Friday, December 30, 2011

Today I Hate Facebook. Is It Your Fault?

Time to come clean: are you one of those people who gets all giddy at the possibilities of the reach of social media and goes crazy, creating groups and adding in dozens of your Facebook Friends? Do you spam everyone with messages about your new website/blog/product/book? Are you one of the legion of Guilty Ones?

Please say you're not, because I love you and don't want to gnash my teeth and curse you.

Yeah, I often love Facebook. I love how it lets me see what people are up to, people I know who are doing interesting stuff, people who are posting cool photos and traveling and all that. I love it for that.

But I hate it for bombarding me with crap. Ads, silly teaser status updates (where do you hang your purse when you come home? Teehee! Blush!), invitations to play games and take idiotic quizzes (that are not based on anything, you know, scientific, so you can't even pretend you're going to find out something interesting about yourself but are, instead, created by socially inept adolescents for their own odd amusement). And I hate it because it allows people to bother me with crap. They can "tag" me in a photo that has nothing to do with me, just so I'll get a notification and have to go there to untag myself and then will find an ad for some product they're trying sell by spamming me and 93 other people. Or, as happened this morning, adding me to a group without asking me first, so that even after I go in and remove myself from the group, I'm STILL GETTING EMAILS with comments others are posting.

I rant about this stuff often, and someone will invariably ask me why I care. Why don't I just go in and remove myself? It's not a big deal, they tell me.

That's not true, and here's why. I get email from a variety of people about stuff that requires my attention. In addition to all the stuff involved in having online accounts, there's a lot of work-related stuff. There are comments that need to be approved for my blog posts over at CreateMixedMedia.com, where I, you know, *work,* and there are people who are requesting to join one of the groups I moderate. Those are important: those are things I've committed to doing, and I try to do them in a timely manner so someone somewhere isn't left waiting and wondering if their request has been received. There are comments to moderate and posts to check for spam, and then there are the notes from various editors, all important. There are things like this morning's correspondence with the nice people at Libsyn, my podcast host, helping me figure out settings so podcasts will stay at iTunes rather than getting archived. Stuff like that. Plus I read every blog comment at least once, and I try to respond to as many as I can.

So, yeah, email is a tool for me. It's something I use all day every day for stuff that's way, way more important than joining a new Facebook group to look at other people's photographs or blocking some new version of Farmville or whatever obnoxious new incarnation they've thought up. Instead of being able to look at my inbox and see immediately if there's anything I need to deal with right away, keeping in mind what time it is on the east coast and what time it is on the west coast and taking into account deadlines and holiday schedules and everything else, I have to wade through notifications of stuff in which I have no interest, stuff that requires that I go over to Facebook and delete myself from things I would never, ever have though to join and--let's be honest here--to which I really, really resent being added. I hate it when people presume on my time and think I'll be flattered to be added to something, along with 6 dozen other people they've never met.

(And the reason I can't set it so I don't get email notifications about this stuff (I've opted out of notifications for tons of stuff and set my privacy settings as high as I can get them) is because I don't want my name involved with stuff I don't know about. I don't want to be listed as a member of groups I didn't join on purpose (I'm not a joiner), and I don't want weird photos of me floating around without my knowing about it, not that I can totally prevent that, but I can try to keep tabs on it. The truth is that once you have an online presence, you have to try to keep tabs on it lest you end up like one of those people who finds they've been linked to some subversive group they've never even heard of and are now having their phone conversations monitored by the government. Although some of my friends would say that's true for all of us, all the time. We won't think about that right now.)

Is this you? Are you using Facebook to annoy people? Never mind that *you* don't think it's annoying, do you really know how your Facebook Friends feel about the things you do there? And if you don't know, why don't you ask first? You know, like you would in the Real World, where you're not allowed to add people to stuff without their permission. Imagine being able to sign up your friends for life insurance or book clubs or PTA membership or political parties. All your friends wake up one morning and find out they're now members of the Tea Party and are--surprise!--hosting a rally in their den this evening. Complete with beer and those little sausages. What fun! Imagine their delight that you so thoughtfully signed them up!

Facebook, just like all other social media, can be used in countless different ways depending on who's using it and for what. Don't assume that everyone else uses it the way you do. And before anyone says, "But, Ricë, that's what you're doing right now," let me say this: No, I am not. I'm not asking people to use it the way I use it. I'm asking them not to include me in the way they use it. Don't add me to stuff. Don't spam me with messages I'll have to delete. Don't clog up the inbox with requests for me to play games and do stuff that doesn't make any sense to me.

And I'm not the only one. Not by a long shot. We--people who use Facebook in large part for work-related stuff--hate it when we have to take time out of the work day to deal with other people's impositions. We love it when they post photos of their projects or status updates with exciting news, but when we have to go in and remove ourselves from unwanted inclusions? We grumble. We "hide" people. We--gasp--unfriend people. And I don't know about others, but I report people for spam. It seems that anyone who knows me at all, even in the most tangential way online, would have a clue that including me in a new group is not a good idea. I won't be any fun, I'm not useful, I won't contribute anything. So why even bother? There are dozens of people who would LOVE to be included. Please go find them.

OK, enough gritchiness. Sorry to whinge at you, but I really want everyone to think about the things they do online. And to balance out my griping, let me tell of a happy story. Someone sent me an email yesterday. (She doesn't have a website that I know of, so I'll just call her E. Hi, E! Thank you again!) She sent me a nice note asking about my podcasts on iTunes and if there were anything I could do to make more of them available--not just the ten most recent, but all the others, in case people want to listen to one of the older ones again. Other people have asked me this before, and I've gone in and poked around and tried to find out how to do this, with no luck. This time, E's note prompted me to really tackle it. I poked around, googled (no luck here--forums are sometimes like the blind leading the blind, you know?), and finally sent a note to Libsyn. They responded right away (if you're looking for a podcast host, I'd heartily rec. them; the few times I've had to contact them, they've responded within hours, not days) and told me how to fix things, and E reports that now all is well and the podcasts are available. Yay! This makes me very happy: I fixed something and made someone happy, and now I'm happy. That's the kind of email I like to receive: it's not that I don't like it if it requires work from me. I don't mind that. I just want it to be something valuable, something that Makes Things Better.

I love hearing from actual people about things that matter. It's just that I'm really pretty sure Farmville isn't one of those.

Next time, I promise: less griping, more inspiration~~XO

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What's Going on Today. And Tomorrow. And The Day After That.

Oh, man. There is such a huge mess around here. I'm trying to organize--there's a story there, and I'll try to get to it soon. I know I keep saying that, but I'm kind of overwhelmed: the short story is that I'm having some construction done here in 3 1/2 weeks, and before then I have to deal with this:
What do I mean "deal with this," you ask? What I mean is: see that wall on the left, the one with the window? It's going. As in: going to be torn down to the studs and replaced. Which means? Which means everything you see in this photo, plus a TON more, has to be made gone. Vanished. Cleared out and moved away. Like I said, that's a whole nother post, and I'll get there soon, I swear.

In the meantime, as I deal with the total overwhelm of that, I've been trying to finish up smaller projects that have been hanging around.

Here's one. It's a dress I bought at the consignment shop to wear over jeans. I liked it, but it looked too much like just a regular dress worn over jeans. While I like that look despite the Fashion Caution that it "makes you look bulky," I don't like dresses that look just like dresses. They need to look more integrated or something. Whatever--I don't even know exactly what I'm after, but I knew what to do with this one, and I got it done in just one day ("a day" of stitching means some in the morning before Moe takes over my lap, some at Starbucks while we're drinking coffee, and maybe some during the movie we watch with dinner: we Netflix movies and watch one every evening. Sometimes it takes two evenings per movie. We eat dinner, our one actual meal of the day, about 10 pm. Don't even ask; the cook sets the dinner hour, and I don't complain because I don't have to cook. Well, OK, sometimes I complain. But then you know me: I complain about oxygen and gravity. Actually, it works out pretty well for the most part. So sometimes we don't watch a whole movie. If we do, I stitch while I watch after I finish eating. This wasn't the case when I was having wine with dinner; then I'd be all relaxed and would just sit and watch the movie. Without the wine? I don't relax until I get in bed. Too bad for me; great for getting things done, though!)

ANYWAY. So here's the dress before:

 Ripped out the hem on the sides going to the back so I could make the transition smooth.

And here's the dress after:

 Cut it short in the front and tapered toward the back, which I left as it was.
 I love this look and will miss it when it's no longer in fashion. Oh, I'll still wear my stuff; it will just be a lot harder to find stuff made like this. But I'll wait a couple years, and it will magically appear in the thrift shops!

Not much done to it--I shortened the front part and hand-stitched the hem. I thought about adding stitching to a bunch of the other seams, but I think I've learned my lesson: Wear It First. I haven't actually done that yet, and who knows? I might hate it. I might never want to wear it again. In the past, I've painstakingly stitched things, adding tons of stitching, and then discovered, upon the first wearing, that I didn't much like them. Maybe they didn't fit so great, or maybe they felt dowdy, or maybe I just didn't bond with them. So this time I'll be wearing this before I do more. If I love it, I'll add more stitching and switch out those boring buttons.

Then there's this:


I got it with all those linens I bought here. It was wadded up in a box, stained and stiff, hideously ugly--I didn't even want to touch it. I brought it home and washed it, and it turned out lovely (even though the tag said to hand wash and dry flat (I tossed it in the washer and dryer--I figure it's like this: clothes in this house have to sink or swim. If they can't take the stress of laundering, they need to go live somewhere else. I'm not going to baby my clothes, and there's room for only one diva in this house (What? You think I mean me? Oh, please! I mean Lennie Lulu, of course.), it laundered beautifully and was nice and soft when it came out.))))) I love the outside seams, even though they're serged (which I find ugly). And I love the nubbliness of the linen. I love how many different textures of linen there are, from the stiff, wrinkly ones to the soft, heavy, drape-y ones to the fragile ones to the nubbly ones.

But the color was ugly, and I didn't think I could live with it, so I dyed it yesterday. Now, the thing about dyeing here lately is that I've basically run out of dye. Oh, sure: I have some dye. But it's colors I don't much use, plus a little bit of grape. Some bright green (for mixing). Fuchsia, which I don't use by itself (I use it to pump up hot pink.) All the others, I've used up. I've been using them up steadily, forcing myself to dye things whatever color I had left. I don't want to order dye until I can afford to order leggings (to dye) and a dressmaker's mannikin. And that's not cheap. I've wanted A Real Mannikin, in my size, the kind you can pin things on, forever. And Lyric's post made me salivate. See how she's got the fabric arranged on that useful mannikin? Sigh.

But I'm not going to be able to order that because, well: read the first part of this post and imagine the expense of having a wall reconstructed. Yeah. No mannikin for me this year.

So I thought maybe I could mix up some passable acid green out of avocado, lemon yellow, and bright green--the jacket had a green khaki tint, so that was the only way I could go. I thought maybe the avocado had a little fuchsia in it (the chartreuse does), and I had enough lemon to brighten it up. So I hoped. When I realized it wasn't getting there, I put in a tiny bit of fuchsia, but it's still not that zing of brightness I wanted. I think I can deal with it, though. I have some floss that will go well.

Here it is now:

I've got to put the buttons back on--I think I like them, but I'm not sure.

But today--and tomorrow, and probably all weekend--I'm going to be dealing with this.
It's the stack of projects waiting for me to get to them, and it is daunting, indeed. These are all things I love and want to work on. I think. And there's the problem: I have to go through them, one by one, decide if I love them enough to work with them and, if so, in what order. The things that are going to take forever, like the long journal skirt, and the long vest, and the duster, and, and, and--those will come later. I need to get the quicker, smaller projects done and out of the way first. I can't file them in the closet because--duh--I will forget about them. I have no memory (I can prove this: I sent a credit card payment in last week. TWICE. Two separate times, on two separate days. I saw the duplication and was all set to call the bank and complain but then thought, "I wonder if I did this. Maybe I should check before I pitch a fit. You think?" and checked, and sure enough: I did it. Then forgot I did it. And then did it again). So, yeah: no putting unfinished things in the closet.

The EGE had a good idea: he suggested I sort them and put them in order and stack them on the couch out here in the office studio. We sit on it in the summer but not so much in the winter--the floor is concrete and cool in the summer and coldcoldcold in the winter, so in the winter we sit on the couch in the living room where it's warm and toasty. Of course, in addition to his idea, I have to label them: pick out the floss and/or beads I plan to use and put them with the garment, print out a label reminding me of what I planned to do (I could probably remember (snort) if I held the garment up and looked at it, but I don't want to have to do that if I'm grabbing something quickquickquick to take with me, or before I've had coffee in the morning or whatever). Some of these could be finished in an hour or so; some will take months.

Here's what I'm talking about, right in the middle of the kitchen (I had to set up another table as a Triage Staging Area):

So that's the plan today, and I've got to get busy~~XO

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Finished Wrist Warmers

Finally finished them. Here's what I started with:

Here's what they look like now:

 In these photos, it actually looks like the thumb part is toward the back of the glove, 
but it's not. It's larger than that and is right on the side. 

What I learned: although it may *look* as if your thumb sticks straight out from the palm of your hand when it's lying flat on the table, it does not. Thumb holes need to go slightly to the front. That's why these get wonky when I wear them, and now I know. I'm ready to make another pair, and for those, I'll cut the hole for the thumbs just a little forward. Wish I'd known that in the first place, but lots of the wrist warmers I looked at before I did this had the holes on the side. Grrrrr.

Other thing I learned (and, wow! not even the hard way: I figured it out before I did it wrong) is that the tube for the thumb is not a rectangle. You have to cut one end on the slant to make it work well or one side is going to bunch up on your thumb.

Tomorrow morning when I get up I've got to triage the projects again. I'm at the weird place where I have some things I can work on but not any big projects ready to really dig into. This morning I was reduced to beading on The Endless Beading Project, which frankly depresses me--it's gone on far too long, and while it will look fabulous if I ever finish it, that "if" is looming larger and larger.

Now we're off to Starbucks~~

Monday, December 26, 2011

Walking in the Snow on Christmas Eve

Whew. I finally got the little movie made. And of course as soon as I finished uploading it to YouTube, I realized I completely forgot to add still photos to it--The EGE took some amazing ones, and I was going to put those in it. I completely forgot, and, truthfully? I wouldn't have had time to do any more, anyway--after messing around with the audio and waiting for everything to upload--the videos from the camera, and then into iMovie, and then from iMovie to the external hard drive, and then to YouTube--well. It's just 
Time to Move On. 
So here's the video, and then scroll down for some photos.
Sorry it's a couple days late, but I spent yesterday working on the wrist warmers--I wore them and loved them and am, today, embellishing them. As soon as I get that part finished, I'll post them, too. 
Click to make any of these photos much bigger.
Our house. 




Down at the end of the block. 

Me wearing layers and layers. 


I put this on some stranger's car window. Uh-oh. 

My boots! 

Cool bird tracks. 



This is in the window of the Haley Library (part of the museum complex), and it's so threatening and sinister it creeps me out every time I see it. I included it lest you see these photos and think it's lovely and forget that this is, after all, Midland, Texas.

All these are at the museum--we pass through the grounds every day. 






 Front of the museum.
Me entertaining myself in the museum driveway while The EGE takes photos. 


Neighborhood house. 
The EGE got a really cute one of this little girl just as--aieeeeeee!--the battery on his camera ran out. They were here from Norman, OK, and were amazed at the snow. 


Our house later in the evening. 
Another neighborhood house. 
Isn't this just a perfect shot for "Frosty the Snowman?"

"He led them down the streets of town
Right to the traffic cop.
And he only paused a moment when
He heard him holler 'Stop!'"

Whew. Time to go for another walk~~thanks for coming by, and I hope your holiday or non-holiday or day off or however-you-think-of-it = hope it was fabulous. XO