Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves

6 May

That’s what is enrichment all about

The WordPress.com Blog

WordPressers, day in and day out, you entertain us, you make us think, you make us laugh, and you make us grateful to be exposed to so many voices all over the world. It’s a pleasure to read what you’re writing. Like everyone in the community, we value that feeling of connection that comes from reading something that speaks to you, that resonates, that makes you feel not so alone.

For this edition of Freshly Pressed Faves, we’re looking at three posts that do just that, all around the idea of “busy-ness.” Modern society seems to embrace the idea that unless you’re “swamped” or “super busy,” you just aren’t being productive enough. Free time? Fill it up, preferably with something that pays! This attitude permeates children’s lives, too, with scheduled after-school dance classes and soccer practices and violin lessons and foreign language tutors. The idle hours that once allowed kids…

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Seafood linguine

6 May

Bubbles in Paris

6 May

While this great feat is going on, nobody seems to be witnessing it. There are two old guys with their backs to this scene. In India, this would have caused a major traffic snarl

Matt on Not-WordPress

Followed by a great dinner with friends.

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A Story for Generations: Home Front Girl

6 May

The WordPress.com Blog

Home Front GirlImagine this: you have access to the diaries of your mother or father: Windows into your family’s past. Snapshots of moments of history.

What would this process be like? To sift through documents, to piece together a life — and, ultimately, your own family history? Susan Morrison, the blogger and author at Home Front Girl Diary, has this very story to tell.

The book Home Front Girl brings her mother’s diaries — penned as a teenager from 1937 to 1943 — to life. Her website and blog, created to complement her mother’s book, weaves personal, family, and world history and allows Susan to interact with her mother (now passed away) in an intimate, creative way.

We chatted with Susan about her project, how she uses her WordPress.com site to promote her book, and her blogging and research advice to writers, historians, and memoirists.

Tell us about the interesting story…

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NaPoWriMo 2013: Five Favorites

6 May

The WordPress.com Blog

There are just a few hours left in NaPoWriMo 2013 — that is, National Poetry Writing Month, which asks participants to write a poem every day in April — and hundreds of resident WordPress poets are pressing “Publish” on their final stanzas and sighing with relief and satisfaction.

We’ve loved reading all the verse that floated across our Readers this month, whether from brand-new bloggers committed to the 30-day challenge, long-time poets, or non-poet bloggers who were inspired to try something new. We learned about new-to-us poetic forms, we were moved, we looked at familiar topics in a new light.

Here are five of our favorite sites, from WordPress poets new and old:

Tychogirl

Tychogirl isn’t just a poet, she’s an astropoet. We’re intrigued by her astronomy-focused work, and by her “redacted poems” — poems created by taking an existing page of text and blacking out all…

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Seen in Dubai

6 May

That was the real worry. But we are sitting on a planet-sized tank of oil. Only needs exploring

Matt on Not-WordPress

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Spitting Image

5 Dec

For several years I had tried to understand why a paan-chewer would save up all that ochre juice in his aching mouth long enough to navigate hectares of open area, get into your building, skip the elevator, climb your staircase laboriously and deliver the stuff in the landing, precisely in the corner which is unguarded    by pictures of deities of several religions.  The vitrified tile industry is happy with the status quo since they make a regular buck churning out divine glazed tiles to defeat this attempt, knowing fully well that the religious-minded spitter would simply find his space a safe distance away to avoid the wrath of gods.

I wonder what homing instinct brings the rogue spitter to the stairway again and again to mark territory so unfailingly, and to colour the image of India in the eyes of the tourists of the world.  Faking bored interest, I asked everybody this question.  I asked my friends, I asked my neighbours, I asked my mirror and  I asked a roadside dog . Somebody sagely observed that the tourists generally take the elevator, avoiding the stairs.

In my eyes there were several military solutions to this simple problem: ban sales of paan, nuke the paan shops,  arrest paan chewers making it a non-bailable offence, and so on. But I have observed that India is not interested in a quick solution to a basically cultural thing.  If you have to spit, you spit.  Big deal.

We are immune to signboards saying, ‘Do not spit here’. We get angry with any sentence beginning Do not and it evokes the reaction How dare you instruct me and we will go out of our way to teach these instruction-givers a lesson. Saying ‘Spit Here’ with a bucket placed there angers us even more.

In spite of my years of relentless Sherlock Holmesian investigation, I had never been able to catch anyone in the act of spitting of paan in the stairways.  Then one day, I saw it happen.  It was the bai, sweeping the stairs in the morning. She came in with cheeks bulging with chewed paan, and squirted the juice into the corner of the stairs casually, before I could react.  I mustered restraint and asked her why she couldn’t spit outside the building. She said it was difficult to walk out of the building every two minutes, just for spitting.  Mystery solved.

She had a point, I thought.  What have we done for the welfare of the bai, the servant maid who comes to clean the common areas? Her only sustenance and motivation is the paan,; and where is she supposed to spit out the damn thing in the course of her work as she works stair by stair on the third or fourth floor levels? Can we provide spittoons at all stairway landings?

In the old days, in public places, there were fire buckets, filled with sand. They were there for fire safety but everybody used them as spittoons.  It focused the spitting effort into one place. With the gradual disappearance of fire buckets, the world is their spittoon.

Apart from the bai, there are many others whose motivation to spit in the stairways have not been analysed, since they seem adept at not getting caught. I request regular spitters to come forward, or even anonymously email their point of view, and explain why they do it, and what can be done to halt their routine. A general amnesty may be given to these practitioners who confess and express remorse.