You Can Wear It Again: Wedding Clothes Past And Present

August 13, 2008

Wedding season has been going on for some time, but enough of it remains that hotels are still being booked to capacity and people are sweating in unfamiliar airports in order to spend a weekend witnessing one of the oldest continuous rituals in existence. Like most other long-lasting rituals, it seems at first glance unlikely that many of our ancestors would recognize our version of it, and one of the major reasons for that – though far from the only one – is the change in dress involved. The North American standard today is what a place like Indiebride would refer to as a cookie-cutter wedding; poofy white dress, tuxes, champagne, rented ballroom, embarrassing DJ who plays YMCA, even more embarrassing bouquet toss and garter removal. It’s true that there are a lot of them out there – one summer I spent as a caterer’s minion involved serving about three weddings per weekend, and most of them blended together pretty fast because so little about the basic template changed. However, enough people go non-cookie cutter to support a pretty large alternative industry (not to mention a lot of websites), and a common theme here is that the Big White Wedding isn’t even that traditional – the white wedding only started with Queen Victoria. Another criticism frequently leveled at the white dress is that it’s supposed to be an advertisement of the wearer’s virginity.

Read the rest of this entry »


Beyond Reading

June 14, 2008

Last Summer, I did a light post about how much people are reading.

I’ve been reading a lot of reading reports lately, and a lot of press about the reports. The press is depressing, the actual reports don’t paint nearly as dire a picture and I’m working on a post about that later.

A few key things caught my eye today. According to a new report put out by Scholastic Publishing, kids who are high-frequency internet users are more likely to also be high-frequency readers (going online once a day but also reading for fun once a day). Also, 64% of online users ages 9-17 say they participate in activities that extend the reading experience when online.

AND HOW. Read the rest of this entry »

Crafty Summer: Bicycle Repair Kit Bag

June 9, 2008

One of my “projects” this spring and summer has been finding and fixing up a cheap bicycle for use around Berlin. I began attending lost-property auctions a couple months ago and had luck at my second: I scored a 21-speed bike with a mangled back rim for 5 euros. I took a couple bicycle maintenance classes through the ADFC (German Bicycle Club), purchased a new rim, and with AFDC’s workshop assistance, replaced it myself! It’s not a bike to write home about, but my trusty steed has already been on two long bicycle excursions and does the job for rides to the shop and such.

On our first excursion, I managed to score a flat tire; thankfully my companions had a repair kit along and we were back on track within 10 minutes. I decided then that I should always be prepared myself, and went out last week and bought a cheap kit at the Euro Store. But I didn’t have any way to attach the kit to my bicycle, so I got crafty yesterday and sewed a simple cinch sack that attaches to my bike.

I reclaimed the material from the pocket of a pair of shorts my roommate had given me for sewing projects; the fabric is similar to that used in men’s swimming trunks, which I thought would dry quickly in case of rain. The fabric is also machine washable in case it gets dirty on my bike. As the pocket was already half-sewn, I just needed to trim to my size, sew a cinch track around the top, and sew together a cord from scraps.

The sack holds: 1 tire repair kit in plastic case (band-aids and mini screwdriver added for good measure); 1 package baby wipes for cleaning hands after repairs; 1 package travel kleenex (because I’m sneezy and they’re handy).

I installed it under the bicycle seat, double-knotting the cinch cord around one end of my luggage rack and using a rubber band to fasten the other end. Another solution would have been to sew a cord or loop fastener into the upper seam, but I wasn’t thinking that far ahead at the time 🙂 Velcro, if you have some lying around, would also work splendidly.

Coming soon: watch me as I attempt to fashion bicycle panniers from three IKEA thermal picnic bags!

Cultural Ascendancy of the Geek

May 25, 2008

David Brooks published an op-ed yesterday on nerds, geeks and politics. He finishes “The Alpha Geeks” with the line,

the last shall be first and the geek shall inherit the earth.

If he’s right, what will we do with this one precious earth of ours? And is his take on geeks accurate on an international level, or are these exclusively American geeks we’re talking about? Finally, is Geekdom truly welcoming to women and minorities or is this simply another form of domination by a different (albeit generally more sensitive) group of white men?


Thanks to Courtney for the tip!


Crafty Summer: Mosaic Picture Frame

May 14, 2008

We geeks are nothing if not crafty. In our small ranks, we have knitters, embroiderers, beaders, photographers, printers, and graphic designers — producing a variety of items for personal enjoyment and sale. Chief Geek Dana has inspired me with her crafting posts (you see, she decorates tea tins and recently learned how to make temari balls) over at From My Wandering Mind to post on a little project I completed yesterday as a birthday present for my roommate. I encourage my fellow crafty geeks to take a couple pictures of a project they’ve completed this summer and post them here for everyone to enjoy!

To find out how it was made, Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Geek Challenge: The License Plate Game

May 13, 2008

It’s starting to be the summer travel season! This means that now is the prime time to play the license plate game (in the US), particularly if you’re going to be in the car for any extended length of time, or if you will be visiting high density tourist destinations, like national parks.

Playing the game is very simple; designate a passenger to keep a record of all the different license plates anyone in the car spots. The goal is to get as many of the 50 as possible, or 51 if you are in a prime spot to see a Washington, DC plate. You can also keep a bonus list of the number of Canadian provinces you spot. I have a feeling that this would be an auspicious year for me to play, because I saw a Hawaii plate on my way home from work yesterday, and I’ve seen about 3 Alaska plates in the last week.

If you’re feeling ambitious, we could try to work out a point system in the comments based on the rarity of various license plates. If you live outside the US and have a different version of the game, tell us your rules. And if you go on a trip this summer, leave a comment with your list. (To be fair, you should only submit a list that you managed to compile over the course of one trip.)

-posted by Dana

Public Service Announcement: Free Ice Cream!

April 29, 2008

Yum!I don’t know how many people will see this in time, but today, April 29, is Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day! Check the official site for the shop nearest you. I’m seriously considering stopping on my way home from work.

Now, the requisite poll question: What’s your favorite flavor?

I am, unoriginally, a huge fan of Cherry Garcia.