Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Snow at Louveciennes

My foot sinks into the snow, destroying the smooth perfection. The road is clear, as no one has ventured out this early in the morning. I feel alone in the world, as though everyone else is asleep. The snow has slowed to a soft flurry, but the sun is still fighting unsuccessfully to tear through a thick gray blanket of cloud. For now, we are trapped beneath the blanket in this quiet world of snow. The evergreen trees in the distance, wearing a coat of needles, mock the cold leafless ones, but the bare branches have tiny icicle jewelry sparkling in their defense.

Beneath my umbrella, wrapped in a warm scarf, I am cold- but there is no biting wind, and I relish the feeling of each tiny snowflake on my cheeks. Everything stands still but me; this pure perfection is mine, and mine alone. Even the birds are huddling in their homes for warmth.

I decide to follow suit before my silent solitude is ruined. I go inside, kick off my snowy boots, and put another log on the fire before crawling back into bed. My boyfriend, still half asleep, wraps his warm arms around me and I drift off, dreaming of my own exquisite winter wonderland.

Written for my art class as an art criticism exercise of entering the "World of the Work." Inspired by Alfred Sisley's "Snow at Louveciennes," shown above. I'm not incredibly happy with it, but it'll do for a quick in-class exercise in writing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Afterthoughts

*Note: This was also posted on my private journal; however, I wanted to be able to share it with someone who did not have access to that journal so I also posted it here.

A few weeks ago, I thought to myself that it was kind of cool to be on a college campus for this particular election. From the hard-fought Clinton/ Obama race to the McCain/ Obama one, this was an interesting year, and one that really drew in a lot of youth support.

Not too long after that, I started to get really sick of politics. I couldn't walk from one class to another without being urged to register to vote for awhile, and after that was through, I couldn't do so without being urged to vote early. There were chalk messages for and against each candidate, messages changed to flame a candidate, and apparently a tree in the middle of campus painted with an Obama slur a day or two ago. There were people standing outside offering suckers with a "vote Obama" tag on election day, there were celebrities coming to campus to talk about Obama, the ads and speculation flooded the TV, and there were Facebook statuses galore donated to the cause.

Quickly, instead of it being cool that I was smack in the middle of a lot of politically passionate people, it was downright annoying. Last night I refused to watch constant election coverage; I checked a news outlet periodically and went to bed before ten. I woke up, hoping to read the results and to finally be done with all this crap, only to see that my LiveJournal and Facebook friends had exploded with post-election reactions. To their credit, almost all of my LiveJournal friends had extremely logical, reasonable posts- even if they had voted for McCain- about this being, if nothing else, an historic event. On the other hand, half of Facebook was whining about how now they're living in a socialist state and will be losing all their money, how their health care's going to suck, how an all-Democrat D.C. can bring nothing but doom for the entire country, and even, once, that "the antichrist is rising."

Let's face it. I'm fine with people being happy their candidate won, if they were really into the election. But no one on either side should be assuming that Obama's campaign platform is going to be carried out exactly. A platform is made up of the things you'd like to be able to make happen- but since our president is not a dictator, they may not be able to actually happen. We have a system of checks and balances, and even with a Democratically controlled Congress, not all campaign promises can come true. Even if they did, they would not ruin the U.S. as we know it, much less the world, and if you truly believe that than I truly believe you're not thinking intelligently. On the other side of the coin, they may bring some positive change- but more than likely, like every president before him, Obama will cause at least minor negative things as well.

If something about Obama or his policies upsets you that much, write to your elected officials and try to do something about it. Obama's policies aren't automatic and inevitable, and if they really upset you, do more than complain on Facebook. If you don't take the time to be politically active in some way other than just voting, I think you forfeit your right to bitch about it any more.

And if nothing else, be happy that a majority of America is not racist enough to refuse to vote for an African-American son of a Muslim. That's a definite step, by which some other countries around the world are probably pleasantly surprised. While I don't want to champion this as a 'win' for African-Americans, I do think it may help perceptions of the U.S. abroad as well as the perceptions of race in young children here. I was also glad Obama won some traditionally Republican states, especially my home state of Indiana, but only because it signifies that some people aren't too stuck in their ways to vote for something more than a certain party.

Regardless, get over it. At this point, it's a decided issue. It's over. Barring any surprising events, Barack Obama will be the next president. Period.

Congrats to him, condolences to McCain, and high-fives to all you who, like me, are just plain glad it's over.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Between two half-homes,
A needed, sudden stop.

Turn the key and park it.
Leave its hood, put up my own.

No place for maintenance
On the car, at least.

Sandals in the soggy grass.
Rain falls, clouds loom low.

Step by step familiar
Trying for respectful.

Reaching hands, carved
Still looking out of place.

Stand there, "I miss you."
There is nothing else.

Tears masquerade
Salty raindrops, blending in.

Tiny flowers, unexpected
In a garden of memories

Beauty meets death,
In the simple souvenir.

Stay only for a minute
Weathering the storm.

It doesn't pass; it won't
The hood down, I go

To home. Family.
Always minus one.

This didn't come out how I wanted it to, but I've tweaked it a lot already, I rarely like my poetry, and I kind of needed to write it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"the best and brightest"

Today presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke at my university, Purdue. Unfortunately, the security forum was invitation-only, and I couldn't attend despite the fact he was 10 minutes' walk away. Anyway, I did read through a transcription of his comments. While a part of me thinks it was in part to appease the crowd (mostly cyber-security experts from a university known for its engineering and computer science)... I liked this quote:

"In the Cold War, we didn't defeat the Soviets just because of the strength of our arms – we also did it because at the dawn of the atomic age and the onset of the space race, the smartest scientists and most innovative workforce was here in America. For the last few months, I've talked about how America's economic competitiveness depends on education. The same holds true for our security. If we're not investing in math and science education, our nation will fall behind. And if we're not educating the best and brightest scientists, engineers, and computer programmers here in the United States, we won't be able to keep America safe."

[emphasis added]

I hadn't picked a candidate, and I still haven't-- but I would be lying if I said that this particular quote didn't endear Obama to me a bit.

Education and the economy (and society in general) really are closely linked. Maybe not immediately, but our economic future ten years down the road absolutely will be affected by changes to our educational system now. Today's economy could use a quick fix if we have it, but in the meantime it would make no sense- in any field- to worry about now without trying to prevent the same things from happening in the future. And I think for many things, math and science education especially (but also all education), is the avenue for change that makes the most sense.

Yeah, maybe I'm biased because I'm an ed major- but I wouldn't be an education major if I didn't value education. I get frustrated when people tell me I should be in secondary ed because we need good math and science teachers. We do-- there's a severe shortage of math and science secondary teachers (much less good ones). But I think there's a shortage that's not as easy to document: the shortage of good math and science elementary teachers.

Without a decent foundation in math and science, students will struggle to succeed in secondary school, no matter how many resources are made available to them. It is the responsibility of elementary teachers to build this educational foundation, so that students can move on to continue learning newer and more complicated things.

Elementary teachers don't always get a lot of respect for being able to teach math and science, but just because a lot of the math and science taught in elementary school is considered "easy" to do does not mean that it is "easy" to teach. You try explaining to a kid how the base ten system works, and why he shouldn't add the denominators of a fraction. It's kindergarten, first grade stuff-- and yet some of the most difficult 'stuff' to teach well that I've ever tried.

But what does it matter if an elementary teacher can teach, if they don't? In my elementary teacher training, I've seen multiple future colleagues (both other future teachers, and current teachers) who simply lack the confidence in their own science knowledge to try teaching it. Science can scare these teachers- and particularly with the focus on improving standardized test scores in reading and math, it's easy for these teachers to skim over science, or even skip it altogether. In some cases, I've seen a teacher who seems to think it's okay to just read the science textbook or maybe a fictional book about an animal now and then. Because, you know, she's 'covering' it.

It doesn't take long for students to develop the opinion that "science is boring." If a student thinks science is boring and he's not even out of elementary school, I feel like we have missed a huge opportunity. Children are so naturally inquisitive about the world, which makes learning science so absolutely perfect for them- and we crush the curiosity. For a lot of kids, I don't think it ever comes back.

So yes, I love science- but I'm going to be an elementary teacher. And no, I'm not wasting my intelligence or any teaching talents I have. I'm still teaching kids things they don't know that can be really difficult to them- it's just that the kids are younger, with less predetermined ideas about school and learning. I get to be that teacher who teaches them that science can be fun, math can make sense, and reading doesn't have to be boring. I have the opportunity be a teacher that helps prevent kids from being burnt out on school by the time they reach junior high. I can not only teach skills, but I can get kids interested in and excited about almost any school subject, and teach them how to think.

I really do think Obama's looking the right direction. When considering current issues, he's trying to look back at some of their causes, including a deficiency in our math and science education, so we can try to prevent similar problems in the future.

But I hope that he remembers to look all the way back to where educational problems can begin. Science and math education don't start in the sixth grade, or in high school. If a student loses confidence, interest, or competence early, there may be no way to remedy the situation. Without a solid foundation in elementary school, students can forever be trapped playing catch-up with their potential. And that's not good for the future of our students- or the future of our country.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Favre Retirement Quandary: A Fan's Perspective

Brett Favre retired in March, much to my surprise. The last few years, when he'd contemplated retirement, I'd prepared myself for it. But last year? When the Packers were so close to getting in the SuperBowl? When Favre had a year so much improved from his last few? I thought sure that it wasn't even a worry this year.

And then he retired, teary-eyed, saying he could play, but he didn't want to. He was just "tired."

I wasn't happy, and I was very unsure how I'd react to watching a Packers team without Favre at quarterback (something I really can hardly ever remember seeing) when this football season started.

By now, I'd become at least more accustomed to the idea. I was going to the first preseason game of the season, and looking forward to seeing Aaron Rodgers' first game as a starter. As it turns out, that may not be what I see at all!

For those of you not big into football, Brett Favre has expressed his desire to come back out of retirement this season. The Packers, who have been obviously moving forward, intensely working the offense with Rodgers at QB, didn't welcome him back with open arms, and with good reason (especially because if Rodgers, a first-round pick and college star, doesn't get his chance now- he's likely to refuse to re-sign with the Packers after his contract ends next year. And then the Packers are left without a probable heir when Brett does retire in the next few years.)

Brett's upped the ante, requesting "an unconditional release" from the Packers. His love of playing football (something I normally laud as one of my favorite qualities of his) has led him to seek a release from the Packers. If they won't let him play, well, then- he wants to go to someone who will.

I can understand that he just wants to play, but one of my other favorite Favre-ian qualities is his loyalty to the Packers. And seeing Favre in a uniform other than a Packers one will not sit well with me, or many other fans. I think Favre feels his loyalty has been betrayed, but really- did he expect the Packers to sit around waiting for him, or did he expect them to continue building for the future of the team? They've waited for him to decide until June before, so when he gave them a decision as early as March, they surely figured- like me- that he was sure this time.

Finally, his very reasons for wanting to retire completely contradict what would happen if he came back. Oh, you're tired from working so hard to win? Oh, you'd be disappointed if you didn't get a Super Bowl next season? How does switching to a new team, learning a new offense, getting in sync with new teammates and coaches fix those problems?

I can understand that Favre wants to play again; after 17 years, it makes sense that he'd miss football. I wouldn't even mind seeing #4 behind center at the game I'm going to this season. But that still doesn't mean I'm happy about the way Brett Favre handled this- and I consider myself a big fan of his.

There's a part of me that hopes Brett Favre is just trying to tempt the Packers. It's like he's standing at the top of a building, leaning over and shouting, "I'll do it! I'll jump!"-- he's trying to show them he's so serious about playing that he won't even limit his team options. Still, threatening to go to a new team seems like a stupid political move, but I think the thought of him trying to manipulate the Packers into taking him back is slightly preferrable to the thought of him actually wanting to play for another team.

As it stands, I think the Packers have little choice but to take him back. Sometimes teams need to focus on rebuilding, and we will need a new QB soon- but in the meantime, Favre's doing fine and it's not as though the rest of our team is young and needs time to improve. The Packers' head guys really have no way to come out of this looking classy at this point, but I think their best option is to come out with their tails between their legs, welcoming Brett back onto the team- even if that means screwing over poor Aaron Rodgers (who's showed an amazing string of patience while waiting for his turn at the helm).

Because, when it comes down to it, the Packers need to build the best team. And Rodgers looks promising, but how many other teams, given the choice, would pick an unproven college star with a tendency for injury over a tried-and-true, passionate and prolific legend, who's sure to bring in revenue (and probably wins) for the team?

This is a no-win situation at this point, but here's my best idea for what to do next:
Packers- take him back, grudgingly. Favre- accept, gracious and gracefully. Rodgers- you were so close this time. Better luck next year?

P.S.-- No matter what happens, GO PACKERS! :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

the san fransisco pride

My good friend on LiveJournal, Starbucks521, posted this today. I found it interesting, and thought some other people might, as well. I've copied her exact words below (with the exception of adding an informative link that I'm almost certain refers to what she was talking about) in the indented paragraphs:

I was looking up something else in the Catechism this morning, and I saw this, and I thought a couple of you might like to know what exactly Catholics believe about homosexuality. This is taken straight out of the Catechism.

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

I know obviously that not every Catholic does that, but then, that wasn't my point. I just wanted to share.

My own home church is a member of the ELCA. The ELCA also has a mostly accepting stance, which makes me proud. I don't think I have to agree with every single thing the church synod says in order to go to a certain church, but I do think the general beliefs must align with mine. I don't think I could go to a church that condemns homosexuals. I don't think that's right to do, the verses I've read seem less cut-and-dry than many people would have me seem (particuarly when comparing multiple translations and versions of the Bible), and condemning gay people does not at all fit with my view of God. Maybe it's because I was raised a Lutheran and one of our main ideals is the idea of grace, but I simply can't believe it for myself that God is a homophobe.

I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, but I do like pointing out that not all Christians think it is wrong to be homosexual. And even some that think it's a sin or a trial (like Catholicism) don't condone judging people who do suffer from it. After all, we're all sinners, and who recognizes that better than Catholics? :)

So, believe what you want about whether it's right to be gay. But don't believe that all Christians feel similarly on the issue- because there are plenty of accepting, loving Christians (whether they personally believe it's right or not). Just because we're often quieter than all the extreme homophobic Christians doesn't mean that you should assume we don't exist.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

keeping pace

Lately, I've felt like I must really be getting to the 'grown up' stage of my life, mostly because I'm nearing the end of my college career and so many people I know are becoming engaged or married. Even though it's odd for me, I'm happy for them. Getting engaged, getting married, graduating, getting 'real' jobs, and even having kids are exciting milestones.

But with those good things come some sad.

Today I found out that a girl I took dance lessons with for many years had passed away. Her obituary is vague, and I don't know how or why she died. I did find out she'd had a child- a son- that I didn't know about before. I hadn't talked to this girl in years, as she quit dance before me, and I quit my sophomore year of high school.

We weren't especially close, but we were in the same class for years growing up, and I remember her well. It's hard for me to believe she's died.

I talk a lot about my dad's death, because it affected me the most of any death I've experienced. But there's something different about something traumatic happening to one of my peers- like this girl, or my roommate from a couple of years ago. I wasn't still close to either girl, so I didn't grieve, exactly, but it's still weird for me to think about.

I wish I could describe it better, but I feel like it's the other side of the 'feeling older' coin. It feels strange and different that so many people around my age are taking such big steps in their lives, but it also feels strange to know that some of the people around my age are losing their lives, never having the opportunity to take some of those big steps.

It feels like a goofy analogy, but I guess it seems a little like running a race and watching some people alongside you start taking bigger strides and moving ahead, but at the same time seeing a couple dropping out of the race. When I'm sort of nonchalantly keeping pace, it feels weird to see others taking such dramatic turns, for the better or worse.

Rest in peace, Corrine.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


My car is a '95. It was owned by a friend's grandmother before me, and therefore has a stereo that includes a radio and a player for cassette tapes.

My neighbor, who's 5 or 6 years old, rode with me in the car the other day, and pointed to the tape sticking out of the dash, asking me, "What's that?"

I explained to her that it was a tape, and that's what they put music on before there were CD's. She nodded, and then said she didn't really like the song that was on, and asked if she could hit the number 6 to go to the 6th song on the tape. I had to explain that tapes didn't work that way.

The funny part was that tapes were such a novel idea to her that she seemed to think learning about them was cool.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

photography ransom

The last time I added photos to Flickr, I started getting the following message:

Hey JW05! About your photostream...

You've run into one of the limits of a free account. Your free account will only display the most recent 200 things you've uploaded.
Anything beyond 200 will remain hidden from view until you either delete newer items, or upgrade to a Pro account.

Nothing has been deleted, and if you upgrade, they'll all come back unharmed.


... So basically, Flickr, you're taking my photos hostage until I get a Pro account? I thought you were cooler than that, but there it is: "We haven't done away with them yet, and if you give us your money, we'll give them back unharmed."

Not cool.

That said, I've been considering getting a Flickr pro account. With tags, it'd a pretty good way to organize my photos, and it's nice to have a back-up of them (especially until I get an external hard drive, but even that's not always a perfect solution). My photos mean a lot to me, and while I'd lose a lot of stuff if my computer shut down, I would probably miss those the most. I do have a lot on Facebook, a few on Flickr, less on Picasa Web Albums and even a scant few on the old Photobucket, which would be better than nothing, but these sites shrink the pictures, don't allow me to upload too many at a time, or are too new/old to me for me to have used much.

So, weigh in: is Flickr Pro worth it, especially when I plan to get an external hard drive soon anyway? Honestly, I'm a little put off by this new limit thing. Yes, I spose it was nice of them to give me space to host 200 photos for free, but I still didn't know it would happen and it disappointed me. Technically, they're still storing my photos, but I haven't added any more pictures because I don't want more to 'disappear.' I feel like Flickr and I are in a stalemate, and I don't like it. That said, they've been good to me in the past and they're a big, solid company that shouldn't go anywhere (with my pictures) anytime soon.

My other major consideration is Picasa, mostly because I use their photo editing software (which is free and awesome- thanks, Google) and if I bought more storage with them, it appears as though it would also add storage to my Gmail account (not that I need it). Plus, I can edit photos, and within the Picasa program (without ever opening an internet browser) upload them to my web albums.

Maybe some other time I'll post pros and cons of each option, but for now I'm looking for general online-photo-storage advice. Should I say screw it all and just burn everything to CD's? Do you have a favorite service, or any particular features I should look out for?

Monday, April 28, 2008

End of an Era

Today I closed an e-mail account that I've had for years. In the last couple of years, I've really stopped using it, and I've forwarded any emails I really wanted to keep to my new address. At one point, I hadn't logged into it for so long that they deleted everything I'd had saved- and I don't think I lost anything.

Anyway, when going into account settings today, it showed me that I just passed my seven-year anniversary of when I got this e-mail account. I set it up when my family got MSN Internet, in April of 2001, and kept it when we switched ISPs by using Hotmail, and now it's a weird "Windows Live" thing.

It was kind of an interesting nostalgic journey to go through my contacts (I don't even remember who some of the addresses belong to, and some of the others bring back memories)... but the couple of people I still want to keep in touch with that aren't my Facebook friends or something have had their e-mails saved, and the rest are just being deleted with the account. Most of us were much younger then anyway, and don't still use the same e-mails. I know I'm not "frog princess" anymore.

But I do still have the same AIM screen name I've had since my family first got the Internet (over ten years ago), so I guess I haven't outgrown everything. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

in stereo

I bought a "Retro 90's" CD yesterday. We're really old enough that the 90's are "retro"? Seriously, the 90's aren't even two decades away yet.

Anyway, here's the songlist, for anyone who's interested.

1. Walking on the Sun - Smash Mouth
2. I've Been Thinking About You - Londonbeat
3. Follow You Down - Gin Blossoms
4. Breakfast at Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something
5. What's Up - 4 Non Blondes
6. How Bizarre - OMC
7. Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
8. Closing Time - Semisonic
9. All for You - Sister Hazel
10. Hole Hearted - Extreme
11. Roll to Me - Del Amitri
12. Kiss the Rain - Billie Myers
13. I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) - Meat Loaf
14. Cat's in the Cradle - Ugly Kid Joe
15. I'll See You in My Dreams - Giant
16. MMM Bop - Hanson

There are a couple I don't really know, or don't know well, but for the most part it's been fun. Except that I feel old. I'm not like some people who practically only listen to music groups who are all/partly dead/broken up already.

This is music I listened to growing up. I specifically remember listening to the radio and hitting record on my tape deck when I recognized the intros to some of these songs (after the freaking DJ finally shut up). I made my own mixtapes- and now the only mixtape I've listened to in ages is this one.

I had an old stereo for part of the time growing up which still had an 8-track, and I had two I could listen to. That was mostly old and out of vogue, though, so I mostly had cassettes. Before too long, the CD gained popularity and beat out tapes.

(Fun fact: My first CD was Smash Mouth's Fush Yu Mang, with their first big song "Walkin' on the Sun" (which is actually the first track on my *retro* CD). My brother bought it for me, although I wasn't big on Smash Mouth, because he was. And if he bought it for me for my birthday, he could borrow it and listen to it more than me- which is exactly what happened.)

Anyway, then CD players got better. First, they started to have "non-skip" features, although it was expensive at first. Second, the world of computers became more advanced and CD burners made it possible to make your own mixtape, without that annoying DJ.

The Internet didn't waste much time with legal mp3's, and Napster was quickly a thing. A big thing. Along with LimeWire, Kazaa, and a number of other file-sharing services, until the RIAA cracked down.

And as mp3's and the world of digital media grew, the iPod broke into the world and has continually shrunken in size. While Zunes and other mp3 players have played a part, the iPod has become an icon, and most middle and high school kids today seem to hardly use CD players, much less tape players or anything more ancient.

I know the overhaul of music technology isn't anything new-- anyone who remembers records has seen even more-- but it's still kind of amazing to me. I'm only 21, and just barely, and I've seen the regular and widespread use of three different kinds of music players- and my parents had some 8-tracks and records, still, so even those weren't too far off.

Jeez, what's next? The shows I grew up watching (with stars my age) are on Nick at Nite, some of the music I grew up listening to is on a retro compilation CD, I'm legal to do about anything anyone in this country can do (except run for president), and I've got a year left before I graduate and get a real, full-time job.

I feel olllld. :( Already!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Chinese New Year Man"

The kids in the first-grade class I work with made me think about something yesterday.

One of our college instructors came in the classroom for a minute to observe and talk to us, and I believe he's Filipino. A few of the students asked who it was, and I told them he was our teacher.

One of the students then said, "He's Chinese New Year Man!"

Me: "No, I don't think so."

Her: "But he's Chinese."

Me: "I don't think he is. And why does that matter?"

Her: "I dunno."

Me: "I mean, I'm Italian and Norwegian..."

Her: "You're WEGIAN?"

Anyway, my best guess is that these kids had someone- probably a Chinese man- come in to talk to them about Chinese New Year. And that's great. But in this "diversity" education, what are we really promoting?

I guess I worry that these kids- at least the very young ones- might be using this new information to create stereotypes in their head. I think it's important to teach kids about other parts of the world and their cultures, but what if the way we go about it encourages these young students to make generalizations and assumptions about people?

I think it must be important to talk about cultures and traditions in a way that includes Americans, and a way that discusses what it means to have heritage of a certain country, so that students understand not everyone who looks "Chinese" to them may have ancestors from China, or may not be from China themselves. A person can look different, but still be an American who lives just like the students themselves do, and I think it's important for them to realize they can't make assumptions about how a person lives based on what they look like. Part of that might also come from being sure that they meet many people from many cultures, and that they talk about cultures where their own families might have come from. This way, students don't see different cultures as a necessarily foreign thing, but as a part of each person's heritage- including their own.

Maybe that's harder than it seems, especially with young children who often are within the first couple stages of cognitive development and (theoretically) learn by categorizing new information into existing schemata. I'm just a bit concerned that perhaps by trying to expose the students to diversity and multiculturalism (which are huge buzzwords today in both education and the world at large), we are creating a stereotypical association in their minds.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Little Beggars

The kids' Treasure Books arrived today, and they were so excited. I was, too! The books looked professional and were printed so nicely, even though they were written and illustrated by first graders.

They had written individual books, but they'd also collaborated on a "There's A Wocket In My Pocket"-style book as a class. The teacher read it aloud, and some of the kids' parents had ordered copies, but others hadn't. Some kids who hadn't ordered one wanted one now, and the teacher said she could order more, if they asked their parents.

She suggested that maybe the kids ask their parents if there were extra chores they could do to make money or earn the book, and then wanted to remind the students of something, so she asked: "But what should we never do?"

One of the girls shouted out, "CHORES!"

The teacher had meant "beg," but I liked the student response. :)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


This year, my birthday was somewhat surprising. I ended up having a spontaneous "party" with some of my family and family friends from home, and my mom brought presents and a cookie cake when I wasn't expecting them. My roommate made me cupcakes as a complete surprise, and I got some really great gifts and cards that I love. Overall, it was a really good birthday.

I just wish I wasn't bothered so much by the fact that one person, who I feel really close with, didn't say 'happy birthday' in any form on the day- and, in fact, still hasn't a few days later. There have been a few signs lately, but I think finally, with this one, I'm pretty sure we're not 'best friends' anymore. It's sort of... final, and sad.

Oh well. I have lots of friends- really great ones, both on campus and away- and even someone I might be able to consider a female 'best friend' here on campus. And, like I said, I had a good birthday. It's just hard for my mind to not dwell a little on someone who means so much to me not calling, e-mailing, sending something, or even something as simple as writing on my Facebook wall.

Anyway, I'm 21 now. I didn't go out and drink, as is the custom around here (21 being the legal drinking age for alcohol, and me being in college), but that's because I was busy this weekend and drinking is just not something that I find all that exciting. I did have a good weekend of dancing and improv and friends and birthday things, though- so who needs alcohol?

Monday, March 24, 2008

i say weird a lot in this one

I don't often remember my dreams. When I do, they're usually really weird, and transition from one into the next seamlessly. I'll go down a hallway in my house and suddenly I'm at my high school, and it doesn't even seem strange.

I realized the other day that I was having a weird dream in this strange sort of hotel where I've had dreams multiple times before. I think it's inspired in part by the cruise ship, large hotels I've been to, my middle school, anywhere with secret passageways, and maybe even the movie Titanic. I don't even know. Seriously, it's weird.

Usually in my dreams in this hotel, things start out relatively calm, but by the end of my dream I'm rushing around in a hurry, trying to get from one place to another or find someone in some sort of crisis or minor crisis. It's a confusing place, and I just keep going up and down elevators and stairs and hallways and passageways and around a stage and... it's just crazy, and usually includes some assortment of people I actually know and people my mind made up. One time someone let these huge dog-things loose and they were knocking into pillars and walls and running over people (which, now that I think about it, is something reminiscent of a combination of Shadow of the Colossus and The Running of the Bulls).

Anyway, I had a dream kind of like that again the other day, only this time I was on a family vacation and at first just hanging out with Steve. But it started to storm, and for some reason the ceiling of this place was a dome, but it was leaking. And not like the GeorgiaDome in recent news (although that probably inspired the dream, at least in part)... it was as though the dome material was porous, and basically when it started raining hard at all, water started pouring down from all parts of the ceiling.

Steve and I decided to rush up and check on our room, to see if there was anything out that would be ruined. We met Mom along the way, and she was headed to her room for the same reason. I think we just assumed Bill was on his way. We were going up the complicated series of elevators (for those of you that ever played SimTower, it was kind of like if you made multiple elevator shafts that didn't all go to all floors), as the water kept raining on us, when I woke up.

It was a weird dream, but not much weirder than a lot of weird dreams I've had before. The part that stuck out to me, though, was the realization that even in my dream, I had thought that my mom had her own room because my dad wasn't around anymore.

For some reason, it made me really sad that my subconscious is so used to my dad being gone that even in this dream world, where anything is possible, he was still gone. I know it'll have been ten years this June, so it's understandable that my mind is used to thinking of my family as a family of four now, but it just makes me sad.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

extended spring break

Random thought today.

The news is full of political talk these days. In November, a new President will be elected- and it looks like it'll probably be Senator McCain, Senator Clinton, or Senator Obama. The three have been campaigning nearly non-stop throughout the recent primaries, and I wonder...

Why aren't they in the Senate? They are senators. Don't they have a job to do?

Maybe there's some rule or something that I don't know about, but I think it seems a little odd that they're flying around the country giving speeches and hosting town meetings and campaigning for their next job when their current job requires them to be in D.C., in the Senate. I understand this isn't your run-of-the-mill 'next job,' but still-- I guess I would just feel funny dropping my Senator responsibilities to campaign for so long, especially if I didn't win.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

JP Petty

My roommate and I have some amusing quotes that we don't want to forget. I'm putting them here, because someone else might find 'em funny.

- Eternal

- Naked banana fairy

- I look like an angry cavewoman.

Other recent amusing quotes (but not necessarily with my roommate):

- Noam noam noam.

- You would make a terrible embryo.

Maybe stories will come some other time.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

another suitcase

Sinking into plush
Letting my eyes close
Soaking up the music
I'd forgotten I knew.

Sinking into past
Feeling my eyes tear
Soaking up memories
Of a time long ago.

Sinking into silence
Leaving my eyes shut
Soaking up the feeling
Of a distant connection.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


There are plenty of religious crazies out there, but I'm not here to vent about them right now.

No, instead I've got a good story to share about some evangelists. Or, sort of- Wikipedia tells me that 'evangelism' is a Christian term, and while Mormons believe strongly in Jesus (technically, most Mormons are in "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"), I think they consider themselves "Christians" but I'm not sure?

Anyway! Today I was walking through campus and saw two guys standing in the middle of a heavily populated walkway. It was wide enough that it didn't cause any sort of traffic jam and people could have easily walked further away. Each man stood back, smiling, with a book in his hand. They had a poster in the middle of them, but it was hard to read, and I tried to read it as I went by. I was curious- many times different student groups will be out on campus for one reason or another.

One of the men caught my eye, and he smiled warmly. He first greeted me, and I said hi back as I kept walking. Without moving towards me at all, he asked, "Can I talk to you about the book of Mormon?" Short, succinct, and straightforward- without trying to be too pushy by getting in my face.

I replied "Not right now, thanks."

He responded simply, "Okay, have a nice day." I repeated the sentiment, and kept walking, having barely even slowed my pace.

It might not seem like a big deal, but I was impressed. For one, these guys were standing out in the cold for their evangelism, and it's January in Indiana- the high temperature isn't even above freezing, and there's wind chill to be considered.

For another, these guys seemed to have a good approach in comparison to other people I've seen on campus. A few times, I've seen some older men standing around busy areas of campus and shoving small books of the New Testament into the hand of anyone who comes close enough to them. Some of the men are nice, but they're pushy, and even though they're pushing the New Testament (which I believe!) I tend to avoid them entirely. Sure, they're passing out lots of literature- but how many of those books aren't tossed at the next trash can?

It also annoys me that even saying "Thanks, but I already have a Bible" doesn't seem to stop them. It's like passing out their books is more important than me believing- and that's not evangelism at all.

Personally, I have a hard time with any evangelism this straightforward, because I don't see it working. I think that pushy people are often rejected out of stubbornness, annoyance, or fear. I don't have a problem with evangelism, but I think you can show God to others a lot more through your words and actions, even when they aren't specifically relating to God. It sounds cliche, but the "light of God can shine through you" when you're helping in the community, or being a good friend to someone, or being accepting of someone. It's not that I think we should avoid talking about God, but I don't think that talking about God with complete strangers who may be uncomfortable with the idea is usually going to work very well.

I'm probably misquoting this, but a friend of mine recently said that his pastor had shared a tip for evangelizing: "If you have ten minutes to tell them about God, spend the first nine getting to know the person." I think it's a good way to think about it.

So, back to the Mormon guy, and what he did right:
  • He said hi first, and smiled. It's just nice to greet someone, and it allows that person to make eye contact if they want to. Plus, it means he's not immediately launching into a spiel.
  • He kept a reasonable distance. He stood back, away from people, and even when I'd responded to him, he didn't come closer and crowd me. I never felt like I was trapped.
  • He asked me for permission. He didn't start telling me about the book of Mormon- he actually asked me if he could. It gave me an easy out if I wanted it (which I did), but again lessened the pressure of the situation for me. This also may have meant that he understood I was a student, and could be rushing to a class or something- and recognizing things like that about your audience so you can be understanding is always good.
  • He wanted to talk. He didn't give me something to read, or shout something at me- he wanted to take the time to talk to me. It's much more personal, and probably more conversational. Talking is much less forceful, and more inviting (at least to me) than shoving a book at me.
  • He told me what was going on. He didn't ask a vague question like "Do you want to go to Heaven?" or say "Can we talk about your future?" or even "Do you believe in God?" He kept me in the loop with a simple and straightforward question, and I would've felt a lot more comfortable entering into a conversation with him knowing the subject.
  • He was nice, both before and after I turned down his offer. He said hello, smiled, and told me to have a nice day. He wasn't scary, and he seemed genuine. Even though I wasn't interested, I came away from the brief meeting with nothing but good impressions of the guy- and that helped my impression of the religion he represented, which doesn't hurt his cause.
So, this was a really brief interaction, of course, but I wanted to write down my thoughts. It's rare for me to see such straightforward religious outreach that I don't think is way too pushy and makes people really uncomfortable. I don't know how much this sort of thing ever works, but I can respect the dedication of this guy, and I can say that I was impressed with his approach.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. –
Matthew 28:19,20 KJV