Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Another one bites the dust!

Finished "Kiln People" by David Brin. Excellent and unusual book.

Two months, two books. Damn.

In Your Back Yard

Yahoo! News - Amateur Finds New Nebula with Small Telescope

I remember as a young teen I would sit in my back yard with my dog -- the area in which I lived was still fairly rural at the time, although the housing tract our house was in brought street lights -- and look into the dark sky, pondering. I was still young enough and fueled enough with SF novels and Star Trek reruns that I would sing to the sky and my dog about the other people who might be doing something similar on distant planets, who might one day meet with us. I couldn't do that now with the same unself-consiousness, which is, in a way, too bad. I spent a lot of time trying to learn the stars, but the books in our school library on astronomy or star gazing were all for latitudes further north.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Just a Song Before I Go

MIL returns today. I look forward to this moment like I look forward to losing a kidney -- it ain't gonna be good, no matter what.

On the positive side, I'm leaving early (damned early, like 4:30 in the morning early -- I still am not sure people actually can live at such early hours) for a show in Virginia and will be gone for a long weekend. So I've only got an effective 2 1/2 days of family bliss to endure. And I will be busy every evening.

Of COURSE the computer goes with me. That's why I have a laptop. I might even get online.

With the prospect of so many pleasant hours between now and 4 am Thursday (The husband has promised that, since he is the morning person, I will be allowed to curl up in my blanky in the passenger side. I'll get the drive back down, more than likely.) I am all atwitter with anticipation. Or something like that. Maybe I just need to go to the bathroom.

Friday, February 20, 2004

I feel your pain

New Study Says Empathy May Cause Real Pain

Would I sound presumptious if I said I'm not the least bit surprised? What if I said "Duh!?"

It Melts On Your Head

More Danish Butter Information.

I'd have to give the latest theory some credence if only we knew which was older -- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain which appeared in 1885, or the Dutch Saying that started the whole thing anyway.

Now I just need to locate a PAREMIOLOGIST who knows about Dutch Proverbs.

I'm going to work with the theory that, if the two examples are related (and they certainly could have generated independently -- melting butter isn't all that unusual, and anything that melts on the head and smears the face is funny and has been for...o...ever, probably) -- then it's more likely that Twain heard the saying rather than the saying went back to the Dutch and became so popular as to generate a proverb. So, how would Twain have run across it? Well, there might be similar sayings in other cultures. He also may have had contact with immigrant Dutch. So, when did the Dutch arrive in the States? According to this source Dutch traders were set up for business by 1614, which predates the Mayflower. Then there's that whole Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam) set up that became New York City, and the settlement of the Dutch throughout New York State....Twain is recorded to have spent some time in NYC, in particular during a famous blizzard, and he lived many years in various parts of New York State.

He traveled extensively, and in his career as river boat pilot would have no doubt met and heard a good deal from immigrants traveling to new settlements. While he did travel to Europe before writing Finn, he toured the Mediteranean countries.

It's not a lot of conclusive evidence, but I'm going to say that Twain either got the idea for Huck's butter experience independently, or picked it up -- as writer's will -- from the idiom of people who had learned the proverb -- as most of us do -- from their forebears and passed it down.

And I think that's as scholarly as I'm going to get without a nap and some chocolate.


How Imporrant is this?

Is British National Gallery's New Raphael a Fake?

Ok, this is another of those two minded questions. I love great paintings. I sometimes love not-so-great paintings. And some very very old paintings are just...well...not all that.

I understand the economy of scarcity. I understand the desire to touch the past. I even understand the desire to collect things that are almost, but not quite, what they seem to be -- great fakes, because while a fake isn't the original, it's something original in itself. Or something like that.

How is worth determined? What is worth? What is value?

The whole controversy striked me funny. Is this a case of:

1) a staid British "expert" wanting to score a coup for his museum at any cost
2) an upstart, snotty American trying to show the old bastard's underwear
2) a huge boondoggle and a crime
4) a clever American showing up foolish Englishmen
5) a brilliant Englishman standing fast with his facts against the baying onslaught of critical hounds
6) a worthy defense and preservation of important art for the present and future

Or just something to fill in an entry in my blog?

No no no...I wouldn't do that. I'm actually pondering this.

The TV conundrum

While Brennan considers his TV options, I paused to think about my own TV watching habits.

I watch few shows with regularity and none do I follow with ongoing passion. Yet my TV is on almost all the time -- lately on Tech TV, previously on History Channel and Cartoon Network, TLC or Discovery, and going back even further, E! and A&E.

No, I don't watch a lot of network television. I don't watch series. I haven't really watched anything that told an ongoing story on television in, oh, ten years or more.

I used to. When I was growing up, I lived on a steady diet of M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, Magnum P.I., ... dozens and dozens of network shows that I have watched avidly and now mostly forgotten. In junior high, I could tell you the day and hour by what show was on. I watched reruns of old shows in the afternoon -- Bewitched, Leave it to Beaver, Mr. Ed -- marking the transition of the day by the Star Trek rerun at 4. Thus was my young life.

Until the curse fell on me. I've talked about it before, I think. Any series I watch and enjoy will inevitably be canceled before it finishes a season. If I try to stay away but peak at it occasionally, it will have a troubled time with constant threats and problems. At best, it will have scheduling trouble. And I cannot use this power for good -- oh, no, if I watch a show I DON'T like, it will thrive and I will suffer. If I could cancel a show by just watching it, no reality TV would exist now.

I skipped Buffy and Angel. I did watch a couple of episodes of Firefly, thus sealing its fate (SF series are particularly vulnerable). I even got involved in a network hospital series last year (mostly because Oded Fehr was in it, but still) that died midseason. Between the short attention span and demand for instant gratification from networks and the cruel universe attempting to wean me off TV, no show can survive.

Now, I watch -- irregularly -- Mythbusters, and -- with dedication -- X-play. Neither tell stories and nether are on regular networks. I used to watch Conquest, but it seems to have been quietly cancelled, damn them. I'm getting worried about X-play.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Back in

Ah, the happiness of being back in my local independent bookstore talking to folks about Reader's Theatre. Yes, yes, I've taken on a load of work again and I can't wait to get to it. This time, we are going for "Short" and "Funny".

Enter "Flash Fiction". Short Short stories. I've got a shitload of stories to edit into scripts. I'm fully convinced that what I'm doing is completely violating copyrights and one day the Literatec agents will desend upon me, but for now, it's fun! It's more unusual than doing actual plays, since the material is fairly unknown to most people.

I love short short fiction, which is why I own three books of the stuff and always check for more. On the positive side, I'm introducing these authors to people who might otherwise never read them. So maybe that gets me a few points. I'll be posting the scripts -- of course -- as I get them written and more or less proofed. Letcha know how that goes, too.

Later!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Tis a Puzzlement.

Ok, now Rien has arranged to keep ME up tonight.

Argh! These are the kinds of things that I really worry at, worse than a hangnail, worse than an itchy mosquito bite on my toe. Ok, so what DOES "He's got butter on his head" really mean? I begin my search.

Hij heeft boter op zijn hoofd -- ok, let's double check the translation -- not that Rien doesn't know his Dutch, but because the words may have archaic or obscure meanings.

According to InterTran it means "He has butter worn one's superscription"

I'm suspecting idiom or slang words here. It got the FIRST part right. AH, it has an "alternative translation" function...tasty! What are the possibilities? Ok, I guess I will have to rest on this translation (but that was still fun. If I'm going to be bugged, I might as well have fun).

Ok, let's look for "Dutch Proverbs" -- hmm, there's a whole book on the topic. Ok, it's just a collection. Hmm, what else?

Ok, this is interesting -- another collection, but it has a variation on the saying
Don't stand in the sun if you've got butter on your head. "Wie boter op zijn hoofd heeft moet niet in de zon gaan staan."
Source: Twents Woordenbook. Twents in Woord en Gebruik.

Actual Twents: "Wel botter op 'n kof hef, moet nig in de zunne gaon staon."
Having butter on your head is a reference to not having a clear conscience.


Ok, now we are getting somewhere! I'll bet the first saying is a derivative or variation of this one. Now, WHY having butter on your head means you don't have a clear conscious is still mysterious...those Dutch and their dairy products...(best whipped cream of my life I got in Amsterdam.)

There are a couple of other butter references, but they seem to be literal. So, onward...

Lots of reference to a book called 1000 Dutch Proverbs...there's This Site which appears to be just a listing, but I can't read Dutch so I can't use the Dutch version...this site will let you have a Dutch Proverb on a t-shirt "Unforunatley, peanut butter?" Ok, Rien, what the hell does THAT mean? I mean, I know what it MEANS, but...why peanut butter? Oh...nevermind.

Hmm, now here's an alternative to the whole "glass houses" thing...(scroll down to the "G" section)...nothing about butter, though.


After this, the links start wavering from topic...

Ok, well, despite the mystery of the butter, I feel like I have a little better grasp on the saying. Your turn, Rien!


I love subtlety...

This link will get stale quick -- you want the 2/18/04 strip, which will fall off in 30 days.

BUT....does anyone see the same political commentary in this that *I* do? Pibgorn

Ifn' you don't, feel free to ask me. :>

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Not everything you hear on the radio is true

Once again, musical advice is actually a bad thing. Polaroid Warns Film Users Not to 'Shake It'

I put this right next to Wang Chung's instructions for fun at a Dance Hall.

Stumbling Blocks

This NPR story really caught me.Memorial Honors Nazis' Victims, One at a Time

I'm imagining walking down a street in my town and finding one of these "stumbling blocks" under my feet.

There are things the story doesn't make clear -- are the blocks raised above the surface of the walkway (as an actual stumbling block might be?) There's some little part of me that hopes they are, yet more of me says that's stupid -- there's no point in visiting suffering upon more people by causing them to trip up, fall, or be hurt. As much as the spirit of balance and vengeance might lurk, it really doesn't do either the dead or the living much good.

I also find myself of two minds about the man who sued to prevent one being placed in front of his house. I can see a point in his favor that the blocks carry a burden with them that is being thrust upon him without his consent. On the other hand, I think it is a burden that every human being carries and there is no shirking it for the sake of personal comfort.

We aren't really supposed to kill each other, after all.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Give Up the Love

Pete Did It

I am taking this as my personal kick-in-the-ass -- after I complete the obligatory cursing under my breath.

Monday, in no other words

I've been feeling distracted of late. There's nothing in particular going on, nothing in particular happening. I'm just not hooking in to things. I actually had something I thought would be interesting to write about this morning, but I've forgotten what it was.

I don't usually work on Mondays, so since it's rare I can get my ass up and doing things, I've been flipping through TV channels, combing the snarls out of my hair, and thinking about taking a shower. I watched a Biography Channel special on Marlo Thomas. She's one of those actresses who I cannot separate from the land of Middle America. She's still "That Girl" in my memory, she of the flip and the just-above-the-knee skirt and the constant perkiness. You see, the show came out in 1966 and I was only a year old. It ended in 1971. I was far too young to realize what a groundbreaking television show it was, what with its pretty, young, single girl after her own career (the only other single female I can remember from the period was Sally Rogers (played by Rose Marie....hmm) from the "The Dick van Dyke Show".

Aside - during the Marlo Thomas bio, one of the guys who worked on "That Girl", said that the character of Ann Marie was the FIRST single, career minded woman on TV. I thought of Sally Rogers right off. Ann Marie was, to qualify, the first such character to star. Of course, Sally Rogers was eager to marry wheras Ann Marie deferred it...Details, details.

Now I want to hunt down the "Dick van Dyke Show". It's on DVD. Mmm Netflix...

OK, now I really do have to go take my shower and put on clothes.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Blah blah blah

Actually, it's not "blah" here, I'm just running out of things to poke at and talk about. I DID get a Wooly Willy journal as a late b-day present.

I've been playing with it, too, for far longer than I really should be. I can't help it.

I'm going to get myself an Etch-a-Sketch. I watched a program on The History Channel (I think) that showed how they were wired up inside and I've been all about it since then. I always WANTED to take apart an Etch-a-Sketch, but knowing that once it came apart it wouldn't go back together was a huge obstacle. But now I can enjoy my sketchy toy with peace of mind...

Friday, February 13, 2004

My nifty neato Geekpen

One of the presents I got for my birthday just makes my little geek soul glow...



It will flash all the colors randomly, or just shine one at a time. And it writes pretty well, too! Ahhhh!

Why I like Friday 13th

I woke up, dressed, and drove to Leesburg for a visit to the DMV. I had visited the DMV in Astatula on Wed.

Now, maybe it's because it's in a town called "Astatula", one of those really unfortunate names that sounds like some manner of infected growth. Maybe it's because Astatula is remarkable for being in the middle of no where and sporting the county landfill, lots of industry, and many more single wide trailers with rust streaks than is healthy for an area. I am not certain.

However, one of two county DMV offices is there. I went to get my license renewed, since this year the State of Florida was missing me and wanted a new picture. So dutifully I went, arriving at about 1:15. I walked in to a very tattered county office looking building to see a waiting room full of people all seemingly in various stages of catatonia. I realised that some of the people I'd seen milling about outside and sitting in cars were waiting there because no more seats remained on the two long, hard benches. Other people were standing at the counter, being steadily ignored by the three or four women milling around behind it, whispering to each other behind raised file folders, frowning, or hunting through their purses. I took a number. I had number 39.

A rough female voiced called for number 97. I was momentarily puzzled because no one got up and went to the counter. I wondered what was going on.

"Number 98? Number 98." A tall, skinny young man rushed the counter and disappeared around a corner.

A few people came in who had made appointments. They signed in and found places along the wall to stand. When another man came in and asked about making an appointment, I heard distinctly "Oh we are booked up until next Wednesday." Booked solid a week in advance? By whom? There was only the one appointment person I'd seen come in in 20 minutes.

More people came in behind me, took numbers, and tried to find seats or places to stand.

"Number 99? Number 99." No one moved.

"Number 00? Number 00". Still, no one. I suspect those numbers were pulled by people who'd surrendered and gone home. I had to leave by 3:30. It was 1:50 now.

"Number 1?" A man jumped up and hurried to the counter. Number 98 emerged and left. He seemed pale.

The waiting room was fairly quiet. Only a few people were conversing. The appointment sign in was called, some information taken, and they were sent back to wait. Another appointment came in and signed the list.

It was 2:00. I calculated in my head. In 45 minutes, I'd seen two people actually go to the counter and be waited on. Only one had left. The women behind the counter went outside, came back in, wandered around, had conversations with each other. One unseen called out numbers occasionally. So, let's say with appointment people, they handled 4 per hour. There were 38 people in line ahead of me. I needed to leave by 3:30. The office closed at 6 pm. It was not looking good. Even if they'd sped up to the unbelievable pace of processing 10 people per hour, they still wouldn't be getting to me.

I handed my number to a woman with bleached blond hair, a french Pedicure, Dolce Garbana sunglasses and a brand new diamond wedding ring, holding her wedding license and Number 47, and left at 2:15.

This morning, I drive up to the Leesburg office. I got there just about 10 after 8. There were about 8-10 people in line ahead of me, plus two people waiting in chairs and two at the counter. Only two women were working. They were polite. They smiled. I was taken in order (no numbers here -- one line was for walk ins, another for appointments.) I did the little eye test, answered the questions, wrote my check, had my picture taken, waited (in the chairs) for the license to be made, and walked out at 5 minutes to 9.

I was stunned. I had to call Husband and tell him about this. He was also amazed.

Good day. Yup, I like the whole lucky Friday 13 thing.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Post Birthday Report or Why I Can't Move

Ugh! What a great birthday! I'm so stuffed right now I'm not sure how I made it back into the house.

Ok, the day REALLY started after lunch, when Miss S and I drove into Orlando for her first experience with the Dr. No Hair Killer Laser. I'm sure she's detailed it all in her journal. I sat in the car (it was a lovely day) listening to the radio and reading Glamour Magazine because I'd forgotten my book and had to have SOMETHING with which to distract myself. Of course, me being an idiot, I forgot I have a weak car battery and I listened to the radio. I ran my battery out and had to get a jump start. However, it is my birthday, so this was easily accomplished. Then, to assuage Miss S's painful experience, we went shopping and I found two belts, neither of which actually went with the particular outfit I wanted to match. But it was my Birthday, so another belt was found in the back of a closet which worked just fine.

Anyway, we drove home just as rush hour was starting, but it was my Birthday so we made our exit exactly before the traffic piled up. Once home, we looked at Miss S's purchases, then I had to start getting ready for the little Birthday Dinner Party my beloved Husband had arranged for me. I was wearing my new 2 1/2 inch black patent leather heels (Miss S has an effect on me) and a mini-skirt outfit (like I said...) in bright red, so I had to wear hose. I'd purchased hose earlier and I tried to put them on. I say tried because, hose being hose and these being on the expensive side of pantyhose, I put my thumb through a leg, causing a huge hole, and then, in frustration, pulled a piece of the fabric OFF. I was impressed and angry. But it was my birthday, so HUsband ran quickly to the store and returned with Cheaper Hose that both fit and didn't tear.

We met two other couples at Buco de Beppo, a chain restaurant that nevertheless is incredibly fun and makes great food in huge steaming piles. I got PRESENTS (I don't think I've gotten so many birthday presents in YEARS). It was so much fun, and I neither ran my hose or fell off my heels. However, those heels are now Cruel Shoes Junior, after Miss S's.

So now I'm home and my day was good. Everyone has wished me well, and been super nice, and I feel full of food (and chocolate cake!) and beneficent toward the world. I'm hoping this mood lasts as I sit in line at the DMV tomorrow waiting to get my license renewed. Ah, another day, another adventure. I hope 39 keeps this up.

Something to read before I die

Did you ever read James Joyce's "Ulysses"? I haven't. I've made a few running leaps at Joyce (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners) but never quite made it through.

Now, come contemporary Irish authors are saying Ulysses could have done with a good editor.

I suspect they have an arguement. Many people -- myself among them -- find Joyce impenetrable. (In fact, I think that is one of the most common descriptives of Joyce's work. If you say "impenetrable" to me, I come up with two mental images -- a jungle, and any book by Joyce). I also have a sneaking suspicion that for every person who reads Joyce and grasps it, there's another who reads him just to have a snooty conversation point.

One day, I guess, I'll make another running jump at it. Right after I read Moby Dick.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Birthday gifts

You know what's really annoying about sinking into a whiney mood?

You whine about it.

The MIL leaves for an extended trip away on Thursday. Aside from feeling guilty about being glad she will be gone for a good week and a half (and leaving on my birthday) I'm feeling guilty because she wants to take me shopping for a Birthday present -- "whatever I want within reason" which means I need to select a gift of which she approves. *sigh* I'd rather she got me a card, or, like years previous, nothing at all. It's incredibly nerve wracking to select a gift for someone else that you have to keep and be grateful for. I'm trying to think of something.

I'm thinking of fabric. Yeah, fabric, maybe. Or maybe I will have to work this afternoon and can't go. That might work.

Generosity is more complicated than I ever imagined, and I imagine things being pretty complicated. It was a little different with my Dad. Oh, he was generous, sometimes overly so, but it was his way of being worthy of love. Refuse his gifts, don't let him pick up the check, don't let him buy the groceries, and you were effectively refusing his love. I grew up with that and so I could deal with it. The idea of "generosity" as a means of exchange -- I accept your gift, thus you are greater than me, and I must accord you priveledge, like some sort of potlatch ceremony -- it not a part of my understanding. Or, rather, I understand it too well and am not willing to accept it.

Perhaps as a function of my upbringing, perhaps just because I've worked on it so long, I have worked on my gift-giving and receiving attitudes. Now, I just enjoy them. I give stuff because I like giving it. Usually people are happy to get something and then wait for the "What do I owe you?" part. I try to divorce myself from the item and just do the giving part. If someone tosses something I've given, Oh Well. It's not about the gift itself (although I love wishlists and think they are genius) but the act of giving.

Now, it took some 15 years of repeating that mantra to make it stick. I used to be all ABOUT the gift. Occasionally I still am. I try not to be.

And that whole "it's the thought that counts" is sorrt of wishy washy. You can't know what actual thought was behind a gift. More often than not, that thought is "ok, now I don't owe you" or "now you owe me" or "see? Here's proof I love you" or, worst of all "Ok, now you have to love me/do things for me/give me something back." Of course, my favorite thought-behind-the-gift is "I was just thinking about you and wanted to let you know." That's a thought I can commend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Ah, the sweet life

Husband had the brilliant idea this morning of calling in sick. Happily, when he's sick, I get to be sick, too. We had cuddleitis all morning.


Some words sound better than they spell. Damn English.

I wrote my first NERO module. What's that, you say? Well, it's sort of like a mini-play, only you don't write lines of dialog. Since NERO is all about the improve, yet still has to make particular things happen, a module is a way of introducing characters and events to players. Mine involves a crossdressing outlaw.

Stop that, you in the back. Don't make me come over there.

I can't say more because I was just informed that potentially players could read my site. Ack! My first source of outside censorship!

We are considering ordering pizza to be delivered, so we can have it as food for the rest of the day. Neither of us think cooking sounds like fun. Not even microwave warming. Bleah. Pizza GOOD.

It looks lovely outside, which is of course why I am INSIDE. I should, really, turn off the A/C, open the windows, and sit in the library...but if I did that, I'd have to CLEAN the library, which would lead to doing laundry, which means folding and ironing, and ya know, I just don't want to invest that much in WORK. Remember, I'm being sick today.


Monday, February 09, 2004

I Feel Loved

Darren of Gamera Spinning sent me DVDs for my birthday! Hugs hugs and more hugs, Darren! Why'd ya have to move so far off? sheesh, just because you fell in love...

Anyway, THIS girl will be in happy old movie land -- "Love in the Afternoon" and "Taming of the Shrew" (with Taylor and Burton, whoo hoo!)

Um...I'm gonna be busy for a few hours...

Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone

I have to spend time with the DMV today. I'm sooo excited.





Can't do it mail in, like usual. Feh. And I suspect they want a new picture. Feh, feh. I like the old one. It still looks like me.



More or less.


Feh, I say.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

The Backwards Glance

I went to a party last night for my friend Twinkie. She just graduated with her Masters in Fine Arts. I'm proud of her.

She had gathered a small group of people she's keep in touch with from highschool and our first stint in College along with some other friends. It is both telling and ironic that of the 4 men she invited, three of them had had crushes on her in the long ago, and I had had cruches on each of them. Although she never played the part of the PG, I nevertheless was her UFBF just because she WAS who and what she was. She is one of those really talented. attractive people who nevertheless thought she was an outcast, a nerd, and a wallflower.

Everyone recognised me and I managed to connect names and faces despite the 18-20 years since most of us were last in each other's company. It was pleasant and fun and I had a great time. I'm hoping that there are friendships to be made from these connections. I decided that I was going to be devastatingly beautiful for the evening. I didn't do anything in particular -- no plastic surgery or emergency starvation diets. I figured smiling brightly, looking people directly in the eye whenever possible, and listing at least as much as I talked would work.

Years have brough changes. It's always a strange feeling to see it on the faces of your friends. Even funnier is knowing that one guy on whom I had a crush, the one I know was really stuck on Twinkie, is the one guy I could probably still get a crush on all over again, only I'm a lot older now and I think I can manage such feelings without too much trouble. Yes, that's a good thing about getting older. at least for me. But he's still got the qualities that made me think he was wonderful when we were both 19.

It's sort of an odd thing now that I think of it that one or two men from my youth, men on whom I had strong infatuations, have reappeared in my life to some extent. No, there's no thought of trying to "rekindle the flame". Hell no. I'm married and I believe in my vows and promises. I expect other people to maintain theirs and I wouldn't respect them if they didn't. But I still like to pull up those old memories, like pictures in an album, and remember the kisses, the letters written, the plans and promises made at 18 and 19 and 20. I had the wonderful good fortune to get crushes on really good looking guys and that's how I remember them now. They stay handsome and sexy in my memory, as if I'm glancing over my shoulder to glimpse the young men I knew, as if they stood behind me -- more distant now, but still visible.

And I wonder if the promises to stay in touch have any credit in them. Do we have anything to talk about now that we no longer share an unwritten, wide open future and all the pressure of school and youth? Does time make all the distances further apart? I don't know. I'll see what happens.


Friday, February 06, 2004

Whiny with reason

I may have stomach flu. The jury is still out. My tummy hurts. Whine whine whine. And the MIL is coming home a day early. Whine whine. *sigh*

I stopped doing the online journal/weblog/whatever when I realized I was whining over 2/3 of the time. I wasn't even whining in an entertaining way. I can be funny with physical pain -- I'm a hit whenever I have to go to the ER -- but the regular annoyances of life don't inspire me to anything approaching humor. They just wear me down, make me tired, and at that mosquito-like tone to every word I write or utter. I think it's the lack of anger. I don't work up much anger at the general injustice of life. I can't get a good contempt going. I've tried, believe me.

Why is that, I wonder? I mean, things piss me off. Honest, they do.

The Husband and I got a strange sort of compliment, passed through a friend, after last weekend. One of the guys there we've known for a few years in a sort of distant, not terribly personal way. We were told that he'd always thought we were kind of weird and he couldn't figure us out. After spending the weekend with us at NERO, he came to the conclusion that we were just really nice. He didn't know what to make of that.

Other friends of ours have made mention of this. Husband and I are just thoroughly nice people. We don't have a lot of hidden agendas, we don't expect a lot in return for what we do, and we go into the world with the positive attitudes and happy outlooks of the newly converted or the well medicated. Now, I've been aware for a while that many people tended to hold us at a distance, but I never knew why. Now I know.

They wonder what it is we are up to. Apparently, really nice people are always hiding something that will come out and bite you hard on the ass if you get to know them. So other peopel regard us guardedly, suspiciously, waiting until the other shoe drops, until the sharp wolves teeth appear from beneath the sheep's clothing.

No, I'm really a sheep. Honest.

A whiney sheep.

What's new in your world?

Spent last evening with Miss S, since MIL has gone on a little trip. Miss S is my life sized Barbie Doll - only she does all her own talking and wants another Barbie of her own. No Kens in our world. Anyway, after playing around with the results of some shopping Miss S cooked a fabulous dinner for the Husband and I, then watched "Some Like It Hot" with us.

It's fun. It's pleasant. She does dishes. She LOOKS FORWARD to doing dishes. This is not a thought I can make go through my brain.

Anyway, MIL is on a little trip and we have a few days of freedom. In case it's not clear, I am ambivalent about my mother in law. It's time to haul out the hands...on the one hand, she's generous to us. She isn't deliberately trying to be a problem, but rather wants to be helpful. While her affection for me is limited, she obviously loves her son greatly. She's a widow and, I think, lost the one man she ever loved when her husband died. She's certainly not entertained any ideas of another relationship in the last 10+ years. She isn't vicious, she isn't cruel -- she isn't many things a mother in law could be. She can be a lot of fun. She can be a good guest. She likes to help around the house and will do projects for us.

Then there's the other hand. There are strings attached to her generosity. When she's here, our personal lives are not our own. She thinks nothing of going into our papers, our finances, or anything else. Now, happily, her curiosity appears limited, but she has no compunction about informing us about how we are living incorrectly, how we are foolish, how we should or shouldn't do this or that. She can be very insulting without ever (I think) intending it. She's very judgmental. She's intrusive. She's good at ladling out guilt and manipulating feelings of gratitude and obligation. She LIVES IN MY HOUSE FOR THREE MONTHS EVERY YEAR WHETHER I WANT HER OR NOT.

Argh.

So when she goes away for a few days, we revel in it. Once upon a time I enjoyed the winter and early spring. I like living as I want, without regard to anyone else, and without unwanted instruction, advice, and "help" for what I want to do. I don't like planning my life to include someone who doesn't share my interests or my friends. I don't like curtailing what I can and can't do for someone else, either. I didn't chose this particular situation and I didn't know when it was introduced to me that it would be for soooooo long. Mom's winter visits were established when the Husband was single and simply carried over into his married life. And I feel guilty over feeling so happy she's gone when she goes on those little trips. The tension in the house vanishes. Our friends can come visit. We can eat what we like, sit where we like, wear what we like, and generally live like most people live in their own houses.

I feel guilty about not wanting her around so much. Two weeks, three weeks -- that's a normal visit. That would be fine. Even a month, if she was spending that month visiting her Florida friends, playing some golf while the weather up north is nasty, going on a cruise -- If she came here and spent her 4 weeks with us a week at a time with a week off while she traveled and did things she wanted to do -- that would be fine and happy and not a problem. She could have a very pleasant winter, I think, and so could we. She could spend some time with her son without driving him crazy. She could enjoy the warm weather without sitting around our house being BORED and looking for things to do that she WANTS to do that she thinks are HELPFUL....

Argh.

There are days when I think it would be preferable to simply sell this house and some of the stuff we have, and move into another home where there would be no lingering obligations and no one else's entitlement and no spare bedroom or second bath. *sigh* That ain't gonna happen for at least some years hence and I don't know that I'd want to live in such a house. We like to have friends visit and stay. Sometimes that extra toilet is a handy thing.

So, do me a favor? If you've got a little spare good will to send into the universe, ask that my mother in law's house will sell, so she can buy her own Florida home an hour away from us and we can go visit HER for a day every few weeks and she won't be so undilutedly INVOLVED in our lives. I'll owe you a cookie.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Downsides

Yahoo! News - Mass. Lawmakers Mull Gay Marriage Ruling

Oh please.

The only real downside I can see for gay marriage is that it will double the number of wedding gifts I have to buy in a year. Doesn't anyone register at Wal-Mart or Target?

I still say it's Just a Tit

First she flashes the nation and now Jackson May Back Out of Grammy Awards and my entire reaction is...

Oh, who freaking CARES?

I cannot help but think this is yet ONE MORE THING we get worked up about that just ain't worth it, but serves to distract us from all the things we really don't want to think about. Yes, that boob is just a distraction (aren't tits usually a distraction for at least some portion of the population?) I mean, not only did we see it, we watched it over and over. It's a nice tit, but it's not THAT nice a tit. Sheesh. And it was solo. Solo tits are not nearly as interesting, historically, as the usual pair. And, hell, it wasn't even a completely NAKED boobie. It was more of an IMAGINARY naked boob, perhaps even a DESIRED naked boob.

So what's the deal? Jackson going for mass attention? Check. Like so many before her, she went the way of the publicity stunt. We proclaim not to respect that. I laugh and feel superior to those who say that. You're paying attention, aren't you? You're going to remember, right? You're still talking about it?

Our nation shaking in moral indignity? Ok, sure. We, as a nation, can get really wound up over nudity. St. Augustine and St. Paul really did a number on us, along with all who followed after and condemned the body as the source of all evil, etc. etc. For some of people, that's a hard, fast truth. For others, it's pretty silly and not worth thinking about. For still others, it's just a reflex that has no meaning to them, but works as sort of a societal lubricant, like saying "Thank you" and voting for who your boss votes for -- it just makes life easier.

I got over general nudity some years ago. I now only get excited about specific nudity, as in "Oh please, no, not right where I'm looking, aigh my eyes, DAMMIT, COVER THAT UP!!" Otherwise, it's either interesting or not interesting, and it has little moral implication for me. I think I was 7 or 8 when it dawned on me, in that apple on the skull way, that everyone is naked under their clothes.

I'm hoping the Superbowl Boob incideent will pass in time. I wish that it would teach us more about ourselves, but I doubt it. There's going to be more boob and ass moments, more sloppy kisses and public groping, by stars and wannabes all over, until we either get over it or stop responding to it. Once it's no longer a way to get attention, we will have to find something else to replay repeatedly on the ol' TiVo.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Creeping up

My 39th birthday is moving inexorably closer. I never prepared for this particular birthday. The ones with zeros don't bother me. It's the ones with the nines in them that seem to cause the greatest consternation. I suspect it's because that nine means a particular decade in my life is over, a particular period of living is winding down and I'll have to move to the next one.

I'm noticing MIL is showing signs of her age. She now chews with her mouth open quite a lot -- not surprising for a woman with her amount of dental work, but nevertheless disturbing to me. (Surprisingly enough, for the child of very plain, even countrified people, I'm particular about table manners. No fingers in your plate pushing the peas onto your fork, use your napkin and keep track of it, chew with your mouth closed. I slip on the elbows on the table rule, but it bugs me when I do, don't take the last of something without offering it to the rest of the table. And as for silverware? Outside in and top to bottom works pretty well for me. My husband, raised by people who traveled widely, went to formal affairs and ate dinner with government officials and diplomats, is just barely acceptable at a table. I'm still working on him. But he's cute.)

MIL is working on her 73rd year (how's THAT for a birthday number?) and is doing well, defying her age and refusing to acknowledge it. However, I'm increasingly aware of it, just as I was with my father and I am in myself. I notice the trouble she's having when she drives. I'm watching her slowing movements. I'm dealing with the repeated questions and the annoyed looks when I don't properly read her mind or haven't planned out whatever area she's in with her logic and ideas.

She cooked last night, rather fancy feast for our huumble house -- ginger chicken, snow peas, grated carrots, salad. She looked up a recipe and purchased most of the ingredients. I was called to the kitchen only four times, although each time was accompanied by The Look -- the look that says in one glance "Why can't you people put things in a normal, logical place? Why can't you have normal, regular stuff? And why are you acting like this weird stuff of yours was in this weird but obvious place the whole time when I KNOW you just produced it from thin air?"

Well, we do have weird stuff -- raw sugar in addition to white, granulated sugar. Different kinds of flour in addition to plain white flour. Candied ginger and ginger powder (and I occasionally have raw ginger, too). And where I store my stuff makes sense to me the other 9 months of the year...anyway...

Am I going to grow old and be like this? Will things slowly drift away from me, leaving me confused and frustrated and angry? Will it feel like a vast conspiracy?

I'll let you know after this coming birthday is over.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Midnight Disease

Sara pointed me toward theHarvard Gazette: The brains behind writer's block. Remember, I linked to the NPR story last week? Thanks so much, Sara!

It's always nice to know smart people :>

So Geeky, yet Cool

What I like about NERO is what I like about Roleplaying -- the theatre of it, combined with the need to think on your feet and improvise. You can get away with a lot if you just have the right attitude.

One of the characters I'm playing is a "necromancer". In gaming terms, she doesn't exist -- no stats, no skills, no numbers to delineate her existance. This is a little difficult to manage in a game. Somehow, two of my three characters exist like this, and the one that does have stats has a prefab set. ANYWAY...

So this necromancer is made up of costume and attitude. I wear a veil under a little black crown sort of headpiece, a black cloak, black pants and shirt, black gloves -- perfect for moving around at night, except that I don't wear my glasses and it's rather hard to see through the veil. Still, I manage.

And this necromancer had to go out late on the first night to make contact with a pair of players for some plot related stuff. Nothing major, nothing large, nothing central...I'm walking quietly as I can manage in the dark under the dripping trees, trying to find the right location and gradually realizing I'm not sure where I am in the campground. Ah well, I can see a couple of landmarks, so I'm ok. I am not set up to encounter any other group of players, so of course I keep running into them whereever I go. Most I manage to put off through a simple tactic of Not Speaking To Them. In this game, there's nothing that's going to get people more nervous yet curious than Not to Speak to Them. When one group insisted on confronting me, I affected as menacing a voice as I could manage (very quiet and low) and said "This is not an encounter you want. You have been warned." and moved on.

Then I met up with a little trio determined to corner me. Now, it should be stated I had NOTHING in game terms to use -- no weapon, no "magic", no anything. I could keep my distance and talk, and I could chose to "vanish" which would send me back to the staff area. I wasn't ready to give up yet. So, this little trio got the "warning" speech. One of the players had a character of insatiable curiousity and complete lack of self preservation, a scatterbrain (the character was a hoot). He wanted to hug the necromancer.

Now, his companions were keeping a safe distance. One wanted to leave, and the third was wavering. They were going to blow my whole scene and I had to do SOMETHING. So....I screamed.

I can produce a good, loud, soul shaking scream of rage when I try. Back in my highschool days I used to work every year at the JayCee's haunted house, where I perfected my screaming technique. They responded beautifully, turning as a group and bolting toward the nearest lit building. The phrase "took to their heels" seems so appropriate. This gave me a good minute, maybe two, to duck behind some bushes and hide. They came back -- somewhat reluctantly -- and begin discussing options -- go after me, leave me alone, get reenforcements, etc. There was a LOT of discussion, and I was so wanting to laugh except that the adrenalin of the moment and my clinging to the character I was creating held it back. While they were discussing and dithering and convincing themselves they didn't want to mess with me, I crept off.

I ran into a few more obstacles, and as there was another encounter with other staff members going on, there were too many people milling about to move easily unseen. I couldn't get near my target, and I was being followed, so I did another duck and run, staged another "Scream" at a distance from where I'd been last seen, and headed back to the staff area.

I still get all tingly thinking about it.

On a limb

Ever do something, big or little, that leaves you feeling exposed and vulnerable -- but you did it on purpose, and you did it anyway?

I do. I get myself worked up about all kinds of things, feeling the sharp edges, sensing the wind from the rocks at the bottom of the cliff. It doesn't matter how big or small the risk really is, each time it feels the same -- the cliff edge, the rocks, the gasp of breath as I step off and try the air, the moment of suspense when I wait to fly or fall.

Usually what I'm risking is in my own mind, and subject to my own perception. Humiliation and rejection are the things I fear. Physical pain and financial loss are bad, but humiliation is a long lasting wound. I can't remember what it was that left a bruise on my arm the other day, but I can recall with crystal clarity embarrassing episodes that took place when I was 5.

Once upon a time, I was highly humiliation-risk adverse. I call this period "highschool". I would do nothing deliberately that made me look silly, or that I thought would make me look silly. When I played an Ugly Stepsister in a production of Cinderalla my senior year, I felt I'd reached a pinnacle of maturity. I Looked Silly on stage. It was near the end of the school year, and I did a pretty good job in my role (despite a strong inability to play anything for a laugh) because the expected teasing and torment for which I'd braced myself was not forthcoming. Of course, the possibility exists that simply no one bothered to notice me, but previous experience indicates differently. I felt like EVERYONE took a turn at me, from second grade through graduation.

However, I've learned I can survive it. I don't hide in the closet anymore (as I did when I was five) or huddle in my bedroom and cry with hatred for the world (as I did when I was 16). Now, I just risk it. I push it on out there and...curl up in a little ball inside my soul when the rejection and humiliation comes. Then I uncurl and debate what to do next.


Monday, February 02, 2004

The Geek Report

First thing -- no pictures. Too much rain to risk my lovely nonwaterproof camera. Too much darkness to really get a decent picture.

Second thing -- see last post for the quick mental impression.

It's hard to precisely describe what takes place at an event like a NERO weekend. It's more complicated than a table-top RPG game, a Ren Faire or SCA event, or a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention, mostly because it combines elements from all of them. There are just a lot of things I have to assume in order to explain. First, there's the word. LARPing. This means Live Action Role Playing

If you have read or seen ALL the Lord of the Rings books/movies and thought it would be very cool to be an Elf, you might grasp LARPing.
If Halloween is your favorite holiday, not because of the candy, but because you get to dress up in a cool costume, you might grasp LARPing.
If you've ever painted your body in the colors of your favorite sports team, put on a weirdly shaped hat and a giant foam hand and stood in the stands screaming like an idiot, then you might grasp LARPing. It will be a stretch, but you're closer than you know.
If you are a frustrated actor, you might grasp LARPing.

So this group of about 10-12 people coordinate a wilderness park/campground for another 30 or so people to show up and wear robes, leather armor, facepaint and fake pointed ears, carry large foamcovered sticks vaguely reminscent of swords, bows or axes, talk in funny accents, espouse strangesounding names, throw little cloth packets of birdseed at each other, all while wandering around said camping area, while the first group of people do quick changes of makeup and color coded tabards and pretend to be various animals or monsters, or put on more complex costumes to pretend to be....well, you sort of get the idea, don't you?

I don't know if I'd play in a LARP, but I like being on the running/organizing side of it. I get to play different parts. I have nothing to win or lose. I'm creating an entertaining atmosphere for the larger group. Our particular NERO chapter is run out of Monster Town -- whatever cabin we take over to stage monster and Non-player character activities. I work mostly in Monster Town, helping various staff members prepare for "Crunchy" duty -- going out as monsters to be battled and killed by the players. "Crunchy" comes, I THINK, from an old gamer line that "So-n-so is crunchy and good with milk", meaning a particular opponent is not terribly difficult to defeat and is fun to play with.

Anyway.

Yeah, I'm a geek. I keep telling you this. I'm not worried about it. There are a lot of geeks of various flavors out there. The wide wide world is full of different kinds of geeks. At this point, I've decided that "geek" is a term one group of people uses to pretend they are superior to another group of people, usually over things like cultural ideals and societal norms.

As I was saying, I work a lot in Monster Town, since I'm not good Crunchy material (I bruise too easily). I keep the wardrobe in order and I'm taking on Make up duties. I'm hoping to get into more plot creation and to assist in running the game more.

But, playing my current crop of characters is fun. Belle Swann is a bard (which means I get to sing, whoo hoo) and is mostly just "atmosphere" in town, although with our limited staff she's going to end up being pressed into plot duty sooner or later. Then I have a fae critter called Ninnyhammer Twinkletoes who's major purpose is to be annoying and bright and have a short attention span and flitter a lot. She's fun. Last in my personal stable is Tadja Kraue, a bad-ass necromancer who's major purpose has been being scary and mysterious. Scary and Mysterious is all kinds of fun. Making players run by just screaming -- in a fine, bloodcurcling manner, of course -- is even more fun.

Gotta love it. Just gotta.

I have *groan* returned

Rain. Rain rain rain. Cold rain. Cold wind. Cold ground.

Great love for propane heater.

Demon squirrels attacking at 5 am.

Send out the goblins. Send out the orcs. We need more orcs. How about some trolls? Where's our ghost? Ack! Badgers, send giant badgers! Ok, out with the fairie. Send out the Stalker. How much treasure has gone out? We still need more orcs!

You'd think grown people would know better.

More later.