Time to Breathe

Saturdays involve coffee, reading some of my favourite blogs, and thinking about what to tackle first in my home. The kitchen and bathroom look equally messy. The heap of clothes on the bathroom floor may give that section a victory. Last night I vegged. I had nothing much planned, opting to watch Interstellar with a glass of Cono Sur’s Pinot Noir. The film was fine, the wine fell out of my favourite list. It’s fine, and it went well with my meal, but I guess having other pinots refined my palate.

On my imaginary to-do lists, another wine run ranks pretty low. I need my faculties to finish some things for Off the Wall, make up my grocery shopping list for this week, and simply relax. Unlike other Canadian weekends, all equally either busy or lazy, this one marks the first of many long weekends. After working parts of the Victoria Day long weekend for many years  I treasure having an uninterrupted amount of it.  Of course this is Canada, do we get sunny, warm days? Well:

May 16

How about a little from column A and a little from column B. It’s sunny with a few clouds, my windows are open, and everything smells fresh. In about a nanosecond that will change. I look at the clouds to see what looks fair-weather white, and what has the making of a dirty-cottonball sky. Last year in July, I sat watching a Twitter feed about the Avengers cast at the San Diego Comic Con while thunder rumbled overhead. I sat on my balcony as any day with warmth is better no day with warmth.

About Interstellar…it’s not bad. Unlike Inception, Christopher Nolan’s latest film didn’t turn my brain inside out. Quite a surprise as it had physics woven through out its plot. I guess unlike Inception, this one had a bit more of a plot. It tells the story of one man leaving his family, to go on a mission to help save a dying human race. The earth has a crop blight, and it starts to effect crop after crop from okra to corn. This earth had no more space exploration, just people regressing into farmers than exploring the stars. The film had this tinge of reality about what the future might look like, and for once I can stand Matthew McConaughey. (I can stand him in small doses. He could be without his shirt, and I still need small doses.)  I

Hmm..out of coffee. Need a refill for the day ahead.

What I Do In Between Writing and Fangirling

Behold my (work) life for the following few weeks:

weeding project

Say hello to my book fort

My laptop, coffee, and me live on the other side of the many piles. School has finished, and for libraries it means summer or project time. (Technically it’s spring, but we don’t quibble in Canada.) My colleagues pulled books too long on the shelf in what we library folk call weeding. It makes us sound like gardeners.

Weeding has many layers. It’s not just the book’s age, it’s how long since someone took it out, or looked at it in-house, and whether it warrants a place on the shelf. For some books, and some of the writing books fall into this category, it’s a needed resource. Even before it gets a classic designation, it has to go through a process.

The picture shows the end part of the process. I delete the records from inventory, the books get de-processed (stickers taken off etc), until finally ending up on a table free for the taking. (Remember, every book has a reader.) The tallies on the board stand for number of books deleted from inventory. I already did over 200 in two days.  It involves no sentiment as I zap books through the scanner, then click the mouse to finish the process. These books have to go, and new ones do take their place. Thanks to ebooks even more take their place.

As this post landed on Thursday, an update on the coding saga. I am doing well as my Autobiography page received a nine out of ten. Not bad for a not-an-absolute beginner. The CSS will take some work. Sometimes I get the syntax, and sometimes I have this big question mark over my head. I will take some of those elements to revamp my About page. The blog needs a little refresh, but my theme will remain the same. All of it will happen after my course finishes with some major projects coming down the line. This course only lasts for ten weeks, and I am on week six. I look at the to-do list to sing that familiar refrain: It will get done.

Music Monday: Weird Science By Oingo Boingo

The 80’s had big hair, and bands with weird names. Last week we had a song by a band with a repetitive name: Duran Duran. Let’s go from the repetitive to the rhythmic.

Oingo Boingo got its selection for a lot of reasons. Let’s start with reason number one-Danny Elfman. He’s the name behind some of the biggest music scores around. A few months ago I learned Brian Tyler would score Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, Elfman also provided some of the music, and took Alan Silvestri’s original score, gave it a twist for a musical cue about the heroes in the new movie. Silvestri’s score gave a sense of individuals coming together, Elfman gave us a team as a cohesive, and heroic, union:

Before giving a musical voice to films like Batman, Danny Elfman helped shape the sound of Oingo Boingo. They had a few top ten hits, but one particularly stood out:

I saw this movie on VHS as a teenager. Weird Science tells the story of Wyatt and Gary, two unpopular guys deciding to create a hot woman as a way to boost their status. I want to give the reader’s digest version of the movie as its more than that sentence. It’s not just a raunchy teen movie, not with John Hughes writing and directing it. Yes, THAT John Hughes. He not only wrote and directed The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink, he also showcased some up and coming actors. The obvious ones are Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and Anthony Michael Hall. Look closely at Weird Science and see the up-and-comers of that day.

Weird Science has two notable actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe-Bill Paxton and Robert Downey, Jr. Pretty In Pink features one of many iconic roles from Ultron himself. You want to see scheming without the vibranium? Go rent, or find on Netflix as kids do these days, James Spader in Pretty in Pink.

On a sidenote as I thought of the 80’s movies and Marvel, and wanted to lobby for another addition. We had Spader, of course Downey, and I propose none of than:

True Fact: Dempsey wanted to play Dr. Strange

Why not have an 80’s trifecta with Patrick Dempsey on board? Out goes the medical scrubs, in comes a nice,dark suit as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Come on, Marvel, make it happen. The Avengers are like The Breakfast Club without the Saturday detention.

The Coding Saga: Half-Way Point

It’s week 5 of the 10 week course. I have part B of my design document to work on, and my Autobiography Page will submit as of this writing. Before tackling our final assignment, it’s a small one to apply what we learned. The verdict as I did it? Some things stick, others require poster tape for the mind. I managed to do a CSS style rule for my header. After wondering why my header suddenly vanished, I took a closer look.

I put a backslash in the wrong spot: /style vs. style/.

One. Dumb. Little. Thing. Welcome to writing code.

I have learned some of the things learned during my library tech program are not obsolete with HTML5. Things look smoother, makes more sense, and it almost seems more democratic not esoteric. It makes me look the underpinnings of websites to see what works, what doesn’t, and what still runs pre-HTML5. In the end do not ask me to set up a web page for you. It takes skill, the kind I don’t have at the moment, and don’t know if I will. I do respect those making a living from web design, especially designing for people with no idea or not enough to respect doing the work. I can speak some of the language, and know the impact of information architecture. The rest involves listening. No attribute for that skill.

Oh, I have a quiz. Great task for a person not very good at testing. I test alright, but I prefer projects, assignments building one after themselves. All those multiple-choice-measured things, even after studying, helps in me in no way or fashion. I know it’s just for some data-driven idea of how well as student will do, or does, in a course.  I live with it and move on.

Like now.

Off The Wall Moves Forward On Its New Project

Off The Wall, my writers’ group, just met this past weekend to discuss plans for our next venture. We have written, right now we are polishing, and we have an idea who things will get structured. On my end I have a story to polish as best it can, and fix up my preface for the collection.

If you can’t hear it, I am buzzing with excitement. We have new people. I read really cool poetry. I see a talent in the making. It all makes me happy-Snoopy-dance:

The meeting also put fresh wood into my creative fire. Sometimes I write, or do anything, and I think when will someone discover I am a fraud. I recall the words said by one member so long ago to me. “Fatima,” she said “You have stories in you waiting to come out.” I don’t see this person at the meetings as she now lives out of town. (Thank heavens for Facebook.) Those words stayed with me all those years before rejoining this crew.

The stories coming out of us will go from alternative history to dystopia to all point in between. The bonus? It’s all set in Winnipeg. If Georgia can have its Zombie apocalypse, we can have have the chaotic undoing of society in Manitoba. We still have copies of In the Woods available on Amazon kindle or in a hard copy. (See the Off the Wall page).

As for me, and the next project with the group…it’s time to take my NaNo project and make it happen. I pecked at the draft, and now it’s time to stop pecking and start pulling. I already decided to age down the characters and recast a few things. The premise feels right, and it say ‘we want to move forward.’ I only do as the muse commands. The group has heard about it long enough, and it’s time for them to start seeing it unfold.

Music Monday: New Moon On Monday by Duran Duran

Why not have a Music Monday selection with ‘Monday’ in it?

Long before One Direction, in my case it feels much longer, teenage girls went ga-ga over Duran Duran. Everyone had their favourite, and mine was Simon Le Bon. Listening to their albums now, I wonder what Simon smoked to write some of his lyrics. Some of the songs simply don’t make sense, but I still bop around my home as if it’s 1985. I have a thing for cerebral Brits, and Simon Le Bon was my gateway drug.

I feel a little nostalgic. One of my high school friends re-connected with me on Facebook, and it sent me down memory lane. Although it feels like a cul-de-sac with what I can remember. I had good times in junior and senior high, in fact I choose to remember those good times. The other times in a weird way toughened me up. Everyone liked makeup, clothes, getting drunk, and getting boys. At least it felt that way at the time. I remember this one girl in my geography class grilled me about my party habits, in front of the class, then proceeded to make fun of me, again in front of the class. Where was the teacher? It’s 1986, he was there the doing nothing. Another lesson learned at the time: Some teachers are inept and enabling.

For the next few Music Mondays, we will travel down my memory cul-de-sac, ending June 1st. A nice little series to give me a theme to work with for a limited time.

Without further ado here is Duran Duran with New Moon on Monday:

Avengers: Age of High Expectations

Forget Ultron, The Avengers’ real enemy takes on no form, but can mutate quickly. Its name is Hype. Early reviews on the film confirmed people waited to pick it apart a little more in comparison to the last film. It’s darker, but complain about being too dark. They complain about Black Widow, but they at least like what happened to Hawkeye. It looked cinematic, but a little too blockbuster-y. I read one person compare some of the sequences to the Transformer films. Did you see the female characters? All played by actresses and not Victoria Secret fashion models. (Did you see the second one? Megan Fox looked like a thespian compared to the replacement-love-interest for Shia LaBeouf.)

I have already read reviews saying the films are ‘bloated’, UK’s The Guardian ‘entertaining nonsense’ , among others. The articles appearing about the films collapsing under its success,  or speculating about Joss Whedon’s feelings with optional quotes, says to me the cycle has begun. It starts with massive success then the quibbling. In pop culture journalism a fair amount of quibbling happens, especially by those not really into the superhero genre. (See this article by Dana Stevens of Slate.) It reminds me of Peter Jackson and The Hobbit movies. Remember when people praised him from the high heavens during the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then turned around for the past few years wondering if he turned into George Lucas during The Hobbit Trilogy? It’s funny as a reader to be careful of following the corporate line, but feel a hard sell coming from those straining to be contrarian in articles. Here is Fatima’s simple guide to the hype: expect, watch, be realistic. This troupe of Avenger actors have other projects to enable a different kind of movie experience.

From the clips I seen it promises one thing and one thing only I will have a good time. I will get off work, have dinner, get my 3D glasses to see what Stark fouled up this time. (Plus Mark Ruffalo in his cuddly Banner best.) It’s summer movie season. It’s a time for popcorn, air-conditioned theatres, and escape. I don’t like Pina Coladas or getting caught in the rain. I want to enjoy a little Marvel, come with me and escape. (Sorry can’t resist. Blame James Gunn.)

Let’s answer a common question shall we? How many times will I see it? Not as much as last time I hope. I know V will come to town just in time for her birthday. I figure Olive Garden and finely-formed archer would make an excellent present. I can deliver on Olive Garden at least. The actor playing the archer,however, would prove difficult to declare at the border. No matter how many times, it’s all about paying some money to escape for a few hours. Yes, some big studio pockets the spoils. I also know when to withhold the spoils, as do other fans, to say ‘enough is enough, try again.’ For now go forth and have fun.

The Coding Saga Continues: Now I Know What Some of This Stuff Means

Post writing in WordPress has two options:

HTML WordPress

I create using visual most of the time. I started to notice the code in HTML mode as I embedded rdio tracks or Youtube. I already had images, or other such items, and I noticed the coding arrangement. Beyond paragraphing, bold, and italics, plus some headers, codes for arranging images had no concept to me. I like using the visual mode, but what if I want to take things to another level? What if I find myself on a work team to design a new library page. (A woman can dream. Plus this will happen sooner than ever meeting Richard Armitage.)

Last week, I had to present two websites similar to the one I will design as my final project.  The final project will have a homepage, 4 separate pages, and those pages will each have a page. I wanted to do my own geek hub similar to Professional Fangirls and The Mary Sue. In a class full of women, with one guy, I represent an outlier as a geek. I presented 9th after presentations on crafts, family webpages about the Duggars and another family named Bates, and pages on construction after two women will design sites for their husbands’  contracting businesses. It’s all part of Part A of my design document I muddled through as my first task in the course.

I had to adjust my expectations for the course. I expected coding, but the design document boggled my mind. I also need to silence the educator in my head. It’s the one whispering about learning styles, course structure, and other things. I quietly tell it to mutter in the corner. Before the final assignment, I will create a bio page. I smile at flexing some new found skills.

First, I need that educator’s voice to go to its time out corner.

Finally Scrubbing Winter Off, or My Personal Bistro/Cafe Opens for “Business”

C'mon we waited long enough

C’mon we waited long enough

If I took the bus like I usually do, I would not have the energy to even pick up a bucket. Fate, timing, or whatever a person calls it, intervened in the form of a friend getting me home at 4:30. I ate some supper, opened the windows, and decided enough was enough. I left for work with the morning chill, but I came home to something making sweaters optionally. I filled a bucket with hot water, a dash of Mr. Clean, and my comfy sweats to begin wiping away the winter.

Dirt and grime wiped away as I applied the sponge to the furniture. I didn’t want to sit in front of the tv, at least not until Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The people in the condo complex across me, started to clean their barbecue. The guy did it mainly, without his shirt, another sure-fire signal spring has arrived.

I bought the bistro set last year. I spent most of my time on it last summer. I had V over for Olive Garden take out and conversation. I followed the panel for Age of Ultron at San Diego Comic Con, while Thor seemed poised to remind Winnipeg he’s not Chris Hemsworth. (It was that grey and threatening that day.) I also had the ritual of taking out my tablet to read tweets and Tumblr posts about The Crucible. I figured if I can’t be there, I can follow people fortunate to attend.

Most of the time I wrote in my journal. I kept scribbling, and I wanted to wipe away the dirt to clean away my dirt in the perception filter. It looked murky, and murky perceptions do not help people create. I cleaned the winter away to bring in the summer of my creation. Of course, it needs fine tuning. I can see my window ledge needing a scrub down, and I need to vacuum the carpet. It’s good enough for now.

Next task, put out my solar lights. I missed out on winter lights, but I have these wpid-wp-1430262401713.jpgcute patio lanterns. I feel quite proud of that purchase with its bright colours finally breaking the grip of winter grey. It sounds like a useless laundry list to read of someone’s balcony. In the summer months, I move the writing outdoors. The place turns into an outdoor studio either with my journals, or my laptop. I pour a coke and off I go. I let the fresh air into my place, while I try to open the windows in my soul. Sometimes it feels grey and murky. Sometimes perfectionism freezes the windows shut, and I have to pry them open.

I always hear ‘shoulds’ or listen to an illogical list of demands. I realize those demands, while made with love, do not work for me. The hardest part for the person imparting her wisdom is it’s not mine. Nothing personal. I always hear that phrase at work, but try saying that to someone you love, someone not used to hearing the phrase as everything seems personal. If you’re Portuguese and female, boundaries are not things taught in my culture. I look stubborn to some, but I feel happier. It took a lot of work, and a lot of fights, to get me to this point.

I smiled watching the dirt come off, anticipating the hot summers filled with reading and writing. It’s more than a seasonal ritual. I feel the urgency to clean and take a seat on a day like today. The vacuuming can wait, but the blue sky in my present wants its audience now.