22.6.10

I judge people by their book titles. (I'm only kidding. OK, sort of.)

I was inspired by Suzy’s post about her books. So, I thought I’d show you some books here at Wellington Road.

I borrow a lot of books from the library.

Books in New Zealand are expensive (unless, of course, you buy them used). A lot of these books have been passed on to me by my mother.


When you get married, you end up sharing your bookshelves. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) Adam and I don’t like the same books.


Here's my shelf (aka, the books of an English major).


I just can't recycle food magazines. Ever.

This is a bit of a shambles over here. Please don't judge me.


Five has so many books.

When I was growing up, I was sure that one day I would have a big library at my house. Instead, I have been living my life out of a suitcase, for over 20 years. And this is just another reason why I need an iPad.

20.6.10

Today is Father's Day in the U.S.

In New Zealand, Father's Day isn't until September. So, Father's Day cards haven't arrived in the shops. However, it still occurred to me last week that it must be Father's Day in the U.S.

I rang my father. This year, I'm really on top of things, I said to myself.

When my father answered, he said that it wasn't Father's Day yet. Apparently, I had jumped the gun. I was a week early.

The week passed. I mixed up the date of my parents' anniversary. And I showed up for a potluck dinner on the wrong night.

But yesterday, I felt more confident. I just knew that I had the right day. I got up a bit earlier than usual, so I could ring my father on Father's Day.

As I was dialing my father's number, I remembered. Father's Day isn't on Saturday. Oh, well. Next year I'll really be on top of things.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

My father and me, 2007

18.6.10

How do I find out who unfriended me on Facebook?

Every day, people visit Wellington Road after googling this important question:
How do I find out who unfriended me on Facebook?
Now, even though I've mentioned being unfriended, I'm not an authority on this subject.

I've only been unfriended a few times. (OK, more than a few.)

(It’s still too painful to think about.)

How can I find out who unfriended me?
You'll never know. Facebook doesn’t want you to know. It’s like asking your co-worker what his salary is. You can’t do it.

The good news is, you can take control of your friends list. Just quit Facebook. You'll never be unfriended again.

If you can’t quit Facebook, make a master list of all your friends. Maybe in an Excel spreadsheet, or write them down. Be sure to write down their personal emails.

Then if you are ever unfriended again, you can check your remaining Facebook friends against your master list. Who’s missing? That asshole who unfriended you. Email him. I know he'll be happy to hear from you.

--
Edited to add. You know I'm kidding, right? I wouldn't make a spreadsheet. And I'd never write down your personal email. That would be so creepy. C'mon. I'm better than that.

16.6.10

I’m tired of people raising their eyebrows at me.

Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour

In a recent post on Belgian Waffle, Mme Jaywalker mentioned reading Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. In the first 30 pages, this book has explained the difficult, mumbling, awkward moments that I have suffered in a country full of English people. Basically, I'm doing everything wrong.

Now, most of what I have gathered will seem obvious to you. It seems like I used to know these things, too. (Maybe I am getting dumber.)

Discuss the weather.
Even with the changeable weather in NZ, talking about the weather has to be the most boring topic on earth. And I have this conversation every day, at length, whenever I see anyone:

Her: It’s really cold, isn’t it?

Me: Yes. But at least it’s calm.

Her: The southerly is supposed to pick up again tonight.

Me: Oh, not again?

I assumed you would only talk about the weather with someone you don’t know very well. So I was puzzled when friends that I have known for years were talking about the weather.

Well, it seems that this weather-talk is about MORE than the weather. This conversation is actually an ice-breaker, through layers and layers of English reserve.

(I know this doesn't seem that earth-shattering. But there is a lot of weather-talk. A lot.)

And I have been making embarrassing mistakes with this basic social greeting, as in this example:

Her: We haven’t seen the sun for ages, have we?

Me: You know, I like this weather. As long as it’s calm, it’s actually quite nice.

Her: (raised eyebrow)

Agree with people.
You see, it doesn’t matter what people say about the weather. I am supposed to agree with them. It's about agreeing. I can say that I like the rain (as a matter of eccentric personal preference), as long as I make it sound like I’m agreeing. So I should have said, "Yes, it's been a long time since it's been fine, hasn't it?" And then gone on with the rest of my thought.

Here’s another example of me inserting my foot in my mouth:

Her: It’s really raining, isn’t it?

Me: Yes, it’s pouring down.

Her: I can give you a ride home?

Me: No, that’s OK. I’m dressed for the weather. I don’t mind the rain. I used to live in Chicago (where it was really cold and miserable).

Her: (raised eyebrow)

Apparently, it’s gauche to say that I used to live someplace bigger and colder with more miserable weather. It’s perceived as an attempt at one-upmanship.

Private matters are private.
The last thing I've learned is even more cringe-worthy. It seems it’s also a bit coarse to tell everyone about my divorce and my personal business. Private matters are for close friends and family only. A stiff upper lip and reserve are what the culture calls for. It may be OK to mention these personal details in a blog column, but I should never talk about them in person.

Oh, dear. There are another 300 pages of this book. What other faux pas have I been making?

13.6.10

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison

When I was growing up, my home was filled with books and magazines. We often went to the public library. Probably the first chapter book that I remember reading is Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Ohio writer and illustrator, Lois Lenski. The book won a Newbery Honor in 1942.
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison
Indian Captive is based on a true story about a young girl in Pennsylvania who was captured in a raid and raised by Seneca Indians. Several years after coming to live with the Seneca, Mary was offered a choice of returning to the "pale-faces". Mary learned that her own family had been murdered a day or two after she was separated from them. But she chose to stay with her "Indian" family.

I read this book for the first time when I was about seven years old, and I borrowed it over and over from my school library. I was drawn in by the story, and charmed by Lenski’s illustrations.
There is a narrative from interviews in 1823 with Mary Jemison available online. It is as fascinating as Lenski's fictional account.
What was the first piece of fiction you read that had an impact on you?

12.6.10

In which our heroine returns from an absence forced on her by the demands of Real Life and is reunited with her beloved blog on the Internet.

(No, this is not one of those posts where the blogger apologizes for a long gap between posts, and makes lame excuses about whatever was keeping her from posting.)

Have you read those stories in the newspapers about how the Internet and social media Web sites are making us dumber? And how we need to engage more with people in real life to be happier and saner people? (Is saner even a word?)

Dumb.

If people have an Internet addiction, they probably have other addictions too. Alcohol and drug addiction. Love and sex addiction. Food addiction. Or gambling addiction.

(I don’t get gambling. Do you need to win the first time to get hooked? I just can’t get addicted to losing money.)

--
I know about this because I am an expert on the Internet. Get help, people addicted to the Internet.

Have a little self-control. Put down your laptop. Put down your iPhone. Read a book. Watch a movie. Cook. Play with your child. Clean your house.

I want to stop reading dumb stories about the Internet in the newspapers. (You know who you are, cough, The New York Times.)

--
Yes, arrange play dates for the child and do loads of solo parenting.

Notice Five has contagious infection. Sanitize all objects and surfaces. Wait on Five, hand and foot, for days on end, while he languishes with (and possibly milks) infection, likely obtained at school. (Aka, the toxic source of plague.)

Obsess over Gulf oil spill and feel powerless.

--
This post is like the roundabout scene in "National Lampoon's European Vacation". Hey look, kids! There's Big Ben!

Also, I don't get roundabouts. Not that there are huge roundabouts in NZ. (And I'm still confused by NZ's dumb give-way rule. So dumb.)



--
Recently, I read an interview with Woody Allen. (Is it OK to like Woody Allen again?) In the interview, Mr Allen said that he has a folder full of ideas. Whenever the demands of real life get in the way of his creative process, he goes to his ideas folder, and he finds something to write about.

And, you guys? Maybe I’m not a genius like Mr Allen, but I have a folder full of blog fodder. I sooo have not run out of blog fodder. It's exciting, how Woody Allen and I are alike, right? I KNOW!

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I used to believe that posting often was a key to being a successful blogger. I know some of you bloggers post every day. That is fantastic, and why you are successful bloggers.

Some of you may have noticed that I'm not posting as often as I once did here at Wellington Road. It's really a favour to you. You are busy people. I understand. Those unread posts in your RSS readers are overwhelming. Maybe you not able to pull yourselves away from the seductive glow of your screens. And I don’t want to waste your time with filler posts.

As such, I only post on important topics. Like this one.

Hey look, kids! There's the Internet!