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So, I am at work, supposedly updating links for 30 blackboard classes. Oddly, this leaves me brain space to think about other things. Like this.


Remember how I was talking about modern classics vs what teens actually read? This seems to be another REALLY GOOD example of such a thing.

I mean, don't get me wrong: I really liked Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret. When i was 13. It may even still be a good book. But the fact is a) it has a limited audience (how many boys out there have read it?), b) it's significantly dated, and c) well, it's boring. There's a difference between a good story for a book (comfortable, identifiable, etc.) and a good story in a movie. Are You There God will not make a good movie. The *idea* behind it might. But not the book. And this (for me at least) holds true with the many of the rest of them as well.

(To be fair, it holds true for many books just in general. I just feel that the adaptation to a script plus the updating of the story would end up with a movie just loosely based on the book.

In which I rant about injustices in my youth because recent events have pointed out that the world's

(This started as a facebook status update, but I couldn't actually fit it into 420 characters, so it became a note, and then I thought I'd cross post it over here.)

I had a friend at Yearly Meeting who told me the second year i saw her (6th grade) quite seriously, that her mother had come out as a lesbian, and so it was okay if i didn't like her anymore. I honestly don't think I had any idea what that meant, so all I could tell was that this was clearly something that had been an issue already in her life, and I couldn't tell why it mattered what her mom was, when it wasn't her mom I was friends with. I still don't understand. A few years later, one of my friends was in tears because when she had gone to the movie with her younger siblings, she had been harassed by other *kids* our ages because her father was the Imam at the penitentiary. So far as I remember they didn't dress different, didn't talk differently, nothing. The only even somewhat visible thing was her father's job. Her *father*. Not her.

If you want to make fun of me because I have redhair, that's fine. Not okay, but you know, at least it's personal. If you want to make fun of me because I am smart, because I wouldn't stand for the pledge, because I never said the phrase under god when I said it, because I don't believe in any god, let alone yours, those things are all about *me*. If you make fun of me because my father is a geographer? How does that make sense? What does it accomplish? I should go home and tell my father he needs to have a different career?

Now, with 20 years experience, I look at these things and see it is a parent passing hate down to their kids and letting them pass it on. Your father can't insult my father for being a geographer (I don't want to brag, but my father's fairly unembarassable about his love of rocks.), due to a combination of social norms and the fact that my father could totally beat up your father. So instead he passes the hate down to you, and you says hurtful things to me. Kids will be kids, after all. Who knows where they get these ideas. I do! I know.

Stop saying things in front of your kids you wouldn't say in front of the person, and for that matter, stop saying things in front of people that you wouldn't say in front of anyone who can hold you accountable for it. There are so many things in this world available to hate, at least raise your children to choose their own hatreds. If your hatred is a fair one, they'll figure it on their own.

Contemporary YA vs Classic Literature

When Goosebumps had that crazy boom while I was in HS, I think, and all the Harry Potter and Twilight craziness since then, I thought it was awesome. There may be better books in the world to read (yeah, there definitely are), but I figured every book someone reads is another book closer to a habit. If kids don't think books are fun or relevant or interesting, why should they bother reading for fun? Even if the kids never read another book on their own just for fun, that's still one more than they had before.

So, a while ago I was chatting with an English teacher and some other people my age ish. We were talking about the 'classics' from our high school days and how a) utterly inappropriate they are for teenagers in general and b) how boring they must be for kids who don't like reading much. I think the example that was used was Catcher in the Rye which is a coming of age novel given to people not yet of age *and* in a completely different world than the one in the book. And books like 1984 and Animal Farm, or my personal favorite, Brave New World (which to me in HS was so totally a Utopia--a world where everyone knew where they were supposed to be and what they were supposed to do) are less obvious to teens than they are a few years later.

So I started making a class in my head, taking the classics, and pairing them up with contemporary books that 'match' but are more (theoretically) interesting to current teens. Surely it must be possible to look at what we expect a book to be doing and find an analog that would appeal to kids and still a) have the same message and maybe even b) help train critical reading skills.

So Brave New World pairs well with Scott Westerfeld's Uglies/Pretties/etc series. Dracula contrasts with the contemporary vampire books.

I had a few more, but I've forgotten them, and my work server is back up, so you'll just have to come up with your own.

Why I can't breathe

Why I can't breathe
Originally uploaded by tanaise
The fall I spent in Italy was the first time I saw pollen so heavy that any rain would wash it into pools and streams of yellow. The first few times I saw it it was so bright and so solid looking, I assumed it was spray paint, but didn't know why anyone would graffiti ripple patterns on the sidewalk. I figured it out eventually. Those were huge pine trees, so a few weeks later, the pine nuts started falling.

Yesterday the black bench I sat on outside the bakery was tinted gold by the sheer volume of pollen no-longer in the air. After dark, when other parts of the area were apparently getting pounded by high winds, we had just enough rain to collect the pollen and decorate with it.

New Music, and the Happiness it brings

It was 85 or so today, with threats of really obnoxious weather all day, and the boil water advisory still in place.

And yet, I am happy. Why? Because I can buy new music again. If my feet didn't hurt like the dickens today, I would have gone into town so I could look at the racks and racks and racks of stuff at Newbury Comics. I have forgotten what music I like, it's been that long since I bought new stuff.

I did splurge on the Patrick Park CD, Come What Will back in early April, and it's AWESOME. I have been waiting for this since You'll Get Over was a KCRW top tune back in like, October 2008. I have all the rest of his stuff, and it's good, but he's still a new enough singer that you can hear him growing from one album to the next, so I wanted the new one, damnit. So while I don't approve of having to wait for my music, this may have been worth it. So pretty. My favorites are The Lucky Ones and of course, You'll Get Over. He was playing at club Passim and I was SO excited, except then I actually saw the schedule and he was merely opening for someone else (and I was unemployed) so I passed, very crankily. (he was opening for some chick, I think, so pfft. Next time, maybe!)

The new album I just bought myself on Friday is Magnetic North, the new Aqualung. It is divine. No, seriously, I suspect angels came down at night and wrote this for him. Now, I am admittedly biased as I've loved every one of his albums so far A LOT. Some artists I love because they change from one album to the next--see also Radiohead, Muse) And some artists I love because they don't change--Snow Patrol, Pete Yorn's good stuff, Aqualung, etc. I figure it all hinges on how well they can change. I'd rather listen to them play the stuff I love forever than listen to them suck at trying new things. So a) this is very similar in sound to his other albums and b) if you like those albums, you'll like this one (or vice versa). My favorites on this one are Reel Me In (the only live/real one has very bad audio, or I would have used something else.), which reminds me greatly story wise of the Old 97's "Here's to the Halcyon,"except with a mortal plea, not a heavenly one. Second favorite is Fingertip.

And a special feature: an old album that i still adore. On Promenade, by Doug Burr. I have raved about Graniteville before, endlessly. I think I may love every song on it. My current favorite is probably "How does the Lark (My Dear Theo)", a song taken from/inspired by the Van Gogh letters. But I can't find that on youtube. So, take two others: Should've Known and The Thing about Trouble which was the first song of his I heard. His latest album is The Shawl, and while it's really pretty, it's also very christian (I believe it's bible verses [eta: it's Psalms, so I don't know what the difference is] he set to music.), which doesn't quite work for me. Oh, hey, I'm wrong. His latest album-"O Ye Devastator" will be out tomorrow. I guess that decides for me what the next new music will be. Hooray! New music days are the best days.

Tomato Cream Pasta

This recipe ultimately comes from a book by Marcella Hazan. I think it's Marcella's Kitchen. (I totally recommend her cook books, she makes *wonderful* Italian recipes.)

At this point, my recipe doesn't much follow the one in the book. Which is why I won't just copy it over here. The good news is, regardless of how much detail I go into, this is an insanely forgiving recipe. It's tomatoes, garlic, and cream. You can make it *better*, but so long as you don't burn it, I don't think it can be *bad.*

Step one: Cut some garlic into slices. Personally, I use 1/2 to 3/4 of a head. Your mileage may vary. Throw them into a *big* (nonstick, if possible) skillet. Add a splash of olive oil. enough to keep the garlic loose in. Turn the heat on low, and just let the garlic sweat. The longer you can do this, the sweeter the garlic will be ultimately, but it's all about patience. If the heat is too high, it will brown. No big deal. when the garlic is soft, brown, or you're bored;

Step two: The tomato step. Again, it's a forgiving recipe. I think it calls for fresh plum tomatoes, but I hate slipping them, so I just used canned. The best is, of course, muir glen, but any of the canned varieties work. If possible, I recommend the brands that come in the finally diced. You want a 14-16 oz can. Diced, nothing but tomatoes (no spices, etc, until you've tried the basic and decide how you want to experiment. I have used Muir Glen fire roasted, and it's not the same, but not bad.) Dump the tomatoes in and put the heat on low again for about forever. I like to cook them down basically to nothing, ultra ultra soft. But I'm not all that fond of tomatoes. :) The original recipe said 'until the fat seperates' and if you watch it, there's a point when that happens and the oil starts gathering at the edges of the pan. like I said, though, it's not rocket science. When you're bored, and/or the tomatoes seems squishy enough:

Step three: Cream! I get the medium sized heavy cream container (for those who need realish numbers, this is the 2 cup container, and you're going to use about 2/3 a cup of cream at a time). Dump about a third in to the pan, stir throughly until it's a solid color (sort of pink-ish orange, depending on how much you cooked the tomatoes) Again, lowish heat, just let it cook waaaaay down. WAY. I accidentally thought I'd burned it the first time I did it this way, but no. It was awesome. Sweet/carmelized. Add another third, mix it completely as above, turn the heat up and hover over it until it's cooked down to a thicker sauce. It's an imperfect science, but you basically want it to at least be thick enough to cling to pasta. (So if you have the pasta done already, or are still testing it at this point, I advise taste testing with the pieces of pasta, to see how it stays on the pasta. If you cook it down too much, just add a little more cream.

And you're done. Pour it over a pound box of pasta, ideally cartwheels, otherwise radiators or rotini work well. You want lots of surface area to catch the sauce--nothing like penne or elbows or etc. They aren't *bad*, but they are less awesome. I have been making this dish for...10 plus years, and I still scramble to get the pasta and sauce done at the same time. I *think* if you start the pasta in the water after you add the cream the first time, it'll work out okay. Luckily, you can take a break with the sauce (turn the heat off after cooking down the first dose of cream.) while you try to get the pasta caught up. It will be *best* fresh, but works just fine reheated. (by 'best' I mean that 4 of us ate it tonight and there are no leftovers at all, and at least two of us had seconds. I have also eaten half of it myself in one sitting.)

There is also a step .5, which goes...somewhere. It is 'add salt.' I usually forget it while cooking. Also, taste it repeatedly. It is awesome, and every step only gets better. (by the cream steps, I usually try to talk myself around to just eating it out of the pan directly.)

And if you come visit, or I come visit you, I will make it for you, and you can stand at my shoulder and watch and taste and learn all my tricks.

ETA: I just remembered there's a non-vegetarian version of this as well which some may be interested in. If you make the sausage variation, it is worth finding the cartwheel pasta to go with it.

I will explain my method, you can reason out your own alternatives easy enough: Get yourself some sausage. About a pound I think, depending on your fondness for meat. If you actually live somewhere civilized enough to have a butcher (I miss Lewisburg for the butcher shop if nothing else.), it's the not-hot/Italian option. Just plain old sausage. If you have to make do with a grocery store, you want a bland sausage, ideally pork and little/nothing more. Breakfast sausage might be your best bet. Freeze it overnight or so, and then cut the sausage into rings a little wider than a pencil/basic pen. Wheels, basically. I don't like the sausage casing, which is one reason why I like freezing it--it peels off easily that way, but even with the skin, frozen is easier to cut into wheels. It cooks just fine from frozen or fresh, so that doesn't matter. You add the wheels to the pan while you sweat the garlic, so you only need enough oil to keep the sausage from sticking long enough to produce it's own fat. Sweat the garlic/brown the sausage (carefully, if you have removed the skin, so it holds together). When the garlic is done, move to step two, proceed normally. At the end, you'll have pasta cartwheels mixing with slices of sausage in much the same shape, for a nice blend of tastes and textures.

I have been lazy and neglectful

What can I say? The last three months of the job were insane, and the three before that were fairly insane as well, to the point that for at least two months I would go to work, work, come home and play zuma or mah jonng or such until bedtime because that was all the brain I had.

So it's been about 6 weeks of unemployment, and I think maybe my brain is calming down and getting back to thinking. I still haven't gotten back to reading LJ on a regular basis, but i think I'll try. As a rule of thumb, if you said something in the past...4 months that I should know about, I didn't see it. And this is true about *everyone*--LJ was way too much effort for me to read. The last few weeks of work, even facebook was getting to be exhausting. But since then, I have started to unwind, and may soon be mistaken for human again.

There was a period of several days to almost two weeks that I had sleeping issues--stress and adjusting to a new steroid will apparently do that to you. On the plus side, since I didn't have to get up to work, I would just sleep during the day. I'm better about that now, so I haven't been up past 4 in a while, and that's just because I'm Zuma addicted. I do plan to ease back to a normaler sleep plan soon. I am also even more hippo like than I was a few months ago(in the size way, not the killing more people than crocodiles way)--again I blame stress and steroids, and as the weather gets nicer, I hope to actually get myself out there and walking around and such, which should help. I am also telling myself that I will eat better, but yeah. At the least, though, I can possible branch out a little from the carb loading of the last 4 months, which might help some.

Other than Zuma, I have read lots of books, a few magazines, and watched lots of netflix and downloaded TV. had a few phone interviews, applied all over the place, and so on. No calls yet, and while I did get asked to apply to a job, I suspect my salary will be a deal breaker. (basically, the job is the level that I was at HM. But I'm a step higher now, and I really don't want to go back. Particularly since I don't want to do that sort of project management anymore. I want to do more technical product/platform management stuff. ie, instead of managing making Blackboard courses, i want to be on the group dealing with how the blackboard courses are used, and bigger picture stuff. But this may be very hard to find, so who knows.

I don't miss having that job. I do kinda miss the whole going to work/interacting with people thing, but I will endeavor to find ways around that. I also miss the salary, I have to say. It's okay while I am sitting at home doing nothing, but if I start doing things, I am going to have to budget carefully, as even stupid little things like going to a coffee shop to read can add up quickly. At the moment, I am on unemployment and have cobra, so my essentials are covered. MA being a socialist state, the government may even help with my cobra costs, which would be extra sweet. I also have a good chunk of money in savings, so i should be not-starving for a while. If only I had a detailed spreadsheet of all of my money and where it goes. Oh well, only a weirdo would have that sort of thing.

I'm starting to feel antsy about not doing things again, which is a really awesome feeling because it supports my brain working theory. I just have to figure out what I should be doing with this time while I wait for a job. If i make a schedule, I think that might help me get out of the house more. So that's probably as close as I get to a plan at the moment.

And I am going to try and post on here again, and ideally read as well.

Luckily the presents are returnable

Dear Better Off Ted:

I just want to start off by saying that you mean a lot to me, and I really value the time I spend with you, which is why I feel like it's important to be honest with you. I know it seems like we just got engaged yesterday, and I don't want to sound defensive, but I hope you didn't think this was an exclusive relationship--it doesn't mean I love you any less, unless a writer get fired or Psych comes back on air. You know I need to see other shows sometimes, and well, I've started seeing someone new.

I met White Collar at my mom's house, over Xmas and I didn't really think anything would come of it. It was just in passing, during the commercial breaks for an SVU marathon, but I looked him up when i got back here, and we hung out tonight, and well, we just really clicked. I know it's sudden, and I don't know what the future holds for us--hell, I don't even know if he'll get a second season.

I'm not trying to end our relationship, but for now, I'd just like the opportunity to spend a little time getting to know hime. I know it sounds shallow, but I'm just a sucker for a cute star, some clever dialog, and a caper plot. If I had more time to spend with him--say, 6 episodes, before his season starts up again--it would give me the chance to see how this thing could work out between us. You know my love for you is eternal and untainted by commercialism, but if I miss my chance with him, the way i missed my chance with the Middleman, well I'll just never forgive myself.

I hope I'll see you at our usual place this week, but I'll understand if you need to take some time to come to terms with this, so I won't take your silence personally.

Love, Me