"7 things" #2

There was a parlor game going around where someone else picks seven things for you to write about and you do -- short or long, meaningful or random.

Unique_name_123 gave me: computer, spirituality, laurel, rules, games, travel, artichoke.

Computer: I tend to use computers for as long as they meet my needs and not jump to the newest things just because they're the newest things. I hope to get many more years out of the Mac Mini on which I'm typing this, and OS 10.6 is fine with me (I found nothing compelling in Lion). The problem with this is that we are moving more and more to a "quick-replacement" mindset, to the point where it is harder and harder to hang onto older tools. I especially see this with my phone (and imagine tablets are the same); they're constantly updating apps, and when you find out that the latest update was a step backward there's no way to roll back. (Google+, I'm talking to you! This week.) We are moving from a model where you maintain, and make decisions about, your computer environment to one in which your current hardware is just a portal to The Cloud (TM), which will seamlessly manage everything you care about. I don't think that's going to be ok, but I'm not really sure what to do about it.

Spirituality: I used to think I didn't have a spiritual bone in my body. I couldn't (and can't) grok meditation, yoga, drumming, and other eastern-influenced new-age ideas. I have friends who swear by this, but none of that has ever clicked with me. But then I discovered Jewish prayer, and I find that the traditional texts and melodies of our liturgy have great power for me. I don't necessarily understand everything I'm saying on a deep level, and I'm sure I don't agree with every word of the traditional prayer, but that doesn't hinder me: there is something about connecting with God in the words that Jews have used for hundreds or thousands of years, with melodies both old and very new, in a community of like-minded people, that just clicks for me. Our Shabbat morning minyan is the height of my week, spiritually speaking. So I guess I do have a spiritual bone or two in my body; I just needed to find out how to reach it.

Laurel: I went to that event to compete to be the royal bard. I didn't win that contest, but I got a pretty fabulous consolation prize. :-) The friends who orchestrated this did a wonderful job of creating a Viking magic moment for me, and I was touched by the words of the people who spoke for me. A few memories (an incomplete list): the silver medallion (niello) made by Master Kyriel and strung with hand-made beads by Countess Marieke; Mistress Dorigen's brilliant poem, and thinking I must be high or something because what the herald was reading didn't make sense (turns out he didn't understand the form and was reading things in the wrong order); the cloak embroidered by Mistress Isabelle of blessed memory; and Mistress Thora presenting me with documentation for everything (of course, and I mean that with complete sincerity).

Rules: My thin, flexible, metal rule is usually the best one for the job. Unlike its wooden cousins, its markings have not worn off with use, nor do I have to worry about a slight nick in the edge sending my pen or pencil or X-acto blade astray. Its cork backing, which cuts out a bit shy of the edge, raises the rule just enough to ensure that ink does not smear. It's important to have the right tool for the job, and this one is usually the right tool.

Games: I understand that "normal" people display knick-knacks and fine china and stuff in their dining rooms. We have bookcases full of books. and on top of some of those bookcases we have stacks of board games. These are not all of our games, to be sure; they are the expeditionary force from the larger closet full of games upstairs. These are the ones we play often enough that putting them properly away just doesn't seem to happen. The contents of these stacks vary over time, and Dani just came home from Origins with a bag of new games so another round of shuffling will be coming soon. Currently near the tops of the stacks: Pandemic, Agricola, Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico. Dani has given up and retired Titan to the closet, and we don't seem to be playing as much Iron Dragon as we ought, and we have regretfully given up on American Megafauna (version 1 and version 2) completely. Dominion made a brief appearance in that pile but evolved a whole lot of "eh" from me, so it doesn't come out much now, unless we have lots of guests at a games day. It may be time to either prune the piles or spread them out onto more bookcases; things are teetering just a bit.

Travel: Despite the fact that I'm looking forward to going to Israel this summer, I hate travel. I hate the disruption; I hate dealing with the TSA; I hate what airplanes do to my ears; I hate being disconnected from my normal life; I hate having to figure out what I can eat and how to work around Shabbat (if it's not a context where that's taken care of, like a kallah). I hate travel, but I love new experiences -- so somebody needs to get working on teleportation devices, so I can see the world but sleep in my own bed!

Artichoke: I sometimes think that the artichoke is the vegetable kingdom's answer to the lobster. There's tasty stuff in there, but there's a lot of armor to crack through to get to it! (Granted, I no longer take up arms, or forks, against the lobster.) I enjoy artichokes in forms where someone else has already done the work of rendering them accessible, but I remain completely clueless about what to do with a fresh artichoke to make a tasty meal come out the other end. Canned artichoke hearts seem like cheating.

There are several comments about how to manage artichokes.