Friday, August 14, 2009

Circuitous Route

We have had too much cloud cover to see meteors. Cloudy weather seems to happen every year around now. This is the time of year that serves as what my husband refers to as a "saving throw" for the lawn. We get some rain, we get some cool weather, and we can see ahead of us the glimmer of hope that is the end of the kids' summer break. I love my kids but I like to see school start again. We take the whole of life to be an educational opportunity, but strict academics have their merits!

My class reunion is this weekend but I've got other things going on so I won't be attending. So many things have happened in the intervening years that these reunions are like a fast-forward track. Some of the worse stuff has been skipped over, some of the good stuff too. The stories of our lives need the all of the little parts knitted together to create a truly realistic view of our travels through time. A reunion doesn't do that, so I'm not as sad about attending as I may have otherwise been.

I'm starting to feel "old" though I have little reason to do so. I am still relatively young and there are still more years than behind, not that this should make any difference. What I feel eeking away with the natural color of my hair is the idea that I need to worry what others think about me, the choices I've made and the life I have now embraced as fully my own; I am not a daughter, I am a parent; I am not a girlfriend, I am both a wife and partner; I am not the bad stuff of my life; I am the person who got through the bad stuff to embrace the good things; I am not my bank account, but I am my beliefs, actions and words. Most of all, I don't need excuses to be who I am. If I am not what I want, I still have time to change it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ebb and Flow

My lastest non-fiction writing project has been a lot tougher than I thought since it was semi-biographical. I'm finding that I have little in the way of completed sections because they are too hard to revisit and therefore impossible to edit at present. It's time to put it away again. I've pulled it out a few times over the last two years or so and it will now return to its former home just a little more fleshed-out. At some point I think I will finish it but not yet.

Now my newest non-fiction project is just rolling. It's fun!! It is not so much about the mistakes I can never correct and is instead about the ones I was able to correct. There is nothing (very) embarassing for the others who have become players in this story--mostly because those players are my kids and husband and they are always willing to laugh at their own silliness and misconceptions.

I love this little family of mine. They encourage me and make everything 200% more interesting than I ever thought it would be. Even the stressful times are full of laughter and tender moments.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grand Diabolical Plans

I am organizing an activity for my middle school aged daughter. I have, in the past, organized other events so I have some experience in this area. Usually, unlike this activity, they involve some sort of kooky vision. This is not a requirement but, no matter how sane it is, when you approach people with your idea, they are going to look at you like you've just sprouted antennae.

"So this is not something for work or some kind of court-mandated community service project?"

"No, I thought it would be fun."

My new project is organizing a robotics club for my daughter's school. It is not outside my scope of interest or ability to create and run such a club. I have organized events, done fundraising, and herded children for a purpose. In this case, the tasks are supposed to be child-led but the children will need mentors--people with even the slightest expertise in something vaguely mechanical to help them with basic skills. Although I am interested, I don't have the skill sub-set that I'm looking for in mentors. There are many people in my community, however, that do.

So the letters went out earlier this week. I am saving my phone calls for next week when I can better gauge the insanity of my plan. However, I have already received some responses. There is an order to how these things go.
1. I make the plan and put out inquiries and feelers tailored to give an idea of the project needs and my expectations. I don't want to put large burdens on my support people because it chases them away.
2. I get responses back that generally look something like this:
"I don't have a lot of time for outside projects because I'm really busy...wait, what is it exactly that you want from me?"
3. Secondary responses: "Oh, is that all? I'm sorry that I responded to your carefully crafted query in a way that expressed non-interest because I didn't read it through. Seriously, you don't want money or a 20 hour a week commitment?"

It will be fun. It may not happen this year (as the daughter with the interest starts high school the following fall) but it will happen. I just need to get people excited about it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Random Babbling

I have been searching for patterns lately and now they are everywhere, staring me in the face. I observe stories and how they play out in various forms. It's a bad habit, I suppose, but one that is necessary to the kinds of projects I do. But lately I feel a bit like a mouse in a maze that's being led to the cheese.

It seems that every time I watch television or watch a movie, it's all so cookie-cutter that I have many of the key events figured out before it's 1/3 over. We are spoonfed information. Why did that guy who is a doctor move in next door? Probably to help diagnose the disease that is about to rip through a suburban neighborhood. How funny that the little girl is obsessed with water and has dozens of half-full glasses of water around the house. It's quite convenient when the aliens that invade cannot tolerate the beverage.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I don't look people in the eye. It's a family trait, I've noticed. I thought it was a bad habit but it turns out, when I've tried to do it, the experience is simply too intense. Why is that? Is it the habit of not doing it that creates the feeling that it's too intimate? Is it something inborn--perhaps genetic or cultural--that makes this difficult? I've learned, too, to use hand and face gestures in an exaggerated way to avoid this uncomfortable situation. This makes me think it's about the wiring in my brain rather than the custom of my family.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Moving Slow

Happy Independence Day tomorrow! I am staying home for a quiet holiday in anticipation of my kids getting the creeping crud that hubby and I had earlier in the week. If it's getting boring around here, we can walk to the nearest park where there is an all-city celebration. It's a bit down the hill from us so that means we get great views of the fireworks!

It's been almost a month since my last post. For those few who ever check out this blog, you should pop over to my crafting blog, Craftastic World because I usually post there a few times a week. I'm also working on some math activities and crafts as well as some long-neglected writing projects.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Race Silliness

When I see a demographics survey that asks me what race I consider myself a member of, I always check "OTHER" and write-in: HUMAN. Those responsible for sorting through this data must assume me to be a person who feels disenfranchised and enter my information incorrectly. I only know this because I have received catalogs for products and offers for magazines for members of a particular ethnic group to which I do not belong.

For heaven's sake, there is only one race of person: HUMAN. Unless you are talking about the possibility of humanoid aliens hiding among us, there aren't any different races intermingling in society, despite the color of a person's skin. The concept being referenced here is called "ethnicity" and though it may sound like I'm arguing about semantics, it is a biological truth that you can't reproduce with members outside your race. Therefore, humans are all the same race.

This terminology carries a certain connotation. It's a completely outdated concept based on an erroneous belief that people can be divided into different strata according to their biological origins. It's irrational and ridiculous to talk about bettering "race relations" when the term itself is a reflection of this inaccurate division. Let's get it straight, people!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sesame Street

Newsweek recently published this story: How Sesame Street Changed the World. Sesame Street has been an amazing resource for families raising small children. I remember it when I was small and it was one of the programs we allowed our kids to watch on a regular basis.

Who didn't want to grow up to work for the Children's Television Workshop? Who didn't want to clock-in with Kermit and Big Bird?

I wanted to write a response to the Newsweek article, citing the impact it has had on my kids' lives but find myself overwhelmed and almost choked-up by the impact this show has had. So I will just invite you to read it for yourself.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pet Peeve

Washington's former governor, Gary Locke, is Obama's newest pick for Commerce Secretary. As a Washington resident, I think Locke is likely to be confirmed for this new post. However, the idea that the media is buzzing about a Washingtonian going to Washington brings up a pet peeve of mine.

Washington D.C. has been shortened to "Washington" in the media and in the world. As a WA state resident, I've found myself having to introduce myself as being from Washington--state. We are members of a global society and not everyone understands the distinction that Washington state is in the far northwest corner of the contiguous 48 states while D.C. is on the east side of things. I don't think that state residents should have to qualify the statement of their origins and follow that up with a diatribe about the difference. Frankly, there are more of us than there are D.C. residents. D.C. should be "D.C.," not "Washington." Maybe they could invent a whole new name for the nation's law-making center to help ease the confusion. Bernie comes to mind.

"Today the president leaves Bernie for an overseas tour of..."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bad Milk?

This is the expiration date on our milk. Hmmm...that will be interesting. I have a feeling ours will be consumed long before Feb. 30th ever comes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Closet Mathematician

When I go to bed to sleep, I have a regular pattern of movements. I start on my back, then, as I get more tired, I roll to my side. Finally, when there are just a few minutes left before I would drop off, I flop over onto my stomach. It's a predictable pattern of movement that is connected, perhaps more precisely than I'd be prepared to admit, to the degree of tiredness I am experiencing.

My brain loves looking for patterns. It's almost a hobby of mine to consider developing mathematical formulas (or at least tables of ratios) for predictable phenomena. It's so disturbingly geeky that I know most people would just think it strange of me. However, when I was a kid I used to mentally obsess (during down times such as bus rides and the time before I fell asleep) over these patterns. When I started learning algebra, I used to make up quadratic equations to solve in my head instead. It was a strange thing but I've always been rather attracted to quadratic equations in particular. Weird. Weird. Weird.

So, as I lay there approximately 85% tired (based on a scale that I developed at that moment,) I considered how I might create a formula with variables for sleeping position and percent of tiredness. The sleeping position was determined to be my angle to the bed where the vertex is on my left edge and the bed is represented by a ray whose origin is the vertex and progresses out to my right when I am on my stomach. I fell asleep before I could finish it. Apparently, it takes about 2 minutes for each 5 percent to progress. Maybe this progresses faster if I've been more physically active... (See how I think? It's crazy.)

The minor points of the formula were fun to consider. It was as I thought of the formula I could develop that I remembered why I had never considered going into math as a vocation (other than teaching it to kids). I obsess. I let things slide while I consider an academic point. Obsession might be good for my job, in that case, but not for anything else in my life. I am so attracted to numbers and patterns that I will lose myself in them given half the chance.

So I am merely a closet mathematician. I enjoy patterns and I enjoy numerical challenges. I don't claim to be particularly adept in my manipulation of numbers and mathematical concepts but I do enjoy them which is more than I can say for most people who absolutely cringe when faced with mathematical dilemmas, real or made-up on the journey into dreamland.