Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I'm off to England, Scotland and Philadelphia. (Cue Sesame Street song: "One of these things is not like the others....") I'll be back home on July 8th. I'm excited!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Have Too Many Books

But boy do I love it. The total count of my library is currently 326 books, not counting a box of music books from Mom that I still haven't sorted through (and not to mention unknown quantities back in the garage in Santa Cruz). That may not sound like a huge number, but it's a lot to cram into my little room where I only have one and a half bookcases. My window nook (about 5' x 3') is starting to fill up and there are generally stacks of books on the floor and dresser, depending on what I have out from the library at any given time. Plus, I've started taking books to work, so I've got a good shelf's worth of computer-related books at my desk there. I need to think about moving to an actual apartment some day, even if only because of all my books.

To make matters worse, I spent last Saturday with Mom in Berkeley and the used book stores up there are just like magnets for the two of us. She sold a bunch of books at Moe's for $178 in trade, so we splurged and I came out of there with 9 more books. Then tonight I was over at Antonia's, and she's trying to get rid of everything she owns before moving. I came away from that with 22 books (including a 6-volume set of the complete works of Shakespeare -- never know when it might come in handy!) and she still has even more to sort through for giving away.

I feel at the same time immensely rich and completely overwhelmed with reading material.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I Just Gave Someone 2/5 of a Cow

Mom recently told me about Heifer International, which I chose for my current monthly donation. It's a charity with a good, teach-a-man-to-fish sort of approach. Rather than just giving people temporary help and food, you can contribute to a more long-term solution where people are given livestock, taught to take care of it, and then agree to pass on some of the animals' offspring to other needy families. For different prices, you can choose to donate a variety of different animals, including cows, goats, pigs, ducks, bees, and even water buffalo or llamas. There are also trees or seedlings for any of you vegan-types who might be against exploiting animals. You can buy "shares" of some of the larger, costlier animals, which is how I got the fractional cow donated. Hopefully someone else will come up with the other 3/5 of it, or else there's going to be a disappointed recipient somewhere. Anyway, I just thought that was a good thing to share. Feel free to chip in with me on this cow.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Ten days from now I'll be in England!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Seeing and Dreaming

I recently finished The Onion Girl, by Charles de Lint. I think high school was the last time I had read any of his stuff, and I'd almost forgotten how much I like his books. My favorite thing about them is how beautifully he integrates the world of magic with the "World As It Is," the real world. He shows you how magic, fairies and the like are not just fantasy but are actually all around us. Jilly Coppercorn is an artist in the Newford books (and the central character of The Onion Girl) who draws and paints the things that she sees and other people miss:
"Do you have to be magic yourself to see them?"
Jilly shook her head. "You just have to pay attention. If you don't, you'll miss them, or see something else—something you expected to see rather than what was really there. Faerie voices become just the wind, a bodach, like this little man here"—she flipped to another page and pointed out a small gnomish figure the size of a cat, darting off a sidewalk—"scurrying across the street becomes just a piece of litter caught in the backwash of a bus."
(page 141)
It reminds me of learning about "top-down processing" in a cognitive psych class somewhere back in college. Perceiving what you expect and what makes sense in the context can be very efficient at times, since you don't have to take in every single detail. But what do we miss by doing that?

A lot of this book also takes place in manidò-akì, the Dreamlands. This is a place inhabited by various spirits since before the world began, but it is also continuously being created by human imaginations. I love this because imagination and creativity are huge in my conception of magic. One of the characters, Sophie, created an entire city called Mabon, beginning with her daydreams as a child and continuing through her life in what she called "serial dreams" before she realized that it all went beyond simple dreams.
It began with Mr. Truepenny and his curious shop in which you could find all the books that authors hadn't gotten around to writing, with a gallery in the back that held the same never-to-be-seen treasures of the great artists....
She daydreamed the shop and its contents with such clarity that her time spent imagining them was as real to her as the world around her when she was awake. And slowly a city built up around that shop. First it was only the street outside as seen from inside, then the buildings on either side of Mr. Truepenny's establishment and across the street, finally the city blocks that started up on either end of the street. The city grew and spread out, no longer under her control, its existence fueled now by other dreamers who came and stayed and added their own ideas and considerations.
(page 316)
So in addition to making me want to pay more attention to the world around me, this book also makes me want to start paying attention to my dreams more, and start working on lucid dreaming again. There are so many worlds to explore....

Thursday, June 02, 2005

And Hello Gloria

I took Gloria in to the DMV today to get her all properly registered (it took that long because I only just got her smogged this last weekend). So now everything's all taken care of. The only thing is, I liked her old Oregon license number a lot better than her new one. Oh well. I just need to find something cool about her new number. The first digit is the sum of the last three, which is mildly interesting. But the letters in between are uninspiring.