Monday, December 6, 2010

"Winter's Plea"

This is a short story I wrote for a fun writing contest on the Lackadaisy forum.  The theme was 'Winter', but since the deadline isn't until the end of January, which is when they'll be posted, I decided to post it here.  Because I love it so much and I can't wait to share it!  So here it is...

"Winter's Plea"

The stage was empty and quiet, yet warm and inviting with its mahogany wood covering the floor and walls. It sat in an alcove and decorated itself with naught but a simple wooden bench so matching the stage itself that only the interruption of the plank lines gave away its presence. 

With a sudden whistling air, swirls of snowflakes blew in across the field of view, covering the stage with a blanket of snow, the alcove melting to a frozen landscape from which naked young trees and bushes sprouted, their limbs crowned with snow and home for the robins and waxwings who’d wandered in. They were fat with ruffled feathers against the cold, hopping about in the hopeful search of a morsel. It was Winter’s turn to present her case. In she stepped upon the scene, the folds of her Classical robe wrapping her from head to toe as she stood amongst the branches, a Mucha’s muse. 
“You think me cold and heartless, frigid in affection and void of emotion. You say my skin is as pale as death, and no warmth am I able to bestow. Yet Summer, not I, is more heartless by far, spreading lies of my nature and incites men to lusting after her long after she is gone, blowing kisses of promise and spinning memories of her long evenings. She causes them to forget her scorching embrace, once I have done the work of cooling their fevered brows.
Spring and Autumn are fickle mistresses, stealing lovers from my arms, and planting thoughts of dread at my coming. They are merely sprites and faeries of mischief, playing at the emotions of men in my disfavour. See them flit to and fro, not knowing what to be, whether cool or warm, dry or damp. Spring lures away with pale and temporary flowers, which bloom today and tomorrow are lost, while Autumn dances in the falling leaves, painting death in glorious shade of yellow and red.
I do not cavort like the others, who allow their robes to fall away and flow in the wind, uncovering their heads and exposing their flesh. I have few followers, who stay with me and comfort my loneliness during the time of my work. I do not ask for pity, nor do I wish for raucous celebrations. I am stoic, steadfast and demure, as many rely on me to be, despite their complaints. I clothe the earth when it is naked, I give it a blanket for its rest. If I remove my hood, and thus cause that pure white blanket to melt away before its time, there is despair at the sight of death that Autumn has carelessly tossed aside, and fear in remembering the dry, difficult times when Summer was spiteful and would not allow rain to fall and quench the earth from her scorching embrace. So I replace my hood, lest man become disappointed in their waiting for Spring, who takes her time and only appears when she deigns to begin her passage.
I give the world its quiet rest; I sing it a soothing lullaby. Man huddles in his warm abode, I give him excuse to cease his constant toil, and to enjoy the family he has often missed. I bring warmth to the heart, the wish of the clothed to see their unclothed brothers warmed by hearth and stove. Lovers embrace, and songs are sung, and I accompany though I am shut outside, or listen in muted silence. I hold whispers against my breast, secrets and wishes told to the awe-giving snow. I bring into season the berries and foods to feed my loyal friends, and protect the grasses which escaped Autumn’s grasp. I bring not death, but rest, rebirth and renewal. Do not fear me, but do not be foolish in your love. My ways are stern, and unforgiving. I am not for the weak of heart or will, but if you will open yourself to follow me, you would see the beauty in my work, and the truth in my words.”
Winter paused in her speech, bending to scoop a bird into her hands. She kissed its head, warming it in her tender embrace before releasing it, watching it wing its way through the clear skies. Sighing lightly, she sat upon the bench, a bank of snow at the foot of a young tree.
In the Solstice & Equinox, the ethereal crossroads of the seasons and a traveller’s inn on their journeys, three other muses sat each one on their own dais, surrounded by their attendants. Spring, reclined on a soft moss bed and surrounded by flowers, turned a deaf ear to Winter’s plea as she strummed her small harp, the tune of dripping water and light breeze floating delicately up from it. Autumn, on her bed of leaves, surrounded by a harvest gathered by the hands of men rather than her own, wore a look of ease as her followers regaled her with the feast. Summer had rocked herself to sleep in a hammock, her work long done, her dreams filled with seasons to come, of her worshippers hailing her return.
Winter stood and walked into the distance, disappearing over the horizon of snow. The scene faded, and the stage stood empty once more.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What defines me

Sometimes I think about the things people use to describe me.  And I think of how many different groups of friends (online and off) that only know little bits about me.  And some things that hardly anybody knows.  So what are some things that I believe define me?  Here are some of the things that go into the whole crazy package you see as me:

  • I am curious.  About everything.  There are lots of things I want to know the answer to, and will go forth and research (thank you, internet!).  And as much as I love to learn, I love to teach others.  But complex issues confuse and mystify me.  Which is why politics anymore complex than general knowledge will remain a complete and utter mystery to me.
  • I am lazy.  There are so many times, and so many situations, when I simply just cannot be bothered.  I also love sleep.
  • I am shy.  Lots of people don't know this.  I'm more shy over the phone than face-to-face, and more shy IRL than online.  I stay away from lots of parties and clubs where I won't know anyone, or only know very few.  It's just far too intimidating for me.  At work, in a professional light, I'm much more confident, but I still hate calling people I don't know.
  • I am a furry.  That's right.  I love to roleplay anthropomorphic characters, and I often wish I was an anthro jaguar (hence my twitter name, cammyjag).  I love other roleplays as well, but anthro is my first love.
  • I am obsessed with other cultures.  Asian, Irish, Native American and historical American are my favourite cultures to explore.
  • Food.  I love food and will try almost anything once.
  • I am passionate about equality and social respect.  I despise things that cause people to have superior attitudes towards other people.  This involves fashion, gossip, willful ignorance, and Disney Princesses.
  • The thought of Barbie and Disney Princesses makes me gag involuntarily.  I never liked any of these as a child, and seeing my students completely obsessed with them turns me off even more.
  • I want to live somewhere else.  Nowhere exotic.  Just somewhere else.  Like the UK.  Or Philly.
  • I would rather work for nothing than to work somewhere that I hate.
  • I could never give up meat.  Never ever. *gnaws on steak*
  • I love to laugh and make others laugh.  Whether it's teasing, harmless pranks, or just sharing a funny story, I love when people are happy.
  • I love pretty much any music genre from the 1920s to the 1980s.  Except for modern jazz.  Swing Jazz and Blues Jazz are fine, though.  Modern jazz makes my ears bleed.
  • I love to dance.  Not all dance, though.  Liturgical dance.  I'm in my church's dance ministry and I absolutely love it.
  • I am socially awkward.  I don't know if this is part of my shyness, or exactly how they affect each other, but I've always been on the edge of a group, even if I'm fully involved with it, I've never felt completely emotionally accepted.  I hated high school.  This also frustrates me in that I'm a very generous person and love to help others, but often receive very little in reciprocation.  It's to the point that this is normal for me.  I don't give expecting something back, but sometimes it's nice to feel that I'm not ignored or taken advantage of.  Lots of times I really don't feel the love and support I give, especially when I need it most.  But I'm too shy to say anything really about it.
  • I love casual gaming.  I suck at video games.  Always have, always will.  But give me a hidden object game or a puzzle game, a solitaire game or a social game, and you have my attention for several hours.
  • I am FORGETFUL.  OMG, I'm forgetful.  I have a sanguine temperament (HIGHLY sanguine!) and one of the features of the temperament is forgetfulness, or being 'scatter-brained'.  That is so me!  I even forget to write things down, as often as I've tried, or if I do actually remember to write things down, I forget to go back and read what I've written.

That being said, I can't think of anything else, even though there's probably more.  Hope you enjoyed this look into me.  Ask me questions!  I love to answer them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The high point of every working day...

Ok, so my last two serious blog posts have been pretty rant-filled, and after laughing my head off reading Baby Rabies' blog, I remember some of the fun I wanted to have actually writing this blog, even if most people don't read it.  So, I will now recount to you what I pretty much live for every day I go to work.

Besides the children.  That's just a given.  This is bonus.

I love to mess with my boss.  She is absolutely hilarious to tease.  She's a middle-aged lady, even though she calls herself old, and has such a wonderful sense of humour.  Being the owner/head teacher/assistant in a preschool is really stressful, so I help by spending little moments of my day making her laugh.  

One of my favourite ways is to stand outside her office window (which is directly across from the door of my classroom) and make faces at her until she looks.  The other is to stand directly behind her when she's talking to another teacher.  Once she was talking to the teacher for over a minute, even hit me in the boob, and still didn't realise I was there until the teacher she was talking to couldn't keep from laughing.

I don't know what it is that makes me want to tease her like that.  Maybe it's because I know she'll laugh, and maybe because it's just so dang easy!  She reminds me of my mom, the way I can take what she says or does and use it to tease her, and all she can do is laugh and try to hit me.  I have good reflexes :D.  And because I know she'd never really hit me.  Hard, anyway.

This is key, because I love to take advantage of the backup camera she has in her new Kia Sportage and dance or do something crazy when she starts backing up.  She always cracks up laughing!

I work with some awesome ladies, I tell you.  It's not just the children I go to work for.  If it wasn't for an equally wonderful staff of teachers that I work with, there's no way that I could enjoy my job so very much!  I would never work somewhere to make more money if it meant working in a hostile, gossiping, spiteful atmosphere.  Having fun with my coworkers and especially my boss is definitely the highlight to every working day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why parents infuriate me...

It's not all of my parents that frustrate me and get me angry.  It's not all of them that I want to shake.  It's the few.  The few that make you forget all the rest of the wonderful parents who are a pleasure to work with.  Since everyone seems a little list-happy recently, I have compiled my own list.  This is from my own experience, but you may see similarities to other lists, because these people are everywhere!

10.  You have 1 child here.  Sometimes 2.  We have 8-12.  Every day.

9.  We cannot remember everything you say, and we can't stand around and talk to you all day.  You are not the only person we have to deal with today, and not even the most important.  We are here for the children.  If you really need to talk to us, call us at the proper time (ie, when you know they're resting!) or email us.  Or even write a note!  It's not hard!  Don't be selfish with our attention to you.

8.  Don't dress your child in white and look at us funny when they come home brown.  They are children, they will play.  Please dress your child appropriately.  They can't tie their shoelaces, and you know they take their shoes off when they come inside.  Why are you going to do that to us?  And on the other end of the spectrum, don't send them in flip-flops either.  They're not proper support for the running/jumping they do all day.

7.  PLEASE check your child's communication box/folder daily!  There's important information there, and we aren't always there/available to talk to you when you pick your child.

6.  Please please PLEASE be on time!  This counts for drop-off as well as pick-up.  You distrupt the class when you waltz in late and go through your unnecessarily long, drawn-out separation process as if nobody is there.  And we don't get paid overtime to sit around and wait for you to come and pick up your child at the end of the day.  The child also begins to worry and become distressed.  If you have to pick up your child by 5:30, don't LEAVE at 5:30!  And don't complain when we charge you the late fee, either!

5.  LABEL EVERYTHING.  Again, we have multiple children we are taking care of.  Many items look similar to us, and most children cannot identify their own belongings.  If it looks nice to them, they will claim it whether it belongs to them or not.  If it's not labelled, don't blame us if it goes missing.  We don't have the time to play the elimination game to guess whose it is.  Anything that can detach from them physically should be labelled.  This includes socks and underwear!  Don't assume that your child will always keep these on.  They don't even do it at home, why would they do it at school?

4.  We are not a party venue!  We are a school.  If you would like to have an elaborate birthday party for your child, do it on the weekend.  Keep the birthday celebrations at school simple and quick, and work with our schedule, not yours.

3.  DISNEY IS THE ENEMY!!  Not literally, but it really doesn't belong at a school.  We do not promote images and some of the messages they give to children.  They often distract from learning when children are more focused on what they're wearing or what they have on their lunchbox/bottle/hat, etc.  Keep such images at school at a minimum, and downplay their importance as much as possible.  There are more important things to focus on.

2.  Let the children be children.  Let them develop on their own.  They grow up too fast anyway, so why speed up the process by flooding them with images and messages that are not age appropriate?  Little girls should not be obsessed with make-up, fashion and gossip.  Boys should not be obsessed with guns, fighting and monsters.  They can be aware of it, but when they're fed a steady diet of it so that's what is most important to them and that's all they focus on, something is very wrong.

1.  RESPECT.  Please respect the teachers and the classroom.  This is our workplace and our profession, so please treat it as such.  We take our jobs very seriously, and our first and most important goal is the safety and wellbeing of your child.  We are not your servants, we are not second-class workers.  We are professionals, just like you.  We work hard, and we work long.  We go home tired and drained at the end of the day, but we never stop thinking about your children.  They become like our own and we are devoted to them and to you.  When we say something, or suggest something, it's because we care.  Work with us, not against us.  At the end of the day, it's not the paycheck we're looking for, it's knowing that we're doing the best for a child.  Let us know that you appreciate us, you have no idea how it helps us when we're tired and stressed.

Teaching is not an easy profession.  Teachers don't get paid a lot of money, it's long hours and it's mentally and physically draining.  But we teach because it's our passion as well as our profession.  Just because we teach preschool, don't think we are less than a grade school or high school teacher.  Let's bring back the respect that the teaching profession deserves.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What's your favorite season of the year?

late spring

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What one thing are you exceptionally bad at?

drawing. omg the horror!

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

If you won a $1,000 shopping spree for any store, which store would you pick?

Apple, or Old Navy.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

School is in session!

I started writing this post about 2 days ago during rest period, when the power decided to go out.  Fun fun.  We ended up calling parents and sending the kids home early (those who stay for the after school care), because it was raining off/on so we couldn't stay outside, and it was too hot/dark inside.  Of course, the poor head teacher was stuck calling parents on her cell b/c we couldn't use the phones. :P

But, other than that (and 4 new parents in one class deciding not to send their children to the school after all, and the toilets not working yesterday due to the power outage on Thurs), it has been an amazing first week of school.  All the classrooms had a big makeover in terms of layout, we have brand new carpets and new paint, and we seriously purged all our storage sheds, getting back to a nice, minimalist feel, as a Montessori school should feel.  It's so strange, the way things have changed so much between the end of the old school year and the start of the new one.  It feels really, really good.

Things are still a bit hectic in the office, getting files re-organized, and both the head teacher and I have to squeeze in office time outside of teaching to get everything rolling.  Thanks to the head-teacher's mother-in-law who works part-time for us in the office, there's a lot of stress gone out of it, though, since we can rely on her to do a lot of the organizing.

So, school is now back in session, I'm getting my students in shape and in order, and it's looking to be a good year.  The real work starts on Monday.

Funny story about my class:  my students told their old teacher they wanted to go back to her class, because they have too many 'chores' in my class. XD

It's true, I do have them do chores after lunch.  They eat off of plates and drink out of cups to learn good table manners, so after lunch there are dishes to be washed, tables and floors to be wiped, and sweeping to be done.  Once they really start working on the shelves, there will also be dusting and organizing of shelves as well.  I do this for two main reasons: to give them a sense of pride & responsibility, and to fill the time during their shortened rest time.  They'll be heading to primary school next year, which means no more rest time, no more naps.  We prepare them for this by shortening their rest time down to one hour of quiet rest during the school year, then quiet activity during summer camp.  Chores after lunch and before rest time help to fill that gap.  Also, when their work time in the morning gets longer.  Also, I told my class that it's their space, and they are responsible for keeping it clean.  I have already seen the smiles on their faces after sweeping up the floor, or washing the dishes.  They're more than eager to do a good job.  They almost fight over whose turn it is, which makes me thankful for my job chart.  They can see their names on the chart, and know whose turn it is to work.

Hopefully this week I'll remember to charge my camera and take pics of my classroom.  Maybe I'll start my own Wordless Wednesday posts!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Are you more of a talker or more of a listener?

Talker, though a listener if it's serious.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What's one thing you own that you should probably throw away, but never will?

my stuffed toys.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What was the happiest moment in your life?

College graduation. :)

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

Who's the most famous person you've met?

Jada Pinkett. In a nail salon. She was really nice. :)

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

mannish water. I won't gross you out with the details. It's a soup. With goat.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

Where are you from?

Bermuda-born and raised. :)

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What do you think was the greatest invention in your lifetime?

Apple computers. :D

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What's the secret to happiness?

Give. Give of yourself, give of your means, give of your time. It doesn't matter what you give, but as long as you give for the right reasons, you will never fail to find happiness.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

If you had to give up one favorite food, what would the most difficult?

beef. In any form. and most likely cheese.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

Chocolate or Vanilla?

vanilla! too much chocolate makes me sick, esp. American-made chocolate.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What TV show makes you laugh the loudest?

"Smoking Gun Presents: World's Dumbest..." if I watch nothing else all week, I HAVE TO watch this show! Kills me every time!

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!


Yes, I now have an account.  I'll post answers here as a way to keep this blog active.  And whenever I'm bored.  Which is often.  :D

What's the best gift you've ever given?

Surprised my best friend with a set of golf clubs for her birthday. Got all her friends & family to contribute. She almost passed out from the surprise!

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What's your favorite genre of music?

Oldies, Big Band & Swing Jazz. Anything from the 20s to the 80s, really.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

Who was the best teacher you've ever had?

my HS english teacher. Had her for 5 years, then for 6th form. She's still an awesome lady.

Ask me anything

Would you rather be rich or famous?

Rich. Screw famous. Too much trouble.

Ask me anything

What's the most unselfish thing you've ever done?

bought my unemployed friend a computer screen which she desperately needed, and a real bullwhip which she desperately wanted. I'm a really giving person. :)

Ask me anything

Back on track...

Ok, let's get this thing restarted.  The main reason is because I really started getting more involved in Twitter, following Montessori teachers & moms and I really want to share my ideas better.  I've been thinking about a lot of stuff to the point that it's starting to bug me, not really having anywhere to share it.  So this'll be probably more school & child focused than roleplay, but that'll most likely creep back in there sometimes.
SO!  Busy busy busy.  Been getting my classroom ready for school to start this Wednesday.  I know American schools started last week, but we start the first Wednesday after Labour Day.  So there :P
New batch of preschoolers!  Woo!  I'll miss my children from last year (my 'minions' as I jokingly referred to them near the end of the school year.  Mostly to make my boss laugh.) but they're off to bigger and better things and I wish them all the best!  Now I have a new challenge to contend with: the 'girly-girls'.  There are 2 (maybe 3) girls who act more like teenagers than 4 year olds.  It's all about fashion, tv, music, and clothes.  This grates me for several reasons:
  1. They tend to clique together and alienate the other children.
  2. These are the same type of children that created hell for me growing up.
  3. It makes you wonder what their moms are actually thinking, and if they realise what they're setting themselves up for later on.
  4. It also makes you wonder what types of messages they're being fed through all the media they're exposed to, and it worries me.
  5. One of them has already decided that one of the boys in the class is her 'boyfriend' because their last names are similar.  This worries me.
  6. They are far too aware of things that, in their context, are far too mature for them.  Mostly, they're aware of their bodies and parts, but in all the wrong ways.
The last one is the most worrisome of all.  Mostly, I worry that they're learning these things before they're learning to have healthy proper relationships, and that this will skew their perspective on relationships, putting them at high risk for teenage pregnancy.  They're being taught to be 'women' and not 'children'.
I was on youtube the other day, watching clips from the tv special 'Free to and me', where two babies were trying to figure out what they were (boy/girl).  It was interesting in that it dealt with the stereotypes we place on children on what it means to be a 'boy' or a 'girl'.

This is something I deal with all the time.  Children telling each other they can't do something or they can't like something because it's 'for girls' or it's 'for boys'.  Who says?  This is something I've had to deal with my whole life.  I grew up a very staunch tomboy.  I hated having to wear dresses and skirts.  I constantly had my mother getting on me as I got older, to wear my uniform skirts more as opposed to my shorts and pants, because I was a 'girl child' (my mother's Jamaican, if you're wondering about the phrase).  I've been asked if I was a lesbian because of being such a tomboy.  People always trying to get me to wear makeup so I'd look more like a 'lady'.
Now that I'm in my late 20s, I still prefer pants to skirts and dresses, although I will wear them when I want.  Also, I've invested in some quality makeup that I've started to wear more frequently because I want to.  See, the difference is that I do it because I want to, not because other people have told me that I should.  This is what I want to instill in my students.  I want them to be able to be who they are, and know who they are, not to be what the media tells them to be.  Now, if I can only get the parents on board.
I can already see my first day of school being about respect and courtesy, as well as new material.  It's going to be a tough battle.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Character Creation - Lackadaisy style

Well, I haven't really had much to talk about, but today, I feel inspired!  Inspired to create a new Lackadaisy char!  So, I figured I'd document, for those who are thinking of getting into the world of roleplaying, or even just writing, how I go about creating a character.

The inspiration and the basics.

1920s-based char of course, for the Lackadaisy world.  Always need to be mindful of the world you're dropping your character into, so you can build your char into it.

Second, I'd like a male, preferably in the industrial sector.  I decided on a general mechanic for now.  Might be a mix of car, boat and/or plane in the end, but we'll see.  General mechanic is nice and flexible.

Also, for Lackadaisy, I need to pick a species of animal.  I usually go with cat, but this time I might go with something different, like a raccoon, possum, squirrel, or maybe even a dog.

Then, I need a name and an origin.  For me, origin comes before name.  Will he be first or second gen immigrant, or an American mongrel with no particular ethnic breeding?

Finally, I need to start thinking of personality and history.  I've already decided that they'll be somewhat traditionally educated: a basic elementary education, followed by years of apprenticeship.  Given the amount of years that one apprentices for, he'll be most likely in his late 20s, maybe early thirties in 1927 (the target year for the Lackadaisy world).  That would mean he'd have been old enough to serve at least some time in the Great War.  Maybe he served as a mechanic in the war?  That would give him the proper training in planes and cars, if not boats.  The boats could have been picked up more as a hobby, living close to the river.

Okay!  Now that you've got your starting point, it's time to move onto the next step: research!

Research, research, research...

Unless you're creating some fictional creature right off the top of your head, you're going to HAVE to do your research!  Chances are, practically every character you create is going to need some kind of research.

For me, I think I'm going to go for a non-feline character, so I need to start looking at what species of animal I'd like to use.  I usually start with Wikipedia for an overview and a list of species/breeds of any particular animal I'm thinking of.  This is also where origin comes in.  I've decided to go with American mongrel, so if I choose a dog, it's going to have to be an american breed, or if I choose a squirrel, it can't be a European species.

(two hours later)

Okay!  After much research, including almost an hour of tangent researching (when I was researching raccoons, i came across a fun google word: baculum), I have settled on an Australian Shepherd.  While not crucial to my characters, Australian Shepherds existed as a breed during the 1920s.  Usually I reserve such strict distinctions to the feral pets.  Plus, now that I have my species and breed, I can nail down an exact origin.  He should have grown up on a Mid-Western farm close to a town, where he could've easily become apprenticed and gone to school.  He also should have several siblings, so that he wouldn't have been stuck at the farm, but could pursue a mechanic/blacksmith apprenticeship.  This mean he would also be one of the youngest in the sibling line.  Also, I usually choose an animal based on the temperament I want, so his temperament would follow that of an Australian Shepherd.

Now to work on his war record...

Ah, found it.  I've decided that he was part of the 'Motor Transport Corps', the precursor to the current U.S. Army Transportation Corps.  He was assigned to the Service Parks.

Service Parks

Designed to make repairs not requiring much time or heavy equipment, these mostly mobile workshops carried a limited stock of spare parts and were mainly assigned to combat zones. Because of their temporary and mobile nature, the service parks were often operating in the open, under canvas, or in any shelter found to be available.  (Wikipedia quote, from Motor Transport Corps (United States Army) (World War One))
Okay, seems like he can't do planes in the war, as planes are apparently under the Navy.  See?  This is why research is important.  Okay, let's stick to motor vehicles and boats as a hobby.

The last thing I think I REALLY need to research at this point is his present wardrobe.  Unlike most of my previous characters, he is strictly working class, so he needs to be dressed appropriately.  Also, what would his work clothes (this is different to his street clothes) and his tools look like?

So, he would wear either overalls or, more probably, a combo suit that he could wear right over his street clothes.  They'd be made of denim or some other heavy material.  In the winter he'd wear a matching jacket.  Since I see him owning his own shop, he'd most likely not wear these clothes out on the street, but a sensible suit.  He'd most likely have in his closet: several shirts and pants for daywear that he could mix and match, no more than 3 'Sunday best' or evening suits, and maybe one or two leisure suits.  He'd also have motoring clothes, since I think he should have his own car or motorbike.  He would prefer braces (suspenders) to belts, and his favourite hats would be a flat cap and a wool trilby; he'd wear a felt fedora with his best clothes.

I think that's enough research for me... oh snap!

I almost forgot one of my most important parts of research (for me, anyway)!  I must name this guy.  I always look for a good name that would be relatively common, especially if they're an all-American.  If not, I name them based on their ethnicity.  When looking at name popularity, research the character's BIRTH YEAR.  Don't research the year that's your character's 'present-day'.

Clayton Lawrence Whitfield.  Yes, I like the sound of that.  Any nicknames?  Childhood ones would be 'Clay', while Army ones would be 'Whit'.

Okay, that's enough for now.  I'll post the final profile once i finish hashing it out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

The Chinese New Year is coming up, and since the theme this term at school is "It's A Great Big World", looking at all the things in the world around us.  This month my class has been looking at countries and cultures, so I decided we could do some crafts and activities to celebrate the start of the Lunar New Year.  I contacted the mother of a Chinese student who graduated last year, and she offered to give me some 'hong bao', the traditional red envelopes given to children during the holiday.  She's also giving me some info on the New year, and I have some crafts lined up for them.  Should be a lot of fun!  I'll try to remember to take and post some pictures!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Video Post - Road Safety

I found this one youtube on Twitter, from Adam Savage (of Mythbusters' fame.  Follow him at 'donttrythis').  It got me searching some other road safety commercials, and here are some of the favourite ones, starting with the one that started it all.

This last one is a compilation of different commercials put to music. Longer, but very touching. My favourite.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Steampunk Chronicles, Ep. 4 - Characters

So I had to rewrite a character's profile, mainly because I lost the website where I'd stashed his first one.  This is always unfortunate because I'm never as motivated the second time around.  Fortunately, I remembered most of his information, except for his exact history, which I have to work on again.  I figured I'd post it here so you all can see what I put into my characters.  Maybe later I'll post my other steampunk character.  They're both guys, both mechanics, but very different personalities.  Maybe one day I'll get around to creating a good female character.

Name: Leviticus Abrahamson III
Nickname: Levi 
Age: 27 
Height: 6' 
Build: Thin, but sturdy. Strong and fit from working with boiler engines. 
Appearance: Black, wavy hair, bright green eyes. One eye is scarred, and he wears a telescopic monogoggle over it, which actually helps him see better than his regular eye. He has various other scars and burns on his arms and chest, par for the course with his line of work. He tends to wear: a black coachman's hat, a rifle frock coat, a tan canvas vest when working, or a gold and red vest when he's not. Various colours of canvas pants when working, more fancy trousers when not. Tends to wear a silk puff tie when he's not working, as well as gloves. 
Accessories: A telescoping monogoggle, which he switches for a regular pair of tinted goggles when he's machining. When he's not machining, they live atop his coachman's hat. He carries a doctor bag with his tools and writing supplies, and when he's travelling, a small chest with his chemicals and a large duffel bag with his extra clothes. For defense he carries a shotgun-type weapon of his own design which shoots heavy-duty shells, as well as a more traditional Colt 45 Peacemaker.
Personality: Shameless and proud, but not unreasonably boastful. He's smart and he knows it. Tends to leap without looking, and is willing to follow anything that'll lead him to his riches. 
History: is forthcoming...


Name: Arthur Clinton Bray
Nickname: Arty Flint, Mouse
Age: 25
Gender: Male
Height: 5'
Occupation: Engineer/Scientist
Build: Slight
Hair: Dirty blond, shaggy, always a mess
Eyes: slightly squinty, amethyst
Clothes: This vest, shirt and tie, this frock coat, these pants or these pants, this canethese braces,this hat, these gloves, and these shoes. He only wears the hat, tie, vest, gloves, coat and cane when he bothers to leave his shop for food and supplies. His other clothes are usually covered in metal shavings, grease, soot and dirt. He's quite the messy inventor.
Accessories: A doctor bag, with these goggles, a brass version of this pocketwatch, this inkwell, these pens, and a leather-bound notebook, as well as various scientific, mechanical and machining tools stuffed inside it. It's surprising he can ever find anything in there. He also wears these glasses. They're Pince-Nez glasses. Instead of arms, they pinch the nose to stay on.
Personality: Jovial, but absent-minded, he laughs at himself a lot, both for his appearance and the constant explosions he creates in his shop. Constantly thinking and intensely curious, he tends to mutter to himself and stare at objects for extended periods of time, but doesn't mind pleasant interruptions. He tends to be a bit long-winded and hyper, eager to explain how something works or what he's thinking about. Because people tend to cut him off, the more excited he is about something, the faster he talks. He's also a self-taught doctor, attempting to save money after constant doctor visits due to constantly injuring himself in his shop. He almost always has some sort of bandage on.
History: Apprenticed to an engineer as a young lad, Arthur inherited his shop from his old master, and soon began to expand and improve on many of the inventions his master began. He also is a chemical hobbyist, attempting to create better sources of fuel and compounds. He has one dark spot in his history in the form of a lost love that he doesn't really talk much about, but it has left him somewhat shy around women, blushing and stammering when spoken to.


The second is this character's original profile.  See how much more detailed it is?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A little free time... time for rambling!

I got up extra early this morning in anticipation of going back to work, finally.  And I need to leave early because the bridge is down to one lane traffic for the next 3 months or so.  :P  And it's raining!  What a welcome back to work, huh?

Anyway, getting off the steampunk topic for awhile before I beat it to death (next time I'll probably talking about a couple of steampunk chars that I've created), I wanted to talk a little bit, in vague terms, about my job and my kids.  My kids at my job.

I teach at a Montessori preschool, in the preschool class, which is the oldest group.  I currently have 7 (soon to be 8) children in the class, all ranging from 4-5 years old.  The newest one will be just 3, but he's ready to move up.  One thing I love about my class is that my kids are making the leap into beginning reading.  I mean, REAL reading!  Sounding out words and reading a story.  It's exciting for me.  They're really smart kids, and I get to teach them all sorts of things.  They're always asking questions, to the point of my insanity at times, but they're sweet kids.  If I talk about them in the future, it'll be by initials only, and no pics.  Safety first, you know!

I really can't wait to get to work and see what they've been up to while I've been sick.  I know they've been well taken care of, because the head teacher's been covering my class, and she's an old pro at Montessori.  I just hope they don't go nuts now that I'm back.  But they probably will.  Just my luck, huh? X3

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Steampunk Chronicles, Ep. 3 - Fashion from the top...

The tricky thing about Steampunk design is if you want a more historically accurate type of ladies' wear, what do you choose?  The world of Steampunk is a mix between Late Victorian/Edwardian, and women's fashion fluctuates largely within this timeframe, as in most eras.  Well, let's start from the top...

Hats- Fortunately, hats during these two eras are fairly similar: elaborate, wide brimmed, and heavily embellished with feathers and veils.  The main difference, as far as I can see, is that the Edwardian era hats had deeper crowns.  You can definitely see where the mini hat idea came from in the Victorian era, since women tended to have very long hair, but kept it up during the day.  The hat would have a smaller crown which they would pin to their hair, and the wider brim, feathers and veils would cover the rest of the hair, or at least most of it.  The first picture is of the popular Victorian-style hats, and the second is of a mid to late Edwardian-style hat.  Notice first that the second hat is worn lower on the head and has a much larger brim.  So when do you know what to wear?  Notice the dress collar.  Once the collars fell, the hats fell as well.  For Steampunk purposes, however, the hats kept to a more Victorian style.

Okay, I don't feel like doing any more right now.  More later...

I just realised I said that both had wide brims.  I'll find some wide-brimmed Victorian hats later and stick it in here.

Sick Rant, plus a confession

Second day home, recovering from a horrendous cough left over from the worst cold I've had in years.  I'm so over being sick.  I wanna be back with my children.  I never thought I'd be saying I can't wait to go back to work, but I'd rather be at work than home sick with this cough.

Anyway, I know you all love a juicy confession, so here it is.

I'm a furry.

Yes, it's true, and now you finally know the truth.  I'm not hardcore like other people, with the whole fursuit thing (which I think is creepy, btw) but I wouldn't mind having moveable ears and tail.  Being able to climb and walk on all fours like a cat, and able to convey emotion through previously mentioned appendages just appeals to me.  Yes, I do have a fursona (furry personality).  Her name's Camilla, she's a jaguar of Mexican heritage.  In modern-day, she is fully bilingual, but in her original era of the 1920s, she speaks primarily Spanish with broken English.  The original Camilla is much more feral, having grown up in the border towns of Texas.  She's a gun-for-hire in the Prohibition.  In modern-day, she's a financial shark, highly intelligent and highly cosmopolitan.

How did I get into such a thing?  In one word, Lackadaisy.

What is Lackadaisy?  Let me give you a taste:
Who wouldn't want to follow something like this?  It's a webcomic about anthro cats, set in Prohibition 1920s St. Louis.  It centers around a speakeasy and it's crew, after which the comic is named.  Did I mention that this comic also hosts a forum, which has a roleplaying section?  Now you know my full descent into this crazed fandom.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Steampunk Chronicles: Ep. 2 - A little bit about airships...

Having some trouble sleeping, so I thought I'd post a little more Steampunk.  This time we're talking transportation.  The transportation that defines Steampunk fantasy: airships.

Now, you may ask, "But airships are real.  What do they have to do with this fantasy genre?"

Yes, airships, zeppelins, blimps, hot air balloons, they shaped our history in a big way.  They're sleek, pretty and massive.  But are they outrageous enough for Steampunk?  Oh ho ho no, my friends!

Now THIS! my friends, is an airship!

When you think Steampunk airship, think a classic wooden ship (maybe metal reinforced) with a big-ass balloon on top.  Most will have either mizzen sails along the ship sides or propellors and underneath for stability/propulsion.

One requirement for all airships as well, is a huge boiler room.  Whether your airship runs on steam, some form of liquid fuel, or even magic (either elemental or electrical), you are obligated to have a boiler room with a hardcore or nerdy engineer.

Now, what exactly were these ships used for?  Well, how many uses do traditional ships have?  There were passenger and luxury ships, merchant ships, personal crafts, and ESPECIALLY pirate ships!

Because you can't have a good steampunk without pirates and/or some evil scientist!

We'll talk more about smaller steampunk machines later, especially the support vehicles for the airships.

Nostalgia-induced Glee

I LOVED Josie and the Pussycats growing up, and this only increased the awesome.

Isn't it nice when you grow up with this sort of awesome?

Steampunk Chronicles, Ep. 1

In order to further validate the existence of this thing, I thought I should let you all in on my love for Steampunk.  I don't want this to be a Steampunk blog, so all such posts will be titled "Steampunk Chronicles".  I don't know how far this little obsession will eventually go, but I thought I'd start out with a couple things I dream of having.


OMG, there are no words to convey how bad I want a pair of steampunk goggles!  Unfortunately, having a strong prescription makes this a little difficult.  I'd be constantly switching between the goggles and my glasses.  I have found 2 solutions to this:  
  1. Buy goggles with prescription lenses.  Hardly anyone does this, but I know that does offer this service, but it's mad expensive.
  2. Pince-nez glasses!  Because nothing says Victorian like an awesome pair of these!
What is this pince-nez, you ask?  Simply put, pince-nez glasses come from the French, meaning 'to pinch the nose'.  It was in huge vogue, worn by men & women during the late Victorian/Edwardian era, because the constant wearing of glasses was not in fashion.  

See Teddy?  Teddy was a cool dude.  He wore pince-nez.  They even had security cords that retracted the cord attached to the glasses so they could be kept from falling.

I'd wear pince-nez.  Switch them out with some awesome goggles, preferable with one of the goggle lenses having a telescoping lens or with magnifying loupes (those little magnifying lenses that you attach to a pair of glasses).

Next, I need a top hat.  I'd probably have to get a mini top hat, or at least a smaller one that I can pin atop my locs, since my head is too big with the locs to fit one on my head.

Finally, what sort of steampunk lady would I be without an awesome corset or cincher and leather boots?!  I think I'd go for the cincher...oooh, and a nice long coat...

But yes, those are my initial steampunk desires.  Now you know.

What color are your emotions?

I've heard that when doctors ask little children to describe 'hurt', they ask them to tell them what color the pain feels like.  So I think, all emotions have a color.  But what colour?  Can a color be for more than one emotion?  Sure.  Yellow can be fear (like 'yellow-bellied') or happiness (like sunshine).  Then I realised: emotions are about SHADES of colour!

Genius, I know, but it's harder than you think to nail down a satisfactory colour for each emotion.  And which emotions should I include in this?  This will be an ongoing thought process...

I...I feel so alive...

Well, here I am. Let's see how long it lasts...

Okay, so. Reason, reason, gotta have some kinda reason for starting this thing...

Basically, what I want to do is to practice my voice. Getting my writing voice out there and sharing some of the stuff that goes through my head. I love all sorts of stuff, but I rarely go as far as heavily investing in them, so I figured I'd bring all my fancies to bear in one place, do a little ranting whenever the mood strikes me, and form HUGE RUN-ON SENTENCES LIKE THIS ONE! I just wanna do what I want, y'know?

In the end, who knows? Maybe I'll start writing poetry again, maybe even get the words together for a little kids' book like I always wanted. Or maybe just find a couple new friends on the web. Or maybe I'll just sit here and talk to myself.


Thrusters on full, keep all the red shirts on the ship, and engage!