Monday, January 31, 2011

And The Clean-Out Has Begun

Every year it seems I set my goal on getting my  house organized.  I know I spent a great deal of time this summer talking about some of my struggles I have with a lack of storage and an overabundance of half-functional items.  Yet, every year, I try to make things less chaotic.  I attempt to evict the dust bunny breeding colonies.  And I make the ever more futile attempt to keep the girls' bedroom organized and the toy and stuffed animal (I swear they reproduce while I'm sleeping) storage under control.  With a late January birthday, it seems I got a late start this year, although last year I didn't start at all so there was also twice as much to tackle.

Chinese New Year falls on Thursday of this week, and the period up to this date is official cleaning time!  Unfortunately, in this country not so much as in Asia.  Still, it is an honorable goal.  With no decorating happening it's as good of a time to clean out as any.  I had planned on doing several things for New Years this year, but with my daughter's kindergarten winter production on Friday, meetings half of this week, and my failure in locating Chinese currency for money envelopes.  (Did you know the bank can't get you foreign currency anymore?  Well not in guaranteed denominations for school projects - I was going to take envelopes for her class.)  Next year I'll have to plan ahead and see if I can get an international student to bring some back from their travels.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Day I Didn't Die

A year ago January 30 will be the first anniversary of the day I didn't die.  Oh sure, there are lots of days that I've lived through, but that's different.  I've even had close calls before.  In fact I can count distinctly at least 5 separate times when I've felt as though I'm above myself looking down, if you don't count all my extremely vivid memories of flying down the hall and street when I was a kid.  Of course when I thought I was flying I didn't see my body down below, in the other 5 instances I did.

Before you get all wigged out on the "out of body experience" stuff.  First off, sometimes I just see the world in third person.  It's really not that big of a deal, it does give you an interesting time drawing three dimensional objects, but oh well.  Other times, well those are the bad ones, the times where I feel like I'm climbing the wall just to get away from what is happening and looking down on the situation.  That's only happened a couple times, usually when I'm in intense pain.  It tried to happen a year ago, but for the first time, I got stuck.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


So I was working on this big post last night, and I just really didn't feel like it was getting across what I wanted to say, so you didn't get to see it.  I'm hoping to rework it.  It seems to be happening a lot lately, my writing just isn't coming together.

I apologize.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Things People Focus On

I will never understand people in general.  I'm quite comfortable with understanding the fringe, the freaks, geeks, the strange, and the deranged.  However, I will never fully grasp people en mass.  So, like many other civic minded Americans, and those without cable, I watch the State of the Union Address last night.  The president talked on many things I was glad to see brought to a focus, and neglected some things I wanted to hear talked about, and of course I missed some stuff while dealing with the kids.  I don't want to sit here and analyze what was said, but rather I'd like to talk about non-political societal reaction to it.

I'm sure my more politically active friends will have all kinds of snarky posts in the morning on facebook, and in reality, most of the people I know personally didn't say a thing, well other than my friend who avoided it to go see the Presidents of the United States of America in concert, lucky girl.  However, the readers of NPR (and followers of NPR on facebook) were not so absent.... kinda makes sense thinking about NPR, I mean politics is like a prime hobby there!  Anyway, immediately following the presidents address they invited anyone and everyone to share 3 separate words that to them defined the what they had just heard.  They even made separate word graphs for each persons proclaimed political affiliation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thoughts On The Civil Rights Movement

Human Rights Day/Martin Luther King Jr Day/Black History Month.  They are a bit awkward for me.  Not because I disagree with any of it, I don't!  I think they are all wonderful, but none of them have really ever meant anything to me personally.  I've always thought of this as a good thing.  A sign that the world was moving forward, that these aspects of the past were no more pressing in my daily life than, say, the American Revolution, the Fall of Rome, or the Great Flood.  That is to say, I benefit and live in the world where changes have been made because it happened, but I don't need to spend much active brain time dwelling on dealing with it.  As a result, however; I just don't really know what to do with the holiday.

It wasn't until about 6 years ago, when my now step-father-in-law was introduced to me the idea that it really wasn't that long ago, generationally, when segregation was a reality.  While he didn't grow up in the United States, he did visit.  Having an outsiders perspective made the concepts and realities of this separationist lifestyle a bizarre and imprinted memory for him.  My family left the South (what few of them lived there) 4 generations ago.  We left the East at the same time.  The observations and encounters, while no different then the text books and documentaries, my s-FIL had to share really struck me in a way that no history lesson ever had.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where Do You Get Your News?

I've written a couple times about getting the news here (Pinhole of Ignorance, Fox News Addict).  Even though I acknowledge that staying well informed is extremely important.  I am really bad at doing so.  I could use the excuse that newspapers are too expensive and too far behind the times by the time they are printed, I suppose.  I could use the excuse that I only get PBS over broadcast TV, I suppose.  I could just use the excuse that the news depresses me and to stay sane I avoid it, I suppose.  But no matter what I come up with I'd just be making excuses for the real fact - I'm too lazy to pursue the news.

Regardless of the fact that I get most of my news in inconsistent bits and segments (when the alarm goes off in the morning, while driving to and fro about town, when I am bored and watch BBC World News or whatever's on PBS World, and whatever tidbits friends post on facebook.)  No matter where you get the news, there is always some sort of bias.  PBS does their best to avoid bias, and once upon a time at least CNN did too.  I've heard otherwise and apparently men seem to think that, although women still have faith in CNN.  However, while everyone was enamored with Fox News last year (and I was even a participant in that phone interview which was interesting since I didn't have access to most of the stations in question), they have gracefully fallen in this year's survey by Public Policy Polling.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Temporary Blog Pause

What looked like a normal week has become a crazy busy week.  Orcrist is gimping about and has a blog idea, but no time to get it on the server.  I have stuff I want to write but because I'm doing his errands and my own and getting ready to throw my young man's first birthday party (next Sunday).  I just don't have a lot of time to write.

I do feel that even through all of our horrendous struggles this last year that we have been incredibly blessed by our son, who is a normal growing healthy boy. I hope to write more later this week, but if tomorrow goes like today did, it'll be all I can do to hang on and clean up the spills along the way.

I am very grateful to those of you who commented on Monday's blog post about the need to ungender toys.  I am sorry I haven't been back on to comment again, but it's 11:30pm and I'm just now getting time on my keyboard.  Please feel free to discuss away and I'll come back with more when I can.

Love  ~~~ KtC

Monday, January 17, 2011

Marketing Is Destroying Our Personalities

I've had enough!  This is just so darn dumb!  When will people get it through their heads that the kinds of toys a child likes to play with does not mean they aren't masculine or feminine enough to mature into a heterosexual adult?  Quite frankly, I'm sick to death of the need to make every little girl feel like they must be beauty queens in tiaras and little boys must be muscle bound sports star action heroes!

Do you realize in other countries boys wear pink?  Girls wear blue!  And they grow up perfectly normal!!!  So why is it here, in America we tease ridicule and repress kids who dare to cross some arbitrary contrived gender boundary that really is nothing more than some marketing line at the local Walmart?  Is it really going to collapse our society if a girl likes Toy Story (namely Woody or Buzz), Cars, Star Wars, or even just playing with action figures?  Will all our men be forever twisted if they enjoy playing with a Barbie doll, dollies, or Disney princesses?

I'm not even going to talk about girls and Star Wars, we've already talked about that.  My daughter is on board, and so are some of her girlfriends in kindergarten.  They don't get teased about it either, thankfully!  However, as we were preparing for some birthday party shopping (my 6 year old had two parties to shop for over the weekend) we had a long discussion about what to get and I learned a few things.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wii Game Review: Wii Party

I LOVE doing reviews.  Especially when it's something I can get excited about.  This is an all me review, I'm not trying to get a kick-back at all.  A couple years ago on another site I did a review of Animal Crossing: City Folk and this will be the same sort of thing.

We received two games over the holidays, Wii Party and Endless Ocean:  Blue World.  Endless Ocean is my daughter's game and she hasn't played it yet, but Wii Party was left in the tree for the whole family and as the person who inspired Santa (see purchased) to get it there, I'd like to share why and how that's turned out.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Cuties(tm). The first orange I have ever seen with a brand name, but that's okay, because my kids love them. I do too actually. Even my wife, who isn't a big connoisseur of plain citrus will eat them. I am not kidding about the branding. They have a little cartoon character logo and even have a website

The box says: Mandarins -- California Clementines -- EZ Peel -- Seedless.

I can find them at the grocery store on occasion and Costco usually has them. Price varies throughout the season from $5 and $12 per 5lb box. A box that size has about 2 dozen. I can even find them in the wintertime (November to May), which really lifts my spirits on the cold dreary days we have here.

A little more expensive than regular oranges, but worth it. Why?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Umm Hello Hulu, Are You There?

Ok, I've written about a couple TV shows and sadly, they are my most read posts (why is that?).  Anyway, I really don't watch much TV, unless I'm binging, which only happens on occasion and is very much not happening now.  Now, I know Hulu is popular, there's been many a time when I had to wait to watch a show because I just couldn't get a good connection.  Lots of people I know depend completely on Hulu or Netflix for all of their TV, especially in this small town where there are virtually no airwaves broadcasts (well we get PBS).

We are too cheap for Netflix (really I don't watch that much TV!  I don't want to pay $10 a month for stuff I don't use!  It's still cheaper for me to go to the video store.)  So we depend on Hulu to connect with the TV shows we enjoy.  Now recently Hulu added a pay feature, kinda neat really.  They were increasing their back catalog of episodes and for $8 a month I could avoid going to the video store when my next binge hits.  Unfortunately, the shows from Scifi (sorry I refuse to call it Syfy) were restricted to the pay service entirely, well darn there goes 3 shows I watch, but no big deal, two of them are summer shows anyway.  Besides I still have three shows I watch (two from ABC and one from Fox - even though I really shouldn't watch Fox because they are evil) that I didn't think would be affected, after all, if we had airwaves broadcasts we'd get the shows for free.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Binary Day!!

There are only 6 more of these, most likely in my lifetime - and possibly yours as well.  Today is the last Binary Day in January.  The next 6 will occur this fall (in October and November).  Then we won't have another Binary Day until 1/1/2100.  I'm not sure about you, but without some major advances in medical sciences, time travel, or near light speed space travel, I'll probably miss that one.

If you didn't realize just how cool the date is, take out your new shiny calendar (if you've got one) or scroll ahead on your electronic calendar and mark all the binary days of October and November (10/1, 10/10, 10/11, 11/1, 11/10, 11/11)  Clear some space and get out your geekiest!  I don't have any big plans yet myself, but I'd love to know if anyone does anything or has anything planned.

Monday, January 10, 2011

NOTE: This weeks posts

Today's post is rather weighty, and while it is still in line with many thoughts on insanity I, KtC, would like to reassure you my faithful readers that the rest of the posts this week will be fun, upbeat, and on the occasion frivolous, including another guest post by our own guest writer Orcrist!  So if today's post wasn't your cup of tea, yes, you may see more like it in the future, but I will make sure they are buffered by lots of fun stuff too!

Why I Will Never Be in the Tea Party

First off, this is not about politics.  Irregardless of whether or not I agree with the political goals of the Tea Party or Sarah Palin is completely irrelevant.  If this were the 1960s (and I'd been alive then) the same would apply to the Black Panther Party.  I still would not want anything to do with it.

Whenever we form a group based on anger, bringing out only the worst most aggressive elements in humanity, it can never truly lead to good.  Even if their ideals are eventually realized, the shear fact that this extreme force was used along the way will prevent the easier adoptation of those ideals and changes.  Whenever people are attacked, they remember it a lot longer than when they are coerced, and change and forgiveness are always much further away.  Which is one of the primary reasons, I feel, even almost 50 years later there are still people who think of African Americans as violent delinquents, even when race has little to do with the issue of aggressive delinquency for most of them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Three Kings Day!

I hope all of you that celebrate are enjoying this holiday (even if you don't celebrate until Sunday).

More thoughts coming soon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Laptop I Want To Buy

I am pretty easy to please as a consumer. I know enough about technology, engineering, and business to know where real limitations and trade-offs have to be made when bringing a new product to market. It baffles me though, the laptop I really want to see? … nowhere to be found. I just want a machine with some simple “designed for home and kids” options. No one makes it and in my opinion the market exists, big time. So it’s really a shame. If it does exist, then whoever made it has completely failed to market it properly, because I have been casually looking for a few years and I read tech sites and some magazines regularly.

So… let me tell you what I want and if you know any good engineers and designers, you show them this article and maybe someday soon I’ll be able to buy one. I know I could go the DIY route, but I really don’t have time. I am a busy dad with both home and work responsibilities. If you read to the end of this post and don’t want one of these laptops, then I am pretty sure you aren’t a parent who uses the internet regularly.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Introducing Our First Guest Writer

When I originally started writing here last summer, I really wanted my husband to be a guest writer.  He so wants to write, but he doesn't have enough time or content for his own blog.  I repeatedly offered space here on Paper Napkins on the Edge of Insanity, and finally he has decided that he will take me up on my offer and has been preparing a note on invention he would like to see implemented.  This is one of the goals of Paper Napkins; to describe new invention, but something that sadly takes a lot longer to write up than my usual blather that you all get stuck with.  I'm so glad he is taking the time to get this written for you (and for me!  Less pressure to throw up some random thing!)

So I suppose the man needs an introduction.  I've known this man for 13.5 years or so.  When I first came to college he was simply a friendly face in my all too freaking early 8am math class.  He became my note taking sucker, and made sure I didn't miss any exams.  We found we had more classes in common and more and more interests.  Eventually, I persuaded him that I was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and I have yet to get tired of listening to his insane ideas.

I hope you all enjoy his special sense of rambling as much as you do mine (but not more, this is my space after all and I'm selfish that way ;p ) I know this first article is quite verbose, and he spends a great deal more time composing his thoughts than I do.  Therefore you can enjoy a very short post today.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Who Wants to Grow Up Anyway?

Over the weekend an icon of literature, Issac Asimov, aged another year.  I wasn't a lucky geek to get introduced to the worlds created by this master as a girl.  Instead it was my loving husband, and his adoration of
Asimov's work that first placed I, Robot into my hand.  The first of several Asimov books I have thoroughly enjoyed.  I instantly found what is probably my true calling in life, except no one seems to need a robot psychologist, yet.  Oh and I got a D in psychology.... I still don't know why, I can recite the text and I still feel that I understand all the material, I think I'll blame it on my crappy TA who didn't do anything and the fact that all grades were gathered via scantron and I'm slightly dyslexic... Anyway, there still appears to be no demand for a robot psychologist.

So what am I going to do with my life?  Or rather, what am I going to do when I grow up?  Ok, ok, I'm not exactly 12 anymore, but the point still stands.  I currently live in the part-time house mom, part-time odd jobber life, with no real overall direction or plan for the future.  I've toyed with many ideas and I even have a college degree.  Unfortunately, it seems that little will be happening with that degree if I want to be the kind of wife and mother that I hope to be.  Seriously, all the most common jobs in the field in which I graduated seem to require you to be a hermit for most of the year, and your family just generally isn't welcome to join you.  Sure sure, there is lab stuff and other things, and I absolutely LOVED the course material while going through school, but the job opportunities just aren't available.  Besides everyone wants someone with a Masters.

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