Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thank You, "Intervention"

"Intervention" aired it's final episode this summer and, while I've talked about the show before, I wanted to do so again.  Despite the fact that reality TV started on PBS, people often speak of it with disdain.  Say that they don't watch it, or that they only watch a few shows.  I tend to point to "Intervention"  (along with some of my favorite competitive reality shows) as shows that I not only enjoy, but believe make a difference. I think a single episode of "Intervention" demonstrates how deeply addiction affects the addict and all those around the addict, how powerfully you begin to believe that the line of what you will and won't do isn't gone, it's just shifting a little, even though to others you may appear long gone.  And how much some addicts and family are unable to see any way out, so they just continue on. 
It sounds mean, to follow an addict and their family member for a week or two, talk to them about the before and the now, and then offer treatment at the end and hope the follow up provides a clip of a happy addict.  However, as I've mentioned before, the show demonstrates the profound nature of addiction.  How cool the addicts tell you their lives are, how much they love getting high all the time.  Juxtaposed with them drooling in their food or yelling and making no sense depending on their substance(s) of choice.  The interventionists sent by the show, sit with the families for a whole day ahead of time, prepping them and reminding them that they too will need to make big changes to their behavior.  I read a while back that they worked really hard to match addicts to rehabs that specialized in their issues, and really believed 90 days (no less) was the way to go.  Sometimes the most resistant folks were the family members.  One addict flipped out and tried to make her family all sign a contract that they would get treatment too.  Seems paranoid until she finished up 90 days later, and the number of her family that had gone for their weekend of family treatment - that would be none.  (She did okay even so.  But it meant she had to stay away from her family a little longer.) 
According to the screens they flashed in the final episode - 243 interventions performed, 208 accepted, 156 sober.  Those are amazing numbers.  Finding decent comparison statistics is hard given you would have to start with some sort of accurate number of addicts, and good luck collecting that info.  But best guesses seem to be that on average most people working on their own or with professionals have about a 50% success rate getting the addict to agree to treatment, and of those 50% about half relapse.  Now, I wasn't there when the "Intervention" folks did their adding, so I imagine that success number includes people who relapsed but then got help, but it seems that comparatively, the "Intervention" agreement to treatment numbers were much higher, and ongoing success also higher.  I still think the show would be worth it if it's numbers were equal, but I like to bring this up when people mention it's exploitative.
Other than follow up visits, they did not follow the addict into treatment.  I think that's important, since I personally imagine that the deep, dark work one needs to do in that setting is probably not well served by the presence of cameras.  (I could be wrong.) 
And, I adore that Candy Finnigan (my tied for favorite interventionist, because, well, Jeff Van Vonderon was wonderful too) now gets stopped in the grocery store.  (I also think the idea that people in the grocery store are freaking out that Candy is there to get them is probably why they had to stop, but I still adore that Candy is chatting with folks about their moms in the store). 
I wanted to thank the show, all the families who agreed to talk honestly (mostly) about this with a camera, and to put these stories out there.  I watched the re-runs because they always did follow ups and I liked seeing that this or that person had stayed sober, gotten married, gone back to college, or started talking to their kids again.  Some of these people were self-medicating mental illnesses that the treatment allowed them to diagnose and address.  The interventionists shared hard truths (I once cheered when the interventionist told the family to own up to the wrongs they had done) and sometimes laughed or cried or prayed with the family. 
And, think, not only of the 156 sober, but all the people around them who can breathe easier to have their family member back. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dear Project Runway Designers

I know we're only two episodes in, but I have some notes. 
Dear Timothy,
I recognize that even on the way to worthy causes like environmentalism, we all have to make choices.  But.  If you are going to take a hard line stance on things like sustainability, you have to be able to explain how you made your choices.  I suppose it's possible it was edited out, but I for one do not understand.  In the first challenge you said that you didn't want to use hair tools on your model due to the electricity, and yet, I saw you use a sewing machine (to say nothing of all the electricity in the building you work and live in on the show, or to, you know power the cameras on this TV show you auditioned for) and I have noticed you using your show-provided tablet for sketching, so it isn't that you just are trying to keep your personal footprint small, somehow hair tools, seem different to you. 
Just like you decided only sustainable makeup could be used and yet it never occurred to you to google the make up company that the show has used for umpteen seasons and find out about that.  Or considered that your model(s) might feel at risk as a result of no or limited hair and makeup.  (I realize the designers almost never consider the model, but well, especially now that the judges get the up close look, you want that model on your side.) 
I applaud your desire to work towards a more ecological type of fashion, but just like the cage-free vs. free-range egg labels, I think you need to more clearly define your stance. 
Also, pretty is just superficial?  Really?  Aren't you on a show about clothes?

Dear Sandro,
All clothes should cover a person's crotch. 

Dear Sue,
I'm all for being self taught.  But you auditioned for a show that uses sewing machines.  As far as I'm aware, they don't force you to use them, but given you wanted a tutorial in the first episode, I assume your plan was to use them, and somehow you thought your competitors could take time out of their schedules to teach you to do something you could have decided to learn for yourself somewhere along the way.  And, while I understand, sometimes we all need to whine, but something along the lines of "I don't have time to learn how to do this right now" may be true but it is hardly your competitors fault that you arrived on a show without a skill you have determined you need to move forward.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. I'm not sure which I find more surprising - that the first female firefighter came to be just over the river in Virginia or that it was recent. (Hey, I call that recent!)  They now have a firefighter girl's camp to encourage young women to consider this career path. 
2. While I confess, I hardly use a landline these days, that doesn't mean I don't understand why people want the possibility.  Post-hurricane Sandy, some residents have found the landlines are not being rebuilt, instead replaced with Voice link, which is a little box with an antenna, and yeah, is kind of like a cell phone. 
3. Author Maggie Stiefvater has a post about how sometimes, yes, red curtains are in the book to make you think something.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Books and Panels and Awards, Oh My!

It seems strange to spend more time on the aquarium than the rest of the conference, but so much of the conference is, well, in addition to the great panels, the in between times.  After all, as is true in cons of all shapes and sizes, you are surrounded by people who love this thing you love too.  They love talking about books and thinking about books and acquiring books.  The people in front of me in the shipping line had two boxes (and okay, they might also run a review blog, I'm not sure what your point is, really).  And the elevators and lunch tables and lobbies and bars are surrounded by people who have taken time out of their schedule to be hear and talk and think about books and the writing of them. 
So, panel highlights - I mentioned the PRO panel with Dorien Kelly - it also included Courtney Milan and the two talked about the business of being a writer.  I moderated Jeannie Lin and Shawntelle Madison's panel on incorporating culture which was wonderful and gave me lots to chew on.  There was a PRO panel on publicity.  There were keynote and award luncheon speeches that made me cry (dammit).  Lisa Gardner gave a great workshop on romantic suspense.  I was interviewed briefly about pitching for Swedish television.  (No, I have no other details.  And really, I just like thinking that's out there, somewhere in the ether.) 
I saw lots of people I'd met before and met lots more.  I rubbed up against two new Golden Heart winners.  Although I firmly believe that as I told quite a few people, the finaling is really, really cool.  Winning is cool too (I imagine) but the finaling is still a really select crowd. 
I talked to fiber folk, threatened to start a fiber workshop at a future RWA, and told one writer about ravelry.  (I won't name names just in case her next book is late for some reason I'm sure I know nothing about.)  I had sushi, and tuna tartare, and possibly quite a few dirty Arnold Palmers.  I met a bunch of first timers, some of whom had listed their place of origin as being in the DC area so hope to see them at a future WRW meeting. 
I went to the Autography signing where I told many, many people, that as an early ebook adopter this makes me so happy.  (I now have six signed ebooks.  See, I was restrained.)  My visions for what could be done with this technology from virtual giveaways to virtual signings following video chats are pretty big. 
I made not worthy motions at anyone wearing a board of directors ribbon.  And I expressed thanks and sympathy at the lovely RWA staffer who, among other things, manages the awards program.  (The announcement about the awards changes for 2014 is amazing, but let's all  send nice vibes to the people who have to deal with the shipping logistics of that.) 
I threatened to take a screen cap of my phone because on Saturday my agenda included going to the Nora Roberts party.  (The champagne was lovely. And everyone looked shiny and sparkly and there were many great shoes.) 
Lovely people, mermaids many of them, saved me seats and led me to dinner and generally took great care of me.  I escaped one afternoon for pool and hot tub time, just so my brain could finish processing all the fun I'd been having. 
And on my way back to the airport I ran into a fellow cherry again, and then in the airport I saw a Rita winner, and once through security (and wow, it took me forty five minutes to get my bag checked and me to the gate between the number of kiosks that were out, the low number of attendants at the desk, and the pace of the security line).  Once at my gate met another WRW member trying to fly standby (I hope she made the next flight, mine was chock full).  Saw more people I knew and even spotted a lifetime achievement award winner reading on my plane. 
I got back and napped, and read, and paid important attention to the cat. And thought about next year, when we get to do it all over again. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Last Week - And Then There Were Books

Wednesday was the first day I had to be somewhere at a specific time.  The YARWA chapter had some YA things planned so we gathered and paneled and chatted about things YA.  I also had the chance to go up and introduce myself to Katie McGarry as her stalker.  (Yes, I do this. Later I tried to convince her to just give me a whole box of books and let me be her DC area book evangelist. She was not convinced this was the best method of distribution.)  Margie Lawson was there, and because she knows her audience she used some great examples from Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits and Romily Bernard's Find Me.  (I am now the lucky winner of one of the signed ARC's Romily kindly provided.  I might have hugged it and carried it home on the plane with me.) 
And after that, was the Literacy signing.  I opted for picture taking and chatting rather than book buying, only because I already had a bag full of books and the conference had not even started.  Some of the authors actually had books that were not otherwise out yet, so in addition to getting them signed and helping raise money for literacy, there were not even out yet books.  (I know.  I think this demonstrates restraint and we shall all keep this in mind when I speak of the box of books I shipped home, or the other book I bought after reading up on the Rita nominees.) 
So - some authors I snuck up on and photographed include:
Jude Devereaux.  Later Dorien Kelly would tell the story of being introduced to romance novels through the gateway book that was Knight in Shining Armor.  I might have shared that book with quite a few friends in high school and some sighs and squees. 

Two Kaye's for the price of one!  Laura Kaye and Robin Kaye.  (I told Robin Kaye I was her stalker too, even though we've met before.  I really think that proves my point.) 

Maureen McGowan with a stack of books. (For now.)

Rita finalist Tracy Brogan.

Ally Carter. (See how restrained I was there. It happens.)

Sarra Cannon. I have some more of her stuff to read too.

And Huntley Fitzpatrick with her new book.

At a later event, I captured Sherry Thomas signing her upcoming YA book.

And here's Emily McKay signing now Rita winning The Farm.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Last Week at the Georgia Aquarium

So, as you might suspect, last week I was in Atlanta for RWA Nationals.  I arrived a tiny bit early so I could see more of Atlanta than it's airport and hotels and subway.  (Particularly given that's kind of what my last trip to Atlanta looked like.) Being someone who particularly loves aquariums (I am judgy about them too) I had noted that the conference hotel was quite close to the aquarium and considered that a sign. 
I arrived in Atlanta Monday. Knowing, as I did, I decided Monday, after a post-travel sit and knit in the hotel room, that I should hit a particular restaurant I had on my list now, given the week was likely to get away from me.  So, making use of my new Breeze card I headed up a few stops and wandered around the Midtown area before arriving at the Spence.  There I had a delicious dinner (including, as I had mentioned on twitter the discovery of how wonderfully salted Hawaiian Bread and cocnut butter meld together.  (The rest of dinner was equally as lovely too.)
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/93599710@N00/9297948205/" title="Bread and Wine at the Spence by mememe20016, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3820/9297948205_34fd46d84d.jpg" width="500" height="282" alt="Bread and Wine at the Spence"></a>
I walked back to the hotel, having discovered the Midtown and Downtown stops were really quite close together.  (There is something to be said for tall buildings that poke up into the sky helping to orient you.)
The next day, after making the sad determination that the hotel's shop sold cofftea, I went to the aquarium.  With admission one got a dolphin show and then could add on a behind the scenes tour.  Overall I loved the aquarium.  If I had to do it again, I might skip the dolphin show, although the dolphins are not on display otherwise, so you do have to see the show to see them.  (There was no photography during the show for the safety of everyone.  And, I imagine, so we could see the show and not everyone's outstretched camera.)  I like dolphins quite a bit, but found the show overly plotted for my tastes, but perhaps that made it more interesting to small children.
The exhibits were great.  I was there at feeding time for some of the tanks so got to see some divers in their too. 
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/93599710@N00/9303845454/" title="Georgia Aquarium 1 by mememe20016, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5498/9303845454_140f351706.jpg" width="282" height="500" alt="Georgia Aquarium 1"></a>
They have a large amount of tiger sharks and rays in their collection and there were tunnels and steps to allow you to view them.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/93599710@N00/9303857456/" title="Tiger Shark and friends by mememe20016, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7281/9303857456_a129ea48d7.jpg" width="500" height="282" alt="Tiger Shark and friends"></a>
There were also smaller tanks with things like these sea dragons that somebody said was ugly.  (I like you, sea dragons.)
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/93599710@N00/9303889944/" title="Dragonfish 2 by mememe20016, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3671/9303889944_1eb716cea6.jpg" width="282" height="500" alt="Dragonfish 2"></a>
They had a frog exhibit and a small fresh water exhibit.  On the behind the scenes tour we learned that there's an aquarium in Tennesee with a larger fresh water exhibit.  Also, apparently the gators in the fresh water exhibit got a little bored and now they have gates to contain the gators to certain areas. 
We also got to take a look at the salt water tank from above. 
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/93599710@N00/9301115193/" title="The Top of the Deep Water Tank by mememe20016, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7331/9301115193_b26330eac6.jpg" width="500" height="282" alt="The Top of the Deep Water Tank"></a>
It's about the size of a football field.  And we got some time to really watch the rays and tiger sharks from the top.  They are teenage tiger sharks so will get bigger, which is impressive because I could not get this guy in one frame as it was. 
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/93599710@N00/9301129583/" title="Too Big for One Shot by mememe20016, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5452/9301129583_8d48c77e89.jpg" width="500" height="282" alt="Too Big for One Shot"></a>
Afterwords I walked over to a Southern tea room where I had a wonderful lunch before heading back to the hotel for some sit in the AC time. 
Dinner was a modern Mexican restaurant near the hotel. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Weekly Map

I read somewhere (I have forgotten where) that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week.  Now certainly, especially lacking my source, I have no idea how productivity was measured, but there's something that feels very true about this.  (Except for those six months where I had six conference calls on Tuesday.  Unless we count telling everyone about my progress as productivity.) 
So, I am noticing a thing in my weeks.  Monday I head into the week ready to start again, check things, get going, and probably work late.  Usually around five thirty or so, my desire to work late has been overtaken by my fierce desire to take a nap, get a snack, go for a walk, or really do anything else.  (Sometimes I overcome this, but we are talking in generalities.) 
Tuesday, I go, go, go.  I send many emails.  I check on things.  Wednesday people have started to respond to all my Monday Tuesday stuff and I recap and check in, and remember that Monday or Tuesday I promised something or other and have not even looked at that even though it's right here on the post it in front of me.  In other words, Wednesday I start to freak out.  Thursday I wake up already running through my list, not quite sure how it's Thursday already, how did that happen?  And I start to wrangle my in box and take control of the to do list.  And Friday, by Friday I have found some zen.  I will accomplish what I can accomplish and the rest will happen when it happens. 
When I switched to this role I met with my mentor on Fridays and she said I was always very calm and I told her that was partly because by Friday I had just moved past some (not all) of the stress and felt a little more aware of what had happened, needed to happen, and was just going to happen later. 
So, as I break this week from my normal routine I am reminded, that in addition to the time away from the day job environment, and time to see other things and other people, there is enormous usefulness in simply changing up the pattern of one's week.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1.  The answer to why they will continue to inspect your toiletries at airports may be here, with this attempt at smuggling.
2. When my book club discussed Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, several more gamer folk mentioned they found that the lack of girl specific backlash was, well, possibly a sign that it was told from a male POV.  Now, sure, it takes place in the future, so some things may have improved.  As an example of where we are with this now, many, many people linked to this account of a guy logging in under his girlfriend's ID and being immediately given grief.  Doesn't much improve when he demonstrates his gamer chops. 
3. So mice are cute in theory but less cute when non-pet mice attempt to share your living space.  However, tossing said mouse into a pile of burning leaves may lead to loss of house.  So maybe stick to traps.  Or cats.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Three Interesting Things: The Belated Edition

1. NPR had an interesting piece examining if the latest portrayal of Tonto reinforces or overcomes Native American stereotypes.  I have not seen the movie yet, but my thought is - probably both.
2. Scoutmob talked to the folks at DC's Cause to find out why they added they have alcoholic cereal on their brunch menu. (My preliminary thoughts - Genius!)
3. And graduations have all happened which means yearbooks, which means there might be evidence of some sort of student using a chemical rap to slip some creative profanity in.  That's right.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Mockery as Advertisement

Lo some years ago, a local marketing group ran an ad comparing readers on other regions metro systems to DC's, using a romance novel as the example of the less educated riders in other places.  The romance readers were not pleased. So, while I have not managed a good picture of it, you can imagine my supreme pleasure that there are currently ad's for Sylvia Day's Crossfire series in the DC metro.  (Woot!  I've read the first, need to get going.) 
But now apparently in New York, in subways even, there are ads for a show called "Knitting Wars"*.  Except, on further inspection the poster claims if you thought this was a real show, you suck.  (I'm paraphrasing.) I recognize a lot of advertising works on the premise that people who do, watch, or use certain things are therefore better, but boy am I tired of people picking on the things I do.  (The mime community is probably just as tired, given they are targets of one of these too.) 
PBS currently airs at least two knitting type programs that I am aware of, in addition to their other news, entertainment, and children's programming, which makes the targeting of the folks most likely to perk up at the idea of a competitive knitting show an interesting choice. 
And while I support the programming that PBS brings to the airwaves, nothing about this makes me want to donate**.

*H/t to the fellow knitter who alerted me to this. 
**Yes, this was for the WNET station, not my local.  Still annoyed. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Dear Cancer

Dear Cancer,
You may have heard us talking about you.  Hi.  Yes, we were talking about you behind your back. In some cases someone, possibly even me, may have employed a choice swear word or too.  And most recently we called you stupid.  But, on further examination, I have decided it is much more likely you are ill informed.  So, if you will accept my apologies for mean things I may have said in the past, I will attempt to explain my position. 
I understand that you have a longstanding tradition with humans, and well, other animals.  And humans have often not been very nice to you.  We carve you away, blast you with radiation, and attack you with medications.  Here's why - if we don't we die.  Now, sure all animals die.  But, I'm sure you can understand why we are not fans of dying.  And without you we tend to die less fast than we do with you. 
But here's the thing, as a non-communicable disease when you kill off your host, you die too.  So, this is what led us to use the s word.  But I wandered if maybe we could talk about this.  Because if you weren't so gung-ho in taking over everything and therefore killing off your host, we wouldn't have to take such drastic measures in response.  So, I would like to suggest that maybe we could reach some kind of detente. Otherwise, well, I'm gonna go back to the name calling.