Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tough enough.

My morning routine (while waiting for High School Girl to catch her 6:15 am bus) includes reading the AJC online, scanning emails to prioritize my day (deadlines change by the hour), and checking into Ravelry, my favorite knitting virtual world.

This morning, I saw this:  Tough Gals: Do They Still Exist? 

Women are girly. Again.
Don't believe me? The proof is in the blogosphere: Women who blog about cupcakes! Women who blog (okay, rant) about gardening, Hello Kitty, and knitting! Even BUST magazine is sponsoring a Craft Fair in NYC. Women who blog about cats! And then there are cats who blog, but let's not get into that just now. Don't get me wrong, these are all lovely blogs, smart and entertaining. And some blogs, like the wonderful Jezebel, keep us on our toes pointing out what a long way we haven't come, baby (like in this piece on how female superheroes are sexualized). But.. seriously... cupcakes?"
Oh, bless her heart. This one-dimensional thinker has mistaken women's hard-won choices for copping out. She implies that the things men do are preferable to "girly" activities such as running a cupcake business, knitting for relaxation between working all day/tending to family needs, and wearing high fashion as we wage business wars.

So women can only be feminists if we act like men, work like men, look like men, and do "manly" things?


One commenter said,

"Perhaps women are girly again because finally we can be, without being thought weak. The hard work of a generation of feminists who felt they needed to be ball busters in order to be taken seriously has yielded this fruit: women who are not afraid to show their creative side, women who have been able to turn passionate hobbies into successful careers, women who are REAL."

There are trace elements of men who still patronize women in the workplace. Women have learned to deal with them deftly, moving around them or bowling over them when necessary. But bloggers like this, someone I believe is a young woman, are simply unfathomable in their snide superiority and complete lack of understanding that the success of the women's equal rights movement isn't a manly paradigm ... it's the opportunity to be women, in all the wide diversity of the gender.

As for the knitter the Huffington Post blogger "dissed," the Yarn Harlot has garnered over $1 million in donations to Doctors Without Borders. While knitting. And talking about knitting.

I am knitter. Hear me roar.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Les Mis

When Campaign Guy and I honeymooned in London, we saw two theatrical productions. Somehow, we chose Andrew Lloyd Weber's Starlight Express rather than Les Miserables, which had opened at the Barbican and was still in full production while we were there.

Seriously. Starlight Express.  Actors singing disco while wearing roller skates.

Through the years, I shrugged off the thought that the French Revolution could be interesting enough to warrant theater tickets.  And, because I'm somewhat plebian when it comes to live theater, I couldn't reconcile the high cost of the tickets.

I was wrong.

I have enjoyed the PBS' airings of the 25th anniversary celebration of Les Miserables in Concert at the 02 ... repeatedly. Fortunately, it's the darling of the fundraising campaigns, so I've been able to catch it four different times. Since I'm rarely sitting long enough to see an entire movie, let alone the multi-hour Les Mis, that means I've now seen it from start to finish. Alfie Boe is mesmerizing as Valjean, Nick Jonas surprisingly effective as Marius (it's sweet the way Katie Hall, the actress playing Cosette, keeps patting him on the arm reassuringly after one of their duets). And I love Norm Lewis as Javert.

I wonder if the Fox version next April will be as good? There's a lot to be said for being close enough to see the actors' expressions ... the Knitternall budget-friendly cheap seats in the Fox provide a panoramic view of the stage, but not the nuances of the emotions within the songs.

The lovely, silver lining to my late discovery of Les Miserables is that it's a fresh experience that I can appreciate much better now than when we were honeymooning. Thanks to advancements in filming, staging, sound, and today's digital media, I get to enjoy it at home ... repeatedly.

If you haven't seen it, catch it next time PBS airs it during a fundraising campaign. It's a splendid incentive to support the arts via public television.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Technology keeps outsmarting me.

In the past two weeks alone, I've had to wrangle with internet-based phishiness, Facebook phonebook shenanigans, and a new round robin of urban legends.

I completely understand why some people just opt out of the whole social media/online world/electronic communications schtick.

1. Facebook's Phonebook Fiasco: Facebook is "enriching" our social lives by grabbing ALL cell numbers from our smart phones and posting them on our Friends page. I saw something about this yesterday, then friends have begun posting alerts and instructions on how to remove those details from our pages. 

Go to the top right of the screen, click on Account, click on Edit Friends, go left on the screen and click on Contacts. All phone numbers from your phone (FB friends or not) are published. Click "visit this page" under Phone book Contacts on the right side of the page - then choose "remove contacts".

Now, why does Facebook want this personal information on MY page, visible to anyone allowed to see it? Because they want to "help me" get more Friends, more viewings, more feelings of connection to the world.

I suppose that I'll start getting all kinds of telemarketing and inappropriate calls on my cell phone now. Joy.

2. We had two charges show up on our checking account after someone phished my PayPal account. No, I did not respond to one of those ridiculous emails asking me for passwords and personal info. Someone else did. And because they allowed a hacker to see THEIR PayPal account, somehow that person was also able to get into MY account and request money. Turns out this is well known by my very responsive bank and "find the right FAQ if you can" PayPal, which promptly refunded the money. My bank said they get calls like this ALL DAY. I've changed passwords, my financial connections with PayPal, and continue to monitor our transactions daily.

Which is pretty darned irritating, when you think about it. Having to go into checking and credit card accounts that often is time-consuming. But it's the only way to prevent fraud as it's happening. My quick actions meant the two fradulent transactions were the ONLY two ... my bank says often numerous transactions hit long before account holders notice.

3. Great news! U. S. companies operating call centers overseas must transfer you to a U. S.-based rep upon request! I've had several people tell me this with great glee, saying "I know this works!" Actually, it doesn't.  Wish it did, because that would mean more U. S. jobs AND fewer scripts ("have you rebooted the computer, ma'am?").  You can ask, but likely you'll just get the person sitting next to the first person you talked to. In India. Or wherever.

Those are the current aggravations. There are many, many more, including the one just waiting to pounce tomorrow. Or the next day.

Progress is outpacing intelligence and caution. At the same time various levels of government, from school systems to Congress, move at a snail's pace, technology is racing ahead with the next cool thing.

There has to be a better way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Master the garden

A lapse in posting = a busy summer with freelancing assignments, Campaign Guy's communications and strategy needs, getting College Guy ready to move on campus, and prepping High School Girl for her first year in high school.

At long last, I'm applying for DeKalb County's Master Gardener Program through its Extension Service. I hope that I transition from killing plants to nurturing beautiful gardens filled with edibles and ornamentals.

Interested? Here are the details:

Dear Gardener,

Thank you for your interest in the 2012 training for Georgia Master Gardeners in DeKalb.

The Master Gardener program provides community-minded gardeners with practical horticultural training that prepares them to be volunteers for their county’s Cooperative Extension. The DeKalb Cooperative Extension is a joint program of DeKalb County and the University of Georgia . Through the program, homeowners are provided with unbiased, research-oriented horticultural and gardening information.

Master Gardener training and information is provided by the horticulture, entomology, pathology, and crop and soil sciences departments of UGA’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Master Gardener volunteers answer horticulture inquiries via telephone, email, and in person at the Extension Service office. They also speak to civic groups, design and install beautification projects, and participate in a variety of community service projects.

To receive an application for the program you will need to attend one of the three available information sessions in September. Because we want to be certain that all applicants are aware of the responsibilities – and possibilities! – of the Master Gardener Program, applications are available only at the information sessions.
Please plan to attend any one of the following:

Friday, Sept. 2, 10:00 am – noon at the Cooperative Extension Main Office, 4380 Memorial Drive , Decatur (Demonstration Kitchen)

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 10:00 am – noon at the Cooperative Extension Main Office, 4380 Memorial Drive , Decatur (Demonstration Kitchen)

Thursday, Sept. 8, 10:00 a.m. - noon at the Cooperative Extension Main Office, 4380 Memorial Drive , Decatur (Demonstration Kitchen)

At the information session, we will review the Master Gardener program with you, we will answer any questions you may have about the Master Gardener program, and you will pick up a training application. Deadline for submitting applications (with your deposit) is Friday, Oct. 7, 5:00 PM. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

Classes will begin Wednesday, January 4, 2012, and run through Wednesday, March 28. Classes meet on Wednesdays only, 9:30 - 12:00 noon, and 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m., with a one hour lunch break. An orientation for DeKalb Master Gardener trainees will be held Wednesday, April 4. Attendance at all classes and the orientation session is mandatory. To become a Certified Master Gardener you must successfully complete the training and 50 hours of volunteer time in the following twelve months.

Cost of the classes is $140. This covers all materials, including the extensive Georgia Master Gardener Handbook.
Space is limited. Students are accepted on the basis of their commitment to volunteer activity that satisfies a gardening interest and meets county needs. Note that you must be a DeKalb County resident to apply through this office. If you are a resident of another county, you must apply through the Extension Service office in that county. To reach your nearest county Extension office call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

For more information about Georgia Master Gardeners in DeKalb contact Gary Peiffer or Averil Bonsall at 404-298-4080, or email Averil at

We look forward to meeting you at a future Cooperative Extension Program. We hope that you will take this opportunity to join our dedicated group of gardeners, and share your talents and enthusiasm!


Gary Peiffer                                         Averil Bonsall
DeKalb County Agent                        Master Gardener Coordinator for DeKalb

Maybe, when I'm finished, I'll fit in with this savvy gang, the Master Gardeners tending to the native plantings at Dunwoody Nature Center.

Have you noticed this sign as you enter Dunwoody Nature Center? Just a small reminder that the beautiful plantings are the result of hard work by dedicated volunteers.