Thursday, December 30, 2010

One favorite author on another

The heroine of many a modern novel writhes and reels her way through the story, chews and flings away fifty half-smoked cigarettes, is perpetually stifling a scream or else not stifling it, howling for solitude or howling for society, goading every mood to the verge of madness, seeing red mists before her eyes, seeing green flames dance in her brain, dashing to the druggist and then collapsing on the doorstep of the psychoanalyst; and all the time congratulating herself on her rational superiority to the weak sensibility of Jane Austen.

That is, the “weak sensibility” of a woman who (according to G.K. Chesterton) “was certainly not of the fainting sort.” The obvious irony that he pointed out made me laugh. (Quotes from his essay “On Jane Austen in the General Election,” included in Come to think of it… published in 1931.)

“On the sixth day of Christmas…” = Books!

Well, thank goodness I haven’t received any six geese a-laying, though I don’t think I’d have minded the five golden rings.

Being the holiday season, not much has been going on in my life. I’ve been able to curl up in a corner of the couch all day and read, write, or blog… and really, “all day” is not much of an exaggeration. But it’s highly relaxing.

The only thing I’ve had to do besides lounge around is go Christmas shopping with my mom. It’s a tradition we have—the two of us are the only ones in the family that like shopping, so every year I help her pick out the Christmas gifts for all our extended family in addition to our immediate family. (Sometimes I even pick out my own, as I did this year.) So on Monday and yesterday we went shopping for my mom’s side of the family, whose family Christmas will be celebrated this weekend.

Of course, while shopping for Christmas, we happened to find some things we wanted ourselves. Especially at this one store called Ollie’s. This store has a huge book section (it may as well be a medium-sized bookstore within a bargain outlet) and I found two books:

  • The Nighstand Reader for Children. I collect read-aloud books, when I find good ones, and this one was too excellent to pass up. Few pictures, but perfectly marvelous story selections (I examined the index and found the likes of Aesop, A.A.Milne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Carl Sandburg…). Some poetry and riddles as well.
  • Langenscheidt’s Pocket Dictionary: French. I’m going to learn French someday, I hope. And it was three dollars.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

“Long time passing…”

Where have all the young men gone?

I know the original song was an anti-war song; but every time I read something of this sort, it’s what runs through my mind. “The Death of the Grown-up,” you say? What about the death of the young man?

I’m five months away from graduating from a Christian college. I’ve been here nearly four years—and my complaint is that so many people here don’t seem to be very grown up. It’s the subtle difference between girls and women; between guys and men.

Guys, you see, are not bad or anything; they’re kinda fun, decent, don’t necessarily slack off on their schoolwork or anything. But men—well, the men are capable of long-range planning, for starters. They’re fun and decent, too, but they also have more wisdom. They can restrain their spending to be able to afford books next semester, for example. Or they are conscious that the opinions they currently have might change in the future. They know what they want to do with their lives, and they’re pursuing that.

It’s hard to explain just what separates guys and men. All I know is, the guys far outnumber the men at this college… and it’s quite disappointing! (Especially when the few men aren’t asking you out on any dates, but that’s another story for another time. :D )

Monday, December 27, 2010

The After-Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me /
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me /
Two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

So, I know that the Twelve Days of Christmas come after Christmas and before Epiphany (January 6th, I believe), but I never know whether the “First day of Christmas” is Christmas Day proper or if it’s Boxing Day…

Anyways, I’ve had two family Christmas celebrations so far—one with my dad’s side of my extended family, and my immediate family Christmas. My most exciting gift was a passive guitar pickup for my acoustic guitar.

deanmarkley(Google Images is handy for this sort of picture.)

I got to use this pickup yesterday at church, where I play guitar for our praise team, and boy did it sound MUCH better than trying to mic my guitar with a normal mic! And this way I didn’t have to worry about hitting the mic with my hand while strumming.

The last family Christmas—with my mom’s side of our family—is this Saturday. I’m looking forward to the time with family. (That’s always the best part of Christmas.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010


My dad got “Up” for Christmas from my uncle’s family (that’s my uncle who’s his brother). And we are now watching it, supposedly to make sure that the DVD isn’t scratched. I know it’s partly that, but also for the pure entertainment that Dad finds in this movie.

And it is highly entertaining—for once, it’s a good movie that’s neither a sequel nor a new version of an old superhero.

The main reason I like this movie is that it’s witty and true—Carl is so much a member of the elder generation that it’s perfect! (He reminds me of my dad sometimes.) And little Russell is a perfect male version of my eleven-year-old friend Bee and her younger sister. The interaction between the two of them kinda reminds me of Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson in the comics. (I never saw the Dennis the Menace movie, though.)

It’s great to see a movie encouraging interaction between these generations… and such a well-made one, too. Maybe more kids will talk with older adults now. (And maybe older adults will tolerate kids?)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

¡¡Feliz Navidad!!

Y que uds. tengan un buenísimo día de celebrar el nacimiento de nuestro Señor y Salvador, Jesucristo.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
  for he has visited and redeemed his people

and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
  in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies
  and from the hand of all who hate us;

to show the mercy promised to our fathers
  and to remember his holy covenant,

the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
  that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,

in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
  for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people
  in the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God,
  whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
  to guide our feet into the way of peace.

(Luke 1:67-79)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

“Taking Immanuel next door”

In honor of tonight, the Christmas Eve Pre-party:

After leading the people out of Egypt, one of Moses' first tasks was  to build the tabernacle, a place where God would descend to dwell among the people. This was a temporary, movable meeting place. Many years later, Solomon would build the temple, a more permanent, glorious place for God to meet His people.

It was while the temple was still serving its purpose that the prophet Isaiah gave an astounding prophecy: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel — God with us.

What made this prophecy so incredible was that one day, God's presence would not just inhabit a building; it would manifest itself in human form, the person of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:23). In the coming of Jesus, God dwelt among us in the most tangible and personal way possible. He became us.DSCF3226

…But if God is with me — and in me — it stands to reason I can and must be His presence to others.

…We, those who are Christ's bondservants, are His presence to others. As a teen I frequently heard the words, “You may be the only Bible someone ever reads.” The familiarity of those words does not make them invalid. The truth is, “God with us” means “us with others.”

Read the whole article on Boundless (there’s much more). It talks practically about how to be Christ’s ambassadors to others, whether during Christmas or during any other wonderful time of the year.

“Map of Online Communities” circa 2010

Remember that map of online communities that I loved? There’s a new and improved version….


*does happy dance*

By the way, you can see the larger version on xkcd.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Observations on “Dawn Treader”

My sister treated me to “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” at the local cinema yesterday. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to re-read the book immediately.

Of course, I do not own this book; my sister does. She had first dibs and finally finished it late last night.

Now that I’ve also finished it (a feat accomplished early this afternoon) and have also been able to compare the two (my memory of the book was kinda foggy), I have a few observations:

  1. At least they didn’t add too much of a love interest this time… but still…
  2. The way in which they sliced, diced and spliced adventures from the book to make the movie was kind of odd, but it seemed to work.
  3. There were more wishy-washy “believe in yourself” type messages in the movie than in the book.
  4. Eustace in the movie was PERFECT! As in, the movie seemed to capture his character quite well.
  5. The movie was definitely darker than the book… but aren’t all modern movies? I’d at least feel comfortable reading the book to younger kids, whereas the movie would probably give some kids nightmares.
  6. In summary, don’t go expecting it to be just like the book. Duh.

Blog upkeeping

Just figured I’d post a public notice: since Yahoo is making the silly move of shutting down the Delicious bookmarking service, I’m in the process of moving all my bookmarks (now 824 of them!) over to a service called Diigo. And then, when I was changing over the linkroll in the sidebar from Delicious to Diigo, I noticed that I could add a couple more little widgets to the sidebar/footer. So, now there is a list of “well-read letters” showing the posts with the most views, and at the bottom there is a pageview counter. I haven’t quite figured out how to make the pageview counter center…. but I’ll figure out something to make the formatting look better.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Things I’ve suspected #1,520 (Erroneous quotes edition)

You know all those famous quotes that people attribute to famous people? Like the quote “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man must seek Him in order to find her.” Probably not a C.S. Lewis quote (or a Maya Angelou one either). I think it’s Max Lucado but I haven’t found the source for it yet.

But anyways, here’s another one, coming from the theological types: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” At the theologically Wesleyan university that I attend, this line has always been attributed to John Wesley, beloved father of that theological tradition. I wondered this morning where he had said that, so I did a Google search… turns out it wasn’t him at all, though he no doubt subscribed to that school of thought.

Instead, it is a translation (poetic, too) of a line in a 1617 Latin book called “De Republica Ecclesiastica Libri X” by Marcus Antonius de Dominis—a man I have never heard of before now, but with a name and a book like that, he was probably a monk of some sort. (Turns out he was also an anti-Catholic?) Fortunately, Wikipedia cited volume and page number for this text: “unitatem in necessariis, in non necessariis libertatem, in omnibus caritatem” in Book 4, chapter 8, found in the first volume of this work on page 676. And altogether providential, Google Books had a full view of this very book. And there it was, near the very bottom of the page.

GB image of the latin quote

It’s mostly in the second full line from the bottom (in the third line if you count the half-a-word that got shoved down to another line).

And this is why I prefer to have volume-and-page-number (or chapter-and-verse) references for quotations.

Later, a true quotation that’s better in the original than in any of the misshapen forms it takes on in our muddled memories. And it’s Corrie ten Boom.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The problem with Twitter

I don’t have texting. Yet I have a Twitter account. I accomplish this via a desktop widget on my laptop.

Of course, this means I use Twitter only when I’m at my laptop.

Sometimes I think of something that I want to post on Twitter—a quick reflection on a piece of news, or whatever—but I realize that, because of Twitter’s extremely time-sensitive nature, it doesn’t really make sense to post anything about it even just a couple hours after the fact. I’d just be behind the times.

Then there are other instances when I can think of something to write that is quite timely, but much too long for a Twitter update, even if it comes to me in response to something I saw on Twitter.

So these are my problems:

  1. Twitter has a memory of about thirty seconds; no long-term memory exists for it.
  2. Twitter allows thoughts about ten seconds long, no more. No logical, well-developed conclusions can be permitted; they’re just too long.

And that is why I still haven’t abandoned my personal blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Living as a sacrament (Tozer again)

I often fret about the comparatively little time I spend reading my Bible.

It’s as if the time spent reading the Bible, praying, reading devotionals or singing worship songs must be equal to the time I spend in my waking hours doing anything else… which would, of course, amount to a solid 7 or 8 hours a day doing those things.

But then what of the other 7 or 8 hours? Are they wasted hours, because I am not steeped in God’s Word then?

It pushes me to despair. And then I am refreshed by something like this, part of the A. W. Tozer book I’ve finished (re)reading tonight.

One of the greatest hindrances to internal peace which the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas, the sacred and the secular. As the seas are conceived to exist apart from each other and to be morally and spiritually incompatible, and as we are compelled by the necessities of living to be always crossing back and forth from the one to the other, our inner lives tend to break up so that we live a divided instead of a unified life….

This is the old sacred-secular antithesis. Most Christians are caught in its trap. They cannot get a satisfactory adjustment between the claims of the two worlds. They try to walk the tight rope between two kingdoms and they find no peace in either. Their strength is reduced, their outlook confused and their joy taken from them….

It will take intelligent thought and a great deal of reverent prayer to escape completely from the sacred-secular psychology. For instance it may be difficult for the average Christian to get hold of the idea that his daily labors can be performed as acts of worship acceptable to God by Jesus Christ….

We must offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them. Then hold firmly to that position and keep insisting that every act of every hour of the day and night be included in the transaction. Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought-prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.

The full chapter, “The Sacrament of Living,” can be read (for free!) online. And for that matter, so can the entire book. I’ve never heard of the website; I found it via Google search.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tozer’s secret of community

Yeah—community is a buzzword in Christian circles (and octagons for that matter). People wonder how to define it, how to create it, how to nurture it—I do too. Who doesn’t want community?

But it’s elusive.

Maybe we’re barking up the wrong tree, though, by focusing on community itself. If it’s anything like humility, the moment you turn your attention to it in and of itself it begins to break down…

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.

So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.

--A.W. Tozer, towards the end of the chapter “The Gaze of the Soul” in his famous The Pursuit of God.

(Did I ever mention that A.W. Tozer is my favorite devotional writer? Naww….)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Futile vows to myself never pan out…

Remember how I used to post fairly often on my blog, before I was a junior in college? And then how it all dropped off sometime last school year, and I haven’t yet learned to pick the pace up a bit?

That was the days before a lot of homework that involved my computer. Also before the days when I got really distracted during said homework, browsing Facebook and re-watching favorite YouTube videos.

I bring this up to provide the background for this past week. Over Thanksgiving break—just one week from today, I believe—my brother and I determined that the power supply for my laptop had basically died. Without my laptop, I was forced to rely on the school library’s computers for most of my homework.

That was great incentive to do it efficiently—who really wants to spend all day in the library?

And then, after getting back to my apartment after supper (or whenever), I was without my laptop all night.

It was pleasant—I read, I wrote in my journal, I talked to my friends, I read some more, I thought about what I read… I sang, I played guitar… I did a number of things I used to do much  more, before school set in.

I then wrote in my journal how refreshing it was not to be on computer/Facebook (in particular) and to be back doing the things I loved. I resolved to continue this separation from the Internet, in part, after getting the new power cord (coming in the mail). I had grand plans to finish all the books I’ve been wading through, and to write regularly in my journal.

My power cord came Thursday. I was happy, but I didn’t go overboard on the computer usage. I started sliding back into newish-old habits Friday. And Saturday, a couple papers took TWICE as long to finish because I was so distracted by the Internet.

But I realized it. And today did a little better, since I spent almost the entire afternoon doing things entirely unrelated to Internet technology.

So, if I take this one day at a time, I might be able to change these newish-old habits. And maybe I’ll spend more time processing whatever little I read on the Internet (and writing related blog posts), rather than hop-skip-jumping to the next article and the next.

But the last time I told myself I’d do such-and-such, it lasted—oh, maybe a couple weeks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This is the answer. (Nope, not Jesus this time.)

1. Go to

2. Type in “the answer to life the universe and everything”.

3. Click search.

4. Observe the answer that Google Calculator gives you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fix the deficit, you.

The New York Times website has a nifty little gadget that lets you balance the budget… well, theoretically anyway. It’s set up with check-boxes that you select, and as you select options (either cuts to spending, or tax hikes) two diagrams at the top show the headway you’ve made in closing the budget gap.

The U.S. House Republican whip has a project called YouCut which operates on the same principle of you-solve-the-problem. It has more options, I hear, but is designed to work on a weekly, case-by-case basis. The difference with this one is that it actually makes a difference: it’s weekly because the winning cut is put to an up-or-down vote in the House of Representatives.

These things are fun. The one on the NYT website and came up with this: 20% saved by raising taxes, 80% saved by cutting spending.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dancing with the… kids

I’m doing a presentation on music from the Río de la Plata area on Monday. In preparation, I was looking for some good videos to illustrate the kinds of music I’ll be talking about. And I ran across this:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Going goth


This was for campus dress-up day (for Halloween of course). I wanted to do something different.


I had friends say they’d never have imagined me in a goth look.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Theology and relationship

“Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship.”

That’s fine. But make sure it really is a relationship. Here’s what I mean:

This phrase is sometimes used to avoid talking about theology & doctrines, or to imply that theology & doctrine is not worth the time spent on it. But, theology & doctrines are basically man’s pursuit of knowing God more. If you don’t know anything about a person, can you really know a person?

If I say I love someone with all my heart, yet I can’t describe this person with anything less general than “wonderful” or “awesome”—or I don’t even know any of that person’s nicknames—what kind of loving friend am I?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This is my dad asking about my love life.

My dad was at work this afternoon. Slow day, so he called me and we chatted a couple times. (He had to hang up at one point to take care of some people that showed up.) We talked for about 27 minutes total, 15 minutes the first time then 12 minutes a little later.

This is what I love about conversations with my dad: He’s hilarious. For example—once in a while, he will ask if I have any romantic relationships or anything. However, he doesn’t awkwardly ask if I have a boyfriend. He always asks creatively. Today, this is how he broached the subject of my (nonexistent) love life:

“So—I’m going to sound like a father now. In what decade to you plan to get married?”

I laughed and told him this decade, I supposed.

“OK. You know, if you plan to get married in this decade, there are certain steps to be taken. Have you taken any of those steps?”

I told him not at this point, no. From that he asked:

“So, does this mean you have a glimmer in your eye?”

Again, I laughed. He then informed me that I would need to tell him if any developments occurred (I’m pretty sure he used language like that, “developments”).

I asked him: “So, do you want me to tell you after I go on a date, or before I go on a date, or if I get a boyfriend?”

He replied: “You know, that is a good question! Let’s say—you know, you can always tell me more—but, the minimum is to tell me whether you want your father to embarrass you in front of this guy.”

I laughed again. (See a pattern here?) I also assured him I’d tell him if anything “developed.”

Then we immediately moved on to discussing the books he’s reading (since I’m not reading anything extracurricular at the moment). No awkwardness at all surrounding this conversation.

Bet you your dad isn’t cool enough to ask about your love life without awkwardness!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My first car


I bought it this afternoon. :)



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disney princess movies, post #1,982

My friend made an astute observation today as we watched “Happily Ever After,” a Snow White sequel made in the early ‘90s (and a movie which I didn’t bother paying attention to).

If the Disney princess movies set up unrealistic expectations in the minds of young women, with their Princes Charming riding in on white horses, do those movies also give young men unrealistic expectations of beautiful, helpless women who can do anything in high heels and dresses?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I hate CCM.

I’ve written before about my sporadic search for good Christian music to sing along to. Or, what I would consider good Christian music. I have my own ideas about what that label requires, and they have lately been crystallizing into solid form when before they were only hazy hunches.

I want non-cliché music. That’s all.

(Warning: a very long post follows.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Canta la música

And I’m supposed to be at work tomorrow morning, 7:45. Why am I up? Oh right. I’m in college. I do silly things like this.

To update:

  • I got suckered into being lead singer for a class band at my college’s upcoming celebration of Latina culture. (I’d write Latino culture, but la cultura is a feminine noun.)
  • I had to write a difficult article for my college newspaper’s website about the suicide of a student at my college.
  • And I have enjoyed being back with some of my best friends at college.

Just sayin’, I love singing in Spanish about as much as I love singing in English. I’m at the point (have been for a while, actually) where I can simply think the meaning behind the words without concentrating on what the words are saying. I know these songs well enough, and the language, that I can get beyond the mere words that convey the meaning. It’s fascinating.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nueve años

En memoria de todas las personas que murieron en los ataques en el Centro de Comercio Mundial, hace nueve años. Que nunca las olvidemos.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Multiple-choice questions

It’s been a while.

Question: Why do I feel dumber and dumber every day? Is Facebook sucking my intellect from me?

Question #2: Why can I never remember what I wanted to blog about?

Question #3: How in the world did I forget my purse when I left?

Feel free to answer any or all of the questions, as you please.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The beginning of the end... at hand! Run for your liiiiives!!!

Well, not really. I've just begun (=the beginning) my senior year of college (=the end). I have a very convenient class schedule, and I think I will like all my classes, and my jobs; in addition, I'm helping launch our college student media website... which is going to be mostly the newspaper stuff with some video thrown in. But it'll be really neat to finally have that website. (I've been wanting one for four years.)

Also, I got all moved into my new apartment with my new (and familiar) apartmentmates this past weekend. (It was a very hectic weekend.) We finally have a microwave but we're still working on getting the cable to work and acquiring a DVD player.

I finally have a little free time to get caught up on little things, and to get crackin' on my big projects.

Found out this weekend that my local Wal-Mart still sells fabric!! I might just go there this weekend and buy some to make a medieval dress.

What else to tell... what else...

...I got nothin'.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Caution: freezer contents aren’t frozen forever.

Yes, here it is, the third (and final, I think) installment of the freezer saga, posted early because I was in a writing mood and had a little time. (Parts one and two previously.)

So, there I was, happily pulling spices and rye flour from the tub on the kitchen floor and loading them into a plastic basket to be put into the chest freezer in the garage.

*Sniff* something smells strange…

very strange.

Turns out, Mom accidentally left a cow tongue out of the kitchen freezer.

A cow tongue, you see, which was now very stinky, smelly, gross, and unappetizing.

(Not that it was ever meant to be appetizing in the first place. The cow tongue was an AWANA Council Time illustration piece that my mom has used for years—ever since I was in AWANA, I think, so nigh on eight years now. For those who don’t know, AWANA Council Time is like a short children’s Sunday School meeting.)

Back to the cow tongue. To make things even ickier (is that a word?) this cow tongue had leaked… some type of fluid along part of the bottom of the tub. (The little plastic bag of garlic was compromised, I believe.) So, not only did Mom and I carefully dispose of the green-and-gross cow tongue (with the help of many plastic Wal-Mart bags), I also had to thoroughly wipe each and every item that had come near the tongue or been sitting at the bottom of the tub. Fortunately they were mostly glass jars of spices (except for that aforementioned baggie of garlic).

And of course I had to thoroughly clean the tub. But that was a given.

So after getting those spices into the basket, I pulled out a lot of frozen meat from the kitchen freezer for my brother to put into the chest freezer in the garage. Then I turned my attention to the cooler full of a large turkey and little bags of rhubarb—those frozen food items which had somehow survived the original paring-down of questionable foodstuffs.

*opens cooler lid*


OK, so I didn’t really faint. But the stench was rather nauseating.

To make things really fun, that large turkey—still intact, within its intact plastic wrapping—had ballooned up as far as the filled cooler could take. That wasn’t a very good sign, so I gingerly picked it up, with the hand that was wearing a rubber cleaning glove, and placed it directly into another handy-dandy black garbage bag. I tossed the rhubarb in right after it.

(I later heard the turkey pop like this:


as I was taking more things out to the freezer. Thank goodness it was after I’d put it in that black garbage bag.)

Then, after so disposing of the turkey and the rhubarb I discovered… the icky reddish goop in the bottom. And shut the lid pronto. There were still two icey things (freezie packs… whatever those things are called) left in there, but I wasn’t about to dip my hand into that mush, glove or no glove.

So what does a girl do when such a situation defeats even her brave soul? She calls her brother, of course.

And, this girl’s brother indifferently agreed to take the cooler out off the back porch and dump it. I don’t think he was fully aware of the stench trapped inside. (And really, I did warn him it would smell!)

To my credit, I took the black bag of ickyness out to the garbage can myself. :)

And so ends the saga of the freezer. With only one week left at home, I have reasonable hope of escaping another such adventure… for now.

The saga of the freezer continues

So, you may now read the rest of the freezer story….

We left the freezer on the driveway for a couple days to completely thaw out, defrost, and otherwise be rid of the layers and layers of ice coating the entire inside. We even tossed out some large ice pieces partway through the defrosting process.

And then came cleaning. Which involved turning the freezer on its side, thereby dumping the goop (and gross bit of meat that had been embedded in the ice), and aiming the garden hose into it.

I got all wet. Not comfortable.

Anyhow. Once the gunk and grossness was generally removed from the freezer, it needed a thorough scrubbing. I had to go to work, so Mom took over from there.

I returned to find a shiny white freezer sitting upright, drying, in the driveway. Very nice.

It sat that way for a while. Not so nice.

We finally got to move it back into the garage, where it belonged, after it had sat out for a couple days drying from the thorough cleaning. Of course, we picked the one day it rained, so it had to sit drying in the garage for a little before we could even plug it back in.


But, inside the garage it went, with the cord hanging up to dry to make sure we avoided any sudden shocks. And then, I plugged it in the next morning, and that evening put some food back in the large freezer, thus rescuing several spices from a tub on the kitchen floor and relieving an overstuffed kitchen freezer.

The stuffed cooler, on the other hand… will have to wait for another post. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

One week until move-in…

…and all my projects are finally wrapping up.

1. The church photo directory. I’m getting all the photos from the photographer today, and it should be a snap placing them all into the document. Then, PDFing the document, and sending it on to the assistant pastor to get it to the printer… and voilá, I should be all done with this.

2. I actually got the neighboring town’s coroner’s office to fax an autopsy report to the newspaper! And all it took was a little specific information, a couple phone calls, some courtesy, and some patience. Well, the patience thing was easy, since I got so busy I forgot to call back until a week later… which worked out. (The lady I talked to had also gotten busy, so we both picked up where we left off at the same time!)

3. One more week left of work at the warehouse!!! I’m so glad it’s almost over.

4. Gearing up for the semester of editing the campus newspaper. Well, I got everybody to pick some assignments, and did my own; and the ads manager and I got together this morning (via Skype; isn’t technology wonderful?) to fix the ad prices.

5. Now all that’s left is to pack. Gah, I need to pack….

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This is a freezer. No, the ice doesn’t belong.

You know a chest freezer needs defrosting when there is old meat actually embedded in the ice along the walls of the freezer.

I helped empty out a medium-sized chest freezer today—one which hadn’t been defrosted in years. It had ice built up a hand’s-breadth thick along all the sides of the freezer, and even had ice building up inside the lid. (Therefore, the lid would not stay up like it ought to, and would slam on your head if you weren’t careful.)

So, I proceeded to pull the contents out, parcel by parcel. The family staples (bread, milk) had already been reduced on purpose, in preparation for the large defrosting task, but there was still quite a bit of foodstuffs left.

Much of the foodstuffs was comprised of meat. Oh, and little freezer baggies full of cut-up rhubarb. Anyways, I believe I tossed all of the meat except one large turkey into the handy-dandy garbage bag I had next to me.

Mostly because it was all from the 1990’s or something.

No seriously! There were two parcels of meat actually dated from 1993.

Back to my story. The frost-filled meats were too heavy for one black garbage bag, so I think we ended up with three bags partly full. (And I don’t think that included the two turkeys that were not salvageable.) Once the freezer was pretty much empty, I moved a few things around to get the freezer out onto the driveway, and my brother and I managed to dolly the thing out to just in front of the garage… in full sunlight, thank goodness. Chest freezers are very heavy.

But wouldn’t you know it, it would start thundering (despite the sunlight) just as we got the thing outside. Fortunately there was a handy-dandy length of plastic sheeting (in the vicinity of the handy-dandy garbage bags, of course), so we draped that over the freezer and its accompanying dolly.

The funny part? My brother and I took turns dunking ourselves in the still-cold air of the recently-unplugged freezer. My brother joked about shutting himself up in it because he liked the temperature so much. (It was hot today…)

And the moral: defrost your freezer once in a while. And for heaven’s sake, don’t eat meat from 1993.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lazy, hazy days of summer… not…

The nice thing about finding interesting links is that it’s a ready-made blog post. If I’m too tired or too rushed to actually come up with something interesting myself, I can say “hey! look at this!” and it counts as a blog post.

But when I’m not having a relaxing summer—on the contrary, when I’m working overtime and helping a lot at church—it’s hard to sit down and write something original for ze blog.

That, and sometimes blogging is relegated to 2:30 A.M., when I’m hardly awake, much less cognizant and creative.

So I shall sleep. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Caring for the orphans

As you may recall, I’m participating in a Boundless Webzine summer challenge. One of this week’s tasks had to do with adoption, and I found out that Focus on the Family had a website devoted to the ministry of adopting children:

It fits the mission of Focus on the Family, so it shouldn’t surprise me; also, it appears as thorough and organized as most of the other FotF ministries do. I just found it incredibly interesting…

…especially since a presentation in church today emphasized the church’s call to care for the widows and orphans (and orphans was particularly pointed out, in this case).

…and especially because I’ve already come to respect two particular families in my church who have adopted multiple children through the local foster care system. (One lady ended up with 24 children, 3 of whom were biological.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Introversion and the church

I read an article today on the Boundless Webzine called “An Introvert Goes to Church.” At the risk of sounding cliche and vague, it resonated with me—by which I mean, I felt like I could have written this.

A few of my favorite parts:

Much of our common church life is geared toward extroverts. We're encouraged to talk openly about everything God might be doing in our lives, pray out loud for long periods of time, shout out answers to questions asked from the pulpit, get involved in many different activities, "reach out," mix 'n' mingle, and enjoy goofy games with the singles group. In many ways, the church is an extroverts' world.

I am fairly certain that even if you could give me a million years' worth of Sunday morning gatherings, I would never connect significantly with anyone in them. If I'm going to make friends and enter into church life, I have to take steps to get to know people in a smaller and more up-close environment.

Filling a role, with a specific purpose and visibility, made it far easier for me to interact with people. I am fine when I know what the point is — what I have a job to do and can interact while I'm doing it. I thrive on what I see as meaningful work — far more than I thrive on goofy games or purely social get-togethers.

Honestly, read the whole article. It includes some really good suggestions for introverts on how to really be part of the church—some suggestions which I’ve already adopted in my own relationship with my home church. For example:

Does your church have a role you could fill? Can you pour coffee, stand at the door and shake hands, sing with the worship team, man the library, help lead a Bible study? Ask where you can serve. It will help.

In fact, I have done all but one of these things, and they are the most fulfilling part of my membership in the church. In particular, I’ve been part of the praise team at my home church for several years (ever since they let me be a regular singer at about 13 years old). Two of the longtime members, a song leader and a drummer, are like uncles to me, and I’m also close to another song leader’s family.

If it weren’t for smaller situations like that—situations that are not so large they are intimidating, and situations where I know my presence has a purpose—I would feel very much outside the church.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Where did my friends go?

I was reading the 33 Things posting on Evangelical Outpost, and noticed this little infographic:


(Click to enlarge, I think.) First, I noticed the little red snakes. Then, I noticed the bigger yellow snakes. And then, I noticed the huge green snakes.

But the yellow snakes are what intrigue me. Why do so many leave evangelical churches for mainline churches or no church at all?

(I figure the Catholic snakes might just be children who grew up in Catholic schools, for whatever reason.)

MacGyver vs. Chuck Norris

I saw a “What Would MacGyver Do?” Facebook page… and I randomly thought of this question.

What would happen if MacGyver and Chuck Norris landed in the same universe?

(This is how my mind works at two A.M….)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why I don’t go to Harvard, either

Ross Douthat wrote a fascinating column for the NYT yesterday called “The Roots of White Anxiety,” in which he explored how the admissions process at elite private universities, aided by affirmative-action policies, tends to make white, working-class students a minority in those theoretically diverse student bodies.

Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”

Maybe it’s best that I didn’t bother applying to Harvard. I was president, secretary, and news reporter for several years in my local 4-H club, and was secretary for a couple years in the county 4-H Junior Leaders as well…. besides being one of the 4-H Members of the Year just into my freshman year at college.

Douthat goes on to say that this phenomenon has caused liberals and conservatives to lose touch with one another and get paranoid. (Seriously. He’s the one who brought up paranoia.) A bit of a stretch, but a plausible one, I suppose.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Boundless challenges… week one

And so much for posting digests.

The first week of the Boundless Summer Challenge was “Relationships Week.” Meaning, most of the challenges had to do with “significant others,” as if that kind of relationship constituted 9/10ths of the relationships in life.

No comment on how unimpressed I was by this beginning. But I did it anyway (mostly).

I won’t post the notes I wrote on Facebook here. Instead, a few links with a few thoughts:

  • First/second challenge involved reading 38 pages of dating advice. Really. No, I don’t agree with some of what he said. The guy advocates a courtship model, essentially, and some of it comes across as if he’s saying “this is what the Bible says, no ifs, ands or buts” though he does say that good Christians disagree on interpretations. I think he’s legalistic, but he does make good points about where dating as commonly practiced tends to fail us.
  • Third challenge was to memorize Romans 12:9-13: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. It was great to return to Bible memorization, with meditation included. This was probably my favorite challenge.
  • Fourth challenge was to read a short Bible verse (Eph. 5:33) and the first chapter in Love and Respect (conveniently on Google Books!), plus skimming the homepage of the 5 Love Languages. Quite interesting, and on Facebook this part sparked a discussion about whether “men need respect and women need love” is leaving out the fact that women, too, need respect, and men need love as well. I can see where the author’s coming from, I think; still, I’m not sure how much I’d like a man who “loved” me but didn’t respect me. It’s hard to separate the two concepts.
  • Fifth challenge is still in progress.
  • Sixth? To select a few articles from a classic Boundless series and then make one of those “ideal husband” lists of qualities. I’d seen the articles before; thought about the list a little bit; and didn’t really gain much insight here. (Though it was nice to have this short list clearly set forth for my own future reference.) On a side note, I already disagreed with the “soul mate” philosophy. Heartily.

I haven’t even started the seventh challenge, unfortunately. And I don’t intend to tonight. I hardly got four hours of sleep last night, due to high heat, and have been moderately sarcastic all day (i.e., cranky from loss of sleep).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

“I like…”

“I like Facebook.”

“I like Blogger.”

That’s nice.

“Facebook’s utility for sharing whole packages of information, be it made of audio-visual elements, simply photos, or even short snippets of thoughts, is unmatched. In addition, the ease with which three or more users may interact over such elements is particularly striking.”

“You speak the truth; however, Facebook hardly lends itself to short-form, well-thought-out writing that is meant to be read without distractions; and its standardization prohibits any one person or organization from developing a distinctive, memorable look. Blogger permits this, and furthermore allows any reader to, well, read and comment, which Facebook at this point restricts.”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Now to fully explain my point. It seems that Facebook’s “like” button is permeating the whole world of the Internet, and this development disturbs me. Why should everything be simply “liked”? Cannot we have any concurrence or promotion, at least, if not actual evaluation of a website element’s merits?

Must the world be reduced to personal taste?

I want some argument! Must we be barred from making sound judgments on things, giving reasons for our assessments, and critiquing others’ assessments based on mutually-assumed principles? Only in this manner can we improve our understanding of the world.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The intersection of hurt, freedom, and smart business

From one of my favorite humor blogs, Indexed:

In other news, I read 38 pages of dating/relationship advice over the weekend (...) and am memorizing Romans 12:9-13 today, all as part of the Boundless Summer Challenge. I'll be posting a Facebook note tonight, theoretically, regarding the Bible passage. And, as promised, I'll try to post some excerpts of my Facebook notes here--maybe not as a digest, and probably before the week's end.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A summer challenge

One more thing for me to do this summer. Why do I do this to myself?

Hopefully because I like it and it’s good for me!

Check out that link. It’s a month-long challenge put on by the folks over at the Boundless blog, and its intent is to deepen each participant’s walk with God. Sounded like a good idea to me.

So, for the next month I’ll be posting a note a day on Facebook. Which, as you may guess, is not exactly my idea of a good time—no antipathy towards writing, just towards Facebook. But it’s part of the challenge, and the rest of it sounds like it’ll be decent so I’ll put up with that small part.

If you’re already connected with me over Facebook, feel free to read and comment on my notes! I may or may not be posting best-of compilations each week here on the blog for the benefit of those who would wish to maintain their Facebookless existence (*cough* John *cough*), but that remains to be seen, and will probably happen on Sundays.

Monday, July 05, 2010

What’s a 94-year-old to do? Paint!

As you may (or may not) be aware, I’m writing a few articles this summer for my local paper. My latest one was just published yesterday—in the Sunday paper, on July 4th, and just inside on page A3—and it was about a little old lady who’s recently decided to be an artist.

The link will only work for a couple weeks, maybe a month, before it sinks into the pay-per-view archives, but until then you can check it out.

A little tidbit that’s not in the article: She’s painted a rendition of the famous “Christ knocking on heart’s door,” and won a ribbon with her painting at her town’s festival. She gave her most recent painting, a waterfall scene, to her doctor, who plans to hang it in his lobby.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Talk about a double entendre

Consider this children’s song I heard today, while visiting the second Family Camp this year:

“I think I’m gonna throw up
I think I’m gonna throw up
I think I’m gonna throw up
My hands to the Lord.”

There’s more, too. Full video of lyrics with the music is on YouTube, of course. Slightly more commentary below it.

Really? I don’t think I’d especially want my kids scampering around my house singing that. (If I had any. Or if I babysat them.)

My mom thinks it’s cute for little kids (think kindergarten through 2nd grade). It seems to me like it’s making a mockery of praising God. Something just doesn’t feel right about this song.

Then again, I’m also not seven years old, nor am I a fan of bathroom humor.

Family vacation

…that is why I’ve been quite, quite silent on this blog.

But that will soon change!

I hope.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Addendum: Bride and Prejudice, a second time

Yep. My dad and I watched it again—at his behest. That makes twice in one single week.

And I still loved the movie!


  1. I can recognize all the little episodes in the movie as adaptations from episodes in the book. Take the sister’s snake dance, for instance. Totally a ripoff of Mary’s embarrassing pianoforte performance.
  2. Music. Awesome.
  3. My dad watches this with me. And he says it’s his new favorite movie.

And to top off the astounding occurrence, we watched Becoming Jane, too—this same night. Not as fun of a movie—weird acting I thought, but that could be just me—and of course, not a musical, so it would be hard pressed to top Bride & Prejudice. Overall not a movie I’d bother watching more than once.

My mom and I were guessing throughout the movie which Austen character the leading man was supposed to resemble. I settled on Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility, with a dash of Darcy thrown in at the beginning, but I could also see some Wickham in there too.

Of course, we were discussing these options out loud. My brother told us to be quiet and watch the movie if we were going to watch it. Silly brother.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mid-year Jane Austen fix (Bollywood style)

This morning—before my brother was up—my dad and I decided to watch Bride and Prejudice, the Indian (like from India) rendition of my all-time favorite novel by a similar name. And man, am I glad we did!

I think the most fascinating part of this movie was all the color. Every woman in the movie wore a brightly-colored sari, and of course with costume changes the choice of bright colors changed. The camera shots took advantage of all the color involved, especially during the song-and-dance scenes.

Oh yes—this was a musical! Which made it even better (and even less likely to be tolerated by my brother, who fortunately still has not emerged from his room). This was definitely a Bollywood musical; the music was identifiably Indian (think Slumdog Millionaire) though most of the songs were sung in English.

Of course, the names from Austen’s novel had to undergo some changes to become part of the Indian culture, so Elizabeth became Lalita, Jane became Jaya, and so on with all the Indian characters. (Mr. Darcy, fortunately, became American rather than Indian, so he simply lost the “Fitz” and became William “Will” Darcy.) I thoroughly enjoyed watching the personalities express themselves (according to someone’s interpretation of Austen) within the Indian cultural context.

Mr. Collins—who became Mr. Kohli—still annoyed me to no end.

That was the most intriguing aspect (notice, intriguing is different from fascinating)—how the old British story was transformed into an Indian one. And actually, it worked better as an Indian story than an American story (like the movie set in Utah that I watched a bit ago). My dad pointed that out.

I theorize that the cultural pressure to get married, the involvement of the family in the courting process, and the dire results of waiting too long or refusing an eligible offer all exist in both the original novel and in this Indian movie, but were lost in translation when the story was carried into the modern-day Western United States.

So, this was officially the 5th film rendition I’ve seen of Pride and Prejudice. The complete list:

  • 1940, with Greer Garson and horrifically wrong period costuming (though it was still set in 1800s England, same as the book)
  • 1995, with Colin Firth (also set in 1800s England)
  • 2003, with nobody famous (that was the modern-day Utah version)
  • 2004, with Aishwarya Rai (she’s a big-time Bollywood star; and of course, this was the movie in modern-day India)
  • 2005, with Kiera Knightley (again, 1800s England)

I have yet to see Bridget Jones’ Diary but who knows if I’ll get around to it.

P.S. Dad is convinced that Bride and Prejudice is his new favorite movie. (He enjoys both my Jane Austen addiction and musicals.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Post number 503 (and that’s no joke)

I’ve had this personal blog since August of 2006… so we’re coming up on 4 straight years of blogging at one domain. Before that—as some of you will remember—I had a blog at the now-defunct KleverBlogs from January 2005 until the move here.

And today we celebrate 503 posts on this blog! *starts throwing confetti*

*starts cleaning up confetti*

In addition, my e-mail tells me (via a holy and devoted e-mail folder of blog comment notifications) that I have received 753 comments (“replies”) to posts here at the blog. Of course, that does not count the comments that came when the automatic e-mail notifier wasn’t working. But since it’s the only official number I have, we’ll go with that.

Congratulations to da_baum for posting the 750th comment!

Here’s to another four years of my blogging. But most importantly, to another four years of random comment threads!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New theme—a keeper this time

So I reckon that about half of you already know I changed the theme—or rather, that I told you specifically that I had changed it. The rest of you, now, shall get an explanation!

Reasons I changed my theme:

  1. I like my whole secretary-desk-themed titles and modifications. Any chance to use the word “amanuensis” is worth it. So I needed a blog look to match.
  2. I also needed visual confirmation of the blog’s name.
  3. I had an awesome fountain pen picture that I had stopped using. It is now in use again. This is probably the main reason.
  4. I like books and writing. Obviously. I mean, that’s half of what I write about on my blog, right?
  5. This seems to be a more serious, or more thought-provoking, theme. (If a theme can provoke thought.) The purple one was gorgeous but just didn’t match the tone of what I think a lot. At least, that which I choose to publish. There’s plenty of thoughts running around in my brain that would match quite nicely with the cute flowery purple-and-blue theme… but they mostly have to do with times when the last thing I want to do is sit with my laptop and type!
  6. Blogger rolled out their Template Designer tool for real now, so I don’t have to resort to Blogger in Draft to do redesigns. It caught my attention and got me onto this train of thought.
  7. So I took the Last Train to Clarksville. *starts whistling*

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On keeping a personal blog

As you know, this blog has basically no point. It is simply the airing of various observations, fascinations, and rants that find their source in the fount of my mind.

That is, I write whatever I feel like writing.

But I do not write every time I feel like doing so… not on this blog, at least. Much of my writing is instead left in my journal, or on scrap paper in notebooks strewn about my room. That’s because I often write to clear my head and to organize my thoughts. Most of my writing is, in fact, private—not for public consumption.

Some think that to write is to be read—that there is no purpose to writing if the words on paper (or screen) are never intended to be read by someone else—but I think those who write will understand an article I found linked off of some blog or other that I frequent (I don’t remember which one right now).

For many of us who love the act of writing—even when we are writing against a deadline with an editor waiting for the copy—there is something monastic about the process, a confrontation with one’s thoughts that has a value apart from the proximity or even perhaps the desirability of any other reader.

Writing is for my own good, in the first place—whatever benefit that other people get, that you get, is great, but secondary.

So why bother keeping a personal blog?

Well, just because writing benefits me primarily doesn’t mean I ought to let it benefit myself only. To do so would be to turn into a navel-gazing writer, full of pride and everything that is the opposite of humility. And that’s not what a Christian is called to become, right? (right!) So, on the occasion I find something of real worth beyond my own sphere of existence—when it’s not limited to circular rants about something insignificant that bothers me, for example—then I figure that as a writer it’s practically my duty to pass anything of worth along. If God gave me the gift of writing, he expects me to use it.

Now granted, this sounds great in theory. In practice, I end up publishing a lot of worthless words that should probably have been relegated to telling stories among friends or in the family, simply because they lack general interest. But that’s what happens when you try to turn theory into practice. It gets a little bumpy.

To return to the article: This part also intrigued me.

There have always of course been posthumous publications. And there have always been controversies as to whether or not publication was in line with the author’s wishes. But the idea that somebody might choose not to publish—or might choose to publish in a small circulation magazine rather than a large circulation one—can look downright bizarre in the age of the blog and the tweet. The space between the writer and the reader is evaporating.

And this, at the same time that the space between real-life friends or business contacts is widening, what with our continual reliance on texting/Facebook to keep up with people, rather than just talking to them face-to-face (or on the phone, if the distance is prohibitive). But that’s another post…. and maybe one that won’t get written.

This line from the opening paragraph will serve as a decent closing quote.

Writers who live for their readers—or for what their editors imagine their readers want—may end up with an impoverished relationship with those readers.

On that note—I promise, no more posts today!

Good or bad: A killer’s brand-new life

I read an article on Yahoo! News today about a man who killed another person in Montana back in the 1950s, skipped out on parole about 20 years after that, and managed to hide in plain sight for several decades until the victim’s grandson tracked him down.

This man, Frank Dryman, went by the name Victor Houston while he lived in Arizona, started his own wedding-chapel business, and even married a woman (who knew nothing of his past until he was apprehended).

"They [law enforcement] just forgot about me," said Dryman, in his first interview since being caught and sent back to the prison he last left in the 1960s. "I was a prominent member of the community."

And what does he have to say about his misdeeds? Well, to quote the article, “he is not kindly disposed to the victim’s grandson,” who found him with some private investigative help.

"I can't blame him for what he did," Dryman said. "But I think it was so wrong he spent so much money getting me here. I feel it is unfair."

Wrong? Unfair?

Read the article. It’s a fascinating story… he really thinks he’s basically a good person. He even portrays the killing as done by an entirely different man, a “kid” in his words. Then, towards the end of the article, the family talks about what it was like to live in fear of hitchhikers all their lives and to go on wondering if the killer would ever show up again to haunt them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Copy-editing is a dying art

My mom sent this in a forward this morning. I couldn’t stop giggling. This is just a small taste of my kind of humor…. all the comments below the headlines are not my own; rather, they were part of the e-mail as sent to me.

Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn’t you say?

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
No crap, really? Ya think?

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that's taking things a bit far!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
Ya think?!

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thought!

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren't they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That's what he gets for eating those beans!

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is....

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Did I read that right?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

“Map of Online Communities”

I love maps.

I love to hate Facebook. (Or something like that.)

So, you can guess how much I love this.

From xkcd, where the larger version may be viewed and laughed at. It appears to be slightly out of date (I’d guess that Facebook is a wee bit bigger than it appears on this map), but still entertaining. I happened to see this graphic over my brother’s shoulder a few minutes ago.

A question about e-readers and Kindles and Nooks (oh my!)

I’ve been reading a book called Writing Space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print (2nd ed.) by one Jay David Bolter. It’s about the Internet and how it relates to what we have known as reading and writing. It’s fairly interesting, although a bit jargony and academic-sounding. (What can you expect?)

One part got me thinking. This book says one of the Internet’s major advantages is the ability to hyperlink, like this. So, since e-readers, Kindles, and Nooks are all digital “reading spaces” (shall we say), do they let you create your own links? For example, if I read some particularly fascinating sentence in GKC’s Orthodoxy, and then later I’m reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and I notice that Lewis addresses the same issue, can I tell the e-reader to make its own little link between the two books?

Providing, that is, that I have the time and inclination to go back to the first book (Orthodoxy in this instance) and find the part I’m remembering… but considering that e-readers in general had better have searches built into them (that’s a given!), it shouldn’t be that hard.

I already know that Kindles will let you write notes in the “margin” (as digital as it is) and you can highlight and such—but that’s basically duplicating what can already be done in a real book with no greater trouble. If these things could let me make little links, that would be a real accomplishment.

And for all I know, that’s already done. But I’m still curious.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

On WJI: Felons find job training

One project that I had worked on quite a bit, but had to give up, was a story on a nonprofit organization that had just started providing job training for former prison inmates in New York.

I didn’t want to give it up, though, so I didn’t really. I kept corresponding with my contact, and though I could not put together a convergence project (i.e., a story with video and slideshow and audio to accompany it), I ended up with a decent print story with a few photos. That story was just posted online today.

And the best part about this story was working with my contact. She was amazingly cooperative—not a common experience for a journalist—and even went so far as to stay up late just to find me an official document stating New York’s recidivism rate. I have an e-mail from this lady date-stamped at 11:26 at night, after she was already worn out after a full day at various New York prisons and looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend. I would never have asked her to do that, but she went the extra mile on her own initiative to make sure I had the information I’d need.

That’s why I couldn’t let this story go. I had to see it through.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Home, sweet home…. by bus

I made it home.

After spending 24 of the last 40 hours on a bus or in a van.

(By which I mean, 20 hours by bus from Manhattan to my cousins’ place, then more than 4 hours from my cousins’ to home. Time spent on bus layovers was made up for by driving from the bus station to my cousins’ and from there to the graduation ceremony.)

How am I not crazy?

  1. Two good-sized novels pass the time quite pleasantly. (I read some of my favorites, Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott.)
  2. I much prefer being chauffeured over driving myself. Go figure. (That’s why I loved the public transportation options in NYC.)
  3. Simon and Garfunkel provide a perfect soundtrack to a trip to New York City. Seriously, half their songs are specific to Manhattan. I loved it.
  4. It is actually possible to sleep on a bus. (Not too comfortably, and not too long, but it is possible.)
  5. Mothers are fun to talk to on long van trips.
  6. And sisters supply a great variety of songs to sing along to.
  7. Staring out the window has its benefits, as well.
  8. Lastly, when a bus ticket costs a lot less than a plane ticket, and makes you feel more independent, it’s worth it.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Quotes on my Facebook profile

(Just for some meager amusement while I spend all day tomorrow on a bus and all the next day out of reach of the Internet. Sweet dreams.)

There's a loyalty that's deeper than mere sentiment
And a music higher than the songs that I can sing
The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance
I owe only to the Giver of all good things...
--Rich Mullins

But there's more to this life than living and dying,
More than just trying to make it through the day;
More to this life, more than these eyes alone can see,
And there's more than this life alone can be.
--Stephen Curtis Chapman

For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love
I'll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough
And with every breath I take, I will give thanks to God above
For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.

Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true Word
I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
--Dal­lan For­gaill

'Cause when we say 'no' to the things of the world
We open our hearts to the love of the Lord and
It's hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind.
--Michael Card

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side--when times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
--Paul Simon

Ancient words, ever true
Changing me and changing you
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart.
--Lynn DeShazo

Qué será, será,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see...
Qué será, será.
--Livingston / Evans

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose under heaven.
--The Byrds (see also Ecclesiastes)

Take a look at you and me
Are we too blind to see
Do we simply turn our heads
And look the other way...
--Elvis Presley

'Cause it takes all o' ma time to praise my Jesus
All o' ma time to praise my Lord
If I don't praise him, de rocks a'gonna cry out
Glory and Honah, Glory and Honah...
Ain't got time to die.
--old spiritual

The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
    And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say.
--J.R.R. Tolkien

Psalm 19

Psalm 139

Proverbs 3... full of promises!

Romans 12

"Three-quarters of a glass is half full!" --Bethany :-D

"You can't stab someone with a dirty fork!" --Katie M

"Big, long, black... and fuzzy!!"  --Jonathan on submarines


"Él es negro..." --Cody

"Hoes... what are they doing in the garden?" --Alicia

"The world is so full of a number of things I'm sure we should all be happy as... but are we? No! Definitely no! Positively no! Decidedly no! Huh-uh.
   Short people have long faces and long people have short faces. Big people have little humor and little people have no humor at all.
   And in the words of that immortal bard-- Samuel J. Snodgrass-- as he was about to be led to the guillotine-- make 'em laugh!"
--Donald O'Connor, as Cosmo Brown

"Mr. Ambassador, you have nearly a hundred naval vessels operating in the North Atlantic right now. Your aircraft has dropped enough sonar buoys so that a man could walk from Greenland to Iceland to Scotland without getting his feet wet. Now, shall we dispense with the bull?"
--Richard Jordan, as Jeffrey Pelt

"If you have 6.0x10^23 plus guaca what do you have?" --Jennifer K's FB status

"Pretzels! You know, they're crunchy and they have salt on them." --Polonius, bolonius, plutonius, aka Alicia

What trouble are giants--what's wrong with being small?
The bigger they come, you know the harder they fall
When you're fightin' for Zion, and you're on the Lord's side,
I think you're gonna find they ain't no trouble at all...
--Rich Mullins

For none is so sad,
But a door who wished to be a tree.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Latest at WJI: NYPL funding in trouble

My most recent WJI news project is now up: New York libraries are facing a huge funding cut. For this project, the video was the key piece, and I’ll go ahead and embed it here. Take a look!

Photos from NYC

Enjoy. :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

More about New York’s Fleet Week

[tweetmeme style="compact" only_single="false"]

My entire convergence news package about Fleet Week is up on the WJI Times Observer (the video was posted here yesterday). Be sure to check out the slide show for some nice photos (if I do say so myself). :)

My previous projects have been about immigrants overcoming the language barrier and a new pedestrian-friendly design for 34th Street right here in front of the Empire State Building. (Those also have slideshows and an audio piece.) And tomorrow? Well, we’ll see when we get there, but another package will be completed Wednesday night. Then we’ll be working on a radio piece, 60-90 seconds, and I have something rather interesting in mind for that, I think. We’ll see how everything pans out.

Tonight, though, I’m going to try to do something non-journalistic and quite touristy—I’m going to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Pictures will be forthcoming provided I get somebody to go with me! (I think I have two apartment-mates convinced to go.)

Woah, I just figured out that I can insert a map…. and voilá, you can see the location of the Brooklyn Bridge!

Map picture

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Coast Guard drill team visits Times Square

Here’s the promised video!

Fleet Week in NYC

Today, I learned why I’d seen so many uniformed military men passing through Manhattan: This weekend is the height of New York City’s Fleet Week, when members of the Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy descend on the city for a sort of shore leave. There is a ton of stuff going on in Times Square, including the Navy Band Northeast (which was this evening) and some drilling from the Coast Guard’s Silent Drill Team (which was fantastically fun).

Coming tomorrow: a video about the drill team! I got some interviews with members of the drill team after they were done drilling, and one explained to me the process of becoming a part of the drill team. Look for it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

WJI: The biggest thing I’ve learned recently

In the last few days, I’ve gotten drummed into my psyche one important journalistic item: Get the name and contact information of everyone, absolutely everyone, that you talk to. Including the receptionist at the organization, or the passerby you videotape commenting on the mayor’s latest initiative.
I’ve learned this by forgetting to do it. So far it hasn’t hurt me too much—but I know it might in the future. That’s why I’m trying to make it a habit to ask people for their names and e-mails, at least, and often phone numbers as well (if I don’t already have it—I’ve been calling organizations on the phone lately).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Testing, testing, one-two-three…

So I just downloaded Windows Live Writer—the Microsoft blogging software. We’ll see if I really want to keep this.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Moral: Just read the sign.

I was up way too late last night. (Don't tell my mom. *wink* ) First of all, I was out covering my current story until quite late, then I stayed up even later to get laundry done. I'd have done the laundry Sunday night but the little laundry card machine was out of laundry cards. *sigh*

So I was up till 1:30 waiting for the dryer to get done. And I take the elevator four floors down... and walk around the corner to the laundry room... and find the door securely locked. The large sign in one of the windows to the laundry room proclaimed the room's hours:
7AM -- 1AM
You'd think I'd have seen that sign earlier. The laundry waited until this morning to be removed from the dryer.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Another redesign....

I discovered Blogger in Draft ( today. And I like it. So what about this look?

First package from WJI up

Miracle for alternative transit on 34th Street

I couldn't resist the allusion.

EDIT: The website was slightly reworked, so the old link no longer works. Please follow the new one.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Video: Papaya Dog

I never would have thought to combine the words "papaya" and "dog." As in, a fruity hot dog or something. But somebody had a demented enough mind to do so....

Friday, May 21, 2010

WJI: Ten things I've learned.

1. Tell the story. Find the story. Make it a story. Personalize the story. It's a story that needs to be told, and it needs to be coherent and compelling.

2. Show the story. Use a little color. Don't say that "she was happy." Say that "she smiled widely when I told her the news."

3. Work together. ("Work, work together...") It's a lot easier to do your job if someone's helping you, and then you can help out your partner. You play off each other's strengths.

4. Windows Live Movie Maker is the least capable video maker possible.

5. New York streets make sense, and it takes half an hour to walk to the Hudson River from the Empire State building.

6. Don't talk while you're trying to take video. That's your natural sound you're obliterating!

7. Get some variety in your photos and videos, both in composition and in content. Don't take all your pictures of the same two things.

8. Waking up at 5:40 A.M. can be worth it.

9. So can walking half an hour each way to interview miscellaneous bike enthusiasts.

10. Journalism just gets more fun the more I do it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

World Journalism Institute: A Morning with Pulliam

I hardly have time to write anything--I'm spending a solid 12 hours a day solely on class and homework. (As in, I have to be in the classroom before 8:30 in the morning and I don't get back to my room until after 8:30 at night.) But I don't care.

The WJI program is amazing. It's the biggest challenge I've had in journalism--definitely on the level with my challenge in my Spanish major of being plopped into a Spanish-speaking household when barely able to string two sentences together in Spanish.... if not even more challenging. I'm learning from Russ Pulliam today, who's a senior editor at the Indianapolis Star (woohoo Indiana!) and whose family has been in newspapers for a few generations. From reading a collection of his editorials and features in preparation for this course, I thought he'd be in-your-face and blunt.

I couldn't have been farther from the truth. He's very Midwestern, as he said himself, where people are polite and nice--at least, nicer than New Yorkers. He's a quiet speaker, and not intimidating at all, despite his incredible journalistic resume. Right now we're rewriting a news story to shorten it and tell only the absolute key parts (in 100 words or less--definitely a challenge), and he's going around the room, reading our rewrites and asking us kind questions to help us understand how we can do better.

He points out what is great, and tells us what he wouldn't do--"I wouldn't worry about..." or "I'm not sure I'd...", for example. He gently tells us what we need, but not as if he's telling us what to write--he's telling us how we can tell the story we want to share more concisely and with more interest. He's letting us know how we might "want to be careful" about keeping a reader in suspense too long, or how we need to clarify what the real story is.

Pulliam couches all his advice in unassuming terms. Try to imagine hearing "I think you might be trying to do too much here..." in his soft voice. It's very reassuring to a young journalist the day after staying up late finishing a grueling assignment.