Friday, June 14, 2002

The Week in Surveys

What do you do when you want to keep your blog moving, but you can't think of anything terribly interesting to post about? You steal memes from others, that's what! But since I am a drag queen and a literateur, an oversized femme fatale as well as an overaccessorized pedant, I find it necessary sometimes to juice things up a bit, to make everything bigger and sparklier and harder for the traffic (and bandwidth) to bear.

So in the spirit of Over-Doing It, rather than merely indulging in just the Friday Five today, I went to The Globe of Blogs and sampled the selection of weekly memes...which I present here to you!

The Monday Memory

Share a memory about your favourite toy. What was it, why was it your favourite, do you still have it, where did you get it? My first reaction was to cite the Barbie doll my Grandpa bought for me when I was five; but I think that I liked that toy mostly because it enraged my mother (she was concerned about me turning out a "sissy"...silly woman, as if she could stop me) rather than because I loved the doll itself...though I did and do love playing with dolls, especially Barbie. But now I think of it, my favorite toy of all time had to have been the one I made for myself when I was 11: my "Borrowers' House."

This was based on Mary Norton's The Borrowers series, which concerned the lives and adventures of a race of tiny mouse-sized people who lived in the walls and floors of an English country-house. The main character, Arietty Clock, lived with her parents under the kitchen floor (they were called Clock because the entrance to their warren-like home was under the hall clock); they lived on the castoffs and scavengings gleaned from around the house, using jewelry-boxes as chairs, birthday candles for illumination, coins and bottlecaps as dishes, thread-spools as tables, postage-stamps as paintings, and blotting-paper for carpets; they occasionally visited their cousins the Overmantels, who lived above the drawing-room fireplace and were very snobbish; Arietty's bedroom was made from an old cigar box, her bed a velvet-lined silver trinket-box, and she became friends with the little boy who lived in the house.

Aside from the enchantment of people living in the mysterious and inaccessible crannies of domestic humanity, I was enchanted by the way they went around building their lives...with things to which I also had access! I assembled an enormous doll-house from shoe-boxes and small wooden crates, filled it with furniture created from scavenged jewelry boxes and thread spools and matchbooks, with old patterned washcloths as carpets and trading-cards on the walls.

Then I started cannibalizing other toys, "borrowing" accessories from my sister's and step-sisters' Barbie cottages (my stepmother, like my mother, was determined that I should not be a sissy, and so I never got the doll-house furniture and accessories I requested), adapting things from our old Fisher-Price Play Family houses, taking pieces from disused board games (especially Clue, Monopoly, and Masterpiece, which yielded an excellent tiny art-collection), and utilizing the personnel and furnishings of my second-favorite toy, a PlayMobil King Arthur's Round Table set (this was way back in the late 70s, when PlayMobil was first marketed, and not nearly as elaborate as they are now).

I spent hours playing with that thing, creating new furnishings, making up stories for my Borrowers, and rearranging their little rooms like the mad decorator I always was. I don't remember what happened to it, though...I guess I must have outgrown it, or it was lost when we moved, or something vague and tragic like that.

Tuesday Too

# 16

1.) The New York Times recently had an article by David Gallagher on the war bloggers (after 9/11 and mostly right-wingers) vs. techie bloggers or so called veteran bloggers. Do you think the very nature of blogging is revolutionary?
First, responding to the article in question, I think it's dangerously simplified. There are a lot of people blogging and web-posting about the 9/11 tragedy and various other war-related topics; all forms of opinions are expressed. There are a lot of people blogging about tech things, too. But these are not the Whole Enchilada, two sides of one coin...there's a huge world of bloggers out there, and this NYT article covers only two corners of that world.

But the problem with the War-Bloggers and those who've gone up against them is that there is this anger involved, and anger has a way of heightening differences of feeling and opinion. I myself have brushed up against some of these "war-bloggers" when I dared express my pacifist opinions on this blog. I have also encountered tech-related blogs, and leftist blogs, and radicalist blogs and feminist blogs...but with the techies, I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Most of the blogs I read are personal, intellectual, literary, and generally humorous.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I don't really know what they're talking about over at the New York Times.

I think that Blogging is revolutionary, in that it encourages people to share their writing and ideas in a public way that was not possible before can publish without having to be asked by a publisher, you can share your ideas with people who you would not otherwise know, you can become part of an information community larger than what you could ever experience socio-geographically.

Every time a stride like this is made in communication, there is a revolutionary alteration in the communications themselves. The invention of spoken language revolutionized human life; the invention of writing revolutionized it; the invention of printing revolutionized it again, the invention of radio revolutionized it once more.

Blogging, as much a revolutionary tool as the moveable-type printing press, has already begun altering the ways in which we gain information, just as computers and word-processors, coming after type-writing, which came after hand-writing, altered the way we write our the novels of Jane Austen, which were written and edited laboriously by hand, to the novels of John Steinbeck, which were tapped out easily on a typewriter and then laboriously edited, to the novels of, say, Anne Rice or Stephen King, that are easily typed and quickly edited. The styles, the content, and the accessibility are different in each of these instances because of the tools used in the writing. It's interesting to think about.

2.) Are labels (i.e. feminist, left or right) really important? What if the meanings change over time? Is there some particular label you're proud to wear and why? They are important only insofar as they imply a meaning that the person labelled would agree on. Labels are merely shorthand tags you put on something so that others know more-or-less what is inside. By saying "I am a feminist," the listener has a fairly good idea what sort of political ideals you might have. These shorthand tags further the dialogue by dismissing a great deal of explanation at the outset.

When I use the label "gay" for myself and others, I mean uncloseted homosexuals who take part in a certain lifestyle...there are differences between what people label as "gay," and between what people hear when they hear the label "gay," but the label pretty much covers all the people it is meant to cover. The problem with labels, though, happens when people do not agree on their meaning. If someone uses the word "gay" negatively, that person is engaging in a lazy mental behavior...using a label of one's own personal feeling without considering what it means to the people it is meant to describe.

Any label that is applied ignorantly is a misused label. To call someone a feminist who does not call him- or herself a feminist, and who does not display features that other feminists would consider feminist, then you are misusing the word. And then, once you're engaged in misusing the label, it becomes very easy to herd people into your consider "gays" or "feminists" or "pacifists" not as people but as one-word abstracts is to divorce the labelled people from their humanity...and once that is accomplished, evil automatically follows.

3.) Would you be willing to give up, or reassess something you strongly believe in because hard evidence suggests that you are totally wrong?( "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." --Mark Twain) Yes, I would have to...because my deepest conviction is that the Truth is All, and is something that is arrived at by Scientific Method (create a hypothesis, investigate it, test it against every task you can find to disprove it, and see if it works); with Scientific Method, you can never become attached to an outcome before all the evidence is in.

This is something that makes science very difficult for some people: they want to prove something that they've already concluded, when true Scientific Method demands that you must accept having your theory disproved, that indeed you yourself must try to disprove your own theory, before it can be accepted as a True Conclusion.

On the other hand, it is hard to disprove a belief. That's what makes it different from a fact. But I do believe that one ought to test one's beliefs against other people's beliefs via rational argumentation. The problem is finding people who are rational who don't believe as you do.

Wednesday Wanderings

Name or describe a person from your past with whom you have not spoken in many years. Why did you stop speaking to them? Would you like to speak to them again? If you had a chance to speak to them again, what would you say? I talked before about Kevin, which covers all of this. So I guess I'd better choose someone about Eva?

She was my best friend in high-school, even my girlfriend in Senior year (one has to flirt with bisexuality at least's part of growing up). But she got married (to someone I didn't like) and had kids after college. We kept in touch after this, but her entire life was her children, with a little room for her husband, and even less room for her friends. Since I not only don't have children, but in fact do not care for them in the least and am not terribly interested in them as a topic of conversation, we necessarily grew apart. We still have mutual friends, so I imagine I could talk to her any time I wanted, but I don't think we'd really have anything to say.

Thursday Threesome

Special Edition: CLUE

The Answer: Miss Scarlett in the Library with the Lead Pipe.

Onesome. Miss Scarlett, what makes your face turn red?
The sun (within fifteen minutes I look like a lobster). Niacin (which I don't take anymore). Rouge (sometimes it gets away from you...I've never lost control of my car, but my rouge brush has been known to run away with me). Certainly not shame or embarrassment, I lost the ability to blush ages ago.

Twosome. The Library. What books are a must in your opinion for a personal library? For a 'library,' rather than just shelves full of books, you should have these multi-volume sets, hard-bound and well-dusted: a really reliable Encyclopedia with Gazetteers and Atlases included; the Oxford English Dictionary; the complete works of Shakespeare; Will and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization; the 100 Greatest Novels; and finally, the complete works of Poe, Saki, Proust, Sayers, and Mordden.

Threesome. The Lead Pipe. Ever have a plumbing related woe? Tell us all about it... I can't really think of one...the usual toilet-backing-up, the occasional clogged drain, but nothing dramatic. But regarding pipes: I remember during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, when I was living over off Fruitvale, one of our more alarmist neighbors induced us to shut off our gas main, and it took two weeks before PG&E came out to turn it back on...during which weeks we were without hot water or a stove or heat...we had to boil water in the microwave to shave and bathe and wash dishes in. Wildly inconvenient! When the PG&E man came around, he asked who had turned the gas off in the first place, and since that one neighbor had covered the entire neighborhood, he told us he wouldn't turn her gas back on for another week (yes, Virginia, there is Justice in the world).

The Friday Five (my old fave!)

1. How often do you do laundry? On average, about once a month. At any rate, I have enough underwear to last a month. But I haven't done laundry in about seven weeks. I have nothing left to wear that hasn't been worn at least once, with the exception of my dry-clean dress clothes and the socks and underwear I bought this week to tide me over until I get off my lazy ass and do my laundry.

2. What's in a typical wash load? I separate my laundry by color, rather than by item-type...whites, off-whites, tans, browns, greens, blacks, greys, blues, purples, and reds, each containing socks and underwear and shirts and pants and sweaters and whatever else is washable. The whites, if all my clothes are dirty at once (as they are now), make two loads; the reds also usually make two loads, since my sheets are burgundy. I often can blend adjacent colors when the loads aren't very big or when they're all different sizes.

3. Front or top loader? Powder or liquid detergent? The washer loads on top, the dryer from the front. I use Tide powdered detertgent.

4. Do you use fabric softener in the rinse cycle? April-fresh Downy! I have to have April-fresh Downy, or I don't feel that my clothes are quite right. I love the smell, I love the softness, I love the fact that I haven't had static cling in almost twenty years. But remember this helpful household hint: do not use as much on your towels as your regular clothes, maybe only a fourth the amount...otherwise your towels won't absorb water.

5. Dryer or clothesline? What is this, the Stone Age? Why would anybody put something on a clothesline? We took down our clothesline when we got a dryer in the early 70s. Actually, my Grandmother still line-dries most of her clothes, but we just put them on hangers and hang them on the back-door awning rail or the shower-curtain rod. Anything I have that can't go in the dryer (like some sweaters) is spread over a towel on top of the dryer to take advantage of the heat.

Weekends: None of the Saturday or Sunday memes were interesting, doable, or still in production, so I am substituting with the one non-day-specific weekly meme listed.

Eight from the Eighties

Eight questions derived from eight songs in the Eighties. Posted at eight. Ish. (Eastern, PM, US) Hence, the Eight From The Eighties.

1) Do you be illin'?
No, I feel pretty good! I'm hungry, though. This surveying really takes it out of you, and all I've eaten today is bagels.

2) Who's simply the best? Better than all the rest? Dalton. I think he's probably the nicest, most honest, most sincere, and most caring guy I know.

3) Do you want to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time? Oh, please, no! I like to party only occasionally, and then in a rather low-key conversation-and-collation manner. Give me a weekly buffet dinner with twenty friends and I'm happy!

4) Are you a maniac? No...just a demented bore.

5) Do you believe in spirits in the material world? Yes, I suppose so...though I've never seen or communicated with one. But why not?

6) I got my mind set on... That's just the mind just won't set lately...I totally can't concentrate on anything. I think it's because all of my mental energy is going into preventing myself from buying jewelry (I've declared a three-month jewelry embargo, I can't buy any until September 1). It's so hard being virtuous!

7) Do you love dirty laundry? What's with all the interest in my laundry? No, I don't like dirty laundry, because then you have to wash it. I hate doing my laundry! If I ever found someone who could do my laundry the way I like, without my having to ever touch it before removing it from the drawer or after taking it off, I would marry that person! Grandmother would probably do my laundry if I asked her, but she does it wrong (she folds socks funny, and folds jeans with a crease, and doesn't use enough fabric softener), and I don't like her to do more work than she already does.

8) Say, say, say what you want: I want two hundred and fifty million dollars, a tan-and-black male pug puppy (whom I shall name Lord Sebastian Manners Flyte Mountbatten-Jones), a forty-room Beaux-Arts mansion in Pacific Heights (tastefully furnished in the Louis Quinz and amply supplied with hot houseboys), a 250-foot yacht, a heart of gold and a mind of steel, and to look just like this (but in color):

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