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Monday, February 28, 2005

Very, Very Odd
Vatican U. - now with classes on Satanism and Demonic Possession!

Random Bits, None of them Terribly Interesting
Okay - old-fart "when I was a kid" rant coming up.

It is a wonder that anyone trusts a DC-area meteorologist any more. We were supposed to get Super! Big! Snow! overnight. Quelle surprise - not a flake. Area schools are closed, however - school closings were announced last night, on the strength of the weather reports. Now, I know we do things differently in New England, but this is ridiculous. Back in the 1970's, I can remember watching snow coming down, one ear cocked to WBZ radio as they read out gradually longer lists of schools all around the Boston area that were closed. Those decisions were made on the basis of real snow as it happened. The communications technology of AM radio and the eyeballing of actual snow worked pretty well. We may not have much better weather reporting, but we have better communications technology: you would think that the decision to cancel school might wait a bit until you saw - oh, I don't know - snow?

Oscars thoughts:

I'm afraid I will never forget the 1989 Oscars with the dancing stars and Rob Lowe and Snow White singing "Proud Mary." Nothing will ever live up to that surreality. Nothing. And thanks be to all the powers for that.

Wow - can someone tell Counting Crows that they should never perform live - ever? They sounded like a college bar band. And Adam - your wavering-voice thingy doesn't hide the flat notes. Ouch.

Chris Rock was good! I loved his comment about giving out Oscars in the parking lot next year. (Yes, the keep-it-moving techniques were fairly blatant).

To the live-action short film Oscar winner who referred to the award as "the dog's bollocks," bwahaha! Hee!

What was up with all of those 12-foot-tall models giving out statuettes and escorting people off of the stage?

I would like to thank my TiVo for the fact that I didn't have to sit through all of the awards. And congratulations to the only Oscar-winner whose movie I actually saw (yes, I actually saw another movie - in a theatre - last weekend. Please don't expire from shock, Dear Reader). Jamie, you were Ray Charles. Wow.

Friday, February 25, 2005

::Giggles Uncontrollably::
Romance novel covers - reimagined!

"I'm Being Quiet as a Mouse!"
Anyone who reads my site on a regular basis should be disabused by now of the notion that Yoga is always solemn and serious. However, yesterday morning my friend Sharon and I took fractured, laughing Yoga silliness to a new level.

My friend's four-year-old daughter Annabelle was hopping about the house when I got there, excited by the snow, the fact that there was no school, and Mommy's early-morning visitor. Seeing my tank top as I shed layers of fleece and got ready to start a sun salutation, she tore off, announcing she was going to find her own "strap" to wear. She roared back in, proudly displaying her pink tank, trailing her baby doll by the arm. Sharon and I chatted as we moved, with the occasional interpolation of Annabelle's excited, high-pitched voice. "Down dog!" "What's that pose?" "I'm being quiet as a mouse!" (She was a bit baffled when I noted that if she was telling us how quiet she was, she wasn't being quiet. I refrained from using the term "ipso facto," even though it would amuse me to know I have taught a four-year-old a bit of Latin legalese.)

As I cradled my lower leg and foot in my arms, stretching the outside of my hip, Annabelle's baby doll got deposited in the anatomical crib. I have no idea why none of these irruptions caused me to get frustrated or irritated, but they didn't. As we mostly ignored her, she finally wandered off to bug her big brother or watch cartoons with her dad. As I lay in savasana, though, I heard the door softly open behind me. Quiet as a mouse, Annabelle had crept in to see what we were doing. Equally softly, she tiptoed out again, and with her went the raucous energy that she had brought to our practice for that day.

A Random Thing So Good it Deserves to be an Extra
An article that has accurately cataloged every single instance of irritating e-commerce web design I have ever come across (and some doozies that I haven't ever seen before).

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Amen and Hallelujah
Plowing Over Old Ground
I have noted before how little patience I have with the Capitol Region's tendency to panic when faced with snowfall. That is not to say I don't have respect for the unholy combination of freezing weather and precipitation, but around here they take it to an absurd level.

We are having a "Snow Event," according to the local NBC affiliate. We are "closing in" on half an inch of the white stuff. Half an inch! My favorite civic defenders of the roadways, the salt trucks, are apparently out in force. Every second remote report was on the snow - one reporter just noted the current accumulation: you could still see the grass poking up from the slim layer of powder.

A complete accumulation of three to five inches is expected. Do you think the governor will call for emergency funds?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Now it All Makes Sense
Cat Brain-Map.

-- Thanks, Bri!

Supreme Eminence
The case of the Fort Trumbull Seven gives me a deeply uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Part of my issue is that the concept of Eminent Domain has historically been about converting private property for public use: e.g. roads or railways. Using eminent domain as a means of amassing a parcel of property that will then immediately be sold to a private owner seems a subversion of the intent of eminent domain, even when it is presented as part of a civic redevelopment package. Yes, theoretically everyone can "win" when a company comes in to create jobs and increase the tax base. But what is the price of individual liberty?

Home ownership is often referred to as "The American Dream." But what happens when that dream comes into conflict with the realities of capitalism? Who will win this one? The "Dream" of home ownership is also reality for seven families in New London. It is difficult to consider this case and not put yourself in the shoes of these family members. Sympathy aside, they have a legal question that is compelling: is the creation of a giant research facility close enough to a public use to justify an eminent domain taking?

I don't know. The slippery slope beckons from both sides on this one, and I have always tried to resist its siren call. How many can hold out in an eminent domain case to keep such a potentially beneficial project from moving forward? Nine? Seven? One? What is to keep municipalities from eminent domain proceedings at any time because a more economically attractive option exists for that parcel of property? How economically benighted does an area have to be to justify this action?

Emotion also enters into the question for me - my grandmother-in-law used to live a short distance from Fort Trumbull. What if it were her home in question?

I don't have answers to these questions. Just that uneasy feeling.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It Doesn't Say, "And My Nose Comes Off"?
If only this were for real. I would want one.

My Subconscious Clearly Knows Something
Anyone else find that they increasingly look at the world with a bloggable/not bloggable duality? Cranky observations about Las Vegas' advertising campaign? Bloggable. Cranky observations about how our den couch is breaking down? Not bloggable. Musings about my own aspirations for being a better Yoga teacher or potentially a novelist? Bloggable. Musings about friends' concerns or issues with their own lives? Not bloggable. Irritation with loved ones, employers, or the like? So not bloggable it does not even register on the bloggability meter.

As of this morning, that duality has so totally permeated my brain, it actually showed up in a dream. I was inside a house with huge plate glass windows, talking to my mother. Suddenly, there was a rumbling which developed into a roaring, and chunks of what looked like molten black asphalt exploded out of the lawn on the other side of the window and started to rain down gooey awfulness. My mother looked at me as if this was my fault (out of character for my mother, I hasten to add), and we looked in fascinated horror as the black and fiery orange chunks of stuff fell down out of the sky.

I swear to you that the following is true: my dream-self thought, "Well this is an interesting thing to write about for today."

It is official. I am doomed to blogdom, waking and sleeping.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I got only 16 out of 20 right on this. Every incorrect answer I gave was due to my thinking a fake was real. I didn't realize I gave people the benefit of the doubt that easily.

I read a lot of academic and post-academic blogs. In addition to daily visits at Rana and Mel's places, I check in on a regular basis with Professor Cooper and a few others. Recently, I have found that a couple of other academic bloggers have linked to me.*

Life did not lead me to a career in the Ivory Tower, but I do have a fascination with the idea of working in academe. I try not to romanticize the fascination, as I know academia has low pay, phenomenal politics, and intense pressure as some of its less attractive attributes. Potentially the least attractive part of teaching is students with delusions of entitlement. Running a close second would be students who have to be taught or re-taught basic skills. An instance of this would be one of my college roommates, who thought writing a "critical" paper for an English class meant she was expected to give her opinion of the work in question. She thought this as a Sophomore, and since she had gone to a prep school (as had I), she would not allow me to disabuse her of the notion. Critical equaled critique in her mind, and despite my warnings, she was enraged by her poor grade (ah, we return to entitlement).

I read about entitlement and other ills of the classroom, and occasionally reflect on my Yoga students. I know the comparison is a poor one for a lot of reasons, but when I consider the "entitlement kids" of academia, I feel incredibly fortunate to teach people who are engaged, interested, and curious. So many of them come to the class looking for an alternative to (or augmentation of) their physical fitness regime, yet end up becoming open to the emotional and spiritual sides of the practice, delving into the history and culture. They come looking to learn and to work - all I have to do (and it is a big "all") is show them the way. Their exploration does not begin and end at the studio door - what teacher could ask for more?


*By the way - does anyone know why Technorati will post a linkage and then remove it, even though the blogger has not removed the link?.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Can You Believe We Left this Bastion of Cultchah?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ---- The Somerville Gates.

In Space, Everyone Can Hear You Kick Ass
Science fiction has always provided a forum to approach hot-button issues from a different angle. Television especially has been able to explore subjects such as race, individual liberty vs. the state, environmentalism, religion, war and present them to an audience that ranges beyond the readers of science fiction books. The "space opera" subgenre has proved especially fertile ground for this, especially in the "Star Trek" franchise. As the genre has grown and evolved alongside the social changes in everyday culture, new heroines have emerged as well. Lt. Uhura, a female, black communications officer on the bridge of the Enterprise, was once seen as dangerously subversive. But viewed through today's lens, her short-skirted uniform and subordinate role on the bridge seem to marginalize her and make her presence a token one.

The culture and the genre have both moved on, and we have seen characters from Deanna Troi, Kira Nerys, and Kathryn Janeway. These characters wield influence, and sometimes power, but their female-ness marks them out somehow - they are either limited by or considered exceptional because of their gender. Deanna Troi is in the prototypical "woman's role" - empath, counselor, cleavage. She is a valued advisor, but her influence seems valuable because of its "soft" perspective - the factual men on the bridge turn to her to provide emotional balance. Kira Nerys, representing a subjugated race, was initially hostile, defensive and constantly on the watch for a proffered offense. Her prickly hostility, though nominally stemming from her role as a freedom fighter, was hard to separate from her gender. You can fill in the blanks for yourself - "If she were a man, she would be called 'aggressive.' Since she's a woman..." Kathryn Janeway, potentially the most inspirational of them all, was something of a disappointment. She was the Captain, true, but she seemed like Picard redrawn in a woman's body. Aside from flashes of dry humor, it was hard to see her as a three-dimensional person. It was as if she had to ignore her gender and "pass" as a man.

Enter Aeryn Sun, Zoë Warren, and now Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. These three represent a new model of heroine. They are undeniably female, but that fact neither limits them nor marks them out as extraordinary. The fact of their gender is just that: a fact. They get the job done. They get angry, but their anger isn't all there is to them. They have complicated, loving relationships which lead to joy and tragedy. They don't have to have a girly side to offset their strength, nor do they have to ignore their gender to kick ass, and as such, they are neither Amazons with a gooey center nor neutered automatons.

And nobody would dare tell them, "You can't do that - you're just a girl."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Skiffy Spring?
Serenity's got a cinematic roommate for this spring's science fiction movie releases - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (warning - lots of Flash animation and noise). I was never the biggest fan of the book, but I have to say having Martin Freeman play Arthur Dent is only the beginning of the inspired casting in this flick. Based on the actors alone, I would go see it. I think I also really need to see a Vogon Warship hanging in the sky the way a brick doesn't.

(Yes, I know it is fairly unbelievable that I would actually go to two movies this spring. It's something to aspire to.)

My life appears to need some sort of trendy shampoo to make it shiny, bouncy, and manageable.

It is The Week that Would not End. And this morning is terribly distracting - John has decided to take the day off to get caught up on schoolwork, Dash is firing his entire Arsenal of Cute at us in the hopes of getting a morsel of cheese, and Mac is entirely too energetic and restless to be ignored.

That, and I have an appointment this morning. Which means I must get going and become presentable so I may get into DC in time.

No inspiration, no concentration, no essay this morning.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Fuzziness and Power Tools
The spelling's dodgy, but the idea is interesting.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
John and I have entirely different sleep habits. John sleeps lightly and fitfully, and I tend to drop into a torpor that is only one step away from a coma. He does not remember his dreams, whereas I often do.

These differences tend to lead to wildly different morning habits and attitudes. John always seems to rev up to full alertness faster than I do, whereas I shamble about, blinking and wincing at the light like some critter whose rock has been turned over. I have always been this way. My parents teased me when I was a child, calling me "Grandma Murd" as I sleepwalked through as much of my morning routine as I could.

John envies the abyss I live in for a substantial portion of my life, descents that are often bookended by vacations into the weirder corners of the subconscious. But my dreams have been a little too real lately. I have woken in the last few mornings having to laboriously tease reality out of the matted scurf of my dream state. I have had panicked moments before I remember that cherished people have not died, that seventeen cats are not starving to death on my watch, and that I am not being chased by scary people who mean me ill.

This morning, waking up from a bureaucratic nightmare of personalities and paranoia which inexplicably included me having a horrible headcold, I even hacked and honked for a few minutes before I realized it was the memory of my dream-state, not my sinuses, which were causing my catarrh.

I am not sure I am to be envied here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My "Better Self" is not at Home to your Magnet
Prepare Yourselves, This One's a Shocker
We actually watched a movie last night. Granted, we didn't go out to the movies, but we did sit down and watch the DVD of "Hero" all the way through. Yep, a whole movie.

Despite our best intentions during the Christmas break, we never did get to the movies then (for those who kindly gave me movie recommendations, thank you again and we will eventually see a lot of them, I am sure!). For some reason, we have been in a long dry spell of intent and will when it comes to movies. We normally enjoy movies quite a lot - I am not sure why movie viewing doesn't seem compelling when it is brought up as an option. Failure of attention span, possibly: sitting still for two hours together may happen quite a lot in our world, but prospectively intending to sit still for two hours just doesn't feel right.

As for last night's fare, it was pretty. The saturated colors of the costumes and sets were glorious as they changed. Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu Wai gave lovely performances. The fight scene between Maggie Cheung and Zhang Ziyi was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on screen. But after a few too many recursive flashbacks and way too many giggle-worthy bits of Peter Pan-style wire work, it seemed to dissolve into ranting bombast. My final reaction was tepid - irritation for the high-strung screaming and manipulative, music video-style slow-motion scenes mixed with admiration for the visual beauty.

Hopefully our next movie viewing will occur before 2006...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...
Everyone is going to be linking to this one today, but:

You can make your own...

Happy You-Know-What
Valentine's Day: the day where you remind your loved one that they are loved.

Note: I am not one to state that "everything changes" when you get married
, because my experience tells me that that statement is hooey. Very little changed when Our Hero and I got married. I am glad I did it, and I would do it again, but not because it rendered our entire relationship in colors I was unable to perceive in my pre-married state. It lent a different depth and tone to the colors that were already there, but those differences are subtle to the point that I might even be imagining them.

Here's why I love my husband. Well, one of the many reasons... He's got a positively whacko sense of humor.

My husband is also a babe magnet of a specific variety.

Darling Husband, thank you for chopping up all those sticks so the increase in fuel costs this year may be slightly abated. Also, thank you for sending me a one-word e-mail this morning, commanding simply, "knit."

My husband - patient man that he is - has borne through this period of job-hunting and the intense anxiety that led up to it.

A lot has happened, and a lot of stress has resulted, but home has been a haven from it all, through it all; and for that, I simply say, "Thank you, John. I love calling you 'husband.'"

Enter my breakfast-loving, slow-starting husband, and my cherished A.M. sprint started to mutate.

John has a profound fondness for otters. I think they bypass his grownup persona, his responsibility and seriousness, and go straight for the kid funny-bone and awe.

So, Valentine's Day doesn't need to be a big, commercial holiday. A grand gesture once a year is easy. Small, daily observances of consideration are more difficult, but they can begin again on February 14.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Wondering about Wikipedia?
Here is an interesting movie about how Wikipedia works - using the "Heavy Metal Umlaut" entry as an example.

Rolls Eyes and Groans
The big story is allegedly that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles are getting married.

Balderdash. The real story is that 76 percent of the British population who were polled about this matter actually cared. Not to cast this as a British vs. U.S. thing, I'd venture to bet that a substantial percentage of the U.S. population also cares. There are probably plenty of Canadians, Australians, and other "Commonwealth" citizens who probably also care.

The question I have is why? Casting aside the issue of whether or not the Windsors have any relevance as a monarchy at all, this marriage will not create issues of succession. Mrs. Parker-Bowles will not be crowned Queen. The two of them have been together since the 70's for cry-eye, and their relationship has been "out" for years.

So, I guess the only reason to care about whether or not they marry is one of busy-body-ness. I have this image of two Monty Python-style "pepperpot" ladies, clucking away, "No... don't like that. 'Tisn't right!"

Thursday, February 10, 2005

What if...
What if Jim Henson had made Les Triplettes de Belleville? It might have looked like this. (Link to video with music).

What Happens There... Stays Away from Me
I don't see a lot of advertising, but it's hard to miss Las Vegas' campaign entitled "What Happens Here, Stays Here." I understand that Vegas believes it needs to reclaim its title of "sin city," in order to snatch back its image of an "adult" vacation spot. I also know that the means they are taking to convey that image - alluding to activities that are not to be spoken of once the person leaves Vegas - personally turns my stomach. It seems to glorify untrustworthiness or give the untrustworthy a home and a haven to be duplicitous. Ick.

Gambling and the other "delights" Vegas offers have never appealed to me, and as such, Vegas has never appealed to me. This ad campaign just cements that. I have no beef with their airing the campaign, I am not saying they should take it off the air. (Don't get me started about people who start up massive letter-writing campaigns to the FCC about such allegedly scarifying things as Nicollette Sheridan's bare back and Spongebob's "Agenda"*). I am just saying that for me, it doesn't work. And I wouldn't want to be anywhere near someone who finds it appealing.

*Although, I have to ask - what is it about these ads that flies under those folks' radar? It can't be its subtlety.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Never mind the equations...
... this article on hallucinatory neurophysics is cool...

Laughter on the Mat
My fabulous five are, well... fabulous.

I don't know how I got so lucky, but this first class of mine is full of people who are really exciting. They work hard, they approach everything thoughtfully, and this weekend they allowed themselves to laugh. The last is probably the most important of all to me as a teacher.

This is not the laughter of derision: there are those who look sideways at Yoga, seeing something pretentious or precious - mysticism combined with acrobatics. They scoff not just because they don't understand, but because they don't want to understand. They see something that makes them uncomfortable, and jeering laughter distances them from the object of their discomfort. I used to get angry at people like that. Now I just shrug. They don't sully the thing I love with their deliberate misunderstanding, and I am not here to "convert" people.

This laughter I speak of is the laughter of intimacy, of comfort. These are people who now know enough about Yoga to know that it isn't something self-important and pompous. It is not something "out there." Through their practice, they are understanding that Yoga is like life: it is joyful, serious, frustrating, silly, and worth doing. It is both mysterious and mundane. They have stopped watching with wary eyes, thinking that perhaps I am going to ask something impossible of them: they know they can do this, and they embrace it.

It is glorious.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Where am I?
Look out MapQuest - Google's got maps now, too.

A Buggy Theory
Though I have not renewed my subscription, Vanity Fair continues to come to my house (yes, I am frivolous and shallow). What was once a fun diversion seasoned with some serious reportage has become increasingly Hollywood-centric and dull. However, when this giant brick of glossy paper arrives I can't help but page through it, whereupon I get sucked in by the train wreck effect: it is horrifying, but I just can't look away.

Yesterday's train wreck included an article about Hollywood and the Kabbalah - or at least the trendy version of the Kabbalah that is popular among the glitterati. Apparently, the quasi-religious fad which is marked by miles of red string is making Hollywood types "nicer," a phenomenon attributed to "The Butterfly Effect," described in this example by a Hollywood agent:

If you scream at your assistant, which you're allowed to do - I mean, not allowed to do, but you can get away with it ostensibly - you know, your assistant may not be in a position where she or he can yell back at you. What they may do is go out to dinner that night and scream at a waiter. Just because it's got to come out, they'll scream at a waiter. You have to understand that you're responsible for that waiter's evening getting ruined.

So, let me see if I have this straight: it is better to be nice to your assistant because loss of control and exhibition of unprofessional and abusive behavior might eventually ruin a stranger's evening? It is not enough that screaming at the assistant is very likely to ruin the assistant's day/week/year? Why is the non-localized effect of such bratty behavior more compelling than the local one?

Never mind. I retract the question. The answer, should there be one, is probably liable to make me throw up, and who knows - that barf might end up ruining the day of someone in Lower Mongolia.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Cat Randomness from AlbinoBlacksheep
Screen Lick and the Kittycat Dance. (Flash files with sound)

They Say it's Your Blogday...
"Writing... or Typing?" is one year old.

Anniversaries are supposed to be a time for reflection, an opportunity to pause and look back over the last 365 days. I feel as if I should be mining some sort of precious pearls of wisdom out of the past year, but if they exist, they are well buried. I am not sure what I set out to do when I began, I was not quite sure then.

Wisdom I may lack, but I now know I have more self-discipline than I had previously thought. 52 weeks of posting, almost every by-nine-A.M. deadline met. Yes, the quality has varied, but so it is with any organic enterprise. The last year has also brought me to add "Yoga Teacher" and "Communications Consultant" to my life-resumé. I will take progress wherever I find it.

It occurs to me as I sit here and struggle to come up with a theme that anniversaries are actually not a good time for reflection on the last year. Those 365 days are too close, and the driving mission that guides every day still eludes me. As long as I have a job search, this year has no closure. Three-hundred and sixty-five days are an arbitrary mark that seem meaningless from where I sit.

Friday, February 04, 2005

...yet, kind of cute.

Today's Horoscope (Aries): Someone has to be the first to state the obvious. Might as well be you.

Immediate thought: Do they know me???

Yes, I occasionally read my horoscope. I don't read it for its dubious powers of prediction. You might say I read it for the main reason people decry horoscopes as fraudulent. You bring up horoscopes, and people say, "Oh, you could twist that to fit anyone." Indeed. So occasionally I try to reframe my day as per the horoscope. It's a silly little mind game that sometimes makes me think about things in a different light. So, let's take yesterday and see how well it matched up (or at least how warped my day looks when viewed horoscope-style):

Here is what actually happened: Woke up early, dealt with the animals (it was John's late day), wrote WoT, had breakfast, issued a press release for a client, did not attend a Kundalini Yoga class due to the fact that I was waiting for a new file cabinet to be delivered, made bread, applied for a job at the University of Maryland, took delivery of file cabinet, put file cabinet together, took library books back and did grocery run, reorganized files and office, had late lunch/early dinner, read book, went to bed, was actually awake for husband's return from late class, went to sleep.

Oh-kay. Here's yesterday's horoscope:

When your vision is clear, your goals feel very close. This may be such a time, but there is a warning that comes along with this good news. Your ambitions can be built upon your most optimistic assessment of the situation -- and this may not take all the information into consideration. Don't close off communication just because it feels like it might get in your way. Sharing your ideas can bring you balance.

Hm. Clear vision, goals feel very close - well, the press release I was working on was something in the works for quite a while, and getting it out finally felt very good. But my real goal is a full-time job. The position at U. MD would possibly be a good one, but it does not seem close at all. A warning with the good news? Not sure what that might be. My ambitions are quite often built on optimism - I have to actively work to keep my expectations moderated and try to keep all factors in the picture, so that is really nothing new. Closing off communications? Heh. Our Hero could tell you that when I am working through a problem I quite often go inward and try to figure it out on my own, but I can't think of anything I'm particularly worried about lately. Sharing ideas can bring me balance... hmmm... Well, as far as sharing ideas, I have to get going on a proposal for another client (which I would probably have worked on yesterday, but I considered that containing the chaos in my office was a necessary preliminary to getting my thoughts in order).

Does that mean my proposal will be simply stating the obvious? Probably. One person's obvious is often another person's bright idea.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Ooooohhh... Pretty!
Click on the colorwheel, get images dominated by that color from Flickr.... Pretty!

This is not my Beautiful Blog...
Mel at In Favor of Thinking (not to be confused with Mel of the new home and the Chinatown Express Bus) has posted an interesting query: How did I get here, and likewise, how did you?

I think friends' blogs are the gateway drug for taking up blogging yourself. Mark started it for me: when I started following his link-blog, his references to bOINGbOING eventually led me to follow that blog on a daily basis, which led me to Making Light... It wasn't long before I was on the hard stuff, downloading and learning iBlog, setting myself the goal of a daily entry, and grabbing my own domain name.

The descent into blogness did not end there, though. I continued to explore the blog-world, finding Rana in the Making Light comment threads (and leading to our cozy echo-chamber), and I found Mel through Rana. Imagine my surprise when my referral logs told me that there were others out there whom I had never read who had linked to me - people such as columbina and Artichoke Heart.

Like relationships in "meatspace" (boy do I both love and hate that term), the chain of links is a branching one - my description above only describes the provenance of one bit of my little tree. I have every reason to believe that the tree will continue to grow as long as ideas and conversation continue to flourish. When I began WoT, I thought that the reward would come from the writing. I now know that the reward comes from the interaction between people, the conversation among bloggers and blog-readers.

So that leaves me with the lingering question - how did you get here?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Because Serenity will Get Here Eventually
Serenity the movie, that is.

Here's the Chinese translations...

Oy the Lateness..
Sorry folks. The morning got away from me like a frightened little bunny.

My private Yoga client is going to Jamaica for ten days. Wow. Jamaica. The warmth. The ocean. The warmth.

Yes, it is cold again here in Maryland, and I am beginning to think that all of my New England toughness is wearing off. I just want to hunker down under a duvet and not move until the thermostat reads higher than freezing, but that is not an option. I have errands to run and freelance work to accomplish, and that means I have to get up, get out, and cope with the weather and my own increasingly feeble reactions to it.

But this lateness thing? That will have to be fixed. I may be losing my ability to cope with the deep freeze, but that doesn't mean I can drop all of my standards.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Who Says U.S. Money isn't Colorful?
It is if you make ART out of it!

-- Thanks, Brian!

I think Rana and I have our own little mini-echo-chamber going on. It does help that she and I have various interests in common (reading, knitting, Yoga, and blogging). Yesterday she wrote a post about a subject I have touched on before, the coverage of blogs and bloggers in the mass media. Last time, it was political blogging that got to look at itself in the funhouse mirror. This time, it's "Mommy Blogs" (what a name - blech) who are getting the reductionist treatment. Reading the article without reading any of the blogs themselves would give you the idea that every parent ("Mommy Blogging!" it's for dads too!) who blogs about their children is neurotically fixated on the minutiae of their little one's every belch and diaper-change, a focus that is sure to lead to whacked-out kids. Phrases like "navel gazing," "hand wringing," and "exposing the dark underbelly of parenting" litter the article, which despite glancing references to the humor that these blogs often contain, reads like a cautionary tale.

The definition of navel-gazing surely varies from reader to reader, but it's probably a safe bet that a blog you consider to be navel-gazing is one you won't return to. And some of these blogs have huge readerships. Additionally, labeling something like Mimi Smartypants or Dooce.com as a "Mommy Blog" willfully ignores the caustic urban observations and literary critiques of Mimi or the tightrope that Heather is able to walk when she is simultaneously able to be sarcastic and loving about her upbringing as a southern Mormon.

Anyway, back to Rana (this is our echo-chamber, after all). She suggests that we write our own "article" in the voice of a "lazy mainstream journalist with an axe to grind." She starts with:

"The author of the weblog, Frogs and Ravens, who hides behind the pseudonym of "Rana," writes about life from the perspective of a "post-academic" (a fancy way of describing those who "drop out" of university life). Self-absorbed posts about her mental state and internet quizzes dominate the content, with occasional forays into politics, knitting and poetry. Like other "grab-bag" bloggers, it is clear that she writes whatever comes into her head, perhaps seeking validation from her blogging peers that she and her Ph.D. are not as irrelevant as they seem. Such self-absorption and pre-occupation with peer group dynamics is typical of Gen-Xers, along with their tendency to bristle when the so-called "mainstream media" ventures into their closely guarded lairs."

Here goes: The title of "Writing... or Just Typing?" immediately tips the reader off that this blog is written by someone unsure of her own literary merit, seeking to screen her insecurity behind a pose of disaffected sarcasm. Styling herself as "an Heroine," her posts have no central theme other than her own trendy interests (Yoga, gardening), and she often devolves into frothing rage over what she considers other people's oblivious behavior. Like all too many bloggers of her generation, her pets and her husband are common topics. Basil T. Quackstein, a psychology professor at the University of Punditry says, "When a loved one presents their particular view of you in a public forum, such exposure can cause paranoia and a feeling of being out of control of their own image."