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more randomness

My site is the #1 site on google for the keywords 'I wear the cheese. It does not wear me." I'm not sure how to respond to this.

Other things I've gleaned from the log of referrers are:
-- Europeans keep finding this site by searching for "snow torture." Bet they're disappointed.
-- Mere mention of "booty" is a guaranteed hit grabber, regardless of actual content.
-- Everyone and his mother is looking for info on Iain M. Banks' The Algebraist. Not the book, mind, but the cover. Wish I had something to tell you about it, other than the fact that it is stunning. A scan is here, but it doesn't really do justice to what it looks like in person.
-- People want to know how to build crossbows. I got nothing.

Other things I've gleaned today, just in general:
-- If I had a nickel for all of my mandatory office hours that I've spent all by my lonesome just hoping some student would drop buy, I could buy a heck of a lot of coffee and skeins of sock yarn to occupy my idle time in my windowless concrete bunker. Sure, each student asks about my office hours at some point during the term, but very, very, very few ever stop in. And the few who do are not the few who should, if you know what I mean.
-- This week's issue of my former paper of employ has a great feature by Rachel E. Pollock about Knoxville and making peace. This essay is so very good that it almost makes up for the current publisher's self-congratulatory editorial that is truly enough to make one violently ill. I got out just in time, it seems.
-- Jelly Belly cappuccino beans will cure almost anything that makes you woozy, even the aforementioned editorial.

Pie is tastier than politics.

Some holiday poetry from AustinMama's Kim Lane, which I lifted with permission from her weekly newsletter. Eat well, y'all.

Along with welcome gusts of cooler weather,
this week brings Thanksgiving, and the gates to the
holiday season swinging wide on noisy, well-worn hinges.
to the many of you out there who are observing Thanksgiving
this week, who may look upon this time as exhausting,
exhilarating, frustrating or invigorating...
to the nervous new-to-this who accidentally
roast the bag of organs inside the turkey...
to those who sponge the dishes alone
to the sounds of distant football games and snoring relatives
napping from abundance...
to those who order-out, have it brought in and make no apologies...
to those who are guests for the first time and really, really enjoy it...
to those who find themselves crying briefly in a closet...
to those whose family members will take this time to come out of the closet...
to those who purchase the cluster of gear and attempt to deep-fry the turkey this year
and to the emergency crews quick to respond as a result...
to those who will look around the table and wonder what they did to be so blessed...
to those who will clench their jaws so tightly during dinner as to lose teeth
but who will refuse to acknowledge the verbal barbs because they're above it now...
to those who witness a newborn's first gathering of family
and take pictures because the new mama is sleep-deprived and completely overwhelmed...
to those who silently swear they will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do this again,
to those who've said that before but show up next year anyway...
and to those who stick to their words...
to those who feel it all goes too fast and could someone please just slow it down and wait...
to those who make homemade gravy...
to those who stayed up till midnight the night before chopping vegetables,
and who are up at the crack of dawn making biscuits...
to those who feel like ancient, jaded adults
until they cross the familiar threshold of their childhood homes...
to everyone out there to who takes the time to reach out and connect with others during this time;
to those who choose to commemorate our human bonds in any way, their own way, at this time;
to those who use food as the great equalizer ("never mind politics, have you tried this pie?");
to those who have much to grouse about, but choose not to, and to those who work their asses off
making sure others feel a belonging that, really, is already there...

AustinMama raises high our glass to you.

Be well, stay focused, breathe.

Copyright 2004 Kim Lane.

it's an odd place, the subconscious

Weird night last night. The spouse and child were away on an overnight trip to the in-laws in Rochester. I had the whole day to myself and spent it partying like a rock star. You know, doing laundry, picking up toys, buying groceries and scrubbing walls. Woot.

The thing I most looked forward to, however, was getting a decent night's sleep. I figured I'd sleep like the dead, given that I didn't have to keep one ear cocked for sounds of mischief from the Diva's room. No such luck. Every couple of hours my eyes would pop open briefly, just long enough to assure myself that I was being pawed by a cat and not by some crazed lunatic who wanted to use my thighs as a pillow.

It was during one of these that two words pushed into that tenuous space between awake and not. I couldn't shake them and almost got up to get a pencil to write them down, simply because I was certain that I wouldn't remember by morning and because I was convinced these two words were genius. Hell, everything seems genius at 4 a.m.

My brilliance consisted of "knitted norns." I'm certain you are as amazed as I was. And, surprisingly, I did remember them in the morning. By dawn's crack, I could only recall that a norn (that's N-O-R-N, in case this font is kerning too tightly on your monitor) was some kind of Norse troll-like critter. Why one would knit one was beyond me.

And, so, to the internet I turned. Whereupon I discovered that I was sort of right about Norns. There are three meanings of the word.

First, "Norn" is the ancient language (derived from Old Norse) of the Orkney Islands, a place I've been fantasizing about visiting ever since I first read Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory. Oddly enough, I'd been idlely finding maps of the islands during a gap between classes on Friday, planning the route that I'd take to get there. I also had been reading about their knitting habits.

Norn the language looks like this, which is a sample of the Lord's Prayer:
Matthew 6:9-13, Orkney Norn (Wallace transcription; 1700)
Favor i ir i chimrie, Helleur ir i nam thite,
gilla cosdum thite cumma, veya thine mota vara gort
o yurn sinna gort i chimrie,
ga vus da on da dalight brow vora
Firgive vus sinna vora sin vee Firgive sindara mutha vus,
lyv vus ye i tumtation, min delivera vus fro olt ilt, Amen.

While I can see a loose connection between Norn and knitting in the clear light of day, I would swear on the holy book of your choice that I had no idea that Norn was also a language spoken on an island know for its knitting. Odd.

What I thought was a "norn" was this, sort of. The Norns of Norse mythology were what Shakespeare would explore in Macbeth with the three weird sisters of "Double, Double" fame. The Old Norse Norns were Urd (fate), Skuld (necessity) and Verdani (being). Skuld, for what its worth, was also a Valkyrie.


In the above image, stolen from Wikipedia, you'll note that the Norns are spinning yarn. Like so many female trios in mythology, these three weave each person's life string in a loom. Only they know how long each string will be, as well as what each threads destiny will hold.

Again, I knew none of this -- on a conscious level, at least -- until this morning.

A delightfully absurd adoption of this myth can be pinned on the Japanese.The full story is here and involves anime and some take-out noodles. Suffice to say that it there was a TV series called "Oh My Goodness" that involved bits of Norse mythology folded into an episodic story.

But the norniverse has a third wacky component. Turns out that there was a game called Creation, which was big in the early 90s. Critters called Norns had to protect themselves against the Grendels against a fantasy background. It was one of the first games to use a crude form of AI and Douglas Adams was a fan.

These Norns still live. here, for instance, and here and here. Dang cute, these norns are, in that big-eyed way so popular in computer games.

So the big question you may currently be asking yourself is why I am mentioning all of this. And to you I say: fuck if I know. Struck me as interesting on a Sunday morning, one which is quiet enough with the Hub and Child away that I can actually sit at the computer for more than minutes at a time. There is, of course, real work I should be doing and I shall do it very soon. I promise. But there is just something hypnotic about poking about on the web, which increasingly feels like some big cultural subconscious, and I couldn't tear myself away. It could be that I've spent most of my morning trapped in our tiny bathroom where I was scrubbing the walls with hallucination-inducing bleach products. Perhaps I should simply get another cup of coffee and have a bit of a lie-down.

Knitted norns. The next big thing. Genius, I tell you. Genius.

always good advice

Somedays, you just need to remember where you've been to appreciate where you are. Rock on, Dooce.

I was going to do this week's Friday Five, which is from Rob this week:

Name the five most nightmarish in-laws or events involving in-laws you have had to burn through.

But I don't really have any to include. While I'm sure there have been moments of great embarrassment, none of them rise to the occasion. Sorry. Maybe next week.

Vicarious Living

First -- New column up at Austinmama about why I'm not the go-to gal on holidays.

Second -- Even if I didn't have an emormous crush on Ewan McGregor, the armchair traveler in me would still be dead chuffed with Long Way Round, McGregor and pal Charley Boorman's 20,000 mile motorcycle journey. I think being British helps when you're circling the globe with a cameraman. These two remind be of my all-time favorite traveling Python Michael Palin, if Palin were 30 years younger and able to grow a Grizzly Adams-style beard. There seems to be a personable-ness that these three share, as well as a willingness to experience life as it happens.

Third --Speaking of armchair travel, new season of The Amazing Race kicks off tonight. I'm already popping the corn.

running in place to stand still

Before I forget again, a new column is up at Bookslut.

In other news, today was our first real snow of the winter.


By our standard, this is a mere dusting. Somewhere in Austin, however, Adam is crying.

It's a good thing that I finally finished the Everday Cardi.


The white blur would be Mooch, who made a half-assed attempt to gnaw off one of the buttons while these pictures were being taken. He's just not right.

The sweater itself is good and warm, if a bit scratchier than I'd anticipated. Not sure what to do about that, other than to wear a heavier shirt underneath it.

Also on the knitting tip, Debbie Stoller has a new book out, Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation. I was fairly certain I could resist it until I saw this:
Now, I am tempted. I mean, really -- where else could you learn how to knit your own Ramones?


Still fluctuating between wild cycles of depression and despair w/r/t the whole election thing. Part of me is all like "Game on;" part wants to move to Canada. Frankly, most of me wants those parts to just shut the heck up so that I can simply crawl into bed, pull the covers up and not come out until 2008.

There are some things that help. Like this, which is really just one big primal scream that includes gratuitous references to orange juice. As a person who spent the last decade living in red states, I can honestly say that this screed hits the mark with tear-jerking accuracy while totally missing the point. It's still satisfying on a number of levels, however.

The most helpful has been Making Light. Sunday's post was both soothing and infuriating. This bit gets me:
It’s not just you, either. I’m entirely out of patience with Americans whose whimpering plaint is that we Democrats brought this on ourselves because it hurt their feelings when we acted like we think they’re stupid.
To this I say: Oh, malarkey.

Ms Nielsen Hayden then goes on to brilliantly dissect this argument, which she always does with panache. But I think she's leaving something out. The same folks who are crushed that the Democrats hurt their feelings by insulting their intelligence are the same folk who voted on "moral values," a statement that implies that Democrats have no moral values. It's this kind of more-pure-than-thou argument that sticks in my craw. Those with moral values don't vote for an administration that fucks over anyone who is different from them, be they gay or old or poor.

Grrrrr. I should go lay down again, maybe have a nice cup of chamomile tea. Or some orange juice.


In general, I usually avoid going to events where writers read their own works. Two reasons: a) the works in question are meant to be read, not declaimed nervously from behind a podium (and if the works were actually meant to be read aloud, why on earth is said writer not writing for the theatre instead of for the page?) and b) most writers suck ass at oratory and get all twitchy when forced to stand in front of people.

There are exceptions. Neil Gaiman is one. George Saunders is another. (A self-serving aside, here: I like reading my stuff aloud in front of audiences. It makes me feel like those years slaving away in dark theatres weren't a complete waste.)

Last night, Saunders read at the SUNY campus here. His spritely performance only bolstered his material --and made it clear why he's won so dang many awards. He's personable, Saunders is, and generous. He spoke of how he writes, where some of the seeds of his stories came from and what it's like to teach in the in Syracuse writing program.

Oh, and he read. First up was a short piece from The New Yorker about Guilty Pleasures. Then the first third of "The Barber's Unhappiness" from Pastoralia. Saunders closed the evening with My Flamboyant Grandson, also from The New Yorker. Grandson, additionally, seems to be the only piece of fiction that is partially set in Oneonta, a place where Saunders had never been before last night.

On a personal *squee* note, he also signed my Very Persistant Gappers of Frip I always feel like such a geek asking writers to sign stuff. Still, I'm glad I did.

You may now return to your previously scheduled surfing...


One more's snowing here. Big fat flakes, heavy winds -- damn scenic and vaguely festive.