6 June 01 
A quick word in here, because I've been splashing plans about on 
livejournal, but not put them up here (I try not to repeat myself too 
much).  So my latest project has been to try to teach myself Braille, and 
not just by sight (which is rather easy, but not as easy as reading 
regular text - but that's just a function of practice).  People might 
wonder why I get an itch to learn something new, something 
particular.  For example, I had been cross-stitching off and on since 
childhood, and didn't try to learn to knit in earnest until I went to grad 
school (it's tough to learn a 3-D skill from 2-D books).  Later I picked 
up crochet, though somewhat suspicious of it, but I've found it easier 
than knitting (but heavier stitches). 
So lately I've been reading Orson Scott Card's "Alvin Maker" series, which 
are a very good set of books.  I love Card for creating such noble =and= 
ignoble characters, mainly because few characters are =ever= portrayed as 
ineffective in life, which is part of the secret of Card's popularity, I 
think.  None of the characters just =sit= there, they =all= make things 
happen.  That's the kind of feeling people =like=; perhaps people don't 
want to feel the shame and responsibility for bad things that occur, but 
even in that case I think people prefer to feel like they have an effect, 
that their life matters, in a way.  Even though one of the most ambiguous 
comments I know is "It will be =so= different without you", even when the 
implied message is that things will be better, it still is a compliment to 
the impact of a person.  I tend to be mean this way, in that people who 
tend to have a negative impact on others, have little or no impact on 
me.  I smile, and then I ignore.  That's really not a nice thing to do to 
people, taking their power away.   
That last statement is particularly fitting, because some idiot on the 
backgammon board decided she knew the truth behind everyone's wry 
statements.  She messaged me personally that I was a racist pig, etc. etc.   
But the moment I said "You're repeating yourself, bye bye." and refused to 
respond to any more of her comments, she started shouting those same 
statements about me to the entire board.  Then I cut her statements off, 
so that if she were shouting anything more about me, I wasn't seeing it.   
People get so pissed when you dismiss them and refuse to give them 
intellectual respect.  I will say I did respond initially, and actually 
somewhat seriously (though I know she saw it as "normalizing these racist 
pigs").  I gave her provisional respect, but she threw it away 
So shall I go sulk and mess up my pretty little face because someone 
called me nasty names, even to a bunch of other people, some of who know 
me, and some who don't?  Of course not.  I go there to play backgammon, 
not to make friends, and if I don't want to see what other people say, I 
don't have to.  If what some people think on a backgammon board hurts me, 
then all those conspiracy theorists must be true, and every damned puny 
thing in this world is linked.   
But back to making things.  I like to make things.  For many years, I gave 
away the things I made as presents (and I still do).  I'm making this 
journal, and it's somewhat of a present to you.  There's certainly no 
reason I need to have this online - I can hide it in personal directories 
at marypat.org if I wish.  But here's the best part of making things:  you 
can make things exactly the way you want it.   
Now there's some virtue to make things because you can, and because it 
gives your hands and brain something to do to fight off the intoxicating 
vapors of television (meaning, I can knit and watch TV at the same time), 
but many of the things one can make by hand it's just as cheap to buy, if 
not cheaper if one factors in the cost of time.  =However=, if I knit a 
sweater, I can pick =exactly= which yarns I want to use, and I can adjust 
the pattern so it fits me the way I want it.  I can put embellishments on 
my clothes.  I can put calligraphic labels on my drawers.  I can crochet 
my hall rugs in patterns I like, and use 100% wool, which feels so good 
between the toes.  Most importantly, if any of these things should come 
awry, I know how to fix them.   
As for Braille, that's not something I can make, yet.  I want to be able 
to read before I attempt too much in the way of writing.  I'm thinking of 
getting certified as a math Braille transcriber eventually, and perhaps I 
will come up with my own set of books =particularly= for blind students.   
And I do so want to be able to read in the dark. 
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