Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My husband sends me dancing

John doesn't dance,
But he sends me dancing.
A few weeks ago he told me
I should dance every week;
I am happy when I do that.
Last week I went dancing,
It was tiring, but good.
Last night, I went again,
And remembered.
Dancing is what makes me say
When someone asks me how I am.
Social dancing
Reminds me who I am.
Looking back, I have almost always been about dancing,
When I could be.
My husband doesn't dance,
But he knows me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Working a mile and a half from home

TL, DR: Move closer to work. Or get a job closer to home. If you can't do it now, think about it, let the idea sink into the 'someday I will' section of your brain. You can thank me later.

I had always planned to live close to where I worked when I 'grew up'. Shortly after college I settled for a commute of one hour by public transport. I had a dongle that connected my laptop to the internet, so I could spent that time online, reading, or sleeping, as the fancy took me. Since that was a large proportion of the choices I'd make if I had the time at home, I was happy with that. It also meant that despite working in the middle of nowhere, I could live walking distance from town, which was fantastic. It was my first (and only) time living alone and I loved it there.

A few years down the line I found myself pregnant. We had only my income to live on, he was still in college, and my tiny flat couldn't fit a family. We did some calculations and decided we could afford either rent or childcare, but not both. My wonderful sister and brother in law took is in, rent free. Unfortunately, that move took us further from my dream of living close to my workplace, because I couldn't even get public transport. My commute didn't take as long, but I had to get a car.

I commuted for years, half an hour, each way, five days a week. I got through quite a few audio books, listening an hour a day, and convinced myself that made up for the lost time. I struggled with the affect I was having on the environment, but couldn't see another choice. I read this excellent post from Mr Money Moustache and thought 'but he hasn't allowed for my situation'. I decided not to comment to say as much, for fear of getting labled a Complainypants.

After four great years, it became clear that it was time to consider moving out. All three of the children in the three bedroom house were getting bigger and older and space was starting to seem a little tight. My husband was finished college and having no luck in finding a job. So we decided that we would our son out of  creche, my husband would stay at home with him and we'd spend what had been creche money on rent. If my husband does manage to get a job, we can put him back in a creche (there are two in our estate alone) and cover the costs out of my husband's wages.

So anyway, we thought about where we were going to live. We seriously considered staying in the town we had been living in with my sister. It's a fantastic place, I fell in love with the town when I went to college there, and I never fell out of love with it. It would be nice for our son to live close to the people he'd been living with for four years, including his cousin his own age. We also considered moving closer to my husband's grandparents.

And then it hit me. I no longer had any reason NOT to live near where I work. I remembered my statements a long time ago about 'when I grow up'. I remembered Mr Money Moustache's excellent post. And I thought, why not? In fact, if I was getting to work under my own steam, my family could have the car, freeing them up to get out of the house without the hassle of a small child on public transport.

We moved here a few weeks ago. My old commute was half an hour by car. My new commute is half an hour walking, fifteen minutes running or less than ten minutes cycling. Or if I'm not feeling up to it I can call for a lift and it'll take about five minutes. When I walk, I still get the same amount of my book listened to, I need to leave the house no earlier, and I get a half an hour exercise I wasn't getting before. Running to or from work means I get my lunchtimes back. Cycling to work gets me cross training that I wasn't getting before. All of these, even in the rain, tend to be more enjoyable and/or more satisfying than driving. This move has been one of the best things I've ever done.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Recently, I almost felt down, thinking of some of the 'someday I will's I haven't done yet. And them I started to remember some of the 'some day I did's:

Learn to dance, properly,
Have a child,
Get married, (though I'll admit, I didn't expect those two in that order)
Run a marathon,
Win Gaelcon's more money than sense award,
Live near enough to where I work to walk,
Get a few hundred hits on a blog post,
Start a pension,
Visit places outside Europe,
Blues dance in America
Walk on a glacier
Jump off a cliff
Jump out of an aeroplane
Live in London
Give birth without drugs
Quit smoking
Knit my son a baby blanket which he still loves, of which I am unreasonably proud
Done a great job so far of bring a mammy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Full stop. Space. Space?

When I learned to type, I learned that there is a double space after a full stop*.

Years later I read that whether you used a single space or a double space after a full stop was a matter of taste. Since I was in the habit of using double spaces, I continued to do so.  

The other day I read this post about how double spaces are "totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong". The gist of why is 'typographers say so'. I talked to a few people. Apparently, if you're writing something that's getting published, you'll have that second space beaten out of you. I was pretty convinced, but I wanted to do a bit more digging.

The general consensus seems to be that before there were typewriters, there was general pandemonium, and there might be any amount of space after a full stop. But it leaned towards a gap the same size as the one after a word. Then typewriters came along and, due to their limitations, people started using double spaces after full stops. Typing teachers were taught this convention and passed it on to their students and so on, and someplace along the way the real reason was lost, so the convention was taught even after the issue was no longer relevant. Therefore the single space is the one true way to type.

I was going to do a blog post about how converted I was. In fact, I kinda still am, and I'll talk about that in a bit. But first, I wanna talk about this post I found in the process of my digging. It's quite long, and there's a lot in it, including a lot of quotes from sources that pre-date typewriters. But I'll sum it up crudely** as:
- Before there were typewriters, there actually was standard. The standard was that there should be a 'em quadrant', or space the width of the letter m, after a full stop. And that there should be a space one third of that size between words.  Type setting was a manual and highly skilled job and one of the elements of skill involved was knowing when to break that rule and put in more a less space somewhere.
- The people who invented the typefaces in question used and advocated this larger space after a full stop.
- The first people putting in double spaces after full stops were trying to emulate that standard.
- The two apparent main reasons for changing to one space after a full stop were: 
  - As part of a general trend towards reducing the amount of space printing takes up, in order to reduce the cost of printing and publishing.
  - To avoid a possible ugly side effect of automation. If you have double spaces after a full stop; a simplistic type setting automation might put an automatic line break between the two spaces. That would cause a line to start with an empty space. No one wants that. So they were written instead to consider anything more than one space an 'error', anywhere it occurs, and just leave it out.

Right, I said I'd get back to why this is still kinda a post about how converted I am. Having read that second post I will not be the evangelical, newly converted, single-space user that I would have been.  But I will be making an effort to use single spacing myself in future***. Because there is an agreed standard now. And regardless of how long it has been around, or how wrong the people who follow it are about its origins, it is a standard. 

Also, I have come across four attitudes to this:
1) Either is fine, but I prefer two spaces****
2) Either is fine, but I prefer one space
3) One space is right, because typographers say so
4) Two spaces is right, because my typing teacher said so

In cases 1, 2, and 3, I'm better off if I'm using single spaces. And frankly, I'm not all that bothered by what your typing teacher taught you. So me? I'm a single spacer now. But you can do what you like.

*I speak hiberno English. In hiberno English, the punctuation mark that marks the end of a sentence is called a full stop. I am often surprised by how many hits my blog gets from the United States. Assuming that this is more than just one person sitting and hitting refresh a lot, I apologise to my American readers if the whole 'full stop' thing makes this harder to read. 
**I read the post once. And it's late. I apologise for any inaccuracies or misunderstandings here. And if you point them out I'll change them. In the meantime, I'm reasonably sure that's roughly what it says.
***In fact, the last thing I'm going to do before publishing this post is check it for double spaces. 
****The author of the post in question says that how you space is up to you but please stop trying to enforce your view on the world. So he probably fits in there.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Try not to tell people they don't exist.

The internet, and the world in general, would be a much better place if people stopped trying to tell other people that they don't exist. Next time someone tells you something about themselves and your automatic response is 'there's no such thing as people who...', consider, instead, 'I didn't know there were people who...'.

There are, in no particular order:
married monogamous bisexuals
polyamorous people who are in happy, healthy, stable, loving relationships
moral atheists
people whose real gender does not match their physical gender
people with no gender at all
people whose gender changes
people who are not sexually attracted to anyone
attractive female geeks
women who like to be wolf whistled at
good people in every category people
ass hats in every category of people
feminists who think, feel, say, and are pretty much anything
many countless types, categories, and groups of people I've never heard of our considered the possibility of the existence of. I hope that, if and when I do meet them, I'll remember not to tell them they don't exist.