Archive for September, 2003

Wedding Writing

Sunday, September 21st, 2003

Drabble count: 4 new Stargate drabbles

So I went to a wedding of an unnamed cousin at an unnamed Massachusetts college this weekend. My cousin is a graphic designer and over 40, and the setting was gorgeous, so this was far and away the most tasteful wedding I’ve ever attended. In fact, there may have been more good taste involved than in all the other weddings combined.

Weddings have an odd subculture all their own - I’ve always wondered how the chicken dance and the garter thing made it big. My cousin skipped those bits, but she didn’t manage to avoid the ceremony question. The unnamed groom is an atheist, so the officiant was a Massachusetts justice of the peace. I thought that might be an interesting change of pace, but it wasn’t.

Rhetoric is a lost art, so lost that not even the President of the United States can find it. Gone AWOL with it is the sense of ceremony. To pull off the wedding ceremony itself you need at least one of those, and usually both. For this reason, most weddings are flops long before the chicken dance. Many people don’t seem to realize that they are entirely unqualified to write a wedding ceremony. Being ordained minister, appointed justice of the peace, or even being the bride or groom does not confer the literary talent necessary to produce lines like With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.

What’s far more unfortunate than not being able to write the Book of Common Prayer is not being able to tell which one makes a better ceremony: the vows in use for hundreds of years or the new vows you and Tyler wrote for your “special” occasion. I’m not saying that no one can improve upon a traditional ceremony; I’m just saying that if someone can, it’s probably not you and it’s certainly not that nice justice of the peace I heard this weekend.

I’ve also seen my share of lovely traditional ceremonies marred by heartfelt sermons at the literary level of, say, off-the-cuff remarks by the President of the United States. This is only a slight improvement over impromptu vows themselves, and it’s a much harder problem to avoid. How do you stop the officiant from sermonizing? The best you can hope to do is find a known good public speaker, and we couldn’t even find one to be President.

Free Stuff

Friday, September 19th, 2003

My printer came yesterday, sans USB cable. I knew there had to be a catch somewhere in the whole $99 printer and $99 rebate scheme. But thanks to Radio Shack, I’m now printing merrily away.

I’ll be gone again for the weekend, so don’t watch this space.


Thursday, September 18th, 2003

Word count: 1380

Festivus is a festival for the rest of us. If you’re a trashy genre writer like me and my hundred thousand fanficcing friends, you may enjoy the Wired article linked above. Here are some excerpts:

According to the Internet Movie Database, 20 of the top 25 highest-grossing films of all time come from the sci-fi, fantasy or horror genres.

“Science-fiction, fantasy and horror films are not a niche,” Meyer said. “They are as mainstream as it gets. The biggest authors in the world are genre authors. Taken together, these genres represent the biggest form of entertainment in the world, which people still don’t understand.”

In other words, Trashy genre writers rule! Who wants to make the buttons?

The Golden Fiber

Wednesday, September 17th, 2003

You may ask, what is jute? (Or, alternately, Que é a juta?) Well, this entry is devoted to answering all your jute questions.

Jute is a plant from India used to make burlap, twine and a variety of other materials. Production involves fermenting the jute (retting) then separating out, drying, and sorting the fibers. See JM Jute for details and pictures.

The word jute comes from the Bengali jhuto. There are two species of jute: Corchorus ularis (Jute) and Corchorus olitorius (Jew’s mallow). You can see a picture of the jute plant at the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute. They’ve developed a cheap wool substitute, jute yarn. Jute is a big industry in India - the Jute Commissioner even has his own website.

Why jute? Evenweave jute is the base for Arraiolos rugs. In the US, you can get ten-count jute (ten threads per inch) and Persian yarn (a three-ply needlepoint wool thread - Paternayan makes the best one) to approximate the traditional Portuguese materials. Or you can order a kit from Portugal, which is how the whole jute question came up.

The oldest Arraiolos rugs were made with wool on linen, but linen has been out of style for several centuries now. It’s beyond me why Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos offers any wool on linen products, or which ones they might be. I have established that my kit (Seteais, the top one in this image) contains jute.

The price may seem like a lot (for Portugal), but it’s cheap compared to, say, buying painted needlepoint canvases and then wool on top of that, plus shipping. The kit is 1 1/2 feet square - not quite a rug, but big for a pillow. It takes a lot of wool to cover 2 1/4 square feet. The real appeal to me, though, is the Seteais pattern itself. Seteais is the most popular Arraiolos design and my favorite as well. It comes from the carpets of the Seteais Hotel outside Sintra, though it can also be seen in the Portuguese Embassy in Washington D.C. Normally it’s laid out in alternating squares, as in this rug. I don’t have a pattern for it.

Now that I’ve bored everyone to tears, I promise to stop rug geeking.

Attention All Blogger Bloggers

Tuesday, September 16th, 2003

Word count: 300

[Update 9/17] Seema gave it a shot and couldn’t find the Site Feed tab. I tried with my old Blogger account and had no luck either. So skip the instructions below and go straight to complaining to Blogger. Or get a real blog - the people from MovableType now host blogs at TypePad. All levels have RSS feeds (the XML Syndication in the TypePad feature table). [/update]

Now that BloggerPro features have been added to non-pro Blogger, you too can publish an RSS feed! All you need to do is follow these simple instructions at I’d prefer it if you pick “full,” so I can read your whole entry in my RSS reader rather than just the summaries. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read the Blogger intro to site syndication.) If this doesn’t work, leave a comment but also bug the Blogger people. Even LJ has RSS feeds!

You should also link the RSS feed somewhere in your template, preferably using one of the cool buttons that are everywhere these days. Pick one out of the huge collection at gtmcknight (under feeds) or make your own with Kalsey’s button maker.

New PowerBooks!

Tuesday, September 16th, 2003

The rumors were true for once; there are new PowerBooks out today. I couldn’t resist - I ordered the 12″ Combo drive model. It’s supposed to ship by the 25th - the 15″ and 17″ PowerBooks are shipping sooner if you’re after immediate gratification.

Are you new to the Joy of OSX? You might want to look into MacMentors for switcher support. Concerned about shipping delays? Apple has a new spokesman to reassure you.

The Facilities

Monday, September 15th, 2003

Rumor of the day: New PowerBooks tomorrow!

I was looking for Boston blogs to add to my RSS reader and I found an incredibly useful page at Boston Online: the Wicked Good Guide to
Boston’s public restooms
. I tried to send in an update for the Copley Library facilities, which deserve at least 2 rolls, but the form script was broken so I emailed my recommendation instead.

On the Arraiolos front, I’ve put off my Persian yarn mission to the local needlework and knitting shops (eg., Woolcott in Harvard Square) because I’m in negotiations with a kit supplier over foundations. If you ever need to ask a Portuguese speaker whether the kit comes with jute or linen, the words are juta and linho.

Aniline Dyes

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

I’ve found more Arraiolos links: Santo Antonio has a nice selection of images of Arraiolos rugs and also stitch diagrams (em português). Serranofil still has kits and magazines, but I like the looks of the Casa dos Tapetes de Arraiolos kits better despite the inscrutable order form.

I’ve been thinking about aniline dyes while cross-stitching my Arraiolos-on-cotton experiment. Dyes, like so many things, are much more complicated than they seem. It used to be that you mashed up the right plants and you got a certain range of colors. Then came progress, in the form of aniline dyes.Aniline dyes have a bad reputation from the nineteenth century, when they were made from coal tar and gave garish, runny colors that faded easily. I suppose people used them then because they were new and cheaper (like Windows) than colorfast dyes. Aniline dyes have allegedly improved over time, but it’s still a scare word in the handmade rug world, where other “chemical” dyes are used - mainly “chrome” dyes using potassium bichromate, from the acidic dye category. (See the rugtime dictionary for more terms and definitions.)

To see how far we’ve come, walk into a craft shop and look at the DMC embroidery cotton colors. We can make any color we want - or rather, DMC can. I have no idea how they do it, though, so if I were trapped on a desert island I’d have to go back to pounding veggies - or worse, using aniline dyes.

It disturbs me how ill-equpped I am for life on a desert island.

By the way, the Repository has been updated with a bunch of names from TV Tome.


Friday, September 12th, 2003

Cool link of the day: The LJ Times (created by stevenf)

I get an writing newsletter which isn’t particularly useful to me. The latest issue had an article about the whys and wherefores of pseudonyms which mentioned the issues of smut-embarrassment, genre-separation, whistle-blowing and privacy in general. It leaves out some important motives for name-changing - adopting a cooler, more memorable name, hiding your gender because girls don’t write scifi or boys don’t write Harlequins. Back in the pulp days, publishers had authors use multiple pseudonyms to give the appearance of a larger pool of writers. Today, being prolific just adds to your brand name.

I’ll be away for the weekend, so don’t bother watching this space.

Hail, Dorothy

Thursday, September 11th, 2003

Word count: Shh, I’m editing.

I was going to do the Seema thing and honor the day by omission, but I have updates to report. Hail, Dorothy is my new drabble addition to the episode “Seth.” Several new terms have been added to the Repository.

I read some fic by Denise, pretty much at random. Most notable of my choices was Fini, a post-apocalyptic Sam fic coauthored by Adi. I thought the Sam abuse was egregious, but her reaction and recovery were interesting. There was also plenty of Sam angst in Fractured Reflection. You can tell from the title what subgenre it was, but I won’t reveal which Sam was involved. The tension between a Sam and a Jack was good.

In non-Stargate news, I just discovered that there’s a Khanfest going on. Non-smut and non-slash are allowed. I made a button:
Khanfest 2003