Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Change is gonna do me good

Filed under : Meta/Blognews
On April 8, 2013
At 1:00 am
Comments :Comments Off on Change is gonna do me good

As a follow-up to the “semi-retiring this blog, starting a new one” part of the last post, this is the official moving announcement.

To explain, I think I feel a little tied-down by this blog these days. It was a great, great thing for me and amazing to do, but I stopped putting much energy into it these past few years and it shows. Plus, it’s kind of like a brand and even though I’ve grown and changed, the brand has stayed the same and now feels confining. But I started it to help me get over my mom’s passing and now that my dad is gone, too, the time seems right. In fact, I had meant to wind things down on March 19th, my blogoversary, but that ended up being the day of my father’s funeral.

But I don’t want to sound downbeat. This is an intro to my new blog, which I am really excited about. It will be focused on the new house in Baltimore and the challenges and joys of that. I’ll be posting about why and how I acquired it, decorating and fixing it up, and the adjustment to having a house, living in another city part-time, and a totally different lifestyle. I used to have a theme here, “you live like this, we live like that” to try to explain the differences between living in NYC and the rest of the country. Now I get to live like this and like that. I am both thrilled and terrified. The new blog is where I’ll talk about all of that.

Faithful readers will have seen many hints of this project, from the very beginning where I returned to Baltimore, to more recent talk of longing for change and light, and my constant yearning for a feeling of home. This will probably not be a big surprise to any of you. The great thing is, I am dying to get it all down in writing and that’s something I haven’t felt in a long time – the joy of posting. I am so delighted to feel it again. And I am excited to finally have a blog that I can tell all my IRL friends and co-workers about.

So I hope to see you over there! Thank you for reading, participating, and connecting these past seven years. I will leave this blog online and who knows, maybe I’ll want to come back some day. And if you are not into my Baltimore adventures, I will understand and miss you.

Let’s get moving, shall we?

(This is not a link or even typed text as I don’t want any web connection between the two sites. Just type it into your browser address bar the old-fashioned way).

Edited later April 8th to add:
It would happen, on the very last day of this blog, that I find the White Whale, one of my two best friends from high school for whom I have been searching for years. Good thing I finally went to sleep after writing her nearly three years ago. Well, reader, she finally replied. I am both overjoyed to be in touch with her and to give this blog the happy ending it well deserves.


Trust me when I say you know the pathway to my heart

Filed under : Meta/Blognews
On August 4, 2011
At 11:30 pm
Comments : 19

Recently, one of my oldest Internet friends, Dan (Dan’s a busy guy and probably isn’t reading this, but hello!) and I reconnected through a good friend of mine’s Twitter follow list. (I love the web!) Wait, that shouldn’t appear parenthetically – I love the web! We were catching up 140 characters at a time when he asked me if I still write fiction, which was a huge part of my life until the late 90’s, but sadly, I don’t. I just don’t feel it anymore. I sometimes wonder if it’s the blog that drained my well and so I said something like that, something like, “well, now I have the blog, so…” I’m not sure if that’s really true, but the other reasons take more than 140 characters, plus there’s the fact that I’m still not completely sure what they are. But I did say something that I am sure of, which is that I really love one of the aspects of this blog that my fiction never had: it gets read by people other than 2-3 of my closest friends. Well, one is still a friend, the second and I have drifted apart as lives change, and the last is a sort of ex and that friendship actually ended over the stories, I kid you not. You can’t make this stuff up! Well, at least I can’t anymore.

Anyway, I’m still convinced only my friends read this blog, or people I know from Internet forums and whatnot. Maybe some random Googlers who need to know famous sports figures’ religious statuses. Stati. Whatever. And I have always been afraid to ask lurkers to comment because I’m pretty sure there aren’t any. I was prepared to comment on my own lurker post so as to not look too pathetic. “Hi, I’m Kate from Lynchburg! Longtime reader!” That sounds authentic, right? Anyway, I NO LONGER HAVE TO DO THAT!!!! Someone I don’t know likes this blog! I’m WINNING.

By the way, I meant that in the Santana sense, not that other guy. Come on now.

In conclusion, to answer this post, I have an illustration.

Fozzie Bear

Thanks for the award and keep on being supa!*

*I will not be passing along the Blog With Substance Award, alas. I am really bad at chain letters, too.

PS, if you are a reader of this blog and we’ve never spoken and you feel like delurking, feel free. If not, that Kate in Lynchburg is pretty awesome.

PPS, if you are one of those people who keep writing to advertise on this blog or to sponsor a post or to trade links, pay no attention to this post! NO ONE READS THIS BLOG, YOU HEAR ME?

PPPS, last one I swear. That girl Janice in the band Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem was always my favorite muppet. Or else Beaker, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew’s hapless assistant.

Becca, in an undated photo

No, I lied, this is the last thing: thanks for reading, everyone. Especially because this has so many fewer love scenes than my fiction did.

Title a slight mangling of a lyric from (yes, I am aware that it is a remake):
R.E.M. – Superman


Thank You (Falettinme Humiliate Mice Elf)

Filed under : Meta/Blognews
On June 21, 2011
At 8:00 am
Comments : 11

Wow, I’ve had more visitors in the last six hours than the last week. That’s because Yahoo News put a photo essay on their front page on a topic I once posted about. It’s been crazy! I’ll bet you can’t guess what the story was about based on the bottom graphic. But in the midst of the thousand searches for that, there were two really interesting ones:

So let’s address these, not because those people will ever come back but because they intrigued me. Lots of people like Jewish iconography even if they’re not so (see Esther, nee Madonna or Sarah Palin) and I can’t be sure why this person wanted to do this, but why not? I more get, “can I do X if I am Jewish” rather than “can I do Y Jewish thing if I’m not Jewish.” Maybe this person thinks it would be insensitive? I don’t think it is. It’s nice to ask but I don’t think you even had to. Mazal tov!

The second one interested me because it was a question I actually asked, although not on this blog. When I did my disaster demo lesson, I wondered what to do. It was obvious to me that I wasn’t getting the job and I was pretty sure at that moment that the job was beyond me. I really wanted to leave the session by saying, “OK, so we both know how that went. If we ever run into each other in educational circles, let’s pretend we don’t know each other, shall we?”

But I have been brought up to be polite and although the real reason behind the thank you note is actually to say, “in summary, pick me! Pick me!”, ostensibly, it’s supposed to thank the employer for giving you a chance at the gig. So what do you do when the former no longer exists? I didn’t want them to even think I considered myself having a ghost of a chance. I wanted them to know that I am good enough to perceive when a lesson doesn’t go well. So I wrote it as a strict thank you note: “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to conduct a demo lesson at [redacted] School as well as for the constructive and helpful feedback. It was great to visit and see all the wonderful things you are accomplishing at [redacted].”

Of course, the feedback was all, “this is why you sucked” while I nodded along, but it really was constructive and helpful. Later, I got the official “we’ve decided to go in another direction. The direction of someone to whom we don’t need to explain why they suck” letter. But I was glad I had sent an honest thank you. Of course, if I see them again, I’ll be pretending I don’t know them.

Next post, I’ll be telling you all about my meticulously planned, “if this is Tuesday, it must be Saskatoon,” vacation. It even has a spreadsheet, because I am just that organized. But if that doesn’t happen to work out, anyone know a good resort near here?

Sly and the Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)


Blogoversary 5!

Filed under : Meta/Blognews
On March 27, 2011
At 10:30 pm
Comments : 8

Well, it was actually last week, but I didn’t have the energy to write it up. And with that sentence, I sum up this year in blogging on JBall. Sad but true. In the past I’ve used statistics to review the year or linked to my favorite posts. Those were good times.

Instead, this year, I’d like to use this comment which I found in my spam bin:

Indeed. See, even if I hadn’t found it there, I’d have known that couldn’t be real. Unless it was from me, telling myself I needed better content. Or at least more of it. But I know you, my three faithful readers, will understand that it’s been a busy year. Still, I couldn’t have imagined when I started blogging five years ago that the blog would take the turns it has, because so many unexpected things have happened since then. Here’s another thing I hadn’t predicted: five year olds must have really outgrown Sesame Street, as look at the lame candle they have for five up there. The other four were way nicer. I may have to come up with a new motif should I make it to six.

I gave a guest lecture last week (well, two, but it was the same lecture, just two different sections) in my friend Seaspray’s class which consisted of teachers from around the country. I got to talk about one of my favorite subjects, technology, and what is now pretty much my life’s work: getting kids engaged in the classroom through the use of it. I talked a little about blogs and one of the things I wanted to touch on (I’m not sure that I did; it was all a blur) was how kids can find their voices through blogging. Later, for another purpose, I read back through some old posts on this site and I realized that it’s taken me a while to find mine. In the beginning, I used what I call my “game show host” voice, which I also try to channel a bit when I’m teaching, but it’s a performance and not real. I mean, it’s part of me for sure, but it’s not totally authentic. These days, I think I’ve hit a voice that would make you think if you met me, “yeah, that’s the girl from the blog.” Or maybe I’ve just become more of a game show host. Who knows. The other thing I tell teachers is that you can trace a student’s progress by the quality of their writing in a linear system like a blog. I can’t speak about quality, but I am delighted to have my blog stand in as a journal to tell me how I was thinking at any given time and what was going on. It was enormous fun looking back and remembering my life through the posts on this site. Even the bad times sounded great, but that may just be the game show filter.

Anyway, I wanted more than any year before to thank you, my readers, linkers, and commenters. Without you checking back to see if I’d written something, I might not actually have written anything these past months. If you are wondering why I read back, it wasn’t sentimentality, it was to add a new category and then I had to go back and find all the posts that matched. But I really love doing that and especially seeing all the comments – you people are smart and funny and it’s an honor to have you stick around for that one post an eon. I don’t know if I’ll be able to blog for a decade or if blogging will still exist then, even, but making it halfway there has been an awesome journey and I’m glad you were here with me.

In conclusion, while I was sitting on this post (I got distracted by some good movies on TCM), I got yet another comment in my spam bin and its imperfect English seemed to be a good statement about how I feel about all my posts once they’re written.

Me too, spambot, me too.

Spoon – Take The Fifth


Cement mixer

Filed under : Gadgets,Meta/Blognews,Student Life
On November 2, 2010
At 12:15 am
Comments : 8

A few housekeeping items, both personally and bloggily. First, bittersweetly, I am putting my bake shop on hiatus for the moment. Although I can’t see opening it back up again, I also don’t want to take the site down and “closed” is such an ugly word, so let’s stick with hiatus. Right now, I can barely keep my head above water with a job, fieldwork, an off-site project, classes, three standardized exams, and the thesis. I remember eight hours of sleep fondly… those were good times! So there isn’t really room on the schedule to also be baking. It worked great last year when I had a ten hour a week job (mostly from home) and classes which began at 4pm. Now, unless I eliminate sleep entirely (really, it’s a possibility anyway), there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Still, if there is a particular need for rugelach and you give me enough notice, I may be able to work it in occasionally, just let me know. Hopefully, you’ll be able to anticipate your pastry needs several weeks in advance. Thanks to everyone for making it such a successful baking year! I kept a careful spreadsheet (duh) and I cleared quite a bit all in spare hours between readings, so it worked out beyond my greatest hopes. You all rock!

Secondly, about that whole thesis. Originally, when I was studying how we live on the Internet in general, it was a fabulous excuse to do an ethnographic study on an online forum of which I have been a longtime member. Now that I have switched up my program a bit to be more education-minded, it’s no longer a good fit for the work I’m doing. Instead, I am pondering (with the help of my advisor) a study of iPads in the classroom. Since I’ve been assigned to work on that project for and by my placement school anyway, and I love gadgets, that also seems an attractive option for me. But either way, it means I will not be doing the online community study. Don’t cry! I did complete a project for a class last year on that site and it was fairly extensive and turned out beautifully. In fact, I kid you not, people have stopped me in the hallway to say they saw it and loved it. I am considering getting it published somewhere but, well, we’ll see how that goes. The professor who originally suggested that to me is extremely busy and there’s only so much prodding I can do. So whether you will see it or not remains an open question. Still, I was able to get the desire to analyze this community out of my system and in a way, it’s a relief. Now I can just be a participant without worrying about tainting my data.

And, lastly, on the iPad tip, now that I have my loaner, I was able to test this site’s mobile theme on it and it works fine. It’s not exactly optimized for the device, but the plugin authors say they are working on that for the next version so hopefully it will have more bells and whistles, and maybe even more extensive excerpts of each post on the home page, which is my biggest complaint. Because seriously, my opening lines seem to have not much to do with the actual posts and it makes things appear kind of comical. Sort of like those songs which have titles seemingly plucked out of the ether. Bizarre Love Triangle? Does that song have anything to do with a bizarre love triangle? Sex Type Thing? What is that, even? Man, that should have been my opening line.

Anyway, my posts are like a journey, a journey to a faraway place… in the middle seat of coach. And like that journey, they start with confusion and boredom and end with exhaustion and nausea. But should you be bored waiting on that long, long line to vote today, grab your iPad and give it a whirl. I am at least as entertaining as the ass of the person in front of you.

Anyway, title comes from nowhere – that’s the joke! Oh, I slay me.

INXS – Not Enough Time