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Of the many place names in New England transported here from settlers hearkening back to their connections in Old England, I most like that of Braintree. There's a Braintree in Massachusetts and one here in Vermont. Both of them take their name from Braintree, Essex in England. As far as I'm concerned, though, that's less than half the story. The etymology geek in me has a burning desire to know how several locations in the world are named after [according to my overheated imagination] trees growing out of skulls.

Unfortunately, the etymology geek in me will not be adequately satisfied. Wikipedia, font of all knowledge online, deems the origin of the name Braintree "obscure." Despite that, the online encyclopedia discusses several possible sources for the name, most of which support the idea that, somehow, Braintree began life as something like "Brantry" or "Branchetreu," both of which seem to mean "town by the river."

In fact, in the Domesday Book, a 1086 record of land use and taxation covering much of England, records Braintree as "Branchetreu." As far as I can tell, this appears to be the earliest record of the place name in its somewhat recognizable form. Thus it's worth looking into the sources of Branchetreu.

Branchetreu, like Braintree, breaks down into two syllables with a different origin for each: "Branche-" and "-treu." The speculation that Braintree means "town by the river" leads me to interpret the "Branche-" as equivalent to the French la branche, which is one of those words that means the exact same thing in both language. La branche in French and "branch" in English both refer to those small extensions of a tree growing up and out from the main trunk; both words also carry the same figurative meanings that denote the subsidiary parts of certain things [e.g., governments]. Therefore both words can mean "a separate smaller offshoot of a larger river." "Branche-" clearly equals "river," at least in my mind.

So what about that "-treu?" According to Wikipedia, the suffix "-treu" is equivalent to the modern suffix "-try" or "-tree," which used to mean "farm" and then expanded to mean "settlement" or "town." Apparently this appears in town names around Wales. If that's so, then "Branche-" = "River-" and "-treu" = "town," making "Branchetreu" = "Rivertown." The shifts changes in spelling and pronunciation we can attribute to the inevitable changes in language as it wends through the landscape of time.

Even though I know Braintree is basically Rivertown, the poetic images of its current iteration -- brains and trees -- will always teem in my mind. When I think of Braintree, I think of a tree in a cemetery growing out of someone's skull. More specifically, I think of an old New England family plot, full of effaced and canted stones, and an apple tree rooting in one corner, planted firmly in the pot of a dead person's skull. Or I think of another feral apple-like tree, once by a house that has long since disappeared. Short and broad, it bears the heavy burden of its fruit: bright ripe brains, swinging from their stems. Or, more metaphorically, I think of the nervous system as the epitome of a brain-tree: with the spinal cord as its trunk, it ramifies in electric branches throughout the body, with the brain at its fruiting crown.


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Around these parts, we have Front Porch Forum, a uniquely Vermont Internet development, which provides E-mail lists for every town in the state [sometimes for several neighborhoods within towns, if the towns are large enough]. Like most E-mail lists, it contains classifieds, notices from town government and local services, requests to borrow things, thank you notes and loads of rants. I belong to the Winooski one and one for the neighborhood in Burlington where I work.

A few days ago, someone posted on the Winooski FPF that she didn't like a sign that Sneakers [restaurant] put up in a little garden in an island near our horrible traffic rotary. It said "Sneakers -- Yield to Bacon," which she, as a member of a Muslim household, found insensitive. She added that it was a safety hazard, impeding visibility for drivers and pedestrians, and wished that it was removed.

As Seven Days, our local newsweekly reports, poo flinging ensued. An inevitable backlash of posters castigated the original poster as a coward, a terrorist and the epitome of what was wrong with today's "politically correct" society. Soon a representative from Sneakers posted, apologizing for upsetting people, explaining the joke behind the sign and adding that the sign would be taken down. The inevitable backlash then apparently subsumed the restaurant in its bitter wash; Seven Days reports that Sneakers has received so much bile on its Facebook page that it took said page down.

For the record, I recognize that the sign was offensive to the original poster, even though it wasn't intended to be. I disagree with her particular targeting of the Sneakers sign as a danger, however, since other local businesses put up little signs in the sponsored gardens on the rotary islands, and she didn't seem to have a problem with them. I thought that her original complaint was a reasonable statement and justification of her opinion, and I also appreciate the restaurant's respectful response. They did include the "Well, we didn't mean it!" line in their apology for offense, but they did apologize sincerely, and they took down the sign as a gesture of good faith. If only more institutions acted with such sincerity and sensitivity...
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At the suggestion of a Figurvore member, I added a local menu to the fridge. [I found it online and reduced it to 16.67%, then printed it out.] I also added a LOVERMONT sticker, since Vermonters really like to proclaim their attachment to their state.

Read more... )



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I have a list on Amazon of Books to Read Eventually, which has been hovering between 50 to 60 books long since its creation last summer. Some books I can find at my most frequented libraries, the Winooski and Fletcher Free [Burlington], while others, I know, I will just have to out and out buy. Sigh.

In a truly stupendous flash of smarts this morning, I realized I could check other libraries in the county for some books on my list. Winooski participates in the Homecard system, where persons with cards at participating libraries can show their cards at other participating libraries and sign out books. [Fletcher Free doesn't participate because it's selfish and doesn't play well with others.] There are three Homecard libraries that I feel comfortable trekking to for books -- Brownell [Essex Junction -- not really a trek], Essex Free [Essex Center] and Dorothy Alling [Williston]. I found seven of my wish list items at these libraries and one for download at listenupvermont.org!

Maybe one of these days I'll actually read all the books on my list!
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Both care.com and thumbtack.com allow people to search for local household services professionals. People can post their jobs, looking for quotes, or they can post their services, looking for customers. Unlike care.com, which requires people to pony up if they way to get contact information, thumbtack.com does not cost anything. Posting a want ad and soliciting quotes is free! I used it successfully to procure move-out cleaning services for an apartment on very short notice. Why did I not know about this sooner?
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Awwww, I love the Winooski Library. They just started a campaign to get the library patrons to collectively read a total of 1,000 books between July 15th and August 15th. If we hit that goal, we get an ice cream party!! Books and ice cream! What could be better?! Of course I'm going to pitch in by letting them know of all the books I read.

I wonder if there's any capacity in which they need volunteers? I would love to regularly scan the stacks for books to sign out shelve books, for example.

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I have collected a sample from the woods near my work. It is most likely some kind of grape vine. I'm either going to use the sample itself in the set or make smaller models from it. 

This 1909 pamphlet on the state's shrubs and woody vines might help me identify it.
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in the city of Winooski. The one that I expected to be within walking distance of our new place is closed. That means I have to get in my car and drive somewhere to wash my clothes. Having lived with laundry services either in-house or within walking distance all my life, I find this prospect objectionable. We really need a washer!

A city [hah!] of over 7,000 people can only support one laundromat?
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Well, Front Porch Forum, Craigslist and Ebay Classifieds yielded no results for my BTVS DVDs, so they went to Ebay, where they already have bids. Sometimes living in a small state really annoys me.
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When I lived in the Boston metro area, I did all sorts of business on Craigslist, from buying dolls, to alerting people that we had put furniture out on the curb, to selling gift amusement park tickets for extra cash, to advertising a sublet on our apartment. The community always buzzed with activity.

I am now venturing onto the Burlington Craigslist with some Buffy DVDs to sell. Obviously the Burlington community does not buzz the way that the Boston one does, so I wonder if I will have any interest. I guess the proof will be in the pudding the absent DVDs.

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I am eating frozen yogurt from SoYo, a local shop. Their yogurt base is light and slightly icy [but not crunchy], with obvious notes of dairy and a definite yogurty echo of sourness. This gives all their flavors much more depth, texture and gustatory interest.

I'm currently eating ginger flavor, which is like eating yellow fireworks, and cassis [black currant], which is like eating a delicately scented perfume. This is the best frozen yogurt ever. It's extra yummy when it has fresh, locally grown fruit on top! :9
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Is there any interest in seeing the first three episodes in an aborted 1:6 scale melodrama, The Pink Squad, written [and crappily photoed] nearly a decade ago?

It was my earliest scripted photostory series [as opposed to my earlier, pictures-only attempt], and it contains many of the characters and themes that we know and love today:
  • Female protagonists
  • Queer characters
  • Trans characters
  • Disabled characters
  • Characters of color
  • Vermonters
  • Kinky sex
  • Horny robots
  • Mad science
  • An amazing amount of sarcasm
  • PINK HAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111eleventy

DISCLAIMER:
If I do post this story, please note that it contains humor that I thought was funny back then, but which now strikes me as blatantly racist, sexist or transphobic. That's the main reason I've refrained from making it public again.

On second thought, maybe I'll just summarize it or something. There are some cool, engaging, humorous, well-developed aspects to it, but it's also a glaring example of How Not to Write People with Marginalized Identities.

Or maybe there's no rehabilitating a bigoted piece of personal history, as fascinating as I find it for reasons of historical creativity. Arrrrgh, I dunno.

EDIT: Fuck it. Discretion is the better part of valor. No Pink Squad for you.

P.S. Earlier I wondered if Baozha started me on my pink hair kick. Uhhhhhhh, nope. I place all the blame at the feet of the Pink Squad.
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No, that's not the latest hot new band. :p It's the subject of my current contemplation.

Let me tell you about my favoritest shirt ever. It's a black long-sleeved T-shirt by Gravestone Artwear, whose products feature the designs of 17th century US tombstone iconography.

On the front of my shirt, rendered in white, is a design from the stone of Susanna Jayne, buried in 1776 in Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, MA. This piece is about 11.5" square!

Read more... )

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I accomplished my goal and paid the shit out of my auto loan today; the title is now in the mail to me! No more monthly payments [on that expenditure, at least]!

I also opened an account at New England Federal Credit Union, which, unlike One Credit Union, actually exists in the current century and fucking shows transactions on one's account within moments of their occurrence. I'm in the process of verifying my account now, so I hope that direct deposit and my various automatic withdrawals will successfully switch over to my new account in time for November's paychecks.
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At Burlington "International" Airport, daily arrivals and departures occur to/from the following cities: Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia and Washington DC. There are seasonal flights to/from Toronto and daily bus trips to/from Montreal, which are the only qualifications I can think of for the "International" in its title.

It's a source of great irritation to some of us Vermonters that there are no flights to/from Boston out of BTV. For that, you have to go across the lake to Plattsburgh "International" Airport, which defeats the purpose of having a direct route to Boston slightly quicker than Greyhound "We'll Get There Whenever We Feel Like It and Stop in 46 Towns Along the Way" Bus Lines or the Amtrak "It Takes All Day and Only Gets You Three-Fourths of the Way There" Choo Choo Service.

Of course, now there's Megabus, which takes only 4.5 hours to go between Burlington and Boston. Where was this service for the past decade of my life when I was hauling ass regularly on tedious Greyhound trips that took approximately 5 years? >:(
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City employee: Town clerk's office.

Me: Hi, I swear I registered to vote last year, but I'm not showing up on the Web site. [gives name and address]

City employee: Nope, you're not registered.

Me: But I registered last year when I switched my driver's license over.

City employee: Yeah, Motor Vehicles is really bad with giving us that information.

Me: So I should register again?

City employee: Yeah.

YEESH!!
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...pay the shit out of my auto loan!!

When I bought the FLE car last summer, I got a small loan through the credit union which, with my regular monthly payments, is due to be paid off fully at the end of June, 2013. That's also right around when we're planning to move and incur all sorts of related expenses. Therefore, I'm very motivated to pay off the loan much sooner.

If I make principal payments every month equal to my regular monthly payment, I can halve the time in which I will pay off the loan. I'd really like to get rid of it by the end of the year, though. Then I can have more money to do fun stuff with!

Commence aggressive repayment!
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The elevator in the office building is not working. The elevator company can't fix it until the close of business today or the start of business tomorrow.

GOOD THING NO ONE WITH A MOBILITY IMPAIRMENT NEEDS TO GET AROUND THE BUILDING, HUH?

This is all the Knights of Columbus' fault. They're the assholes who pestered FDR to make Kill Indigenous Peoples Day a federal holiday in 1934, which is why the elevator company was off today in the first place.

The world is pissing me off today.
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I was hunting around on DOA for information about faceup pastels, and I discovered the glory that is Pan Pastels. According to the collective brains of DOA, Pan Pastels are smoother, brighter, thicker and more adhesive to resin than the average chalk pastels. Since I'm not particularly thrilled with my current set of chalk pastels, I've been investigating Pan Pastels for Jareth's faceup.

I considered ordering them from an online dealer, but the shipping costs would have cancelled out any discounts. Therefore, I thought to buy them in person from a local art supply store. I ran into difficulty when I realized that most of the stores around here that carry art supplies provide inexpensive, middle-grade supplies for the casual artist, as opposed to the more expensive supplies of higher quality preferred by the devoted and/or picky and/or professional. I could have easily hopped on the T and gone into "the city" to find Pan Pastels if I still lived around Boston, but I don't, and, surprisingly enough, "the city" [=Burlington] does not have a store for high-grade artist's supplies. I found one nearby in Williston, however, Artists' Mediums, which does special orders and which I will probably patronize, even if they are confused on the correct plural of "medium."

Since Pan Pastels cost an arm, a leg and three vertebrae, I've been deliberating over which to order. There are sets of 5 or 10, but I won't necessarily use all the colors in a set. But single colors are more expensive per pan than the same number of pans purchased as a set. So far I'm thinking of the following:

P.S. While I'm at it, I should get some Winsor & Newton brush cleaner.
Read more... )
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Terry Zigmund at Burlington Community Glass Studio does beautiful large rectangular stained-glass panels of skies in dark tints with a tree in the center made of twisted gold wire. One day, when I have the room [and the ca$h], I'm gonna get one and admire it for the rest of my life.
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Since I moved here, I have become a fiend for used books, whether at bookstores or, more often, periodic sales to support local town libraries. In the past few months, I've hit the Alling Library's humungous Fourth of July sale in Williston, the Brownell Library's September sale in Essex Junction, plus 2 sales at Fletcher Free in Burlington. Sadly, I missed the Essex Free's annual sale in Essex Center, usually in early June, but I'm planning on attending next year, if only for nostalgic reasons [Essex Free was my childhood library].

On Sunday, for example, I thought I'd just pop by the Fletcher Free Library to return a book. However, it was the last day of their yearly book sale, with books going for $5.00 a bag. Suddenly a time vortex occurred. When I next looked up, I had 15 books in my Fletcher Free tote bag, and it was an hour later. I was powerless to resist!

Anyway, I discovered a directory of some of the library-related book sales in the state. While not complete, it does allow me to direct my future fiending activities. I see sales at Pierson in Shelburne in October and at Brownell in October and December to hit, as well as a really big one at the end of June next year in Burnham in Colchester. I really need to get on some local mailing lists to find out when these things are happening.

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I do not keep a check register. I used to when I first got a checkbook when I was 18, but then I figured, Why bother? because I could always get to my account information online. Also I write checks very rarely.

Anyway, I've found check registers less and less useful as I have grown older because I track my accounts online. Tracking my accounts online, of course, depends on prompt updates to my accounts whenever money goes in or out.

Herein lies my problem. I had no trouble with prompt transaction posting and, thus, online account tracking when I lived in Massachusetts and patronized multinational banks.

Now that I've switched to a Vermont-based credit union, I'm having difficulties. About the only thing that posts promptly are automatic deposits, like my paychecks, and automatic withdrawals, like my auto insurance and auto loan payments. Everything else -- that means purchases on my debit card and transfers to/from Paypal, both of which make up the bulk of my account activity -- takes days to post. For example, Saturday's debits typically don't register until Tuesday. NOT HELPFUL. The lag time in transaction posting certainly makes it easier to overdraw my account.

Anyway, I called the credit union today to see if cash withdrawals from ATMs would post more promptly than debit card purchases. Answer: No. Apparently there is no way to achieve prompter posting of my transactions until APRIL 2013, when the credit union upgrades its software.

The person I talked to at the credit union told me to keep a check register and record all my transactions in it. This would not work because I have automatic withdrawals of varying amounts on varying days and automatic deposits of varying amounts on varying days. Furthermore, NO. It is not my job to go back to the 19th century to accommodate my credit union. It is the credit union's job to haul its ass into the 21st century to accommodate me and the other customers.

I'm very happy with One Credit Union for giving me a small auto loan with a low interest rate and for not charging overdraft fees on debits [only for checks]. However, I am really infuriated with them for their lack of updated technology. Do they still think people are banking in person with actual bills or something???
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This weekend, I bought a pound of Aves Studio Apoxie Sculpt, which was recommended on DOA as the best sculpting medium for adding permanent, durable, modifiable mods to BJDs. Tragically, there are no stores in Vermont, New Hampshire or northern New York that sell Aves stuff, so I had to spend $10.20 on shipping for $15.00 worth of Apoxie Sculpt. This is my despicious face: >_>

I also collected reference pictures of possible shapes for wingy ears. I got some owner pics of Soom Clozel's wingy ears, which are long and rectangular. I'd love to get some owner pics of Soom Amphibel's, which are high and rounded. I wouldn't copy either type of ears; I'm mostly curious to see how much detail is sculpted in for them to be recognizable as feathery.

Today I searched online for information on how to sculpt wings. eHow has a whole series of videos on a guy sculpting an angel, and the 2 vids about sculpting wings are somewhat helpful, though the incised detail on every single feather seems like overkill. I think that demarcating the boundaries between feathers is more important when sculpting than trying to engrave all the details of the barbs [the little hair-like things that protrude from the rachis, or "stem," of each feather]. Making the wing forms. Sculpting details in the wings part 1. Sculpting details in the wings part 2.

Anyway...I really love how the woman in this YouTube tutorial shapes each feather. Too bad the light and sound are so poor.

And here's a tutorial [still photos] on sculpting wings for Warhammer 40K miniatures with alternative techniques for detailing feathers.

Hmmm, I should probably post this in the customization section on DOA. You know, for science!
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Well, it looks like I can't use Unsworth Law after all. Though I had a very good experience with the legal assistant, the primary lawyer says in his bio that he is on the advisory board of the Salvation Army, a disgustingly militant and profoundly anti-queer organization.

Guess they don't really care about us after all.
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Both of their Web sites go on and on about everything you could ever want to know about their goods & services, except for the prices. Getting information about prices from these estate planners is like pulling stumps with dental floss. You can do it, but the result feels decidedly unrewarding, compared to the amount of effort required.
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I'm wondering if I should subscribe digitally to the Freeps. I need my local news and information, and the New York Times does not provide it, primarily because I don't live in New York City.

Alternatively, there's always Seven Days.

EDIT: Seven Days reports that the Freeps is circling the drain.
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After my horrible experience with Clarke Demas and Baker's disgustingly heteronormative policies, I searched for an explicitly GLBT-friendly estate planner in Vermont, vowing to ask if this one had up-to-date forms. One of the few firms whose site clearly mentioned experience with same-sex couples was Unsworth Law.

Preliminarily, I can say that my experience with Unsworth has been much better than my experience with Clarke Demas and Baker. For one thing, the firm is clearly in touch with reality. For another, the legal assistant sympathized with my outrage at Clarke Demas and Baker. She could actually say the words "same-sex marriage," which shouldn't be that much to ask, but which made me feel very pleased. I'm going to a general seminar by Unsworth about estate planning next week. Further bulletins as events warrant.
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My financial advisor has been bugging me to make a will, power of attorney, health care agent, all that sort of thing, so I finally got around to scheduling an initial consultation. At my sister's recommendation, I chose Clarke Demas and Baker, a Vermont-based law firm, and scheduled an appointment.

I received a PDF intake form for a single person, but wanted a Word document so I could make notes on it. When I received the Word intake form, I noticed that it was for married people, but I decided to use it anyway.

Then I looked closely at the married intake form. It was divided into 2 columns, one labeled "Husband" and the other labeled "Wife."

Outrage overcame me. [It does that a lot these days.] We've had marriage equality here in the state since 2009, but Clarke Demas and Baker apparently refuses to accept reality by simply changing their forms to read "Spouse 1" and "Spouse 2." They may have experience doing estate planning for same-sex couples, but their forms betray what they really think of us: we don't exist.

I refuse to patronize a law firm that thinks I don't exist. My business is going elsewhere, and I'm telling them why.

EDIT: I just explained to the legal assistant my cancellation and my reasons. I said that they should update their forms. She said, "I apologize; we do have a form for that."

Now I'm really glad I'm not using their services. My God, if the legal assistant can't even say the phrase "same-sex marriage" and if, for some reason, there's a separate form [separate but no doubt "equal!"] for same-sex spouses, the firm clearly devalues me and my ilk.
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Following up on my entry earlier this year about sexism on a customer service line, I present the following conversation, which happened between me and the dental hygienist this morning. I was actually finding the poking, scraping and drilling much less annoying than usual, thanks to the hygienist's sense of humor and skills. Then we started talking about mouthwash.

I asked for recommendations of alcohol-free mouthwash. I mentioned that "my fiancee" used mouthwash with alcohol, which I did not like because of its strong odor.

Hygienist: "What kind does he use?"

Me: "I don't know what SHE uses."

Conversation continued with recommendations.

So she automatically assumed that I was engaged to a guy because a) I look like a woman and b) the majority of marriages are between a man and a woman. However, given that spouses are not always 1 man + 1 woman, people should know better than to make that assumption, especially in Vermont, which is on the vanguard of marriage equality in the US. The definition of marriage has changed yet again, people. Get with the program!

P.S. My FIANCE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? What fiance?

P.P.S. Holy crap, the hygienist was not the only one behind the times. Just out of curiosity, I typed "define marriage" into Google.

Merriam Webster's online dictionary says:

"(1) the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage"

FAILURE. Just say "the state of being united to a person as a husband or wife...blah blah blah."

reference.com/dictionary.com says something similar:

"1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.
b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage. Antonyms: separation."

FAILURE. It's all the same institution.


Google's first dictionary result has the same problem:

"1. The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife
2. A similar long-term relationship between partners of the same sex"

THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT. It's not "a similar long-term relationship." It's the same thing!

Not until Wiktionary do we get a more accurate definition, talking about an exclusive union between two or more people. Subdefinitions clarify that, in some jurisdictions, marriage is defined as being between 1 man + 1 woman, while other jurisdictions allow 2 partners of any sex to marry. But the main thing is the exclusive union.

I actually like the Wikipedia entry the best, as it seems to capture the concept and purposes of marriage that have remained stable over time: "Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship." Marriage is a grouping of people to create social units. Everything else varies. If you don't like that, you're on the losing side of history.
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John Wallek, plumbing and heating inspector for the state's Public Safety Department, faces charges of stalking a much younger woman also employed by the state. Wallek harassed the woman at work, at home and online, messaging her with E-mails and Facebook posts for about a year, even after being told to stop.

For some reason, the Freeps interviewed Wallek, who stated, "It's all kind of bizarre. I just don't believe it has gone this far."

Look, folks -- it's an embodiment of rape culture! Only in a society in which women are presumed heterosexual and automatically available to all types of attention from men, only in a society in which women's consent means diddly squat because, so many times, they are presumed to have granted it merely by existing, only in such a society would a man think that his possible conviction for being a misogynist ass would be "kind of bizarre" because it's going against the unstated expectations of man-woman interaction in this society.

Jeez, how "bizarre" is it that a woman wants to be treated with egalitarian respect and decency? It's mind-boggling. It's almost like...almost like...women are people too! Imagine that.
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Sometimes I really dislike living in Vermont.

This is the book that I want: Mindfulness and Hypnosis: The Power of Suggestion to Transform Experience by Michael Yapko.

Before I drop some money on it, I'd like to read it to see if it's pertinent to my interests.

NO LIBRARY IN THE STATE HAS THIS BOOK.

Well, Bailey/Howe Library at UVM used to have it, but they lost it.

In contrast, the Somerville Public Library [where I used to patronize] in Somerville, MA has several books on hypnosis, including some how-tos. And I could have ordered Mindfulness and Hypnosis there successfully through interlibrary loan.

Dear God, are there any how-to introductions to hypnosis in this state that I don't have to BUY?

Apparently not.
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Why are all the books on hypnosis so expensive?!?!?!?!?! I swear, it's some sort of conspiracy by the authors to reserve information about hypnosis for those who can afford to learn its secrets or something. There are NO [reputable-looking] books about hypnosis under $15.00!

Relatedly, the library has a single, solitary book in the adult collection about hypnosis, and it appears to be a discussion, rather than a how-to manual. ARGH.

And God forbid you want to learn anything about hypnosis online. It's all either porn or suspicious Web sites that want you to pay.
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Once upon a time, at some point in the previous millennium, Jill and I came across an amusing personals ad in Seven Days. The poster sought other gay men who knitted in the Northeast Kingdom. We thought that his chances of finding someone else who shared all those identities was vanishingly small, and "gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom" became a standard reference for a ridiculously specific set of conditions.

Years later, I wonder how many gay men there are who knit in the Northeast Kingdom. Let's do the math, shall we?

The Northeast Kingdom is a region in, obviously, the northeastern corner of Vermont, containing Essex, Orleans and Caledonia counties.

Essex County = 6,306 people as of 2010
Orleans County = 27,231 people as of 2010
Caledonia County = 31,227 people as of 2010

That's a total of 64,764 people. We'll say that 50% of them are men.

That leaves 32,382 men. Let's say 10% of them are gay.

That leaves 3,238 gay men.

But how many of them knit? A 2003 survey showed that 1,300,000 people in the US know how to knit. Dividing that into the total population of the US in 2000, which was 281,421,906, we get a ratio of approximately 0.00462, or, rounding up, 4.6:1000.

Assuming that the ratio of knitters to the general US population remains stable from 2003 to 2010, that's about 15 gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom.

Yup, that's a vanishingly small amount. And that's not even getting into the probability that the 14 others will even see the ad that the 1 put in the paper!
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Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality by Margot Vice Weiss. See previous entry for details.

The Story of Vermont: A Natural and Cultural History by Christopher Klyza and Stephen Trombulak. I suppose this will overlap heavily with one of my favorite books about Vermont, Hands on the Land: A History of the Vermont Landscape by Jan Albers, but I don't mind.

I am currently reading The View from Vermont: Tourism and the Making of an American Rural Landscape by Blake Harrison. It is about the history of tourism in the Green Mountain State starting in the mid-19th century and how the competing forces of urbanization, tourism and industrialization have shaped the landscape. It's fascinating!
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So today I called Dental Dental of Illinois' customer service hotline to try to find out which type of Delta Dental I had. One of the first questions that the rep asked me, even before my name or ID number, was, "Who's the holder of the policy, your husband?"

Let's break that down...

The rep knew nothing about me, not even my name or my ID number, no personal information, except for that I sounded stereotypically feminine. He therefore automatically assumed that:

a) I was a woman.

b) I was heterosexual.

c) I was married.

d) I did not have insurance under my own name.

I can understand assumption a), but were any of the others warranted? NO! What stupidity!

P.S. MY HUSBAND?!?!?!?!?!? What husband?
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"Podunk" exists in the U.S. imagination as a mythical town of such remoteness and emptiness that it epitomizes hillbilly rurality, but, interestingly enough, there are several places in the U.S. actually named Podunk. One, a subdivision of the extremely small town Wardsboro (population 854 as of 2000), exists in my home state, Vermont. A few years back, the Washington Post gave an interesting, if cursory, look at the place with the folklorically charged name.

Podunk, located in Windham County in the extremely southern part of the state, flourished during the mid-1800s, peaking at 1000+ residents, most of whom were subsistence hill farmers. The population dwindled as residents of Wardsboro moved to better land or more industrialized places to live. By 1916, Podunk's schoolhouse closed, and the forest began to overtake the once-cleared fields. Current residents sometimes happen upon abandoned foundations in the underbrush and, more poignantly, little cemeteries, mere family plots with a few markers. The population now numbers half a hundred full-timers, though that number may be increasing, at least on a seasonal basis. With the Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain ski areas nearby, Podunk now attracts vast vacation homes for skiers. Though Podunk is not an especially significant place, it is one with an interesting history, one that currently is being paved over by oblivious gentrification.


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In the summers between college, I worked at the Bailey Howe Library for the University of Vermont along with my sister. I got paid to be surrounded by the largest collection of books in the state, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Besides the scholarly titles available, the library also offered a selection of casual reading, which was displayed prominently, along with other new acquisitions, at the back of the lobby on the first floor. I found many books to consume by sorting through the returns, stumbling upon them in the stacks when I was ostensibly making sure books were in call number order and, finally, picking them from the new acquisitions shelf.

During the summer of 1997, I saw a book on the new acquisitions shelf called Daughter of Darkness by Steven Spruill. The cover and title showed all stereotypical signs of being a thriller, possibly with some supernatural elements. As I enjoy thrillers, suspense novels, mysteries, etc., I picked it up. I saw that it was a medical suspense/vampire novel about a hospital intern coming to terms with her peaceful vampirism in opposition to her father's murderous bloodsucking and picked it up. I read it quickly, liked it, then forgot it.

As soon as I forgot all the key details of the book, I wanted to read it again, primarily for the convincing biological interpretation of "hemophages," but I couldn't find it anywhere. It didn't help that all I remembered was the key invented term "hemophage" and the subtitle, "A Novel of Unearthly Thirst." Typing either phrase into search engines did nothing; neither did skimming my local library's catalog of vampire fiction or even that of Amazon. Rather frustrated but not obsessed, I thought I would never figure out what book I barely remembered.

This morning, though, someone requested a Paperback Swap book from me, so I sent it off, then poked idly around the site, looking for a way to use my remaining credits. Seeking an anthology of vampire viction, Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction, that contains my favorite story by Tanith Lee, "Bite-Ne-Not, or, The Fleur de Fur," I didn't find what I was looking for.

However, I did come across what I wasn't looking for. A keyword search on Paperback Swap for "blood thirst" brought up tangentially related titles...one of which was Daughter of Darkness. The cover seemed familiar and the date, 1997, was approximately right for when I first read the book that I couldn't fully remember. Before my prefrontal cortex registered the title's significance, I felt a familiar rise of anticipation because the rest of me realized that I had been looking for this book for 12 years. Curious, I clicked.

Hooray! An end to my quest! As soon as I saw the subtitle, I knew what I had found.

In any event, I ordered Daughter of Darkness from Paperback Swap, then discovered that it was the second in a trilogy. I just now ordered the first book, Rulers of Darkness. When I get another credit, I will order the third book, Lords of Light, even though it sounds silly. I'm so very gratified to have found Daughter of Darkness, a gratification made stronger and more pleasing by the element of surprise, since I wasn't looking for it in the first place. Serendipitous discoveries make me bubble.

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No, seriously. It's the title of a real book. Since they're virtual, they aren't tied to a particular location, so why are they in Vermont, aside from alliterative value? Furthermore, what do they feed on: pixelated gore from first-person shooters?

EDIT: A riveting preview, full of One-Sentence Paragraphs Of Emphasis and Italics Of Doom!! Apparently nothing Vermont-related was employed in the creation of this hackwork entry into a series. How disappointing.

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Bustin' by Minda Webber would like to be a light-hearted, wisecracking supernatural romance, but it fails. Heroine Sam, supposedly an exterminator of paranormal pests, suffers from a tendency to rant, which makes her seem unhinged and prejudiced, rather than charmingly eccentric. The setting suffers from gratuitous alliteration, unimaginative pop-culture puns and a cast of secondaries who compete with each other to see who can be the quirkiest. I hear that Sam exterminates ghosts [one of which is a soup-can-painting spirit named Andy *GET IT hah hah hah winkwink nudgenudge*] for a vampire prince, meanwhile falling in love with a werewolf, but I put the book down before the love interest arrived. As a native Vermonter, I could not forgive Webber for setting a book in Vermont and refusing to describe the state in any remotely convincing detail.

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