Today was fairly normal, as days go, I guess. Mom spent the morning getting the newsletter for the St. Louis Mineral & Gem Society, and we spent the afternoon at Grammy's house, getting it ready for guests. Tomorrow, people start getting into town for the funeral. I said yesterday that I might not be posting the rest of the week, and I still don't know what my schedule will be like the next few days. And a possibility has arisen that I will be out of town for some of next week, so we'll see. I'll post when I can. As I promised at the beginning of the year, I'm going to try to post every day, but I'm not promising anything interesting, necessarily. ;)

August 1927 - January 2013

In the words of a great philosopher, it was sudden but inevitable.

This morning, I was awakened early to the news that Grammy's older sister, my Aunt Nina, was in the hospital and wouldn't last much longer. I hurriedly put clothes on and packed a few supplies for the probable long hours of sitting at a hospital bedside and some protein bars for breakfast on the road, and Mom and I were out the door to pick up Grammy and embark on the 45-minute journey to Aunt Nina's home in Belleville. As we stopped at a traffic light near our street, I called Grammy to tell her we were on our way. It was about 7:05, maybe 7:10.

"I must have just missed you," Grammy said. "She passed away around 7."

We got to Grammy's house a few minutes later, hugged, cried a little, began the process of calling family members. I made breakfast. We called Aunt Nina's daughter, Linda, and agreed to meet her to help make the arrangements. We spent the rest of the day in Belleville, picking out her clothes, talking to the funeral director who only talked in that hushed funeral director's tone, and signing papers at the cemetery. We didn't get around to eating "lunch" until 4:30 or so.

I don't really know what to say about this. I'd like to tell you about my aunt, but you can't sum a person up with words. At least, I can't sum her up right here and now. I didn't know her as well as I probably should have; she lived close enough that it wasn't really a whole lot of effort to visit, but far enough that we still didn't do it very often. She was always smiling, always ready with a hug, even the last few times I saw her when the dementia and hearing loss were getting bad and she couldn't really get out of the wheelchair. She enjoyed writing, whether it was fictional stories or real-life adventures or poems. I'm afraid I haven't read much of what she wrote, but I hear there was a lot. Grammy likes to tell the story of how, when they were kids, Nina would always lead her younger siblings in summertime adventures and clubs and performing plays.

So as you've probably guessed, the story I was going to start today isn't happening yet. I don't know what I'm going to be doing when for the rest of the week until Friday's visitation and Saturday's funeral, so I may or may not update until then, but hopefully things will be back to normal by next week.

January is a weird month. Several of my favorite people were born in January, but people also keep dying...
  • Current Music
    "Long Way from Eden" by Watching Judas
  • Tags
    , ,

My Name is Lydia W, and This is My Blog.

Pride and Prejudice is 200 years old today! Happy birthday to a beloved classic!

Pride and Prejudice never actually sounded all that interesting to me. I'm not big on romantic fiction, and novels from the early 19th century are infamously hard to read, and so I guess I just assumed I wouldn't be interested and could just stick with my 20th-21st century speculative fiction.

Until last April.

On April 9, 2012, the first episode of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries was posted to YouTube. The series set out to tell the story of Pride and Prejudice, but with a 21st century spin: instead of watching through the lens of a nineteenth-century narrator or an impartial movie camera, the LBD shows us what it would be like if the characters lived in present-day United States, through the admittedly prejudiced lens of Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet's vlog. Lizzie rants about her mother's obsession with getting her daughters married off, her problems with school and finances and relationships, all while suffering interruptions from her sisters (only two in this version: Jane and Lydia, with the other two sisters from the novel relegated to other family members: Mary is a cousin, and Kitty is Lydia's cat) and friends, and giving an interesting perspective on other people around her by use of "costume theater."

This series has been the only one of the many YouTube channels I subscribe to that I've been faithfully keeping up with the last few months, what with all the craziness that's been happening in my life. Watching the series has even gotten me to reconsider the idea of reading the original book sometime soon. It's exciting to see a great story being retold in a new and interesting way, and I'm anxiously awaiting the next episode.

Plagiarism is Bad.

As I learned during my time as a writing tutor at Truman's Writing Center, anytime you use part of something that somebody made for another purpose without crediting them properly is plagiarism. This includes anything you wrote yourself at another time—technically you can plagiarize yourself.

In an academic setting, plagiarizing is a big deal. When I was at Truman, every syllabus I got in every class included a dire warning about academic honesty. If a professor caught a student plagiarizing, he was obligated to give that student a zero for the assignment, at the least, and a serious enough offense can even lead to expulsion from the school.

As you may know, I've been taking Sundays to post or re-post something I (or someone else) wrote at another time, facetiously titling it "Plagiarism Day". I haven't really been plagiarizing, because I'm always careful to say where the writing originally came from and who wrote it, and if I wasn't the one who wrote it, I'm also careful to get permission from the original creator. This has been and always will be my policy when reusing works on this blog.

This week, however, I was thinking about trying out a trick I recently heard of a major TV network using: There's a blogger who's probably at least as successful as I am, but in a different sphere of influence. Earlier today she wrote an article about the topic I'd like to talk about today, and she did a very good job of integrating sources and making exactly the point I want to get across. Going off this TV network's trick, I would just copy and paste the article here, since she's just put her spin on something a lot of other people have already talked about.

But then I remembered that I don't have the fancy legal team that the TV network does, so even if I really were okay with doing that, I probably couldn't get away with it. (And the laws on written works are probably different enough from the laws on music that I wouldn't even have a case.) So I decided to just talk about plagiarism and give you some links instead.

If you've never heard of Jonathan Coulton before, you should definitely check him out. He makes lots and lots of cool music.

In closing, if you use something that somebody else made, whether it's a song or an article or whatever, do your best to give the creator the credit he or she deserves.

Word of the Week: Kea Tettle

kea tettle /ki tɛtl̩/ (n)

A spoonerization of tea kettle, frequently used humorously by my maternal grandfather.

Granddad H. is at least indirectly responsible for quite a few things in my life, including my major, my career plans, and this blog. He loved to play with words, spoonerizing or just making them up, and would regularly beat the rest of the family at Scrabble. My mom learned a love of language from him, which she passed to me, and it has been a huge factor in each of the aforementioned areas of my life.

As I said, Granddad loved playing with words, and "kea tettle" was one of his most infamous creations. Apparently, this is how one of my older cousins was introduced to spoonerization. According to Grammy, she and Granddad were visiting this cousin's family when she was pretty young, and someone wanted to use a tea kettle. But in the course of use, the kettle was broken.

"Let's go get them a new kea tettle," Granddad said to Grammy. They invited her to come along.
"What are we shopping for?" she asked when they got to the store.
"A kea tettle," Granddad repeated.
"What's a kea tettle?"
"This!" Granddad showed her the new tea kettle and explained how spoonerization works. My cousin thought this was pretty cool, and apparently she promptly exported the game to her friends.

Granddad on his 80th birthday
In memory of Wilbur H.
June 24, 1928-January 26, 2010

New and Improved Blog Schedule!

I think I should probably start posting earlier in the day. Looking back through my archives, I feel like there are quite a few "bleh, I'm tired, do I really have to post today" posts, and that's not really what I want this to turn into. So new deadline: 8:00 PM Central Time. Unless something comes up, in which case, again, I will do my best to say so beforehand. Or just post early; isn't that a radical idea?

I've also settled on a content schedule I'd like to try for awhile.

SundayPlagiarism Day
MondayReviews (Really would like to come up with a catchier title there. Ideas?) Logosgal's Book of Awesome
Wednesday—TBD (Whatever I feel like posting that day; will probably usually end up being a personal log)
ThursdayQuestion Thursday
SaturdayWord of the Week

In case you're wondering, yes you did read it right: I'm planning on posting stories on two days each week! Starting next Tuesday, I will be posting a reader-participation story. If you're familiar with the MS Paint Adventures, you have some idea what I'm going for. If not, picture some sort of unholy mishmash of an old-school text adventure game, a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and/or an RPG, plus my sense of humor, and you're getting there.

Basically, I'll write a little bit every Tuesday and Friday, and then ask you guys to leave comments on what the main character should do next. This may end up not working well, because I have no idea what I'm doing, other than some really basic stuff, but I guess we'll see. Anyway, I'm really excited about starting on this and seeing where it goes and how well it does. So even if you're not interested in any of the other stuff I write about, I hope you'll come by on Tuesday and check out the first installment of Stiletto!

Words Not to Use, Ever?

Last night my internet cut out before I could post an actual blog. I'm not too upset about it; I wasn't very happy with what I was coming up with anyway. So we'll just move on now.

I have decided that Thursdays will now be Question Thursdays. As I mentioned before, sometimes this will mean I answer questions, sometimes I'll be asking them. Today I'll be asking the questions around here.

Today my mom and I got to talking about the tendency in certain styles of academic and scholarly writing to use big, pretentious words that are sometimes obscure to the point of sounding completely made-up. Mom found the word recordation (which, it turns out, is actually a real word) in an article, which made her say, "anyone who uses that word ought to be smacked!"

So my question: are there any words that are either so pretentious or so annoying that they make you want to smack the people who use them?