conuly: (Default)
Or simply very OLD English songs, is that they often refer to a small number of birds with various symbolic meanings. Cuckoos herald warm weather (and also unfaithfulness), larks have to do with the morning, turtledoves are about... love? (you can't convince me that's not because the words rhyme nicely), nightingales sing nicely, and there's always magpie poems.

Yeah, none of these exist where I live. We have mockingbirds and American robins (not like English robins at all) and blue jays and cardinals and the hermit thrush, but those don't make much of an appearance. Mourning doves do, but probably because it exactly matches the scansion of "turtledove".

And you know, awkward as I might find it to try to sing a piece in Middle English, it's even weirder when you think that cuckoos don't come here in the warm months and never will. I'm not likely to see one in my lifetime, nor hear one. (Well, I mean, there are cuckoos in the sense of "birds of the cuckoo family" in America, but not the one people think of when they think of cuckoos, the one that makes the classic call. The only one that springs instantly to mind is the roadrunner, so... yeah.)

There's not much to be done about this. Trying to change the references to local birds (or plants, when that occurs and they haven't been introduced to the Americas) would be pointless and almost certainly wouldn't rhyme or scan or have the same "meaning" even if it ought to. But it just... nags at me. I mean, the whole refrain is a lie to me! "Loudly sing, cuckoo?" Not likely! Sure, the meadow is blooming and all that, and I'm sure the sheep and cows are acting like sheep and cows, introduced species that they are, that the deer are the same the world over - but there's that cuckoo again! Poor thing must be lost.


Do you ever think you overthink things?
conuly: (cucumber)
They can't ask me the definition of any word and just get it, I have to take them through the etymology of it as well. (Plus I make them guess from context FIRST, and usually do charades as well. I'm easily entertained.)

My ultimate goal is to convince them to stop asking me, but I'll accept "educate them" as a (distant!) second answer. So when Evangeline asked me why I called "that thing" a "structure" I took her through CONstruction and DEstruction and INstruction as well. (One of the few concrete benefits of taking Latin, however poorly I may have done at that, is that I can rattle this stuff off without blinking.)

I also am prone to doing things like this if they ask me to spell stuff for them and telling them "sheesh, sound it out already" (my default answer - we're not supposed to tell them how to spell things according to the schools) isn't likely to work, I run through WHY it has the weird spelling it has (if, indeed, it has a weird spelling).

I'd rather have a sensible orthography, but that's not likely.

And what really bugs me beyond belief is the argument that if we had a sensible, reasonable, rational orthography we'd somehow lose all knowledge of etymology! It's a silly argument to begin with, but it's made even sillier when nobody (well, almost nobody) teaches this to kids to begin with! (Few people really grasp it even as adults, apparently, which is just sad, but that's beside the point.)

I browsed a list of tips for teaching unintuitive spellings the other day, and one of them was about using mnemonics. Well, I can go with that - but the example given was of a teacher who told her students that "grammar comes from Mars".

And that just bugged me. Why not tell them that it's related to the word grammatical (which it is, and also glamor and grimoire, the root concept for all of these being "learning", but neither of those words really is helpful in this instance, and I have the feeling it's a different sort of related anyway), which is equally mnemonic and also teaches them something useful? (That this has to be taught strikes me as strange, but if it were obvious people wouldn't get it wrong so often, would they?)

Interestingly, the case of grammar indicates another issue with spelling reform that opponents never ever mention, the question of whether we'd do everything totally phonemically (for whatever dialect we'd just have to pick or invent to do it all in) or whether we'd do it morpheme by morpheme. The first has the advantage of being really easy to spell and read, the second has the advantage of keeping similar spellings for words that vary only according to suffix (so grammar/grammatical would start off the same way, just like they do now, even though they sound like they have a different vowel.)

Opponents of spelling reform, though, hardly ever seem to have any good arguments. I've noticed that. I don't know why that should be, but I've noticed it. It's not fair that I should have to argue their side as well! (It's probably because it's never gonna happen, so they don't have to bother. But it's still laziness.)
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
You learn stuff that way, I guess, but is there any value in it?

You know what I learned? I learned that, apparently, Sephardic seders are, in many small ways, very different from Ashkenazi ones. No to hiding the afikomen, yes to carrying it in a bundle and re-enacting exodus as a one-person show.

It's like the day I found out that, as a rule, Catholics don't generally confess in little confessionals anymore! My world is ever-so-slightly rocked. I don't know that much about Passover, not being Jewish, and now I find out that what I do know is only right for some people?

Well, now I know better. That's something.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
The scaffolding comes down when the roof gets fixed, and there have been delays with that because the contractor was overbooked. They can't just switch contractors because it's a historic building and their options are limited. And it all sucks all around because they're not going to build their new playground until the roof is fixed. The money is set aside for both projects, but nothing is being done there, and half the yard is eaten up with scaffolds.

But the kids, you know, the kids make do. Mostly by climbing on the scaffolds, but what can you do?

Yesterday, Ana told me about some third grade girls. They had climbed up in the scaffolding, "tangled themselves up", and told Ana to get some boy so he could "save" them, because (Ana said) they think he's cute. Ana didn't, and that's probably just as well. There's a lot wrong with this story, but you'll notice it all starts with these girls climbing as high up on the scaffolding around the building as they could.

And they're not alone. Just about every day we hang out in the yard a few minutes after school and see the kids, boys and girls, climbing and flipping and hanging upside down on the scaffolding... at least when their parents aren't watching. Every day I see them climbing on the fence. Right now it's the boys down the block who climb up on the garages and jump off, but two decades ago it was Justina and Precious. (Princess? We had one of each on our block point and I never could figure out which girl went with which name.)

So when I read old posts like this, it really makes my blood boil.

This woman has two sons who run down the block, climb on the scaffolding, and walk on walls. She doesn't remember doing that as a child (and I'm not going to point out how fallible human memory can be) and she saw this ONE girl ONCE walking sedately down the block, and she's decided that this is because boys are boys and girls are girls.

The complete lack of logic is what steams me. How can you make any generalizations from two brothers, your memories, and a glimpse of a stranger's kid?

And even if you could (which is absurd), how can you then take those generalizations and make sweeping statements as to why the difference?

What she describes her boys as doing is exactly what my nieces do on any given day, and exactly how I acted as a child. I remember clearly walking along one of the tree fences while holding my father's hand. I remember the book I lost in a neighbor's yard while jumping off their wall. (I found it several months later, brought it home, and dried it on the radiator. It was still readable!) I remember sitting on the scaffold outside my mother's job after an orthodontist appointment.

Of course, I didn't always do this. I'm willing to bet her boys don't really always do this either. I'm also willing to bet that that girl she saw doesn't always act so nicely. Maybe that day she was tired, or on her way someplace special, or dressed nicely. Maybe her mother discourages her from climbing instead of just letting her do it.

It's bad enough people see what they want to see in times like this. (HOW many times, when the nieces were little, did somebody inanely remark to me about how "girly" Evangeline was... as Evangeline pushed a truck on the ground? HOW many times did I hear somebody comment proudly that their son was a "real boy" and "didn't play with" dolls/cooking toys/dress-up clothes... and I looked over their shoulder and watched their son doing exactly that?) What really pisses me off is that they then take their little anecdotes and decide that gosh, it's all inborn. It's not that, say, girls act "girly" because we encourage them to do that, or that boys act "boyish" because we don't stop them. Oh, no, never.

Comments are closed, but I've had this conversation before. Somebody makes a wildly sweeping statement about BOYS and GIRLS on the basis of two or three small and specific examples. I make as many - or more! - examples contradicting them... and do they go "Oh, I hadn't considered that" or "You're right, I shouldn't be generalizing from only a few children" or "I guess the situation is more complex than I realized"? No, no they do not. Instead they go "Well, THOSE kids are the EXCEPTION" and "YOUR kids are not EVERYbody's kids" and "THAT is only TWO (or three, or four, or five, or ten) examples, THAT doesn't count" or "*I* know what *I* am talking about!"

It's the hypocrisy of the whole thing that I really cannot stand. More than anything else, I loathe hypocrisy.

Of course, I guess it does prove my point. They expect to see that girls and boys are DIFFERENT, and so they DO see that, and they refuse to see any evidence that contradicts this. I don't imagine I'm much different, I see what I expect to see too... but the difference is that what *I* expect to see (kids acting like kids) doesn't involve me ignoring a lot of what I *do* see. Not in this regard, anyway.

I just wish people would pay attention sometimes. They might be surprised for a change.
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
Which is now several situations and counting.

Evangeline was somewhat interested in it because a classmate of hers moved to Egypt a few months into the school year. Ana mostly rolled her eyes, to which I said that although I know she doesn't think it's interesting now (or maybe she does - she can be SUCH a teenager sometimes about letting us know she's interested in ANYthing!) she'll be glad when she's a grown-up to be able to say she knew about this as it was happening. She doesn't believe me when I say this is a very exciting time to be alive, but I think she'll understand when she's older. (She doesn't have a friend in Egypt, after all, unlike her sister. Evangeline is torn between hoping her friend saw all the excitement and worrying that he and his family aren't safe.)

We talked about it, and we went over to our free Doctors Without Borders map on the wall to see where all these countries are, and it occurs to me that because I read my news online Ana is missing out on something important. She's not reading the newspaper. Doesn't watch TV news much either.

My father was a history and current events geek. I mean seriously. There is a reason I know more world capitals than is quite reasonable. (I can assure you, I have never in my life needed to know that the capital of Suriname is Parimaribo. For crying out loud, spellcheck doesn't even recognize it! I have found memorizing 7! to be more useful*, you know!)

So he read the paper every day, and we talked about it a lot, and he was always well-versed on what was going on in the world. If we ever had a question about the political situation or recent events in some small country nobody else had even heard of, he would be able to answer it.

But I read my news online, and Jenn does too I guess (saving trees, of course), and we haven't been talking about this at dinner, much less incessantly. Their education is lacking, and I need to find time for it. It's probably not that useful to know more capitals than you can count, but it *is* useful to have a basic understanding of current events. It's not something you do once a week on Friday.

*My sixth (or maybe seventh) grade math teacher believed in reviewing old material on every single test. This meant that after we learned how to do factorials, we got tested on them every few weeks, one question per test. For some reason she picked 7! several times in a row. This caused me to do two things. First, I figured out that my calculator had a factorial button and it wasn't necessary to work it out step by step. I'm not sure anybody else noticed this. And second, I learned that 7! is 5040. I'll know that to the day I die, and it has come in handy exactly once, in college, where I used that fact to accidentally make a professor (in Classics) think I was some sort of math genius. I'm not. The number is simply emblazoned upon my mind, and when he mentioned that one or another thinker thought 5040 was the ideal population, the phrase "Why, that's seven factorial!" popped out before I could stop it. Sure, it's only once that this random factoid has been useful, but as I never expected it could be useful to have that memorized I think I've beaten the odds there. Even once means it's come in handy far more often than I ever would have anticipated.
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
I'm glad I did. They're fun books but, more importantly, it led me to check out the author's website (the one listed in the books does NOT work, you'll have to google for it) and she's incredibly linktastic. So, since I'm still a week behind in my posts....

Here's an article about child vampire hunters in 1954. The part about the schoolchildren heading out to the cemetery with sharp objects reminded me uncannily of this story.

This is a couple of years old, but it's adorable if it's true: Tavi Gevinson: the 13-year-old blogger with the fashion world at her feet

On purple carrots

There is such a thing as competitive lockpicking.

And you have to have to HAVE to see this video on a store with lots and lots (and lots) of obscure sodas.
I believe you can order from them.

This is an interesting design for a prosthetic arm
conuly: A picture of the Castleton Castle. Quote: "Where are our dreams? Where are our castles?" (castle)
February 2nd is the start of spring. (Actually, I do this four times a year, but it's most noticeable in spring because I want it to hurry up by now!)

When you can actually poke your head outside in broad daylight at 4pm and you can hear the birds singing (as Evangeline delightedly pointed out to me) and see the trees budding (that was Ana) it's easy to see that spring is springing all around.

Which means that the snow is starting to melt! We had so much of that stuff I thought we'd see piles of it until June, and maybe we still will, but a lot of it turned into rivers Monday. Oh, it was so warm. I went outside without my jacket! Sure, yesterday it was in the 30s again, but we're holding on to Monday in our minds.

It's so funny about jackets and coats. When winter starts and you finally dig out your blankets and your heavy coat and your sweaters, it feels so nice and comforting and *safe* to bury yourself in them and be warm. But then when the first really warm day comes back and you throw them aside, you don't ever want to see them again. (And this is how I lose $20 every year from April until October. Whatever, it's a nice candy-cane bonus.)

In a way, it's the same with the snow. The nieces were thrilled with the first big snowfall, and absolutely fascinated by the way ice formed on top of powder (I remember being delighted with it in the last big storm of my childhood, in 96 - childhood, I say, but I was already in middle school!), but by the third storm they were begging the clouds to go away! There's one big advantage to spending the past month and a half wending through snow tunnels, though - underneath it all, the grass is green. Usually in February it's dry and brown, but this year it's bright green already. Evangeline, of course, was thrilled at a few bare patches she saw yesterday: "Grass, beautiful grass! It's so green, beautiful green grass! And the snow is pretty, but the grass is green!" She did a whole little song!
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
It's a little, uh, scary. I HAVE GOT TO SHOVEL! I DO NOT WANT TO SHOVEL! (And I've been sick. *sniffle*)

I'm looking out my window as my type (literally,, I'm not glancing at te words at all), and I see our mockingbird is still here. Funny, I assumed they migrated, but google tells me that only some of them do, and some of the migrating ones do it backwards, going north for the winter. You learn something new every day. (Of course, most of what you learn is patently useless, like when the nieces found out about dung beetles rolling elephant dung, and I informed them that the ancient Egyptians compared that to the sun rolling across the sky, and they just kinda stared at me. Once again, Terry Pratchett has taught me something and it was an utter waste of time. Thanks!)
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
but getting into a groove and getting into a rut are two entirely different things?
conuly: Good Omens quote: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous!" (armageddon)
Naturally, I managed to completely not get the one thing I came expressly to get!

But I did notice a few things on the labels.

First, I picked up maple syrup. I have this recipe for popcorn I want to try.... And I noticed that the fruit syrups next to it said "All Natural!" Well, I like fruit syrup, but when you buy it it usually has corn syrup in it, and I dislike the taste of corn syrup. (Health issues be damned, it just tastes icky! Better than grape juice, though. Ew, grape juice!) So I turned it over to check the ingredients... and the very first one is HFCS! WTH? All natural does NOT mean "primarily high fructose corn syrup". In what world is that okay?


The syrup is in the same aisle as the salad dressing... which advertises on the bottle that it "boosts absorption of vitamins!"

Well, that's true as far as it goes, but then, so does lard, doesn't it? If my concern is boosting vitamin intake, perhaps I'll just use olive oil instead of oil + more corn syrup. It's about as special for "boosting vitamin intake" as gummi bears are for being "no fat!", you know?

At this point I realized I was having a serious conversation with the packaging of products I wasn't even buying, so I just grabbed some chocolate syrup and some goat milk and ran out of there. The nieces never get chocolate milk, so that was a treat - so much so that they were AMAZED. "Wow, it's starting to look like chocolate milk instead of just milk!" and "How did you know how to make that, Connie????" Um... because I was a child once and used to make it all on my own, all the time? I didn't eat as healthy as you do, guys. (And yet, I know my family was a bit snobbish about eating good, homemade meals with real food. I remember having a conversation with my mother about the difference between margarine and butter, and being firmly informed that margarine was only cheaper because it wasn't as good.)

Of course, on that subject, times have changed, I'm rambling (sorry) but it's so funny now, when you think about it, to read a comment (like I saw elsewhere today) about "I can't stand how people have a party for their kids, and give them cake and cookies and then juice. I know, cake for birthdays, but isn't that enough sugar, do they really need juice too?"

And people were agreeing with her! I was sitting there laughing because when I was a kid we never had juice for a special occasion. Even in school, our class parties exclusively had soda. (And I remember, the boys used to mix them all up to be disgusting.) I tell this to the nieces and they can't even fathom it. (Soda *is* a treat, of course, but you know, a can of soda splits up very nicely between three people?)
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
A few weeks ago (more like a month) we were walking to the library, and, as it was a windy day, the last of the leaves were falling off the trees. Ana and Evangeline jumped to catch them and I said "Each leaf is a happy day!"

This isn't really spoilery, but just in case )
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
Or they insult and criticize others for not reading enough classics, for preferring more recent fiction to books 300 years old. Anything by Dickens or Shakespeare or Milton is exalted and above reproach, anything written in a modern vernacular or involving recent technology and mores is suspect at best. If you can easily understand it it's trash, if you enjoy it you should have picked a harder book, and if you didn't learn anything (it's understood you won't learn anything unless it's one of The Greats) you wasted your time. Heaven forbid you enjoy any form of genre fiction!

I don't understand this attitude at all. Quite aside from the fact that this, combined with force-feeding tragedies to teens, is what causes people to turn away from The Classics altogether, it's not like your choice of reading material is a matter of moral judgment at all, is it? You should read what you like, and don't worry about whether it's thick and old and respected enough. Who cares?

But with that said, there is one book that's been on my "reading list" (such as it is, I mostly follow my own advice) for most of my life, that I have been putting off reading, and that's The Scarlet Pimpernel. Not because it's A Classic, but because it's talked up a lot in The Girl With The Silver Eyes (now that is a classic!), and I've always wondered what the fuss was about. In fact, not long after the tenth time I read The Girl With The Silver Eyes (and how I identified with Katie!) I located a copy of Pimpernel in our house and attempted to read it.

Yeah. I was about eight. I didn't even make it three pages. And I was a good reader, easily, but there's more to a book than just the combination of words.

This kinda irked me, because Katie loved the book, and her neighbor loved the book, and Katie was awesome, so why didn't I love this book? And every once in a while I'd think about it and go "Maybe I should try again", but I'd remember that bad experience and put it off for a while. It's not like there's any shortage of reading material in this world, however much it might feel like it at times.

Well. I've started reading it online today, and guess what? I get what the fuss was about! Even if I'd persevered, I would not have enjoyed it at that young age, that's clear to me, but I do now. (You guys need to read this book. Seriously.)

Of course, if I'd had the book pushed on me in a "Read this unless you're a stupid smelly person with no taste or sense" fashion I doubt I'd ever have picked it up. I still don't know why people do that. That's the real waste of time.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
The movie reminds me of an interesting question that I've thought about a few times before and since. What if you DID find a capsule with an alien baby inside? One who looks *alien*, that is. Let's face it, Superman is pretty darn unrealistic. What're the odds that the intelligent beings of another planet would look like us? I mean, even on Earth, the only critters that look like people are our own cousins. Even if aliens had our own basic shape (something which already strikes me as pretty unlikely when there are so many possibilities), it's still fantastically improbable that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference just by looking, right?

So, what do you do? You're not going to just send the kid to school, I know that for damn sure. I mean, we've all seen the movies - and not just the cheerful, "strange visitor from another planet", superhero movies. The scary movies where government agents chop up innocent aliens while singing cheerfully about it and going home to enjoy a nice dinner.

So it seems to me that the thing to do is to homeschool. But you don't really want to raise the kid locked in an attic for safety, right? Better get somewhere out in the rural wilderness where the kid can go outside now and again without being snatched up by shadowy conspiratorial agencies every time they blink.

But what would your alien child eat? Better enlist the aid of a doctor/scientist - one of the reputable, humane ones, thanks! - to help you figure out the best child for your little foundling. And socialization is (probably) important... luckily, people can chat online nowadays, so that's *something* anyway, but if you can get some trustworthy friends with trustworthy (or else incredibly UNtrustworthy, so nobody believes them) children (possibly blind children) to come over, so much the better.

I suppose it's not impossible. But then, what do you do when the kid grows up? Maybe you should rethink this plan, move to an area with a large Muslim population, and dress your adopted kid in a burqa at all times. Not very fashionable, but that's beside the point. Of course, the flaw with this plan is that people will assume you're Muslim, and that can lead to all kinds of awkward if you don't want it.


I just don't know.

I do know that I believe in being prepared. So, pre-emptively, should I ever find myself in this (unlikely) situation, who here is a. sufficiently isolated and b. willing to help out in the eventual relocation effort?
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
Read more... )
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
Let's say you have a favorite movie, or book, or episode of a TV show. When you open it up again, do you watch/read the whole thing, or do you dip in and and mostly stick to your favorite parts? (Obviously I mean mostly, not always.)
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
Down's Syndrome is a type of trisomy - they have an extra copy of chromosome 21.

1. If somebody with some form of aneuploidy has a child, is it heritable at that point?
2. Sometimes, closely related species seem to have vastly different amounts of chromosomes. Do we know why this can happen? I mean, this isn't one of those slow development things that makes sense to me. How do extra sets of chromosomes appear (or spare sets disappear)?
conuly: Picture of a sad orange (from Sinfest). Quote: "I... I'm tasty!" (orange)
1. Today I headed into the city to purchase sheep yogurt, goat butter, and quinoa. This required going to two different Whole Foods - one for the bulk quinoa, and one for the sheep yogurt. (I also picked up a purple cauliflower at an exorbitant price. I swear, next year we're growing our own. I'm always looking for ways to eat more purple foods, but $5 for a small head is ridiculous! Well, I'll find a way to make it into two meals, maybe by going halvsies with a white one.)'

2. I've never cooked quinoa before, and I'm not about to start making whole sides with just quinoa as a grain (pseudo-grain actually) because even from the bulk, unwashed bin it's pricey. However, I plan to mix it in with the grain I'm cooking to make my meals slightly more nutritious and to ensure the nieces get some protein even if they eat nothing but rice. (Or, rice and quinoa mixed, rather.)

Washing quinoa is a pain in the neck without a mesh strainer. Maybe just a muslin bag? I must have some of those around, and I'm not cooking enough by itself to need a large one, maybe a quarter cup at a time.

3. So I did mix some in with my oats for tomorrow after determining online that they cook for about the same amount of time. It'd be cheaper and easier to get some protein in the oatmeal by adding an egg, but after Ana threw up that one time and spent the next month demanding to know if I'd hidden any egg in the oatmeal (no, Ana, not after you threw up...) I haven't even *considered* such an idea. Dear god no.

Canned pumpkin (organic!) was on an awesome sale, 99ยข per can. So tomorrow they're having pumpkin pie oatmeal, and then on Wednesday I'll make pumpkin-cardamon roti. (It's supposed to be sweet potato, but pumpkin works as well and I don't have to cook it first if I get it from the can, so yeah.)

I actually make *awesome* oatmeal, the nieces say. This recipe consists of:

1/2 c uncooked grain product (mix of steel cut oats and WASHED quinoa)
1.5 c water
.5 c evaporated goat milk (okay, that's protein too, but it's not really ideal, it tastes like goat milk)
Bit of goat butter
1/4 c raisins
1/2 c pumpkin puree and a little more
1 small diced apple (I would have preferred to use applesauce in this, which I made up today)
Quite a bit of grated nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves
2 tablespoons flax seed, ground
A handful of raw sugar

Soaked overnight and cooked in the morning. Online people will advise more liquid for your steel-cut oats, but as near as I can tell that's because they assume you're only cooking it with dried fruits or plain. I use fresh fruits more often, and they add their own liquid to the mix.

This should be enough for two small children and one Bonne-maman.

4. On the subject of quinoa, I think I have a relation of it growing wild in my backyard! I didn't know anything like it grew this far north natively!

5. On the subject of things growing in my backyard, this summer I just randomly tossed some spare purslane about under the crape myrtle and it took, it really took! So we should have some next year to eat. I love purslane :) (Try it in tabouleh!)
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
It's like banging my head against a wall, but more painful. And if I'm going to keep wasting my time on this futile effort, I could at least get a little company there.

I mean, I'm not wrong, am I? My facts aren't wrong, are they? My thoughts aren't missing a crucial point, are they? This person IS being willfully annoying, right?


Also, I didn't know this as I don't really follow celebrity anything (I'm lucky if I know who a certain star IS, much less what they've done and why people care) or watch many movies or TV shows (I do watch TV, of course, but I seem to limit myself to three or four shows. If I add a new one, an old one inevitably drops off my list), but I'm realizing it now by looking at these pictures...

WOW does that girl look like her dad. Will Smith? HIS DAUGHTER LOOKS JUST LIKE HIM.

It's sorta creepy to look at, but I'm sure as she gets older it'll be more her face and less her dad as a young girl. (Kinda like a kid down her block who looks spookily like her grandmother... or she did at four. Creepy seeing a four year old who looks like a 50 year old woman, but now that she's 12 even though her face hasn't changed, it looks like HER instead of her grandma.)
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
I *like* children's books and YA. They're cheaper than grown-up fiction (I'd say adult like the adult I am, but somehow that means explicit and explicit has to do with sex. I hate the euphemism game sometimes!) and just as well-written - oftentimes they're *better* written if only because they're not busy cramming in multiple romantic subplots and gratuitous sex! (I have nothing against a well-written sex scene, mind you, but most of them don't advance the plot very much and are just awkward to read on the train or with my mom in the room.)

There's a trend recently for children's book covers to have silhouettes.

The first few times it was interesting and novel. Now - and it's only been a few years! - it's already tedious and overdone. I thought at first it was one publisher trying to set a new cover style for all their books, which would at least make sense, but a quick search shows me three different publishers for three different books, I stopped looking after that.

I don't get it at all. Why exactly did this become so popular, and when is it going to stop? Or if it isn't going to stop, when are people going to start doing something new with it?


At least the contents of the books are readable. (I need bookcases.)
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
Could NOT have been older than just two. If he was even that old!

And he was sitting and his mother said "Don't touch the bottom of your shoes. They're DIRTY." And he sat, and he thought, and he figured out what his mom had said - and he touched the bottom of his shoes! And his mother was upset, of course. (Meanwhile, she didn't mind at all that he was clutching a filthy playground ball that was every bit as dirty as the bottom of his shoes, but that's her issue, not mine.)

I LOL'd. No, I really did. I didn't give her any random, unsolicited advice, but I'll give it to you.

Don't do that.

Your little baby and your little toddler? He doesn't speak good English yet. Nor does he speak good Chinese, or good Spanish, or good whatever else you want him to speak. He just doesn't. And when you give him a complex statement like "Don't do this", he stops and thinks and tries to figure out what you're saying.

And the very first part of figuring out what you're saying is deciding what "do this" means. In this case, it was "touch the bottom of your shoes". But once he's exerted that tremendous effort, the picture that's VERY clear in his mind is the "do this" part.

And here's this baby with no real impulse control, struggling to understand what you say... and the thought is as good as the deed. As soon as he pictures himself "doing this" (touching the bottom of his shoe) he ups and does it. You don't want this.

So what can you do instead? I'm just thinking, but here's a few ideas....

1. You can ignore it, if it's not that serious. Children don't die from touching their shoes, no matter how clean you might want to make the world. Heck, Ana didn't even die from a year and a half of eating ABC gum from the sidewalk!

2. You can sorta ignore it. After the shoe-touching the kid's mom pulled out the hand sanitizer. I have an Opinion about that, but that's for another day. In this case, after he touched his shoes the FIRST time (as I'm sure he must have) she could've simply said "That's dirty. When we touch our shoes, we wash our hands" and left it at that.

3. You can give him something else to do. This is probably the most effective, though not with a particularly stubborn child. (But does anything work with stubborn children?) "Keep your hands on your lap" or "Hold on tight to your ball!" or (my old standby) "Can you clap your hands? Now can you put them on your head?" will distract him from the fascinating subject of HIS FEET OMG HIS FEET! without putting silly ideas in his head.

Of course, nothing is perfect, but I think any one of these ideas is bound to work better than reminding your kid that whatever-it-is is an option. That's what you do NOT want to do.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
The answer is, of course, none at all, but she's postulating a magical ceiling that ignores light pollution, tall buildings, and looking like a tourist.

This got me briefly looking up constellations - here on Staten Island I can reliably see three, maybe four - Cassiopeia (the w), the Big Dipper (the one everybody knows), Orion (the OTHER one everybody knows), and occasionally something else which is probably a constellation but I don't know what.

And that's about it. I understand why these stars were picked out of the sky - they must be very bright if I can see them and not others. Wikipedia has a list of former constellations up. I knew that other cultures don't always divide the sky the same way, but I didn't know you could just take a constellation and say "Well, we're not going to count this anymore, sorry". It's not like Pluto at all! Constellations have no scientific meaning, do they? They're just groups of stars that seem to make pictures due to our vantage point and perverse desire to see patterns in every random happenstance we come across.

I know it's not like the stars care, certainly, or like suddenly they move just because we don't recognize one constellation or another, but the very thought of this... I don't know, it's just weird to me.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
I LOVED this book as a kid, and I couldn't for the life of me remember the name, so I finally asked on what_was_that_book and they told me. And I ordered a new copy, and would you believe it came with two pages ripped clear out? When I order used picture books I'm fairly tolerant of mild scribbling or tears - I'd rather see a loved book than a pristine one anyway, and children can be hard on the things they love - but this was a bit much. So I got me my refund and sent off for aNOTHER new copy, and it came, and it's here - and it's from Agbu Armenian Elementary School and so it has what I presume to be Armenian on the inside of the cover! Awesome!

Which reminds me. A few days ago I bought some band-aids. I decided to splurge a little and really make the nieces happy, so I bought character band-aids - a box each Barbie, Disney Princess, and Dora. And as I picked up the boxes I went "That's weird, it has bumps - wait! BRAILLE!" (Each niece had the same reaction, except that I'm the one who shouted BRAILLE! for both of them, too.)

I don't have the boxes to hand, but what's weird is it doesn't seem to say "Band-aids" or any variation thereof. I just looked up the Braille alphabet, and it looks like the first letter (which I remember how it looks by virtue of it NOT looking like the six letters I know - a, b, c, d, r, and w) seems to be "m". (So now I guess I know seven letters?) What on earth does it say, though? I could just run up and get a box, but I'm a. lazy and b. slightly daunted at the idea of abbreviations anyway. (If nobody helps me, though, I'll do what I must.)
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
The ones on Blubber are great. Some of them make good points, but they're so caught up in their own SHOCK and HORROR that they're utterly useless. (Especially the ones who claim that the book is unrealistic because a. kids in the fifth grade don't act that way or b. the bullies never get caught. You might criticize the book for portraying this, sure, you might prefer a neater ending where everybody is friends or where the mean girls get what's coming to them, got it - but that doesn't mean it'll be more realistic that way.)

But my favorite runs like this.

A woman's daughter was reading Blubber, came to a point where one character calls another a "bitch", showed the page to her mother and said "I don't think I should be reading this", whereupon the woman came to amazon to complain that NOW she had to READ all these BOOKS before giving them to her daughter, and WHO has the TIME!!!

To which I say:

1a. Your daughter clearly already knew the word "bitch" or she would not have been able to identify it in writing.
1b. She also knew that one doesn't use that word in polite conversation.
1c. And she ALSO decided she should not read books using this sort of language.
2. Blubber is not exactly a weighty tome. And yes, if you intend to censor your child's reading, you need to make it a point to be familiar with WHAT they are reading. It's not the author's job to guess what sort of books you won't let your kid read. (My parents didn't censor our reading, but they read most books we read, and why not?)

I mean, here's what I don't get. It's one thing to say "I don't want to teach my child that word" or even "I don't want to create the false impression that I think that language is okay". But she's already succeeded at that! What on earth is she worried about at this point? (For the record, the main character takes the time to explain that her parents don't mind about language so long as they don't go screaming it around the house. This is a perfectly valid parenting philosophy, and the kid is aware that it'd be a bad idea to call her teacher a bitch to her face, which is just about all we can hope for when it comes to profanity. At some point you can't duct tape their mouths anymore.)
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
The Star of David. Is that two triangles placed atop each other, or is it a hexagon with a triangle on each side? Yes, I know, it's both, but intuitively what do you think when you see it?
conuly: (Default)


How the heck does Terry Pratchett know all this obscure stuff, and is the Annotated Pratchett ever gonna update again ever?
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
Monday I'll take all the old ones (except the reds, which I'll get to in a sec) to the library, where they always need new crayons.

I got the 96 box for the nieces, and then, after thinking it over, I got 2 8 boxes and 2 16 boxes as well. Why?

Because there's only one red, no matter what the size of the box.

It's true. If you get the 96 box or the 64 box you'll get lots of oranges. You'll get a few yellows (which is a nice change from my childhood where there were only three, and lemon yellow sucked). You'll get a ton of blues, and greens, and purples. You'll get more browns than anybody can reasonably be said to need. You'll get red-orange, and red-violet, and violet-red. But when it comes time to color a red apple, or a red mouth, or a red strawberry, you'll have to scrounge around and look to find that one broken, nubbed down red crayon.

There's only one red.

And it's always been like this. I lose track of the new crayons they keep adding. Scarlet is a nice addition, and it can do for red in a pinch if you need to, say, color all the math problems that equal "ten" red on the picture for homework. I guess. But it doesn't work for red lollipops, or red rainboots very well, I'll tell you. When I was a kid we had Indian red (which is from India, apparently), but that was sorta brownish. And we had brick red, but that was pinkish. But only one usable, serviceable red.

So now they have 144 new crayons, and 5 of them are red-red, which hopefully will be good enough for anybody.


Feb. 7th, 2010 07:15 pm
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blog still_burning)
[Poll #1522709]
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
For the life of me, I can't figure out what she'd use SuperGlue for, except for the obvious. Clearly, my mind isn't kinky enough.

So help me out here - what, on earth, did she learn there? (If you're serious and not just joking, please be clear.)
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
A Duct Tape Madrigal )

BTW, which do YOU say? Duct tape or duck tape? Surprisingly, the duck tape version apparently came first and duct tape is the eggcorn... or so I've heard, anyway. There's some debate, but I think the duck tape version is funny to say, and it gives me an excuse for one of my favoritest icons.
conuly: (Default)
Really, I shouldn't've, because they're supposed to do that for people who donate over $100, and I donated $2, but I'm not complaining. It's a first grade class, so of course Jenn and I pored over it to compare and contrast with Ana's handwriting and tell ourselves how INCREDIBLY good at writing Ana is :) (BTW, I copied out Ana's introductory letter for her penpals and typed it up if anybody else is having a last minute desire to have their kids write back and forth.)

I took notice of one of the names signed on the letters - Brenda.

Now, I know that when it comes to names everything old is new again. People like nostalgic names right now, they're very popular. This is no doubt why Ana's grade at school contains a Lucy, a Bonnie, and an Edwina. This is probably why Evangeline's class has a Billy and a Bobby. It's certainly why Ana and Ava are such popular names with children their age.

But Brenda? Brenda isn't an "Old fashioned from 100 years ago name" - it's an "Old fashioned from the 50s name". That's even more old-fashioned from one suitably distant enough to be trendy. It took me completely by surprise.

Anyway, thinking about all this led me to find out that not only does NYC post its own baby name statistics independent of the rest of the state, they divide it up by ethnic group. (PDF!) What's very interesting about that is not how they divide it up, but how they group people together.

In a very diverse city, it's not surprising that we have a variety of infant names. We have the standards that are popular everywhere right now, and some that you KNOW are only popular in some groups. So when you look at a list of, say, Asian Females... the truth is that I don't need statistics to tell me that the guy who names his kid Fatima (or, in the male list, Ibrahim) is not the same person as the one who names his kid Yu or Xin. And in the "White, Non-Hispanic lists", it doesn't take much to guess that the people naming their kids Schlomo and Rifka, Mordechai and Gittel aren't the same people naming their children Christian, Christopher, or Christina... nor yet Antonio and Maria.

So, you know, these lists aren't that useful unless you know how to read them. Of course, "useful" assumes they have a use at all, which they probably don't unless you're writing a book or are seeking to discriminate against somebody's resume and aren't even bright enough to do that without assistance.

They're interesting, though.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
One my way walking to Chelsea Piers yesterday (we really need a new train line further west than the A, that's for sure, but let's see if it ever happens before we're all dust in the grave) I passed by a store. It nearly made me late, and I couldn't figure out why. Chelsea Dentistry isn't that weird a name, is it?

Then I realized it was Chelsea :Dentistry (and yes, they did use a different font for that :D), and I realized how awesome that was.
conuly: (Default)
So, Ana's lips are ridiculously chapped.

[Poll #1327895]

And a very, very, VERY random question: Why do pimples on or behind the ear hurt more than pimples anywhere else? What's up with that?
conuly: (Default)
(Really, not that good.)

However, one thing stands out, a sign that the author really is a New Yorker, or at least did enough research to be able to fake it (unlike the one in the *other* book who called Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan "quaint" and thought you could see it from the 1/9!) because the main character has a rather geeky crush on one of the NY1 anchors. Actually, a lot of people seem to have a crush on that guy. Anyway, he now has his very own website. I'm weirdly thrilled by that... and I'm *not* one of the ones who crushes on him.
conuly: (Default)
If you're out and about and don't feel like making eye contact?

Kids are great for this. Just stare vaguely in their direction and, after a few minutes, comment that you "have to keep an eye on them". It doesn't have to be true. Heck, with sufficiently distracted parents you don't even have to know the kids in question (although it certainly helps if occasionally you can dash off because one of them is Doing Something Dangerous)! Just kinda act as though you know the children and people will assume.

For those of you who really dislike children, or who are wary of making this sort of commitment for paltry 5 minute excuses, I suggest you get yourself a series of badly behaved puppies. Or perhaps a mischievous pig? A ferret is always a winner in the "Can't look you in the eye" game, though they may not be legal where you live.
conuly: (Default)
I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Don't tell Jenn but Spoilers! Jenn, don't read! ) And I didn't get to bed until past three this morning, either.

I hate flying

I snapped at the poor nieces so many times today that Ana has taken to reminding me to breathe and asking me to say sorry for snapping at her - I have to explain that, properly speaking, it's not polite to remind other people to be polite. I guess this means it's time for the two of us to come up with a code so I can remind her discreetly instead of grabbing her and hissing "WHAT DO YOU SAY?????" every time it's even remotely relevant.

Kids didn't eat lunch. They prefered to wait for the treat - fresh mulberries! White ones and red ones! Mmmm. I love mulberries. Ana wiped her hand on her shirt. Ugh. I hate mulberry stains.

I want to go to the local children's museum in San Diego. If I can't get a ride from my uncle, and I don't know anybody with the spare gas money to drive, can I get there from Escondido on a bus?

Ditto for the Zoo. Oh, I know it's like the Bronx zoo, which is so big, but I still want to go.

And I want to make it to the beach, just because.
conuly: (Default)
But I was looking up "primrose" to see what it signifies (I can't live without you; early youth; young love) and "petunia" apparently means "resentment, anger" but also "your presence soothes me" and "never despairing". Now I have a guilty notion to seek out all the dratted flower names JKR saw fit to fill her books with - what is it with her and flower names, anyway? (Lupin, apparently, means "voraciousness" as well as "admiration", which I'm sure is very interesting no matter whom you pair him with.)
conuly: (Default)
Little more than that, more like 16.37 or so.

This is the sort of thing one finds out when one is me.
conuly: (Default)
Let's suppose that there are an infinite number of alternate timelines running right now, for every little teeny tiny difference possible in the universe.

Now, we all know about the trousers of time and all, or of flipping a coin - but if you add time travel into the mix, would it make sense that all the futures are still "real" even if they haven't happened yet? So there's an infinite number of worlds that are exactly the same as this one, in every detail but what will happen next? (Or in a million years, or whenever?)

I mean, if this weren't all a house of very flimsy cards, would that make sense?

And on another note, for some reason this is making me think of the exhibits in the Natural History Museum, which we went to today. (See? I'm a good aunt!) In the Hall of Asian Peoples they have a few dioramas of ancient cities, for different time periods. And in one of them, they really have a miniature person on a flying carpet above it :P
conuly: (Default)
Points at them, and chatters about them, and goes around bringing them to the people she thinks belong with them. So if she sees my shoes, she brings them to me, and Ana always has her toys brought over, that sort of thing.

It's a repeat of when Ana was this age. I am stunned that babies point at things this early, and identify them, and chatter. Of course, I didn't point at things. Like, ever. No, not "like, ever", but actually "never". And I'm pretty sure I was a bit of a late talker - as my mom says, stuck to one, maybe two-words at a time for ages, then one day woke up speaking full, grammatical sentences. (Not very clear sentences, I imagine, but one can't have everything.)

I love them both dearly, I really do (Ana carefully told her mom and Elise today that "Even when Connie's still mad at me, she still loves me", and it's true) - but sometimes, they seem so strange to me at these young ages.(Ana's love of picking up rocks and keeping them notwithstanding.)

But I don't really remember me at that age. I remember not pointing - that lasted - but the rest, I'm just speculating on. So maybe I was exactly like this except for the pointing, but nobody's ever told me.

Today is the day before the Ides, and this is what I'm thinking about.
conuly: (Default)
In this case, it's retired dish patterns. (I voted for "Butterfly Gold", which I grew up with, and two others, which I did *not* grow up with. Butterfly Gold is white with gold shapes on the edges.)

Now I'm going to vote on Ben and Jerry's flavors. Again. Anything else I can vote on?
conuly: (Default)
I think this just about sums it up. Edit: Ten minutes in, click the link a second time. Thanks.

For random linkage, what about this? Popcorn! Popping! Pop! Pop! (That was very random, wasn't it?


Jan. 5th, 2006 10:32 pm
conuly: (Default)
So, I'm reading Wikiquote's List of Misquotations, and I can't help but grin at the following:

* "A damn close run thing" Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, refering to his victory over Napoleon at Waterloo.

o He actually said "It has been a damn nice thing-the nearest run thing you ever saw...", where he used nice in the archaic meaning of "careful or precise" and not the modern "attractive or agreeable".

I was just thinking about re-reading Good Omens, too!


conuly: (Default)

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