Friday, August 31, 2012

August goals progress

I feel like I'm finally getting back on track with my goals.

  1. I didn't work on my story, but writing group started meeting again. I got some good feedback on a chapter and lots of ideas to work with.
  2. Progress on our screenplay! I'm working on the penultimate scene. I need to figure out exactly what happens in this scene and then write the ending. I've changed a few earlier scenes from the first draft, which changes everything after that.... I feel good about where it's going.
  3. I have read 25 books toward my goal of 40 for the year. I'm 1 book behind - the book I'm currently reading. I hope to finish it this weekend. For the record, I'm reading "A Study in Sherlock". 
  4. The IU Cinema is back in full swing. In August, we saw Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love". I haven't seen many Woody Allen films, but this is the first one I actually liked. 
  5. Despite the heat, earlier this month we drove down to Mitchell and spent the afternoon exploring the Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park. We picked up some freshly stone ground corn meal and made corn bread for dinner that evening. Actually, we have to make more corn bread since we have so much corn meal. While at Spring Mill, we stopped at the Gus Grissom memorial. Space geeks that we are, we enjoyed seeing his space suit and Gemini capsule. There was also a memorial in Mitchell, his home town.
  6. Ah, running. What to say about running. August was a Jekyll and Hyde month for running. The cooler mornings made it much easier to run in the morning. I was even running 4 mornings a week. Until this week. Saturday evening I was restless, so I decided to take a quiet jog around the neighborhood. I had to stop and walk part way through because my shin started hurting. I guess my history of shin splints is catching up with me, because my right shin has been giving me trouble since then. I haven't run, but I've been trying to walk. Not the same, but I need to let my leg heal.
So, mixed bag again, but much more on the positive. With the boys back in school (Wil full-time and Sam 2 days/week), I hope to make more time to write during the day. The weather should also cool off some, which may help us get to state parks to hike. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I refuse to be chattel

I wonder if part of why so many people, especially men, pooh pooh rape is because they don't realize how many women in their lives have been victims. It takes courage to share, but it's important. For the record, I haven't been, but I know several women who have.

As for the asshat's statement regarding "legitimate" rape, I'm pleasantly surprised at the backlash. His opinion isn't actually all that unusual. Many, many politicians have tried to redefine rape. And his lack of actual factual information, making up science as he goes, seems to be par for the course with certain right-wing groups.

That said, I was reading a post today about the importance of defending abortion access in all cases, not just throwing out the exceptions. Every woman who has one has a good reason why it is the right choice for her.

This divisiveness is a powerful tool of the right: if we keep fighting the same battles (rape is rape, abortion should be available for all, women deserve the right to vote and control their own bodies and be treated as fully equal human beings), we get distracted.

I really want to face an election where I can concentrate on important issues like the economy and healthcare and national security. I want to be able to vote for the person who I think will lead the country in the right direction.... without being forced to vote for the candidate least likely to treat me as a second class citizen.

I call myself an independent for good reason. I often agree with Republicans on some issues. In local elections, I usually vote a pretty balanced ticket, about half Dem and half GOP. But I can't ignore this huge looming issue, this groundswell of anti-woman legislation.

Look, many women are just trying to keep the rights we already have. Our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers fought hard to win the rights to vote, own property, work, etc. We still don't have equal pay for equal work. We're still trying to be seen as equal human beings.

When a predominantly male legislation keeps passing laws restricting the rights of half the population, there's a problem. When we are still having discussions about what constitutes rape, that's a huge problem. (HINT: If the victim, whether male or female, did not say yes, it is rape.) When politicians make comments that they pretty much want women back in the kitchen, that should tell us where they want this country to go.

Frankly, going back to women being chattel is the wrong direction. Period.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Supporting independent film

Chris and I have backed a few projects on Kickstarter. We like helping independent artists reach their goals.

Most of the projects we have backed offer the product as one of the backer incentives: pledge a certain amount and get the dvd or book or trebuchet. It's kind of like preordering the nifty new thing, and that's usually the level we pledge at.

We are currently backing our 13th project. It's a movie we really believe in, by some good independent filmmakers in Seattle.

We first met the Dead Gentlemen/Zombie Orpheus Entertainment at Gen Con, through friends. Yeah, I know, but they really are friends of friends. They have worked really hard to get their company to the point it is at. They make films about gamers for gamers. They are fan-supported.

If you've never heard of their work, take a moment to check out their filmography. You can watch their webseries JourneyQuest, currently in its second season, online. (Yep, we backed the 2nd season on Kickstarter.)

They also have a series of movies called The Gamers. The first two movies were made with tiny budgets. The second is the breakout hit. The Gamers: Dorkness Rising is a fantastic film. It will play at the IU Cinema this October.

They are currently fundraising for the third film in the series, The Gamers: Hands of Fate.

And that's the reason for this post. The project is 60% funded with 18 days to go. The way Kickstarter works, if they raise at least their goal ($320K), they will have the money to complete this film. If it doesn't reach that goal, they can't finish it.

This past weekend at Gen Con, they filmed a number of scenes - 1/4 of the movie, by rough estimate. But all that footage will be wasted if they can't afford to film the rest.

And that would be a shame. If you've been paying attention lately, you've probably read or heard about the terrible misogynistic attitudes of certain gamers. One of the great things about Dorkness Rising is that one of the main characters is a female gamer who shows the guys another way to play. And the new film, Hands of Fate, will feature another strong female lead (in addition).

 At a Q&A session after viewing JourneyQuest at Gen Con, the filmmakers talked about why they feature female gamers in their films. And it is a deliberate choice. While filming, some male gamers walked up to one of their (female) actors and made disparaging comments about how she couldn't possibly be interested in games. This still happens in 2012! At Gen Con. Where you can see grandmothers walking the hall cosplaying.

Chris and I believe in this project enough that we raised our pledge amount this weekend. We're not settling for just a dvd or BluRay of the final project. We want to see this made, so we looked at our finances and decided we could give a little more.

But there is still a ways to go to fund this film. If you want to support small independent filmmakers, if you want to be a parton of the arts, if you are a gamer, if you love movies, if if if.... if you can consider backing this project. Every dollar counts. You can pledge as little as $1.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


It's that time of year again. Yep, Gen Con has started. And once again, I've made myself a Gen Con BINGO card. My goal is to take a picture as I find each item on the card. Here is what this year's card looks like:

Gen Con 2012 BINGO card
And now the fun can begin (as soon as we get there).

Monday, August 13, 2012

1st day of Kindergarten

Today was Wil's first day of Kindergarten.

He was a little worried this morning, apprehensive about riding the bus on his own.

Worried about riding the bus alone.
He was nervous about going to a new school, with kids he doesn't know. But he managed a tiny smile.

An "I love you, Mommy" before we let for the bus stop.
He got on the bus. And off he went to the "big kid school".

Stepping on the bus, with help from Daddy.
It was a long day for Sam with no big brother to play with - and wrestle with. We marked nearly every hour today, waiting until 4 p.m.

"Mommy, is Wil home yet."
"No, sweetie. He won't be home for a few more hours."

And finally it was time to meet the bus.

And Wil got off the bus. Sadly.

He didn't like riding the bus. He doesn't remember the names of the kids in his class. He didn't know where to throw his milk out at lunch....

Everything is new and scary. He'll be fine once he gets the hang of the new routine. But in the meantime, we need to help him figure out how to deal with the things that worry him.

First up is the bus issue. I asked what would help make it better. His answer: a green and white bus. While I can't do anything about that, I can give him something to look forward to after riding the bus. We're one of the last stops in the morning and one of the first on the way home. Yep, I bribed him with a Tootsie Roll, his favorite candy, when he gets home tomorrow. It may not be the best solution, but it will help until he gets comfortable.

Then we spent some time role playing this evening.

First up: disposing of the milk carton. He practiced finding a teacher and asking where the trash was. Pretty simple, but he was smiling, knowing he had the words to solve his problem.

Next, making friends. We all took turns introducing ourselves to each other. And we thought about times when he could get to know the other kids: meeting the kids sitting next to him, finding another kid playing something interesting on the playground.

These are all pretty easy things. But sometimes I forget that we learn how to do all this. He's used to preschool where the teachers tell the kids when it's time to clean up and make sure they throw their trash out. He's used to a much smaller class, with a lot of kids that he's been in preschool with since he was 2.

He went to bed feeling better about school. I think he'll be fine. And hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

There have to be better ways

My oldest starts Kindergarten next Monday. It's a big milestone.

But what's making me anxious isn't worry about him. He'll do fine. He loves school. He's never looked back, since the first day of preschool 3 years ago.

What's bothering me is the lack of information from the school.

Now, I admit I'm type-A when it comes to things like this. I'm a planner and a doer. I like to know what's going on. 

But here we are less than a week before school starts and I have no information - no bus number or time, no teacher name, etc. 

Talking to friends with kids already in the school, I've heard there's a teacher meet and greet before school starts. But I haven't received any information about it. Apparently that is when we'll find out who his teacher is and where his classroom will be. 

I did look on the school's website and find that it is scheduled for Friday afternoon. But why did I have to look at the website for that information? I'm on the school's list-serv. I've received emails with the school supply lists and notice that we'll be getting a book rental bill.

Apparently money is more important than students. At least, that's what the lack of communication regarding something as basic as the date and time of the meet and greet indicates to me. That date has to have been set weeks or months ago. Yet the first notice I got was looking it up for myself. Which I only did because other parents told me there should be such a thing.

I spoke to the transportation secretary today. Bus info was mailed today, so we should have it by tomorrow. I sure hope so. Per the school's website, Wil needs to know his bus number and where it picks up and drops off. With a 5 year old (probably older kids too), that requires a few days of repetition. Luckily our bus stop should be at the corner, just 1 house away.

I called and spoke to the school secretary today. I had a few questions. She explained. I mentioned that I hadn't received any emails regarding the meet and greet and had to look it up myself.

She claimed the information had been sent and I must have missed it. And that I should have been told about it when I registered my child. Back in April. Because I should remember something from 4 months ago. (Although she admitted that maybe they hadn't set the date that far back.) I pointed out that being new to the system, I didn't know how it worked. Even if I was told something 4 months ago, in the midst of all the form-filling, it may not have registered.

An email about School Welcome and Meet the Teacher was sent about a half hour after my phone call, with letters of introduction from the new principle and assistant principle. I guess they forgot to send it earlier.

I still think there could be better ways to do all this.

Communicating better would be a big help.

We live in the 21st Century. I understand that the current system is better than when they just posted the lists on the school doors the night before and parents crowded around to see what class their kid was in. But that doesn't make this better.

The school claims they are still making class lists. That, since more kids are enrolling every day, they can't finalize the lists until the day before school. I call BS. Plenty of other school systems (example: neighboring RBB) can send a letter a few days, in not a week or two, before school starts with pertinent class information. If the majority of students have already enrolled, they should have pretty balanced classes already, and should just need to add new students as they come in.

As it is, they are punishing those of us who registered early, making us wait for folks who, for whatever reason, couldn't or didn't register earlier. Why can't there be an early cutoff point, say August 1st, when the class rosters are prepared? Are there really SO many more students (more than, say 25% of any given class) registering late that would throw off the balance of a class?

There have to be better ways to do all this.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July goals progress

July was a busy month. We spent part of the month out of town, which made it hard to keep to a regular routine. But, some progress was still made.

  1. I didn't write at all in July. I meant to.... and then just didn't. 
  2. I didn't work on our screenplay, although I did set it up so Chris can access it. I am stuck with where to go on the last few scenes. 
  3. I did do a bunch of reading in July. I'm at 23 books toward my goal of 40 for the year. This is good news. I'm finally back on track.
  4. The IU Cinema was dark in July, so we didn't see any movies there. My mom and I did take the boys to see Brave at her local theater.
  5. Wow, I guess July was worse than I thought. Between the heat and the traveling, we didn't make it to any of our state parks. 
  6. And finally, running. Once again, traveling took its toll. I have been trying, but not as consistently as previous months. I did notice 2 things while jogging (can I really call it jogging? I'm barely above a walking pace). First, I've been breathing through my nose. This is exciting, because when I started, I was panting within a block. Isn't the point of running to improve cardiovascular health? I think that goal is well on its way. Second, I tire out very quickly when it is humid. Even on cooler mornings, if it is humid, I struggle to make 3/4 of a mile. My legs feel leaden and start to cramp. On less humid mornings, I can make my full mile. (Yeah, not stretching for more than that at this time.) I'm slow. I was averaging in the 4.5-5.0 mph range in June. This month I'm in the 3.9-4.2 mph range. But I keep plugging away.
So, not the best month. But that just gives me room to improve this month. August is already starting off well, with cooler mornings and a lot less heat and humidity than July brought. And the boys go back to school soon, which might give me more time to write.