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Biting My Tongue
[Misc] Flowers
On a dog group that I belong to on Facebook, someone posted this "great" article on the policy of disqualifying breeds at Crufts based on veterinary issues and why people should fight for their "rights."

I've typed several responses and deleted them all. Most of them center around the use of the of the Niemoller quote. Most of the time when I see it used, it strikes me as trivializing the Holocaust. In this case, it's comparing health checks on dogs to atrocities of Nazi Germany and no, they're completely different. (Interestingly enough, the last time I saw it used was defending animal rights.) They're not the same. They're completely different. And comparing the two is disgusting.

I just wish people would think for a minute and realize that no, the fact that you don't like something doesn't automatically put it on the level of the Holocaust. Really.

Oh, and also? While I haven't watched the Crufts documentary referenced in the article, anyone who can argue that conformation breeding isn't doing some pretty awful things to certain breeds is in pretty deep denial.
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Huge Rant
[Beauty and the Beast] French Gothic
Okay, so two pieces of background: I've been playing WoW for a while and Blizzcon was last week. It revealed the expansion, there was Q&A, cosplay and dance contests, and a concert by a band made up of Blizzard employees. fayoreix2 and I got the pass, so she watched most of it on the computer. 99% of it was good.

Why Blizzard's guest artist's homophobic video is not only offensive, but dangerous.Collapse )

And that's why this whole thing with Blizzard is so disgusting. Did Blizzard employees accost gay players and make homophobic remarks designed to hurt and upset them? No. Did they set up a situation that reminded them once again how their very existence is so disgusting to some people that it's the worst insult they can come up with? They did. And that casual decision is what helps convince teenagers that being gay is literally a fate worse than death.
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Writer's Block: Hit the road, Cupid
[Misc] Rose Heart
If you had the power, would you permanently eliminate Valentine's Day?

Why would I eliminate Valentine's Day? Until my dying day, I will whole-heatedly support any holiday that involves seasonal candy and people giving me gifts. :)

Writer's Block: It's just what I wanted
[Marimite] Thoughtful Youko
Do you prefer telling people what gifts you want to receive or being surprised?

I like a mix. I like to give people a general idea of what I want (assuming, of course, they want me to do that), but it's no fun knowing exactly what you're going to get. My parents have tended to do that more and more as I got older and it's really not fun to have to tell someone point blank "I want a PSP for Christmas" or (even worse) to be told to pick out your own gifts and just get them with no wrapping paper and zero ceremony.

I feel the same way on giving. Nothing makes me happier than surprising someone with a gift that they really want. The problem, though, is that I need a vague idea of what they want to pick something out. If not, I'm just guessing at random ideas or, even worse, buying the gift I would want. That works for certain people if there are common interests, but a couple of aunts had a very frustrating practice of giving something their daughters would want and then telling me this when they gave me the gift, which made me feel like I had even more pressure to appropriately like the gift.

Gift giving practices have changed a bit in my family, which means fewer obligatory presents for relatives whose interests I'm not familiar with and fewer presents for me that felt like someone just picked out the first reasonably appropriate thing. Now, the gifts I bought were, for the most part, gifts that I really wanted to buy and so I can be excited about giving the gift because I'm confident it's something the person really wants. And, for my part, I know that the gifts I'm given were given freely and without a sense of obligation and sometimes resentment. It's really a much better trade off, I think. Fewer gifts, but more meaningful gifts.

[Hunchback] Outcasts
Tonight, we were browsing around for Christmas specials on Netflix Instant Watch and we came across "Christmas Classics vol 1." We've watched about half of it so far and it's pretty great....especially since we remembered a couple of the cartoons. In one, an inventor fashioned toys for orphans out of stuff lying around the orphanage. As an adult, I'm a little torn. Yes, it's wonderful the kids have toys, but he turns everything in the kitchen into a toy and turns the umbrellas into a Christmas tree. What happens when it rains?

BUT one was pretty offensive. It's called Santa's Surprise and was made in 1947. Here it is on Youtube. (Warning, there are offensive racial stereotypes, even though the overall message is ATTEMPTING to be a good one.)

For me, the initial drawings were offensive and it got worse and worse. I assume it was an African-American boy based on his accent...which was pretty bad. ("He sure does look worn!") Then there was the Chinese boy... And, of course, when they're cleaning Santa's house, the African-American boy shines shoes and the Chinese boy does laundry.

Sooo...now I'm torn on this. Part of me is saying "Why was this included on this collection?" But another part of me feels that NOT including it is somehow worse, in a way. People of color shouldn't have to see offensive racial stereotypes in older movies, but then by deleting any and all racist content, it goes a long way to letting people think "Well, sure, people weren't as sensitive back then, but it wasn't that bad." The fact that a cartoon that was supposed to be about a group of children transcending culture barriers and helping someone included blatant racism is proof that it WAS that bad. And, honestly, despite the fact that I'm intellectually aware of how bad things were and that things like blackface and these stereotypes exist, seeing this stuff makes me realize exactly how bad it was and how in-grained these stereotypes were.

I guess what I'm coming down to is that it's good to remove this stuff so that people from attacked groups can enjoy things that have a lot of merit (Fantasia springs to mind), but somehow the content needs to be available and be seen so that people understand how bad certain things were back then and how it wasn't that long ago. To put it into context, we may have a black president in office now, but a lot of the people who voted (or were eligible to vote, at least) were alive when that cartoon was made and probably watched it as children.

Sad News
[Mulan] Rain
Bill the betta did not make it through the night. I think I've finally stopped crying for now, but we'll see how long that lasts.

Here's the memorial song for his namesake, so..... Maybe naming him after the character that didn't survive L4D was a bad call, but we loved you, Billy Bo Bob.

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Writer's Block: That's good eats
[Lilo and Stitch] Rocket
What was your favorite childhood meal? Do you still love it? Does it taste as good as you remember it?

When I was a child, my favorite foods were grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese. My aunt who kept me as a child loves to tell about how I'd want a grilled cheese or some mac and cheese and how she'd fix it for me and I'd go back to my cartoons.

As an adult, I still love those foods, mainly because they're food that can grow with the person. Five-year-old Brooke was happy as could be with kraft cheese and white bread or macaroni out of a blue box. Adult Brooke would probably be much less delighted.... No one really knows because no one is getting me to try that. Now I like gourmet mac and cheese with different types of cheese and seasonings. And grilled cheese? Get some good cheese and bread and fix it properly and it's amazing. I guess I'm lucky I loved foods I could grow with.

Writer's Block: What's under Snape's cape?
[Mulan] Sword
If you could cast one type of magic spell, which would you choose, and why?

As someone who is not only into the Harry Potter fandom, but who has also been reading legal blogs and Tweets about the issues related to the new TSA decisions, I feel there's only one acceptable response to this:

People are idiots.

Quick Update
[Misc] Flowers
I had my first tennis lesson yesterday. Since I hadn't played since last April, I was pretty rusty, but I got the hang of it again. I was incredibly impressed with Ashley, since it was her first time playing tennis. I had assumed that since it was a beginner's course, there would be a fair amount of "This is a racket, here's how you hold it, here's how you swing, etc." Nope. When we got there (five minutes late because of getting Bill situated), they were doing a drill that involved running across the court and hitting four forehands (or backhands, if you're a lefty like me). We did a few more drills with a bit of instruction, then we played points. It worked out great, since there were four people in the class, but one may leave next week since she was a little advanced. (She had apparently been told that it was a beginner/intermediate class.)

I'm still working on getting Bill settled into his permanent home. I know what I basically want: 5 gallon tank with a filter and heater, some plants (maybe Java moss or hornwort), and some tankmates like an African dwarf frog or mystery snail. Unfortunately, I'm having a bit of trouble finding a place to get what I need. The closest aquarium supply stores also sell puppies, so nothing on this earth could induce me to buy from them. There are apparently some good ones about half an hour away, but I dread going. I think that it's a testament to city traffic that a half hour drive makes me hesitate, since in more rural areas, it wouldn't phase me at all. I'm absolutely going to have to do it tomorrow, though. He needs to get a good set up soon.

I plan to teach Ashley to knit tonight. I picked up some extra needles when I stopped to get my framed diploma and I found some extra yarn that I think would be good for her to work with, so we're going to settle in and get started soon.

My big frustration tonight, besides the pet store thing, was chocolate. After finding out that a lot of chocolate from the Ivory Coast is harvested by child slaves, I'm switching to fair trade chocolate. Unfortunately, even though Kroger had a few options in its health food section, nothing was Fair Trade. I did a bit of research tonight and found that, despite not being Fair Trade, at least two of the brands carried (Newman's Own and Endangered Species) were apparently slave-free since organic farms have their own certification processes that include labor. So, turns out I can keep eating peanut butter cups guilt free (except for the calories).

I don't mean to be preachy on this, but it's just something that strikes me as so unnecessary. Chocolate is a luxury, pure and simple. A child shouldn't be sold into slavery so that I can enjoy that luxury.

On the downside, though, it sucks that I'm going to have to stop eating a lot of things I really like.

Tennis, Anyone?
[Misc] Flowers
The tennis club where I did a group session a year and a half ago sent me a brochure this summer. The session I did last spring was great and I really enjoyed it, but things got a little crazy with scheduling this year and I wound up not doing it. I decided to try to do it this year, so I called about doing a clinic. The problem is that I'm what I would classify as an advanced beginner, based on past experience (lessons as a child, a couple of years playing in high school) and the only classes offered were either beginner or intermediate. I talked with the guy who did placement today and the problem was really that it wasn't possible to predict the make-up of classes. A beginner class might consist of absolute beginners or people who were fairly proficient but came for a brush up. He told me that he had taught beginner and intermediate classes back to back and sometimes the beginners played better than the intermediate. Based on all that, plus the fact that I'm out of shape, I signed up for one of the beginner clinics. He also told me that since it only lasted seven weeks, I could always move up after that.

That's the good news. The really great, awesome, beyond wonderful news is that I've also convinced Ashley to take it with me. That way, the two of us can practice together. I'm really excited about this and I can't wait until it starts on Tuesday.

The other thing that I've been meaning to mention is that I started voice lessons three weeks ago. This is another continuation of something I did earlier. A few years ago, I did voice lessons in undergrad and I wasn't that crazy about the experience. I like singing, but the professor was really demanding. I found out later that the reason that he had openings for a non-music major is that the voice majors all tried to avoid him. Still, I would have done it for another year, but the didn't have room the next year for non-majors. Guess the majors lost their survival instinct that year.

Anyway, I've meant to do it for ages. Several family members sing well and I'd just really, really like to get good at it myself. I had to really work up the nerve for it, since I don't really know how my voice sounds. It's funny, because I guess most people either know they can sing or know they can't. After my first lesson and her evaluate, she was fairly positive about my voice, so I feel like maybe I can actually make some progress with it. I don't have really high hopes, but maybe just a little extra confidence?

So far, I've mainly worked on "How Can I Keep from Singing?" It has some higher parts, so I don't always hit the notes and when I do, I feel like I'm really squeaky/screechy. I really like the song, though. I'm also going to work on Caledonia and Amazing Grace. I absolutely love the song Caledonia and I'm really excited about doing it next week. I still have to pick a version of Amazing Grace I like.

Also, funny story:

Ashley and I went to Ollie's to check on their closeout yarn. So far, so good. We were browsing and came across the furniture. We stopped at a desk that we were a little skeptical about. Ashley started to say "Well, it looks sturdy, but I wouldn't pay much for it." At the same time, I was reaching up to open a drawer. (I touch everything in stores.) So, here's how it actually played out:

Ashley: Well, it looks sturdy.

Me: *surprised squeak as the front of the drawer comes off in my hand*

Then we both laughed hysterically at the timing.

Good times, good times.