What are we talking about today?

I'm on hiatus (in case you hadn't guessed). Sorry! I miss you guys.

31 July 2012

Teaser Tuesday #28

Source: Goodreads.
Peter and the Starcatchers, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Peter asked what shooting stars were, and Mr. Grempkin said they were meteors. So Peter asked what meteors were, and Mr. Grempkin said they were rocks that fell from the heavens. So Peter asked if that meant that the heavens were made of rocks, and why were the rocks so bright?











teasertuesdays32
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingAnyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

29 July 2012

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow...

...Sorta.

So I watched the opening ceremony, of course, on Friday night. After Beijing's spectacular opening ceremony four years ago, I remember all the articles and podcasts in the British media saying basically, "Well, we'll never top that! Pressure's off." Which I admit is a refreshing change to the "We must be better! We must be louder! We must be fancier!" approach that the U.S. tends to take to everything.


So, I didn't think the opening ceremony was going to have the wow factor of the Beijing version, and it didn't, but I enjoyed it all the same. The hymns that the kids sang--Danny Boy in Northern Ireland, Flower of Scotland in Scotland, Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer in Wales, and Jerusalem in England-- were fabulous. I found out afterwards that a segment honouring, among others, the victims of the 7/7 terrorism in London, was cut from the NBC broadcast. You can see the video here, and while I don't at all agree with the ridiculous headline on Deadspin, it does at least have the whole song.


I decided to risk NBC's ire and swipe
one of their photos. Most teams
looked like flight attendants or like
they had escaped from their
boarding school. Mexico managed
to be fun! Source.
And since I brought up the NBC broadcast... maybe it's time for another network to have a go at the Olympics. The commentators on Friday night (Bob Costas, Matt Lauer, and Meredith Viera) were obviously jaded/bored/uninterested. Among the many, many criticisms of their commentary on Twitter (to which I happily contributed) were that they narrated it like the Macy's parade; they they talked down to the audience (example: "This may not make sense to you since you're not British" or "You can Google him if you want"-- gosh, thanks); and that they made jokes about many of the nations, especially the smaller nations, which bordered on insulting. I wish they'd learn to be silent from time to time.


Anyway, I got up early on Saturday to catch the cycling, some of the swimming qualifiers, and as much tennis as possible. I'm so happy to have cable TV when the Olympics come round. I also don't mind watching prerecorded stuff in prime time, although I take exception to Bob Costas saying they're showing things "as it happened" when of course they've done plenty of editing. We're really just getting extended highlights. But yay, we have the internet now, so I can watch it online if I want to.


Today? More of the same! I love weekends. Swimming, gymnastics, Tennis!, and more cycling. And whatever else I can fill in the corners with-- yesterday I watched some archery, fencing, boxing, basketball, and a bit of volleyball as well. And that's why I love the Olympics so much-- plenty of sports for all tastes, nonstop for two weeks. It's brilliant.


Somebody at work suggested last week that we could hook up a computer to the big screen and have the Olympics on at work. I pointed out that that's a good way for me not to get any work done.


Do you watch the Olympics? What's your favourite (if you can narrow it down-- I can't!)? Do you enjoy mocking the commentary?

27 July 2012

It's Finally Here!

Source.
The moment we've all been waiting for since the last time the torch was extinguished... London 2012 starts today! Yes, I'm one of those people. The ones who know when every event is on, and can tell you who the favourite is, but who they want to win instead, and who will probably annoy you silly for the next two weeks.

But, it's also Friday, so I would be remiss if I didn't make some suggestions on how to green up your Olympic viewing. Here goes:

1. Go watch at a neighbour's house. Then, your two houses will only need to use half as much electricity as before. Of course, you could achieve the same effect if your neighbour comes to your house to watch, but then it's on your bill instead of theirs.

2. If your neighbour isn't keen on this suggestion, sit in his/her backyard with binoculars. Don't worry about spilling popcorn on the lawn; the birds will eat it!

3. If you must watch alone, turn off all the lights in the house to compensate for the extra electricity you'll be using.

4. Buy bigger bags of snacks instead of smaller ones. They'll last longer and you'll save on packaging.

5. And don't bother cooking anything. Then you won't have to do any dishes, either.

6. Borrow a flag from a local high school instead of buying your own. Return it after the Olympics are over. This is easiest if you go after dark.

7. Just wear the same clothes for the whole Games. Less washing and you aren't moving from the couch anyway, right?

8. If you actually take any of these suggestions, you totally deserve what happens to you. Have fun and happy watching!

26 July 2012

James

This name has come into some disgrace in the past week. On the other hand, it's also held by what sometimes feels like every second person in the English-speaking world, so I'm sure it's had some glory this past week, too.

James
From New Testament Greek to Latin to English, James traveled quite a road from his humble beginnings as a variant of Jacob, which means either "supplanter" or "may God protect". Seven kings of Scotland (and two of England) and six U.S. Presidents have been named James, not to mention a couple of apostles and one of Jesus' brothers (the author of the epistle James in the New Testament), unless you're Catholic, in which case James probably a cousin of Jesus'. Currently the third most popular boys' name in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It was the most popular boys' name in the U.S. from 1940 until 1952, and was in the top five from 1880 (the beginning of record-keeping) until 1980. That's why every other person is named James, methinks. Currently, it's the 17th most popular name for boys in the U.S. Incidentally, it peaked as the 318th most popular for girls in 1928. Clearly, James gets around.

Don't worry, Australian friends; I
haven't forgotten Captain Cook.
Source.
Famous Jameses: Geez. If you go here, you can see a list of a bunch of famous Jameses, complete with pictures. (Does anybody else think James Franco looks a lot like James Dean?) A few that I particularly like: Jim Henson, J.M. Barrie, Jamie Murray (tennis player; older brother to Andy Murray), Jimmy Fallon, James Van Der Beek, James McAvoy.

Fictional Jameses: James and the Giant Peach, James Potter (Harry Potter), James Russell (Chalet School), James Bond, James T. Kirk, (Captain) James Hook.

My Jameses: In addition to about a dozen friends and acquaintances called James, I do tend to use the name a lot in writing. So far, I'm holding off in my current WIP, but I've had so many Jameses that I've pretty much lost track of them all.

Are you a James? Do you feel like you're surrounded by Jameses?

Sources:

24 July 2012

Teaser Tuesday #27

Source: Goodreads.
Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, Alisa Smith & J.B. Mackinnon

We had never found the elusive "jelly bag" for separating juice from fruit pulp, and instead had bought cheesecloth at an ordinary supermarket--we'd assumed it was an archaic product that we'd need to track down at a specialty store, alongside fireplace bellows and butter churns.










teasertuesdays32
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingAnyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

23 July 2012

These Characters...

My muse finally returned from holiday or hibernation or wherever she's been, so I've been doing more writing than usual this past week. And-- surprise!-- it's causing me some angst.

Sybil, more or less. I
have a picture of Greg
 in my mind, but haven't
found a good one on the
interwebs yet. Source.
You see, I've known my characters Sybil and Greg for a long time. I started writing them when I was in high school, and have hung on to them this long because I like them so much. The first thing I wrote about them was their senior year of high school, and then moving on to college. Eventually, they're going to live happily ever after. I hope. In the meantime, I'm writing them a freshman-year prequal (it was my NaNoWriMo project last year), and they're in an awful mess.

In the earliest stages of her written life, Sybil was not destined to be with Greg. I had her dating someone else, but then I liked her and Greg together so much that she broke it off with the other guy. In the prequal, of course, she has to be with the other guy, who I've more or less rewritten. And my life circumstances have changed since I wrote him the first time; I'm a happily married woman instead of a lonely and hormonal teenager. Result: I've accidentally written my husband into the story, and that's who Sybil is dating. A 16-year-old version of my Chadwick. Le sigh.

So, not only do I have Sybil with this guy who I think is perfect for her, but I've also realised that 14-year-old Greg and Sybil may be the least compatible people I've ever heard of. Why? Why have I done this to myself? And more importantly, why have I done this to these characters I have loved?

As ever, the only way to find out what happens next is to keep writing and (possibly) get us all out of this mess.

Do your characters insist on doing crazed things?

20 July 2012

All A-Buzz

I first heard about the benefits of local honey from friends when Chad & I moved to Austin a couple of years ago. Chad has asthma and a nice collection of allergies, and we had been warned that both would worsen when we moved here. However, that admonition was frequently coupled with the suggestion to eat local honey to build up immunity.

When this nice young man gave me
permission to take pictures for my
blog, neither one of us knew it would
be months before I finally got round
to using them.
As fate would have it, it's a strong part of the Austin ethos to buy local; the Keep Austin Weird thing began in the face of nationwide chains descending on Austin, as a way to encourage people to support local businesses. It took me a while to come round to the idea that yes, some things are worth paying more for, and I eventually went to the farmer's market and came home with some Round Rock Honey.

Now, because I'd read so many things about local/raw honey, like how you should be able to tell the difference, and how it tastes so amazing, that I was bound to be a bit let down. And I was, kinda. I didn't leap with happiness at how much better the very local version (Round Rock is about 18 miles from my house on the freeway, and even closer as the crow flies) of honey was than the stuff I can buy at the store that might come from 200 miles away (I was buying Texas honey already). But, I thought, at least it might protect Chad from allergies.

I don't remember how
much honey this was;
three pounds, maybe?
When I went to do some investigating, I found plenty of sources that talk about the benefits of honey for allergies (see here, here, and here), although the ones that aren't sites for honey companies agree that the available evidence is anecdotal. I have to say that Chad hasn't had any notable problems with allergies since we've been here, which might be attributable to the change of location-- Lubbock has dry air and regular dirt storms that aggravate even the soundest of lungs, whereas Austin has a lot more humidity and no flying dirt. And when Chad does complain about the climate, it's that he's too hot, not that he can't breathe.

However! We liked the Round Rock Honey enough to buy it again, and I do like the idea of buying local. The more small businesses that are operating, the better; every town would be exactly the same if not for the local businesses. And finally, I'm wanting to have a go at replacing the white sugar in our diet with honey, in the hopes that the non-processed sugar will be marginally better for us. So for all those reasons, I'm planning to head to the farmer's market tomorrow for another industrial-sized keg of honey.


Do you eat honey? Do you prefer the local varieties, or is that less important to you?

19 July 2012

Jonathan

I can't believe it's taken me this long to get around to Jonathan. This has been my favourite boy name forever... or at least since sixth grade, when a new kid called Jonathan joined our class and immediately made friends with everybody. He was that kind of guy. The name has almost been ruined for me a couple of times when I've met some badly-named Jonathans who were jerks. Seriously, you don't deserve such a nice name if you aren't going to live up to it.

Jonathan
From the Hebrew name Yehonatan, meaning "Yahweh has given". Peaked as the 15th most popular name for boys in the U.S. in 1988; currently, it's #31. Interestingly, it peaked as the 838th most popular girls' name in 1984. Around the world, Norway and Denmark have almost as many baby Jonathans as the U.S.; it's the 36th and 37th most popular boys' name, respectively. In Canada it's 77th and in Australia it's 88th. As for the British Isles... not even on the charts. Bummer. (Also, this paragraph started to feel like a weather report right about the middle.)

Famous Jonathans: The Biblical son of King Saul and best friend of future King David; Jonathan Swift (writer); Jonathan Franzen (writer); Jonathan Edwards (Puritan minister); Jon Stewart (I was surprised, too!); Jonathan Taylor Thomas (actor); Jonathan Frakes (actor); Jonathan Gilbert (actor; played Willie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie)... you know, this could go on for a while.

Love, love, love this cast. They rock
the entire universe. Source.
Fictional Jonathans: Jonathan Garvey, Little House on the Prairie; Jonathan "Jack" O'Neill, Stargate SG-1 (I had no idea the character's name was Jonathan!); Jonathan Kent, Superman; Jonathan Archer, Star Trek: Enterprise; I'm just going to stop before it gets really nerdy around here.

My Jonathans: Most of the real-life Jonathans I know go by Jon. But I do know a few. As for my writing: Well, it's hard for me to avoid putting a Jonathan into everything I write. I manage to resist from time to time, but I'm not having a lot of luck. The Jonathan that's been with me the longest (in a story that will never, ever, be seen by anyone but me, but I can't let it go) is also one I've had a lot of fun writing over the years. He does a lot of things that I wouldn't have dared to do as a kid. A more recent Jonathan has sneaked into my current WIP as Sybil's (MC) current love interest. I mentioned him once before and my friend Jenni commented that she was never allowed to date boys that were more than a year older than her (Jonathan is two years older than Sybil). I had never heard that rule before, and I've decided that Sybil's parents don't have such a rule but might wish they had before all is said and done.

Yeah. Can you tell this is my favourite boy name ever? I bet if Chadwick had been named Jonathan he wouldn't have had to work so hard to convince me to marry him. ;)

Are you a Jonathan? Do you know a Jonathan? What fun quirks should I include in my Jonathans?

Sources
Baby Name Wizard
Behind the Name

18 July 2012

Walking on Sunshine

... because I'm not always able to walk on the sidewalk.

When we moved to Austin from Lubbock a couple of years ago, I rejoiced in the abundance of sidewalks covering Austin. (Lubbock is not good at sidewalks.) There's one in my neighbourhood and it leads right to the grocery store! Excellent!

I'm almost guaranteed to trip over
these cracks. Good thing the city
fixes them. Source.
And, of course, all good sidewalks require repair, and that's where my trouble starts. You see, a road sign that reads, "Sidewalk Closed. Use other side," does not do me much good when the other side of the street doesn't have a sidewalk, as happened in my neighbourhood over the past few weeks. Or-- even worse-- when a well-used sidewalk on a major street is closed, but to get to the sidewalk on the other side requires crossing busy traffic lanes without the aid of a crosswalk, and then crossing back again to reach the destination.

Yep. Also in my neighbourhood.

And one more: When vegetation growth hangs over the sidewalk, almost to the street, forcing people to walk at the very edge of the sidewalk with only inches of air between them and passing traffic. No prizes for guessing where this gem is.

I do love our sidewalks, and I love them being maintained. I don't love when the public works people forget to make provisions for pedestrians. I get a lot of mileage out of the "Contact Us" page on the Austin website. But most of all, this is just another symptom of suddenly having something I didn't have before: I forget what it was like when my options were to walk in someone's yard or to walk in the street (thanks, City of Lubbock). And I'm glad that I do have at least one more choice now.

So, there you go: Another travail in the car-free life. I realise it sounds like a rant, but it's not intended to rant so much as to cause you to look around and possibly contact your own public works department to demand a good place to walk.

Does your neighbourhood have sidewalks? Do you walk? How could it be better?

16 July 2012

Trophy People

You might say I'm a bit of a sports fan.

I'm not a tennis player, but
I watch some on TV.
Source.
Normally, when someone says "a bit" like that, it's meant as a casual understatement. In my case, it's more or less true. I live in Texas, the land of American football, and I'm from Indiana, the home of basketball, but I don't spend much time with either sport. (Just to clarify: I love basketball and support my hometown-ish team, the Indiana Pacers, but I rarely take the time to watch a game. I catch the highlights after.) I watch tennis and soccer, especially European teams, and cycling when I'm at home while it's on. I'm pretty sure that most people who call themselves "real sports fans" would not consider me to be a member of the club.

On the other hand, one reason why I love the Olympics so much is because of the chance to see such a variety of sports in such a short time. I like to think of myself as a diversified sports fan.

Anyway! I get irritated sometimes about how the general public acts toward athletes. It's almost as though the general public feels ownership over athletes, as if we are owed al the details of their lives and nothing is permitted to remain private. For instance, last Sunday before the Wimbledon final, a reporter asked Andy Murray what he and his girlfriend had done for dinner the previous night. When Mr. Murray said, "None of your business," Twitter suddenly filled up with comments about what a horrible sportsman he is. Erm, no. It really isn't anyone's business theirs. His sportsmanship has nothing to do with answering personal questions.

Of course, for Andy Murray, the public have no problem finding things to complain about. It started long before that, with the English press berating him for saying that he supported Anyone But England in the World Cup (coincidentally, that's who I support, too), and him finally getting exasperated and pointing out how much time he spends in England and how many English friends he has, which led to a backlash in Scotland about him being so pally with the English. For goodness' sakes.

And we do it in the US, too: I've lost count of how many times I've heard people complain about athletes not "respecting the fans" because they look bored during a press conference or have to hurry away or whatever. Seriously? I like that athletes thank their fans and acknowledge that other peoples' support is an encouragement and a help to them. But I don't for one moment think that elite athletes owe fans anything. We aren't there during their hours of training, we're not the ones getting up early and working out to the point of exhaustion, and most of us aren't in the family/friends circle. They're not obligated to devote their spare time to their fan base.

I understand that the reason athletes get paid what they do is because people make sports valuable. Without fans, there'd be not ticket sales, no contracts, no prize money. Granted. But that still doesn't make their private lives public, and it still doesn't mean fans have first dibs on an athlete's moods or time. And I think we need to get that and be okay with it.

What do you think?

14 July 2012

Homeade Ade

I've been scouring the web for a good recipe for sports drinks (like Gatorade). As with so many other things, I'm a little bit fussy about my homemade-ness (although my standards went down after two weeks of searching): I wanted something that could be stored as a powder, not as a liquid, so that eliminated a lot of really good recipes that called for orange juice as a base. I was also hoping to find something that did not call for having Kool-ade or Tang or a similar prepared powder for flavour, because that adds in preservatives and artificial colours. Finally, budget ruled all. I wanted something cheaper than buying a massive container of Gatorade powder, which is what I've always done in the past (and it's not terribly expensive, btw; here in Austin, you can get 24 quarts' worth of powder for about $8); if I'm going to make something at home, by golly, it has to be cheaper than buying it at the store.

Nutrition facts, as
calculated by SparkPeople.
I found a delightful website called Sports Girls Play that had a recipe that was similar enough to all the others I had seen, and also had an analysis of the ingredients, the nutrients, and a short spiel about Gatorade itself (see that post here). I tried it as written first, but the saltiness was a bit overwhelming to someone who's used to the sweetness of Gatorade. I added a couple more tablespoons of sugar to get this recipe:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp Morton Lite Salt
1 pkg Flavor-Aid (or any drink powder; use the amount called for to make two quarts)

The recipe calls for Kool-Ade, but the Flavor-Aid is much, much cheaper: I bought a 12-pack for 92¢, compared to Kool-Ade at $1 for five (and any powdered drink mix that you like will work). I mixed it up in my former Gatorade container and use one tablespoon of mix per 8 oz water, which is the amount also recommended on the Gatorade package--the actual recipe on the site calls for mixing it up into two quarts of water straight away, which I don't want to do. Also, using one tablespoon per 8 ounces of water makes it taste fine, but it does mean that I'll end up getting more than two quarts' use out of the batch. I'm totally cool with that.

For excessive sweating,
this by itself is not quite
enough. Source.
For sweaty bicycle trips home in the 90-100° weather, I up the ratio of powder to water just a bit. As a runner in a sweaty climate, I live in fear of hyponatremia, and I'll risk going overboard on the sodium a bit to make sure I'm not going underboard.

On the budget side, after I added up the cost of ingredients and divided by the number of servings, I came up to 8¢ per serving for the Gatorade powder, and 2.7¢ per serving for this recipe. Obviously that will vary a bit depending on what the prices in your part of the world are like. In the end, I got two out of three of my criteria, so I'm calling that a success.

Do you use sports drinks at all? What kind do you like?

13 July 2012

The Iron is Hot

In Sleeping Naked is Green, Vanessa Farquharson writes about her year of making one green change every day, for a grand total of 366 changes, because she inadvertently chose a leap year.

If I had one of these, I wouldn't
worry about using electricity--
but I would worry about dropping
it on my foot. Source.
One of her earlier changes was giving up ironing. I'm guessing this was more of a sacrifice because she is Canadian, where people expect to see wrinkle-free clothes in public, whereas I'm a rumpled American surrounded by other rumpled Americans who don't care what my t-shirt looks like.

Also, I've pondered the merits of giving up ironing. Do irons use that much electricity to merit putting them on the shelf in the name of protecting the earth? I'm thinking that keeping the bathroom light on while I'm showering uses more watts. On the other hand, I don't iron every day.

So, does this count as a green living tip? Not exactly. I iron my hankies because it increases the available surface area, and I have a couple of other things that usually need ironing. But I've found that hanging them out to dry (surprise!) fixes that, which is totally crazy. So, no iron needed at all during the summer, and when it's not 3 million degrees outside, I save them all up to iron at once.

Do you iron? Do you feel like you're using a lot of electricity to de-wrinkle your clothes?

11 July 2012

Remain Seated Until the Blog Comes to a Complete Stop

Today is one of those days when I invite irritated comments upon myself by talking about cyclists and their habits. (My thoughts here are my own and are not intended to reflect upon any of the cycling groups with which I am affiliated, nor indeed upon any other cyclists.) So, let me just head this off by saying: Please read the entire post and try not to rant too much  about how cyclists ruin your day every time you see one of them all happy and smiling on their way to work. And remember that this is a G-rated blog. And if you're here just to be a jerk, I will delete your comment.

Source.
With that out of the way, I'll try to answer a question I hear a lot: Why do cyclists run red lights?

The easy answer is: The same reasons that motorists do.

Seriously. There's a segment of the population that is always in a hurry, that prioritizes their own needs above others', that thinks "It won't hurt just this once," or that are just jerks. Those people will exceed the speed limit, fail to yield the right of way, roll through stop signs, or race through red lights, no matter what mode of transportation they are using. They're the road users that make the rest of us shake our heads. Unfortunately, in a land of spotty infrastructure and car-centric transportation networks, this sort of personality is the predominant type you'll see on bicycles, which makes it appear that every cyclist is a jerk.

Then there's the next reason: Inattention. I've run a red light twice in my life-- once in a car and once on a bicycle-- and both times it was because the light had changed and I just didn't notice. This is the highway hypnosis, the concentrating on something else besides driving or cycling, the changing the radio station or seeing what is going on next to you instead of in front of you.

Before I go on to the next reason, let me pause to define my terms. When I say "running" a red light, I mean it in the sense of someone zooming through an intersection with no visible slowing. The previous two types certainly fall into this category, and it usually happens right after the light changes. What many cyclists do, and what causes the ire of drivers to rise, is treat a red light like a stop sign, and is not quite the same as "running" the light. This is generally referred to as an Idaho Stop, because it's been a legal maneuver in Idaho since 1982. It's not legal in most other places, and I don't recommend that anyone do it if it's not legal where you are, because you could be ticketed in addition to making everyone around you angry.

So, why do cyclists do it? Generally, it is for safety and comfort reasons. Suppose you're in a car at a red light and there's a bicycle on your right. While everyone is sitting still, this arrangement works just fine. But when the light turns green, there's a problem--the narrow lane you're in is barely wide enough for a car and a bicycle to be side by side. Since you've seen the cyclist, so you go around him slowly and carefully. The car behind you probably sees him, too, and also proceeds with caution. But what's happening five cars back? The drivers back there don't see a cyclist; they just see that everybody is taking too long getting through the light. And since the cyclist is all the way over at the edge of the road, they may not even notice him by the time they come zooming past, angry at being kept waiting. And angry drivers + invisibility = danger for a cyclist.

A stoplight in Glasgow.
Yep, the red & yellow are
lit at the same time before
it goes back to green.
What's the safe thing to do here? Well, in many states (including Texas), a cyclist has the legal right to move left and use the full lane if the lane is not wide enough for a car and bicycle to safely be in it side by side (that is, with at least three feet of clearance between them). So the safest thing for the cyclist in this situation to do is look both ways, make sure the way is clear, and jump out before the light changes to get in front of the first car and move toward the middle of the lane. In this scenario, the cyclist isn't being squeezed out of the lane. All drivers have a better chance of seeing him before they get to him, especially if the motorists toward the front are sensible enough to signal before going around the cyclist, thus letting motorists behind them know that there's something in front of them to look out for.

Now, is this a risky move for the cyclist? A bit, if he doesn't look carefully before going. Illegal? Yes, in places that don't allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs. Safer? Also yes.

A better idea to begin with, of course, would have been for the cyclist to take the lane before the red light so he wasn't squeezed over to the extreme right to begin with. Doing this also carries some risk with it, unfortunately, because some of the motorists we mentioned earlier will see it and think a cyclist isn't sharing the road as he should. So, if you fall into that category, please be aware of the laws governing cyclists before you get too upset.

So there you have it. Regardless of what you think about cycling and whether the cyclists and pedestrians around you are being pleasant or are being horrible, I repeat my usual plea that drivers be aware and be careful getting around them. If nothing else, getting into an accident is going to put a serious damper on your day.

10 July 2012

Teaser Tuesday #26

Source: Goodreads.

Affluenza, John De Graff, David Wan, & Thomas H. Naylor


We have computers, fax machines, cell phones, e-mail, robots, express mail, freeways, jetliners, microwaves, fast food, one-hour photos, digital cameras, pop tarts, frozen waffles, instant this and instant that. But we have less free time than we did thirty years ago.

Indeed, on average Americans now spend nearly seven times as much time shopping as they do playing with their kids.








teasertuesdays32
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingAnyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

09 July 2012

A Personality Clash

Hello, fellow bloggers and readers! I know it probably looked like I slipped into oblivion sometime in mid-May and only surfaced a couple of times since. Well, that's pretty much what happened. Much like last summer, I thought I would have more time for blogging when I wasn't in class, but instead, my life falls apart with a lack of structure. Who knew?

Anyway, today's tale is a fun little story from working at the Undergraduate Writing Center at UT. I loved that job, and was heartbroken at the end of the semester when I had to stop working there. Three mornings a week last semester, I worked the front desk, so I checked people in, assigned them a consultant, handled the occasional grievance, answered the phone, and other front desk-y things. I never did this alone, of course; two people work the desk at the same time, and two days a week my desk partner was a nice young man who, in a stroke of originality, I'm going to call Nice Young Man.

Nice Young Man is very reserved and pretty quiet, and I think I probably made him crazy with my incessant yapping all semester long. I can't blame him if he was glad to be rid of me after having to be the silent side of a one-sided conversation for three hours twice a week. But, part of his being really reserved is that he doesn't like confrontation (who does??), so whenever our job required being mean, he would ask me to do it.

Angry Su. This isn't quite how I glare
at my coworkers, but it's close.
Student talking on their cell phone in the waiting area? I asked them to step outside. Someone angry about being kept waiting? I spoke the soothing(-ish) words. Consultant taking too long after being assigned a consultation? I went to the break room to light the fire under them. I didn't mind doing these things; in fact, I thought it was really sweet that Nice Young Man was so hesitant to order people around. The side effect, though, was that by the end of the semester, some of our coworkers had begun asking why I was less nice than at the beginning of the year. (Of course, not splitting the "Get to work!" duties with Nice Young Man was only half of it. The other half was that some of our coworkers got progressively more whiny and resistant to work as time went on, and I wasn't having any.)

So, there you have it. Nice Young Man managed to turn Talkative Su into Bossy Su, although to be fair, I didn't have that far to go.

Do you ever get to be bossy? Is it entertaining for you? Or are you the nice one who sits quietly and lets the other people do the bossing?

07 July 2012

Don't Tell Me

I can't find the article that inspired this thought, so I'll forge ahead without it (that will teach me to delay writing things down!). I was reading one of those articles that suggests ideas for making your life more earth-friendly, like buying in bulk, reusing, buying products made from recycled materials, etc. One of the commenters said something along the lines of, "These are all good ideas, but I don't really like people telling me what I should buy."


Seriously?


Let me start with the obvious question: Why did you finish the article, then? If you're so opposed to taking suggestions, stop reading sooner. Also, if you don't want people telling you what you should buy, then I can only suppose that you live in a cave far from other human contact, and this article was the first thing you read when you emerged from isolation for your yearly visit to the internet. Maybe I'm weird, but I give and receive recommendations about products/businesses/services all the time.


If you can avoid hearing about these...
Please tell us how in the comments!
Source.
And then there's the people who set out to tell you what to buy: the advertisers. TV, internet, billboards. On the sides of vehicles and the backs of receipts. On book jackets, in emails, on t-shirts and coffee mugs. If you can get away, even for a few minutes, from people telling you what you should buy, I salute you. Really. Because as I understand it, capitalism is built on people telling other people what they should buy.


If you all don't mind (or even if you do!), I'll continue to make my green living suggestions. I'll pass along tips and ideas that work for me. I'll talk about books I've read and TV shows I've watched, and maybe the occasional product that makes my life better. And if that offends you...


I don't even know what to say, except perhaps 'goodbye'.


How do you feel about idea suggestions? Are you more likely to buy something if it's recommended by a friend? What about a fellow blogger?

03 July 2012

Teaser Tuesday #25

Source: Goodreads.
Bounce, Matthew Syed

Many educators have argued that lowering standards will boost the self-esteem of students and ultimately improve attainment. ... But we can now see that, however well-intentioned, it is corrosive as an educational creed.










teasertuesdays32
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingAnyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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