What do you do when the economy crashes? Tuesday, Sep 30 2008 

Sign up for a class, of course!

(Wait, you mean that’s not the fiscally responsible option? Lalala, I can’t hear you!)

Yes, I just signed up for a beginner wheel spinning class. I’ve been intrigued by spinning for a while, but haven’t taken the plunge. I did try using a drop spindle, but I just couldn’t get into it. My arms would get tired very quickly, and the cat kept sitting under the spindle and getting whacked in the head, which really ruined my tension. (Don’t worry about the cat. He’s hardheaded and runs into walls all the time. So far, I’ve seen no measurable impact on his intelligence.)

I’m excited about the class, and that I can rent a wheel. At least that way, if I don’t like it or am meh about it, I can just move on, instead of having spent an arm and a leg on a wheel.  And if I do like it…well…

Although, really. If our economy collapses, we’ll still need clothes, right? And I can knit clothes, but only if I have yarn. So learning to spin is really a survival skill for economic collapse. Right? Who’s with me?

Tarot Card of the Day: Ace of Swords

Loud and clear Monday, Sep 29 2008 

I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.

Lately, in my tarot daily practice, I’ve been drawing the Empress card a lot. She’s also been showing up in pretty much all of the readings.

Now, the Empress is not a card I’ve felt particularly drawn to. The Star, the Moon, the Hermit, Justice, sure. The Empress? Not so much. Yet here she is. Over and over and over.

So, I’m guessing hte Universe is trying to tell me something here.

Problem is…I have no idea what.

Tarot Card of the Day: The Empress

You know what’s better than yelling at the TV? Friday, Sep 26 2008 

Actually getting your comments on air!

Hack the Debate with Current! Just head over to http://current.com/debate and watch us air the debates live on TV and online. Not only will we show the debates, but we’ll be broadcasting Tweets from Twitter.

Don’t have a Twitter account? It’s super easy. Just sign up for an account, and let everyone know what you’re doing (in 140 characters or less). For the debates you’ll want to use the #Current sign to improve your chances of making it to air.

Happy debating!

Tarot Card of the Day: Princess of Swords

Martha wants your blog! Thursday, Sep 25 2008 

Martha Stewart is looking for blogs! Head over to hers to check it out, if you’re so inclined. I’m guessing the comments will also  yeild some interesting links to more crafty blogs.

(Sincere apologies for the lack of knitting content this week, btw. Getting ready to Hack the Debate has been time consuming!)

Tarot Card of the Day: Nine of Cups

The value of ritual Wednesday, Sep 24 2008 

So, as I read about Wicca and paganism, I’m finding that there are things about myself that sometimes put me at odds with other pagans. For one, I like ritual–and by that I mean, pretty structured, formalized ritual. Obviously, there are occasions where someone is spontaneously inspired to act, but what I’m talking about is regular worship (sabbats, esbats, daily practice, etc.).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that spontanaiety should be stifled, or that improvisation is bad. Certainly, I would never suggest that free-form worship is bad–I don’t think Diety cares much less about whether or not people say the “right” words or follow the “correct” faith as much as the intentions behind words and action–but for regular worship personally I don’t find it as fulfilling as ritual.

I think part of this comes from growing up as an Episcopalian, since the Episcopal church is pretty liturgical. This may be surprising to some, but I really did like church. I liked the incense and the processional and the hymns, but as I got older and began to actually understand things, I just wasn’t quite able to get behind the actual theology. I did, however, carry an attachment to ritual.

I think there can be a tendency for people to abandon ritual. Rather than looking at it as a valuable spiritual experience, people see it as a contstraint, a rule. But there’s also something incredibly powerful about it. Haivn the structure of knowing certain ceremonial elements frees your mind–you aren’t worried about keeping up, or wondering what comes next–and it also inspires an incredible sense of connenctedness. To know that not only are you performing these actions, but so are hundreds or thousands of other people around the world who share your faith.

Is it possible to be too caught up in ritual? Absolutely. If you’re worrying that you can’t do your full moon ritual because your candle isn’t the perfect shade of silver or you ran out of herbs, or if you’re yelling at anyone who stumbled over a word  you’re probably clinging a little bit too tightly. But I think complete free-form worship overlooks a certain ceremonial feeling that can greatly enhance spirituality.

Tarot Card of the Day: Six of Cups

Happy Mabon! Monday, Sep 22 2008 

Today is the Autumnal Equinox and the official first day of fall. Which, really should be the middle of fall, but I think I’ve already ranted about the somewhat arbitrary deliniation of seasons.

Of course, here in San Francisco it doesn’t feel much like fall. It feels more like summer today…what’s up with that, California?

Anyway. This weekend it DID feel like fall, and I had spent a lovely morning checking out the Frida Kahlo exhibit at SF MoMa. Kahlo is one of my favorite artists, and it was such a thrill to see some of my favorite paintings in person. I especially love “The Broken Column” and “The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego, and Senor Xolotl.”  I’m also moribdly fascinated by some of her darkest pieces–”A Few Small Nips,” “Henry Ford Hospital,” and “The Suicide of Dorothy Hale.”  There’s something so dark, yet at the same time so beautiful about them.

I was struck by the size of the canvases, however. For some reason I expected the paintings to be larger. I don’t know why, but I was starteld to see how small some of them really were. It’s inspiring to see, she was such an amazing artist and person, and I’m so glad I got to see the exhibit.

I’m hoping it cools down here; fall is my favorite season, and I want to make some progress on goals that I’ve set. The biggest one is getting my apartment in order. I’m not a neat person–in fact, I’m kind of a slob.  I’m a packrat, and I’m easily distracted. But the thing is, I don’t like it. I don’t like that I feel guilty getting rid of things that I don’t need or use, that could be better used by someone else.  I don’t like having clutter everywhere that I trip over, or having difficulty finding things, or being so overwhelmed that I can’t even get simple cleaning done because I don’t know where to begin. I don’t like that I don’t have people over because I don’t want anyone to see how my place looks.  Living like that, home doesn’t feel relaxing or welcoming.

I’m making progress but it’s hard. It’s made even harder by the fact that my mother loves to send me things. Which is fine, but they usually aren’t things I have a use or place for, but if I get rid of them she sees it as me not loving her.  I don’t want to hurt her, but I have to change this. My hope is to get everything in order by Samhain, and then work on a year–one year–of not letting it slip back out of control.   I hope it works.

Tarot Card of the Day: Princess of Wands

I made it! Friday, Sep 19 2008 

Last night I seamed. And I seamed. I cursed at the seams, and then I seamed some more.

But I made it, an the sweater is now done! It’s a little warm for a wool sweater today, but I wore it anyway because after all of that, how could I not?

I really like the way it fits. My row gauge was slighty off, so I was a little concerned but it fits nicely. The edges are rolling, but I think a good blocking will help with that; I just didn’t have time to do it last night.

Pictures to come soon!

Tarot Card of the Day: The Empress

Squeaking in by the skin of my teeth Thursday, Sep 18 2008 

Yesterday, I cast off for more my Wheat-Ear Cable Yoke sweater!

My goal was to finish it to wear on Mabon, and I was all confident about it right up until Monday when I realized that CAYA’s Mabon ritual is….Friday.

Yes, THIS Friday.

So  I spent the last few days knitting the remains of the yoke as fast as I could, and this morning I wove in all the ends. All that’s left to do is sew the sides and arms together tonight, and it should be ready to wear tomorrow.

I do like the way it’s turned out; the color and pattern work well together for a nice harvest-themed sweater. I’m not sure how the fit will be, but I’m hopeful.

Tarot Card of the Day: The Moon

Talk to Me! (part two) Wednesday, Sep 17 2008 

I started part one by talking about political figures using Twitter and other new methods of communication. I don’t think it’s working–at least, not as well as it could be–and the Obama campaign provides a couple of examples.

VP Text

Obama’s VP Text Obama texting the name of his VP nominee seemed like a really cool idea. You’d get a heads up, feel like one of the cool kids, and not have to sit through a network”breaking news” segment. Except, that it fails. And why the media has treated it as a success story is beyond me, but um…no. It really wasn’t.

First of all, the information leaked to the press before the text message went out. Second, when the text message did get sent, it was at 3 am on a weekend, when most people are either asleep or drunk. Third, a number of people who signed up didn’t get a text. At all.

Whoops.

I’m not sure what posessed the Obama campaign to handle it this way, but leaking the story to the media and texting people in the middle of the night is a slap in the face to supporters who signed up for this. People didn’t sign up for a text message, they signed up because they wanted to be the first to know.  These are people who are passionate and involved, and who are the type to influence other people. So why would you treat them like an afterthought?

The issue of text messages not getting through is trickier. If there was a technical failure, that can’t be blamed on the campaign. But why not turn it into an opportunity to address an issue? On his website, one of the goals listed is to “encourage a modern communications infratstructure.” So why not use the text message failure as a springboard to talk about that? Not only is the door open, you  might as well lay down a red carpet and send out an engraved invitation–so why not take advantage of that?

Really. Why not?

Obama’s Twitter

Here’s another one that had great potential. I love Twitter, and was hopeful that the Obama twitter would be interesting to follow. But once I started I realized…it’s dull.

Like many people, I spend a lot of time online. I have Google Reader set up, and news websites that I visit regularly for information on the campaign. If I want to know where a candidate is going to be, I’ll add their website to that list, or sign up for a mailing list. So if I follow someone on Twitter, I expect them to find something I don’t already know.

Only, I don’t. I get a list of where Obama is giving a speech now. Which is nice, but I can get that information just as easily from other sourcs. Twitter is all about inconsequential information and details because those are the things that make you fee like you know someone. Tell me about a random stop the campaign made that was pretty/unique/bizarre. Tell me about someone whose story wasn’t important enough for the mainstream media and tie it to your campaign (I realize this is difficult in 140 characters, but it’s possible). Tell me you ate a turkey sandwich for lunch, even, because at least then I don’t feel like I’m following a robot. Make me like you, give me a sense of community.

Why? Because that’s motivating. If I feel connected to you, then I feel like I have a stake in what happens. You’d think selecting our next President would be enough, but a lot of people I meet really believe that their vote doesn’t count. So why not try to make supporters feel a little bit more connected and maybe they’ll feel motivated enough to get up early and head for the polls in November–and maybe even drag their roommates and friends with them.

Tarot Card of the Day: The Emperor

Talk to me! (part one) Tuesday, Sep 16 2008 

You may have noticed that, during the current election cycle, some candidates are using new forms of communication, like text message and Twitter. For me, this has been one of the most exciting and disappointing things to watch.

What’s Good

On the one hand, it’s exciting to see candidates using new communication tools at all. It seems that government is stuck in another decade, where communication stopped with the letter. Okay, maybe the telephone or email–but only maybe. Think about it. Find an issue you care about, and what’s the advice. Write your congressman. Write my congressman? I don’t even write my own mother–I email.

Sure, you can call (provided you have time to be on the phone during normal business hours when you are also, y’know, working) but does anyone really want to spend money/minutes on a call only to speak to someone who is probably an intern who could care less?

Then there’s email.  Which is great if you want to communicate about a specific issue. But it’s still very one-way. I send an email and get back a form generated response, or somehow wind up signed up to an email newsletter I don’t want and can’t get out of. (Apparently, certain members of Congress aren’t famliar with CAN-SPAM.) But it doesn’t foster much of a sense of connection, and the fact that there are representatives who openly admit to not knowing how to use email (Senator McCain!) doesn’t make me believe that they’re going to place any value on email correspondence.

So, it’s great to see that some people are using new media. I was excited to see that the Obama campaign is on Twitter and was going to use text messages. But I’d be even more excited if they decided to use them well.

What’s Bad

First, there has to be an understanding of why you’re using these tools. Unlike a lot of wanna-be internet celebrities, political figures and candidates don’t suffer from lack of name recognition. Especially during election season, they’re provided with a bully pulpit to espouse their ideas, plenty of free and paid media, and of course everyone knows where to find their (admittedly uninspiring) websites. So why bother at all?

The answer to that is easy–community. For better or for worse, winning elections isn’t about being the best guy for the job, it’s also about being the guy people like.  It’s about having a story, and making sure that people know what that story is. Youth voters tend not to communicate in the same way as older voters, and   using new media tools is a great way to tap into that. Let’s face it, a lot of the narratives traditional media focuses on are not things that matter to younger voters in the same way. That’s not to say we don’t care about social security or who dodged the draft, but it doesn’t strike that same visceral cord because it isn’ t an integral part of our lives.  But talk about student loans or access to technology and the internet, and you strike a lot closer to my heart. (Admittedly, I am a geek; your milage may vary.)

But community isn’t just getting your story out there. It’s about feeling connected, a sense of intimacy that is false but compelling. We live in a society that has blown the living hell out of any idea of privacy. I can watch the train wreck that is Brittney Spears’ life or find out my favorite celebrities favorite book/clothing designer/car  and emulate them. I can tell the internet every minute detail of my life and know what my friends are doing at any given time, even though we’re 3,000 miles apart.  Using tools like Twitter can help create that sense of connectedness.  You don’t have to broadcast every intimate detail, but a small bit about something that happened, something not big enough to make it on to the traditional media, but still interesting, can pull people in and make them feel connected. More importantly, by giving people advance notice or  detail they can’t find elsewhere, you make them feel special. (Hint: People–especially voters–like this.

The problem is, I’m not seeing any Democrats using things like Twitter in a way that makes sense.  (I’m not seeing many Republicans doing this either, but quite frankly, I care about that much less.) The way the text message notificaton of Obama’s VP pick was handled is the biggest example of what not to do, but his Twitter account is another. I’ll discuss both of those in detail inn part two, since this has already turned into a massive blog post of doom.

Until then, I’ll leave you with a question: what do you think new media can provide that traditional media lacks?

Tarot Card of the Day: Ace of Pentacles

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