Bi-Monthly Renovation

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.
Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t been able to rearrange the living room, so I’ve been experimenting with themes instead. My favorite theme by Bytesforall is broken, so I’m back to WordPress 3.2 default, 2011. C’est la vie. If you know of a good custom header theme that you enjoy, send it my way to see if it’s something I’d enjoy too.

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Controlled Capacity

Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” This is one of my favorite adages. I love planning. I love thinking about upcoming tasks, comparing old tasks undone, all to move towards a common goal. While studying urban planning at Portland State University, I learned to believe that planning was even more important in urban settings (rural too). If we want to create and support a vision of our place, then we need to plan to manage the growth (or decline, think Flint, Michigan) that will inevitably happen. Given this framework, I think my friend was a little surprised when I told her I had a gut level reaction against Arcade Fire.

She asked me if I’d listened to them yet. She was letting me borrow a CD. I confessed that no, I hadn’t because well… they sort of irked me.

“I heard them on Soundstage once,” I explained. I thought back to that episode where the large band was sweating over microphones and the stage, all very animated in their own right. I’ve known musician types, and there is something about their arrogant personalities… that holier than thou because I play music attitude that really just bugs me. And, it really bugs me when it sweats all over the stage.

I had never heard of Arcade Fire prior to listening to this Soundstage episode, so I looked them up like any self-respecting internet user would do. Naturally, I turned to Wikipedia, where it was kindly explained Arcade Fire caps their concerts. They don’t sell more than, say 3,000 tickets per show (I don’t remember the number and Wikipedia isn’t saying anything about this memory.)

The article further explained some restrictions the band put in place to control their grow, their numbers, and as such have become a cult classic revolving around the lead singer. I recall there was something catchy about their music but it didn’t hit to my core like say, Sinner Man or At Last. It was catchy. It was modern. It was clearly very popular.

Now, maybe it’s because I was never a popular kid. Maybe this hearkens back to some childhood jealously, but something about this just rubbed me the wrong way.

When I explained this to my friend, after she argued isn’t a good thing that they are controlling their growth and not selling out to the Man (record labels), she thought, “Oh, you mean, like they are capping their concerts with the premeditated assumption they will be popular?”

This was the closest set of words that explained the revulsion I felt.

But the group is popular. So, what’s so wrong, really, with the band exercising controlled growth, maintaining their vision, and doing what they love: playing music? Nothing really in the grand scheme of things. And, the irony is they are doing that which I actively advocate.

We have had a capped membership in my food club since we merged. Since March 2010, we have frozen our membership at about 60 families. As people shift, we make room for more, but that’s it. We can’t handle more than 60 families with our current structure, and now we like our structure. So, really, what’s so bad about capped capacity?

I think I better listen to that album (The Suburbs) now.

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There’s no such thing as work-life balance

Stuck in Traffic
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Her pregnancy claim was rejected, but all agree it doesn’t work. So, I hear that the conversation can’t be about discrimination but rather how we can make something work.

Family not withstanding, I have a lot of interests. Often, it feels like my brain is just going, going, going (except now, where I really need a vacation, most days I’m just surviving). So, when I’m not feeling overwhelmed, I have a lot of interests in which I take part. It started when I was staying at home and needed something to stimulate my brain. Then, I had commitments I had to follow through with once the job started. Even after some of these commitments get completed, I’m not going to stop doing other things. So, when I’m at work, emails need to be answered, problems solved, and maybe even a little research done.

While I’m at work, I’m thinking about all the work tasks and how to manage xyz event, keep on top of abc calendar, and complete the daily tasks that never make it to the list. I’m also thinking about my husband how his day is going, is he going to be hungry when he gets home, is he going to go for a longer bike ride, when did we schedule his chiropractor appointment. I”m thinking about my son hoping he’s enjoying his day at school, wonder if he had an allergic reaction, but I didn’t receive a phone call, and what thing we might have planned for the evening. I’m thinking about what to make for dinner this night and the next. I’m considering what other foodstuffs need planning. I’m thinking about the bathroom and kitchen floors that need to be scrubbed along with the laundry that needs to be folded and put away. I’m thinking about all the stuff in my house that needs to be organized thankful that my space at work is. At work, I’m thinking then about the files that miraculously aren’t that organized and how they should be but what an in-depth project it is that I don’t have time for.

When I was home, not working, I was in a rut. Sure, I helped start a food club and I volunteered and participated with my church. I sat on the board at the Community Alliance of Tenants. Work is (environmental) stewardship. Church is spirituality. Food club is food security, foodsheds, local, organic, sustainable. The Community Alliance of Tenants is housing, empowerment, education. Home, is home, is family, is life. So, all these things fit important interests, values, core to my soul. How can I give any one up?

I am finding it’s near impossible, and often, lately, they collide. They run out of balance. So, even though this article is in part about the unfairness of this woman’s claim being denied, it is something many of us face daily. And, I don’t think a law suit is how we’re going to handle it for the better paradigm shift. Not a law suit about discrimination, that is.

Instead of anti-discrimination suits, we need our laws to change to make it easier to accept this imbalance. We need better child care allowances. We need part-time weeks that allow for health care to be offered at the same rate as full. We need work place flexibility that understands life happens outside of the cube farm. I believe we all have the right to reach our potential in a supported way, but the way we organize ourselves often gives undue challenges to that cause. We want what’s best for our kids, and sometimes we need to make sure we have what’s best for us to give what’s best for them.

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Wacky, Wild Weather

I am sitting here, typing this, while the boys are napping. My computer is telling me it’s 81 degrees outside.

Weather Report
My two apps/widgets that tally my weather report 80 or 81 on this balmy day.

On the other side of this large continent, Hurricane Irene hovers over North Carolina. A rare hurricane that is slated to travel the entire eastern seaboard.

Irene's WunderMap
A map of Irene's progress courtesy of weatherunderground.

Washington D.C. and Colorado both had 5.x earthquakes on the same day, a few weeks ago. Texas is suffering from the hottest summer in 90 years. On the West Coast, we have a funny, unpredictable summer, although balmy compared to these other places. But in this “balmy” place, we had a cool, wet July. This means there were many crop failures. We are still an agrarian society that depends on a level of predictability with weather. For our food club, farmers had failed cherries failed. Our tomatoes are late. Our farmer’s peaches, apricots, and nectarines are late.

It makes sense to me that this is in part do to what we’ve done to affect climate. That is: climate change. Global warming. We are causing our earth to get warmer, so animals move to higher elevations faster than previous patterns, and we can’t predict crops. As an agrarian society, we rely on a certain level of predictability so we can plan for our future. When weather is unstable, our lives can be unstable and erratic.

By ignoring global warming and its predicted affects, we fail to plan for our children’s future. I hope these wild earthquakes and hurricanes will continue to wake people up. I hope this will encourage people that local is better for security and our environment. Simply, I hope.

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20 Years in Open Source

Okay, so this title isn’t completely correct. I don’t really know the beginnings of Open Source. I do know that I blog on an Open Source platform. I browse Open Source. And, at home, I compute Open Source.

20 Years of Linux: Then & Now
The Linux Foundation created this snappy graphic to detail our technological evolution over the last few decades.
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Still Sleepy


Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

I’m still sleepy. I’m still yearning for a vacation. My husband actually made dinner tonight. Part leftovers, part hot dogs for himself and the kiddo. He also solicited Levi’s help in procurring not one but two bottles of wine for me.

I’m thinking about the pendulum  theory. The idea that we become that which we fight against. I am part of a food club that is working to create a world that doesn’t include an infected, diseased, industrial food complex. But, I already feel the desires of delegation — the desire to pay for that which I no longer have time to do. I desire commodifying my life to enjoy other parts. So, in a sense, I am becoming that which I am fighting against.

Awareness is certainly the first step.

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Persnickety Hump Day

Sporting Shorts - Action Shot
Sporting Shorts - Action Shot, alexis225 via flickr

“Mommy!!”

I had went back to bed, or really never got out of bed even if I woke up. So, I had been (re)snoozing for an hour and a half. I was counting on two hours.

“Mommy!” I listen, still not opening my eyes. I hear sniffles.

“Mooooooommmmy! It hurts!” I open my eyes, which feels quick but it must be very slow. I raise my drowsy eyelids and look at the clock. 6:00am. The thing I hate most about my husband riding his bike to work is that he has to get up at 4:00am. Even if I make his lunch the night before, my sleep is still interrupted. I haven’t had one full night of sleep since before I was pregnant for Levi. Even the one two-day get-away I had, when my thyroid was nuked, was full of tossing nights.

“Moommy!” Finally, I throw the covers off and go tend to Levi. The pediatrician explained that boys, often, get irritated on their penis during whole potty training stage. So, that’s another thing we’ve been dealing with periodically. This irritation, this sore, gets aggravated when his ammonia filled pee (sans infection, we’ve tested) emits itself during his sleep.

Which, for the past week, has been every night. Morning rather. You know, right before you’re going to wake up.

That’s how the day started. When my sleep is interrupted, quickly, abruptly, I don’t get a good foot off. It tends to be rather … annoying. Mid-morning, I finally made the connection between my snarkiness and the rude awakening.

That’s one thing I miss about staying at home. Days were never bad. Days were never this persnickety. Sure, we’d have days we couldn’t get things done. We’d have days where we were ornery, but we didn’t have the workday bad days. We didn’t have cases of the Mondays.

Now life is filled with a new layer of expectations, outcomes, and things that can or cannot get done. The activities I was involved in while not working where largely of my own doing. I volunteered for things I wanted to be a part of. Now, I work for an organization that I want to be a part of, but sometimes work can assign tasks you wouldn’t otherwise volunteer to do. When you volunteer, you choose, easier, the shifts you work, which makes your environment more selective. I could choose, for example, to never volunteer during nap time. Now, I work a 40 hour week, and we don’t live in a country fond of the Siesta.

With these new expectations, I find that I no longer have the fluidity to move with those unexpected things, mood swings, that I previously had. I could, for example, cancel a play date if our day just wasn’t adding up. I can’t cancel work because moods don’t jive. I knew this day was coming. I knew getting out the door was a challenge, and I was eager to see how it would look once employed, regularly. Levi loves school, so this change is definitely for the better.

I better get to bed. I know what morning will likely bring. 4am interruption followed by a wet bed between 6am and 7am. There is no point denying the inevitable, so I might as well plan.

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Heart Thumping

Settle to Carlisle Railway. Looking N towards ...
Image via Wikipedia

Another high energy day. I have been buzzing to events all day long. My brain won’t settle down. I fear I was too candid, but will see Thursday and then Friday. I have so much going on, in a sense, I feel like I’m doing a little bit of everything but nothing well. It’s an uncomfortable space, but not one that I can envision getting out of soon. It’s warm in our house, and I should have some tea. I should be quiet and let all the thoughts settle. That’s what this space is for, but I will wait until Friday to divulge.

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The Grape Passage

a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, top slice ...
Image via Wikipedia

All Levi wants lately are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We used our home canned jam a few weeks ago, so we had to get a supermarket supplement. For the second supplement, we chose grape jelly. Levi had an initial preschool protest, but afterwards he’s been asking for it. My husband and I will eat it, but grape jam is never our first choice. We bought it because it’s cheap. Yes, I realized, we have entered another right of passage: Grape Jelly.

I complained to my mother, “Grape again?” My husband quietly loathed the addition to his peanut butter sandwiches. There is only so long one can do cheap when it becomes over bearing and the better cost option would be simply to not purchase it.

I grew up detesting it while it was in school lunches, on the weekends, during the summer. Rarely, we’d have strawberry, a delectable treat with which to decorate our peanut butter and white bread.

Then, I found myself purchasing my own groceries on a limited budget, like when I sold books door to door. Suddenly, I was buying the awful jam myself, willingly because it was the cheapest! I had tipped the line from grumbling about what my parents put before me to grumbling about what I provided for myself.

I wonder, often, about how food affects us and how it shapes us. Whenever we visited my grandmother, there was no grape jelly. Instead, there was a wide variety of home preserves. I recall strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, mixed berries, and cherry. Sometimes, even blueberry jam. Never, not once, do I recall Grape Jam/Jelly being offered at my grandmother’s home. The peanut butter was different too. The peanut butter, while stored in the cupboard, was often tipped upside down. And, it had the oil still in it! My mom would purchase Jiff or its economy equivalent. So, this peanut butter that required stirring was almost culture shock.

What amazes me, as an adult looking back, was this rustic way of living was what my mother grew up with, and like many of her generation, abandoned. Now, a skipped generation later, I find myself relearning the things my mother took for granted. I bake my own bread, 90% of our meals are home cooked from scratch, and I work towards preserving summer in jars for seasonal eating throughout the year. Occasionally, though, we run out of those goodies and a trip to the grocery store is in order. It seems Levi will not escape this Grape Rite of Passage.

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