Archive by Author

Clean Reader is Censorship

27 Mar

Okay, I’m about to get on my soapbox. I love books. I always have – I was the kid who got in trouble for staying up late to read with a flashlight under the covers. Books are great. You know what’s not great? Censoring books. And that’s exactly what a new app, called Clean Reader, exists to do.

The basic premise is that Clean Reader will change out all of the dirty words in a book to be more appropriate. Appropriate for who? Good freaking question. This app was developed by two parents in Idaho after their daughter was uncomfortable with some profanity in a book she was assigned to read for school. We’ll talk about that later. First I want to address the most common defense I saw on their Facebook page.

“I like the story, but I don’t want to read the trashy/bad/dirty words.”

Okay. Listen, if you’re reading a book about sex and you change out all the dirty words, you’re still reading a book about sex. So are you offended by the content or not? There are plenty of books written for a conservative religious audience. I know this because I’ve accidentally downloaded a few of them for my Kindle when I go on my free ebook sprees. They have religious themes, morally conservative characters, and no funny business. Read those if you’re offended by bad words.

Now, to the root of this issue. Parents created this app because their daughter was upset by profanity in a school book. I have an alternative solution to this that is faster, cheaper, and easier than building an app. Talk to your kid.

Read the book yourself, and then talk to them about the power of language, the reasons an author might choose words, the underlying historical and cultural relevance. Talk to them about the emotions an author was trying to convey with their word choice. Ask them how they feel about the scene painted with those “profane” words versus the scene painted with “clean” language. If you don’t know the answers or don’t feel qualified to talk to your kid about this stuff, ask their teacher. I promise there was a reason the book was assigned beyond “it has dirty words”.

I’d like to insert an anecdote here. My high school English teacher is one of the women I respect most in the world. She is a brilliant educator, and she knows more about the written word that anyone I’ve ever met. She helped me channel and refine my passion for the written word, hone my analytical skills, and expose me to genres and authors I love but never would have discovered on my own. She is also a deeply Christian woman, strong in her faith and proud of her beliefs. And she assigned a “dirty” book.

In the 10th grade, we read The House of the Spirits. It’s a fabulous book, and if you haven’t read it yet you simply must. It remains one of my all time favorites. I don’t remember any specific “profane” words, but there are definitely some mature themes. So why did my religious teacher assign this book? Because it is an important work of literature and she understood its value. (I didn’t actually ask her why she assigned it, so I’m happy to edit this if she clarifies her reasoning.) The House of the Spirits stands on its own as a great work of literature, and it is even more important when we consider the historical and cultural context.

My point in sharing that story is two fold. First, to point out that one may have religious beliefs and still understand and appreciate great literature. Second, to illustrate an example of a relevant and important high school reading that may contain themes that some consider to be “profane”.

So don’t censor books. Don’t ban books. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t understand or like. Explore the meanings of your reading. And, if you can’t do that, just stick to the Christian book store.

DIY Jewelry Organizer

26 Mar

I needed a way to organize and display my jewelry, in the hopes that seeing it out would inspire me to wear more than the same necklace every day, but I couldn’t find one that fit my needs. So I took matters into my own hands and made one!

So here’s the sitch, I have no counter space in my bathroom. None. Zilch. See?

Not exaggerating. So I needed a hanging jewelry organizer, but I had a hard time finding one that I liked. Most of them were only for necklaces, or for necklaces and earrings. I wanted something to hold everything, and it had to be big. So I made my own.

Here’s how it went down. I started with a plain wooden frame, some screen (from the woodworking aisle of Micheal’s) and a staple gun. But then it turned out my staple gun was broken, so I just used thumb tacks. Once I had the screen attached to the back of the frame, I used E600 to attach small wooden cubes to each corner. I did this because I want to hang earrings from the screen, and I wanted them to be far enough away from the wall so that the frame wasn’t moving around and jostling everything when I put earrings on or took them off.

Then I painted my frame off-white and used more E600 – damn I love that stuff – to attach wooden balls around the edge to hold bracelets and necklaces. I also cut down a dowel rod and used, you guessed it, E600 to attach it to the top as a ring holder. And of course I had to paint the accents in varying shades of green.

I used white mug hooks to hang the frame to accommodate the depth, and then put up on the sparkly stuff! The good stuff is still in my fire safe, and I haven’t figured out what to do with my stud back earrings yet, but overall I’m so happy with the way this turned out!

It cost about $27 to make, which was the same or less than anything else I could find. Plus, this way I get exactly what I want. Oh, and if you have any suggestions about the stud back earrings, I’d love to hear them!

Sweaty Saturday

23 Mar

Last weekend Sweaty Saturday made the jump from New York to LA and I went to the first LA class. The idea behind Sweaty Saturday is to unite the fitness community and get people together to workout and have some fun.

In LA, the workout was led by Alex Isaly, Nicky Holender, and Caley Alyssa.

This is me with Alex after the workout. It’s basically my “Proof of Life” photo.

After Alex and Nicky tried to kill us all, Caley swooped in like an angel to lead some yoga. Listen, I like working up a sweat, and there’s a certain pleasure that comes with having muscles sore from working out. But I generally stick to things like ballet, yoga, Pilates, maybe some light jogging. I don’t do the bootcamp from hell kind of stuff Alex and Nicky had us doing. Seriously. Do I look like the kind of woman who does push ups?

A friend of mine asked me if I had fun. I wouldn’t jump straight to “fun”, but I am glad that I went. The event was sponsored by Propel, Under Armor, and Radius. So I almost died, but at least I got a cool Under Armor shirt.

You know, it’s weird. I am in crazy amounts of pain. Like, to put Teddy’s leash on I have to sit on the couch and have him jump up because I can’t crouch down. I had to take Advil PM to get any sleep. And yet, some insane part of me wants to do it again. Because once I stop hurting, I know that the next time will hurt less. And the time after that will hurt even less. And because I’m competitive, but mostly with myself. I also hate it when I’m not good at something, and I am clearly not good at anything involving pushups or upper body strength. But I want to be. Because I have issues.

If you want to try to let Alex and/or Nicky kill you, they both have workouts on Radius. It’s more than just an app, but since it is an app for your iOS devices, let’s just call it that. At any rate, it has a ton of workouts that you can customize based on your goals. And you can do them at home, which I generally prefer.

There’s a free one month trial of Radius that I’m going to check out just as soon as I can move without wanting to cry.

Not sponsored. The event was free and open to the public. And I think Radius is cool.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

18 Mar

I’m pretty much the most professional and timely blogger ever, because I could have sworn I published this last week and then I found it in my drafts today. Better late than never?

So let’s time travel to last week and pretend you’re reading this in the past….

I spent a good chunk of last weekend binging on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and I think it was time well spent.

After the first episode I was hooked. The cast is great, it’s fun and mostly light-hearted, and I dare you to get the theme song out of your head.

Towards the end it got less good and far too ridiculous. Titus kind of went over the edge, I really hate Kimmy’s step-dad, and the last few episodes were just too insane to be remotely believable. Like, beyond the pale of reasonable suspension of disbelief. I know that sounds harsh, but the first half was so good and then it just kind of fell off a cliff.

But the end of the finale pulled it together again and left us with a few good cliffhangers. I can’t wait for next season!

Overall, I’d say it’s worth watching. Maybe don’t intensely binge like you would for House of Cards, but it’s a great way to kill a Saturday or keep yourself entertained while you do some work around the house.

Fitness Review – New York City Ballet: The Complete Workout

17 Mar

I thought it would be fun to review some of the million fitness DVDs I have sitting around. So we’re starting with one of my favorites, the New York City Ballet workout.

The DVD: New York City Ballet: The Complete Workout, Vol. 1

Length: About an hour – this is a long one, folks

Intensity: Light to medium – the ab section is rough, but abs are always the hardest part for me – there are also some sections that will really work your shoulders and upper arms. Overall it’s not too taxing, at no point did I want to die, but I did work up a nice sweat.

Equipment Needed: Nada. But you will need a big open space. Trust me. I whacked my foot on the coffee table doing an arabesque.

Anything else, Anne? Why yes, thanks for asking, Anne. As a former dancer, a lot of these movements were familiar to me. I’ve always loved ballet, and used to take a barre class (not cardio barre, ballet barre) as my workout. I really enjoy this workout because even though it’s long, it’s the kind of thing that can easily be done while watching TV. Plus, ballet is fun for me, so it feels less like work. Although my form is really sad after all these years. That’s the beauty of fitness DVDs, Teddy’s the only one who sees me, and he never judges.

I bought the volume 1 and 2 box set from Amazon a few years ago, and it will currently set you back $22.99.