Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Fifteen: My iPods

Say what you will about the cult of Apple products, but I am personally thankful for the freedom and portability of music that I have enjoyed with my iPods.  My family does a lot of iPod swapping, the older iPod with less space going from the recipient of a new iPod to a family member without one or with one even older and less spacious.

Thus my first iPod was a 2GB white iPod that barely fit a quarter of my musicals on it but which I loved for years.  It now is still working and handles my grandmother's music quite well, with room to spare.  Which is one of the things about the iPod that sticks out in the world of electronics- in general, they work.  And work well, and easily, for many years.  There are not many other electronics that can boast the same.

 My second iPod is a red iPod nano with 4GB of space- so much more compared to my first iPod, but once I discovered music that I like beyond musicals and what my parents liked, I still needed more room.  (That one is now letting my dad listen to audio books on the way to work- my scheme to get him to read the Ender's Game series finally worked! mwa ha ha ha ha)

Which brings me to my current iPod- a purple 5th generation iPod nano with 16GB! like the one pictured above to the far right.  It has accompanied me across the country, twice, and on countless trips to and from work, home, and rehearsals.  It holds an audiobook, the best of my musicals, my rehearsal music and most of my other music perfectly. Maybe in another couple years I'll make a bid for a bigger one to fit more music on, but maybe my robot butler will take care of that by then :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Fourteen: The Library

I can't remember the first time I went to the library, or even when I got my first library card because I was so young, but the library has been and is, an important part of my life.

I chose this picture because it is the library that I remember going to all through my childhood and coming out with a stack of books under my chin.  Since I have never had a large amount of disposable income and a voracious love of books, the library has been my friend.  I spent countless hours roaming the stacks looking for my next new literary treasure.  My sisters never wanted to come on these outings, not because they necessarily didn't like the library, but because they never wanted to spend as much time there as I did.  My mom understood, though, and was happy to take me when she could.  I still remember the day I had two teeth pulled and I had a mouth full of cotton but I begged to be taken to the library because I didn't have a new book to read after I finished the one I was currently reading and I wanted a new book and a new movie to watch while I was in pain.  Mom said OK because she knew what it meant to me and she knew I was about to be in not insignificant amounts of pain once the dental shots wore off. (yes I had other painkillers but they were to dull the pain, not get rid of it)  I was so numb that I didn't realize that I was drooling blood in the middle of the teen fiction section, my sister had to point it out;  so I went outside, changed the cotton and went back in.  Such is my love for the library.

My family likes to joke that I have subsidized a wing of the library with all the fines I've paid, and they are exaggerating, but I bet I have bought a few shelves, but the late fees I've paid are not near the price of the books I have read or the value of what I have learned and experienced from those books.

When I discovered interlibrary loan, I was hooked.  I can get any book I want, from anywhere. The classics of science fiction, the complete works of that new author I found, that random nonfiction book that sounds so interesting that I heard about on the internet, all at my fingertips.  Heaven.

But let me say, the library hasn't kept me from having a significant library of my own at home, but knowing which books I want  to keep and read again and again is part of my debt to the library that I can never repay.  Which is why, today, I am thankful for the library and why I think I'll go over there later and pay off my newest collection of late fees.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Thirteen: Scripture Scouts

Reading the scriptures as a kid can be challenging.  Heck, it's challenging as an adult!  So finding a way to make the lessons and stories from the scriptures come alive for children has produced cartoons (Living Scriptures and Veggie Tales anyone?), simplified storybooks and longer illustrated versions of the scriptures.  But what influenced me, personally as a kid, was Scripture Scouts.

Scripture Scouts is a series of audio adventures that tell the story of (refer to the picture, in order) Baby, Skyler, Boo the Dog and Sue who have a tree house that they visit to share their problems and relate the stories in the scriptures to their lives- with music!  Not only are the problems that the children face extremely relatable, but the music is fun, catchy, and helps to illustrate the stories and the principles behind them perfectly.

I still remember many of the songs and even though they are simple, they are still very true and touching. I can remember so many nights when my sister Kelsey and I fell asleep listening to these stories and feeling happy and safe. I am so happy that I get to share Scripture Scouts with my little brother and I can't wait to share them with my children someday.  I am thankful for this sweet, simple introduction to the scriptures.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Twelve: Joss Whedon

If you've been living under a geek rock, as I was about six years ago, you have never heard or seen anything by Joss Whedon, and that is sad.  Joss has created some of the most original, interesting, creative, science fiction and fantasy shows of the last two decades.

While packing up my room from my sophomore year of college, I got distracted (not unusual) and wandered down the hall.  One of the girls on my floor was also packing and watching a show on her computer, a little show called Firefly.  Having run out of Stargate SG-1 episodes to borrow from one of my other hallmates, and sensing some science-fictiony goodness, I asked if I could borrow Disc One to watch while I packed.  She said sure, and I promptly popped in the DVD and forgot about packing.  I did manage to get packed and get home that summer, where I found the rest of the Firefly discs from the library and then proceeded to devour Firefly and Buffy in quick succession- that was an awesome summer.  (Sidebar: It's funny to think how I watched TV shows without Netflix- finding discs?  Who does that anymore?)  

Each of these shows have characters who are noble and self-sacrificing and brave.  Characters who, although they might be hurt or have issues or be the Chosen One, are able to work with other people.  Joss knows how to use an ensemble cast, which is why I am super excited to see The Avengers when it comes out next year.  

Superhero movies, up to now, have been exclusively focused on the main hero and their origin story or their problems facing villains and so forth.  There might be a girlfriend or friend who helps/needs help, but no real ensemble feel, which is perfectly fine for the kinds of movies that have come before.  But The Avengers doesn't have a main character- it has six!  And who else but Joss to make it work.

Joss also has a fondness for music and musicals, another genre that is dear to my heart, so when I came to the musical episode of Buffy I was in fantasy/musical geek heaven.  And when Dr. Horrible came out, I watched it raptly and bought the DVD as soon as I could.  The soundtracks live on my iPod to this day.  Because they are good.  I never would have expected a science fiction or fantasy show to produce a good musical, but, by George, or actually, by Joss, they did.  The songs are fun, tuneful, and emotional and forward the plot at the same time-  there are shows on Broadway right now that can't say the same.  

So, thank you Joss Whedon, for bringing courage, nobility, fascinating stories, great ensembles, and some darn good music to my life.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Eleven: Washington DC

It's funny the way that people who live close to places that are important or popular can take those places for granted.  I, personally, have lived most of my life near a popular beach town, Ocean City, MD, and not too far (2ish hours) from Washington DC.  Washington is far enough away that I guess I never completely took it for granted, but I did go almost every other year on a school trip, and on enough family trips that, for a while, it lost a lot of its appeal as a day trip destination.  I know where to get the rock candy in the Natural History museum, I know how to get to the sculpture garden from the Air and Space Museum, and I know where Kermit is in the American History museum- I figured that was enough.

But then I realized that there is so much more to DC than just the Mall (though there is more there to see than you realize when you are 12).  It could be fun just to spend a day reading the buildings!  There is a building that says, I kid you not, that the organization within the building strives to be an "ear trump to the world."  Hehehe- I wish I was an artist and I could draw the picture that comes into my head when I hear that phrase- kind of an old cartoony version of the world with arms and legs and a cane and a long white beard saying "Eh?"  with an ear trump to its ear which would be right over DC.  And I really want to go to the spy museum and the newspaper museum sometime.

And now, DC is my destination.  I've decided that I want to be a bigger part of my family's life, especially my little brother who is only one and I want to be close while he grows up.  On the other hand, I want to live my life, have friends, make money, and be on my own, and the Eastern Shore isn't exactly full of the best opportunities for me to do that.  So Washington DC is my goal- it has jobs, friends from college who have moved there, and a world of the arts that is only a couple hours from my family. Win-win. :-)  So that is why I am thankful for Washington DC.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Ten: Nutella

A lovely little treat that is good on toast, pretzels, or just by the spoonful.  I think I encountered Nutella first on my first trip to the UK.  Man, they have good breakfasts there.  Except for whatever that tomato thing was.... Anyway, today I am thankful for this small, delicious jar of happy.

Thanksgiving Thanks: Day Nine: Converse

Cute. Classic. Comfortable.  What else do you want in a shoe?