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

*Grumble*

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.

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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
Nuts
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.

Repeat.

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

Housekeeping

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. :)