Thursday, April 29, 2010

Be careful what you wish for

I admit I do love to collect old adages, whether or not I believe in their truthiness.  I am quite sure I was still in middle school when I saw the flawed premise in "it is always in the last place you look".  & as for "if it's not one thing, it's another" well, duh.

There are a few I do come close to believing though.   "A penny saved is a penny earned" is still mostly solid, so long as you do not consider a penny in the stock market to be a penny saved, but shocking number of people DO think of the market as a big piggy bank.  & while it is not true that "you cannot cheat an honest man", it is a helluva a lot easier to cheat a dishonest one.

Which brings me to a long time favorite:  "Be careful what you wish for (because you just might get it)".   I am genetically related to a person who wished long & loud & hard that his children would just all go away.  & none of us have spoken to him for years; some of us are closing in on the end of the third decade of not speaking to him.  I have no idea how this worked out for him, but I for one am very happy with his wish fulfillment.

"Be careful what you wish for"  is also good business-planning advice.  I remember when it was possible to be in another room, far away from the television & not be able to tell from the jump in volume when the program had cut to commercial.  People who remember him fondly mostly remember Ronald Reagan for his pro-humanitarian activities: negotiating with Iranian hostage-takers, trading arms for drugs in Latin America, & busting the air traffic controllers union right here at home.  You could also remember him as the guy who removed any volume regulation from the segue between programs & their sponsors.  I am sure the advertisers thought this was all their wishes rolled into one --- until it turned out the blast was so obnoxious that people who had never used a remote control before learned how to work that mute button.  Nowadays, even the technologically delayed (hi Mom) routinely record their programs & speed through those commercials like they were never there.

There are other collective wishes that backfired big-time.  One of my favorites is the increase in anal sex among teenage girls who identify themselves as christian & want to  stay "technical virgins" until marriage.  Bill Maher calls this thinking outside the box.  I admit that christians often have me flummoxed but I think I am safe in saying that they never expected to have to include anal penetration on list of what exactly constitutes sex with their abstinence directive.  As one Catholic friend expressed it " I just cannot picture Father standing up at CCD & saying " 'this mean up-ay the utt-bay' although I would pay to see it ".  She was speaking in a different context, but I think it still holds.

Another favorite that really needs a footnote is "the squeaky wheel gets the grease".  I once worked with a programmer who waited until a project was at a particularly delicate stage (timewise, skillwise) & then started tossing out new demands.  I admit I was very aggravated to have to give in (which I did, completely without grace) & he made a big show of telling the entire staff meeting that it was the squeaky wheel etc.  When things flattened out a bit & I had some breathing space, I made a big show of introducing him to the new wheel.  He somehow never saw the next step in the squeaky wheel gets the grease ... until the driver is in a position to deal with the squeaky wheel, permanently.  If that old wheel wanted back on the wagon, well, he would have to work long & hard (& cheap) to convince me he is worth replacing a perfectly good, brand new wheel that is not squeaking.  I think that metaphor has just completely run its course.

Of course I like to keep my eyes open/ears up for the next "be careful what you wish for" moment.  I am seeing it in the Tea Party movement: we want to make a lot of noise & garner some attention to our causes which are...looking more & more like just a list of complaints without much in the way of suggestions, frankly.  They got the publicity wish & now experiencing the maybe we should have thought this thru some more follow-up.   I also see the wish part in parents first "I cannot wait until this baby is OUT OF ME & I don't have to carry this weight around" (every new mom I know has said this at least once).  As for the dads:  "I hope he starts walking soon" or "she'll be so much more interesting when she can talk".  

I think another big one is right around the corner though.  I know a lot of people who usually tread the straight & middle have shrugged their shoulders over Arizona's decision to further marginalize their undocumented workers (setting aside the anxiety they are causing people who might look undocumented but have every right to be here).  Not to take a giant leap over human right violations, etc., I wonder what Joe Q. Moderate is going to do when there is a fraction of who there used to be to harvest & processing his food.  & that fraction expects to be paid minimum wage, by the hour, not pennies for piecework.  I am quite certain, the guy who sneaks across the border to live in horrible conditions just to send money back to his family a few months a year is a much less expensive & much more reliable worker than the guy who will likely be replacing him.  Because there is one demographic for whom this law is likely to be very very good:  parolees.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Getting it all done

Last week Tallgrass Prairie Studio posted a spring to finish challenge.  Alas I could not get organized enough to even make a list of what I want to do & by when.  This is in large part because of my complete inability to close the door on any project without opening several more doors & even a few windows.  I tried, I honestly tried to at least take a moment to see where I stand.  It turns out, I am standing in a hole.

It begins & ends with my workroom.  Oh no, don't look at it.  Just trust me when I say I could easily star in an entire season of hoarders.  Every few ...... years I DO get everything organized & sorted (it is always so delightful to find that new, old stuff!) but I just cannot work that way.  I really need to stare at things while I think about them.  I cannot say to myself, there is that object, folded away in that box that just needs a binding; I need to see the object all mashed up in a basket & the binding, sewn but not pressed, hanging from the lamp.

This is not limited to my current workroom (which is mine, all mine & no one else's d*mn business, so there!).  I had this problem professionally as well.  In the days when I had an office, it was a very bare office (because I cannot hang a picture to save my own life), with a great big formal desk, deliberately big enough for several people to use as a work table & credenza with all kinds of filing drawers & a snazzy upholstered chair for me & two more for whomever might need to work with me & floor-to-ceiling shelves along one entire wall & all the things that are supposed to be prized above rubies in the office real estate stakes.

What can I say.  The shelves I used, but this business of putting books right side up, with all the spines going in one direction never really caught on with me.  It was hard to get to the chairs because they usually had half unpacked boxes of paper files, old floppy discs, newer-but-not-new hard disks, disk drives that had been ripped out of confiscated machines & then wired to whichever monitor/tower combo was closest & left sort of hanging there.   The desk drawers were mostly empty except for a few pens, pencils & packages of steno pads (I have a teeny-tiney OKay, great big but manageable spiral notebook addiction); I preferred to keep everything in piles on the desk top. & the end tables.  I did not mention the little tables that had been artfully placed around the room for lamps & coffee cups.  They had to be removed to clear floor space because it turns out I would much rather have stacks & stacks of CAFRs (think phone books-old style everybody listed at least once + yellow pages in the same cover phone books).  They make pretty good plant stands, side tables, etc. & it does not matter if they get coffee rings or anything as they will all be recycled in the end.  Also, they can be an interesting way to wile away a dull afternoon.

SIDEBAR:   CAFR stands for Comprehensive Annual Financial Report & is a kind of state of all things money for government units like cities, counties, states, etc.  I used to request them from the 50 largest cities in the country, all the state capitals, any potential client, every current client, etc. every year as a matter of course.  These were the old days when they were unlikely to be on-line & I was not joking when I said they were fun.  The year The Firm was released, the City of Memphis had color photos of all the major players having meet&greets with local politicians in the center of their CAFR.  It was while cruising Las Vegas' CAFR that I learned they amortized the city-owned cemetery plots.  If you do not think this is fascinating, next time you are having cocktails with a real estate attorney, work it into the conversation, trust me, it will cause a stir.

The short version is on my best day, my office looked like a tornado had gone through & then made a few return visits to specific points.  It made my boss insane (when people came to the office, he would either close the door or move a very large potted plant smack in the middle of the doorway).  But there was no denying I was productive.  At the end of any given project when I did clean everything up & pack it away, the room was so shiny it hurt my head & I could not work.

Now I suffer (enjoy!) the same state in my workroom.  This means I do get things done the way I want to.  It also means I cannot make a list of what I want to complete & have any faith that it is complete accurate, feasible.  I admire people who can, but I wouldn't want to be them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

George, slayer of dragons

We have arrived to that most esteemed personage George, patron saint of England & other places, too, & other afflictions (if you think being English is an affliction) & other things besides (more on that later).

The calendar is very clear, George was certainly a man who truly lived & died, doing G*d's work, but this whole dragon stuff is patent nonsense. How credulous people are, believing in something so completely implausible as a dragon. & as for that business of saving the king's daughter, that belongs in a Once Upon A Time story. & converting Libya! Converting Libya to what, I ask you.

Let me tell you what it really takes to get tapped for sainthood:
-It helps if you are born poor.  Or rich.   Or both.

-You should also try to live somewhere no one else does.  Or where everyone else does.  "Urban Hermit" is what you want to aim for.  Allowances could even be made for "Suburban Hermit".

-Be mythical.  This is a tough one, but if JFK can do it, why can't you?  JFK isn't a saint?  When did that happen?  What about Abraham Lincoln?  George Washington?  Not even Catholic?  Thomas Jefferson -- not even christian? Well, I am appalled.  How did this country ever happen without a saint?

Enough of that, let's get back to Saint George.  After we take away all that silliness about dragons & maidens & Libya we get....a guy.  In Palestine, probably.  Before Constantine, maybe.  & he was tortured & beheaded.  The rest of the details are fuzzy.  Fortunately, the crusaders were almost sure about the Palestine thing & they were able to surmise he was martyred by his fellow Palestinians.  & why would they do this horrible thing, well, because he was christian (why else).  That was all they needed really, to adopt George as their own, making him the patron saint of knights, crusaders, archers, & horsemen.  In a move I refuse to believe is a coincidence, he is also invoked against herpes, syphilis & leprosy.  

On a lighter note, he is also the patron saint of the Boy Scouts (must be that chivalry thing, because it sure wasn't "Be Prepared" or we would not be looking at herpes & syphilis as well), the Romanian Army (he is right there in their coat of arms, communism be damned), shepherds & sheep (which seems almost a conflict of interest but maybe that's just me) & irony of ironies:  Palestine.  I wonder if they know.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day....again

So another Earth Day is here.  Much harder to miss this time around.  I don't know about where you live but where I live there are a number of events planned. My favorites are the anti-Earth Day rallies.

For myself, I plan to spend Earth Day at the Herbarium where I have been slowly working my way through an out-of-date filing system (think index cards), cross-referencing specimens & updating everything in a new computer database.  This has less to do with Earth Day then it does with Thursday.  This is what I do most Thursdays.

In previous posts, I have been quick to point out the corporate sponsors, so this time I thought I would let you in on who is sponsoring the Earth Day network, some of them might surprise you.  NASA caught me by surprise, but they really should not have.  When I think about NASA I usually think about giant explosions needed to lift massive machinery & personnel out beyond, well, the earth.  It is easy to forget that the earth is a planet & there are a lot of other planets.  Some of them might even have clues about how to make things better here.

Scientists often get bad press from both sides of any issues:  they love & want to help animals, they want to torture animals & study the impact; they spend money in pursuit of information that will be years & years before it is useful, they did not do the kind of research we really could have used like whatever it would have taken to be on the way to curing cancer (because if they did,  we would not still have cancer, right?); they live in a rose-colored never-never-land that is completely out of touch with how real people live, they are completely corrupt & taking advantage of guileless taxpayers.  Scientists get it coming & going.  Lately they get it from swathes of people who really like their lives just as they are, despite their bitching to the contrary, & don't want to make any changes that might not make them happy.

I do not remember when exactly, it was sometime between 1998 & 2008, if that helps, but there was some discussion among physicists about how to better acquaint the average person with what it is exactly a physicist does.  A was one of the people talking about it & he thought that rather than spending actual cash dollars on a  "physics is good & good for you" type ad campaign, they should take their promotions budget & make SchoolHouse Rock style vignettes, although to be fair I do not think he used the word "vignettes".  This was actually a compromise idea from his original "Let's call NOVA"  which was itself a scale back from "how can a room with this many jews not have a single person who knows Steven Speilberg"?

I do not know what the physicists did with their promotions budget in the end.  I can tell you they did not hire private yachts for illegal fishing trips or host bondage parties.  I doubt they even went anywhere special to have their meeting; even when they do, they tend to miss the point of the locale.  Physicists like to tell stories about how the last time they met in Las Vegas, the hookers went on vacation.  & A's former roommate, also a physicist, once  missed his flight to a national meeting, caught another routing through a different airport &  knowing he had a tight connection was very impatiently waiting for the airline staff to work their way to him & let him know what gate, etc. when he decided instead to follow all the guys with pocket protectors.  Guess who made his flight, no problem.

Maybe some one did call NOVA.  There certainly has been an adjustment to the science:engineering ratio (all to the good from my point of view) in more recent programming.  How much good it might do, though....  Earlier this month a program about plants which included a UF researcher & was filmed, at least in part, in the Herbarium (I recognized the cabinets) did not help the Botany Department one iota.  That is because there no longer was a stand-alone Botany Department at UF; it had already been folded into Zoology, among other cuts to earth education. 

Happy Earth Day.  & many more.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baby. it's cold outside (not really)

As this posts, last call has been called for the Floral Sunny Lanes block swap & we are moving on to the last of the six month-3 block set:  Baby Snowballs.

You can find the directions here.  If you would like to swap, the best thing is to join the FaceBook Quilt Block Swap Group.  Like I said, this is the last of a set of three, but three more blocks will be posted around the time this block gets swapped.

Not a whole lot more to say about this, really.  Come on down & swap! You make five blocks, you get five back.  You have the option of including a 6th block that goes to the group member making a quilt for an organization in her neck of the woods.  Previous quilts have gone to Project Linus in PA & TX, Quilts of Valor, it's an eclectic mix.  The April blocks are intended for the Prudence Crandall Center in New Britain, CT.  These are going to a group in Port Ste. Lucie, Fladidah who make quilts for brand new people.  You know, babies.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It begins with a small game

Let's play word association.  I will say a word & then you say the next word that pops into your head.  Are you ready?

sex  -

children -

father -

Now.  Could everyone who did NOT picture a catholic priest at any point during this game...  Could you just....uhm.  Seriously?

I do not live in CT anymore but I do follow the broad sweeping topics of the area. Lately the broad sweeping topic has been sex with children.  Specifically, the Archdiocese of Hartford, the Diocese of Bridgeport & the Diocese of Norwich are contacting parishioners any way they can think of (sermons, e-mail) & asking that they contact their representatives & request they vote against House Bill 5473.  The part the bishops take issue with is the part extending the period of time by which victims of sexual abuse can bring law suits against their abusers.  Now, those of you who never saw a catholic priest at any point during the word association game, can you think why this might be?

World religions always have been & always will be riddled with sex cults.  India was very big with dedicating young girls to a local temple & they raised funds for the temple by having sex with the local men.  As far as I can tell, this is just a hop, skip & an ahem from Bristol Palin having sex with whats-his-name, spawning & then trotting out to fund raising events to say how she won't do it again, because as far as I can tell abstinence is a kind of sex cult.

Sexual assault happens (in the US, Ireland, Germany, etc.) but that is not what the Catholic Church is about.  The church is about some basic core belief, right?  Unswerving, fundamental guidelines for all catholics to live by.  Like, oh say, abortion is bad.  Except of course, in China, where Catholic Bishops keep pretty mum on the subject.  As with the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government went ahead & promoted their own Catholic Bishops, reflecting the state view that abortion is a good idea.  This means that if you are in China, looking for an organization prepared to stand up for their beliefs, no matter how conflicting or out of step with dominant local thinking, you should start praying to GOOGLE

As for Connecticut House Bill 5473, I have decided to go one better.  I cannot contact my representative in CT because I don't have one.  But I can contact Bishops in Florida & ask them what the fuck?  Well, maybe not "fuck".

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where does the time go

If it has looked like my more recent posts are anchored to a day rather than than a task, that is correct.  Aside from all the stuff everyone deals with this time of year:  taxes, school; faux-farmers: lots & lots of yard work; Floridians: gotta clean that pool, clear those gutters, sweep the roof etc., we have also been dealing with a great big extra, so let me catch you up:

Becca the appie was ultimately diagnosed with EPM.  This is not great but so far it looks like it can be treated & managed.  Unfortunately for anything else that might have been on the horizon, the treatment is hands-on & the management is frequent.  This has meant canceling all trips away from the farm for more than a few hours for the next six months.  Not that there were so many in the offing, but now it is official - no vacay-away for us this summer, no weekends visiting friends, nada.

This also means I have shorter-than-before stretches of time for projects.  I am not biotching, I know I have disposable time the way Paris Hilton has disposable income.  Just that once allocated, no matter how frivolously, that time is gone for me just like it is for anyone else.  & I do not think time spent caring for an animal that has taken good care of me is all that frivolous, even if the best case scenario is she will live out her abbreviated days doing nothing but eating, pooping & dozing in the sun.

Horse people have the reputation of passing the buck when it comes to equine-retirement & from what I have seen, they mostly deserve it.  To be fair, for many a horse is a tool, a vehicle that can travel across terrain otherwise impassable, gathering in livestock, repairing fences & other outlying equipment. To keep a truck around once the block is cracked would just be silly.  The funny thing I have seen though is it is NOT these people who are likely to neglect a sick horse.  They might euthanize rather then treat, but they do not generally leave an injured animal in pasture, circling or limping or coughing to let "nature take its course".

Serious recreational horse people are also, in my experience, unlikely to neglect.  Not to say they are the norm- serious recreational horse people generally have the income to maintain an animal that is not working.  besides, even if the animal never works again, often they are worth the feed if only to maintain the family environment for the others that are performing.  I have never met an avid hunter-jumper who was harder on his horses than he was on himself.

For the record, I do not consider thoroughbred racing stables in the "serious recreational" category; they are akin to the coaches of GDR women's olympic teams & are more than prepared to sacrifice the future health of the competitors for a short-term, sport-specific gain.

The real slackers I have met are the ones who talk the biggest game about how they would never sell so&so a horse because she would only mistreat it.   There is a gaggle of them nearby who are trying to convince each other to call animal control on another of their number, but no one wants to do it.  I think in their hearts they know they could not withstand the same scrutiny themselves.

& so is it really such a surprise I would rather spend my time & money with an old mare who had rather a raw deal, then came here & trail road for a while.  Now she needs a little extra help to get through a little less time on the planet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What would Thomas do?

I (& the rest of the US) have been watching while text book publishers struggle with the demands of the Texas School Board & will no doubt partially implement them.  The only good thing I can say about this is it is about damn time.  I remember attending TASBO conferences back in the day:  oceans of people who part their hair in the middle (which kinda creeps me out right there), who have mistaken their numbers for authority & the word Texan for unity.  This particular body has been swinging punches at education for a long time & finally the rest of the country noticed.

What seems to have gotten the most attention is today's birthday boy:  Thomas Jefferson. And while he said a lot of things that could make a 21st century student think he is the I Ching, the one that might get him booted from history classes across the country was:

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

There are many things to dislike about Thomas Jefferson but this is not one of them.  Let me walk you through a few of my favorites.

When I was in school, the big thing about Jefferson (& a measure of his greatness) was that upon his death, in his will even, all his slaves were to be freed.  But they were not, nor is there any evidence he intended they should be.  They were sold to settle his debts.  That's right, after living as large as he could manage with slaves, he never freed them, as the myth relates.

He was not a particularly good father, even to the two daughters he acknowledged. As for those other children, their descendants went on to sue the DAR & won the right to be members despite the color of their skin.  My gut tells me Jefferson would have liked this, although he probably would not have done anything to help.

Which brings us to the whole Sally Hemming's thing.  I am not going to go into that here: I think Chris Rock has covered it most effectively.  What could I say anyway, that he was no different from other Massas?  Isn't it amazing that this is NOT what might get him knocked off the Uncle Of Our Country pedestal?

Other things not to admire: he was not a savvy or even attentive businessman.  He had little patience for anyone he did not like & even then he was not what anyone would call charming.  The list goes on.

But to his credit there is one thing Thomas Jefferson probably would do.  He would probably ask why he gets so much more press than other signers of the Declaration of Independence, After all, what do we know about John Hancock except his name now means "signature" & is most closely associated with a financial institution founded in 1862 & not even by his descendants?  Would it be better for everyone if we all knew, as a matter of course, the he was actually the First Presidential-type front-runner & fully expected the nomination but his fellow representatives did not think the Southern delegations could get behind him, that whole anti-slavery thing, & nominated George Washington instead?  I think it might. 

Or what about Roger Sherman, always a favorite of mine?  He was part of the delegations from Connecticut, a truly self-made man trained & worked as a cobbler (think Manolo Blahnik, but more useful), taught himself mathematics, classics, etc.  Sure this mostly meant he read about them in books but he had to lay his hands on the books to read them.  Then he studied law, & then goes on. He is also the only person to have signed all four of the key documents:  the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and the Constitution.  If you only know what two of these are, maybe you should be asking yourself why that is.

Maybe what Thomas would do is ask us to ask why we already don't know much about anyone or anything except a few cherry-picked characters.  I also think he could offer a suggestion to those trying to keep his ideas front & center:  hold your press conferences in front of his monument.  Make sure everyone knows that building behind you is dedicated to the intellect of a man your local government does not want you to know about.  Nothing tempts like forbidden fruit; Mr. Jefferson knew that, too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yom Hashoah

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  What with all the "he's the new Hitler, she's a Nazi, all of them are Fascists" talk in the media lately it is hard to imagine forgetting the holocaust, but it does seem a few salient points have slipped peoples' minds.  A lot of jews died: everyone seems to remember that. Even the holocaust deniers focus their attention on all the jews that they are quite certain did not die, more or less.  I don't mean to be disrespectful, but there it is.

I think this might be a good time to take a look at another statistic holocaustian:  an estimated 100,000 homosexuals were arrested by the Nazis.  & homosexuals sent to prison camps died at a roughly the same rate (60% is the standard estimate) as the other much larger, much better documented group.  Prior to the 1930s, homosexuals in general & gay men in particular enjoyed a fairly "out" lifestyle in urban Germany & an estimated 1.2 million men were documented, one way or another as homosexuals at one time.  When things changed, homosexuals were the first group specifically & openly targeted for persecution.  They were aggressively "re-educated" even before the prison camps were established & of course men who were not yet out never came out, what with not wanting to be re-educated.  This was considered to be a measure of the success of re-education.

I am going to stop here & tell you an old joke.  A group of scientists measure the length a frog can jump.  They put the frog on a table with increments marked out, make a loud sound behind the frog & it jumps five feet.  Then they cut off one leg, repeat loud sound & the frog jumps four feet.  Then they cut of a second leg & the frog jumps three feet.  Cut off a third & the frog jumps two feet.  Finally the last leg is cut off & no matter how much noise they make, the frog does not jump at all.  The conclusion:  a frog with no legs is deaf.

Back to the Nazis:  once homosexuals were identified as un-German & largely eradicated, they moved on to other un-German groups & most of us know more or less how that went.  Then when the war ended, while other prisoners were treated, released, repatriated, whatever,, homosexuals were often re-arrested for the crime of being homosexual.  Did I mention the Nazis believed homosexuality was contagious? 

Enough with the Nazis!  Tomorrow Gainesville, Florida concludes a mayoral run-off election between two very different candidates.  One of them has been involved in local politics for years, as a citizen activist, served on the town council up until this election & served as mayor pro-tempore at one point previously.  The other candidate has not served on any public boards or chairs that I could find, but has instead made the arrogance of city government a major talking point.  One candidate talks about protecting the communities diversity & financial stability while the other has platform of lowering taxes, lowering utility costs (Gainesville operates their own power plant) & increasing police presence.

I went to their websites to be sure I was pulling accurate information (to the degree I was not attributing the either of them any ideas they would not have attributed to themselves).  Now let me give you my two cents: the second candidate uses a sizable amount of web space, front & center complaining about how the other side is persecuting him, criticizing him for using graffiti in a public space to promote his campaign, later having same public space painted over his name in a less-then-flattering manner, names his rival as a promoter of dirty tricks, etc.  & therefore fair game for any mud he wants to sling back.  & the first guy is gay.  This is not on his website, of course, because the only people who care about that are voting for the other guy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

National Library Week

Maybe you know, maybe you don't but this is National Library Week.  Read a book, people!

I am always interested to see who the ALA is featuring during this most sacred of weeks.  I still have my  Rebecca Lobo Reads The Giving Tree poster somewhere.  & of course, who could forget LLCoolJ posing with The Children's Health Food Book.  Trust me, now that you do know there is such a poster, you will not forget for a good long while.

But these were two of many spokes people for the Celebrity Read poster series.  & I want to talk about this years National Library Week honorary chair, Neil Gaiman.  He has actually come up in this blog before but never by name (so don't bother to search).  In part because he wrote the book The Graveyard Book that I keep suggesting to my bookclub & they keep just not going for.

He also wrote Coraline, which was made into a movie, which I tried to watch in 3-D, despite V** telling me I shouldn't do that because 3-D movies make me queasy, which they do.  Can you imagine forgetting such a thing?  Well I did.  Forget, that is.  So I did not much enjoy Coraline, but your experience  will not be mine.  & of course he wrote the book Stardust, which I loved, the movie of which is on one of my all-time favorite Netflix lists:  movies not about cross-dressers but having them nonetheless.  All of this is the tip of the iceberg, really, as far as what Neil Gaiman has written.  He has written so much, it is surprising he ever gets out, but gets out he does.

Earlier this year he was caught in a red carpet panorama at the Oscars.  He's the one staring at footprints on the train of the gown before him.  I think he says he is almost sure they are not his footprints.  But my favorite Neil Gaiman moment is definitely this one.  Yes, it is another fashionista photo op, in which he looks amused & if not lost, certainly not vested in the majesty of the moment.

So thank you, Neil Gaiman for a quick tour of where a writer can go & still manage not to be recognized by photographers until they are going through their pictures for the second/third time.  & thank you, librarians because without you I would never have heard of this guy.  In honor of your week I am going to check out some books, & maybe a few movies every few days for, lets say the rest of my life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Calendar quilt-quick opportunity

As many already know, I am part of a quilt block swap group on Facebook.  If you are on Facebook search "quilt block swap" & ours is the group you have to ask to join, mostly because people put their home address & other contact info. there to coordinate swaps but also because it make it easy to keep the group advertisement-free.  If you just ask, you will get accepted.

Last year we had a calendar quilt block swap, different people signed up for different months & then made twelve of their months blocks.  It was hilarious.  we had blocks celebrating Elvis Presley's birthday (January) & blocks celebrating more widely celebrated days like Valentines, July 4th & Hallowe'en.

This year, we have two months that are malingering: January & November, so I am opening the  sign-up to people who are not on Facbeook.  If you think you might want to participate, leave a message here with your e-mail address & I will get with you as soon as I can.  Or you could go to FaceBook & search the group & I would get to you much faster. 

The blocks themselves should be non-secular (no Christmas, no Chanukah, etc. because we have Christian & Jewish participants, not to mention at least on Jehovah's witness & an atheist) & should be for something stable to that month.  This past year we did have one swapper send blocks commemorating back to school in September not realizing that many many schools (almost every one here in Florida) start back in August. & yes I realize both Valentine's & Hallowe'en started as christian (as something else before christian, too but we don't call them that anymore), but they have become mainstream kind of like Juneteenth which used to be celebrated only in black churches in Texas, but is now mentioned in the local schools all around the country.

So that's the story.  If you would lie to join us, leave me a message.  If you are thinking of waiting until next year because you would rather have a shot at a different month, keep in mind if all the months don't get taken & I have to call quilting friends & beg, there won't be a calendar quilt next year. 

Besides think of all the wonderful things happening in January: baby new year, Martin Luther King Day, Holocaust Memorial Day, Robbie Burns Day, lots of birthdays including Carl Sagan, Richard Nixon, Rasputin, Benjamin Franklin, Mozart. 

Do I really need to go into November?  I will if I have to.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Let there be water

The worst of the cold is long gone, but I have been so distracted (by horse with EPM, by my own meshugas) that until this past weekend that I have done almost nothing of the many, many return-of-the-sun chores that need to be done on 2+ acres of Florida pastureland.

I have not pile busted.  This is when I take an arrangements of chains & boards & drag it behind the truck all around the pasture to break up the horse piles before they bake like cakes in the sun.  Ideally this should be done well after or right before a good rain so I don't also churn up the grass as well.  On the other hand, I have removed one bag of, well, one bag full for the G*******s garden.  I could easily supply 15-20 more family gardens.

I have not thinned the amaryllis.  Back in the days before we lived here, before the backroom was added to what was then a quaint block house, someone planted amaryllis at the back door. My guess is they were tipped out of a left over easter basket because these are not the kind of amaryllis any normal person would plant, if normal people were planting amaryllis.  Sometime later the slab for the backroom was poured, creating a corner roughly two feet to the north of where the backdoor had been.  Every spring a few bulbs seem to creep out from under the slab & push themselves up to the sun & we have the most flamboyant amaryllis Publix has to offer blooming in a space between two walls of the house & the air compressor.  For those of you suggesting I thin the amaryllis after they bloom well, then they are hard to find.  Also, they don't exactly have handles & I need something to pull them out from under the slab.  Yes, they are really truly under the slab.

I have not mowed the back yard.  Immediately out the back doors there is a small pool (I mean spa-without-the-jets small) in a fenced yard that the dogs are slowly turning into a potential site for the filming of Capricorn One: Part Two.  This yard need to be mowed, cleared of dog deposits, weeded, cleared of dog deposits & generally cleared of dog deposits.  Ideally the clearing of the dog deposits happens before they dry out to be chucked up by the mower blades.  This is not an ideal year.

On Saturday, I did get the yard in front of the house mowed.  A threaten to do it (he knows it can aggravate my allergies something horrible & is a good sport about trying to do what he can in the time he has), but I figured I could manage.  & I mostly did, except for the buckets of sand underneath the broader leaved weeds that went into my eyes, my mouth, my hair.  I know rain would only amplify the problem making everything more, but I am still wishing it would.  Then I would have a good reason to wait.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Turtles all the way around

A very good friend of my mother's (& of the whole family, actually), collects turtles.  Not living ones, but mostly realistic representations of turtles.

I have had a completed turtle quilt top for a while.  So long, I have been threatening to baste it & quilt it since before....well, it could have been done for last christmas, but it wasn't.

The pattern will certainly look familiar to anyone who is part of our quilt block swap, as it was the February 2010 block, although the color & concept were very different.  In this case, the fabric was from a bundle of batik fat quarters, I think A bought for me at a Tree City quilt show five or seven years ago.

But not the turtles themselves.  They were all packaged together & came from a grab bag gift exchange quite some time ago. I decided to use them on the corner pieces, the pieces that would never be cut & then laid the completed  blocks out using the reconciling the disparate sashing because the blocks were indeed quite disparate.  Not all the turtles squares were the same.  I do not think any of them were even square & I cut the whole block down to keep as much "turtle" as I could, ending up with nine blocks that were themselves n longer square.

& finally the quilting itself is what I call free-motion with walking foot.  I keep the walking foot on & the feed dogs up & just kind of slowly, gently swoop.  It is almost more a series of tai chi postures than anything else.

As for the turtles, aside from them being a long established favorite, I have nothing. Or too much.  My mother loves the book Old Turtle & has been know to gift it to the local public libraries of friends who have lost children.

The flat world exists on the back of a turtle according to the Iroquois.  This kicks off the favorite fable of physicists about turtles all the way down.  Which is also the much more prosaic expression for programming code that loops back on itself.

So here I am, back at the beginning again.  Only this time the quilt is quilted, the binding is on & everything is boxed to go tomorrow to mom, because she will turn the binding & stitch it down.  In this way I manage to never quite finish anything ever.