Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Crow and the Pitcher

More awesome animals!

First, Aesop's Fable:

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into
the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.

Little by little does the trick


Next, modern science:

How cool is that?

Monday, December 21, 2009

More legs = More brains?

No, not a post about beautiful, intelligent, leggy blondes.

The octopus with the coconut is all over the internet lately, but I'm amazed by him and I think it's so cool!

The best part, I think, is that the coconut halves they're using are man-made refuse, and so haven't always been around. Doesn't that mean that this is less evolutionary than just octopuses who are smart enough to know shelter when they see it?

Regardless, I love it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday Part XXX

1. It's been a while since I've done this, or much of anything on this blog, really. Maybe participating in Quick Takes will get me used to this again. I've gotten out of that state of mind where things happen, or I do something, and immediately analyze whether or not it would make good blog fodder. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

2. Since last we spoke, I got a Mac. It's been several months, and I'm not yet a Mac apologist. In fact, I find this computer much more frustrating, much harder to understand, and much more likely to cause a problem when I have a paper due than I ever found any of my Dells. Why didn't anyone ever tell me Macs are unreliable and they suck and PCs are all-around better?

3. I still got almost a month of freedom until I have to go back to work and class and dying a slow death. I'd love some suggestions for good books to read in the interim!

4. I fairly seriously considered the idea of replacing Christmas gift-giving with donating to a charity in the recipient's name. I'm ashamed to say, this was more due to having NO idea what to buy certain people than to any true altruism. I'm still stuck for ideas, and still reluctant to "take the easy way out." More than being reluctant to betray my ideals or some such, though, I'm really just afraid of making it obvious which people were my "problem" people. I'm a ball of selfish contradictions grasping at charity to make myself feel like a good person.

5. Does anyone have any experience using Apple Cider Vinegar to get rid of warts? I've heard good things on the internet, but been reluctant to try it. I'm looking at a full bottle of vinegar, though, and wondering if it would be worth it.

6. Speaking of which, plantars warts + martial arts = embarrassment. I mean, I can't hide them, since we're barefoot and I have to tape over them to prevent spreading them to others, but I didn't realize just how much I'd have to talk about them, and with just how many people. I can't count the number of times I've been asked what's wrong with my foot. Am I hurt? Do I need help? Oh, no, it's just warts. Just warts. Thus, my comfort level discussing them here, with you.

7. As I write, I'm uploading my cd collection to my new computer. It becomes strikingly apparent that I stopped actively acquiring music in the 10th grade.

Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OED on the new translation of the Mass

With all the controversy over the new translation of the Mass, something's been bothering me for a while. I have a confession to make. . . I don't actually know the definition of ineffable. Ineffable is THE example to use when you're talking about the new translation, whether you're saying "Why would we want to use a word like ineffable during the Mass?" or "Why do these critics think we're so stupid we don't know what ineffable means?" And I do kind of know what ineffable means. . . but I couldn't define it for you.

So I finally - after all these many months - decided to learn just exactly what ineffable means. And I figured I might as well learn the meanings of all those other words that are coming to a church near you. So I went to the America article "What if we said 'Wait'?" by Fr. Michael G. Ryan that appeared last week, to great consternation, among those excited by the change. I picked out the words he offered as among the most troublesome.
When the uninformed heard a few examples (“and with your spirit”; “consubstantial with the Father”; “incarnate of the Virgin Mary”; “oblation of our service”; “send down your Spirit like the dewfall”; “He took the precious chalice”; “serene and kindly countenance,” for starters), the reaction was somewhere between disbelief and indignation.
And I looked them up. The full Oxford English Dictionary isn't available for free online, but the Compact Oxford English Dictionary is, and its 145,000 words, phrases, and definitions should suit for our purposes. (In shame, I admit I have no idea where my dictionary is.)

ineffable -adjective 1 too great or extreme to be expressed in words. 2 too sacred to be uttered.

incarnate -adjective, often after a noun 1 (of a deity or spirit) embodied in flesh; in human form. 2 represented in the ultimate or most typical form: capitalism incarnate.
-verb 1 embody or represent (a deity or spirit) in human form. 2 be the living embodiment of (a quality).

oblation -noun 1 a thing presented or offered to a god 2 (Christian Church) the presentation of bread and wine to God in the Eucharist

countenance -noun 1 a person's face or facial expression 2 (formal) support or approval
-verb 1 admit as acceptable or possible

And admittedly, consubstantial wasn't in there. But it was in the Yahoo! Education Reference section's dictionary, via the American Heritage Dictionary:

consubstantial -adjective 1 of the same substance, nature, or essence.

That was easy!

As for and with your spirit, I said it just this weekend, when I was at a Lessons and Carols service at an Anglican Church. Actually, I even said, "And with thy spirit," which wasn't normal for them - they only use that phraseology on special occasions, according to my boyfriend, whose alma mater we were visiting. I survived.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stick a fork in me. . .


(One whole month of freedom! I might even, like, start blogging again. No promises.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Pie!

A friend and I made this cranberry pie for Thanksgiving, based on the recipe posted last week at Faith and Family Live! The recipe Rebecca posted is as follows:

Cranberry Pie:

Crust: use your favorite recipe for a two-crust pie.

3 1/2 c. cranberries, chopped (I run mine through the slicing blade of a food processor just to slice ‘em in half)
1 1/2 T. flour
3 T. water
1 1/2 c. sugar (don’t skimp; cranberries are really tart)
1/4 t. salt
2 T. butter chopped into small pieces

Mix the ingredients together well and fill an unbaked pie shell.
Top with the 2nd crust—use a lattice or cut-out pattern to show off the fruit’s rich color.

I like to use the trick of brushing the crust lightly with water and sprinkling with sugar for a sparkly, golden top.

Bake at 450F for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350F and bake 40 minutes longer.

We added an additional cup of blueberries, both because the filling seemed not particularly filling and because my friend (a baker - I couldn't go making substitutions and additions if he weren't around) thought the additional sweetness would be a welcome addition. We also grated a little bit of fresh ginger into the filling. My friend the baker used an egg wash on the crust rather than water and sugar.

I don't think I'd ever made a pie from scratch before. It was super-easy (full disclosure: I did not have anything to do with making the crust) and turned out wonderfully! The color is beautiful, the pie is delicious, and I would make this again in a heartbeat.

My only caution is that it doesn't travel very well. It's quite runny, and if you can't hold it perfectly straight, you might find yourself doing as I did this Thanksgiving: demanding that your sister pull over, jumping out of the car into a stranger's yard, putting the pie on the stranger's lawn, wiping cranberry syrup off your legs (giving the stranger's grandmother, waiting in her car, quite a show), and then, when realizing that the worst hills in the drive were yet to come, taking off your shoes and using your feet to hold the pie (sort of) still on the floor rather than your lap. And no, that wasn't a trail of blood leading from our car to my aunt's front door, but it was easily mistaken for one. And hopefully, once I get back to school and get this paper handed in (oh, is that what I'm supposed to be writing now? Not blog posts?), I'll figure out how to get cran-blueberry juice out of my car's floor mats.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tough Choices

Dinner or Library? Library

Gym or Library? Library

Going out or going to the Library? Library

Shower or Library? Library

Work or Library? Library

Sleep or Library? Library

One Library or the other Library or the other Library? Ouch, got me there.

Alternate titles considered for this post: Where I've been; Why I'm fat and have no friends; . . . and I used to like to read; Why grad school sucks and I hate my life

Monday, November 2, 2009

Who Is This Saint? Pt. 5

This picture's semi-sideways, but the saint in question appears to be a girl or young woman, in a veil or mantilla of some sort (white or light-colored), praying. There appear to be objects in the image, as well, and I think she's praying before something, but I can't tell what.

Who is this saint?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Giant Creature Sighted in the Alps!

This giant, hand-knit pink bunny was hand-knit by a group of artists and is an art installation in the Italian Alps. How incredibly cool!

Read the whole story and see more pictures at Inhabitots.

Friday, September 11, 2009


This is a poem I wrote in the days following 9/11, about my experiences as a high school student whose father worked in the World Trade Center. He was alright, thank God.

This Dark Day

They made an announcement in Chemistry class.
A knot in my stomach,
Burned my finger with glass.
But denial overcame fear.
Two periods later, I’d not shed a tear.
It was pushed all the way to the back of my mind,
The only place I could deal with news of this kind.
Then I heard my name come on the PA,
One amongst dozens
Each alone
This dark day.
I avoided the office, going the long way.
Got hugs from my friends, a pinky swear that “He’ll be okay.”
The message said nothing but that we had to go
With relief or with grief
We still didn’t know.

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXIX

1. My (relatively) new cell phone has this little quirk that's been driving me crazy. Whenever I text anything at all, it capitalizes the word "That's." If I write "that" in the middle of a sentence, it's fine, but as soon as I add that "'s," the first letter immediately jumps into uppercase. Why oh why does it do this? I've become fairly well convinced that people who create technology add in things like this on purpose just to mess with us.
2. I got an answer on one of my mystery saints last week (Bl. Miguel Pro!), so I'm making another plea: Please look at the pictures of saints I've posted here (some are new over the past week) and tell me if you recognize any of them! I'd really appreciate it!
3. I've visited a famer's market each of the past two days, and I'm loving it. I so can't afford to buy my meat and produce from farmer's markets, but I love to do it. I love choosing foods outside - nothing seems natural in the artificial environment of a supermarket - I love knowing my food is fresh, I love that my business supports the little guy. I'd be at a different farmer's market each day if I could, but just two days in a row feels like it's going to break the bank.
4. On that note - does anyone have any good recipes for tiny little eggplants, summer squash, or fingerling potatoes? Can't let these precious resources go to waste!
5. My bed (see #6 here) finally arrived at the beginning of the week. So far, so good, and sleeping on an air mattress is just like sleeping on a regular bed, despite my worries. I did just today buy egg crate foam to put over it, in hopes that the slightly plastic-y sound and feel of it would diminish, but that plastic feel was the only (very minor) drawback.
6. While at Bed, Bath, & Beyond this evening, I had the most lovely and pleasant conversation with the woman who was helping me. I'm not much of a talker, but for some reason she and I ended up talking about everything from school to career plans to names (mine and others', and I'm disappointed now to think that I never got her name.) It was one of those nice daily interactions with a stranger that reminds you that there are nice people out there who are worth getting to know, and it makes you think that all is right with the world.

I love nice people.
7. I have an interview today - maybe as you're reading this - for an internship that I need to complete my degree. Wish me luck!
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Khede Kasra

Grammar, Social Issues, Language meet in a fascinating intersection. Things like this really make me regret not having pursued my linguistics minor!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who is this saint? Pt. 4

Can you identify this saint?

Personally, my guess is St. Martin of Tours. He seems to be wearing armor of some type (St. Martin was a soldier and the patron saint of soldiers) and he's wearing a red cloak. I don't know, really, whether St. Martin's cloak is supposed to actually have been red, but is certainly is in most of the images I'm familiar with. Generally, I associate with St. Martin an armored soldier on horseback who is in the process of cutting his cloak in half to give to the [pictured] beggar. That he's standing, that there's no beggar in sight, and that he's holding a cross all gave me doubts. Is St. Martin often pictured with a cross? I thought, when I saw this, that that would have been a give-away attribute, but I'm still a little uncertain on this one. I'm willing to call him St. Martin, but I'm not sure that he is, in fact, St. Martin.

Please correct me if you know better!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Who is this saint? Pt. 3

Can you identify this saint?

I have no idea who this saint is. (My mom, convinced that she doesn't look particularly holy, has taken to calling her "Cousin Susie.") She's fairly modern looking, young, clearly not a nun or religious sister. My first thought was St. Maria Goretti, but the picture doesn't look much like the images I usually see of St. Maria Goretti. I had a brief thought of Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, but a very quick Google revealed that she's always portrayed as looking much more obviously Native American than this saint does. Nonetheless, I think this young saint has something of an ethnic air to her, and I wonder if she might be a Central or South American saint I'm unaware of, especially as I'm told that bracelets of this type are particularly popular in places like Lima, Peru. (Meanwhile, St. Rose of Lima, my Confirmation saint, she quite clearly is not.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Saturday Evening Blog Post

Head over to for the first issue of the Saturday Evening Blog Post, inspired by the recent "defining post" carnival over at Conversion Diary. Submit your own favorite post of the past month, from your own blog!

I chose my post about the sunset I saw on the drive down to DC, even though it's a woefully inadequate post that doesn't come close to describing what I experienced. But, man, that sunset! It was life-changing. I've been looking at the sky for weeks now, and I'm amazed every single time. Clouds are always different! And gorgeous! And when there are no clouds? Still gorgeous!

Look up!

Friday, September 4, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXVIII

1. I'd love it if everyone who reads this - but especially everyone who's Catholic - could take a look at the "Mystery Saints" I've been posting pictures of. I love wearing my bracelet with saints' pictures on it, but it's a little (read: very) embarrassing to not be able to identify half of them! More pictures will be added in the next weeks, so if you're any good at identifying saints, please check back and see if you know who any of them are!
2. Classes started again this week, and I'll be back to work next week. I am so overwhelmed by the prospect of doing the work/school thing again. There's just so. much. work.
3. On a related note, posts like this one about books over at Conversion Diary make me so jealous! The very prospect of reading for pleasure again seems so very far away. And when will I be able to do my genealogy?
4. And on yet another related note, I've been torn this week. I have lots of free time, as I'm not back at work yet. Should I be spending that time getting ahead on school work, since I know I won't have much time to do my reading once I'm working? Or should I be taking advantage of this free time as my last opportunity, before several months of constant work, to not do work for quite some time? (Hint: So far, I've chosen Option B.)
5. Have you ever tried searching "abortion" on I didn't even get so far as the results before noticing something curious: Google doesn't supply "abortion" as a search option in the menu that drops down. I'm sure people search for it often enough that it should be included, but it isn't. Even once you've typed so far as "abor," the only drop-down options are "aborigines," "aboriginal," "aboriginal art," and "aboriginal culture."

Why could that be?
6. Speaking of which, Rhett and I strongly disagree on abortion. Any advice on how to talk about the subject when you're trying not only to spread and support the pro-life position but also to not introduce tension and discord into the relationship between you and the person with whom you're discussing it? I guess, how can I "tone down the rhetoric" on a personal level while still maintaining my convictions and acknowledge that the "rhetoric" is often accurate?
7. And the only other thing that's on my mind right now is that I'm STARVING. I told Rhett to come over after his class and we'd have dinner together, but I wasn't thinking ahead to just how freakin' late his class is over. (It's 8:40 on Thursday as I type.) I've got at least another hour before he gets here, and I'll wait for him, of course, but it sure ain't fun.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Who is this saint? Pt. 2

Can you identify this saint?

This saint at least convinced my mother she is a saint, but beyond that I have no idea as to her identity. Because there appear to be pyramids in the background, for a second I thought of St. Catherine of Alexandria, but that was very clearly incorrect. St. Catherine wasn't a nun (and this image doesn't include any of St. Catherine's attributes, not even her Catherine wheel).

I'm not familiar with any other Egyptian saints (a little googling showed me St. Mary of Egypt, but it's clearly not her, either). I'm not sure who else it could be, or if I'm even correct in thinking she must be Egyptian.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Who is this Saint?

Can you identify this saint?

About a year and a half ago, I bought one of those pretty bracelets with pictures of the saints on wooden beads. I wore it for a while and then stopped, but recently rediscovered it and have been wearing it often.

My somewhat embarrassing problem, though, is that I can't identify a good 50% of the saints pictured. My mom asked me who this particular saint was, and when I couldn't answer her, she took to calling him "Cousin Marty." Apparently, he doesn't quite look holy enough for her to believe that he might be Saint Cousin Marty.

My first inclination was that he might be Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, but after googling him, I'm beginning to think it's not. He looks relatively similar to the pictures available of Bl. Pier Giorgio, but not so much so that I'm certain it's him. Given that photographs of Bl. Pier Giorgio abound, I would expect it would be obvious if it were.

Besides, do these bracelets even have beati on them, or should I expect that all the images are of canonized saints?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Congrats to the Duggars!

Rhett must know what a gigantic nerd I am (darn, I'd been trying to keep that quiet!), or he wouldn't have texted me from work this morning to make sure I knew that Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are expecting their 19th child. I must confess, I love the Duggars. I don't quite want to follow in their footsteps, but I do admire a lot about them, and I'm happy for them and their new baby.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Like God was sitting on a cloud

As I was driving to DC to move some more things into my apartment last week, I saw the most amazing sunset. I had the privilege of watching the sun set from Delaware through Maryland. It was an incredible 2-3 hours of the setting sun. First, it sunk below this large cloud, and a little while later, as the road and the sun moved in conjunction with one another for my benefit, I got to watch it emerge from below that same cloud, and then see the entire process of the sun setting below the horizon.

Most amazing sunsets are about color, but this one wasn't. This one was all about light, about the light playing off of clouds, and illuminating certain areas of the sky and cloud formations but not others. I was entranced. I skipped dinner because I didn't want to miss more of the sunset by spending time inside a rest stop.

And there was a double rainbow! Soon after I took this picture, the higher, lighter one faded and the lower one got stronger, but I didn't get a picture of that one. As I drove down I-95 with my cell phone held out the driver's side window to try to capture it, a cop car drove past and I was scared straight.
The beauty of that drive was unmatchable. My mind turned to thoughts of God's covenant with Noah, and I had to turn off the radio and sing all the particularly joyous church songs I could think of, and then prayed a couple of Glorias. (Who am I?) I couldn't help but wonder how someone could possibly doubt the existence of God in the face of such beauty. I'd been a little depressed earlier in the week, due to a variety of recent tragedies in my community and circumstances that had turned my mind toward the tragedies that had befallen friends of mine over the past several years. The beauty last week was tangible enough to completely turn my earlier mood around. There is still beauty in the world - and such beauty!

It makes me sad to think of how many people on 95 with me that night didn't even look at the sky. (I, potentially, spent slightly too much time looking at the sky while driving.)

What was particularly incredible to me was how this incredible light transformed everything around it. Bridges? Gorgeous. Traffic? Glorious. Concrete overpasses? There is a God!

I know that it's impossible to convey in words, or in grainy cell-phone pictures, the unspeakable, all-pervading glorious light of last Sunday's sunset. I'll leave you with this reminder: Look up!

Friday, August 28, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXVII

1. I started to write a Quick Take here just a few minutes ago, but it turned into a full-length post. Check back Monday for the most beauty I've ever experienced.
2. For our 18-month anniversary, I gave Rhett a CD I'd made him of songs that make me think of him. I wrote on the CD "I made you a mix tape." This, apparently, is a highly amusing thing to write on a CD. I'm not sure I've ever seen him laugh so hard nor so long. I knew I was being funny, but I had no idea just how funny I actually am.
3. I've been having a tough time keeping up this blog lately. It just doesn't really hold my interest as much as it used to. When I started it, I had all these thoughts that I felt I just needed an outlet for. Apparently having the outlet makes the thoughts seem much less urgent. I've decided that while I'm definitely going to maintain this blog, I'm not going to put as much pressure on myself as I had been trying to. If I have things I want to post, I'll post them. If not, expect some dead air.
4. That said, expect some regular posts over the next week or two. Months ago, I bought one of those little wooden bracelets with pictures of saints on them, and I've been wearing it regularly. I am, however, highly embarrassed to not be able to identify a good 50% of the figures. (The fact that there are 2 images of Christ and 1 of the Blessed Virgin make my numbers even more pathetic, as those are gimmes.) I'm hoping that if I post these pictures, someone will be able to help me ID my mystery saints.
5. It occasionally occurs to me that I should be really hoping that the bloggers I read regularly pay no attention to their SiteMeters at all. I still don't use a Feed Reader to read my blogs, finding it more exciting to actually visit a site and see if there's been an update since the last time I checked. The problem is, with my summer work over and school not starting until next week, I have sometimes over the past several days found myself at home with hours to kill, sitting on the computer, "occasionally" (often) checking my favorite blogs for new posts. This is worst at sites that I know update more than once a day, and Fr. Z at WDTPRS may very well think he has either a huge fan following or a dedicated stalker in [Small Town, NY]. I'm so embarrassed.
6. I'm such a stereotypical poor grad student. Besides spending my unclaimed hours on the internet waiting for blogs to be updated (I'm not as pathetic as I sound, really), I just ordered my new bed to be delivered to my apartment. My new air bed, that is. Why buy a whole new bed that will just have to be sold or moved back to NY when I can sleep on an air mattress for a year? It's cheaper and easier - it's just not exactly classier.

7. I can't figure out how I feel about this Wall Street Journal article about an artist who buys deaccessioned museum pieces and transforms them into his own works of art. It's certainly art, but it's got a very anti-preservation attitude that rubs me the wrong way. If you'd like the artist's take on it, check out his own blog at

Photo credit Robert Fontenot
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Overheard in New York

At the corner of Houston and Lafayette this evening, on my way to get drinks with some friends:

A guy selling something from his van: "Get your Barack Obama condoms here! Get your Obama condoms! You can't put a price on protection! Cheaper than an abortion!"

I was angered and disgusted. You?

Friday, August 14, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXVI

1. From now on, I always sign leases for apartments sight unseen. I let my new roommate pick out our new apartment while I was out of the city, and signed the lease and paid my first month's rent before I'd ever seen it. I finally moved some furniture in earlier this week - I won't move in for a couple of weeks yet - and I was thrilled. Any apartment I'd picked out would have probably been significantly worse, but as it is, we're in a good neighborhood, really close to a Metro, two floors, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, gorgeous kitchen, spacious living room, and, perhaps most exciting of all, the walls are painted! Such an improvement over "renters' white."
2. There are no country music stations in NY, where I'm living now, so I have to get my fix when I go down to DC. After I'd gotten in and we'd moved my furniture, I mentioned to Rhett that I was surprised I wasn't hoarse from screaming country music lyrics the entire ride down. I was not amused by his response. "You know, it's really not fair. I didn't know about this "country" thing when we started dating."
3. How did I go from having 20-something Tweets in my Twitter history to having 9? And is it weird that it's the middle ones that disappeared, not the oldest ones or the most recent?
4. My most recent genealogical success is still exciting me hugely. Months ago, I'd written away to the NYPD Department of Personnel to see if they could give me information on my great-grandfather, a cop. I didn't hear from them for ages, and figured no response was coming. Wrong! And what a response it was! Just the list of everything that was included was 3.5 pages long. I'm still excited. Let me know if you want to know where to write and what information to include, those of you who have NYPD ancestors.
5. I've been dog-sitting for the past 2 weeks (I had a friend take over for me for a couple days in the middle). I think it's supposed to be the easiest job in the world, but I'm totally ready for them to be home. Sleeping in someone else's bed, and eating my meals across town from where I sleep and dress is just plain old exhausting.
6. Besides, I'm not quite old enough yet to forget how I would have felt about having a house entirely to myself a few years ago, and so I can't help but think it's such a waste of an empty house to use it for sleeping, genealogy, and applying for internships, and not crazy parties that are the envy of the 11th grade.
7. (I never in my life had one of the above parties, nor would I have known where to get the beer or the phone numbers of the right guests that would have made one possible. But a girl can dream, right?)
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not everything is perfect on good old P.E.I.

Do you know who my least favorite character in the Anne of Green Gables canon is? The absolute most despicable person we encounter in all 8 books?

Not Josie and Gertie Pye.
Not the Pringle family.
Not Mrs. Gibson, who makes poor Pauline's life miserable.
Not Mrs. Campbell, who makes poor little Elizabeth's life miserable.
Not Jenny Penny or Dovie Johnson or Delilah Green.
Not the Kaiser, against whom all the young men in Canada risked - or gave - their lives.

It's the sympathetically-portrayed, but utterly awful Ellen West Douglas. How could someone treat another person so terribly? She flat-out refused to allow her sister Rosemary to marry John Meredith.

"He means to ask her, St. George--I'm perfectly sure of that. So he might as well have his chance to do it and find out he can't get her, George. She'd rather like to take him, Saint. I know that--but she promised, and she's got to keep her promise. I'm rather sorry in some ways, St. George. I don't know of a man I'd sooner have for a brother-in-law if a brother-in-law was convenient. I haven't a thing against him, Saint--not a thing except that he won't see and can't be made to see that the Kaiser is a menace to the peace of Europe. That's his blind spot. But he's good company and I like him. A woman can say anything she likes to a man with a mouth like John Meredith's and be sure of not being misunderstood. Such a man is more precious than rubies, Saint--and much rarer, George. But he can't have Rosemary--and I suppose when he finds out he can't have her he'll drop us both. And we'll miss him, Saint--we'll miss him something scandalous, George. But she promised, and I'll see that she keeps her promise!"

And then - what, a year later? less? - the good Ellen decides she wants to get married, she no longer has any use for their sacred promise of eternal singlehood, and she wants to be released from it. And - whereas Rosemary was so committed to their promise that she wouldn't even tell John Meredith why she was refusing his proposal - Ellen tells her beau Norman Douglas all about it so that he can go ask Rosemary for her permission.

"You know as well as I do, girl. Don't be putting on your tragedy airs. No wonder Ellen was scared to ask you. Look here, girl, Ellen and I want to marry each other. That's plain English, isn't it? Got that? And Ellen says she can't unless you give her back some tom-fool promise she made. Come now, will you do it? Will you do it?"

It took me years to view Ellen as an awful person, as Rosemary holds no grudge and L.M. Montgomery continues to paint her sympathetically through the rest of the series. But her actions are the most despicable I think I've encountered anywhere in Avonlea, Summerside, Four Winds, or the Glen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My HS principal died last weekend. I never thought I could be so sad about a man I hadn't seen in 5 years and had had exactly one conversation with, ever. Our one conversation was under these circumstances:

It was the morning of my HS graduation. I had bought a dress, but had no shoes to go with it, and, due to the schedule of the morning (graduation rehearsal, baccalaureate Mass, graduation), did not expect to have time to do my hair or put on make-up. I was stressed, emotional, and overwhelmed. By the time I got to rehearsal, I was in tears. Waiting for rehearsal to start, the graduating class of several hundred was milling around the auditorium. In our high school, the academic top 10% sit at the front and graduate first, so I was near the front, where the rest of the smart kids were milling, but I was in tears. Mr. F. came over to me. We'd never spoken before. He said, "Is everything okay? You're still going to graduate, right? You didn't fail phys. ed. or anything?" (It sounds bald on paper, but he said it very sympathetically.) I guess he assumed, since my position marked me as one of the smart kids, that only gym class could jeopardize my graduation. I told him I was fine, I hadn't failed anything, I was still graduating. He walked away, headed directly over to where a group of teachers stood, most of whom were male, with 1 female guidance counselor. I saw him approach the counselor and point in my direction. He probably said something along the lines of "There's a girl crying over there, and I don't know what to do. You should take care of it." He was probably correct, as only a woman's presence would allow me to act the way I did when she approached me, which was to break down still further and wail "My hair looks bad and I have no shoooooes!"

It was the briefest interaction, and - seeing as how I cried my way through it - you wouldn't think I'd walk away from it with a positive impression. But I suppose there's a perception that administrators don't particularly concern themselves with the happiness or emotional well-being of individual students. That's for the people on the ground, the teachers and counselors. But when Mr. F. saw someone with a problem, his first reaction was to approach me himself to try to help. He was sympathetic. And when he realized he was in over his head (a crying teenage girl!) he found the right person to take care of it. It didn't occur to me until I heard about his untimely death last week that, while I'd made a point of going back to the school some days later and thanking the guidance counselor for being so kind and sympathetic, I'd never thanked Mr. F.
for caring so much.


Friday, August 7, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXV

1. I was just party to explaining the acronym MILF to my mom. My aunt (it was all her fault anyway) and I were laughing so hard she almost never knew.
2. I've been procrastinating my life away all week. I need to get an internship for this coming semester, and I simply can't get my act together to apply. I do genealogy, I blog, I chat. I don't update resumes or e-mail contact people or ask for references. I'm a little bit screwed.
3. Have I been completely oblivious, or did everyone else know that one of the (formerly) jailed American journalists in North Korea was Lisa Ling's sister?
4. I'm laying here in bed Thursday night, near tears because my high school principal, who I hadn't seen in 5 years and had spoken to only once, died earlier this week. I was planning on including our one interaction in this Quick Take, but it got too long. Next week, look for a post demonstrating how one of the smart kids, who never had any opportunity to interact with administrators because I was never in trouble, could learn first hand that the principal was a really good guy who will be missed.
5. That was Thursday night. I fell asleep while trying to finish this post, and now it's Friday afternoon and I can't remember whether I had any other Quick Takes to write about.
6. I've recently discovered I'm a country fan. It appears I like "pop" country - Montgomery Gentry, Lonestar, etc. Any more seasoned country fans out there have recommendations for good country music?
7. I'm heading up to RI for a weekend of vacation this afternoon, and then driving down to DC for an overnight of hard work (moving furniture into my new apartment). It'll be a marathon travel weekend. Wish me luck.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Great Sockish Migration to the US

I've spent this week catching up on back episodes of the Genealogy Gems podcast. Here's a brilliant video by the creator of Genealogy Gems, Lisa Louise Cook:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Job is done happily and well, customer is put first!

When I griped last week about having having lost $35 on a returned-check fee even though I could have sworn that my checking account had sufficient funds, I was right! I re-paid it, and worried that the amount hadn't been credited to my account quickly enough - maybe there was actually some problem - so I called up Student Accounts to check. I was only calling about that. The lovely girl I spoke with on the phone said my most recent payment was still pending and should post soon, and she took it upon herself - without my asking - to check into the the prior payment. It hadn't bounced, she said, but had been an invalid account. I must have made a typo when trying to pay it online the first time. So she offered - I didn't even have to ask - to remove the $35 fee and clear my account so I wouldn't have the record of a bounced check besmirching my good name in the Student Accounts office. (They penalize you more if you bounce more than one check.)

It was an unexpectedly pleasant phone call.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sand Animation

Last week, on Faith and Family Live!, blogger Danielle Bean posted a video of the Sand Animation that won Ukraine's Got Talent. I was fascinated. I never knew such a thing existed, and if I had, I never could have imagined how incredible it could be - both aesthetically and emotionally moving.

I'd been talking to Rhett online, and he had to let someone else use the computer for a few minutes. I clicked on it absently, figuring I'd turn it off when he got back. I did no such thing. I couldn't tear myself away.

Here's another of Kseniya Simonova's Sand Animations:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Remember Noah?

The weatherman just said that we'd had "measurable rainfall" for 46 out of the past 94 days. I did some quick math (well, not as quick as an intelligent, grown person should be able to divide by 2, but I did some math) and discovered that this meant it had rained for half-minus-1 of the last 94 days.

Friday, July 31, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXIV

7 Observations After a Mets Game Edition

1. Boy, the Mets kind of suck.
2. Even at a brand-new stadium, it really hits you that stadiums are all the same, and always have been. Sure, some have more amenities and cleaner bathrooms than others, but turn Citi Field into stone, and you've got the Coliseum! The basic design hasn't changed since Ancient Rome.
3. Rhett's response to the above observation: "Oh my God, only you would think of ancient civilization at a Mets game!"
4. According to my dad: "Only your mother's relatives would bring lentil salad and leftover macaroni to a baseball game." (Yes, my mother's relatives brought lentil salad and leftover macaroni to the baseball game.)
5. It was my 9-year-old cousin's first major league game. His excitement was obvious and contagious. I love seeing someone revel in something I take for granted; it really makes you look at the world with fresher eyes, and appreciate what you have. It's not like baseball games are an everyday occurrence for me, but the past couple years I've gone to a game or two (generally with Rhett, and generally to Nats' games - and it's not like people get particularly excited about Nats games, as a rule. The last one we went to was the worst team in the AL vs. the worst team in the NL, and it was like a game to see who would lose instead of a game to see who would win). People can be so bored and jaded sometimes - it was refreshing to see something that should be exciting actually excite someone.
6. One of the things that excited him very much was the wave. I couldn't help but wonder who invented the wave - were they sending waves around the Coliseum in Ancient Rome? When a wave had never been tried before, who had the foresight to see that it would look really cool? And how on earth did he get people to try it that first time? "Okay, first, everyone in this section stand up and then sit down again! Now, right after that, everyone in this section stand up and sit down again! Won't that be fun? Why are you looking at me funny?"
7. I realized I can't go to a Mets game without missing my grandfather a lot. He died a little over a year ago, and was a huge baseball fan. (As well as a really good player. He once pitched to Willie Mays while they were in the Army together, and he had a chance to go pro that he turned down.) My dad told us tonight how he and my grandfather used to go to numerous Mets games every season. I'd never been to a baseball game with him, but the two are inextricably linked in my mind, to the point that I was tearing up during the 6th inning because I missed him so. RIP.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Baby Steps in Virtue

Inspired by some posts over at Conversion Diary (like this and this), I've been thinking a lot lately about showing God's love to others, and loving others as He loves me. It makes for a lot of nice thinking, but I haven't found much opportunity to put it into practice in my actions yet.

This morning, I had to make an important phone call - that couldn't be made while I was at work - to an office that opened at 8:30. I hoped to get to 9 am Mass, but even though I dialed right at 8:30, it was 8:53 by the time I got off the phone - and I wasn't dressed yet. I threw my clothes on and ran out the door. I wouldn't say I was speeding, per se, but I wasn't quite abiding by the 30 mph speed limit as I drove to church downtown. And then, not two blocks from my house, a driver in a white car pulled out right in front of me and proceeded to *not* accelerate. We did a cool 25 for as long as I was behind him.

When he'd pulled out, since I'd been going just a bit faster than 25, I ended up right on his tail. In my impatience to get to church, my impulse was not to step on the brake, but to stay there. It took a minute, but eventually, I told myself, "Show God's love to this person by not tailgating him."

The irony was quite apparent. I was on my way to church, and it took an internal lecture get me to stop being a jerk to someone. And the closest I can get to reflecting God's love towards others is to reluctantly try to stop being a jerk. Not tailgating is basic driving etiquette, not to mention safety. It's not quite a paradigm of Christian charity.

I think I still need a lot of work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stressed OUT

Apologies for the low post volume lately. The pressures of finding an apartment, finding an internship, and worrying about how I'll pay for an apartment when I don't get paid for an internship have been getting to me.* They've also been taking up most of my online time. And making me wonder how I ever thought myself mature enough be doing grown-up things. I can't even handle grown-up stresses when I'm still partially supported by my parents and have them to fall back on if I run out of money (just let Mom know tonight that I'll likely be exercising that option next semester). How will I ever handle them when I actually have to be fully responsible for all of my debts?

*Oh, and noticing that I appear to have bounced a tuition check, even though my account had sufficient funds. WTF? There's a $35 returned check fee down the drain.

Friday, July 24, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXIII

1. Some time ago, I was walking behind a couple girls, about my age, maybe a little younger, who were discussing the inherent unfairness of being female. "Women have to find a spouse, get married, and have kids between the ages of, say, 28 and 35." Excuse me? I'm not advocating "children having children," but really, must we ignore the first fifteen years of a woman's fertility?
2. I got a haircut this morning. I hadn't had it cut since Thanksgiving, at which point I'd gotten fed up with it and had my sister cut it on Thanksgiving morning while I sat on the edge of the bathtub with a glass of wine in my hand. It was long, and scraggly, and unkempt, and I was beginning to get embarrassed every time I thought about what adorned my head. Now it's shoulder length, with layers and angles. I feel like a whole new person - and that person is both grown-up and stylish.
3. You may or may not know that I'm a genealogy nerd. I just found out, via Dick's Genealogy and History Corner, that the 1905 NYS Census is online at the pilot! Who's excited?! Since it's not indexed, I guess we know how I'll be spending the rest of my summer vacation.
4. I'm sure that nearly everyone who's reading this post has come from Conversion Diary, but I have to point out Jen's recent post to anyone who hasn't seen it: Inconvenient love: A lesson from a movie theater. I know it sparked a little controversy in the comments, but all I thought when I read it was, "Wow, I should be a better person." Jen's posts often have the effect of making me want to be a better person.
5. I have noticed that the majority of people who arrive on this blog from Google are searching for how to get red wine off of a white wall. I really wish I had better, safer, advice for you, folks. Sorry.
6. I just - as I write this - got the following comment on facebook: "i saw some dude restoring an old book in a church, thought of you...."I think I'm flattered. I guess that's the impression you make on people when you work in museums and archives.
7. Oh goodness, someone has to help me! As I wrote this, Thursday night, I was watching a movie on LMN (Lifetime Movie Network) called Moment of Truth: Justice for Annie. In this movie, a mom begins to suspect that her daughter's accidental death was actually murder for insurance fraud. She and the sympathetic detective uncover evidence, take it to trial, and then the verdict is announced, and it is. . . I sat on the remote! By the time I got it back to the channel, the movie was over. Does anyone know how this movie ends?
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What happened to me?

Monday I sent Rhett a text that said, “18 mos ago, if I’d been someone who went to Confession on my lunchbreak, would you have thought I was a religious nut and not wanted to date me?”

Don’t read that as being pejorative, though I think he did and answered a little defensively. It wasn’t really about who he would or wouldn’t have dated at all. It was about who he was dating, because she’s not the same person she was a year and a half ago – though she often still acts like it.

A year and a half ago, I’d only been to Confession half a dozen times in my life, probably – my First Confession, and then whenever the CCD program happened to take us, which I remember being not quite once a year. I’d gone to Mass on a weekday that wasn’t a Holy Day of Obligation, too, maybe half a dozen times. More often than not, those were Fr. King’s 11:15 pm Masses during college. (RIP, Fr. King.)

And somehow, earlier this week, I found myself running to Confession on my lunchbreak* so I could be sure I could receive Communion if I was able to wake up in time to make it to daily Mass before work the next day.

“What the heck happened to me?” I wondered in a neutral way – I didn’t think of it negatively, but I also didn’t particularly think of it positively. It was just a fact, and I was confused about how that fact had come to be.

And then, at Mass the next morning (I was a couple minutes late, but I made it. I don’t know how it can be so hard to get up for work or Mass at 9am when 3 days a week I’m out the door by 6:45.), I was struck by one particular phrase. It’s astounding how God primes you for the message you need to hear, and then makes sure you get to hear it. (It is also, for the record, astounding how many things you hear over and over again without ever really hearing them.) The priest simply said, as he always does, “Lord, we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you.”

And it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I know that that line doesn’t apply to a particular instance of being at a particular Mass. But still – It’s a good thing to be at Mass on a weekday! I should be grateful that I’m even there! Because I should be there, and because I certainly didn’t get there on my own – we need to be grateful to God for "counting us worthy to stand in [His] presence and serve [Him] because we could never be in that position if it were left up to us. “What happened to me?” God called, and after fighting it for a while, I answered - without even realizing there was a call or that I was responding to it. Confession I felt I had to do, but Mass on weekdays? I’m still not sure how that came about.

I think, one day a couple weeks ago, I saw people heading into Mass as I was heading into work, and I thought to myself, “Oh, I could get to Mass twice a week without making myself too late for work.” So the next day – I went! Since when is being able to go to Mass any reason to actually go? This is so foreign to me, but I’d been doing it without thinking about it for several weeks – until Monday, when it occurred to me that I was doing something as unthinkable as sacrificing my lunch break, of all the important things, to go to Confession. Who am I? And do I realize how lucky I am?

*For the record, it’s impossible to get uptown, make a quick confession, and get back downtown in the course of a ½ hour lunch break, even if you think you’ve got the subways timed perfectly so you won’t be late.

Friday, July 17, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXII

1. Do you ever think about the fact that men grow hair out of their faces? Being male would be so weird.
2. I'll be in Washington, DC this weekend. Rhett and I are planning an action-packed, fun-filled weekend. It's amazing how many things there are to do in the city once you look for them. I only look for them when I'm visiting. When I live there, I spend most of my weekend afternoons watching TV in Rhett's living room.
3. Speaking of that boy, I've known since the beginning that there were lots of foods he didn't eat or had never tried. (See #2, here) Every so often, I'll offer him a piece of something that's as normal as a blue sky to me, and he'll look at me skeptically and ask, "Would I like that?" I'm still always surprised, but never so much as I was this weekend, when he came to visit me and we went to my grandparents. The poor boy had never had a cannoli. He had to ask me what it was when he saw it on the dessert plate! I about died.
4. At that Sunday dinner at my grandparents, my cousin's husband said to Rhett, "Let us know the next time you're in town. We'll all get together and hang out." The funny thing about that is that he extended the same invitation to me: "Give us a call next time Rhett's in town. We'll all hang out."

Excuse me? Um, buddy, I'm here all the time! We don't need him to hang out!
5. The biggest plus to working at a local history museum is the interesting things you learn. For example, did you know that the largest boom derrick in American at the time was used to construct my middle school? I bet you did not. Talk about your hometown pride!
6. A few 7 Quick Takes ago, I mentioned that I wanted to read things that were fun and interesting but also had some depth and substance. Implicit in that desire was that I wanted these to be new books I hadn't read yet. And yet somehow, with two unread library books on the floor by my bed, last night I found myself weeping quietly as Anne Shirley decides to give up her Avery scholarship to stay in Avonlea and teach so that Marilla can keep Green Gables despite her failing eyesight. (I hope I'm safe in assuming everyone's read Anne of Green Gables?) And, with my library books still untouched on the floor, this morning I opened up Anne of Avonlea. I've been down this road before. I know how it ends: "And then - 'Yeth,' said Rilla." 8 books later. I'm a book and a half in, I'll have to finish the series before I can turn to anything new or different.

Apparently, I still read the entire Anne of Green Gables series every summer, whether I want to or not!
7. The last post reminds me - through most of elementary school, my summer readin consisted primarily of: the Nancy Drew series, the Anne of Green Gables series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the Little House books. Each series, in its entirety, ever summer, without fail. I outgrew Nancy first, and then the Little House books, as much as I love them, were a little too simple to read that regularly, though I still go back to them from time to time. The Narnia books I haven't read in a couple years, I think, though this - and having read The Screwtape Letters - made me start thinking of them again. Anne, as you've heard, I re-read with comfortable regularity.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Anne Shirley makes me idealistic and disappointed

Last night's post was occasioned not only by the fact that I'm reading the Anne books right now, but also by the fact that I'm in a position to decide whether or not to make the effort to continue some friendships that have been faltering for the past year or so. It's all come to a head in the past couple weeks. Without going into too much detail, I know my friends won't make the effort. If we're ever going to talk, ever going to see each other, it's going to have to be because I called, or because I tried to make plans. And by "make plans," I mean, "ask what they're doing so I might be included in their plans" - because that phone call certainly never includes a "What do you feel like doing?" or a "Sure, we'll come to your place." At most, the response I get is "We're doing X. You can meet us."

And I'm no perfect friend, either, as evidenced by the fact that I whine and complain about it and can't gracefully forgive or live and let live.

So the question at hand is whether it's worth my time and energy to maintain a friendship that in no way resembles or approaches Anne's ideal.

If only real life were like Avonlea

As usual, Anne Shirley says it all:

"Do you know, Mrs. Allan, I'm so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much."

"True friendship is a very helpful thing indeed," said Mrs. Allan, "and we sully it by any failure in truth and sincerity. I fear the name of friendship is often degraded to a kind of intimacy that has nothing of real friendship in it."

"Yes . . . like Gertie Pye's and Julia Bell's. They go everywhere together; but Gertie is always saying nasty things of Julia behind her back and everybody thinks she is jealous of her because she is always so pleased when anybody criticizes Julia. I think it is desecration to call that friendship. If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that is in us, don't you think? Then friendship would be the most beautiful thing in the world."

(Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What if "toning down the rhetoric" works?

And by “works,” of course, I mean “causes there to be fewer abortions and saves lives” – which is the only thing that counts as success in the abortion debate.

It goes against my every instinct to imply that it might. After all, being vehemently and outspokenly pro-life isn’t rhetoric. It’s standing up for the weak and speaking up for the voiceless. Legal abortion is a tragedy and a travesty.

But I recently had a surprising conversation with one of the most pro-choice of my many loved ones who are pro-choice. The last conversation we’d had – less than a year ago – where abortion had come up, she’d declared that she wouldn’t have a baby for another 4 years or so. If she got pregnant before that line, she’d have an abortion. Afterwards, she’d keep the baby. Even the other pro-choice people who were around had joined me in saying that you can’t be that simplistic with the decision. It’s not just about how old you are, and if you have the same resources and support system at 29 as you do at 30, there’s no reason to have a magical age as the threshold.

And yet we recently had another conversation – like I said, well less than a year later – where she told me that if she got pregnant now, she’d probably have the baby. The sentiment was along the lines of “I think I’d have it, even though I couldn’t afford it.” It wasn’t a particularly strong pro-life declaration, and, of course, there’s no saying she’d never change her mind back in the other direction. But though I didn’t ask, it eventually got me wondering what had caused the change of heart. (I couldn’t figure out how to ask – “But you just said 6 months ago that you’d never have a baby before X age!” without sounding like I was trying to hold her to her earlier promise, which I certainly didn’t want to do.)

And I started thinking about these concepts of “toning down the rhetoric” and “finding common ground.” What if having a very popular, strongly pro-choice president who talks about “reducing the need for abortion” as opposed to “reducing the number of abortions” in and of itself could reduce the number of abortions? Trying to think about it from the perspective of someone who’s pro-choice, “reducing the number of abortions” sounds like we’re saying that there will be fewer abortions, no matter who wants them. (I would support that.) And “reducing the need for abortion” sounds like we’re trying to help prevent people from being in the desperate situations in which they would need abortions. (I would also support that.)

Personally, I think that the only situation which approaches there being a need for an abortion involves immediate danger to the life of the mother. But what if public attention on reducing the need for abortion made people think that there are situations in which an abortion is needed – and correspondingly, situations involving unwanted pregnancies in which it is not? What if a national dialogue about reducing the need for abortions tweaked the idea of when an abortion was warranted, just ever so slightly? Instead of an abortion being warranted whenever a mother so chooses, what if there a slight shift of the collective mindset – even if not the laws – such that people started to think of an abortion as something that is warranted when the mother needs one?

It would really just be a shift towards the world that many pro-choice people insist already exists, one where every abortion-related decision is heart-rending and made with much consideration. And if there are fewer abortions in that world than in this one, that’s a victory, right?

As much as I tried to imagine the pro-choice mindset when I was thinking about this, I realize that I’ve failed in one big way, which is the underlying assumption that not every unwanted pregnancy brings with it the need for an abortion. I hear that a big difference in the approach of those who are pro-choice and those who are pro-life, when it comes to reducing the need for abortion, is that the pro-choice side focuses on birth control, while the pro-life side focuses on making sure women who want to keep their babies are materially able to. That implies that the pro-choice side sees an unexpected pregnancy as increasing the need for abortion, and that reducing unwanted pregnancy inherently reduces the need for abortion. I’m sure it does do so, but not inherently.

That’s the point.

What if talking about what reduces the need for abortion slowly brought people around to the idea that an unwanted pregnancy does not equal a needed abortion? If we’re trying to reduce the need for abortion by increasing the support system and the safety net available to women in these situations, shouldn’t we get to the point where all women who are considering an abortion really ask themselves (and I know many do, but I also know many do not), “Do I really need this? Have my support system and my safety net failed me such that I feel I have no other choice?”

Could that happen?

Monday, July 13, 2009

There's no friend like a sister

OR - no, wait, for real this time.

This poem by Christina Rossetti was on a card (from my aunt to my mother) that was hung on our mirror when my sister and I were little. I've always loved it.

For there is no friend like a sister,

in calm or stormy weather,

to cheer one on the tedious way,

to fetch one if one goes astray,

to lift one if one totters down,

to strengthen whilst one stands.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"There's no friend like a sister"

OR, Why Your Sister Is The Best And The Worst Person To Have On Your Team When Playing Taboo

Me: What's on my feet!
Suellen: Shoes!
Me: No, what's on my feet!
Suellen: Ew. Warts.

Well, yes. Precisely.

Unreliable statistics

Reading TIME Magazine this evening, I came across an article about the website that had some content that I would like to strenuously object to. The article, titled Adultery 2.0, is about the fairly despicable site, which provides a platform for people who want to cheat on their spouses. It's pretty terrible overall, but one line in particular stopped me in my tracks and made me exclaim aloud, "You've got to be kidding me!"

"Traffic on the site - which takes its name from the two most popular female names in 2001, the year it launched - tripled on June 22, the day after Father's Day."

Excuse me? In whose world was Ashley one of the top two girls' names in 2001? Madison was, in fact, (unfortunately) #2 in 2001, but Ashley was all the way at #4. (Source: Social Security Administration) Doesn't everyone know that Emily was #1 for 12 years, absolutely precluding that statement from being true? Ashley hadn't been in the top 2 since 1995.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Awesome Old Stuff

A couple awesome things in the news recently:

Roman Mosaic Unveiled in Israel

This beautiful mosaic is in the Biblical town of Lod, a thriving town in Roman times. Officials are trying to use it as the centerpiece of an effort to create a tourist industry here. Read about it at the NYTimes.

Codex Sinaiticus Available Online!

Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, we read of the recently-completed digitization of the Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest known surviving Bible, a 4th century Greek manuscript. Read about it here at the Washington Post, and actually read it here (well, you know, if you're fluent in Ancient Greece).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Question Answered by Fr. Z

I'd e-mailed the ever-knowledgeable Fr. Z about an experience I had at Mass this weekend, and he answered me! Part of me feels really cool for making it up on his website, even though I know it's just a question. The other part of me just wishes his answer hadn't been what I'd really known all along it would be - that no, the Consecration wasn't valid, and I didn't receive the Eucharist unless I was lucky enough to have received a Host that had been reserved from a prior Mass. Read my question and his answer here: Words for the Precious Blood twice, none for the Body

Friday, July 3, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXI

1. My cousin, as we listened to a local radio station's weekend-long tribute to Michael Jackson: "It's sad about his death, but this is the best weekend for music in years."
2. ". . . and in your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ." Joyful Hope. It's been a long time since my waiting has been joyful or hope-filled, but I'm awash in Joyful Hope this week. Alleluia!
3. I started Twittering this week. I still haven't quite figured out what I'm doing, and I'm reluctant to link to it here because it's attached to my real name and the real-live me. But if you really want to follow me on Twitter, go ahead and e-mail me and I'll give you my Twitter name or whatever that's called. Twitter's got a confusing lexicon.
4. Speaking of e-mailing me, you will now be able to do that, as I've added a link to my blogger profile, which of course itself contains a link to my e-mail address. I had always vaguely wondered how someone could know my e-mail address from this blog, as there didn't seem to be any way to get to my profile, unless I commented on my own posts (which, of course, I do from time to time). It never occurred to me that I could do something about this seeming difficulty until, oh, a minute ago.
5. Speaking of Twitter - anyone have any tips on, like, how it works? I feel a little lost. Maybe if I had my bearings, too, I'd be more likely to share my Twittering more widely.
6. Hmm . . . here I am, composing a 7 Quick Takes Friday, which I don't do all that often anymore, and it occurs to me; I'll be on a blissful vacation in my favorite place in the world, mostly internet inaccessible, come Friday. Oh well. My Quick Takes will be posted, but likely won't be linked to from Conversion Diary. Worse things have happened.
7. I like to use Roman numerals to number my 7 Quick Takes posts, because Roman numerals are cool. They are also, to my Arabically-formed mind, not particularly intuitive. That's why my recent Quick Takes were numbered 17, 18, 14, 20. That's what you get for trying to be cool.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Like a masochist in Newport we're Rhode Island bound!

I won't be around much for the rest of the week since . . .

Monday, June 29, 2009

1950 meets 2009

On Father's Day, we went to my grandparents' house. My grandfather and the menfolk were sitting outside under a tree, drinking sambuca and black coffee while the womenfolk sat on a swing on the front porch and tried to make me feel better about having just inadvertently blown the surprise of my cousin's upcoming wedding shower.

Sometimes it feels like my grandparent's house exists in a world just a few decades removed from the one I blog in.

Sometimes it doesn't.

My cousin and I headed over to sit and talk with our dads and uncles a little bit later. We chatted for a while, ate fruit, and then my grandfather announced unexpectedly, "So there's Twitter."

"Grandpa!" my cousin exclaimed. "You Twitter?!"

We well knew that he did not. They don't own a computer anymore.

"No," said my mostly-deaf grandfather. "But I hear things."

"There's another one, too," he said. "There's Twitter and. . ."

He looked up at the sky, hands folded over his stomach, as he tried to think of the "other one."

"Facebook?" we supplied helpfully. "MySpace?" "Blogs?"

"No, no. There's Twitter and there's. . ."

Moments passed.

"Text!" he announced decisively. Everything Grandpa does is decisive. "There's Twitter and there's text!"

He, of course, had no idea what either one was. My cousin successfully demonstrated texting (which my mother had recently taught my grandmother how to do; Grandma has and uses a cell phone, Grandpa does not) by texting her father as she sat next to him, and then showing Grandpa how the message instantly showed up on my uncle's cell phone, but I don't think our explanations of Twitter really got through. At the very least, he didn't understand the point.

Then again, neither do I.