Thursday, March 29, 2012

C'est la guerre

I am an aspiring Twitter junkie.  I am not all that interested in what my friends are doing, but all the other stuff, I love it.  24/7 updates on local wildfires!  Word(s) of the day!  The white house dog!  Seriously, I cannot get enough.

OKay that is a lie, I can get too much.  For example our county's local emergency management tweets used to be my absolute favorite & then they got verbose, so verbose they cannot fit it into a single tweet.  So now instead of  "there's a guy in handcuffs running around 34th street, lock your doors" which actually would have been a good-to-know thing yesterday afternoon, we get links to other websites in their tweets.  Lame.  Also I don't have the kind of phone that can check the sites anyhow.  Soooo, while I do subscribe to those tweets, I do not have them forwarded to my phone anymore.

Alright, the county emergency management site never would have told me about the cuffed guy at the Hilton.  But it would have been nice if the smoke blowing across the highway was reported in 140 characters or less instead of a link to the national weather service with a detailed description of wind patterns.  I'm not suggesting it would prevent crashes, I am saying if I were planning a trip & I got that tweet I would avoid that stretch of 75 (naturally I do not read text messages while I am actually driving).

It is into this addiction (& disappointment) that my brother sent the link for the guy tweeting World War II in real time.  I got so excited earlier this month when Japan announced they would not be taking sides.  Just this morning (in 1940, of course), the Nazis announced that jewish doctors could only care for jewish patients & only jewish doctors could care for jewish patients.

If all of this sounds a bit like a rehash of the very thing I avoided during my Nazi free year (was that really so long ago as 2010, time does fly!), it is a bit.  But it is also what happened in time as it happened, not as it was reported in the media in which ever place you happened to be.  & it is also from a wide variety of sources. newspapers & newsreels yes but also other contemporary accounts such as journals which would never have been available for public scrutiny at the time, even if the public had been interested & lets face it:  we would not have been.

I think that is what I am finding most interesting of all.  Recently (in the war) the Prime Minister of New Zealand died & a German u-boat ran aground off the coast of neutral Norway.  But I am more captivated by the gentile doctor who has started using fake names on his prescriptions.  I really want to know what happens to him. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The internet revisited

A few days ago, I referred to information on-line not always being strictly accurate when I google myself, but since I don't google myself all that often I had some trouble finding any actual inaccuracies other than my middle initial (although I did find quite a bit that was out-of-date, some of it more than 25 years out of date which was odd what with there being no commercial internet in those days).  Later that week a friend of mine sent me a kind of marketing profile.  In short, her firm purchases lists, based on things hundreds of people have purchased on-line, searched on free sites (google, facebook), etc.  By working backwards, it is possible to make generalizations about me based on what lists I am on.  I admit I enjoyed this tremendously. 

There has been a lot, A LOT of talk recently about privacy on-line & I confess I think most of it is bunk.  I mean, honestly people did you really think facebook just existed for your convenience?  How do you think they keep the lights on?   You want your friends to see pictures of your new baby but you're worried the whole world might be watching, well, have you considered sticking them in an envelope & putting a stamp on it?  Before you say "that costs too much" or "that is inconvenient" consider the cost &/or inconvenience of getting those pictures back once they have been used to endorse a product or political candidate or whatever because there they were, free for the taking, where you never meant to leave them.  See how that works?

Anyway.  So this is what I learned about myself:

I like dogs (yes), dachshunds specifically (indeed), also horses (yes), but no mention of cats, cockatiels, cows or any other animal
I have a child (never), in fact I have children (no), at least one of them is in school (still no)
I like food (yes), I eat steak (never, but this might have been confusion about "cow" themed searches)
I am married (yes), I am divorced (no); I have been married (yes), I have been divorced (no)
I read (yes), I read a great deal (yes), I am a high volume reader (Okay we get it, she reads!)
I enjoy movies (yes), foreign movies (yes), indie films (yes), comedies, dramas, classic films (yes, yes, yes & yes), I prefer to watch movies at home (I do) rather than a movie theater (that's right)
I enjoy the outdoors (uhm, Okay), I enjoy camping (absolutely not)
I enjoy traveling (no), I wear make-up (not often),
In the past year I have given money to NPR (yes), PETA (no), a political party (never)
In the next year I will make an electronics purchase (well, A will), an automotive purchase (does an oil change count?), plan a vacation getaway (I doubt it)
I am a protestant (never), I am religiously observant (ditto), I am deceased (not yet)
& my personal favorite:  my estimated annual income is between $0 & $500k (how is this useful?)

Just for laughs, the same person who sent me this looked up that guy we both went to school with currently doing time for stealing cars.  Turns out that while they knew quite a bit about him, they had no idea he had a criminal record.  Actually, they probably don't care whether or not he is in jail so long as they can market stuff to him while he is in there.  I only just now thought to wonder if HE will be making an automotive purchase in 2012.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The wearin'o the green

There will be much green about this week; it is a big-time green wearing anniversary all year long, but especially this month, especially this week, especially TODAY.  That's right, I'm talking about the Girl Scouts.

According to Girl Scout legend, 100 years ago today, on March 12 1912, Juliet Lowe gathered together 18 girls & founded the first Girl Scout Troop bases on the Boy Scouts/Girl Guides model of the Baden-Powells but much more girl-centric.  Here in the US anyhow, Girl Scouts is not a female but an organization in it's own right (I am not trying to put down the Girl Guides, I just see them as a kind of little sister sorority to the more important fraternity of Boy Scouts, ironic really as the Girl Scout Troop of which I was a member had a companion Boy Scout Troop using the same facilities & this is not often the case).

There are celebrations planned all across the country.  In the town my parents live in, the local museum has en exhibit of Girl Scouts past & present (& I truly wish I lived closer as I would love to go), closer to where I live now they must be doing something (I saw them in uniform, mobilizing in front of the grocery store just a couple days ago), but alas in the land of football & hunting, Girl Scouts don't get much press.  Too bad, because there are few enough places where a girl can be a girl without boys taking over (& again I am not knocking boys, but lets face it testosterone being what it is, once a group of boys is anywhere it is hard for anyone else to get anything else done; a group of girls in the same space ignoring them would be untenable).

So I guess I just wanted to say Thank You Girl Scouts.  I spent years happily part of Troop 27 in West Hartford, CT; a troop now long defunct I'm afraid.  I remember the year I sold enough cookies to go to Camp Timber Trails.  As I aged out of the program, I actually had the thought that I would miss it more than I knew & I was right.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The internet giveth & the internet taketh away

I spend a certain amount of time on Facebook.  I check it a couple times a day: fewer when my computer is being stoopid, more when we are getting close to a Quilt Block Swap Group deadline.  I get friend requests, I ignore most of them.

//sidebar- honestly, who sends hello-old-friend-type requests without ANY INDICATION of who they used to be? After I ignored such a friend request, I got a quite snotty message from a former dorm-mate (well over 150 women in the dorm, every one of the six semesters I lived there by the way) who had gone by the nickname Lisa, which way-back-when I thought was her name & her last name I'm not sure I ever did know, but now was using her full first name Melissa & her married name (I know because I forwarded the snotty note to ANOTHER former dorm-mate asking if she had any idea who this was & she said "you remember Lisa, she was a sophomore our senior year".  Right).  Lisa/Melissa was QUITE CLEAR on the point that I was a snob & always had been which begs the question why send the friend request in the first place?  Yes, I kept right on ignoring it.

Where was I ?  Oh, ignoring old friends, that's right.

So I was online when I got a friend request from a boy (now a man, of course) I went to high school with.  I DID remember him, also he looked just like a grown-up version of himself (Lisa/Melissa might look the same, I really just don't remember her).  I looked over his profile as I was in the process of clicking Accept & then I got distracted.  I don't think there was anything on his page, maybe the phone rang, maybe something else, I just didn't do it. 

A few days later I was looking at the high school site & saw he had posted a question about the lacrosse team (that I would never be able to answer, it turns out that while I was there the football team went all state or something & I missed it completely).  Anyhow, he said he was now living in Fladidah  & I went back to his profile & saw he actually lives one town over from where my in-laws used to live & so I happen to know what county that is.

I honestly don't know what made me google him & the county name in the same search, I really truly do not know.  I almost never google people because it just never works out.  I happen to know that I am the only person in the country (& very likely the world) with my first name/last name combo & half of what comes up when you google me is not quite right.  Yes, I do knit & quilt & share a phone extension at the herbarium &....& OKay maybe it's mostly right, but google A & you get A LOT of stuff about folk songs which must be a different person with his name because trust me he knows jack about rural american music.  Also my middle initial is not G.  or B.  I'm just saying.

So I googled his name & the county & learned that this very nice boy I went to high school with (& probably middle school, my memory for other people is SHOCKINGLY bad) steals cars, if not for living certainly for a hobby.  A very, very consuming hobby.   I kind of feel like replying that I am well, thank you & I drive a 7 year old Tundra that doesn't even have power windows or locks.  After all it doesn't, & why would I lie?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A break

This morning I woke up after a mildly rainy/very windy night & this was the view down the driveway:

So what else to say? We have a chainsaw.  I don't know how to use it.  I don't know how to put gas in it.  I don't have the knack for pull-starting anything & even if I did, the break itself is more than a little bit over my head, even if I were up a ladder which I would never do with a chainsaw having never used one before.

A likes to watch Americas Funniest Home Videos (& I like to watch him watching AFHV or AFV as they call themselves).  Invariably, somewhere in an episode there will be a group of boys/men doing something typical of boys/men & I will say "you just never see a group of girls doing that".

Things you never see a group of girls doing specifically include those activities in which one person or more will get thunked in the nads.  & no, I don't mean those box-o-charm videos of parents encouraging their children to punch Mickey Mouse down there, tee-hee-hee, I mean that kid teetering on a skateboard down a metal handrail until the rider loses balance & lands with legs splayed OR that other one jumping from the roof to the trampoline & right back up again OR that group of boys all standing on one end of a half broken tree limb, jumping on it to get it really rocking until CRACK.

All I am saying is a could have use a few of those boys this morning.

//sidebar: seriously what is the appeal of watching your little darling punch someone in the genitals?  I have LOST TRACK of how much of this I have observed while passing thru while A watches tv.  & once-upon-a-time when I worked in a large costume myself this was an almost daily occurrence.  If you know one of those fathers (in my experience it is usually but not always the father who finds this oh-so-hilarious), let me give you a few somethings to chew on:  chances are EXCELLENT it is actually a  woman in that male-character costume.  In fact pretty much the only take-your-picture-with-me costume character still dominated by men is Santa.  Second, what kind of idiot would you have to be to provoke an attack on a person who knows what you look like may very well have access to your credit card number & about whom you know nothing. 

Revenge of the costumed can take many forms, not all of them within the confines of the theme restaurant (although I will caution, if you are going to do this make sure you eat nothing that comes to your table afterwards; the kitchen staff live to watch you feast upon the...uhmmm...extra flavoring).  I would think it was a no-brainer, as you never see Chuck E. Cheese in the grocery store or the Easter Bunny getting a mani/pedi or the other school's mascot riding the bus, but somehow these deep thinkers never realize that the math tutor, librarian, plumber's assistant (all full-time jobs held by part-time costume-wearers I have known...or been) they are asking to help them pass that class, unstop that drain, etc. just might have reason to harbor a grudge. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Saint in cake

I had no idea there even was a Saint David until I saw him being not-so-much lauded on CakeWrecks.  It is not that I thought there wasn't a Saint David, why wouldn't there be?  There are two Saint Pelagias from Antioch for crissakes.  But aside from Valentine through Patrick to Nicholas, you just don't see many saint cakes & I kind of got to wondering.  So, after seeing his cake wrecked, I went cruising for David.  It did not take long to find an interesting angle.

It seems in addition to being the patron of Wales (not whales, no matter what other sites might say, altho' in another 25 years he WILL be patron saint of whales because that does seem to be how many of the patronages happen), David is also the patron saint of: Pembrokeshire, a specific bit of Wales-kind of like across the pond, anyone from the US is a yankee, but in the south only someone from north of the Mason Dixon is a yankee, & then in the north, only if you are from the northeast are you a yankee, get to the northeast & yankees are people from New England, then if you actually go to New England they will tell you yankees are people from New York, NOT part of New England, because New York was originally (& I use that term loosely), New Amsterdam.  Finally, it turns out Jans & Kees are kind of a dutch version of Smith & Jones.

Where was I?  Oh, right, Pembrokeshire, a specific county in Wales.  So David is the patron saint of Wales & then in Wales, he is the patron saint of Pembrokeshire.  He is also patron saint of poets, which kind of interested me because there are surprisingly few patron saints of poets.  Well, I was surprised anyhow.  I kind of think of the whole saintly gig with traveling balladeers & troubadours & such.  This poet patronage thing is almost certainly a collision with another saint, specifically King David, who wrote the Psalms & was canonized way-later (& I am sure would be appalled if he knew) is probably who was meant to be David, patron of poets but it all got scrambled & now they both are.

Our David is also listed as patron saint of doves.  Which made me hope against hope that there is somewhere a patron saint of flamingos.  I will keep my eyes peeled.

Finally David is the patron saint of vegetarians.  In fact, he is not alone.  There is even another patron saint of vegetarianism who apparently did not like the smell of roasting meat, but back to David.  I cannot find the reference to how or why he got hooked up with vegetarianism (how hard did I look? not very), but I did discover that his birth was almost certainly the result of a rape.

I have no idea what kind of cake you should have for Saint David's Day.  The BBC website has a lot of recipes for roasted lamb & chicken (odd that), but the only cake was Welsh cake which seems kind of lame, like serving green beer just because it's Saint Patrick's Day.