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December 2005
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February 2006


Went to yoga this a.m. We spent the hour and a half doing a lot of shoulder opening poses, mostly because a couple of us -- myself included -- mentioned that our shoulders are quickly becoming earrings. It was very, very good. What's weird, tho, is that now, about an hourish later, I simply want to put my head down on my desk and cry. Not like those boo hoo kinds of cries, but one of those big whacking sobs with snot kinds of cries. The weird part is that I'm not upset about anything. I'm not all that stressed. The worst I can say about my life right now is that it's kind of boring, or as boring as it could be with two kids and a couple of jobs. And, you know, Mooch.

Bodies are a puzzle.

While I sort this out, some links.

I dare you to look at this and not snorfle. "Snorfle," of course, is the noise you make when you look at this.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden puts his finger on what's been bugging me about the whole James Frey debacle. And speaking of -- The Daily Show made me snorfle last night when talking about said debacle.

Finally, a good friend of mine who happens to write and illustrate kid's books (and who was the best art director EVER and one of whose paintings hangs on my wall), sent this along, which is a site devoted to, um, how to put this delicately, knitted corpses (+ one incongruous monkey in a row boat.) My favorite is the tiger.

appealing to the powers that be

Dear Time Warner Cable, Southern Tier of New York Department,

Let me mention how happy I am with Time Warner in general. Seriously. You handle my phone, my internet and my cable with nary a complaint from either party. While I may, at times, shake my fist a the sky and feel like I'm paying a bit too much, deep deep down I realize that the price is about right. In general terms, I am a pleased customer.

However, in one specific point, I am now unsatisfied, so much so that my irritation is coloring the manner in which I perceive the service as a whole. For the past month, the message below is what I see when I turn my DVR to 0006:

On Friday, December 30, WPNY-UPN Utica elected to relocate it's transmission site further from the Oneonta area.

As a result, WPNY's signal m WPNY's signal is now unavailable to Time Warner in the Oneonta area. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

There are two reasons for my complaint.

As a customer, I don't get to decide to not carry the channels that do not meet my rigorous standards. In an ideal world, I could put helpful little messages in front of the stations I don't feel like dealing with anymore. For example: On Friday, December 30, Adrienne elected to stop Fox News from entering her home. As a result, she insists that her bill be credited the amount that this station costs her each month. And just so you know, next month she'll be doing away with EWTN.

We all know that I can't do that. Channel line-ups have to be bundled, you'd say. Fine, I'd say. When I signed on and committed to a bundle that contained channels that displease me, it was with the full knowledge that I'd have more channels that I enjoy to balance everything out.

Now, however, I no longer have one of those channels. I like UPN. I enjoy Everybody Loves Chris. I really enjoy America's Next Top Model, even though I am slightly ashamed to admit it. Now that pleasure is gone. The reasoning you offer seems false and petty. Four months ago, when WPNY's signal was knocked out by a series of thunderstorms, the blame was solely placed on its tower. They have a signal again, but had to move to a new tower. I don't deny that WPNY's decision to move their tower has a negative impact on your ability to carry the signal. Still, there are a couple of UPN stations in the area. We get a number of local channels from Binghamton, Utica, Syracuse and Albany. Why not UPN?

Really, the loss of UPN, while irritating, isn't what really upsets me. Please reread the first part of the statement that runs on 0006. Do you notice anything? Do you think an English teacher might?

While I understand that the message, at first, was thrown up in retaliation for WPNY's tower relocation donnybrook. In the heat of passion, grammatical mistakes can be made. I'm not completely militant about punctuation. By now your anger should have cooled enough to proofread. Evidence would prove otherwise.

If I can't have UPN, could I at least have a message that is grammatically correct? I'm not asking for Shakespearean sonnets or Proustian prose. I simply want the apostrophes to be in the right place, which, in this case, is not in the word at all.




Still tinking with the new design. Is the sidebar easier on the eyes now?

Quote of the Day, from the "you learn somethin' new all the time" file:

There's a very good chance that you underestimate the historic import of the sea urchin.*

*There's a good chance you underestimate almost everything about the sea urchin. For instance, the Encyclopedia Britannica tells us some sea urchins use their little sucker-tipped feet to hold pieces of seaweed over their heads like parasols, for shade. Plus, they have teeth that can drill into rock and excavate entire living rooms for their owners. The teeth are hard to see, because sea urchins sit on their mouths; possibly they are self-conscious about their "complex dental apparatus called Aristotle's lantern." One type has spines that can be used as pencils, though not, disappointingly, by the urchin itself.

From Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach.

the best spellers don't necessarily win

I finally finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Finally. It is an amazing, remarkable book, which is brimming with storytelling that is epic in scope but without all of the mind-numbing extraneous wordiness that most epic writer feel compelled to practice. At 800+ pages, Clarke's book is exactly as long as it needed to be. However, when you only have 20 minutes to read before you slip into your nightly coma, getting through all 800+ pages takes much, much longer than you'd like. Still, I am very happy to have read it.

Now, I will reward myself with fun, escapist, quick-to-read trash. Fortunately, Steve Perry (not the Oh, Sherry Steve Perry) has a new book out. Check the side bar if you care.

Some links, so that I may close tabs:

Jack Neely, who I once had the great honor of working with, should clone himself so that every newspaper in every city of every size has one of him on staff. His most recent column about Knoxville's Metaphysical Library proves why. And if I'm not mistaken, the linked picture of Jack was also taken by Valerie Downes. She rocks.

Slate's Mimi Swartz talks yoga clothes. Two things: 1) I studied with a similar Iyengar guru, who strongly suggested that we only wear shorts to class so that he could see what the muscles in our knees were doing and 2) the increasing commodification of yoga is the biggest reason I no longer buy yoga magazines. It is such a simple, pure practice and doesn't need to be crapped up with stuff that you have to buy.

Finally, if you live in an old house, you'll appreciate what Anne at Creating Text(iles) discovered last night. A word of caution: if you are drinking coffee, put it down and swallow before reading.

(Edited to add: Yes, the blog looks different now. You are not hallucinating. Well, you might be, but the blog isn't part of your fantasy. Truthfully, the old look had started to bore me. What's amazing is that it took this long.)

stuff (and stuff)

Heather King, who wrote Parched, takes on James Frey and his relationships with drink and truth. An exerpt:

It's every writer's sacred honor to "get it right," but perhaps the burden falls heaviest on the memoirist. As a memoirist, it seems to me, something has to have happened to you that you're burning to tell. You've undergone some kind of transformation that matters not because it says something about you, but because it says something about the world; because it touches on the mysteries of suffering and meaning. There may be great leeway in being faithful to this emotional truth, but you have to have an emotional truth to begin with.

She's dead on. The whole piece is a keeper.

I stole the link from the ever insightful Elizabeth Merrick at the Grace Reading Series (whose series I would like to read for, by the way) blog. And in yesterday's post, she managed to put her finger on why this week's Newsweek cover is unsettling.

In tangentially related news, the boy had his six-month visit with the doctor. While we are taking a wait-and-see attitude about the possibility that he may have asthma, one thing we can say without doubt is that he is very very tall. For those scoring at home -- and that is mainly the grandparents, but anyone is welcome to play along -- he is 17 pounds 1 ounce (50th percentile) and 27 inches long (75th percentile).

In other vaguely related news, Dr. Steven Parker, parenting realist, is now blogging. His column on whether or not having kids makes you happy is a balm (or "blam" as I typed the first time, which should be the sound his advice makes when it hits you smack in the sensible bits of your brain). Some highlights:

-> Children are best served when their parents are living happy and fulfulling lives, whether that means engaging in full time work outside the home or devoting full time as a stay-at-home parent or a combination of the two.

--> Parents may become depressed if they are consumed with the notion of "infant determinism" - a notion popularized by some parenting gurus - the need to be a perfect parent because every little thing they do with their child is fraught with significance for their long term development. One false move and the child will be an endlessly neurotic, unhappy adult. Since the perfect parent has yet to exist, guilt is inevitable.

Again, read the whole thing. And bookmark his blog.

getting ettlingered

First, if I thought he'd hold still for it, I'd carve one of these special helmets for the Mooch. Link stolen from boing boing, btw.

Second, in the "we should all be so lucky" department:

I've been pondering author photos. I had to have one taken not all that long ago. Actually, I had to have two taken, since the powers that be deemed the first one not serious enough.

Photo 1:


Photo 2:


Both were taken by Julie Lews, an award-winning photographer at the local almost-daily.

In hindsight, I'm glad we had to take a new batch. The top one doesn't really look like me.

What does become clear, however, is how much I hate having my picture taken. I also should not be trusted to brush my hair, much less apply make-up.

FWIW: This has always been my favorite photo of me. I can't use it, however because it is over ten years old and I have lost track of Valerie, the photog who snapped it.

It appears that the author photo is a big deal, according to this Guardian piece. The big deal in author photos is "getting Ettlingered", which refers to Marian Ettlinger, all of whose photos share a certain, um, aesthetic sensibiltity. To my eyes, all of these authors look like they've been hit in the head with a mallet, then shot while they tried to overcome the stupor. Good in Bed's Jennifer Weiner shares my opinion, it appears.

I'm not sure I'd be happy with any author photo, so the one that is currently being used is fine by me. Still, one can't help but wonder how another photographer would approach the problem of me. If I should ever have the problem of needed something a little more glam, I'd have to find both an adequate beauty support team as well as a photographer able to make me less of a dork.

But the rub of author headshots, at least at this level of the game, is that I have to pony up the cash myself. Which means that while I admire the work of Phyllis Bobb and Jill Krementz and James White, I doubt I will ever be able to afford them. The other problem is that I don't live in a city. The closest photographer (of the "shiny portfolio" sort, not news sort) is Kathy B. Harris, who is who I'll go to when it's time to take a family picture or a picture of the kids, but I'm not sure how a headshot would work out.

In all likelihood, however, my AP will be irrelevant and quickly fade into the ether. But, still, it's fun to imagine what could be.

all apologies

To all in Oneonta, I'm sorry about this.


My comment to Scott last night (about how the snowblower hasn't even been turned on this winter, given how wimpy the snow has been) wasn't intended to cause today's weather. Really. It was an observation, more than a challenge.

While the snow has been nice and pretty and all, I felt the need to take responsibility to those who aren't as taken with the winter as I am, especially those with kids in the local schools who then had to take a day off. Whoops. My bad.

You'll be happy to know that I've spent the afternoon completing my penance. Not only did I scrub toilets, I played the always fun game of "what's under the sofa cushions." The challenge of this game is to figure out what any given object was before it went into the crevices and how many states of matter it has traveled through since.

Had there been a blizzard, I would have made myself play "what's under the couch," which is like the above game but far, far scarier.

Any weather that you find displeasing from this point forward is your own problem.

I wish that there were a penance I could do to make Saturday's Austrailian Open result OK. My Andy is out, beaten by a Cypriot. I spent most of yesterday in a funk -- and not the good kind. This is surprising for two reasons:

1) I used to not care at all about any sport, mostly because I was so bad at so many of them. I fenced (with foils, not stolen goods) in college, but wasn't very good and lacked the will to get better. Plus, fencing is one of those sports that is fun to do and pointless to watch because it moves so quickly. The scoring rules -- apart from the basic "hit that guy there" rule -- always puzzled me, especially during the heat of a bout.

But tennis, tennis I enjoy. I still suck at it, granted. I love to play, however, and wish that I had more time and opportunity now. I like the simplicity of the game. All you really need to do is hit the ball back at the other side of the court more times than it comes to your side of the court. That I can do. I also like the mental side of the game and the workout.

It's also a heck of a good time to watch, especially now that I have a player that I really can adore. This caring-about-the-outcome thing is weird, though. I'm trying to move past it.

2) There are so many better things to put one in a funk that it seems a shame to waste one on tennis. Ah, well.

In the good news department, the team of my people is going to the Superbowl! It's too bad Myron Cope is no longer on the air because his commentary would have rocked.

Now where did I put my Terrible Towel...

sugar, no honey

When you are 3.5 years old, nothing (NOTHING!) is better than a lollipop and a spatula covered in homemade buttercream icing.

What's not pictured is the hour that she spent running around the house after this picture was snapped. I'm surprised she was still long enough to get this.

Speaking of immovable objects...


Mooch is very pleased that we've set up the high chair. Finally he can get a good afternoon's sleep.

duty calls

Since I must actually get some real paying work done today, two quickies.

If you have never done this, you are not a parent.

And, because I stumbled upon it while looking for something else, a completely gratuitous picture of a Muppet.


knitting content, part 4, joy of socks

It is mid-January. This is Central New York. It is currently 50 degrees and raining. There is no snow on the ground. This is wrong on a number of different levels. However, our heating bill might not suck away all of our remaining savings this month. Silver lining to global warming, I guess.

Finally, the last of the planned projects:


I will never finish these socks. Never. That's not quite true. One is complete. The other is as you see here. The problem is that there are so many other flashy projects that I'd rather work on. These socks aren't flashy. The other problem is that winter doesn't quite want to hang around; therefore, my feet aren't cold; therefore, I have no real motivation to finish these workmanlike socks. And so they languish.

FWIW, I'd much rather be knitting socks with these yarns:


The top one is Koigu. The bottom is Lorna's Laces "Miata." And if I were to give up on the boring brown socks in favor of some flashy colorful socks, I'd use the pattern that all of the cool kids are knitting.

And if I were to do such a thing, which yarn would look the coolest? Thoughts?