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!!