Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lost in Translation

Will and I recently took a trip to visit our daughter, Alli, and see her artwork on display in a scholarship exhibit in the art department at Wright State University. We're pretty proud of her and her work. She's very talented, if I do say so - you know, being her mom and all.

We did a lot of shopping over the weekend, too, and took Will to Ikea in West Chester, Ohio. For those of you who have never been to Ikea, it's amazing. You can get every- and anything for your home decor there. Unfortunately, we have none in Missouri. But Alli has found most of her furniture and kitchen utensils at Ikea. I love the place, too. I especially like being surprised by the fun things you can find there: crocheted organizer boxes for your bathroom or closets, wonderful flatware sets and kitchen doodads, wooden toys for kids, even a doggy leash hook just like I saw at Jamie's when I dropped off Storm.
Cute, isn't it? A hook for the leash that looks like a little doggie tail? We needed one.

It wasn't until we rang it up that we got the funny part. Remember that Ikea is a Swedish company. I know they will hear certain words in American conversation, but somebody needs to tell the computer entry folks at Ikea that some words are not OK for printing in polite company. Yes, that's right - you're reading that correctly. Here, I'll blow it up for you...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Takin' on the Role of Nanny

Yep, it hit me yesterday - if my mom isn't making those awesome round dishcloths anymore, somebody has to pick up the ball and run with it. That's right. I haven't knit anything in well over a decade (closer to two) but I picked up the needles today. Actually, I bought a new pair and some cotton yarn and *gulp* started knitting.
I was pretty proud of myself when the first 20 rows (one time through the pattern) came out looking pretty much like it was supposed to. I even recognized it as a part of the familiar pattern of Grandma's Round Dishcloth. (My mom, not my grandma - but my daughters both know it by this name ;) At this point I was a little disappointed in the yarn. I bought red, white, and blue specifically to make a patriotic one, but here it barely had any red on it.
The trick of the pattern is that it sucks you in. The pictures of the dishcloths look amazing and the pattern looks short and sweet. HA! At the bottom of the pattern comes the catch: Repeat rows 1-20 eight MORE times (total of nine times). Man, and my index finger is already painfully tender from shoving the pointy end of the needle around. (Remember - no knitting for over a decade = no callous.) But I had to keep going for two reasons: 1) I wanted to see how far before the blue would show up and 2) in trying to find the pullout part of the skein I yanked the guts out of it and had to knit all of that so it wouldn't tangle :P 

While the first part came out exactly according to pattern directions (a minor miracle in itself), I noticed I was knitting a little more quickly and confidently on the second part...but I think I probably goofed a row or two. No prob. I can't see any glaring mistakes and anytime a row didn't end with the right number of stitches I just repeated that row and voila, it came out okay. Luckily, the pattern has a steady increase of leftover stitches at the end of every other row so I can keep track of where I am fairly well...and if I actually did put the same row in twice it doesn't show ;)

 At the end of the third time through the pattern the blue is just barely starting - yay! But my hands need a break, so...well, blog it! Oh, dang it. Now that I'm looking at the picture I think I found a mistake...but I bet it won't matter when I'm washing dishes with it, eh? ;)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moving in the Write Direction - 2

Writers write.
...and they study their craft to improve their skills. I have a laundry list of blogs I subscribe to but I don't read them all religiously. I can't. There aren't enough hours in the day. But I do check in on articles that interest me and I find a few common themes to take away. Now all I have to do is start using that good advice.
For example: I get so excited when I check my stats and find people are reading my blogs. I've had readers from several different countries, in fact, which blows me away because I have no idea how they found me and I'd love to find out so I can learn more about what works and what doesn't. So I think, "Man, I wish they would leave comments or follow me or something!" But other than following the blogs I follow, I tend to forget the advice they all give: post comments.
I need to build a few bridges in the blogosphere. I'm still trying to come up with a workable writing schedule - not tough in the summer, but during the school year... And I need to network a bit while I'm learning. I did comment to one or two bloggers and they had very positive responses. That's always encouraging.
Task: Comment unto others as you would have them comment unto you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Moving in the Write Direction - 1

So I came up with a new term this morning. I told my sis-in-law that I'm experiencing "writer's sludge." It's not exactly writer's block - I mean, I have ideas and word strings and all the good stuff in my head, but getting it onto the page, so to speak, is like slogging through ankle-deep mud. I can almost feel the sucking pull of the struggle to get words out of my head and put them where I can see them...well, where others can see them. Like I said, they're in my head.
Sometimes it's like video. I see fiction in scenes like a movie and it doesn't all format right when I try to puke the guts of it out, but that's drafting craft and editing craft is always necessary, at least for me. Editing is where my perfectionist OCD kicks in.
Sometimes it's audio - I hear the sentence structures and how the words flow. Usually that's my poetry, but it happens in just about everything I write at one point or another.
Sometimes it's a tactile thing. I'm a writer who still needs to hold the pen and scribble words to physically force them out of my head most of the time. Blogging isn't like that, but the rest of my writing usually is.
Writers write. Procrastinating writers...uh...study writing techniques and make excuses about why they aren't finished with their projects, aren't published yet, aren't making progress...well, you get it. It's like any other procrastinating. I want to move beyond the excuses and make a success of myself in my writing the way I have in education (so far - I have dreams and goals to achieve yet in that arena as well). 
So I have a summer goal: write a lot.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scary Smart or Ya Gotta Love Math Geeks!

My daughter texted me about a book I needed to look into written by Mike Keith. Naturally, I checked Amazon for the book, but at first all I found was a link to a book on Java. Unfortunately, although equally mathematical and certainly technical, I don't think this is the correct Mike Keith. The book she told me to research is called Not A Wake: A Dream Embodying (Pi's) Digits Fully for 10000 Decimals. That's right, he wrote a book using pi as the basis for the words he used to write the book.
It's called "constrained writing" and involves using a set of rigid rules to write poetry, fiction, etc. In this case, each consecutive word must represent the next consecutive number in the sequence for pi. What's even more interesting is that it's not his first. In fact, this set of rules is common enough to have its own language: "pilish." It's true - I looked it up!
Okay, so I think having a word count is often a tough enough constraint for writing and academic writing is full of rules, but I get those and I can abide by them. I'm enjoying my new blog-world because the rules are what I make them and that's very freeing for an unknown writer with a lot to say. But I followed the link on his page and it gave a link to a PDF of the first few pages. It reads beautifully like poetry, which, if you understand the universe in terms of the music of the spheres (I know - you're hearing "blah, blah, blah"), it makes sense. Numbers and music are so interrelated in so many fundamental ways and the beauty in both is astounding. Just the same, I found myself checking his word lengths against a short calculation of pi . 
On one hand, I'd like to get it and read it...and keep checking pi to 10,000 decimals. Not A Wake appears to be the first novel written in Pilish. Or maybe I'll take a whack at reading his anagrammatic paraphrase of three books of the KJV Bible, The Anagrammed Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon. Of course, I should really read his music writings...
On the other hand, maybe I'll just start by looking up poetry in Pilish that only goes to the 31st or 50th place and start small. I mean, this is a guy who wrote a book about numbers called "Keith Numbers." If he can name a number system after himself...
Baby steps...  

UPDATE: The article Lexi read that led her to contact me about Keith's book can be found here. There are a number of interesting numbers mentioned in the article ;)