QC-L Version 4.0

Yes, welcome to my lair of evil thoughts and incorrect speech where I don't let go and move on and I talk about whatever I please. On a blog no one ever tells you to shut up. If you don't like what I say, just go elsewhere.

This blog now has a new background and a new theme. It is also using a remotely loaded style sheet. That is a first. It is lush, heavy, and uses a background that has a theme I have never used here before, though I have used it for pressies. Let the show go on! It always does anyway. And yes, we are powered by Blogger.

I am putting a temporary illustration here until I have a logo for this design. Watch this space.

temporary illustration


The Backfile: this blog's archives.

Ajayu, home of my story, The Sneezeweed Chronicles. Yes, I do fiction.

It will have Oneiro, my own little role play.

Unfettered Soul, my flagship site.

The Silk Purse, my play pretend Brainstorms.

Failed Messiah Religious news never sounded so good.

New York Times. Read the news and be smart.

Monday, February 28, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I am keeping silent about something that happened to me in Atlanta over the weekend that might lead to a stupendous VENGANCE VICTORY. That is a long shot. There will be a shorter shot if I start reading another nonfiction book. Any cultural activity for which I do not receive the prompting of any "intelligent conversation" group is a VENGANCE VICTORY.

That said, I had a VENGANCE VICTORY this weekend. I went to the Eyedrum gallery to see the shacks built by the Mad Housers. Then I walked across Atlanta to Whole Foods and started a real shopping trip.

I played Neopets today and the essay from this blog got good reviews at Nothing But Neopets' forum. I also bought the food for Tuesday's potlatch. Neopets even did a potlatch of my own giving me 2,000NP plus four food items. I in turn bought a coconut sink and bathtub along with two stained glass windows for the bathroom of my yet to be built showplace of Neopia.

I checked in at the Friendship Garden (one of my MSN groups). I also told them about my vacation in England and France several years ago. I don't know why this group puts up with me. I am single, never married, childless (At forty-two childfree is a flag of convenience.), and a "career woman" by default. I have money and time because I have no family. This might be a good choice if people actually chose such things rationally. I did not choose this rationally but it is not a bad way to end up.

That said, the Friendship Garden is a private club and they have the right to kick me out even if I never get in an argument. It is not a club for mothers. They say they accept every body. Well, I walked through their gate. The trouble with accepting every body is that sooner or later you'll get me or you'll get Haldis. Every body, even every body who does not make trouble or every body of the same sex, is a very diverse group. Do you really want such a diverse group? Would you join such a group? Would you stay with such a group?

Meanwhile, Thadea is ANGRY. Carri Cota who runs the Golden Elite totally forgot about her and set up four teams or at least the placards for them and just left Thadea in the cold and ignored. Thadea said to Haldis on the Run Amuck board that if they had formmail there was no reason not to go into business. Haldis is having her own difficulties with the Webleagues though these mainly have to do with her not being rostered. Hopefully this has changed but as of right now you can see for yourself. A downed team is a bad sign.

The only question is am I willing to own two competitions. Thadea/I found free remotely loaded formmail that works. Thadea played with scripts but couldn't get them to work and her server space is otherwise lovely but very finicky BSD. One reason the space is so lovely, it is secure. Thadea wrote to Cari to find out what is what with the Golden Elite. I can hold her back until she gets a response or silence for long enough for her to get disgusted. She wants to try a new form that she creates while logged in. If the form works then the rest can be made ready to go. I may even bring Orelle into the act.

Webleagues is paid up until well into May, most likely so there is incentive to keep it up and working. Webleagues can not run with only three teams. Administrating a web site competition is hard work.

I went to Atlanta this weekend. That should be enough. I went on a trip that was partially shopping and partly cultural. I saw the Madhousers' shack at the Eyedrum gallery. Then I walked across town to Ponce De Leon to shop at Whole Foods and later went for dinner and shopping at the Farmer's Market.

While riding back from the Farmer's Market to the airport there was a manic depressive man on the train. He was basicly manic. He played guitar but could not stay on through a song. He just kept playing away and having a great time. He was almost bouncing all over the car, but he bounced muusically. He was fun to listen to, but I wonder what will happen to him when he crashes from his musical high.

One of the artists at the Eyedrum did a ritual with letters to the dead in the "dead letter office" one of the exhibits. She burned the letters and said that the place felt haunted. Well, I looked for papers to write to all kinds of dead friends, but had nothing to say. I just felt tongue tied. Another great exhibit in the Eyedrum was the Color Me Castle. It was a kids colorable cardboard playhouse set in a forest of fake trees adorned with pretty white Christmas lights. I don't know how long I sat on the floor coloring in parts of it and writing inside the doors.

I don't have a modernistic art sensibility as much as I work wtih vectors and objects in PSP. I like things pretty and colorful and in a word, "spiffy." I have too much sense of craft and decoration. I belong in an earlier era. Also my ladies groups effect me. It is interesting that outside this milieu of self taught artists no one knows what a sig file or sig tag (also called a siggie) is. That is sad. The net is tribal and the two sides of this blog are bleeding together again.

I missed the bus both times going and coming from the Farmer's market and accidentally got off one stop too soon on the MARTA coming back. That was OK. I just sat on the lonely platform under a starless sky in South Atlanta waiting for the next train.

Don't ask me what I thought. I just told myself to sit tight and wait on the lonely platform. I haven't even told my boyfriend, just this blog and its readers.

I really enjoyed the walk across Atlanta best. The neighborhood was not the best, but just being somewhere new and in a big city made me very happy. Also Atlanta or at least downtown Atlanta is a flat learning curve city. It is very very easy to find one's way around. That is why I don't understand why people get so upset when they get off at the wrong exit when they are in the canyon formed by the interstate. You just take a street that runs parallel to the highway and get on at the next exit. Streets are either parallel or perpendicular to the interstate. End of story. The grid makes for easy navigation. I am so glad I found my feet on my last trip to Atlanta. I wish Atlanta were my city. I wonder if the magic would wear off if I actually lived there.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I walked out on the rabbi's sermon tonight. I came back in for the last part of the service, but I got about three quarters of the way through his sermon before I couldn't stand it and walked out. If any one had asked me I would have said I felt ill and needed to go to the bathroom. I even hid in the ladies room lounge for all of five minutes. The rabbi hit too many straw men that came alive. European newspapers, the campaign for divestituure due to Israel's awful (and it is awful!) human rights record etc... were all compared to Haman. Haman is on a par with Hitler not folks who oppose Zionism in the press or in their pocketbooks. Come on rabbi, a sense of proportion would be nice. Also,the Palestinians are monotheists and respect for human life is hardly what it is all about in the Bible. The God who upholds the sanctity of human life had no problem with sending the Hebrews who were returning from captivity in Egypt in as an invading army who wiped out whole cities, slaughtering women and children as collateral damage. Yes, I've read the Book of Deuteronomy.

Anyway, the rabbi and the speaker we had a couple of weeks ago also talked down the Babyloninan creation myth which is juicier and more fun than the one in Genesis ever could be. I realized that paganism has a whole lot to recommend it. The only problem is I can't see myself worshiping multiple gods. The Hindus get around this by saying that all the gods are faces or facets of the one great god. I know that some pagan traditions have deities or powerful spirits that deal with the darker aspects of experience. Instead of making them devils, they are part of the family/pantheon. As a spiritualist this makes sense to me. I asked my spiritualist mailing list, Cbask-l@yahoogroups.com to send me suggestions for reading matter so I could learn something unbiased about paganism since I don't know squat.

So we need a mast head! We haven't had one in several days and there is no way I'd forget! Here it is. It was WORTH IT to be kicked out of Brainstorms. It was worth it to do as I did, be who I am, and say what I said, though I was politer than I should have been until they kicked me out. Then I gave them what for. I wish there was a way to give them more. I don't believe in letting go and moving on which is why I have my play pretend Brainstorms which rocks and which beats the pants off the original. Onward and upward with a song in my heart and a lightness in my step. Passion and joy are the rule here rather than irony and whit. Woo-hoo. Shout it out loud and proud!

Well, my Neopets shirts arrived today I have no idea of the weather in Atlanta. I would love to meet other Neopians in the flesh. I am curious what they think of the fact that I have four painted pets and am building the showplace of Neopia. It costs a lot to furnish a house. There are many empty houses in Neopia. There are also very few (Way fewer than you would expect) pets painted with either less expensive brushesor morphing potions. The starry garrl or white grarrl morphing potion are both buyable (under 100,000NP) yet starry grarrls and white ones are exceedingly rare. There are by contrast a fair number of lupes painted fire or fairy or even baby (Yes, that is a color). What gives? There are Neopians wealthy enough to to trade in paint brushes (Just go hang out on the Trades and Auctions board. They monopolize that place.) and to have the lab map 450,000NP. There are also Neopians who can not afford a single low end paint brush or a suite of good quality furniture (which costs about the same if you buy a matching set of the fancy stuff). There is not all that much in between. The Lawrence curve in Neopia is badly bowed.

Is this a good thing? Well one can say it is only pixels, but we all know how valid that statement is. Neopia is also a community, a society, a world and because it is so large, it deserves public scrutiny. Those starting Neopia perhaps wanted to create a fun game and DID NOT set out to build a good societ. As a result, they have a very bad society. Cooperation is difficult. Beyond trading and Neomails, it usually involves sharing accounts which means that the partners can and frequently do stab one another in the back or share with another third party who does a job on them.

Cooperation can also, theoretically involve breaking the Neorules in the worst way, by one party hiring another to work for Neopoints. For example, I can both code html and remotely load images. Player B hires me for a set number of Neopoints to make her a userlookup and mount the images. I do the work, send her the code and mount the images. Then I place a junk item for sale in the trading post at a time when we are both online. She offers my salary plus another junk item and the Neopoints change hands. All Neopets sees is a junk trade for a very good price, or if this kind of a trade raises red flags (and it ought to though maybe it doesn't) the person whom I working for can pay me an expensive item or we can have an expensive item change hands and then come back to me as a gift to make the trade appear proportionate. This all takes way more trust than I have with any one on Neopets. Remember, Neopets number one problem is anomie.

Then we have the fact that Neopets restricts upward mobility in one of the most basic ways. You can only play the games of skill three times per day. Games of skill are really Neopia's best money maker. They do not make pets sick. The house never wins. You always make a clear profit. The only problem is most people have a handful of games that agree with them. When they are done with these, that is it for making money each day. It is time to go to the bank and keep it from burning a hole in your pocket. Even for an industrious Neopian who resists gambling and idle spending, there is a financial brick wall.

Now if I rememer my Econ 101 (That's macroeconomics folks) there is a good reason for the brick wall. Games of skill create money. They cost nothing to play and pump money out. If players can play them as much as they like all day long, then there will be a lot more money in circulation. Prices will rise as increased money supply fuels demand and soon the money in ciruclation will be worth less. This theory relies on the fact that players will not bank their Neopoints as they save for big ticket items. They don't do it now even with the restriction. Why should they do it when they can make more NP. No one on Neopia has to pay very much to feed their pets and there is no rent or tax so everything one makes, one can save. I don't have to tell you that Neopia's savings rate is not even close to fifty percent.

What would a good online society look like. It would have some means to encourage cooperation and leadership. A help center where Neopians working there are paid in Neopoints might be a good idea. It would have a rule against gouging in stores. Simply set maximum prices for items. There are guilds where there are common accounts for money and precious items, not a personal account shared between parties. Clans/Guilds where there are persistent boards wold also help. More space for personal expression and a better free speech policy as well would ease the drive to get and spend and help Neopians get to know each other better, thus enhancing cooperation rather than endless competition. Also Neopians should be able to play games as often as they want. Most will get bored before doing it too many times but let those who want to work make an honest Neopoint.

Finally, I'd have a jubilee once a month and let any one paint their pets any color that is listed and I'd add half a dozen more just for fun. Alternatively, one could have to earn a jubilee ticket by doing a variety of reasonable community tasks during each month. On Jubilee day one redeems the jubilee ticket for either a paint job or training. The Jubilee ticket would not be something one could trade or sell. Any one willing to do the tasks which would be publicly posted could have a Jubilee ticket.

Ticket tasks might involve donating items, writing to your penpal (You could get a pen pal at the pen pal booth), working in the help center, uploading a graphic to the graphic bank, making suggestions, and other cooperative community building activities. It might work. One never knows. I'd like to try it.

Well here it is 1am and the blog is lopsided again. That is OK. The cyberculture side gets heavy sometimes. Somehow I made it to the end of the week. I taught Biol2285 today and had an interesting topic donated by a student who had been taught in a psychology course by one of my colleagues coming in to do a one class bibliographic instruction workshop. The topic was "female spiders who devour their mates." which ultimately morphed into "canibalism in animls" and "cannibalism AND spiders.&qot;

All the students got to go home with their GALILEO passwords which made them happy. I walked out of that class feeling energized. I think I had a class of actually interested students. That is a small comfort.

Somehow I also found a source for biology book reviews. Actually I should have found it long ago, but I work at Columbus State and not under Polly Miller at Sci Tech at Syracuse. It is the Quarterly Review of Biology. It is old fashioned and fun. I love book reviews written by scientists and physicians. The reviews are full of emotion and fun and the Quarterly Review of Biology is old fashioned. One section of its review area is called "For Tyros and Laics." I knew a tyro was an amateur but I had no idea what a laic is. A laic is a lay person. As a science librarian and interested memeber of the general public, I am a laic. Well it is laics who get big book budgets every now and then. There is now a huge pile of biology book order slips in my office at work. They include everything from biochemistry and molecular biology to evolution to all manner of zoology and botany. I sort of wanted to cover all the bases.

I went to schul tonight and ate way too much from the oneg table. That is the snack table and they had home made vegetarian chopped liver which was delicious. This was not my mother's "milchig chopped liver" which is marinated eggplant spread (Yummy!) this is a concoction of nuts, eggs, canned peas, cracker crumbs and sauteed onioons. It was delicious. I guess it was my dinner.

I want to go to Atlanta tomorrow, but I still have no idea what I will buy or when I'll leave. I am going to look and see if the Eyedrum Gallery still has the exhibit with the shacks for homeless people. I belive the Eyedrum is open on Saturday afternoons. It is near the E2 MARTA stop.

I know I need tea (or will before I can go to Atlanta again.), olives (really good ones), honey roast peanutbutter from the machine, and then it would be nice to have beetroot, winter squash one more time, daikon, blood oranges, uglifruit, and watercress, chard, or fancy bok-choi. You get the idea. I'd also add fingerling potatoes to the list and/or perhaps some fresh oyster mushrooms for making kidney bean and mushroom barley soup.

I also have to tactuflly figureout how to ask a less fortunate neighbor for some of the money he owes me. I am a soft touch. I can't see not being generous. It is my money to save, blow, give away etc... I would, however, like to see exactly to whom I gave it and if he has the same moral fiber or lack thereof as the woman he had the misfortune to marry. Madame Mooch, this gentelman's son to be exwife is doing time in the county jail for shoplifting.

Anyway the shack exhibit is still at the Eyedrum so I guess I might go there.

Well here is a graphic I made today. It's my first pressie in ages. It is amazing how good graphics make me feel.

A yellow kente siggy with a hole in it

This sig-tag is made using the object editor and assored vectors. Only the circle of the hole is a preset shape. The kente pattern is a pixel drawing that I resized. I adjusted it subtly with the curves. Yes, my graphics are finally lightening up a bit. Most simple things are always more complex than they look.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

This was a busy day in the "real world" so I could only earn 2,000NP. I bought the coconut comode for the Neohome yesterday and as a result, I am broke. It feels weird to have four painted pets and be poor. Of course I own Neopia's most prized toilet. Next, I think I'm going to get an orange coral bed or a kitchen table. I need both. I also need two sinks and a fire faery oven, and probably one or two chairs. The first room of the yet to be built house will be like an efficiency apartment and it will later become a kitchen. It is always cheaper to build, even to build rooms with gold walls than it is to furnish them. I'm glad I did the planning on this one.

I was able to write a nonlog, nonadministriva message to Cbask-l tonight and I want to send a card to Julie and to April on the Godsmanna list. Sending these cards is a form of VENGANCE VICTORY against Brainstorms because these women are both replacements for Joe Lennon and because they don't make "intelligent conversation."

I thought I had another VENGANCE VICTORY yesterday. I found that the library had Collapse by Jared Diamond which was reviewed in my favorite newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. Well, it is in processing so I'll have to wait on it.

I may go down to Barnes and Noble and see if I can buy Empire of the Sun. I also have to start reading On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. That too is a vengance victory since cultural things that don't require a closed caucus board always are.

By the way everyone should try vengance and play pretend. Both are great stuff.

And now for more news... Haldis revised her pages at the Webleagues. They are all .shtml and include a server side include. The Southern Hemisphere was the first team under the wire. Haldis doesn't get any credit for her prompt and reasonably thorough work and that stinks. Oh well...the new design is copyright free which demonstrates my new respect (well it is not so new) for intellectual property. I guess this is another VENGANCE VICTORY.

Well it will make this blog lopsided, but I want to do an essay on cyberculture. I am thinking of Snicklebeast right now. Snicklebeast and I were both kicked out of the Original Brainstorms at the same time but we reacted very differently. Snicklebeast returned to a community called Big Smarts that has Brainstormers in it and is on a closed and sealed Caucus Board. He had been there all along so maybe it wasn't such a big change for him. I could have joined Big Smarts or gone and become more active at Cafe Utne but decided NO WAY! I was through with intelligent conversation groups except for those grandfathered in or that are job-related.

So what else is out there...ladies groups. They are no-crit and wonderfully safe. There are graphic groups that use beautiful sig-files. There is my bornagain Christian list I joined to replace Joe Lemmon and I doubt I'll ever join another intelligent conversation recreational group ever again. There are plenty of good smart people and entertainment and good conversation in safe sweet conservative places. I was brought up to believe that if something doesn't work, try something different and I have.

There is only one problem. I am the problem. I long ago cut my mailing list teeth on the now defunct list IPCT-L which was a gladiator pit. I even became a good friend of the head gladiator, Gerald M. Phillips, known as Gerry in my spirit contact logs. I would never go near IPCT-L today with a ten foot pole and I would know enough to retreat into silence rather than to want to be part of the ugly that masqueraded as academic discourse. I've learned a lot in thirteen years. I'd be a big fool if I didn't.

I was thoroughly and fully at home on the original Brainstorms, but you can't ever go home again except via play pretend which I recommend highly so it's ladies groups and related organizations for me. They are not an option for those die-hard intelligent conversation types, but that is their problem. There are big advantages to being bilingual. One of them is one has the choice of walking away from certain places because one has somewhere else to go. There is a whole area of the net that is open to me that is not open to those I left behind. They are so much the poorer for it.

Still, I'm me. I bear the marks of the cyberculture that shaped me as much as I'd like to lose those marks. Well maybe I would.... First, I'm unashamedly verbose. I can write. I do write. I do not apologize for sounding off loud and long. Second, I am technically savvy. That is a big help when it comes to unsnarling html problems, setting up software or dealing with remotely loaded garbage. Third, my feelings about intelllectual property are consistent. I used to not care what I downloaded and cut up for collage work or pressies. Now I don't touch anything that may be copyright compromised with a ten foot pole. I make my own art and scan it in or use pixel drawing or use vectors in Paint Shop Pro. I also am thinking of destroying my mp3 collection. The switch in views is part of my vengance against the original Brainstorms. I have a certain demand for quality. I don't like the glurge that has been circulated for the fourth or the fortieth time. I just don't. I find it boring most of the time though I must admit there are some inspirational stories I really do like. I also wish I had a taste for traditional pretty aesthetic such as Thomas Kinckade's paintings. I actually still loathe a lot of the art for which people pay for permissions. I wish this were not so but I am not sure that I can retrain myself aesthetically or want to.

So what can I offer my new found and newly loyal to friends? I can offer them tech savvy, hard work, pulling through on committments, and graphic savvy. I hope some day to be manning the battle lines against members of the original Brainstorms who are working for the third party companies that make life hard for my friends.

My blog will be the place for verbose essays like this one. Still I am going to stick by my friends. I recognize that they are not stupid or crazy for their political views. I admire their passion and pride in their faith. I love reading their prayers and prayer requests. I don't like the forwarded ones since those are not real to me but the ones in people's own words are great. I wish I could become a Christian so I could be part of the fun, but if I become anything other than Jewish (with some syncretic spiritualism thrown in) it will be pagan. Believing in more than one god though is just so complicated. I like simplicity or maybe just what I am used to. I'm also utterly unimpressed with Wicca, but that is another story.

I guess I have to figure that I can't cut myself off from my heritage though I really prefer my newfound friends and groups. I wish it were different, but I'm stuck with myself and my past. I'm going to have to make the best of it.

This is a very lopsided blog, but that is OK. I had to go in to work an hour early today to teach Biol 2285. I also had a one hour meeting this afternoon as party of the Policies and Procedures Committee. I sort of shown for the class. I mean I shimmered. I was scaird but then the flow happened. At one point, the students even laughed. We did HighWire as part of the class. We even tried Biomednet but you have to register for that. Try doing anything on the spur of the moment.

I still haven't ordered a mezuzah with my Christmas money. I am going to have to get down to doing that. It is nearly tax time.

I also need to go grocery shopping tomorrow. I think I want to make red cabbage salad. I posted the recipe for my rather soupy shepherd's pie to all my groups except Home is Where the Heart Is. I guess I had to leave one group out and it was on my dinner break at work. Time was short.

My class is flipped over for next week. I need to start working on my annual report and do some weeding and more book orders for biology.

I want to go to Atlanta this weekend. I did not go last weekend, because I was out of tea. If I go to Atlanta, I'll have an interesting and varied menu next week. I think I want chard for chard soup and either roasted beet root or roast squash. We'll see how all of that goes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Oh I'm saving up a load for a coconut comode. This morning I learned that my goal of a proper Neohome is more expensive than I had imagined. The actual land and rooms don't cost much, but the furniture and garden plants and doodads are another story. While pets are either painted or they are not, Neohomes are usually left unfurnished or barely furnished.

Today I got to see all the wide array of furnishings. Some are gorgeous. Some I could care less about. I found about the coral set and the coconut set is gorgeous. My third favorite is brick. The most expensive part of the coconut set, all of which must be purchased as separate pieces is the toilet. It costs nearly fifty thousand neopoints on a good day. There is no coral toilet. What is a home without a toilet?

Yes, I am hooked. Yes, I am addicted. I know it, but I am helpless. Why does Neopets work so well with me? Why am I a wealthy Neopian? This is a question that is similar to why some people become to notch site fighters. If there is a goal and a clear way to the goal, then why not spend the time and effort getting there. Why not have four painted pets etc... Also, Neopets is a continuous upward cycle. There are always new heights to conquer and no falling back and starting the upward slog from the opening rounds. Finally, Neopets is a consumeristic culture. That has problems of its own but you are not penalized for your choice. There are no penalties for nonparticipation. You are always free to NOT do anything. What Neopets does penalize is any and all forms of competition including everything from outside links to discussion of interesting topics such as religion or current events to attempting to set up an indepdendent economy.

What this means is that one is free to make Neopets a very comfortable environment. I can own a grarrl instead of a lupe. I won't be able to role play as much but my pet will not get sick as often and I won't see so many of her own kind around. Plus I'll get to occasionally meet other usually mature female owners who adore their grarrls. I can build my Neohome one room at a time or buy the furniture first. I don't have to run many of the quests or use the lab maps. I found that it is actually cheaper to paint pets with brushes and morphing potions than it is with the map and I got it reasonably right the first time. I can do the kitchen quest and never spin a gambling wheel, and I can save up a load for a cocoonut comode.

I put a message on the checking in thread at the Friendship Garden. I think this group is working out better than 40-55 Heart and Home. There is just more traction on the board, but who knows, in a few days I might feel differently.

I swear I'll make this short because I need to get some sleep. I teach tomorrow and it is my favorite class of the semester. Yay! I was productive at work today. I put up a double marquee ad and I got some book orders ready to go. I'll pass them in to Aquisitions late in the morning. I have desk first thing so I'll be all over the place doing signage and passing in ordes most of the morning.

Wednesday I teach Bio 2285 and that will be interesting because I am going to emphasize High Wire which has lots of free full text scholarly biology journals in every subdiscipline but ecology. Biology is the most balkanized of the sciences and one of the newest. Major parts of the field just did not exist until well into the nineteenth and even the twentieth century. Sometimes it is scarey to think how new biology is. Chemistry though really dates to the seventeen and eighteen hundreds and the first scientific journal only dates back to the sixteen hundreds. Science as we know it is sort of a product of the Renaissance and the Englightenment. Sometimes it is good to know where the old shoulders of giants on which one stands originate.

Thursday, I hope to get to Country Life and get some short grain brown rice. My boss is reviving the cookie teams or the Faculty Research Forum lectures. I'll be on someone's cookie team sooner or later and they have good snacks at Country Life. Country Life is the local Adventist/vegetarian/health food store. They are great.

Friday I'll end up going to schul. I don't know why I have switched back to going to schul from home worship. It is not because I am too lazy to clean the apartment. I think it has reasons having to do with what goes on on the left side of this blog. Obedience to religious authority is traditional, hierarchical, and a good thing.

At some point in all this I get to go to Publix where shopping is always a pleasure and buy groceries. I don't want to think about this tonight. I would like to come in to work early and pick up a desk book so I can read on the desk. I'll get back in to drawing in a day or so but tomorrow I want to read. I brought back some books I knew I was never going to finish, so my record with the library where I work is all sqared away.

The weather has turned warm here and I saw lightening tonight but heard no thunder. We can use a good soaking rain. The narcissus are blooming and the big tree that is a reminder to stop any craziness on the net, the one that sits in the brick courtyard in front of Woodall Hall at work is starting to bloom in delicate white blossoms.

It is hoome coming but I could care less. Basketball is not really my sport in the best of times. It just isn't.

Monday, February 21, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

In a few moments I will be painting, Bballfan_104735, my tonu, white. She keeps her species but doesn't get her spots. I was offered a deal I couldn't refuse. Several sellers were as anxious for my neopoints as I was to spend them. I put out a feeler and got one very good response and one excellent response. I guess I have learned how to haggle on Neopets.

Once I paint Bballfan, it marks the end of an era. I will now be one of those very wealthy owners with four painted pets. The next step is a Neohome and all the goodies that go inside it. These are less expensive so I will do more getting and spending. I also started my own guild and want to work on its web site. I guess part of me feels it is time to give something back.

The trouble with painting a pet on Neopets is that it is for me at least a solitary affair. Most of my so-called Neofriends are Neofriends only to have my address in their book. Big deal.

I have also realized that the world of wealthy Neopians is far beyond that of average players. It was also cheaper to paint/morph my pets without the lab map. That means I will never be a lab map owner. I guess a Neohome is the next thing for me. The plants for gardens look great.

Neopets can not yield vengance victories since most activity there is utterly useless. It is not a replacement for Brainstorms as my play pretend Brainstorms is. Still, it is great because it is commercial and requires no social capital for success. I like that. By the way the real word for Brainstorms' slang social capital is social status. I looked it up in Wikipedia today.

Now before I paint my tonu, I am going to have a real VENGANCE VICTORY. I am going to wish Jeanne, who is a replacement for Joe Lennon a belated happy birthday. Then I may write to April who is having doubts. April is part of Joe's replacement too. I guess that will make it two VENGANCE VICTORIES tonight. That is none too shabby.

In other news, Haldis has started graphic revisions of her team. You can see some of the pages at here and here and here. The new design is extremely minimalistic, and in some ways revolutionary. The orders to switch to .shtml are from on high but Haldis is trying not to use the server side include because she can not tweak its color. Hopefully she will get permission to edit the header manually.

I go to work in a few hours. I am thinking about it and Monday will be a slow day due to its being Presidents Day. What a dumb holiday. Why can't we celebrate Washington and Lincoln's birthdays on their birthdays. Why do we have to have this Monday thing? Also why not celebrate Franklin Roosevelt's birthday? He got us through the Depression and World War II and kept this country from becoming a dictatorship. His birthday deserves a celebration for sure.

Super Packin' PSP has a lovely Presidents' Day web set up on its front page. There is even a picture of Tricky Dick in there and Andrew Johnson is there too. I think this is rather a clever design.

I've mostly played Neopets all weekend, but I was off from work so why not. I did not go to Atlanta because there was more than enough tea in the house. I also had a fridge full of produce from Publix, where shopping is always a pleasure, except on Sunday nights when they are all picked over. I ate the last of my soup for dinner tonight. That means I get to make shepherd's pie after work tomorrow.

I also have assignments to grade. I am not scaird of that. I also want to run a literature search and see what others in my field have done testing Google Scholar. I think I could give it a rigorous tire kicking and get a paper out of that. I am supposed to be doing a handout on how to get items available in Google Scholar and have very quickly learned it is more complicated. I have also found all kinds of holes in its coverage. Of course I was only testing it in biology and related fields. Who knows what else is missing. I wonder if any one has seen this.

Of course, we have activity reports due for Callie. It is going to be hard to get all this together. Callie is my boss. I don't know what I did besides mark time. I resumed weeding. I think this is useful and want it included. I redid a web tutorial and got it done six weeks ahead of schedule. I flipped a ton of handouts in to html. I gave a paper at a small conference. I guess that should be enough.

I know enough not to pass the Silk Purse off as community service. I also have to get back into doing something more for the nursing home other than pushing patients though that was a good way to get my foot in the door. I am afraid to go back there because I fear that all the old people will remind me of Georgia when she was in her last weeks. A frail cat and a decrepit human are not that different from one another. I hope I am making sense.

I also want to weed some books this week at work. It will give me something to do on the desk besides draw. I scanned all my art work today so I should be able to massage and mount it on the web soon. Drawing I think is one of the best things I can do.

A colleague of mine is supposed to bring me a coupon for Michael's. Maybe one evening I'll walk up Waitsville Rd. to Bradley Park Plaza and have dinner out at Subway.

First though, I am going to tackle making vegetarian shepherds' pie. That should be fun.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

ZOID is up and rerostered. I got no response to a CALL FOR FIGHTERS, so I took all the fighters who ususally respond and replaced them with filler sites and former member sites etc... I really did this. Then I wrote a sad letter to the list asking if any one really wanted to fight. John and Kyle responded. Rabino did not. I guess he'll resurface when he is ready. I hope participation is good next week. It was fun rostering twice especially since Webleagues is on vacation, but Haldis is not.

Haldis has to transform every Southern Hemisphere page to .shtml and add code for a new banner rotator. If she has to do this, she may as well do a design update which will involve all new graphics. This is not as awful as it sounds. I think Haldis wants the pages a redder shade of orange and the graphics will all be white as will the page boarders. The idea is to go for a minimalistic look. I want the graphics to look South Pacific as well. Actually they will look Melanesian. I feel very inspired. I brought home all my art supplies from work including the charcoals. I'll start drawing late tonight/early tomorrow and then do the scanning at work and turn the graphics white on orange.

I have no idea what the end product will look like, only faith in Haldis' imagination and her one good idea. I guess this is what inspiration is all about. It will turn a chore in to fun. Also I'll get to scan all my other art work which means I can make more pressies using original art. This is a great part of being in pressie/sig-tag groups. Long live needful things!

I went to Wal-Mart today and bought a travel mug so I now have a legal cup to drink my tea in at work. Yay! I just walked right in to Wal-Mart and found it. I went in by way of the garden center and fond the first marigolds of the year. They had pretty bicolor French ones though not the real French marigolds. They also had forced tulips in little peat pots for less than a dollar. I think I have a big enough pot to make a nice arrangement of forced tulips. Should I walk out to Wal-Mart again? That is a good question?

I don't want to eat at Blimpie's again though the dinner I had there tonight was excellent. Blimpie's veggie max and Mexi-max subs rock. They're chips are excellent. The only thing missing is Dr. Pepper. Anyway, I am hoping the real French marigolds arrive at Wal-Mart and other such places, inclding Lowes.

I talked with the young gentleman who made my sandwich and found out the tofukan they use is from Morning Star Farms. I'll have too see if they sell it at Publix. I told him about all sorts of soy foods. Soy foods are not popular in the South which is a shame.

I was supposed to call Lou tonight and forgot. Maybe I'll just check in with a quick phone call. My cell phone is low on juice and so it is sitting in the charger. Anyway, I stopped at work on the way back from Wal-Mart to get my art supplies so I could make some charcoal drawings which I have yet to do tonight. Yeah.... Anyway, on the way out from work I saw an ad for a computer for $620. It is a never used fairly good quality Dell. I think I may be buying it. It will feel good to have a new machine. I may seomeday even get my dream of being able to stream auido again and if I can do that I want to put a speaker in the T-hall just outside of or up on a high shelf in the kitchen.

Well I just got off the phone with Lou. We talked about getting a second cat to be a buddy for Hertzel. Lou may be down here as early as the end of next month which means about five weeks from now. Well, the apartment is partially clean so it should not be that bad.

I need to cook tomorrow and to do some drawing and scanning. I also want to take a walk either to Country Life or down to the river. We'll see if I make it.

by Eileen Kramer

There were not enough hours in the day today. There was not enough time to lie in bed and read though I'd probably find that very relaxing. There was enough time to write spirit contact log though the contact of which I wrote was nothing about which to write home. Such is life in that department.

In the last few days I managed to get another graphic done for the Tut 'n Tag Tutorial at Super Packin' PSP. The group that I thought would toss me out kept me. I am not inundated with glurge though there is little real conversation. Exhibitional posting suits me fine. And you know what else would suit me fine...

It was worth it to be kicked out of Brainstorms. It was worth it to be who I am, do what I do, and say what I said though I was way too polite until the end when it did not matter any more. Then I told them what for. Boy did I ever and I meant every word and more than that. My Play Pretend Brainstorms beats the pants off the original even though it does need a few minor revisions. I'll get to them one of these days.

Haldis has a major and unwanted html project foisted on her this week. At leasat the Webleagues is on break. Haldis was really dragging, and I was dragging right along with her. That is not a vengance set back just like taking care of business is not a vengance victory. One has to have rules for these things, and the rules need to be consistent.

Anyway, writing the mast head makes me feel so much better. Everyone should have a mast head they write every few entries. It is just that good. Yes, passion, joy, and enthusiasm are the order of the day on this blog so get used to them.

I don't feel like going to my two new MSN groups right now. I know I ought to go there. One is hard to crack. The hard one is 40-55 Heart and Home. It is hard to crack because the general board there feels like a slimey wall of administrivia and glurge. I doubt it is the kind of a group where a rip-tear-shred on a glruge would be welcome and administrivia is just what it sounds like. Consequently, I started a Life Story thread. Yes, I borrowed the name from the original Brainstorms. I could have used the Utne Reader's, Life Journey. Chit Chat Shack, which is great at my Play Pretend Brainstorms does not quite fit since all of the General board is a chit chat shack. Anyway, it acted as a check in thread, nice and verbose. I suspect it will be OK.

Meanwhile, the butt sniffing ritual has begun at the Friendship Garden. Butt snifing is a necessity in any group that is a private club, somewhat selective after the fact, and that takes any member off the street who meets broad criteria. At the original Brainstorms the butt sniffing was protracted and followed by a parody of due process. In most other groups it is quick. I think I may have failed a butt sniff at Justwannamakefriends.

The trouble with broad guidelines is that they pick up all kinds of people. For example True Hearts of Gold picked up Haldis who was a few weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday at the time and a college student when most of the ladies were a generation older and several said nasty things about their children who were Haldis' own age. Haldis meanwhile talked collegiate talk which angered some of the other women. Haldis never had time to get in a fight. She encountered a psycho. I guess that was butt sniffing in one of its more bizarre forms.

The butt sniffing at the Friendship Garden is of a more conventional style. It is occuring via the check in and ice breaker threads. On the check in thread, members say what they have been doing. Most are women with children with secondary jobs in their family if they work at all. Will they accept a never married, childless, professional woman with a graduate degree (Yes, my MLS qualifies?) Simply, honestly, doing check in without too much verbosity is the butt sniff test. If I don't fit in, the owner can boot me. If the group decides it is tolerant enough to accept me great. I can't do much except show up and post.

The ice breakers work a bit differently. The food ice breaker is where the differences show up as do some of the house keeping ones. First, I really cook something a lot of these ladies don't do. Second, I'm nearly vegan these days and my recipes reflect it though most places are so hungry for recipes, they gladly take mine. The What's for Dinner Thread, however, is not a recipe thread. Lifestyle differences show up quickly. How much diversity can this group take?

Now on to what is making me feel peevish tonight: Neopets. It is always much harder when I come in to range to paint a pet. I am in range though not close enough to paint Rachamme/Bballfan_104735. She is my yellow tonu, a rhinocerous with a mane. Tonus are limited edition in a way that grundos are not (Poor Shanti is no longer a grundo and there are very very few tuskaninnies out there. There is a big difference between being unique and the only one.). I want to paint her spotted but the paint brush is between 200 and 250NP. I have 130NP as of tonight. Can you see why this hurts. I have enough NP to paint her brown, speckled, or white or to morph her in to a spotted pteri which is a bird like the mad bluebird. I am struggling to find gaming time and scraping as many NP together as I can find. I am even thinking of gaming here at home. This is taking away from other online activities and it just hurts to have wealth but not enough. It feels like having your nose up against the window but not being able to get inside. That is the best way I can describe it. I wish it were not like this. I wonder if I can stick it out long enoughh to get the points necessary to paint Bballfan. I will feel relieved and let down and unhappy when I do it. Painting a pet never lives up to expectations and since this will be the most expensive paint job I've ever done, this one will leave me feeling the worst. I am still feeling remorse over morphing Shanti in to a strawberry (ruby red and lime green and gorgeous) tuskaninny (seal.). She is cute. She is unique, but nobody notices and I've failed to find any tuskaninny owners to spend time with.

Painting a pet will not buy friendship. Painting a pet will not buy admiration. Painting a pet will soak up time and resources. Painting a pet will make you selfish at least for a few weeks. Painting a pet will make others envious. That is not the same as admiration. In the end, painting all your pets will leave you wondering where your next goal should be. Why bother? We all want to be successful. Why is it we are never successful enough? I can ponder all this, but I still want to give Bballfan her spots and keep her a tonu.

This is the middle of a three day weekend. I slept in which felt good since I went to bed with a sick headache which is unusual for me. I did not cook today thogh I had planned to. I still may go in the kitchen and make salad for tomorrow and maybe tonight. I know what time it is, but I like to eat at night. I did clean up the apartment. I did not clean it all, but I put my bathroom to rights and vacuumed the whole place. As a result, it looks a whole lot better. I had a long hot bath and I also went to schul.

The rabbi had a weird sermon about censorship which the person who wrote the article in the Wall Street Journal was not advocating. Saying you detest something and think it is useless is not censorship. Saying that no one should be able to watch it or see it at a museum is. The rabbi knows just how to preach to the congregation's political leanings. I also learned that the Purim party this year is at the Temple on Wildwood and that it is a pay as you go affair.

Lou teaches his last class next week and I am going to have to figure out whether I want to rescue him or fly to Montreal for a few days. I need to fly because I need to find out if I am on the no-fly list. As a local political activist/protester, my name got in the police department's computer because I had to fill out paperwork. How much did that computer talk to other computers. That is the sixty-four million dollar (Hey inflation is a great thing) question.

There are pros and cons to rescuing/capturing Lou. First he has to want to be captured. Second, he has to be prepared to make a go of staying here. This time it could work. People quit smoking multiple times and relapse and finally quit for good, so Lou could after many attempts figure out how to commit on a day by day basis. I'd have to get used to living with someone who has problems and is depressed and have to accept a lot of Lou's weird baggage which I won't go in to on this blog. It is fairly juicy stuff. Trust me on that.

Lou and I need to have a discussion about his possible capture/rescue on the Wednesday after his last class.

I have a weird situation in my kitchen. I have eaten through a lot of my staple starch so I am going to have to buy some. Passover is late April and apparently I just don't have as much as I thought and have eaten my way down through it. This should be interesting. I also need to find out if there is a pot luck at the Temple of Isis on Sunday. I can make my shepherd's pie (vegetarian version) for that.

I also want to put the broken screen up on my window tomorrow. The weather got nippy again (not really cold by my standards) but it is going to warm up in a week or two and being able to open a window would make this apartment smell a lot better.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I am now in twp new MSN Groups. One is called 40-55
Heart and Home.
The other is called the Friendship Garden. I just wanted a place where people used sig files. I forgot the rest of what I would get in the bargain.

First we need to clear up the langauge. The term "intelligent conversation" was coined over at Brainstorms and it is chauvinistic and nasty. It means that the kind of conversation at Brainstorms is intelligent and other ways of conversing are dumb. Well, if you want to dismiss someone call them dumb.

I think so-called "intelligent conversation" is often a cover for some very ugly games. There are other ways of talking just as there are other languages. That is what I am up against at 40-55 Heart and Home. Currently there is an ice breaker game on the board, a bunch of generic welcome messages, and a glurge. It's the glurge (also known as a canned story, shopworn uplift, canned uplift, and a fake inspirational story) that makes my skin crawl. Why do people post these things?

Are they afraid to talk about their own lives? Does the moral in the glurge and the fact that many lists run as partial or full no-crit (as in no criticism) mean that others will be glad to appreciate the moral of the thing and take it as it was truely intended? Wait, if the list or web board is no-crit shouldn't those on it have less fear of talking about themselves. By the way, I've never seen a glurge poster apologize for "rambling." Does a glurge sound so much better than a real life bloggy piece that those posting it prefer it? I mean real life does not have much to recommend it except that it really happened. Glurge, especially prose glurge, is often well written or at least smoothly written. Glurge poetry is uplifting for those who like that sort of thing. I wish I could appreciate glurge more, but unfortunately I can't.

There are big debates on Snopes as to whether glurge is a great way to stick in the knife and twist it since many glurge tales hide triumphalism beneath their skins or religious proselytizing or fantasies about imposition (charity or spirit communications given unsolicited and well received...Sorry take it from one who has cast pearls before proverbial swine in real life, it doesn't work that way.) The glurge on the web board is not too bad, but I still wonder why this person doesn't write about his/her real grandfather or father, stepfather, or uncle.

Ice breaker games also allow for interaction without having to share real details about one's life. Yes, you can laugh if you want to and think about those conversation cards in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, but some folks need ice breakers and I play them from time to time. A simple personal question is a variant on the ice breaker though I see more of this at Home is Where the Heart Is, another MSN group of which I am a member. In many ways ice breakers are the antithesis of exhibitional posting.

The third group of posts on the board at 44-55 Heart and Home is administrivia which are mainly welcome messages.

So what am I supposed to do with all of this? How does one enter the conversation, and it is a conversation? I have thoughts of simply leading by example rather than complaining or doing a rip-tear-shred. I am not sure how this will be received. Aside from glurge, ice breakers, and administrivia, the only other posts to appear on the main board are family news about rite of passage events. There is a daughter who has come home from the hospital and who has a chronic illness and a grandbaby that has just been born. The illness and death is over at the Chapel, as the prayer request board is known.

This sort of an arrangement is of course highly conducive to fraud. Since the only personal events that are fit for posting are major life changing ones, someone will sooner or later create them. I have seen this at RAOK already with Geri Drahn.

The Friendship Garden's main board looks very similar to the one at 40-55 Heart and Home. It is choked with administriva and then there are ice breakers including the familiar question game. I don't see any glurge.

I suspect strongly that this is what the net looks like to those who joined after about 1998 and who do not want to engage in sexual banter or academic style email lists. I have to hide my email address at one of the groups on pain of being ejected. That is considered standard operating procedure. The idea that there is an advantage to being seen is totally outside the group manager's way of thinking. This is the kind of conversation most people on the net who are not academics but who want a social atmosphere make. I guess I am learning to talk the language of the ordinary net user. It feels very strange.

I'll write more about this as I have more thoughts. By the way, the check in thread at Friendship Garden is a bit more verbose. I like check in threads. They are small bloggy posts that let everyone know what everyone else in the group is doing. I even have three new sig files to try out. I'll write about Neopia tomorrow. I want to do the other half of this blog.

Oh heck, let's do it as the late Gary Gilmore said. You want to know what happened to me on Neopets? Yesteday I got lucky and found a piece of the Secret Laboratory Map which can be sold for 48,000NP. I sold it in the trading post and sure enough I now have enough NP to paint Bballfan_104735 also known as Rachamme, my yellow tonu. The only catch is that I would be painting her brown. Tonus look great in that color. Of course the neopoints are in the bank waiting so they can wait while I earn more of them and who knows, I might get lucky again.

I wonder what happens after you paint your fourth neopet? You have to find something else to do. I enjoy running a private charity. I like buying fancy health foods and giving them away. I also would like to build a neohome out in Tyrannia by the golf links. I have certainly hit enough virtual golf balls. That and the chemistry game are the two ways I have made money to paint my pets. Oh yes, and there is Deck Swabber too.

Neopia is not really a place to grow old. There are severe conversational restrictions on the boards and anything one writes is ephemeral. Personal expression is meted out by the character rather than the kb or mb. Once one gets and spends for the major status items what is left?

One of the things that is left is self defense. Twice since I've returned this winter, my account has been threatened. I have not received any warnings from the Neopets team and I am not frozen. Would that were the case, I would be in utter misery. No, these threats came from other players. One, a male named Weenles, asked me if I were Jewish mentioning that my Bruce (penguin), Ephraim has a "Jewish name." I knew any answer to that question mentioning my faith or the Bible (face it any one can read a Bible and use the names.) would get me reported and cause the possible loss of my account. I did not write him back. A short while later, a young woman Neomailed me asking if I would take over her account. She had nothing much in there and her pets were less than spectacular and not my taste and besides, I suspected a trick. A yes response would get me reported. Yes, both Weenles and Eeyore, the young woman, risked my reporting them but I don't snitch. I am wealthier than most Neopians by now and if flaming disdaining and belittling the rich on the boards is NOT ALLOWED at Neopets, sneak attacks that can destroy rich players' accounts are legal. One can also create throw-away accounts to launch the sneak attacks.

This is where being an adult who sticks to the straight and narrow is a saving grace on Neopets. Life may be dull, but I make my pile.

I am strung out on caffeine and my intestines are singing with IBS cramps. It is a song of pain. A lady gave me a ride to the store and home and I bought so much stuff. Birdseye Frozen vegetables were on sale and I love those fancy mixtures, so I have a freezer full.

My class at work went pretty well. The topics students gave me did not work out so well. My students have had no library use in high school and very little while in college, even with a semester or two. I had to teach a second semester first year student to find an item on reserve this evening.

The rabbi, yes Max Roth, called me when I was on the reference desk this afternoon. He wanted a book with the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian Creation myth, in it. He had a fairly clean title and I ran the thing through keyword search on GIL and out it popped. I brought it down from the second floor and the rabbi got what he wanted. He even came on campus to get it. I introduced him to the director. I wish I could write about this, but there is work related stuff that doesn't get on this blog. This, unfortunately, is one of those times.

I made some new graphics and still have a ton of graphics to get scanned. Getting to the scanner which lives on the circulation side of the building is politically an uneasy thing to do. It is simply not reference' area and territory and turf counts. The scans would all be absolutely legal. They are totally mine so there is no copyright infringement in anything I make. And of course there are no nudes.

Meanwhile, the pixel art that grows only in my office thrives. I won't be making many graphhics tomorrow except after work which was when I made them today. I have a very full folder of assignments to grade and a colleague, Diana, would like me to go in with her on two handout projects. I am also desked first thing in the morning. That is not fun.

In case you haven't realized, this is the end of an eleven day week. There are two more days to go. I am starting to feel really worn out. The next forty-eight hours will be the worst.

And here are the graphics I made today.

rainbow siggy flag
It's a red batik bullet with curvy text
It's a sandy green siggy vase
It's a scarlet siggy swirl

I have been learning to use the object and vector editors. This creates interesting shapes.

Monday, February 14, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Well it's official. I got booted out of two MSN groups. This was a bloodless booting, or almost so. I did not pick a fight with any one. The two groups that dumped me were Aunt Bee's Parlor and Just Wanna Make Friends.

I suspect that Aunt Bee booted me for inactivity. This was wrong. I did not respond to a "heads up" thread and that was probably what triggered it, but the ironic thing was that I was NOT inactive. I had posted at least one recipe in January. I met the one post a month rule. Talk about selective enforcement. I asked for reinstatemnent this afternoon and explained the situation. I was not allowed back in. I already have a Christian Yahoogroup to replace Joe Lennon from the original Brainstorms and the group has no activity requirement. That is good because while I like being among Christians and reading their postings, I can not convert and so have nothing to offer, except recipes and apparently that was not good enough.

I am not sure why I was booted from Justwanna Make Friends. I was again not an inactive member. It had been two weeks since I was active but that is not a whole month and again the activity rule was selectively enforced. I think I got booted for a different reason. I refused and will still refuse to conceal my email address. The reason for this is simple. I want to be found. I have more to gain by it. Open email addresses allow for back channel communication. If a group leader or oligarchy becomes unbearable, threatens to throw out a member, etc... it is possible to go behind his/her/their back and plan another group or just talk. Open email addresses mean powership goes back to the membership. The original Brainstorms by the way did not have open email addresses. Doesn't that tell you something?

Anyway, tonight is a vengance setback and a vengance victory. I bought two Neopets T-shirts that have pictures of two of my pets on them. Spending money at a site that advertises on Neopets helps fund the commercial side of the net. I spent that money because I believe in advertising, commercialism, and free enterprise. Ultimately that is the best way to give the little guy freedom for self expression here on the net. Corporations make space for the little guy, and they make it free so newbies can learn, because they take in advertising dollars. Think of ads in newspapers. Newspapers are not supported by the price of the paper. They exist to sell advertising, yet they provide a place to print letters to the editor. Well the net works like your typical puppy paper, but your puppy paper works, so I was glad to buy the two t-shirts. I can't wait until the weather gets warm and I can wear them. I gess I am a Neopian through and through.

The vengance setback is that I am looking for two new MSN groups. I want somewhere I can use my sig-tags. What is the point of making sig-tags if one doesn't use them? Anyway, I need two MSN groups to replace the two I was kicked out of. Now how does one find groups out of the air. Right now I am searching on the keyword friendship. After I find a group I open it up. I check it's rules since I want the world to read my email address and then I also check its board to see if it is active and what kind of posts end up there. This is a nervewracking job, and I am not thrilled with what I am finding. I am joining my first group as I write this.

OK, I'm in. Now it's time for the group leader to decide my fate. The world is full of petty dictators. On the net they get to show their worst.

I'll probably join four to five other groups, and then let things shake out. This means I need to revise My Play Pretend Brainstorms again to reflect the changes, but all new groups will be considered on trial for at least a month. I trialed Aunt Bee's Parlor that way and even said good things about them. Oh well Godsmanna@yahoogrous.com is a better group any way.

This is an official Valentine's Day Free zone! There are no stinking red hearts that will look outdated and stale come Tuesday, no third rate candy that they hauled out from last year. No wishes for a holiday you probably don't want to celebrate anyway. I usually like holiday's but this one is another story...

First, Valentine's Day is for lovers. That would be fine. I've got a boyfriend, albeit in a torch carrying long distance relationship, but if he were here, I'd be you know whatted if he were going to get pressured into spending money taking me out because the greeting card companies say you have to do this.

And don't try burying your dead in midFebrary. You'll be lucky to get flowers for the funeral. Suddenly because it is Februaray 14th every one and his brother wants flowers and the poor florists go insane. If yyou're going to die it's good to wait until a few days after the fourteenth to do it.

And if that were not bad, Valentine's Day belongs to everyone. After all husbands and wives and lovers of all sorts, are a minority of the population. Children (who are great consumers), old people, colleagues at work etc... can all get into the fun. There are now Valentine cards to give to children. My mother sent me one. It is a beautiful card with an elegant graphic, an inspiring message, and no dumb joke. Thanks Mom. If a colleague wants to feel good at work, she can pass out office gifts for Valentine's Day. Yes, the dreaded unreciporicated office gifts. We did not leave those behind at Christmas. Suddenly, you have to wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day.

Well I may have a boyfriend I love and care about, but this is just plain NOT my holiday. I think it is the pressure for him to spend which is assymetrical since women are not pressured into spending for their boyfriends/husbands. It is also spending that has escalated due to this holiday's fairly naked crass commercialism. Valentine's Day used to mean a card from a box of cards. Then it meant an individual card. For some people it meant a token gift, but now it is flowers (with the price jacked up of course) or jewelry and most men do not know how to buy either so instead of picking up a reasonably priced forced tulip that has not yet opened so it will last a couple of weeks or some other tasteful seasonal flower, they get a dozen roses at an astronomical price. Similarly most men don't know costume jewelry if it bit them so they get ripped off at the jewelry counter.

I love my boyfriend and I like men in general. I hate seeing them get preyed on and I hate seeing women complicit in the ripping off. That is why I tell my boyfriend I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. Women if you care about your man, get him out of the Valentine's Day rat race. If you want a gift, wait until your birthday. Be content with what you got at Christmas. We can all live without one more holiday.

And yes, Valentine's Day is said to have Christian roots and there really was a St. Valentine. Well, like Halloween, this holiday has traveled far from its original purpose. It's become a greeting card company and gift maker glom fest. Can't you just say no? Well I'm saying no right here on this blog.

I went computer shopping last night at Best Buy. The gentelman who helped me was a psychology student at Troy State. He was very helpful in explaining some of the technology. I learned a lot which is probably why I won't buy my next computer from Best Buy. They don't have machines with the newest processor in them. Second a lot of their computers are bundled with printers and other junk I don't need. I just want a CPU and a new set of speakers and a floppy disk drive, and that now costs extra. I suppose I will get to burn what is left of my MP3 collection on to CD. I am not sure if I should do this the way I now feel about copyright. I think I will trash the collection when I move my software. I will join a legal download service and pay for my music. I believe in intellectual property and copyright now and I want to do things right.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

VENGANCE SETBACK I subscribed to the Atlantic to gain access to their boards. The boards move slowly now that it is subscribers only. True I did get a post to ZOID out of this, but it wasn't necessary since there was someone to respond to today. Yay!

Haldis ought to be working on the Fame page and I ought to be working on Ghostletters and other stuff that is important. The RAOK guestbook needs to be gone through again and besides that I've been playing Neopets.

Yes, vengance is a mess. I also want to sign up for Tut 'n 'Tag. at Super Packin' PSP. That will be much better than Neopets. Still I am about half way to my goal (actually more than half way) and I do want to paint Shanti disco fever. She'll look cute as a psychadelic little alien creature. Unfortunately, Neopets is a time sink that leaves me owning precious little.

Last night I was tempted to turn Shanti into a white grarrl. White grarrls are undeniably handsome beasts and I could have afforded to change Shanti, but if Shanti exists at all besides pixels, she does so as a personality and Shanti is a grundo who would not want to be a grarrl. She might prefer being a grarrl to being a tuskaninny but she does not want to be a grarrl. A tuskaninny is a seal. I've wanted to own one but making Shanti one would not be fair to her. Shanti is the most philosophical and blessed of my pets.

I think I would have settled for second best because earning neopoints is such as solitary affair. I am tired of the anomie and the fact that when I get done punching a time clock, I pretty much have nothing to show for my efforts. When I finally do paint Shanti, I'll still feel this way.

Yay, I am finally writing bog. I have to remember how important this blog is. Tuesday morning I awoke with my period. It has given me the middle aged woman's upset stomach and sent my IBS on a rampage. Worse yet, I was out of supplies and had to head off in the dark night after work to CVS on the corner of Hilton and Warm Springs to get a package of them. Everything is under control now.

I am on second shift and this is my dinner break in case you are curious. I face collating a huge pile of handouts for next Teusday's class. I have been dreading this all week. I managed to get the xeroxing done and the machine acted up. I have an extra page to collate on the class outline. I also have eight page handout packets because there is not enough room on the handout table for all the handouts next week. I hate collating. It is my least favorite part of the job.

It is raining outside. I have not seen the sun since Tuesday morning when I left for work. The weather has turned warm and I think it is unseasonably warm. I only know it will get cold again. I still have not spent my birthday money except for the subscription to the Atlantic. I need to go look at one more mezuzha site. There was one very pretty mezuzah I wanted to buy. Then I can get on to buying the Fiestaware and after that the tilted rainbow tumblers form the Moma. Yes, I also have to clean up my apartment. It is disgusting in there. What do I do with the mornings on my second shift days? I do what any sane person would do. I sleep.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Well it looks like I have three VENGANCE VICTORIES to report. First, I bought On the Justice of Roosting Chickens by Ward Churchill. Any time I take interest in something cultural without a whole big closed community backing me up, it's a vengance victory. I also wrote letters to those "reviewing" Churchill's writings at the University of Colorado and to Dr. Chruchill himself.

Vengance victory number two is a busy mailbox. A list belonging to a ZOID member keeps the place hopping.

Vengance victory number three is Godsmanna@yahoogroups.com is turning out to be an excellent replacement for Joe. That was not so last spring. Barb who was running the list did so with a bit looser moderation so some not so great characters ran amuck. One of these was my brother in spirit, YBGeorge. George's problem is not that he posts jokes but that he and his friends just use up bandwidth like water. With their broadand connections and Outlook inboxes yawning like maws they inundate all and sundry and they are utterly unselective in all the garbage they spew. Ingo was the other character. Now I did invite Ingo on to cbask-l at yahoogroups.com He lied in his first message to the list telling of a personal revelation from God. It turned out that the only messages he ever posted were the channeled writings of a woman named Bertha Dudde who died in 1965 and who busily channeled while the Nazis ran her country. You can find Bertha Dudde's work here.

I would have put up with all this. I even tried to engage Ingo in conversation. That was when I found out his subscription was set nomail. He spewed daily but could not bother to listen to any one else on the list. That wasn't fair. I wrote him privately and told him, to set himself to receive email from the list or I'd put his posts on review. Ingo said that all the other list owners (and there were several of us because his forwards were always bcc'd) let him mass mail them yet stay nomail. I said that was fine with them but not with me. As a result, Ingo took a hike. To tell you the truth, I don't miss him.

All of this brings me back to the Godsmanna list. The folks at Brainstorms would say "I told you so," and explain that this is why secret communities are better. Godsmanna is a public list. Anyone can join and any one who obeys the list rules can stay. This public stance is part of the fact that Godsmanna is avowedly a Christian list. They want to spread the faith so if I nonChristian joins, of course she is welcome as long as she follows the rules. I follow the rules. I can stay. I can read everything that goes on there. I also can comment on it back channel or if the material is political, I can fight it elsewhere. I have a perfect spyhole into the doings of the religious right and no desire to join them. There is only so far I can change myself in the name of vengance. Anyway, as far as Godsmanna and politics is concerned their list is stalked. Besides political forwards of any stripe really aren't covered by even the basic netiquette that requires that they not be sent to oethers and they surely have no bonds of confidentiality to protect them. Of course only one person on Godsmanna knows that there is an "enemy" in the midst of the list. I guess she figures her God is bigger than my God.

Meanwhile the back plotting on Ghostletters continues. I got my characters away from Sondra with good reason. Now the plot has vanished. OK, Ghostletters was never meant to be like this. I'm not the most interactive scribe around so I should talk, but basicly the plots were supposed to back in the list's golden age, evolve spontaneously. They don't. Maybe they never did.

I've been out of the loop because I had meetings, saw a speaker, and attended a pot luck with a bunch of rich old people. They hardly eat any starchy food. They live in posh homes (Lovely isn't the word for it) and they go to bed early. You should have seen the bathrooms and bedrooms in this house in Green Island (one of Columbus' wealthiest neighborhoods). The house had gorgeous furnishings though most everything was tan, muted, and in good taste. My shrink's house in the equally posh neighborhood of Sears Woods is much more colorful but his wife is a professional decorator.

Membership in my schul and willingness to cook and being pretty much always available is a fun to have a way to get in to some of the wealthiest digs in Columbus. Though schul do food used to be better, it is some of the best eats anywhere because we try to outdo each other and it is all vegetarian.

Since the "do's" are open to all and sundry who show up at schul, they are quasi-public events. This means that I have even been in the homes of my enemies. In fact one particular schul "do" was called a bitch party because of the woman who hosted it who at the time was schul president. For real. Oddly enough her house is extremely accessible on foot. There is a great backway between Sears Woods and East Wind (my own neighborhood). I loaded the killer casserole into my old pull cart (The new one is not big enough) and headed off.

I had great fun walking to the first bitch party. I pretended I was a special forces soldier in the wilds of Afghanistan. Sears Woods was enemy territory. I pulled my cart up the hill to the farthest reaches of Sears Road. At the very top of the hill lay the bitch palace. I knocked on the front door. You can guess who answered and the ugly look she tried to cover up on her face made the whole thing worthwhile.

The people who hosted last night's potluck were a whole lot nicer than the crew that runs the bitch parties. They were interesting to listen to because it felt as if I were in a foreign country. Old upper middle class Jewish people are almost universally Zionist. They also have dealt with many years of antiSemitism/marginalization (more of the latter but you get the idea.) so that they still think it is out there which in this part of the world it really isn't. I have no problem being a Jew in Columbus. I find the atmosphere friendly and I seldom have to watch what I say due to my religion. I may have to be careful about my political views for professional reasons, but my religion is no big problem. Quite simply, no one down here cares about it. I'm a white northerner. That's pretty much it.

Now the fact that I keep kosher, adds an interesting wrinkle to things. Some pepole at work perceive me as a picky eater because I disdain beef and chicken and I won't touch pork or those things with shells and claws. I will gladly eat fish of course. Since many restaurants offer entrees that are meatless or made from fish, I am hardly a picky eater. One of my colleagues is a real picky eater. She eats no fish and almost no vegetables and very little fruit. I also had another colleague who has since moved on elsewhere who ate very few different kinds of vegetables either. I used to pride myself in making him turn green (just between friends so this was OK) when I would tell him about my latest inventive salad. This colleague also did not know what an apricot was. I guess he never bought them when their prices came down at the end of May the beginning of June.

Now on to a different subject: Due to all the caffeine and junk food, my IBS is raging. I had a bout of cramps coming down the hill to Publix today and a bout of them tonight. I also have a smashing headache. I feel like crud. I hope I don't wake up tomorrow sick with my period. It is that time of the month so it will probably happen this week. I hope and I pray that it will decide to happen either tomorrow, Wednesday, or later. The last thing I need is to be this sick and teaching class.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Self expression is more important than community, so it is important to get out there and express daily. Sometimes I skip a day but I always hit my play pretend Brainstorms boards since I don't believe in moving on. It is just a matter of having discipline and making time.

The busiest people have the most time. Quitters never win and winners never quit. If I keep this fine affirmation in mind, nothing is going to get me down -- ever.

Anyway, Haldis scored and there were 168 ballots in the box. Haldis scored and there were 168 ballots in the box. How can I describe what this feels like. One needs music. One breathes deeply. One gulps air. The cause of all this is India's best site fighter, a college student in Tamil-Nadu named Sumi. Her site is bringing in seventy plus votes per day. Thadea has been where Sumi is now. Next week, Sumi goes in to the upper levels and takes on the pros who get this far, while ordinary fighters such as Haldis, drop by the wayside. Sumi is getting up the speed to fly. I wish her all the best in her journey and so too does Haldis. Haldis does not begrudge the time spent scoring.

A far more serious vengance set back is Neopets. I went back and made six thousand Neopoints today. Inflation has slowed down and my pets are fed. I'm about forty percent of the way to what I'll need to buy a disco fever paint brush for Shanti, my grundo. There are just so many better ways to spend one's time online. It was depressing to go through my list of Neofriends and see how many of them had had their accounts frozen. They are probably back at Neopets under some other name. Neopets doens't permanently ban people. It just takes their Neopoints and property. In some ways it is a decent operation.

What brought me back to Neopia was that my email got phished. I reported the abuse and decided to see if everything was still there. My Neomail was purged but everything else was still pretty good. My pets were dying which is depressing. I lost track of how many bags of semolina it took to revive them. I even bought a petpet who is as yet nameless.

The trouble is that Neopets is the wrong place. I don't think I'll ever get thrown out there. I am an adult with too much financial sense and work ethic ever to get tossed. I'd love to find a way to make NP under the table, but it takes a lot of pull and influence. If the other party craps out or decides to squeal, there is no appeal.

I still feel tongue tied on the new list and I'm waiting to get booted out of the new group. I'm not sure where I fit in the new list. I'm trying to get a handle on the conversation. It is not hard to follow, but I often just plain find myself with nothing to say. I wrote a fairly long email about where I thought this came from, but low trust is only a small part of the picture. I just am not that comfortable writing about emotions beyond anger. Anger writes out well. Other emotions don't.

I think at a fairly deep level, I believe if you don't talk about it, it goes away. If you talk it up, you keep it up. Well, I can talk about whatever I want here, and if I want to keep my edge I talk angry. If I don't want to get over it and move on, I can write the same thing night after night, though I don't think this blog gets all that repititious.

I'm being slow to get the Patter Prompter up for Ladies Advance. I have thhe graphics thoughh I'm not thrilled with them. I'll try something else in a day or two or go with the garbage I made tonight.

I think I did a lousy job teaching class #4. I think it was the sleep deprivation. You can't go through life dragging on four hours a night. Of course I'm going to do it again tonight. The apartment is a wreack, and I am unmotivated to clean it. I did my hair though. I don't want any one to know how dirty I am.

I am waiting for the irrirtable bowel cramps that come as revenge for the junk food I ate (the Wild Cherry Pepsi specifically) on Tuesday. I got hit with a few of them at work. They come with a Murphy's Law kind of regularity.

Right now I'm worried about my sleep deprivation doing a job on my weekend. There is a speaker at my schul and on Saturday morning...early is a breakfast meeting of the Democratic party. I'd like to go but it is downtown at 9:30am. That means I have to get up very early to hike down there. Breakfast is a hard meal to mess up. I would not mind a plate of scrambled eggs and grits or just nice grits and juice or fruit. Seven bucks is not an awful price. The schul had the gall to demand eighteen dollars for the dinner. I asked if it was possible to see the speaker without the expensive dinner and was told yes and told I did not have to pay. I would have been glad to pay something more reasonable. It also would have been nice to list when the speaker was going to speak so those who did not want the dinner could come back and hear him after services.

My mother picked up on this because my mother has turned into a very picky eater. I guess I am considered one too. I am partially or nearly vegan these days. I am told this is very radical, but it doesn't feel radical. Once in a while, I know I have to work to keep a variety of good nut butters on the shelf, but it seems so nornal to eat a nut butter sandwich at lunch and bean soup at dinner, I forget the rest of the world does not dispense with animal protein. I have a salad with a mayonaise based dressing in the fridge and I occaisionally fix myself an egg and olive sandwich. I tell myself I'm going to. I still use the mayonaise so I'm not one hundred percent vegan. That takes too much work.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

I have a major vengance setback. I joined what purports and largely delivers on being an "intelligent conversation" group. To my credit, I did not seek the group out. It dropped in my lap. The owner joined ZOID and I joined his group sort of as a courtesy.

As for the new group. It is slow enough not to be that alluring. The volume and verbosity of the original Brainstorms was truely remarkable. Also, the owner wants me to turn the email off in my profile. This will also effect other groups, and I want my email out. Why? I want it so others can contact me back channel so comments that don't match the group's ethos can go bck channel, so if there is a dispute, I have a shot at settling it privately, and so that if I'm kicked out, I can still be found since the wall is maintained by MSN Groups and my profile is with them rather than with any group in particular. Sorry, I've been where all this matters.

Put another way, being seen is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than any benefit hiding can confer. Sunshine kills germs. Privacy often degenerates to secrecy and behind walls of secrecy abuse and ugliness festers. There are things I do have to hide. You don't hear much about my job on my blog. I have a boss and colleagues who can read it. My spiritual life and my recreational online life are my own and not on the clock. They are legal pursuits and becoming more scrupulously legal with each passing day.

If I get booted because I insist on being seen rather than hiding so be it. I would like the opportunity to explain why I feel being seen is important.

I also found that switching platforms means I can not run PSP which I don't want to be without. I guess I take being an artist seriousl, not that I am a professional, but art is keeping me sane. Also I want images that are all mine and don't require permissions or have compromised copyright. I belive in intellectual property and charity starts at home!

I will probably end up upgrading to a Window XP or ME or 2000 machine. This does not thrill me. I may experiment with Gimp which may run on a MacIntosh platform. I really would like to be a bit more impregnanble to viruses, malware, and other nasties.

So much has actually happened in the last few days. I went to Atlanta on Sunday. I fell asleep in the shuttle, very sweetly and awoke to see snow on the ground in Atlanta. They had their ice storm Saturday night. This meant that it took over an hour to leave the airport. I stood forever on the MARTA platform. The airport in Atlanta is the southernmost stop on MARTA's North-South line whic was also single tracking and running on a Sunday schedule. You get the idea. I had arrived in a mess. I asked an Atlanta native who was also an Ithaca College alum if it was possible to walk from North Ave. to Five Points. She said the walk was long. I asked how many miles. She estimated three. It was about half that.

I got to see a church with robins all over the lawn on the way down. The church is also called St. Luke's. I don't think I have seen so many robins all in one place. It was weird to see a whole flock of them pecking away in the grass partly covered with melted snow.

When I had dinner in the Farmer's Market I asked one of the chefs how they make the daikon salad. I have directions but I'm not sure I can grate up that much daikon. It is actually not that difficult. It is just something I would not think of doing. The weirdest part of our conversation was when the cook looked in my basket. "You cook?" he asked. He was surprised to find a container of dried red kidney beans in the basket. I said yes. He said the beans were very healthy. I guess he must find most Americans who often take home dinner food from the buffet and eat leftovers (This does not make sense since one pays by the ounce) lazy.

I met two soldiers bound for Fort Benning on my way home in the shuttle. One of them got in the army to avoid jail time. Neither had any idea that they would be killing people who just want them the heck out of their country. That should not be the price of boot camp, weapons training, self esteem building through esprit de corps, but it is.

CZ, a former student at Columbus State, gave me a ride home part way. He found me when I was about half way home. I was glad to get home early.

Today was dull compared with Sunday. That is sad. I got some stuff at work. It was useful too. At 4:30pm today I teach. I have to make sure signage goes up directing students to the library. This two classroom set up is really a pain in the tail. Lou, my boyfriend, also teaches tomorrow at 12:15pm. His course is a kind of Elderhostel thing about speculative World War II history and UFO's. People love that sort of thing. That sort of thing bores me to tears.

The part timer, Martha, is sick so I may end up with some of her hours. In March, we get a new colleague named Chris. I don't want to say more about him.