Friday, October 21, 2016

quick check-in

Longer post to come later....I have to do a workout and then get over to school to do a little grading and check my plants.

But, here's one of those "brains are dumb and weird" things. A lot of the "bad dreams" I have aren't all that plausible in the daylight, but when they are happening, they are totally plausible to my brain (I suppose it's because that part of your brain that judges reality is turned off).

Well, anyway, here it is: I dreamed that I hadn't kept up my lawn "right" (either by watering it or mowing it often enough, it was unclear) and it turned out that was a capital offense (!) in the world where I was living, and I was caught, convicted, and sentenced to death (by drinking poison, that was how the death penalty worked in this world). For some reason I was being kept in a hospital-like setting* while I was running through appeals. My main arguments were:

a. This law was not made sufficiently clear to me
b. dear God, I work full-time, how can I be expected to have a perfect lawn?

The funny thing is, the fundamental injustice of the law (in our day-to-day world, murderers, child molesters, and rapists wind up eventually going free; death penalty cases are fairly rare) never came up as an issue.

Anyway, shortly before I woke up I was getting word that the appeal had been denied.

While I didn't do what I sometimes do after bad dreams - get up for a little bit and stare at The Weather Channel or something - it took me a while to get back to sleep.

(*Probably because I half-watched a couple episodes of "Trauma: Life in the ER" last night. Stuff like that has a way of worming itself into my brain)

After that dream, I had one where I was having to re-defend my dissertation, only this time in front of a committee that was half my original committee, half my current colleagues. And when I tried to open the Powerpoint file of the presentation based on my research, the computer kept pulling pictures of Ponies off my hard drive (perfectly innocent pictures, no rule 34 or anything weird) and I kept getting increasingly embarrassed because of a combination of not being able to do what I needed to do and also revealing my odd childish obsession to the people I work with (and who will be 'judging' me).

It's good to catch up on sleep but I could do without the bizarre brain-dumps.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I also have


Well, new-old pony. New to me but likely made when I was in high school.

Sparkle Baby Firefly (who is different from just-plain Firefly, who is different from Fyre-fly)

I really love the Sparkle Ponies, and I also especially love the Baby Ponies. (I think I have more of the Baby variety than the Adult variety now). There's something so appealing about the tiny size and the little round bodies.

I now have three sparkle baby ponies - and they are a unicorn (Sparkle Baby Gusty), a pegasus (Sparkle Baby Firefly) and an "earth pony*" (Sparkle Baby Starflower). That pleases me. (I don't know if any others were made in the Sparkle Baby line or not. But it's nice to have one of each type).

Some time I have to photograph some of the little "family groupings" I have imagined up.

(*I think it's funny how easily fans started calling regular (non-mythical beast) ponies "Earth Ponies." It makes me think of how, back in grade school, we talked about "Chocolate Milk" and "White Milk." "White Milk" was just plain milk, but somehow we had to give it that qualifier. I'd like to know when the tradition of calling it "White Milk" got started....)

I have a....

So, I came home and decided that maybe some of the crabbiness that developed over the course of the day was related to (a) stiffness from not having exercised in the morning (my allergies were so bad when I woke up that I went "one more hour" and reset the alarm and (b) guilt feelings over having not exercised.

So I decided to do the dvd workout, which is just over half an hour and usually makes me feel better.

But I needed a quick snack first, as it had been a long time (and a field lab) since lunch. I grabbed one of the "fruit pouches" I buy - these are essentially applesauce blended with other fruits. (And I know, I know - but these have no added sugar beyond what's in the fruit, and anyway, I have bad teeth so easy-to-eat food is nice sometimes when my sinuses make my teeth hurt).

Well, one of them is an apple pineapple blend.

I never realized it before, but: "I have an apple....I have pineapple...."

And yeah, it made me laugh and got me out of my crabbiness a little.

Gratuitous sweaty post-workout shot with an unopened package of the stuff:

Yes, I know. I find that more amusing than I should, but I've never claimed not to like stupid silly stuff.

Wednesday morning random

* I had read about "convenience" stores ("konbini") in Japan before, and about how they're more a desirable/community thing than such stores are in the US (for example: some provide a meeting place for people, some even check on the elderly or infirm to be sure they're okay). This is another story about them.

The biggest thing that struck me about the story: "Lawson," apparently in some locations known as "Lawson Station." This is the descendant (a few times removed; I think there have been bankruptcies and re-buying of the name) of the Lawson dairy stores I grew up with in northeast Ohio in the 1970s. And it just seems jarring to me every time I run across it in one of these's almost as if someone you knew as a kid and thought had died shows back up again, but they've had plastic surgery and have been in the Witness Relocation Program for a number of years..

(One tiny quibble: many of the Ohio locations of Lawson were not "rural." We were perhaps best described as a "bedroom community" for Akron or Cleveland. Not really any true farms around us)

Oooh....maybe Doki Doki Crate will do a future crate on konbini and they will include some Lawson swag? That would be particularly meaningful to me. (I have heard a Lawson opened in Hawaii - because of the high rate of Japanese tourism there - and maybe I heard they were thinking about opening some on the West Coast? It would be exceptionally weird to see Lawson's return to the States, only this time under the aegis of a Japanese owner. Well, it would be weird to me, because I know the history - not weird to most people).

But the typeface used for the signs is the same (if that's a Japanese Lawson shown in the story, and not an old photo of an Ohio one). And they use the same sky-blue and white color scheme I remember:

Okay, it wasn't called "Lawson Station" then (and that's a slightly odd syntax; Lawson was the name of the family that ran it), but the logo is almost the same and the colors are the same.

(If I ever have cause to go back to Hawaii, and I am somewhere where there is a Lawson, I am going, and if they have t-shirts, I am buying one. Because.)

It's funny - there are a lot of aspects of my youth I'd rather leave behind because they weren't so happy (especially junior high school) but there are things that can make me deeply nostalgic. I remember exactly where the Lawson's in my town was, how it was a funny little narrow store with the walls almost entirely taken up by (as I remember) cooler cases for the milk and ice cream and refrigerated dips and stuff.

* It's easy for me to "miss" random things or make them symbolic of having left a place behind. Back the first or second year after I moved here, I was home for Thanksgiving break and went out to the grocery with my mom, and I started crying when I saw the boxes of Creamette pasta, simply because it was a familiar brand, I couldn't get it here, and none of the brands I COULD get seemed the same. (This was back when I was frantically prepping 2 or 3 new classes and getting to shop in Sherman MAYBE once every six weeks, and so, relying on the old Winn-Dixie (long since closed) for almost everything).

One of the other things about living here/having less time: I find I wind up having to "accept" brands of things (like pasta) I don't maybe like as well, because nowhere local sells what I mom talks about driving to three or four groceries, sometimes, in her rounds, to get the best deals/get the brands she wants and that just feels like such a luxurious thing to me. To have the choice of more than one brand of organic milk! To be able to get a "different" pasta shape than the three or four the wal-mart has deemed the only ones necessary.

And yes, I get that that's the First Worldiest of First World Problems....but I also think of the film footage I saw back in the 1980s of the dying Soviet Union, and the very few items to choose from on the shelves, and the old women lining up for four hours for a sack of potatoes, and I twitch a little. (That's why I will argue with anyone who claims we have "too many choices" and the number of brands should be pared back)

* Someone needs to talk to these 18-20 year olds. I came in this morning to a message from one of my advisees - this person wants to meet with me TODAY. The message was sent late in the evening yesterday. I have already planned out my day for getting stuff done and while I did list two fifteen-minute slots when I maybe could advise, I'm not happy about it. (I guess, sigh, I will have to be the one to bring up the topic). I don't expect to get in to see my doctor with less than 24 hours notice! (even though once or twice I have managed to get a next-day appointment)

I've laid down the law in my classes that I need a minimum of 24 hours notice before someone meets with me except during my open office hours....and even then, I've said if I'm in the middle of research I may have to ask the person to wait 10 minutes. I still get people doing stuff like this, where they e-mail me at 8 pm and expect me to e-mail them right back with an appointment less than 15 hours away from that time.

Newsflash: I'm old, I need my sleep and relaxation time. I do not live tethered to a smartphone. You e-mail me after 3 or 4 pm, you'll hear back the next day. If it's urgent, too bad, so sad.

And yeah. Part of this IS me "being old." I remember the 1970s. I remember when if someone wasn't home when you called them on the (corded, and back then, even rented-from-A T and T) phone, you tried again later on - you didn't leave a message, you didn't get call forwarding. For doctors and the like there were answering services and towards the end of my childhood beepers came in for folks like doctors and police special agents I've said before, I think in the future the real luxury will be being able to live NOT tethered to the needs of the people you work for, of being able to take a weekend day and just GO somewhere without having to answer a lot of questions or virtually file TPS reports while you're there. They don't pay me enough, and I am not important enough, to be required to respond that fast to people. And I think there IS some value in training the immediate-communication generation that some people prefer NOT to "roll that way."

* Anyway. My mid-fall break starts tomorrow and wow do I need it. What I am looking forward to these four days:

 - Sleeping as late as I need to (My allergies have flared up again and I need more sleep when my allergies are bad). I can work in the workouts later on in the day

- Getting to Whitesboro tomorrow, going yarn shopping, going to the quilt shop even though it's been a long time since I even touched my sewing machine,  going to antique stores, getting lunch out somewhere (Lovejoy's isn't serving but I know there are restaurants in Sherman).

- Doing "big" grocery shopping in Sherman, and being able to do it on a day when the whole world isn't out shopping. And getting to the natural foods store. And doing all of this at a time when I don't have one eye on the clock.

- Taking Friday and maybe clearing up my sewing room a little and maybe getting back to the long-stalled quilt top. (Well, I will also have to run in here and check on my plants, but that's okay)

- Seeing Laura and surprise-guest-friend-who-is-also-coming-along Saturday, going to a fun museum, going to Stitches N Stuff, getting another lunch out, PERHAPS getting to a big Books a Million and Michael's if there is time.

- Being on my own schedule instead of someone else's for a couple days, and not having the whole, "Yeah, I know it's late in the evening but I really need to meet with you some time tomorrow so could you rearrange your whole schedule for me?" requests.

* There's a story - possibly not true, possibly a hoax, who knows any more - making the rounds about a waitress (a single, childless woman) getting a "note" from some customers effectively telling her "God says your place is in the home, not out working, and you're setting a terrible example for your children."

If people actually did this - if this is not a hoax, or not people doing it to troll and pretend to be Christians doing something that is actually pretty un-Christian in my book - well, that's just another thing that makes me sad about people.

You need to walk a mile in someone's shoes. The point is made that this woman is, like I am, single and childless: if she didn't work, she'd have to either rely on family to support her, or rely on the state to support her. I don't think either of those options is preferable to someone going out and earning a living. And even IF she did have a husband and kids, what's to say HE was working? I had two aunts who had husbands that wound up disabled beyond the  point of being able to work, so my aunts had to go to work to support the family. Or maybe her husband works at a job that doesn't bring in enough money to keep a family afloat - unfortunately that is all too often the case these days.

And you know? There are times to speak and times to keep silent and I kinda think berating a person serving you in this way is a time to keep silent. Maybe it's because I've seen enough cases in my life where I was TEMPTED to say something to someone about behaving irresponsibly, but (fortunately) before I did, I learned "the rest of the story" and it was a case of someone doing absolutely everything to hold stuff together and not quite making it (e.g., the woman in my class who missed a few classes and it turned out she was the ONLY caretaker for an aunt who was in hospice and had lots of doctor's appointments, and ALSO this aunt was my student's only remaining family....and I learned this all from a reliable third party, so I know it wasn't just a story, and boy was I glad I didn't say anything to the student)

Maybe I'm oversensitive because I'm a single woman myself and everything is 100% on me in terms of paying my bills, keeping my life together, and even planning for an eventual retirement, but I'd probably break down in big ugly tears if someone pulled this stunt on me. And yeah, for me, the whole "You're not responsible enough and not fulfilling your Socially Expected Role" is one of my buttons for a lot of reasons, and so that kind of a comment would hurt more than it should and would be very hard for me to dismiss.

Like I said: it's entirely possible the people were trolling, and if they were doing it to make "Christians" look bad, shame on them for that. Most of us don't roll that way, and I would daresay those of us who pay attention to what the Founder of our faith was saying wouldn't do this kind of thing to a person - IT'S NOT LOVING. You can correct someone in a loving way if necessary but this is just laying a load of guilt and pain on someone....

I dunno. People frustrate me and I confess I'm hoping this is either a hoax, or the people who did this actually did it to besmirch Christianity, and not that they were actual Christians who think this is a way to guide someone in life.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Some different reading

I'm really enjoying "Moonfleet." It's a moderately exciting book, and it's enjoyable. (And I need to get a pad of paper - there are a couple words I've run across that might be regionalisms or they might be archaic words, but I'm not familiar with them. I can get kind of what they mean from context, but I want to look them up).

Also, it reminds me a lot of how I read as a kid. I read because of the story. Not because the book would teach me something, or because it provided a window on the human condition, or anything like that - it was just a good story, it was exciting and diverting, and I wanted to see how it turned out.

And I miss that kind of reading. So much of what I do read is "informative" (e.g., all the journal articles) and a lot of the books I do read (I really need to finish "Moby Dick" some time) I read either because (a) I think it will help me understand people better or (b) my overarching reason is, "It's a classic and I should have read it." (Never mind if it's also fun to read it; the very idea that "this is something educated people should have read" puts that little broccoli-esque specter over the book).

I remember when I was a kid and devoured what now seem to be called "Chapter Books" - i.e., books written for the young but not picture books. By and large they are simply good stories; the older ones can be quite exciting (written in an era when there was less fear a mention of, say, a dead and decayed body, would warp a child or unduly frighten them*). I guess I read a certain number of books that were maybe "aimed at boys" but I never really noticed that - if it was a good story, I enjoyed it, and I didn't care. (In this book, so far, all the major active characters have been male. There's a rather sour aunt who later on turns John out of her home, and there's the promise of a "love" interest (or at least a crush) for John in the form of Grace Mayhew, but so far in it's just John and Pastor Glennie and Ratsey and Elzevir Block and a few unnamed smugglers). And again, this is one of those "maybe adults don't give full credit to kids" thing - I never felt left out or mistreated if I read a book with an almost-entirely-male (or even entirely-male) cast: again, if it was a good story, I didn't care.

(*I've said before I think your average (untraumatized - from a moderately happy home and all that) child is more resilient to this kind of stuff than adults give them credit for. And is probably more resilient in some ways than an adult who actually HAS experienced fear, discomfort, and horror in their life)

And I can feel the memory of how I used to read as a kid coming up from the pages of this book: a time when the story was everything; when I might turn part of my play-life into a re-enactment of parts of the book or at least a re-imagining of the adventures of the characters. It's reading for sheer fun and escape and sometimes I think adults don't get enough of that.

Though also, I get the sense in "Moonfleet" that John is also learning (and perhaps modeling for his young readers) "How to be an adult man" in the world where he lived - yes, he gets *some* education from Pastor Glennie, but he also helps Ratsey (the sexton, who also does things like carve headstones) and seems to be learning a trade, and he is later "adopted" by Block after the aunt turns him out - Block having lost a much-loved son about John's age a couple months prior. And also just the idea of "what is a man" - that Block, for example, for all his apparent terseness and moroseness is a kind and compassionate person (you can't judge a book by its cover), the idea that sometimes laws are unjust laws (the fact that smuggling wine and other alcohol is largely winked at, even by the pastor), and so on.

Some years back I belonged to a book club. We read a number of "modern" novels, a few of them regarded as Important novels. I wound up....not enjoying some of them very much.

I think the difference is that the action in a book like Moonfleet is very "exterior" - John crawls down into a sinkhole thinking maybe he will find "Blackbeard's" treasure, he winds up trapped, he winds up learning about the smugglers. STUFF happens. In the books we read, almost everything took place inside the heads (or, I guess you'd have to say, the beds) of the protagonists. And it was all....I don't know, it was so frustratingly BORING. Or annoying. It was people going about ordinary adult life and you know, ordinary adult life isn't that fun or that romantic. Or it was annoying because (in one book in particular I remember) the woman protagonist had a boyfriend who was a good, honest, solid man, but he wasn't "exciting" to her, so she wound up running away to New York City and effectively subletting a closet and living in horrible squalor because there was a marginally more exciting man on offer.....who turned out to be a jerk. And even someone who has lived as romantically-cloistered a life as I (or perhaps it was BECAUSE I have led such a cloistered life) I kept figuratively screaming at her that she was being so stupid, that she needed to go back to the good and stable but "unexciting" man and plan a life with him because he'd marry her in a heartbeat and be true to her, but instead she wanted this.....guy....who showed no inclination for fidelity or even really working at a grown-up job, and....well, the book just frustrated me because it felt like watching an episode of Oprah. By comparison, Moonfleet feels very bracing - almost like the comparison between going out on a cold autumn night into the sharp air, versus stepping out on a muggy summer morning.

Moonfleet is the kind of thing I read to GET AWAY FROM hearing about people living their lives like the woman in that book.

I'm not a huge Sci-Fi fan but I think this is why people like Sci-Fi: a lot of it is an escape. (Though also, a lot of it does make you think; it presents some of the moral dilemmas of the world in a new way). Maybe "Moonfleet" is closer to modern spy novels than it is to Sci-Fi, I don't know.

I have to admit one of the few books we read in book club that I found interesting (and hung on to after we were done with it) was "The Strange Case of the Dog in the Night-Time" because it was about an autistic teenaged boy, and I liked it because it got me in someone else's head, it wasn't just the same whiny or strident women or the same arrogant or "beta" men like in a lot of the other books. (Also, fundamentally, it had a happy ending, which seems to be something somewhat out of fashion, but I will unabashedly say I prefer books where the "good" characters wind up happy and getting some reward in the end).

But yeah. Part of the reason I like Moonfleet is that it does remind me of that sort of reading-under-the-covers-past-your-bedtime-with-a-flashlight thing of childhood. (Which my parents probably knew I was doing but looked the other way about).

Monday, October 17, 2016

This is a thing?

I know, I know, I should just shrug and let this go but this is the second instance today of someone wanting me to do their job for them. (The first one was at work and I won't go into details, just that I don't have to do it now because I objected).

Anyway. I came home to the usual mailbox full of stuff-mostly-bound-for-the-recycling-bin. (It's getting close to Christmas; I have started getting the citrus catalogs).

Anyway. There was a card from a local real estate agency. Telling me a house had been put up for sale in my neighborhood and if I "knew anyone, friend or neighbor, looking for a house" could I please call them and let them know about the house.

Which feels very much to me like "DO MY JOB FOR ME! SELL THIS HOUSE FOR ME!" I presume the agent will get 100% of the commission on it - there is no mention of any "reward" offered for finding a buyer.

And, I don't know. I get asked this stuff all the time: take this survey. Sit through this webinar where we're going to try to sell you a product. Follow this person on Twitter because they get a penny or something for every new follower. Post this spammy comment because its spammy links might sell something for the spammer. And it all makes me tired. I have a full-time job and then some. I have to do ALLLLLL the housework, marketing, cooking, laundry, yardwork myself. I have duties at church. I do service on campus and off campus. I sometimes serve as a reviewer of articles for free.

And there have been times when I genuinely could have used some help but did not get it.

And so, I object to someone who *probably* makes more than I do in a year asking me to do their job (Or, at least that's how it feels).

I'm tired.

I wonder if other people have gotten the postcard like this and if they interpreted it like I did - as a "sell this house for me while I take the profit and get the glory!"

(Also, I know the house in question and it's not all that. I bet they're having a hard time selling it and that's why they're spamming people with postcards).

I'm not sure I have the energy to e-mail the guy and say, "Hey, maybe you don't realize it, but this is how your postcard 'looks' to at least one person" - I can't think of a sufficiently low-key and nice way to do it, so I'll just toss the postcard.

Holding fast to....

Yesterday, as the benediction, I used something I ran across in a little book of prayers/readings I had bought. It's based on something from 1 Thessalonians but this version of it specifically had been used in a service at the National Cathedral shortly after Sept. 11, 2001:
Go forth now, into the world in Peace; Be of good courage; Hold fast to that which is good, Render to no one evil for evil; Strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; Help the afflicted; honor everyone;
Love and serve the Lord. And the blessing of God Almighty, the God who created us, the God who liberates us, and the God who stays with us throughout eternity be with you this day and forever more. Amen.

(From here, but also, as I said, in the little book I have)

I've always loved that passage. It seems like the writer - most likely Paul, though it could have been Silas or Timothy who took it down - was cramming everything he could think of that was important right there. Almost like the speaker at a graduation who knows his or her time is running short but wants to give as many instructions as possible for the future lives of those graduating.

I also love it - and I KNOW I have said this before - because of the "hold fast to that which is good" part. I try to hang on to that as a motto in my life - and more generally, to look for the good instead of the bad. I try to see the good in people and things. It's hard sometimes, and I know when I'm at my worst and lowest is when I look around and I go "It's all crud. The human race was SUCH a mistake. We should be wiped out and the earth start over with some other sentient species" (Though perhaps sentience is as much the problem as humanity....)

Someone I now follow on Twitter (thanks to seeing this very comment quoted somewhere) said:

"I hate this election. I hate how we're all so stressed out and wound up we are that we're going after each other like this."

Yes. That. I have heard of things like people getting their cars "keyed" presumably because of whatever candidate's bumper sticker they had on their bumper. Or bigger, uglier things. I've heard of friendships becoming strained over politics. And I dunno, that seems kind of stupid to me. And that's also why I don't really talk politics that much - I get that I can have principled disagreements with people over things. But this is one of my happy places and I like to keep disagreement at bay.

Anyway. I was thinking of some of the "good things" to hold fast to. (And I admit - these days, my mental image of it is often as much me clinging to Harry the Bear's paw when I try to sleep after an upsetting day. Yes,, I know that's regressive, but whatever).

And sometime I should post my couple of little "family groupings" of the Pony figures I have developed (these are the earlier-gen ones, so not explicitly put into families so much as G4 already is). I have a Seashell and a Baby Ember (Baby Ember is blue, so I am thinking of him as one of the rare boy-ponies). Seashell is Ember's mother; they have the same eyes and they can even kind of cuddle together with Ember's head up under his mother's chin. And my Big Brother (Salty, renamed Boaty McBoatface) seems to be in love with a unicorn named Blackberry Pie, so I keep them together....It's a silly little thing but it makes me happy and in an odd way, gives me comfort. (And anyway, in the real world, horses are social animals and would stay in groups).

And the little kindnesses you see or hear about some times. Or the good stories, of which there are too few - I saw a news story the other day about a group in Rwanda that is using drones to fly essential medical equipment (stuff like blood, and, I presume, vaccines) in to remote areas where they are needed. It's a simple thing but you hear so many of the *annoying* uses of drones you forget that they could have life-saving uses.

And "Moonfleet," so far, is a good and interesting book - it takes you into the mind of a 15 year old boy in the late 1700s. He lives in a small village that is rather impoverished. He takes his lessons from the kindly minister of the church, he lives with his aunt (his parents being dead). Life is simple in the town; most people don't think of what happens beyond their own gardens. (Sometimes I wonder if we have got artificially "stretched" beyond our ken, and spend too much time thinking about and worrying about things that have little direct impact on us. I also find myself thinking of the old Yeats poem with the lines, " My country is Kiltartan Cross/ My countrymen Kiltartan's poor/ No likely end could bring them loss/ Or leave them happier than before"). And also the old ending line of Candide, about cultivating our own gardens.

And just simple things like tea. I have some new ones on order to try. It's one of those small things that makes my life more pleasant, especially as (if?) the weather gets cooler.

And seeing the monarch butterflies migrating. I've seen a *lot* these past few weeks (and I admit, when I get close enough to one, I look carefully to see if it's one someone has banded. Haven't seen any yet). But it amazes me- it's really one of those miracles of nature. These butterflies, which are so small as to weigh almost *nothing* (I know, I've held them in my hand, banding them) are able to fly over a thousand miles to their wintering grounds. And what's more, that "knowledge" of how to get there must be in-born; this generation of butterflies has never seen the wintering grounds - they were born sometime late this summer.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

And Sunday night

* First sleeve of Raven is done, and second begun, just enough to be comfortable for working on while I invigilate an exam tomorrow. (I'm excited to think this may be done soon: there's minimal finishing, just putting the sleeves in and working a collar on it)

* Decided to start a new book. I finished "Death in the Tunnel" (Miles Burton) last night. It was a good mystery. I kind of guessed "who done it," but I didn't guess the why. There are a lot of twists and turns to the story and it's generally pretty well written - and it does, in a way, transport one to that middle-class between-the-wars British world.

I've decided to try to intersperse my finishing-up of "The War that Ended Peace" (because, darn it, I am going to finish it this time) with "Moonfleet," which is an older (First published 1898) YA historical thriller - about smugglers in a Cornish (? I think) town, and apparently there is a mystery and pirates - and it's the kind of fantastical thing I probably need to read right now, what with the fact that it seems every bit of news programming is 55 minutes of each hour spent promoting the next debate).

I probably need to read more fantastical novels. I certainly have enough on the shelf - the full Dark is Rising sequence (which has the added appeal for me of being a "Good beats evil" story) and the various Rosemary Sutcliff Roman novels (e.g., "The Eagle of the Ninth") and a recently-purchased YA historical novel about Alessandra Giliani, who is thought to have been the first female anatomy professor. (It looked interesting to's a used copy bought online). Part of the reason I enjoy Golden Era detective fiction so much is it takes me to "a different place" and certainly the Cornish coast in the late 1700s, or ancient Roman Britain, or 14th Century Italy are "different places."

On some level, it helps me break out of the one-inch picture frame I get my head stuck in, where the bad junk going on in our world has always been going on and always will be going on, and that people are mostly depraved, and they don't make an effort to be better or kinder. (This is also a big reason why I get myself to church every Sunday; the reminder that there are Better Things and, what's more, there's a reason to be better myself, and that striving to be a better person doesn't make me a chump and a loser, no matter how much some in the world might portray it as such).

* I finally watched "Mystery Men" from the beginning last night. A couple thoughts:
 - It's PG-13, which means most naughty words aren't there. Also there's comparatively little "real" gore, though there is a horrible doomsday machine that does nightmarish stuff to Captain Amazing.

- It's just a funny movie. Kind of dumb-funny in some ways, but I like things that are dumb-funny but fundamentally good-natured, which is what this movie is. The villains are mostly cartoonish rather than truly scary; one of the reasons they lose is that they are buffoons. (Though the Mystery Men do improve their skills considerably after working with The Sphinx)

- I really, really like the Shoveler's speech at the end, which also gets at some of his motivation behind becoming, well, the Shoveler - that there are a lot of ordinary decent people out there who go to work every day and do what needs to be done and keep the world running, and a lot of them don't ever see any real appreciation or perhaps even any real clear results in their jobs. (he is the Shoveler because he's a sewer worker who wants something more; he wants to be a hero)

- Blue Raja is still my favorite character but I do also like the Shoveler. And Invisible Boy.

- I do think this is an underrated movie. Maybe it came out at the wrong time, maybe it wasn't promoted in the right way, but it is interesting and funny and well-done in kind of a low-key way. There are a few gross gags I could have done without (the skunk getting romantic with The Spleen's leg didn't do a whole lot to advance the story) but in general it was a good movie.

*  Follow up on the 100% polyester sheets: they're fine on colder nights, but when we had a few warmer nights recently, they did get a little too warm. (However: I run hot and I "sleep hot" so other people's mileage may vary). I'm also concerned that they might pill easily. I changed them out last night for the cotton sheets again and I can tell I like the cotton ones better.

I definitely think that the "Clothesline Crisp" sheets (from Vermont Country Store) are the best I've ever had. Granted, I've never bought the $400 sheet sets some places sell (the Clothesline Crisp ones are about $90 for a set, which is expensive enough) but I like the feel of them and they wash up well and don't feel flimsy.

Actually, everything I've ever bought from Vermont Country Store has been good quality....I am going to ask for one of the wintertime knit dresses they are featuring for Christmas, because I was happy with the other dresses I bought from them.

* I have all but decided to go to Whitesboro one day of my break in addition to the meet-up with Laura in Longview. I don't get out enough, I don't get to have fun enough, I think. I might go Thursday even though Lovejoy's isn't serving on that day - I can probably swing over to Sherman for lunch afterward (and also do "big grocery" shopping).  That way, if I'm coming back late on Saturday, I don't feel like I have to stop and shop then.

I do want to look for some dk weight yarns; I don't have much and I recently got a book with some neat patterns in it - particularly a pair of mitts that would make a good Christmas present. (Yes, I am going to try to do some Christmas knitting this year).

Also, Whitesboro has a couple nice antique shops, and I've had a shortage of being able to go antiquing of late.

Still kinda terrifying

So, I delivered what was Sermon 3 of my life today (or "Sermon," I prefer the scare quotes as I'm not actually ordained so I'm just doing this as a layperson).

It still scares me. Even though I had practiced it, even though I ran over it quickly again before church. It seems odd to me that I should be that much more scared standing up in front of a group of people who give me no reason to believe they feel anything but love for me (I don't get that from students) and if I do badly, the only consequences I will face is maybe not being asked to do it again. (And if I DO do well, I wind up getting asked again at some point.)

("It's like a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie," which is occasionally said about earning tenure)

But I did it today. I think the sermon was a pretty good one - again, I don't remember the delivery of it all that well other than that I could have paused longer at one point when I said something bordering on funny and people laughed. People told me it was good and it was meaningful.

(Short summary: it was over Luke 10:38-42, Mary and Martha, and the tack I took was that we need both Marys and Marthas, that Martha wasn't so *wrong* in what she was doing, but maybe it was untimely when she was doing it, and that sometimes the Marthas - of which I am very much one - do need to slow down and be contemplative. And the side note that things happen in their own right time, and I did go through good old Ecclesiastes 3 at that part.)

But yeah. Still stressful. It wasn't very warm in church and I was wearing a lighter weight dress, but I can still feel that I sweated through the underarms of it. (So, even though I only wore it for a couple hours, I'll have to wash it - I can't just hang it back up like I sometimes do with church clothes).

We also had a new person join church, which was particularly scary - am I doing this right? Am I even qualified to do this, seeing as I'm not ordained? But I was the most qualified one there (the ordained person was absent) and we really are pretty low-drama about that in the Disciples of Christ (there's one question you ask the person, and they're pretty much expecting it, so)

(And yeah, there's the old saying about God not choosing the prepared so much as preparing the chosen)

I had several people ask me if I'd ever considered the ministry as a career, so I guess it went well. My response: "I can do the 'God stuff' comfortably, I am not so comfortable with the 'people stuff'" and in the mostly-small churches where I would be, if I did it, I'd have to do both counseling and preaching, and the whole counseling thing would scare me, as I deal very badly with conflict, I don't like having crying people sitting in my office and not knowing how to help, I am afraid of extremely angry people. If I just had to preach and pray and stuff, I could do that....the whole "easy to be a saint on a mountaintop" thing.

Though I don't know. Maybe with the right classes, some practice, and a little more maturity (if I ever get more than I have right now, which, I don't know: I'm probably at my life maximum for maturity) I could do it. I've often said people planning to be college professors should probably have some basic psychology/counseling classes because we wind up dealing with so many messy emotions from people and also sometimes also have to be able to cope with human difficulties, and I think I would be able to better if I had had some training.

But yeah. I could PROBABLY do enough coursework to earn something like a Master's of Divinity in a few years....I'm not going to totally dismiss the possibility because (a) it's just possible teaching college could become unappealing enough in the future to want something else with my life and (b) I'm enough of a "Martha" that a "traditional" retirement (of bridge and golf) wouldn't appeal that much to me; I'd want to feel useful.

I still don't really think I have "the call" but maybe not everyone who goes into the ministry feels like that at first. (Or maybe I do and just haven't recognized it yet).

Friday, October 14, 2016

working on stuff

* The whole research project is (finally) now up and running. I think there is some issue with the website seeds were ordered from; in the first case, the person doing the official grant-money order wound up not ordering two of the species I needed. Then when I ordered (on my own dime) and thought I was getting the two missing ones (Indian grass and Inland sea-oats), it turns out I only ordered Indian grass. So another ruinously expensive "fast shipping" (not the fastest they offer; I could not brook paying $35 to ship $9 worth of seeds) and they showed up at my door late last evening. (I am normally happy to see the UPS guy but last night I was especially happy).

So, the two remaining treatments have been planted and treated; now it's just weekly applications of either DI water or the allegedly-allelopathic extract and monitoring. No, nothing is germinating yet from the stuff I planted Tuesday; I don't expect it to for at least another week.

I have plenty of seed so perhaps will do a second round of this in the spring. I really waited a little long for this; I will have, at best, two months before the semester ends and if I want to see family over Christmas I will have to break the experiment down then; I cannot get someone to water and monitor it for me while I am gone.

* I started the talk for the Wildlife club yesterday. I will have to track down the president and ask her how long a talk they would like - I'm thinking 20-25 minutes. But if they want something longer, I can do it. I actually invested in personal copies of two of the (older, but still useful) books I heavily referenced in my dissertation: "The True Prairie Ecosystem" and "Fire in North American Tallgrass Prairie." The library here MIGHT have a copy of the first one but this copy was cheap enough from Amazon used books (it is an ex-library copy, from Maddux Library at Trinity University,which I think is in San Antonio? (There are several schools out there with "Trinity" in their name)

* The sermon for Sunday is mostly written. My plan is to look it over tomorrow morning and also find a Benediction and tweak my pre-offering speech from last time. Again, I'll be glad when this is done. I think it's a good (or at least interesting) sermon. I am using the "Mary and Martha" scripture (the one from Luke 10 - where Martha is running around like her hair is on fire doing stuff that you're expected to do when you have guests, and Mary, her sister, is sitting there at Jesus' feet listening to Jesus, and Martha gets ticked off because Mary isn't helping, and she actually tells Jesus to tell Mary to get off her duff....and while Jesus doesn't exactly rebuke Martha, he does tell her, "No, I'm not going to tell her that, because she has made the right choice for this time.") And the point often made is "Martha wrong; Mary right" but actually I think it's more nuanced than that - and some of the sources I look at say that they essentially symbolize the two approaches to the faithful life, and really, we should ALL do BOTH at different times - sometimes, go out and be active and do good works like Martha, but at other times, be quiet and contemplative and learn like Mary.

And I admit, as more of a Martha-type, I like that interpretation better and find it more charitable to those of us who have a hard time being still. (Also: I am not the kind of person who can sit and meditate; I get too antsy. But I can meditate while pulling weeds in the garden or walking on a path or sometimes even doing stuff like entering data. It's not for nothing that I always knit while watching movies on tv....)

* I have plans for mid-fall break, which makes me happy. Laura and I and another friend of hers are going to meet up and go to an oil museum in Kilgore (Laura informs me it's 80s-fabulous, which should be interesting). And then we're going to probably swing by Stitches N Stuff. That will be Saturday and I have to decide whether I want to be the "little piggy" and then also go to Whitesboro either Thursday or Friday. (I know Lovejoy's serves lunch on Friday but I don't think they do on Thursday). I may also stop at the Michael's in Longview on my way back home to get supplies for my niece's Christmas gift.

(My "big check" from the publisher came and has been deposited, and I also realized I have an account in the credit union "back home" - where my parents live - that is bigger than I remembered it as. Interestingly, for a while, that credit union was only letting you get statements online unless you were willing to pay $2 a month. Recently, they started sending paper statements again, and I didn't opt-in for that and there is no charge shown against my account, so - I wonder if some new law got passed about issuing statements? At any rate, it's good to know I have another stash of "emergency money" elsewhere. I paid a bill or two off it over the summer, partly to avoid "inactivity fees" but also so I didn't have to worry about depleting my checking account too badly while being paid adjunct wages)

* And I have been knitting some, but mostly on projects that are slow movers. I've added a couple more stripes to Starbuck (I am on the "decrease for the waist" part of it). I admit I'm nervous as to whether it will fit when done - I made the biggest size but it's a bit smaller than the typical sweater I make. And it looks small on the needles, but then again, the body of it (it's knit in the round) is kind of bunched up on the circular needle, so maybe it's hard to tell. (I hope). If it's too small for me, I don't know - it would probably still be too big for my mom (I typically wear a size 16 on top and she more typically wears an 8), and it's also not colors she typically wears, or I'd give it to her. I don't have a close friend who is just slightly smaller than I am (My sister in law is about the same size as I am, and also, she's taller, so something made to fit me in length would be too short on her).

I'd honestly rather give a finished sweater away than rip it all out and start over.

But maybe it will fit.

Last night, I knit on the first sleeve for the Raven pullover.. This is **almost** done and I'm hoping I can finish it and start the second over the weekend - I give an exam Monday and that is pretty ideal invigilating knitting. I'll also be glad when this sweater is done - this one, I KNOW will fit me right, I've held the finished body up to me. I may need to get a dark brown t-shirt to go under it (to avoid  show-through, and anyway, I like to wear shirts under my sweaters so I can take the sweater off if I wind up in an overheated room).

I kind of want to start a new sweater, too. I'm telling myself instead I should start the second sleeve for Hagrid, which has been languishing for a while. But I have so much yarn stacked up and so many projects I want to do....I spotted the yarn I bought several years ago for that vest in the Harry Potter Knits Interweave "special issue" (it's a shiny gold color) and now I want to start that. But I also have yarn for a blue lace vest that I got on my last trip to Quixotic Fibers. And I have several fingering-weight-sweaters' worth of yarn. And I found a pattern in a recently purchased book for a lace-yoke cardigan and I want to 'repurpose' some yarn I bought a long time ago for something else (and never knit up) for that....

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Huh, that's interesting

So, I couldn't quite face reading about World War I (or rather: the stupid decisions by world leaders that led up to it) last night, so I switched over to the "next nonfiction book" which promises to be an account of the 1918 flu epidemic.

Right now, the author is providing a fair amount of background on medical history (which seems a bit much, but perhaps it will become clear why he is doing this). Lots of talk of Hippocrates and Galen and later Vesalius and Jenner.

Anyway, he mentioned the Four Greek Temperaments, which used to be thought of as the dominant forces in people's life and health: choleric ("Yellow bile"), sanguine (blood), melancholic ("black bile"), and phlegmatic (phlegm, but you probably guessed that). (Corrected 10/15: I had choleric and melancholic biles reversed. I....don't think there actually IS  a "black bile" in the body - yellow bile could be regular bile, blood is blood, and phlegm is phelgm. But I've never heard of black bile as an actual bodily fluid. (Unless it's lymph? But lymph is clear and I don't think the ancient Greeks knew of lymph)

The idea was, these "humors" corresponded to temperaments. Wikipedia lists them as this:

Choleric: short-tempered and irritable
Sanguine: optimistic and social
Phlegmatic: relaxed and peaceful
Melancholic: analytical and quiet.

(Those last two surprise me; I always thought of "phlegmatic" as "sort of sluggish, slow to respond to things, someone who often can't be bothered to act" and "melancholic" as "sort of sad, not exactly depressive but someone who isn't, as a rule, cheerful")

Anyway, I then thought of those "four dimensions of" graphs....where, for example, they look at "authoritarian vs. libertarian and statist vs. market-driven" and you can take quizzes to find out where you fall, and I wondered if there was one for the four temperaments. (And I speculated that I might be phlegmatic - my definition, not Wiki's - with a side of melancholic - again, my definition, not wiki's).

And behold: there's a personality test.

And yes, I know the whole four humors thing has been TOTALLY debunked but I kind of enjoy those weird old archaic things. So I took it.

And behold:

"Your temperament is melancholic. The melancholic temperament is fundamentally introverted and thoughtful. Melancholic people often were perceived as very (or overly) pondering and considerate, getting rather worried when they could not be on time for events. Melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry and art - and can become preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world. Often they are perfectionists. They are self-reliant and independent; one negative part of being a melancholic is that they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of others."

I can't copy the "bar chart" they provide, but my next-highest (not that far off of melancholic's numbers) is phlegmatic, so I guess I was close. (I scored lowest on choleric, despite being the kind of person who gets momentarily aggravated by stuff like malfunctioning self-checkouts).

But yeah, some of that fits - the whole "preoccupied with cruelty in the world" thing, and the perfectionism. I'm not sure I'm that creative. And I've been self-reliant to the point where I realize now it's hurt me a little: everyone thinks of me as the person who has got it worked out, who can manage on their own, who doesn't need other people's help or support.....and so there are some days when I am sitting there going "I could really use a hug or an offer of some help" and not finding them offered, and also not knowing how to ask for them.

I dunno. This is the tired time of the week for me: Thursday and Friday are often bad days as I start to feel kind of "used up." It's tougher this semester to as I have more students coming in for help (one person every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:15 am). I mean, that's good - and hopefully it will be reflected in my evaluations and all - but it's also tiring because it's more people to deal with and more people's emotions to sort out.

I also haven't done much knitting this week; Monday night was piano and CWF, much of Tuesday evening was spent beginning to prep the sermon for Sunday, and last night was meetings at church (including the discussion of the fence).

I'm telling myself that maybe tonight I can just go home and relax for once (but I do have to do laundry). Saturday, I don't know: going "out" to do anything isn't really viable right now because of the additional time to get to Sherman (which is pretty much the only viable shopping area near me). I do need to work on my talk for early November; they are already advertising it.

I don't know. Next week is mid-fall break and so far no plans. I need to see if Laura is free and able to meet up, and what might be a good thing to do. Failing that, maybe I take the Friday and go to Whitesboro and do some yarn shopping and also eat at Lovejoy's again. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More on kindness

Edited to add: Wow, this Inside Higher Ed essay pretty much nails what I'm getting at here, along with adding a few other points. (SO MUCH YES to "it's a myth that Because we are nice, we never get angry, tired or frustrated." that because we are "nice," stuff doesn't get to us. Stuff gets to me ALL THE TIME but I also recognize that in a lot of cases, the person delivering the "stuff" to me did not cause it, so it doesn't help for me to lash out at them. Also the idea that "nice" people don't hold high standards: I've reminded students more times I can count this semester that "ecology is a difficult class; there is a lot of material in it" and just because people aren't doing as well on exams as they'd like to, I'm not going to make them easier)

I don't want to give the wrong impression. Being "kind," in the sense I meant it, doesn't mean being a big squish who never tells anyone the hard truths they need to hear. I've told students, "Yes, unfortunately at this point it is not numerically possible for you to pass this class" when they came to me. Or "You plagiarized this paper, here is the proof of it, my policy is to give you a 0 but for first-time offenses I do not refer you to the Academic Honesty Council*"

(*That has long been my policy and I stand by it for two reasons: first, I think everyone - especially brand-new freshpeople - get a chance to screw up but then redeem themselves, but also, because referring something like that is kind of a pain for a prof. MOST of the plagiarism cases I've caught the person has been repentant and said either, "I guess I knew I wasn't doing it right but I let myself run out of time" or "no one ever really showed me how to do it right" [which is kind of a lie because I go over it in class, but whatever]. I do stand firm on "it's a 0 and you don't get to redo it" and "do it again and I WILL refer you" but most of the people I caught were repentant but accepted their 0.)

What I mean, is not being needlessly hard with someone. Or unnecessarily cruel. For example, the person online who talks about being "excited to be cosplaying as Belle from "Beauty and the Beast"" and some random troll goes, "LOL, but Belle isn't FAT" which is a seriously cruddy and useless thing to say - it doesn't hurt you, personally, if someone who is the "Wrong" body type (or skin color, or prettiness level, whatever) in your mind for a character decides to dress like them. I tend to keep my mouth shut if someone seems to be making a decision I think of as "stupid" unless it's one that is going to actually hurt others or hurt themselves. (For example: I'd speak up and probably try to wrestle the keys away from someone who was drunk but was going to go driving)

But there are a lot of things that don't need my input, and actually, it's a relief to me not to have to give it.

I will critique things if I am specifically asked: students, for example, giving a talk somewhere, call me in to hear it and make suggestions. So I will tell them things like, "You will want to give more detail about your methods, people need to know what you did" or "The graphs are very hard to read, I recommend you redo them..." (and if there are specific things, like, I don't know, a bigger font or something, I suggest it).

Otherwise, I tend to leave feedback - like, for example, on something someone posted on a hobby blog or Ravelry - if I like it. If I think they did something well. If I don't like it, meh, they weren't making it for me, so I move on. It doesn't hurt me that there are things out there not to my taste.

Anyway. I try hard to be a decent human being.

And we had an issue of this on a larger scale at church tonight (Board Meeting) and it bugs me even as I don't see any other better option. We have a small day-care type program (really more like a preschool). It does well and fills a need. There is a small playground on church property for it, surrounded by a 5 or 5 1/2 foot fence (I THINK it's 5 1/2 feet, it's nearly as tall as I am). The fence was erected to (a) help keep the little ones corralled safely while they played but also (b) to keep unauthorized people out so the equipment doesn't get damaged or stolen.

Well, we've been having some problems with b. Apparently there are some teenagers in the area who climb the fence at night, play on the equipment, and they've vandalized and broken stuff. (There is a trampoline, which makes me cringe because liability, but I guess it's one of the safe kinds?). Anyway. We've tried having some of the larger men hang around a bit to try to scare the kids off, we've had cops make extra patrols, we've tried lighting....nothing seems to deter the kids and the daycare can't keep replacing stuff that gets broken (nor can they move it all into a garage or something every night).

(This, my friends, is almost an example of The Tragedy of the Commons).

Anyway, we were concerned about the loss and damage, but also concerned about the whole "attractive nuisance" angle - yes, we have the property posted as private property and that you are not supposed to go on it without explicit permission. But I do wonder about, "What happens if a kid falls while climbing the fence and breaks his arm?" What if his parents try to sue?

So anyway. The conclusion on the part of the trustees and I guess the daycare management was that we need to make it even harder to get in, and the most cost-effective way is to put something like barbed wire on top of the fence. (Digging the old fence out and replacing it with one enough higher to deter climbing is not financially viable).

I hate this. Hate it a lot. For a mixture of reasons. The main one being: we are a church. We don't want to do anything to seem unwelcoming. Especially to the "unchurched," which these kids apparently are. And I also hate the image it projects to other people in town. (Yes, I worry excessively about judgemental people). And it DOES project a bad image - a siege mentality, a closing off.

But there seems to be no other option. (Others were suggested - more lighting would not be a deterrent, talking to the kids hasn't done anything, photographing the intruders with game cameras would do little, the parents don't care that their kids are doing this (apparently), cops can't hang out there all the time even if they chase the kids out the few times they come across them. Taking away the playground equipment hurts the little kids).

The board moderator said he'd talked to the insurance agent we have, just to be sure this wouldn't make liability worse - apparently it actually would make our case stronger if someone were injured while breaking in. (Sad strange world). Also the agent said, "Well, you know, in Dallas and places like that, the churches in the city centers ALL have barbed wire topping their playground fences." But it makes me sad that in our wee tiny city, that's apparently even to small to have a decent supermarket or even a small bookstore, we have to do the stuff that's done in cities.

And it also makes me sad to see the decline of respect for public places. (When I was a kid - granted, it was in a very small, low-crime town, but still - the church my family belonged to left the sanctuary unlocked, at least during the day, with the idea that "if someone needs a place to pray, here we are." You can't do that now. In fact, a church of our denomination a few cities over was broken into and all its electronics stolen. And you see similar things happening to libraries and schools.)

So I don't know. I try to be kind, I try to be a light, I try to be optimistic about humanity - but sometimes it's so hard. I feel bad that these kids apparently didn't have the kind of guidance in their lives that I did, and I anticipate they will have much harder adult lives than I do - but that still doesn't give them license to destroy the little slides and sand toys and stuff for the little kids.

I don't know. Living in the world is hard sometimes. I think of that book I read some years back, where one of the characters talked about how if she could only live up on a mountaintop, she could be good and loving and pure and really, a saint - and another character tells her that it's easy to be a saint on the mountaintop, and that's true - it's harder to keep that love down in the mess of humanity.

(I think that was the book - "The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show" - that also had a character asking another one if she had a "love strategy or a war strategy," suggesting the two were different ways of approaching the world. I try to have  a love strategy but I admit some days it gets hardened into, if not a full-on war strategy, at least a conflict one, where I'm less willing to forgive and walk in the other person's shoes and all that Albert Schweitzer stuff.)

Two mid-morning things

1. Tea.

I like a lot of Adagio's blends. A favorite is the Butterbeer tea (the particular blend I have may no longer be being made, though). I also like Natasha N.'s "Fluttershy" tea (white tea with forest fruits) and her "Applejack" tea (black tea, but mixed with rooibos and apple pieces).

I also like black currant tea. And Harney's "Vanilla Comoros," which has the added bonus of being decaf. And their mint chocolate tea.

A more recent purchase was a coconut chai. The maker was something like Zania? Or Zenobia? It comes in a little glass jar (it is a loose tea) with a wooden scoop for measuring - I bought it at the natural-foods store. I should get another jar the next time I go back as I'm starting to use it up.

I also like some just-plain-black teas: Harney and Son's "All India" is good, and I also like Lifeboat Tea. This is a Kenya blend and works up very dark and strong. (It's a British tea - named because a small amount of the proceeds, at least when it's sold "over there," benefit the RNLS - which is kind of the equivalent of our Coast Guard). I get it through Amazon but I suspect a British imports store would carry it. (I WISH we had one near me. I am told there is a small, but not tiny, Scots and Brit ex-pat community in North Texas and I know at one time the plumber I was using (who has since retired) was a Scot.)

2. This article: Cruelty and Kindness in Academia.

It hits a few places. First off: I'm incredibly lucky in my department. There have been *disagreements* and even a spat or two down through the years, but there isn't anyone I would describe as "intentionally cruel" - and people like that can make a workplace a misery. It may be that we are a teaching-oriented school and (a) teaching-intensive places tend to attract less cutthroat people and (b) there isn't the same territoriality as a big research school would have.

But I think in a bigger sense, it does hit some buttons for me.

One quotation: "Simply put, kindness has a bad rap. They [Phillips and Taylor] write: “Most people, as they grow up, secretly believe that kindness is a virtue of losers.” We think people who act kind are weak or are only acting that way to further their own interests. Kindness actually makes us suspicious of other people’s intentions."

That's sad. That's just really sad. But I have heard - a lot in my growing-up years - that kindness did make people "losers." I had someone in high school tell me I was a "doormat" because I tried to be kind. And you do often see kind people losing out - at least in the short term.

And while I can't say I've had anyone seem suspicious of me - well, most people who know me know I'm pretty much a WYSIWYG person, there's not a lot of hidden intention going on there. But I've seen people do that and I admit I've occasionally felt suspicious myself.

But I will say: while you may lose in the short term by being kind, I believe - I have to believe - that in the long game you wind up winning. Because you aren't really playing by the world's rules. Because you're forging a different path.

And anyway, I'm kind for "internal" reasons more than external ones - I feel better about who I am when I take that breath, and push away the tendency towards irritation or pettiness. It's for my own peace of mind and sense of serenity that I try to treat people well.

("Bearing a grudge is like carrying a hot coal in your hand, waiting to throw it at the person who wronged you." Doesn't totally fit but it's close)

Another quotation that I think is sad but true:

"Yet academia is not unique in its devaluation of kindness; it’s a reflection of our larger culture."

And this started long before the current political campaign, even though it is held up as an avatar of nastiness and unpleasantness. Why is there a Twitter account you can follow that regularly tweets to you "Don't read the comments"? Why do many fandoms seem to eat themselves? (Apparently some MLP fans have been slagging on the writers for some of the recent more "kid centric" episodes - which I personally enjoyed and am happy to see. But even if you don't like them- the writers are doing what they were hired to do, they're not there just to pander to you. But whatever. I tend to think there's criticism and there's cruelty, and a lot of us have forgotten how to criticize constructively and without resorting to ad hominems.  And it does seem all to often these days people think that just being happy and enjoying what you like isn't enough, you have to tear down stuff you don't happen to like.)

I suppose it's human nature. And that gets amplified  with the anonymity of the Internet (well, pseudonymity, really) and people tend to get louder when they feel they're not being heard (and a lot of people feel like they aren't). And we've bought into the idea that it's a dog-eat-dog world out there and maybe it's got worse, that attitude, with the recent financial problems so many are having - it's easier, I think, to behave ungraciously when you are yourself scared or hurting or angry; it takes a lot of work to take a breath and force yourself to be kind instead.

But I don't know. I strive to be kind (I don't always succeed - sometimes I am hurting, and I KNOW my tolerance was less this past spring when my stomach was bothering me and I was worried it was something really serious). An embarrassing secret: one of the reasons I strive to do this? Some days I feel like it's all I've got; it's the only area in which I can maybe be "outstanding" - I am a good-but-not-great teacher, I am an average researcher at best, I will never be a great pianist, I will never design knitting patterns widely-loved by many people, I'm not agile and graceful physically. So I feel like being polite, being kind, remembering to do little things like say a genuine "thank you" to the person in the shop who helped me is maybe one way I can set myself apart a little.

And yes, I do notice unkindness; I see it all too often in the world today. The person who berates the shop clerk for not being fast enough, the person who has to say something snarky to the other person who is enthusiastic, the person who acts like whatever service they are being given is their due. (Everyone a little dictator in his or her own country - the author of that manners book I quoted a long time ago ("Say Please, Say Thank You") talked about how saying "thank you" stops the "infant dictator" that lives in all of us because it (hopefully) reminds us that the other person is not our servant; that on some level they CHOSE to do whatever it was for us, and we should be grateful.)

"Joy-based spending"

So this is one of those things that came in over the electronic transom.

I have a TIAA-CREF account for (most of) my retirement funds. I have a sizable chunk taken out of my paycheck before it hits my bank account and invested in various funds and things they do. (I have a chunk of it in bonds, which made my dad roll his eyes at me when I did that pre-2008, but he's not rolling them so much now)

And I will say: I got my quarterly statement yesterday and I guess I should be happy I'm getting a 2.9% return. Better than putting it in a savings account, though not as good as what I remember getting back on my first savings account when I was a sprog.

But anyway. Periodically they send out e-mails; a lot of them directed at me are from a program called "Woman to Woman," which I admit I find....not really something I like. I mean, yes, I am a woman, but in some ways I am very DIFFERENT from the "assumed to be spouses and moms" that this usually seems to be directed at.

Usually the e-mails are along the line of "Hey! Did you know if you totally gave up those foofy coffee drinks you like, you could save anywhere from $5 to $100 a month to put towards other things?"

A couple things here:

a. I don't buy foofy coffee drinks; there is no place that sells them in my town on the way to work for me (which seems to be the main mode of people getting them: a reward, I suppose, for dragging themselves out of bed)

b. Coffee upsets my stomach; I am a tea drinker and I most often make tea at home because I'm fussy about tea and I also like the weird flavored teas that some tea-snobs sneer at.

But more importantly:

c. For some people, foofy coffee drinks are a big source of pleasure and if they budget for them and aren't, you know, sending their kids to school with peanut butter smeared on a playing card or something instead of a proper lunch, who are you to tell them to give them up?

I mean: I get economizing. I was taking my lunch to work loooooong before "The New Frugality." (Though in my case, it was more a combo platter of "ugh, I hate fast food"/"I'd rather use that time to sit at my desk and surf Ravelry while I eat"/ "I have some very specific health and dietary concerns that are better served by my having strict controls on what goes into my food"). But the endless drumbeat of having fewer and fewer little pleasures in life to save all your money for some nebulous

(Also, something I read recently that struck me: some of the "Why don't 'poor folks' save more money? Why do they spend their money on junk like lottery tickets and fast food and cigarettes?" is answerable by the fact that people who live in an uncertain and insecure world, who have always only known budget insecurity, are less prone to planning for a future that may never arrive - that people live in the moment because the future is hard to imagine, or something. And I can kind of see that. I think a similar thing was in play when someone I know who worked for a doctor's office said that shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, they saw LOTS of people going off of diets (whether weight-loss or things like low-salt) because they figured, "The world's ending, so what does it matter now?")

And yeah, I recognize that I am privileged in that I earn enough money to put a chunk of it away each month for retirement (Not as much as TIAA keeps nagging me to, though - but again, Nothing You Ever Do Is Good Enough).

But anyway. I was surprised, then, today, to see an e-mail from them titled "Joy-based spending."

Two competing thoughts:

a. "Even they know they world's ending and we might as well use up our money now"

b. "Does this mean I can go to Etsy and order some more vintage G1 ponies?"

Actually, it's an ad for a seminar some person is giving* (where you pay them money to go. Sorry, going to a seminar isn't joy-based spending for me)

(*"A crummy commercial? Son-of-a....")

But yeah. I do think there needs to be room for spending at least a little on things that make you happy. I have been in the other place, and yeah, it does feel a little like The Other Place - even a few weeks this spring of going "Oh noes, furlough days! Pay cut! Do away with all frivolous spending and only buy groceries and medicine and things like cleaning supplies!" was kind of difficult and unpleasant. Oh, I could do it if I HAD to but life is short enough that I don't want to.

The thing is, though, this seems weird to me. For one thing: do we really need to be told, "Yes, it's okay to sometimes spend a little on things or experiences* that make you happy?" And do we really need a seminar about that? And also - after months of sort of dour "if you did without this Small Pleasure of life, just think of how much money you'd have in the future." (Even though the "magic of compounding interest" isn't as magic as it was when I started saving money back in the early 80s)

(*And don't get me started on the people who get all smug about the "things vs. experiences" dichotomy. There are people like that: "Oh, spending on and having EXPERIENCES is great and wonderful and enriches your life! But spending on THINGS is a waste and just ties you more to material possessions." It's not that simple - for example, my piano is a Thing but it also allows me to have the Experience of learning and playing it. And for some of us, for whom certain experiences are not possible, maybe things fill some of that void. I'd rather have little happinesses every month or so with a Doki Doki box or with ordering a vintage Pony than wait for that one shining moment when I have enough time off from work that I can....what? Much travel is sort of out for me as I dislike being in strange and possibly hostile places alone, and I don't have a travel-buddy. Things like skydiving are out (physical fragility). And where I live, stuff like "great restaurant experiences" aren't a possibility, not without a long drive to somewhere unfamiliar and with hostile traffic....)

But it does seem strange to me that after they promote a sort of extreme belt-tightening and a cutting-out of the small joys that maybe make difficult weeks more tolerable, we're now being encouraged to go to a seminar to teach us how to "spend joyfully." (I already know how to do that....)


And there are other ways one can get a bit of joy from spending - I need to surf over to the Doctors Without Borders website and see what they're doing for hurricane relief in Haiti; I want to send some money in the direction of a reliable charity who is going in there to do anti-cholera vaccinations. I don't know why that specifically struck me (the growing Southern Lady in my mentality would say "God put this on my heart") but that's where I want to give at least a little bit....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"In Search Of"

I read something in passing recently, that kind of got my attention. It's a hypothesis about a bigger reason for the creepy-clown sightings.

(And yes, I know: probably the mundane reason of "A few people did it to try to do a viral promotion of a movie, and then a whole bunch of foolish people decided it was their ticket to either fifteen minutes of fame or a day off school if they scared authorities enough" is more likely, but I tend to look for deeper meaning in things).

Anyway, they referenced the UFO sightings of the 1970s. Gads, I remember that. I didn't want to believe in UFOs - I was a kid, it was a creepy thing, so my brain just clamped down and said, "No. Not possible. The photos are all faked, the lights and stuff were either atmospheric phenomena or the people hallucinating"

But the linking idea here is: in troubled times, people see weird stuff. Whether it's they "see" it and it isn't really there, but they latch on to it because they're scared and it's easier, intellectually, to be afraid of creepy clowns than it is the rise of Putin or continued crumbling of the Middle East, or whether it's that there's some kind of warning sign from the universe going on, I don't know. But I do remember how fascinated people were in the 1970s by that kind of stuff. (And I wonder if also a parallel can be drawn between all this and the plethora of "ghost hunter" type shows that have filled the airwaves since the recession of 2008). I wonder if it's that weird scary stuff has always been out there, but in difficult times, people notice it more - either because they're already wigged out a little, or, conversely, because it's somehow easier and less-threatening to "worry" about ghosts than it is to worry about The Bomb.

There was even a show called "In Search Of" that was about all kinds of crazy creepy junk. Leonard Nimoy hosted it. I watched it some, at least, until the episode about spontaneous human combustion freaked me RIGHT out and I decided not to watch it any more. (And I admit, even as it seems biochemically impossible, it's still something I worry about in the dark of night - what an awful way to die. Nevermind that the supposedly-documented cases are really shaky, and in several cases it was someone known to be a heavy smoker and they could have, for example, fallen asleep with a cigarette in their hand). I just remember having "spontaneous combustion" added to the pile of worries I carried around as a kid.

The 1970s were an unsettling time, too - and into the 1980s. The biggest thing I remember was the cold war and nuclear proliferation; my dad kept Civil Defense pamphlets on hand and one I remember was how you could stack paperback books up on a table, and get under the table (!) and supposedly it would block some of the radiation. And lots of people I knew had "plans" - either a reinforced area in the basement, or a food supply, or something. It wasn't until years later that I realized that, come an all-out nuclear war, I probably WOULDN'T want to be one of the "survivors" because, at worst, that would doom me to a life cut short by radiation-caused cancer (with no medical treatment available, likely) or at best, as a young woman, I'd have to be a "breeder" to help repopulate a decimated Earth.

Heh. I remember feeling odd relief after the death of the Soviet Union - actually, for much of my young-adult years, things did seem relatively more peaceful and less existentially scary than they did when I was kid listening to Sting speculate as to whether the Russians loved their children, too. Then, of course, September 11 happened, and we all got the wake-up call of a lifetime. (Yes, Oklahoma City was a good bit before that, but somehow, it was easier to dismiss it as "home grown nutcase anti-government type" and also, a smaller number of people were killed - oh, granted, each one of those was a giant loss to their families, but there didn't seem to be the extended shock and horror, at least outside of the state where it happened, that there was to September 11. And of course, we didn't wind up being virtually strip-searched upon entering government buildings in the name of being made more "safe")

And it does seem to me that after that, and especially after the crash of 2008*, that ghost-hunter shows/zombie shows/ other things about the sort of nameless horrors that are the grown-up version of monsters in the closet became more common or at least more prominent.

(* I think Oklahoma is FINALLY being hit by that. We are a bit more than 5 years behind the rest of the nation. We were actually doing pretty OK for a while and for a time, at least, the posted unemployment rate for my county was well below the national average. No more, with the oil crash and all. And there are a HUGE number of empty storefronts downtown now, when just two years ago, most of them were full - now it's gone to more empty than full. Which makes me very sad. There are other issues there, like the Rte. 70 bypass coming in to play, but I do also get the feeling that no one has any money any more and so that's why businesses are leaving.)

And I don't know. I don't like the creepy stuff. I've always mostly-disliked horror movies, especially ones with supernatural horrors. I don't like, as Pinkie Pie talks about, "being scared a little." I understand that some people do, but that's just not me. (Mostly, I don't like being startled, which is different from being scared). And I also feel like I have enough real-world, grown-up fears (aging parents, economic insecurity, changes to my profession, random angry/violent people in the world, geopolitical stuff, diseases....) that I don't want to worry about ghosts or zombies or UFOs or creepy clowns or anything like that. (I just want all that junk to STOP. I don't need more things to make me anxious; I'm already plenty anxious).

But I don't know. If the "clowns are the UFO sightings of the 2010s," maybe that gives me hope, because the UFOs eventually (mostly) seemed to go away. And we survived that craziness. So maybe we can survive the clowns, too. And maybe things will get better somehow, just as they (at least seemed to) get better for a while after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But I still might spend Halloween night (figuratively) under my bed* with a jar of peanut butter, some books, and Harry the Bear.

(*I don't literally fit; I'd have to get bed risers to do that)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy anniversary, MLP

Apparently today is the sixth anniversary of the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I didn't get in "on the ground floor" - I only started watching the show in the summer of 2011, when it was in re-runs from its first season. I admit, I started out pony-skeptic, remembering the earlier incarnation of the show (which probably was not so very bad, but I was a Sophisticated Teenager, or at least someone trying desperately to masquerade as one, at the time, and I mocked the show as a "half hour toy commercial" with everyone else).

But this one....well, I remember one day I sat down to watch it after getting home from fieldwork and thinking, "We'll see how bad this is."

The episode, as I remember, was "Bridle Gossip." a/k/a the Zecora episode, a/k/a the "don't be a bigot, Applejack" episode.

And I admit, I was hooked: for one thing, the designs were so super cute, and I needed something super cute in my life then. But also - and this was something I noticed as I watched more episodes that there was something else about the show that appealed to me.

the show celebrated things I thought of as virtues. And things I thought were all too rare in our culture today - stuff like being true to yourself, dealing graciously with mean people (which I have seen more crudely phrased as "dealing with a b*tch without becoming one yourself"), supporting your friends, and so on, and so forth. There have been anti-bullying episodes, episodes about how former mean-girls can reform, episodes about how you don't have to do things that scare you just because the rest of your friends enjoy them, episodes about how what motivates one person might not motivate another....and on, and on. The overarching themes seem to be "treat other people with love and kindness" and also "be true to who you are" which are both morals a lot of us need to be reminded of.

And on a deeper level....well, I know the show isn't explicitly Christian and in fact tries to avoid any religious references (And it's not even clear if Celestia and Luna are literally goddesses in that world, or if they are merely wise rulers; I know some fanfic writers have experimented with ideas of either an afterlife or some overarching religion of Equestria but it's avoided in the show actually). But often, as I think CS Lewis observed, things of this world may point to things beyond it, and I admit I've referred to the Fruits of the Spirit before, and noted how many of our favorite ponies seem to relate to example being this:

Love: Princess Cadence
Joy: Pinkie
Peace: Luna (princess of the night, and of sleep, and also protects ponies from bad dreams)
Patience: Applejack
Kindness: Rarity, because it is like generosity
Goodness: Celestia, because she is a generally benificent ruler
Faithfulness: Rainbow Dash, because it is like loyalty
Gentleness: Fluttershy
Self-control: Twilight

All of those "fruits" are good things, things we (or at least I) need more of (though maybe I overdo it sometimes on some sorts of "self-control"). But that's another reason I've stuck with the show for five years (as I said: I wasn't in at the get-go) other than just "it's pretty and relaxing to look at" - it emphasizes things that are important to me on a deep level but that often seem to be overlooked in a lot of entertainment today. And I think especially now, given all that's going on in the world...

I suspect a lot of fans of the show (Adult fans, I mean. Not sure what the kid-fans think) like it for a similar reason to me - that Equestria is, by and large, a better world than our human world, and it gives an idealized glimpse of a world where there's more love and kindness and less snideness and rudeness.

And apparently, there WILL be a season 7, so there's that to look forward to. Long live ponies!

(And sometime soon, I want to start a G4-ized version of Minty, using the same old "Friends Forever Fawn" pattern. I saw on one of the pony tumblrs that apparently Build a Bear is actually doing a big stuffie of Minty. And while the BaB toys are nice (I have a Zecora from them, and also a Grumpy Bear), they are also way too huge - I prefer my little, crook-of-the-arm-sized crocheted ponies.

And I think I'm going to take scraps of sockyarn, or maybe a couple of unloved skeins, and knit Minty some socks when I've got her made up. Because she was the original sock-loving pony, way back before G4 sockpony fanart....)

Monday morning things

* The new sheets don't seem noticeably hotter or sweatier. (I have a set of sateen-weave sheets I only use on the coldest of winters, because for some reason that sateen-weave - or maybe the heft of the sheets - seems to trap heat like crazy). They feel a little weird but I tend to be Princess and the Pea like that. (Huh. I wonder if there's anyone suggesting/rewriting that old story to have her be a "non-neurotypical" person. I've taken numerous online tests out of curiosity; none have ever hinted at Asperger's but I do admit I have some of the sensory issues - certain noises REALLY bother me, persistent odors bother me, strange "feeling" things bother me). Not bad enough for me not to sleep, and in fact, I so epically faceplanted into the pillow that I woke up with a little hive on one eyelid. (It went away after exercising, which tells me it was a pressure hive and not an allergic one)

* Monday continues apace. I had a meeting this morning that turned out to be more, I'm not sure what the right word is? Not quite filled with conflict but less of a simple in-and-out decision than I expected. And again with the having to weigh everything we do against budgets in this world of not-even-flat funding.

of course, that was followed by the class I have with the student with attention problems who interrupts me on a regular basis. I think I'm starting to show the strain of this. I try to remain gracious (the person in question is someone with accommodations and I believe they revealed an old closed-head injury to me in an earlier class they took) but it's hard.

* No, I didn't watch the debate. In fact, I was trying to finish up (but didn't) The War that Ended Peace.

World leaders really haven't changed much in 100 years, that's all I can say.

Next book up is one on the "Spanish" flu, so I guess  my reading has a theme now. 

* This is one of those days. I have another class to teach, and then the planting to do (my missing seeds are set to come today, so there will be planting tomorrow also). And then piano, and then CWF. If I'm lucky I'll be home for the night at 8:30. I hate the second week of the month.

* I have an added duty this week....I am filling the pulpit (again) this weekend, as the person who usually does it is out of town. As much as I once said, "I have exactly two sermons in me" I guess it's time to hunt up a third.

I am probably doing Mary and Martha, and centering it around the idea that there are times for things (and maybe pull in that famous passage from Ecclesiastes). Honestly, I think Martha gets a bit of a bad rap there - yes, I suppose she could sit down for a few minutes and listen to Jesus teach, but as a Martha-type, I admit I find myself going, "Yeah, but the mutton won't cook itself and the floor won't sweep itself." (Also, poor Martha, she is probably too literal-minded for her own good - after all, she is the one who tried to stay Jesus' hand from opening Lazarus' tomb, saying, "But it's been four days! Surely there will be a stink!" Yeah, in some ways I am a total Martha).

So I'm gonna have to do some background reading to try to stretch it out to at least 20 minutes.

I mean, I'm happy to do this and I guess I'm the next most logical person (despite being unordained) to do this,'s just another THING.

* Week after this is mid-fall break. I don't have any plans but I think Laura said she was going to be free so maybe we get together and go shopping or find a cool museum somewhere in East Texas to go to. I need a day out away from my responsibilities - shoot, I probably need TWO days out and depending on what transpires I might take one of the "off" days and go to Whitesboro again.

Yes, I know: I own more yarn and fabric than I will ever use up. But somehow, going to a small shop and spending a little disposable income on some makes things better. And I want to do my part to keep THOSE shops alive, seeing as the one in my town is gone. (Shoot, much of downtown's shops are gone now....)

And if I can get to a Michael's (I'm still mad at JoAnn's and the Hobby Lobby has nothing usable), I need to pick up some plain worsted-weight washable (ideally mostly acrylic) yarn for Christmas presents for my niece. She loves bugs and "critters" and I have a book - it's actually a book of cat toys but many of them are quite realistic representations of small creatures (there is a v. cute frog, for example, and ladybugs and a dragonfly and a grasshopper and a caterpillar) and I plan to make a few for her for Christmas.

there's also a cupcake/small cake pattern and I keep thinking I should turn it into a muffin for my stuffed Derpy.

I was also thinking last night, "Harry maybe needs a sweater" and thinking about modding a v. tiny baby sweater pattern to fit him, or maybe just trying to work up a raglan pattern as I go along....but again, where will I find the time? Carving out time to do what I want is hard these days, but at the same time I fear taking too much time off, that I won't hit those mileposts for post-tenure review or for whatever is now expected in the brave new world of modern academia.

(I will laugh my head off if the recommendation I get is "needs to slow down a little " - which is the recommendation we are giving my chair in her review. But I don't know. My ability to assess my own quality and my own work level is so broken that I don't know if I'm okay, if I'm seriously slacking, or if I'm working too hard....)

* Yesterday the "Children's Message" had to do with sharing love. The kids had cut out paper hearts and written "Love" on them (and I guess some kids are still learning cursive, either in school or at home* because mine has it in nice, neat, little-girl cursive). They handed them out to the congregation (we are small, so it wasn't that many hearts...).

(*It's possible the one I got was from one of the homeschooled kids; I know there are a couple in the group) 

I kept mine. I carried it over here today and taped it up on the wall behind my desk, right next to the computer monitor. To remind myself. Because I find this fall, especially this election season, a lot of my dormant misanthropic tendencies are coming out (and my tendency to view humanity through a pessimistic lens). I have to remind myself that (a) I can "be the light" for other people* and (b) there are good and loving people around me and just because a few people out there AREN'T, it shouldn't let it sour how I interact with others.

(*And of course - whatever light I have in me is not me, it is just shining through me, but at least I can let it shine)

I'm also dealing right now with someone on a slow glide path to retirement who is letting a lot of either stored-up or recently-developed bitterness out, and it's kind of hard to cheerfully listen to their vitriol on a regular basis. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

getting nesty time

Though I guess it's going to warm up again (wharrrgarrrblll) later this week.

At any rate: I love fall and I welcome the coming of cooler weather, of not paying a mint to O G and E to keep my house an acceptable temperature, feeling like I want to cook hot food again, being able to change over from my summer wardrobe (which I am heartily tired of) to my winter one.

I filled the birdfeeders for the first time today. Birds were coming and sitting on the pole where they hang and looking in the living room, though now I wonder - after going out there and looking around - if it wasn't that they were coming to check out the nearly-ripe yaupon holly berries (Birds are fond of those, and it looks like there's a big crop of them this year).

I also changed my bed.

I showed the big blanket last night, here are the new sheets:

new sheets

I was slightly discombobulated to learn these are 100% polyester. I have always ever only used cotton sheets. (I suppose that was why they were fairly cheap).

We'll see, but my concerns are two-fold:

1. They will be too hot and will get icky and sweaty.
2. They won't wear as well as cotton.

(And this is what frustrates me about so much of modern life: I guess I'm unusual in that I'd rather pay more for something of better quality and NOT HAVE TO REPLACE IT IN TWO YEARS. I daresay the "disposable culture" is more expensive - where you have to replace stuff because it breaks or wears out fast - than paying more for something of superior quality would be. But I guess most people get bored with stuff fast enough they are happy to get rid of it. I'm weird in that way. I hang on to stuff until it totally wears out - I still have a sweater that dates to the mid-1980s and I still wear it even though I've had to fix a few moth holes in it through the years)

But, meh. We'll see. If they're just way too hot to use, I may wind up donating them somewhere that takes "gently used" stuff - I know I tend to "run hotter" than a lot of people do. (I don't like flannel sheets, which I know are wildly popular in winter, because they get too warm close to my body).

One thing they have done with these that is kind of genius and I wonder why OTHER sheets don't have it - they have little tags sewn to the hem (casing) on the fitted sheet, that say "Top or bottom" and "side" - so you can tell at a glance. As someone who's tried to put a fitted sheet on the "wrong" way because it's too hard to tell - I appreciate this and am now considering doing something similar to my cotton sheets, maybe even just taking a stitch of appropriately-colored floss on each side (Teal for "top or bottom" and salmon for "side" - yes, it's subtle but I might remember it better than blue and red or blue and yellow)

I SUPPOSE it's because it's a line aimed at kids, and "We want to make it easy for kids to make their beds" but honestly, why not make it easy for adults, too? We tend to have less free time than kids do to be doing things like flipping sheets around.

And here's the bed made up. (Not shown: the big fluffy blanket which I'm just going to use as a top-dressing, so it's easy to remove if I wake up too warm)


And that's not even, ahem, the "full catastrophe" of stuffed animals that go on there. (Yes, I admit I have a problem). But I sleep better with them around and it doesn't hurt anyone, so? (You can see I still have the giant Judy Hopps I bought earlier in the fall). Not shown are most of the Ponies; most of the population of my "stuffed headboard" these days is ponies of different types. (And there's Harry the bear and Cheese-kun....)

I hope we actually get a winter this year. Not that I want ice storms but I would like a run of normal cold weather.