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July 2012

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Jun. 18th, 2012

Sweet Lips

Charm Me Not

I’ve been reading the Tao of Dating for the letter T in my alphabet challenge. It was that most women, when asked about their husbands, admitted to not only not falling instantly in love, they didn’t even like him that much!


Currently, the Western model of romance dictates instant chemistry and attraction. If you don’t have that spark, then why try? If you lose the spark, a lot of people just call it quits. If the person you married isn’t your Prince Charming or soulmate anymore, shouldn’t you go find one who is?


The idea of wining, dining, and intense romance is a very recent. Marriages started because it was an easier way to raise children and verify paternity thousands of years ago. Marrying for love is a recent, convenient, and (if the numbers are to be believed) a less than ideal development.


I’ll be the first to argue that the reason many marriages lasted as long as they did because until recently, women didn’t have any other viable options. 60 years ago divorce was expensive and women usually had to raise the kids on their own making crap wages at dead-end jobs. Now it’s a lot easier for women to escape bad marriages but with all new marriage starting out with 50/50 odds, are all modern marriages that bad?


No. India has the option of divorce now but a lot of arranged marriages work, seemingly better than Western marriages. Yes they’re raised in that culture but their relationship is under less pressure to perform to unrealistic romantic standards. Arranged couples can learn to love each other over time. They aren’t expected to be instant soulmates (another dangerous romantic idea).


Women are force fed a romantic fantasy from the time we’re toddlers when a lifelong commitment is about a lot more than rose petals, fancy dresses, and carriage rides. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that Prince was raised to be charming, not sincere.


Life offers screaming, spewing babies, serious illness, unexpected job loss, ailing parents, and mundane routines. When dealing with all of the above, you aren’t going to be madly in love with your partner 24/7 and that’s good. As the TOD says: “Madly in love is still mad, and mad people tend to make silly choices."


I believe that relationships need some romance but in many ways, love is a choice. Loving someone long-term is a conscious decision and requires effort. You have to decide if that’s the person you want to stand by when life hits them hard. You have to decide if this is the person you want in your corner when life slams into you. You have to decide if this is the person you want around when life isn’t doing much of anything to you at all.


This is why people recommend marrying your best friend. You know their faults, their bizarre habits, you do stuff together, and you don’t always like them but you love them anyway. I’d much rather marry my best friend than some insincere charmer from a crappy movie.

Jun. 8th, 2012

Shake It

Alphabet Challenge Round 13

Z is for Zoo Story. I really enjoyed this book. It was informative, well-written, and well paced. The story never dragged and I was never bored.


I appreciated how French focused on all aspect of the zoo. We heard about the keepers, their relationship to the animals, their relationship to each other, the history of some of the animals, species extinction and conservation, the politics of running a zoo, and traits of the various species. I never knew elephants sometimes buried their dead and can be incredibly destructive to ecosystems or that chimps lead violent viking-like raids


French didn’t sugarcoat things and the account felt fairly unbiased. The zoo wasn’t perfect but the world isn’t perfect either. Definitely put this on your to-read list.


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Z - Zoo Story by Thomas French

May. 30th, 2012

Reading

Alphabet Challenge Round 12

Y is for Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison. The book says she’s a cynical smoker who goes on a 2 month yoga retreat to get in touch with her spiritual side. The problem I have with books who advertise ‘I’m cynical and have problems’ and then resolve all the problems by the end of the book already had one foot in the door.


One memoir I read about a woman who decided to change her life with magazines complained about her terrible relationships but she was already in therapy and had a quality boyfriend candidate waiting in the wings. No memoir has someone go from totally-flawed to totally-fixed. There’s always some groundwork.


Morrison was the same because while she was a cynical coffee-loving smoker, she was also a yoga junkie before she left. She idolized her teacher and loved doing yoga so she was open to spiritual awakening no matter how agnostic she proclaimed to be. One of her reoccurring points is that she enjoys the theatricality of religion. Like many of us, she probably just wants something she can believe in.


She gradually warmed to the ideas and practices of people drinking the Kool-Aid (among other things). When she became the perfect yoga student with meditation, concentration, and a seizure-like vision, I wasn’t that shocked. The beginnings of that were already there. You can tell by the way she talks about the female yoga teacher she adores and idolizes her in the beginning. Her thirst for approval was obvious but not unfamiliar.


Eventually the teacher is revealed to be flawed and human. Morrison claims to enjoy knocking her off the pedestal and kicking her former idol. She wanted something to believe in but her cynicism loved that this latest ‘god’ wasn’t perfect.


At the end Morrison seems to be unchanged but in retrospect she admits to being transformed in a way she didn’t realize yet. Morrison has a good voice and this was an interesting story to tell.


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y - Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison
Z

May. 29th, 2012

Brain

Must. Watch. TV.

I have heard from several places that the vast majority of kids are reading below grade level. In a world of texting over talking, the English skills of young people everywhere is going rapidly to crap. If it can’t be said in 140 characters or less, some kids won’t even read it. With this reality, is rewarding watching TV a good idea?


Viggle is a new app for the iProducts that gives you reward points for watching TV shows. For a half-hour sitcom, you get 30 points. For an hour long drama, it’s 60 points. If you hate the show and give up after 15 minutes, it’s 15 points. Some nights you get bonus points for certain shows e.g. Reality Dance Show is worth 300 points or Teen Melodrama is worth 100 points.


So how long does it take you to get rewards? $10 for iTunes is 18,000 points. That’s 600 sitcom episodes, 300 hour long episodes, or a combination of different bonus shows. Fortunately it’s only 15,000 points for $10 from Sephora. That gift card will give you a lot of mileage.


Much like Shazam and SoundHound, the iProduct knows what you’re watching and rewards you accordingly. My first concern was whether or not channels like Discovery or History were in on this. Good news: Yes they are and Hatfields & McCoys is worth bonus points. Bad news: It’s not worth as many points as The Bachelor or the Bachelorette.


If I do this I may have to try out my drinking game just to make the Bachelor watchable. While I would enjoy the subterfuge of getting one over on the app and creators of what my friend calls Whore Wars, I don’t know if it would be worth it


Part of my concern is the quality of TV programming in this country in the first place. Basketball Wives, both Bachelor franchises, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Bethenny Ever After are all worth bonus points. All of these shows are popular. Firefly died in obscurity and shows like Who Wants to Be an Engineer don’t exist. If you have to sift through hundreds of channels of crap to find three worthwhile things, it’s no wonder our population can’t read or pay attention to anything.


Here’s a link to their blog. If I decide to take this for a test drive, I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

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May. 28th, 2012

Brain

Must Drink TV

Everybody is familiar with making movies or TV shows into drinking games. Reality Bites Back recommended I do the same thing to highlight the sexism in reality TV. Please note, I do NOT recommend playing this exclusively with alcohol, or possibly any alcohol. You could die.


The Bachelor Drinking Game (applicable to any elimination based dating show)

Drink at any of the following words and phrases:

-Princess
-Fairytale
-Prince Charming
-Happily ever after
-Cinderella
-Royalty (mentioning William and Kate counts)
-Women name calling other competitors including bitch, slut, whore, skank, tramp, hussy, bimbo, etc.
-Women call another fat

Bridezillas (applicable to most, if not all, wedding based shows)

-It’s my day (said by the bride)

-It’s your day (said to the bride)

-I'm the bride

-I don’t care (said by the bride)

-[Someone is] running my wedding!

-Perfect

-That’s not what I ordered/asked for

- Princess (I’m a/you’re a)

-Anyone gets kicked out of the wedding party

-Anyone gets kicked out of the wedding

May. 24th, 2012

Reading

Alphabet Challenge Round 11

F is for Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. What started as a racy Twilight fan fiction became a digital bestseller and then became a New York Times bestseller. There was a bidding war for the movie rights. Copies can be found anywhere books are sold and I do mean anywhere.


For all the hype, I'm going to say something nobody wants to hear: What was the big damn deal? I really don't see what all the hype is for. I don't hate it but I certainly don't love it.


I see echoes of Twilight in James's work with Grey's protectiveness and extravagant gifts or in Ana's inexplicable and immediate devotion. James did change some things to suit the work like who left whom and why.


James changed the most crucial thing between this and Twilight; there are no vampires, just adults into BDSM. They characters have sex and lots of it. The problem was that all the intrigue Twilight had because of vampires is gone. It's been replaced with sex scenes and it's not that much more interesting for it


The quality of writing is mediocre. People bash Twilight for being poorly written but I didn't think Fifty Shades of Grey was any better. The characters aren't that compelling, the plot isn't that interesting, and writing isn't that good. For all the hype and people singing its praises, I give it a hearty "meh."


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F - Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y
Z

May. 23rd, 2012

Steampunk

Where's Wall-E

George Takei posts the best stuff on FB. Today he posted this photo. It’s a robot take on Where’s Waldo. Can you find Wall-E?


I’ve included a list of who I’ve been able to find and I don’t think I’m going to get anything else. I’m sure the same can be said of the ones I found no problem. Anyone else seen Treasure Planet, Meet the Robinsons, and Flubber?


I’m a little disappointed to see the more humanoid ones like Six or Data. Regardless, the artist did a great job. BTW, I know I recognize the big cylindrical guy in the top corner. Where is he from?


Bender
Gir
Rosie from the Jetsons
Wall-E
Eva
Mo
Treasure Planet robot
Meet the Robinsons robot
Flubber robot
Dalek
Android mascot
Bad Robot mascot
Marvin the Depressed Android
Avatar combat droid
Star Wars droid
C3PO
R2D2
Original Terminator
Bicentennial Man
Metropolis robot
Buzz Lightyear cartoon robot
Bill and Ted robots
Lost in Space robots
Cylon
Original BSG dog robot
Space Balls robot
Matrix robot
Main character from Robots
I, Robot robot
Portal robot
Original Terminator
Day the Earth Stood Still robot
The Tin Man (who is not actually a robot)
I don't know who the robot in the monkey suit is but he reminds me of a character from Thursday Next

May. 22nd, 2012

Brain

Here’s Looking at You First Born

When people said the smell gives them migraines or can trigger asthma attacks, she said “People have peanut allergies and they still serve peanuts.” Very few airlines still do that and people actually get a choice whether they fly that airline.

I noticed that both I and my mother both look like our fathers. My mother’s younger sister looks more like my grandmother. As an only child, there was no second born for me to consider. I never knew my father’s parents but my mother was a 5’4 blonde at my age whereas my father was 5’9 and almost entirely Italian. I inherited his height, dark hair, and dark eyes.


As I pondered this idea, I thought of more people who this was true for. When I mentioned it in conversation, a woman who was more scientifically minded than I insisted, “It’s just speculation.” Translation: without verifiable data, speculation is worthless. But isn’t that where science comes from? You observe, you speculate, you test, you analyze, and then you prove or disprove. I don’t have the means to test this theory but an unverified observation is not without merit.


Scientific American noticed the prevalence of the observation and when seeing if it was true I found this article. In terms of evolution, first borns looking like the father is advantageous because women know that’s their kid, men don’t. If the father believes that’s his child, he is much more likely to care for it. It follows a believable train of logic.


According to SA, it’s still unverified. Several studies have found results all over the map. I have a friend who is ¼ black from his mother and those are his dominating features. Patty Hearst’s daughter is the spitting image of her.


Many people think I look like my mother (whose hair darkened as she got older) until they see pictures of my father. It could be I take after my father because he had the dominant traits. It could be common place for my maternal genetic line for first borns to look like the father. It could just be that’s what people are looking for. One of the studies mentioned in SA said that for the first few days, newborns look like the mother but the new mothers insist the kid looks like the father.


It makes just as much sense in the crapshoot that is genetics for children to look like either parent. Or to get traits from god knows where. My hair naturally curly but both of my parents, their siblings, and all of my grandparents had straight hair. Going back in the family tree finds only my maternal grandfather’s siblings had curly hair.


My particular observation wasn’t verified as fact but wasn’t entirely disproven either. In the game of genes, there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer which means people will continue to speculate for a long time.

May. 15th, 2012

Wonderland

Alphabet Challenge Round 10

E is for Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and starts with a caveat: When you recommend books to your friends, don’t oversell the book. My friend read this when she was younger and ‘lost’ her library copy because she couldn’t stand to be without it. I wasn’t quite as in love partly because this book was oversold to me by multiple people. It was excellent but not the pinnacle of literature my friends made it out to be.


It’s an excellent book. It explores the human condition and human endurance. The battle scenes are well described and interesting to visualize. The characters are interesting but secretive. It describes warfare in a way that’s accessible for young ages which is not easy.


If you read it as a young person, reread it as an adult. You’ll take away very different things. It’s a good read at any age. The book also contains several truths about war and the human condition that are remarkably poetic. A forthcoming blog will contain some of my favorite quotes from the book.


There is only one slightly negative thing I have to say. Between the technicality of the writing and the necessary isolation of various characters, I just wasn’t as attached to this book as some of my personal favorites. However, I think that was the point given the level of isolation Ender endures


A
B
C
D - Divergent by Veronica Roth
E - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
F
G - The Great Fables Crossover by Bill Willingham
H - How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
I
J - Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
K
L
M - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
N - Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
O - One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
P
Q
R - Reality Bites Back by Jennifer L. Pozner
S
T
U - Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
V
W - White Girl Problems by Babe Walker
X
Y
Z

May. 14th, 2012

Bad Kitty

Up in the Air

I heard a great thing on The Kane Show. While they were on a plane over the weekend, two of the people from the show sat next to a woman who did her nails on the plane. Color and top coat. How self-involved can you be that you think, “I need to do my nails despite the enclosed space and offensive chemical smell”?


Kane posted her picture on Twitter and the woman is a fan of the show and called in! She was mad that they did that and said “I paid for that seat and that space. I should be able to do whatever I want.” By that order people can do yoga, breast feed, make-out, masturbate, floss, blast your music sans headphones, and change a diaper. I can make my peace with breast feeding if you have a scarf or something to add privacy. I know babies have to eat but I have no desire to know you that well random stranger. Everything else is obnoxious and inexcusable.


She further defended what she did by saying that people bring on smelly food like “Subway meatball subs with onions.” Much like babies, people need to eat. When ordering food you should consider that the windows don’t open but no one will mock you Twitter for getting lunch.


When people said the smell gives them migraines or can trigger asthma attacks, she said “People have peanut allergies and they still serve peanuts.” Very few airlines still do that and people actually get a choice whether they fly that airline.


“It’s the same as perfume.” Really? Nobody puts on perfume while sitting on the damn plane. If it’s already on, the damage is done, start wheezing. Again, people should go easy on the scented crap before flying but nobody will mock you unless your offensive smell is BO or you bathed in your cologne.


An airline stewardess called in and said that she was surprised someone didn’t take it away because it’s flammable. That finally shut her up. It wasn’t because nobody agreed with her. It wasn’t because all her arguments were lamer than a two-legged dog. It was because it was a fire hazard.


If I was sitting next to her and she got up to go to the bathroom I would grab that stuff out of her purse and hid it. Nobody cares if your nails are funky and if I made a show out of taking your nail polish, people would clap. I know I would.

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