Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween Notes

It’s Halloween so of course, first thing this morning I see What Your Halloween Candy Says About Your Personality. As with most such things they over-think it but it’s all just for fun anyway. They also criticize Michelle Obama for handing out dried fruit instead of candy. I don’t think that’s so bad and if she did give out candy she would be criticized for that too. The lady really can’t win when it comes to public opinion.

We never get any trick-or-treaters here. This is not really a trick-or-treat kind of neighborhood; it’s more of a TPing trees, egging cars and smashing mailboxes kind of neighborhood. Besides that our house is so far back in the trees it’s hard to tell there’s a house here. But I always buy a little candy “just in case” and because I know we’ll have to eat it ourselves I get something we like – usually some kind of chocolate, the mini Hershey bars or Reese’s cups and some candy corn and the little pumpkins.

In past years, when we lived where we could expect trick-or-treaters, I usually got hard candy because I had heard somewhere that it was considered safer. I sort of hated doing that because I knew it was not the most popular candy but there was always so much publicity about how everyone was going to put needles and razorblades in the kiddies’ chocolate bars. The article doesn’t even mention hard candy so giving that out on Halloween must make one an unspeakably awful person. Now, if I knew I was going to get a lot of trick-or-treaters I would probably buy whatever looked good to me from among the cheapest candies.

I’m actually not a big fan of Halloween. I liked it well enough when I was a kid and I imagined that when I grew up I would enjoy getting to hand out candy and see all the kids in their costumes and I looked forward to that but in reality I quickly got tired of getting up and going to the door every five minutes. And some of the kids were as big as me and some didn’t even bother to dress up.

Regarding costumes – I’m a traditionalist. Halloween costumes are supposed to be scary or creepy or some kind of traditional Halloween themed thing. The cartoon characters and princesses and such are not for Halloween. However, there aren’t too many occasions when a little girl gets to dress like a princess (or when a kid gets to dress up as anything) so I guess it’s okay for the kids to wear anything they like for Halloween as long as it’s obviously some kind of costume. Halloween is not the time to be yourself.

Life With Gadgets

Here it is Friday again and I don’t have any quotes to post. I just haven’t done much reading online lately. Oh well. Maybe I will get back into the old routine soon or maybe I won’t.

I did find one quote this morning that I like, here, which I would have put on my Quotes From Here and There if I had had any others to go with it. But it sort of goes along with stuff I had already been thinking about so I’m sort of glad I’m doing this with it instead of just sticking it in a list.

“Look, you have enough resources within your brain to avoid being bored during a wait without some sort of outside stimulation.”

I really like that, and it’s not just that so many people have come to rely on electronic distractions; a lot of people just don’t realize how much entertainment they can find within their own brains and I think that was true even before there were so many of us walking around with smart -phones. Of course I do think living with all the digital gadgets has an effect, especially on younger people. Last weekend when we made our grandson get off the computer after five or six hours it was THE END OF THE WORLD! One of us grown-ups finally managed to coax him out of his “deep deep depression” with a simple, old-fashioned game of catch and once he got started he enjoyed it. It seems like once a kid starts relying on constant electronic entertainment he can’t unplug on his own. He has to have someone show him that there are other things in the world that are fun and maybe that’s true for some grown-ups too.

As to the popular claim that the Internet is making us stupider, one could plausibly make the same claim for writing. Before the invention of writing people had to remember everything they needed or wanted to remember and they had to talk face to face with other people to pass on information. But I think most people would agree that what we gained more than makes up for what we lost.

I keep my phone in my pocket most of the time. Last night we were watching Person of Interest and the guest star on it was very familiar but we couldn’t figure out what we had seen her on before so I pulled out my phone and tried to look her up on IMDb.com. This time I did not find the information I was looking for and still don’t know who that was but this is an example of what is typical of my life these days. If I want to know something – from the name of an actress to the price of a kitchen appliance – I can look it up immediately, right then and there. I have the world’s biggest library in my pocket. Also, a notepad, a calculator, a camera, games, a GPS unit… and what else? Oh yeah, a phone.

I have said before that I do not think people under 40 (or under 30 at least) understand how cool all these modern gadgets are. You have to know what life was like without them to understand. * 20 years ago the PC I used at work had a 20MB hard drive. We bought one of our own that had a 40MB hard drive. Twice what I had at work. Awesome! I had only seen mobile phones on TV. They were brick-sized things mostly used by people riding in the backs of limousines. Around this time I started hearing about the Internet but had little idea what it was and no idea what it would become. * 30 years ago I did not imagine that I would ever own a computer. Maybe a video game console. Pong was the ultimate in coolness. * 40 years ago computers were big expensive machines owned by governments and corporations. Even in Star Trek just regular people didn’t have their own computers.

But sometimes, even though I remember all that, I’m not sure I fully remember what it was really like to live it. I think, “It was the same as now only without all the cool gadgets.” It’s also probably impossible for me to understand what it is like to have never lived without computers and cell phones. But I can’t believe that people are really all that different. When kids didn’t have phones on which to text each other they passed notes on little pieces of paper. There has always been a strong urge to communicate. And kids have always gotten bored and complained, “There’s nothing to do.” But I do wonder if having constant access to electronic entertainment prevents kids from learning to deal with having “nothing to do,” and I’m not sure that forcing them to “unplug” for a while has the same effect as living in a world where there are no electronic gadgets. Instead of being inspired to find other things to do are they more likely to just sit around and pout and wait it out, since they know the gadgets exist and that sooner or later they will be back online?

But then, there have always been kids, and adults too, who would rather sit and pout than put out any effort to find something interesting to do. Maybe before there was television…? Nah. Technology changes everything except human nature.

Random Linkage

No Hope, No Cash… – Ha! Clever, and a little scary

Early Music Online – I must take a better look at this site sometime.

Matthew Cusik – Map art. Be sure to click on the images to see the larger versions.

Age + birth year – An interesting number thing

Star Trek vs. Real Life – a fact filled infographic. It’s all stuff we already know but it’s fun to see it all laid out like that, plus there are a few good ST quotes.

Northern Lights over Arkansas – And Oklahoma. And I missed it. I was watching one of the most boring football games ever while this was happening. #&%$!

Vintage images – A nice collection with no common theme other than being “vintage”. I like the American Flyer Trains ad. Also, Art Nouveau treasures. Beautiful! Awesome!

This ‘n’ That

I have a bit of comment thread paranoia. I know comments disappear all the time for technical reasons beyond the blog owner’s control but when it happens to one of my comments I always feel a little bad about it and wonder what really happened. And when it happens more than once on the same blog… Well, it could be a continuing technical problem or it could be that person only wants comments from a select group of friends or only from people who have the same kind of specialty blog. But if that was the case I would think the person would require sign in. So, just baseless paranoia I’m sure, probably due to my lifetime of almost always feeling a little left out. But still it leaves me wondering what to do. Try commenting again or just move on? I probably shouldn’t even say anything but I’m pretty sure that blogger doesn’t ever visit my blog so I feel fairly safe.

We finally have significant fall colors right now. Beautiful and yet it makes me a little sad because it means the leaves will soon all be gone. The leaves on our little maple tree dried up and fell off back in August when it was so hot and dry. I hope it will come back to life again next spring. We planted it a number of years ago (8 years? 10 years?) and now it’s getting to be a pretty good size tree. Having seen it grow from just a little twig to something like 12 feet tall I feel almost motherly toward it. In good years the leaves turn the most brilliant orange-red.

I checked the NOAA 3 month forecast. Thinking about last winter, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know but at the same time I just had to. I’m glad I looked because it’s at least partly good news. The next three months are supposed to be warmer than normal but precipitation is supposed to be below normal. That last part is not good. Another thing – I don’t know how they calculate such things but I’m wondering if this past year’s weird weather has skewed “normal” so that “above normal” will actually be at or below what I’m thinking of as normal.

On the other hand, if it doesn’t get a lot colder than it has been this month I won’t get to wear the winter stuff that I’m looking forward to wearing, such as my flannel shirts and my new boots. I’ve worn flannel shirts a couple of times on cold mornings and wore the boots once but it always warms up to near summer temperatures by noon. (That’s near normal summer temps not near this past summer’s temps, fortunately)

I need to get more dedicated to sewing – get things done, work down the stash a little bit – but I still feel more motivated to start things than to finish them. I decided that I must do some of the “rescue” work I’ve been thinking of – altering or re-making clothes to make them more wearable – but that’s not what I really want to do so I end up not doing any sewing for days at a time. Today I did let the seams out of a green and purple floral print flannel shirt that I haven’t worn in years because it’s too snug and also moved the buttons a quarter of an inch but it didn’t help much. There’s only so much seam to work with so I think I gained less than inch and I can more easily button it now but it still fits tighter than I would like. The obvious solution is to remove a couple of inches from myself but I’ve been trying to do that for years without any success.

And a few quick links:

Thornberry – a lovely sewing, quilting, crochet, family, etc. blog

Angry, Bitter, and Petty – a fun, ranty blog about all the things that bug us (Thanks, LeeAnn)

Sew, Cook, Laugh – mmmmmm… recipes. It’s Australian so Americans will have to convert units but it’s interesting just to see what people on the other side of the world are cooking.

Steel wheeled bicycle – hmmmm…

MacQueBlogspot – Gardening, decorating, travel, south Georgia

World’s Craziest In-laws?

LeeAnn has some highly entertaining in-laws. That is, if you find shows like Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil entertaining.

Personally, I don’t understand in-law problems. My mother-in-law was a wonderful person and a great friend. The rest of my husband’s family are great too. They are more like real family to me than in-laws. When I talk about “my family” more than half the time I’m talking about my in-laws. My daughter-in-law and I are culturally incompatible (i.e. few tastes in common) but she’s a very sweet person and we get along great.

Of course there’s not much you can do when you’re dealing with someone who is clearly missing a few cards from their deck but, very often, getting along with another person is entirely a matter of choice. We can’t all be best friends but we can all at least be civil to each other. I know… there are some people who, no matter how civil you are, continue to be rude, demanding, judgmental and generally difficult and in those cases I’m clueless. As I said, I just don’t understand these things.

Product Name Controversy

The name of a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor is making a lot of people uncomfortable. I don’t even look at the Ben & Jerry section so I might never have known about this flavor if not for humorless prudes, God bless them. But now, I’m really tempted to see if I can find it (Probably not; This is Oklahoma after all.) not because of the name but because ice cream with “chocolate covered rum balls” sounds like something I might like. Oh who am I kidding? It’s rare that I find an ice cream that I don’t like.

Ben & Jerry’s is famous for silly flavor names. I really don’t care what they call it. When I first “discovered” B&J’s I got a kick out of some of the names but I quickly got over it. Now I’m neither impressed nor offended and only very rarely amused by such silliness in marketing. But if I was offended I hope I’d have sense enough to keep my mouth shut about it because, as everyone with more than two functioning brain cells knows, protesting against something just increases demand for that item.

Shoe Obsession

I wonder what these people would have to say about my “relationship” with my shoes. Apparently, if you don’t wear ridiculous shoes you aren’t a “real” woman. Honestly, I love shoes as much as any other woman but I know what is reasonable for me to wear and how much is reasonable for me to spend and I limit myself to that. To behave any other way is a sickness.

Via Dustbury, of course.

Fish Adventure

I got to pet a shark. Oh, okay! It was less than two feet long and it was in the touch pool at the Oklahoma Aquarium but still… I got to pet a shark! Two actually. I don’t know the exact species. One was spotted and the other was cream-colored or off-white.

This was not our first visit to the OK Aquarium. It is nice and an interesting place but it’s very expensive and, in a way, a bit disappointing. I guess it’s that, for the high price of admission I expect a little more. And maybe that’s partly because I’ve been to a couple of larger aquariums. It only took about an hour to go through the whole thing. We could have spent longer, just standing around looking at the fish, which I would really like to have done, but we had the grandson with us and he was in a hurry to get to the next thing and the next thing. Also, when it’s crowded, as it usually is on the weekends, you feel sort of obligated to move on and let someone else have a look. And I guess being always crowded is a good argument that it is not too expensive but I still can’t help thinking, “Wow, that was really expensive for an hour’s entertainment!”

5 Odd Things I Find a Little Bit Creepy

Rabbits – Bunnies are not cute. Well, okay, I guess they are sort of cute but the creepy outweighs the cute by quite a bit. I don’t understand it either. I thought they were creepy way before I ever saw Monty Python so that’s not it. It seems like I should like a pet that’s quiet and furry but there’s something about them that seems just a wee bit wrong.

Sock monkeys – They bother me. I don’t see them as monkeys; I see them more as a sock with a creepy face that looks a little bit monkey-like. I’m not a big fan of real monkeys either. They are not cute, ever. (Well… except maybe the really tiny ones. Almost anything that small is sort of cute.)

Hello Kitty – Actually… not so much anymore. I’ve seen it enough for the past several years that I’ve gotten used to it but Hello Kitty was not something I grew up with or that my kids grew up with. I first saw it on the Internet and for a long while it just seemed weird and wrong. It still seems a little bit wrong but in a much nicer way now.

Anime – Weird and wrong. I don’t know anything about it, I might even like it if I tried it, but it just seems too alien to my whole life experience.

That certain quiet voice – This one’s really hard to define. I like quiet talkers. I wish everyone who isn’t already a quiet talker would quiet down a little bit. I liked Bob Ross for his quiet, soothing voice as much as for his painting instruction. Mr. Rogers was nice and quiet too. Never had a problem listening to him. It would be a wonderful world if everyone talked like those guys. But there’s a certain kind of quiet, refined, pseudo-calm voice that makes my skin crawl a little bit. I think I first noticed it on an episode of the The X-Files. I can’t remember everything about it but it had something to do with a neighborhood that had a seriously control-freak neighborhood association and there was this one scene with several people sitting at a dinner table talking in that quiet, creepy, sophisticated suburbanite voice. Since then I hear someone talking like that occasionally and it always makes me want to try to get them riled enough to make them raise their voices but of course they never would. They would just quietly look down their noses at the loud, obnoxious redneck.

NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Twenty, or possibly more, years ago I found a wonderful lightweight wool knit fabric. I bought some and made a simple tunic top with a mock turtleneck. It was dark red – beautiful, soft, cozy and looked quite neat and attractive, sort of dressy. I haven’t worn it in many years. I put it on at least once every winter, with a pair of slacks, look in the mirror and decide that it makes my less attractive “curves” more noticeable than I would like and take it off, thinking, “I really should give this to Goodwill.” But when I gather up stuff to take to Goodwill I can never bring myself to part with it. I still love it.

This morning I decided to wear the denim jumper I made this past summer and it hit me that the dark red wool tunic that I’ve been hanging on to for so many years would be perfect with it! And the unsightly “curves” would be hidden under the jumper. I was so happy! I finally have something I can wear it with. But when I went to get it out and couldn’t find it I remembered that I finally did give it to Goodwill. I am devastated. I would go to Goodwill and try to buy it back but 1, it’s been months so I’m sure it’s gone by now and 2, I don’t want to be seen shopping at Goodwill.

See, this is why I have so much trouble getting rid of my old stuff. This has happened to me before but never I have I so desperately wanted something back. I need to shop around and see if I can find fabric like that again. I still have the pattern. It’s one of my favorites. I’m going to keep it forever.

Occupations

I have to say something about the Occupy Wall Street protests. Sorry but I just have to. I am sympathetic to their cause. Actually, it’s not so much a cause as an expression of frustration but anyway I’m sympathetic. I’m not so much bothered by the fact that wealthy people and corporations get tax breaks that I don’t get. Well, that does bother me but it’s not the biggest thing. The thing that really bothers me is that when a corporation wants a law passed (or wants a law to not pass) they generally get what they want. This is why movies, books and other works whose creators have been dead for decades are still not in the public domain. It’s why the cable companies will eventually get away with killing the Internet as we know it. And it’s why instead of a decent health care program we got what is mainly a gift to insurance companies. Another big thing that bothers me, and that is more relevant to the current topic, I suspect that some companies that could afford to hire people have decided that they don’t have a reason to because they’ve discovered they can make do with fewer people.

I think that some of the comments I’ve been reading online – that the occupiers are just spoiled and lazy – are not true of the majority of protesters and are grossly unfair. However, I think the occupiers are making several huge mistakes. One, if they expect to have any success at all they do need a unified message and a list of specific demands. There’s nothing wrong with telling the world that you’re angry and you’re not going to take it anymore but if you can’t say what it would take to make you not angry then there’s not much chance that anything will change.

On a personal level, there’s one very important thing that the protesters are overlooking: Protesting against evil, greedy corporations is probably not going to win them any points in their next job interview at one of those evil, greedy corporations. I know it feels good to show the whole world how frustrated you are but doing so usually does you more harm than good.

I honestly don’t think corporations are evil. They might be “Big Brother” but they make our way of life possible so I guess you could say that I do “love Big Brother.” Corporations, or the people who run them, are greedy. So am I. So are you. Greed is why we have an economy at all. And Wall Street? I really fracking hate that the entire economy is so deeply affected by the daily panic attacks of a handful of wealthy investors. But that’s just the way it is and I don’t know what can be done about it. Neither do the Occupy Wall Street protesters and that’s why they’re wasting their time. You really want to make an effective statement? Go home and write to your congressman and tell him that you’re not going to vote for him unless the unemployment rate drops below 6% by election time. And then follow through on your threat.

Monday Morning Ramble

My younger son – the one who still lives with us, the one who can eat anything he wants and still stay skinny – won a big glass jar full of candy by guessing how many pieces were in it. We are such pigs. We have no self-control. The jar is over half empty now. I need to take a long walk up a steep hill. Every day this week. Fortunately there’s a steep hill about half a mile from my house. Unfortunately, I probably won’t make time to walk up it every day this week. Besides, it’s supposed to rain and get cold. And we’re getting close to Halloween. [sigh] Eating season is here.

We finally worked on our kitchen ceiling this weekend. It looks horrible. We used a texture paint that we got at Lowe’s. The texture came out uneven, rougher in some places than in others, and the color is patchy yellow and white. We have to do something else. We are contemplating something that I had previously said we cannot do but which now seems like maybe not such a bad idea after all. I am still trying to think of something better but the inspiration just isn’t coming. The ceiling tiles we were originally planning to use are just way too expensive.

Lowe’s now has LED light bulbs that really are as bright as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. I don’t know if I could have brought myself to buy a $30 light bulb if I hadn’t seen the one that Number One Son has but he showed it off to us last time we were at his house so we bought one and put it in our living room light. I was afraid of it being too blue or even green but it’s a very nice bright white, almost like natural daylight. We’ll be buying some more of those as our CFL’s burn out.

We’re finally starting to see some fall colors in our area but, because of this year’s weather, I don’t think nature’s show will be as spectacular as it has been in other years. I’m a big fan of green myself and I sort of hate to see it go but, strangely, bare limbs are interesting so whatever the season there’s always something nice to look at when you live in the woods.

Quotes From Here and There

Incidentally, during the 2010 Grammys, Stephen Colbert reminded the audience: “This year your industry was saved by a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes.”here

…it’s like a microcosm of what “civilization” should mean: a place where even if you’re lonely and alienated you’ll still be treated like a person, and have a warm, clean, well-lit place where you can go and get food and a place to sit down.there

Want more bling? We do toohere

A conductor is many things, including a serial monogamist with ideas.there

Cute Envy?

I just read this two-page illustrated rant about Zooey Deschanel. The only useful thing I got out of it was that I now know how to pronounce Deschanel. (That and having some more nonsense to blog about.)

I know that Charles is somewhat taken with Ms. Deschanel because he’s always posting pictures of her but I had no idea she was the current “It Girl”. Of course I don’t really keep up with those things. There’s always some Girl Next Door type, though, that everyone simply loves and she’s always fairly cute but at the same time has a common look that makes everyone think, “What a nice, ordinary girl, not like most of those snooty Hollywood types.” Face it, we all like attractive people. As Kristi Harrison says:

Because at the end of the day an obese one-eyed hunchback isn’t going to win your affection for sing-talking through her day, no matter how vintage her dresses are. She’s just another one-eyed hunchback in an old dress singing jazz standards and making you wish you didn’t have to ride public transportation.

Personally, I don’t have much opinion about Zooey Deschanel, just a vague feeling that I might find her annoying if I ever watched her show, and maybe that’s because I’m always wanting to slap the character he sister Emily plays in Bones. Zooey’s guest appearance on that show was the only time I’ve ever seen her act in anything. I can’t remember if she was annoying in that; I was too busy being annoyed by her sister.

By the way, if you look at Kristi Harrison’s profile page, you’ll see she has no reason to envy a pseudo-dorky-girl-next-door Hollywood starlet.

It’s Doing It Again

I’m using my phone right now because my PC is having some kind of a tantrum again. Did you know that in Windows 7 the Blue Screen of Death is a lovely chartruse? That’s spelled wrong isn’t it? Must figure out how to turn on the spell checker on this gadget.

Feel free to use this as an open comment thread. (unless you’re a spammer) A little something to get things started: There is a tiny town in NE Oklahoma named White Oak. Last time I was driving through that area, as I was getting close to White Oak, for just a couple of seconds I thought I was approaching Whitefall.

Cozy and Prehistoric

Here’s my latest reason for looking forward to cold weather. Instead of another disastrous attempt at self photography I decided to just display it on the floor.

Flannel Shirt

Yes, those are dinosaurs.

Closeup of Flannel Shirt Fabric

I saw this flannel in Wal-mart’s little fabric department* and immediately had to have it. The two ladies working there and another customer all thought it was just so funny that I, a grown woman, was buying dinosaur fabric for myself. Of course I didn’t have to admit that but it was fun. One of the Wal-mart employees commented that it was “a fun fabric for a little boy,” in an obviously fishing manner. I didn’t mind that at all. It’s what fabric people do – talk about sewing projects and invite others to talk about their projects. So I told them it was going to be a shirt for me and we all found it quite entertaining though probably not all of us for the same reasons.

Anyway, I used an old pattern that I haven’t used ages. Once again my pack rat tendencies served me well. I still have an old shirt that I made with this pattern at least 20 years ago that I haven’t had the heart to throw out even though it’s faded, falling apart and I haven’t worn it in over a decade. I got it out of the far corner of the closet and tried it on for fit. It was a loose fitting style so it still fit great except for being too snug around the hips (Now how the hell did that happen?) – an easy adjustment to make. It was a short sleeve pattern only so I borrowed sleeve and cuff pieces from another pattern.

The back is gathered, which is unusual for a flannel shirt and I was a little worried about it but it worked out fine. Having gathers in the back helps make it fit comfortably without looking like a fracking maternity top. This is one of my all-time favorite patterns. I used it to make several shirts back in the late 80’s to early 90’s. It’s in rather delicate condition, having had so many pins stuck in it and being refolded and stuck back in the envelope so many times, but I think I’m going to start using it again. I’m thinking about tracing it onto new tissue paper.

* The Wal-mart nearest us is one of the few that still have a fabric department. It’s tiny but they actually have some pretty nice stuff there sometimes.