Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. There was a time when "Baywatch" was the highest exported TV show. Even before it went from the first season soapy fun to what I considered comparatively sillier, it made sense that it was a show that did not require an understanding of the dialogue to appreciate.  It always fascinates me the shows that get translated and remade, whether the zillion versions of "Ugly Betty", or the US to UK version of "Who's the Boss?" called "The Upper Hand", the choices and results fascinate me.  So, this apparent Japanese interpretation of "Two and a Half Men" is especially interesting to me.  It uses the actual show, and yet, well, I suggest watching.  (Safer for work than the actual show might be, but the video will have sound once you click play.)
2. I took this photo of a daffodil at Dupont Metro end of February. 
<a href="" title="First Daffodil at DuPont Metro by mememe20016, on Flickr"><img src="" width="282" height="500" alt="First Daffodil at DuPont Metro"></a>
I found it's presence joyful, even if Daffodils in February are probably not a great sign for the environment overall.  But a daffodil!  Well, apparently it's part of some, er, unapproved planting.  On the one hand, I certainly see why metro does not want to encourage folks to roam about in the not approved for passengers parts of the stations.  But, the daffodil!  (And morning glories, and other planty things.) Hopefully a workable solution can be found. 
3.The folks at the NPR code switch blog have mapped out the basics of being a bro.  It includes both a diagram and the sentence, "Damn right we're overthinking this," so you know I loved it. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

You Don't Have to Know What New Adult Is

So, in an attempt to be a better person, or at least a less annoyed person (sometimes), I shall try to assume some things are due to lack of knowledge rather than intentional, um, ignorance. 
New Adult is a weird term. I get that.  There are places all across the web that will explain to you what it means, but my version is that it - like YA (young adult) or MG (middle grade) is an age category that references the approximate age of the protagonist(s).  In the case of New Adult this range is 18-22, post-high school, possibly college, possibly not.  So it encompasses folks more firmly establishing themselves, but still newly experienced at running their lives.  Yes, like all age-based categories, there have always been books about people of this age.  No, it doesn't have to be it's own category, but certainly one could understand why some people browsing might want a space to identify stories about that time of life. 
It is not "sexed-up YA" as I keep seeing and hearing.  First, because that seems to imply there is no sex in YA, which, is not always the case.  (I hear teens have been having sex, well, since ever actually. Not all teens, but this is not a new development.)  Second, this implies New Adult stories require sex, which again, no.  Certainly, the number of gatekeepers involved with New Adult stories is probably* less. There are adult books that do not have sex, or have closed door sex, or well, every variation up to and including lots and lots of sex.  So, while, yes, there is New Adult erotica, and I don't anticipate that happening on the YA front, that doesn't mean there aren't and won't continue to be New Adult sweet romance, New Adult historical, New Adult paranormal, and so on.  So basically, now that the characters are all at the age of consent one expects a greater range of sexual choices, but that doesn't mean that New Adult books are only about sex. 

*Yes, I realize this implies no one younger than that age reads up.  I figure on or about the time people let you pick up adult or new adult stories, well, probably the gatekeepers are giving you free reign.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. XKCD is often a good choice, but this one showing how people have worried about the pace of modern life for a century or two, is particularly amusing to me. 
2. I found this study suggesting reading fiction makes you more comfortable with ambiguity interesting. For some reason everyone seems to keep stressing that it was a literary short story, but given that the alternate group read non-fiction, I see no reason to believe a genre short story might not do the same thing. Of course, I tend to like genre fiction for it's clarity of outcome, so maybe that's why.
3. And should you be having a week, well, here's hoping it's better than this person's - who's doctor visit resulted in the discovery that he was not the biological gender he thought he was. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Stop it, Man

I am old enough to recall debate about gendered words back when every time a female type person did something it got tagged with -ess or -ette or girl.  And while I fall down on this myself, and certainly I have seen little movement on actress and waitress, the point being made at the time was twofold.  The -ess and -ette are diminutives, and yes, while they can indicate femininity one can argue that it's a little like calling someone a cute little thing  with all the accompanying dismissiveness.  And well, girl is a word for a child, and no one says, oh that new CEO boy for that company, we only seem to regress when referring to female types. 
So, in the interest of equality, I would like to point out it is just as offensive (and annoying and irritating) to stick man in front of everything.  Or merge into everything.  I love intriguing new compound or combined words, but murse and manny, no.  If it's a purse, it's a purse.  If you want to call it something else, you can call it a bag.  Personally I think nanny is a dated term, although I understand that some people might feel it indicates a higher level of skill or time commitment than babysitter, but in general, unless I am the person who needs to recognize your nanny, I'm not clear why I need to know you have a manny, instead of just nanny.  Sure, if you tell me your nanny is called Kevin I might make assumptions, but all that will happen if you say manny is that I will cringe in horror - at the word. 
Man date confuses me since it's used only when it's not really a date.  So, apparently two friends of the same gender who are not attracted to one another cannot just be hanging out now. We must call it a man date. (I must not. Really.) 
But, in case you were wondering what sent me over the edge, mantiquing.  No.  No, no, no.  No.  Stop.  Antiquing does not need or deserve a gender adjusted version.  It's a verb.  The verb contains within it no assumption of gender. Just because it contains to of the letters in the word man does not excuse this travesty of a word. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. It was Stitch and Pitch (aka Tara's annual baseball game) last week, and due to all the weather we'd been having I might have done some research into field drying times (apparent answer - it depends) and come across this story about one, shall we say, creative attempt to speed drying time by setting the field afire.  (Spoiler - side effects may include field being shut down as an environmental hazard.) 
2. The LA Craft and Folk Art Museum is covered in granny squares.  No really. (h/t to rviser)
3. And drones are being tested out in South Africa to see if they can be used to catch poachers

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

7 Things: The Playing the Part Edition

1. Author Robin Covington is my chapter-mate, so I am predisposed to like her books.  I'm still not required to. 
2.  As you might suspect from my occasional posts about contests, I volunteer to judge quite a few contests.  Sometimes I judge young adult, since it is an area of familiarity for me, and sometimes I judge other categories. People who see my little rants might wonder why.  And the answer, in addition to helping and supporting things for my chapter and other chapters, is that there are ones you read and you just go - oh my god, where is the rest of it?  (It happened again to me this year on two of them.)  I read Robin's entry in a contest, completely unaware that it was hers and loved it.  I kept an eye peeled when they announced the finalists and was shocked that it didn't final.  (Later Robin said something about research for an actor character and I was like wait, did you write this - I loved it!) 
3. So, okay, I've only read the first thirty pages and that was before it got sold and got an editor and all of that. But seriously guys.  I liked this so much.  (I'm on page 47 of the "real thing" now and yum.)
4. And, rumor has it I'm an evil judge.  (I have actually judged something that finaled twice, but my score was the one that got dropped. And neither of my scores were low, according to me.) 
5. I also have read her other books.  Love. 
6. I don't think Robin sleeps.  She also over at Romance University, Waterworld Mermaids, Happily Ever After, I'm exhausted just thinking about all that.
7. So, the book.  I suppose I should talk about that maybe.  Writer Piper has a romance novel that's being turned into a movie.  Only the usually-does-action-movies guy Mick who is playing the hero is having trouble acting like a romance hero.  So they bring Piper out to coach him.  Sparks ensue. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

All About Me

So, once upon a time, I volunteered for this thing called coffee house. My church hosted it a few times a year, and it was an event for teens where local bands would play and it would be a substance free event.  I, of course, thought back to my own high school years, and the negotiations for rides for things and how easy it would have been to get my parents to let me go to an event at a church and thought I want to support this.  (Later one of the teens told me most of the kids don't realize it is a church.) 
There some of the other adult volunteers asked me which were my kids and were surprised to find I did this not to keep an eye on my kids but simply out of my strange desire to volunteer.  (I will tell you it is very loud. And these local bands are often populated by teens themselves so it is a little like a de facto rock talent show. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
So, one adult, who turned out to also run the youth program at our church handed me a folder about being a youth advisor.  I asked to ponder, but found her a few days later and agreed.  It was January.  I was, essentially, a mid-season replacement for another adult who had been over-committed.  I came to a session, was introduced to the group and the teens were told that after today if they had any concerns to let the coordinator know.  My first glimpse into youth empowerment was that they, essentially, had the power to fire me.  (I will tell you, that I never saw them abuse this power.  I did once, have them ask me about another new adult, was that person for sure going to be there for the whole year, and I told them that they could express any concerns they had and it would be taken into consideration.) 
I learned so many things from them.  The strange thing about working as a youth advisor is that, due to the four walls or Vegas rule, so much of what happens I cannot speak about.  I always thought my life would involve working with kids.  There is a long line of teachers in my family (and writer, and cops).  When my career went in a different direction, it now seems obvious that I would end up finding another to work with kids.  I never thought they would be teens.  Teens scared me a bit, because, let's face it, the power balance is pretty tenuous once they are too big for you to pick them up one handed and they are old enough to understand your lack of power.  So it is amusing now that I not only ended up working with teens but working with them in an environment where the power balance was pretty firmly on their side.
The adults absolutely help and monitor and suggest things, but the teens run this program.  They design the program, they often led the meetings.  They worked on things that supported the church and their own activities, it was amazing to see.  And through them I remember that sense of being a teen and having all that energy and all those ideas and being so ready to go make change in the world. 
As an adult its really easy to get stuck on the logistics.  Someone will say we should create a community garden and I'll say, well, I think that requires permits.  And here's the thing, I may be right about the permits, and the logistics are an important part of it too, but as an adult I sometimes get stuck on the roadblocks and they reminded me of all the plans I had to fix the whole world.  (All of it.)
In the time I worked with the youth group they have gone from being relegated to the expansion trailers (which our then minister kept trying to call cottages) out back, to having their own room.  (Well, as much their own as can happen in a multi-purpose building.)  They started the now annual Murder Mystery Dinner Theater.  They used to only meet at second service.  One year when the numbers were high, the choice was made to meet at both services.  And now, echoing a congregational shift, they only meet first service, and hold extra classes second service.  They suckered me on to Facebook.  They have acknowledged me when running into me on the street or on coffee shops.  They give the most amazing service every year.  (Seriously, people, often people who don't know I work with the youth, tell me how it's their favorite each year.) 
And the last batch of years, we've had a winter retreat where as an exercise in our final worship, we write affirmation papers for each other.  It is one of those ides that sounds so hokey and ridiculous, and now you will pry those papers away from my cold, dead hands.  Each person passes around a piece of paper and everybody writes something about them.  Something nice.  Now, it's hard, not because people aren't lovely, but writing thirty individualized nice things is a bit of a challenge.  But here's a sampling of some I got over the years. 

"You are a great person and have a good outlook on life.  Thanks for being an amazing advisor."
"I like your knitting. I also like your silly anecdotes.  I like you too."
"Keep on rollin' and keep on being a BAMF!"

I am, well, right now we're calling it taking a break from being an advisor.  When I started, the max was four years. My fourth (or three and a halfth, since I started mid-year) coincided with a number of other advisors' fourths and the rule was revisited and discarded.  The challenge was that I have seen people who do it for too long get too attached to the way things have always been done, and the other idea for cycling some new blood in is to increase the number of people in the congregation who know how cool the youth really are.  So, that time has come.  And I keep reminding myself that the goal is too leave while it still feels like I am giving something up.  I have been advised to not try and fill this spot right away, even if I already have another great idea.  (That person is wise.)

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. Radiolab did a piece about the case involving the adoptive couple who had the child returned to the biological father as a result of the law regarding American Indian children that contained a little more background about both the law and the father, that I found interesting. 
2. And in my travels across the internet came across these two pieces about women - one a metaphor (and you know how I love those) for the challenges for women trying to get jobs in tech fields and one a post about some experiences a sci-fi writer, who is a woman, has had. 
3. A fellow writer posted this place in DC (they are expanding elsewhere) for writers who seek quiet - Writer's Room.  I am more of a cafe writer myself, but it seems like a great idea. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

Marked Laundry

I seriously think this idea posted over at Lifehacker about using a dry erase marker on the washing machine is so brilliant I wish I could make better use of it.  Sure, I still do laundry, and I don't imagine my neighbors would mind too much if I wrote on the washer to remind myself about the drip dry stuff in there.  (And if they did, they could...erase it.)  But I think this idea would have been even more brilliant in situations where you were sharing the washer and dryer with just a few people. 
In my experience sharing laundry equipment with a few people (sometimes related by blood, sometimes not) was where there was a greater likelihood to be friction both because there was one - you couldn't just use the one next to it.  And because when it's just down in the basement or off in the laundry room you wander away upstairs or turn on the TV or check the internet and's tomorrow and you are trying to figure out, didn't you do laundry?  And should this period overlap with someone else's desire to have clean underwear, then they might fume.  Growing up we had established clear multi-user rules.  (There might have been a family meeting.) They seemed so sensible to me, I got a little thrown when I had other roommates who apparently had not arrived at this conclusion.  (Ah life, constantly teaching you that there are other ways people do things.) 
So, my family's rules were - if stuff was in the washer and you wanted the washer you could do one of two things. Okay, three.  You could wait.  You could attempt to identify and politely remind the owner of said clothes that their clothes were ready to move.  And then wait for them to do that.  Or you could move them to the next phase.  Now, as a high schooler I owned a limited number of things that required special cleaning, so this worked well. (Plus a fair argument could be made that if I was that worried about the clothes, I would not have abandoned them in the washer.)  As an adult, the risk was greater.  Now certainly, I don't mean that if I write "green silk dress" on the washer someone is supposed to both move my clothes and attempt to read the label on the green silk dress and address the next step for me.  But, in a multi-user situation, if I wrote "Tara's laundry" then you wouldn't have to open it an try to figure out who's underpants those are, you could just know. 
And if you did move them to the next phase for me, well, you'd know who to tell.