Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

A great book, folks, I think you'd all enjoy it. There's something for everyone, Shakespeare, cross-country runners, Rodents of Unusual Size, diagramming sentences, and wow, it's funny and deep and moving all at the same time. Let me set up the quote below for you. Our protagonist is named Holling Hoodhood, indeed, he is named Holling Hoodhood. And he's a seventh grader in 1968. On Wednesday afternoons, half of his class goes to Hebrew school, and half of his class goes to Confirmation classes. As he is the only Protestant in his class (and they don't have anywhere to be on Wednesdays) he's stuck with his English teacher, who decides he should be spending his time studying Shakespeare. He's fairly certain his English teacher hates him.

" Mrs. Baker hates me.

She hated my guts.

We spent the afternoon with English for You and Me, learning how to diagram sentences -- as if there was some reason why anyone in the Western Hemisphere would need to know how to do this. One by one, Mrs. Baker called us to the blackboard to try our hand at it. Here's the sentence she gave to Meryl Lee:
The brook flows down the pretty mountain.
Here's the sentence she gave to Danny Hupfer:
He kicked the round ball into the goal.
Here's the sentence she gave to Mai Thi:
The girl walked home.
This was so short because it used about a third of Mai Thi's English vocabulary, since she'd only gotten here from Vietnam during the summer.

Here's the sentence she gave to Doug Swieteck:
I read a book.
There was a different reason why his sentence was so short--never mind that it was a flat out lie on Doug Swieteck's part.

Here's the sentence she gave me:
For it so falls out, that what we have we prize not to the worth whiles we enjoy it; but being lacked and lost, why then we rack the value, then we find the virtue that possession would not show us while it was ours. "

Saturday, February 16, 2008


See, my friend Heather (I call her Heatherly, but many of you know her as Heteo the First, to distinguish her from the Heteo we usually call Heteo, but really, Heatherly was the first one to call herself Heteo, we just ran with it afterward....) well, she's shaving her head. Not just for fun. Nope. She's shaving her head for a good cause, to raise money for kids with cancer. And that's just downright gutsy, and inspiring! And not long ago, my friend Gina, in celebration of her 30th birthday, cut 13 inches off her hair, and donated it to LocksofLove. This organization makes hairpieces for kids with cancer, out of donated ponytails.

So, since I'm not quite brave enough to shave my head, but I was still majorly inspired, I went the LocksofLove route myself. I'm now the proud owner of a head of hair shorter than I think it's been since I was about six. And I'm super-stoked about doing a little something for someone else.

Check out the pictures:

The lady who cut my hair was laboring under the misapprehension that I actually like to spend time styling my hair. She gave me this do, and then told me how easy it would be to either blowdry it in the morning using a round bristled brush, doing sections at a time, from roots to tip, straightening, yet gently curling....OR, if I wanted something easier, I could just blowdry it regular, and use a FLATIRON on it. Heh. She totally doesn't get me. So, tomorrow I'll find out what it looks like when I wash it, dry my bangs, and let the rest airdry. :)


My goal this spring (or one of my many goals) is to fix up what I call "The Front Garden." There is a half circle of a garden bed at the front of our driveway that, well, is sad looking. I left it alone last year, to see what happened out there. And not much happened. So I'm going to tackle it this year. I'm thinking all drought-tolerant plants. But that's getting way ahead of myself. I'm posting these "before" pictures to keep myself motivated. "Before" shots usually imply there'll be "after" shots sooner or later.

Yeah, I still have my snowflakes up. It's true. My tree IS down though.

There is certainly plenty of potential here.

There was a mighty battle in my yard at one point. I've dug up platoons of army guys. And one VW Bug.

I'm not sure who's soccer ball that is.

These pictures are a week or two old now, so there has already been some small progress. I've already done a bit of my rototiller routine. I had to work in sections, since, well, hoeing is hard work. But the dirt looks better already. Hopefully in a month or two, there'll be a substantial change.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Back to book quotes

The following is an entire chapter of a book called "What My Mother Doesn't Know," by Sonya Sones. It's a great little novel in verse that I read last week. This chapter reminds me of "The Sweater," by Maryn Cadell. And a little bit like Shel Silverstein, too....

Three Hours Before the Dance

Even though I wash it,
with shampoo that’s especially formulated
with essential fatty acids
derived from natural botanic oils
to replace valuable lipids
and restore the emollients necessary
for the hair to remain
soft, pliable and supple
with a healthy, radiant shine,

And even though I remove
the excess moisture from my hair
and evenly distribute a small amount
of instant reconstructor and detangler
to enhance strength and manageability,

And even though
I work it through to the ends,
leaving it on for three minutes
and then rinse thoroughly before adding
the revolutionary polymerized
electrolytic moisture potion
that actually repairs split ends
while providing flexible styling control
by infusing the roots with twenty-three
essential pro-vitamins,

And even though I massage it in
to make my hair feel instantly softer
and fuller with added shaping power,
and then rinse it again
with lukewarm water,
towel dry and apply the desired amount
of styling gel to the palm of my hand,
then comb it through
and blow it dry

It still looks pathetic

Friday, February 8, 2008

I think we should hang out HERE more

Are you all using Google Reader yet?? I follow millions of blogs since I got Google Reader, and it's ridiculously easy. It puts new stuff from all the blogs you like in ONE PLACE. I suppose all feed readers do that, but you know you want to try the Google one, right?

Believe it or not, this post isn't about Google Reader. I got off on a tangent, because I found reference to a book in my Google Reader last night. I have a whole bunch of blogs that tell me which books I need to know about to be a hip librarian book referer type person. Anyway, the book in question is called, "Not Quite What I Was Planning."

It's put out by the folks at a place called Smith Magazine. I haven't fully explored Smith Magazine yet, but they seem to be almost "This American Life" esque. Though perhaps with a tendency for shorter stories. Check it out, let me know what you think, but don't miss the Flickr slideshow of Geeky Tshirts. This is reminiscent of an idea I had while at a Google event one day. I thought to myself "If one were to map the density of geeky tshirts world wide at this particular moment in time, I must be standing at the epicenter of Tshirt Geekiness." The Smith Magazine folks went for a less-mathematical photo essay, but their method has the advantage of being able to see the wide array of geeky shirts roaming the world.

Ah, yes, I haven't told you about the book yet. It's a collection of life stories, by famous and not-so-famous people, each told in exactly six words. You can read thousands of them at their site, it's kind of addicting. It's amazing to me how much of a sense of someone you can get in six words. Most of them don't grab me, but probably one in 25 really makes me think. And of course, there's the inevitable, you can't help but write your own six-word-life-story. I've still got one adjective in mine that needs work. It's not ready for "publication" yet.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Almost Tuesday

Now, y'all know I'm not the greatest political mind of my generation. Most of what I know about how this country is run, I learned from watching The West Wing. I know that if it's ever critical that I learn how a bill becomes a law, I'll need to rewatch that episode of Schoolhouse Rock.

I have two regular sources of news:
  • whatever I absorb between 5:15 and 6:15 from NPR (this mostly by osmosis, don't you love the way news sounds when you're drifting in and out of sleep?)
  • whatever is ridiculous enough that it makes it to The Daily Show / The Colbert Report
And yet, I have to say, I'm fairly stoked for tomorrow's round of primaries. In that "if I go to bed early, tomorrow will get here faster!" way.

I'm a regular voter. I believe firmly that if you are eligible to vote, and you don't, you forfeit any right you have to complain about whatever lameness ensues. And I refuse to forfeit my right to complain about lameness. I even try to be an informed voter. I like going to the polls (I particularly like WALKING to the polls, it makes me feel like SUPER-CITIZEN!!) Still and all, I've never particularly looked forward to an election before. (I've dreaded some.) And certainly not a primary election.

But as we walked tonight, Nathan and I were running through the various scenarios that could unfold, and commenting on what and who we liked in and about each match up. Clinton v. Romney? Clinton v. McCain? Obama v. Romney? Obama v. McCain? Clinton v. Huckabee? I'm fairly certain I'd find some to most of Huckabee's politics unsavory, but he's a kick to watch on The Colbert Report, and it's hard to pass up the idea of a President Huckabee. Doesn't that almost sound like a fast food restaurant or something? As I drove home, I saw folks hanging a Ron Paul banner from the freeway overpass. Nathan's fairly sure California is going to be big for Ron Paul. He's also a kick to watch on the Colbert Report.

I'm not sure what it is that makes this so exciting. Perhaps its just seeing the light at the end of this tunnel we've been in for eight years. I won't call it "hope" quite yet, I'll save that for when Martin Sheen runs for president. But it does sort of feel like one of those times when you realize history is happening right around you. And not in the way that makes you cringe.

Anyway, I've got to get to bed!! Tomorrow is Super Tuesday. (And the start of Hollywood week, on American Idol!)