Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Siblings Weekend Scrapbook Part 6

Here's another layout from the Siblings Weekend scrapbook I made for Mark.  I used several elements here, starting with a Simple Stories paper for my base.  I kind of divvied up the page into four quadrants, and put an element in each one. Each quadrant also ties in yellow, blue, and red colors.


In the top left I have the photo.  On the photo I used an overlay that had a bunch of speech bubbles, which seem to all be kind of pointing at my sister-in-law, so it draws your eye to her.


In the upper right quadrant I put a simple piece of graph paper for journalling.  I used a yellow chevron washi tape to hold down the edges that are furthest away from the photo.


In the lower right quadrant I used a red mat on a cut-a-part piece from the Simple Stories Urban Traveller collection, since the purpose the the trip was to see Boston.


Finally, in the lower left quadrant I used some chevron washi tape to tie back to the red and blue colors elsewhere in the layout.  I trimmed the edges of the pieces of tape to give them a little more dimension.


I like the color scheme on this page.  Watch for more scrapbook layouts to come!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Review of Paper Towns by John Green

I read Paper Towns because I had read another one of John Green's books, The Fault in Our Stars, which was a very moving story, and I saw that the Paper Towns movie was going to be released (and you always need to read the book before you see the movie!).  While the main character in The Fault in Our Stars is female, I did not take any issues with her portrayal by a male author; interestingly, I did have some issues with the male main character's view and portrayal of the love interest, Margo, in Paper Towns.  I think part of this has to do with the underlying philosophical discussion that is the crux of Quentin's (Q for short) coming of age story.  Margo leaves behind a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass for Q as a clue for him to find her.  He reads the book many times, each time realizing that who he thinks Margo is is only his perception of her based on a performance.  She seems to have a character she built that those at school or people she socializes with see; as Q starts to realize, there is a whole other Margo that lives internally and when she is alone.  Subsequently, because of this dissonance between the Margo performer and the internal Margo that Q starts to realize, the difference becomes jarring between how Q describes and thinks of her, and the Margo we come to meet in the end of the book in Agloe, NY.

I think this dissonance is done on purpose.  As Q reads in Leaves of Grass, he begins to think about how we are all connected, but also maybe it isn't possible to know someone else entirely--to know their true self.  And so the dissonance would make sense as Q starts to remove the layers of the facade that Margo has built for the outside world.  And in fact as Q realizes, he really knew very little about Margo, and everything he knows about her is truly superficial--her looks and the act her performs.  He is even surprised when he compares the Margo he knows to the Margo others knew and finds that those are different Margo's.  He starts to see a little of this unraveling the night of their Great Adventure, but by the time we see Margo again at the end of the book, she seems almost like a different person.  I think that is partly because in the intervening time, he has started to realize that he didn't really know Margo, and his image of her starts to break down.

I think overall the philosophical story is very nice, but that because Margo never seems like a real person (even in the end because she is so disjointed from previous views of her, I found it difficult to find her a believable character), this story may be better suited for tween/teen boys who might be going through their own coming of age story.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Siblings Weekend Scrapbook Part 5

So here's another page from the sibling weekend scrapbook I made for Mark.


This was another photo that I really liked and wanted to highlight by itself.  The base paper is a two-toned dotted light blue paper.


I added a little bit of color by adding a small banner.  (I'm not a huge banner person, so 2-3 penants is usually about all I do.)


I also added a touch of color with a multi-color dotted washi tape, which one edge of the photo overlaps.  I used the title "Not all those who wander are lost," which I thought went nicely with the photo of the alley.


Finally, I added a journalling card that has the words "made my day" in blue on it, tying back to the blue paper.  I also thought the phrase went well with the journey / wandering metaphor of the photo and title.


So that's the page.  Pretty simple, but that way it doesn't distract from the photo, which is taking us on a journey through the streets of Boston...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

I was intrigued by the premise of the book, which recounts the real estate market crash.  Lewis gives insight to the Wall Street forces that created the crash.  There are some very interesting characters that we follow who were the few who recognized what was happening, and ended up profiting from the crash because they bet it would happen (as opposed to the Wall Street firms who were (unknowingly?) creating the problem and betting against a crash).  The characters (who are real people, since this is nonfiction) and the general premise I think are what carry this story.  However, Lewis delves into many detailed explanations about the numbers--bonds, stocks, CDOs, mezzanines, alt-A's, short, triple-A rating, basis points, spread, credit default swaps, subprime, long, etc.   Even now most of this detail is lost to me, and I think largely unnecessary to the meat of the story.  At one point Lewis explains that this world was so complex and convoluted that even the people who were creating and selling the credit default swaps didn't understand what they were doing, let alone the Wall Street CEOs.  And knowing that would have been enough for me; perhaps Lewis felt that the reader wouldn't believe this without seeing all the nuances and details, but for me the real story was the push and pull of the (idiosyncratic) characters as they tried to make sense of all of the Wall Street craziness.  I think giving the 50000 foot view of the numbers, but following the characters would have yielded an excellent story that didn't leave me as bored.

The other part about the details makes the end very frustrating to me.  In the end of the book the government steps in and bails out the big Wall Street firms, without even really understanding what had happened and who was culpable.  Yet, in this book Lewis seems able to lay out everything that happened and the reasons for it, which should make it clear to any reader--and especially the U.S. government--that the unregulated actions of Wall Street is what was at fault for causing a national disaster and ruining the credit--and more importantly, the lives--of millions of Americans.  But was Wall Street held accountable?  Not in the book, and still not to this day in April of 2016.  Perhaps with this explanation, Lewis was hoping to educate government officials, or incite action by citizens.  But if Lewis was hoping to enact change with this book, it has not yet come.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Siblings Weekend Scrapbook Part 4

Here is another page from the Siblings Weekend scrapbook that I worked on.  I really liked this photo of this lamp light that Mark took, so I wanted to feature this photo on a page.


I separated the page into four quadrants visually.  In the top left I used a journalling card with the title "What a Trip!"  Mark's sister filled it in, rating the trip a 100.


Because the background paper and the journalling card were both grey-ish, I wanted some pops of color to go with the nice colors in the photo.  I used this star paper to make another place to journal.


A close-up on the cool photo:


Finally, I used my circle punch to punch out these two little icons that I liked and I pop dotted them in the bottom right corner.  Again, there are colors in these designs that tie back to the star paper and the photo.


That's all for now!  Keep an eye out for the next post from this scrapbook!  :)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stray Hold Law and HB 4915

For pet owners in Michigan, you may not be aware of a change in the enforcement of the stray hold law.  The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) explains the issues very well here.  They urge people to contact their representative to tell them how important having a stray hold law is, both for pets and pet owners.  I adapted the HSHV explanation (below) and emailed my representative.  I urge others to do the same!


Dear Representative X,
The stray hold law ensures that owners have a chance to find their lost companion animal.  Without a stray hold law, an animal entering a shelter can be immediately adopted, transferred to another facility/group, or put to death without giving owners even one day to find their lost pet.  And even if owners find their lost pet in a shelter, without a stray hold law, the shelter has no obligation to return them to their rightful owners.  

Following MDARD’s announcement, Michigan now stands nearly alone in the absence of a state mandated stray hold.  I firmly believe in the importance of stray hold times as a basic and essential protection for pets and their owners.  Right now many pets and pet owners are now in a precarious position.

HB 4915 was introduced by Representative Mike McCready to help rectify this issue.  While we desperately need this bill, I oppose it in its current state based on two serious flaws:   

1)    Cats as second-class pets:  The bill reduces stray hold times to “zero days” for cats that are “candidates for adoption or sterilization programs.”  Though I strongly support a bill that promotes Trap, Neuter and Return -- where unowned cats are sterilized and returned to their original location -- as the only proven effective means of reducing overpopulation, the vague use of the word “candidate” leaves the option to euthanize stray cats at intake, as sadly many Michigan shelters would still prefer to do.  Further, I believe “adoptable” cats, like dogs, should also be held for the minimum hold times of 4 or 7 days to give owners a chance to find them.

The hold time for both dogs and cats should be the same, and support clear provisions for sterilization programs that return cats to their original location.  Even if a lost cat is mistaken for an outdoor/feral cat, returning them to their original location is more likely to help them to get back home.  One study found that cats left mainly to their own devices are 13 times more likely to find their way back home than those that end up at a shelter. 

2)    Wide discretion to euthanize before hold times have expired:  The bill also states that “(A) AN ANIMAL THAT WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO UNDUE SUFFERING” can be immediately euthanized.   The language here gives too much discretion to shelters to define “suffering.”  Many common or treatable conditions such as fear, arthritis, blindness, contagious disease, or old age could be used as justification to immediately put a lost animal (dog or cat) to death, without regard to hold times. 

I recommend a definition of suffering as suggested by Nathan Winograd, Director of the No-Kill Advocacy Center. “Irremediable physical suffering" means an animal who has a poor or grave prognosis for being able to live without severe unremitting pain even with comprehensive, prompt, and necessary veterinary care, as determined by a veterinarian licensed to practice in the state.”    

Respecting and promoting the loving bond between people and their companion animals should be at the core of animal sheltering work.  Basic stray hold times applied consistently to both dogs and cats, and clear definitions around justification for euthanasia provide important protections to both people and animals.  I want to see increased adoptions and sterilizations, and the elimination of unnecessary shelter euthanasia across the state—not stripping families of the right to reclaim their lost animals.


Please make these changes to HB 4915 and then pass the bill ASAP to ensure that Michigan pets and pet owners are protected.  My pets (cats and dogs) are beloved members of my family.  I want to see stray hold laws applied equally to both dogs and cats, allowance for responsible TNR, and well-defined reasons for euthanizing an animal before their stray hold time is up. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Siblings Weekend Scrapbook Part 3

Here is another page from the Siblings Weekend Scrapbook that I did for Mark.  I liked the blue sky in the picture, so I used a similar blue paper as the base page, and then used yellow to matte the photo and provide some relief against the blue.


I had some Smash journalling cards, so I used one here ("The BEST part was:"), which then my sister-in-law filled in with a memory.


I was using a lot of Simple Stories product, especially from the Travel line.  I used the "Right Now." chipboard sticker on the photo to highlight the great moment captured, but also the moment that was alluded to in the journalling.


The selfie they took was pretty good, so I didn't really crop it down.  It has a nice monument in the background, and the blue sky and sunny day is really nice.


More pages to come!