Monday, April 27, 2009

Snapshot Sunday (4 hours late)

Idea from Sarah, found via Stephanie.

It's rare that my bed is made all the way. I had just added some extra fluff in the form of mattress pads and an extra pillow, so I made the bed too.

And a bonus, from this morning:

This is how Kasey was sleeping this morning. I think people who dislike cats must not understand their comedic value.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Move like an animal to feel the kill"

To the colony of moths who have invaded my room:

You will be defeated. You may have an army, but I have moth balls, and a spray bottle of bleach, and a broom. I even have cool battle music.

You cannot win.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I was looking through our Netflix queue today and I thought it was an interesting mix of stuff, so I thought I'd write it down here as evidence of what we're interested in, right after we've just gotten Netflix, here in mid-2009. (It looks like I have a lot more, but most of Mama's are several seasons of shows, and a lot of mine is stuff we'll both watch.)

Mama's stuff
Law and Order SVU
Miami Vice
Da Vinci's Inquest
Hawaii Five-O
Good Times
Kingdom of David: Saga of the Israelites
The Fabulous '50s
Underground Railroad
Slavery and the Making of America

John Adams
The Presidents
A History of God
Ben Franklin
Founding Fathers
Founding Brothers (I might cull some of these, this interest is passing now)
The Strange Case of Lizzie Borden
The Crusades: Crescent and Cross
Russia: Land of the Tsars
The Hidden Fuhrer: Hitler's Sexuality
War of 1812
Decisions That Shook the World: FDR, LBJ and Reagan
Typhoid Mary
Teddy Roosevelt
Modern Marvels: Sugar
American Experience: Influenza 1918
500 Nations
Physics: The Elegant Universe
Ancient Discoveries
80s Tech
A Paralyzing Fear: Polio
Newton's Dark Secrets

The Muppet Show
Sesame Street Old School
Looney Tunes Golden Collection
Tiny Toon Adventures
The Simpsons, seasons 4 and 5
Liberty's Kids
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the original series, not the new one)
Pinky and the Brain
Fraggle Rock

Other TV
House, season 2
Get Smart
Clarissa Explains it All
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
Are You Afraid of the Dark? Freaky Favorites
The Partridge Family
Mork & Mindy
Gilligan's Island

Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill
Jim Gaffigan: Beyond the Pale
Lewis Black: Black on Broadway
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Blazing Saddles

Also just realized I don't have the Golden Girls on here! Time to go add that, even though it's 50% depressing now.


The other day I had a minor freakout about money because after I got my last paycheck from work, it was gone almost immediately. But it was spent on things that make life good - the property tax for our house and land - which is all we have to pay to live here; my internet bill, a library card and things so we can use two computers at once. Today I sat down and wrote up a budget and discovered that, even though my mom's disability income is only $800 a month, we can actually have over $100 of free spending money every month. And that's even after luxuries like Netflix and high-speed internet and yummy snacks. 100-something a month is enough to cover incidentals and the occasional lunch out and a new CD or shirt every now and then, which is all we need. I looked around today at how full our house is of cool stuff, and how big and beautiful our yard is, and how happy and sweet our pets are. I'm really thankful that I have a mom who lets me stay home, and who has always treated me nice enough that I'd want to stay here instead of leaving her alone, and that we live in a country that takes care - imperfectly, but better than many countries - of its disabled people, so that my mom could be free and I could exist. Thinking about this makes me appreciate a little better just what it means for black people that we have a black president. If we'd never had a president with a disability I don't know where my family would be today, but we probably wouldn't be here, happy and confident that we'll always be okay.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

It kinda looks like someone was shoving a broom under the cat, but actually it was propped up at an angle and Jake went and laid on it. He's been there all day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Today was our first library day in over a year, because my account got ruined by late fees expired since it was based on my JU address. Today we just went ahead and paid the out-of-county fee and got my mom a card, even though I'm mostly the one who reads.

I don't know why I got a doll making book. I wanted something crafty and my sinuses were making me dumb so I just grabbed something. It looks neat, though.

This week, on VH1's "I Love the 1800s":

Note: The last two are my mom's. Although I've since been informed that the Clint Eastwood movie is "not a western, he plays some rich guy in it".

I arranged the presidents in chronological order without even thinking about it. I swear I do have a life, but that probably doesn't sound very convincing right now.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled century.

Wait, that only goes up to Clinton? Damn, we need to adjust the time machine a bit.

Uh, better the first time.

See, I read a lot of history books because I am very mature and...

...oh. Okay, fine, I read them because I'm a geek. On that note, look! Sci-fi!

Isabella had a bunch of Douglas Adams books and that reminded me that I've been meaning to read this one forever, so I can understand the 5% of Justina's jokes that aren't Simpsons quotes.

I'm really glad fantasy novels come in audio format, because otherwise it takes me 3,470 years to get through one. I've been wanting to read LOTR mostly to know what all the fuss is about, but also so I can buy this t-shirt without being 50% poser:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April, so far

I've had a cold for two weeks that I can't seem to shake, so I've been lying low, and was starting to feel like I hadn't been doing much. But when I actually wrote down what I've been doing it sounds like a pretty jam-packed couple of weeks! Here's what we've been up to around here:

Our DirecTV subscription ran out last week so we hurried up and got Netflix. So far Mama has been watching Miami Vice and Monk, and I've had The Simpsons season 5 and Animaniacs season 1, and we both watched O Brother Where Art Thou the other night. I've been loving the "watch instantly online" feature too, which I've mostly been using to watch documentaries. I've watched ones on Jefferson (that was a really good Ken Burns one), Lincoln, the Dark Ages, evolution, polio, and Mount Rushmore, and something called "The American Hobo". Right now I'm also making some plans to set up an old computer in the living room so my mom can watch Netflix online and Hulu, since it's not fair that I have more to watch when she likes TV more than I do.

I've been having fun on Youtube lately, watching the "literal video versions" of old music videos. If you haven't seen this it's where people take songs (usually from the 80s) and record new lyrics that describe what's happening in the video. They're really funny. I've also been watching a lot of Neil Cicierega and Dan Brown (not the Da Vinci code guy). From Dan Brown's channel I've learned how to solve a Rubik's cube using algorithms. I'd never known what an algorithm was before, but in a context where I'm actually using it it was really easy to grasp.

Since Roni is studying speech pathology we've had a lot of interesting conversations about language and linguistics and phonetics. We've talked about a lot of cool stuff like how some languages only have a few color words and how the accents of different English-speakers vary. (Interestingly, though I'm almost as far south in the US as you can get, I sound more like the Canadian accent on there.) I've also been trying, without a lot of luck, to get an idea of what American accents sounded like before the 20th century. This recording of Theodore Roosevelt certainly displays an accent nobody today would have, but it's hard to tell if the average person spoke with the same kind of accent. I imagine aristocrats like the Roosevelts probably sounded different from, say, people on farms. Whoops, I'm supposed to be telling you what I've been up to and I'm nerding out instead ;)

Oh! I downloaded Google Earth, which has recently added some cool new features, including the ability to look at what places looked like in the past (not far in the past, it only goes back to 1948 and everything before about 1994 is blurry, but still), and maps of Mars and the night sky.

I bought a lap harp which I've been playing a bit, and I've also played the piano some and watched some fingerstyle guitar videos on Youtube. I've also explored different music and made a playlist of my favorite songs from childhood.

I looked through my coin collection, and while I was trying to find part of it I got into some old letters my uncle (who died in 1962, when he was 20) wrote to my grandparents while he was in the army. I didn't learn much about him except that he needed money from them a lot, but hey, he was a young adult and that's what we do when we're away from home :p

I went to the beach and the ecological park.

I've played Oregon Trail and read a really funny Let's Play fanfic-type thing based on it.

I've been building houses on The Sims 2 and downloading a lot of custom content for it.

I got Mama to play Katamari Damacy and Singstar with me.

I've read lots of articles on The Straight Dope and Cracked.

I've read about the history of Unitarianism, specifically as it relates to the presidents and founding fathers. I feel a lot more confident knowing it's been around so long and that such notable people (including John, Abigail and John Quincy Adams) were Unitarian. (I've also been saddened by the fact that a Unitarian could probably never get elected today, nor could Jefferson or Lincoln, who weren't affiliated with any religion. But I digress.)

I've posted a lot on RUN and the Ask Unschooling Offspring list, and I also joined River City Unschoolers which meets once a week. Hopefully I'll be able to go to the meetup tomorrow, if my sinuses will behave.

Roni and I looked through the Fat Brain Toys website and showed each other stuff we thought was cool. From there I started getting some ideas for designing a board game, and I've also started working on building a marble run. I also discovered that I love to do crafts or other projects while listening to podcasts, TED talks or audio books.

I've been drawing mandalas again, and bought a big velvet poster to color.

And I gave myself a spontaneous haircut, which I haven't gotten a good picture of yet, and have been playing around with different combinations of hair and makeup.

Whew! That's a busy two weeks. What strikes me, looking over this, is how I couldn't possibly learn such a variety of different stuff in two weeks if I were in college. Some of the learning I've done here is on the level of major-specific courses, and there's no way I could learn this level of history, and philosophy, and linguistics, and music and art, and math, and geography, and astronomy, and computers, and biology... not all at once. And certainly not while having fun the entire time and being able to sleep and eat and talk to the people I care about anytime I want! Granted I don't get a degree this way, but I also don't go thousands of dollars into debt, and if anyone wants me to prove I know stuff they can sit and talk with me awhile.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"The doctor said I wouldn't have so many nosebleeds if I kept my finger outta there"

I've had a head cold for about two weeks now. It's minor, but a nuisance because I have to blow my nose approximately every six seconds.

This is how I know this cold has gone on for too long: I was making breakfast just now, and trying not to cry because Freebird came on the radio (it reminds me of my grandma - long story). I instinctively grabbed a paper towel, put it to my face, and tried to blow my eyes. Don't ask me how.

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately, since I'm sure it looked hilarious), I was alone at the time.

Childhood playlist

I made a playlist of songs from my childhood. This is just a small sample of what would make up the soundtrack to my life then; almost any Elvis song would count, and most of the later Beatles, any hippie-ish 60s music, new wave 80s, or mid-90s pop or country. But these are the songs I loved the most, or that were special for some reason or another, or that just send me back in time when I hear them.

This goes from my earliest memories up to about age 12; after that I liked so much different stuff that it's hard to pinpoint a few specific things as special. I like that you might get a completely different idea of how old I am depending what songs come up.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quote of the day

"A Unitarian believes that Jesus Christ founded a new religion and a new religious philosophy on the love of God for man, and of men for one another, and for God, and taught it by his life and practice, with such Heaven-given sincerity, sweetness, simplicity, and all-compelling force that it lived after him in the souls of men, and became the basis for a civilization struggling toward the highest ideals....They feel the life of Jesus as a man to be more helpful to them, as a religious inspiration, than if he is to be regarded as God in human form."

-William Howard Taft

Full text here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Awesome day

What I did today was kind of an odd experiment that actually worked pretty well. People have been talking around unschooling forums and chats about how it's healing to say yes to your kids. Well, I don't have kids yet, so I decided to spend some time imagining if I did. Basically listening to what *I* wanted to do, and imagining if it was my kid asking me, and trying to find ways to say yes. I didn't realize how much I tell myself no unnecessarily, until now.

Oh, it started because I was drawing something with markers while the movie was on, and wrote something in yellow. I thought about how if a kid asked me to write something in yellow my kneejerk response would be to tell them it wouldn't show up anyway, and it would really be a better response to just write it and let them see that. I had a rule in my head about not writing in yellow, and didn't realize it. Anyway, I thought of all this because when I wrote something in yellow it actually showed up just fine, and I was surprised.

So I was wondering what other stuff I "say no" to myself about without thinking about it. And one of those things is going to the park to swing, because I'm always afraid somebody will think I'm a weirdo. But so what? There's no law saying an adult can't go to the park and swing, and I like to swing. (I shudder to think what Google results that sentence will turn me up in.) So I decided to go to the park, and then to just spend the whole evening saying yes to things I wanted to do. I imagined what I'd say if it was a kid asking me, because somehow it's easier for me to say yes to other people than to myself. Which is what I'm trying to fix, but you know, baby steps and all.

I didn't go to the playground, though. When I got to the end of the road I had the sudden urge to veer left and go to the new ecological park in the next town over, because I hadn't been yet. I'd been waiting until somebody would go with me, but why? That was another rule I'd made without realizing it: don't go anywhere by yourself. Well with all my friends living in other towns and my mom not feeling well much, that adds up to just never going anywhere. Anyway, the park was great. It's just a boardwalk into the woods with signs naming the different plants and birds that live in the area, but it's really serene and pretty, especially since no one else was there. I learned the names of a lot of plants that grow in my yard that we've always just called "those stupid sap trees" (sweetgums) or "those vines with the stickers" (smilax) or "those big green fan things" (saw palmetto).

The few times I did have to tell myself "no" today I tried to come up with a reason that would have satisfied me as a kid. There was a little trail off behind the park path that looked really cool, that I know you're not supposed to go to because I would've had to jump a fence to get there. How would I tell a kid no to that? "We can't" isn't technically true, the fence was low. "We're not supposed to" is kind of a lame answer, but "It could be illegal to go back there, it's hard to tell if that's even part of the park. It could be someone's property" would work.

Next I went to Target, to look for hair henna (they didn't have any, dammit) and browse the toys. I will always love toys, but I still have the old "you're too old for toys" tapes playing in my head. So looking at toys was an important part of breaking the rules in my head and saying yes. I picked up some kids' foaming soap because it was cherry scented and I never find cherry shower gel. I also got a really cool, big velvet poster that has a really intricate design like a mandala with a celtic knot, and I replaced my box of 120 crayons (the old ones are dirty broken and I had donated some to work), and bought a box of Cap'n Crunch. The Cap'n Crunch thing brought up another old rule, because when I looked at the cereal this internal dialogue came up:

"I want the Cap'n Crunch. But I don't like Cap'n Crunch, I can't possibly want it. I probably want... oh what else do I want? None of this other stuff looks good right now... except the Cap'n Crunch. But I don't LIKE it!"

I realized this was pretty stupid and just bought the damn stuff, and you know what? I like it! Duh! I think I didn't like it when I was six or seven and had made some kind of lifelong rule about not buying it. It's funny how any little thing can become a self-imposed rule.

After Target I decided to go to the beach. I've lived 30 minutes from the beach my entire life and have probably only been there 15 or 20 times. My parents always made it a big production with a cooler and a bag of sandwiches and staying all day, so of course they didn't feel like going more than once a year. And of course I always whined and tried to bargain to stay longer, because the beach was this rare thing. Jeez, I'm sure there are people who live in the midwest who get to the beach more than a few hours a year. So that was another rule in my head: the beach has to be a big deal, you have to go in July, you have to swim for hours and take a cooler and blah blah. This was spontaneous, alone and at night, and with regular clothes on. The beach is beautiful and serene and otherworldly at night. Only a few people were there. I waded a little, and built a sandcastle. Didn't stay long because the bathrooms were closed, argh! Oh, and I climbed on the playground a little for good measure, although it was too dark to see well.

I drove home feeling really good, until I passed Blockbuster and had the urge to go in. Then a bunch of thoughts jumped at me: I already watched a movie today, I already spent $15 at Target, I don't know if I have my Blockbuster card with me, we're getting Netflix soon anyway. Of course by the time I thought all this I'd already passed Blockbuster, so I decided to stop at the one closer to home. Well that one was closed. I noticed myself getting into a bad mood that I couldn't explain, because I'd had such a good day and didn't even want to watch a movie THAT badly. Then I realized it wasn't about a movie, it was about why can't I just go to Blockbuster? What's it really gonna hurt just to GO? I could just browse and see if there's anything that looks good, maybe something I haven't heard of. I could make a mental note of what I might want to look up on Netflix. I could just buy a box of Raisinettes!

So I realized I wasn't going to feel really satisfied until I made it up to myself somehow. I decided to go to Movie Gallery, but by this point it was almost 10:00 and they'd be closing... but something inside me needed to at least drive there, just to SEE if it was open. So I did, and when I saw for sure that the sign was off I felt better. I came home and looked up a movie on Hulu, which I only watched part of, but it filled the need to watch something anyway.

All of this was really just three hours of my day, but it opened my eyes to just how many little rules there are in my head... I actually used to be a fairly rulebound person. My parents had almost no rules, but I was terrified of breaking rules and getting in trouble in school. I was the kid who teachers bragged about for being "well-behaved" when really I was just frightened. And while my parents usually said YES to anything at home, when it came to going out and doing stuff, or buying things, they were really quick to say NO. I didn't realize this before. Because I've seen how most people are raised with constant rules, I've thought I had a perfect childhood and shouldn't be allowed to feel bad about any of it. And I do think I was lucky, and I do appreciate how good my parents were to me. But I think getting over a lot of the issues that I have about perfectionism and wanting everyone to like me, is going to require me to acknowledge what wasn't so good, and to get rid of some of the stupid rules in my head. Today helped a lot with that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Won the battle

Lost the war