"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Dame Agatha Christie

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Removing A Page Element I Love

With regret, I am taking my "This Day in History" widget from History.com off my blog. As much as I love the idea of having a widget that lets me find out what happened each day, I object to the fact that the ad page shows continually until the reader clicks it closed and only then can the history data be accessed.

I want to control what is advertised on my blog. It is not that I have a negative opinion of this widget's sponsor; I simply prefer to decide for myself what products appear on these pages.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Drop Dead Diva"

I am not a "chick flick" watcher and Lifetime is a network that is on my TV just slightly more often than the sports channels, so it totally amazes me I am posting about a new show on Lifetime.

I have never believed that blondes are born dumb, nor that skinny people are superior to us "fat" folks. Many ages of history have appreciated women who are size 12-14 (Betty Grable, Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe all come very quickly to mind). Painters such as Peter Paul Rubens loved to see women as they are, not as society in recent decades has taught us we should be.

So, I had caught a commercial glimpse of this new show--a blonde, somewhat ditzy model dies and is sent back to earth as a plus-size attorney. She remembers her past life and is appalled to be thrust into the corporate world as a latte-drinking, donut-eating size 16. Since I love the idea of smart and successful female characters who do not resemble pencils, I thought I would try the pilot episode--what did I have to lose but an hour, right?

The show is fantastic! Laughs and tears and more laughs with a fantastic cast. The stereotypes are there primarily to be attacked. This is fluff that makes you think (if you are so inclined) and fluff that is enjoyable if all you want is clean comedy. The guest stars scheduled for future shows include Rosie O'Donnell and Paula Abdul; Margaret Cho is totally believable as Jane's assistant/right hand.

This country is undeniably obese. Weight loss is often important to improve health. However, self-worth should never be wrapped around outside appearance. Cleanliness on the other hand is important to self-esteem--grooming (or lack thereof) does present an impression to others and if the impression is negative, little to nothing can be done to change that person's mind, whether you are slender or not.

I am no dumber or poorer or less worthy of your attention simply because of my size; if you choose to give me that quick dismissal given so many simply due to their weight, you miss out on knowing a Fascinating, Accomplished, Talented human being.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dumb and Dumber--Where does it Stop?

Please help start a movement to save the English language!

Most of my friends are 40+ and I enjoy surrounding myself with people who read and enjoy the arts. Call us "old fogeys" if you will, but we enjoy intellectual discussion on many varied topics. Several of us will start reading a novel and get so engrossed with some aspect of the setting or timeline that we will head to the nearest encyclopedia for a deeper understanding.

Recently, we have noticed more slang in printed works. Slang has a place in creating characters or moods, but too much of an okay thing is not at all right. Then we began to notice books in which computer proofing caused grammar errors--"two" for "too" or "to"; "their" being used for "there" and vice-versa--need I go on?

And I could truly rant about the obnoxious spelling present in "tweets", text-messages and e-mails. What started as a few emoticons in e-mails from one friend to another has begun to steamroll into blatant disregard--even in professional environs--for intelligent written communication.

A noted magazine geared towards writers is having a lively discussion through the letters to the editor due to a contest-winning entry that could have benefited from better grammar and punctuation.

The editorial column in volume 11, issue 4 of North and South explains my angst much more coherently than I; please find a copy and read it.

Our President has challenged us to learn and to value education no matter our age. If we are to meet all the challenges inherent in keeping the United States as a world power throughout the next decades, we must be able to communicate. Writing, whether on paper or electronically produced, must make clear sense to those who read and act upon what was written. Creativity is transmitted best when it is concise and readable. This is true when talking to my boss. It is true when writing a blog post. It is true when discussing possible solutions to financial problems, global warming, cessation of hostilities across the world--imagine diplomacy without precise translation from one language to another...

I have forgotten grammar, syntax, and spelling more often than I care to admit, and this aspiring writer knows she will never be the next J.K. Rowling, Lincoln Childs, Diana Gabaldon or Kathy Lynn Emerson. I pray however, that my inevitable rejection letters will not come because of spelling or sloppy sentence structure.

I refuse to "dumb down" to increase my audience. Each day brings us another opportunity to stretch our imaginations and increase our communication skills, and I refuse to believe I am alone in holding true to traditional ideals of language. Our young people will rise to a challenge if we require it as we have in the past. They have begun to read again thanks to "Twilight" and "Harry Potter". Now we need to encourage them to write (thanks Christopher Paolini for proving it can be done!).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince--I Loved It!!!!!

Voracious fans of the book series are having discussions all over the Web regarding the storyline of the books versus the movies--it happens every time and will certainly happen with parts 1 & 2 of Deathly Hallows in 2010 and 2011.

Half-Blood Prince was different than I expected (not better and certainly not worse). On site reviews and preview videos showed me scenes not in the book so I knew something of what to expect. The movie left out parts of the master story line and yes, I walked out wondering how certain "necessary" parts of Deathly Hallows can be filmed if the essential back story was not.

Movie audiences are not always readers. My friend watching with me only knows Hogwarts and environs through the movies and has no desire to read the books. She was quite happy with the balance between the main story and the little sideline romances, and I agree. We were both pleasantly surprised that the darker tone was present but not overwhelming. Voldemort has returned and is causing havoc everywhere, yet the young people at Hogwarts still have time to fall in and out of "love" and there is much to laugh about. The comedic timing of Rupert Grint in so many scenes had me laughing far more than I had expected. Emma Watson also had moments that just floored you and showed a totally different side to the usually serious Hermione.

Not that there were not tears--there were many. I knew I would have sad moments throughout but I did not expect to feel sympathy for Tom Felton. Crying through the books was one thing--the tears were NOT shed for Draco. Watching the performance, I cried as much for Draco's plight as I did for Dumbledore.

Yes this post is long and was hard to write without spoilers, but please see the movie. We need morality tales today. We need to see the consequences of poor choices. We need accountability for our actions. Harry offers all this and more in a movie that entrances adults as well as older children and it does all this without fire and brimstone preachiness. Where else can you see honest affection and caring between young people today without seeing them jump into bed? Where else do we see that bad choices made in the past do not force a person into bad choices in the future?

I'm anxiously awaiting 2010 and Deathly Hallows #1...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Great Altered File Folder Portfolio!

I was lurking around some sites my friend Beverly suggested and came across this awesome video project for an altered file folder. This would make a wonderful teacher or co-worker gift and would be quite easy to mass-produce. Something tells me I will be joining scrapbookingcraftingfriends.ning.com very soon LOL! I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Studio Status--Will I ever stay organized?

Well, the studio was clean for a moment or two LOL! My office half has stacks of papers (novel research and magazines and bills to pay and filing and "stuff") while my work table has six partially finished projects (no one else works like that, right? )

One organizational tip I discovered is taking a plastic basket (like the ones sold to divide drawers) and using it to hold the current project pieces. I am trying to emulate my friend Beverly who makes more than one card at a time, so if I want to make a small series of very similar cards, I can put all the cut pieces of cardstock or patterned paper plus the embellishments for that series in the basket until they can be assembled. The baskets I am using are pretty colors, from the dollar store, and measure about 6" x 10". They will nest inside each other and if everything in them is flat, they can stack on top of each other while being used. The size works well for most card sizes and for my bookmarks and ATCs too. The baskets also will slip onto my shelves easily so I can keep more of my workspace clear, especially if doing direct-to-paper or other potentially messy work.

Since I work from home and my studio shares space with both my personal office and the desk/PC/phone I use for my paying job Monday-Friday, I have found I need to remove myself from that room once I am logged off for the day.

With the basket system, if I want to work in front of my TV, I can grab the wooden TV tray, some adhesive, my non-stick craft sheet or self-healing mat, and some card/ATC/bookmark blanks. Voila! Since the embellishments are already coordinated with the papers and the pieces are already cut and stamped, I can assemble a project easily.

Does anyone else work from home and have other ideas on organizing a shared office/studio?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Cuttlebug Spot "Drive for 500"

This is a cool challenge site my friend Beverly showed me and they are doing a membership/follower drive; go check out the July 6, 2009 post and see how to win neat prizes!

(Then stay and play; the challenges are really cute!)