Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I Read: Bossypants

I picked this one up entirely on a whim. I had heard so many good things about Bossypants that I was actually hesitant to get it (I am one of Those People who has an inherent mistrust of anything popular), but the quotes and selections I had read were to my liking so I sprung and bought the paperback version on the bestseller shelf at the grocery store.

I read it in two days. I could have read it in one, if I didn't have other things to do with my time. I laughed out loud, which I haven't done while reading a book for probably at least thirteen years. I immediately gave it to Lawyer Mom to read when I finished. I'm sorry I missed out on it for so long. Tina Fey: new girl crush.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Music Monday: Bruno Mars

My day today.

I'm not really a fan of doing nothing all day and I try to be at least a little productive every day. True to form, today I finished some writing assignments, went running, and studied for bar trivia.* But I got a late start to all that, due to not sleeping well, so it really feels like I didn't do anything. Ugh.

*This counts as being productive.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

101 in 1001

Things I am not doing at the moment: watching any of the Academy Awards coverage.



In Progress:

I started on Doktor Glas today; while I was able to read through the first chapter relatively easily, there were definitely significant portions I didn't understand or piece together from my memory of the English text. (1 - 6) I'm not going to count it as done just yet.

I also am working like a fiend to get some earrings done before the Springtown craft show. (2 - 3) I don't particularly care for earrings: they're too small for what I like to do, and my ears aren't pierced so it's never something I could enjoy for myself, anyway! (Note: not that I would turn around and sell earrings I had worn myself without cleaning and sterilizing them first. I respect federal laws!) But most women do have pierced ears, and obviously I can sell them at a lower price point than a necklace or bracelet, so I should really have more in stock than I do. Nose to the grindstone...

Comments and posts, of course! (1 - 3) (7 - 4)



Rest of the list after the jump.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tutorial: Sock Bracelet Display

Because I have a show coming up at the end of March, it's time to reevaluate my display options. I wasn't entirely happy with my past setup and felt I could improve on it a bit. I spent a few minutes browsing Pinterest for "craft show display ideas."

I found a few tutorials that were, well, needlessly complicated. I thank them for their inspiration, but seriously: too complicated, ladies! Here's my DIY Sock Bracelet Display.  I had one all done in about twenty minutes, and even then I could have saved a lot of time if I had bothered to use new, sharp scissors. Bonus points: you can make this a no-sew display, if you're smart about step 0.

Anyway, here it is: Kokoba's No-Fuss Sock Bracelet Display

Step 0: Materials, assemble!

sock bracelet display tutorial

Here is everything I used for my Sock Bracelet Display. In case it's hard to see:

  • One pair knee socks, in a color or pattern of your choice. (You can make this a no-sew project if you find tube socks, but I didn't.)
  • Stuffing.
  • Rocks, for weight (in the black plastic bag).
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread (to match the sock color).
Step 1: Prep the sock.

Cut off the foot of the sock, so you have a tube of fabric.

sock bracelet display tutorial

Step 2: Prep the scraps.

Cut a circle to fit your tube from the leftover scrap of foot fabric. If you bought tube socks, you don't need to do this. Unless, of course, you want your display to have a closed stitched end, in which case either find something in your stash that matches, or sacrifice the other tube sock.

Step 3: Sock, reassemble!

Pin and sew the circle to your sock. Don't forget to turn the sock inside out before you pin and sew!

sock bracelet display tutorial


You can sew up the other end as well, leaving a hole for the stuffing to be sewed up at the end. But well, in the parlance of the Internet:

Step 4: Stuff it like a turkey.

This step is self explanatory. I mixed in some gravel and pebbles in with the stuffing, to give the display a bit of weight so it wouldn't just roll around willy-nilly. Or perhaps that wasn't necessary. I'll have to conduct later experimentation on the other sock in the pair to find out! 

Step 5: ????

Step 6: Profit!

sock bracelet display tutorial

You'll see that I just knotted it off at the end, because I hate sewing and eschew it at very opportunity. I made sure to stitch up the cut end of the sock (the one closest to the foot), so that knotted end was the natural, neat-looking top of the sock. I might un-knot it to give it a "proper" stitched finish, or to add some more stuffing, but as it is I think it looks unique and presentable.

You can secure the bracelets with pins as necessary; you can also find a sock with a neat (unobtrusive) pattern if black isn't your thing. The only problem is that this is just a little too big to properly display my memory wire bracelets. Fortunately I still have another knee sock to mess around with!

There you go! Easy as pie, right?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What I Read: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

I meant to blog about this book while I was still reading it, but I got sidetracked and finished it before I got the chance to post. Hence "What I Read" instead of "What I'm Reading."

I loved this book so. Freaking. Much.

I am extremely picky about all of my reading, but in particular I am picky about my fantasy and science fiction reading. I'm so picky that I don't even like Harry Potter, to give you an idea about the stringent nature of my standards.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell has almost all of the things I look for in a fantasy novel: a detailed, "textured" world; a logical and coherent system of magic; conflict that's palpable and specific; an antagonist who has motivations for his actions (and bonus point for moral ambiguity: I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that the antagonist doesn't even realize that what he's doing is wrong). I just wish the female characters were less boring, more important, and had more agency, but you can't have it all.

I'm so happy I finally got around to reading this!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The World's Youngest Game Developer a seven-year-old girl from a West Philadelphia charter school. How cool!

Zora Ball's teacher taught her Racket, and now she's coding at a sixth grade level. No one seems to have done this for her; when asked questions about the code and asked to make a change to it on the fly, she was able to comply with ease.

Zora's game is called "Vampire Diamonds," and you should be able to play it on your smartphone by the beginning of next year.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Music Monday: DJ DOC

I've probably mentioned DJ DOC here before, but I'm too lazy to comb through the other Music Monday posts to make sure. This one is another case where I dump the entire discography of a band into my library and then let songs filter through as they will.

It's in Korean, obviously, but the video has the Korean lyrics and the English translation.

This is great and I love it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

101 in 1001

Sorry I've been so quiet the last few days. I've been busy, though! I've picked up a side writing gig, so I've been focusing on that while I learn the ropes. Hopefully after this next round of assignments I'll be able to maximize my writing efficiency. And by maximizing my writing efficiency, I of course mean finally figuring out some good time management skills. Even so, I managed to find the time to work on some 101 in 1001 goals!



In Progress:

I finished Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Bossypants this week. (2 - 4) (9 - 2) Jonathan Strange is one more item off my "books owned for over a year" list; Bossypants ups my non-fiction count. Both of them were excellent reads, though very, very different. Reviews of both forthcoming.



Rest of the list after the jump.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Craft Show Alert: Springtown, PA

The Springtown Fire Company will be hosting a craft fair in their fire hall on Saturday, March 23 from 9 AM to 4 PM. I'll be there selling, so if you're in the greater Philadelphia/NYC area, stop by! It's only a handful of minutes from exit 67 on I-78, right on Route 212.

There will be crafts and refreshments for sale, the latter provided as a fundraiser by the fire company. Come by and say hello!

View Springtown Fire Company in a larger map

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stashbuster: Avogadro in Lapis and Mother-of-Pearl

I'm trying to go through my bead box and clear out old stuff so I can make room for new stuff. I've been throwing together bracelets like a fiend because they are perfect for stashbusting moderate amounts of stuff. In this case, I had some gorgeous lapis I acquired at a sweet price years ago, but never used! I tilt heavily towards warm colors, and while I love the dark, saturated color of lapis lazuli in theory, for years it just never matched anything else I had.

avogadro's number chemistry bracelet in lapis and mother of pearl
Avogadro's Number in lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl

Between this and one other bracelet, I used up my supply in its entirety! And while I firmly believe that beads are better off in finished products than they are languishing in a supplies box, I'm a little bit sad that my lapis is all gone now! I'm tempted to add lapis to my "rotation," as it were. The question is, can I afford it?

lapis lazuli beads
Lapis lazuli beads from Beadgirlzboutique
A fifteen inch strand? Of 6mm lapis? For $8.95? Perhaps I can find room in my budget for lapis after all!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Music Monday: It's Always Fair Weather

I had It's Always Fair Weather in my movie collection for years (I'll buy anything with Gene Kelly's name on it), but never got around to watching it until a few days ago. What an underrated gem! This particular song struck me, as it's the rare Broadway-style ballad about friendship, rather than love. We need more songs about friendship!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

No More Regretsy?!; 101 in 1001

I was tipped off by Michele over at artologica that Regretsy is closing down! While I'm bummed that there will no longer be fresh snarky commentary on awful Etsy garbage, I'm glad April Winchell is closing it because she's moving on to bigger and better things (and not because she had a health scare or got sued). Not every blog can last forever, after all. Also, I think I am in love with her:

The biggest threat to humour however, is relentless positivity; this knee-jerk response to lavish praise on anything made by hand. I guarantee that if I featured a wedding gown made out of tampons, someone would rave about how absorbent it was. 
On Etsy, everyone is as good at everything as everyone else. Nothing is special because everything is. Etsy users must say only nice things to each other, or risk being muted. You can't learn or improve if no one acknowledges that some things are less than perfect. More importantly, you can't laugh at yourself. And if you can't do that, you're screwed.

I'm sad to see her go, but I wish Ms. Winchell all the best in her life and career!

It's Sunday, so you know what that means. Time to check up on my 101 in 1001 list!


Since I last updated (a month ago?!), I have acquired two more nice, non-t-shirt tops. Pictures forthcoming?! (2 - 9)

I listed a whole week's worth of pieces on Etsy! I'll be sharing those periodically. (10 - 10)

I did calisthenics every morning for two weeks! (6 - 13)

In Progress:

I earned a few more grains in FreeRice. (12 - 7)



Rest of the list after the jump.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Science Saturday: I, Psychopath

My friend Theophanes  pointed me in the direction of the Australian filmmaker Ian Walker's documentary I, Psychopath. Walker follows and films Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed narcissist and potential psychopath, all over Europe, to study Vaknin's brain and personality. It's in ten minute clips on YouTube, but they are all readily available (and in order):

The good: I, Psychopath is well-paced and interesting.

The bad: They (deliberately, it seems) play fast and loose with "narcissist" and "psychopath," switching between the two with ease despite them being vastly different psychological concerns. Not surprising, since "psychopath" is much more of a hook than "narcissist."

Some of the film affects were also a bit cheesy and dated—wait for the CGI angel to float around in the green screen landscape behind Vaknin during voice over parts.

Also, as frustrating as working with Vaknin must have been for Walker, in places there is a lot of melodramatic, cringe-inducing "woe is me!" editorializing.

One interesting fact: A common trait among psychopaths is that they lack the neural capacity to process fear in the same way most people do. Evolutionary psychologists argue that fear is the beginning of empathy (to want to keep something bad from happening to other people, we need to first understand how bad feels by imagining how bad it would be for ourselves), and that without that fear it's much more difficult—almost impossible—to have a real sense of empathy.

Would recommend? Sure. There is definitely some footage of Vaknin being absolutely vile both to his wife and to Walker, which some people might find triggering or just unpleasant. Fair warning.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Foodie Friday: Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

I've learned to like (and love) a lot of things I'd never thought I'd even be able to tolerate. SPAM? Red chili pepper paste? Raw tomatoes? Bring it on! I WILL BURY YOU.

Sometimes, though, what you really need is an old favorite, one that'll never let you down. It's been there through all your bag lunches, all your starving college days, all your bad relationships. I'm talking about peanut butter and jelly, of course! It's also the perfect thing to get me through Snowmageddon Nemo that's due to hit tonight, which is why I thought it'd be a good entry for Foodie Friday.

So if you Google Image search for peanut butter and jelly, one result is this bland, nameless piece of stock photo:

Noticing this is kind of hypocritical, given my past rant about corporate shilling, but really—my peanut butter and preserves/jam have names, dammit! Those jars look so naked and empty without their labels!

With peanut butter, I've grown to be quite finicky. I mean really, aren't we all? Everyone has that one brand they grew up with and that's (pardon the pun) their jam. I don't know about you, but I could always tell if my mom didn't buy Skippy at the store. The odd lunch at someone else's house—at a party, a playdate, or at your babysitter's—was a total crapshoot because they didn't necessarily have the same peanut butter in their kitchen as your family did!

But like I've said, my tastes have also changed over the years, and one of the arenas where I've become MORE picky is my peanut butter. The first time I tried organic peanut butter, it was like a religious conversion. I refuse to have anything else except under the most dire of circumstances. The only thing that hasn't changed? My undying allegiance to creamy. Sorry, nuts! No crunchy in my sandwich!

Most of the time "organic" is thrown on as a useless sales label—"greenwashing," as they say—and I don't pay attention (or care). With peanut butter though, there is a world of difference. It actually tastes like peanuts, instead of almost-peanuts. Of course the organic peanut butters separate very easily, but that's a price I'm willing to pay (plus I just stick mine in the fridge).

That's not even my REAL point, though! Putting aside my paean to organic peanut butter (there is a pun there to be made, and if you can make it you're a better punster than me), did you know PB&J could be so diverse? The good people at BuzzFeed have assembled 55 different PB&J-based recipes! Here are the top three I'd like to try to make myself:

6. Peanut Butter & Jelly Skillet Monkey Bread

54. Peanut Butter & Jelly "Chilly" Hot Dog

These all look delicious but also pretty easy—which is great because I'm lazy. There is another category, of course, and that's the top three I'd like to sample if someone ELSE made them:

(Minus the bacon, of course. I still hate bacon after all these years!)

42. Sticky Peanut Butter & Jelly Chicken Wings

Which recipes would you try? With what kind of peanut butter?

All my fellow northeasterners, stay warm and stay safe!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Disclosure, And A NSFW Rant

One of the things you hear a lot when you start a blog is to figure out your niche and: stay focused. Be professional. Be positive.

And well—the longer I have this blog, the longer I dislike that advice. I have my list of blog subscriptions, as do we all. They range from "pretty popular" to "small fry" to everything in between; they're about all kinds of subjects, because I'm interested in all kinds of things. The ones I enjoy the most cover a broad range of topics, but they all have one thing in common: they are personal. They are personal and they are authentic.

They also break those aforementioned rules. Sure, not all of them, and not all of the time, but they do. They stray from their stated purpose, they use some four-letter words, or they convey any emotion that isn't unflappable Pollyanna optimism.

So I've been at crossroads lately: do I want this blog to sell jewelry, or do I want this blog to share my writing? I love writing. I love words. I have another (private) blog that I've updated faithfully for almost  ten years now. I don't want to feel stifled by some sense that if I were a good blogger I would/wouldn't do X. I just want to answer to one standard only: am I writing something that I would want to read?

You won't notice it much, probably, but I will. So, to inaugurate this minor decision of mine, a rant that normally I may not have shared otherwise.

I hate sports. I have come to grudgingly admit baseball into the cockles of my heart, but that's about it. Anything else could disappear tomorrow and I would not be able to muster the energy to give a single fuck. This goes doubly for football, a sport that often seems more like a religion than, well, religion. It doesn't come as a shock, then, that I didn't watch the Super Bowl. (And watching the Super Bowl "for the ads"? Are you bonkers? "Yes, I love these intrusions into my life, shrilly trying to sell me crap I don't need! Now that's entertainment!")

Except, of course, it was on the family TV during dinner, so I tuned out for a while and let the flickering squawk box wash over me.

And then the ad for GoDaddy came on.

I mean, I shouldn't be surprised, right? GoDaddy ads have been awful forever (so the Internet tells me), after all. But this was the first one I'd ever seen, since I avoid television, the Super Bowl, and advertising like the plague. It's a good thing, too, because if I didn't I'm sure my stress levels would be through the roof and I'd need to be on some hardcore hypertension medicine.

The ad, for those of you who missed it, was about how GoDaddy is somehow both smart and sexy: "smart" and "sexy" being represented by the most stereotypical of male computer nerds and Bar Refaeli, respectively. The punchline to this being that Refaeli and Jesse Heiman share a long, sloppy kiss that's clearly going for the gross-out factor, with sound effects and everything.

It blows my mind that enough people in GoDaddy's PR department seem to think their "let's keep offending people and objectifying women!" scheme is worth repeating year after year. I don't know the numbers; maybe it garners them sales. It won't from me (which is too bad because I'd like to get a real domain name registered for this blog). One short ad managed to:

  • reinforce the long-running media notion of men as competent "doers" and women as passive window dressing;
  • reinforce the long-running media image that only unbelievably attractive young women like Bar Refaeli exist in the media world;
  • perpetuate the myth that women don't know anything about computers;
  • perpetuate the myth that men who DO know a lot about computers are sloppy and unattractive;
  • reinforce the cultural notion that people are gross and unattractive and don't deserve physical affection, or at least don't deserve it from people objectively hotter than themselves.
And God knows what else. I can't believe people still think this shit is a good idea. I can't believe that shit like this may actually be a good idea (in terms of generating revenue).

This was a terrible ad. GoDaddy either doesn't care about all the women who may want to register their  own domain names or fervently believes that they simply don't exist. Either way, GoDaddy won't be getting my money. The #NotBuyingIt campaign tells me is pretty good; I'll look into them, and it'd be great if you did, too.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Groundhog Day!

Apologies for the absence; my laptop (Priscilla) needed a fixing. Actually, she still does, but it's more or less a cosmetic fix so I'm willing to live with it for a while.

I love Groundhog Day for a few reasons. First of all, it's totally ridiculous and I love that it's ridiculous. Groundhog Day is not a day that takes itself seriously. It's also the birthday of one of my good college friends (happy birthday, Aaron!). And finally, Groundhog Day is all about Pennsylvania's most renowned celebrity, Punxsutawney Phil. Sure, Phil's legacy did inspire some of the most annoying state lottery commercials of all time ("I'm Gus, the second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania!"), but I still have a bit of dopey Pennsylvania pride left about him. While Ele from minouette may not state it outright in her description, I think we ALL know which groundhog this is in her awesome thermochromic* linocut...!

*the shadow is thermochromic ink that disappears when it's heated above 86* F/30* C