Saturday, July 30, 2011

Compendium of Links #12

Hey look! It’s the second Saturday in a row I’ve managed to compile these links! And that’s even without Internet service in my apartment. *pats self on back* In other news, I played guitar for a wedding today, and it was a marvelous opportunity to bless a young couple using something God’s given me. (Plus it’s fun too!)

Book Hoarding…. a bit thought-provoking. (Via Challies.)

One day the pastor said to himself, “What am I going to do since I don’t have enough shelves to store all my books?” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do: I will take down this old hodge-podge of shelving that I have constructed with boards and bricks and build new shelves, all matching. I’ll make them tall—up to the ceiling in height, so that I can store all my library neatly, attractively and conveniently with some room left over for new purchases. I’ll put them in the main rooms of the house, the basement, and, of course, in shelves covering the walls of my church office. Then I can say to my soul, “Eat chips, drink fine coffee, read and be happy, for a resting place has been found for all your massive library.”

But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own all these books that you have collected?”

How appropriate. After this week’s story of my various forays into chick-flick land, the Gospel Coalition posts an article about the downsides of watching romantic comedies. I.e., they can give a woman false expectations for her future or current husband, particularly in the areas of sensitivity and emotional behavior. Now, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call them “romantic pornography” as she does—I reserve that term for Harlequin romance books—but she has a good point, one that more women should keep in mind when watching anything involving Meg Ryan (or a Disney Princess, for that matter).

The last three are from the same site (Futurity), but nevertheless interesting….

Yay for smart newspaper readers and voters. I hope more people become savvy to newspaper bias and take political endorsements for what they’re worth!

Sustainable forest harvesting just might be a better idea than building with steel, apparently. Sounds complicated though.

Using life cycle analysis the researchers compared replacing steel floor joists with engineered wood joists, to reduce the carbon footprint by almost 10 tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of wood used. In another example, wood flooring instead of concrete slab flooring was found to reduce the carbon footprint by approximately 3.5 tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of wood used.

And, for our “duh” moment: Older adults make smarter choices and young’uns tend to be deceived by the lure of instant gratification.

It seems that videos are funny, more often than not, and cats invariably induce laughter…..

Long, but amusing. You might have seen it already too, judging by the number of views logged on YouTube.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spurgeon on brevity

Length is the enemy of strength. The delivery of a discourse is like the boiling of an egg; it is remarkably easy to overdo it, and so to spoil it.

—Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life on my own #2: Chick flick edition

Once in a while—read, about once or twice a week—I’m so tired from whatever work I was doing that day that I feel like doing absolutely nothing, either physically or mentally. What’s the most mind-numbing, still activity there is that does not include napping? Watching movies, of course!

One of the ladies in Bible study had a garage sale at her bookstore, where I picked up a VCR player and a TV for fifteen bucks. Sure, the TV has a red cast, but it’s a TV and the VCR works great. Even has an automatic rewind, as I found out last night when I waited a while before stopping the video. And my uncle gave me a small DVD player (like you could get from Family Dollar or something) a few months ago. You have to watch that it doesn’t overheat, but if the movie starts skipping I just put a small bread pan full of ice under it. Does the trick wonderfully. (Same thing can be done with overheating laptops!)

Anyways, all that to say, I have a decent setup for watching movies over in the living room—plus all that random fabric pinned on the curtain rods serves to block the waning sunlight surprisingly well.

So after a few hours in ninety-plus-degree heat at the county fair, I’m tuckered out and it’s only nine o’clock or so. Solution: let’s watch Sabrina!

This is the new Sabrina, mind you. Not the old one with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, though I do love that version as well. I happened to leave that one back at my parents’ house though. Wal-Mart had the new Sabrina on the five-dollar rack last time I was shopping, so I bought it at once.

As I sat, curled up on the couch, watching that oh-so-chick-flicky movie, I wondered if this was what single gals did on nights they were wishing they were out on a date. It seemed to me like a silly thing to do, only I was way too tired to do anything else. Besides, it’s fun to watch Harrison Ford make a fool of himself.

Then, after the very last evening at the county fair (hooray!!), I wanted to celebrate. However, it was a bit late by the time I got back here—not so late that I wasn’t going to be up for another couple hours, mind you, but late enough that my friend in Galion was not likely to be up for a visit—and again, the walking and the heat had taken some energy out of me. Oh, and those living room windows are still dressed only in unfinished fabric. Not exactly what I want to be showing all my curious friends.

So, instead of having someone over, I pulled out my aluminum foil, removed the drip pans from the stove and popped in a library VHS.

The movie was While You Were Sleeping and the project was to cover the drip pans with aluminum foil, to facilitate cleaning later. (All you do is rip off the old foil and put on new foil if it gets really gross.) Yes, it was another sappy chick flick. But it had Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman! Ever since watching Independence Day so many years ago (OK, maybe like seven or eight, possibly a decade), I’ve fancied Pullman’s style. He’s also in Newsboys which I was destined to enjoy because of my chosen vocation.

I’d never seen this movie before but I was pretty sure I remembered Mom saying it was cute, and it was only PG so it couldn’t have any gross sex scenes or anything. And turns out, it was indeed as innocent and fun as I was hoping. Pullman was funny, Bullock as awkward as could be, and not a naughty word in the whole movie. While You Were Sleeping is henceforward on my wishlist.

Bridget Jones’ Diary, however, is most emphatically not. I watched it a couple weeks ago, I think, only because I am determined to become the resident Pride and Prejudice expert and  it was supposedly loosely based on P&P. Loosely is putting it mildly. And it had a gross sex scene that must’ve been ridiculously long, judging by how long it took to fast-forward through it. And on 16x speed too. Dumb modern movies. It wasn’t even that funny or ironic, not like the book is.

P.S. Just so you don’t worry that I’m becoming a hopeless romantic-turning-cat-lady: I did also watch Flyboys, one of my all-time favorite movies and much less of a chick-flick. Lots of boom-boom action in that one. I mean, c’mon, it’s set in World War I and they’re all fighter pilots (including the handsome James Franco). What could be better?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quotes from Perelandra

I re-read Perelandra by C.S. Lewis a few weeks ago, both to get something done on the summer reading program and because I wanted to buy the Space Trilogy, but thought I ought to remind myself why I decided to buy it after the first time I read the books. Conclusion: I am definitely using my gift card on this trilogy. The following quotes will give you a sampling of the reasons I love it so much.

….His journey to Perelandra was not a moral exercise, nor a sham fight. If the issue lay in Maleldil’s hands, Ransom and the Lady were those hands. the fate of a world really depended on how they behaved in the next few hours. the thing was irreducibly, nakedly real. They could, if they chose, decline to save the innocence of this new race, and if they declined its innocence would not be saved. It rested with no other creature in all time or all space. This he saw clearly, though as yet he had no inkling of what he could do.

The voluble self protested, wildly, swiftly, like the propeller of a ship racing when it is out of the water. The imprudence, the unfairness, the absurdity of it! Did Maleldil want to lose worlds? What was the sense of so arranging things that anything really important should finally and absolutely depend on such a man of straw as himself? And at that moment, far away on Earth, as he now could not help remembering, men were at war, and white-faced subalterns and freckled corporals who had but lately begun to shave, stood in horrible gaps or crawled forward in deadly darkness, awaking, like him, to the preposterous truth that all really depended on their actions; and  far away in time Horatius stood on the bridge, and Constantine settled in his mind whether he would or would not embrace the new religion, and Eve herself stood looking upon the forbidden fruit and the Heaven of Heavens waited for her decision. He writhed and ground his teeth, but he could not help seeing. thus, and not otherwise, the world was made. Either something or nothing must depend on individual choices. And if something, who could set bounds on it? A stone may determine the course of a river. He was that stone at this horrible moment which had become the centre of the whole universe. The eldila of all worlds, the sinless organisms of everlasting light, were silent in Deep Heaven to see what Elwin Ransom of Cambridge would do.

(mid-beginning of ch. 11, Perelandra)

The thing still seemed impossible. But gradually something happened to him which had happened to him only twice before in his life. It had happened once while he was trying to make up his mind to do a very dangerous job in the last war. It had happened again while he was screwing his resolution to go and see a certain man in London and make to him an excessively embarrassing confession which justice demanded. In both cases the thing had seemed a sheer impossibility; he had not thought but known that, being what he was, he was psychologically incapable of doing it; and then, without any apparent movement of the will, as objective and unemotional as the reading on a dial, there had arisen before him, with perfect certitude, the knowledge “about this time tomorrow you will have done the impossible.” the same thing happened now. His fear, his shame, his love, all his arguments, were not altered in the least. The thing was neither more nor less dreadful than it had been before. the only difference was that he knew—almost as a historical preposition—that it was going to be done. He might beg, weep, or rebel—might curse or adore—sing like a martyr or blaspheme like a devil. It made not the slightest difference. The thing was going to be done. There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment at which he would have done it. the future act stood there, fixed and unaltered as if he had already performed it. It was a mere irrelevant detail that it happened to occupy the position we call future instead of that which we call past. the whole struggle was over, and yet there seemed to have been no moment of victory. You might say, if you liked, that the power of choice had been simply set aside and an inflexible destiny substituted for it. On the other hand, you might say that he had delivered from the rhetoric of his passions and had emerged into unassailable freedom. Ransom could not, for the life of him, see any difference between these two statements. Predestination and freedom were apparently identical. He could no longer see any meaning in the many arguments he had heard on the subject.

(end of ch. 11, Perelandra)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Compendium of Links #11

Since moving to an apartment sans Internet I’ve not done much online reading lately. To be honest, I haven’t missed it much either. Not that I don’t enjoy it; but it’s not one of those necessary things in life, like peanut butter or clean clothing.

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That one’s from This Is Indexed.

Tim Challies had a fascinating paragraph quoted from Martin Lloyd-Jones. A bit is excerpted here; the rest of the paragraph is at Challies’ blog.

Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problem of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been repressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you’.

Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in online sales, according to a study noted by the BBC.

Charles Duncombe says an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.

Mr Duncombe says when recruiting staff he has been "shocked at the poor quality of written English".

I guess it’s a good thing I can spell. Ironically it’s my editor who can’t. (Link via Gene Veith)

Pay cash to win the junk food war—i.e., paying cash seems to correlate with a lesser likelihood of buying so-called “vice foods” like cookies and chips. (Hint: it’s also a good way not to go into debt or overspend your budget!)

Relying on the Internet for factoids isn’t necessarily a great thing… or so goes a study summarized in the New York Times and at the Chronicle of Higher Education blog (which link I found via Challies).

Long ago, Socrates warned of the danger of writing.  In recording thought in written words, he believed, people save themselves the trouble of keeping thought alive in the mind.  People wouldn’t have to remember things, or reason their way ”through” to ideas and values  on their own.  Instead of “living” truth we would have dead letters.

I can vouch for that idea from Socrates—I ran across the same aversion to writing when studying the early history of rhetoric this past spring. (Side note: the Greeks had a point when they weren’t quite so keen as we are on writing. Sure, it facilitates mass communication, but it’s also communication removed from context—you don’t have the intonation or inflection of the speaker to help interpret the writing. Then of course there is this aspect.) Maybe you’ve experienced the phenomenon the study showed: if you can go back to it later, you don’t remember what you’ve read as well. It’s almost common sense.

And for your lighthearted viewing pleasure: Star Wars as told by a three-year-old.

Science fiction + toddlers = adorable. Always.

Life on my own #1

My sister (who goes by Mafia) has occasionally pestered me about updating my blog. “How am I supposed to know what you’re doing?”, she asks, if I don’t? (Try saying asks. Not the easiest word to pronounce, simple as it is.)

So. I moved into my new apartment July 1. My new, lovely, perfect apartment with only a leaky window to mar its wonderfulness. That leaky window can let in nearly a gallon of water in the space of forty-five minutes if it’s raining hard enough. Fortunately I’ve figured out how to use two plastic bags, a large rag-towel, and an old ice cream bucket set atop the radiator in the bathroom to catch it all. Maybe I’ll be able to save the laminate wood floor from any further damage (it had already sustained some, due to the previous, rather irresponsible renter). I’m rather proud that yesterday’s rain netted at least half a gallon with the rag-and-bag-and-bucket system, and the towel on the floor (meant to catch any splashes or spills) was only slightly damp.

Now, this new apartment is, in fact, the perfect size, and would allow for plenty of entertaining on my part if I had the time. So far, though, my job has required that I spend most of my evenings either at some school board meeting or at some village council, or even at the county fair (every evening this week except for Tuesday, when I did laundry, and Wednesday when I went to church). Not to mention that my living room windows are still shaded by random fabric pinned to the curtain rods. I’m working on sewing curtains but this week has not been conducive to the project. Hey, at least the bedroom curtains are up and the dining-nook curtains are made (though being used in the living room right now).

Another project I’ve been meaning to work on is cleaning up my bedroom. Currently the five-foot dresser top is completely covered in jewelry and hairthings. I do have a jewelry armoire and a small jewelry box, really! It’s just that the armoire lid needs to be screwed on and the jewelry box was highly disorganized, so I dumped both onto the dresser top… and haven’t put anything back. I rather prefer being able to see all my earrings at once, I must admit. But I will put the jewelry back in its boxes.

And on the bedroom floor I have a bit of litter left over from cleaning out my purse. Most of it’s stuff I want to keep, but I just don’t know where to put it yet. I’m thinking somewhere in my (new-to-me-courtesy-of-Dad) desk. That’s what I did with the shopping receipts, anyway.

The kitchen has stayed decently clean. I never have more than one side of the sink full of dirty dishes. I wipe up the countertop or the stove as soon as something spills (i.e. the crumbs from my PB-and-J sandwiches). Ironically it’s also the best-equipped room in the whole place, since the ladies’ Bible study blessed me with a surprise housewarming shower and my uncle and grandpa have been giving me all sorts of valuable implements (including a KitchenAid, for graduation, found at a thrift shop, and a miscellaneous set of good kitchen knives in a block).

Ah, the books. They’re all unpacked now, though it took about three weeks to get the last bookcase here and filled. It’s invigorating to have all the books in their spots, by category, and standing up straight and proud. Now all I have to do is start reading them again.

Next installment of the new “Life on my Own” series? Watching movies!