Friday, June 27, 2008

Multimedia Friday: Bonus edition

Is it just me, or does really, really, really good music just send a shiver down your spine.

Coldplay's good
, but they're not that good.

On the other hand, Bristle Ridge, a joint effort of Chuck Ragan and Austin Lucas, is. Just. That. Good. But then again, practically everything Chuck Ragan touches is golden. His voice.... *melts* Windows Media Player dubs this stuff country. I will grudgingly concede that it is. I like it anyway. Love, actually.

But. Seriously, go listen to the few tracks streaming on Chuck Ragan's Myspace page. "Bloody Shells" is simply breath-taking, in that old-fashioned-ballad-folk-story-ZOMG-amazing sort of way.

But "Hold My Bed" is its own sort of amazingness. See?



And, having made my fangirly tendencies abundantly clear, I shall bounce off to savor the musical goodness.

Multimedia Friday: Coldplay

I like punk music. I should, therefore, scorn the mainstream. Or so the scenesters would have me believe. Sometimes pop can be good, though.

From time to time a Coldplay track will pop up on my musical radar, and with good reason. It's not their fault the radio stations killed "Clocks" by overplay.

I've never actually dropped money on one of their albums (though I have since...acquired...their previous albums), until Viva la Vida. The song that sold me on it? Not the one made famous by the iTunes commercial, but "Violet Hill." Rest of the album is solid, though, especially tracks like "Cemeteries of London" and "Lost." But here's the video for Violet Hill:



In other news, I may pop back in here tomorrow morning, but otherwise I'll be out of town and without Internet for a few days. I'll bring my camera, though, on the off chance I see something interesting enough to post about.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I can quit whenever I want to.

I'm not addicted to crocheting, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not! I mean, it's not like I went and finished another blanket, then proceeded to crochet two scarves from the leftover yarn within two days, and then set off to renew the search for the perfect poncho pattern to go with the really cool yarn I bought a few months ago. Nope, you must be thinking of some other blogger.

I was quite pleased with this blanket (pattern here), all around. It took all of three weeks to make, but then again, I work in fits and spurts--a more consistent "hooker" probably could've wrapped it up in a few evenings. I love the colors and texture, and actually giving it up will cause the briefest of twinges.

Closer up:
And one last shot, so you can see the colors a bit better. The green and cerulean really can be found in the base color; the texture just makes it a bit harder to spot.

And, that's it for friends' wedding-gift blankets. Luckily, none of the other umpteen million folks I know who are taking the matrimonial plunge are close acquaintances; my poor hand might just revolt on me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

I don't think that's normal.

I've been told before that I'm strange, and that the company I keep is also strange. I assumed that was aimed at my friends, but I've also been told my co-workers are strange. I believe the evidence had something about gathering around the communal coffee pot and swapping student stories.

Today, I realized that it is entirely possible my tutoring colleagues are strange.

I asked one of the new kids today whether he would've taken the job if he knew what sort of people he'd be working with. He responded that he wasn't sure.

The highlight of the day? Debating in a manner most lively how to format the MLA citation hand-out.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Ending

In 10th grade, I had the good fortune to make a few good friends in the midst of the painful social experience that is being a shy new kid in a private school where the other kids pretty much grew up together. My friends and I more or less did our own thing. Once you accept it, there's liberation in realizing you'll never be cool.

One of our hobbies was writing round robin stories. If you've never done one (you don't know what you're missing!), it's when one person writes a sentence or two, passes it on to the next person to add to, and so on. It can be a collaboration between two people or amongst several; most of ours were 2- or 3-way collaborations. There was no set story arc, and characters tended to appear very much at random. Video game characters mingled with manga characters and rubbed elbows with historical figures, pop culture figures, fictional characters from stories we'd both read and written, a few of our classmates, and idealized representations of ourselves. I don't know if they ever appeared in the same stories, but Hwoarang, Michael Jackson, Rufus Shinra, Kyouya Iida, Hideki Tojo, the Backstreet Boys, Richard Simmons, and Sephiroth all had cameo or starring roles in the stories at some point.

I mentioned the "no set arc" aspect of the stories very deliberately. With no set direction, a practically unending cast of characters to choose from, and only rarely a unifying theme, the stories could go on ad finitum. I think one epic spans 18 wide-ruled notebook pages. We usually found a way to finish them off in more timely ways, though. One convention became an oft-used favorite: "And then they all died. The End." This did the trick for a while, until someone decided she hadn't finished with a particular subplot. So magical resurrections entered the picture, beginning with something like, "But then, suddenly, __________ appeared and..." It was drama at its finest, and soap opera writers could've learned a thing or two from us about improbable and contrived resurrections.

We scattered a bit after that year, one friend to public high school, another to home school, and me to part-time classes at the community college. We scribbled a few more stories here and there, but they eventually began to lose the spontaneity that the originals had. We can go back and re-read them, finding humor in the inside jokes and drama that pervade the stories, but something's just not the same. The humor now stems from the memories conjured by the stories, not the stories themselves. There's no going back to that time, to that carelessness, to that complete assurance that--in spite of our peers and poor teachers--our friendships could alleviate and withstand the most trying of circumstances.

Sometimes things just come to an end. And there's no miraculous resurrection for an epoch that has run its course.

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More takes on this prompt can be found at Sunday Scribblings.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spoiled? What's that mean?

There were two conversations going on concurrently this evening.

One family member was complaining about a wrenched knee. Meanwhile, I was on the floor with the cat. "She's got a knot [at the scruff of her neck]," I said to no one in particular, "like maybe she was tense when the vet gave her the shots." The cat tensed up beneath my probing fingers. "Poor baby. Does that hurt?" I asked (the cat. Duh).

"You should try the heating pad," came the advice.

"For the cat?" I asked.

Well, yeah, if a human is hurtin' and a kitty is a-hurtin' the heating pad should definitely be used on the feline.

....Aaand, posts like this warrant my starting new tag categories. I cannot guarantee they will always be used concurrently, but I think both shall be useful for future posts.

Giving notice

The writing center is closed on Fridays during the summer. We are, however, experimenting with scheduling tutorials by appointment. Last summer's experiment in scheduled tutorials led me to decline the opportunity this year around; too many people ran late or called last minute to cancel.

Experienced Colleague lives close to campus, and she agreed to take one conference last week. It was a relatively early conference, but she was up and ready to go. She'd just gotten ready to step out the door when she got a call. The student was having car trouble and was trying to contact a ride.

She might be late, the student said. But, she could still possibly be early. Or maybe she wouldn't make it.

Yep, I think that covers all the bases.

Colleague wisely canceled the conference.

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Now playing: Muse - Micro Cuts
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Guide

If I could write just the right guide, I think I could make a ton of money. Since it would belong to that delightful genre known as "self-help," I could probably market it as something like The Guide for the Socially Inept: Your One-Stop Anti-Foot-in-Mouth Disorder Resource.

It would cover every nuance of social interaction, from what odd gestures mean to how to read tone. It would cover what to say and more importantly what not to say and more important still how to recognize the red flags when one has run afoul of both and even better yet how to recover one's poise once one has recognized said red flags.

It would cover every conceivable interpersonal dynamic (colleague; former colleague--not very friendly; former colleague, great history; colleague whose name you can never remember; student; former student; former student who flunked your class; subordinate at work; person you harbor a secret crush on; person who may or may not have a crush on you; mother of high school classmate, who's trying to play matchmaker; friend's dysfunctional parent; ex-lover, parted on nasty terms; ex-lover, parted on less hostile terms; the casual acquaintance whom you know is a transvestite on weekends; the post office worker; one's dentist; for the ladies, one's gynecologist... ) and circumstance (office party, wedding, club, doctor's office, grocery check-out line, restaurant...). It'll have a great cross-reference index with straightforward keywords for navigational ease.

It'll be so comprehensive, I'm not quite sure how it'll fit in one volume. I've got bigger fish to fry, though--I need to find a ghost writer first. Lord knows I lack the skills to write authoritatively on the subject.

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More takes on this prompt can be found at Sunday Scribblings.

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Now playing: Chuck Ragan - Don't Cry
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So this is progress.

As a self-proclaimed nerd, I should have been happy with an article on Newsweek on the increasing social acceptibility of nerd girls. And yet.

First description: girls in tank tops and shorts, with special attention given to a cute blonde. Next, the article demonstrates how well adjusted and comfortable with their nerd status these cuties are:

The Nerd Girls may not look like your stereotypical pocket-protector-loving misfits—their adviser, Karen Panetta, has a thing for pink heels—but they're part of a growing breed of young women who are claiming the nerd label for themselves. In doing so, they're challenging the notion of what a geek should look like, either by intentionally sexing up their tech personas, or by simply finding no disconnect between their geeky pursuits and more traditionally girly interests such as fashion, makeup and high heels.
...
These girl geeks aren't social misfits; their identities don't hinge on outsider status. They may love all things sci-tech, but first and foremost they are girls—and they've made that part of their appeal.

On behalf of the nerd girls who do not require pink bows to legitimize their social standing*, I offer a loud, frustrated, "ARGH!" Yes, it's cool that geek is chic right now. Lovely. And I appreciate that it's acceptable to be a, you know, smart girl with interests beyond make-up and babies. Thanks for the approval, pop culture. I was waiting for that in breathless anticipation. But why, oh why, must (presumably heterosexual) sex appeal factor in here? Why is their social well-being contingent on how comfortable they are making themselves pretty?

It's frustrating that it's still not enough to get by on simply being smart--at least, not if you have two X chromosomes.

* - I admit, in the interest of honesty, that I am no social butterfly. I do not feel this makes me any less well-adjusted. I have a few close friends who are nerdly in their own ways. I like it like that. I could, I suppose, put more effort into both being more outoing and fussing with my appearance, which may increase my social standing. However, the former is tiring and uncomfortable for this introvert, and the latter smacks of superficiality. My friends are not my friends because of my clothing or make-up, and vice versa. If there's anyone I'm trying to impress at the end of the day, it's those who are close to me and those whom I respect, not the dictates of pop culture.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My surroundings. Let me show you them.

Here are the things I see to my right and to my left as I sit at my laptop. To the right is a scrap of paper and, though not pictured, no fewer than three pens. I almost went through and annotated what the different things mean, but it's more fun to let you guess. I will say the page includes a phone number (not pictured), song titles, a snippet of Thrice lyrics, numbers of favorite pictures from a given photo album, brief notes for an online conference, a couple Sunday Scribblings prompts, a couple of 50-point bonus possibilities in an old Scrabulous game (didn't use either word... still won), a couple doodles, one inexplicable series of words, and a noteworthy page number of a book no longer in my possession.

I have a magnetic poetry calendar on the wall to my left. The first day I put it up, I put together this little poem, if it can be called that. Though I have cobbled together and pulled apart other little verses since, this one has stayed up there, a reminder to myself.

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Now playing: Greg Graffin - Rebel's Goodbye
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Assessment of assets

Experienced Colleague was reading up on annuities the other day at work, trying to wade through what New Guy #2 referred to as "bureaucrat-ese." The brochure was so jargon-laden it was nigh on impossible. Sometimes we can work through tricky prose passages just by tossing around the terms and hashing out what they might conceivably mean, but it didn't work this time.

I sighed in frustration and said, half-joking, "This might not even affect me. I may never make enough money to put away like that."

Experienced Colleague can offer a very sympathetic ear to a struggling student; she spares me no mercy--and certainly spares no sarcasm, god bless her for that--and told me, "Well, you'll just be a burden on society, then."

"Listen to you and your compassionate conservativism," I retorted, at which point we both burst out laughing.

It was a good lesson to New Guy--no topic is taboo in the writing center, whether it be money, zombies, God, immigration law, vampires, or family issues. But it left me a little unsettled, not because I took her words to heart, but because there was an element of truth to my initial comment.

Up until last semester, I worked two jobs. Come fall, I'll be doing so again. I foresee doing so for a ways yet. I'm worried about the world I and the others of my generation have inherited. Living is expensive, and I can't imagine its expenses significantly decreasing any time soon. I've joked that I've never taken a job for its earning potential, and yet, therein is a bit of a rub. I may have a love-hate relationship with teaching (hey, the drama and passion keep things spicy), but it's what I will eventually be good at (getting there, but inexperience is still a limiting factor), I think, and the only career I can see working for me long-term. I don't want to be filthy stinking rich, but I see some lean years ahead of me at this rate.

It's daunting to ponder.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rock on?

"100% percent metal" would be a great promotional tag for a CD. It might even be useful in describing an old-fashioned garbage can. It does not, however, serve much purpose in describing the make-up of a belt consisting of chains and oriental-looking coins.

All things considered, though, I'm a little wary of "metal" items from China these days. Hmm.

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And Simple Blog Writer has thrown down the gauntlet in attempting to do a blog posting month, every day, in June. I'm pondering it. Any other takers? A little competition can keep me on track...