My Friend Amy ~ The Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week

Kool-Aid Mom's Award

My Friend Amy

Amy at My Friend Amy is this week’s Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week for stepping out of her comfort zone and saying what needed to be said, regardless of whether it offended readers.  It wasn’t something she wanted to do, offend people, but she felt she needed to say what was on her mind because it was the right thing to do.

Before I had read this post, I hadn’t known anything of the whitewashing of covers.   Amy’s post also made me aware of other bloggers out there that I hadn’t read like Susan of Color Online and Ari of Reading In Color, who led me to several other wonderful new blogs, as well.  My Google Reader has nearly doubled in subscriptions, and I’m better for the diversity it has brought.  Her post has also made me think about how I, a white person, have been fairly cacooned to a lot of the issues people of color face.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means for Maggie, especially, being half-Vietnamese in a community where there are few Asians.  There have been candid conversations with her recently in which she’s expressed how she sometimes wishes she was all of one or the other instead of biracial.  Recently, her classroom finally received a second Asian, but to her dismay, the new person is a boy.  Besides the fact he is a BOY, and icky by gender (she’s in 5th grade, lol), she’s not terribly fond of him as a person (he says “Man!” a lot, and is disgusting and ill-mannered, according to her) and she says he looks like her daddy.  I’ve not seen the boy yet, but since he’s on the basketball team and she’s a cheerleader, I will see him at their first home game.  One of the things that distresses her most about Day Day is that all of their classmates are trying to push them together as boyfriend and girlfriend, just because he’s Asian.  Honestly, I think she’d like him as a friend, she does shows occasional admiration for him and, apparently, he has the redeeming quality of standing up for others from stories she’s told.

All of that paragraph was to say that Amy’s post On Being Offended has made me think a lot about how can I help Mags navigate through growing up and try to be supportive and understanding.  I can understand to an extent what it’s like for her, but I can never fully understand.  I see her beauty, grace and athleticism, and intelligence and listen to her talk about being an 10-year-old girl, and I am perplexed by the mystery of it all.  I was an overweight, social misfit, and never understood the social play that went on between my peers until I was in my mid-twenties.  Add to that the fact that when people look at her, they see a person of color and have reactions to that, either involuntary or conscious.

Most who meet Mags for the first time think she’s Hispanic, partly because there is a lot more Latinos than Asians, but also because most of her close friends are Spanish.  She is already beginning to feel the pains of racism as one of her classmates is known to “hate Mexicans”, and another accuses Maggie of being racist because she’s interested in Asian things.  And I’m beginning to see it having an effect on her this year as she’s starting to become a bit more shy and reserved, and less of the outgoing little girl who knew, at 18-months-old, how to get strangers to help her do and get the things she wanted.  I don’t know what to do to help her, other than love her and encourage her and to remind her who she really is.  AND I know this will only get harder for her as she gets older.

Well, this post is NOT where I wanted it all to go, but it kept winding back that way all the same, and perhaps that is part of what Amy’s post has done.  Her post, along with Lenore’s International Book Bloggers Mentor Program and Dawn’s Kiva posts, has made me think and think a lot about my place among so many both in the blogosphere and in the world. They impressed me enough that I wanted to tell others how much so by started the Flavor of the Week.

And now I’m out of Flavors that I had in the can, so I want y’all to let me know who has inspired you to think?  What Blogger is your Flavor of the Week?  What posts have made you reach outside of yourself and do something community-wise? 

Don’t forget to check out On Being Offended at My Friend Amy, it’s an excellent post 🙂

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Bloggiesta Progress Update #5

PedroOkay, I’m having a spastic moment.  There’s some weird smell somewhere in the house that smells like maple syrup, hot dogs and Fat Bastard.  I took out the overflowing trash can in the kitchen, which was a challenge.  I had to put a black trash bag over can and turn it over… then sweep up everything that had fallen out.  JOY!  But I’m still smelling it.  Maybe I need a shower?  And now I’m getting  a bit of a headache and SOMEONE has run off with the Ibuprofen. Grrrr….

Oh, and I forgot to eat today, so now I’m in that “Whoever gets in between me and the TWINKIES will DIE!” hunger mode.  And I don’t even LIKE Twinkies!  LOL, but I did love Zombieland.

So I’m just a bit ADD at the moment, and was going through my starred stuff in my Google Reader.  Some of those posts I can’t even remember WHY I starred them.  Some of them were for challenges and to bookmark them so I could blog about it, but then I forgot to unstar them.  But one of them was a fun distraction:

Just for fun: stress test

Dawn at She’s Too Fond of Books had posted Just for fun: stress test last June, a time of year when one kid was gone to Dad’s, another was in summer school, and the third was spending all day outside with her friends.  So it was a LOT less stressful then that it was a few minutes ago when I looked at the not-moving, but “Hey, they ARE moving!” pics.

Apparently, the pictures are suppose to gage your stress level.  The more stressed out you are, the faster the images “move”.  They are, of course, NOT moving.  It’s only an illusion.  But the funny thing for me was how much faster they seemed to be going today than six or so months ago.  That one on the bottom is waving like a flag in a hurricane for me!

So how did you fair with them?  What’s your stress level?

Bloggiesta progress update #3

Pedro

So, after taking a four hour break to eat and relax a little… very little as it turned out, as the kids screamed and fought and fussed until I sent them to bed, which they fought and fussed about with me (When a 17-year-old tells you “No”, it’s a delicate situation.  Diffusing nuclear BOMBS are less dangerous).  But it’s quasi-quiet, and after trying to read, only to fall asleep, give up and decide to sleep, only to have screaming and yelling and fighting start just after I slip into unconsciousness… Well, I’m wide awake now.  So, back to the Bloggiesta fiesta 🙂

I decided to go ahead and make a separate blog for The Welsh Reading Challenge, but it’s still some work before linking it up here.  It’s coming along nicely, though 🙂  I figure with a devoted blog, I can make all the lists and links that the challenge deserves without turning Mt. TBR into a chaotic mess.  Thanks BethFishReads and Rhinoa’s Ramblings for sharing their wisdom from their first year of hosting challenges 🙂

So now I’m doing a few mini-challenges…

First up, cleaning out the reader. The Book Lady’s Blog is hosting a mini-challenge to clean up your blog reader.  I use Google Reader, and currently have 64 subscriptions.  She puts it like this:

If you’re like me, you subscribe to more blogs than you can keep straight. You love some of them, you skim some others, and you might even mark some as “read” without even glancing. This mini-challenge is all about organizing your feedreader to make it work for you.

yeah… sadly, that’s true for me with a couple blogs.  Why I put them in my reader, I don’t even remember anymore.  Maybe they had a funny Friday Fill-In, so I thought I’d love their whole blog, but it always seems to be about rock collections or dogs in tutus… IDK… lol.  Actually, I’d probably read the dogs in tutus *glances over and Missy, looks to her left and sees the camera… wonders where the tutu and princess cone hat went*  Hehehehe.

So I’m cleaning out the reader and I’ve found one blog that’s moved several months ago, as well as a few dormant blogs and a couple whose content I never read.  As I’m going through the blogs that haven’t had a new post in more than three months, the thought hits me:  What if what happened to Katie in Undiscovered Gyrl happened to them?  What if they’re missing or dead, and I’m just callously ticking off their blog to unsub because they don’t post from the Great Beyond? 

So now I’m down to 51.  There is the possibility of 10 dead and missing bloggers somewhere out there and 2 blogs whose content I groan after skimming.  What’s next?  Categories and folders.  Good idea… if I’d have thought of that before unsubbing, I could’ve just made an “MIA” folder incase they’re found before the guy hacks them to bits and they return to blogging to tell their story.  BUT… I think I’m following them on twitter, so it’s all good.  Okay, so now I have a Welsh Challenge folder and a Meme folder, then the rest are regular bloggers that I read in general.

After that, all I need is to catch up on the reading, which I got caught up on a couple weeks ago, and have stayed caught up 🙂

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Clean Up Your Feedreader! DONE 🙂

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Next up is BethFishRead’s Mini-Challenge to write up a rainy day post.  Either one of an opinion or a list.  I’ve actually got a half-done post that I started about a year ago… lol.  It’s a Fantasy Island list thing, so I think I’ll go ahead and finish it up for this. 

…… On second thought, after looking at what I thought was a half-finished post that turned out to be two lines of what I thought would be a fun post but I no longer know what I was talking about, I’ll write a new one. LOL.  But what to write… hmmmm…  I pretty much exhausted my opinions with the Festivus posts.  Okay, so it’ll be a list then.  BUT, you know me… it won’t be a dry, sensible list… oh, no… it’s going to be goofy and random.

*Tick-tock… minutes have passed*  Okay, got it done.  I set out to make a list, but it ended up more of a humorous rant, so I guess that’s an opinion… lol.

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And for my last mini-challenge before calling it a night, I’m going to Go forth and comment as commanded by Soft Drink at Fizzy Thoughts.

So for this mini-challenge, I (actually, it’s Natasha’s idea, I’m just channeling her for the moment) challenge you to seek out 10 (yes, ten!) new blogs (from the list of bloggers who signed up for the Bloggiesta) and leave a thoughtful comment on their blog. Saying “Just popping in to say hey ‘cause Softdrink told me to” ain’t gonna cut it for this challenge. Find a book review that intrigues you and tell them why. Look for something you have in common and chat about it. Ask them a question about their blog design. You get the idea, right? Be original…be engaging…be yourself!

Okies… so here’s the blogs I visited and left comments:

  1. Reading With Tequila’s review of Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields lol, ended up ordering the book from PBS.
  2. English Major’s Junk Food review of Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen I’m safe from a new book addition, at least 🙂
  3. Books of Mee’s review of The Sandman Volume 1:  Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman Again, another safe, non-book-getter one 😉
  4. Notes from the North’s The Sunday Salon:  Terry Pratchett OooOOoo… now I’m whining because I want to join the Terry Pratchett reading challenge.
  5. ReadingAdventures Terry Pratchett 2010 Challenge lol, wouldn’t you know it… she’d be a Bloggiesta participant.  Must be fate!  I joined the challenge for the 1-3 book range: Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint.  I can add ONE more book to my list this year, right?  lol
  6. Graasland’s The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (The Sunday Salon of December 27th, 2009) safe from another book or challenge 🙂  Except… that I want to re-read it and I mooched my copy away… crap.
  7.  Coffeespoon’s review of Slumdog Millionaire (or Q&A) by Vikras Swarup Already have it on Mt. TBR somewhere, and I’ve seen the movie… safe. 🙂
  8. Michelle’s Masterful Musings’ review of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris It’s already on my reading list for this month… or next.
  9. The Zen Leaf’s review of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards Already read it, and found it okay, but the movie version killed it for me.
  10. Bibliofreak’s review of All the King’s Men:  the movie I’ve seen the movie and liked it, but she says the book is even better… and I have the book, Yay!

Wow, 10 was kind of hard.  I got to about 7 and wanted to poop out.  Of course, it IS 3:30 am… and I have put in about 11 and a half hours on Bloggiesta… so I have a good excuse for being tire.

All in all, I think I really got a LOT done today.  While doing the commenting mini-challenge, I came across a few blogs that I always loved reading, but somehow never managed to get in my Google Reader, so my GR sub list is longer now, too 🙂

Kk.. I’m knocking off for the night.  The library is having a family movie event tomorrow, so I’ll probably start back on more mini-challenges sometime in the afternoon.

11:10 am – 7:25 pm… took a break… 11:20 pm – 3:45 am… going to bed.

Bloggiesta progress update #2

Pedro

I’m still trying to figure out how to use the Google Reader sharing thinger, and if I make comments there, do they show up on the original post?  IDK… I’m trying to find a more effective way to use the blogroll without it taking up 29 inches long of blogspace.  Meghan at Medieval Bookworm has a nice little widget, why can’t I get one for mine?  *whine whine whine*

Other things I’ve done:

I updated all the links on my I Want More Kool-Aid! page.  Apparently, the BookMooch link there took you to a member’s only page, and was therefore sorta broke.  I also added my Goodreads profile, so if you want to add me on goodreads, now ya can 😉  And my facebook link is on there, too.

I removed the Giveaways page.  I’ve really been bad about keeping up with that thing anyway.  There was only ONE giveaway listed, and it was for my giveaway of Something Beyond Greatness, which was HOW LONG AGO?

***** ADD break – Since the kids came home and noticed RIGHT AWAY that I was busy and took IMMEDIATELY to fighting like cats and dogs, I put on my MP3 player and cranked it up…. Currently playing:  Mere Saath Chalte Chalte (from the Humko Deewana Kar Gaye soundtrack)

 The girls in this video are all so beautiful, and I just love this movie!  AND… It’s hard to listen to Hindi music without dancing!  Okay, back to work 🙂 ******

Okay, I cut the ARC-alanche list and pasted it over the Mt. TBR Inventory, deleting all the previous mess.  Then I added the link to my LT catalogue, and renamed the new page It’s an ARC-alanche!!  I had went through and updated the list in anticipation of focusing entirely on these books this year, and STILL I had a book that had escaped the pile… lol.  I think it’s complete now.  As I review books, I’ll add the links and strike off the completed titles.  1 down, 66 to go :-/

And now I’ve got my challenge page updated, including the books I plan to read for each challenge so I can strike them out and link the reviews as I finish them.  I’ve retitled the page Reading is Challenging!

Yay!!  Getting soooo much done!

Okay, so one thing I need to do is to go through and check all my images to make sure they have alt titles, as MawBooks pointed out that the ALT title helps the search engines find the images, and by that, my blog 🙂

Then I’m good to go on checking out the mini-challenges, I think 😀

SBG daily ~ Shar-ities

I’ve got the new computer set up and running and got the old one set up in the living room for the kids.  Then ran into a problem.  Apparently, while my cable acct says I get two lines, there’s only one hole on the back of the modem.  So, either I get a splitter and run 2 computers on it, which probably won’t work, or I have to go get a new modem for in there and pay an extra 4 dollars a month.  Nothing’s ever easy.

AND, trying to get back into the habit of everything is dificult, too.  I just remembered, “Oh yeah… My Google Reader!” and I’ve got 156 posts to get through now, not to mention totally spacing the SBG SBG coverdaily yesterday, Booking Through Thursday and Friday Fill-ins.  And I’ve been spaced out with reading.  I’ve only managed to read 1/2 a manga book last week and about 25 pages of Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg.  Well, anyway…

Today’s daily is the last one and I want to give everyone a chance to leave a link to their favorite charities in the comments.  Be they local, national, or international, online or off, what are some of your favorite charities?

Here are a few of mine:

Emmaus Mission Center is very close to my heart.  At one point in time, my girls and I were homeless.  We stayed at the Emmaus shelter for three months while I took the time to save money and get my brains screwed in straight.  If they hadn’t been there, I don’t know where I’d be today.  Besides a shelter, they also have a girls’ home and a boys’ home, a benevolent center, food pantry, Birthright Center, and a Hispanic help center.

FreeRice.comis a fun website where you answer trivia questions and win a  grain of rice per correct answer.  The rice you win will then be donated to help fight starvation around the world.  Sammi, my oldest introduced the site to me, and I can tell you, from experience, that there is a maximum number of correct answers a day, but it takes like 3 or 4 hours to get there.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a great example of how kind acts can be contagious.  On this site you’ll be able to get ideas of things you can do, as well as report the good deeds you yourself have done.  You can also get together a team.

Feeding America, formerly America’s Second Harvest, uses monetary donations to buy food and get the food to local food banks where it can be distributed to those in need.  Whereas FreeRice.com is global, Feeding America, as the the name implies, is a domestic charity.

I have so many more charity links, but they are on the old computer and I haven’t even started the process of transferring the data yet.  But now you can help out your favorite charities by sharing a link to them so we can all check them out.

Bloggiesta ~ I Didn’t Play, but I Wish I hadda!

blogiestaI hate housekeeping. 

When I was a kid, and my mom was trying to force me to do my chores, I’d mouth off that I was going to get a maid when I grew up, so I didn’t need to learn how to do dishes or laundry or clean the toilet. 

I’m still waiting for my maid.

This past Friday and Saturday (June 19-20), Natasha at Maw Books hosted the first ever BloggiestaOlé!  The idea was to clean out the broken links, write the reviews you’re behind on, clean out the clutter, and in general bootify yer blog.

Housekeeping.  For my blog.  Blech!  Needless to say, I didn’t sign up. 

However, as I read through everyone else’s Bloggiesta updates and challenges, I found myself doing all the activities and wanting to fix up my blog, too.  I don’t wanna be the family in the trailer with four foot grass and the car on blocks while everyone else has mansions…  Wait, I wanna bootify my place, too!

So here’s some of the things I ended up doing.

1.  Updating Mt. TBR’s inventory page, adding a page for my ARC-alanche pile.  Unfortunately, I got about halfway through the TBR page when LibraryThing pooped out on me, so I’ve still got some more work on that.  It’s no where near what’s allon my TBR shelves.

2.  Stealing a page from Stella Matutina, literally, I’ve written up a review policy for Mt. TBRand linked it in my “contact me” widget on the sidebar.  I didn’t really have a policy before… not one set in stone, anyway, just a  kinda-sorta flimsy plan.  This fact is made painfully obvious by the amount of books on my ARC-alanche pile.

Other things to improve my blog, more on the cosmetic side of life:

One of the things that irk me is that I can’t find a theme that I like… I mean, really like.  The colors on this one seem a bit pale, and the sidebar and main area run together for some unknown reason sometimes, but my problem is:  I wanna knew layout, but hate all the wordpress ones, halp?  Is there a site somewhere that makes them to paste in the CSS thingy like MySpace does?

Another thing I’ve been wondering lately:  Is my site too busy?  Too many pics?  TMI?  Is it navigable and readable, or does it overwhelm and turn off?

A third, and major… in my opinion it’s big, is that there will be a book review change.  I’ve learned that blog posts look a lot different on Google Reader, and I’m beginning to see that the whole itemized list of title, author, publisher and date and page numbers… blah blah blah… is unnecessary.  Who cares what year it was published and how many pages!  It’s making the post needlessly longer.  From now on, the reviews will have the title, author and ISBN only and smaller covers.  Personally, I like the ISBN handy to grab and paste to my wishlist instead of having to sift through similar titles and other books by that author.  Smaller covers, again something I’ve learned from Google Reader, because, while the big ones with detail are pretty, they take up soOOoo much space.

Website Grader, FINALLY!  After months and months of trying to make the web grader inspect my blog, and every time the ‘tarded thing telling me my URL was invalid, I clicked the link “free seo tool” in the gray box to the right and MAGICALLY! it took the URL in the next page.  It was so frustrating to hear everyone tell all about the wonderful things they discovered through this thing, and I couldn’t even get past the front dang door!  BTW… I gots a 95 🙂

Meta whota whata?

Some of the things in the report from Website Grader made sense, but some things left me very confuzzled.  like Meta.  Meta tags.  Meta description.  I’m missin’ out on the Meta deal, but have no clue on how to get hip and get with it!  How do I add the Meta parcels?

 

File that under miscellaneous…

I took time to add the newer awards I’ve received, added the Viral Video Wednesday button, and put my 4Rchallenge button and linked them all up, so now they’re all good to go 🙂

RSS feed ~ Fail?

 

  IDK… I’ve tried to use the RSS feed (thank gawd for Google Reader!), but this is what I see:

My view of an RSS feed

Is this what I’m suppose to see?  With all the code and stuff?

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So that’s where I’m at on all the “Keep the Bloggie Beautiful” stuff, though… I figure it’s probably a lot like my desk.  No sooner than I clean it all up, someone will dump a load on it and I’ll have to start over.

Now here’s where I need your help, everyone…

What kinds of things would you suggest to improve Mt. TBR?  Any help is appreciated!

TSS ~ Half-done Is NOT Well-begun

The Sunday Salon.com

Oh, how I wish I were a speed reader with photographic memory, that way I could zip through all those lovely books and then digest them later!  Or, that I had clones, each with a feed into my own brain, so that I could read all the blogs and comment on them, read all the books and write their reviews, get all the house work done and cook and walk the dog and….. *sigh* and just the other million and one things I would do, meanwhile I would lay back and receive the feed and process it all.

But, alas… it is just little ol’ me.

But li’l ol’ me did manage to get a lot done this week.  I figured out how to work Google Reader, but I’ve promptly forgot to CHECK IT EVERYDAY… now I’m scared to look at how many new posts will be waiting.  I finished Emmaby Jane Austen… finally… and I’ve started the review, but I just don’t know exactly what I want to say or how I feel, so it sits in the drafts pile, waiting.  The Cable modem had a malfunction and I was without internet for about 26 hours, so in the absence of my feed (addiction), I managed to read Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (have yet to start the review), get about 2/3 the way through The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, and get a good start on The 19th Wifeby David Ebershoff, but had to set aside Of Bees and Mistby Erick Setiawan until after the blog tour books since they take precedence as they have specific dates to post.

I got on the stick and started sorting clothes for keepers, winter clothes, Goodwill and trash, and now my kitchen table is covered with laundry, the job half done, so now we can’t eat at the table.  We just kinda disperse to which ever cave, er, I mean “room”, we prefer to huddle in front of TV or monitor or book while consuming our food.  It feels so separate and distant, I can’t see how people do that on a regular basis. 

Maggie’s dad’s suffering the economic crunch, and this multiple-times Employee-of-the-Month-where-ever-he-goes will be outa a job as of Wednesday, the company he has worked for for six years is closing their doors.  So my coming weeks will involve helping him with unemployment paperwork, filling out job apps, looking up openings online and helping him talk to potential employers.  I do all of that because he’s Maggie’s daddy and if he gets a job here, then he’ll stay in the area and she’ll get to grow up as much with him as possible.  When he first found out about the closing, he talked about moving back to California with his parents.  Mags wanted me to let him live at our house, but I had to set her straight.

Me:  “Maggot, that’s NOT going to happen.”

Daddy’s Princess:  “Why not?  He can sleep on my top bunk.”

Me:  “Honey, if daddy were to move back in with us, it wouldn’t be long before you’d be an orphan because I’d be in jail for killing him”

Needless to say, he and I are great friends but we did not get along under the same roof AT ALL.  I enjoy our relationship now that I can tell Mr. Anal-Retentive to “Go home if you don’t like my messy house.”  The very things that I love and admire in him drove me insane when living together.

Yeah… As the sands through the hourglass, such is The Kool-Aid Mom’s life. 😀