delphipsmith: (snoopydance)
Mr Psmith and I are finally back home after a week-long combination business/pleasure trip to the (very soggy) midwest.

The pleasure goal was to see a bunch of family, including my brother J (recovering from a seven-year case of severe Ph.D. which resulted in the biggest diploma I've ever seen) and 8-year-old nephew P (a bundle of energy if there ever was one and a devoted fan of I Love Lucy, M*A*S*H and Star Wars, I have high hopes for him); my grandmother (95, still going to French club and playing bridge every week); and my Dad, who turned 71 on Thursday. Since J and P live only about 40 minutes from Dad he was kind enough to come pick us up, and en route to his house we stopped to see my aunt and uncle and cousin B, with whom we had a rousing political discussion about how horrible the governor of this particular state is, so much so that even his own party hates him. Then a couple of days with Dad during which we ate sushi and got to visit the aquarium in town (VERY nice!). Saturday night most of the extended family -- step-siblings, half-siblings, spouses and offspring ranging in age from babes-in-arms to last week's high school graduates -- gathered at a restaurant for dinner, after which everyone came back to the house for homemade strawberry shortcake courtesy of my sister A. Scrumptiousness and boisterousness abounded.

The business goal was some consulting for an organization near my hometown that has a museum, library and archive and wanted a professional evaluation of what was needed to house and maintain it properly. Quite interesting stuff; took tons of photos and will be writing up a report for them over the next couple of weeks,

Both goals achieved, we got home early this afternoon to find all of our menagerie well, though the rats had emptied their water bottles and one of the cats had eaten some lily petals and barfed on the arm of the couch. Ah well, could be worse.

Since we were traveling on Sunday I indulged in a Sunday New York Times (bliss!) and found this jewel of a poem on p. 50 of the Magazine. Spending time with family made me think of summer evenings of my childhood, the warm darkness, voices calling, the streetlights coming on, and this seemed to say something about that, about how a moment can be both old and new, eternal and yet fresh: "nothing is over, only beginning somewhere else"

One of the Evenings
by James Richardson

After so many years, we know them.
This is one of the older Evenings -- its patience,
settling in, its warmth that wants nothing in return.
Once on a balcony among trees, once by a slipping river,
so many Augusts sitting out through sunset --
first a dimness in the undergrowth like smoke,
and then like someone you hadn't noticed
has been in the room a long time...

It has seen everything that can be done in the dark.
It has seen two rifles swing around
to train on each other, it has seen lovers meet and revolve,
it has seen wounds grayscale in low light.
It has come equally for those who prayed for it
and those who turned on lamp after lamp
until they could not see. It deals evenhandedly
with the one skimming downstairs as rapidly as typing,
the one washing plates too loudly,
the one who thinks there's something more important,
since it does not believe in protagonists,
since it knows anyone could be anyone else.

It has heard what they said aloud to the moon to the stars
and what they could not say,
walking alone and together. It has gotten over
I cannot live through this, it has gotten over This did not have to happen
and This is experience one day I will be glad for.
It has gotten over How even for a moment
could I have forgotten?
though it never forgets,
leaves nothing behind, does not believe in stories,
since nothing is over, only beginning somewhere else.

It could be anywhere but it is here
woth the kids who play softball endlessly not keeping score,
though it's getting late, way too late,
holding their drives in the air like invisible moons a little longer,
giving way before them so they feel like they're running faster,
It likes trees, I think, it likes summer. It seems comfortable with us,
though it is here to help us be less ourselves.
It thinks of its darkening as listening harder and harder.
delphipsmith: (George)
...I have been crazy busy, thank you for asking. Taxes, bills, "real" job, freelance work, writing, keeping up with my weekly minimal wine consumption requirement, you know. On the plus side, whopping big tax refund (which will go towards the kitchen re-do) and paying clients, w00t!

And hey, it's National Poetry Month! In honor of that, I give you a wonderful bit of Snape-ish sonnetry: He Wears His Cloak Like Moonlight Wears the Night. As some of you may know, I'm a big fan of sonnets. Like medieval miniatures, or the short story, the compressed space means that not a single line or word can be wasted; everything has to be carefully and precisely chosen. It's difficult to do well, and lovely to read the results.

Also in the exciting world of sonnets: in honor of Shakespeare's 450th birthday this year the New York Shakespeare Exchange is creating a whole slew of videos: 154 sonnets read by 154 different actors in 154 different locations in and around NYC. The project was funded by $49,255 raised on Kickstarter -- go crowdfunding!! And at the end of the project, you'll be able to buy the DVD. Since Sir Pat has been lurking about NYC with his rawther young girlfriend, I'm hoping very much that he'll be one of the 154 :)

Finally, an odd but very cool new art form: People attaching LEDs to their Roombas and setting up a camera with long-term exposure, et voila! time-lapse robot vacuum spirograph. Ah, technology...
delphipsmith: (weeping angel)
The Western black rhino was declared extinct today, and the top story on Yahoo News was Suri Cruise's new haircut.

[Edit: The link above was to an old news item, sorry, and now I can't find the correct one. Curse you, interwebz! However, in trying to find it, I did learn that they've found footprints of the Sumatran rhino someplace where they thought it was extinct, so the news isn't all bad. Still...]

Humanity, I weep for you. And yes, that's a poem, so it counts as one of my 100 Things. *sigh*
delphipsmith: (the road)
Thing 2 of the 100 Things Poems! "The Highwayman," by Alfred Noyes, has everything: true love and infinite courage, heartbreak and death, a deeply romantic tale and a lovely ghost story. I don't ever remember not knowing this poem. When I was in 8th grade my English teacher gave extra credit if you memorized poems, and this was one of them, but I'm pretty sure I knew it before that. It's best read aloud; it has wonderful rhythmic beat to it that evokes the hoofbeats of the highwayman's galloping horse. I can't come up with a word for how this poem makes me feel -- aching, haunted, sorrowful, longing, it's all of those and none of them and more -- but it's always drawn a real lump-in-the-throat response from me, more so the older I get and the more I revisit it (which is odd, you'd think it's impact would fade). Here are a few stanzas to give the the flavor; the full text is online here.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”


Loreena McKennit has done a gorgeously lush and haunting version of it, which to this day, no matter that I've heard it dozens of times, makes me tear up:

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delphipsmith: (classic quill)
First of my 100 Things (100 Poems) blog posts!

"A sonnet might look dinky, but it's somehow big enough to accommodate
love, war, death, and O.J. Simpson. You could fit the whole world in there if
you shoved hard enough."


Or so says Anne Fadiman. And I agree.

I think sonnets are amazing creations: a very strict, very small form, but within it you can say literally anything you like. Anything at all. It's like the difference between bouncing about gleefully on the dance floor and executing a perfect fiery tango without a single misstep, a combination of freedom and structure that can be so much more than the sum of its parts. Or like those medieval miniatures, where you have a very small space in which to work, but within that space you can draw monsters or birds or leaves or tessellated patterns or tiny people, or whatever you like.

At any rate, it's a sadly under-used form these days, perhaps because it takes so much work to craft a good one (it's a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, where you have to keep shifting the little pieces around until they fit just right), so I was thrilled when someone wrote a beautiful one for [livejournal.com profile] deeply_horrible's "Bring Back the Bastard" fest this year. It's hard to believe that so much angst and so much history can be packed into so few lines. This is not a happy sonnet, or a love sonnet. This is a bitter and angry sonnet, in which Severus has some choice words for Dumbledore. Hope you like it as much as I did.

Title: From the Beehive
Author: primeideal

I've lived too long for faith that life is fair...
delphipsmith: (classic quill)
So at some point last year, I took up the gauntlet of the 100 Things Blogging Challenge. I picked "Things that have surprised me." Perhaps the most surprising -- or depressing, depending on your perspective -- thing was that it was damn hard coming up with things that had surprised me. I'm not sure if that's a comment on me, my life, or the world in general.

Anyway, I dropped said gauntlet spectacularly, only making it to nine, which I think was due to picking such an abstract Thing. Several other people picked much more tangible things and had better success ([livejournal.com profile] stellamoon for example went with 100 pieces of art and music that have touched her soul and I really enjoyed her posts -- Van Gogh's Willows at Sunset was particularly lovely). So I'm trying again and this time I'm going to do 100 poems. This isn't as stimulating in terms of descriptive writing -- it's pretty challenging to describe a surprise, after all -- but I hope it will be good in terms of making me think about why I like what I like, and what I think works about a piece of poetry.

If nothing else, it will give me something to talk about when I can't think of anything else to talk about, like a writing exercise. Not a bad thing.

So that's New Year's Resolution #1.

New Year's Resolution #2 is to follow through on my promise (threat?) from years past and apply to Clarion West. (Check out this year's instructors -- doesn't Samuel R. Delany look like a cross between Albus Dumbledore and Gimli? Or is it just me?) This year, instead of keeping it a sooper sekrit, I've told a whole bunch of people that I'm going to do it, which means I have to do it or I'll look like an idiot.

I hate looking like an idiot.
delphipsmith: (Hepburn)
Two weeks ago I ranted briefly about how no woman has moderated a presidential debate in 20 years, and how three young women from New Jersey were trying to change that with their petition on Change.org. Amazingly, it has worked!! ABC News reports that CNN's Candy Crowley will moderate the debate on October 16th. w00t!!!!
delphipsmith: (Hepburn)
A woman hasn’t run a presidential debate in twenty years.

This boggles my mind. With all the women in business, journalism, politics, etc., NOT ONE has been named to moderate a presidential debate??? Other adjectives I can think of besides "surprising" include annoying, vexing, inappropriate, strange, or even (if I were of the paranoid persuasion) Highly Suspicious.

Well, three teenage girls from New Jersey apparently agree. Rather than spending their summer listening to Justin Bieber or hanging out at the pool, they amassed an astonishing 170,000 signatures on a petition to have one of the upcoming 2012 debates moderated by a woman. They then took their packet of signatures to the office of the Commission on Presidential Debates (the Commission will be selecting the moderators in the next couple of weeks)...

...and they were turned away, and told that they would not be permitted to leave the packages of signatures in case they contained dangerous substances.

WTF? Epic governmental fail.

Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis were interviewed about their experience on NPR today, where they spoke like mature, thoughtful, engaged young citizens about their disappointment with the way they were treated. (I applaud their self-control; I believe I might have thrown something large and heavy...)

Rather than give up, however, (quoting from themarysue.com): "[w]orking with Change.org, the girls have put together two petitions asking for female moderators–one targeted at the commission, and one targeting the Obama and Romney campaigns, who can also have a sizable influence over who is chosen to moderate the political showdowns. The former has 116,000 signatures, the latter 53,000."

These girls rock. If you agree, you can sign their petition and add your support. You go, girls!!!
delphipsmith: (thinker)
The town of Corigliano d'Otranto has gone all brainy. They've put up ceramic plaques around town with quotes from the likes of Augustine, hand out conversation-starter postcards with questions like "Why were you born?" and even hired a Municipal Philosopher.

Does this not astonish you, in this age of tweets and sound bites, knee-jerk ideologues and their blind followers? It does me..

Graziella Lupo, the first person to hold the position, actually trained as a philosophical consultant at the Ca' Foscari University in Venice. I didn't even know such a degree existed!! Had I known, I might have made different choices as an undergrad ;)

So, the Philosopher is available for consultation on Friday afternoons to help you clarify your thoughts and puzzle over Deep Junk. Is this not a wonderful creative fascinating thing? Are not amazed at the intellectual fire of this tiny (pop. 5900) town?? Of course it is and you are! (I wish MY town had a Municipal Philosopher.)

But guess who thinks it isn't? The local branch of the psychologists' professional organization. They say that the use of a consulting philosopher is "not only misleading and confusing, but utterly perilous" and state that they will take "all the most appropriate actions to combat any offence that may be identified".

Well, thinking has always been a little perilous (all those highly volatile IDEAS, you know?). But somebody whose job is helping people's minds work better objects to...somebody whose job is helping people's minds work better? (This bit of course is not surprising at all. Rather depressing, but not surprising.) It's almost enough to make you question their dedication.

Perhaps I shall institute the habit of starting each day with a little Marcus Aurelius or Socrates :)
delphipsmith: (thinker)
When you consider the only currently available alternative to aging is, well, being dead, getting older suddenly looks much more appealing. But there are times when what seems like a simple, gradual process that you have plenty of time to get used to suddenly throws up a mile marker that startles you.  This one happened to me last summer.

Like many (many many many) people, there is a Starbucks near where I work. Like man (many many many) people, I stop in there frequently. There's a young guy who works there, a graduate student in architecture. Based on my interactions with him there, and more so at the library where he helped us out over a semester with some of our architecture collections, I knew he was intelligent, quick-witted, reliable, nice, funny. Last summer he joined this group that bikes across the US, stopping to help work on affordable housing projects at various places along the way. His colleagues at Starbucks put up a flier about it so people could donate, with a link to his blog, where I learned more about him: that he was an Americorps volunteer, worked with Habitat for Humanity, has a lovely philosophy about making people's lives better, likes to draw, and a number of other very appealing things, all of which summed up to his being a genuinely remarkable young man.

Oh, and did I mention he's also very cute? Shaggy brown hair, nice eyes, sweet smile, etc.

Now, for the last several many decades (exactly how many, modesty prohibits me from disclosing), all of this would immediately have spawned the thought, "Wow, I would love to go out with this guy."

This time? The very first thought that crossed my mind was, "Wow, how amazing would it be to have a son like that? I would be so proud..."

This was quite a shock, let me tell you. I mean, I knew I'd reached the point where my boss is younger than I am, but I had no idea I had crossed the Rubicon from having men in the world that were too old to date, to having men in the world that were too young to date. And it came upon me so unexpectedly and so fully-formed -- it wasn't like I had some sort of internal debate about it, it was just a done deal.

The aftershocks still haven't quite settled out in my mind nearly a year later. Even writing it down makes me feel rather odd. So I think a cup of tea and some chocolate is in order.  And perhaps some voting on English men :)
delphipsmith: (gumbies)
A week's trip out of town, catching up from a week's trip out of town, and mass quantities of freelance work = no time for anything, including reading, writing or (in some cases) sleeping. Grrrr. Note 1 to self: Say no to any and all jobs for the next, oh, two months. Note 2: Spend newly acquired free time gloating over the lovely SSHG Exchange prompts gifted to me by the mods. Can you say Plot Bunnies??

In other news, the transit of Venus is way cool. Watching that little circle move across the sun makes my brain feel funny as I try to wrap my head around the reality of giant flaming balls of gas floating in space. It's no wonder ancient man invented things like the celestial spheres and Prolemaic model. Much easier to grasp.

In keeping with my 100 Things (Surprises) commitment, I can add that I was quite surprised to learn how important the transit of Venus was in terms of astronomy and cosmology. Scientists used it to calculate the distance from the sun to the Earth, of all things -- the NASA guys cleverly glossed over exactly how they did this, saying something about the parallax method and trigonometry (bane of my existence) before zipping on to show pictures of the sun that make it look like some sort of hell dimension (oh great, our solar system is situated on the Hellmouth...). Other surprising Venus trivia: its surface temperature is hot enough to melt lead, its surface pressure is 92 times that of Earth, it rains sulfuric acid, and it suffers from pretty much constant hurricane-force winds. So not a good place for a vacation. Oh, and it rotates backwards.

None of which I knew before, so today was a net gain in that I learned something. Yay me!
delphipsmith: (thinker)
I have another "reptilian hindbrain" surprise, but I think I'll save that in favor of one that I was reminded of last night as we were watching Supernatural (digression: Yay the Impala!) and enjoying the classic rock music.

When you're a kid, you think all grownups are old and boring. They do boring thing like go to work and pay bills, and the things they do for fun are a real snooze, like going out to dinner. Right? And then at some point something happens, and you are amazed to find that hey, they're not that different from you, and you get your first inkling that the gap between kid and grownup isn't some unbridgeable chasm, on the other side of which Grownup You will be some unrecognizably alien and different being from Kid You. Instead it's a continuum, a long and a winding road with no gaps, just slow changes, and for the first time you can (sort of) picture yourself somewhere up ahead on that road.

This happened to me when I was about thirteen. I babysat one night for a couple that I thought of as "old" because they were married and had a baby, though of course they were probably in their early 20s. As per usual, the husband had picked me up at my house around dinnertime, so then when they got home he gave me a ride back to my house. On the way home he had the radio on. We're putt-putting along, I'm kind of sleepy because it's late, and all of a sudden he says, "Oh man, I love this song, do you mind if I turn it up?" Of course I said "No," and he cranks the volume and the windows are practically vibrating to the beat of The Knack's My Sharona.

Now I loved that song as well (still do, actually -- shameful secret LOL!), and of course one must listen to at a very high volume :) So I distinctly remember the surprise I felt at this: A sedate grown-up wanting to blare loud rock music?? What is this??? Grownups don't do that!!! And for the first time I could actually imagine myself becoming a grownup, because here was something that I liked and (apparently) they liked too, at least some of them.

That husband probably didn't think of himself as very different from what he'd been as a kid; looking back, that long and winding road is easy to see. Looking forward, though, it's unimaginable: how will I change, across that gulf separating Now from Then? What will I be when I'm done? Will I even recognize myself? This was my first clue that there is no chasm, no gulf, no sudden transformation: just the drip-drip-drip of accumulated little changes, a thousand-mile journey composed of one small step after another.

It was a strange sensation, almost like a snatch of time travel, seeing through the eyes of Future Me...
delphipsmith: (kaboom)
There are no words for how behind I am with so many things, as anyone might guess from the fact that I've only posted three times this month. Gaaah. Editing a 300+ page scholarly monograph on Freemasonry in your spare time can do that to you.

But at last, at last, here I am with my next installment in the 100 Things Challenge. Yay!

The reptilian hindbrain, also sometimes called the "lizard brain," is pop culture slang for the most primitive part of the brain, the part just slightly more evolved than the autonomous functions like breathing. Its proper name is Rhombencephalon, and according to Wikipedia "it has been suggested that the hindbrain first evolved...between 570 and 555 million years ago."

But this surprise, which I experienced when I was about ten years old but still remember like it was yesterday, has nothing to do with where the hindbrain came from and everything to do with the fact that it's still in there, sulking at its superfluity, waiting to pounce and take over in certain circumstances.

My brother is five years younger than me, and when we were kids we had developed mad skillz at pushing each others' buttons. One evening when I was about ten, he did something -- I don't recall what -- that sent me into quite literally a blind rage. I was so furious I was incoherent; I distinctly recall that I felt like I had lost the power of speech, as well as all control over my actions. We were downstairs at the time, and I remember hurtling up the stairs, slamming into his room (a MAJOR breach of protocol: personal space was a very big priority in my family and you DID NOT enter someone else's room without permission)...I ran to his dresser, ripped the drawers open, grabbed handfuls of stuff, anything, whatever I could get my hands on, threw it left, right, up, down, hurling it about the room until it was festooned with socks and underwear. I felt like a passenger in my own head, like my rage had become a physical thing that had taken possession of me. And side by side with the red berserker frenzy was this astonishment: What the heck is going on? What is this??

I remember that my brother and my mom had followed me upstairs and stood in the doorway staring, open-mouthed in awe at my tiny whirling vortex of fury. (I was a very small ten year old.)

Later, my mom told me she was proud of me that instead of beating my brother to a pulp, I'd turned my rage on something inanimate, not to mention squashy and damage-free (socks = harmless). Looking back, yeah, as a mom I too would probably have taken that as a good sign. At the time, though, had I known who the Incredible Hulk was then, I'm sure I would have identified with him (sans the purple shorts).

That particular part of the hindbrain never showed itself to me again (though I caught a glimpse of its red-and-black hide once, years later, when my college boyfriend smugly opined that it was fine for him to have slept around in high school but that girls ought to be virgins...but that's another story, and it wasn't really a surprise LOL!). But I've never forgotten my amazement at this hitherto unsuspected capability lurking inside me, and my astonishment at the power of this most basic of hindbrain emotions.
delphipsmith: (thinker)
Math is one of the most predictable and yet surprising things anywhere ever. Oh, some might cite the sentient mattresses of Sqornshellous Zeta, and there may yet be a very surprising fungus on Algol IX that excretes solid gold, but for my money I'll take math every time. Nothing is as entertaining and endlessly surprising as the fact that multiples of nine always add up to nine, or that given a right triangle a2+b2 will always always always = c2, or that the Fibonacci sequence turns up in sunflowers and pinecones. Why??? I don't know, but it still surprises me.

The joy of mathematics is inventing mathematical objects, and then noticing that the mathematical objects that you just created have all sorts of wonderful properties that you never intentionally built into them. It is like building a toaster and then realizing that your invention also, for some unexplained reason, acts as a rocket jetpack and MP3 player. (LessWrong.com)

Did you know that every even integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two primes? Really. Go try it. (Well OK, it's technically just a conjecture, but nobody has disproved it yet.)

When I took geometry in 7th grade and discovered that you could start with maybe three or four premises and make them prove all kinds of other things, I was astounded and excited and wowed and mindblown (uh-huh, I'm a Nerd Girl). I'm still gleefully surprised when I do something all mathy and complicated and it works every time. How cool is that??

Did you know that the apparently completely abstract binomial formula (a + b)2 = a2 + 2ab + b2 can be represented by an incredibly simple picture that you've probably doodled yourself at some point in your life? Go here and play with it if you don't believe me. And the even more abstract and scary-looking formula (a + b)3 = a3 + 3a2b + 3ab2 + b3 is actually a really simple set of blocks that every Montessori preschooler can do?

Even what look like simple patterns turn out, if you dig down, to have patterns within patterns within patterns. Math makes some of the most beautiful patterns in the world. This page includes a bunch of interactive patterns, including Eratosthenes' sieve!

Perhaps most surprising of all, one single number can be used to predict a city's wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other characteristics. What's that number? Its population. Check out the TED talk on this topic (the TED talks alone could furnish me with at least half of my 100 surprises!).

So yay for the surprises you find when you dig into numbers!!
delphipsmith: (much rejoicing)
So after starting out with Surprise 1, a philosophical disquisition on how much you can learn about a person from the things that surprise them, I'm going to backtrack and do a really simple old-fashioned straight-forward "Surprise!" for Surprise 2.

For a big chunk of my childhood we lived out in the country -- the real country, with the quarter-mile-long driveway and the nearest neighbor a mile away -- first in New York surrounded by woods and hills, and later in the midwest surrounded by cornfields and wheatfields. My brother and I spent a lot of time playing in the river or the barn or the abandoned chicken-house, the latter being an adventure which would probably give today's over-cautious parents a bad case of OH MY GOD NO THE DISEEEEASES, but which just gave us a high tolerance for funny smells and probably germs (I attribute my general excellent health to childhood experiences like this).

Anyway, it was big old barn, a lot of fun to play in, but for quite a few years we didn't have anything in it except mice and cats (in inverse proportions, usually) and of course ourselves. Until Christmas morning when I was eleven, and suddenly the barn had...
free glitter text and family website at FamilyLobby.com

(That just seemed to cry out for glitter letters, don't you think?) Yep, a real live honest-to-god pony. For ME! Now, the thrill of surprise was slightly mitigated by the fact that (despite my aforementioned general good health) I had come down with a violent case of the stomach flu on Christmas Eve and every time I diverged from the horizontal, the results were rather spectacularly unpleasant. So I didn't get to actually TOUCH my pony until the 26th. But regardless, I still get to say that I got the ultimate Christmas surprise every little girl dreams of: a pony for Christmas!!

Epilogue: I had Duke for a couple of years and then traded up to Missy, a quarter horse (I was so short and she was so tall that if I got off her anywhere other than the barn I had to lead her to the nearest tree so I could climb up it and drop onto her back like some sort of "Death from Above" ambush). Sadly, we eventually moved to The Big City and there were no more ponies or horses for me. I still miss it sometimes. As Will Rogers said, "There's something about the outside of a horse that's good for the inside of a man."
delphipsmith: (this is a vampire)
For my 100 Things Challenge, I decided I would write about one hundred things that have surprised me, be it people, places, ideas, events, thoughts, experiences, whatever. You may have noticed that I've dallied a bit in getting started. The reason turns out to be Thing 1: As I considered the various possibilities of what to begin with (not to mention what to go on with), the topic turned out to be a rather more personal one than I had expected. I suppose I should have known this, or been able to predict it: anger, fear, tears, lust, passion, startlement and surprise are all core reptilian-hind-brain sensations, so anything that triggers them pulls on strings that are wired fairly deeply into the psyche. But the more topics I came up with, the more I realized that in order to explain each of them I'd have to go into why it surprised me, which of course involves talking about the who/what/when/where/why of me.

So that's my first surprise: that sharing things that have surprised you can be surprisingly revealing. (Before we all get frightened of metaphysics or similar, here, let me reassure you that not all of my surprises are this deep. Thing 2, for example. which is coming tomorrow, is totally just fun. Very cool, but just fun.)

PS Note icon, which is like "SURPRISE!!" Isn't that clever??
delphipsmith: (BA beta)
A stylized grey badge with the red OTW logo taking up the middle and the words Survey Taker bracketing the logo This is an interesting survey by the Organization for Transformative Works -- thanks to [livejournal.com profile] shyfoxling for alerting me to it via her post.

The Organization for Transformative Works, for those who don't know, is a nonprofit organization run by and for fans to provide access to and preserve the history of fan works and fan cultures. They're the outfit behind Archive Of Our Own (AO3) and also the scholarly academic journal Transformative Works and Cultures. TWC has included papers on fan aspects of everything from Wizard rock to World of Warcraft to Willa Cather. They've even done a piece on silent-era movie fandoms (which operated via magazines) back in the 1920s!

They are also, which I did not know until I took the survey, the brains behind FanLore, a wiki designed to document the phenomenon of fan/fandom (making it a sort of meta-fandom of its own, I suppose?), as well as several other projects.

So yeah, I took a survey and actually learned something. How cool is that??

100 Things Blogging Challenge iconOn another note, a lot of people are taking on the 100 Things challenge to encourage themselves to write more, and more in-depth, posts. I'm all for it (I mean, if I wanted tiny little posts I'd go to Twitter, right?). For a long time I've cross-posted my book reviews from Goodreads to LJ, so choosing 100 books (while easy) would have felt like cheating since I already do that. There's music or movies or poems, all of which are great, but none of them spoke to me. Finally I decided on 100 Surprises: the people, places, events, stories, things, ideas, etc. that have surprised me over the years. I just hope I can come up with 100 of them...

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