Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Atlas of the Real World

"The Atlas of the Real World uses software to depict the nations of the world, not by their physical size, but by their demographic importance on a range of subjects. Here, we select a series of travel- and news-related maps."

Apparently this is coming out as a book on Oct. 6, but the maps in this article are amazing -- some interesting (aircraft travel vs. rail travel), some thought-provoking [wealth in the years 1, 1900, and 2015 (projected)], some poignant (HIV/AIDS distribution).

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

customer service is a beautiful thing

Super Helpful Store Assistant One: AC Moore, can I help you?
Me: I'm looking for some self-hardening clay.
SHSAO: Yeah, we have that.
Me: What brands? (because I want to search them online to figure out which will have the consistency I want)
SHSAO: We have Nicole, Sculptee and DAS.
Me: What sizes and at what price?
SHSAO: I don't know, I'll have to give you to someone on the floor. Hold on.

No pleasant hold music. Some weird beeping noises.

Super Helpful Sales Associate Two: Hi, can I help you?
Me: I'm looking for self-hardening clay.
SHSAT: We have that.
Me: OK.
SHSAT: ...
Me: Can you tell me what sizes you have and how much they are?
SHSAT: OK, hold on.

Weird beeping noises.

SHSAT: We have a big size and a smaller size.
Me: A big size and a smaller size?
SHSAT: Yeah, one is big and one is a little bit smaller.
Me: What are their weights?
SHSAT: I don't know, hold on.

More weird beeping.

Hello, ma'am?
Me: Yes. I'm looking for self-hardening clay
SHSAO: I know, I'm the first person you talked to.
Me: OK
SHSAO: 56 grams.
Me: 56 grams is the weight of the clay?
SHSAO: Yeah.
Me: What's the price?
SHSAO: I don't know, she just gave me the phone and told me to tell you 56 grams.
Me: Can you find the price for me?
SHSAO: OK. Hold on, I'll walk over there.

Which brand?
Me: All of them?
SHSAO: Well, do you have 3 years to listen, because there's a lot of brands.
Me: OK, then, what's the biggest size you have?
SHSAO: 5 lbs for $13.50
Me: and what's that brand?
SHSAO: Something Mexican, Mexican something. I don't think it's well known, I'm pretty sure it's a discount brand. (the brand he's talking about is actually AMACO, which is very well known...they sell a Mexican style clay. I have the feeling he walked away from the aisle again at this point)
Me: Do you know if it feels like regular clay you would use to make pottery?
SHSAO: Yeah, when it dries, it feels more like pottery than clay.
Me: ...
SHSAO: ...
Me: OK! Thank you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

bugging OUT

I woke up to the sound of buzzing this morning (about 5 minutes ago) really LOUD buzzing. And as it turns out the really loud buzzing was coming from a really BIG bug that is now hanging out on my window sill. I don't know where the bug came from -- I had my back door open last night but there's a screen and no hole big enough for a bug of her enormity to fly through.

Anyway, now she's hanging out on the sill -- I opened the door and the screen and tried to startle her, but neither the pillow nor the flip flop thrown at the bug seemed to fluster her. Do I try to kill her? I'm too scared to get close. But I don't want to leave either, because what if she hides somewhere? And I get home and sit on her? Last summer I knelt on a bee, and that went bad places. Who knows what kind of bug THIS bug is? Who knows what she's capable of?

ETA: Well, I screwed up my courage, gave her a little push with my pillow, and she's out. Also, I am pretty sure it was a bumble bee.

Monday, March 31, 2008 has a list of the top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of all time. I got tired after #20, but this one is my favorite:

#5: San Serriffe
image In 1977 the British newspaper The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian's phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer's terminology. The success of this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that gripped the British tabloids in subsequent decades.

Friday, March 28, 2008

till now, I always got by on my own

It should come as no surprise that I'm an American Idol fan. Not one of those "I only watch the audition phase," because I realized I don't really like watching the auditions anymore. No, I like the weekly grind, the 1.5 minute snippets of 80s songs or Latin songs, or big band songs. I like the little interviews when we see the performers as little babies. I even like the group sing (yeah, I said it.)

And I am one of those people who can say that American Idol has introduced me to new songs. Last year, I heard "Feeling Good," by Nina Simone, for the first time by cute little AJ Tablado with his cute little popped up collar, and now I love that song. During Idol Gives Back, Kelly Clarkson sang "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)," by Patty Griffith, which I had never heard before but now ranks in my all time favorites.

This week, Ramiele Malubay (who I think should be gone because she's boring and she talks baby talk and I still can't believe my darling Chikeze left. Moment of silence for my Chikeze please.) sang "Alone" by Heart, which I should have heard because Carrie Underwood sang it in her season. Maybe it didn't make that much of an impression, because this week, when I heard it for the first time, I felt the thrill of a new obsession! I love me some heartfelt, angst-ridden, agonizing, unrequited love, and that's this song.

But now I need an opinion. Everyone says this is one of Carrie Underwood's greatest songs, but really, I don't think she does it justice. It's like she doesn't even know what it's about. She stares into the camera with eyes that say "when will this be done so I can sing country again?" Carrie does not want to get me alone! Nothing's chilling her to the bone!

Gina Glocksen, who I supported way back when, apparently also sang it, which I discovered as I was youtubing the song (because I LOVE IT -- was that made clear?), and to me, even though her power notes were rough, she really seemed to embody the song better.

Which do you like better?


I can't help but also be moved by cute little AJ Tablado's dancing and singing at the :48 mark.

And of course, if you're not sick of it: the original (this is a recent live recording -- the actual 80s video kind of scared me a little):

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

this is what i have to say about sex

I just finished Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity, by Lauren Winner, who is one of my new favorite authors, mostly because she's kind of a nerdy theologian, and so am I. On the whole, I liked it a lot, mostly because as a youth pastor who has to talk to teenagers about sex in the context of Christianity, I like the way Lauren Winner does it more than anyone else I've ever read.

Case in point: a few months ago I was perusing a Christian bookstore to try and find some books to use with my high schoolers. I came across a book called Technical Virgin: How Far is too Far? by Haylie DiMarco. DiMarco's book represents everything I hate about most Christian books on sex geared toward teenagers (or sex in general). I didn't read all of it, and I didn't buy it, but I did stand in the bookstore for a long period of time looking through it. Geared toward teenage girls, a lot of the book talks about how evil teenage boys are, how all they want from relationships is physical satisfaction, how if you let them tickle you or if you sit in your room alone with them they are assuming sex is the inevitable next step and they'll be pissed off if you don't deliver. Not only will they be pissed off, but so will God. As she says (I texted this sentence to myself so I wouldn't forget it): "if you allow a boy to use you for sexual satisfaction you are leading him down a path of destruction and God is blaming you."

There are so many things wrong with that sentence, I am not sure where to start. First, it's assuming that the girl is getting no sexual satisfaction out of the deal*, second, it perpetuates the centuries-old stereotype that men are helpless beings forced to act on their sexual impulses if a woman encourages them in the slightest, and third, it paints a very scary (an untruthful) picture of God.

*This hits on another one of her scary themes, which is, as she puts it: "sex = depression" THAT'S a real positive way to make girls feel good about their bodies. Plus, while it may be true for some, it's definitely not true for everyone.

I like Lauren Winner's handling of the subject for most of the reasons I dislike DiMarco's. Winner talks about sex in the wider context of Scripture, starting in Genesis, and affirms us all as good, bodily, sexual creations. She addresses lies that the church tells (for instance, that premarital sex will make you feel bad, ahem, DIMARCO), and the lies the world tells (for instance, all sex is fabulous, movie-style sex). She talks about how a lot of Christians just want to know: What can I do? How far can I go? (see DiMarco's title) but says that's the wrong question to ask. The concept of chastity, she says, is not determining a firm list of rules and boundaries, but it is, as she puts it "doing sex in the body of Christ." This statement, I think, gives a pretty good idea of the general tone of her book.

She's not enough of a feminist as I would want her to be, and she doesn't deal with Scripture as much as I would like (her second chapter is on Scriptural basis for sex to be kept in a marital context, but the actual Scriptural support is, in my opinion, pretty scanty), but on the whole I like her candid, frank, fresh approach to the subject. She doesn't veer too far from the Orthodox teachings, but she teaches in a way that is much more accessible and realistic. She doesn't want Christians to be afraid of sex. Which is, you know, a good thing.

In sum, if this is a topic you are looking to read something on, do not read this:

read this:

Monday, March 24, 2008

happily ever after

The tough call: whether or not to watch a romantic comedy after spending 1/2 an hour grousing with a friend about the prospect of being single forever, brought on by the ever-nearing 30th birthdays.

The decision: We went for it.

The movie: Jane Austen Book Club

Pros: about Jane Austen, duh.

Quite a bit of the book club's activity was shown, i.e., discussions on Austen's novels, and I heartily joined in from my seat on the couch. Double pro: they did not totally diss Fanny Price, heroine of Mansfield Park. I have a soft spot for Fanny, and I was pleased to see some of the women sticking up for her moral fortitude, and EVEN disparaging the movie for not being true to Fanny's character. Which of course, it wasn't.

Hugh Dancy. If there is not a more fitting name for a charming Englishman, I don't know what it is. He is totally adorable in this movie. And it was comforting that even a standoffish, 40 year old (Maria Bello) who makes strange hair choices can still be relentlessly pursued by such a pretty young thing as Dancy.

(that last sentence was a little sarcastic)

I like movies about women's friendships -- especially if it goes beyond the typical, Sex and The City, we're friends because we talk about our love lives type of friends.

Cons: The ending (SPOILER!) was far too neatly tied up. If this was a poke at Austen's novels, well, even then it wasn't as good, because while her novels seemed to tie up neatly, a lot of times there was still a sort of unhappy uncertainty for some (usually minor characters) -- Lydia and Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice, for example. With some of the couples, the turn around was too rushed, and didn't feel earned. And poor Maggie Grace -- the one lesbian is alone at the end.

In my current line of work, any hint of teacher-student affair (even if the student is of age) makes me feel like puking. This sub plot was no exception.

It was pretty obvious that the viewer were supposed to draw connections between the plots of the books and the plots in the movie, but usually that felt either too heavy handed or too obscure.

The verdict: Cute enough. Worth a sit through. But maybe not the right call for that particular evening. Maybe better to watch with your own Hugh Dancy, whatever form he or she might take, whenever you (or I) get one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I cut my hair

The bottom one is the one right after the salon visit, so that's why the hair looks so sleek. The top one is all my own stylin' skillz.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

vote early, vote often

I think I feel like I blog more than I do. Just checked and I guess I don't. Sorry!

So, yesterday I worked the polls. The best story I heard all day was from a woman I was working with who told us how the governor had voted and had tried to shove his privacy shield (a cardboard folder to hide your ballot while you check out) into the scanner along with his ballot. Whoops!

Some other observations, based on my experience with my one small precinct:

*There are not many Republicans floating around, and many of them like to tease you: "The only one in Massachusetts!" "There are a few of us!"

*Lots of parents bring their kids, even their teenagers, which I think is neat. I remember back in the day going with my mom when it was the huge machine where you turned down the levers. Some people bring their dogs (one couple came separately, but each bringing the same dog, so of course there were plenty of jokes, i.e., "He's only allowed one vote!")

(ed. note: I am spelling everything wrong today. I spelled governor governer, observations obversations, and levers leavers. GAH).
*There was, indeed, very high turnout. The warden were I was, who has been working elections for 8 years, said that she estimated between 900-1000 voters in our precinct, and over 750 turned out. She said that on smaller, city elections, less than 200 show up. I don't think I would like to work those elections...

*It is very cold at 6AM in a college gym with no lights or heat.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I've been cryin' since I met you...

Maybe I don't get it. Maybe someone should explain it to me.

Why do people care so much that Hillary Clinton cried? And she didn't even cry! She just got a wavery voice. I'm watching coverage of New Hampshire primaries and although I probably shouldn't be, I am totally flabbergasted by the amount of coverage Hillary's "emotional moment"is getting. It's almost MORE coverage than Britney Spears going into the hospital. ridiculous.

I will probably vote for Obama (a decision made a while ago), but when I first saw the "incident" on TV, I had a moment of thinking "Oh, that's kind of touching. It kind of makes me like her more. Aaaaand moving on."

All I am saying is, someone tell me what's going on.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

things that may happen next year (if my mom is prophetic)

So my mom had a dream that it was October 2008, and she was at my wedding. When she was telling me, I tried to be all casual and nonchalant while still probing for details, all "Oh, Mom (chuckle chuckle), you're so silly (chuckle chuckle). What was his name? What did he look like? Was he at least taller than me? ANSWERS, woman!"

Turns out, she didn't see him (only me, and I was wearing a plain, straight dress, "not one of those poofy ones"). The only thing she knows is that in th dream he was Swedish, and that's only because I was apparently going, "We're going to have Swedish babies!" and doing a fist pump.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

as the new year dawns....

I used the above line in a sermon once and got teased endlessly for it. I actually teased myself for it...
Anyway! shamelessly stealing from Rainster:


Getting a masters. This was pretty significant (obviously). The actual graduation experience was just the end to a three year journey during which I grew into myself, as a woman, as a theologian, as a pastor...

(easy segue way) Becoming a pastor. This is still sort of surreal. I worked in ministry before, in fact most of my jobs have been in ministry, but the title of pastor gives a person the sort of authority I don't always feel ready/qualified for. It's not like a regular job, it's a job where people ask you to help them hold their pain, where people expect you to explain God to them. All that is... kind of scary. But kind of exhilarating at the same time.

Did a funeral. Case in point. The senior pastor at our church was away and I had to conduct the funeral for an elderly woman at my church. When the family left they said "Thank you, pastor." Heavy, heavy words.

Tried internet dating. On a lighter note! Craigslist, eharmony, match, None too successful, but each time I am a little bit better at not being a spastic mess. I can carry on a conversation and it has seemed more possible that I might meet someone who is interested in me for who I am.

Went to a Celtics game. Bonus! Big Papi was there.

Started and extinguished a grease fire. Trying to craft sides for a sideless baking sheet out of aluminum foil so you can cook bacon in the oven instead of on the burner does not work. But! baking soda does put out oven fires. But then you can't use your oven until you clean it. Which takes 3 months, if you're me.

Watched more TV via internet than actually on TV. This comes from having the internet and not having cable. Doing this also got me into watching international shows, like BBC's Robin Hood, Project Runway Canada, and Asian dramas (shut up.)

Lived by myself. This is amazing. I love love LOVE having my own space.

Drove (and continue to drive) a totaled car. Did you know you could do that? You can, because I do, everyday. For the past 3 months.

Visited LA. Liked Venice Beach (except for the scary muscle men). Seeing the enormous houses in Bel Air/Beverly Hills was interesting, but disheartening at the same time. Why does anyone need that?

Saw Alcatraz/ Learned about Native American occupation of Alcatraz. I can't believe I didn't know about it before... a great story, for more info see this page.

Met lots of babies These included 1. Torgo's Sequel, who liked me when his mom was around, but not so much when she left. Actually not at all when she left. There was much screaming. BUT, when smiling, Sequel is adorable. 2. Eddie K., child of previous roomates in college. Eddie and Sarah (the mom) stayed with me and ate my bananas. Also adorable. 3. Oskar G., child of seminary classmate. Oskar and I each thought the other was great. He was really easy to make laugh.

Watched (almost) every version of Jane Eyre. Blockbuster online at its best. Still would recommend the Zelah Clarke/Timothy Dalton version.

Visited Walden Pond. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived... I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion." -- Thoreau

Wrote a REEEEEAAAAALLLLLY long paper. Otherwise known as a thesis. Otherwise known as a year of my life, or 90 pages. Otherwise known as Ain't I a Mother?: A Theology of Motherhood informed by and Beneficial to Women in the Innercity. Otherwise known as a thing of which I am immensely proud.

Had my car towed by city officials. Dern street sweepers!