A Friday birthday

Finally, Friday is here!  It was a long week, but a quiet day at work today, which is good, because I had to rush home to get birthday stuff together for my partner’s sixseven-year old.  He was thrilled to get a sleeping bag and a Donald Driver jersey, among plenty of other things, like Harry Potter Legos and books.  When he and his mom discussed what he wanted to have for dinner for his birthday, he said turkey.  This is particularly interesting because until almost a year ago, he was vegetarian.  For some reason, at his uncle’s house on Thanksgiving, he decided he wanted to eat turkey, and fell in love with it. If you asked him two months ago whether he’d also like to eat chicken, he would crinkle up his nose and say in a defeated voice, “No, I don’t like chicken.”  This summer, though, he spent two weeks with his grandparents, and he asked to eat turkey with them, too.  Unwilling to cook a big bird for just the three of them, his grandma bought chicken and called it Small Turkey.  He loved it.  So, we eat Small Turkey around here every now and then, and had it for dinner tonight.  Well, his mom still had fake chicken, but having more than one meat eater in the house is kind of nice.

When his mother asked him what kind of cake he wanted, he decided he wanted a double-decker chocolate cake with strawberries and vanilla frosting in the center, but chocolate frosting around the outside.  I am no baker.  I am a pretty decent cook, but I can’t bake to save my life.  Well, I can manage a cake from a box, but then decorating is not my strong suit, either.  My sister, on the other hand, has missed her calling in life.  She make the most unbelievable cakes ever.  Like Ace of Cakes quality, given that she doesn’t use power tools and wood to build the framework for them.  For the purposes of example, I include images.  Guess which one my partner and I made tonight…  Yes, you’re seeing right – the top layer is sliding its way off the bottom, riding a sticky, goopy, kind-of-like-an-oil-spill slick of vanilla frosting slime – with some strawberries floating in there for good measure.

I admit, it is my fault that this young California native is a Green Bay Packers fan.  If only we were actually in Wisconsin, he could get some brilliant version of a football cake, probably a perfectly sculpted life-size helmet or something.  Instead, he gets this drippy mess.  Warning to other baking challenged people – if you want to put strawberries between the layers of a cake, you probably should avoid putting frosting in there with them.  That, or hire my sister for some lessons.  Note:  Images blatantly stolen from my sister’s Facebook page and re-posted here without any permission, whatsoever.


On workplace lingo

So, the lingo at my new job is kind of amazing.  I have worked in technology for more than fifteen years, so you’d think I would not be surprised by the language I hear at a software development shop.  That is so not the case!  I find it highly entertaining, so below are a few terms, phrases, and general oddities of speech and language that I’m hearing on a daily basis.

My boss, the one that walks barefoot, managed to use both the phrase “think outside the bun,” and the term, “quiesces” in the same sentence yesterday.  He was responding to someone else’s question about what we might do if a particular solution to a problem we have didn’t work.  He said, “Well, then, we’ll just have to think outside the bun, and if the application quiesces, it will all be moot, anyway.”  He seems to have a real penchant for sayings.  I know I should come up with a better descriptor than “sayings,” but I just can’t quite classify what he says as analogies, metaphors, similes, or euphemisms.  To my mind, they just don’t fit perfectly in any of those buckets.

Then, today, we had a “lunch and learn.”  For you non-corporate types, that’s just a way of saying everyone has to work through lunch to listen to someone explain something you may or may not already understand because the powers that be cannot justify taking away from your normal work time to do something entirely internal, which is not billable to some client.  This lunch and learn was about how to present the company if you were manning a booth at a big software trade show.  Part of the presentation was to discuss the various “messages” we would want to convey to the innocent people that wander too close to our booth.  We are considered a very high-end software consulting company, and we don’t operate like many other consulting companies do – where some big company calls on the consulting firm, and the consulting firm ships a person or three over to the client’s location to do whatever work they need done.  Instead, we build long term relationships, and we do all our work in-house.  That background is only important for you to have some understanding of what my boss tossed out as his opinion of what our company is – or is not.  He said, “We are not a body shop!  We are project based!  Give us your tired, your hungry, your poor……Mm Hmm”

Some other terms that have been bandied about in the past week and a half that are interesting…

When someone’s availability is in question, you do not say, “Does so-and-so have time to do this work?”  You say, “Does so-and-so have cycles.”  And in my case, I received an email that asked not only if I had cycles, but if I “had enough to prosecute this activity.”

In the information age, it is a common problem to have way too much information lying around.  Often, the information is out of date, or there are seventeen versions of some document, none of which tells the whole picture, and some of which completely contradict each other.  My new company’s way to handle this is to insist that a core value is to only recognize a single version of the truth.  I haven’t yet decided what cult-like comparison I can make on this one, but what it really means is that we are all supposed to put information only in one place, and we should worship that place.  There are actually multiple places when it comes down to it – document storage systems, project status forms on a website, time tracking entries in an accounting system, project plans on a server.  My boss calls these “first-order artifacts,” and I can’t tell you how many times I hear the phrase, “one truth,” or the phrase “single truth” every day.

I have begun jotting down the amazing phrases I hear every day, because I know I would forget most of them otherwise.  All I can say is that I’m thrilled that I will not only be making money working at this job, but I will also be expanding my vocabulary, significantly, it seems, on a daily basis.  More on this as it develops…

New people

So, at my new job, I’ve certainly met some interesting new characters people.  If I were the wuc, I could write amazing and hilarious things about my new coworkers.  In truth, I know I will never be so funny, but, here are a few anecdotes, anyway.

My new boss is a slightly quirky guy.  He sometimes digresses into a personal conversation with himself while he’s talking to someone else.  He does so mostly under his breath, and eventually says, “But, that’s neither here nor there.”  He also ends practically every conversation with, “Mmm Hmm,” even if there is absolutely nothing to affirm at the end of the discussion.  Last, he walks around barefoot a lot.  Well, not completely barefoot – he wears socks, but must not be so fond of shoes.

On Monday, two new tech guys started working with us.  I’m not positive what their titles are, but that’s besides the point.  One of them is clearly from the I-live-in-a-basement-or-some-other-such-tech-nerd-cave tribe.  In technical discussions, training sessions where he is being introduced to new things, even – he is eager to talk and talk, but if I picture him in a social setting, I imagine he says few words – at least without drawing puzzled stares from listeners.  He could stand to wash his hair.  He is a stocky guy, has a very round face with quite small glasses that don’t seem sufficiently big to cover his field of vision.

The other is a very small guy – short, petite, I’d almost say.  He has an accent I have yet to place, is less gregarious in meetings, but asks a lot of questions – probably a good thing when you’re trying to pick things up.  When the answers seem sort of obvious, he tends to try to make clear that is exactly what he assumed.  He, too, wears glasses, but his are really, really big glasses that seem almost as big as his small head, and they are strong.  When you look at him face on, they magnify his eyes in a buggish sort of way.

DISCLAIMER:  In the unlikely event that any of my coworkers ever discovers this blog, and then discovers that I write it, I share these descriptions with the utmost sense of professional affection and absolutely no intention of offending anyone.

Any characters you’d like to share?


I knew it was coming.  This new job is draining me of most of my energy, not to mention my time.  I shouldn’t complain – there are still way too many people in the world that can’t get a job these days.  But, I’m sitting here yawning endlessly, determined to get at least a quick post out, and realizing how much harder this is going to be to keep up with.  It’s not that I dislike the job – at least not yet.  It’s only been a week.  It’s that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

So, lacking anything of substance to share tonight, I chose to surf a few weird news websites.  I’ve mentioned before how odd some of the news stories can be from the corner of the country I hail from – Wisconsin.  I used to get my fix for these improbable stories at Odd News, but they don’t have a search feature, and that annoys me because I want to be able to search on Wisconsin, or Sheboygan – which currently has a mayor that refuses to leave office although he recently went on a drinking binge, got in a fight, and passed out in a bar in a nearby town.  Tonight, I stumbled on NEWS of the WEIRD, which looks very, very promising.  One search on Wisconsin, and I found so many brilliant stories it was hard to choose which one to share here.  Here’s one that ties in nicely with Sheboygan’s drunken mayor, though.

“Prevailing medical authority 20 years ago warned that few humans could survive blood-alcohol readings above .40 (percent), but in recent years, drivers have rather easily survived higher numbers (curiously, many from Wisconsin, such as the man in February in Madison, Wis., with a .559). (In 2007, an Oregon driver was found unconscious, but survived, with a .72 reading.) The plethora of high numbers might indicate mistaken medical teaching, or nonstandard machine measurements — or an evolutionary hardiness in American drinkers. [Star Tribune (Minneapolis), 2-15-2011]” (copied from http://www.newsoftheweird.com/archive/nw110508.html)

In Wisconsin, I’d have to say I vote for “evolutionary hardiness” – how else do you expect people to keep warm in the winter?

Any great stories from your neck of the woods?



I titled this post Gratitude because I’m truly grateful for having been recognized with some more blogger awards from a fellow writer, Julie Farrar, who writes at Traveling Through.  I’ve been doing this for just over a month, and loving it the whole time, due in large part to the people that I’ve connected with through my writing and theirs.  Julie tagged me with two awards, The Stylish Blogger, and the Versatile Blogger.  Julie’s comments about my writing put a smile on my face, and I’m thankful that she shared them.

“It’s an anonymous blog, with language and stories I envy to no end.”

In keeping with the spirit of the awards, here are seven more random things about me:

1 – Stylish is another term those that know me would never use to describe me (though, again, I appreciate the shout-out from Julie, regardless of the name of the award!).  I am the kind of person that buys 8 of the same shirt in different colors.  6 or 8 short-sleeve T-shirts, 6 or 8 long-sleeve T-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans in slightly different washes.  I can never manage to have more than two pairs of jeans at a time.  I generally wear one pair of shoes until they wear out so badly I really can’t wear them anymore.  As the shoes or jeans approach this point of disrepair, I panic a little at the thought of having to find a new pair.

2 – A few years ago, I found myself at the end of a 9-year relationship, and though I wanted to get out and meet new people, I had pretty much forgotten how.  Actually, I never really knew how.  A great friend told me, though, that all I needed was a haircut and a new pair of shoes.  I had been wearing sort of outdoorsy shoes because I have the flattest feet ever recorded in the history of flat feet, and I need really wide shoes.  I was informed that these shoes would completely impede my ability to get a date, so with the help of another good friend who is fanatical about shoes, I started buying tennis shoes that apparently have some style to them.  A few weeks after I bought my first pair, I was out for drinks with the friend who had coached me into this pair, and a random stranger on the street stopped and said, “Oh my god!  Where did you get those awesome retro shoes?!”  My shoe coach (a.k.a. grass-phobia girl), was prouder than a peacock, and could barely wait until the stranger was out of earshot to proclaim her brilliance.  In the end, my current mate wouldn’t have cared whether I wore the geeky outdoorsy shoes or these new retro-ish sneakers, but the coaching of my friends gave me a new confidence I sorely needed at the time, and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

3 – When I was a kid, my favorite food was mashed potatoes.  Luckily, I grew up in the Midwest, where potatoes are part of practically every meal, but I even loved the sticky, gloppy, made-from-dehydrated-flakes-in-the-school-cafeteria mashed potatoes.  The stickier, the better.  I have a vivid memory from 4th grade, going through the lunch line at school.  The woman whose job it was to dish out the mashed potatoes asked me if I wanted butter or gravy on them.  I was paralyzed with trying to decide.  They were both so enticing!  I held up the line forever, deep in thought about which I might like more, and she finally just gave me both so she could get me out of her hair.  Today I still have a horrible time deciding what to eat at restaurants.  I have to imagine – visually picture – myself eating each thing under consideration, and even then I sometimes hold up the ordering for a long time.  Unless I’m at a restaurant that serves tapas or small plates – then I just order a little of everything.

4 – When I was fifteen, I wanted to be a cowboy.  I was already a tomboy, so it wouldn’t have been too great a leap.  My grandfather took me to Wyoming on a hunting trip.  It was my first foray out of corn and dairy country, and the second I saw the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota, I developed my own weird version of the romantic West.  When we got to Wyoming and met the people that lived there, I only got sucked in further.  We first stayed in a seedy motel near the ranch of a couple named Everett and Fredda Lou, around Lusk, Wyoming.  There were few paved roads in their neck of the woods, and they managed over 100,000 acres of cattle ranch.  Later, we stayed at my grandpa’s long-time friend, Melvin’s.  Melvin was a big, stocky guy, with a mustache that trailed down past the corners of his mouth to his chin.  He always wore a light-colored cowboy hat with a dark sweat-stained band just above the brim of the hat.  He taught me how to properly shape a cowboy hat over steaming water so you could take the “new” out of it right away.  It was very important that a cowboy hat be original, yours, and never look new.  He let me ride his ATV, and I couldn’t stop myself from going faster and faster, even as I started to lose control now and then.  Once, a tire jumped out of the rut on a dry dirt rode, changed my course, and I drove straight through a wire fence at high speed.  Probably lucky I didn’t kill myself.  I sometimes wonder whether it was really some primal draw to the rough and tumble area of the West we were in that made me love it so much, or whether I’d have had the same reaction to any place I might have gone outside the Midwest.  Regardless, those are memories I treasure, even if they expose my inner dork.

5 – I moved out at 18, and after two not-so-great roommate experiences, I finally got an apartment with a guy who is still one of my best friends.  We were really broke, though.  We could barely pay our rent, often had to have friends bring us leftover food from the restaurants they worked at, and never had cash to spare to go out and do much of anything.  We did one of three things.  If we could spare a couple dollars, we would sit at IHOP, sometimes for 8 or 10 hours at a time with random friends dropping in and out, drinking that never-ending-cup-of-coffee or bottomless-pot-of-coffee, or whatever it was they called it, and reading Trivial Pursuit cards to entertain each other.  If our cable wasn’t turned off, we watched lots of talk shows – Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer – you know – the classics.  We tried to come up with ideas that might get us on those shows.  When we missed the talk shows themselves, we watched Talk Soup late at night to get the lowdown on what we missed.  Finally, when neither of those were options, and I’d managed to convince my grandparents to let me borrow their car, we’d sit in the parking lot of our apartment building in the car, listening to a very cheesy love songs station on the radio, singing sappy songs, laughing, and lamenting about our poor lives.  I often miss those days.

6 – Before my first car ( a 1980 Mazda 626) ended up in a metal graveyard, which precipitated the borrowing of my grandparents car mentioned above, it had some unusual behavior.  The car either had issues with the electrical wiring, or was possessed by the ghost of a gremlin.  I could turn the car off, take the key out of the ignition, get out, walk ten feet or more away, and then the doors would lock and unlock themselves in a frequent stuttering rhythm.  It was like watching popcorn pop.  My sister’s boyfriend once offered to fix the car for me when something went wrong – a bad starter or cylinoid, or something – I don’t quite remember what.  When he gave it back to me, the car would no longer go in reverse.  My roommate and I often had to sit in our seats with the doors open, each pushing with one leg hanging outside the car to back out of our parking spot.

7 – I think I’ve made clear by now that I am not a girly kind of girl – I grew up complete tomboy-style, loved to knock down boys, am a pretty good shot with a rifle or a shotgun – you get the picture.  That is why I find it particularly odd that the first thing I ever stole as a little kid was candy lipstick.  I don’t think I meant to steal it, but perhaps I’ve fooled myself into thinking that because I just can’t handle the shame of it all (the lipstick part, not the stealing part).  I was five, and when we got home and my mother realized I had the candy lipstick, which she had not paid for, she screamed at me, tossed me back in the car, drove back to the store, and made me go in with my tear-streaked face and my barely audible shy kid voice to apologize and pay for my pinched lipstick.

Now, to pass on the recognition to some fellow bloggers…  Enjoy!

Bottlecaps and Broken Bits – Besides having a great title for his blog, this guy writes some awesome stuff about food, drink, and travel, accompanied by his photography.  He is currently recording his travels in Thailand, a place I have visited twice, and would highly recommend to anyone.

The Wandering Atavist – Check out this blog whenever you need a good laugh.  The Atavist describes himself as a “fish out of water,” and you will likely agree as you read his hilarious posts about trying to be a normal functioning member of society, especially when he’s around anyone of the female persuasion.

Grammar Divas – This blog is great at dispelling grammatical myths and giving practical pointers on writing.  I check it regularly and you should, too.

bassasblog – This is a highly entertaining blog from the perspective of a shepherd dog.  I have to admit I found this blog from someone else’s listing of blogs they love, but since then, I’ve enjoyed every single post, so I’m going to share it again.

Dick Bishop’s Blog – This is a new find for me, but after reading just a few posts, I am enamored with Dick’s writing.  He offers a unique perspective, and posts that have some meat on their bones.  Lots of “tip” stories about blog writing say you shouldn’t write posts that are too long because people will get bored and skip them – I think Dick’s blog proves why you should not censor yourself to any given length, but you should write what you want to write and end it when it ends.

Blog Spam

Sometimes the spam posts I get on this blog seem more interesting than my own posts.  In a ridiculous sort of way.  Check this out:

“Pleasant becoming visiting your website yet again, it has been weeks in my opinion. Nicely this written content that will i have been recently continued to wait intended for too long. I need this piece of writing in order to in depth my mission on the inside university, and it has similar subject matter jointly with your article. Cheers, beneficial share.”

I particularly like the second sentence.  It’s almost as hard as reading Middle English, don’t you think?  I want to know what software creates this nonsense – it would be fun to take something I’ve written and run it through this word shredder to see what comes out the other side.  Maybe that’s what happened to my blog title.  It ran away to join the word shredder circus and came slinking home just a mess of characters that no longer make sense.

UPDATE:  I just realized that my messed up blog title doesn’t display as messed up in all browsers, so I thought I’d share a picture of it here.  It’s quite hilarious, when you consider the tagline beneath the title.


Seems weird that my site title has morphed into a bunch of nonsensical and overlapped characters.  Maybe that is a sign.  It isn’t far off the mark if I’m trying to describe how I feel after my first week back at work.  Things went surprisingly well, though I’m still mourning the loss of all the time I had to read and write.  It’s a struggle now, but what isn’t?  I am off to celebrate the end of my first week with some drinks and a friend at my favorite dive karaoke bar in the strip mall near my house.  Sounds like the perfect ending to a chaotic but successful week.  More to come this weekend!

UPDATE:  I just realized that my messed up blog title doesn’t display as messed up in all browsers, so I thought I’d share a picture of it here.  It’s quite hilarious, when you consider the tagline beneath the title.

King of the Mountain

I’m wondering how many of you played King of the Mountain at recess in grade school.  It was one of my favorite things to do – until I got to Junior High and it was just kid stuff, of course.  The second the bell rang for recess, I sprinted to the massive mountain of snow in the corner of the playground as fast as my moon boots would take me.  If I didn’t make it to the top first, I wasn’t worried for a minute – I was damn good at picking off whoever did make it ahead of me, and I felt proudest when I took down some boy in my class – any boy.  Thinking about the world today, I don’t imagine kids are allowed to play rough games like King of the Mountain anymore.  My partner’s son laughs hysterically when I describe it to him, though, so I’m sure today’s kids would love it as much as I did.  I have vivid images of off-balance somersaults, kids jumping out of the way of someone tumbling right at them, hats and mittens flying through the air, bright red cheeks, and so much frozen breath it looked a little foggy.  I remember lots of scraped faces from kids that went head first down the icy snow pile, and even the occasional broken arm or collar bone, and, of course, some tears – but every one of those kids that got knocked around and scraped up were back in the battle for the King’s spot as soon as their doctor’s notes expired.  Ah, to have reached the age where my stories start with, “Well, back when I was a kid…”

The History of Love

In a recent “First Lines” post, I shared the opening lines of Nicole Krauss’s History of Love.  If you haven’t read this book yet, go get it now.  You don’t know it yet, but your life will not be complete with out it.  That said, I wanted to share a little more from the book.  At first I thought I’d post the first few paragraphs here, but then I read a bit further, and wanted to include those, then a bit further, and I wanted to include those, too.  It’s that kind of book.  Every new sentence draws you in further.  It’s a brilliant tale of humor, love, tragedy, loneliness, and trying to find meaning in life.  Enjoy!

“When they write my obituary.  Tomorrow.  Or the next day.  It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT.  I’m surprised I haven’t been buried alive.  The place isn’t big.  I have to struggle to keep a path clear between bed and toilet, toilet and kitchen table, kitchen table and front door.  If I want to get from teh toilet to the front door, impossible, I have to go by way of the kitchen table.  I like to imagine the bed as home plate, the toilet as first, the kitchen table as second, the front door as third: should the doorbell ring while I am lying in bed, I have to round the toilet and kitchen table in order to arrive at the door.  If it happens to be Bruno, I let him in without a word and then jog back to the bed, the roar of the invisible crowd ringing in my ears.

I often wonder who will be the last person to see me alive.  If I had to bet, I’d bet on the delivery boy from the Chinese take-out.  I order in four nights out of seven.  Whenever he comes I make a big production of finding my wallet.  He stands in the door holding the greasy bag while I wonder if this is the night I’ll finish my spring roll, climb into bed, and have a heart attack in my sleep.

I try to make a point of being seen.  Sometimes when I’m out, I’ll buy a juice even though I’m not thirsty.  If the store is crowded I’ll even go so far as dropping my change all over the floor, the nickels and dimes skidding in every direction.  I’ll get down on my knees.  It’s a big effort for me to get down on my knees, and an even bigger effort to get up.  And yet.  Maybe I look like a fool.  I’ll go into Athlete’s Foot and say, What do you have in sneakers?  The clerk will look me over like the poor schmuck that I am and direct me over to the one pair of Rockports they carry, something in spanking white.  Nah, I’ll say, I have those already, and then I’ll make my way over to the Reeboks and pick something out that doesn’t even resemble a shoe, a waterproof bootie, maybe, and ask for it in size 9.  The kid will look again, more carefully.  He’ll look at me long and hard.  Size 9, I’ll repeat while I clutch the webbed shoe.  He’ll shake his head and go to the back for them, and by the time he returns I’m peeling off my socks.  I’ll roll my pants leg up and look down at those decrepit things, my feet, and an awkward minute will pass until it becomes clear that I’m waiting for him to slip the booties onto them.  I never actually buy.  All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen.

A few months ago I saw an ad in the paper.  It said, NEEDED: NUDE MODEL FOR DRAWING CLASS. $15/HOUR.  It seemed to good to be true.  To have so much looked at.  By so many.  I called the number.  A woman told me to come the following Tuesday.  I tried to describe myself, but she wasn’t interested.  Anything will do, she said.

The days passed slowly.  I told Bruno about it, but he misunderstood and thought I was signing up for a drawing class in order to see nude girls.  He didn’t want to be corrected.  They show their boobs? he asked.  I shrugged.  And down there?

After Mrs. Freid on the fourth floor died, and it took three days before anyone found her, Bruno and I got into the habit of checking on each other.  We’d make little excuses – I ran out of toilet paper, I’d say when Bruno opened the door.  A day would pass.  There would be a knock on my door.  I lost my TV Guide, he’d explain, and I’d go and find him mine, even though I knew his was right there where it always was on his couch.  Once he came down on a Sunday afternoon.  I need a cup of flour, he said.  It was clumsy, but I couldn’t help myself.  You don’t know how to cook.  There was a moment of silence.  Bruno looked me in the eye.  What do you know, he said, I’m baking a cake.

More great reading

For those of you that play or have ever played RPG’s the good old-fashioned way, this post is a must-read.  For those of you that haven’t, this piece may tell you why we geeks were so addicted to D&D.  Chuck at terribleminds does a brilliant job capturing the story-telling nature of a game-master’s role, and he made me long for those days when I was 9 years old, mesmerized by my 12-year old step-brother’s masterful creation of a fantasy world I wished to live in myself.  A world full of pick-pocketing, treasure hunting, deciphering of codes, lock-picking, monster fighting, keep visiting, dungeon exploring adventure.

Kurt’s post, Violence Against Words, is a thought-provoking account of how he reads – or doesn’t read.  Jump on over – it’ll give you pause about how you read whatever it is you’re reading.  I don’t know about you, but Kurt’s post makes me realize this is a subject  I should give more thought to.

This post made me a tad jealous when I read it – but in a good way.  It will remind you why you blog and how to do it well.  Kudos to Lindsay for a job well done!

Chuck at terribleminds (can you tell I like his writing?) shared some risque recipes that I am dying to try.  He has no idea that he has created the perfect meal for me – I could eat corn every day of my life and never get tired of it, and meat?  Who can turn down a good hunk of pork butt?  I love the way Chuck turns good recipes into good writing that will then become good eating, and since he created this meal just for me, I may well have to send him a gift basket as he suggests.

Wren Andre features a quick interview with Laura Shumaker, and you must check it out.  The essay is great reading, and I am looking forward to reading her book, thanks to this great intro from Wren.