Reading is Fundamental

August 31, 2009

I’ve been reading some wonderful blog posts and articles about reading today.  The first one was from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  Not only was the article (about mandatory reading lists) well written and intriguing but it spawned a fabulous discussion in the comment thread.  Personally, I had great English teachers, especially my sophomore and senior year in high school.  And one of the high points was that while there was some assigned reading there was also the chance to read books that you picked yourself.

But I can completely understand how a bad teaching experience could derail your enjoyment of a subject.  (For me it was Geometry….  bad substitute after BAD substitute.  I’m still sad about the whole thing.  Ruined all the work Mr Lyon put into my love of algebra.)

But let’s talk about books.  Being forced to read can totally lead to resentment but come ON… a recommended reading list ROCKS!  The list that I consider to be definitive is the Great Books curriculum from Columbia University.  A recommended reading list can point you towards great books that will let you in on secret references in The Simpsons… maybe.  There are some books that give you insight into a time or a place or give you better inside into your own here and now.  A recommended reading list can break you out of your favorite genre.  It can lead you to a new favorite.  Being well-rounded is good.  So, use the recommended reading.  Just be open to adding and subtracting as needed.

The article about books was in the Wall Street Journal.  It talked about storytelling and changes in storytelling over the course of generations.  Interesting and intriguing.  I love how the article points out the allure of the young adult novel because it has a strong sense of storytelling.

The article reminded me of a guy I worked with at Wells Fargo the second time.  Jim was an illustrator and a writer of children’s books.  Jim really didn’t like Harry Potter.  He didn’t like Harry because it was just a retelling of the classic myth story.  Total Joseph Campbell stuff.

Well… DUH!?!  That’s what makes a great book.  The hero arch is one of the great stories.  What do you think “A New Hope”, “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” were if not rehashed Joseph Campbell?

Classic storytelling never goes out of style.  It just goes out of fashion.

I was lucky.  Both my parents like to read.  I read Shakespeare because it was on a shelf I could get to.  I read The Old Man and The Sea long before someone  thought to assign it.  So I love Hemingway.  I believe that if you read Hemingway on your own before it was assigned then you will always love him.  If it’s assigned first you’ll hate him always.

Romance and Science Fiction / Fantasy are my genres of choice.

Books are good.

Off to read.



Will, Heather and I went to Lowe’s Hardware today.  It was a trek or more appropriately it was an adventure.  Usually we go to Home Depot since it’s closer but Lowe’s has a bigger selection of individual vinyl tiles for sale.  So off we went in the truck to Union City.

I don’t know if it’s strange or not but all of us have fond memories of going to hardware stores with out fathers.  Heather is of the Home Depot age but Will and I grew up around independent and local hardware stores.  Will in Ohio and me in Sacramento.  Lumberjacks and Emigh Hardware.  Lumberjacks closed a while ago but Emigh’s is still going strong.


My father gave me wood pencils and big domes of chalk.  Heather got to play with the chalk line in her fathers toolbox.

Today I bought WallDog screw & anchor in one!  I don’t need them, they aren’t for a project but I had to get them.  I blame my father for this.  I think he would be okay with that.


When it comes right down to it, I love hardware stores because they remind me of my dad.  I haven’t been to a hardware store with my dad in a few years but I feel like he’s with me every time I walk through the doors.

And I wish they still sold the lumber pencils individually.  Like when I was a kid.



PS – Lowe’s vinyl tiles are cheap, thin, and not really worthy of the very lovely store.  I still recommend the store, just not the tiles.

Well that was…

August 28, 2009

I went to the first day of the first ever Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square today.

It started at 4pm but they were running behind which makes sense… first day of a new festival.

There was a nice band over by the water.  There were TONS of ice cream vendors – which was awesome for most people because it was very warm / hot.



There was also a beer shed.  Tickets were $20 online or $25 there for the beer shed.  I did not imbibe.  Maybe the rest of the event would have been better if I had only gone for the beer.


The reason I went on this day was because the speakers were all focused on canning / fruit / forage / fermenting.  My kind of thing.  Or so I thought.


First off – they were late.  Really late.  Fine.  At least the seating area for the stage was shaded.  Thank you very much PG&E (they sponsored the stage).  Second – the MC (who was very good when she arrived) was late… but that might not have been her fault.

But Third – and I just couldn’t get over this one…. the first speaker was not a good public speaker, she didn’t know her audience.  She didn’t explain things unless prompted by the audience or the person who was up there with her.  She didn’t read out the recipe she was using.  She’s got a book coming out from Chronicle Books next fall but she doesn’t know the science behind her topic.  She got a book deal why?  Maybe I’m just being bitchy, but I don’t think so.

Fourth and Final…  foraging…  This guy has made a business out of foraging for food.  That’s great.  He made a recipe with a marsh green that grows all over the place.  Fabulous.  Until the part where someone asked if what he was doing was legal.  Turns out – not so much.  Apparently he gets his foraged good, that he then sells, from places that don’t allow people to just come pick their own.  Parks don’t let you take anything out.  Private land is PRIVATE LAND.  He had no remorse.  He’s totally good with what he’s doing.  He joked about having the Presidio scold him and almost give him a $500 fine.  I don’t find it funny.  Whether I think it’s right or wrong to “fence in the common” – IT’S THE LAW.  Don’t like the law, petition to change it.  Would I care as much if he was just feeding himself?  Probably not.  But he’s selling this stuff.  He’s made this his living.  Vegetable poaching… great.

Sadly by this point I just wanted to go home.  So I missed Happy Girl Kitchen and their pickle demo but I think I’m okay with that.

All in all I was glad I went.  But I don’t think I’ll go back this weekend.

Maybe next year.

After all – it’s their innaugural festival… there were bound to be some bumps.



Interesting day today.

I started to feel a tad isolated so I wandered out into the world.

First I talked to my mail lady.  She’s a peach.  She’s very consistent about the mail and really cares about her route.  I thought she had been on vacation because last week there was a day when the mail didn’t get delivered until after 5pm.  She usually has our mail in the boxes by 12 noon.  She said it must have been her day off but that she would be on vacation next week.  She told me not to worry.  She would be back even though they had changed all the routes around.  She fought to keep us.  I told her I was glad.  Because she really is a good mail lady.  It was nice to talk to her.

As I went out for errands I noticed that the students (who returned for classes this week) still don’t have any sense of sharing the road.  At an intersection without a light the students just walk constantly.  Which means that the cars just sit until there are no more students.  Sharing is caring kids… show a little empathy.  Remember when it was you driving the car?

Walking onto campus I saw a parked car with the license plate “Chetin'” – on a college campus.  Parked right outside the UC Police Department.  I stared a bit.  Turns out the owner of the car was talking to a friend who was a cop and noticed me looking.  I asked about the plates because I saw Cheating… but really it was Chet and Tina.  They’ve been together for 15 years.  Congratulations to Chet and Tina.  Chet was a very fun guy and very, very kind to talk to a girl with a parasol staring at his car.

A little farther along I saw a girl sitting in the shade on the steps.  She was smoking a cigarette.  I noticed her necklace.  Single strand, amber chips.  Of course I LOVED it.  So I told her.  I’m a big fan of telling people if they look fabulous, are having a good hair day, have stunning jewelry, etc.  Reinforce good behavior.

When I told her that I loved her necklace, she told me she made it herself.  She then said that I had made her day better.  It started out good and then got too intense, then I complimented her necklace and made it better.  How cool is that?

I went to Ace Hardware to get coffee filters for Clara and look for nails, deck screws, wood screws, washers and nuts… I’m a girl who loves her projects.  I ran into problems at the checkout counter.  Berkeley Ace is a small store and it turns out they really don’t care about inventory because instead of wanting the item numbers for individual screws and bolts.  They just want to price.  It would be good to know that when you’re pulling your items.  Maybe I just missed the big sign that says – tell us the price at the register… but I doubt it.  So I had to go and get the prices.  Then when I was leaving someone almost bumped into me…  I try to be understanding of my personal space but when someone runs around behind me… why do I have to be the only one to apologize?  Argh.

Moody moody moody…. need something good to happen.

My mom sent me a package.  I needed to pick it up.  Long line.  But I like the ladies of the main post office.  They aren’t bad folks.  And I refuse to get pissy with them.  I wished someone would come take all the package slips to clear the lines but what can you do.

Then a man from the crowd flagged a guy behind the counter and asked him to get his package and he did.  The guy behind the counter wasn’t at a register, he was from the back of house.  I told the man who flagged him that he had a great idea.  I waited until the man came back and did the scanning necessary to hand over the package.  He said he needed to go deal with a truck but I asked as nicely as I could if he would do me a favor and please get my package.  Without so much as a grumble he did.  Let’s hear it for taking advantage of a situation and being unfailingly polite about it.

I was searching for dish protectors for Clara – there weren’t any in the new CVS Pharmacy but I picked up an Arizona Tea.  They cost 99 cents.  The cashier rung the tea up twice, didn’t notice – I had to point it out, I paid with a 10 and 10 cents (crv etc).  The cashier typed in $1.10 and then couldn’t do the math to make change.  I had to tell her.  She didn’t give me my receipt, I had to ask for it.  She said she was sorry and I said it was fine.  It was fine.  I just wish that people who aren’t good with registers didn’t have to work with them.

Couldn’t find the dish protectors but I stopped at Berkeley Bowl since I was near there.  I picked up berries and bananas, grapefruit, green beans and an avocado.  In line there was a mother with two small kids in front of me.  The kids were very demanding.  All I could think was that my mother would not have tolerated that kind of behavior.  Then I realized that she would have made sure we KNEW that behavior like that would NOT be tolerated.  By the time my fruit and veg were rung up I was more sick of kids than I’ve been in ages.  The clerk mentioned to another clerk that he needed to be paid more money.  I said that he deserved to be paid more.  I think we already went over the fact that I’m rotten.  I would like to say, in my own defense, that there are kids that I adore.  RJ and Emberly… I hear the most delightful stories about Anya and Lily.  I don’t hate kids, I don’t think all mom’s have lost their minds but there are times when… ARGH!

Home at last.  Mom called and we talked about 1950’s TV and Netflix and knitting patterns.

All in all… positive human contact outweighs negative.  It usually does.


Mental Magpie Tendencies

August 26, 2009

Would someone PLEASE explain to me why I feel the need to express my deep seated procrastination through needless searches for little pieces of information I have forgotten?  Please?

I have just spent an hour searching for a funny word I used randomly in a conversation / email / something to someone …. earlier this year?

I don’t remember the word, I don’t remember the context, it has nothing to do with ANYTHING going on in my life but it was important for me to search for it.

I know who thought it was funny.  But I’m not the flavor of the month in that household so I don’t think I’ll be calling to get the answer from them.

Maybe that’s why I’m focused on it.  Maybe this is my minds way of saying… what’s up with that situation.

Well, dear brain, I don’t think I want the drama that asking those question would bring to my doorstep.

Some stuff is best left in the past.

But I really with my mind would let go of this stupid moment – I don’t need to remember the word, I don’t need to remember the context.  If a situation arises were I need this word, I will remember it.

For now – Don’t Tap the Glass… leave the snakes alone.

bye for now

I actually like to believe that people are good.  I’m getting better at believing that they are not when they prove me very, very, very wrong.  But after the last few days, I’ve come to the conclusion that Berkeley killed my compassion.

I believe in social services to help people get back on their feet and take care of themselves.  I believe in supporting those services.

But after almost 15 years in Berkeley – I don’t think that we should carry the tab for people who make the choice not to follow social norms to the point of taking care of themselves.

Again – sounds HORRID – until you hang out in Berkeley for a little while.  There are a number of young people who live in and around People’s Park, sit on the street and live off panhandled change and social services.  They adopt animals that they can not care for – Heather watched a kitten have it’s neck wrapped in a telephone cord for almost 30 minutes waiting for Animal Services… they never came.  Some have facial tattoos and while some people will hire someone with facial tattoos it does limit future job options.  So I’m sorry but I don’t want to take care of them.  I don’t want to feed them and give them any number of social services when they are making the choice to live on the street because they don’t like the rules that society demands for living within the world.  Some may have fled a horrid home situation but there has to be another option.  I’d support a different option.  But the “gutter punks” really have killed the bulk of my compassion.  If you want to live the anarchist life style, if you want to live off the grid… so be it.  But I don’t want to pay for that decision that you have made.

Then SFGate had this article.  If you make the choice to spend the rest of your life drunk… then I respect your decision but I don’t want to pay for you to comfortably do it.  There goes the last of my compassion.

I learned something from my horrible dating experiences.  You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change.  If this is the decision you have made, I can’t unmake it for you.  But I don’t have to help you on your way.

So, yeah, I feel horrible.  I’m going to go eat chocolate pudding now.


PS:  The pudding did not help… still feel rotten.  If anyone has some compassion they are willing to barter, please let me know.  Thanks.

So July 1st I discovered that someone had charged $50 on my debit card to some company named Zygna.  I blogged about my joy of the ease with which Wells Fargo’s fraud department agreed that I’m just not an online poker playing kind of gal.

I really haven’t thought about the whole thing at all since I mailed Wells Fargo the signed affidavit that I didn’t make the charge and that I REALLY wanted to press charges against whoever did make the charges.

Then, 6 days ago I got an email from Zynga saying that they are starting to look at my claim.

I filed a claim with Zynga on the Sunday I saw the charge and then on Monday I contacted Wells Fargo.

And while Wells Fargo took me through the “let’s fight these jerks” process step by step; after the initial contact with Zynga I didn’t hear anything… Until 6 days ago.

I got an email saying that they understood that I thought there was something going on with my account.


The email made it obvious that no one read the complaint that I filed a month and a half ago.  I emailed back what the complaint was and I was rather rude about it.

The email was noreply@ blah blah blah.  That’s comforting.

I got another email yesterday stating that they hadn’t heard from me.

They wanted me to respond through their website.  Which wanted me to log in or create an account.

Ummmm NO!

So I tracked down a number and called the company.

I explained that I was not impressed, explained the current situation and gave them Wells Fargo’s Fraud Department number.  Maybe the fraud department can give these idiots some tips on how to actually do their work.  I’m betting, no.

Then today I called Wells to tell them what was going on.  The guy was really nice.  He told me to stop talking to the idiots.  The professionals were taking care of things.

I like that.

Because Zynga is a little too pathetic to trust.