Monthly Archives: May 2012

Making Girls Right-Handed

All you have to do is force this four-year-old to write with her right hand long enough, and everything will be okay. Obviously she has a “right-handed mind in a left-handed body.”

Tomboys nowadays have a hard row to hoe. No sense letting them be girls with their own style when you can make them into experiments. This woman also seems to have a lot of fear and misunderstanding of kids’ scuffles and wrestling, which she is dealing with in a passive/aggressive manner — by turning her “other” daughter into a member of the other sex. Gotta love how the mom got her other kid to join the propaganda and publicity campaign, instead of telling her to stop talking nasty about her little sister.

Child abuse, pure and simple.

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My New Bike

After years of resisting getting a bike again (mostly because bike storage in a small apartment is a pain in the butt, and because I resented the stupid helmet law), I have succumbed to the call of the open road, beautiful weather, and low Walmart prices. In short, I have bought a big beast of a Dutch-style cruiser bike from Huffy, with a back rack for carrying heavy stuff and everything. And I bought LED headlights (and my first helmet, ugh, yuck, though at least they’re not as bad as they used to be). There’s a cheaper version of this bike, but I didn’t like the colors as well. I’ll put up with the weird licensing for a better color and the sturdy back rack. (And you can even pull it out 6 or 8 more inches, if you’ve got a bigger pack to carry.)

The downside and the upside (given my own overweight) is that the cruiser bike is sturdy and comfortable because it has a heavy frame made of iron. Over 40 pounds of bike doesn’t make storage easier, and there’s a lot of momentum once you really get going, between my weight and the bike’s. However, this allows you to have wider tires, a bigger seat, better weight distribution, etc. It’s not a frail fragile flower of bikehood, and there’s not a lot of gears to worry with. Heck, I could ride this thing in a _skirt._

I’m not super-sure that I didn’t pick a bike that’s a little big for me. (I have to swing my leg pretty high. So if I did ride this thing in a skirt, I’d have to learn a new style of mounting. And get those skirt fastener things.) But pretty much every bike I’ve ever had was a little big for me, and the next size down seemed like a clown car that put my knees up to my ears. Aeh, the joy of standardized sizing.

So I went out this morning before it really got light, so I could really try out the bike on the local bike path, without menacing others. LED bike headlights are pretty sweet, although I was using them in pre-dawn conditions and not in full dark. The bike path is wonderfully well kept up and paved, and I did five miles without really feeling all that tired. I also saw every rabbit in the tri-state area, lots of geese and ducks, and a really beautiful sunrise. I rested a little bit at a stopping place, got some water at a drinking fountain, and went home the shorter but somewhat more dangerous way along some fairly high traffic streets. I think I would have been better off taking the bike path home instead, frankly, although most of the time I was safe enough. All in all, I think I did about nine miles today. I’m tired and my muscles got a little workout, but I’m not worn out or sore. And I didn’t fall on my head or crash into a car, so it must be counted as a successful ride. The major problem is that my head sweats and sweats in that helmet, even with all the open fretwork of it. (Oh, well, I was going to wash my hair anyway.)

See, I’m not exactly out of shape. It’s just that I’m not exactly in shape, either. And of course, most of my exercise is not terribly brisk, so I don’t get the most out of it. Maybe if I start biking faster, that will help?

My suburban town was not well suited to biking, because all the roads had pretty narrow shoulders and lots of ups and downs when I was a kid, and drivers didn’t have much way to see bikers very far ahead, or anywhere to go if they came upon them suddenly. So we pretty much could only ride our bikes fairly slowly and on our own street, or in a few nearby plats. (And you were taking your life in your hands to cross the high traffic roads.) So of course a lot of kids would just go into some vacant lot or woods area and use their bikes as “dirt bikes”. My first bike was actually a girl’s dirt bike-style little kid bike, which was probably one of the few “cool” possessions of my childhood. That thing held up forever, unlike my ten speed.

I gather that things are more bike-friendly now, but I don’t live there now. :)

But yeah, biking is definitely different when you’re only having to look out for bikers and animals, instead of cars and more cars. And the bike path is several counties’ long, and links up with the whole state bike path system. So if the weather stays nice and I don’t push myself too far, I could actually go biking all day sometime. Pretty strange concept.

I think I love my new Huffy as much as I loved my very first bike, which was also a Huffy. They make you want to ride and ride.

(I would link to a picture of my awesome yellow and black Sweet Thunder BMX-wannabe bike with the yellow banana seat and knobby tires and yellow handgrips, but I appear to be the only girl in creation who got one of the yellow ones that really did look BMX. A lot of 80′s pink ones out there, though.)

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Casual Lovecraft: The Cats of Ulthar as a Hidden Object Game

“The Cats of Ulthar” is one of Lovecraft’s Dunsany-like Dreamlands stories. (By which I mean there’s a lot less Cosmic Horror, and a lot more in the way of lovely descriptions and possible happy endings.) Lovecraft displays his love of cats in this story, and it’s now in the public domain.

So given that the casual-games market loves literary references, maybe it’s not surprising that this winter saw the release of Ghost Towns: The Cats of Ulthar. It’s a Big Fish exclusive, so Lovecraft fans will have to buy the e-version there. There’s also a “Collectors’ Edition” with additional content, if you want to spend a bit more cash.

Anyway, check out the demo and see if you like it. :) (Although the Big Fish gaming interface is a bit intrusive, so be prepared for that.)

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Sweet, Sweet Fandomfreude

Fandomfreude: when after years of fannish folks having to deal with what the rest of the mundane world likes, suddenly the rest of the world has to deal with what fandom likes.

It seems that, thanks to the new Netflix popularity of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and thanks to the insanely broad viewing habits of people who also watch MLP:FIM, pretty much any video is triggering a recommendation that people who like ___ also like My Little Pony. Hence “Coping with Pony” as a release for non-fan frustration with the situation.

Of course, I’m not on Netflix, so I find this broken algorithm stuff even funnier than I otherwise would. :)

It reminds me strongly of Green Eggs and Ham.

“What do you view? What do you view? Here’s what we recommend for you!

“If you liked We Bought the Zoo, if you liked Dragon Tattoo,
If you liked old Downton Abbey, if you liked that killer stabby,
If you liked Shakespeare done tragic, you will love Friendship Is Magic!
Try it, try it, sir and ma’am! You will be a Pony fan!”

“It’s not like Das Boot (The Boat). It can’t be at all like Float,
No musical that won the Tony is not about My Little Pony!
And surely it’s not like The Ring. Why recommend this Pony thing?

“I do not want that season 2. I do not want it in my queue!
I do not want eps with a race, I do not want it in my face!
Not with a train! Not with a cake!
Not with a true mage or a fake!
Not with a carriage! Not with a wagon!
Not with a dungeon! Not with a dragon!
I do not want it for the LOL, I do not want it here at all!”

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Southern Women, from Garden and Gun Magazine.

A beautiful, very long post about our sisters in the South.

During most of the time I was growing up, there was a very nice Air Force couple from Virginia living next door to us. This post explains exactly how the mom behaved. I liked her and her family a lot.

The problem was, there was a very basic culture clash between my mom and her (although again, I know they liked each other). You couldn’t go to the neighbor lady’s yard without being offered cold drinks, anymore than you could visit inside our house without being offered drinks and snacks. But my mom had been raised that kids never went inside other people’s houses to play (unless it was a pre-arranged visit or dinner invitation or slumber party or the like) and never accepted food or drink while playing. Man… there’s a social dilemma. Offend or sadden the nice neighbor lady (even though she’ll act like she’s not offended or saddened), or listen to your mom lecture you later on presuming on people’s hospitality? (Because of course your mom sees everything you do in the neighbor’s yard.)

Eeeeeeih, still makes my head hurt. Eventually a modus vivendi was achieved between the moms, but I don’t think they ever quite reconciled to each other’s concept of proper kid behavior.

I suspect my mom’s rule is because her generation’s Irish and German moms were a bit insecure of how their houses looked, unless they had time to prepare and make the place spotless. Also, because Mom grew up in neighborhoods where people’s financial status may not have been something they wanted to advertise, or should have strained by kids descending upon them. It may also have been to prevent setting off the Irish impulse to make people drink tea to the flood point, and the German impulse to make guests fill up their tummies and spoil their dinners, and all the other cultural preoccupations of ethnic folks in the neighborhood from all sorts of places.

It may also be an artifact of her growing up under rationing during WWII. Her family was lucky enough to have an extra ration card because her grandfather lived with them; other families weren’t so lucky. Meanwhile, my mom was feeding us a lot of grilled cheese and pinching pennies to make ends meet, when we were kids; so it may have set off memories; or fears that the neighbor kids would need hospitality she couldn’t afford. It’s a safety precaution too, of course, but only with people you don’t know; and really, the primary feeling was that you might be taking the bread out of people’s mouths. (This didn’t apply logically to our neighbors, because the dad was a fairly high up officer and made more money than my dad. But customs aren’t about logic.)

But yeah, since a lot of people’s hospitality customs make them feed a guest with the last crumb rather than themselves, or stuff you and then starve the rest of the week, there really is a place for insisting that you’re not hungry, that you can’t stop, and that maybe you’ll be able to do it some other time (but not letting yourself be pinned down). There’s also a place for remembering that, if you accept hospitality, you’re going to have to reciprocate. Can you reciprocate? Do you have room to reciprocate? Can you hold a picnic or something? Always the calculations in one part of your brain, while the other part is always trying to stop the calculations from spoiling other people’s fun.

But of course Southern people also come from a history of starvation and poverty. So what’s the difference? Tenements versus shacks? The certain knowledge that it always gets cold enough in the winter to kill you? Shrug.

Most kids in my class had slightly younger parents, and their attitudes toward hospitality were a lot looser. Most kids ran in and out of other people’s houses, and that kept increasing until the pedophile scare created playdates. Still, I know for a fact that my aunt (about ten years younger than my mom — she married my mom’s youngest brother) had other people’s kids at her table at least half the time, without previous warning by her sons that they were bringing anyone home. (But she hailed from Long Island, so that may be still another culture; and she came from the German school that you cooked for an army and made people waddle away from the table. And yes, she and my mom have culture clashes too.)

Anyway, a lot of people in the northern US have been raised this way, and it’s hard to get over. Hopefully other people will bear with us, as we struggle between enjoying their hospitality and accepting the risk of making them or us starve to death later.

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The (Male) Dominican Habit

This is a very interesting post from last year by a Dominican celebrating the anniversary of his “vestition” (clothing in the habit), showing all the parts of the Dominican habit and explaining them. It’s a loooooong post.

Given Sarah Hoyt’s post yesterday about geeks and nerds sticking out and having to stick together, it’s sad that sf/f writers have mostly had such a hate on against the Dominicans. (Insert the Black Legend paid for by Henry 8 and Elizabeth 1, a lot of anti-Catholic fairy tales, etc.) There’s no doubt in my mind that, of all the geeky and non-geeky Catholic orders, the Dominicans are the geekiest per capita. (I add as evidence this gentleman’s recent post on the top ten Biblical monsters.)

But for years, if one of the Domini canes ever showed up in an sf novel, he was busily trying to burn someone at the stake. (Whether or not that was legal or likely for the time and place, and whether or not the author had done enough research to find that out.) I had no idea they were the “order of preachers.” I had no idea there were female Dominicans, for that matter.

So I’m glad that I ended up spending all these years at a parish whose patron was a Dominican. I’ve learned a lot under St. Albert the Great’s tutelage and protection, and enough about the order that I’ve learned to appreciate their work.

PS. Another interesting post from this guy’s other blog: the bones of a stirring story of Filipino history I’ve never seen before, about the little fleet that could and the intercession of Mary. Sort of a little Lepanto.

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Quiet Video, Loud Music Volume Solution

For those of us who aren’t tech wizards… it turns out that a lot of video (on computers and otherwise) automatically assumes that you want voice either quiet, or almost totally on your center speaker. Which is a big problem if you have no center speaker. :)

Anyway, you can get sane audio levels by finding and enabling the control on your audio controlling software that says something like “normalization,” “equalization,” or “dynamic range compression.”

This was driving me nuts with my new computer, because I had to listen to video on headphones to get decent volume, whereas even my tiny speakers sounded nice and loud when playing music.

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The Ultimate Answer to Headcovering Verses

Daphne’s Headcovers.

I keed, I keed! Of course they’re for golf clubs, not human heads. But they’re cute!

Via Instapundit.

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Happy St. Isidore the Farmer’s Day!

This also happens to be the old second minor Rogation Day, so there’s double the prayers for the land and crops!

St. Isidore the Farmer isn’t the same as St. Isidore of Seville. Both Isidori came from Spain, though. San Isidro (the farmer one) is very important in Mexico, so the bishops in the Western US tend to go with him as a patron for farmers. So today EWTN’s daily Mass featured a special prayer for farmers and ranchers.

Here’s a nice page telling his story and his wife’s.

Most countries have a good assortment of farmer patron saints and farmers who became saints. There’s also a lot of weather saints, anti-pest saints, pro-livestock saints, crop saints, farm task saints, etc. that get a lot of farmer love — again, tending to vary by region. Since America has so many different ethnic settlement groups and so many different kinds of farmers and climates, you will probably find most of the world’s farmer saints honored here somewhere, by somebody!

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Trying a New Theme

Need to find a better version of the header file, because my poor ol’ Jack Gaughan sketch is looking pretty degraded in quality.

Still cracks me up that the third Jagi Lamplighter book about Miranda has a cover that sorta screams “Tribute to Jack Gaughan”, eye-catching burnt orange and all. :) But there’s also some substantial (and nice!) differences from how Gaughan would have handled it. The feeling of speed and weight that this artist gives the picture is wonderful.

Let me know if you think this theme is ugly, or that the header clashes….

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The Anchoress on the State of Things

Just ’cause I’m not saying much about this stuff, doesn’t mean I don’t have a strong opinion.

When the wind blows and shakes the branches, a lot of nominal Catholics and nominal Christians are always falling off the Tree of Life, the Body of Christ, like green figs off a fig tree. The difference is that humans can climb back onto the tree. They get second chances, as long as life lasts.

As for “personally opposed….”

“I’m personally opposed to violence, but my constituents, Mr. Left Hand and Mrs. Right Hand, have me outvoted. So as their duly elected representative, I have to punch you, Mr. Cuomo.”

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H.G. Wells and Orson Welles, Ponified

Bronies have an extremely active fandom. Here’s an example: “An Equestrian Invasion,” a My Little Ponified version of the classic radio play, The War of the Worlds.

It’s interesting, because you’ve got a fan group with great tech, pretty good acting resources, a lot of enthusiasm and thoroughness, and absolutely no radio play production experience. So they throw themselves into it, do 65 hours of production work over six months, and get pretty decent results after reinventing the wheel. :) I suspect we’ll see a lot of this, as the Internet makes it easy both to discover some facets of an activity and not find the other people doing it.

As usual, there are a lot of sudden converts to audio drama sounding off in the comment box. :)

However, contrary to the YouTube comments, there are a lot of audio drama folks (especially the pros in the UK) who would contend that radio drama is not a lost art. (And get off my lawn, yearlings!)

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Heartless and Shameless? Or Adamantly in Denial?

A really remarkable case of drinking the Kool-Aid, published on Mother’s Day.

All you have to do is pour maple syrup on that pile of fecal matter, and there’s always somebody who’ll think it’s pancakes!

But it’s the one who ate it who’s desperate to persuade everyone else. Pancakes just like that have to be served for breakfast every day from now on, and everybody has to chow down. Because that’s the only way to prove it was right to start eating in the first place.

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Eyrie.net Gryph’s Marvel Takeover Rant

By special request from the eyrie.net forum-dwellers, an audio version of Gryphon’s Marvel takeover rant from 2006. Includes some swearing, but mostly crazy ideas.

I think it’s funny stuff, but then, I have a few bones to pick with Marvel’s current editors and staff also….

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