Facebook is Stealing My Umbrella

When I was a little girl, my family had a poetry anthology with this little number in it:

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.

-Charles Synge Christopher Bowen

We kids used to laugh about it because it sounded so funny. As an adult, I can see a little more of the point the writer was making.

The rain it raineth on the just

The rain it raineth on the just

And also on the unjust fella;

And also on the unjust fella;

But chiefly on the just

But chiefly on the just

Because the unjust steals the just's umbrella.

Because the unjust steals the just’s umbrella.

It is so often that the person who’s just doing his job, living his life, has to carry the person who is not. Isn’t it funny (or not funny) how often the unjust then wastes the resources someone else produced and then turns around to demand more?

just unjust panel 5

So now Facebook is being called out, yet again, for (allegedly) violating people’s privacy by scanning messages marked private and selling user demographics from them. It bothers me when companies do things like that- the rule of law is a valuable principle, and should be cared for and respected. When people abuse the legal system like this, the end result to the rest of us is new legislation. Laws piled on top of laws to clarify the mountain of laws we’re all already buried under. When this is finally brought to that point, the corporate fatcats at Facebook will have no new opinion about my privacy, nor will they decide that they now have enough money. They will find a new loophole, and continue on. We will all have some new legislation, whether it will directly affect us or not.

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Django Django’s WOR

Here’s a song by Django Django with an intriguing video of the Indian Death Well riders. I think the song works well with the video footage and the notion of facing death simpy because it is your job. The men have such an interesting perspective on risk, don’t they? I’m not a hero, there is an element of danger in everything…

Happy Monday! Go do something risky and big today.

Butterbeer Cupcakes

butterbeer cupcake

Amybites concocted this wonderful recipe for Butterbeer cupcakes. For those of you not familiar with the term “butterbeer,” it is a fictitious (nonalcohloic) beverage in the Harry Potter stories. The cupcakes are really delicious; this is now my third batch, and I’ve probably gained two dress sizes because of them, but oh well.

You can click here to view the recipe, if you want some butterbeer cupcakes of your own (which, believe me, you really do). Without completely reproducing the recipe, I will tell you a few things.

  • At each spot where she says to beat the ingredients, whip the batter real good. The fluffier, the better.
  • You can shortcut the double boiler with store bought butterscotch ganache, but I like to make my own from scratch.
  • If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, you just need to get one- you can buy it for a buck, but it’s too important to skip. When you go to put the butterscotch ganache into the cupcakes, wait for them to cool a little. When it sinks into the cupcake, put more in until the cake stops absorbing the ganache. This usually takes several passes for me, but it’s worth it.
  • Do not skimp on special ingredients. I cheated on the immitation butter flavoring and they turned out mediocre and weren’t worth the effort.
  • Put a block of cream cheese in the frosting. It gives it less of a sugary confectioners’ sugar sweetness and brings more of a salty contrast to the cupcakes.

They make 18 cupcakes, and take about an hour from start to finish.

Right and Wrong Don’t Matter in the Woods

My brother and I were talking about the background of the area where he lives, and he mentioned a phenomenon about the language. There are certain words that his neighbors do not have, which is nothing noteworthy, as no two languages are going to have identical vocabularies, except that some of the words he listed frankly amazed me. Logic, mindset, proportion, eternity, infinite, science… the two that were most surprising to me were right and wrong.

Imagine a society with no word for “wrong.” How does that even happen? There is a right way to put shoes on, and a wrong way to hold a baby, and so on. It seems only natural that sooner or later, a person will encounter someone else who is doing something in way that is just clearly not correct:

that is right2

that is wrong

My brother said there are words for “beautiful” and “ugly,” which lead me to wonder if those are the go-to labels people would apply to correctness and incorrectness.

that is beautiful

that is ugly

If they do that, maybe judgey people who go around telling others how to raise their kids look like they’re calling each other’s children ugly.

Anyhow, if they don’t have words for the phrase “You are doing that all wrong!” one has to think that they don’t need that phrase very much. Does their vocabulary indicate that their culture is less judgmental or discerning? A possible contributing factor to this is the tendency for people to borrow words from surrounding languages until their native vocabulary has thinned, but I can’t help thinking that the personality of the individuals using the words has a stronger hand in defining the common vocabulary.

The title of this post is a line from Sondheim’s Into the Woods, which I probably talk about too much. The woods are a metaphor for people’s struggles, often surfacing their true character as they journey in and out of them throughout the story. I embedded a clip below of the baker’s wife and Cinderella’s prince meeting in the woods, because of that phrase: “Right and Wrong don’t matter in the woods, only feelings…”

If I were taking my sociology from Stephen Sondheim, I would say that he has an explanation for people allowing those words to go by the wayside, and it’s a matter of not considering them a big enough priority when trouble arises.

Another part of me is thinking it must have something to do with blended languages or something, though. I just can’t wrap my mind around a society that simply has no term for “wrong.” How different would our culture have to be if we never made or used such words?

Maybe we would have been better without some of them. I can think of a few words now that I would like to trim out of our collective use: money, schedule… What do you think?

An Exercise in Delicate Beauty and Video Games

opening image

This past year, two guys named Dan Pearce and Jack de Quidt, who have formed The Tall Trees, released a game called Castles in the Sky. It’s so simple that I hardly want to describe it, because I would hate for you to think it is plain. It’s really the opposite; simple, but lovely and special. It’s like an 8-bit haiku.

The play is simple, with the game lasting about fifteen minutes from start to finish. In between the leaping and steering tasks are the lines of a poem about finding the uncomplicated joys in life and lost balloons and going to sleep at night. I considered reproducing the poem here for you to read, but it might diminish some of the enjoyment of the game.

fireflies

I don’t get paid to write posts for people or endorse products, but I really like this one. For roughly the cost of a cup of coffee (or less, depending on how you drink it), you can download it here. For me, it was definitely worth fifteen minutes and a buck and a half.

castle cloud

Unimportant thoughts about Importance and Important Unimportant Things

Vogue Magazine tweeted this:

all-important manicure

and at first sight, I laughed quietly and kept moving on, which, no offense to the writer, is probably what it deserves. In whose reality could a manicure possibly be important, let alone “all-important”? Even a manicurist or a hand model could skip getting one without anyone really noticing. Of course a fashion magazine would talk like that, but that line doesn’t even deserve the respect of an eye-roll, right?

“Important” is just one of those words that morphs along with us; we redefine it based on our surroundings. Just like someone who considers a manicure important while planning a New Year’s party might easily ignore it if they were planning for a week long hike in the woods, and the mere thought of recreation might go out the window if they were struggling for the necessities of life, “important things” slip in and out of relevance as easily as our changing circumstances.

It’s easy enough to dismiss people who attribute a high priority to their nails, but reading that tweet made me kind of aware of where I am right now. You may have noticed I said that was an email- meaning, I follow Vogue on Twitter. I actually really like fashion, and I even started fashion blogging a little (You can see it here, if you’re interested.) I like that blog, and every now and then I want to go work on it. I just can’t though- I just absolutely cannot.

I started blogging because having a creative outlet is “important” to me, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. I wanted an outlet and a new medium. As it got going, though, since I occasionally illustrate for people, having an online presence meant that I had a brief and personal sort of informal portfolio for potential clients to look over. That’s important to me, but it got shouldered out of the way big time about ten months ago.

scratchy

Meet Scratchy. He’s the mascot of MIT’s fabulous free online educational programming software for kids. He’s also the current redefinition of “important” for me, as I have had my nose on the grindstone working him into a set of lesson plans. Pretty much all of my other “important”s have gone to the wayside, and I just realized that I haven’t posted since October. A small handful of patient friends and family are waiting on me to get something done for them, and to each of you, may I say thank so much.

This all went through my mind as I pondered the immediacy of priorities, and how badly I often juggle my own. I hope you all know how much I appreciate your patience and graciousness toward me. I also probably shouldn’t tell you this, but you’re kind of my new year’s resolution- to juggle the many things that matter better and finish what I’ve started…

Happy new year, everyone.

Holy Spider!

LOOK AT THIS THING!!!!!

Ita Vita

IMG_0822IMG_0829IMG_0831IMG_0776IMG_0779

The Jenny Evolution

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Lindsey Stirling

Violinist/dancer/real-life-cartoon character Lindsey Stirling has just completed a lengthy and successful tour, and is now preparing for a re-release of her debut album. Good for her; being on a talent show may have given her a good start and publicity, but competition tv really doesn’t seem like a worthy venue for a creative performer who can make it big in her own right.

You can check out her website by clicking here.

Steam Powered Giraffe and related stuff

Steam Powered Giraffe is a musical theater band from California. They are pretty popular with the Steampunk set, and somehow somehow, they escaped my attention until last week. Steampunk giraffe band. This is why I love the internet.

There were originally four members, costumed up as Steampunk humanoid robots, and after some amount of shuffle I think there are about seven of them in the troupe now. Their act is a combination of music and comedy with a Jules Verne animatronic edge, and although they don’t do pop music, they did produce the little gem below which you really need to watch. Really, trust me- ignore whatever the title is making you think and watch it:

Steampunk robot giraffe puppet. That is a music video starring a steampunk robot giraffe puppet. Yes indeed.

On the topic, here are my latest paper dolls. They’re from Dover publications, drawn by Ramona Szozerba. I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like Dover books, and I own a lot of their paper dolls. This set may be my favorite one yet, although Georgie Giraffe was pretty awesome.

Even those of you who are not into steampunk can appreciate the details and the creator’s sense of humor. Of course the set includes an airship captain and a Victorian pirate, but we also have a phrenologist, a lepidopterist, and a super villain with an evil-o-meter in his hat!

sp cinderella

Four dolls come in the set, along with 18 different outfits, many of which include an animal companion. Each outfit/scenario includes several useful accessories, like Steampunk Cinderella’s Enchanted Pumpkin Air/Land Conveyance.

sp super villain

There are also plenty of clear instructions and descriptions for the accessories, so you always will know exactly which pieces of equipment to activate as the character needs it.

sp xandria and thaddeus dolls

You can buy the set at the Dover Publications website, and just to sweeten the deal a little more, there is another set of bonus outfits there for you if you do. How cool is that?

Finally, unrelated but sort of related as it is a Steampunk-themed toylike thing that I recently bought and love, Gamewright’s Forbidden Desert:

forbidden desert

Most games that offer an everyone-wins conclusion don’t appeal to me, but this one handles that well. The dynamic of everyone sharing cards adds the (unintended) benefit that you can play it alone, if you wanted. As it was designed, 2-5 players try to escape a desert storm by constructing an ancient solar-powered aircraft. It was made as a sequel to Forbidden Island which I haven’t played; I picked it up because the artwork was so striking. GAMEWRIGHT-forbidden desert

The game description looked cool, so we bought it, and as a cooperative play game requiring skill and planning, we love it. Check out the trailer they made for it below.

Just so you know, no one paid me or asked me to review stuff. I bought these things cuz I liked them, and I encourage you to do so as well, because I still like them (and hope you will too). But I’m not going to receive a commision or anything from you clicking those links.

What I Drew in Church Today

i heart sugar gliders

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