Friday, January 30, 2009
random posts of pretty
I love this flickr photo set of nursery rhyme-themed cupcakes.  They're so fun and well-executed, however far too cute for eatin' I must say:


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Thursday, January 29, 2009
book review: say you're one of them, by uwem akpan
Say You’re One of Them is a heartbreaking collection of short stories (or, rather, two novellas and three short stories), each set in a different country in Africa. A champion of children, Uwem's collection shines a clear light on the harsh realities of life for many African kids.

In each of these stories, innocence collides with corruption. Set in Benin, “Fattening for Gabon” depicts an uncle who, as the guardian of two AIDS orphans, plans to sell his young charges into slavery. In “An Ex-Mas Feast,” a twelve-year-old girl takes to the Nairobi streets, prostituting herself so that she can feed her family and raise money for her younger brother’s school fees, as he's the sole hope of the destitute family. And in the horrifying “My Parents’ Bedroom,” two Rwandan children bear witness to the unspeakable as their Hutu friends and family members form a violent, mindless mob set on ridding their community of its Tutsi residents. It isn't pretty to think about the things that these children are forced to witness and endure, however these fictitious stories are the reality of many kids, and it's a truth that far too many of us would rather ignore.

Since author Uwem Akpan is also a Jesuit priest, it is hardly surprising that religion permeates these stories, but never in a way that is dogmatic. Rather than choose sides, Akpan instead highlights the innocent victims of religiously-fueled hatred. In the elegantly simple “In What Language Is That?,” a little Ethiopian girl is no longer allowed to see or speak to "Best Friend" because she is Christian and her little friend is Muslim. Although violence is implied rather than illustrated in this piece, the reader just the same feels the dismay of these two little ones who fail to see the difference between them. Following that is the novella “Luxurious Hearses,” which depicts a sixteen-year-old orthodox Muslim boy who, born Catholic, becomes a target of resentment and fear in his own Islamic community, and then again amongst the Christian refugees he tries to flee south with after a violent Islamic uprising in his native Nigeria. And while I felt that this piece was the weakest of the bunch, its ending remains seared in my memory.

Although I generally found the novellas to be less affecting than the short stories - which were somehow more powerful for their conciseness - all five of these pieces are piercing and powerful, and Akpan's prose is positively beautiful despite the ugly subject matter. In short, Say You're One of Them is a startling collection by an important author. Whatever Akpan writes next, I will read.

Say You're One of Them
Uwem Akpan
2008, 368 pages

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study links uncommon names to juvenile delinquency
Well, this is interesting. I heard on the news this morning about a study recently done at Shippensburg University showing a link between boys with uncommon and/or unpopular names and juvenile delinquency. And what are the names of the three most annoying boys I have right now, you ask?: Quinn, Laurence and Jackson. Ha!

The best thing about this study however, is that my husband is recently on this kick where he insists we should name our first-born son “Abe.” Thankfully, I now have a scientific reason why we should not: we name him Abe, and he's that much more likely to turn out to be a meth head who knocks over liquor stores for extra cash. Science says so.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
random posts of pretty: maybe, sparrow
Well, this cheered me up. Rick Lieder takes impossibly gorgeous photographs of birds and bees and bugs and such.  And since birds are some of my favorite things, here are some choice ones...

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duck, muck, puck, suck
Or, rather, the other thing that rhymes with those.
Let’s begin with the good news…

The good news is that I am fine.

The bad news is that my car is not.

I still do not know to what extent it is not, but it is most definitely NOT.

The good news, however, is that given the choice between plowing into the back end of a rather large truck and veering off into a snow bank, I chose the snow bank, which I’m pretty sure was the right choice.

The bad news is that driving into an ice-encrusted snow bank traveling 50 some miles per hour tends to make things a bit busted-up and leaky, apparently and alas.

The good news is that I have OnStar, so when I was sitting in the snow bank - busted up and leaky and dazed – they sorted everything out for me regarding the procedure for ejecting myself from said snow bank.

The bad news is that I still had to wait over forty minutes in my frigidy car for the tow truck guy because lots and lots of other people also chose snow banks or ditches over plowing into the back end of rather large trucks, so my choice wasn't exactly innovative.

The good news is that, although I didn’t have a scarf or warm shoes, I did have some coffee and (oddly) a copy of the Tao Te Ching with me while I waited, so “Nothing lasts forever” was a nice thing to read while stranded in the cold and the dark.

But then, reading “the skillful traveller leaves no traces of his wheel or footsteps” was NOT a nice thing to read while stranded in a busted-up condition of my very own design.

But, the good news is that I eventually made it to work today.

Of course, the bad news is that when the shuttle guy offered to take me either to work or home, I CHOSE WORK.


Stupid day.
Stupid ice.
Stupid me.

Monday, January 26, 2009
a spot across the gloom
From here on out, I'm keeping yellow tulips in my house until the thaw. Given the right light, it's almost as if April is possible...


playing catch-up
So, hi there! How you been?

Me? Oh, I’m alright I suppose.

I’m still recovering from both the kick in the shins that was final exam week as well as a wicked awful cold, but as of today everything that can possibly be graded has been, and although my left nostril is still a bit leaky, I’m feeling quite a bit better thank goodness. Anywho, I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve written much of anything over here, so I figured I might just catch up a little bit today and perhaps post a book review or two later in the week. (You’re all-a-quiver, I’m sure.)

And so, a few things:

We’ve been on a bit of a movie going tear recently, and although our Frost/Nixon plans fell through yesterday (stupid time sucking IKEA), we’ve made a considerable dent in the Oscar nominated films, with plans to tackle a few more before the week is through. Our most recent film: The Wrestler. It was…alright. I was frankly a bit disappointed, actually. I can’t quite put my finger on why – the direction was good, the performances great, and the subject matter intriguing – but there was a lull in the middle and I found myself checking the time more than twice. Anyway, we started discussing our favorite films of ’08 so far, and though I still have a few to go, I have to say that as it currently stands I’m torn between Slumdog Millionaire and The Visitor. And since "Slumdog" has been getting a lot of love as of recent, allow me to kindly suggest that if you have not yet seen The Visitor, then you really, really should. Go on. I’ll wait.

Now on to things you really don’t care about – I baked my first “totally from scratch” pie this weekend! According to the Interwebs last Friday was National Bake a Pie day, so I thought, well, why not? The recipe was a bit wonky, but the crust turned out really nicely and it wasn’t even a fraction of the pain in the arse I feared it might be. In fact, I might even do it again. Maybe a pear one next time. Want some?

Speaking of pears, want to hear the funniest student-penned sentence I read last week?:
“Amory set a path to become one of the poplar kids, however the way his
mother had brought him up made him appear snobby amongst his fellow pears.”
And no, it wasn’t on a book about pears or poplars. It was on F.Scott Fizgerald’s This Side of Paradise. (Okay, so maybe that sentences wasn’t so funny after all. Whatever. I was fever drunk at the time.)

On a slightly funnier note, Nathan has a new hobby: posting snarky answers to stupid questions on WikiAnswers. I gave him seven sorts of grief over the amount of time he wasted on it last Sunday, but after helping him for a bit I became a quick convert, for it is enormously fun to mess with lazy students and grannies struggling over their crossword puzzles. Observe:

Q: What is the opposite of waterproof?
A: Wet

Q: What’s a word for something of sentimental value?
A: If it has sentimental value to you, then everyone else calls it junk.

Q: Why is Canada a socialist country?
A: Because your parents are alarmist nut-jobs and they told you it was. Stop listening to them.

Q: When is it a good time to catch a raccoon?
A: It is NEVER a good time to catch a raccoon.

Q: What is ethics in research?
A: The opposite of using WikiAnswers for research.

Finally, and apropos of absolutely nothing, Flight of the Conchords made me laugh-snort last night. You’ve already seen it, I know, but it’s Monday and Mondays are hard. Go on and watch "Sugar Lumps" again. It'll cheer you up, methinks:

Thursday, January 22, 2009
stop, please
This is the face Chloe tends to make whenever I run the vacuum cleaner:

Coincidentally, it looks incredibly similar to the face I tend to give Nathan whenever he tells me it's my turn to make dinner.  Alas, "adorably forlorn" is a facial expression that only works roughly half of the time...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
the curious case of forrest gump
I won't apologize for the extent to which I enjoyed "Benjamin Button," however I must admit that the similarities are hilariously apparent...

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
a beautiful day
Hello, doves.  Being that 1) I'm knee-deep in final exam week and 2) my body has chosen this of all weeks to get sick, I imagine my posting will be rather light for a bit.  In fact, in about fifteen minutes I suspect I'll be retiring to bed with a book and a cup of tea, however today is such a monumental day that I would feel remiss letting it go by unacknowledged.

So, and between sniffles, here I go acknowledging...

I got a little frustrated yesterday when the woman I team with (who's lovely, but veeery Republican) commandeered my Martin Luther King, Jr. lesson with her own personal commentary on how important Obama's inauguration will be for African Americans, and how even if our students aren't happy with the outcome of the election, then they should at least try to imagine what it must feel like to be a minority watching our new President be sworn in.  Her off-the-cuff remarks left me nonplussed, and since the sea of student faces (mostly from wealthy, Conservative households) sat nodding their affirmation, I just didn't feel comfortable speaking out even if I could have found the words.

But, since this is one of the few places I have where I can speak both freely and publicly, allow me to say what I wished I could have said then:  Today is not just a day for African Americans.  Today is a day for us all.  This may very well be one of the most inclusive Presidents we have ever had, and after watching him be sworn in and listening to his powerful speech, I am uplifted, thrilled and positively swollen with emotion.  Today was historic, and it's a part of history that belongs to all Americans.  

Finally, here's one of my favorite moments from President Obama's inaugural speech, a moment that ties in nicely with my earlier point:
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
So yes - God bless our country, God bless our diversity, and God bless our President.

(And God bless me too. You didn't hear it, but I just sneezed a powerful sneeze.)

Friday, January 16, 2009
the witches of claymore court
I blame Sr. Marie for any interest I have ever shown in all matters of the occult. For grades 6 through 8, Sister was in charge of my artistic, literary and religious instruction, and although she was a very sweet, often silly old lady who looked a bit like a garden gnome when she smiled, she had a real bug up her ass about Satan. She didn't see him everywhere, but she did see him in many of the things that I loved. Bart Simpson was his lap dog and our gateway drug to all things demonic. Satan tempted us with lurid visions and music on MTV. He polluted our minds with MAD Magazine, teaching us violence and sarcasm and disrespect for authority through secret messages found on the back page fold-ins. And once he had managed to get his claws in us via one of the aforementioned vehicles, he would make us play with Ouija boards, which are, apparently, Satan's portal to the world of the living. According to Sr. Marie, Ouija boards housed demons, and tossing one into an open fire would send myriad Incubi and Succubi screeching into the black sky of night. Is it any wonder then why I loved playing with the Ouija board as a kid? I mean, how could I resist when she made it sound so freaking cool?

So, the way I see it, Sister Marie led to the Ouija board, which led to the Tarot cards, which led to the palmistry, which led to the book of spells, which led to me being cried out as a witch, which made it hella hard for me to get a date, which was really all Sister's fault. This Catholic school girl never stood a chance.

It was several years and one move later when I had finally built up to casting spells. Jenny, who lived in the house behind mine, was my BFF as well as my partner in the occult, and although our witchcraft stage was both brief and benign, it made a lasting impression on the other kids in our neighborhood. I was the new kid in town and Jenny's parents were suffocatingly strict, so neither one of us had much of a social circle beyond each other. Furthermore, we were both incredibly passive when it came to matters of the opposite sex, so when we finally admitted our crushes to one another (hers, a skater named John; mine, a crazy-haired boy named Ben), casting secret spells on them somehow seemed much more logical than doing something completely crazy like... I don't know... JUST TALKING TO THEM. So, we pooled our allowance money and begged a ride to the mall, where we mustered up the courage to buy a small book of spells from Waldenbooks.

Armed with our book, we headed back to my house to try out some of the love spells. Standing in my mother's kitchen, we melted crayons down in a pot on her stove, which we then formed into wax sculptures. We carved the names of our loves three time into our separate dolls, and then headed outside where we then cast a spell over them before melting them in the street, creating a purple puddle where (hopefully) their hardened hearts had melted along with the crayons. I realize how ridiculous this all sounds in the retelling, but understand that we took this very seriously at the time. We were powerful ladies, and we would take what we deserved.

Since we were in the street we were also in full view of the neighbors, and while we were otherwise distracted several neighborhood boys rode past on their BMX bikes. Curious, they stopped in front of our tiny conflagration to ask what we were doing, and not having enough sense to lie, we told them. Their eyes went wide as they looked at each other, then back at us, then back at each other, then cried "WITCHES!" before kicking up their kickstands to ride screaming down the street.

From that moment on, Jenny and I became known amongst the neighbor boys as the witches of Claymore Court, never mind that neither one of us ever cast another spell. It was a reputation I never thought I'd have, but I suppose it really wasn't so bad. They were sort of scared of us, and since we had always been sort of scared of them thanks to their penchant for wearing White Zombie t-shirts, we rather enjoyed feeling as if we had the upper hand. Of course, our brief foray into witchcraft totally backfired in its intended purpose. Ben and John somehow caught wind of our voodoo doll spell, and it (understandably) proved to be a massive turn-off.

So, if there's a lesson to be learned from all this, I suppose it would be that men don't dig witches, ladies. (Also, beware Bart Simpson/a.k.a. the Devil's familiar, kiddies.)

free new neko case song... And for every blog that links to it, Ms. Case is donating $5 to the Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal rescue society.

By the way, did you know my Chloe was a rescued animal? I mean, it's just so hard to imagine why anyone would have abandoned such a *cough!* well behaved *cough!* pup...

Thursday, January 15, 2009
the missing piece
Although I loved Shel Silverstein as a wee tot (who didn't?), I somehow missed reading The Missing Piece Meets the Big O until relatively recently. Such a shame. When my future children become dating-aged teenagers, struggling with best friends who are, at least at times, also their worst enemies, trust I will be giving them a copy of this book.

But since I am currently childless and too poor to purchase a copy for each of my teenage students, God bless the person who created this animated version of Silverstein's story. I've taken to showing it to my 9th graders every year, and I sure do hope they take its message to heart: Don't look to other people to "complete" you. No one can do that but you, love.

(The fact that Badly Drawn Boy provides the soundtrack is, of course, an added bonus.)


free decemberists song... Now don't say I never get you anything.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
a dog's day
Unless you're one of the lucky ducks who happens to live close to the equator, then  you're already painfully aware of how frigidy it was today.  You know it, I know it, and no one's getting warmer by complaining about it, so don't worry.  I won't.

But...damn if this wasn't one of those days when I couldn't help but wonder if my life would have been infinitely better had I been born someone's pet. 

I caught this moment after returning to my bedroom to finish making my bed, a task that was interrupted by the local news reporting that, yes, I still had to go to work today despite the subzero temps. AND I SWEAR TO GOD IT WASN'T STAGED! (Well, other than the fact that I DID pull the blanket up over her, but only because I knew she wanted to, however tragically lacks the opposable thumbs necessary to tackle the task.)

Damn dog.  Get a job, already.  Help me pay my monster heating bill.    

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
how would they even hold the toothbrush?
I had my bi-annual trip to the dentist today, and while I was waiting for my ancient hygienist to figure out wherever she had misplaced some whatsit, I found myself alone in front of the X-ray machine for an inordinate length of time. I've been going to this particular dentist for years so I'm sort of surprised I've never noticed this before, but I guess when left alone to awkwardly stand around in the middle of a busy hallway while wearing a lead apron, a girl tends to examine the walls around her a bit closer than she ordinarily would. Anyway, this sign, which was hanging directly above the X-ray machine, gave me pause:

Naturally, I'm left with a few questions:  Are there really people with flippers who see my dentist? Do these people have an inordinate amount of cavities since a person clearly cannot maintain decent oral hygiene without proper phalanges? Did the X-rays give them flippers, or are the flippers just particularly sensitive to X-rays?  If it's the former, then am I at risk for flippers?  And, most pressing of all, WHY IS IT SO DANGEROUS FOR A FLIPPER PERSON TO GET X-RAYED, YET THEY'RE MORE THAN WILLING TO PUT MY PERFECTLY NORMAL ARMS AT RISK?!?

Flippers, dude.   Like I really need something else to worry about.

Monday, January 12, 2009
monday book review - the enemy within: 2,000 years of witch-hunting in the western world, by john demos
Like most of us, I first read The Crucible as a sophomore in high school; but unlike most of the sophomores in my present-day classroom, I found it fascinating.  It wasn't the supernatural aspect that hooked me so much (Although I won't pretend I didn't have a strong interest in the occult.  I did, however that's another post for another day...), rather I was fascinated by how an entire community could go so stark raving, murderously mad - finding witches and wizards where there clearly were none.   It was at first easy enough for me to shrug it off as a sign of the times.  Puritans, I had learned, seemed predisposed to neurosis.  But when I later learned that Arthur Miller had intended his play to serve as an allegory for the Red Scare of the 1950s, meaning that "witch hunts" remain a concern for the modern world, I was newly intrigued.  After all, it's not as if I hadn't already figured out by that point that human beings could be crazy, but I was pretty curious as to what extent we could collectively lose our minds.  It's a curiosity I hold to this day, and if anything its only strengthened over time.

And so, I was drawn to John Demos' book.  I already knew a considerable amount about the literal witch hunts in both Europe and America, however I was curious what connections a historian could make between the literal hunts of the past and the figurative hunts of the modern era.  I was hoping for a readable synthesis of the topic as well as a psychological explanation for the phenomenon.  In retrospect, I'll admit that this was a pretty tall order indeed.

John Demos' The Enemy Within is a "broad-gauge summary and synthesis of the entire subject" of witchcraft, and is divided into four sections: an overview of the European witch hunting crazes of the 16th and 17th Centuries, an overview of witch hunting in Colonial America, a deeper look into the Salem witch hunts, and a broad look at figurative, modern-day witch hunts such as the anti-Mason movement, the child abuse scare of the 1980s and, of course, McCarthyism.   Demos clearly knows his stuff, and I got the sense that the scope of what he was trying to do was so broad that he could only really touch on the tip of the iceberg.  For someone new to the topic this book will serve as a nice introduction, however I couldn't help but feel frustrated that I came away from it without having learned more.  Furthermore, I found myself wishing he had spent less time on Colonial America and more on the figurative witch hunts of the modern era. 

In sum, if you are looking for a crash-course in the history of witch hunting in the Western World, then The Enemy Within is the book for you.  However, be warned that it's a bit like a poorly-prepared holiday turkey - dry, and will leaving you wanting more.

John Demos
2008, 318 pages

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Sunday, January 11, 2009
first pants, then shoes
I was minorly obsessed with Gary Larson's The Far Side as a kid, so when I discovered there was a flickr pool full of photo reenactments of some of his more famous comics, lo, but I was excited.  Too awesome:

So, seriously - who wants to help me make one?! 


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Thursday, January 08, 2009
mini pretty things
For my fellow photography buffs, allow me to alert you to Tilt Shift Maker. Supposedly, it "miniaturizes" elements of your digital photographs. Like, for instance, my little Mr. Froggie:

Mr. Froggie before:

Mr. Froggie after:

I guess I'm not sure he looks particularly miniature exactly, but he does look cooler than before.  Nonetheless, the site is really quite fun and it's nice to share fun things, wouldn't you agree?

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Elizabeth Bennet is: excessively diverted.
VSL linked to this today, and I - in the parlance of Jane Austen - found it quite diverting. Inspired by the McSweeney's adaptation of Hamlet, it's Pride and Prejudice meets the Facebook newsfeed. Fans of P&P should fancy it, methinks.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009
in today's society...
...we are all constantly falling prey to peer pressure.


...we are so much more independently minded.

In today's society...

...people are no longer racist/sexist/generally intolerant of one another.


...everyone is far more intelligent (or, at least far more educated) than in the past (whenever that was).

However... one thinks for themselves.


...we are all more free to be ourselves.

In today's society...

...being in possession of strong morals is important/rare.

...our problems are generally endless, varying and overwhelming.


...our worries are infinitely less, easier to manage and more trivial.

And overall,...

...we are more happy/sad/pathetic/lost/wealthy/poor/religious/promiscuous/
negative/whatever than we ever were before...

in today's society.

At least, this is what high school sophomores in today's society would have you believe if you were to read their high school compositions in today's society......!

And IN TODAY'S SOCIETY there exists a rage a-brewing inside of me.  The next person who writes "in today's society" is getting a purple pen chucked to the head.  


(And yes.  They have been warned...)

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009
random posts of pretty
National Geographic has just announced the winners of their 2008 International Photography Contest, and although all the pictures are breathtaking, here's three of my faves (click on image to enlarge):

Animals, Honorable Mention:

Places, Winner:

Places, Honorable Mention:

The rest can be found here. Go forth and drool. (Via)

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Monday, January 05, 2009
monday book review: little brother, by cory doctorow
Little Brother is the highly readable and frighteningly plausible story of Marcus, aka "w1n5t0n," a 17-year-old gamer and hacker living in 2015 San Francisco.  Precocious, wickedly smart and a fierce lover of privacy, Marcus spends much of his time subverting his school's absurdly intrusive surveillance system, a system that treats its students like criminals under the guise of safety.  

Things were certainly annoying for Marcus before terrorists attacked San Francisco's Bay Bridge, but afterward life becomes just plain hell.  Finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his friends are arrested under suspicion of terrorism, falsely imprisoned in a secret location, and made to endure "enhanced interrogation" techniques.  After his eventual release, Marcus finds that his city has become a police state, and its inhabitants treated more like potential terrorists than free citizens.  Many seem willing to endure the new regime, accepting it as a necessary evil in the wake of the attacks, however Marcus knows better.  The Department of Homeland Security is completely out of control, and if no one else is willing to step up and fight then Marcus will take it upon himself to take his city back.

As an avid skimmer of Boing Boing, I felt as if I'd been hearing about Doctorow's newest novel since it was a mere literary fetus. (Doctorow being both the author of Little Brother and the coeditor of the aforementioned blog, which is by far my favorite nerd blog.) However, despite my exposure to the title I'm not exactly in the habit of reading a novel simply because its author keeps insisting on its awesomeness, so I sort of ignored the brief period of incessant Little Brother posts on the site, never feeling a strong compulsion to read Doctorow's 1984-inspired young adult novel.  Fast forward several months and I, while attending a conference on new YA releases, was once again reminded of the book that set the Internet nerd herd on fire.  The presenter just GUSHED over Little Brother, so I finally broke down and started to read it.  

And dear me, but I was hooked by page five.   "Unputdownable" is a word that is greatly overused in the book industry, but even still I can't think of a better - although, admittedly, made-up - word to describe Little Brother.  It's freaking unputdownable.  I tore through it in a day despite it heft - abandoning hygiene, sustenance and sleep until I reached the end.  Sure, there were things that bugged me.  It oversimplified issues of homeland security and the author's politics (although mine own) were beyond transparent, however the story was so darn good that although I noticed these flaws I didn't really care about them.

I recently listed this title as my favorite YA release of '08, but the truth is that it was probably one of my favorite literary releases of '08, period.  Little Brother is smart, cool, gripping, scary, and - dare I say - important.  Really. I can't recommend it enough.

Cory Doctorow
2008, 382 pages

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Saturday, January 03, 2009
pandalutions, etc.
Well, my New Year's resolution (or "Pandalution" if I'm feeling particularly witty) seems to have already hit a major road block. Turns out giant pandas are expensive, bitey, illegal to obtain, and consume MASSIVE amounts of bamboo. But I'm not giving up. Oh no. It's just proving a bit trickier than I originally thought, is all.

In the meantime, I have found this adorable, boffo picture to tide me over while I wait for Nathan to rob a bank, convert my backyard into a bamboo forest, and then find out where in the dickens the Chinese black market is located:
By my estimate, this should only take a couple of weeks. I'll keep you updated so you can start planning your visit.

In other resolution news, I've recently settled on one more, and since it somewhat involves this blog I thought I'd share. See, I have a bit of a problem in that I've developed a nasty habit of borrowing/buying books that then sit in limbo - half or completely unread - on my shelf. Times are tough, wastefulness stinks, and it's never cool to borrow and not return, and so I've made a vow that before I buy or borrow anything new, I first have to finish something I already have. And so, I will be reading, then reviewing, each of these books at some point this year:
I will call these twenty books my "Resolution Reads," and once I've started one of them I will not allow myself to read anything else until I've finally finished it. Many of them are frightfully long or frightfully British, so although I'm still going to try to review one each week understand if it doesn't happen, and if you have any thoughts or suggestions on my list (i.e., Throw it out! It's awful!) then please do share.

So there you have it. Enjoy your weekend, and Viva la Pandalution!

* Indicates titles I've started, sometimes several times over, but for whatever reason I just never finished.

+ Indicates dread.

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random posts of pretty
These amazing photographs were taken with a specially designed snowflake photomicroscope by Kenneth Libbrecht, a physicist at CalTech.  I'll have to try and remember how pretty snow is when I'm cursing the necessity of scraping it off my car come six o'clock Monday morning... 


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Thursday, January 01, 2009
random posts of pretty
JD Salinger turned 90 today, and I'd like to celebrate by posting a short passage from Franny and Zooey, a book that is one of the most influential, beloved and calming forces in my life.  Happy New Year's, and I hope this finds you well:
"Somewhere along the line - in one damn incarnation or another, if you like - you not only had a hankering to be an actor or an actress but to be a good one. You're stuck with it now. You can't just walk out on the results of your own hankerings. Cause and effect, buddy, cause and effect. The only thing you can do now, the only religious thing you can do, is act. Act for God, if you want to - be God's actress, if you want to. What could be prettier? You can at least try to, if you want to - there's nothing wrong in trying."  There was a slight pause. "You'd better get busy, though, buddy. The goddam sands run out on you every time you turn around."

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