Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Santa.

Dear Santa,

Remember last year?

Well, I just wanted to thank you for the iPod touch you sent me.

It's sure come in handy since the other gift I asked for arrived. (I forgot to mention last year that one of the perks of the iPod is that you only need one hand to use it. Same with my Kindle, even though Shallow Man, rather than you, gave that to me for our anniversary/law school graduation/Mother's Day.)

So, since I got everything on my list, I really don't have anything I want to ask you for this Christmas (at least not for myself. But I trust you'll bring something special for the Little Guy).

But don't worry, I'll still leave out milk and cookies for you. The way I figure it, the way you came through this year, you've definitely earned them.

Respectfully and very gratefully yours, & cetera.

P.S. Oh, also? Remember how I mentioned how a firstborn child was a great gift idea because you could use it for bartering?

Well, after careful consideration of the firstborn son now sleeping on my lap, I take it back.

I wouldn't trade him for anything.

Friday, December 03, 2010

On Cotton Candy, the Paranormal, and My Evil Inner Editor.

I've admitted before that I enjoy the Twilight books. I don't feel too bad about this because I enjoy them for what they are and have no illusions about their literary merit.

I think of them as the book equivalent of cotton candy.

Cotton candy is awesome. It's fluffy, it's pink, it has no nutritional merit, it's fun to eat, and it reminds you of going to the amusement park with your first crush and awkwardly holding hands on the SkyRide.

You wouldn't (or shouldn't) eat it for breakfast.

You wouldn't (or shouldn't) have it as your staple food source.

But you would (and should) enjoy it on vacation days and at parties and other times when you don't want to and don't have to be a responsible grown-up who worries about things like laundry and taxes.

(Confession: the first leisure reading I did after law school graduation was the Twilight saga. Talk about cleansing your mental palate! No brain required, just fun.)

Twilight is not Pulitzer Prize material. (Yeah, I experience a nearly physical revulsion when people say this and are in earnest.) Twilight should not be the only thing you ever read. ("May I recommend a greater allowance of prose in your diet?") Twilight is not a shining example of character development or a model for how to lead a long and happy life. (Yeah, as much as I enjoy the books, it is in spite, and not because, of Bella Swan.)

I have a limited supply of patience with people who insist that the books of the Twilight saga are the Greatest. Books. Ever. Written. and that is INCLUDING Shakespeare and the Bible! Yeah, they're not. They're fun, yes. But great? No.

Stephenie Meyer is not a good writer. She is a good storyteller—she makes you want to know what happens next. But she does a less-than-adequate job of telling you about it.

And my Evil Inner Editor has a problem with this. I squirmed for most of New Moon when all the em-dashes—of which Ms. Meyer is particularly fond (and who can blame her? They're an awesome piece of punctuation)—had spaces around them. I twitched at the misspellings. I wriggled uncomfortably at the unwieldy prose. And I positively writhed in frustration after about the twelfth mention of molten-liquid-gold-topaz-smoldering-chiseled-muscles-eyes-angel-can't-breathe. Which occurred, I believe, on about the fourth page after Edward makes his entrance.

So I felt like I'd finally found what I'd been looking for when the amazing Booklicious posted a link to Reasoning with Vampires. The author of RwV has taken upon herself the task of editing the Twilight Saga. While I definitely don't hate the books like the author does, my Evil Inner Editor has been jumping up and down inside of my head yelling in triumphant vindication while my actual self has been laughing. A lot. It's absolutely worth taking a look at if you are 1) a reasonable Twilight fan, 2) a Twilight hater, 3) an editor, or 4) someone who like hilarious things.

But you don't have to take my word for it.

I know a lot of people, including fans of the series, were also furious when the last book ended happily. "It doesn't reflect real life," they said. "She just gets everything she wants with no consequences!" This didn't bother me for a couple of reasons:

1) I *like* happy endings, especially in my escapist fiction;

2) Um, it's about VAMPIRES and WEREWOLVES and you are worried about it not reflecting reality? and

3) When I eat cotton candy, I don't want it to come with a bunch of depressing life lessons attached. It's cotton candy. If I wanted nutrition, I would eat brussel sprouts (which are tasty, but not good for taking on the SkyRide).

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Things I love; or, Just the facts.

I love:

*The fact that I have been able to see the seasons change from late summer to autumn to winter by watching the leaves change on the tree that is visible from the nursery window while I nurse the Little Guy.

*The fact that my red-haired son has long eyelashes which are strawberry blond and not white. (And yes, he also has my invisible eyebrows. But that's another story.)

*The fact that the Little Guy took two legitimate naps today, rather than a handful of catnaps. (The fact that I got a major amount of cleaning done may or may not have anything to do with this.)

*The fact that the Little Guy is starting to enjoy bath time.

*The fact that there is, in fact, the Little Guy.

Yeah, I'm hopelessly in love.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

AHA! or, It's been awhile.

It's been a little while since we've talked about an important subject:

Now that Pluto may have regained its status as the largest object in the outer solar system, should astronomers consider giving it back another former title — that of full-fledged planet?

Pluto was demoted to a newly created category, "dwarf planet," in 2006, partly because of the discovery a year earlier of Eris, another icy body from Pluto's neighborhood. Eris was thought to be bigger than Pluto until Nov. 6, when astronomers got a chance to recalculate Eris' size.

Now it appears that Pluto reigns — though only by the slimmest of margins (the numbers are so close as to be nearly indistinguishable, when uncertainties are taken into account).

This came up in the news last week but I didn't get a chance to blog about it because I was busy making Thanksgiving preparations (yeah, can we just take a moment to remember how much I love Thanksgiving? *contented sigh*).

But the time has come, my friends, for me to address this issue. And what I say is:


I'm glad that some experts are on board with this:

"If you take the IAU's definition strictly, no object in the solar system is a planet," said Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. "No object in the solar system has entirely cleared its zone."

The definition also sets different standards for planethood at different distances from the sun, according to Stern, who is principal investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission, which is sending a spacecraft to Pluto.

The farther away a planet is from the sun, the bigger it needs to be in order to clear its zone. If Earth circled the sun in Uranus' orbit, it wouldn't be able to clean out its neighborhood and would thus not qualify as a planet, Stern said.

"It's literally laughable," he told

In Stern's view, a planet is anything that meets the IAU definition's first two criteria — the bits about orbiting the sun and having enough mass to be roughly spherical, without the "clearing your neighborhood" requirement.

So Pluto should be a planet, as should Eris and the dwarf planet Ceres (the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter), as well as many other objects.

You all know my opinion on this. Let's give some love to Pluto.

Seriously, IAU, what's with the discrimination here?