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November 2005

November 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Well, here it is.


Official NaNoWriMo 2005 Winner

Hi, Kivrillian. Soon I'm going to do real blogging again, now that the albatross has been lifted from my neck. I'm going to, again, discuss an interesting point you brought up in your recent comment.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I thought it bore repeating


Here is a link to a History Channel page on the origins of Christmas. I posted it last year, and want to share it again with anyone who's discovered where I keep my brain over the past 12 months.

History of Christmas<

From Gannett News Service


At first I was incredulous that this was something so unobvious a book had to be written explaining it. But then I realized why that's so. Extroverts, apparently, are like Sneetches arguing over who has "stars upon thars, " and ignoring the fact that some of the others are cowering in the corner, nearly in tears, not over the fact that they may or may not have a star-belly, but that the others just won't shut up for awhile and leave them alone.

Here's an entire article for you to read. And remember. And heed carefully. It came from USAToday. com.

"The attitude that there's something wrong with introverted people is widely shared in society, where fast talk and snap decisions are often valued over listening, deliberation and careful planning. Extroverts seem to rule the world or, at least, the USA, which hasn't elected an introverted president for three decades, since Jimmy Carter.

"The signals we get from the world agree that extroversion is valued," says Sanford Cohn, an associate professor in curriculum and instruction at Arizona State University. "A lot of the messages we get from society have to do with being social, and in order to be social you have to behave a certain way."

But that is impossible for introverted kids. Raising them isn't easy, particularly if parents, family members, teachers, coaches and other adults don't allow them to be who they are.

Introverted children enjoy the internal world of thoughts, feelings and fantasies, and there's a physiological reason for this. Researchers using brain scans have found introverts have more brain activity in general, and specifically in the frontal lobes. When these areas are activated, introverts are energized by retrieving long-term memories, problem solving, introspection, complex thinking and planning.

Extroverts enjoy the external world of things, people and activities. They have more activity in brain areas involved in processing the sensory information we're bombarded with daily. Because extroverts have less internally generated brain activity, they search for more external stimuli to energize them.

"It's the different pathways that are turned on that activate the behaviors and abilities we see in introverts and extroverts," says Marti Olsen Laney, a neuroscience researcher and author in Portland, Ore., who is credited with connecting introversion with its underlying biology. "It impacts all areas of their lives: how they process information, how they restore their energy, what they enjoy and how they communicate."

Introverted children need time alone more than do extroverted children, says Laney, whose book, The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child, is due in January. "Extroverts gain energy by being out and about," but "being with people takes energy from introverts, and they need to get away to restore that energy."

Laney says introverted kids also behave differently.

They're not slow, inattentive or shy. Shyness is behavior that may diminish as children grow; introversion is a character trait that lasts."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Did I ever post this before?


If I did, I apologize, sort of. I found it in a notebook just now, and I want to look at it onscreen and see what I think about it. I remember what had me writing it, back in the summer, and now the trick is to see if it can sort of transcend that particular moment and just be something interesting or thoughtful.

Carnival of Words

Looking at you in a Funhouse mirror,
it's shatter-proof, smear-proof,
distorted, just the same.

On a carousel, spinning
Artificial breeze soothes,
ride over too soon.

Ferris wheel stops at the top,
car rocks and I sway,
unsteady and unnerved
Til you point out the view...
It's wide and breath-taking
And I never want to come back down.


Zany stuff


Well, not really, I've just run out of steam with the title thing.

I woke up from one of those dreams that seems to go on forever where a million things happen and when I attempt to trace a thread back to where it all began, it bears absolutely no resemblance to where it ended up before being cut off prematurely. I say prematurely, but clearly this was something that had no proper end, and would have just continued changing into something else over and over again, ad infinitum.

I only vaguely remember most of it, but one image is sort of seared into my consciousness to a tangible degree, and I wish I could capture it externally and paint it or sculpt it into being somehow. These things cannot be recreated with mere words, though I almost desperately wish they were. Like a photograph that captures a still image without scent or sound or movement, words are more frustrating than soothing when you can't use them to make something manifest. And still I make the attempt.

That's what poetry is for, of course, and I was realizing a couple of days ago that I need to write some. This 30 day book attempt is bad timing. For me, it would have worked better in a month like March or April. But I'm forging on until the last, just to have completed the attempt.

Then I need to set aside the big project stuff for a little while and work on some poetry. It's with poetic language that I get closest to making reality out of something that doesn't quite exist on a concrete level. This is a philosophical issue, of course; if something exists, it exists, no matter how you measure it or whether you can touch it with your fingers. So I guess what I really mean is how to take hold, maybe just of a little corner, of something that seems always outside of my grasp. I'll never get close enough to embrace it fully, but I'll always keep trying to create the sensation of what that might be like.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Part two of the thing below this one


This place is too fricking distracting. But I am a mean, mean person, apparently, and also antisocial. This is because I sort of freak out at how more and more people wander in here, rearranging all the tables and easy chairs, stringing their electrical cords all over so that sometimes people actually have to navigate around them in order to get through the place. I find that so tasteless. It's like each of these people is the sun around whom all this revolves. Meanwhile, I thought it was a place of business that does me the kindness of allowing me to talk online while I have my coffee and roll, in order to oh my god. The new plugged in dude in from of me is wearing zip-up ankle boots. With a heel.

Okay, anyway, it's harder to write here than it used to be. It's like a weird gang of rebels with PCs, bad hair, badder shoes, and an utter disregard for the privacy of public space. Stop that, I know you know what I mean. It's so not cool.

So for today, now, I will just write for the pleasure of seeing my words spread across the page in living form, appreciative of the fact that I look totally hot in my brown V-neck stretch t-shirt and new jeans, with my cute little reading glasses perched on my not so cute and little but interesting nose, and really make a better attempt to ignore the havoc being wrought all around me.

Wonders never cease


I'm at Border's, a couple of chairs away from the man who lives here. He's hanging out with a chick today, sort of. He's just lowered the blinds, blithely assuming that we'd all benefit from his notion of correct Border's Cafe ambience. Dude just seriously creeps me out. I can't explain it. He's over there in the corner with his easy chair and table and whole electronic set-up, and it annoys. It would help if he was cute, but, not so much really. I mean, in the general universal scheme of things, he's not repulsive or anything. But really gives off waves of, oh, Ensign Wesley Crusher after having failed Starfleet Academy and after his stint with the Traveler didn't work out. Not to be really geeky or anything. And he looks exactly like this one Disney cartoon character whose name I just can't place my finger on at the moment.

Ew. Have you ever thought about what an awful expression that is? "place my finger on." I seriously do not want to do that. I'm uncomfortable sharing oxygen with many people, never mind touching them.

Anyway, that's not what I'm here to talk about. I've not been around the blog much recently, and have a few things to comment on.

First, in one sense I'll be able to finish the NaNo thing, in that I will be able to have written and submitted 50k words. But on the other hand, the book is nowhere near finished, and I've decided I'd really like to take some time to explore it, because there are parts of it that could really do well in a long story.

I'm learning some things about how I feel about being a writer in the midst of the writing process. I can't be one of those people who just "outputs" the same word count every day, for one thing. It's too dry, and the "spewing forth yields best material" school gets a failing grade from me. I can spew all day long, sure, but it's not the best stuff. The best stuff comes when I've done some living in my day, then settle in to draw pictures of it in words on the screen. And it's best when I take moments to look at it with head cocked and chin in hand, deciding this phrase needs to go here, and that sentence is bloated and self-involved. In other words, I write better when I write like who I am: a person who naturally edits as she goes along. To eliminate that from the process is to take away some of the most enjoyable parts of it, to me. Others are free to feel differently about the matter.

So if I do NaNoWriMo next year, I will make sure that I do not have an overarching plot to stick to, in order to have the time and freedom to obey my own process. I will do what I originally intended for this year; just construct a setting and have characters wander in and out of it, each with their own little story to tell, not needing them to connect together in any big or formal fashion.

On a more shallow note, let me pause to say that this is my 11,987,623rd listen of The Sweetest Drop by Peter Murphy. And I am not yet remotely weary of it.

Well, anyway, time to get back to the Thing. It's been swell. Let's do this again sometime, shall we? I look forward to it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

New playlist


This month's Top 20:


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving


I've missed the ol' Seabreeze, but life's been a little twisty lately. Here's the general bibliosylph Thanksgiving lineup, which is altered just a little each year for a bit of zip. This year it's the rolls. To my two vegetarian friends, well, frankly, I'm not a big turkey fan myself, but the others would miss it, plus, I make awesome gravy. I do buy some variation of a happy frolicking non-drugged before death variety, though.

Roast turkey, infused with sherry-butter and glazed with orange sauce
Cranberry sauce, seasoned with cloves, cardamom, and a dash of orange
Cornbread dressing, with apples, onion and sage
Mashed sweet potatoes topped with a bit of butter and maple syrup
Green beans sauteed with olive oil and garlic
Sour cream rolls
Pumpkin pie
Blueberry pie

LP chose a 2001 Baron Philippe de Rothschild M├ędoc for the repast, which, (though it's too new according to the people who know such things,) I'm interested in trying, and we'll finish out the evening with a bit of amaretto.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Feel free to make your own copies


You can even keep my name on it, or add your own; just fix the email address before printing. If you change it, though, take my name off of it.

To Whom It May Concern, and with apologies to the Salvation Army:

There are now people with money buckets waiting for me at every door in front of every place I go. All year long, every week, sometimes every single day, I am asked for charity. I have a large family, and have sometimes wished for charity for myself. But mostly, I'm just tired of being solicited every time I leave the house. It's too much, and I'm beginning to resent all charitable enterprise.

On top of all the charities come the Boy Scouts with their 20 dollar mini popcorn tins. Then the Girl Scouts with their boxes of 12 cookies. Then the school kids in spring and summer with their car washes. And the fire fighters holding out helmets at stop lights. It Never Ends.

I don't care if yours is the best, most wonderful and charitable charity in all the county. You got here after my last charitable nerve frayed away. And you'd better believe I'm not the only one who feels this way.

From now on, I will continue to make personal or online donations to the same organizations I've always supported. But everyone who stands at a doorway with their hand out gets this note put in it.

Sincerely,

greer garson

merbelle at comcast net.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Headache-induced mania. Or something.


This morning, hubby and I were at Panera Bread, and we each got a house latte and a pastry. The pastries are not heated, but the cashier showed him where there is a microwave oven on a shelf below the self-serve coffee. It's probably there for people who like their coffee to be hotter. So he put the tray in while I set our cups on a table. These two women who came in before us with their leggings and oversized 5k run t-shirts and soy lattes were talking very heavily in his direction and actually pointing, at least psychically, and literally shaking their heads. I could hear a little of what they were saying, even though they were a few tables away. I was appalled. I'm never going to be used to the bad behavior of the people here; I come from a much friendlier and more polite world. When they saw I was watching them, their expressions soured further, so I waved "hi" vigorously. That's my substitution for telling people what I actually think of their behavior. Because that would be rude.

Yo, shiny black legging/giant white t-shirted chicks who got too much sun on your faces last decade so that you now look older than me even though you're probably not? Grow up, and put some real clothes on while you're at it.

Yeah, I'm cranky. Whatever.


Beautiful day


I woke up today remembering that last night was upsetting, and determined to create the most perfect day possible. I nearly succeeded.

I made a warm drink, poked around at internet news for a short time, and got out my knitting. We had a fire going in the family room, so I brought a book down with my drink, but discovered the kitchen was not in very fine shape for baking bread. So I pushed the little people into taking care of their part, and then I swept, cleaned counters, did dishes, and I was trying to vacuum, but the thing was giving me fits. And I couldn't get it taken apart somehow, til I got LP's help. I think we both enjoyed getting the thing cleaned out and ready for use. Then he went on a bike ride, because it was just beautiful out. I wandered out to the garden and couldn't believe that it looked greener and more alive than it did for most of the summer, which was too hot and too dry.

After that, I carefully measured out bread ingredients. I felt so good in this slow, methodical mood, and I knew the bread would come out perfectly, because I found an actual 1/4 teaspoon measure in my drawer.

I washed the slipcover on one of the couches while the bread rose, organized my laundry, washed all the towels, read through a magazine from cover to cover, that someone had brought in, apparently discarded by the person who bought it. I don't usually read magazines, but enjoyed learning all about the celebrities and their families. It was sort of odd, but somehow entertaining. The writers made it sound like we'd really be happy for whatever these people were up to.

While the bread baked, I cooked cranberries, and ground some cardamom and cloves to flavor them. Then I decided to make some salad dressing. I used 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, and about 2/3 cup of olive oil, some asiago cheese, oregano, thyme, black pepper, garlic, and a smidge of sugar.

The dog got out during my "reading time;" been trying to get through Service With a Smile by PG Wodehouse for a couple of days, but he was found quickly. Each time I settled into reading, something would come up, yet it didn't really bother me. I did have to leave the room when LP and the big boy decided to play Medal of Honor, but that's just because it's really hard to concentrate on Lord Ickenham while a battle is raging in the background. I was happy we were all here and everyone felt really together.

At dinner it all went wrong. Some things were discussed that took me by surprise, and I truly do not handle surprises well. I was still dealing with the fact that all this had already been brought up before without my knowledge or consent, and then there we were having it brought up again. It ended quite badly, because I felt like a dam broke inside me at that point. I've been trying to deal with something for quite awhile, adjustments in my life that I want to accept and feel good about, but I'm just not there yet. I don't like feeling that my emotions are never allowed to spill out or over, when I've been trying so hard to not have them. Usually, when I'm emotional, I feel a bit like I'm letting people down, just by having them. I don't think they're wrong to have, but always dangerous to share.

I'm still just going to adapt and not only accept the things in my life that I would not choose, because acceptance is really not the challenge. I'm open, I'm accepting, whatever. Adapting to the point where I can appreciate them is the hard part. And I hate having things just thrust upon me, and being told if I don't immediately adapt, I'm immature or unstable. Plenty of people would say I have the right to feel rebellious about that, and to go ahead and wish things were different, or to try to force them to be different. But that's fairly irrelevant and useless, from where I stand. Wisdom to know the difference. I am all alone in this, and so it is wisdom for which I must look.

I should be working on the book right now. I made lots of progress last night, and really went through this whole day geared toward this very hour, when I would begin the process all over again. I have to drown myself in the shower instead. It's this thing I do, when I can't contain all the feelings that want to spill out. And maybe I'll just finish that book I was reading, and then start over again tomorrow. We get many, many chances to make perfect days. It's good to come close. I felt close to my family today because of my effort, and that was the best part of all.

Anyway, the day's not over yet. I intend to find space between the moments, to set things right.

Friday, November 11, 2005

From Pat's mouth to God's ear


valeriel gets the credit for putting it this way: Who let Grandpa out of the house?

Dover, PA elects Satan to School Board.

Let me do my own call to someone else's altar for a second. If you feel compelled to call yourself a Christian, and yet are horrified by the rantings of people like Pat Robertson, try this on for size. Don't let 'em steal Jesus, and don't be scared off by the labels. From past experience, I'd say that labelling is one of the biggest problems in the Christian spiritual arena. You may fret that this guy does not see Jesus quite the way you do, but it's clear to me that he got the message more than those who shout down God's wrath on anyone they disagree with.

And here is one more link, as an addendum to my latest rant on this subject, written a few days ago. I'm always telling people that if you want to learn something historical or scientific, often the best sources of clear, unbiased information, are those written either for children, or at least with them in mind. This is a fairly complete and nicely unbiased explanation of Intelligent Design theory, its background, proponents, and how mainstream scientists view it as an issue.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Me on the train yesterday



If I had it to do over again


I would in a heartbeat.

I was in New York yesterday afternoon. Took the train in to meet the ol' LP after one of his interviews. I went straight downstairs in Penn Station, and took the C and L trains to Union Square, so I could take some pictures of the area I'm talking about in my book. Just as I got started, he called to say his second meeting was way up in, what I thought was, an area we had no business being in. But what do I know? I took the L train back across to where he was, and found him on the other side of the gate in the subway station, where he was on the phone determining he only had to go to 54th street. This is important because I was planning to hang around in the Village, fairly close to where I'd begun, but this place was a little north of Times Square, where all the famous designer boutiques are. I wanted to just meet him after he was finished, but he wanted me to be nearby, for companionship and so forth, so I wandered a little, found a sandwich shop, and then wandered a little more, until I was standing on the corner of 56th and 5th Avenue, eating my sandwich. I noticed a man inside the store there was looking at me oddly, and realized I was in front of the famous Harry Winston jewelry store. Well, so what, mister? I looked across the street, though, and there was Tiffany's, right next to Trump Tower.

A moment of clarification. I find jewelry collections immensely boring. And I was literally surrounded by them on all sides. Van Cleef and Arpel, and all the others, were right there in my view. Whatever. But naturally, I went across the street and finished my sandwich while looking at the bizarre jewel-encrusted gold bracelets in the window displays of Tiffany's.

There was just nothing interesting to do or see. It made me a little sad. Dior, Chanel, Halston, plus the ones like JillSanders, etc., on and so forth. Stark displays, bored salespeople clad in black from head to toe, and in some of them, there was a desk where, I swear it, people would check in before getting to shop. I don't like to shop enough to want to sign up to do it. Honestly.

Wandering east, I found a really swell Border's on Park Avenue. I headed straight for the cafe, so I could find someone online to relieve me of a bit of this stress. However, that was not to be. Because of some deranged wifi setup LP encountered at the Newark airport a couple days ago, the login kept failing. I put my head on the counter and just sighed for awhile. There were no dumpling shops or boutiques with antique scarves and hats or anything remotely interesting in the area. It was all so sterile and dull.

So I went back out and wandered over to the meeting place again, only now it was raining, and I had no hat, so that was, well, not bad, because I don't really mind getting wet. I should get a hat, though. I find umbrellas to be gigantic liabilities, but a hat does the trick fine. I did pass MOMA; the Museum of Modern Art. It looked really wonderful, and I hope to go in it sometime. I walked back and forth in front of the windows a few times before continuing on, and saw a couple of paintings I've often admired online.

LP said we had a diner budget for supper, so I went for the most completely opposite experience to what I just had, and silly or not, it was the best part of the day. Ellen's Stardust Diner is a great place for families visiting New York. It's on Broadway at 51st, and is filled with early TV memorabilia, and kitsch from the 40s and 50s. And on top of that, the waiters and waitresses take turns singing and sometimes dancing. It's kind of hilarious. But some of them are pretty good, hoping to get the big break in a show, you know.

Then we went home, because he had a heavy load with his portfolio, and was tired. Only we got on the train earlier than I'd anticipated and had to pay an extra fee for travelling in peak hours. The train wasn't at all crowded, though, so it was a peaceful ride.

I'm hoping to return soon on a nicer day to get some more pictures of my book scenes, but it's always good to get out for awhile, so I guess I'm glad I went. I don't know if he really felt he had a fruitful day, just that it was something he needed to do.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

We are not in Kansas today


Kansas voted again to add intelligent design to their science curriculum standards. You may think I've sounded mean about that. Here's why:

1. Evolution science does not preclude the idea of a creator having set it all in motion. (the reason creationists disagree is because of the biblical reference of god creating man and setting him up as having dominion over the plants and animals, which are implied as having started out the way we see them now.)

2. Intelligent design is a hypothesis, not a theory. A theory is a "best" scenario as to how a particular hypothesis is answered. Creationists interchange the word hypothesis and theory, when they are not at all the same thing. For example, because of evidence and technology produced over the past 15-20 years, nearly 100% of the world's scientists now believe in some form of the Big Bang Theory. But to a creationist, it can't be proved, and is therefore, "just" a theory, by which they actually mean "an interesting idea." As Einstein said, not much can really be proved, only disproved. Collected evidence will point to one particular pattern, and everything seen from that point forth may fit into the pattern, but only until something comes along to disrupt it, which can't be predicted. But that's just good science. Intelligent design could be seen exactly the same way, except there is really no actual science to it that can't also be explained by evolution.

3. Intelligent design supporters view the evolution theory as having large holes in it. Those holes were filled in a long time ago, but also have little to nothing to do with the beginning of the world, anyway. When I teach my kids, I tell them that some people do not believe in the Tree of Life, and we've actually discussed the difference between various Creation stories. But to the kids, even though the stories sound a little crazy, they aren't actually much related to what they're learning about biodiversity, anyway.

On intelligent design
Kansas standards
Darwin exhibit


Stuff you never even realized we needed


Meat-flavored pretzels Yes, I get that it's the sauce for the meat that we're supposed to taste. But still. It's funnier my way.

Wood and glass cleaner Sure, it's convenient, and how weirdly cool to do the wood and glass coffee table with one spray? But the woman in the commercial was so cranky, saying, "Look, I lead a busy life, I don't have time to mess with more than one type of cleaner." Honestly. That's what she said.

TV wherever I go. Oh, okay, it's fun and futuristic like those TV watches. But what is the point, exactly?

File under "creepy."

And finally, something really cool. Imagine if you could read about technology on the internet, in 1985?


Seasons' change


Yesterday I made cranberry-banana bread, and pumpkin-blueberry muffins. The recipes are in the Hizzy blog, if you're interested. I want to make lots of yeast bread again, too. I miss doing that. I got out of the habit because of the wretched kitchen I had previously to this one, then there was construction, and then last year--I don't know, was I not feeling well or something? Whatever. The point is, I bought some packages of yeast yesterday, and I have fresh flour, so I went to Breadworld.com which was printed on the back of the packages, and found lots of neat recipes that I'm going to try. I want to do the sour cream muffins, and the oatmeal bread.

There are very good and complete instructions for someone who isn't accustomed to making bread, too, though I guess lots of people have a bread machine and don't need to know all of it. ::sigh:: I like kneading and watching it rise, personally. But I guess if I was gone all day every day, a machine would be super neato.

I'm quite behind on the book, still, but have now figured out how to manage blocks of writing time so I get more done. I have only about half the words you're "supposed" to have after 7 days, but last night I experimented and found that I get the most done when I type straight through for 30 minutes, then take a 30 minute break. If I do that 3 or 4 times each day, I'm good. The book isn't, but maybe I'll get it done a couple days ahead of time, and then have the pleasure of saying I wrote something that was even somewhat edited in only 30 days.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Yeah, I know.


It's been hard, to write. At all.

I've updated the phonepix blog.

My wrist hurts a whole lot.

The weather has been real pretty.

Recently, my friend Britomart was ill. And she took a lot of Nyquil. While taking Nyquil, she discovered a hidden muse; her inner artist, if you will.

Here is her portrait of me, as I am viewed with the rock star name, Aurora Stilton.

And here is her self-portrait. Back up to her name to see a few more pieces of "art."

Last night we went to Sawa, where I had some really good spicy seafood soup, and a neat entree called Tuna Fantastic: "[raw] Tuna-covered Crabmeat, Avocado & Tomatoes with Cilantro-Olive Oil Sauce." It was very cool because it looked like an internal organ sitting in a very pretty infectious liquid, yet was quite delicious.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Been awhile since I've


done a song of the day. This one just hit me in the shower.

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick, and think of you
Caught up in circles, confusion is nothing new
Flashback--warm nights--almost left behind
Suitcase of memories, time after

Sometimes you picture me, I'm walking too far ahead
You're calling to me, I can't hear what you've said
Then you say--go slow--I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

if you're lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
if you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting
Time after time

After my picture fades and darkness has turned to gray
Watching through windows, you're wondering if I'm OK
Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time

if you're lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
if you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting
Time after time

Another hour and it will be time to start on today's novel writing session. Absolutely no distractions, which, of course, means it will be very difficult to concentrate. C'est la vie, il est ma vie, ceci est comment il est....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Launching NaNo


And so it begins.

I woke up pysched, arranged my day, desktop and browser tabs, figured out some chapter titles, wrote 300 words for a prologue,

and suddenly I'm terrified.

The link to the right will now take you to a profile page, and at the bottom of it you'll find an occasionally-updated excerpt of the story.

Those of you on the seabreeze list will begin to see regular updates to that source.