Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I'm technologically viable again.  I detailed my iMac woes at the start of this semester, ad nauseam.  After eight years my beloved Strawberry iMac was out-of-date and barely functional.  This week, I took the plunge, gritted my teeth, went to the Apple store and bought a new laptop.  It's faster and holds twice as much memory out of the box than the iMac did after I bought and installed extra RAM over the years in order to max it out.  Thanks to a rebate I got a combination color photo printer/scanner for free!  On the down side I'll have to buy upgrades for Photoshop and Illustrator, but it will be worth it in the end. Oh yeah--and I had to buy an external USB modem because the computer doesn't have an internal modem.  I had to drive back to the Apple store because I didn't for one minute think that a new computer wouldn't have an internal modem in it.  Yes, I still use dial-up.  I don't want to hear it.  Someday I'll be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but for now I don't want to be bothered with having to switch ISPs, etc.  Sucks to be me, I know.  But at least I got a free printer.

Having a working computer means I can now resume blogging, a task made increasingly difficult on my old Mac.  I like blogging.  It's a conceit, I know, and I know that no one reads them, but there's something satisfying about publishing my own online journal.  I actually have three blogs.  My knitting blog gets the most hits thanks to the many knitting and craft forums I belong to.  This blog is my "smart blog." I started it when I became serious about writing again. I mostly review books and zines and other literary topics, though recaps of the latest Doctor Who episode crop up quite often.  I have a sewing and stitching blog as well, but it only has a couple of posts on it over the past two years, mainly because I'm still just learning how to sew (no time!) and I don't do other needlework as often as I knit.  I won't bother to post a link.

Most people may find this funny, but knitting blogs are hot right now. No, really! Google "knitting blog" and it returns 531,000 results.  Everyone and their Goth kid sister has a knitting blog  these days. I confess that, as soon as I became aware of the phenomenon three years ago, I had to have one, too.  I think for me the appeal is part showing-off, part bonding with like-minded people all over the world, part archive.  Knitting blogs are a wonderful medium that lets people share patterns and tips, ask for and receive help from one another, and share resources and stories of who in their family taught them to knit.  Knitting is passed on to a new generation as Internet-savvy teens and twenty-somethings flock to the craft.  In turn, these bloggers are sharing tips to older knitters on how to set up their own blogs, how to upload pictures, and how to have more fun using the internet as a tool for exploring an ancient craft.  Sharing--and blogging--is a wonderful thing.

In case anyone's interested, here are some of the more "famous" knitting blogs out there:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"It's all about self-absorption today. The BlackBerry makes you go into yourself. The computer makes you go into yourself. E-mail makes you go into yourself," she says. "It's a huge world out there. We must just stop and get out there and be nice to somebody."

This quote appeared in today's USAToday in an article on Emily Post and the deplorable decline of manners in today's society. Who's being quoted? It's none other than Sarah Ferguson, Dutchess of York. I especially like the first sentence. It sums up my general feelings on why there is a distinct lack of manners today, especially in the younger (teens and twenties) generation. The first assignment for this class was to speculate on the role email plays in society. Is email dead? Is it being replaced by other, faster forms of electronic communication? My posts to the online class forum were very similar to the thoughts expressed by Sarah Ferguson. the self-absorption part hits home for me, since I deal with the self-absorbed on a daily basis, and have long attributed it to the instant gratification obtained by modern forms of communication people have at their fingertips. That's really all I have to say for the moment. No big, meaningful sociological exploration of the topic for now, I just wanted to indulge in a small sense of validation. I guess we redheads think alike.

Thanks, Fergie.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sleep Deprivation...Must...Type...Paper...

I detest weird, obnoxious dreams. Over the years I've had what I call recurrent "school anxiety" dreams. They first started in the 90s when I was trying to get through art school. I enjoyed my classes, but a combination of illness, lack of funds, and scheduling problems plagued my experience. I began to dream that I was back in college, where I finished my undergrad, but I was my current age. In my dreams I had a car (I didn't when I was an undergrad), I was an adult (I use the term loosely) and I was living on campus on some sort of sabbatical from work. In these dreams I endlessly searched for either my dorm room or my mailbox. I rarely found my dorm room, and when I did, there was something not-quite-right about it. Either the door wouldn't lock, or it only had 3 walls instead of four, opening up into someome else's room, that sort of thing. As for the mailbox, I never found that at all. I'm not a psychiatrist but there's some sort of message here. Either A.) I'm trying to find my room, which I believe represents a sense of belonging, or my "center" if you will. Or B) I'm trying to find my mailbox, and I never do. Clearly, I'm "not getting the message," right?! The most astounding part of this recurrent dream is the scenery: it has been exactly the same every time I have this type of dream over the past 10 years or so. The campus doesn't look quite like it did in real life, but it looks exactly the same in every dream. It's always night. Sometimes I'm driving around campus or through town on my way back to campus. I marvel at how things have changed, or how things have stayed the same in this very vivid nocturnal landscape. I also marvel that I'm driving at all since I didn't have a car or a license when I was in school. In all these dreams, no one likes me. I attribute it to the fact that I'm 10 (and now 20) years older than everyone else.

These dreams stopped once I finished art school, but they returned with a vengeance last fall when I entered graduate school. The scenery and premise of the dream remain the same ten years later. This time I attribute them to a general academic anxiety. I had design projects at art school but no research papers. When I started graduate school it was easily nineteen years since I'd written a paper or engaged in heavy research. I was nervous about the coursework, and the very words Graduate School struck a bit of fear into my heart. This time around I tend to find my dorm room more often than not, but it's still a little off. Sometimes the walls are slanted. Often I get to the back of the room to find that it adjoins another room with no dividing wall. I have dreams where I'm in a new apartment that does the same thing--opens into another apartment--and it really ticks me off. I'm sure there' s something subconcious about that but I can't figure out what it could be. Feel free to email me with your suggestions.

Last night I had a very different but equally puzzling school-related dream. I was sitting on the concrete area near an outside swimming pool. My sister was with me. A lot of other students were sitting there also. It was supposed to be my current school but didn't resemble it at all. Right behind the pool was a football field. A game was just about to get underway, there were swimmers waiting to use the pool. Then a man came along and stood in front of all of us seated on the concrete. He started to give a lecture. "If America is an unaltruistic wheel that has run out of grease," he began, "then what does that mean for the rest of the world?" Brilliant! I thought. Then someone whispered in my ear and I woke up. So what does this latest dream mean? Apart from the odd but promising sound bite I have no clue. I'm sure the professor's words are inspired by the current economic crisis; they certainly reflect my opinion that perhaps America should look toward solving its own problems before spending money to help other countries. (God that makes me sound so conservative. Or does it?) At least this time I was part of a classroom discussion. Maybe it signifies that I no longer feel like an outsider who doesn't belong, or deserve to be in, school.

My dreams are nothing if not multimedia extravaganzas.