Friday, August 27, 2010

Sartorial complaint

To the young man walking down the sidewalk in front of me this morning on my way to work: Son, I'm prepared to take on faith that you're wearing underwear. I don't need to see it. Pull your damn pants up.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Aigh! The dentist!

This an email I just sent to my team:

Hi gang,

I have to go back to the dentist this afternoon to check on last week's boo-boo tooth. I'm leaving at 2:30, and I think I'll be back by 3:30, but I don't know what other adventures he has planned for me besides this follow-up visit. Here's hoping I don't leave there with a numb mouth. Again.

Please send happy thoughts towards Central Pennsylvania, would you? I'm hoping he'll just look at the Tooth in Question and let me go, but there's always a possibility that he has car payment coming up sees something else that needs attention.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Everybody try to act natural

I called my mother this evening to thank her for my birthday present, which got here today. Rosewater perfume from Crabtree & Evelyn. Yum.

During the course of conversation she let it slip that since my sister and I started all this BlogHer talk, she's been reading our blogs.

My reaction:
  • Uh-oh. My mom reads my blog?
  • Quick! Is there was anything on here I'd be embarrassed to have her see?
  • You know what? I'm fine with it.
Hi Mom! (waving) Look, everyone, it's my mother!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Better living through chemistry

Scene: The library where I work. It's my morning break, and I'm using it to return a book that's due today. No more renewals allowed, so I managed to do what I normally can't and finished the book the night before (I have trouble reading books I don't own. But that's a story of another time). I come up to the lending desk, smiling and humming.

Woman behind Desk Who I Know Slightly: Good morning.
Me (singing out): Morning!
WbDWIKS: You are entirely too cheerful for 10 AM on a Monday.
Me: Oh, that's caffeine. Nothing natural about this. All caffeine. (pausing for a second to think) And sugar.
WbDWIKS (laughs): Well, that's all right then.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We(e) little fish

There was a session at BlogHer ’10 on Saturday that I am kicking myself for not going to.  It was called “Little Fish in a Big Pond – Understanding and Loving Your Small Blog.”  I wound up not going partly because of time mismanagement (again. That plagued me all weekend.  Not like I have clock on my cell phone or anything), and partly because I felt  I didn’t need help understanding or loving my small blog. 

But now after reading this post about the session I’m really wishing I attended, and not only because one of the people running it was Celeste, whose blog I read and comment on and who comments here once in a while.  Found her blog through NaBloPoMo a couple years back, met her in person for the first time at the People’s Party on Thursday night. 

Luckily BlogHer has transcripts of the sessions, and after a quick search I found the one for “Little Fish…”.  I started skimming through it and berated myself for not keeping better track of time, and for deciding not to show up late to the session even though lateness appears to have been totally acceptable.  There was a lot of stuff in here that I guess I needed to hear.  I’m having a lot of “me too” reactions for things like:

  • Why I don’t have a counter. Numbers don’t interest me. If I go by the people who’ve commented on a regular basis, I think I have an audience of about ten, give or take.  And I’m happy with that.  If I somehow managed to attract a readership as large as Maggie Mason’s or Jenny Lawson’s or Eden Kennedy’s, I think I’d be paralyzed by stage fright.
  • Why I don’t want to “monetize” this.  Turning this into a paying gig would suck all the joy out of it.  Sponsors would have expectations.  The only reason I’d ever contemplate allowing advertisements is if the site that serves my blog started to charge me for the space I use.  Even then I might not.  There are worse things to spend my money on.
  • Why I’m ambivalent about the whole “giveaway” thing.  I occasionally toy with the idea of giveaways, but not to generate traffic.  I just wanna be able to give my friends free stuff.  I realize there’s probably a trade-off, there.  One can’t give away things like KitchenAid appliances or Nooks or whatever else people hand out without there being some sort of business arrangement in the background.  It would depend upon the arrangement, I guess.
  • Who I write for.  I write for me.  If other people like it, great!  So far no one’s left me a comment that reads, “You suck!” (oop!  Tempting fate there) so I assume I’m entertaining.  But really?  I’m happy just talking to myself.  Sometimes I write posts just to jot down things I need to remember—like the one on fixing my faucet.  When I finally need to do that again, I’ll find the post that says I need key grease and which direction the cartridge has to go, ‘cause I’m sure I’ll forget by then.

Well, now I’m going to go back and read the transcript in-depth.  I guess things I need to add to the “do” and “don’t” list for next year’s conference are: “Do keep track of time. Don’t worry about walking into a session late.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

Because it's never too early to stress out about Thanksgiving

I just spent part of my lunch break writing a preliminary to-do list of things I need to get done before Thanksgiving, complete with parenthesized notes and commentary:

  • Fix downstairs commode (parts already purchased).
  • Fix kitchen chair that you broke with your toe, for pity's sake (need wood glue, twine, brown paper).
  • Refinish craft room chairs (supplies hiding in craft room).
  • Compose and distribute Thanksgiving menu (consult your shiny new copy of The Joy of Cooking).
  • Test some recipes for Thanksgiving (use up that frozen turkey breast that's been hanging around for a year; try the apricot whosit you want to make for Dad because he can't eat cranberries. Need cumin).
  • Shampoo sofa and "freecycled" recliner (rent upholstery cleaner).
  • Either shampoo or replace living room rug (Resolve and a long-handled scrub brush might do for this year. But really, it should be replaced with something that looks more like an area rug and less like the jagged-edged remnant it is. Something that isn't packing-taped down in the doorways by the previous owners might spruce the room up a bit, you know?).
  • Rearrange furniture in living room (because now you have some, and it's all huddled together in one corner like a group of people sharing an umbrella. In other words, get rid of the boxes!).
  • Is there time to sort out and arrange the craft room? (Probably, but what does this have to do with Thanksgiving?)
  • Fix cracked, spackled bit under window (need spackling tape).
  • Buy a new roasting pan & rack (preferably one where the finish from the rack doesn't rub off on the food. Gross. And possibly dangerous).
Yes, I really do write myself notes like I'm writing to someone else. It helps. And it amuses me when I look at them later.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

BlogHer ‘10, continued (sort of)

You know what?  I just read a post by ThreeSeven that makes anything I have to say about BlogHer ‘10 seem trite and a bit frivolous.  Please do go read it.

I would like to say, though, that the Keynote for the International Activist Blogger Scholarship Recipients was particularly moving and thought-provoking.  I tend to take my own freedom for granted, and these women’s stories put my little piques into sharp relief.  These women?  They have difficult lives, they live in difficult situations, and they are doing something to change it.  And because what they’re doing is so dangerous, there was an embargo on taking their photos during the keynote.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Attend a BlogHer Conference. Check.

I came, I saw, I wanna go again next year.

Things I’m going to do next time:

  • Make and bring business cards. Everyone had them. I wound up using my phone to email myself a list of people’s Twitter handles and/or blog names.
  • Wear more comfortable shoes to the dress-up events. The ones I bought were killing me. While walking back to the hotel from happies at the Volstead (a few blocks away) I was tempted to kick them off and walk stocking-foot down the sidewalks of Manhattan.
  • Take more pictures. I took some with my phone, but I could have (should have) taken more.

Things I’m not going to do next time:

  • Be so shy. Oy. I could write a book on this one bullet point alone. I need to remember that everyone is there for similar reasons—to get away from the keyboard, get out from behind the screen, to meet fellow bloggers face-to-face. We all want to talk to each other.
  • Leave my camera in the hotel room. It does me absolutely no good when it’s sitting in its case. Though I did get some good shots from the window of room, like the one below. I don’t think I could handle a terrace 20-30 stories above street level, could you? I think I’d be clinging to the walls.

  • Leave the badge on the kitchen table! Granted, they did have a kiosk called “Reprints” just for people like me. And I did meet nice people in the line. We had 45 minutes or so to get to know each other. Still. They went to the trouble to print the thing ahead of time so we wouldn’t have a 45-minute wait in line.
  • Bring something to do during "down time." I brought an embroidery project I started last month. Didn't touch it once, except to move it out of the way to get at other stuff in my suitcase. Down time? That's when you sleep.

The sessions were great. I’ve already started putting into practice some of the things I learned – like that picture above. The original picture was a little cock-eyed, because the building in question was down the street and the terraces were a few floors below me. Here, let me show you:

4868559874_c05922f623_oUnsettling, isn’t it? Like all the furniture’s about to tumble over the edge of the railings and into the street below. And everything looks kind of faded, too. Not quite the way I remember it. I know how to fix the color, but I thought I was stuck with that tilt. Until someone mentioned Windows Live at one of the Geek Lab sessions on photography, that is. Then they demonstrated it. It does cool stuff. One of its features? It straightens pictures. I clicked one button and went from the picture immediately above to one that had the building straight up and down!

Better still? I don’t even have to download this. It’s been hanging out on my laptop for over a year, waiting to be noticed.

I’m going to introduce an Ideas Jar in my house--an idea from another one of the sessions. I will put words and phrases into it—cut-outs from magazines, quotations from books I’ve read, stray thoughts I have that I manage to write down before they leave, things like that—and when I get stuck for material I’m going to take something from the jar and work with it. I may grab the camera and work it out that way. I may write. Dunno.

I also had an idea for a joint blog I’d like to do with my sister. I don’t know if it’ll pan out. More on that later when (if) it develops.

I met lots of great people. You might notice some new blogs in the blogroll to the right of this post. Arts and Dafts is an art blog by Ry, an artist from Brooklyn. She takes great photographs, among other things. And then there’s Feast After Famine, by Dana in Washington D.C. She used to be a journalist, struggled with infertility for a while and beat it into submission. She has four children now. And then there’s Amiee of mamieknits. She lives in Los Angeles, is a knitter, a mother of twins, and an absolute maniac on the dance floor—I’ve seen that last part with my own eyes. She reminds me an awful lot of one of my best friends from high school (who is now an Air Force wife living in New Jersey. Are you out there, lurking?).

I met these three at a BlogHer meet-up at the Volstead. I’ll write about that tomorrow, because it’s quarter after ten now and I really should go to bed.

In an unrelated note, I put eggs on to boil before I started this post and forgot about them until I heard something go “click” in the next room about 20 minutes ago. All the water had boiled away. I’m lucky I didn’t set the house on fire. Can you burn hard-boiled eggs? I guess I’ll find out when I can touch them without losing my fingerprints.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Home again

My mind is reeling from this past weekend. What an amazing time! I am going to blog about it, but not today. I'm still processing the whole thing.

I know this much, though. If I can swing it, I'm going next year! San Diego next time.

Better start saving my pennies now.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Day 2 starting soon

Peek-a-boo, Central Park!

In the morning, after a breakfast for people new to the conference, my sister and I went to a really good session on how to stoke your creativity. There I sat at a social media conference with my laptop in my tote, taking notes with pen and paper. I am hopelessly old-school in some respects.

After lunch I wandered around the exhibits halls for a bit. Favorite booths so far: the Honey Board and Playskool. Playskool gave me Weebles. Remember Weebles? I begged for them for Christmas and got some weird wooden toy people instead--not Fisher-Price people, something else. All I remember is that they were a family, the mother was red, and they had some sort of van they all fit in. I thought Santa misunderstood, or didn't watch TV (Sing it with me, folks, "Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down!"), and that's why I got these. Being a fairly easy child to please most of the time, I shrugged and played with those things instead.

They also gave me a canister of black Play-Doh, and -- one of the weirdest giveaway items yet -- Play-Doh scented perfume. And you know what? It smells great.

Back to another session in the afternoon about taking better pictures. Most of the women in there had DSLR cameras. Mine's a point-and-shoot, but they said you can do most of this with a point-and-shoot camera as well. It was mainly about the "rules" of photography -- composition, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, Dutch angles, lines. Someone had told me some of these things before, but since I hadn't been taking notes then everything except the Rule of Thirds fell out of my head. The Rule of Thirds, incidentally, is that the most interesting thing in the picture should take up 1/3 of the picture. Centering things makes them less interesting.

The Voices of the Year keynote was great. They do this every year. People nominate bloggers for a particular post they've written over the past year, a committee chooses the best, and then those people get up on stage and read their posts aloud. I mismanaged my time a little, so I only caught about 2/3 of the program. They were all very good. There was one about a woman meeting Holocaust survivors in an airport, and introducing them to her friend's grandmother, who had been in the same camp at the same time. That one made me reach over and hug my sister.

That night there was a gala in the ballroom, an art display (for an auction that's going to start online on Sept. 15), all sorts of stuff to make and do. We got to the make/do part after everything was over, but that gave us as much time as we wanted to look at all the art. All the proceeds of this auction are going to benefit Gulf coast clean-up.

This morning we have a presentation by/for the International Activist Blogger Scholarship recipients, and then I'm going to a session on how to improve my photos through editing. After lunch I'm going to troll through the expo hall I didn't get to yesterday, and maybe visit the sponsor suites. Someone came up to me and invited me to one of them. Said something about giveaways for readers (all four of you), so I'm gonna look into it.

One thing that really surprised me was how friendly everyone is. Strangers walk right up to you, say hi, want to know what you write about, where you're from. They hand out cards with their blog info on them (I keep kicking myself for not doing that. I'll have them next year). There's a very egalitarian atmosphere.

And then I wonder why I'm surprised. This is what we're here for, to connect, to talk to each other, to find like-minded folks, to grow and learn.

Yesterday after breakfast they announced where next year's conference is. San Diego. Time to start saving my pennies. I want to do this again.

Friday, August 06, 2010

We're here!

Ditter and I checked into the hotel around 3, into the conference by about 5:30. Ditter's conference check-in took about 2 minutes. Mine took for-freaking-ever, but that's my own fault. BlogHer mailed out the badges months ago. I have a manila envelope with all my conference stuff in it. As I was packing I'd say things like, "Need to remember to put that badge in here," every time I saw the envelope. And every time I saw the badge I'd say, "Need to get that in the envelope." I never managed to do that. Badge is still sitting on the kitchen table. Luckily there was a line for doofuses (doofi? Spellcheck doesn't like either word) like me, but since it was the "badge problem" line it took forever to get to the front.

While in line, I met an interesting woman from Germany named Nicole. She's trying to put together a blogroll of everyone who's here. Which reminds me, I need to email her my blog's URL just as soon as I'm done here.

We went to the People's Party last night, which was fun. Met some nice people that I'll probably see again this morning: Abi, who's running a session today, Heather, who's one of the organizers, Casey, a grad student and fellow blogger, a couple more people whose names have fallen out of my head. The Bloggess was holding court in the ladies' room outside the party, so we stopped in to say hello. She surprised my sister when she read her nametag and said, "Oh! I know you!" and gave her a hug. Then she turned to me, read my tag, and said, "Oh! I know you too!" and hugged me as well. Perhaps it's silly, but I feel like I spoke with a celebrity. She looms large in my mind as part of The Blogosphere.

Average Jane was there as well. She started out at another party, and we started tweeting back and forth about where this party was. When she got here, I tried to find her on my own but wasn't having much luck--I only had a vague idea of what she looks like, and since I don't put pictures of myself on my blog, she wouldn't recognize me if I was standing right in front of her. And it turns out I was. I broke down and tweeted her, and turns out she was sitting about 10 feet away. Nice to see someone in person that I've been reading for almost 2 years now.

This morning is the newbie breakfast, speed-dating blogher-style, and a morning session. This afternoon, lunch, more sessions, and a keynote. Tonight? Voices of the Year reception, gala, and art auction.

Oh, and all the people who talk about how much "swag" you get at BlogHer conferences? They are not kidding. I think right before I leave I'm going to have to take a picture of all the stuff I got. Some guy came around last night around 11 and left us presents. One of them is a Mr. Potato Head, Toy Story 3 edition.

And now I must get a shower. Ditter's already up, showered, dressed, and outside at the Smoker's Oasis by the front door. Hotel is completely smoke-free, so any time she needs a cig break she has to go all the way down to this bench by the entrance. We're on the 36th floor. Later today I'll post pictures I took from my window. Gawd, I'm such a tourist.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Birthweek vacay

I'm on vacation. Again. This one is a combination birthday week/going to BlogHer vacation. I turn 42 tomorrow. I think. Hang on, I need to do math...2010 minus 1968....yes. 42. I can never remember how old I am. Well, why bother committing the number to memory? It's only going to change again in a year.

So anyway. Tomorrow's my birthday. I'll be on a bus for part of it, then at my sister's. We're probably going to do a little clothes-shopping because we both need some party clothes for BlogHer -- me because I gave away or threw out a lot of my fancy stuff when I moved because I didn't think I'd be using it any time soon, and my sister because she's lost 35 pounds (!) and none of her party clothes fit.

Since I'm going to be on the road tomorrow, I took myself out for my birthday breakfast today at The Waffle Shop downtown. I usually go to the movies after that. Instead, I watched Julie & Julia, which I'd DVR'd yesterday.

I have a friend stopping in a couple of times this weekend to check on Sophie. Friday she's going to give the cat the 2nd dose of worm medicine and then she's coming Sunday to make sure she's still OK. I bought a feeder so that Sophie'll have plenty to eat, and after I hit "publish" I'm going to take apart Delilah's fountain, clean it thoroughly, put in a new filter, fill it, and start it running. Here's hoping she'll drink from it.

After I do that I'm going to try to sort out what among all the stuff I just laundered I'm going to take with me to BlogHer. Then I need to tidy this place up a bit, so I'm not embarrassed to have someone come in while I'm not here. Nothing major, just a lot of put-this-away, throw-this-out stuff.

Next post will probably be from my sister's house. Or maybe from the train, if it has wifi.