23 December 2011

Dear Buddha, Please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket ...

Happy Holidays!

This is normally the time of year when this agnostically atheist Taoist with Buddhist leanings goes on a bit of a tear about things like the ridiculousness of people getting offended by the use of "Happy Holidays" vs "Merry Christmas" or the differences between secular and religious holidays of the season.

But, frankly, it's all been said.

And I'd rather spend the very few minutes I have free for blogging today to just wish *everyone* a jolly holiday - whichever one or two or six you choose to celebrate and whichever way you choose to celebrate them.

We observed the Winter Solstice earlier this week, and today, we're baking cookies and pies and other yummy things for the first of two Christmas feasts this weekend.

Personally, I'm kinda looking forward to Boxing Day, too. Any excuse to celebrate works for me. ;)

Take a minute to tell me what and how YOU celebrate this time of year?

Happy Chrismahanakwanzayulestice,

14 October 2011

Seven (give or take a few)

SeattleDad over at Luke I am Your Father - one of my favorite Dad Bloggers - posted this fun little meme the other day and "tagged" me to suggest I might like to try it, too. You know what? He was right. This is kinda neat. And, hey, it's not like I have a lot of fresh content on here lately. Might as well delve into the archives for a bit of fun, eh?

MOST BEAUTIFUL: This is a tough one to start with. I'm not sure that anything I write is "beautiful". Still, if anything comes close to it, I suspect it must be this: Moments in a Life Well-Lived - the eulogy I delivered at my Grandfather's funeral.

MOST HELPFUL: I'm not so much with the helpful. Unless you find sarcasm to be therapeutic? But I suppose You Must Be This Tall to Ride - my Disneyland-in-a-Day plan - must have something useful for some people, because I still get a ton of hits on it every week. Or maybe people just like the picture. *shrugs*

MOST POPULAR: Going by visitor stats, I get tons of hits on this post every single day ... but I suspect that is because it has the word "chicks" and a three-letter word for your posterior in the same sentence. (Didn't post the title because I already feel bad enough for accidentally diverting people looking for hot bums to my post about fictional heroines. Sorry guys, I'm not intentionally misleading your pr0n searches, I swear!) BUT ... going by comments, this post is probably one of my more popular posts: I'm not an extrovert, but I play one on the interwebs

MOST CONTROVERSIAL: I'm about as non-confrontational as they come. But I do have opinions about controversial specific topics and I don't mind sharing them. I'd like to think I usually do so in a rational manner rather than in a trollish tone. Whatever the reason, I can't say as I've ever had any real "controversy" about a post. Maybe it's just because my readers are all so nice? ;) Still, if there were any controversy to be found, I suspect it would be either in my annual Xmas Rant or one of my numerous posts in support of Same Sex Marriage.

MOST SURPRISINGLY SUCCESSFUL: This little meme surprised me not only because it just seemed to flow so easily that it almost wrote itself, but also because it turned out that other people seemed to like it too: Where I'm From

MOST UNDERRATED: This is a tough one. Because saying a post is underrated is like saying it "deserves" more attention. I don't write for attention. I write because I love to write. Because it helps me process my thoughts. And sometimes just because it's fun. I do enjoy interaction with readers: Those "oh-wow-we-have-something-in-common" moments are great. But I don't think my posts "deserve" attention or comments. Still, if I have to choose ... I quite like this post, which I don't think many people have seen: I know it's here somewhere

MOST PRIDEWORTHY: Next to my post about my grandfather's death, this is probably my favorite. Again, this one just seemed to flow with no effort. It's simple and yet, I like to think, somewhat poetic. But if life were made of moments, then you'd never know you had one

(Yes, I know I totally cheated and linked up more than one post for couple of those topics. I'm indecisive. Sue me. ;) And now I'm going to cheat again by linking to my Best Of page and suggesting that you might find other interesting reads there or elsewhere in my archives. Ooo, I feel like such a meme-rebel.)

Now, the rules of this meme are that I should pass this along to seven other Bloggers. Well, I think I've just proven I'm not much for following rules. But, in this case, I'm happy to oblige, because I'm always happy to help point people to blogs I enjoy. I don't know if they'll want to play along and post their own 7x7 links. But, even if they don't, these are seven links that are worth clicking over to. Good reads. Seriously. :)
  1. TheOneSFD
  2. DaddyGeekBoy
  3. Brutalism
  4. Didactic Pirate 
  5. Honea Express
  6. Pet Cobra
  7. HipMamaB

Oooh, that was harder than I thought to just list seven! Let me channel my inner rebel again and suggest that you should check the "Blogs You Should Read" section in my sidebar for more links to smart folks. AND, if you are so inclined, I invite you to try this meme, too, even if I didn't "tag" you! If you do, please share the link! I'd love to read it!

Resting on my laurels,

PS: You really should click over and visit LIAYF, too. Not only is he a great blogger, he's a great dad and a great husband and that really shines through in his writing. I'm absolutely terrible about leaving comments (anywhere) lately. But I still love reading his posts. Plus: He and his wife are planning to adopt and YOU just might be able to help! So go say "hi" to him and the Missus and their adorable son, will ya? ;)

29 September 2011

The paper burns, but the words fly away.

It's Banned Books Week ... you might be surprised by some of the titles on the 2010-2011 List of Challenged or Banned Books as reported by the American Library Association.

Even though I advocate for Banned Books Week every year, and post these lists every year, I'm always still surprised by some of the thoughts and ideas that people want to censor. Though I have to admit that it doesn't surprise me that the vast majority of these challenges come from parents.
"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us." ~ Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

As always, bear with me as I whip out my soapbox and make my annual open declaration in support of freedom of thought:

Look, I get it: I'm a parent. I want to protect my kids from all that "bad" stuff out there, too. And I agree, wholeheartedly, that it's perfectly acceptable - important and necessary, even - for parents to guide their children's content-intake.

You, as a parent, should absolutely be as aware as possible of what your child is reading, viewing or playing. And you have the right and responsibility to censor that content as you see fit FOR YOUR OWN CHILDREN.
Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

Please note my oh-so-subtle emphasis there. Attempting to remove a book or other material from the public domain is NOT a parental right - it is an act that infringes on the rights of others.

Even the best of motivations - to protect children from inappropriate content - has a hugely detrimental effect on one of our most fundamental rights: The freedom to think and to express those thoughts without censorship by the government.
"Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances."
~ First Amendment
 Even more than protecting my kids from the "dangerous" thoughts of people I don't agree with, I am personally and passionately compelled to protect that right for my kids.

Are there books that I personally wouldn't mind going away forever? Yeah, in theory. There are some pretty reprehensible thoughts out there.
"If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." ~ Noam Chomsky

But I would - and do - still defend their right to exist. And, in my opinion, none of the books on this year's Challenged or Banned Books list or on the Frequently Banned Books list come even close to that level of "inappropriate content".

But, that's just the point. It's not my opinion that matters for you, nor your opinion that matters for me. You only get to decide for you.

So, here's the deal: You stay the hell away from my public library with your black marker and red pens, and I won't give you kid a gift-wrapped copy of the Harry Potter collection, and we'll all get along just fine, 'kay?
"The paper burns, but the words fly away." ~ Akiba ben Joseph
Enjoy your book,


Don't forget to check out the Banned Books Week Virtual Read Out on YouTube.

06 September 2011

Geek Girl meets NerdyShirts: A Love Story


Once upon a time, hearing that from my classmates made me cringe.

I was the girl in the twisty pig-tails with her nose stuck in a book while the other kids played on the jungle gym; the one who actually took pride in raising my hand in class and knowing the right answer. I was the girl who would really rather go home and play with my brother's Masters of the Universe and Star Wars action figures than go out and play Barbie or Cabbage Patch dolls with the girls down the block. And I was probably the only girl on that block who couldn't decide who she wanted to date more: Han Solo, Gambit or Starbuck. (What? I like the bad boys, so sue me. I totally had a thing for Wesley Crusher, too, if that helps.)

I learned pretty quickly that it wasn't "cool" to be a nerd - especially a nerd of the girl variety. So, I learned to be a little bit "in the closet" about my geek girl tendencies for most of my school years.

But in college - I learned to embrace my nerdiness. Partly because it was around that age that I started to realize that what random people think of me is nowhere near as important and what I think of me. And partly because I found, for the first time, friends who shared my interests.

Suddenly, it was okay to be smart. It was cool to quote scifi movies. It was fun to spend a Saturday in a Buffy marathon.

And it was finally okay for me to buy and wear the awesome "guy" tees that I secretly coveted as a little girl. (I cannot tell you how desperately unfair it was that only boys got to have superhero Underoos when I was a kid. I am still traumatized by the injustice of it all.)

Still, even then, I was buying "guy" shirts. They just didn't make "nerdy" tees for girls.

Today, it's a little easier to find geek girl gear than it once was (yay!), but it's still more of a man's world when it comes to nerdy apparel.

When I find a cool place to buy new and fun nerdy tees and accessories - AND when that place actually sells shirts made to fit over *gasp* boobs and not just skinny basement-dweller torsos and Comic Book Guy proportions - my previously oppressed inner geek girl gets pretty excited.

So when the nice folks at NerdyShirts asked me to check out their site and *ooooo* pick out a free t-shirt to try out ... well, I'm not gonna lie, Marge, I kind of *squeeed* a little. Then I got to shopping.

I have to admit, I spent a loooong time browsing around NerdyShirts. I had a really hard time picking out just one shirt to get my grubby little hands on to review for you, my awesome readers, who I love and would pimp myself out offer up my review services for.

First: My one little criticism ... the selection at NerdyShirts is not as broad as some other similar sites. BUT, the fact that they have a whole section of "girl" shirts that's almost as big as the "guy" section goes a long way for me.

The prices are really pretty good, too - most of their shirts are $14.99. That's better than a lot of other similar online shops by at $5-$10. But the lesser price doesn't mean lesser quality. Based on the shirt that I got (see awesome pic above) these are not cheap, thin, flimsy tees - it's got decent material and construction that should last as least as long as your average scifi tv series. (Kidding! It will totally outlast most of those.) ;)

I also really like that you can easily filter your search results by gender and size and theme - cuz, you know, sometimes you want an XL Star Wars shirt for your favorite geek guy and sometimes you're looking for a size small vintage comic book tee for your gal pal and sometimes you need a last minute birthday present for your medium-sized brother the recovering Nintendo-addict.

My verdict: Overall, NerdyShirts is a great site: Easy interface, quality products, good prices - and, my personal favorite - a great "girls" section. Oh, and apparently, these guys never read the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, because, if you're not happy, they've got a great return/exchange policy, too.

True story: I've already picked out my brother's xmas present from NerdyShirts and I suspect Santa will be doing a bit more shopping there before the end of the year.

So: Geeks and Gamers and Nerds (Oh, my!): Check it NerdyShirts yourself and let me know what YOU think?

Let your geek flag fly,


27 July 2011

The Naming of Cats

We've inherited a cat.

A kitten actually.

As she was something of an unexpected addition, were a bit at a loss at first for a proper name for our latest refugee.

Our other two cats are Mojo-Jojo - black-as-pitch with a hellish temper and an overdeveloped sense of her own importance, sometimes referred to a Basement Cat - and Mocha - a sweet Siamese mix with a tendency to shed and drool, also known as Ceiling Cat.

This latest feline refugee is something of an in-betweener: She's a sweet and somewhat fearless little ball of fluff - a gray tabby with little white boots to match the tip of her tail.

"Boots" seemed an obvious choice. But as she doesn't show any signs of talent for the long con, we decided against it.

The Professor's first choice was "Sneaky Ninja Kitty" after she affected a daring escape from her carrier right under our noses on her first night home and managed to stay hidden for almost an hour. But that was a bit of a mouthful.

Bam-Bam offered up "Bam-Bam" and "Mr. Potato Head" as possible monikers. But we convinced him that having more than one of each would just get confusing.

After a few more rounds of suggestions from the kids that would have had even Hollywood Moms doing spit-takes, I decided to pull out the big guns. And I sat down to read to the boys Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

Then I had them sleep on all they'd learned about the Naming of Cats. The next day, they made their decision.

And so, I'm pleased to introduce you to Ms. Jennyanydots:

When the day's hustle and bustle is done, then the gumbie cat's work is but hardly begun,


19 July 2011

Laughter and tears

My father-in-law's funeral service was today.

At one point, the pastor invited people to come up to the mic to share a personal memory of my father-in-law. After several people spoke, my 4-year-old, who had been standing a few feet away from me holding my own father's hand, calmly pulled away from his Papa and confidently strode up to the pastor.

Silently, solemnly, he met the pastor's eyes and pointed to the mic.

The smiling pastor lowered the mic and lifted my son, who clearly and boldly pronounced to the assembly: "I hafta go Potty."

The crowd dissolved into giggles and guffaws as my Dad caught up to my little Bam-Bam and led him off to take care of business.

I have to tell you, I think my father-in-law would have been rolling in the aisles with laughter.


15 July 2011

I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library

On a whim, I set a goal to read 60 books in 2011. Seemed a realistic, but satisfying number. And I'm pleased to report that, as of about the midway point, I'm ahead of schedule at 45.

Those playing the home version of Zen's Book Bingo, will find several of the "usual suspect" authors and series and genres on this (half) year's list.

One pleasantly surprising new-to-me author this year is Jim Butcher. People have been telling me for years that I'd like the stories of Harry Dresden, Wizard for Hire. But I just never got around to picking one up before. So glad I did: Part gritty hard-boiled detective, part urban fantasy, all fun.

I also really enjoyed Wil Wheaton's latest stories as well as Dark Horse Graphic Novels based on Firefly/Serenity and The Guild.

And I still totally want to lick Ilona Andrews' brain every time I read something new of hers (theirs) - they are just so deliciously fun!

But, hey, here's the whole list ... check it out ... 

2011 read (Jan-Jul)


What have YOU been reading lately? I love book recommendations! In fact, if you're on GoodReads, or PaperBackSwap, pop over and "friend" me, so I can poke my nose into your reading list. ;)

Words, words, words,

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library."
~ Jorge Luis Borges