Thursday, June 30, 2005

Here Comes the Rain Again

It's closing in on 1 in the afternoon, therefore it is about to rain. This seems to be the rule for this summer. I can remember a similar rule in summers past. That's the way of a normal Florida Summer. In 1994, rain started early in the day and stayed all day. It cleared up in the late afternoon and evening. I remember clearly for 3 reasons -- I was leaving my house each morning at about 6 am to drive 1 hr to work and usually was either driving in rain or watching clouds come over 2) I had a desk near large, west facing windows and could see the rain coming 3) I was grateful I didn't have to drive home in the rain, too.

So far, referals have been rather...interesting. Not incredibly interesting, just mildly so. I'll let them compile a bit.

My fingers are sore from the guitar strings, but I can now transition with relative smoothness between the G major, the E minor, and the C major. The D major is a pain. I'm working on A major and A minor, but there's no transitioning quite yet. I can't play an F for anything. The wide neck and almost vertical position I have to hold the guitar in is tiring -- I'd hold it horizonally, but I cannot wrench my wrist around sufficiently to reach all the strings. I need an extra joint in my forearm to accomplish that, and I haven't found any instructions in the guitar exercise book on how to get one of those installed. And that's how far I've come in two weeks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Because, really, I have no life

or at least nothing better to do right now...

The Husband complained that my little added photo looked like I was bored. So, I did a little something to liven it up.

drag your mouse pointer over the picture to see.

Yeah, I could have done so much more, but my fragile ego will not take much. Besides, I think I look funny enough all on my own.

You are an obsession...

Has anyone else noticed that I've been titling posts from old songs lately? It's worrying me.

I am going through a bout of statistics obsession. I check my assorted counters, trackers and whatnot a couple times a day. I'm pleased to note that I'm confusing and boring people from all around the world right now, except in the US midwest. Those people in Iowa have better things to do.

I'm not really concerned about how MANY people show up -- I've had my hit counter climb and fall many times and I just don't get excited about it anymore -- but where they came from and how they found me are just endlessly fascinating. Spiders and 'bots and who-kn0ws-what pick up little things that I write about and cast them up in searches. It makes me want to try an evil experiment.

You see, we all know that most people crawling the web are surfing for porn, right? Not only searching for porn, but searching for very specific, often terrifying, stuff they've die if someone else found out about it porn. I can look through my referals and just TELL when someone is searching for porn and yet somehow came up with my completely pornless site.

Yes, indeed, my site is porn free. There are no "Hot naked girl pictures" or "twinks in action" or "man on donkey in pear tree" downloadable movies. No "Naked mother-in-law blow jobs" (that was an actual one, and I'm trying not to think about it VERY MUCH) or "Pony girl anal inserts" or any number of other highly questionable things people search for on the internet. My little webloggy corner doesn't discuss them, or even have links to them.

Of course, in a few hours, the bots will crawl over this page and pick out all those words, and many a disappointed guy (admit it, fellas, it's mostly guys searching for this stuff. Girls go to Literotica and read from a large collection of -- honestly -- mostly lousy amateur erotica*. And when I say lousy, I mean in the noun-verb disagreement, run-on sentences, comma splices, fragments, misused or omitted punctuation, mispellings and incorrect word useage everywhere, and those are just the TECHNICAL errors way. I won't even get into the aesthetics of how whatever it is gets presented. Yes, I'm a snob. Subject matter isn't so important -- I've read some very good stories about some very distasteful activities that, while I didn't find them "hot" or even lukewarm, were well written. Some people have not realized that typing with one hand while frigging with the other is NOT the best way to write erotica....or your resume, for that matter. But I digress...) disappointed guy is going to stumble across this minor corner of the blogosphere (yeah, I hate that word, too, but it is so convenient) all hot and bothered and....nuthin'.

Sorry, fellas. Move along. No big breasted, ass whipping whores for you to stare at in low-res glory here. And use some Clorox on your keyboard, will ya?

OK, experiment over. I'll let you know what happens, if anything, on my referal logs. With luck, it should be...interesting. And I bet I pick up some hits from Iowa.

* There's good stuff on Literotica, too, but you have to be willing to hunt for it. The ratings help, but since they can be swayed by "friend" voting, don't rely on them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Searchin' every which-a-way

As anyone as obsessed with their weblog statistics as I am will do, I've been checking the ol' referal log. And, as most of us who check referal logs will do, I'm thinking "What the FUCK?"

Here is a short list of searches that I leave me staring in confusion and fear that they found me...

britney beiging pregnant - a biege pregnancy is so not Britney's style.
"he's a rebel" doberman - happily I was 4th on the list for this one.
"riding crop"carved horn dog - I'm noticing a disturbing canine theme here and I do NOT want to know.

There is, at this moment, nothing more interesting going on in my life.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I'm on a road and I am travelin'

I don't know how you approach travel, but I seem to have two basic approached, diametrically opposed (as are most things in my life). Either I spend so much time thinking and preparing for the trip that it never seems to arrive, and never quite is what I want it to be, or it is pushed so far to the back of my mind that when the date to leave arrives I have no clean underwear.

I am not a spur-of-the-moment traveler. First, I really hate leaving my house. Second, I've got 6 cats, 1 dog, and two birds to arrange for (few are the friends willing to take on ALL of them, and a pet sitter is only an option for very long trips. Third, packing in a hurry means I will have one pair of unsuitable shoes, three pairs of sweatpants and two giant t-shirts in my bag, with possibly a toothbrush, and maybe, just maybe, one sock.

What's really alarming is that I actually travel quite a bit, at least for me. I'm thinking about the trips we've taken or are taking this year, both business and pleasure

- January -- cruise
- February -- show in VA
- March -- WOULD have been a show in Atlanta, but we canceled it
- Nothing in April
- May - Arts & Letters Workshop in Georgia
- Nothing in June
- July - Tennesee for master class
- August -- potential class but it will only be in Tampa for a day, which is only SLIGHTLY like traveling. Update: New Orleans
-September -- DragonCon in Atlanta, Word on the Street in Toronto
- October - Show in Tampa, but longer away this time
- November - Show in Atlanta, possibly a weekend in St Augustine
-Oh please let me not go anywhere in December

Yeah, that's about a trip a month. For those of you who travel for a living, I know, that's diddly squat. I think the hardest part is traveling to Shows. I'm traveling With Stuff. Two large wheeled totes (the kind you can put bodies in without cutting them up first) full of stuff, plus three to five smaller totes depending on what has to go, two tool/materials cases, two cases of jewelry (small but hefty), usually two large glass cases for display (heavy AND fragile), two laptops, and sometimes regular tables, a massage table and a massage chair, a box of sheets for said massage table.

Oh, suitcases? For a show, I can get everything The Husband and I need into one wheeled case and still bring a book with me And, after 5 years of doing this, I've significantly reduced what needs to be taken along on a trip. The complex part is displays. Every set up is different. I have to set up for whatever merchandise we have, and since we make a lot of one-of-a-kind things, that varies significantly. I used to carry a box of beautiful raw crystals and a lovely piece of finished driftwood for displays. No more. Now my favorite stuff is clear acrylic that doesn't break, doesn't scratch, is cheap, and nests inside larger parts.

Traveling for fun is much more complicated. Show travel means living in the hotel and wearing comfy clothes for long periods of sitting interspersed by hectic periods of unpacking/packing, lifting and toting. Pleasure travel means having to take something for almost any damned occasion or flip in the weather. I've not packed correctly for a pleasure trip yet. If I go somewhere where it's supposed to be cool and rainy, the weather will be warm and sunny the entire time (when we spent 10 days in England in September 2003, every English person I met proclaimed on the unusually bright and balmy weather. I just told them I brought it with me from Florida while resenting the three sweaters and lined trench coat I had to lug around.)

If it is supposed to be hot and bright, there will be a sudden cold front (like August 1996 in Maine, when I had to go into Freeport to buy a sweater and some lined jeans because it dropped from the middle 80's into thehigh 30's- low 40's on Wedneday and stayed that way until Sunday. I only had shorts, and, being a Florida girl, I'm a wimp -- unlike all the Mainers complaining bitterly about the incredible (18-20%) humidity that Tuesday).

If I pack for formal affairs, everyone will want pizza, at home. If I pack casual, there will be two, possibly three heels-and-hose events. Whatever I take with me will be wrong. Every time I've gone to Virginia in the winter, when I'm told repeatedly how mild it is and I'll only need a jacket, it's been FRIGID. The first time, I bought my one and only heavy coat on emergency once I got there (MIL met me at the airport with a borrowed coat, thank the goddess). This year I helped dig out our van wearing cheap cloth sneakers because why the hell would I need my boots? It doesn't snow in Roanoke!

Anyway, I'm bitching and moaning about this because a trip as snuck up on me. June is almost over already and we are leaving for Tennessee on Friday. When did June get over with so quick? At least this is a low-level stuff trip. Just tools, clothes, maybe computers (not much internet where we will be), maybe books. July in Tennessee, I should be ok with sneakers, t-shirts and jeans/shorts, right?


Saturday, June 25, 2005

today, small t

I spent today in someone else's house for approximately 14 hours, sitting mostly on the floor with my laptop, and writing, attempting to write, reading what I'd written, or listening to other people read what they had written. I also petted cats and ate food. It was a Writing Marathon. The Husband and The Dog were at a jewelry class learning how to turn silver wire into fancy and decorative knots.

I'm going to bed now.

Friday, June 24, 2005

News from the PBS front

In my email today (I've emphasized certain portions).

Dear friend of MoveOn,

In an unexpected move yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved a measure to restore $100 million of funding for NPR, PBS and local public stations.1 Republican leaders were proposing to slash $200 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but you helped stop them.

Everyone said it was impossible to reverse any of the House cuts with Republicans in control. Yesterday's Washington Post described the divide between Democrats and Republicans like this:

"[O]n Capitol Hill, it's hard to find a Republican with anything nice to say about National Public Radio or the Public Broadcasting Service. Instead, they denounce them as liberal and elitist, when they bother to talk about them at all."2

Public broadcasting shouldn't divide Republicans and Democrats. More Americans trust NPR and PBS for balanced news and children's programming than any commercial network.3 Yet many Republicans have been intent on either gagging or starving public broadcasting.

So why did 87 Republicans break with the majority of their party and vote to restore the funding? In large part, because over 1 million of you signed the petition calling on Congress to reverse course. And over 40,000 of you made phone calls to your elected representatives. There was a surge of public outrage that couldn't be ignored. This victory was possible because we were joined by Free Press, Common Cause and strong allies in the House—Representatives Markey, Obey, Lowey, Dingell, Hinchey, Watson, Schakowsky, Blumenauer, Eshoo, Slaughter, and Leach, a brave Republican.

Despite this incredible progress, the House Republicans did manage to cut over $100 million, including funding for children's programming like "Sesame Street." We'll take our fight to the Senate when it considers the budget later this summer. But yesterday's vote makes it much more likely we can restore every last cent for NPR and PBS by acting together.

Yesterday also brought darker news in the fight for public broadcasting. The Republican-dominated board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) hired a former Republican National Committee chair as the next president, injecting partisanship into the very organization designed to shield public broadcasting from political meddling.4 This is only the latest effort by White House ally and CPB board chair Kenneth Tomlinson to remake public broadcasting as a partisan mouthpiece. To save NPR and PBS, we'll need to take on Tomlinson, but today we showed that the public can and will defend public broadcasting from partisan attack.

For now, we have a lot to be thankful for. Our kids can keep learning from PBS' children's programming. We can keep enjoying public broadcasting's in-depth, trustworthy news and cultural offerings. Most of all, we can be thankful for the ability of ordinary people to band together and do extraordinary things.

Thank you, for all you do,

–Noah, Joan, Marika, Wes and the Team
Friday, June 24th, 2005

P.S. Your Congressman, Rep. Keller, voted the wrong way on NPR and PBS funding.5 You can call him at 202-225-2176.

Please let us know if you call at:

1. "House votes to keep most PBS funding intact," USA Today, June 23, 2005

2. "Opponents On Different Wavelengths," Washington Post, June 23, 2005

3. "CPB's 'Secrets and Lies': Why the CPB Board Hid its Polls Revealing Broad Public Support for PBS and NPR," Center for Digital Democracy, April 27, 2005

4. "Public Broadcasting Chief Is Named, Raising Concerns," New York Times, June 24, 2005

5. Roll Call Vote in House of Representatives (An "aye" vote is the right vote.)

I'm a fan of NPR in particular because it does NOT pander to the lowest common denominator. It doesn't "dumb down" or insult its audience by pretending that audience is stupid. Just from watching network news and shows, I believe commercial broadcasters not only think viewers are idiots, they are banking on it. They NEED us to be idiots, money-making, junk-buying sheep.

My representative lost my vote, (I don't think he had it in the first place, but he lost it now for certain). I've listened to NPR for many years and have often heard a story that angered me for its "conservative bias". They read letters from people slapping them around both for being "too liberal" and "too conservative", which makes me think they must be doing time on both sides of the line. or hoving right about center.

Of course, I've also come to understand that "too conservative" means more conservative than I am, and "too liberal" means more liberal than I am. I'm suspecting, from observation, that the rule applies to just about everyone.

It Gets In Your Eyes

Lifted from J-walk

Sensitive Light:Colored Light Photos

These are so...well, despite my vast vocabulary and years spent studying the nuance of simile and metephor, I end up with....COOOOOOOLLL!!!!!

I want to look like this one. Maybe without the spoon....

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Picture

Yes, that's a picture of me on the right sidebar. I took it with my webcam this afternoon, using my cheap desk lamp for the overlit effect (that hides a lot of decrepitude), trimmed the photo, turned it B/W and them tinted it slightly to match the site colors. What, you thought I'd put my REAL, unadulterated face up? I'm not that cruel.

No, that's not an evil dog totem over my shoulder. That's actually a small portion of a bookcase filled with kids books and stuffed animals. Then again, maybe it is Evil Dog Totem.

Update: Here are the original photos I took. This is what happens when I'm left alone with a webcam and no one to protect me from myself.

Notice the ever fashionable "Cousin It" look.


I'm on a journey of blogospheric exploration. I'm poking through the links lists and blogrolls of every site to which I am linked, trying to select a few for a temporary Blogroll I'm calling "Experiments". (It should show up here sometime later today or early tomorrow, depending on how ambitious I get.)

You see, I'm still thinking about that whole Blogroll thing. I roam around between the same weblogs and inevitably I slide into a rut, a groove, a pattern. It's a big ol' internet -- surely there are places I haven't discovered yet that will interest me, even if only for a short while. So, I'm collecting those site links that I'm checking out on this "temporary" list. I call it temporary in that while the list itself will remain (for as long as I'm messing with this idea) but the site links on it will change as I either move them to other lists or just place them in my browser favorites to check on occasionally. I'm still sticking to my idea that my "strangers" list will be what I'm reading regularly and what is posting regularly.

I need to place that in context, because there is so much thought and feeling about links (mostly among the little voices in my head).

I estimate there are between 20 and 30 people who read my site regularly, out of all the millions on line. 20 to 30, plus the random person pulling me up on a search. Honestly, the person who reads my site most often is me, because I use my blogrolls to check sites daily, and I like my own writing. So, I am a relative dust speck in the blogosphere with no power, no contacts, no big name -- nothing really important. Therefore, being linked on my site is not going to change anyone's life. No one is going to discover you through my link and offer you a million dollars, a book contract, a starring role, or their first born child (judging by some of the searches showing in my logs, kinky sex is a possibility.)

So, a link here is essentially meaningless, unless you hold some manner of regard for my opinion, or I am another statistic helping to pad out your estimation of your readership, or you are a link whore, all of which is perfectly fine. When I link someone, it's because 1) I want to be able to find them again later, where ever I am and 2) I think the people who read my stuff will also want to read their stuff.

If you discover I've linked your site under "experiments" one day, and some time later you see I've dropped the link, it means only that whatever attracted me in the beginning either didn't sustain my interest, or possibly you didn't post enough to suit me, or somesuch thing involving my entirely unimportant opinion about your site. Maybe your font size bothered me, or I really didn't like your background color. Do you really care? You aren't writing for me, nor designing your site for me, or anything else for ME specifically.

I'm not widely linked myself, probably for some or all of the above reasons. It doesn't bother me. Those folks who have linked to me, thank you. I consider it a compliment. That you maintain the link is a separate compliment and a pleasure, but nothing I expect or (goddess forbid) demand of you.

Anyway, why am I even doing this on a Blogroll? Just to set up people I don't know for public rejection? Demonstrating that I've got a site on "audition"? Ego tripping and power mongering? No. There's a chance that someone else who happens by here will see the link, go there, and find life's fulfillment, ot at least somewhere to waste 10 minutes. I don't get a lot of traffic here, but I'm perfectly happy to share what I get.

Ok, have I analyzed that in enough boring detail? This is what I'ma doin', so if you're curious about what I collect and want/need/demand more places to spend your hours than you've found on your own, I'm willing to share.


First guitar lesson today. Bless the gods and goddesses for nylon strings. The tips of the fingers on my left hand are actually swollen (have I ever mentioned how irritatingly fragile I am?). However, I can stumble through (peeking at the charts and my fingers) a G, Em, C, D progression, enough to play "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" -- well, if you listen closely and I hum along. All folk music is mine, muahahhah.

My guitar is a classical style, with a wide neck, so I have to play it pitched up high so that I can reach across the fretboard. Oh lordie. I can also sort of play A and Am. Whoo hoo, ready for the big time...if my fingers don't fall off. Chances are by the time I get calluses forming, I'll actually be able to locate the chords with only occasional glances at the chart and my hands.

As for finger picking -- I'll save that. Strumming is complicated enough.

Is there a Sarah McLachlan song in existance that isn't somehow depressing? She can also sing about 4 notes higher than I can (well, higher than I can without the help of helium).

I've put up the latest iteration of my Library list, this time with all the children's books I've collected in it. This brings the total up to roughly 1,700 books. I still have more art books, cook books, and some other odd books to go, maybe another 50 or 60 all told. While I would not be COMPLETELY susprised to reach 2000 books, we are also piling books up to sell off, so the total will drop a little.

After going through all those books, I was wandering memory lane and recalled a book I read as a kid, called Greensleeves, by E.J. McGraw, about a young woman who pretends to be someone else for a summer. I loved the book and would like to read it again, but when I went hunting for a copy, the least expensive was $65.00. That's just a little steep for a fairly obscure book. I may even have to check the local library so I can read it again, and decide if it is REALLY worth hunting for.

Oh, and Heather threw a meme at me, so here goes:

1. Number of books I own

Current count is 1700, but that's subject to change

2. The last book I bought

Hmm, that's a little complicated, as I just rejoined SFBC to take advantage of their entry offer and I've got about 8 books coming in (for under $15 -- quite reasonable, I think). They have not arrived yet, though. I've also got two books on order through my local store, plus some stuff coming through Amazon from pre-orders. I also bought a load of books for my mother in law (the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries). Books seem to just drift into the house, so I can't even recall precisely when I bought what. How do you think I ended up with 1,700 books?

3. The last book I read

Emma in Love by Emma Tennent. Eh.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me

ugh, the hardest question.

The Left of Darkness -- Ursula K. LeGuin The epitomy of science fiction as literature, for me. The alien world, people, and cultures all serve to underline basic ideas of human life, but allow new and subtle ideas to come forth that wouldn't appear any other way. An exceptional book that deserves more than being shoved into the Science Fiction ghetto.

Jane Eyre -- Charlotte Bronte Classic gothic romance, right? Also my first experience with a strong female heroine. Popular assumptions aside, Jane Eyre was no wimp.

Pride & Prejudice -- Jane Austen What's not to love?

The Secret Garden -- Frances Hodges Burnett Who doesn't recognise the feelings of alienation and the desire to belong? The whole idea of a secret place, almost magical just because it is secret, never wears out for me. My absolute only quibble is that the book started with Mary but ended with Colin, leaving Mary sort of dangling. It was almost as if some editor demanded a dramatic ending instead of a tidy one. The movie addressed that, interestingly enough.

Women who Run with the Wolves - Clarissa Pinkola Estes This book changed a lot of my thinking and echoes with me still. Its popularity aside, I don't think most people who read it really grasped it. I used it as a starting point for deeper study into how we use, think about, and are affected by the stories we are told and tell, in all manners -- especially those that come to us through commercial media.

Ok, who wants to catch it next? Lazygal? Maven? Mr. Guy? Mr. Irish Guy? Scott who doesn't have a nickname? Is that because he's cool or because he's just not paranoid enough??

Ok, that's my day summed up neatly. I'm going to go shove the Husband over and get some sleep.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What THEY said

The AFI has put out their list of the 100 Top Movie Quotes. Yeah, I'm familiar with most of them. I've seen a majority of the movies, especially if they were made before 1980. I'm surprised -- slightly -- that Star Wars "I've got a bad feeling about this" didn't make it, as it was said by almost every major character at some point (if not in the first movie, then in one of the others -- perennial line) but it's kind of ordinary so maybe it just wasn't noticed.

At least Casablanca, one of the most quotable movies ever, had quite a bit of coverage. And Auntie Mame (which Mr. Guy and I quote at each other fanatically) had it's tagline appear.

I KNOW that face...

Just TAKING the picture would be stealing...but...fear of...copyright infringment...fading...


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Secondy-fifth Childhood

Stolen from Lazygal, because she's cool like that.

From The Little Professor comes this meme: which of the NEA's Top 100 Books for Kids have you read?

I've put the ones I've read in bold. Several of these I read after attaining legal drinking age (Dr. Seuss books make for the best drinking games). I still re-read quite a few. What about you?

1. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White (9-12 years)
2. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (4-8 years)
3. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
4. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
5. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (4-8 years)
6. Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch (4-8 years)
7. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (All ages)
8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Baby-Preschool)
9. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (Young Adult)
10. The Mitten by Jan Brett (4-8 years)
11. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Baby-Preschool)
12. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (9-12 years)
13. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (9-12 years)
14. Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein (All ages)
15. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (9-12 years)
16. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (4-8 years)
17. Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
18. Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola (4-8 years)
19. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (4-8 years)20. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr. (Baby-Preschool)
21. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
22. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (4-8 years)
23. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (9-12 years)
24. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (9-12 years)
25. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
26. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (4-8 years)
27. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault (4-8 years)
28. Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)
29. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (9-12 years)
30. The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (4-8 years)
31. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (9-12 years)
32. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (9-12 years)
33. Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (9-12 years)
34. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (9-12 years)
35. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (9-12 years)
36. The BFG by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
37. The Giver by Lois Lowry (9-12 years)
38. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (4-8 years)
39. James and the Giant Peach: A Children's Story by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
40. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)
41. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (9-12 years)
42. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (Young Adult)
43. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
44. Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner (9-12 years)
45. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (9-12 years)
46. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien (9-12 years)
47. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (All ages)
48. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (Baby-Preschool)
49. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (4-8 years)
50. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (9-12 years)
51. Corduroy by Don Freeman (Baby-Preschool)
52. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (4-8 years)53. Math Curse by Jon Scieszka (4-8 years)
54. Matilda by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
55. Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls (Young Adult)
56. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (9-12 years)
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (9-12 years)
58. The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White (9-12 years)
59. Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman (4-8 years)
60. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (9-12 years)
61. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (4-8 years)
62. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
63. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (9-12 years)
64. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Baby-Preschool)
65. The Napping House by Audrey Wood (4-8 years)
66. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (4-8 years)
67. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (4-8 years)
68. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (9-12 years)
69. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (All ages)
70. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (9-12 years)
71. Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
72. Basil of Baker Street, by Eve Titus (4-8 years)
73. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (4-8 years)
74. The Cay by Theodore Taylor (Young Adult)
75. Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey (4-8 years)76. Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox (4-8 years)
77. Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown (4-8 years)
78. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (9-12 years)
79. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (4-8 years)
80. Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)
81. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (4-8 years)
82. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (Baby-Preschool)
83. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (9-12 years)
84. Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish (4-8 years)
85. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (9-12 years)
86. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (9-12 years)
87. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater (9-12 years)
88. My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (9-12 years)
89. Stuart Little by E. B. White (9-12 years)
90. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (9-12 years)
91. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (9-12 years)
92. The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola (4-8 years)
93. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (4-8 years)
94. Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell (4-8 years)
95. Heidi by Johanna Spyri (All ages)
96. Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
97. The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Young Adult)
98. The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (9-12 years)
99. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (Baby-Preschool)
100. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch (4-8 years)

Lots of my favorites didn't make this list, of course. I was a big Noel Streatfield reader, and loved E.L. Konigsburg. Now I have to go scan in the children's books.

Monday, June 20, 2005

More Naval gazing

and I'm not talking sailors.

What, exactly, are the political motivations of linking to a very popular weblog? I don't know why this is on my mind today, except that I am very tired and have eaten one oatmeal cookie (with raisins) and one chocolate chip, both from a 7-11 emergency stop last night.

I fumble with this one, mostly because I like worrying myself with things that really don't matter (keeps me from thinking about, oh, death and stuff). I mean, let's face facts. Most of us writing our little lives here on the big ol' internet are small potatoes. We will be noticed by a few, linked here and there, and remain mostly anonymous. There are a limited number of shining light spots available. How bright and shining they are depends on a lot of factors, most of which are mysterious to me, including such abstractions as talent, ability, and sheer luck. So, if I the anonymous link to a shining light, what am I doing?

Am I expressing interest in what everyone else is interested in?
Am I indicating some kind of sincere admiration?
Am I trying to coattail, hoping that search engines will somehow pair my site up with said shining light and thus catch me in the reflected glow?

Is this a moral failing? Is there greater integrity in NOT linking to popular websites? Or is that just paltry vindictiveness, a case of "well, if we all DIDN'T link to Mr/Ms. Smartypants, how popular would they be, huh?"

Let's say you linked to a site long before it became popular, back when Mr/Ms. Smartypants was a link whore and would reciprolink to anyone and everyone. Suddenly they shoot to Internet Stardom and, there you are, on their "favorites" or "peeps" or "Links" list. You "knew them when". Maybe you even get caught up in their aura even though you've maintained your low profile, just posting about your eggs for breakfast and the stupid thing you did last week. If you drop their link (say, maybe, fame changes them and they start to suck, but have so much cachet that they roll on in spite of it) are you just having sour grapes? What if they drops YOUR link?

Everytime I find a site I think is cool anymore, I check to see how many other people think it is also cool. The more people who also think it is cool, the less likely I am to link it more than ephemerally. I mean, I see nothing but negative connotations to it, you know?

I think about this stuff way too much. But it's much easier than having a life.

Save Public Broadcasting...or not

I'm a fan of NPR, in case you didn't know. It's about the only news source I listen to on a regular basis. And even though fund drives (I'm a member of my local PBS station) and lists of sponsors can be annoying, they still beat the crap out of mindless and endless commercials about weight loss pills and super mops. So..

Save NPR and PBS

Of all the things my tax money is spent on, this is one from which I get actual benefit. My tax money is happily frittered away on all manner of things I consider spendthrift or actually harmful to me (Patriot Act and Homeland Security, anyone? What about that Presidental Salary? Ok, enough.) This is something that I not only WANT my tax money spent on, but that I donate OTHER money to promote (husband and I usually cough up about $200 a year. I donated my dad's old pickup truck to them last year.)

If you want radio and television to give you something more than "reality" shows, think about signing on to this petition and telling Congress not to kill off funding for NPR and PBS.

And now, another round of Press the Button

Even with the incredible amounts of physical and emotional energy I've put out this weekend (or perhaps because of it) I am not asleep at 2:43 am EST. This means I'm playing "Press the Next Blog Button" again. Whoooo doogie.

Certain things I've realized. If you want me to never darken your weblog:

1) have music -- any kind -- start playing as soon as the page opens
2) use a pale blue, pink, yellow or tan text on a white background.
3) start each entry with "I hate...."
4) have just started the weblog today with the words "I don't really know what I want to write here" or "I'm just so stupid, no one cares what I write..." or any similar combination.
5) minimize the bright pink text to size 1 or 2, and have the bright pink line rendered graphic 6 times the size of the text block
6) color the entire page red
7) post nothing but your poetry

I know, I'm really demanding and such a tight assed, self-righteous, bitch critic. But, hey, no one makes me read anything I don't wanna read, and I don't wanna read anything with that shit.

On the other hand, I found this and this entertainly distracting for a while. I also rediscovered this, a site I followed in the long ago and lost in the mists when I took those whole 9 months off a couple years back. I also took a wander through Yahoo's lists of online journals and weblogs. Many of the sites I first started reading are still there, even though the sites themselves have either vanished or changed and moved (most a considerably long time ago, like in YEARS). It was strangely nostalgic.

But I'm still not sleepy. I imagine I will become incredibly sleepy about 2 hours before I have to get up and go to work. Strange how it always ends up like that.

Update: Feh I don't know why I haven't mentioned this one before, because, well, I've known about it forever and still don't bookmark it. I guess I wanted to keep it to myself or it's magnificence kept blinding me and causing amnesia. I'd come across someone else mentioning it and go there and say "wow! what if he achieves his goal of universal fame? Will this all become meaningless drivel? Will he become overwhelmed with his popularity? Will he write a book and ruin it all?" I realized today that it's too late for all that. Everyone is going to know about it in, oh.....ten minutes?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Laughter through tears

is, indeed (as Dollie Parton would say), one of my favorite emotions.

Tonight was the final concert of the OGC season and if you missed it, you missed out largly. It was also our director's final concert with us as he takes time off to worry about the rest of his life. So, there were lots of tributes and presents and cards, which meant some of the sappier songs we sang were sung through tears. As a surprise finale, we did a modification of "What I Did For Love" from A Chorus Line as a "goodbye". Oh, one by one the chorus members started crying -- moi included although I trooped through to the end, my throat so tight I sang the entire thing an octave up -- until even the audience was teary. Oh ye gods and goddesses, what a night.

Adding a little personal poingancy for me was that this is Father's Day and I'm reminded once again how much I miss my own Dad. Four years working on five since he died, and I still become a mess over stupid TV commercials and the occasional mushy song, and some times for no good reason at all. I was always a "Daddy's girl". When my parents divorced, my mother was all ready to move back to my grandmother's in North Carolina. I remember being in the hotel room and asking her "Where's Daddy?" and watching her break down and get on the phone. Next thing I know, my dad has given her the little house he'd rented for himself and getting a tiny apartment, and we are still in Florida because my mom could not stand the idea of separating me from my Dad. I never really heard either of them say anything bad about the other (well, except the obvious things. Dad was chronically late and Mom could be a really mean drunk, both of which I already knew before either of them said anything.)

So a couple of times I had to mouth words while trying not to cry for either missing my Dad or thinking about our director leaving. I think I sang most of the concert with tear blurred eyes. I'm such a sap. I'm not big on public crying. I resent it when I cry through a movie (with the exception of An Affair To Remember, which is all ABOUT crying through the movie.) But in between all the teary moments was a lot of laughing, with little strange things happening and jokes going around, and even everyone laughing about how everyone was crying. I was officially acknowledged as one of the three straight women in the group --we are the 10%.

So, next season, new director and who knows what else? I still feel like I did in first grade when my teacher (who's name is now lost to me) left to get married, and I cried and cried. Oh well.

DId You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?

I really enjoyed this post at So Many Books, Choice and Desire. I started thinking about how we go about making choices, and how we go about AVOIDING having to chose between things. It brings to mind Aesop's tale of the Fox and the Grapes, for one.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

It's a grand night for singing

And we sang. The concert went off without a hitch, as it should. It also went on and on and on...

You see, this is a special concert. It's the OGC's 15th anniversary, it's our director's final concert before leaving, AND it's an "audience picks the songs" concert. We don't know which of the 22 songs we rehearsed will show up where, we just know eventually some of them will. Mr. Director is doing a lot of talking between numbers, about the chorus's history, about songs, etc.

Lots of standing on risers in reasonably uncomfortable shoes. Joy.

However, things went well, the audience was pleased, both my enembles performed well, and I'm soo tired right now...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Oh and just in case

you think I'm getting entirely too rarified in my writing here, a little note of reality.

At least two of my cats are indulging in projectile vomiting today. One of them chose to do it on the bed, on top of clean clothes I'd just laid there.

A brief pause for some "art"

I'm watching Woody Allen's Interiors right now, a movie that has always been in my mind a twin to the later Hannah and Her Sisters.

I'm not well schooled in the language of movies or the higher art of movie critique, but I think about these things. I think about them with these two movies quite a bit. I've watched both of them several times ("Hannah" the most, though). There are all the obvious comparisons -- three sisters, a contentious mother and father, a guy in a relationship with one sister who's name is Frederick and who is angery and bitter. Of course, a few actors are shared between the two as well.

Interiors is more of a consious effort, the hand of the writer/director more obvious, the symbolism more boldy underlined (as if in a college text in preparation for a test). I still like the movie, though, mostly for Geraldine Page and for some of the shots. Famously, this movie is Allen's homage to Ingmar Bergman. As to what it is about...well, it is a very self consious movie. People talk in a stilted, studied manner. They are representational. They walk through their lives pointing out their problems and their pains. Color is symbolic, shape is symbolic, the huge empty rooms of carefully arranged art objects that stand or are handled or are broken are all just symbols. Every action has mythical comparatives. There is nothing spare, nothing useless or extranious. It's a very sad, serious, beautiful but distant movie. I sometimes think the entire movie is best summed up in the shot used to title the movie, that of the three sisters staring out at some distance through a window - the movie's closing shot.

"Hannah" is more in Woody's usual style. Comedy, warmth, color and music create a familiar, cosy place for us to watch the stories of three sisters, their husbands and lovers, parents and friends, play out. We see vignettes over about three years and hear narration of various character's inner thoughts, all in a language more natural and comfortable to hear. It was a very popular and well received movie. I also always felt it was the more complex movie, mostly because, unlike "Interiors", it wasn't outlined and notated. Hannah was such a difficult character to fathom -- she seemed so very perfect, a talented actress, a good daughter, a loving wife, a helpful sister, a devoted mother, yet her first marriage failed, her second husband is unfaithful to her (with her youngest sister!) and she is passive-aggressive toward her middle sister. There aren't a lot of symbols in the movie -- things usually are just what they are.

I know there was some controvery over the happy ending, that Allen didn't intend it originally, but sometimes things DO end well for people. People get older, make mistakes, learn, change, and don't make those mistakes again. That was something I didn't see in Interiors. The characters there did what they did, made themselves unhappy by it, and then did it again. They angsted over it, and did the same damn thing. They were all supposed to be so smart, so introspective and sophisticated, yet they were all dumb as posts in looking at themselves.

Interiors was made in 1978, Hannah and her Sisters in 1986. I sometimes wonder what took place in Allen's live that he could make such different yet comparative movies. In some ways Interiors strikes me as an adolescent effort -- not due to his age, but in his artistic development. Stuff we create during our adolescence is often overwrought, highly symbolic, heavily underlined because we are sure the audience just won't get it. We are overwhelmed with our knowledge, impressed with what we can do with the tools we've acquired, dizzy with abstraction. We want to appear removed from the common masses, special, different, elevated. "Hannah" is more mature in that it does not use the slapstick, absurd humor of Allen's early comedies, is much more relaxed and confident, yet manages to be quite funny. We can see ourselves easily in these characters. They do what we might do, think what we might think, say what we might say.

And there's the beautiful soundscore, the interweaving individual storylines, the characters themselves.

Annie Hall and Manhatten, two other movies by Allen I like, show indications of what would appear in Hannah, even some motifs from those two appearing. There are bits of it in Zelig (which I adore), although Zelig, I think, shares more with his tv writing than his later films. The later Radio Days echoed a lot of what was good in Hannah. Other movies in the Allen Filmography that I've seen didn't affect me (although I may have to give Mighty Aphrodite another chance, just for Mira Sorvino.)

Ok, that's as arsty fartsy as I'm going to get for a bit.


Post trauma drama -- the gig was a bust. The "private party" was a no show. The story behind it is boring. We did get a damn good dinner out of it, though. I'm not complaining. The chocolate brownie syrup thing was really an edible sex toy.

Bouncer Rob over at Clublife is having an excellent time with assorted commentary and email he receives. Now the fuss is "Is it real or is it Memorex?" with various people of obviously untapped psychic ability to rival Miss Cleo revealing that he's really just some schmuck hiding in is parents basement and grilling "real" bouncers (and lawyers, apparently) for fodder. My take? Who cares! It's good reading. Oh, and his weblog is an ego trip. Imagine! How could someone POSSIBLY use their weblog just to feed their own ego? What is this world coming to?

Pardon me while I wipe the sarcasm off my lips.

Clublife is moving up the popularity scales and thus attracting a lot of envy and such. I am blessed in that I will never suffer anything like that.

Oh, and about the braces. Yes, I have the wax and yes I use it, but unfortunately, one feature of my particular orthodontic torture device is a "coil" -- a spring used to push teeth into place. This is what causes a lot of the irritation and wax put on it just sort of mushes into the empty space. As for the part that grabbed me today -- I still haven't figured out how that happened. And I will have to wear a retainer for the rest of my life, a thought that fills me with infinite joy. On the good side, my jaw problems are improving now that my bite is somewhat corrected, so no surgery in the foreseeable future. Yay me.

And The Husband is my hero. Anyone who can calmly detach my skewered lip from my braces and walk all the way out of the room before laughing at me is a good guy.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I hate braces. I hate mine in particular. Here's why.

Today while eating lunch, I suddenly felt my lip, a few centemeters from the corner of my mouth, "catch". Something sharp and metalic was piercing the very tender skin there, and holding it fast. No big deal, I thought. I've caught on my braces before, I can slide it off.

No. No I couldn't.

Now, I have a singing gig tonight, so my thoughts were as follows:

"Fuck! this HURTS!"
"I can't sing like this!"
"What the hell has my lip caught, a skewer? When did they put that in?"
"I cannot SING!! I can barely TALK!"
"How am I going to explain this? Who's believe me?"
"I'm soo kicking my orthodontist in the nuts when I see him again."

I called my husband in (mostly with panicked screeching, since moving the lips was out of the question) and when he came in, I saw a "What the flying fuck?" look on his face. You see, I'd been using an exacto knife to cut some pages from a music book to put them in a binder, and he thought I had somehow managed to cut my lip off with the blade. Little did he know...

Anyway, I managed to explain the situation ("LIH CAUGHT! HELH! HELH!") he uncaught my tender flesh from the evil wire. We could not figure out what exactly had caught it so securely. I have a lovely raised red welt inside the corner of my mouth now.

And a brand new Trauma all my own.

PS: I don't think it is happenstance that "Trauma" and "Drama" sound so much alike.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Do It Myself

Well, the psaltry isn't restrung. I'll have to do it myself, once I locate a source for the .009 music wire I need (hoping I don't have to buy it by the pound). The luthier looked at it like it was going to bite him or something. Of course, he was surrounded by electric guitars and basses. I should not have been surprised, really. I can do the restringing -- it's not that hard, really -- but I'm lousy at the knots required to anchor the wire to the pegs. They tend to slip when tuned, which makes for an ugly noise (that of me cursing as I rethread and retension the wire and make the knot again).

But my classical guitar (that I got for $80 and is labeled "Gremlin" inside and yes, we made all the jokes as all of us remembered the 80's) is restrung. We never made it to the restaurant to check it out, as we were too long at the music store. Thus life goes. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Summer doldrums are setting in big time, too, as I'm filled with "Don't give a fuck" in large measure. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is worth getting excited about. Raising an eyebrow is enervating. Political activism is out of the question and my big event of the day is loading the dishwasher.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

To Do Today

Because I'm never one to be on the cutting edge, here's a slightly used reminder that it is International Blogger's Day via that Irish Guy who stole it from this newly discovered but subversively cool place.

Somehow, I don't feel like navel gazing, even with all the incentive and a special day (or perhaps because..) I am inordinately, even stunningly, extroverted this week. I have a list of things I'm doing. It goes like this.

1) Take guitar and psaltry to luthier to see if either can be saved. Avoid the music books.
2) Drive to the far side of my local world to check out venue for Thursday gig.
3) Final tech rehearsal for chorus. Make some time to look at music.
4) Gig on far side of local world. No money, just dinner.
5) Dress Rehearsal, oh boy. 5 hours of standing on risers with occasional singing and some walking around.
6) Concert (there's something going on in the daytime, but I can't remember what.) (if you are local and curious, go here for ticket information)
7) Final writing group meeting.
8) Concert in the evening.

Ya know, for someone who has no life and hates to leave the house, that's a lot of stuff going on. Not only stuff, but stuff that requires I wear more than a baggy, knee-length t-shirt. Damn.

Oh, some points. I don't play guitar. I took lessons some years ago, just in time to have my first serious bout with my wrist joints. Guitar took back seat to pain medication. But I've been good with the wrists for a while now, the braces live in the closet where they may stay, and I've had an offer for lessons again, sooo....we shall see. Three chords and a minor progression, and I should be good for the entire folk music catalog.

The psaltry (bowed psaltry, technically) I learned back in my Ren Faire days but let go when the wires began popping and I couldn't restring it well. It's been a while there and I need practice. Also, one of my bows has popped, too, and I don't know if it can be repaired. Happily I have a spare, but if it pops I'm in trouble.

It will be fun to perform with my duo partner (the actual guitar player) and sing for folks, even if they will be eating and talking and tinkling silverware. Hell, I've sung over sleighbells at the beer booths and the screams from the joust, not to mention wailing babies, so a little silverware shouldn't be a problem. We are doing an inordinate amount of Neil Young, though. Maybe I need to think about that.

Anyway, when all this is over I shall retreat back into my cave with my books and my computer and assorted cats (who are all dragons in little fur coats anyway). It's HOT out there.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Still here

Still logging books. Up to 1,423 now, and I'm not out of the library quite yet...oh sigh. I am making a (tiny) pile of books to donate or sell. That may grow as I find less space to put things.

Yeah, it's amazing that books which all fit when they were crammed carelessly around expand and overflow when they are neatly stacked and (more or less) catagorized. And I've moved books into other rooms for storage there. We've foresworn adding any more bookshelves to this house, (the only rooms without some kind of book shelving in this house are the two bathrooms and a hallway, and the hallway has shelves for videos and may face conversion soon). So, simply put, some of these babies gotta go. Might as well be the ones I don't love anymore.

I have a friend who, up until he was married, kept every book that ever passed into his hands. He has, I'm sure, more books than I do and certainly more bookcases. His wife introduced him to the "need" to take books to the used bookstore. I suspect she used a baseball bat.

But all the SF and Fantasy is in, and I'm hitting the graphic novels and comics collections next, then the rest of the art books, more metaphysical and health stuff, cookbooks and finally my collection of children's books. I'll update the List of the Hoard then, I think.

I do feel a bit dragonish (dragonesque? draconic?) with all my books mounted beneath me, my pile of gold, my treasure. But if you hear me start lisping "My precious..." and petting the covers, slap me upside the head, will you?

Friday, June 10, 2005

I Can't Die Until I Read Them All

The book cataloging continues, but I went ahead and put up an early version of my library list. If you are overwhelmingly curious about the kind of books I own, here it is.

I suppose I should mention a few things. First, not all the books are "mine" per se -- The Husband, bless his little soul, has a tendency to buy books that he never reads, despite his best intentions. Second, I've not censored this list in any way and I have some "shocking" books in my collection, because I'm endlessly curious about any book that's considered "shocking". Third, I'm not nearly done, so that catalog is going to grow. It's at 1,200+ at the moment, and I've all the art books, some more metaphysical stuff, and my writing books and children's books to add. Oh, and there is also a huge pile of books without ISBN numbers to be looked up and entered. I'm not even including the antique books I have in this list.

I actually had some trepidation about posting this list, and should the slightest wiff of annoyance occur because of it, I'll take it down. I maintain only the thinnest veneer of privacy on this site -- I know perfectly well that a determined person could find me, even if I went to lengths to protect my identity. I don't really have anything to hide -- I'm relatively innocuous -- and I am depending on my complete unimportance in the general scheme of things to protect me. I did, though, have little day-mares of someone reading through my list and becoming offended to the extent they decided to confront me or try violence to "prevent me from spreading filth" or some such. You see, I haven't listed any of the five Holy Bibles I own on here (which I will, eventually, out of pure perversity and because I HAVE read it).

But I've posted it anyway. I set this weblog up to say what I wanted. I scruple only about mentioning other people who might take harm ("do as thou wilt, an' it harm none") or might not want mention or association. I try to limit speaking negatively about people in general (in private is another matter, of course). I'll never be really popular, I suspect, because I am so banal, but, hey, does it matter?

Anyway, if you've read any of the books I have and you've got an opinion, let me know. I've toyed with the idea of setting up a book discussion weblog to which I could invite other online readers. It might be a flash-in-the-oan idea, but I happily discuss books with anyone who demonstrates the rare combination of being able to read, think, and articulate!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

And we're off

First Storm of the Season

It's starting early. Everyone is a little nervous (except those people who aren't waiting for roofers). The pictures are prettier at the NHC site.

Hurricane names fascinate me because any storm that gets a name also gets a personality (and not just for me). Ivan was "Ivan the Terrible" as it swept through the Carribean up the Gulf Coast, went inland as far as NC as a tropical depression and then TURNED AROUND AND CAME BACK, getting into the Gulf and BECOMING A HURRICANE AGAIN. I mean, you gotta be careful what you name storms.

2005 Hurricane Names

Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, Wilma

Wilma? Hurricane WILMA? I have (or had, I don't keep up with family anymore) TWO Aunt Wilma's (and an Aunt Bea, but that's another story). One aunt Wilma was a tall slender woman who looked a lot like my mother. The other was a short, round woman who personified country grandma and made strawberry-rhubarb pie from her own berries and rhubarb. Neither one really personify a hurricane to me.

Maybe they mean Wilma Flintstone, although that's not working either...Then there's Gert...she's a 1920's flapper type, break your heart as soon as look at you...Cindy -- blonde, sweet, evil minded...

Yeah, you gotta watch those names.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Being Bizarre is not a crime -- yet

Man With Chain Saw, Sword Is Let Into U.S.

I'd post the photo, but it scares me.

Ok, so this guy is a murderer. We know that now. His weapons were confisticated at the border, which is part of the rules, so ok there, too. He was questioned and there were suspicions, but nothing could be found as a reason to hold him in custody. At that time, his crime was unknown.

And he is also a US Citizen. So that's how he got in.

I know, so many people will ask "How could they?" It's simple. In the US, at least up until recently, you are considered innocent until you are proven to be guilty, usually "beyond the shadow of a doubt". At least that's what I remember from Civics class.

Ya, one look at this bozo with the reverse Alfalfa hair and the big staring eyes and you'd think "Oh yeah, he's looking to be the next Jason", but without anything other than suspicion, what do you hold him for? He could have been butchering pigs, not people. There are a lot of equally bizarre looking people who have NOT killed anyone. Is it better to hold 10 innocent people who MIGHT have done something or let one guilty person go?

I suppose it depends on whether you are one of the innocent people. Somehow, being imprisoned because you MIGHT be guilty is a far cry from being free because you MIGHT be innocent...

UPDATE: Strangely enough, the link on Yahoo is gone, but the story is everywhere else. Here's the BBC version.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Ok, I'm about halfway through the Great Book Cataloging project. I've got so many books. It's hard to actually get through it because I keep stopping to read. When I'm actually cataloging, I'm also rearranging, which means that when I get away from the fiction I run into that whole problem of How Do I Arrange these? We have a large collection of books on spirituality, history, philosophy, etc., Most of them have crossover subjects -- for example, I have books on Celtic Art, Celtic Heroes and Myths, Celtic religion, Celtic history. Do I file them together? Do I put them with other books on mythology, religion, history, etc? Do I put them in alphabetical order by author? How do I decide if a book is more about Celts than about, say, shamanism?

I've just grouped them by size for right now. Shelf space is limited and I'm not nearly done.

I've also continued work on my Lists of Books sites (weblog and website), which is entertaining. I don't talk about books nearly as much as I'd like to, mostly because I read a lot of stuff not really worth discussing with anyone who doesn't read the exact same thing. I'm also not much of a reviewer -- I rarely get to saying what a book is "about" because I find the whole "about" concept rather lumpy and hard to swallow. I give my reaction, I give my thoughts, and I'll say if I liked it or not and why, but beyond that, I don't add much to the great Discussion. And that's ok. There are plenty of people out there more than willing to fill in for me.

Other than that, not much is taking place. I'm just moving between my hours.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The future shows up in Hot Pink Plastic

Ballroom dancing Robots

No, this isn't just another "Crazy Japanese Technology" thing. Ok, so this particular instance is sort of whacked out. But the purpose behind it is not the least bit frivolous.

What do you do with old people when there are not enough young people around?

I think about this myself from time to time, now that I've reached those scary "middle age years" and the chances of Husband and I having a family are slim to none. What will happen to us as we age? Will we need robots to help us do things, to talk to us, to be people for us?

We've spent decades stratifying people by age. We group them into generations and make sure all the gaps between those generations are well fortified and preserved. We make no attempt to fostor mutual understanding through the best way known -- by living together. No, we put the old folks in special Stepford-esque old people villages or homes or communities, or, worse, wall them up in poverty, illness and neglect. In Japan, it seems this problem is already hitting hard.

A little hot pink plastic doesn't seem like such a price to pay.

More Not Sleeping Stories

1:44 am EST and I'm not sleeping. Feels like I've been here before. What's a good use for insomnia when the TV isn't an option and neither is a book? This thing, of course. Might as well tell a little story.

It's not much of a story, really. In 2004 I picked up a domain name for If you watched TechTV back in the day, or if you still follow what's left of it after the Invasion of the Body Snatchers pod replacement G4 bought it, you might know the show X-play and you might be familiar with Adam Sessler. He's the geeky blond guy who takes abuse from Morgan Webb. I used the domain to host my own little fan site, which was fun and distracting when I needed fun and distraction.

After a while and all the changes, I let the site slide because my one source of new content (Adam's CubeCam) was gone. I developed other things to distract my self (like City of Heroes) and life went on.

So, recently, I was contacted about buying the domain. The person who contacted me used an email address with the name Adam Sessler in it. Was it "THE" Adam Sessler? Who knows? I don't. I thought about it for a few seconds. I had always felt a little weird about having bought someone else's name as a domain, but since I meant it only for good (wasn't like I used it for a pay-porn site or anything) I got over my scruples. Now someone wanted to buy it.

I was surprised I still owned it. The person writing to me said he wanted to set up a gaming forum site, which seemed pretty positive to me. So I gave them the site gratis, and wrestled around a little getting it transfered. It seems to have worked, and now he's got a link back to me with a nice thank you.

Ya ya ya, I know, I coulda asked for some money, maybe bought some new books on Amazon or paid for some of that framing we are having done. I could have asked who the person REALLY was. I could have been a jerk and even asked for verification. I could have done a lot of things. I didn't. Why didn't I? (You know I'm going to answer that seemingly rhetorical question, right? It's 1:55 am. Of COURSE I am.)

OK, this all goes back to my thoughts about and experiences with celebrity and Famous People (defined for use here as Highly Visible People that Not So Visible People Want to Rub Up Against So They Can Say They Did). Yeah, it might really be HIM, the complete stranger I've spent a lot of hours thinking and talking about. It might be someone acting as proxy. It might be some 14 year old admirer. Let's assume it was HIM, just so I can get the vicarious thrill. IF it was the actual person, well, it's his damn name. Who am I to make him PAY for it? The wee little gods of Domains can have that money and it's fine with me. It's those scruples of mine. I'm not vying for sainthood or anything. Was just the nice thing to do. Why would I want to chisel someone who, even as only a TV personality, I like?

And if it really is HIM, why didn't I ask? Because, frankly, tain't none of my business. He was nice and polite in asking, helped me through the tricks of the process, and he put up a nice link and thank you. He does't owe me anything else as far as I can see. I mean, yeah, it might be nice to have a "Hey, I know Adam Sessler" badge or something to wear around, but that's just...ooky. I've talked here before about the whole Famous People thing and, as much as I might be curious about or admire or whatever some Famous Stranger, I need to keep my distance. That person, no matter how visible, doesn't know me. Any kind of conversation requires a sort of mutual interest, even a slight one. Forcing even your admiration on someone else is kinda rude (well, if you don't keep the fangirlism to the length of time it takes to get an autograph and a photo).

There's a good chance it wasn't HIM anyway, but someone working for him or someone wanting to BE him or whatever. And that's fine, too. Again, I don't lose anything by it and I don't put any negative vibes into the world. (Ok, maybe if that person turns the domain into a pay porn site....but I'm hoping they don't. Not that I have anything against porn, except so much of it is crapulous and a real waste of eyesight. Good stuff is hard to find.)

So that's my story. Did I do a good thing or not? I dunno. But if the "real" Adam Sessler wants, he can always team with me on City of Heroes. I'm on Triumph server, global name @Valkyra.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Husband and I have attended SF/Fanasy conventions for many years, often as artists. I Might have explained before, but many of these cons have art shows, a sort of auction/gallary thing. Over many years, we've bought prints from some of our favorite artists, or just prints we liked. Ruth Thompson, NeNe Thomas, L.A. Williams, Theresa Mather, and several others are all artists we collect (and some we've met -- Husband, when he was in his wood turning phase, had permission from Ruth to do images from her work on goblets.)

Prices are usually pretty good for limited edition prints. Some artists don't quite know how to deal with the system of "starting bid, instant sale, after auction" pricing, so we occasionally got fantastic bargains (occasionally I even felt bad for an artist who's work was being undersold through confusion, although I still paid the lowest price.) We' amassed a goodly number through 12 years.

Yesterday we went to have them framed.

First, if you are ever buying matted prints, give extra love to anyone who makes their prints 8x10, 10 x 13, 11x14, or 12x16 or any standard size. Thank them copiously because they've made your life easy and your framing inexpensive.

We, however, tend to collect artists who don't follow the mainstream. They think outside the box, force the media to their vision, follow the muse and not convention. They make odd size prints.

Expensive to frame, odd-sized prints. The checking account is weeping in the corner.

On the good side, I will now be able to put my art on the walls in a manner not representational of "broke college junior". I will no long have to find appropriate flat, non-cat-reachable areas to store prints. I will no longer fear that the Evil Bea (cutist demon kitty in the WORLD) will give in to her compulsion to dig her claws through foamboard backing on a $50 print (she didn't make it, which is why she still has claws).

My home will be beautiful, and a few weeks eating ramin noodles and drinking tap water is bound to be good for us...

Friday, June 03, 2005

Further Project News

Got more info, today from Western Connecticut State University. They don't actually have an MFA program. They are STARTING one. This brings up a variety of interesting situations.

1) This is brand new and because most MFA students are looking for prestige and big names, unless they attract someone major, they are gonna be struggling for students. They may not have as high a criteria as others that turn away most applicants. I stand a good chance of admittance.

2) Do I really want to go for a program like this just because I think the bar will be set lower and I can jump over it?

The information hasn't been updated -- they've put it together hastily, it seems. No glossy packaging, just white printer paper. And the FEES. For out-of-state, that's damned pricy. They are structuring it, as best I can tell, as a series of online classes.

3) They may not really know what they are doing yet, so I'd be a guinea pig, which means I might get the worst possible education for my money. That's a risk with anything new -- it takes a while to get a program off the ground, which is why the ones that have been around so long can be so picky about who gets in.

Ok, that's two. Still have to work on the application stuff to have it sent out by August.

Blogology: Life Cycle - Braindump v 5.0 : Lifecycle of Bloggers

Because I'm so much at #10, have never gotten over #3, yet I skipped completely over #6 through #9 (I waited almost a year before starting over again, and I went from having my own domain to using Blogger because, well, I did.)

Where are YOU?

(Stolen with glee from Ernie, a real A-list type)

Getting Over It

Around this household, we have a code phrase of "Get a Lowe's Card" (Or a Home Depot card, depending on how we feel). The long version of this is "Why don't you go to (home supply store of choice) and by yourself some lumber and some nails, and build yourself a bridge so you can get over yourself?" We think it's a lot more cute that just telling each other and certain friends just to "get over it". Besides, that phrase is practically copyrighted by Caroline Myss.

Conversations from this week, and a comment I just made on another weblog, brought it to mind. I carry around a lot of petty garbage. Do you remember the movie Labryrinth? There's a scene where Sara meets up with people who carry huge piles of stuff on their backs, simply giagntic piles, and Sara confronts her own "stuff". Metaphorically, I think most of us do that, even if the "stuff" isn't physical. We carry around loads of baggage containing every slight, every humiliation, every hurt, every missed opportunity, every pain and dissapointment -- every moment in our lives when someone else didn't do what we thought they should have or did something we thought they shouldn't have.

When I look through my own, I am still carrying resentment toward my ex-sister-in-law for the ruin of things I'd had stored at my dad's house, as well as for making my dad dislike her (quite a feat, actually, as my dad was genial towards all), for making me feel I was an invader in the house I'd bought with my dad, and for causing a lot of misery to my brother and my nieces. Part of me knows she's a bitter, blind woman who brings on a lot of her own hurt, and she does hurt, but that doesn't really show up in how I feel. I never see her now, rarely hear about her, and have no connection to her but the resentment and anger I won't let go. I nurse it along by reciting the tale of all the wrongs in my life she authored whenever a likely opportunity arises.

I carry a lot of petty shit like that. I carry embarrassing moments that happened with I was in junior high and high school. I still have one floating around that happened when I was about four years old -- My father wore a uniform for work. He'd grown a mustache about that time, too, and was middle tall and a little bulky. One evening, about time for him to come home, one of his friends from work came to our house for a reason I never knew. I saw a dark haired man, about my dad's hieght, in the uniform with a mustache, walking past the window in the living room towards the front door. I ran to the door yelling "Daddy!" My mom was already there, opening the door, and I realized it was the wrong man. I hid in my closet for a good hour. That incident won't lose it's emotional impact for me. I still feel that incredible humiliation, that I could mistake any other man for my dad. I felt horrible about myself. It echoes even today.

I'm forty now. That's a very long time to carry something like that around.

There's more in those bags of mine, if I really want to look. There are people who ignored me, things my mother said, incidents with my stepfather, arguments with friends long past. I've got remarks from my brothers, from aunts and uncles that still sting. I've got little incidents at work, at chorus rehearsal -- almost anywhere I go, I can manage to find some dent or ding on my psyche. As I mentioned above, Caroline Myss talks about this sort of baggage extensively, about how continuing to fuel the emotional attachment to the past drains our present live of energy. She also points out that pulling these plugs from our past is not really easy. It takes a lot of work, a lot of self-truth, a lot of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others. (She tells great stories about her own struggles, including one about a guy who pissed her off on an airplane, and whom she still watches for so she can piss him off back.)

I've used her teachings to unload some of the bigger stuff I carried around. My mom's death is a huge example. For so many years, the fact that my mom died so suddenly, just as I was coming to a point where she and I were close again after a tumultuous adolescence, that I lost her -- it was my excuse for every failure, for everything I didn't want to do or didn't do well, for every pain, for everything that didn't go my way. Why didn't I finish college? Well, my mom died and I couldn't go to a good school like I should have, and I did everything to make her proud, so what did it matter? Why didn't I lose weight? I missed my mom and I ate to feel better, and besides, she'd never see me be thin and beautiful, so why bother? Not only was it an excuse, but it was a bid for other people to feel sorry for me and let me have my way. I expected everyone else to gather around me, the poor motherless girl, victim of my own tragic fairy tale, and agree with me that I wasn't responsible for the things that happened in my life. It wasn't my fault -- my mother died when I was 16.

I spent a good 15 years just realizing I needed to get over it, and years after that trying to do it. I will always miss my mother, but it no longer haunts my thoughts. I don't put blame on that event for everything I don't do, for every moment of anger, of sadness, of pain. Letting her death cripple my life, I realized (after having it pounded into my head with a ballpeen hammer) was NOT a demonstration of how much I loved her. This particular kind of martyrdom really wasn't impressive, and I could survive without the crutch of other people's sympathy.

I managed the same trick with a 5 year relationship to the Psycho Boyfriend. Now, there are few feelings about that incredibly painful period. Mostly I see bits of it as funny, and it is rich with lessons on how NOT to have a relationship. I keep that particular bit of baggage, in much reduced size, because it's useful to me to look at it and think "Oh no, don't do that again!"

Amazingly, lessons learned are much more compact that a lot of emotional attachment. They are light to carry and handy to have around. I wish I could convert ALL my baggage into lessons. I'm not nearly there. My latest thing to blame is the depression I went into for nearly 8 years. I resent the years of my life spent feeling like dying, or not feeling anything at all I resent the opportunities I gave away or went passed. I'm irritated that I nearly ruined my marriage and created some damage that isn't entirely repaired. I'm angry about those losses and I'm not through being angry about it yet. But, you know, there's nothing to gain by that anger. I don't get ANYTHING in my present life by being angry about that, or mourning it, or blaming the events of today on it. OK, in some cases there is a direct cause and effect -- I didn't get my writing minor because I didn't write an essay for my portfolio, which was because I was so depressed I couldn't think of the positive things the essay question was designed to elicite. Ok, that's a cause and effect, but it's way in the past now and it isn't in my way anymore.

Maybe I can put that down now.

I haven't been working too much on dropping such baggage lately. It's hard to do, despite how positive it is. Like any weight loss regimen, it requires discipline and a lot of self examination that can't turn into an "I hate me" fest. Sometimes I feel like, if I could drop all this stuff I carry in my head, I could drop all the fat that I carry on my body. I know what it feels like -- did you ever have a big crush on someone, someone you were just certain you were in love with, and then one day you woke up and it was gone? No pain, maybe a touch of regret, but really, everything was just not there anymore? You had a memory and maybe a little knowledge, but that's all. You are lightened. You move faster and more freely.

I'd like to convert my whole load this way; get rid of hurtful moments between my husband and me from 10 years ago that pop up today, dump loads of fear about rejections on my writing that keep me from submitting, unpack bags of self loathing and self doubt, drop petty angers and hatreds for people I never need to see again, and forgive the transgressions of those I do. I want it to just have it all evaporate, have it all flow downriver and be lost in the ocean, to cross that river and leave it all behind.

So, I'm going to invest in a few Lowes cards for myself. I'll keep you posted on the bridge project.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

NO rain today

at least up to this point.

I toured my blogroll this morning. One of my recent adds has apparently shut down, damn it all, and left no forwarding address.

I still have a BIF to do, this time on weblogs sorta like me. When I say that, I mean the posts reflect attitudes and experiences with which I identify in some way, not that these poor folk are suffering from being, well, "LIKE" me. Enough with the self-depricating humor, though. I'm hardly Rhoda.

Thoughtnuggets. Thoughtmaven (that's MS. Maven to you) will tell you like it is, so be prepared. I think that about sums the site up. Be prepared for anything. That's why I like it. One minute she's doing a comparative analysis of various cultural attitudes, the next she's posting a picture of her underwear. She does food porn and tv show reviews. Something for everyone. I think of her as "eclectic."

Volume 22, Scott is another "eclectic" weblogger. He's both funnier and cuter than he's willing to realize, but then again, that may be part of his charm. He's my only source of PornoGourd pictures. He's smarter than he wants people to know, he's cultivating a misanthropism comparable to my own, and he has admitted to occasionally reading a book. The weird conversations that take place in his comments are often as much fun as the posts. They are definately weirder.

Killin' Time Being Lazy. This is a great way to waste some minutes. Lazygal is a reader, a librarian, a teacher and a thinking person. I love the random quotes she culls from things she hears, I love her thoughts on books and the cult of book collectors (a subspecies of "reader"). I enjoy her insight, and the occasional glimpse into what I suspect is a twisted sense of humor. Of course, I don't know anyone who works in education who doesn't have either a twisted sense of humor or a long list of prescription medications, soo....

Anyway, go give a little attention to these three, and remember to Blog It Forward yourself.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Evil Geniuses

Total destruction and world domination can be fun(ny).

Earth is not a pushover.

I feel so much better now.

And just in case you'd forgotten, there is a lot of good advice out there for Evil Overlords. I guess the big problem is that most of them start a little whacked and don't like taking good advice.

No part of my fortress will feature giant, free-standing stone statues or obelisks. While the sight of them would indeed be awe inspiring, it would be far too easy for a hero with superhuman strength or a well placed explosive charge to knock one over on top of me and/or my soldiers. Optionally, if I must have giant statues made out of myself, they will be made of Styrofoam and helium. This way, when the explosive charge does go off, there will be a short, morale boosting moment as I get to do the Evil Overlord Chipmunk command to slay my enemies.

The moat around my fortress will be teaming with sharks with lasers on their heads (every creature deserves a warm meal ). And no, I will not settle for sea bass, no matter how bad-tempered they are. ALL I ASK FOR IS SOME SHARKS WITH FRICKING LASERS ON THEIR HEADS!!!!

Oh, and there's advice for Evil Empresses, too. Gender equality and all that, I suppose...

While seduction has its place in my arsenal, I realize that "evil" and "skanky" are not mutually inclusive. Royal Dressmakers unable to realize this fact will be flayed alive in the presence of their replacements.

Oh, that's sooo true.

Some of this list was compiled by Jack Butler of of this list is © 2002 by John VanSickle © 2002 by John VanSickle from . Permission to quote for non-commerical use is granted, provided that this copyright notice is included. Permission to link from non-commericial Web pages is granted. All other rights reserved.

Nature Does Nothing Uselessly - Aristotle

I suspect he didn't deal much with fleas. Or hurricanes, for that matter.

Today is the official opening day of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. For Floridians, this is an important date. Appropriately enough, it's rained solidly since Monday evening. There have even been a few tornado watches announced. That's unusual. Tornadoes are more common here in February and March, unless they are caused by hurricanes.

Anyway, I've got hurricane shopping on my mind. Last year taught us the importance of shopping early and shopping well. I wonder if this year will see the usual "hurricane's a-comin'" mentality send everyone scurrying to scour the shelves at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowes. I've seen signs popping up here and there announcing "Generators are here!" and "Generators for sale". Supposedly, the first 12 days of June are "tax amnesty" for hurricane supplies. I wonder if a new DVD or two counts as hurricane supplies?

I will now begin my yearly obsession with weather sites and the Weather Channel. I won't really get interested until August, but this year promises to be interesting, so who knows? I mean, I had such an interesting time last year.

There are still plenty of people living with the infamous blue tarps on their roofs. Lots of people are still in FIMA trailers or other makeshift housing.. New Orleans is checking its lucky rabbit's foot and collecting four leaf clovers. New York might want to think about the weather, too.

For me, it's all a matter of inconvenience and fascinated terror. Being well away from the coast and situated on a fairly high piece of land (this is Florida, such things are relative. We are above the water table by a good ten-fifteen feet, which is all we need), we are at risk mostly from wind damage or tornadoes, or rain damage if the roof takes a hit. We just had the roof replaced, so we are in good shape there.

Speaking of the roof, we now think there are critters living in our attic. Squirrels, maybe. Possums, possibly. Something big because it makes impressive thumping noises. If there's a 2 pound rat up there, I'm leaving. He can have the house. (I actually don't mind rats as RATS. I mind them as ferel, furtive, furry things living in my attic and making holes in my stuff, leaving piles of ratpoop and acting all thuggy.) We are investigating box traps. Poison bait is out -- would YOU want to smell a dead critter decaying in 150 degree summer heat (that's what the attic gets up to in daytime summer), much less crawl up there to get it? So are snap traps, because they aren't very efficient and, well, I can just imagine my reaction at 3 am when one goes off.

Ah, summer in Florida. The A/C is running, the windows are closed tight, and the TV is playing. Or, I might lay on the couch under the window and read a book while the steam rises from the asphalt in the afternoon sun...