Thursday, February 21, 2008

Smart Glasses

Teleological eschatology. Christologies from above and below. Multivocal symbols. Homiletics. Mystical interpretations of Johannine literature. Axiology and Thomistic aesthetics.
My senior year of college, my roommate Sarah had a particularly unique study habit. She would produce binders, books, pens, paper, handouts, and syllabus, and then, when the materials for her study surrounded her, mountain-like, she would whip out a pair of cute glasses.
Sarah doesn't wear glasses.
Except when she studied.
And she doesn't need reading glasses.
She called them her smart glasses. I borrowed them a few times. Eventually she accumulated enough for all four girls in the apartment to sit around wearing them if we so desired. Which we sometimes did.
Note: it does make you study better if you start off feeling smart. Academic thoughts begin to swirl, and before you know it you're learning and reading and making note cards.
Put on your smart glasses.
But I've been sick. What could I possibly have to say that sounds smart? Not much. Luckily, however, these people do. These are books I've begun to read recently. I give you material to contemplate, absorb and ponder. It's part of a balanced breakfast. Pump that frontal lobe iron. Make your brain drop and give you twenty.You'll be glad you did.
But don't forget your smart glasses.

Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy is an easily readable, very provocative account of the Nickel Mines shooting at a tiny Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. The authors offer the facts of the story as well as insights into the life of the Amish in general. What makes this book haunting is less the evil of the killer and more the stunning, simple displays of forgiveness offered to the killer's surviving family. With expositions on the key role that Matthew 5 plays in Amish thinking and living, this book will challenge believers and nonbelievers alike. You don't have to don a black bonnet to realize there are lessons to be learned from this branch of Christendom. Difficulty: low Authors: Kraybill, Nolt, and Weaver-Zercher

Faith Seeking Understanding
presents a basic primer for Christian theology. It is a summary, an overview, but it succeeds in capturing important nuance nonetheless. While any book on theology has biases, I think that this one manages to recognize it's own in a way the reader can note and accept or reject. The author freely appeals to Luther and Barth, but not to the detriment of other key players in church history. Another strength is the author's ability to consistently connect the rich doctrines of Christian faith with the concerns of today's world. The book covers the meaning of revelation, the authority of Scripture, the Triune God, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the mystery of evil, and the good creation, to name a few theological topics explored. What cannot be emphasized enough is the importance of the average believer to know what doctrines are important to the church and why. This volume will provide that for orthodox believers looking to add understanding to their faith. Difficulty: medium Author: Daniel Migliore

Les Miserables
is a classic novel of both fiction and redemption. Transcending the musical version and even the film adaptation (which is a masterpiece in its own right), Les Miserables follows the lives of the destitute, the holy, the criminal, and the innocent. As a story, it is first-rate. As a moving tale depicting mercy, justice, and redemption, it is, in my opinion, one of the most important novels ever written for narrating Christian truths. I do suggest, for those intimidated by very long books (1,300 pages), to whet your appetite with the movie first (starring Liam Neeson). I never suggest watching a movie version first, but given the length of the novel I think it acceptable. Do not think, however, that you can substitute the movie for the book. And I must add that if you choose only one book to read this spring, this should be it.Difficulty: hard, due to length and some particular historical references
Author: Victor Hugo

Please let me know which of these recommendations you like, if you've read any before, and comments you have on these books.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Little House on the Prairie

For about forty-five minutes Saturday, I left the house for the first time in days to visit the county humane shelter with John. I knew it would be a car ride, a quick tour of the doggies wanting homes, and a quick car ride back.
The evening before, we'd scanned dozens of dogs online.
About a month ago, a lady at the church we've been attending came up to us and, after relating a few funny family anecdotes, made a proposal that we stay in a house on her land for an obscenely low amount of money. After consideration of pros and cons, and John procuring a job closer to the farm, we accepted.
We will live in a little house on the bluegrass. There is a magnolia tree, and stone walls the region is famous for. There is a stream, and a screened in back porch. Nearby there are cows and horses. I will garden and bake pies and John will practice woodworking. And we'll have dogs.
Please, visit your area humane shelter. Walking through ours was like the jail-esque "Lady and the Tramp" scene. They can always use donations of pet food, or walkers, and if you have room, there are so many friendly dogs and cats that need a home. You can easily find particular kinds of pets in your area by a simple Google search. "Petfinder" lists animals at shelters and rescues in the region of your zip code. I was very impressed by our county shelter. One very outgoing English Setter we met was found on Valentine's Day. The owners were contacted but didn't want her back.
In a few months when we're settled, give us a call and come on over. Our dogs can romp together.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Someone Slipped Me A Mickey

After placing the white surgeon's mask over my nose and mouth, I was finally led back to the exam room, where the doctor nodded like he'd seen a lot of this and handed me a sheaf of prescriptions.
Influenza and bronchitis.
I took the Tamiflu. I took the antibiotic. And then I took the cough syrup with codeine.
Enter 60's montage of psychedelic colors, music, and VW vans.
Someone slipped me a mickey.
Twenty minutes after taking codeine, this was the conversation:
"Hey, hey Ethan, you should get a dog and name it Lurch. Get it? Lurch? For a dog? Isn't that funny? You know, like the Addams Family or whatever it was? Luuuurch? Here Lurch....Ahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa...Ahahaha...Hahahahaha...."
Realizing I might be fun to mess with, he started on in my favorite joke:
"Hey Sis, knock knock."
"Yes?" I answered in what I tried to make a dignified tone.
"Knock knock."
"What?" Something was stirring in the back of my mind.
"Oh - right - I couldn't remember what came next - WHO'S THERE?"
Needless to say, the mockery that ensued over the fact that one teaspoon of cold medicine with codeine had me forgetting the reply to a knock knock joke will, I'm sure, make it into the family annals of "remember that time."
Also, I slept ten hours like Rip Van Winkle and my hands are still heavy. Earlier I said the Hawaiian music we were listening to sounded like Boyz II Men in Hollywood. I meant Boyz II Men in Hawaii.
Also, earlier I said these words: "let me Google codeine and coffee."
I was trying to find out if codeine and caffeine mix poorly. Apparently most websites are only concerned with mixing medicines and alcohol, not medicines and coffee.
Hey, codeine and caffeine end the same. I wonder why?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Girlie Girl Time

It's Pink Week. Now, Valentine's Day is approaching; howe'er, for the woman of independence, the married, the fresh, newly dating, the annoyed constant dater, or the widow - or, I suppose, the Mata Hari - Valentine's Week is a good time to enjoy being a woman. Let's face it. There are many ways to do this. Ladies, I encourage you to pamper yourself this week. If you have a significant other worth his weight in salt, he will help you do this; a foil wrapped heart of candy, a flower, a dinner, a Tiffany's box, or a handmade construction paper note all do the trick. But it's PINK WEEK. A time to let yourself be girly. It doesn't matter if you're a mother, a career girl, or a retiree. Don't go the route of angsty college girls who paint their fingernails black to show their grief at life's unending misery. Don't give in to the strident cynicism of those who assault Valentine's Day as a commercial enterprise first and foremost.
You are a woman. Savor this fact.
Here is my salute to candy hearts and Spongebob Valentines. Be Mine.

First, have milk and cookies. If you do extra crunches, have whole milk. Of course, you can substitute extra crunchies. Like if the cookies have nuts. Get the really good cookies, like the Dove cookies in the cookie aisle. Or fancy ones from an online place.

Next, soak in the tub for a couple of hours. Long enough that the water starts to get cool and you have to add more hot water. If you don't have enough bubble bath to start a typhoon, try this red currant and thyme soap. Mmmm. Fleur de Lis.

Now, stare at your walls. Aren't you glad you have good taste? Who else would choose such an adorable print? BUNNIES. I love bunnies. I used to have a bunny house when I was younger. (It was a dollhouse for my bunnies.) They had a Christmas tree and everything. And yes, Valentine's Day.

Oh, dear. How did a picture of John get on here? John after several days of influenza and fever? Betcha he didn't know that picture was going to make it on the blogosphere...
Anyway. Back to the point.

Whether you're going out to the Ritz-Carlton or the IHOP, I suggest this bag. It will make you look snazzy. Carry it with a little black dress or jeans. And it looks Valentiney without looking gag me I'm getting diabetic Valentiney.

What's that?
Of course you can lust after a purse. You just did, didn't you?

Oh, oh, don't forget your earrings!! Once again, these are hard to resist. Vintage, of Japanese origin, and romantically dangly, they compliment the purse without overdoing one pattern or shade. Gone are the days of the eighties when your shoes, tights, dress, earrings, and scrunchie are all the exact same shade of teal. Welcome to the boho years.

Oh, my! Another photo of John? John, are you asleep on the couch with your mouth open? Are you completely vulnerable to the outside world? Awww, you're still sick? Better get your rest, then. But you have no idea you're being photographed? Well, then...

see what I mean, ladies? Pink Week is about having fun and pampering yourself.

Now you can have a cup of tea in your beautiful, chipped, antique cup and saucer, enjoy your carton of leftovers stashed in the fridge - because you do have leftovers from your Pink Week Pampering, right? - and savor your favorite film, show, or album.

Power to Pink Week. Let me know how you pamper yourself this week. And you know, a note on that:pampering is as individual as you are. Some people find ironing relaxing. Others find not ironing relaxing. Some enjoy thawing frozen mice in their sink relaxing. Others find rearranging the furniture relaxing. Some enjoy baking. Some enjoy not baking for a day.
But do something - little, small, quirky, mainstream - do something Pink for yourself.
Let me show you a male example of this:

This is my brother. In a box. He's staying with us for a while.
Who doesn't make cardboard boxes into aeroplanes?

All personal photos taken by me, or my aviator brother.
All other photos off my "favorites" folder at

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Murder and Vampires and Blood, OH MY!

So, given that I was stricken this past week with what I think is the plague, or maybe just the influenza going around my apartment, I caught up on some movie viewing. Movie viewing allowed me to do what I was already doing - lying in a haze on the couch with a cold compress on my forehead.
I decided to catch up on movies that I was too young to see when they came out. One might query why I haven't done this before. But I don't question YOUR decision of what to do when you're sick, or have leisure time.
Anyway, I don't know why, but for some reason "Silence of the Lambs" and "Interview with a Vampire" seemed like good ideas. Now, I love a good murder mystery, and suspense is always a key component of a good murder mystery, so I liked "Silence of the Lambs." Clever. And Anthony Hopkins is brilliant in every role he chooses. (See "The World's Fastest Indian." It's about a New Zealander's trek to the Utah salt flats with his forty year old motorcycle to enter Speed Week.)
"Interview with a Vampire" disturbed me much more than "Silence of the Lambs" did.
Me: I shouldn't have watched a gory movie right before bed. (hack hack cough sniffle)
Ethan: Of those two movies, the vampire movie bothered you MORE?
Me: Yes.
John: But vampires aren't real.
Me: I know that. (in my head: smart alec.)
Ethan: So why would vampires, something, I don't know, fictional, bother you more than a serial killer?
Me: Because it was more graphic. The scenes of violence were more graphic than those in "Silence of the Lambs." That movie didn't show much more than you'd see on a random CSI episode. TV has gotten a lot more graphic than it used to be. So "Silence of the Lambs" wasn't that bad. And besides, the natural is controllable. You can potentially catch a serial killer. But to be doomed to a half-life of a vampire, wandering around doing horrible things to people? That's misery.
John and Ethan: But vampires don't exist.
Me: I know that. But I believe in the supernatural. Which means that even though I don't believe in vampires and werewolves, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to believe in them.
John and Ethan: You believe in vampires?
Me: Noo- I just told - shut up you two. You know what I - stop laughing.

If you hear a rumor that I believe in vampires, don't buy it.
But "Silence of the Lambs" did remind me of a few key things. Things you should know, should you ever be a witness.

Rule #1 of being a murder witness: Don't go and tell the murderer the suspicious thing you saw them do that you promise you won't mention to the police. Hello, that's a signed guarantee of a knife in your back. You may think you're friends. You may think, "surely Fred couldn't have done it, this would only make him look bad, but I'll tell him what I saw and reassure him I won't tell the police." BANG. You're dead.

Rule #2 of being a murder witness: Don't try to blackmail the culprit. They're likely smarter than you are. Regardless, they're proven to be more violent. If you want the blackmail money, look in the mirror and remind yourself that your tax refund is just around the corner.

Rule #3 of being a murder witness: Always look at the clock. Whenever I hear strange noises, I look at the clock. That way I can be a good witness. "Well, officer, I did hear that loud noise, at 3:37 pm Central." It hasn't helped yet, but I'm sure it will someday. The only time a police officer asked if I heard or saw anything was one day at work. Someone came in and said hello and I turned around in my chair to see a man I didn't recognize. He was dressed kind of like a mailman - shorts, tall socks. Then I noticed the gun. It turned out to be our local police chief. "Did you hear a window break?" he asked. "No. I heard a loud bang at about 3:37 though." "Oh, that was just the neighbor backing her car into the dumpster," he responded. "Oh. Then no, I didn't hear anything." "Ok, well, we had a window broken down the street, so keep your eyes out." "Ok."

Rule #4 of being a murder witness: Make sure it's a real murder. Now, every time I garden, I fully expect to find something unusual. A time capsule from 1939. The final resting place of dearly departed Fido. Or a skeleton. After years of planting and cultivating, one summer day I was digging around with my trowel in the flower bed near my little apartment. I struck something unusual - it looked similar to rock, but somehow...porous. I tried to find its edges with my trowel, but I couldn't, it was too...big. I leapt up, realizing that if this was indeed a skull, my flower bed would be lined with fluttering yellow police tape quicker than I could say "redrum" and that the only person likely to have placed it there was my landlord, trusting that his student tenants wouldn't take an interest in gardening. I also realized I'd have to booby trap my door and lie in wait all night for the landlord to come in and try to silence his murder evidence finder, only to be met with a swift skillet to his skull. So I called my significant other of the time to come over and examine the evidence I had found. By that time it had turned back into a rock, because for some reason when someone else was around to look at it, it had easily findable edges and resembled a rock more and human anatomy less.
But spring is coming, gardening is just around the corner. So I'm still hopeful. Remember the basic rules of being a murder witness, people. It's a tough world out there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Things You Should Know

If you've read the below post, you know my mind is the consistency of the jello and pudding I made yesterday. That is why, instead of writing, I am going to tell you what other people have written.

Guerilla Gardening

Hot Cocoa, All Grown Up,FOO-News-chocolate30.article

Bishop Condemns Corpse Exhibition

The All-Russia Honey Festival

More Evangelicals Join Lent Observance

Restaurants as Obesity Cops Doesn't Sit Well

San Fernando Valley Illegal Soapbox Federation

Review: The Portable Atheist

High-tech Birdwatchers? Satellite Spotters

It's Awesome, Baby! Vitale Has His Voice Back

Paczki (poonchkey)

Bobby Knight Resigns: But Does He Retire?

Farmland More Valuable Than Ever

207 Pranksters Stand Still for Five Minutes in Grand Central Station

More Born-Again Christians Favor Democratic Candidates

Love of the Game: South Korean Soccer Players Dislocate Shoulders to Dodge Draft,,-7279521,00.html

Doxa Soma

Pimp Your Truck

Brits Don't Know Churchill Is Real, Sherlock Is Fiction

Coolest Thing Ever: Fish Tank Habitrail

Chuck Colson: Art, Worship, and the Bible

"Arrested Development" Film Officially in the Works
Yngwie Malmsteen's Acoustic Guitar Solo

The Onion: Congress to Raise Alpacas to Aid Struggling Economy

Xtreme Knitters Rock the Yarn

Domino's to Deliver Pizza Tracker

Old Movie Website (watch the Hindenberg crash, and so much more...)


I can't think. Words. Words words words.
Yesterday was magazine deadline day. It's kind of like finals, only everyone will be reading your paper. It's kind of like grading, only you're grading authors' work that will appear in your publication, so the readers get to grade both of you.
I even tired of my trusty red correcting pen.
It was after seven in the evening when I dragged myself home to check in on the invalids. John and our houseguest, my brother Ethan, have both contracted something in between the bird flu and the plague. They're weak. They can't move. Yesterday their temperatures hit somewhere between molten lava and the surface of the sun. Coughing. Hacking. I dumped fluids down them, performing a pit-crew like series of actions - replacing their warm cloths on their heads with fresh freezer-ed ones (yes, yes, I literally bathed their fevered brows), annoying them with new things to drink every few seconds, forcing them to eat, and pushing Vitamin C pills down their throats. I toasted bread as an appetizer, given their nausea from taking medicine but not eating all day. I made lime jell-o and chocolate pudding from boxes.
Aside: Jello and pudding are underrated. Everyone loves them. They're a dollar a box, or less if you drive to Wal-Mart, which I didn't. They take little time to make. Why don't I more? Maybe I'll start.
And then I made what I had been dreaming about somewhere between the sixth and tenth revision of the Table of Contents page: lime chicken quesadillas. A refreshing change to the printed world of ink, words, typing, words, page numbers, and words. I didn't expect The Invalids to eat much, which was good, because they didn't. After cleaning up the kitchen (read: wiping off the stove and arranging the dishes in the sink so they looked like tidy stacks instead of falling stacks), and after several more freezer pack swaps (those things thaw quickly when against a fevered brow), and after finishing one of Agatha Christie's less well written murder mysteries that I've been working on for ages (it was nice reading something I hadn't proofread seven times), I poured more medicine down grateful gullets and went to bed.
Which is why I didn't know tornadoes went through my state last night.
Which is why I didn't hear the sirens.
Which is why the ground was wet this morning and people laughed when I said, "there were storms?"
Normally my self-preserving self likes to know all about weather forecasts, updates, situations, and doppler-related information.
I'm so glad I didn't know.