Sunday, April 29, 2012

What I learned today #1: About bioethics

There’s a word for taking animal’s body parts and implanting them into humans for medicinal purposes, like taking a pig’s or a cow’s heart valves and doing heart surgery with them. It’s xenotransplantation.

I had never heard of that word before.

I learned it in tonight’s church small group lesson. We’re going through a worldview curriculum called “Understanding the Times” (already somewhat familiar to me) and started the bioethics videos tonight.

Xenotransplantation is just one of the several bioethical issues that will be coming up here soon. Another is a combination of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.

As the video speaker pointed out: What’s scarier than invisible robots that can think like you? Not much.

This new series of random observations is inspired jointly by my sister and my dad. Abby suggested that I blog about stuff I learned each day, and Dad used to ask me and my siblings every night at dinner—“what did you learn today?” We often responded with “nothing,” but after reminders from Mom we would launch into an excited description of some science factoid or historical story we had encountered for the first time that day. I’ve tried to be attentive to everyday learning opportunities ever since.

Compendium of Links #28 (Guide to Singleness)

Yesterday was a fantastic day. I got a big writing project accomplished, cooked something healthy for supper, was told I was an answer to prayer, and got to talk about some serious theological matters via IM with a friend from college. And today was also quite lovely—very, very productive (with laundry and grocery shopping all done), plus a fruitful trip to both a moving sale and a library booksale.

Anyhow, I realized this evening that a good portion of the links I had open in my Internet browser had to do with singleness in one way or another (despite last week’s tab cleanup). Thus unfolded the following collection:

Via a link posted in a comment thread on some blog somewhere, I meandered through the Internet to a blog called The Sexy Celibate (so named, says the author, to give an ironic, interesting twist on the somewhat cliché single-Christian theme). It’s one of the best blogs I’ve read in a long time. The most recent posts take the horns of a huge issue in the Christian single’s world: Joshua Harris’s book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and the good, and bad, influences it had over the following decade’s worth of Christian romantic relationships. After reading several posts, I decided the blog was well worth adding to my Google Reader stash of RSS feeds—because if I wrote a whole blog about singleness from a Christian perspective, I would want it to sound exactly like that blog sounds. Funny and wise (as far as I can tell).

The Atlantic Wire asked whether living alone was making people weird. I love these random articles from them. Conclusion? Well, there isn’t one, really, but mine is that people are just weird anyways, and living alone probably doesn’t make much difference.

One in two new grads are jobless or underemployed. (And of course, new grads are really likely to be single.) Yep. I’m a lucky one I suppose. But if you are talking about a bunch of graduates who went to college for a creative writing degree… well, of course he’s not employed in a fulfilling job directly related to his major!

Don’t let cynicism get you down. The Atlantic Wire (yes, it’s that site again) delivers a handy how-to for finding joy in one’s everyday life. So funny, and ironically sad that something like this has even been written.

Carolyn McCulley talks about how single women can fulfill their biblical/complementarian roles without a “better half.” She’s been single her whole life, I think. I was hoping for some excellent breakthrough insights from her—her other writings have been certainly perspicacious—but most of the parts meant to speak to singles specifically felt more like a study in psychology than a study of the Bible. Not knocking psychology or anything, but let’s call things what they are, rather than confusing psychological principles with biblical ones.

My Life is Average—this is what single young folks think is hilarious. At least, I and my sister crack up at some of these. (OK, so this is a stretch, but the link is too funny to hold for longer!)

This week’s video is kind of unrelated to the topic at hand. It’s a trailer for a documentary I recently watched in a church screening. The documentary covers the global sex trade. WATCH THIS (if you’re part of a “mature audience,” that is). Then track down a screening near you via nefariousdocumentary.com and watch the whole documentary. Then pray.

The sale of women constitutes the third largest industry in the world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life on my own #25: ShopVac

ShopVacs are cool. Like bowties.

I got into watching new episodes of the British sci-fi show Doctor Who this past year. Blame my brother. No, blame my mother. She’s the one who raised me on recordings of Star Trek: The Original Series and the British show The Avengers (the show starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg that had nothing to do with superpowers). Doctor Who is basically a cross of those two, with better special effects.

In the most recent two seasons, the title character (who’s actually just “The Doctor”) is constantly defending his right to wear a bowtie. He says “bowties are cool” with an inimitable (by me) British accent and a slight flair for the ridiculous that only he can pull off. It amuses me to no end.

I bought a ShopVac this weekend in order to do my cleaning. ShopVacs are cool, you know. It was also cheap and made sense, for me, since I have carpet and a need to vacuum out my little car sometimes. Ever tried vacuuming a car with an upright? It only works if it has the little attachments with it that turn it into half-upright, half-snake-hose. And the snake-hose is never long enough to reach the floor of the middle seat!

So I stood in Wal-Mart for a little while on Sunday night, debating what size ShopVac to buy. They come in teeny (1.5 gallons), medium (5-ish gallons) and ridiculous (8-12 gallons). I almost bought the teeny one, but the medium one had a longer snake-hose and seemed overall more practical.

Good thing I did. The snake-hose is perfect and the extra extender things make it act just like a regular canister vacuum. You know, those silly vacuums that look like evil sci-fi aliens and cost a gajillion bucks.

alien vacuum

Just try telling me that doesn’t look like something that hates bowties.

So I quick unpacked it from the carton and, putting it together with only one slight mishap in which my finger lost against a hard plastic thing, I tested it out on three square feet next to my kitchen counter. Voila, no more sandwich crumbs! But it was about 9:30 at night, so I didn’t figure my neighbors would appreciate prolonged vacuuming at that hour.

No, I decided to vacuum Monday afternoon. After I’d already goofed off on computer, gone swimming at the YMCA, done laundry, run errands, filed papers, cooked supper and washed dishes. I had an early supper. It was delicious. It involved mac’n’cheese, but no guacamole this time.

And the vacuum made all the little remnants of workaday lunches go away. It also displaced the large kitchen rug with its suction. I had to plant my feet firmly on the rug to keep it from getting eaten up, or at least nibbled on, by my new alien friend.

I proudly showed my new home appliance to my cousins, who arrived that evening for a movie fest. I also mentioned it at work as one of the highlights of my weekend. A fellow coworker, also a young person on his own, responded that he’d bought a Dirt Devil this weekend for his home maintenance.

I pity him and his half-useful, non-electric pseudo-appliance. Also his possession of too many dashes.

Because in this story, alien > devil. And Dirt Devil : ShopVac :: tie : bowtie.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Compendium of Links #27

Well, a ton has happened this week that’s blog-worthy, and yet, I sit here thinking, “oh! I have a huge bunch of tabs open that I should link to!” I guess clearing my poor computer’s tab bar is uppermost in my priorities this evening.

The Exchange – the senior pastor of this random Texas church followed me on Twitter this week. I don’t have a clue why. I’ve never even been to Texas.

Has higher education stiffed its most important client? A question that The Atlantic asks, and answers, intelligently. Also some good reasons to think through grad school rather than considering it a given for a smart undergrad.

Don’t make these grammar mistakes! Please!! (Infographic, via a friend from college.)

Pew for One? – I found this to be an interesting, but not particularly groundbreaking, article about being single in today’s churches. The author is completely correct about someone like me looking for the same basic things in a church that any married folks would want… solid theology, involvement in the neighborhood, welcoming members, etc. But there’s something else that is typically lacking in churches, or at least present in insufficient quantities, and that would be other young singles with whom I can connect closely. Simply put, I want a few folks I can call up of an evening and invite over for randomness… a movie, a jam session, a book discussion. Married people don’t have time to even read philosophical books, let alone talk about them. Even the married ones my age mostly exchange notes on their children’s hygiene habits. (Haven’t you noticed?)

There once was a hero among the ones from DC Comics who was named Extraño. And a friend of mine from college knew this before I did because she Googled the Spanish word for “strange”… while I already knew what the word meant.

Homeland Security is paranoid. If you tweet or post a Facebook status update including words like “pork,” “gas” or “snow,” it might be stalking you. (via ReadWriteWeb)

Jon Acuff’s guest blogger a couple weeks ago spoofed the infamous Ring by Spring trend at Christian colleges! So funny! (Jon Acuff, by the way, is the humorous genius behind Stuff Christians Like.) I can’t tell how many times I heard people making fun of people for caf dates. And yes, guitar players get a bajillion extra hotness points among Christian girls.

Be careful about your Doomsday predictions. It’s too easy to make fun of them when they FAIL. (infographic)

I’m so nerdy, I think Pride and Prejudice character maps are cool.

And for the video of the week…

Don’t be the dumb college student that can’t live without Facebook. Use it wisely.

Life on my own #24: Guacamole

I wonder who the first primitive chef was that decided, “hey! I’ll whack an avocado until I get Martian mush! And maybe I’ll dump in a little lemon juice so it stays Martian green! Hmm, I wonder what it would taste like?” and dipped a stale tortilla into it.

It makes me question the sanity of the human race.

So I discovered a few weeks ago that my local Aldi’s sells packets of real guacamole, made from real avocados. (Hopefully not made by a primitive chef.) It’s most likely my favorite chip dip, so I was quite ecstatic to find that.

And I bought some. In fact, I believe I had guacamole and chips twice for supper. Not after. For.

After a while, it dawns on me that chips and guacamole probably don’t make the healthiest meal.

But I love guacamole. And I have about half a packet getting kind of brown. You know how apples turn brown if you leave them in the air? That’s what the guacamole was doing. Only the brown on the green looked worse than a browning apple.

Still tasted good, though.

I decided to reveal my gourmet-chef side to the world in order to finish up the guacamole. What do I love to eat with guacamole? I asked myself. Cheese. You know, like mixing up a bit of nacho cheese dip with your guacamole dip and sticking a chip in the mix. Try it sometime.

And what food do I eat that has cheese in it?

Mac’n’cheese, of course.

I made a miniature recipe of my mom’s quick-and-easy mac’n’cheese. Cook the macaroni, bury a little butter in the drained pasta, bury some slices of Velveeta in there once the butter’s done, and add a little milk before sticking back on a warm burner to melt the cheese. Very easy.

My version of gourmet chef requires ease, you know. I thumb my nose at cooks who spend two hours making what will be consumed in about four minutes.

Once the mac’n’cheese achieved a desired consistency (I had to add another couple slices of cheese), I carefully dished a little out onto a plate. Presentation, you know. Can’t just be serving it straight out of the saucepan. My incredibly select clientele wouldn’t have it.

And on top of the little mountain of yellow macaroni, I sprinkled bacon bits. I saw it done somewhere one time and thought the colors looked lovely. As everyone knows, color is nine-tenths the taste of gourmet foods.

But with the red and yellow, it was too… warm. It needed something cool, a color from the other side of the spectrum. Or at least closer to the violet than your red and yellow. And that’s where my guacamole came in:

DSCF2477

And another view:

DSCF2478

Of course, I didn’t eat it like that. No way. (Presentation, you know, lasts only till after the prayer.) I mixed it all up like a crazed primitive chef and ended up with slightly greenish mac’n’cheese dotted with strange red specks.

But it was good. I found myself a new favorite supper recipe. And I didn’t even have to use my shrink-ray.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lunch break

I'm so unimaginative when it comes to food. (Except if guacamole is involved. I shall write that story later this week.)

Every day for lunch for the first three weeks at my new job, I packed... a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, and a handful of baby carrots. I think I may have substituted applesauce ONE day for the apple, but only because I ran out of apples.

So I finally decided to switch it up this week. I made tuna salad with my cousin for supper Saturday night and sealed the leftovers in some plastic container which I'm pretty sure isn't Tupperware. I love tuna almost as much as I love peanut butter and jelly (almost, not quite equally), so I figured it would make a good week's worth of sandwiches.

Yeah, I'm still stuck in sandwich mode. But at least it's not peanut butter. I'm sure I must have eaten peanut butter for 60% of my lifetime lunches. If not more.

The only thing with tuna is that it's drippy. I opened the tuna on Monday evening, I think--my Saturday--and there was a milky puddle of tuna drip pooling in a corner of the container. I drained it and went on with my supper.

Of course, the puddle reappeared yesterday. And today. Despite drainage.

Fortunately, I live close enough to work that it's feasible just to come home and make lunch fresh rather than pack it all the time. Otherwise I'd be left with a soggy tuna sandwich around noon. I much prefer my fresh, bready sandwiches.

So, I've still had peanut butter most of the last few days (it's a great supper supplement, as my mom will attest), but now I've added tuna to my list of habitual lunch foods. Which is very short, but I hope to lengthen it here.

I know some people think it's boring to eat the same food day after day. I say, if you like it, you like it. And I get enough excitement out of my job. I don't have to have it in my food.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

*dingdingding* Congrats to...

...well, I'm not sure who.

Blogger's Overview tells me I have 1,005 published comments.

But when I go to the Comments section to review them, it says I have 1,009.

So, either Carol or Abby posted the 1,000th comment.

Carol's was:
It is UNKNOWN to me why I am listed as "Unknown", but I don't know how to fix it, so please be advised that I am "Unknown"!
Carol M.
And Abby's:
So that like 167 comments a year...that not a whole lot thought is it?
Hers comes up if I go by the 1,009 number. And I thought that was an appropriate comment for a 1,000th comment. Don't you?

At any rate. I love my readers. Thanks for sticking through six years and an undetermined number of months of my blogging on Blogger.

Come to think of it, most of you will remember back when I had the KB blog... El Cuaderno... *relapses into reminiscence*

Friday, April 13, 2012

Also, nearing 1000...

This blog is very, very few comments away from number 1,000. I can hardly believe it, but you all must be a loquacious (not to say eloquent) bunch of readers and friends!

And I'm not going to say how few. That way you can't just count the comments and quick post one just to be the 1,000th. Not that I think any of you would do that. ;)

*Tuerzojos*

Things I'd want to roll my eyes at. That was one of the suggestions of what I should post. Since I've had a fairly uneventful day today and my brain is halfway to mush, I just might make that list. Here goes:
  • dumb smart-alec comments
  • sale prices that are higher than Aldi's regular prices for a comparable product
  • a college student's insistence that they know a better way to change the world than anybody else
  • children's having cell phones
  • the singing fish (and it's SUCH an earworm!)
  • people who know the words to the Ferret Song by heart (yes, that includes you, J)
  • ten-year-olds with boyfriends and girlfriends
  • hypocritical statements made by the same person in the same breath
  • paisley skirts
  • anything else paisley
  • movies that make super-overstated claims about their own ingenuity or emotional power
  • writers who make the mistake of equating correlation with causation
  • lapdogs
  • any animal in an outfit not worn on Christmas or Halloween, or possibly in a parade
  • Christian romance novels
  • for that matter, any romance novel that perpetuates either the perfect-gentleman-without-flaw stereotype or the he's-the-one myth of the soul mate
  • butterfly rings (the kind that wiggle a bit and have sparkly antennae)
  • agreeance and effectiveness
  • arrogant people
  • unimaginative tattoos on high school or college students
  • striped toe socks
  • people who complain that they're bored
  • shag carpet
  • absurd Paris styles
  • most styles praised on Project Runway (last I knew)
  • stale Internet memes
  • political promises
  • much of what passes for Christian comedy
  • Internet Explorer

....and guess what Internet browser I'm forced to use at this otherwise wonderful library?

*By the way. "Tuerzojos" is the word I made up as the Spanish equivalent of my familiar *rolleyes* chat pseudo-emoticon. Torcer los ojos is how "to roll the eyes" is said in Spanish. Tuerzo los ojos... tuerzojos... you see?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Books and Movies and Cousins (oh my!)

I'm taking my sister's advice to tell about what I've just been doing the past several days. Not particularly enthralling, I warn you, but here goes.

I learned today that it takes precisely 8 seconds to cross a two-lane, one-way street downtown, walking at a rate of two steps per second. That is, one complete set of steps per second, one right-footed and one left-footed. If that makes sense.

And yesterday, I checked five books out from the library. Three of them were related to journalism:
  • "Letters to a Young Journalist," Sam Freedman
  • "Newsonomics: 12 new trends that will shape the news you get"
  • "The Best Business Stories of the Year: 2004"
  • "Studies in Words," C.S. Lewis
  • "Spanglish: The making of a new American language"

I've already read bits out of "Letters" and the business stories compilation. Quite interesting. Once I get my laptop back up and running, I'll write a little more about the books.

In fact, I'm considering starting another never-ending series: Books a Journalist Reads. Which will, of course, cover pretty much every book I read, period.

Other than that, there's not much that's happened in the last few days. Oh, except that I spent Easter with my dad's side of the extended family this year, I think for the first time in my life.

It was quite enjoyable to have another sleepover with the cousins. Three of us (by which I mean two girl cousins and I) formulated a list of chick flicks we want to watch and analyze to death. The list covered a side and a half of a sheet of scrap paper.

We started work on the list by watching "Leap Year" on Monday evening. We agreed it was a refreshing chick flick, mostly for being a clean one. Our discussion centered on the character of the girl, for the most part, and how she used her controlling tendencies as a wall to protect her poor, vulnerable self from the happy-go-lucky, unfortunate habits her father possessed.

We did briefly touch on the love interest's blunt style, which was a combination of upright honesty and bitterness toward women because of his past relationship. But mostly we talked about the girl, partly because her character was established immediately (she was the focus of the first two scenes) while the guy wasn't even introduced until at least fifteen minutes in.

I'm not sure what's next on our list, but "It Happened One Night" (starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert) is on there somewhere. Another favorite of mine.

So, that's about it for the randomness in my life. I'm looking forward to another weekend with a cousin (the poor girl, she'll be left at home while the rest go visit other cousins and such).

In other news... doesn't this sound sooo much fun? Mississinewa 1812 reenactment. What if I told you I might actually be IN it?? Like, seriously!! I even have the fabric and pattern necessary to sew a period-correct dress!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Death of a power pack

See that? I immediately made you think of a salesman without even trying.

I was happily Skyping with friends in Ohio and Boston on Friday when I noticed a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing: My laptop wasn't charging. Even though it was plugged in, and none of the cords had come loose.

Well, it was 10:30 p.m. anyways, so I explained the situation and bid my friends au revoir. (In English.) On Sunday, my cousin checked the power pack with his nifty little volt checker... or whatever it's called... and determined that yes, it's the power pack. Thank goodness my computer is still all right.

Amazon is sending me a new power pack. But it won't arrive until sometime next week. In the meantime, I'll be spending a lot of time with my books and some movies. And at the library.

 So, much as I enjoyed getting all that reader interaction... and as good as those ideas were... I'm afraid we'll have to wait on a few of those posts. Unless I want to be spending umpteen hours on the library computers, which doesn't appeal to me at all. No thank you.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Reader interaction

Hey, you! Abby, Mom, Jonathan, Alicia, Carol, John, Sam, Rachel, maybe Angie, and Wesleigh if you still read this! And anybody else who reads:

What should I blog about next?

Any suggestions welcome. Sometimes I just don’t know where to start when so much new stuff is happening to me. I think the diagnosis is writer’s block.

Zaniness encouraged, as well.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A real update

OK, I know I halfway-promised a real update to come last weekend, but better late than never, right?

I’m officially moved into my apartment-with-stained-glass-windows. The windows are ever so gorgeous, especially in the evenings. Unfortunately they still can’t tempt me to do dishes more than a couple times a week.

Mind you, the sink never truly overflows—it just gets full. That’s because it doesn’t take any dishes to eat a sandwich. And I like sandwiches.

I painted my bookcase this past weekend, probably part of the reason I didn’t actually sit down and write a blog post. It took more spray paint than I bargained on. See, I didn’t want to have to get that dumb spillable of black paint and a brush to paint the thing. I wanted something that would dry quick.

Well, spray paint dries quickly, but it takes an awful lot of coats to get the bookcase looking pretty. Took half the morning and a good bit of the afternoon. And a bike trip to Big Lots and a quick car trip to Wal-Mart in between laundry duties because I underestimated the amount of paint I’d need, or rather the amount of paint contained in a ten-ounce spray bottle. I now know it takes precisely 23 minutes to drive to Wal-Mart’s paint section and buy two cans of cheap black spray paint.

No, I did not physically drive into the Wal-Mart aisle. But it’s close enough to the auto section that I could have tried.

I’ve also learned that even slight breezes are a bear when you’re trying to spray-paint. My right arm was fairly dotted with tiny black specks—I looked like I’d broken out in some sort of medieval fever. And only half of it washed off by the next morning.

Needless to say, I wore long sleeves to work the next day.

Speaking of work—I’m learning my way around the streets sectioned off with two rivers that conjoin just past downtown. This little city should really be called something like Join, Indiana—doesn’t that sound like a curious place to live?—but no, the town’s founders had to go and name it after some famous Indian. I think it was an Indian, anyway.

So far, I’ve written a lot of the feature-y stories—the ones that make up the biggest part of the front page, with a photo and everything. Only I don’t take the photos here. There’s a photographer/paginator who does that for us, and poor guy, sometimes I end up springing a photo on him the last minute. I know he doesn’t like it, and I feel bad about it, but it just can’t be helped sometimes.

At least, not this early in the game. I’m still trying to figure out my own schedule and workflow. But I’m pretty proud of myself today: I knocked out three stories in eight hours. Not too shabby for being barely into my third week on the job.

As for the social life, well, if you know me you know it’s one of the things I have to work at most. But I’ve found a good church and they’ve welcomed me with open arms. I even remember some people’s names! There’s the church photographer and the 16-year-old girl who’s learning Spanish and the family who lives about eight minutes from my cousins. (I met the family tonight at a small group meeting. Three kids plus one very much on the way.)

There’s also the fourth-grade teacher in her first year at one of the local elementary schools. She and I are in the same place in life so I anticipate a bit of interaction… later on. Once she stops living at the school! Ah, but ‘tis the life of a first-year teacher.

And it’s about 9:30 p.m. my time. Wherever you are, go to bed. I’m tired.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Two weeks into life

My poor, neglected blog. You must feel terribly missed.

Anyhow, I’m settled into my new apartment (the one with the stained glass windows), have gotten to meet several people at church and via interviews for news articles, and am generally enjoying myself.

Just so you’re aware that I’m not dead.

I will try to post a real blog tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s go see what Matt Smith is up to as the Eleventh Doctor….