What's on my mind.

29 September 2009

Needles (the good kind)

I'm shamelessly selling my post for the chance at knitting needles. Knit Purl Gurl is giving away this lovely set of interchangeable needles.

In other knitting news I'm trying to decide if a 36" x 36" blanket is going to use a gazillion yards of yarn or something reasonable. I've been thinking about and looking at baby blanket patterns. Then last night, for kicks, I grabbed 3 remnants of some balls of Lily Sugar'n Cream and knit it up on a pair of 15s in garter stitch. Muddy colors (they were rather random remnants) but really squishy soft. I need to weigh my little 4X4 swatch. There should be postage scale around here somewhere.

28 September 2009

Read, Read a Book, Read a Book Right Now*

Preferably a banned book, as it is Banned Books Week. I don't know which books I have on my shelf and which I don't so instead of following Sarah's example I'll examine the lists of most challenged/banned books from 2001-2008. Of those I've read:

Captain Underpants
Bridge to Terabithia
Julie of the Wolves
His Dark Materials series
Harry Potter series
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Of Mice and Men
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The Color Purple

I've put these in approximate age of readers. Captain Underpants is a beginning chapter book, I think, or read to your K-1st grader. I saw it was challenged for being "unsuited for age group" - well, I don't know about the people who challenged it but Mom and Nettie had the best time ever reading it together. It's the only one on the list I haven't read all of (OK, also haven't read Amber Spyglass, yet) but I think from the bits I have read/heard that it is perfect for the age group. Potty humor and burping is right up an average 6-9 yr old's alley, parent's might not always appreciate it but their kids love it. Mom and Nettie laughed the whole time.

The next three are (my impression) for late-elementary schoolers. I read Bridge to Terabithia and Julie of the Wolves in 6th grade, both for discussion/book reports. I'll admit that 6th grade was a while ago, so my memory may not be perfect but violence? I don't remember any particular violence in either. In BtT the kids have a fantasy world with battles against imaginary foes - you can't have kings and queens without dragons - but, in my mind, that's different than 'real' violence. It wasn't gratuitous or glorified. In JotW, Julie's village hunts, the wolf pack she joins hunts, but I can't for the life of me come up with any other potential violence to complain about. Maybe I've forgotten a bunch in the intervening 20 years? IDK, IDU either.

His Dark Materials is somewhat anti-church (in my reading really more anti-establishment or anti-dogma than anti-Christianity despite, perhaps, the author's intent) and this would make it a target of many book banners. Don't want the kiddos asking too many questions. Yeah, there's some violence but not gory and how do you have epic battles with out some violence? How many kids are going to read a trilogy that doesn't involve a major world changing conflict? And how many of those world changing conflicts are going to not involve a war? Yeah, you can do it, but the central conflict of the story needs to grab kids - war grabs kids (and adults).

It seems to me that the Harry Potter series starts as a mid- to late-elementary (3-5th grade) reading and ends as intermediate school reading (7-8th). I suspect a lot of the challenges to Harry Potter are because of the magic - inherently anti-church, if you're afraid of questions. My sister has a friend who isn't allowed to read the books or watch the movies because of this (but can watch Mary Poppins, go figure.). Yeah, there's violence. Violence with consequences and not without reason (at least for the good guys). Again the good guys are fighting evil, and Harry, et al. (due to an accident of birth) get sweep up in it. It's hard to fight evil without shedding some blood, Harry, Dumbledore or any of the other of our heroes, didn't started it but someone has to end it. BTW, sometime this happens in real life, not so much an 11 yr old kid being swept up into and being central to the resolution of the war, but bad things happen and sometimes young men and women have to go off to war - many not more than a year or two older than Harry, Hermione, and Ron in HPatDH - and kill or be killed.

I think kids can handle a little more than we tend to give them credit for. Or more than the idiots who ban books think they can. Not only can they handle people in a book fighting battles or hunting their food - they can tell the difference between reality and fantasy.

*post title is poorly purloined from RIF-Man lyrics

22 September 2009

All About Dancing!

(I may repeat myself, because I'm too lazy to look at my back posts. Also I started this post a couple weeks ago.)

This week Three weeks ago was the start of intermediate rumba, where we're learning a routine that'll be performed at the October November dance (by those who want to, the rest will just be made to feel really guilty). There were 16 couples and 4 single ladies in class the first week, which is definitely up from WCS and hustle.

I'm torn about the class. I'm not going to do the performance because dancing in a group isn't like being in choir/band/orchestra - it's still too individual. I'm taking the class because we'll learn new moves and dancing is fun. Or it is when you have someone to dance with. But the first week wasn't much fun. I guess I was already having a kind of bad day and then I get to dance class and I'm stuck by myself and the instructors are spending as much time with each of the couples as they spend with me which means I have a partner for about 15 minutes of the hour, at most. I can practice by myself but it's not the same. And I was already feeling a bit crappy... I'll go back next week, we're suppose to switch up partners next week, and we'll see.

The second week they had a helper (new instructor at Tuscaloosa Dance Sport) who danced with me a bunch. And the last week someone's partner wasn't there so I had a partner the whole time! I definitely like it better when I have someone to dance with. We'll see how tonight goes.

Speaking of lacking a partner, what do you call a get together where there are far more women than men? Because that was the first 45 minutes or so of the dance party* (at TDS) a 3 weeks ago. Then for two weeks they had two more guy instructors show up and one kind of adopted me and I hardly sat out a dance. Last week, however, the two "new" guys were out of town and the owner has hurt his foot so he's not suppose to dance, everyone else were couples who mostly danced with their regular partners. At least there weren't 3-4 single girls sitting around just me and the girl instructor there. Then Saturday I went to the TBDC dance and mostly sat. Out of about 5 hours at dances I danced maybe 40 minutes (not counting line and mixer/chair dances at TBDC) and one of those dances was a rumba with Claire. If she weren't almost 2 feet shorter than me we might have done a tango. I had fun talking to Claire and Rita but would have had more fun dancing. Oh well. I'll keep going, maybe I'll just dance by myself next time.

One thing I don't understand - why aren't there more single guys who dance? (Warning: broad generalizations to follow.) Women like to dance. Men like women. Women really like men who dance. Men should want to learn to dance so they can hold the pretty girls close. So why do wives have to drag their husbands to dance lessons? Why aren't frat boys all jumping up and down to learn how to meet girls? WHY?

*I like the dance parties and the studio has great space (and will be real nice when the floor's completely finished); they just need more people to show up. I hope they have lots of people showing up for classes. I'm trying to go to a few.

08 September 2009

Great song but you got a bit wrong.

I just watched the videos for "Science is Real", "I'm a Palentologist", and "The Elements" (on YouTube and BoingBoing via i09).* Loved 'em, and I would buy this album if I was spending money on music just now, except TMBG got one little bit wrong:

I know everyone likes the idea of compressing coal to make an diamond - it's a great image but it's wrong. Pure carbon at surface temperatures and pressures is graphite (main ingredient in pencil leads).** Coal is the remains of ancient plants (and algae); it is mostly carbon but it isn't anywhere near pure.

Thank you. Go and sin no more.

And yes, I can be a prick about science.

*Yes, I know, I'm a bit late to the party.
**In fact, diamonds are less stable at surface pressures and temperatures than graphite and would turn into graphite over time if it weren't for the huge energy needed to break the C-C bonds. (At least that's what I remember.) Imagine a bowl on a counter top and a bowl on the floor with a tube in the water of the upper bowl going up to the ceiling and then down to the bowl on the floor - the lower bowl is at a lower potential energy and the water would "want" to get there, but it's gonna take a hell of a lot of energy to get the water up to the ceiling first.