February 02, 2005
As you may have noticed, I'm taking a break from all sorts of blogging while I figure out my job, my freelance stuff, and, in general, what it's like to be a grown-up. Yes, I realize that could be good fodder for a blog, but I don't feel like making time for that at the moment.
Thanks...and read the old stuff if you're that bored!
PS: I've finally changed my template to show the most recent entries (not the last 14 days, or whatever)...it's a handy fix for those who aren't blogging anymore. See the "help" in MT's "weblog configuration" if you're interested.
September 09, 2004
I'm going to be trying out life at Blogger for a while to see if I might like it permanently. So, I'm back at the old blog: Black Sharpies and Gel Pens.
August 25, 2004
This was just too weird to not post: professional rat killers. I quote:
Armed with a long stick in one hand and a torch in the other, they go out six nights a week to earn 240 rupees ($5.17) per night.Note that they are using a stick to beat upwards of 30 rats an evening. I've heard rumors of this and porcupines (yet again, I make an inside joke, my aplogies) but never for money.
Big buckets of rats. Crazy.
August 15, 2004
Rage against the cable company...
When it comes down to it, I'm a big TV fan. I especially love channels not offered by basic cable. I enjoy the Food Network, HGTV, Bravo...these are channels that provide programming that can fill in the blanks of otherwise boring TV shows. Do I care for most reality programming? Nope. Do I like Sundays full of sporting events? No. Have I watched a minute of the Olympics yet? Take a guess.
That said, I have cable Internet, so I'm not spending a gazillion dollars on my TV too. Ergo, I have bargain-basement cable, as my bunny ears weren't picking up much because of my concrete walls.
However, my "local" channels are ridiculous. I'm fine with Pittsburgh's inferior PBS station that mostly shows pledge drives and infomercials (central PA has much better PBS programming, but I pick my battles). I also don't mind ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Perfectly normal. The WB? Okay. TBS? WGN? Okay. I also get the weather channel, which is usually wrong. The website says I get UPN, BET, Hallmark and Discovery. That's not fantastic. I'd rather TLC than Discovery, and I don't watch any of the other channels. But it's 12 dollars.
However, my problem is with the extra channels that the cable companies line-up doesn't inclue. I get "OLN" which is appearntly the Outdoor Life Network, aka watching men fish and hunt. The other bonus channel is the Golf Channel, which is bascially 22 hours of watching men golf, and maybe an hour or two of LPGA wrap-ups. Very lame. I have no desire to watch these. One could call them male-oriented stations. If I were to have extraneous channels, I'd at least want TLC, Food, Bravo...relatively unisex stations (okay, maybe food is more girly, but Rachael Ray has posed for male magazines, I hear). Why am I subjected to these horrible stations?
Why don't I have choice?
Because cable is pretty much a monopoly. Oh yes, and they bundle their products....Grrr. What I really want is a la carte cable. Nothing crazy -- most of the channels would still be intact. Had they just asked me to pick two bonus channels where OLN and Golf are, I would be a really happy customer who doesn't have to hear about Tiger, Phil and Ernie or watch someone catch a wide-mouthed bass. Call me a girl (you'd certainly be right), but I'd like to watch someone decorate a house or bake a cake or something. Is that too much to ask?
August 13, 2004
Long time, no me.
Ah, the first post in a long time....my first week of work is over, my Internet is finally hooked up, and I have moved from the lovely confines of my parents' home to a new apartment.
That is my excuse for a two or three week lapse in blogging or being on the Internet in general.
July 23, 2004
Time Traveling Librarians?
Because we all want to pop up naked in the Newberry Library.
This most recent installment of "Julie's Book Club" has us reading The Time Traveler's Wife, which turns out to be absolutely mesmerizing and unlike anything I've read in a while. It's not time traveling like Connie Willis time travels, and it's not really science fiction, it's just a really surprising love story that isn't overdone. The main character is a librarian who time travels back and forth between his own life, and the whole book seems to take on fate vs. free will and all sorts of other crazy issues.
Anyway, I'm just over a half way through, so I'll keep you, my devoted readers, posted.
However, here's a great quotation taken from an essay by the author, Audrey Niffenegger. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's so nicely worded:
The delightful part about making anything is that no story or picture is ever complete. When I am reading, I add things to the story that were never put there by the writer. When you read my writing, you have your own vision of each character, and your own understanding of their motives and desires. If I could put my eye to your brain I would hardly recognize my world, it is a collaboration between the two of us. You have your own supply of ideas, which my writing is calling forth.
Big exciting news
Excellent news! I'm gainfully employed by an interactive marketing agency! I'll be a proofreader in quality assurance (that's a much more fun term than "quality control," isn't it? I'm just "assuring" not "controlling." More positive, really). Anyway, they do print and a lot of web stuff, so it's all good.
Ergo, I will no longer be planning to work in an undisclosed cave in Butler County.
July 18, 2004
Dream a little dream...
I think I'd be much happier if I'd just stop having bizarre dreams -- for the past few days, I've been waking up in some pretty terrible moods that can't be calmed by a nice dose of morning talk-show banter.
Dream One: Shopping Trip from Hell
Dream Two: Earwigs Attack
Dream Three: I'll Have the Alfredo, Please
Yeah, so I'm no longer drinking milk before bed. Whoever said that helps you fall asleep skipped the part where it gives you freaky dreams.
July 14, 2004
I feel like a traitor to the entire female gender for not enjoying Kate Chopin's The Awakening. My thought on it? Awake me when it's over.
That's about all I can muster about that.
July 11, 2004
My gal Anna.
It took just under a week to read Anna Karenina, in all it's 800+ page glory. It was a fantastic page turner! I was an addict! I even read the explanatory notes the entire way through. It was that good. (Of course, I'm a sucker for explanatory notes. Pure catnip!)
...Except for those extensive arguments about the zemstva. I'm not that interested in local Russian government of the late 19th century or peasant farm workers, but really. Yawn. It almost made me want to hop into a time machine and clue Tolstoy in on what was going to happen with the worker class after World War I just to make him stop. However, his references to communism and other new philosophies suggested that maybe he had a good idea of the future. That said, it really does deserve high rank on the "best novels ever" list.
Anyway, I'm having a red letter week here. After I read Anna, I picked up a Jennifer Crusie to relax a little, and what do you know, the main character cheats on her husband.
And then the informal book club chain letter that's been going around finally worked it's magic, and when I opened up my mailbox this afternoon I found Kate Chopin's Awakening. Hot dog. I'm guessing from the intro and the jacket that fair Edna strays.
Maybe I'll read Madame Bovary next.
On second thought, maybe I'll just rename the blog "All Julie Ever Does Is Read and Then Report Her Findings." A one-sided book club. Sounds about right.
June 30, 2004
I was in WalMart the other day, searching for a book. I know, it's strange to go to such a store for a book, but the previous week I purchased a book at our town's bookstore, which is rather tiny. I'm trying to think of dimensions, but I've been in bigger living rooms. Anyway, they reccommended a book there; I bought it and read it already. Ergo, I was at WalMart, the only other place to shop.
I picked up a Janet Evanovich book, and I think that I'm on number nine. However, upon reading the back of number seven, I couldn't remember if I read it or not. And then I thought for a second, and really couldn't remember the plots of any of them, really, except for maybe the first two (remembering big scary boxing guy, rouge cop, and then a funeral home burning down. I think that was all in the first and second installments). Anyway, I thought to myself, Gee, it's bad news if I can't remember plots of books. Sad. Then I thought: Even sadder, I'd read this book in under four hours. Six WalMart dollars for four hours. Four hours = 1.5 days of reading.
Ergo, I bought Anna Karenina.
I've been trying to stay away from Oprah books since the Fall on Your Knees incident. That was the single worst book I've ever read. I'm just not big on incest, prostitution, suicide and religious fanaticism. But, at least it took me a few days to finish.
It's day two of Anna, and I'm starting book three. Wish me continued success.
June 22, 2004
Tahini, Tahina, let's call the whole thing off...
Oh, you've got to love the Allegheny National Forest, and all its little surprises.
It all started with my love of hummus (hummos?). Naturally, I can get either Tribe brand (eh) or Prince Omar brand (yuck) in the lovely supermarkets of Sparkle City. However, neither are hitting the spot, especially after experiencing the My Organic Market goodness of Heba's Cilantro with Extra Garlic Hummos. Drat them all.
So, I want to make my own. Hummus(os) is simple, you see, it's just chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), olive oil, lemon juice and tahini.
There's the rub.
Tahini paste. If I can't get tasty hummus(os) in Sparkle City, where do I think I'll find tahini?
Ever adventurous, we set out for the next county -- the big town of DuBois to be exact, home to an anemic mall and the smallest Old Navy known to man. Luckily, they have a Martin's, which is really a Giant, but not a Giant Eagle. Don't get them confused. Anyway, Martin's is big, more upscale, and not quite the size of a good old suburban grocery wonder store -- you know, the stores that have their own special organic section, lots of fine cheeses (even Gruyere, which one cannot find up here). Ah. But I go on too much.
I was at Martin's. And I nearly found it. They had two (2) cans of Tahina Sauce. Buzz. Not the same thing. I need the paste -- the sesame seed version of peanut butter, not the runny saucy substance offered in the canned Kosher section.
Foiled again, and not really into purchasing ground up sesames online.
The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
What is a "Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation?" It's the subtitle to Eats, Shoots & Leaves, but its kind of vague -- maybe "The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation Errors" is more appropriate.
I have great feeling for Lynne Truss' punctuation book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves -- it's pretty much a love-hate relationship, I think. It took me a long time actually finish reading it because it didn't really grab me or interest me much. The "scandal" surrounding it does, though.
I liked this book, because, like this Slate commentator, I already knew the rules, and really only learned about how the English apply said rules along with a few grammar history fun-facts. I'm human, so I know that I often get carried away with commas and that I forget to remove the pesky apostrophe in the "it's" when making a possessive, but nonetheless, I'm a fairly intelligent writer/editor.
However, I thought that the New Yorker column about the book was a bit over the top. Yes, there are tons of puncutation errors in all sorts of books. I opened a paperback the other day only to learn that Jennifer Crusie had written Crazy for Your -- err, I'm sure in following editions it will be appropriately titled Crazy for You. Things like that happen because some times you don't catch everything. Granted, it is sad that a book about punctuation contains errors, but Truss never claimed that her book was error-free either -- it's just like every other error-riddled book. Maybe one could place more blame on the publisher's minions. Anyway, Truss' so-called punctuation sticklers united, and ripped on her in the article.
Of course, no big surprise, as she used the New Yorker as a frequent example of over-wrought comma usage in her book anyway. So, it's revenge, really.
However, in the name of fairness, I too could pick on the New Yorker and their assertion about the Oxford comma:
The book also omits the serial comma, as in “eats, shoots and leaves,” which is acceptable in the United States only in newspapers and commercial magazines.I and a fellow language lover researched the serial comma, and never was the word "only" used. In fact, the rule on the Oxford comma appears to be: "well, whatever you like, unless your editor mandates something." So there, New Yorker.
Now, I expect that they'll pick apart my personal inconsistency in the application of the Oxford comma in their next issue. But, I did like what the article said about voice.
Anyway, I also read an Economist review of the book, which seemed to be more in the spirit of what Truss may have really meant.
Punctuation, says Lynne Truss, is the track along which language runs. When it breaks down, so does meaning. She illustrates her point with countless cheerful examples. Where, for instance, would extra-marital sex be without its hyphen? In a completely different moral sphere.
The book is less instruction manual than celebration. “You know those self-help books that give you permission to love yourself? This one gives you permission to love punctuation.” Not the exclamation mark, however, which smacks of laughing at one's own joke.
But I digress. I found the book to be a little too English governess (if I knew what one was like) and I was severely annoyed by the way she belittled people like green grocers who misplaced their apostrophes in the name of ESL learners everywhere. However, I was perturbed right along with her about the movie title Two Weeks Notice, and I liked the way she used the last chapter to address the sillyness of emoticons, even though I like to use them. :)
So, when it comes right down to it, it was a good book about punctuation -- not a style guide, but more of a memoir (a memoir? a retrospective?) of punctuation's journey through time by one of its admirers.
See previous Truss Discussions:
June 18, 2004
It all started with watching the occasional episode of Queer Eye....then, I noticed that they replayed the West Wing four or five times a day (and it's the Aaron Sorkin episodes -- as far as I'm concerned his last episode marked the end of it).
Then I became addicted to Texas Hold-Em. Celebrity Poker Showdown -- I find myself captivated. And last night's was one of the more interesting ones with Lauren Graham winning big... Anyway, I'm sure I'm world's worst poker player, but I can't help to laugh when people go in with hands that contain a 7 and a 2.
Worse yet, I keep watching Jefferson in Paris, a horrible movie that Bravo continues to show. It stars Nick Nolte and Gwyneth Paltrow, and it's a big yawn. That, and my recent visit to lovely Monticello, convices me that Jefferson was indeed a freakshow....my least favorite founding father.....a big perverted weirdo, even with his notable letter-copying inventions. However, I like the scenes in Versailles, which I think is why I keep watching it. That, and to figure out what is going on with Maria Cosway and Jefferson.
So, I need to stop watching TV.
June 15, 2004
Missing cable? So am I.
Every time there is a major storm up on top of the mountain peak that I call home, we lose cable. And, if it's like tonight, we lose cell phone reception. So, how do I spend my time?
Why, on the Internet of course, making tons of lists! (Note: these lists are not terribly amusing, but rather, kind of sad.)
- What I'm missing on TV.
- Watching someone chop vegetables in Japanese.
- A real list made up by David Letterman
- Flipping between CNN and Fox News, attempting to figure out who's the biased one.
- The possiblity of catching Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood or Inside Edition to get the real scoop on J-Lo's wedding.
- Berkinstocks on QVC (not quite sure why I watch...)
- What I'm doing instead.
- Talking on the phone, until the reception went.
- Attempting to figure out my last two blanks on the TV Guide Crossword puzzle: a four-letter word for Hungarian Sheepdog and a six-letter word for More Slender (Help!)
- Dispatching emails across the country.
- Talking on IM.
- Thinking about reading The Lovely Bones.
- Thinking about reading Sick Puppy.
- Thinking about having a snack, but I only really have roasted red pepper hummos (hummus? Depends on the container, evidently), which isn't as tasty as it ought to be. My favorite hummos is made by some company named "Heba's" and is flavored cilantro with extra garlic. Yum yum.
- Clearly, filling the blog that has scrolled off into nothingness.
Yeah, that's it. Time for bed.