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Frustrated February 27, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Ugh. Today is just one of those days.

I’m frustrated because I don’t think I’m teaching poetry well to my students, and I’m afraid this is going to negatively affect their paper grades.  I’m doing my best, but they’re not receptive and I don’t think I’m conveying my ideas in a clear and concise fashion.

I’m frustrated because the work seems to keep piling up, and no matter how fast I shovel it just keeps raining down.

I’m frustrated because my apartment is roughly the size of a refrigerator box.

I’m frustrated because I haven’t had time to work out in months, and whether it’s true or not, I’m feeling fat and ugly.  This morning everything I tried on just didn’t seem to look good, or quite right, or whatever.  This afternoon I’m going to the gym, no matter what.

I’m frustrated because the weather was beautiful yesterday and now its winter again.

I feel a little better now.

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Weekend Wrap-Up February 23, 2009

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So soft!

So soft!

One of the international students in my conversation group is having a baby, so I’m making a baby blanket for the new bundle of joy.  It’s slow coming, but I think it’s looking good so far.  

For those of you who are interested, I’m working the whole thing in double-crochet, size E hook.  So far, so good–the ribbing effect it’s creating is quite neat.  This is just a typical sport-weight two-tone baby yarn that I picked up from Walmart.  Actually, I’d shopped around a bit, and it was the softest I could find.  Once it’s done, I plan on edging it in shell.

I’m Lovin’: Vogue Options Pattern February 20, 2009

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Hancock Fabrics was having a sale today, so I decided to stop in on my way home to see what was going on.  While I was there, I began flipping through one of the fabric catalogues and found this.  

I love this pattern, mostly because of the absolute usability of it.  The cut is extremely flattering: the V-neck and shoulder straps create a nice bustline, and the A-line skirt is forgiving.  The wing-like sleeves aren’t my favorite, but I adore the other styles.  I can’t wait to find some gorgeous springtime fabric and whip one up.  

This pattern doesn’t happen to be designer, but Vogue carries tons of original designs by famous fashionistas, like Donna Karan and Michael Kors.

BBC’s 100 Books February 19, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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Stolen off of Facebook:

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Instructions:
1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen X+ (Thank you for encouraging me to read this, Lindsey)
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte X+ (Completed October 1, 2009.  Excellent.)
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee X+
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte X+
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X+
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman X (how did this make the list?  I mean, seriously)
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens X+ (I didn’t like this book in high school, but loved it when I read it again in college)
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy X
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare X+  (Okay, so I’ve only read most of the works, but I’m counting it anyway)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X  (I loathe and detest this book.  It’s the reason that Lord of the Rings–which, apparently, is amazing according to this list, is unchecked.  This book makes me thankful that Tolkien is dead.)
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald X+
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck X+
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll *
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis *
34 Emma – Jane Austen *
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen *
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X+
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hossein
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell X+
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood X+
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding X+
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen *
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X+
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon (So, funny story on this one.  I picked it up in the bookstore and flipped through it without reading the dust cover, and some of the comments reminded me of John’s neuroses.  So I showed him the book, and he got all huffy.  I couldn’t figure out why–turns out he DID read the summary, and the book is about autism.  Oops.)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold X+
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie *
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville X (One of those that I’m sad to put an X by)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker X+ (Despite writing my thesis on this book, I still love it)
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt (Has anyone ever heard of this?)
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White X+
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom X+
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X+
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad X (I liked this the first time I read it, but having read it a subsequent 7 times in college has taken the shine off)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare X+ (How is this separate from the Complete Works of Shakespeare again?)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo X+ (Long read, should be higher on the list)

Total: 30.  Not bad, considering!  Really, though, some of the titles on this list I haven’t even heard of, much less considered reading.  And really?  Phillip Pullman?  In the top 10?  Makes me doubt the validity of this list entirely.

Weren’t My Cannabis February 16, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet.
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There are a couple of different stops on the Red route within a mile of my apartment.  If I wake up early enough I’ll catch the one by Toys ‘R Us.  It’s the 5th stop on the route, which means longer ride time in the morning, but I get home faster in the afternoon (and let’s be honest, that’s the part that really matters).  If I’m running late, I can always wait at Walmart, which is a few stops down the line but only a mile or so further away. 

This morning was a late morning, so I headed to Walmart.  As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed that a police car had pulled over an old silver Buick.  I thought it was a little early in the morning for that sort of public vigilance, but whatever.  I figured the person had either been a) sleeping in his/her car all night long, and the manager had called the police to remove the squatters or b) speeding.  

I only had to wait a few minutes before the bus made its way down the main street, so I piled out of my truck.  I stood in the frigid morning trying not to shiver as it rolled up to the curb; as I began to make my way towards the stairs, I noticed a woman hurrying towards me.  At first I thought she was special needs–many mentally disabled people ride the Red–but as she approached she seemed to be (at least decently) lucid.  She was probably in her early 40s and, like most of the non-traditional bus patrons, seemed a little worse for the wear.  

“That policeman almost didn’t let me go,” she huffed, completely indignant, cutting in front of me.  “I told him none of that weed weren’t mine, that it was all his, and he almost made me miss the bus.”

Sure, lady.  Whatever you say.

Smile, Valentine February 16, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Uncategorized.
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I heart you too, buttwad

I heart you too, buttwad

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this picture made me smile.  Someone should market these.  (found via Passive Aggressive Notes)

BookLust: Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann February 8, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust.
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One baaaaad book.

One baaaaad book.

I originally grabbed this book at Barnes & Noble because my one of my office mates had a student give an oral report on it.  The premise sounded interesting enough, and it just so happened to be on a 2 for 1 table, so I brought it home.  

The idea behind this mystery novel is, well, novel:  a herd of Irish sheep, upon finding their shepard murdered, decide to unravel (haha, get it?) the mystery.  The book follows their hunt for justice from a third person limited point of view, with full focus being on the sheep.  Swann does a decent job capturing what the human world might seem like from a sheep’s perspective (I suppose, I’ve never spoken to a sheep before), and her sheepy characters are enjoyable.  That’s about where the rollicking good time promised on the cover ends. 

This book was originally written in German, and has since been translated into fifteen languages.  Leonie Swann–not her real name, she was working on a dissertation at the time of the book’s publishing and decided to go with a pseudonym should writing about sheep detectives kill her academic credibility–has a clipped and oftentimes confusing writing style.  Imagery is sparse, the narrative is stilted, and it’s hard to access the motivations behind her characters.  The plot itself begins as a murder, but morphs into this completely unbelievable murder/suicide/drug running plot that could have been interesting, but instead reads ridiculous.  To boot, there are too many loose ends by the conclusion of the story to leave the reader even marginally satisfied.  

This was one of those books that I had to force myself to finish.  The idea was cute enough, but it completely failed in execution.  Hopefully Swann will stick to academics, where one can only hope her prose is more manageable than in Three Bags Full. 

Rating: 2 stars (won’t read again, wouldn’t recommend)  

I’m Lovin’: Fishs Eddy’s Memoware February 6, 2009

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You can take notes in food coloring.

You can take notes in food coloring.

Talk about bringing your work home with you.

A dinnerware collection after my own heart!  I wish I had more cabinet space (and a full set of Fiestaware, why is it still sucking my money away?) because this would be coming home with me.  Today. 

I especially love the composition notebook cup.  That’s right, it’s a cup. 

I’m Loathin’: Elizabeth Hasselbeck February 6, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Loathin'.
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I give you the devil (who may or may not wear Prada, I don’t know):

Elizabeth Hasselbeck in her true form.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck in her true form.

When Elizabeth and I first met, she affected me the way that she probably affected most women: I fell in lust.  I was in a whirlwind love affair with all the women on The View.  Wow, thought I, these ladies are funny!  And they’re smart!  Elizabeth’s really pretty!  (I was 12 when The View first started; it wasn’t like was going to have any major epiphanies.  Get off me.)

Even as I watched The View in high school, I still found myself drawn to Elizabeth.  She was nice to the guests and rather charming, and I enjoyed how she expressed her differing viewpoints with Meredith, Starr, Joy, and Barbara in a way that preserved everyone’s dignity.  I admired her backbone and poise.

Then Meredith left for the Morning Show, and Barbara brought on Rosie O’Donnell.  

This was problematic.

See, I loved Rosie long before I loved Elizabeth.  The Rosie O’Donnell Show used to come on television right after I got home from school.  I distinctly remember watching Rosie and then turning over to The Nanny before Mom would get home and make me start my homework.  It was almost as if Rosie was my dirty little secret; she and I spent an hour together every weekday afternoon with no one the wiser.  She was my special favorite. 

So thus, in one fell swoop, Elizabeth lost her position on top of my daytime television pedestal.  It’s almost as if she knew, because right after Rosie joined the show (and began give-aways, which is the only reason The View still has a live audience) she became a total and complete gremlin.  No longer was dialogue civilized; Elizabeth turned Hot Topics into a vicious personal attack every single day.  It didn’t matter what kind of interference Barbara Walters interfered, or what concessions My Darling Rosie tried to make.  Elizabeth just became more and more vicious.  

I began to dislike Elizabeth. 

She and I were on the outs.  Our strained relationship finally imploded when she and Rosie had a fight on air that lasted a full uncensored 5 minutes.  Rosie tried to talk reasonably with Elizabeth, and Elizabeth went bat crap insane.  Their feuding drove Rosie off the show.  This made me sad. 

I now hated Elizabeth.

You’d think that would set Elizabeth straight again, and she would go back to her charming, aw-shucks-you-guys ways.  You’d think she’d abandon her defensive ways, but no.  She’s just morphed into a less composed Ann Coulter, or a Rush Limbaugh with smaller breasts.  In other words, she’s nuttier than a fruitcake.  I have come to loathe Elizabeth Hasselbeck so completely, so thoroughly, that I became nauseous while defacing her picture and threw up a little bit in my mouth.  

There are many reasons I hate Elizabeth.  First off, she’s completely and totally unwilling to compromise.  She refuses to acknowledge anyone else’s opposing viewpoints; she automatically supposes that her extreme right-ism is the only answer.  She is physically incapable of saying, “okay, I can see where you are coming from, but I think XYZ.”  It’s like any sort of mediation would melt her tongue straight off.  Instead, she doggedly stands by any conservative stance, even if it is completely ridiculous, and conversely, she attacks any liberal stance, even if it has merit.  It’s almost like she’s retarded.

To boot, she cannot hold a constructive debate.  She’s like kid in your elementary school class who told you that you were wrong, and when you asked why, it was because you were stupid.  When someone counters one of her points, she just beats a dead horse.  She will RETURN TO THE REBUTTED POINT AND SAY THE SAME THING OVER AGAIN.  It’s like listening to a broken record–that is, if the record had a high, screechy voice and might actually fly over a table at you during commercial break.

I could, possibly, forgive all of that.  Maybe.  But here’s the thing that sends me over the edge:  all she does is yell.  YELL.  CONSTANTLY.  I’M ELIZABETH AND EVERY TIME YOU DISAGREE WITH ME I’M GOING TO SPEAK AT YOU IN ALL CAPS.  Not only does she make stupid arguments (not stupid debate), she has to SCREAM them at you.  She’s three episodes away from putting her hands over her ears and yelling I CAN’T HEAR YOU over and over in Joy’s face.  

The thing is, I can respect her (begrudgingly) for wanting to stand up for what she believes in, but the way she does it gives conservatism a bad rap.  I’m moderate with conservative leanings, so I can gel with some of what she says on air.  It’s the way she does it, though, that’s so irritating.  I’m sure that moderate conservatives everywhere must wish she would shut her pie hole; every time Elizabeth brings up a subject for debate, she slaughters it so thoroughly that it becomes unrecognizable.  It’s a problem, especially because the press she generates for conservatives is wholly negative.  I’m waiting for her to get her own show on FOX NEWS, where this sort of behavior is tolerated AND propagated.  

And the worst part?  She. Keeps. Reproducing.

Monkey See February 2, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs, Crazy Magnet.
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A lady wearing a gorilla suit rode the bus today.

I know.  What can you say to that?