Friday, January 30, 2004

Off to Geekland

I've got a NERO event this weekend. For the next two and one half days, I will be a perky young Bard, a brainless dogooder fairie, and a wicked , potentially double dealing, necromancer. That I know of. I could also be a farmer, a peasant, and any number of different monsters. I'm taking the digicam, the computer, and spare batteries, so there WILL be photographic evidence of my nerdiness.

There's even a chance I'll get some sleep. On purpose.

See you Sunday.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Ok, so I've DRIVEN THROUGH them

It counts.

In fact, before age 10, I think I'd completed the Florida-to-North-Carolina route a good two dozen times. Maybe more. I was usually reading comic books in the back seat, though.



create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

I've got a few more states I'd like a peek at.
Once again, I'm listening to NPR while staring at a spreadsheet and I hear this.

"A book about writer's block?" Of course I'm interested. So I zoom over to my friend Amazon.com and I look up The Midnight Disease : The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain

And I stick it on the ol' wish list, which is what I do these days instead of immediately denting the credit card for a book I won't read for at least two more months.

So now I'm thinking about those days when I was a teen, when I would stay up all night writing my stories -- eyes just barely open, tummy down across the bed, my little lamp and my radio on, my check on the page, and my hand scratching out insistant words. I could only read the stuff from the same position, I found out later -- you couldn't make out the letters from a normal position above the page.

And now, when squeezing words into a story is like making rock juice, I wonder how much of this is part of the whole miasmic brain chemical icky yucky whiny cry-y thing I spent so long stumbling through. I had my pancriatitis and gallbladder problems in 1995 -- I was 30, my warrenty was up, I missed the renewal notice -- in the summer, and that was the point where the smudgy finger started blurring my days and weeks together, melding years into years with little distinction until, at last, 2002 came along and early that year I started to make things clear up.

Wow. 7 years. I didn't realize it was 7 years. I got my BA during those years. I stopped performing at the Ren Faire, pretty much stopped singing alltogether with one or two exceptions. I started making jewelry. I acquired cats and lost my father. 7 years. Seven. I wrote a lot during those blurry years, some beautiful clear stories came out of that time. Now -- not so much, but perhaps I dwell on it, make it swell and look bigger than it is.

But now I have another book I want to read. Sheesh.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Rethinking the Japanese Suicide Toy

Yeah, it took me a while, but it suddenly struck me why such a toy would be marketed in Japan.

The Japanese don't view suicide the same way we do. Hara kiri and sebuku are historically acceptable. The Bushido code, while not as prevalent as it was during and before WWII, is still as much an influence on the culture as our Judeo-Christian attitude toward the sanctity of life and death.

It's still weird to me, and I don't understand it completely, but I'm not quite as emotionally outraged and confused as I was.

Never Dispute with an Underwear Expert

Over the weekend, Husband and I went to Wal-Mart (this is rural suburbia here, choices are few) and got a little silly in the Men's Underwear department. This has resulted in a weird conversation with my Mother In Law.

Lemme 'splain.

A few weeks ago, Husband bought himself some boxer shorts. He bought them at the local zoo. They had tree frogs printed on them, big funny tree frogs, and were a soft soft cotton. They were cute and he looked cute in them, which is why he bought them. I liked him in them (I'm all about easy access) and so, when we went to Wal-mart, we looked at some more. There were a lot of very cute ones, mostly with M&M logos and such, so we bought a couple more pair.

MIL, usual MIL fashion, was doing laundry out of boredom and her idea that we can't do shit for ourselves without her around, had washed and folded them up and brought them to me to put away. I held them up.

"Aren't these cute?" First mistake -- never discuss your husband's underwear with your mother-in-law.

"Well, they aren't really underwear." MIL gave the black boxers with the M&M red guy on it a disparaging look.

"They were in the underwear section." Second mistake -- never contradict the MIL.

"No one really wears those."

"Our friend Marc does." In fact, Marc was the person who first brought boxers into our lives, when he bought me a pair of Daffy Duck boxers to wear as shorts and Husband "acquired" them. For reasons not really explainable, Marc, Husband and I have had many discussions about underwear.

"No. They don't have any support." And she turns away in a well known gesture that combines unwillingess to surrender with total assurance that I am an idiot and she won't discuss such critical ideas with idiots and, besides that, she's an expert in this field.

I put the underwear in the drawer, trying not to laugh, and pondering at what point in our relationship will I stop baiting her like this. I then caught Husband in IM:

Me: I just had the weirdest discussion with mom

Husband: oh?

Me: your boxer shorts are not underwear
Me: it has been so declared

Husband: ?!?!?
Husband: ooookkkkk


Me: No one REALLY wears them as underwear. They have no support.

Husband: ooookkkkkk
Husband: (blink, blink blink)


Me: I dared disagree, stating Marc indeed did wear them as underwear, She gave me the nod/turn away/whatever gesture
Me: I am sitting here grinning and thinking "Why did I say ANYTHING? She's obviousy an authority on men's underwear."
Me: So, anyway, if you wear them under your pants, you still have no underwear on
Me: Just so you know
Me: I still think they are cute

Husband: ooookkkkk
Husband: (so, I can still wear them as undies if we don't tell mom?)
Me: (I think so)

Husband: (good, because I like dangling free every so often)

Rejection Sucks

Miss S got a rejection on her writing project yesterday.

Rejection sucks. Like no one knows this.

It nearly kills me. I think it's the biggest obstacle to writing -- the having to sell it. I look on the rejections I've gotten and feel like I not only can't write, but I shoul d not write.

Problem is, I really really want to be a published writer. I think I've got something here. Maybe I'm wrong and too stupid and stubborn to clue in. But that's what keeps me sending stuff off.

Which I have to do soon. Ugh. And get more rejections. What a life!

Someone tell Minsoo

The always aware Miss Anthropy posted about this interesting educational toy.

What EXACTLY is going on over there? When did shooting yourself in the head become FUN? How is this someone's idea of a good time? There's something stinky evil underneath this.

Oh gods and goddesses...did we export this idea? Are we going to import it? I just want to go back to bed and wake up in a world where this does not exist.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Frustration of the Woman in the Bookstore

Went by my favorite local bookstore, Dickens-Reed. Hadn't been yet this year. As you may guess, I bought a few books.

Reading Lolita in Tehran
The Robber Bride
Kiln People
The Convenient Marriage
The Story Behind the Story
Mumbo Jumbo
Fat Girls and Lawn Chairs
Number 10
Little Me

I think I have not only doubled the number of book on my "to be read" pile, not including my "almost read" pile, but I have by default selected the books on this year's reading list. Except, of course, as usual I will find still other books and I won't read these books because of those books....

Still, I'll make room on my shelf SOMEHOW.

Radio Listener

I listen to classical music at work, mostly because it's become too difficult to dial in the local jazz station. I like classical music fine, anyway, when I'm working.

Our local public radio station is fairly conservative on the classics front, not that I'm educated enough to know the difference. But I was being proud of myself this morning. I heard a piece playing and recognized it. I'd heard it many times before, but I couldn't remember what it was called*. I racked my brain trying to remember where I'd heard it and why it pleased me so much.

Then it occurred to me.

It was part of the soundtrack for the Steve Martin movie Roxanne. He climbed a house while it played.

I feel all wrong now.


*I think the piece is the Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strause

I can't help it

Ok, here's the story.

I was listening to NPR Morning Edition and Susan Stamberg is interviewing the author of In the Devil's Garden, a history of the various beliefs about food. I'm always interested in such stuff, so I run over to Amazon to check out the book. While there, I spot a link to Reay Tannahill's "Food in History", a book I've wanted to read since I read her "Sex in History" some years ago -- well, I've read it two or three times, because every time I pull it out to look something up, I get hooked and start reading it again. Anyway, there I noticed a link to another book of hers called Flesh & Blood, about the history of cannibalism. And now Barbra Streisand is stuck in my head, singing...

"People.....
People who eat people...
Are the luckiest people...
in the world..."

ARGH.

I think it has something to do with catching a commercial for "Parents", a movie I've never seen but may now have to watch when it comes on FLIX. I had no idea that was Mary Beth Hurt.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Basking in the Light

This afternoon I came home from an errand and heard the loud beeps and squeals of Universal Power Supplies in use.

Our power was off. Well, it has been a stormcloudy sort of day. I call the Husband. The place we work is in roughly the same power grid as our house. What was up? He didn't know but he said he would call the power company. He called back.

We'd been cut off for lack of payment.

"What?" I was flummoxed. There was no power bill in the pile of bills I'd paid this month. I open all the mail and no power bill had been delivered. "When did we miss the bill?"

"Well, we moved to "E-pay". I thought the payment had already gone through." Husband was sounding that way Husbands sound when a Great Idea goes sour.

"We didn't get any kind of confirmation." All our other automatic payments send confirmations in the mail.

"Well, the lady said they don't do that for E-pay. Maybe they emailed it and it caught in my Spam filter."

"They didn't even send us a late notice."

"The lady said they don't when you are on E-pay."

"They didn't even call us."

"We're on E-pay."

I had to digest this information, because I'm sort of slow. Finally, I put it together."So, they don't send a bill, they don't send a notice, they don't take the payment...and they shut off our power?"

"Yeah."

"Because we are on E-pay?"

"Yeah."

"We aren't on E-pay anymore, are we?"

"Nooooo..."


So we are now paid up through February at which time we will pay our electric bill the old fashioned way. I dunno about all these technological advances in the Electronic Marketplace. I think that, if using the E-pay service means you don't get electricity, they should tell you that up front. The power is back on, by the way.

================================================

I used the hours without power to finish reading my book. "Harpo Speaks" was wistful and wonderful and full of fun.

So far I've done 2 books this year. Feh. Not even through the month and I'm already 2 books behind. But I'll do better. I've got a big pile of half finished books to work through. Shouldn't take nearly as long to read as whole, brand new books.

Disturbances

Benny is getting the cold shoulder and nasty hiss from the other cats as punishment for his night on the town. He's unhappily wearing a bell collar now. He's pouting. He's also due for a bath, which will make him madder, but mutual suffering bonds the kitties together into a tight, conpiratorial group. Aside that, he's stinky.

I was listening to The History Channel while sewing today. They ran a spot advertising an upcoming show called "Targeted: Pineapple Face" on the capture of Manuel Noriega, and the voice over is going along, blah blah blah "....George Bush the First..." blah blah.

I blinked. That sounded weird. I let it go and continued sewing. A little later the spot ran again, and again I heard "..George Bush the First.." The spot ran a few more times (The History Channel is all about self-promotion until you don't care anymore) and I kept hearing that phrase and it kept disturbing me. Then I figured out why.

Typically we don't number our political representatives like European counties number their various kings and queens. Numbering succeeding generations with the same name is sort of a dynastic habit. If George Bush Senior is "George the First" (properly George I), then the current occupier of the Oval Office is George II.

This doesn't sound good.

Does this mean that ol' George II will have a son named George III who will run mad and tax us to pieces and cause us to stage a revolt? I dunno.

In any case, speculation aside, I think it's damned poor wording on THC's part. I've long suspected -- no, it's more than a suspicion -- that THC has been ramping up the "America First" thinking in their programming to come down firmly in a particular political arena. For example, they recently ran a week of programming called "The Barbarians". They covered the Vikings, the Goths, Atilla the Hun, Ivan the Terrible, Hitler...and Saddam Hussain and Osama bin Laden. I've seen these shows before. The last two were add ons.

There have been a lot of such shows peppering the Discovery channel and THC channels, showing in graphic detail how bad these two are. Don't misconstrue me, I have nothing positive to suggest about either. In my world, they are Very Bad Men. But the programs -- repeated many times, on the various channels under A&E and Discovery banners -- seems a little like propaganda. Seem a LOT like propaganda, actually. There is too much protesting, as if to smother all doubts, as if the TV has been enlisted to reinforce a particular viewpoint.

I'm the sort of person who, when I hear a particular idea or point of view being hammered hard, begin to think that there's something nasty under the candy shell. Someone is trying to CONVINCE me of something, having already made the assumption that I don't agree with them and MUST be persuaded. Now, I'm no more politically aware than most people, so all this effort being directed at me raises my eyebrows and makes me look more closely.

George I.

Sends chills down my spine. I think I'm switching channels.

Important Public Service Announcements

I'm getting these little worried messages from people that I haven't posted in DAYS...

Have so. At my new URL.

Some people don't have an email I can reach, and there are those who just didn't catch the change announcement, so I'm making it again --

NEW URL

www.formyselfandstrangers.blogspot.com

Thank you very much.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Not worried

Little brat showed up a few minutes ago, took us for a chase around the cars, and was betrayed by his stomach into grabbing distance. He's now wearing a bell collar and telling stories of his adventures to the other cats...

Worried

One of my cats got outside today. He's been gone for hours. I'm not happy. There's nothing I can do -- he's the Houdini of the housecats, and he's doing this before. It still worries me.

I'm such a worrier. I should figure out how to market this skill. I'm really good at it.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

I am sad

I felt a little pang when I learned Ann Miller had died.

But this really makes me sad.

Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo, Dies at 76

I remember when I was in kindergarten and every morning started with a Toaster Strudle and Captain Kangaroo, Bunny Rabbit, Mr. Greenjeans, and pingpong balls.

I am sad. And I'm old.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Realization

I don't mind working on spreadsheets. Sometimes it's fun. Usually, though, it is mind numbing and inevitably leads to a certain amount of unintentional weirdness.

I just realized that three days ago when I tried to type "assembly" as a tab title, it came out "assmedley".

I shan't speculate as to why.

Where No One Has Gone Before Without a Caramel Latte

I get a twitchy sort of sad feeling when I hear the Rover has Signal Problems. I'm behind space exploration. I'm interested in exploration here on planet, too, but I was raised on the idea that we needed to move beyond where we are.

Many cultures had exploration and discovery as a major part of their make-up. Since I'm most familiar with US and European history, those are the only figures I can reliably draw from, but those histories are littered with Great Heros who were explorers. They took off from Point A in search of the rest of the alphabet with their Swiss Army Knives and their loose leaf notebooks, risking death at every turn. Even the ones who died during their attempts we revere.

Do we not make 'em like that anymore?

Along with so many, I moarn the loss of the astronauts who have died, but I don't see this as a reason not to continue the space program. Yes, I think making space exploration as safe as possible is a worthy idea. Still, I think it points out something serious.

We tremble in the face of failure. We fear it so much that we don't want to dare anything that might create it.

Overcoming adversity is an admired quality, but it wouldn't be so admired if it wasn't so damned hard. It's hard because, well, more often than not you can't overcome it. It's a big ol' universe with lots of variables, and try as we might we can't predict them all and plan for them. We revere the explorer heros of our past, but we don't give much thought to the many, many, MANY more men (and women) who tried and failed, but still pushed the edge back slightly, building a foundation for those heros to climb. We pretend that those superhuman heros climbed those mountains, sailed those seas, crossed those continents and flew those skies in a sudden and unprecidented burst of genius. We don't appreciate how much real work went into every effort, nor how much failure had to precede it.

We don't want to deal with that failure now.

How many ships sank before Europeans reached the North and South American continents? No one can even count them, no one even knows. How many died exploring mountains, oceans, forests, rivers, deserts -- every area on this planet we can reach, people no one knows and no one acknowledges, how many? And now we begrudge and flinch away from the inevitable sacrifices that will be made to explore the most dangerous and distant places.

We are now as populous a species as ever. We worry about our planet's ability to sustain all the life it has produced. And we fear death now (at least in this culture, which is the only one I know) as much as ever, struggling not only to remain alive, but to remain youthful. We are highly risk adverse. We extend the tragedy of a death far beyond the personal loss to friends and loved ones. The fear grips us that we are sending people to die when we send them to explore.

Perhaps we no longer have the callouses needed. Maybe it takes a certain amount of hardheartedness, a measure of "yeah, it's tough, move on" attitude to do these kinds of things.

And I wonder, too, if it is really the people who go, or just the people who don't have the guts to go but stay behind and watch who are really afraid. I think the people who suit up and climb in and launch themselves upward know perfectly well that they could die right then. I don't think they suffer from a great fear of death -- they know it walks with them all the time and they give it a nod and continue onward because they are alive right this moment. When they die soaring over the earth, I don't know if they really regret their sacrifice. I think if they did, they wouldn't be going in the first place. In fact, I think that when we, the more timid people, prevent them from going, we are projecting our fears onto them and putting those exploring spirits into cages. For some people, life isn't really lived unless you walk right next to death and nod to it as you go. We are afraid of what they do, and even watching them do it is a bit much. Their failures make us imagine ourselves in their places, and thus imagine our terror.

Wow, I wandered a long distance from that little robot. Maybe not so far, though, because each failure (and comparatively, it isn't that bad. I go back to other exploration attempts and compare.) seems to increase the goosish nodding of the naysayers in the back who want everyone to sit safe at home in slippers, with a cup of coffee and a newspaper. So, come on, Spirit! We don't have the guts to withstand a failure now.

Awaiting the Shock and Awe

Yahoo! News - Ben Affleck, J.Lo Break Off Relationship

The actual event doesn't surprise me, or even interest me overly. It's the reactions that will be intriguing -- those who express their shock, concern and pain, and those who trumpet their triumph at being right at last.

And those who write parodies where Ben's friends stage an intervention. At least they get to each have their names back (My favorite was B.Lo, which is funny either way you pronounce it.)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I'm all about the work avoidance

I think my Diet Pepsi addiction has reached pre-August 2003 proportions. Last night I MADE myself drink some juice and I was not pleased. I really wanted another DP. I SHOULD drink some water, but I only do that in public now. There's no telling what evil mixture a restaurant will try to tell you is Diet Pepsi. Diet Coke, while excellent for removing rust stains from chrome bumpers, is simply Not The Same.

Work, on the other hand, is Just The Same. I'm about to plunge into the monthly Sales Forecast numbers. Sometimes this is interesting, especially when the bookings totals match the manager report after I've divided them up amongst the sales accounts. But now they must be entered into their own little pages of the giant spreadsheet, and when that happens, nothing adds up. It hasn't added up for two months now. Running down my errors and fixing them is tedious. I never intend to make errors. I fight diligently to prevent them. They happen anyway.

I blame -- with at least 25% justification -- this keyboard that has a nasty tendency to type a second character if any key is held down for more than a second. The number keypad is especially sensitive. 'TURBO-XWING' ain't all that. At least today my hand isn't freezing.

Yah yah, I know, this is FLORIDA and I've been cruely taunting the popsicle crew up north with thoughts of warm weather, but...I live in Florida for a reason. I actually like the cold (like Rhoda, I keep better) but my hands and feet do not. They freeze with the slightest provocation.

What do you mean, you don't know who Rhoda is? Just shut up, ok? I'll pick a TV icon you recognize next time, you whippersnapper you...

Anyway, my office has a window (yay!) which is very pleasant except for the constant attacks staged by various members of the local bird population. Currently, the male cardinel is going off. I had a blue jay earlier. This window does't quite close, so right now there's a little cool air coming in and gathering around my feet. Eventually my right hand will start getting numb and hurting, and I will be able to create icicles and pained shouts where ever I touch. It's no better in summer. The A/C vent blows directly on this spot, and my hand will perform the same magic miracle.

*sigh* I can avoid it no longer. It's time to argue with a spreadsheet. And stop with the Rhoda cracks, there in the back.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Ahhhhhhhh!

In case you don't notice after a while...

I FINALLY CHANGED MY URL TO MATCH MY SITE NAME!


It was embarrassingly simple to do. Now I just have to make sure I change everything else to reflect my new, all coordinated status.

Is it really this easy?

Rabbi Offers Prayer for Web Porn Browsers

I am certainly not in a position in any way to poke fun or make light of anyone's spiritual beliefs. This still makes me laugh.

I wonder if it provides good virus protection?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I'm Still Looking

for someone to work with me as a writing partner. You can check out the link at the bottom of the sidebar under "Favorite Posts" and see "Advertisement". This is a really important something for me. You can also check out my writing journal at Responding to Prompts.

Irksome

Is when someone you like and respect quite knowingly, but in a sense of humor, starts up something funny that unavoidable insults you not once, but repeatedly, even though you weren't really the object of the joke. The joke was about faceless classes of contemptible people and certain things associated with them. You just accidentally ended up in some of those classes and liking some of those things.

I mean, do you go with your first impulse, find something heavy and beat them with it? Or do you hold back, count to 10, bite your tongue, practice forgivesness....and THEN find something heavy?

All advice will be considered.

Update 1/21/04

You guys made me laugh so much that I stopped being mad. I owe each of you a cookie. :>

Because I still care

I had no idea that GROVER IS BITTER. I still have my copy of "There's a Monster at the End of this Book" and fond memories of the kid in 4th grade who would read it doing a perfect Grover impersonation, to the delight of everyone at recess.

Poor Grover.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Why Penn Gillette Is

Someone I like and think has more between his ears than lint, yet who can still piss me off.
Opulently Stupid Penn

I think it might be the bully blustery personna he wears like an oversized sweater. Still, there's just something about listening to him talk that makes me want to listen. He's on the first episode of Nerd Nation. Never thought of him as a nerd, but then again...

Mr. Spock

I just saw the new Priceline commercial.


I shall laugh evily for a while yet.

The Key to In-law Relations.

Mother-in-law and I have an odd relationship. We mostly don't have much in common except Husband, yet we manage to spend time together in fairly companionable ways. We like each other, I think. At least we don't hate each other. Tonight we are going to Sonics for dinner, since Husband is teaching and neither of us is much for cooking, and Cream Pie Milkshakes sound really tasty.

But we both think the other one is pretty strange. I know it.

I am clueless on matters financial. Don't ask me, because I don't know. I don't really WANT to know. All that matters to me is how much money I have, how much I have to pay, how much I earn, and where my check book is. Mom is much higher on the evolutionary scale of things in that arena. She should be. She dedicates huge parts of her life to it. She's good at it. She can total numbers in her head, calculate a tip on three levels, and keep track of her small change. She's no dummy. But I am now convinced that there's a whole game going on between she and I, a balance of power thing that has reached some ridiculous levels.

We own a VCR/DVD combo unit. We've had it for a few years. Like all our electronic equipment, it is somewhat Mysterious to MIL. More importantly, no matter how many times anything is explained, it remains Mysterious to MIL. The easiest way to handle any electronic entertainment needs for MIL would be to do it for her, but that rubs her the wrong way. She wants to do it herself. This is an important point in the plot.

Mom walks into the back room where I am cleaning, with a tape in her hand she wants to watch. The TV is on, but I'm only half paying attention. "Do I just put the tape in here?"

I glance up to see that she is, indeed, gesturing to the VCR part of the unit.

"Yes." Now, I'm talking to my mother in law, which means I'm using two voices -- an outside voice that's bland and unemotional and very polite, and an inside voice that's spouting smart-ass-isms. I can't help it.

"This slot?"

"Yup". Yes, the one that is about the size and shape of a VHS tape and says "VHS" on the little door.

"It will just play?"

"Uh huh." Well, it will if it's turned on. Or you can push the PLAY button.

And it did. So we watched (she watched, I half listened while cleaning further into the terrifying 1/4 of the back room left over from yesterday) some infomercial thing where three women put on special magical mineral makeup.

"Does this thing shut off?"

Eventually, I suppose so. I'm not paying attention, so I don't know QUITE what she means. I say "Uh, yes." There is some silence as she ponders the machine. I return to cleaning.

"How do I rewind this?"

I walk over, look at the buttons -- in case they had changed, mind you -- and poked the rewind. It goes into fast reverse, with three women unmake-upping themselves . "Ooops, I thought you had finished the tape." I push the STOP and REWIND again.

"Well, I was finished watching." She then goes off to do something else. When the tape is done, I pop it out, put it in its little sleeve and put it in her room. Maybe 30 minutes later, she comes back and starts poking the machine. She pokes for about 5 minutes because I'm still Cleaning and I can't see her.

"Why won't the tape come out?"

"I already took it out, Mom. It's in your room."

"Oh." She laughs a twittery nervous laugh -- similar to the laugh Husband uses when he's anxious, the exact sort of laugh that makes all the skin on my spine contract and my tongue suddenly feel too large for my mouth. "I wondered why I couldn't get it out."

We shan't go into the perils of DVD viewing or using the Satellite Remote. I don't understand why either is complicated, but it invariably ends up frustrating her and then irritating me, because I have to fix it. We put cable on her room TV. She can handle cable. The rest of it? She Doesn't Want To Know. It's part of that game.

Now, I repeat, MIL is not a dumb woman. She's accomplished many things in her life time. She is, however, not only certain I am dumber than a box of rocks, but constantly surprised when I demonstrate I am not. She also says things that simply Do Not Make Sense. Last year it was an issue of house keys. She and I were going somewhere. I pulled out my key -- our front door locks from the outside with a key and I have the original house key on my keyring. It always works. Copies we've made don't work so well, including the one Mom has, so last year Husband had new keys made. Mom is very proud of having a key to our house. She has her new key in her hand. She looks at me and says -- in a serious tone -- "Oh, you have a key, too?"

Ten Years I've lived in this house. I just let it drop. There are rules to this game.

The key issue has gotten funnier this year. Even when all three of us go some where or return, she will push to the front to pull out her key and open the door. It wouldn't be such an issue if...it wasn't such an issue. Our entry way is small. Three people don't fit. Mom is smaller than either of us. She has never made a big deal of locking the door or unlocking it in years past. It's just NOTICEABLE. Maybe I'm feeling a little possessive of the house now -- I mean, I've done everything short of exorcism to make it feel like my home -- no, wait, I've done a few cleansing rituals, which counts as exorcism. Mom originally decorated the house (well, gave Husband old furniture from a condo she'd once owned and helped him with things like curtains). Surprisingly enough, her taste and mine don't differ all that much except that I like a stronger palette and more texture. Still, this house no longer looks like any home she'd owned.

Which was, actually, the point. Score.

Referals

There's nothing like checking your referal logs and seeing a Google Search: ass poking techniques by myself and then checking it and being relieved that you are only #11 on this list....right before a link to penis enlargement techniques...

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The Weekend that Was

Although I've been "busy", as in moving around a lot, there's not been much reportable going on in my corner of the universe. (Everyone has a corner of the universe, thus the universe is a very awkwardly shaped place.) Yesterday was spent going to the Gem and Lapidary Wholesaler show and spending more money than I should have while not buying soooooo much stuff that I wanted to have. I'm all abobut the sparkly stuff, I really am. Then we went to dinner with some friends and came home to watch Eddie Izzard and Margaret Cho on TV.

Eddie Izzard is an interesting experience. Miss S and I have determined that, while obviously educated and intelligent, he appears to indulge in a variety of mind altering substances before going on stage. The result is stretches of his act where he seems to be wandering looking for a joke, interrupted by long rips where he's screamingly funny. Of the two videos we saw, (which actually contain 3 performaces) the show he did entirely in French was the best -- which is extremely weird. He's funny in subtitles, and we had an advantage over the French Audience -- we know what Sean Connery sounds like, so when Izzard does a Connery accent in French, we get it. The French hear ol' Sean in dubbed versions. I'd never thought of that. If you are an impersonator, you are language and maybe even culture specific.

Today has been cleaning. We have a back TV/rec room that has been abandoned for a few monts for assorted reasons. We are trying to rediscover it, mostly because I want OUT of the bedroom. I stay mostly in the bedroom when I'm home. The reason? My dog. Her crate is in there, and she likes being in her crate. She hates being the back room. Yet, doglogic requires that she be in whatever room I'm in. If I'm not in the "right" room, she climbs on me, gets on furniture, knocks things over, and is generally a pest. I can lock her in her crate, but then she starts trying to tear up the crate and hurting herself. Bah. I am under the paw.

Anyway, the room is about 1/2 clean and clear. There's one corner that I used for crafts, but is currently so piled with stuff I need to sort and put away that it cannot even be entered safely. The coffee table is covered with stuff, as is the couch, but you can now walk through it. Ah well. I really just want to get a space so I can start making jewelry again. You can't make jewelry in the bedroom. Too many little sharp things to pop off and get in the bed.

Oh, and for all you frozen people -- it's still warm here :> I've BEEN up there in the cold. That's why I stay here. This is why I suffer through June - September, with giant bugs and solid wet air and sunburning in 10 minutes or less. It's all about January.

Friday, January 16, 2004

A pause to appreciate

Oh, in case I didn't tell you, my favorite thing about weblogs is when a bunch of webloggers start talking and responding to each other in their posts and in each others comments. It's so much like...well...sitting around the coffee shop/burger joint/pizza palace and conversing, except without all the calories.

Oh, and for all those Frozen People Up North

I took these today.



Yes, that says 75. That's the thermometer in the shade of the entryway.



Those are the roses growing just a few feet from the entry way.



And those are my bare toes in the mostly dead grass of the front yard, feeling all nice and warm in the sunshine.

Sometimes it's fun being a bitch. :>

Mailbox Part 3

About 20 minutes ago I heard loud noises outside. I walked out front and saw this




It's the same box with a new leg.




This was what the old leg left behind.



And then, while I was loading these pictures up, I heard more noise. I looked out, and...Behold!




Thus ends my Mailbox Saga.

I'm actually rather impressed. It only took about 4 weeks. Go USPS.

The toppling of idols

I may not have mentioned it, but among my many other geeky qualities, I am a die hard Mr. Spock/Leonard Nimoy loyalist. Much of my earlly adolescence was spent in fond day dreams of having a Vulcan of my very own.

Then I see this. Nimoy to Join Shatner in Priceline.com Ads. Yeah, Captain Kirk had his moments, but he was never, ever, EVER what Mr. Spock was. Mr. Spock wouldn't do embarrassing things on a TV commercial like Kirk "Everybody look at me" would.

I feel like the last of my precious illusions has fallen. And he was always so perfect for me.

Rashes and Irritations

I have, like many of you, belonged to a lot of online message boards. Most of the time they are great fun, or at least fairly interesting. There is a -- I can only term it a phenomena -- on boards though where some group of people express irritation about the content of particular threads, sometimes to the point of posting their protests, insults, and other nastiness on the threads.

It strikes me as similar to walking through a well tended, wooded park and checking all the trees for poison ivy, then rolling naked on the poison ivy, and THEN getting upset both with the park caretakers for allowing poison ivy to exist and for the ivy for being where you could find it. It's irritation by design.

Oh, I don't hold myself exempt from having done this in the past. In fact, there was a time (long ago) when being irritated seemed like a hobby. I didn't know I was looking for something to piss me off -- things just seemed to pop up, surprise me, even attack me. It took a few years of brushing off the soot and cinders of various Flame Wars to see the truth. After this epiphany, I figured out that if I didn't want to be irritated, I didn't have to read what irritated me -- if a particular thread topic bothered me, once I knew that, I didn't have to open it ever again. Many times the topic heading would warn me. If I was caught by an odd thorn while reading through something I liked, I could simply ignore it.

Online life has a few rules of its own. One rule is that nothing will prosper without attention. In the land of message boards, IMs and other forms of communication, Not Reading Something or Not Replying is a powerful weapon. We all, to some extent or another, are jostling around for attention -- listen to me, agree/disagree with me, talk to me, notice ME. I'm certainly in that camp -- this weblog stands as case in point.

And everyone can just ignore it, in which case I'll probably dry up and blow away (well, weblog wise, at least).

So, when wandering around the message boards I frequent (or reading the weblogs I do), when something irritates me, I've learned that reacting suddenly with the the flaming sword of rhetorical justice, mighty club of righteous anger, and the stomping boots of ultimate sarcasm is usually Not Worth The Effort. In fact, I can't recall at this moment a single instance where someone who received such a response recanted all their words to date, begged forgiveness, and underwent conversion to the flamer's point of view. Now, if I really feel like mixing it up, I'll occasionally post a question in my most gentle manner, asking the upset person why they read what upsets them so much. This is mostly so I can feel smug, which is an entertaining sensation. I try not to indulge it much, though, as it is fattening, with most of the fat landing in the head.

What are your thoughts, gentle readers? Is there much satisfaction for you in frying idiots to crisp black bits? Or do you avoid such irritation? Do you enjoy viewing the spouts and gouts of flame from others, but remain aloof yourself? Or -- the heavens forfend! -- are you one of those people who go looking for things about which to be irritated? Tell me about it!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

No home gas mask.

I'm sitting on a bed full of cats, wondering which one farted just now. None of them are looking the slightest bit guilty. In fact, they all look inordinately relaxed and comfortable. However, I think the culprit is the one who just jumped off the bed and waddled toward the littler box.

In other news -- I FINISHED MY FIRST BOOK OF 2004! Yay me!

Yes, "Around the World with Auntie Mame" is now complete and I am free to pick up another in the pile (ever growing) I've got collected on my shelves.

What was most peculiar was how hard I found it to find time to read. It took me some denial rerouting to admit, at last, that having the laptop always under my fingers -- whether I was doing anything worthwhile or not -- is detrimental to any attempt to read. I carried the book with me and read whenever I was waiting somewhere. I carried it to the bathroom (oh, don't even PRETEND you haven't done that). Yet it still took a VERY long time for me to read it.

I'm still going to work toward that 52 books goal. How's everyone else doing?

The offending cat has not returned. She's probably sitting next to the automatic litterbox we have, waiting for it to scoop so she can swat at it and pretend to be offended that her proud creation has been removed from it's artistic setting. She is a cat with An Interest. I'm going into another room, where there's air.

They'll always have Paris

Somehow, I doubt that Starbucks Opening Its First Shop in Paris will do anything to improve US/Franco relations.

Next, someone will open a "Crepes-R-us" and a "Baguette-n-Bagle", and the bombs will begin to fall.


When I was in London last year, the omnipresence of Starbucks was opressive. If there's one thing the US is good at, it's exporting the more unusual aspects of our culture to other nations. McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut -- you'll find them nestled amongst the most traditional of European settings.



I wonder if this is a good thing. Then again, if you don't like something, don't buy it. And, I suppose in the dim and gritty past the US was equally exploited and exported to by its colonializing founders. Only, it wasn't so pervasive then -- and they certainly didn't have the market share.

What do you think? Is cultural cross polinization destroying the uniqueness of various cultures? Or is it part of creating a World Culture? Or is it just something that will make money now, chew up something special, and leave us the drab, dangerous dystopia of our collective nightmares?

Reporting back later

Ok, so it wasn't that bad. In fact, it was sort of good.

The show is called "Chi:A New Era in Acrobatics" and it reminded me (rather strongly, in fact) of what Cirqu du Soliel does, only not as high budget/weird concept and no actual clowns. It's performed by the China Performing Arts Agency & Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. While this wasn't the troupe's best night (there were some broad spots in the show that were just "off". Not bad, just not at the height of precision one might expect. Not a big deal.) it was a very dazzling and imaginative show.

And I love watching the Asian people. Is that racist? I hope not.

I don't really grasp the old bigotted claim that all Chinese (or Japanese or Koreans) look alike. I saw a huge variety in facial features and body styles (a few of those guys would be very nice with .... nothing at all). Yes, most of the women were short and petite, but not all. They were a pleasure to look at, especially in some of the more imaginative costumes. I even fancy that I can distinguish more easily between Chinese, Japanese and Korean facial commonalities -- more easily than, say, telling a German from an Englishman from a Frenchman from an Italian. Culturally, the Asian groups have kept more distinction amongst themselves. Hell, it doesn't take much historical study to learn that they all have their own set of prejudices about who one should and shouldn't marry, nationality-wise.

In a purely prejudicial vein, I actually think the Japanese produce some of the best looking men. Yeah, I think so, although Chow Yun Fat is just too cool for words and I can't name a Japanese actor (well, I couldn't pronounce the name if I knew it, soo..) There are not enough Asian actors in movies and TV shows. Especially yummy male ones.

I can't HELP it. I've got a definate appreciation for the Asian Male :> What can I say? Is that wrong? Is it bad? I hope not, because I don't intend to stop looking.

Anyway, while the evening wasn't a barrel of laughs (or monkeys) it wasn't uniformly awful. So it's a good thing I left the house. Now it's late and I really need to sleep. And dream about those terribly flexible, muscular Chinese guys.....

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Turtle

About to leave for a performance up in Gainesville, Chinese acrobats, got the tickets as a gift, was a spur of the moment thing, and DAMN I DON'T WANT TO GO. Why do I want to leave my house? Why do I want to leave my stuff? I've got things to do. I can't think of anything more deadly and prone to failure than spending an evening in the theatre with my mother in law and husband, watching him get tense and turn into a raving bastard while I wish I was anywhere else and Mom wonders why we are such a pair of assholes.

*sigh* I'm such a turtle. I so resent being pushed out of my shell. I am simply dead set against any idea of having a good time. It's suffusing. Everything negative I can feel outside actual pain I'm feeling (of course, my new bra is pinching, so I suppose that's justification). I have on makeup -- scary -- and jewelry and I'm unable to pick any clothes I actually want to wear (outside of my t shirt and sweats).

Bah. I'll report back later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

More on Bloggies

More on the "awards" topic I was talking about a few days ago. And, damn it all, she says it so well. I'm having serious web-self-esteem issues here.

Maybe site-issued awards are the way to go. Make up a button or award gif, and a list particular to your site. Give your little award to whomever is on your list. Collect 'em and trade 'em. Ask for 'em by name. Recognition is a wonderful thing, but it isn't quite the rare and precious resource that big, well hyped awards pretend it is. We can recognise each other.

Thus, Jadedju gets my "Favorite Site O' the Day" award for today.

Monday, January 12, 2004

"It's Never Just a Blog"

That's a quote from a post that's got my heart beating faster. Poundyblog's discussion of online plagiarism gets me right in the paranoia (not that I think I write anything anyone would want to steal, but that someone would DO it).

I can see the temptation, and I can grasp that someone might lack the understanding of boundaries (or of copyright laws). Everything on the web that isn't directly blocked with a toll booth must therefore be available for free, right? For me, it's photos. In my family, my mother was the one no one wanted to show a photo album, because they knew she'd swipe a photo or six. I have a drawerful of photos of people I don't know because of her prediliction. However, I do the same thing with photos I find online. I hunt and make copies and store away all kinds of lovely jpgs.

I sometimes use them, especially on my weblog. I never say they are mine. But I don't always have the owner's name, and I don't always list is or leave it. And I don't pay for it. To the photographer who's photo I copied, this might make me a Bad Person. I don't have a legal leg to stand on except that I'm not making money on it (which is a good leg, I'll assert.)

Wendy makes some excellent points in her posts and I've got the pompoms out to cheer her on. Like her, I find myself wondering why it happens. I think it is about understanding limits -- knowing what belongs to someone else and what can be shared and all those things we supposedly learn in kindergarten. Some of these "rules" are suseptible to interpretation. I realized how little control I had (anyone has) over what I put on the web, which caused a lot of soul searching. I've upset other webloggers by linking a post and commenting in a way they didn't like. I've had posts of my own linked to sites I didn't want to have associated with me, and had posts copied and pasted complete without anyone asking me (again, into a site I found objectionable). Damn it, don't these people KNOW?

But when I'm lurking through sites, I get a glimmer. it's all just sitting there, online, looking so...available.

I try to stick to the same rules I learned when quoting any written work -- attribute it correctly and provide a method by which the original can be located. If you are dealing with another person's work honestly, whether you want to tear it apart or praise it to the sky or use it to support your own ideas, you can pretty much do what you like as long as you let the reader check your source. That's the hard part, though, because if you let someone check your source, they might find a weakness or a falsehood, or just plain use your source to argue against you.

For my own posts, I've thought about sticking the copyright notice on this weblog. I've thought about it many times. However, it did me no good before (in my old web journal) and I'm not sure it does me good now. I've reconciled myself to the idea that no matter what I do, whatever I post is automatically public domain. I don't like it, but I don't see how I can do anything about it except wave my little fists in the air and cry foul. I'm not sure how it can be proved. Although Wendy mentions that posts have date and time stamps, at least in Blogger, those can be changed at will. If it can be done in Blogger, I'll bet it can be done in other software. Thus, the idea that the time/date stamp is proof positive of ownership sort of goes out the window. Anyone could copy something from another source, alter the time stamp, and post it as if they were the originator.


There are more ideas underlying Weblog plagiarism and how to control or prevent it. Is this a fight that must be fought? Is it a rare occurance to have someone blatantly steak from a weblog? If defending one's copyright is worth while, how should it be done? What are the rules? Who enforces them?

As high minded and realistic and "fair" as I'd like to appear about this, I still feel that my picture swiping isn't the same as wholesale copying and reposting someone else's web log posts. My impulse is to commit violent acts on those people who do such stealing. Maybe with a really big stick.

Ponderment

Ya know, there's nothing like cruising through someone's site Archives to make you realize at one time was weirdness and what brilliance they have. And to make you want both for yourself.

It also makes me realize how, in the land of weblogs, certain topics remain ponderable forever. One person gets done with them, and then someone else picks them up and rattles 'em some more. Sort of makes me want to shut up because, well, damn, no matter what I think of, someone else has already said it better anyway.

It might be better if I lived somewhere cool.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

So CUUUUUTEEE!

Baby Panda Pictures! Baby Panda Pictures! Look at cute little Mei Sheng. OOooooOOOoo!

(Ok, so I'm a sucker for cute, cuddly, fuzzy things. It's still a BABY PANDA! SOOOooooo CUUUUUTEEEE!!!)

Some Retro-Site-o'the-day-ing

How would we live without hyphens?

Rien of Reality Asylym/Channel R/Up the Garden Path has been my longest known "online" friend and one of the few I've ever met that will still talk to me :> He now has stuck a feather on his arm. This is a little different from the traditional feather in one's cap, but that's the Dutch for you. He's been helpful and encouraging to me in lots of ways, and therefore deserves (and actually gave me the idea FOR) this little award. After all, the very first award my old site ever got (hell, the ONLY award my old site ever got) was from him.

So give him a visit and wave. It's different in Amersfoort.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Influences

Miss S is influencing me. As steadily as I try to guide her size 11 twinkle toes away from the -- shall we say, more exhibitionist? -- wardrobe choices, she is pushing, poking, and shoving me into being more "fabulous".

I bought liquid eyeliner today. And concealer. And a lipstick called "British Red". And lip liner.

Oh gods and goddesses, what will become of me?

I've gone through various phases dealing with the whole "American Female" thing -- heels and hose (oh, I so much hate panty hose), dieting (and dieting and dieting and dieting), hair color and hair cuts and artificial nails and makeup, foundation garments and bras -- oh yes, I've played with a lot of it. When I was in highschool -- which is the place most women form their first ideas on How To Be A Woman -- there was a lot of baggage attached to doing The Girl Thing. If you weren't pretty (this was the early 80's, big hair and legwarmers) in a certain way, it hardly seemed worthwhile to go to all the effort. In fact, if you wanted to be taken seriously, considered as something more than your tits and your vagina, it behooved you to avoid as much as possible the trappings of being "sexually available" (yes, dear friends, 20 years ago when I was just a fresh young thing,"too much" eyeliner and lipstick was the sign of a girl who either put out or wanted people to think she did. Oh, it was a daring time. My double pierced ears were quite radical.)

Having spent some years undergoing social conditioning to believe I was 1) fat, in the gross and obese sense 2)really not terribly pretty, in the blonde, tan, big hair sense and 3) too smart for my own good, in the I knew multisylabic words, read books that weren't romances, and actually paid attention in most of my classes sense, I surrendered any hope of being A Pretty Girl and resigned myself to being a UFBF. As a UFBF, it is considered poor form to try to wear make up or dress in any attempt to be either fashionable or flattering to one's self. Your job is to look lumpy, schlumpy, and rather like wallpaper so as to increase the relative beauty of the PF.

I was good at that for many years. Then I got married. Through a variety of situations and such, it became unimportant that I try to look "made up" (I think there might even have been a casual remark of "oh honey, you look fine without makeup.") In any case, it's become a special event when i put on cosmetics or try to dress up in any way. When I do, it's the most basic of stuff, intended only to make me look like I'm not really wearing more than lipstick. I'm not a really glamorous person (big t-shirts and jeans are my prefered clothing).

So this is getting all weird. Liquid eyeliner. I've NEVER worn liquid eyeliner. I remember girls in highschool who wore it -- their black outlined eyes stared, sometimes their eyelashes fell out from excessive use, and they regularly looked like someone had just smacked them. It was slutty, it was bad, it was something you Just Didn't Do.

I blame it all on the fabulous Miss S. If I stop posting here, it's because she convinced me to wear high heels, I tripped, and I broke my neck.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Let this be a lesson to you!

Buzz posted this on his site. Put on safety goggles before viewing.

I think it is a warning to all of us. Bright yellow plastic SO does not go with grey hightops.

The South Will Rise Again

I've been following a line of posts at Pineapple Girl: Melee on the topic of Manners, Geographical -- how people from the South act differently from those damn Yankees from places like New York. I'm developing a real liking for Pineapple Girl that I'm cultivating slowly, but this inspired me to send her the following.

I've been enjoying the back-and-forth conversation on Southern Manners, and thought I'd toss in my two cents. You might have a door you want to penny-wedge.

I live in Florida. Central Florida, not too far from Disney. I was born here (before Disney) and grew up here, with frequent visits to the Ashville NC area. Central Florida, however, is not really The South, despite geographic evidence. It is Ohio and Pennsylvannia and Quebec and several Latin American countries and some parts of Asia. Having so many theme parks move in to what was once cattle ranches and citrus groves does make for some interesting exchanges. I've gotten to observe a lot of different types of manners. Years of such observation have led me to conclusions thusly:

Brazilians are the nicest, most polite people individually or in pairs, but are herds of maurauding cattle in large groups following a tourguide flag. I'm talking about being actually run over. Foot prints on your head.

People on vacation feel highly entitled. THEY are on vacation. YOU, who live in the area, are obviously supposed to cater to THEM. Even if you don't work in the place where they are waiting to be served.

Being native to the area means you are supposed to be up-to-date on the housing market for at least a four county area. You should be able to reel off important details such as distances to shopping and local activities for seniors while waiting in line to pick up your lunch. Wearing a gold monogrammed blazer and earning a commission is irrelevant. Don't you LIVE here?

You have to know SOMEONE who works at (theme park) who would be willing to wait at the gate to sign in a total stranger for free/give them discount tickets/sneak them in the back way. You'll do this because you are Southern and therefore bound by oath to display Southern Hospitality.

No matter how pure your elocution, how dulcet your voice, how careful your pronounciation, or how cultured your tones, you will still be told you "talk like a redneck", "have the Deepest Southern Accent" (in an characature Southern Accent), or speak "All Southern Fried" and they can't understand a word you are saying. You are not allowed to smack these people across the mouth. People from Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, or the Florida Panhandle area will ask if you are from Ohio.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Speaking of trends

Yup, they are doing it again. I just looked at the page for the Fourth Annual Weblog Awards.

I've never really paid much attention to Bloggies, Anti-Bloggies, Diarist Awards, or other such things, except to note them in passing and ponder, I am wont to do, what exactly it all means.

We know, don't we? Deep in our dark little hearts, we know that we want one. And we know that to publicly announce wanting one means we are joining a camp. Depending on our place in the weblog world, how that joining will effect us varies. So we may NOT want one, because we don't want to be amongst those who so obviously DO want one. We know that wanting or not wanting, getting or not getting, trying and not succeeding, or not trying and winning all has meaning. Specific, particular, yet nearly unadmittable meaning.

I mean, who wants to ask for love?

Now, the word "love" carries some big bags. Hell, it needs a porter. But I think that's what it comes down to -- attention, admiration, positive regard, a moment in the sun, knowing that many people really like you -- that's the essence of love in the weblog world. The very thought of getting an award -- be it an Oscar, a Nobel price, a Pulitzer, a Bloggie, or Best Handwriting -- can be a heartwarming and exciting thought.

So what does it mean when you don't want an award? That you don't want the love? Or you don't want to look like you want the love? How uncool is that? It's a rejection of rejection, really -- you want the love, you don't think you can get the love or you feel you've been denied it, so you reject it.

Does wanting -- or not wanting -- a Bloggie/web award change who you are as a person? Do you care what the people who give the award think? What does the award REALLY mean, aside from the idea of love and approval? How much of it is a matter of politics and cliches and knowing the right people and gathering the votes, etc, etc. ? Is it one big fat replay of Highschool?

I don't know. I can ask these questions, but I don't have an answer. However, I don't think that the people who do the Bloggies (or the Pulitzer, for that matter) have anything more than power, fame, and money going for them than I do. Thus, I'm formalizing my "Favorite Site of the Day" that I've announced from time to time here. I've made a little web button, and a special list, and whenever I damn feel like it, I'll give it out. Being nice to me is a good way to get one. Or you can just plain ask me. I'm pretty agreeable, unless I really, really, REALLY don't like you or think your weblog sucks rocks. I'll be honest.

No Gnomes?

I cruised across this little critisism about Travelocity's Gnome campaign and I ponder...are gnomes passe? Are they really "very 1998"? Have the days of Gnome Liberation really gone by?

I'm no trendsetter. As a rule, I avoid the red hatted, blue shirted, white bearded gnomes in all forms, particularly plaster. This makes me think, though, about the idea of trends and the arbiters who declare when something is "trendy" and when something is "over". How long does a particular idea have before it's old and worn out? What are the factors involved? Do we, as a culture or as groups within the culture, determine this for ourselves, or are we intimidated into it by the opinions of self appointed media oracles?

I've heard it said by the people "who know" such things -- when they are interviewed on TV -- that they are keeping their eyes on what "the people" are doing. They are listening and watching and paying attention. It would make me paranoid except I know they aren't looking at me. If they were looking at me and going after my dollar, they'd have medium sized women with about 20 extra pounds on them wearing oversized T-shirts and jeans roaming through their commercials. They'd have Oded Fehr selling stuff. Chances are I would buy it if I got to fantasize Oded Fehr came with it. Or possibly Peter Woodward. I'm not hard to please.

But none of that is trendy.

Sleek black cars racing through foggy mountain roads are trendy, as far as I can tell. Music from the 70's and 80's is trendy. Blondes are always trendy. Scraggly beards that don't quite cover the chin are trendy (yech). Online gaming is trendy. Certainly, girls in bikinis are trendy -- I see them frequently.

But garden gnomes traveling the world are NOT trendy. They are Over. Pulling them back to use in a commercial is not reviving an idea, being "retro" or "putting on a new spin". It's hackneyed and boring and so overdone. Passe, dull, done to death. (I just don't remember SEEING that many gnomes in commercials in the last few years. What did I miss?)

I thought the little gnome commercials were cute. I am NOT trendy.

Nope. *I* am classic.


PS: I did a YAHOO search on things trendy, but none of the links I found could agree on either what WAS trendy, what MAKES something trendy, or who gets to decide WHAT is trendy, so ...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Bah! Ick! Phooey!

Ok, all you folks who figured out how to put an RSS feed on your site? I hate you.

Ok, maybe not REALLY, but you certainly are making me feel inadequate. No, make that dumb. Yeah, dumb about sums it up.

What's really funny is I've stopped using the aggregator I was testing out. Oh, it was working fine, but getting the latest posts that way was....dry. I really REALLY am attached as much to the style of a site as I am to the content. Oh, I'm all about the content, but there's still just something missing getting everything via feeds. Is it just sour grapes? I don't think so.

So what is it? I do spend a long portion of each day going through my list of sites. Now, I don't hit every site every day. Many people don't update daily. Others are on hiatus (I have a long list of sites on current hiatus, either announced or just in practice.) I've got a fairly good idea who's going to post. Still, I probably spend an hour tripping through my various bookmarks each day. So, wouldn't the aggregator speed things up?

Not really. In fact, often times I WOULDN'T read something on my list, just because there seemed to be so MUCH stuff. Fact or not, my perception was that there was Too Much To Read via the feeds. Just going from link to link doesn't seem nearly as onerous, plus I'm aware of changes to sidebars, blogrolls, and other little niceties that the feeds strip out.

I'm still pissed off that I can't figure out how to set one up, though. Just Because.

Anticipation

This morning, the broken part of the mail box had been moved up onto the cement pad. I didn't have time to take a picture as the Husband and I chose not to get our asses out of bed in a timely fashion and so strolled in to work an hour late. Ah, I should feel more guilty, but it was SUCH a lovely extra hour.

When I returned home at lunch, the broken box was GONE. And the rusty stub where it once attached to the pad seems to have been removed or smoothed or otherwise messed with. I suspect that I am Seeing Our Government At Work here. None of this has been a surprise -- from the length of time it's taken for USPS to deal with this particular situation to the very fact that the post on which the package boxes stood could rust through that way without any notice being taken, it's all looked like Government Work to me.

I say this with the assurance of a kid who grew up with Retired Military Personnel in the household. My stepfather (only in the most generous sense of the word, I'd like to point out) was 20 years in the Air Force and I find that, no matter how unwilling I am to admit it, much of what I think of Government Getting Things Done is colored by him. You want to hear about the incredible incompetence of our government? Talk to a vet who started in WWII and finished in Vietnam. Yeesh.

Anyway, I am now awaiting whatever will happen next. How long before the replacement arrives? What does this bode for the regular mail box, as well as the other mail boxes in the neighborhood? Will we ever go to individual mail boxes? (

I miss having my own mail box. I've only done this shared mail box thing once before. When I was a kid, and my mom married said stepfather, we lived in an apartment and the mailboxes for the four apartments in our part of the building were beside our front door. It always bothered me that the neighbors would be standing RIGHT THERE (the front door was about 2 feet from a sliding glass door that opened on to a "porch" in front of the apartment) and you could be sitting 8 inches from them but they wouldn't say anything to you. Here, there are always people stopping their cars in front of our house so they can get their mail on their way up the street. Occasionally they park in front of or in our driveway (which is VERY annoying, just because that sort of thing annoys me very much -- I don't have a good reason). If you meet someone in front of the mailboxes, there's always a little embarrassed and indifferent conversation. Hardly any of the people on our street know any of the other people on our street. So far, this hasn't bothered me much.

Such is the heady and breathless level of excitement in my life.



Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I want what I want

Ever get obsessed with something stupid? I do. Usually it's something little, something relatively unimportant, sometimes even obscure -- but I can't let it go.

This time it's a photo.

I'm a photo collector. I can't take a decent photo to save myself, but I do like looking at pictures, so I collect jpgs and such for my own happiness and use. Several weeks ago, when Return of the King premiered, there were, of course, tons of publicity shots all over the web. I like Yahoo News and often cruise their photo slideshows for additions to my collection. There was one photo of Viggo Mortensen and Sean Astin that didn't strike in particularly when I saw it, but sticks in my mind like a splinter. Sean was leaning his head on Viggo's shoulder, looking very tired, and the caption went something like "Sean Astin seeks refuge on Viggo's shoulder" or something like that. I really loved that photo -- I loved the expressions, the idea of friendship, the whole hting. I want to find that photo again.

I can't.

I've been searching all over the place. I suspect it's either an AP or REUTERS photo, which means it's been withdrawn and put into their "pay to use if you are a Legitimate News Service" galleries. Bah!

It's really stupid, too. my obsession. Mostly I want to prove that the photo DOES exist and I DID see it. I've been combing GOOGLE and YAHOO for it now for a couple weeks, without seeing anything come up even close. Lots of OTHER publicity stills and redcarpet shots out there, and I've built a collection that has a few of my favorite scenes (such as are available), but not THAT photo. Thus, THAT photo is occupying far more of my time and attention than it really warrents.

I'd opine about the nature of obsession or poke fun at the silliness of this one, except that I really just want that picture. It is always a sour experience when you realize you valued something long after it has stopped being available.


UPDATE: Wheeler found the photo! That makes her my official Favorite Site of the Day! woo HOO!

Now I have to find something ELSE about which to be obsessed. Must be something around here somewhere...

By the way

Have I mentioned my love for Weetabix? No, not the cereal. The website.

I've eaten the cereal. There's some in my pantry now. It needs lots of honey, and some raisins, some walnuts or almonds or pecans (or all three) and some yogurt and maybe some cinnamon sugar and by then you don't really need to put the little biscuit in the bowl. You can save it for scrubbing the frying pan later.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Let's Play Dress Up

Friend pointed out this little site to me tonight. Dress up magnets that you can play with online! Pick a hunk and dress him up!

("Anatomically Correct" -- not work safe!)

= Dress up Men Magnets=

Check out some of the "retired" magnets. That's where they have the two girl magnet sets and the ...DRAG QUEEN!

What, you mean it's over?

I'm not sick anymore. Hurray! That means I go back to work tomorrow.

The holidays are over but I still have to "undecorate". Husband is not interested in participating in this, but I still need him to get the boxes out of the attic. Cats are still destroying ornaments. This must end.

M-I-L is at the beach for a week. Whoo hoo.

Now for some reflection. Miss S and I went shopping on Saturday. Miss S went in a skirt and heels, which is somewhat different from previous shopping expeditions. There were lots of differences.

It's interesting to watch the different sides of a personality at work. Don't fool yourself, you've got them, too. Yours may or may not exhibit themselves in as extreme a fashion, but I'll still lay money most of you have a piece of clothing that changes how you feel about yourself and how you act and react with the world (a leather jacket, a particular shirt, the jeans that fit your ass *just so*).

Now, this was my first experience shopping with her while she was in Full Regalia. She did not wear her usual "OH you must so look at me and be amazed/shocked/overwhelmed with envy/overcome with vapours" costuming. For her. she was "frumpy" (wearing what used to be one of my sexier party outfits, but it is all a matter of degree and attitude.) In any case, I realize my age. I realize that I would not be sixteen again. Miss S is, as best we can estimate, equipped with the ego, outlook, and general demeanor of a 16 year old.

She knows no strangers. Everyone she meets is a potential ally in her quest to be fabulous. She's friendly, bubbly, effusive. Everyone must join her entourage, come to the club with her, gab with her. In one store we have frequented, she has met a particular salesperson three times. She is busily trying to invite this person out, as well as round up another woman there to be the first one's "Friend for the Club". She is World Social Director. It is at one time entertaining and exhausting. The energy she spills gets on everything. Those around her are not going to ignore her -- for good or for ill, they *will* notice her. So far, she's met with mostly positive regard.

In fact, the trip did have her first negative people experience, but I'm jumping ahead.

One of the truths of being around a Drag Queen is that Drag Queens are "All About Me". They can't help it. It's the germinal part of their whole personalities. They've spent so much of their lives in disguise that when they pop out of Man Drag, the dress and the wig completely dominate them. At least, that's what I'm observing with Miss S. In fact, if not for the fact that Miss S will -- at frequent, regularly scheduled intervals, in fact -- pop her head out of her Rosy Bubble of Me-ness, look around, and make contact with the non-Miss-S-world in a positive manner, I'd have dropped kicked her ass to the curb. But she DOES come out and effuse the love and gratitude and just plain happiness that Husband and I are in her life. And she washes dishes. I put up with a lot if you wash my dishes. You get bonus points for wiping counters, too.


Degree and attitude.

So we shopped and bopped and counted how many heads did that twitchy double take when she walked through the mall. As many people as DID notice her, there were far more that did not. Her slight chagrin at losing the bet (She said she'd get 10 double-takes, but we only counted about 6, plus one direct stare) amused me. It's the conflict between her inner adult (that says "This is a public place and you don't want too much attention) and her inner teenager ("Me! Notice ME! Tell me you see me! ME! You can't ignore me, no matter what you think! Me!!").

We met up with an acquantaince she'd made at the PH, a very nice transexual (I asked no questions) with some big-ol' self esteem issues, good wig/evening makeup in the daylight/poor color coordination. She is *NOT* a Drag Queen. She is not interested in being noticed, at least not if it will take effort. It's hard to encapsulate such things, as this is a whole person of whom I've seen very little. What I did see, however, was not dressed to make the most of herself, and had lousy posture and a tentative smile. She's hooking up with Miss S because she wants Miss S as her "Pretty Friend". You must know that pairing -- there's always the 'ugly/fat/boring friend" who accompanies a better looking woman in her travels. The UFBF has a job -- she makes the pretty friend look better by comparison, she runs interference with people the pretty friend doesn't want to bother with, and she accepts all the ego-bruising casual remarks the pretty friend will make when talking about OTHER people (those not part of the UFBF/PF pair).

I've been the UFBG many times in my life, so I do notice. I don't play that anymore, really, but we are dealing with a 16 year old personality and that IS a part of adolescence. And Miss S isn't used to being the PF so she isn't collecting an entourage to act as a setting for her gemlike, sparkling qualities. (My mother did that, although more on the intellectual side. I think that's worse, really -- collecting dumb friends so you can be the smartest in the group.) However, if not caught and corrected, i can see Miss S developing a group of friends, many of whom would be pretty but not QUITE as pretty as she is. Such groups are cannibalistic. I won't encourage it.

During the course of the afternoon, I took off to hunt something while Miss S and her friend went for a smoke outside. When I returned, they were both tightlipped and walking briskly away from the department store where I'd left them. There had been an Incident. The Indicent involved Who Should Use What Faciltities. Apparently Miss S and Friend had angered some self-justified person in the lady's room, who had become very upset and summoned the mall security.

To me, who uses the stall next to me isn't really an issue -- I'm not watching. There is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in public bathrooms, and they have little to do with gender. Women these days are APPLAUDED for using the men's room when the lines at the lady's room is three miles long. You can create a huge knot of tension just discussing gender issues related to bathrooms. Guys don't really want a woman in with them, and I know there are situations where a man in the lady's room would be an issue for me. However, I tend to take things on a case-by-case basis. Also, I tend to take people as they present themselves, at least when no deeper or longer relationship is imminent or existing. If you wear a skirt and lipstick but are male, you will cause a stir no matter which room you enter. Until they require proof of genetic make up to use a bathroom, I think it should just be dealt with. It wasn't like either of them were standing and stalking women, peeking under the doors, or harassing anyone.

So, Miss S had her day ruined by being trailed by Mall Security for the rest of the time. Criminalized for fixing her lipstick. We went out to eat and went home, where Miss S struggled with the "Go out/Not go out" issue. M-I-L had been taken out for the day (thus clearing the decks for the shopping trip) and would be returning, she opted to make life easy for me and stay home. We watched "To Wong Foo" and "Victor/Victoria".

We talk a lot, Miss S and I. I find myself thinking about what I do and how I do it as opposed to how my husband or other men do things. Last night we talked about Walking. Miss S has the weirdest walk, a sort of mannish exageration of an extremely feminized runway strut. It works ok for covering ground and is supremely adapted to sneakers, but in heels it looks very masculine and sometimes results in that painful "High Heel Across The Ankle" self-kick. So we practiced walking. Smaller steps, more toe, less heel, slow down. Hip movement. She walks with an up-down bounce, hips and upper body very stiff, legs doing all the moving. When I thought about it, I realized that even my most feminine, sexy feeling walk is mostly about my hips and spine, walking as if those were dangling underneath my skull, caught only by my feet.

I'm in the very weird position of trying to teach "how to be a woman" to someone. If I'd had a daughter, I'd have been doing this in subtle ways for many years. In this situation, I'm creating highly concentrated "femalia" lessons. But, like everything else, it will be over. The days are coming when the "I'll do it my way/I don't need you/I know what I'm doing" cries of freedom will be heard as the adolesence of a Drag Queen continues.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

The Ongoing Mailbox Saga

I suspect a lot of us feel this way right after the New Year.




I'm wondering who thought this was an improvement.

The idea gets rolling

Down on the infamous sidebar you'll see a new link among the others, for "Responding to Prompts", my site dedicated to my writing. I'm going to say I don't care one way or the other if anyone reads it, but of course I do. I'm going to pretend I don't just to keep my sanity.

Anyway, the site is still under construction -- I'll be putting in links and making pretty and all that over the next few days (don't I always say things like that?) We will see where it goes and what happens with it -- and me -- as the month goes by.

Friday, January 02, 2004

The Book a Week Challenge

Ok, folks, here's the deal. I'm trying to do what I did last year and read at least one book every week. That's 52 books in a year, which might seem like a lot. Still, it's a goal.

I'm challenging other webloggers to try the same thing.

The books can be anything you like (Well, as long as they have more text than pictures). History, mystory, romance or fantasy, science fiction, science fact -- whatever turns your wheels. Books on tape, on CD, electronic books -- whatever format. The only rule is that when you read it, you post about it. If you want to do the Amazon.com associates thing, like I've done (four years, never made a dime, but i like the free pictures) that's great, too. Some of you might be natural reviewers.

I'm always hearing people say they wish they read more. I find that sometimes I feel like I'm too busy to read, but that I just need to turn off the TV, or put the book in my bag and take it with me to read while waiting in line somewhere, and I'll have it finished off before I know it.

So what about it, folks?

I've got this idea, see?

I think I mentioned here once or twice that I fancy myself a writer.

Well, technically, a writer writes things. You know, stories, essays, articles, poems, novels -- that sort of stuff. Aside from this weblog and the occasional foray, I've been doing none of these things. I've been full of excuses and self-recrimination, rationalization and, frankly, bullshit.

I tried to create a local writing group, because -- in Sherri Logic -- I wrote a lot and I wrote well when I was taking classes and working with a group. Pheh. First, I hate the whole political thing of running a group, what with having to please other people and find things that interest them since *sigh* the majority are very passive sorts waiting around for someone to sprinkle "Magic Writer Dust" on their heads or something. The Personality Conflicts and discouragements and so forth are getting me down and really discouraging me from continueing. The group dynamic wasn't working. I spent a lot of time TEACHING, which I am neither qualified to do nor interested in doing. It was rare I got back comments or critiques on works I could use, or that even felt like they were for the story I'd written.

I tried taking an online writing course, but being basically modest about my "talents", I took a beginner class and realized halfway through that I am no longer a beginner. Wasted money, but I did get to meet a very GOOD writer and have a little conversation with her. That was worthwhile and I got a few nuggets of wisdom there.

I took down my website in January of last year "so as not to disappate my writing in web journalling". Feh. Fat lot of good that did for me. I stopped writing completely. I started back the site via weblog on Blogger in September and now that I'm actually writing every day, I'm...well...WRITING every day. I was scared of writing on the web, mostly fearing that should I ever manage a sale of something that I'd posted online, someone would claim I'd plaguarized it, stolen it -- something like that.

Now I'm thinking that I need to find writers I can work with, people who already have put in their blood and sweat and know complicated words like "alliteration" and "attribution". Does it sound so ego driven? I keep trying to put myself in with the beginners only to get bored and irritated and aggrievated. Maybe I really don't need anyone else at all -- but it really helps to have someone to read your drafts and point out the things you just can't bleedin' see. It's really good to have someone else say "This sentense is poetry, and that sentence needs a Hefty Bag to carry it off."

And I need to discipline myself. It's always easier to do that when someone is looking, even if only in my head. So I'm going to revive/redo/reSOMETHING.

It's an idea. We will see how it works when I get it going.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

On This Side

It's about 2:04 AM here in the brand new year 2004 and I'm sitting in bed with my laptop and one cat, thinking about the evening.

My friend L came over to spend the New Year with us and help with the Henna thing. We drove to the wilds of North Lake County and, after some searching around on dark country roads, located the large and rather lush club where this Biker Bash was being held. We were stationed at a table outside the main pavilion, which wasn't so bad once we had some light, but was slightly chilly and a little bit damp. Behind us, in the ball room, a cover band did rather out-of-tune renditions of "Crystal Ball", and "We're An American Band" and other 70's and 80's hits (and a rather spirited version of "Kryptonite" which they managed to play mostly IN tune). On the roadway in front of us, Harley's roared, pipes shaking and screaming so that my already compromised head began to ache. I am not a person who appreciates loud noise, especially gratuitous loud noise or clumsy cover bands. Musical highlight -- they played "Stairway to Heaven" about around 9 o'clock. This song should be set for much later in the night. They had "Cat Scratch Fever" going when we left. I'm quite certain "Freebird" would be playing some time after midnight.

We painted henna on people, most of whom were wearing black in some manner, if not completely dressed in it. Lots of leathers, lots of badge and insignia patch covered vests, chains and boots and other paraphenalia. Lots of money. Yes, many of these people were from money. Two groups, basically, converged here -- bikers and biker wannabees. The bikers were the "own a construction business, did service in the military, bought first bike 20 years ago" types. L reported that there were many well-financed women and their "kept" men around. Interesting mix. It was busy and loud and loud and busy and at 11 o'clock we collected our check, picked up our stuff, and left before the laser light show.

Then we dropped by our friend's C's house to visit for New Year's and the dropping of the ball. Among other things, C is one of Miss S's roommates -- one of those who would Rather Not Know. Not that he'd be horrified or mean about it. He would just Rather Not Know. We saw a lot of friends there, and a number of people we didn't know, and after a quick round of hugs and hellos and Happy New Years, made our way out, only to run in to Miss S (in Man Drag) and eventually get into a long conversation on the street by our van. It was fun and fine and now we are home. L has been informed all about Miss S (L being the type who can not only appreciate the situation, but enjoy it).

Now I'm here, home and warm and tired, thinking slight thoughts about the whole concept of A New Year, all the symbolic power we attach to it (when really, the "new year" was around winder solstice more than a week back or is based on any number of other equally arbitrary methods of measuring time or on the personal milestones that mark the segments of a life) and yawning occasionally. At some point, and I'm not sure when it was, the idea of "New Year" as more than a convention and a few days off was lost to me. I remember feeling the tingle of anticipation, the magical idea that one moment was "old year" and the next was "new year" but I don't feel it now. I wish the same thing today that I wish every day -- that I live to learn my way through this life, and that I can teach while I'm learning. Oh, and that everyone else gets the opportunity to do the same.

Welcome to another chance for that.