What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

29 March 2013

Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me

If you don't have that kids' song in your head now, you're better off than I am.

So we got some new earthworms for our compost. You know what I love about earthworms? They take my discarded veggie peelings and eat them, magically making old vegetables into new dirt. It works so well I've been amazed.

Is it perfect? No. We don't buy organic produce as a general rule, since organic is still more expensive than pesticide-laden. So, my happy little earthworms are eating chemicals, and turning them into soil with pesticides in it, too. Which means that although I'm not using any fertilizers or anti-bug goop on my veggies, there's a secondhand chemistry class growing my plants. What can I do about it? Until I have the budget for organic veggies, I'm just hoping that I'm not adding too much to the superbug thing. Not to mention that's it's also going into me, again.

In the meantime, my only pets are small and wiggly and turn rubbish into dirt. On the upside, at least they don't poo on my carpet.

28 March 2013


It's half of the well-know pair from The Parent Trap, and since I don't know when I was first introduced to the name Sharon, The Parent Trap is a good a time as any.

This is pretty close to the
picture of Sharon in my
head. By lusi on
Means "plain", as in the plains of Israel; it was originally a Hebrew place name. Also the name of a plant, the rose of Sharon. First came into use as a given name in the U.S. in 1925; Behind the Name says this might have been due to the character Sharon in the novel The Skyrocket. Peaked at 8th most popular name in the U.S. in 1943; currently, it's number 882. Worldwide, Sharon has been moderately popular in France and the Netherlands in the past, but doesn't seem to be on the charts now. Behind the Name doesn't have any data for Britain or Ireland, which surprises me, since about half the Sharons I know are British or Irish.

Famous Sharons: Sharon Stone, actress; Sharon Osbourne, not sure what category she falls into; and a whole bunch of other people I've never heard of.

Fictional Sharons: Sharon McKendrick, The Parent Trap; Sharon Newman, The Young and the Restless; Sharon McLonergan, Finian's Rainbow

My Sharons: I have a handful of friends and acquaintances called Sharon, which is why I'm surprised I couldn't think of or find any more famous Sharons. And I have a Sharon character; yet another one of Sybil's sisters. I realise at this point Sybil probably seems like she has enough siblings to start a soccer team, but not quite: There are 10 McKeeman children, only half of whom come into the story. The rest are really just backstory. Anyway, Sharon is the straight-A student who's good at pretty much everything she tries, and is also a bit of a jerk. Not so much now, in the 14-year-old version, but she grows into it over time without even noticing.

Do you know any Sharons?

Behind the Name
Baby Name Wizard

26 March 2013

Teaser Tuesday #31

Image from Goodreads.
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

(Yep, I managed to read a fun book during grad school. Also, HOLY SMOKES, how did I not know about this book until now???)

Firstly, however, Newt had to do something about the flying saucer.

"Morning, sir or madam or neuter," the thing said. "This your planet, is it?"

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!

25 March 2013

A to Z 2013

Yes, dear readers, I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge once again. Why? Because I'm looney and apparently don't have enough outlets for all the words in my head between my job, grad school, and Camp NaNoWriMo. (Although, to stave off a bit of the insanity, my Camp NaNoWriMo goal is the lowest possible: 10,000 words, or 334 words per day. I can do that in my sleep, and often do.)

Click here to join in!
Anyway. So this year I'm A-ing to Z-ing about grad school. And I'm having a hard time coming up with some words, so this may be really interesting. Stay tuned starting next Monday to find out if I've learned anything in my post-undergrad life!

One note to my fellow A to Z friends: the odds are good that I'm not going to make it to many of your blogs during April. Even without Camp NaNoWriMo in the mix, April is almost the end of the semester and as the month wears on, all my spare time is going to be devoted to not failing my classes. I know many of you do A to Z as a networking opportunity, and goodness knows I've seen a bunch of tweets and blog posts over the past two years crying some variation on "I joined A to Z and nobody is commenting back! They're doing it wrong! These bloggers are all jerks! Woe is me!" etc. So, if that's you: 1) Perhaps you should consider a different hobby; and 2) I give you permission to skip over my site and on to the next one, without my feelings being hurt even a little bit. Truthfully, I'll probably never notice that you missed me.

For everybody else, welcome! Let's have a good time. And I will come visit you as I get the chance, although that chance may not happen until mid-May.

In or Out?

This is going to be one of those posts wherein I discuss the Bible, Christianity, Jesus, and my relationship to all three. If that's not really your scene, I take no offence if you duck out now and come back tomorrow when I talk about the A to Z Challenge.

So! This morning our pastor read from Matthew 5, including this verse:

"Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:19, ESV)

... and it jumped up and smacked me in the face as if I've never seen it before.

I grew up, as I suspect many people my age and older did, in an era of Christendom that taught that any sin, intentional or not, was enough to knock you out of a relationship with God, and you were "out" until you asked for forgiveness. In my late teens, I finally started reading the Bible for myself and found out that these things were not in there. But for all that, I continually hear one list after another of things that are "essential." Everybody, every group, has their particular things that they think should be a priority, and some are more than willing to jump up and down on anyone who falls short.

But it turns out that missing something "essential" doesn't mean that you're out. Jesus said so. "Least in the kingdom of heaven" still includes the phrase "in the kingdom."

God has much more grace that we give him credit for, if we're willing to throw people out and he isn't.

22 March 2013

Down the Drain

So, I'll delve back into my Green Friday posts with something slightly personal. No worries; I do still have intact boundaries about the really personal stuff that I'm sure people who know me in real life just don't want to know. (For some reason, it feels okay to share intensely personal stuff with strangers, but not friends. Weird.)

Not an actual picture of my toilet.
Anyway, in the dim and distant past I wrote a post about cleaning my toilet and how I was searching for an earth-friendly way to manage it. I have, in the interim, come to grips with the fact that our Western approach to germs is a bit goofy, considering there is hot running water in my house and perfectly good soap to wash with, so the few seconds of scrubbing my toilet shouldn't mess with my immune system too much. However, we also bought another toilet scrubbing brush, in the hopes that it won't fall apart within a few uses this time around. That's what we call the triumph of hope over experience, ladies and gentlemen.

Deniz suggested using baking soda and/or vinegar to clean the toilet, and since people have been cleaning with those things for a long time, plus the toilet doesn't actually need all the antibacterial whatever-- it's not like I eat out of it, after all, I just want to keep it looking and smelling nice-- I've decided to go with those instead of stronger chemicals. Above all, I want to keep avoiding blue goo in the weird-shaped plastic container of dubious recycling potential.

So, there you have it. Another step toward making my cleanup a bit more clean all around.

What's something weird you talk about on your blog that you probably wouldn't bring up in a gathering of your nearest and dearest?

21 March 2013


I'm sure that S-names are not uncommon in this, but I get called "Sarah" a lot, because Sarah and Susan both start with 'S', because they're both fairly common names, same number of syllables, etc., etc. Once I started answering to 'Sarah', I realised that I'd lost the battle.

Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth
Sladen. Taken from us far too soon.
Hebrew word for "princess." Very Biblical. Peaked in 1993 in the US as the 3rd most popular name for girls; currently is #39 in the US. Also currently: #2 in Austria, #4 in Ireland, #6 in Belgium. Sarah even got all the way up to the 613th most popular name for boys in 1899. Sara (no 'h'), on the other hand, is #3 in Italy, #4 in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Slovenia, #5 in Spain, #6 in Croatia, and #8 in Catalonia (but 131st in the US). Clearly, there are plenty of Saras in Europe who can live without the 'h' at the end.

Famous Sarahs: Sarah Michelle Geller, actress; Sarah Dessen, writer; Sarah Hughes, gold medal-winning figure skater; Sarah, Duchess of York; Sarah Bernhardt, actress; Sarah Moore Grimké, women's rights activist; Sara Gilbert, actress; Sarah Brightman, actress/singer; I'm just going to stop there. Feel free to add as many as you'd like (although some were left off the list on purpose because they annoy me).

Fictional Sarahs: Sarah Jane Smith, Doctor Who; Sarah Connor, Terminator series; Sarah Witting, Sarah, Plain and Tall; Sarah Crewe, A Little Princess; Sarah Baker, Cheaper By the Dozen 2003 film... and again, I could keep going for a while.

My Sarahs: I just did a quick check on Facebook and found 11 Sarahs (or Saras) who I'm connected to. Goodness. The nearest and dearest of all my Sarahs is my cousin Sarah, of course. And, I have a character called Sarah, who is sister to my MC Sybil. She's... I'm not sure what to say about her. Perhaps she's the most normal of the family? So far, anyway.

Are you a Sarah? Or a Sara? Or another variation I just didn't think about?

Baby Name Wizard
Behind the Name (Sarah)
Behind the Name (Sara)

20 March 2013

Tire Repair

A post! Two days in a row! I know, it's the end of days.

When I was a kid, my dad always made a big deal out of having to put chains back on bike gears or repair punctured tubes. I know it's not much fun to be hauled out of your recliner to fix a bike, but now that I know how to do both of those things myself, I can't help but wonder: Why didn't he just teach us how to do it ourselves so we didn't have to bother him next time? (I suspect he enjoyed being the fixer but just acted disgruntled so we didn't know he was enjoying it.)

Image from kikashi on stock.xchng.
One day last week, I hopped on my bike and felt the ominous wobble that could only mean my tire was flat. (If you've ever worried that you'll get a flat tire on a bike and not know: Trust me, you'll feel the difference right away.) After Chad and I found a bus and made our way home, I set to work right away to fix my tire. I learned the how-to of flat repair last summer, but I don't often get to practise it, so I was kind of excited.

I took off one side of the tire, pulled the tube out, aired it up, and could hear air escaping from the hole right away. Result! So I cleaned up the area around the hole, put on a patch, and replaced the tube. I even remembered to feel around the inside of the tire and find the pointy culprit-- it looked like a broken staple-- before I put the tire back in place, and aired the whole shebang back up. Done.

Not done.

Next morning I realised, because my tire was flat again, that I hadn't put the inflated tube in water to find if there were any more holes. Oops. So, I aired up the tube nice and big like my coworkers had taught me, stuck it in a sink full of water, and found two more very small holes. No wonder I hadn't noticed them before.

Two patches later, and I put the tire back together and aired it up once more. I'm happy to say that the patches are still holding. Even still, I'm going to need a new tube. And also a new patch kit.

Have you ever changed a bike tire? When did you learn how to do it?

19 March 2013

In My Mailbox

Breaking news from Cheekyness: I'm not dead! Nor likely to be soon, or so it seems.

So it's still Tuesday, when I blog about books, and since I haven't read more than a few pages of anything non-textbook in a couple of months, here's what all my textbooks look like this semester. All cover images are from Goodreads except the one indicated.

The Rhetorical Tradition, Patricia Bizzell & Bruce Herzberg

Okay, just kidding! This was from last semester. It has 1673 pages, and I'm pretty sure we read all but 500 pages of it. Holy moly. I'm happy to report that this semester's books all together don't add up to that many pages.

This one helps make a subject that I struggle with less scary. Although the author does use "comprise" on about every page in a way that makes me cringe.

HTML5 and CSS3, by Elizabeth Castro and Bruce Hyslop

This does not make a subject I struggle with less scary. I don't want to blame the authors, because they do a great job explaining it. My brain just hasn't built the necessary synapses yet.

Ethnography and Virtual Worlds, Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, and Celia Pearce

I'd never even heard of ethnography until I read this book, so I guess it worked!

Observing the User Experience, Mike Kuniavsky, Andrea Moed, and Elizabeth Goodman

I don't have anything interesting to say about this. Didn't hate it, so that's something.

Topsight, Clay Spinuzzi (image from http://clayspinuzzi.com/book/topsight/, because Goodreads doesn't have the image, for reasons passing understanding)

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some ironing and thinking that I needed to hurry up so I could get some reading done, and then I remembered that my Kindle will read to me. I turned on this book and a couple of minutes later thought, "Is that thing saying 'wicked'?" I generally expect to find 'wicked' in books that also include worlds inside closets, brightly coloured roads, or giant flaming eyes.

I picked up the Kindle and found that, yes, it did say 'wicked,' as in: "... wicked problems that are hard to solve..." It's hard not to like a book after a beginning like that. It's about research, as are most of my books this semester, but it's a very approachable book. I read most of it in a single day.

Tracing Genres Through Organizations: A Sociocultural Approach to Information Design, Clay Spinuzzi

Yep, I have two books from the same author. I haven't started reading this one yet, so I can't possibly comment.

Edited to add: Since Trisha and Delores asked-- I have a Kindle Keyboard, so I don't know about other models of Kindle. I have "Text to Speech" enabled in my settings, so to make it read aloud, I go to the book and press Up Arrow + SYM. You stop it from reading in the same way. For books that have headings and short paragraphs (as a couple of chapters of Topsight do), the reading feature isn't so great, because it reads the heading and then doesn't pause before starting on the paragraph. So the heading and the first word of the paragraph end up sounding like one long word. Otherwise, it's fantastic so far!

And that's it! Well, except for a few articles here and there. So, what are you reading this week?