Oy vey

Jul. 11th, 2006 03:56 pm
jan_andrea: (faucet)
There's no adequate atheist equivalent expression for "dear god in heaven", but, dear god in heaven, USPS is so friggin' slow today!!! I use Click n' Ship for my labels, because you get free delivery confirmation and sort of tracking, but it's taken more than 40 minutes to get my 5 labels processed. I'm seeing at least 3 minutes between each page. I would just write them out by hand, but I really like having the DC and tracking, so I'll just whine instead.

Plus I've caught up with all my LJ friends' journals, and  the one forum I go to is being awfully quiet, so there isn't even anything for me to read while I wait. (pout)
jan_andrea: (drama)
Yes, it's true: I judge people. Often without even knowing what their circumstances are. Here's a short list of the people I judge (poorly). Not related to any particular incident -- just for the record. Feel free to add your own, because no matter how lovey-dovey, culturally relativist, and/or sensitive we pretend to be, everyone is, at heart, judgmental. And because I am judgmental, I am also certain to be offensive, so if you are afraid of being offended, don't read this.

I judge parents who smoke with their kids in the car... and parents who smoke... and frankly, people who smoke, period.
I judge parents who strap their kids in a carseat all day and ignore them when they cry.
I judge parents who circumcise their baby boys, or pierce their baby girl's ears, or make other permanent physical alterations to children who can't give informed consent.
I judge parents who prop a bottle in their baby's carseat while they shop.
I judge mothers who choose not to breastfeed when they are physically capable of doing so.
I judge parents who don't discipline their children when said children are terrorizing smaller children at the playground.
I judge people who ride motorcycles without wearing a helmet (it's legal in NH).
I judge people who cheat on their partners. Scratch that, I judge people who cheat, period.
I judge people who drag their children to church/temple/mosque/whatever before their children are capable of understanding what's being fed to them.
I judge people who stare at me when I'm wearing Sophie in a sling, wrap, or mei tai.
I judge stupid people. And ignorant people.
I judge NASCAR fans. And "Desperate Housewives" fans (yes, I know, Mom). And fans of junk TV of all stripes... including myself, when I was hooked on junk TV.
I judge cultures and subcultures where stupidity and ignorance are culturally acceptable or are considered "normal", especially if it means doing stupid or ignorant things to your children (like the abovementioned whatnot).
I judge people who judge other people's sexual behaviour and then try to legislate it away (I'm talking to you, The South).
I judge the fucking Phelps family to be a particularly egregious example of how inbreeding and religion can screw you up.
I judge WalMart for aiding and abetting the systematic persecution and/or subjugation of an entire country's citizens... take your pick, really.
I judge people who send me emails asking questions that are already answered if they would just bother to read a little bit.
I judge people who don't read.
I judge people who steal ideas and pass them off as their own.
I judge teenagers who do stupid things just because "everyone else does it".
I judge adults who do stupid things just because "everyone else does it".
I judge people who don't vote, especially if they later complain about the results.
I judge people who won't clean up their own messes.
I judge American Christians who claim they are being "persecuted" when in fact they have the most special rights of anyone in the country.
I judge people who are trying to teach religion in place of science.
I judge people who claim that all public schoolchildren are brainwashed zombies. (I like homeschooling, but some homeschoolers get stupid about it.)
I judge all other drivers on the highway, especially the ones who tailgate me when I'm already going over the speed limit.
I judge poor spellers.
I judge those who misuse the English grammar.
I judge people who use 'net abbreviations 24/7 (r u there?).
I judge people who think they have all the answers... including myself.
I judge people who are sanctimonious... including myself.
I judge myself for judging so many people, especially without knowing what their circumstances are.

Who do you judge?
jan_andrea: (eating)
Total pseudoscience.

And yet, my results )
jan_andrea: (hmm)
Okay, even if you don't like classical music (philistine...) you absolutely MUST go find a copy of the Mendelssohn Octet.

Because, OMFG. It's just amazing. AMAZING.

I downloaded a copy of the score (and parts -- score! -- free!) and have been reading along as I listen, and holy farking crap, it is pure fucking genius. I mean, no question, Mendelssohn was just incredibly gifted, esp. with chamber music -- I love his orchestral works, sure, but he really shines in chamber music.

And the kicker in the Octet is that he was 16 -- six-teen! SIXTEEN!!!! -- when he wrote it. Never in a million years could most grown adults pull off something like this, but he was a KID. I remember listening to it when I was 16 and being impressed; now that I'm nearly twice that old (and almost as old as Mendelssohn when he died -- he was only 36), I'm absolutely blown away. It's a piece I've "known" for half my life, but I hadn't seen the score before, and wow -- it really makes a difference in my appreciation :)

I thought maybe our little chamber orchestral ensemble might be able to play it, but no way. It's wicked. And while it's scored for 4 violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos, no one has an easy part. Granted, the first violin part is the hardest, but even the 4th violin player has to be really good. We might be able to hack the Andante, maybe, but never in a million years could we do the rest. Just amazing.

It is one of the great tragedies of the world that he died so very young (him, Mozart, and Schubert -- I bet Mozart would have broken out of the Classical mode and done some really great work if he'd lived longer), and I wish there were a way to bring them back and see what they could have done if they'd lived longer. Well, them and Jimi Hendrix, as he was pretty much the Mozart of the 60s.

I really want to get a quartet together over the summer -- a good quartet, with four strong players (inasmuch as I can dream and call myself a strong player :). I already have a second violin (though she's not quite as strong as I'd like; maybe the pressure will force her to get better?) and possibly a violist, but we need a cellist. Not sure where to look for one outside of UNH. Anyone in the area on my FL who knows a cello player, let me know!

And choral people, what would you recommend of Mendelssohn's choral works? I really don't know much of anything about them.

Watched "Junebug" last night. It was better than I'd expected, but the ending really, really bothered me. Spoilers )

Kids are good. Sophie got over her cold and is fine, Stephen is still enjoying school, though perhaps not as much now that the novelty has completely worn off. I hope he likes it next year, but if not, I'm thinking it mightn't be bad to move to homeschooling. Not sure though. I don't want him to hate school and therefore hate learning; I'd rather be teaching him myself, subjects he enjoys, and make sure he loves learning even if he doesn't like schooling. We'll see. Sophie really wants to go to school -- often when we drop Stephen off, she goes and sits in the line behind him :) Wicked cute. His original teacher is now on maternity leave, as she and her husband recently adopted a baby girl (I made them a sling :) and so he's got a new teacher -- she seems quite nice and very eager, like the previous one, which is good. We're off to the library shortly; it's been ages since we've been, since Stephen started school, but we'll certainly do the summer reading program this year, which means at least weekly visits. Can't wait until the weather is nicer -- I love winter and spring, but mud season, yuck. And we've had stupid temperatures lately -- 30s and 40s, instead of the 50s I want. Could use a lot more sun, too. It ought to be spring!

Wonder what the summer will bring in terms of orders. I had 25 this week (!!!!) which is way more than I usually have in a week, and which is kind of crazy. I don't advertize or anything; it's all word of mouth, mostly on www.thebabywearer.com but also on other boards because of the sewing patterns. I like sewing, but would also like more time to play with Sophie and Stephen, practice violin/viola, etc. Maybe I'll let my stock run down a little and see what happens.

Rambling now, should be going.
jan_andrea: (clear)
I love the internet. I've been reading a great blog at scienceblogs.com lately (Pharyngula to be specific). He posted an article about "Answers in Genesis", which has concluded that biblically, squid and other invertebrates are not alive (!!!). Here's the article. I commented (fourth comment down) that I wished I had a word for "rage at stupidity" or "laughter at morons" and a kindly German-speaker oblidged with Antidummheitszorn, which I adore. I'm thinking about changing my tagline to it.
jan_andrea: (happy sgl)
Stephen just came upstairs to tell me a leprechaun had gotten into our house and ran around and ate lots of colors (what he calls those little fruit snack packs). Yuh huh. I blame school -- they are very creative, but sometimes I wonder what they're thinking. Today they found leprechaun footprints, a wee leprechaun hat, and little green plastic "gold" coins left by the leprechaun. A little late, but sounds fun. Trouble is, he believes these things implicitly -- as with the gingerbread man who "really really came to life" a couple of months ago -- and we're either left in the position of lying to him (Oh, yes, absolutely that's true!) or making his teachers out to be the liars. Very awkward. But clearly all the kids enjoy it... I'm not really sure what to think :P

Since it's been so long since I wrote, I'll mention that David came back a week earlier (yay!) on the 13th instead of the 20th (um, yes, that would be today), so we have had a much nicer week than we otherwise would have. It's such a relief to have another adult in the house, not to mention the other obvious benefits :)

Sophie is finally on track for language development, and I expect her to catch up to her peer group within 6-10 months, based on her current explosion. She repeats words with regularity now (it's funny to watch her watch Thomas videos -- they'll show a bee and she'll say "A bee?! A bee?!" Or my favorite, "Percy puffed out as easy as pie." "PIE! PIE!") and has rudimentary sentences -- "Jehjeh (Stephen) gwan gwy" -- "Stephen [is going to/has been/will] cry!" Granted, most other 2.5 year olds passed this stage months ago, but it's a relief to me :)
jan_andrea: (dont)
Don't worry, you won't see anything gross unless you want to :)

Thanks to everyone who offered sympathy in my last post -- it means a lot to me, and I wish I had the typing abilities to reply to each comment separately -- unfortunately, I'm finding out just how much I depend on my first two fingers!!

Here's the note Stephen made for me -- it was hanging on the inside of the door when I got back from the ER:

He wrote it completely by himself -- hence the spellings :) The hand with the heart in it totally cracks me up.

And if you're curious to see how the fingers are looking as of this morning (I was allowed to wash with warm soapy water starting today), click here (a link, not a LJ cut). But be warned, it's pretty gross. Not as bad as the night of the accident, when my finger was also all puffy from the lidocaine and saline injection, but still not pretty.

So, that's how I've been lately :P
jan_andrea: (happy sgl)
So, after having had my viola for a few months and being totally enamored of its wonderful, deep, passionate sound, I had come to realize that while my violin is pretty (with a fancy inlay on the back), its sound leaves a lot to be desired. It's actually a sort of chimera -- the back is from one instrument, and it was grafted onto a different front, with yet another instrument providing the neck/scroll. Every part of it has something non-standard about it, from the placement of the F-holes on the front, to the position of the neck relative to the front (the neck is short and too high, so my bridge is extra high and the strings are too far from the fingerboard, which makes it harder to play), to the scroll box with its odd geometry (the pegs aren't positioned correctly, so the pegs rub the strings that go over them and they break sooner than they should), and while my parents paid $450 for it (at a flea market, from a fiddle-selling guy, about 15 years ago, I think), it was appraised for closer to $350. Anyway, it has a lot of personality, but I have simply outgrown it. I mentioned to Bob (the orchestra conductor) that I was looking to buy a new violin, and he nearly laughed at my under-$1000 price range -- apparently it's difficult to find a decent instrument in that range, though the string methods course had just gotten some good instruments from China for under $1000, and he thought the professor who teaches that might be able to set me up with one eventually. I went down to Acoustic Outfitters last night anyway, to see what they have. It's where my viola is from, after all.

I spent about 2 hours looking at and playing pretty much everything they have -- about 30 violins in all, ranging from $59 to $3800. Most of them had the same kind of sound my violin has -- sort of fuzzy and unfocused, a little muted even when there's no mute on it. I tried pretty much everything over $500, thinking that an instrument under that probably wasn't worth the bother, and had it narrowed down to two -- an older violin (late 18th c) that was $1800 but had the qualities I was looking for, and a slightly newer one (19th c) that was fairly similar, a bit less impessive but half the price at $900. Then the shop owner came over and started handing me some of the ones I hadn't tried, including one that was marked $475. It's a new instrument, built in 2000 (in fact, just a month after Stephen was born), by Charles Smith, apparently of Merrimac, MA. And even though it was $475, it compared very favorably with the $1800 one -- there was some difference between the two, but was it a $1300 difference? The more I played the new one, the more I liked it, and about 30 minutes after closing time (oops), I left the store with it -- not paid, but on loan so I could show it to Bob and see what he thought of it. I played it some more when I got home, then some more this morning, and something clicked -- for $475, how could I *not* buy this one? So I took Stephen with me back to the store and paid for it, along with some fine tuners for the G, D, and A strings (I don't know why all violins don't have them -- they're so much easier than fussing with the pegs) and a cheap case for my old instrument.

(I asked about why the new violin was $475 instead of much, much more (which it should have been, judging by its sound), and apparently it had just been sitting around the workshop for too long. There's some glue flakes on the sides where the top and bottom are joined to the sides, but that is a minor cosmetic thing, and not something I'm worried about. I'm still curious to see what Bob has to say about it, but I don't intend to tell him what it cost until he tells me what he thinks :)

Et voila, now I have a new violin. The difference in sound and playability is really striking. Everything I play sounds a million times better. The fingerboard is a standard length (instead of being too short) so I can now play higher notes with more confidence. It rings a lot more than the old one, sustaining my sound much more pleasingly, and the fingerboard is made of actual hardwoods, so I shouldn't have the problem the old one had developed (the place under the A string where the D is played has developed a pit underneath it, which makes the D come out really sour). I've spent rather a lot of time today playing it, and I am really in love with it! So although I am still sort of wondering how those Chinese violins sound, I'm pretty sure that unless they are 2-3x better than this one, I've made the right choice.

On the way home, Stephen and I stopped at the grocery store to get some potatoes to go with tonight's pork roast, and I got a bottle of orange seltzer for the ride home. Stephen asked for some, and made a face.

"I think this is holy water," says he.

"Oh?" says I, curious.

"It burns, it burns!" he says, with a big grin on his face.

My little atheist-in-training -- ha ha ha!
jan_andrea: (Default)
All music stuff, so I'll cut to save your friends' page )
jan_andrea: (wow)
So, it's been nearly a month since I posted a real entry. Not for lack of stuff happening -- although there was a dearth of real news between the end of November and the holiday season -- but because I get into the no-LJ-inertia groove and then it's hard to pull myself back out. Similarly, I haven't uploaded pictures to Flickr out of similar lack of inertia. Today, I will remedy both of those.

The holidays were great, with the exception of the happy virus orgy in my gastrointestinal tract. Dad and Ann came to visit on Dec. 31, and we had a grand time -- Ann picked up a gorgeous wooden sled for the kids, just the kind I had been wanting. Plus lots of Kitty stuff for Sophia (along with the Kitty stuff Leslie and Joel got for her, she's got quite a stash now) and a great set of tinkertoys for both of them. They always get classic toys for the kids, which I love :) We did a small version of the Italian xmas dinner that David's grandmother does, beginning with pasta and sauce, artichoke hearts and mushrooms, and salad, and then a marinated pork roast with potatoes and carrots; then cheeses and fruit for a finisher. Very tasty! Mom and Bob came the next day, and it was great -- there had been some trepidation, but the day itself was marvelous. We went to the pizza place for dinner. Bob got Stephen a huge remote-control dump truck, which both kids really enjoy; Mom brought lots of books, including I think everything on my wishlist, and books for the kids, too. I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting because I was bad and didn't write anything down, and still have not written thank-you notes, though Stephen wrote one yesterday.

We went to bed early on the 31st, and loafed around on January 1st. On the 2nd, Robyn and I had planned to go to the J.L. Plum clothing outlet in Nashua, but just before we left I remembered that it's always closed on Monday and Tuesday, so we went to Boston instead! (That makes sense, right?) Eryk, having just moved, was happy to see us visit, and I took pictures of his new place. Then we all went to Chinatown for lunch, quick stop at my favorite fabric store, and then Filene's basement to try to find work clothes for Roby, but it was kind of disappointing. I'm sure $25/blouse is a good price if it's originally marked $250, but we're cheaper skates than that. We had fun visiting with Eryk, though, and also went to Trader Joe's and Home Despot, because Eryk's room has only one outlet, and it seems to date from the early 40s or something, and won't take a polarized or grounded plug!

On the 3rd, I reopened my business, and have had a steady stream of customers since. I sort of hope this is just a result of not taking orders in December and people catching up, because it's been kind of crazy! I've had 26 orders in the 11 days since then, which may not seem like a lot for a bigger business, but it is for me. I've stayed on top of them by sewing at odd hours, though I do hope it slows down somewhat. I still want this to be a hobby, not a full-time business!

We made the trek to the new Ikea in Stoughton last Sunday (the 8th). It was PACKED full of people -- we had to circle several times to find parking, and the sheer crowds were something of an impediment to our fun, but the kids still had a good time and I did, too. We got some ideas for what we'd like to do with our living room as it is, and I bought this lamp for Stephen's room, and this canopy for his bed. I totally want to get more of those to put around my bed, too, but that would add up $$wise. They have so much fun stuff! I think we're going to plunk down a big chunk of change for shelving in the living room, to replace our college-era wire shelves and faux-antique hutch and whatnot. David's thinking of getting a Yamaha electric piano so we'd be getting shelves to go over and around it. Not that either of us can really play, but I've always wanted to learn, and it would be great for the kids, too. (UNH has a sale on them every year -- they buy a bunch at the beginning of the year, they get used by music students, and then they sell them at the end of the year, so we'd not be paying retail!)

Not much else going on. We're visiting David's parents tomorrow (edit: they're coming here -- his brother's recording studio is in their house, and he's got a band there which is going overtime into tomorrow -- must clean!), and I keep meaning to call Mom and see if she has Monday off, so we could meet in Concord or something. (Mom, if you're reading in time, do you have Monday off?) Weather has been wretched, far too warm (40s and 50s) for January, and we're getting rained on instead of the snow we so richly deserve. I had built a snowman with Stephen last week, but it melted in the most pathetic way :P Today we're making gingerbread cookies -- they read the gingerbread man story (you know, "Run run run as fast as you can, can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man") in school so he's a little obsessed right now. Just waiting for the dough to firm up. Mean to get to JoAnns sometime today, too, as they have Guterman thread at 50% off. Simplicity patterns are $1.99, too, but I splurged and bought this program which makes custom-fitted, self-designed patterns, so I no longer need Simplicity! Yay! I'm looking forward to making clothes for myself that don't fit the commercial plus-size model of "Fat women only want boxy, square stuff" and that actually make me look like a woman instead of a bag of flour. I just need to set aside some time to sew for myself :)

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