Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's New Year's Eve

...and I will be gone tonight to the same family's house where we've spent the last several New Year's Eves.

You know? This year was amazing... I can't believe how it turned out. I finished my second year of college, spent an entire semester in Central America, have developed some wonderful friendships... saw some amazing examples of God's creative genius... grew to love the little baby in my host family... turned 20...

That's a lot, isn't it? And it isn't half what I did.

Then again, most of the personal growth can't be quantified in an event, as if I could say "on this day I learned such-and-such, and at this location I became such-and-such a kind of person." That developed as I went to work in a warehouse all day over the summer, or walked a mile to class from my host home in Central America, or biked all over my college town instead of driving my (nonexistent) car. Or when I was hanging out with my friends at college, or talking to my sister late at night when we couldn't sleep, or riding in the car with my family somewhere.

The journey isn't all about the destination. Sometimes the important part is just getting there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My e-mail got hacked into last night, it looks like. My entire address book got some e-mail with only a link inside. Very odd. (Also annoying and inconvenient.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Neil Postman and paranoia

So I just finished the book "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman today. It basically sets forth Postman's idea that television, as a visual, non-language-based medium, should be used only as a medium for entertainment, because (he says) the very nature of the medium inhibits rational/logical discourse and argument (not fighting kind of argument, premise and conclusion type of argument). A lot of what he says makes solid sense, but sometimes he goes a little overboard, in my opinion, and begins to sound like a paranoid monomaniac.

Now, he is not a paranoid monomaniac, understand. Like I said, he makes a lot of good points, that ought to be seriously considered. He first makes his case, logically, with historical background information and reference to several studies. Then, he furthers his case by discussing how TV integrates with several areas of life... politics, education, and so forth. I do recommend reading it.

Much of what he writes about in this book refers to two other books--Orwell's "1984" and Huxley's "Brave New World", and he contends that Huxley's vision of the future is much more probable under the (then-)current circumstances. I've read Orwell's book, but I have yet to read Huxley's. I do intend to someday.

I wish Postman had lived past 2003 to see the real coming-of-age of high-speed Internet. What would he say about blogs?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dave Barnes

I saw a rather amusing Dave Barnes video today. It was linked off of the Boundless blog simply as "utterly fluffy" and that just made me curious. I was... surprised by what I saw. However it was amusing, as I said.

Funny thing is, I'm almost positive I've heard the name before, connected with YouTube. I have no idea how....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Buon Natale

The Annunciation by Henry Tanner, my favorite Annunciation painting. It has fascinated me since I first saw it in a homeschooling magazine supplement... a long time ago. And now it's featured in a WORLDMagBlog post from this morning.

What I find most intriguing about it is the way Tanner incorporated many of the iconic devices... the purple cloth for royalty, for one... while maintaining the realistic nature of the painting.

At any rate. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Questions upon a Christmas eve

I've been passing the time tonight after wrapping my Christmas gifts, catching up on the Boundless podcasts since I've not been able to listen to them lately. Earlier today, I'd been reading "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman, a fascinating examination of the influence on U.S. culture of television and the printing press. (Intellectual and about media of communication.... right up my alley!!)

As a result, I've had a lot of things running through my head, as I posted as my Facebook status:

Sarah has a bunch of thoughts running through her head, related to Christmas and other things... is the goal of college a BA or an MRS degree? What is the role of a college student (NOT kid) in a church? Can the U.S. recover from irrelevant information overload? What would happen if I never watched another minute of syndicated TV? And other such things.

Aside from the redundancy of "other things"/"other such things" (which at this moment grates on my ears), that can refer fairly well to many of the issues I'm pondering these days.

Christmas: I found a blog post today that suggested that perhaps the commercialization of Christmas is only a sign of how much we care... how much we want to show our love to our friends, family, and coworkers. I think there may be an element of truth, but I'm sure it's not the whole story (or even a majority of it). I also wonder what most people's attitudes are toward buying Christmas gifts... is it seen as a game of trying your best to get something that somebody's gonna like (i.e. a fun challenge), or as something utterly time-consuming and devoid of sentiment?

College and the MRS degree: That's slightly tongue in cheek. For one thing, though it may be quite nice to meet your "significant other" via your college classes/experience, the primary goal of college is still to get a college education. However, I know at least two gals who dropped out/are dropping out of college because they're getting married. I also got deluged with engagements this semester (ok maybe just a couple or three, but still!). Thirdly, that "ring by spring" thing? It kicks into medium gear during junior year, as far as I can tell. (I figure high gear is reserved for senior year.)

College students in the church: I feel very awkward in both churches I regularly attend (my "real" home church and my "college" home church). I can't exactly get involved in a regular ministry in my college-church, because I'm only there halfway sporadically for a few months of the year; and at my home church, I'm lucky to play guitar (and that ministry is a carryover from high school days) only when I'm home on break or over the summer. And to me, half of being in a church is actually doing something as a member of that church.... I've not stomach for pew-warming! So being a college student, with its attendant church-hopping, makes things difficult for me.

The U.S. information overload: OK, so information overload is pretty cliché by now. But something that stuck out to me when I read that Postman book was the observation that very little of the TV evening news is anything that prompts you to alter your plans for the day (besides the weather). Is that true? If you watch the evening news, or see it online, or *gasp* read it in an old-fashioned newspaper, does the DAILY NEWS actually matter, personally, beyond getting you mildly annoyed at various people/circumstances? Who tells you the stuff that really does make you change your daily schedule... your neighbor, the e-mail updates from somewhere, Twitter, what?

Syndicated TV: This is a corollary to the book, again. While living in Central America, I once saw an episode of something called "The Jane Show" (I think...) in which the protagonist suddenly realized that cable television was vital to office small-talk. All was exaggerated and hyperbolized, of course (hyperbolized isn't a word, is it...). However, you know how humor has to have an element of truth in order to be funny? Well, supposing one did enter the real world (i.e. out of college) without the world's common knowledge of syndicated television shows. How would that person interact socially, I wonder? (I'll probably be able to give a first-hand account in a few years, by the way.)

That's all for today. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Daniel and the Christmas Magi

I visited my cousins this weekend, and with them I went to their church. The pastor preached on a Christmas theme, in keeping with the season (of course), and his particular sermon was about the wise men who came to visit Jesus.

He noted that those magi from the east, whatever their number, were probably from the Persian area. Now, the interesting thing about that is that Daniel of the Old Testament spent his days as an adviser to the King... in Persia. Also, his prophecy of the coming of the Messiah was one that contained a specific timeline. (Daniel 9:24-26)

Since Daniel was one of the "wise men" of Persia, and a great one at that, it wouldn't be surprising if the wise men that followed him made sure to pay attention to his prophecies, especially as the time of the prophecy drew near.

The connection is fascinating, isn't it?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Windows 7 is on my laptop

Isn't that cool? (That's the minimized programs on the Windows 7 taskbar.) I just bought Windows 7 for a huge discount, and I worked on installing it this morning. It was actually easy to set up, and I managed to get my computer back to working order after a little while (including all the docs, music, and photos I had to copy off my computer before installing the new OS!).

I also installed iTunes for the first time in my life. It's a decent program, but I wish I could change the metadata more easily. Especially when I want to change the album-artist for a whole group of songs and I can't do it just with one action.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Very funny Christmas "recipe"

My mom found this in her e-mail yesterday. She read it to me and my sister. I laughed my head off. And here, I share the Christmas joy with you all.

Once again this holiday, I have had requests for my Tequila Christmas Cake Recipe so here goes:

1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup brown sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 bottle tequila
2 cups dried fruit

Sample the tequila to check quality. Take a large bowl; check the tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality.


Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point, it is best to make sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup just in case.

Turn off the mixer thingy.

Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the fruit up off the floor.

Mix on the turner.

If the fried fruit gets stuck in the beaters, just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the tequila to test for tonsisticity.

Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something.

Check the tequila.

Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table.

Add a spoon of sugar, or something. Whatever you can find.

Grease the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don't forget to beat off the turner.

Finally, throw the bowl through the window.

Finish the tequila and wipe the counter with the cat.

Cherry Mistmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Town hall with our U.S. Representative

In the middle of suppertime--or rather, while Mom was making supper and talking to Dad, so we hadn't even eaten--my family got a call from our U.S. Representative inviting us to listen in or participate in a tele-Town Hall. So, my siblings and I have been listening, and Mom and Dad are doing so as they can (Mom's still cooking, of course).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Packin' on up, movin' on out

I think that's a line from some song. I can't place the song though.

I started packing today, in the small suitcase I'll be bringing back. Funny thing--I brought just one suitcase to Central America, a large one. I will be bringing that one back, of course, filled with clothing. However, a friend of mine ended up having three suitcases down here (his parents had sent a third suitcase with someone who had visited the States and returned here during our semester). He only needs and wants two, because we can take two checked bags free (have to pay for anything further). He doesn't have anything he needs to put in this third bag.

So, he's lending it to me till classes start again in January, and both of us are very grateful. I get more room to pack things (yay!), and he gets more room in his large suitcase because he doesn't have to fold up his third bag and pack it in as well (yay!). Convenient, eh?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Shopping, for the last time

No, that does not imply I intend to forswear the act of shopping for the rest of my life.

I went into downtown today, for the last time before I leave this beautiful Central American country. I bought several gifts for my host family, some T-shirts for myself, something for my mom (which I intend to give as an early Christmas present as soon as I get home, because I'm too excited to wait longer), and a little bag so I can have a pocket even when my skirts/dresses have none.

We got lost in the Central Market several times... you couldn't imagine how crowded and confusing that place is! It's the size of a small Wal-Mart but with a ton of little vendor shops inside, crammed wall-to-wall, and filled with every little thing imaginable. Half the stores sell food, the other half things (I'd say "chunches" but you wouldn't understand that). The aisleways are barely big enough to allow two people to pass through, and are not regular in the least (except that most of them are perpendicular...not all).

I did manage to find a slingshot to give to my little host brother. :)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Buenas tardes.

I've gotten two spam comments recently on this blog, so I'm instituting the little word-verification thingy. You can still comment "anonymously" (without having to submit an e-mail or whatever), but this should deter those annoying link-filled spam messages.

Ten una buena noche. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I've been kayaking on the Pacific!

The title should convey all the information I need to share--but the emotion and exhilaration behind it is impossible to put into words. :) I got sunburned on my legs, though, which hardly ever happens and kinda stings.

Also, I discovered a fascinating word from an obscure language a few days ago. Apparently lost-in-translation can get pretty bad sometimes.

In addition, I will be meeting a movie star tomorrow (hopefully). The main actor in this year's hit film in this Central American country is best friends with my professor's son, and since half my class went to see the movie, he'll come visit us and we'll get to practice speaking Spanish with him. Should be fun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No way... 23 years of non-coma??

I just saw on Yahoo! News that a Belgian man who was thought to have been in a coma wasn't really. The catch? He was in that supposed coma for 23 years!! (From the U.K.'s The Guardian.)

Then a neurologist rediagnosed him... and figured out that he knew everything that was going on around him, just was severely paralyzed. So they gave him 3 years of intense therapy, and now he can use a finger and a touchpad to communicate.
Experts say Laureys' findings are likely to reopen the debate over when the decision should be made to terminate the lives of those in comas who appear to be unconscious but may have almost fully-functioning brains.
Now, I'm opposed to "pulling the plug" on a patient in a coma (or severely paralyzed, or what have you) on principle--but this just makes one ponder what could happen should a patient in a coma... not be in a coma... and have the life support stopped.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What I miss

I miss...
...keeping my sister up late talking.
...going square dancing.
...talking literary/nerdy topics with my friends at college.
...sewing. church.
...eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I will miss... little host brother and sister. (Especially my sister. She is soooo cute.)
...talking to my host mamá about anything and everything.
...laughing at the clownish antics of one of my friends here (who will be transferring universities).
...talking to another friend (who will be graduating).
...the wonderful weather.
...public transportation.

Oh well. Just two and a half weeks until I return to the States. I can't believe time has gone by so quickly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not dead!

Just been busy, is all. We went on a paseo this weekend, and I had lots of homework this week... or rather, less time to do homework, because of the things I've been doing every night.

Monday: choir practice
Tuesday: supper out at a Mexican restaurant with our professor and another professor-friend
Wednesday: out to see a movie at the local cinema on discount night
Tonight: movie night at my house

So yeah. And this weekend will be ridiculous. In theory, I have three presentations to prepare for, and 13 sets of exercises in our grammar workbook to complete, plus several chapters to read in a book for one of the classes (these chapters are barely worth being called chapters though). Oh and I need to write about twenty sentences, each with a different verb-preposition pair off of a list. I sincerely doubt we'll ever get to review/present all this work in the three days of class that we have next week.

Why does my prof do this? It's very odd--she'll assign too much to each day, then we never get to do all that was planned. You'd think she'd realize this, and that she needs to cut back on the plans in order to allow time for all the random talking that goes on. It is the class of conversation, after all, and boy do we converse....

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Today in chapel, the worship leader for today introduced us to a hymn I'd not heard before, "Thine be the Glory." Apparently, it's second only to Amazing Grace in popularity (or familiarity, shall we say) in England, from where this guy hails.

I also discovered another song written by the same duo that wrote "In Christ Alone." I shall soon be learning that one. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I belong to the seventies...

I just found a Spanish (as in from Madrid) group that I really like. They were together in the seventies. Oh well. They have an awesome version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" though!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lullaby bay

Today in class, we got to listen to a lullaby (because we're studying Latino music this week). And then, one of the discussion questions was to think of some songs that we'd had our moms sing to us when we were little--our own lullabies.

I came up with two from Mary Poppins ("Feed the Birds" and "Stay Awake") almost immediately, as well as a song called "Sleep little dream princess." There was also a song based on Psalm 5:1-3, and the song from Dumbo when we were really really little (which I don't remember much of, but would recognize if I heard it), and....

Well, lemme think. Now that I sit down and try to remember the other songs, I can't! I'm pretty sure there was another one that mentioned the moon. Yes, I'm sure there was... it's right there and I can't recall it... something about going to sleep, and then when you wake we'll be here...

Ack! Don't you hate it when you know a song but you can't recall it at the moment?? Especially when it's right there!

P.S. I think maybe Mom sang "Hushaby Mountain" as well (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).

Sunday, November 08, 2009


I sat down earlier to write a blog post, and nothing came to mind, so I decided not to (again).

Then I did homework, contemplated how little time I have left here (less than 5 weeks till we board the plane), and watch a Simpsons movie on TV.

And then I logged onto Facebook. And saw that one of my good friends just got engaged.

She's younger than I am!!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Nothing much going on

I know, I'm in Central America, and I have no excuse to say that. But really, this has been a normal week. We had classes, went on a field trip today (to the national museum and on a train), had a movie night tonight at my house... pretty normal proceedings.

We watched "That Thing You Do" and I really enjoyed it. I'd never heard of it before someone mentioned he wanted to watch it, this week, but it turned out to be really cute and fun. We also had some potato chips (a rarity here) provided by one of my friends, and generally hung out for a while until everyone got here (and left and then returned from a quick trip to buy a late supper).

I've not much experience as a hostess, but I like to do it. It helps that my host family is very willing to let me have people over whenever I want, and aren't home on weekend evenings anyway. Perhaps when I get back to living in an on-campus apartment I can continue having friends over regularly.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tozer is great.

I've been reading A.W. Tozer again. If you've been reading long enough or paying attention, I love his writing. His book "The Pursuit of God" was wonderful the first time I read through it, and I keep drawing insights from that each time I read it again.

However, this book I'm in is a collection of Tozer's 52 best chapters (which still makes for a little paperback, since his chapters are fairly short). I've read this before too. It has excerpts from "Pursuit of God" in addition to ten other books he wrote (I think there are eleven in total, anyway).

Thing is, when I read Tozer I have to stop and think a lot, and pray, and read my Bible in the meantime. So I've been on several long bus rides since I started this and I'm still in chapter 11 or something.

It amuses me that I started this blog, what, three years ago, with posts about Tozer. But his writing is really something. I recommend "Pursuit of God" especially.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brief note on cafecito

One of the things I've grown to like while living here is coffee.

If you ever knew how much I hated the smell, taste, or thought of coffee before coming here, you would understand how marvelous that is. Now, I still dislike black coffee, but put a bunch of milk and sugar in a cup of coffee and I will drink the whole thing. Fortunately my host mamá somehow makes the coffee exactly how I like it! I still haven't quite figured out what she does to it, but I've managed to approximate the taste when I've had to make my own.

Tomorrow afternoon we U.S. students are hosting a little coffee party (cafecito) for our host mamás and I'm looking forward to that. We'll be serving small sandwiches (sánguches in Spanish!) and brownies in addition to the coffee.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One of these days...

... I always have lots of things planned to do. I don't normally get around to doing them quite when I meant to, though.

Anyways. One of those things was to update my link list on the side there. Honestly, if there were a way I could conveniently link my Google Reader list to my blog sidebar, that would be great. But there is not. However I can give you examples...

I have several folders. The ones I actually read are "Geekish" (yes, that's the name), "Christianity and life" (for which I couldn't come up with a better name), "Language" and "Friend blogs".

"Geekish" sample: which basically collects fascinating scientific breakthroughs/studies for those who don't think the newspaper covers it enough.

"Christianity and life" sample: Pyromaniacs, run mainly by a man named Phil Johnson. Fascinating theological discussions, and Spurgeon readings on top of that!

"Language" sample: OK, so I love this sort of stuff. The most recent find (today, actually) was How to Write Badly Well which amuses me to no end. It's self-explanatory.

"Friend blogs" sampe: There are a lot of blogs here, plus a web forum, but hardly anything gets updated with any frequency. The RI has been experiencing a kind of resurrection, though!

Coming soon... more on music, and hopefully an actual updated link directory in the sidebar. You'd be surprised at what I keep tabs on!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dinner with the couple, and music searching #2

My goodness, last night was sooooo random. Story first, then intro to country music browsing.

First of all, my student group studying here in this Central American country decided to cook dinner for the special speakers that came this week for chapel. See, lots of people at this institute were signing up to host them for dinner (i.e. take them out to some random restaurant), but as of Tuesday morning nobody had yet signed up to take care of them Wednesday night, and one of my fellow students suggested we do something for them.

Originally the plan was to take them to a local restaurant, but we changed our minds and decided to make something ourselves. (We're college students. This was cheaper and would be just as delicious!) So last night, we convened in the institute's kitchen (which we were allowed to borrow, fortunately!) and made ourselves a large batch of heavenly alfredo, and heated up some rolls as well.

So, after chapel last night, we sat down to a delicious dinner of alfredo, rolls, Tang, and cookies. And these chapel speakers were hilarious! The guy's sixty, and his wife's close to that, but they were talking music with us (mainly with the other end of the table, actually) and keeping up their end easily! In other words, they (the man mainly) was discussing music that was popular with this group of just-above-teenagers, and held his own.

Of course, the music conversation split into different groups after a bit, and I happened to be sitting next to a guy who likes country. And across from me was a gal friend of mine, who apparently also likes country. My gal friend told me I would probably like a lot of country; and the other guy (who was the cook for this night, incidentally) was listing off names of his favorite country artists.

The supper was a smashing success. The couple loved the food and the fact that they didn't have to go anywhere, and they were introduced to this country's best packaged cookies which they might never have tasted otherwise. And us? We loved hosting them. It's not every day you meet such a fun couple, and we got to eat dinner with them!


So, I have another music-searching, self-assigned research topic: country music. I'm listening to Garth Brooks (this particular YouTube playlist, that is) right now, and there was one song I really liked the instrumentation of... Standing Outside the Fire, that was it. And I like The Thunder Rolls as well. But... meh, I'm not sure this guy is all my style. I don't like twang or whiny electric guitar. Some songs are great, yes, but not all of them.

More later on: Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Alabama, George Strait. Especially Alabama since my guy friend told me I'd probably like them in particular. And maybe I'll think of more singers later. At least I already know I love John Denver music!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Music searching....!

I don't really like CCM. Maybe some songs are fine, and I do like "Blessed Be Your Name" (when I'm playing & singing, anyway...), but I need some better music than the bulk of what I heard on Christian radio. Mostly, I get tired of boring melodies and lack of instrumentation, so I guess my issue is with the musicality, but I would also appreciate good lyrics.

I've not heard a single Christian radio station for about two months now, and I don't miss it.

However, I would like to find some good Christian (or something other than love-song-themed!) music... so I browsed the recommendations on this other blog post over at Boundless, and what follows is a summary of what I've been thinking.

Sufjan Stevens: I searched YouTube for just "Sufjan Stevens" and pulled up a song called "For the Widows in Paradise" which was curious. I liked the ukelele and the different harmony, but still it's a bit monotone. I listened to "Chicago" then and I think I understand that Stevens' music just always will remind me of the flower-power trippy seventies. Eh. Yeah, it's new, so all right, but not the kind of thing I'm going to like for a long long time.

Derek Webb: Another name that was vaguely familiar and I was curious about. Same YouTube procedure yielded "Wedding Dress" which somewhere I've heard before. His voice on this annoys me, and the music isn't particularly unique. Then I pulled up "What Matters More" and liked the intro. Overall, he doesn't pull punches lyrically (that's a good) but the music is still kinda boring.

Mark Heard: Somewhere I heard this guy was one of the earliest Christian artists (on the order of Keith Green, as in groundbreaking for CCM) so I hoped he'd resemble Keith Green or Rich Mullins in that they were more original and kinda my style of music. It was hard to figure out what to listen to here, but I tried to click "Nod Over Coffee"... but had to settle with a cover for sound quality. But even still.... It's folksy and melancholy and I like the lyric style and the guitar! Hey, we might have a winner here. Especially after also hearing "Strong Hand of Love," though I can tell it's dated.

David Wilcox: Don't remember where I've heard this name, but I think I have, so I clicked "Eye of the Hurricane" and enjoyed the guitar. And the lyrics. Another winner? Listened to "Bearcat" and immediately enjoyed it as well. Random!

John Williams and Danny Elfman: Just sayin'. I already know some music from these guys, since I've seen the movies (John Williams needs no list, but I searched IMDb for Elfman and he did the Spiderman movies and the first SpyKids, and Men in Black, and a couple Batman movies). A friend of mine is obsessed with Danny Elfman's movie music.

The Decemberists: Only vaguely heard of these people, so I click "Sixteen Military Wives" and realize it's pacifist or anti-American-dream or something. It piques my interest, however, because I like the oldies sound and the poetry of the lyrics, and I click another, "The Rake's Song." I read the lyrics while waiting for the vid to load, and laughed because it reminded me of Tom Leher's "The Irish Ballad." Musically this guy is like the seventies I think, a little monotone but not too much. Fun stuff, I think.

Jake Armerding: Never heard of this guy, but somebody said "if you like contemporary bluegrass/folk style" and I think I do. On his website, the first song that pulled up was a clip "Up on the Rim" and I liked the guitar. Yep, folksy. Wow, I love this... second to pull up was a clip of "Song of Solomon" which is more country than is usual for me (though I can enjoy this a lot in certain moods). He's a possibility, though I think Mom would appreciate his stuff more than I do.

Andrew Petersen: Somebody said he "follows in the footsteps of Rich Mullins" and another described him as a Christian folk artist. Thus, I click. "Labor of Love" was first, a Christmas song, it appears, but I wasn't expecting a female singer. Boring musically, not exactly impressive lyrically. Then I clicked "Anais" and discovered the guy must be British. I like the guitar here better, but the lyrics are kinda... boring. Not really poetic or particularly original. Sorry, British guy.

MuteMath: Finally, I'm on the last of the artists! Really, this was a random list and there wasn't a semblance of order to them. Anyway, I'm not exactly sure why I added these people to the list, but I did. A YouTube search gave me "Typical" which appears rockier than I care for usually, and though I like the guitar lick-theme the song doesn't appeal to me much. (Kinda monotone.) And I browse the other YouTube links... they did the Twilight music?... and click "Reset" which again sounds like rock (and, I realize, is an instrumental, and a longish one at that). Meh. My dad might like it, though; I dunno.

So there we have it. I should therefore get music from... who were they again? Mark Heard, David Wilcox, and possibly the other group. The Decemberists. Maybe that Jake Amerding too.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Randomness before the beach

1. I'm going to the beach tomorrow, and haven't gone to bed yet! But I'm not tired... and I've actually slept well this week. I think I shall just need some rest on the four-hour bus ride... because I'll be meeting everyone at five in the morning, i.e. in exactly six hours and twenty minutes.

2. I love the movie Fireproof, and I just got to see it in Spanish!

3. Piano is a really fun instrument... I played piano spontaneously for our worship team practice today, because our pianist didn't show. It wasn't really that hard, and it all came together well. I won't be playing for the real thing next week--this was just so we could all practice with getting the instruments together--but for this bit, it was great, and I was really glad to play an instrument.... it's been weeks since I last touched a guitar or a piano.

4. I have officially been here, in my adopted Central American country, for half my semester. I now have as much, if not more, time I've spent here than I have left until I leave.

How sad is that?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random FB fun: Quizzes

Totally on a different note about Facebook. I just went through and deleted all those useless quiz applications on my Facebook account. However, I did keep a few....

Just saying. Apparently, the geeks have the best senses of humor. Also, I myself wrote the "What kind of clock are you" one, with my roommate. My favorite, though, was the math equation one, and then "what are you?" one (very similar to the random object quiz).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hmm... (testing ScribeFire)

I just found a random blog editor that plugs into Firefox. Since I use Firefox, I figured I'd try it... it's called ScribeFire and seems kinda cool. However, I can't seem to figure out how to navigate to the "view source" part (where I can fix miscellaneous HTML mess-ups), and not all my little tags appear... hmm. It's handy when I'm trying to look at another website and type at the same time, though!

EDIT: Ick... the formatting is horrid....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sickness and laughter

So, I just went on a weekend field trip (kinda like this one, only longer than just a full day) to the rain forest, and it was wonderful.

However, I was also sick about half the time. Well, I had been sick on Wednesday, just from a reaction to too much sugar... basically, I ate two, largish, peanut-butter-topped, wonderful homemade brownies, and some pop, in the same night. Not a good idea for me.

Anyhow. So, I was well again Thursday and Friday. Until, that is, I happened to have a snack that contained chocolate. Apparently I had a delayed reaction of sorts--I was sick from chocolate on Wednesday, so my body didn't like the chocolate on Friday.

That turned into slightly sleepless nights and a sometimes-not-so-happy stomach... but, somehow, I still had a blast. I was just well enough to do the hiking and the ziplining Saturday morning (think about it! Ziplining from peak to peak in the rainforest!!) and managed to stay alert enough during the Quaker meeting (more on that later) to observe and think.

Also, I thought it hilarious that my prof accidentally left me at the trail center when we were driving from there to the ziplining center. I had thought it was a joke, but when I jumped out of the trail guide's truck (he generously drove me a minute or two to catch up to our bus) and into the bus, the looks on everyone's faces told me it was totally not a joke. It only made me laugh more.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I caved (Jim & Pam's "The Office" wedding)

A lot of my friends watch "The Office." I've seen it, a few times, and it's OK. Not exactly the best show on earth or anything.

However, last night and this morning there were a lot of comments on Facebook about the most recent episode--the wedding between two main characters, set in Niagara Falls. (And I thought inter-office relationships were out of bounds in most offices... but this show is all about the hyperbole, and is not meant to be real!) Anyhow. I woke up kinda early this morning (about 6:15) and nobody else here in my host family was up yet, so I just went online and watched the episode. Mostly because I was bored, but also because I was kinda curious what would make a TV wedding so great.

Meh. Half the show was vulgar jokes (more than usual), and the only good part was the wedding on the Maid of the Mist. Give me that five-minute part where the gal breaks down in a nervous wreck the morning of the wedding, and the guy takes her out to marry her spontaneously, on the boat, and I couldn't care less about the rest of the show. So much for awesome TV episode....

Now for a weekend in the rain forest! How exciting is that?? And I can probably start my day now. :D (It's 7:24 my time.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

No, I'm *not* an only child.

So odd. Today, the third person in my group of students today revealed she didn't realize I had siblings. If she had thought about it, she may have realized it, since she had seen her when we met at the airport to leave the States, and I had said she was my sis.

Once before, I was hanging out/prepping for a presentation with a couple other students in my group, and for some reason I mentioned my sister (or maybe my brother) and they, too, told me they had thought I was an only child.

Now, we've been studying the differences between "warm" and "cold" cultures in one of our classes--one difference being the emphasis on relationships that warm cultures (like here in Central America) have, versus the emphasis on doing things or getting work done that cold cultures (like that of the United States) have. It occurred to me that this sort of thing would never have happened in a cold culture.

I couldn't have been in a group of twelve students for six weeks without having talked about family and friends, had we been raised in a warm culture.

And seriously--are siblings, like, nonexistent until spoken of a lot? I know I've mentioned my sister....

Friday, October 02, 2009

Link compilation, and sleep

So yeah... my little hermanita woke up at like five-thirty this morning, no kidding. I woke up then too, as I do almost every day (and then try to fall back asleep). I did manage to fall asleep again, and slept till eight. That was amazing.

Anyhow. Here is a random bunch of links I found this week:
And a few various related articles that perked my interest:
I really should make a tag for these tech-relationship-Facebook-related items.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I love journalism part 3,495

Hehe. I just sent off the final draft of an article that will appear in my campus newspaper soon--the first of a series I'm writing about studying abroad here in Central America--along with some photos I took, including this adorable photo of my hermanita, Niñita.

I'm all excited now... so even though I should be writing up a report on Haggai (Hageo en español), I'm not sure I'll get to that tonight... :P

Sunday, September 27, 2009

R.I.P. William Safire

Man, all the news I get is random. William Safire, known for his On Language columns and all-around wordplay, died recently. I still read the On Language column in the NYT, although now it's written by a Jack Rosenthal. *Sigh* I shall miss the witty wordmith's works.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rindercella! Rindercella!

So, homework for the weekend is to write out a fairy tale in Spanish. We get to choose from one of four, including Cinderella; and I was talking about our assignment with some of the girls, when I found out they'd never heard the story of Rindercella!

So I looked on the Internet today and--lo and behold--there was a version very similar to the one my mom told me years ago!

It's so much fun to tell these things... and there are more spoonerist-fairy-tales (otherwise known as tairy fales) all over the place!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Journaling and Exams (in Spanish)

Today I considered the possibility of switching over to writing in Spanish when I journal. I'm feeling like I know enough of Spanish--both the grammar and the vocabulary--that I could begin to do a decent job in that language. Maybe next month.

I had an oral exam today for my class in conversation. This is the teacher that does really hard exams, and tells us to study everything in order to prepare for these exams. The exams are always oral, also--not a written word to them. (It is the class on "conversation," after all.) So I was... nervous, to say the least, and felt like telling her right off "Sé que voy a morir ahora." But I didn't; instead I smiled, said I was "muy bien" (in response to "¿Cómo estás?"), and gave it my best shot. I answered all the cultural-sayings questions quite well, remembered stuff about our literature-reading fairly well, was able to give an opinion about the Spanish-language movie we watched, and managed to use the past-perfect and past-imperfect tenses decently. Thus, to my surprise I received a 95% grade for this test--and she told me I had received the same grade last time! (Until today, I had had no idea what that grade was, and certainly didn't think I did quite that well.)

La Vida es Bella (the movie)

So, I've never seen "Life is Beautiful." Apparently it's an Italian film that got pretty popular recently. We watched it the last two days in our class about conversation. A few observations:

1. Having never seen the movie, I had no idea what it was about, so I had to just roll with it. I'm not used to that... usually I at least read the back of the movie case to get a general idea of the plot. I'm a framework kind of person--I like to have at least some idea of the big picture, in order to fit in the parts correctly. Watching a movie without knowing anything of the plot is... curious.

2. Watching a movie in Spanish is a whole 'nother story. For one thing, the Spanish is fast fast fast, and for another there aren't any subtitles, and for a third the words don't even match up with what the actors are really saying (since it was in Italian originally), so you really do have to rely solely on what you think you hear. And since I'm not quite that fluent in Spanish yet, it was difficult. I did manage to follow decently well, and understood enough of the jokes to laugh at the appropriate times.

3. Why did somebody have to end the movie that way?!? I was waiting for him to turn up suddenly! I thought he was hoaxing us again! Bad, bad filmmakers! Seriously, just imagine how I felt when I realized that this poor guy was... well I won't give away the ending.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A trip to the supermarket to buy newspapers

An assignment for class tomorrow is to read and analyze three different newspapers here. In order to do that, I kinda had to actually buy three different newspapers here.

And to do that, I had to go to the supermercado. My mamá told me it would be better to go as soon as possible, since if we waited till my papá got home, there probably wouldn't be any newspapers left! So, my hermanito and I walked over to the supermarket just to buy those.

I ended up buying the newspaper my host parents read and two other newspapers. Those were the perfect choices, as I found out; I ended up with one paper that's popular with lower-to-middle-class folks, another among the middle-to-upper-classes, and a third (the one with the best website, I believe) that's big with the upper class.

The funniest thing was that my nine-year-old hermanito wanted to read them with me when we got back.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Facebook update, etc.

Seems like anytime an article on one of my favorite websites comes up talking about Facebook, I gravitate towards it. This time it was a blog post, informing me that FB has upwards of 300 million users (and finally turned a profit).

I could guess that most of the newer users are the moms of the old users who heard about what their kids were doing... but I won't. I could guess that some of the newer users are kids in middle school whose friends talked them into doing it... but I won't.

What I will guess is that FB will be superseded by something yet unheard of. Or maybe something that's around now, like.... oh, maybe video-game consoles?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Volunteering with kids (your Sunday night update)

Whew. Second (I think...) week of classes done, one day of volunteering under my belt, a cold come and almost gone, and a day spent sightseeing and taking photographs! That, in a nutshell, was my week. I just wrote up an update on Facebook, as usual, and put in a LOT of photographs because... well, because I happened to take 160 of them yesterday on our sightseeing trip. :)

So yeah, the sightseeing yesterday was the highlight of my trip. However, if I hadn't been so miserable the day of volunteering (the day my cold started... after I left home... so I didn't have any medicine or kleenex with me), I would have enjoyed volunteering a lot too. I got to work with little baby kids (2 years old and under) at a day center for kids in difficult family situations. In between sniffles (of my own), I picked up kids, played with kids, wiped kids' noses, and generally wondered if it wouldn't be better for the kids if I could just go home (I couldn't really).

A few minutes after I arrived, the kids gathered for Bible time, which consisted of singing cute little songs (like This Little Light of Mine, in Spanish!) and the teacher (who was also sick, poor woman) telling the kids a short story. They returned to playtime, and then about nine o'clock had snack time! Let me tell you, they make enough of a mess with watermelon; however I'm told it's worse when they have oranges. And, of course, more playtime followed snack time.

Then I took the kids (with their actual supervisors) and we went out to have group time, where there was a clown. A few of the kids got scared there. One little adorable doll of a girl was fine for awhile, but then she wet herself... while she was sitting on my lap... and started crying because she needed to be changed. I just went the rest of the morning with a slightly damp lap.

We had lunchtime soon after. They all got rice and some meat and french fries (really good french fries), although several of them didn't eat too much (they are little one-year-olds, after all). I fed a little boy in a high chair who wouldn't eat hardly anything, although I did coax a few bites into him. After lunch, we put them all down for a nap, and then I was free to go eat my own lunch--burgers and french fries, mmmmm!--and we student volunteers left for the day.

Why do I keep typing friend instead of french??

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Big old field trip (and post #400!)

Wow! What a day I had. I can't even begin to tell all of it... basically what I did was just take pictures, posted them on Facebook, and put on some captions there.

We took a field trip all over an area of the country I'm in today. We visited three Catholic churches. Early on in the field trip, at the first (and biggest) church, we had to ask locals what was so important about this church and what its history was.

We asked one of the security guards there, and since the assignment was to ask two people, we went over and asked the gift shop clerks too. An older man behind us in line took a liking to us and talked to us a little bit after we had our questions answered by the clerks.

To begin, he introduced himself to our group and... asked me if I was the teacher! I'm not sure how to take that. I'm assuming it was in recognition of superior Spanish pronunciation or some sort of confidence in having asked the first two questions? (I'm just guessing here!) Considering I'm actually the second youngest of the group..... there is one other girl (who shares my first name, ironically) who is five days younger than I am.

Friday, September 11, 2009

And the other side of the coin

A couple days ago, my mamá was on the phone a lot. I came home after classes and she was on the phone for half an hour longer.

Once she got off, she explained that was a family member, and that her husband's grandfather was dying. It is best now, she said, because he's been suffering a lot, and he's getting up there in years. Cancer was taking its toll....

Today, my mamá said he was just a few hours away from death. My papá went to his grandfather's place today, instead of to his workplace. They had been preparing for this point, of course; my mamá said this part had started in January; but still.

My mamá told me about her grandparents, too, a little. She is close with them--they live nearby, and all--and she said she wishes they could live forever, but she knows that everyone has a time to die.

My hermanito told me today, multiple times, that he was sad. He will miss his great-grandfather.

Wow, it's been... 8 years?

The funny thing about living in Central America is that I'm away from all the U.S. hoopla over holidays, days of importance, etc. So I barely realized Monday was Labor Day (only on Sunday night, late, when I was writing stuff in my planner which has U.S. holidays). And only just now did I realize that today is September 11th. Saying "once de setiembre" (the date in Spanish) really does make a difference; it doesn't have the same memory attached to the words. It's curious.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Umm.... (Spanish idioms)

Can't think of anything again. Except that I've lost twice at a local version of Monopoly and I'm not very good at it.

Some of the sayings down here are downright hilarious. I'm having my Central American parents explain three to me every night, out of a list of thirty-five that I have from my teacher. A few of the most interesting....

"When frogs grow hair"

"Longer (taller) than a milkman's whistle"

"He who doesn't cry doesn't suck (get fed, like a baby)"

"The monkey, though dressed in silk, is still a monkey"

"Flies don't enter a closed mouth"

I think the one about the frogs has to be my favorite. :P

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday night update

It seems that Sunday night is usually a good night for writing something lengthy for my blog (and doing some other stuff, too).

Anyhow. This week I've been really busy, or rather busier than before. Classes started this week, of course, so I've had homework. That involved asking my Central American dad about lots of peculiar sayings that are used here (like "when frogs grow hair," which is along the lines of "when pigs fly"). And going over present-tense verbs umpteen times in grammar class (kinda boring). And reading three chapters in an apparently rather famous book called "Pantalones largos." And writing a nine-minute speech in Spanish. Yeah! I was sooo proud of myself when I finished that thing! And all that was only for two of my classes.

The third class, touching upon the culture and civilization of my host country, meets only on Fridays and is a pretty interactive, field-trip-based class. Which means it's awesome! We went downtown this past Friday, to see the national theatre and the original post office building and the central market and the artisan's market and the big downtown Catholic church. I just finished reading the info sheet with history/context of all those. But the experience was way more interesting--we got to taste some special cinnamon-flavored ice cream and some things called churros which are kind of like cinnamon sticks but have something really sweet in the middle. (How's that for a run-on sentence?) And the artisan's market! We're going back there sometime.

And so ended the official week, and the weekend began. That started with a picnic on Saturday morning, during which I actually played kickboll and soccer, and got extremely sunburnt (although not as bad as the one time I only put on one layer of sunscreen for two and a half hours on a Pacific beach a few years ago). And we walked around the lagoon in the park where we were, and of course ate food. I also tasted some weird ice-pop-like thing while at the picnic. I don't know what it was called, but it was just like an ice-pop except the blue one tasted like bubble gum and they were all thicker (like frozen jello, maybe).

Then, last night I watched an important soccer game. Well, sorta. What I mostly did was play euchre and talk (we did try playing euchre in Spanish, and got as far as knowing that
triunfa = trump
matar = to trump
baso = suit
diamantes, corazones, pomos, and somethingsomethingelseIcan'tremember = diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades (at least I think pomos was clubs).
Impressive, no? Oh and we just called the bowers the "right" and "left"and dispensed with trying to figure out "bower."

And I'm not done! Today was a philharmonic concert downtown, so we took taxis to the theatre and spent two blissful hours listening to movie music accompanied by movie highlights (think a mini version of "The Polar Express," which was one of the movies). And by blissful, I mean fantastically heavenly and immensely enjoyable.

So, enough for one weekend. I did learn today about a really interesting little tradition in my host country. You take a threaded sewing needle and dangle it over somebody's hand till it barely touches, enough so it kinda bounces off the hand. Then you watch to see whether it swings back and forth, around and around, or doesn't swing at all. Basically you do this again and again until you do get it not to swing at all. Each time it keeps swinging back-and-forth equals one boy; each time it's swinging around and around equals one girl; and the time it doesn't swing means there are no more. You do this to determine how many children you will have, in what order and of what gender. Fascinating, isn't it?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Spanish profusion

The funny thing about being here, in Central America, is that Spanish and its related thoughts fill my life like nothing else has before.

When I wake up, I'm greeted by "¿Cómo amaneció?" and hear Spanish music on the radio. I play with my little hermanita and speak Spanish to her, though she is only sixteen months. (¿Ádonde vas? ¿Qué estas haciendo?) Then I talk to my mamá about random stuff (Amish people, today... no joke) and she doesn't speak any English, so of course all my conversation is in Spanish. I read my Bible in Spanish. I do my homework in Spanish. I hear telenovelas in Spanish (they're on in the afternoons and my mamá likes to have them on while she cleans or whatnot). About the only two things I don't do in Spanish are read my Chesterton book (during down time at home) and do stuff on the Internet.

So, it's really weird to get online and see that there's a world outside Spanish language study. That the news, journalism, Christianity blogs that I always read are still functioning (though I don't read them near so much now). That the random things I used to blog about all the time are still happening--just, I don't think about them when I get around to blogging. I just think of the random stories from classes, or the funny things that happened with my family today, or something new I learned about C.American culture.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I know more about my computer now.

Today my brother told me how to turn my laptop keyboard into a Spanish keyboard. Now I can type á é í ó ú ñ without much effort, instead of having to right-click, move to a menu, pick a letter and hit "enter." It's incredibly convenient!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Notes on living here

FYI, here = "not at home," "Central America," or "the place where the internet cuts out occasionally."

1. I just got locked out of my own house because I couldn't manage to turn the lock far enough to unlatch. I must have stood there for half an hour turning the key this way and that, because I wasn't even sure which way was the "unlocked" position. So, a nice (male) neighbor comes over and I ask if he can call my Central American parents, but they aren't at the only number he has (and the number I need is... yep, in the house), so I let him know I'm going to my friend's and he goes back inside his own house. I hop across the street to my friend's, and hang out there for a while until my friend's C.Am. mamá beckons me back to my house so she can try the lock for me. Of course, she gets it the first try. Oh well. The experience is what counts, you know!

2. Walking everywhere is, surprisingly, amazingly freeing. I can just step outside and I have the whole world accessible... I don't have to worry about borrowing the family car, or having enough gas (and gas money) to get somewhere, or whatnot. I could even take a bus downtown and, still, I'm out like a buck round-trip. And there are so many things within less than fifteen minutes' walking distance.... a good church, my classes, the park, the supermarket that sells anything you could possibly need. I love it.

2a. (It's a corollary.) I need to go live in a city, apparently, as much as I enjoy biking and walking!

3. I visited a church today. I could understand almost everything the pastor said (and he was definitely speaking Spanish the entire time). I recognized two, almost three of the songs that we sang. And it's a very small church, so I could actually get to know people. I think I'm going back. :)

4. I went to the beach yesterday, thought I had covered myself with sunblock, then found out I had not reached part of my back. It was bright red last night, as my C.Am. familia pointed out. But it doesn't hurt, thankfully. Anyways, the beach was... amazing. It was BIG and had nice BIG waves and beautiful BIG mountains nearby (which we got to travel through on our way there, and I took pictures of them!).

5. Classes start Tuesday, but already I've been learning new words. And re-learning a few that I always have on the tip of my tongue, but never quite seem to remember. And then re-learning some that I've plain forgotten! I love talking with my mamá--she's very patient with me as she tries for five minutes to get me to understand the simplest thing she's saying. But sometimes, we have some good conversations. I've learned so much about this culture from her.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Adventures downtown

We went by ourselves to the downtown of the (rather largeish) city where we're living today...

[6:26:19 PM] Sarah: anyways. We went there Monday with our guide, but this was the first time we went by ourselves on any bus and we waited for like half an hour to get a bus that would go where we wanted. Even then we had to ask a lady to help us (she was very gracious and took good care of us while we were travelling the same path)

[6:26:33 PM] Sarah: So, we got there fine, and had a good time browsing the AMAZING souvenier shop down there.

[6:26:39 PM] Sarah: now, it gets interesting.

[6:26:50 PM] Sarah: on our way back, first we went to the wrong part of the bus stop hub

[6:27:03 PM] Sarah: (there's a collection of bus stops and we were at the completely wrong end)

[6:27:54 PM] Sarah: so once we finally get on a bus headed back home, we accidentally get off at the wrong place (too early) because there are apparently at least two stores with the same name... a popular brand which he (who pulled the line for "parada" should've known)

[6:28:08 PM] Sarah: oops, wrong place for the parenthesis. you get the idea anyway.

[6:29:53 PM] Sarah: anyway. so, only one of us (another guy) knows where we even ARE and is positive he knows the way back. So we get to this HUGE roundabout and have to cross some of the streets--a challenge in itself, as you may imagine--and we get to this somewhat questionable part of town, right about five-thirty or five-forty-five when it's getting towards dusk

[6:29:59 PM] Sarah: and of the ten of us, only three are male

[6:30:05 PM] Sarah: so some of the gals aren't too comfortable

[6:31:19 PM] Sarah: anyway, we get past that part safely, and suddenly see something familiar--the place where we turned around earlier today when we missed another destination (that was walking though, not a big deal) and rejoice to know we are about half an hour from home.

[6:31:33 PM] Sarah: and the rest of the story is less interesting, since we don't get lost again or lose anybody or anything.

[6:32:01 PM] Turkey Man: aw :(

[6:32:02 PM] Turkey Man: j/k

[6:32:22 PM] Sarah: *rolleyes*

[6:32:55 PM] Sarah: it was crazy, but.... yeah, crazy.

A second day in C.Am.

I have now spent three evenings (two full days, plus the day I arrived) with my Central American host family, and it has been really really AWESOME. I mean, it's been great beyond what I'd hoped.

I talk to my mamá a lot, even though I'm usually slow with my words (and can't remember half the ones I want) and she has to be really patient. She's very nice. She has said I speak Spanish well, and she told me today that of the four gals she's hosted I've been the least nervous and most confident. To tell you the truth I've not been nervous. Honest, really! Just excited to be here and finally delve into the language. And I'm learning new words every day, and re-learning (remembering) the words for a LOT of things. (Earrings? Aretes. My nose? La nariz.)

Today was the beginning of orientation at the institute, and we did some sightseeing too (mostly just visiting all the houses we are staying in). And tonight we ate at a popular local pizza place... I can see why it's so popular. Its walls and ceiling are plastered, completely covered, with movie posters (in Spanish, of course) and they show whatever movie you want. Our group picked "The Dark Knight" and it was interesting to read the subtitles in Spanish and compare the translation with the original English script.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm out of the country.

That sounds so odd, really. I'm in a country, of course, just not my home country. I'm overseas now, and my orientation for my classes begins tomorrow. :)

It's pretty interesting, living with a family of practical strangers. Of course, my familia has hosted foreign students before (I know the gal they hosted last year), so they know the deal. I, on the other hand, am new at this and just learning my ropes.

It's all good. I'm really pumped to learn some more about the country tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waiting for my sister

My sister went to a meeting tonight... and hasn't yet returned from it. Crazy, huh? But it's a final, end-of-year, potluck-happy meeting with both teenagers and adults involved.

Oh, and now she's home!! At precisely 10:56 PM, just two minutes after I'd typed that. (Quite literally.) Apparently this was not a mixed teens/adults group; there were adults there, as chaperones, kinda, but then the rest were teens and held a meeting followed by hanging out. No wonder she was gone so long. (A meeting/potluck starting at 6:30 does not normally last four hours.)

Enough for stream-of-chronology blogging.... (you know, like stream of consciousness.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Observations upon recreation

I should make a label that calls itself "observations." I use the term often enough as a title formula!

I just watched "Ella Enchanted" with my little friend, Bee. Today was the first time in quite awhile that I've been able to see her--I've been busy/working, she's been in D.C., etc. So we were together for most of the day; she even came with me (and my siblings) when I drove over to get my hair trimmed/styled before my trip overseas. Anyhow, we watched the movie tonight, partly to give me something to do while the rest of my family went to see "Night at the Museum 2" at the dollar theater, and to give Bee an excuse to get out of the house while her little sister, Banana, and Banana's friend practiced their homemade "ballet" performance.

Carey Elwes is so funny as a bad guy, because he's so good at it! I first saw him in "The Princess Bride" (the best comedy ever, imho *wink*) and then as a bad guy in "Twister." Only after I'd seen "Twister" at least twice did I realize he was the same guy. Then he showed up in that old Mel Brooks movie "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" as a comedic character again. And of course, when we saw this movie a few months after it came out (we had the library copy), he was the elderly bad guy again. Go figure. But I hadn't seen this one since, and I remembered enjoying it. It was definitely amusing.

Second observation: I just heard a Beatles rendition of the song "Till There Was You" (originally from the musical "The Music Man") on my Pandora Radio station.... talk about odd.

And in a completely unrelated vein, but still within the topic of recreation:
Yes, this is my idea of recreation. I've had these links pulled up in my Firefox tabs the last several days.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pie chart....

Totally not mine. Found via the Andrew Sullivan blog (which is on the Atlantic's website, so I occasionally drop by) and found it hilarious.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Audio #3

Gabcast! Audio #3

"Listening" to the Perseids Meteor Shower!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Miscellaneous Graffiti

I came across a hidden bit of graffiti today at work--on a product shelf, of all places, and in Spanish. It was a sort of conversación to the effect of:
  • "This place is horrible."
  • "No it's not. I've seen worse."
  • "It's very horrible."
  • "How are you?"
  • English gibberish pretending to be a Spanish answer to that. I couldn't quite make out what it was saying.
  • Illiterate English graffiti to the effect of "Spanish is dumb." It resembled texting to me, I think.
It's kind of amusing to see all that in such an odd place, you know? I wish now I had written the location down.... and on second thought, I could probably remember where it was....!

Sunday, August 09, 2009


I was going to post a wonderful, fantabulous blog post... but...

I leave the States in two weeks. That's about all I got.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Goodbye to my friends

I said goodbye to a good friend of mine today--a gal I know from my college. She worked not too far from where I live this summer, but between our crazy schedules I saw her only once this whole summer. So we had planned on hanging out for awhile today, before I leave the country and she goes back to our college.

Unfortunately she ended up having more to do today than she thought--last week at her job (a camp) and all--so we only got to talk for a few minutes when she came to borrow a book. It was a quick goodbye.

I said goodbye to my roommate last weekend, when I left her house late at night to return home. I won't get to see her, either, until after I return from studying abroad. That goodbye wasn't so quick, thank goodness.

We plan to keep in touch over the internet while I'm gone, and for that capability I'm grateful. They're some of the few people I feel completely comfortable around.... I trust them that way. I don't want to lose their friendship.

In a way, this sort of goodbye--after already having missed them over the summer--is different from the goodbye that I bid my friends in May at the end of spring semester. Then, I was able to see them often before leaving. The ties of friendship were strong.

After having been apart from my friends for so many months already, I miss them. And seeing them, briefly, only to part from them for a definite few more months? It's sad.

One thing I do know--these gals will be around when I get back. And we'll be great friends, even after so many months. That's how we are. :)

Friday, August 07, 2009

"New and Improved" Jeans

No, really! They're new to me, and I improved them significantly. :) When I got them (from the Salvation Army thrift store), they fit me extremely well--except that they were four inches too long. I wear petite, and these were the tall kind... plus they weren't flared at all, and I much prefer the flare-cut at the hem. Sooo.... I had some fun with them!

I first cut off a good two inches, and left the rest for hem. Then I found some fabric I liked--this time it ended up being an old placemat with nothing that matched it. Mom didn't care if I used it since there were no matching pieces at all. So, I cut that in half (roughly) and pinned them into these 13-inch slits I made up the outside of each leg, along the hem. And I sewed them in, and trimmed off the extra fabric on the inside so it looked more like the triangle it was (rather than the rectangle it started as).

Then I hemmed up the whole shebang and pranced around taking pictures of myself in my new jeans. I had to have some way to show them off, you know. :)

I did this once before, but that pair is wearing out; thus, the new pair. I have some appliques to put on another pair too, but I don't know which pair yet....

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Oh, and I just found a blogger widget that will show the most recent comments on my blog. Just for your reading ease. :) It's now over on the left right below the little pen picture.

At approximately 12:16 AM...

Doesn't that just amuse you?

The use of "approximately" in that context, I mean. If you're saying 12:16, is that really approximate? It comes closer to exact.

Yet, this evening at work, I asked one of my coworkers--a mechanical engineering major, for the record--what time it was. He pulled out his phone and said: "It is approximately 11:02."

I laughed. My dad does the same thing. Maybe it's an engineer's quirk.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pastoring oddities

So, remember that sermon about the letter in Revelation to the church in Philadelphia?

My roommate's dad (a pastor) just preached on the same exact passage this past Sunday when I went down to visit her....

How odd is that?

In other news... umm... I got to eat at a Chinese buffet today! It was good, but I ate too much. Alas, it seems that every time I go to a restaurant either the serving sizes are too big to start with, or the buffet has too many choices to settle on a decent amount of food....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Roomie weekend

I got to see my roomie this weekend!!!

See, ever since she got to come and stay over at my house... last summer it was, I think, and one other time too--we've been trying to arrange so I can stay over at her house, and it finally worked out (after trying since this spring!). I got there Saturday afternoon and stayed until late Sunday night (got home just two minutes before midnight) and had a wonderful time.

My roommate's pretty cool. She likes reading and word stuff, just like I do, but she's much more into the psychological aspect of EVERYTHING (she's a psych major, so it's to be expected) and likes to wonder about the mental stability of everyone around her. It amuses me to listen to her psychoanalyze everyone's actions and reactions. :P

And now... I leave in two weeks, six days. Wow...

Friday, July 31, 2009

I can't think of anything (again).

Working this job kinda drains me, mentally. I feel dumber after these days at work... and thus, can never think of what I meant to write about earlier. At least I'm on eight-hour days, instead of the nine-hours-plus-Saturday that became the last two weeks.

All that comes to mind is that I'll be going to the state fair next week, with my sister, for the first time in... three or four years. I think the last time I went was when I was sixteen and drove the longest I've ever driven without my parents. (I still can't believe my parents let me, a sixteen-year-old, drive to the state fair and back, an hour each way. I don't think I've driven alone that far since...) But that was before the advent of this "Pen or Sword?" blog, I believe. Back in the days of "El Cuaderno."

Man... I've had this blog name a long time..... three years this coming month.

See how random, disassociated, and unorganized my thoughts become after getting home from work?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Horsing around

Tonight one of the ladies at work asked me, out of the blue, if I owned horses.

I do not own horses. Never have.

She said I just looked like the kind of gal who'd ride horses.

What does such a gal look like? Perhaps I wear, unbeknownst to me, the emblem of an equestrian club. I wonder if it's the ponytail.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Philadelphia... the old Asia Minor one

Today's sermon was about the letter to the Philadelphia church, in the beginning of the book of Revelation. A few fascinating things I learned:

--Philadelphia wasn't really that big a deal... just a little city that had only one thing going for it: It was at the crossroads of the East and Rome, so it had a lot of trade routes running through, and thus was a kind of communications hub. Not a real financial or religious center like Ephesus or Corinth.
--It was on a fault line, and a HUGE earthquake (the biggest in recorded history, I think) levelled it in AD 17.
--It got rebuilt after that, but then every time the residents felt another tremor, they all ran for their lives out of the city.
--Eventually, the only thing that survived earthquakes and the passage of time has been the big ol' pillars from the pagan temples there.

And, in light of all that, this verse has particular meaning:

"Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it." (Rev. 3:12)

Friday, July 24, 2009


(Not to be confused with antidisestablishmentarianism.)

My mom and I recently semi-discussed (for twenty seconds, in the van, on our way to Wal-mart or something) the difference between the complementarian and egalitarian constructs of relationships between men and women. (I don't even remember why.)

Anyhow, I saw an article today that reminded me of that again. It's obviously complementarian, as can be expected from a Focus on the Family blog/webzine, and shows how the author interprets the leading/submitting roles of a husband and wife. I thought it was fascinating (and pretty much right, too, for what my nineteen-year-old's opinion is worth). Part of it discusses how passive a lot of today's guys have become.

And that, in turn, made me think of one of my, ah, annoyances with other guys my age. I can't call them men (well, not most of them) because they lack maturity and passion for something (their vocation or something similar to which they put forth energy). They just sit there in classes with their shaggy hair and their laid-back demeanor... as if nothing were worth any effort. It's sad to feel a slight tinge of disdain towards many of my peers.

It's a semantic difference--the guys and the men--but an important one to me.

Ah, two in the morning... I should go to bed. G'night.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Missionary meetups

This past Sunday I got to go with my family to meet a gaggle of just-returning missionaries from all over the world, at an amazing opportunity at my church district's campground. A pretty simple setup--a giant world map, on canvas maybe (it was something pretty sturdy), laid out all over the grass next to the tabernacle at camp, and with band instruments set up next to it.

The amazing part was being able to hear so many stories/prayer requests from so many parts of the world at one time. The missionaries were stationed on the map (that's why it was so big), in the vicinity of where they minister on the real globe. Anyone who wanted could come up and talk to the missionaries--several folks from my church made the trip. And these missionaries were from all over, though we got to talk to just people from Africa and South America (there wasn't time to visit with everyone).

We heard some encouraging stories about breakthroughs in West Africa, changes in South America, and some groundwork being laid in sensitive areas. We prayed with every one of the missionaries as we talked with them, and they asked about us too. Several of the couples from South America were excited to hear that I'd be studying in Central America this fall--I even met two couples who had been at the same language school where I'll be studying! One of them gave me an extra prayer card to carry down with me to one of the professors there, so they can keep in touch (and in prayer).

Fantastic stuff. I'm glad my district was able to host it this year! (This event is held every year, but the location varies all over the U.S.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A week in review

I've been quite busy this week... as I posted on my other blog, I've:
  • Helped out with VBS two mornings
  • Helped out with my church blood drive one morning/early afternoon (after a VBS)
  • Judged several 4-H projects one morning
  • Had a dentist’s appointment one morning
  • Worked nine-hour days (till midnight-thirty)
  • And worked eight hours yesterday.
I don't regret one single thing in that list. Even though I suffered severe sleep deprivation (less than 3 and a half hours) Thursday morning. And even though my feet, back, and hands were sore by the end of the week.

In other news--there is an apple slice sitting on the couch beside me. I do not know why it is there, nor do I know for whom it was intended (though I have my suspicions). Perhaps somebody will take pity on it, eat it, and sent it to little-apple-slice heaven. Not me though; I don't like apples all that much.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Learning Latin....

I got onto Twitter this afternoon, and one tweet (twit?) in particular caught my eye:
AtlanticOnline Should children be taught Latin in school?
So I read the blog post (on the Atlantic's Ideas blog). It was actually rather interesting, and advocated teaching Latin to the underprivileged, or whatever you want to call kids who aren't quite literate, to help them build a better English vocabulary and grammar.
By providing a grounding in the prefixes, suffixes, and roots that serve as the building blocks for so many English words, Latin enables these disadvantaged students to catch up. In addition, Latin's grammar, unlike that of English, follows reassuringly predictable rules. Each part of speech is quickly recognizable... even if you don't know what the words mean.

And Latin gives students a conceptual understanding of grammar that can easily be transferred to the study of English; once one understands the difference between, say, a direct and indirect object in Latin, one can understand the distinction in English as well.

Let me tell you, the author is right on that last point there; studying Latin, any foreign language really, will help you with English grammar. The reason I was so bored in my junior-level English grammar class this semester--where most everyone else was struggling, and even my honors-student English-major friend went to the extra study sessions when I could have done the diagramming in my sleep--anyway, my boredom was because I already knew how grammar worked, from studying Spanish.

Another plus to studying Latin.... Anyone learning a second language also sharpens their thinking skills. The effort and thought processes that you must use to learn something like that--Spanish, French, German, whatever--are, by nature, more complicated thinking skills, and to learn those you have to use them. (Practice, practice, practice! Now I really sound like a language teacher....)

Everybody knows English is hard. Teaching kids a second language, one with a regular grammar structure and nice neat little sets of regular endings, might well relieve them of some confusion with English grammar.


Sometimes I think of the most random things while I'm at work...

... like the meaning of "ix-nay on the upid-stay" from Aladdin. The Genie says it. I'm pretty sure it's one of those childish codes where you take the first letter-sound of a word... et cetera. I'm not really sure why I never realized this before.

... and like the allusion in the title of the movie "Dante's Peak." Dante's Inferno, of course, the picture of hell.

I have no idea why I'm pondering Disney movies and old literature while packing boxes. But apparently I am.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Green" car #1,042

Seems like every month I hear about some new design for a "greener" car--a car that will use less gas, will emit less gas, or will simply run on something other than gas.

But would anyone in his right mind actually drive a 240-pound car? A car that weighs as much as only one or two normal human beings?

Think of the wind factor... in those windy autumn days you could easily get blown off the road. Especially those days when even driving a regular car feels odd because the wind's trying to blow you all over the road.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finally--I gave blood!

For the last year, I have had troubles trying to give blood at American Red Cross blood drives. The last time I was able to give was July of last year, almost exactly a year from yesterday. Since then I've tried probably five or six times to donate blood, and every time I get turned away because of borderline anemia (not enough iron in my blood).

At yesterday's blood drive at my church, I had plenty of iron. :-)

I may work in a warehouse--and push around heavy boxes and such, which probably constitutes the "heavy lifting" you're not supposed to do for five or six hours after donating blood--but I still had no trouble heading to work two hours after I donated. One of my friends called me crazy. I'm not; I just know my limits (and how far I can push them). Didn't even get dehydrated.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bah, Facebook....

I kinda got fed up with Facebook last night, finally.

It's been coming on for a while now. I read an article a couple months back about Facebook's disturbing side, and the sort of things expressed in the article--a concern about Facebook taking up more of my thoughts and time than Bible study, and the frivolity of most of the website's function--have been my own thoughts on the subject for some time now.

Facebook's unique purpose, as I understand it, is to re-initiate contact with long-lost friends or friends who have moved away (or friends who didn't move away with you). And sometimes that works. But what is the main function of Facebook, practically? It's used to keep up with friends you see every other day anyway. And when you're home for the summer--the time in which it ought to serve its greatest purpose, if you intend to stay friends with your college acquaintances--instead of being somewhat useful, it degenerates into a way to waste time (i.e. take quizzes and fill out Notes surveys).

If I want to get in touch with my friends from college, I turn instead to IM or my cell phone, because Facebook is far from the most efficient way to keep up with them. My long-lost friends, on the other hand, remain just that--out of touch.... I have short-lived conversations with them over FB message or wall post, and then proceed to lose touch (effectively) again.

I could remedy this if I wanted to--I could use Facebook more; but what purpose would that serve? Facebook is a means, not an end. And if other means serve the end (long-lasting friendship) better, then so be it. So I decided last night, and posted on Facebook (the irony, I know):

"Sarah is disenchanted with Facebook. Again."

And on Twitter:

"So, I'm seriously considering a semi-abandonment of my Facebook account."

I had three people comment to me in non-Facebook means about my Facebook status update--a friend from college, one of the elders at my church, and my pastor. My pastor, incidentally, knew exactly what my frustration was before I told him a thing more.

So far, my semi-abandonment amounts only to a quick check not more than once a day (more like once every other day), rather than the several minutes I could spend on it. I'll use it less and less... I won't completely abandon it, as it can serve as a sort of first contact, but I'll transfer my FB contacts to e-mail, IM or phone. Those means are much more... communicative than Facebook has been.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mondegreens are in the dictionary!

And in honor of the rise of the "mondegreen," newly printed in the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's, I present you with a classic example... or multiple:

Low in the gravy lay, Jesus my Savior
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord....
Up from the gravy a rose! With a mighty triumph or his toes!
He arose a victor from the dark domain
And he lives forever with his saints to reign (or rain, or rein...)
He arose... He arose... Hallelujah, Christ arose!

At least we're not messing up Hallelujah....

And that is why you always look up the lyrics to songs. Otherwise, you might end up with a whole smorgasbord of erroneous, but hilarious, possibilities. Click to read the blog post that inspired this one! The comments there are too funny.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheerfulness = warm milk and cinnamon

I was at work today... for eight hours... eight long hours, but not as long as the eight hours yesterday. You see, when you're on your feet for your whole job, these moments of curling up on the couch are relished more than usual.

Working second shift is nice, in and of itself... you feel like you have two whole days to do stuff. The morning/early afternoon is a day, then you still work a full day in the afternoon/evening. And of course, the rather foolish among us continue this second day into the wee hours of the next day, spending time on computer and blogging. ;)

It's very interesting to watch people's reactions to stuff at work. It's quite a stressful environment--fast-paced. Some people do well; others, not so well. When a deluge of boxes comes our way (we're in a shipping warehouse), some deal with it by cussing out every other box; some just buckle down and do the task at hand; some treat it as a challenge, or a race.

And at the end of the night--when your feet hurt, your back aches, your eyes are blurring from looking at little numbers all night, and your hands are sore from carrying boxes and things--you really see what people are like. Some are still cheerful, and will converse happily about warm milk and cinnamon while awaiting new orders.

I like those people.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Rather tired... (a history)

...for obvious reasons (just check the timestamp). I'm up late after work, chatting with a friend online (as I do nearly every night after work).

But I did get over a hundred pages into my book today! I'm reading "A History of the Ancient World" by Susan Wise Bauer, and it's fascinating. I really like her writing style, so I'm actually enjoying the story of the ancient Sumerians (where before I was lucky if I could tell you a thing about them besides that they lived in Sumer...). The way Bauer writes, it's really like a story, and the timelines and maps really help me keep stuff together (especially when we're jumping between Sumer, Egypt, and the Indus River).

My sister put me onto this book. History buff that she is, she can usually tell a good history book when she reads one.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Oh--and happy 4th!

It's the Fourth of July, everyone! So, a quiz: What song or poem is this couplet from?

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Micronational status

"Micronations" are itty bitty nations, apparently, that are hardly big enough to stick a ranch on. Think the Vatican. (That's still a sovereign nation, right?) So apparently some British guy went and took over a man-made sea island forty years ago and declared it his own little nation... and so far, the UK hasn't beat him on it!

Imagine living on a platform, on stilts, seven nautical miles from anywhere....

The wonders of Yahoo! News, old KBers, and Facebook. In other words, the only reason I found out about "The Principality of Sealand" was because John saw it on Yahoo News and linked to the government website from his Facebook page.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Back from camp!!

And it was a BLAST!!