap food is your friend. Seriously. Food that requires little or no refrigeration or preparation is a great thing to have on hand. Yes, you may still be able to order pizza. As the friend of a former pizza deliverer, I'm going to ask you to not. Or if you must, tip super well. If you don't feel safe going out to get it, don't ask others to do that.
4. Backlit devices are your friend. If you have really good lanterns, you may be fine, but generally it's hard to read by flashlight. Backlit devices work really well. However, if your backlit device is also your phone, you may not want to use that too much. Or have a battery extender, solar recharger, or some way to keep that available. Booklights are also good. It makes it easier to angle the light and continue on. They also work great with non-backlit devices, be they eink or paper.
5. Card decks. Card games work well in low light. And you can play solitaire or crazy eights or learn a new card game.
6. It helps if you are on city water, but stay hydrated. (Especially if you are eating all that crap food.)
7. Barring a compelling reason, stay inside during the storm. Sure, you get to make choices about your safety, but things can change quickly in a storm and you don't want to be the person the rescue crews have to come rescue.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Fat Kid Rules the World
The story follows the Troy (who is as the title suggests fat, but as the interview states, this is not a movie about weight so much) who is befriended by Marcus, a homeless punk band high school dropout, and the intersection of their lives. I found the movie really enjoyable and thought it did a great job taking a book told in first person (where so much of the information is transmitted through the internal monologue) and just letting there be moments of silence. This is not to say that there is no dialogue, this is just to say, that sometimes you find with such book to movie transitions they fill in a lot of dialogue to make up for it, and (again, can't say for sure, since I haven't finished the book yet) there were moments where the characters just glanced back and forth and it just worked really well. So, I recommend this movie. (And the book.)
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
TBR Challenge 2012: The Boys Next Door
Yeah, so, kinda, sorta, accidentally ignored the theme genre this month again. I read a contemporary YA romance. I mean, technically, it had some suspense, but, yeah, nobody was on the run or anything.
I had Jennifer Echols' The Boys Next Door sitting in my TBR pile and I recall starting it last year and then apparently I got distracted by something shiny and never made it past the first chapter.
So, I picked it back up. It is the story of Lori, who is surrounded by boys. Her mother passed away, leaving her with her dad, her older brother, and, as the title implies next door to three brothers. So, she gets the guy brain. But now she's working on being a girl, or being seen as one by Sean, the middle Vader brother. Except she sidles up to the youngest Vader brother Adam at a party, and since she realizes that means Sean was making out with Adam's girlfriend out front, they decide to try fake being together to make everyone jealous.
You probably won't be terribly surprised to discover how that turns out, but this book was really enjoyable for having great relationships and interactions. It's told in first person and yet I totally got the family, and the sibling dynamics and even the parental reactions.
Monday, October 15, 2012
The Importance of Zeroes
She called the phone company to let them know that clearly there was some sort of error, and the first few operators gave her the party line that the fees are automatically calculated, they have no control over that, and so on. Finally she managed to get to somebody who took a look and realized that the decimal point had shifted a tad too far to the right and instead of €11,721,000,000,000,000, it should actually be €117.21. Oops.
Monday, October 08, 2012
In Which the Internet Helps People be Lovely
Someone posted a picture on Reddit of a woman with a beard. Quite quickly commenters, and it turned out the subject herself showed up to explain how this was a photo of a Sikh woman, and that part of their religious observance is to not change the superficial things about the body that they have been given, instead to appreciate it. Go, read her much more eloquent statement. This ended with the original poster apologizing and hopefully a few people learning a little more.
And in one of those things I like to believe only happen in movies, a girl was nominated to homecoming court as a joke. Because she's so not popular. The guy who was picked with her withdrew. But her town created a Facebook support page and rallied around her, with folks offering to buy her dress, dinner, help get her hair done and residents offering to fill the stands wearing her favorite color in a show of support.
Thursday, October 04, 2012
We Interrupt This Blog...
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Challenged or Banned
So, with that, I am going to poke a little fun at some of last year's challenges.
P.C. and Kristin Cast's Betrayed was challenged for causing kids to think of sex. Because without this book, they would not ever do that.
A number of books on the list were challenged for nudity which never ceases to amuse me, because these are not graphic novels or picture books but words. So, apparently the concern is not that a child would be exposed to naked people, the child would be exposed to words about people. (Who might be naked.)
I suppose that should make me feel marginally better that The Awakening by Kate Chopin was challenged because the cover had a painting of a topless woman. Sadly it does not.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
You're Too Old For That Book
But, it seems, as an avid reader of YA and the occasional middle grade (MG) book that letting me take out books from the library poses no risk. Certainly, in a surfeit of cautiousness I could see why libraries might want to restrict kids areas from unattached adults, but I have to tell you I, kidless (not even a babysitting charge in sight) had the pleasure of hearing Flat Stanley read aloud by the author (although my mom was with me, does that count, even though I was fully grown?) and it was awesome. And certainly I understand that libraries budgets are crunched (assuming they still have one to speak of) so if first priority for books aimed at kids went to kids, I'd be all for that. But if a book is in the library and I cannot get it out because I am too old - well, I have to ask why? Why is my reading something aimed at a different age group an undesirable thing? Why should I have to produce proof of child to do this?
When this came up on Twitter the issue of teachers was raised. (In fact the person who mentioned it was a teacher.) But also, this makes shelving marketing decisions super crucial. After all, with talk that books like Huckleberry Finn and Carrie would be (and sometimes are) shelved as YA today, so who decides if I am allowed to get that book out. And again, I am stuck on the why. Could I be planning to lure innocent children with my excellent library lending? Could I be getting terrible ideas from these teen books? Will I use my broadened knowledge of texting and teen slang to annoy my co-workers? (Okay, that's actually possible.)
The only thing I can come up with is some sort of mirror law type thing where someone has decided if kids are going to be restricted from some books then adults should also get restricted. Seriously, don't make me get a fake ID to take a book out of the library.
Monday, October 01, 2012
Baltimore Book Fest
We started in the SFWA tent with a great discussion of good vs. evil and the use of spirituality in fiction with Tom Doyle and Kate Milford and moderated by Catherine Asaro. There were some great discussions of how to balance the use of cultures that may be less familiar to you and/or your primary audience. Also a lot of talk about how building evil's reasons and justification is just as important as good's (assuming your protagonist is up against evil, although I imagine it still applies if that is not the case.)
Then there was a discussion of idea generation (in other words where do writers find them) with Don Sakers, Sara Beth Durst, Jack McDevitt and Alethea Kontis. Alethea said she has a guy, she just leaves money under the pillow. But, more seriously, it always fascinates me to listen to the things that got people started down a story path.
Then we hopped to the Maryland Romance Writers tent where Debra Anastasia, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Christi Barth, Stephanie Draven and Patricia Eimer spoke about humor in books. There was some great discussion about how humor can be use to both break up bleaker moments and also stretch out pacing and information. Also, quite a few of the authors said many times the funny sidekick can help the writer carry through the series, not just the reader, although it also helps to have someone for them to riff off of or play against.
We took a food break, although we ate adjacent to MRW tent, so got to hear some of the readings (in particular the lovely Robin Covington's, rumor has it she kept a straight face despite some friends in the audience trying to distract her. I swear I was not that friend. You know, this time.)
Sharon Buchbinder, Kate Dolan, Eliza Knight and Rebecca York gave some good tips on being a healthy writer. Not shockingly that included moving more (they had some good tips on how to do that, including laundry lunges). Also, Rebecca York talked about something I hadn't properly considered. She had moved herself and her husband (since she does the food making) to a low fat diet way back when, only to discover that for her husband, that increased his bad cholesterol, and he really did better on a low carb diet. I had heard about the reverse, but certainly it makes sense that this would be true to. (So, in other words, not every diet or food lifestyle works for everyone.)
Kate stuck around with Catherine Asaro, Natalie Damshroder, Stephanie Draven, Laura Kaye and Alethea Kontis to talk about making old stories new again. Alethea read one of my favorite short stories of hers, with dramatic voices. The other readings were all really interesting too. And the panelist had good things to say about making your own spin on things and either going to the source material, in the cases of those riffing off other stories, or inventing your own, for those braving new and different paranormal worlds.
And Stephanie and Laura hung around with Sharon Buchbinder, Loni Lynne and Laura Welling to discuss their favorite monsters. There seemed to be some disagreement about vampires are cool vs. vampires are over. There were readings, and, as the rain began to pound, sirens went by and trucks began to pack up for the festival's end, the readings got some added sound effects.
Fortunately the rain broke as the panel wrapped up and we were all able to make it back to the cars without getting drenched.