Monday, November 29, 2010

The Red Scarf Project

My Christmas knitting has gotten a little sidetracked with the discovery of Orphan Foundation of America's Red Scarf Project. According to their website:
OFA helps former foster children become successful adults. In most states, foster youth leave the social services system when they turn 18. In the eyes of the court they’re adults, but few 18 year olds are emotionally, mentally or financially able to support themselves. Without someone to guide them, too many end up homeless, unemployed, incarcerated or pregnant. But it doesn't have to be that way. Thanks to the generosity of thousands of volunteers and donors, OFA is changing the odds for former foster youth every day.
One of their projects is the Red Scarf Project for which crafters make red scarves to give to these young people for Valentine's Day to encourage them.

This project strikes a chord with me because I am an orphan. I wasn't part of the foster care system, but I was raised by my aunt and uncle after the deaths of my parents. I understand what it is like to be 18 and on your own, trying to find your way in the world. Not that my aunt and uncle weren't there if I needed them, but I never felt comfortable enough to ask for their help. From the day I left for college (when I was still 17) I felt that I was on my own.

The Red Scarf Project is a small way that I can encourage someone that they can make it. I've done it, and I'm passing on a scarf to let them know that I've been there and I know they can do it too.  If you'd like to join in just follow the link.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unfollow/Unfriend: Online relationships and the written word.

I haven't written a serious post for a while, but over the last couple of days I've had some run ins with another NCIS fan that have given me pause to think. I'm part of a large community of fans of Twitter, and while I know that there are other much more volatile fan forums, serious use of the #NCIS stream is not for the faint of heart. Scattered among the "this episode is awesome" tweets and the "Mark Harmon is hot for an old guy" tweets, there is some serious discussion about character development, plot lines and the people who create them. The discussion gets hot, sometimes hotter than the 140 character porn slash that also shows up in the stream.

In some ways, it amazes me that people get so fired up over a TV show, especially one on its 8th season, but that is the beast that is NCIS. It changed from a straight crime drama to something more along the lines of a dark comedy--more kin to Monk than to its JAG roots. The change has not gone unnoticed. It hit a chord with millions of Americans and is still the number one scripted show as the crowds flocked to 8 pm Tuesday nights (or as I dubbed it on Twitter, #NCIS Day). Not everyone is happy with the change.

Becoming a dark comedy meant changing the characters. Character growth is natural, but some of them grew in ways that some of the original fans didn't like and they will let you know their feelings on the subject. That is really the point of my blog today. Dealing with those fans.

For the most part, I enjoy chatting online with my Tweeps. The conversations are usually fluff, but we do share the ups and downs of our days and we care about one another. Many of us at this point have met IRL (in real life), still others have snail mailed packages, bought and sold art/crafts, and have genuinely established relationships with one another. We've invested time and emotions into one another's lives. It's an investment that those not online may not understand, but it's no less an investment in a relationship than that of a coworker or a friend on a ball team. So, when one of the voices becomes difficult to hear, what does one do?

In my IRL experience, I have learned to overlook character traits that bother me whenever possible. I can even say that I have learned to love people not in spite of their flaws, but including their flaws (I am not perfect at this, but I've come a long way.) IRL, we have the benefit of face-to-face interaction, one-on-one time. We are more than just what we say.

Online, especially on Twitter, we are only what we say. Good or bad, we are limited to 140 character soundbites which may or may not be interpreted how we intended. Something we write, thinking we sound clever, may come across as snarky and cause a problem where none existed. Or, because of the casual anonymity of online communication, we may throw something out there that we would never say to someone face to face. We forget that we are speaking with real people with real feelings. We forget to show some respect and common courtesy and start a flame war.

If we are what we write when we are online, we should probably be more careful about what we say and how we say it. Certainly we have the right to express our opinions and carry on lively debate, but when the discussion is reduced to a steady stream of our opinion that is who we become. We are our opinion. We become less the person behind the words. We become the words. Words, on Twitter, you can filter out. We can stop following. We can use the filter tools on Tweetdeck. We can make the words stop.

But there are people behind the words.

There's the rub. There are words that I'm tired of reading. Last night I filtered and then unfollowed some of the words. The problem is, there are people behind those words in whom I have invested time, with whom I have a connection. It's easy to unfollow. Its harder to unfriend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Just a few of the things I'm up to:

  • midnight show of Harry Potter tonight. Not dressing up, but am taking knitting. Will answer to Mrs. Weasley.
  • finished yet another Purl Ridge Scarf and now working on a vest for one of the girls. It's called Boheme and if you're on Ravelry, you can find it here.
  • Still chewing on the fabulous NCIS episode this week. The NCIS Exposition Faerie wrote up her thoughts. Finally we're looking at Vance's backstory. Can't wait for next week.
My queue of knitting projects keeps growing. Lots of new things to try. Just need to get through my Christmas knitting first.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A perspective nearing 100.

It's an interesting thing losing a large amount of weight. I'm looking a loss of 100 lbs squarely in the face. Only 2 more pounds to go. It's been revealing from my own perspective and from that of others. Little things like being able to easily trim one's toe nails all the way up to the big things like being able to walk a 10k race make an impression. So do things people say.

One of the most remarkable is that people don't recognize me. I find that I have to tell people I haven't seen for a while who I am; and people who do see me regularly still do a double take. I can't blame them. I did one myself a couple weeks ago. Yes, I look that good and that different.

I also find that a lot of people now find excuses for why they aren't losing weight. As much as I'd like to be able to take them along with me on my journey, it really is a matter of something just clicking inside that makes you know you have to do this. I try to remember to encourage them that when I started this adventure, I couldn't walk around the block. Now I can walk miles. Also, when I started, I ate more than my 1200-1500 calories because I needed it just to lug around the fat.

I've had an amazing support group, and very few of them have I met online. Most of them are my friends on Twitter and Facebook, and I've only met a few. Most of them don't know what I looked like before, although I do share pics if asked. They encourage me to keep going when I'm flailing, and generally I've been pretty open with them about my struggles and my victories. I hope that some of them follow me in the adventure.

I still have more to lose, but as I'm reaching for the next 2 lbs, I'm also thinking that it's less a matter of a target weight and more a matter of continuing to eat healthy and exercise. Where I land, I land. But first, these 2 pesky pounds need to say bye-bye.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Surrender.

Given the choice between knitting and writing, I have chosen knitting. There is something about the feel of the yarn and the satisfaction of seeing the work grow on the needles that just isn't being derived from watching words stack up on the page.

I posted that I'm enjoying socks, and I am. I'm also enjoying shawlettes and interesting scarves. My current project is called the Purl Ridge Scarf (I found the pattern on Ravelry. It's knit in the round and is long enough to loop around your neck a couple times. I'm using a couple skeins of Paton Classic wool in Denim Marl in my attempt to knit through my stash for Christmas. That might be an interesting Advent calendar to blog *makes mental note*.

Meanwhile, it's another NCIS night, which is the ONLY TV show I don't knit through. I've tried. I end up frogging my work. Somethings do rate above the needles. NCIS is one of them.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Day three of NaNoWriMo

Besides it being my birthday, day three finds me with an interesting turn in my storyline and wishing I hadn't chosen to make this a fan fic. I knew I would regret it. Still, I press on. I can always edit the characters later. The important thing, everyone tells me, is just to write.

I'm also pushing through on my knitting projects. I know I haven't mentioned here, but I have in other places that I love knitting socks. Why I would attempt NaNoWriMo with so much knitting to do, I can only say, "Peer pressure."

Monday, November 01, 2010

My son's mission trip details

Several of my online friends have asked about my son's upcoming mission trip and have asked how they can help. Below are some of the details:

They will leave Friday, November 19, 2010 and travel to Budapest, Hungary. From Budapest, they will travel by car to the Emmanuel Baptist University in Romania. They will have classes each morning and will evangelize from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. On Friday, November 26, they will leave Budapest and travel to Paris, France. On Sunday, November 28th and Monday November 29 they will take historical tours and evangelize. they return on November 29th.

We ask for your prayers in the following areas:

  1. That God's will be done and for travel mercies
  2. Preparation of the hearts and minds of those hearing and responding to the presentation of the Gospel
  3. Wisdom and discernment to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit
  4. Provision and protection. Expenses are $2,200, not including additional expenses for baggage fees, meals and so forth.
  5. Wisdom and guidance for the leadership of the mission that includes Dr. Smith (Dean of the College), Christine Hoffman (Secretary of the Dean), and Dr. Birch.

If you would like to help financially, you can mail a check to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Attn: Student Financial Aid

P.O. Box 22510

Fort Worth, Texas 76122

Please put "Mission trip, Ethan W. Barton" in the memo. The College will send you a tax-deductible receipt.

Thank you so much for your support.