Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Extend and Retract

Heidi brought to my attention that what I saw at Barnes and Noble was actually an advertisement for this. Go take a look. It's funny, certainly, and I think if I'd been introduced to it a different way, my initial reaction would definitely have been laughter. So I take back all the mean nasty things I said or thought about Barnes and Noble. But they need to rethink their advertising strategy.

Thanks, Heidi, for setting me straight.

Read this too

I've written over 100 posts now, which sounded like a lot to me until I looked back and realized I've been blogging since March of 2006. Two and a half years, 106 posts . . . that's about one per week. Except that I haven't posted anywhere near that regularly until probably the last six months.

I've been wondering lately about the influence of blogs on the world, and on literature in particular. Since the advent of the internet, it seems like we're swamped with words, but not the kind on paper. I've heard predictions of doom for newspapers, which makes sense to me, but lately I've been curious about what effect technology is having on books. For example, I own a dictionary that is less than ten years old, but generally if I need to look up the definition of a word, I look online. Oprah, who I cannot stand but must allow to have significant influence in the world, particularly among women, recently enthused about Amazon's Kindle, the hand-held reading device that lets you download thousands of books into one little (disputably) handy electronic gadget. Is that what we're heading towards? Will our kids be instructed to scroll to page 35 on their Kindles, and be able to store notes and textbooks in the same little chunk of plastic and wires? That would probably be healthier for their poor strained little backs, but it sure takes the romance out of carrying someone's books for them.

Anyway, what I've really been thinking about is whether there is any money in writing fiction nowadays. There are probably thousands of new books being published every single day, and since they're easier to produce, they are widely available. We're getting better at preserving older books, so classics aren't being lost, even if they get a little harder to find. With soooooo many books to choose from, what are the chances that an author's book will get picked up by someone who will enjoy it and recommend it? I've come across great books that I'd never heard of before and wondered why they aren't all the rage instead of twaddle like the Twilight series. (Sorry to Dulcie and anyone else who likes those books; there are just too many inconsistencies for me to accept.)

So that's my latest puzzlement. I myself am writing a novel (not a three-volume novel, in deference to Cecily's sensibilities) and have been surprised by the amount of research that goes into making it have a plot and making that plot at least mildly believable. I think part of the reason I've been pondering on technology and books is that I'm trying to decide if it's worth the effort to make my story palatable to an audience besides myself, or if I should just keep rollicking along and tossing whatever I feel like writing into the pot. And then I think of some books I've read from the NY Times Bestseller list and think maybe those aren't opposing goals.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Inquiring Minds and all that

What are you going to be for Halloween?

I've got our costumes all picked out. And pictures will be posted. Last year's Halloween was really lame, complete with lame costumes, so I'm trying to make up for it this year.

We carved pumpkins last night after Abby was asleep. They turned out really very charming. Pictures will be posted, ideally before they start rotting. Are jack-o'lanterns a weird tradition or what? Just imagine what would happen if we all stopped carving them. Those poor, poor, pumpkin farmers.

Comment or die, as the Hollywood Flakes say. I really want to know what you'll be wearing. Especially you wild Montanans.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Boycott

I was astonished, while browsing through my local Barnes and Noble bookstore, to find a display table covered in pamphlets and books titled "Porn for Women." I am not sure what exactly they were advertising, since I didn't look too closely, but I can't think of anything called by that name that I would have any desire to study. Part of my disgust stems from the fact that this table was located by the mystery and fiction shelves, where I usually pass in order to reach the children's section of the store.

Now, I recognize that bookstores want to appeal to a wide audience. I also recognize that censorship is a difficult topic, and many books that I consider inappropriate and even disgusting are heralded as classics. However, pornography is such a pernicious, demoralizing, and destructive evil that I cannot bring myself to shop anywhere it is advertised as a desirable thing. I have expressed my feelings to the company in words, and I intend to further express them by my actions. If you should come across a similar display, I strongly encourage you to let the management know that you do not approve. I have concluded my last transaction with Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Open Captioning


What does this face say to you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Excel-lent

I've decided that Excel is pretty much the coolest program ever. As Regis says, "If you can think of something you want to do, Excel can probably do it." Allllll right, I want to ski in the Olympics in 2011. Go go Excel!

Chilly

It is a very windy day today, and just looking out the window, I'm guessing it's cold out there. Which reminds me of my freezer.

This is my freezer just the way I like it. Over there on the right is our 1/16th of a cow. Seriously. Regis' grandma raises the cows, which, if you know her, makes a pretty funny mental image.

And if you're good, you can find two packages each of two of my favorite foods. First to find and identify them correctly in the comments gets glory.

Ewww.

Yes, I know it's gross. Yes, I know you didn't ask to see it. No, I won't be offended if you don't watch. But if you do, keep in mind that it's grosser in person. They snap.

video

Monday, October 20, 2008

Relative Love

My grandfather's funeral was held last week. It was very sweet. There was a lot said about how he loved the gospel and shared it with everyone he could. A story was also told of how following a prompting from the Holy Ghost saved his life. I remember my grandpa being a cheerful man, and even in the past few months when he was feeling crummy, he always seemed upbeat and hopeful. We will miss him.

I think members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a very interesting perspective when it comes to death. The few times someone I've known has died, I've wondered if I'm a terribly callous person, because I don't feel very sad. That is probably in part because I've never lost a young friend or relative, but I think it's largely because I believe that when we die, we go somewhere better. It will be difficult to be separated from people that we love who are still on earth, but I'm sure we don't just sit around and wait for them to finish up so we can be together again. As my dad put it, we move on to the next stage of life, and I'm willing to bet that Grandpa is glad to be free of pain and frailty, and to be put to work.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Progress

Abby took her first real steps today, I'm proud to report. She toddled between Regis and I for a good five minutes.

Even more exciting news: she imagined with me! It was very cute. She pretended to pick up something off the floor and hand it to me. I took it, said "thank you," and pretended to blow it out of my hand like a blowdart. She thought it was hilaaaarious and giggled with glee. So we did that for about 15 minutes. She was done with it before I was.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Indo-Californians


Here's my brother, Glenn, with Abigail and Regis. They're all wearing Indonesian clothes that my brother Court brought back from his mission.
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I'm it

I got tagged by Heidi to tell five "unspectacular" quirks I have. So you'll just have to wonder what those spectacular quirks would have been.

1. I hate touching paper of any kind right after I wash my hands. It's like scraping fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

2. My big toes do this weird double-jointed snap thing. I can't really explain it, but I can wiggle them up and down in a way that really grosses people out. Maybe I'll post a video just to make you all sick.

3. I don't like having my food mixed together. Even if it's some kind of sauce on rice, I don't like it to be all mushed. I know it will get mixed in my stomach. That argument does not persuade me.

4. When I get nervous, I bite the skin around my fingernails instead of my fingernails.

5. I kind of like giving talks in church. I think this is a family trait. We like to teach and explain.

I'll tag Miriam and Dulcie, and anyone who doesn't have a middle name.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Costume vs. Therapy

Would it scar my child forever if I dressed her as Peter Pan instead of Tinkerbell for Halloween? Discuss.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Able Abby

Abigail has changed a lot while we've been in California. She can stand on her own now, and does. She's more aware of what's going on, and wants to be a part of it. She gives hugs (which may be my favorite change). She drinks out of a sippy cup without help. I think she recognizes that things have names, and a couple of times it's seemed like she's trying to repeat them when I say them. Her hair is out of control. She's definitely bigger.

Where did the baby go?

You probably think this post is about you, don't you? Don't you?

Well, it's not. It's about me, as usual. We are home from California, and after we'd parked the car and stepped out, I realized two things: first, that I had missed my little apartment more than I'd expected, and second, that I'd like to transplant it somewhere else. It was freakin' cold, and coming from 82 degree weather to 48 degree weather was not pleasant.

Anyway, I had a really good time at my parents' house. It was really fun to have all the family there for a while, despite the cramped conditions and the intermittent periods of screaming children. I enjoyed weeding the garden and mowing the lawn, things I haven't been able to do for a long time. But it's nice to be back. I'd forgotten how white our apartment is, and how easy to clean. My parents have a very large house on the outskirts of town, which means lots of room to move, which both people and bugs enjoy. I won't miss the spiders.

We also had a great time visiting with Miriam and Ryan, our old neighbors. They live in a charming house in southern California, where you consider putting on a sweater and decide to turn off the air conditioner instead. I'm wildly jealous. They live less than an hour from the beach.