Sunday, September 28, 2008

So Much Potential

When I was in junior high, my favorite movie was Camp Nowhere. (Jonathan Jackson was so cute; I also watched General Hospital the whole summer just to see him.) The concept revolved around these four kids trying to escape the summer camp of their parents' dreams and live the summer of their own dreams. And Jonathan Jackson's character, Mud, always has "so much. . . potential!"

That phrase has been rattling around inside my brain for a while. It happens quite often when I contemplate my master plan to finally crack into graduate school. And it haunts me when I realize that 6 weeks ago I meant to start going through that 14 week syllabus to prep for the Literature in English GRE that will happen in 9 weeks. And it nearly screams at me when I... well let's not get over-dramatic. The point is potential and the lack of realization have been pressing on my mind.

And then I read this book, The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg. And she talks about several things two of which relate to potential: not praying big prayers (because they might not get answered) and not holding on to your crown (because the wonderful things you have going on in your life are sometimes really hard and you want to give up). On top of that the whole premise of the book is that God uses repetition to get your attention. I don't know. I'm not a big "being led by the invisible hand of God" person. But I am an N* and I like patterns in the big picture so the idea has merit.

And then we have my church bible study which is read the book, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg. Again it's much like Margaret so I take things which a grain of salt, until he starts talking about unrealized potential and I start to think "Wait a second, I've been thinking about unrealized potential. And Margaret's been talking about things that repeat in your life."

So I'm mulling this all over. Not that I think I'm not maximizing my potential; I'm taking steps to do that. But some of the steps are kind of hard, and it could be easy to avoid them and as a result not do my best. So I'm taking it as motivation to keep studying when Grey's Anatomy calls.

*Cf. Myers-Briggs

Saturday, September 27, 2008

$25/wk Food Challenge

If you have a chance, check out The $25 Challenge blog. This month is Hunger Action month, and the past week the Illinois Food Bank Association challenged several of its lead managers to live on $25 for food for the week, about the amount an individual gets for food stamps. It's really eye-opening to read the accounts from these people as they struggle to make it through the week, and they have the end of the week to look forward to.

Now, I know this is possible. My amazing cousin makes it her personal goal to have a grocery bill under $20 every week just because she's awesome and thrifty like that. She shops the sales, cuts coupons, puts together wonderful dinners and bakes all the time. Mike, the grocery shopper of the family and the thrifty one, tries to emulate, but we value convenience a little too much.

This challenge especially hit me in my "privilege" as I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up ingredients for this Deluxe Hot Chai Mix (which I thought would be much better than getting chai lattes at Starbucks, Panera's, and the like). I spent $28 on the most of the ingredients. (I had a few of the spices and ran granulated sugar through the food processor as a sub for caster sugar and totally skipped on the cardamom because it was $7!) It made a lot, and I can use most of the ingredients to make more, but was it a necessity? Not really. And would I spend a whole week's worth of grocery money on it? Heck no!

Also I read about how cranky the participants were and how they couldn't concentrate and perform at their jobs as well. After the incredibly busy week (that will just keep continuing through the quarter/semester), I couldn't imagine having to worry about food and being hungry on top of it. So anyway, I'm just processing it all and felt the need to share.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ecclesiastical Embroidery Part 3: Cutting

Okay first, an update: A trip to (where else?) IKEA yielded some frames for those long worked embroidery squares. Nyttja square frames are great, cheap, but only come in white. So a little sanding, a little wiping, a few coats of black acrylic paint, and here we go-- lovely black frames to offset the embroidery of my blood, sweat, and tears. Now I just need to find a good piece of wall for them.

Second on the agenda, I actually cut the stole fabric. This was a huge deal. I spent so much time (at least 9 months) looking at patterns, examples of stoles, considering the stole-making kit, looking at directions. I really didn't want to mess up this stole because it's not like I can get more. The problem was that the patterns I had to help the stole fit Mike better didn't have the curve of the original stole. So I had to figure out if it was okay to tilt the pattern (no). I had to account for seam allowances (which I'm horrible at). I had to protect that little guy with the flame on his head. So ultimately I had to "straighten out" the stole by cutting the curve off the outside and stitching back on the inside curve. It worked okay. The seam will be closest to his neck so I'm hoping people won't notice. That said, I think I retained most of the design (a bit of the curve of the dove wings got cut).

Notes about cutting. I didn't get a picture of all my patterns, but I had three and they were color-coded. :-) I didn't use pins. I got that idea from Amy Karol in Bend-the-Rules Sewing. But I did trace around the pattern and cut inside that line. That allowed me to arrange the pattern and not mess it up by pinning AND not mess it up by pulling the fabric up. Amy Karol uses canned goods; I use books on educational theory that I don't have time to read.

Finally, here's all the cut fabric, along with the notions I'll be using to complete the stole. Here's the breakdown. The face fabric is cotton with watercolor and just a hint of acrylic (I think). The lining fabric is plain old broadcloth. The interfacing is cotton duck. Both the lining and the interfacing come from the stole-making kits from Church Linens. I'm using the shape of a stole from our pastor which uses a cord to stablize the stole around the neck which takes tension off the center seam. And I'm using what's called a set-back method which will wrap the face fabric around the interfacing and effectively hiding the lining fabric from view giving a cleaner look to the stole.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Life by the Numbers

  • 17 minutes to walk uphill to Hebrew Union. (Roughly 4 times through the chapter assigned spoken in Hebrew and a couple songs for fun.)
  • 14 books assigned in my 2 English classes.
  • 13 blissful minutes relaxing poolside after class and before making dinner before work.
  • 7 minutes to walk downhill from the bus stop after class.
  • 4 days of much busy-ness per week. Followed by...
  • 3 day weekends (so yeah don't feel too bad for me, even if all those weekends will be spent reading, writing and translating).
  • 3 college campuses I inhabit on Thursdays.
  • 3 papers due at the end of the term. O of which are naturally built for application essays. Boo!
  • 2 1/2 weeks of Jewish holidays starting tomorrow. (Shabbat Shalom!!!)
  • 2 Oral Presentations to give.
  • 2 Ph.D. applications due in 2009.
  • 1 tired blogger. (But man am I loving being back in the classroom. Even on syllabus day.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Helpful Hints with the Dimly Seen

If you do laundry, which I really hope you do, you've probably discovered that the containers have shrunk within the past several months. There's no reduction in quality of cleaning, and the manufacturers give some really good reasons such as reducing waste and so I'm all for it.

But have you read the back of the bottle recently? They give two lines: one for a normal load and a second for a large load. But I don't know about you, but my Purex has three lines. (For what? An extra large load? Why don't you put that in the instructions?) And they're very small and see through to boot. Add to the fact that we use the free and clear variation with no irritating fragrances and there's a bit of a problem.

Solution: Pull out your handy dandy sharpie and mark that line! It takes 3 seconds and lasts the whole time you use the bottle. And if it manages to rub off, just mark it again. Mine is on the outside because the cap is transparent (and hence part of the problem), so I don't know how it would work inside the cap. (Bleeding might be an issue.) I've done this twice now and I very rarely overfill the cap. Today when I was doing laundry I actually found myself pouring just a little back in like I was measuring out baking ingredients. (So Susie Homemaker.)

An unexpected bonus, the sharpies look so pretty. I almost used my light and dark blue sharpies so they'd match the rest of the container, but I love that pink.

Monday, September 22, 2008

YA for Obama

Okay so this political season I have been fascinated by the role of literature and publishing.

It started with the fact that John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all have autobiographies. If I remember correctly, when Barack Obama published The Audacity of Hope, that's when the buzz about his seeking nomination started.

Okay fine, then I started reading Meghan McCain's blog. And for the like three days, I could stand it, I learned she was publishing a children's book. Say what?!? I used to read a Kiddie Lit blog, and she had a whole BACA club (Bloggers Against Celebrity Authors).

Then there was the whole Sarah Palin book banning scandel, which if I understand correctly concerned her inquiry into whether she could ban books not that she did ACTUALLY ban books.

However, this last incident prompted a huge response from the Young Adult authors. And so now for your viewing pleasure I will link you to YA for Obama. It was started by Maureen Johnson, who is the "secret sister" to the Green brothers who host my favorite YouTube channel, the Vlogbrothers, and more importantly is the author of several Young Adult novels including her most recent book Suite Scarlett. A lot of people are involved (a lot of Nerdfighters from the Green brothers Ning community) including Judy Blume who wrote the first blog post.

Here's what I find fascinating. This is a group that while it might have political opinions is not political by nature. They aren't lobbists. They aren't polled as a voting block. (And certainly all YA authors are not necessarily supporting Barack Obama.) They don't even necessarily all know each other--hello who's personal friends with Judy Blume?!? They found a place of common ground and are now doing their part in political activism. And that's amazing. It's even more amazing when you consider that young adults who read (there are growing concerns of aliteracy--you can read, but you don't) can be incredibly attached to their authors. (I still love Madeleine L'Engle.) So these adults are modelling for their readers how to be engaged in the political process before they have time to get cynical. Man it makes me feel warm and squishy inside.

Update: 9/23 PS It's banned book week. :-)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Testing 1, 2, 3

Okay this is a pic-tastic post. I had to try out my new light box bought at IKEA yesterday. It's a Jall laundry basket. I found out about it via ikea hacker. And if I took the time to set it up properly I probably would get slightly better results. But as it is it's just a bared lightbulb. (Yes, I do really have lampshades for all my lamps, but it works better with a bare lightbulb. It works better with a really bright work lamp, but I'm winging it.) I would have used the desk lamp I bought at IKEA for this purpose, but it requires an R bulb of which we have none. Go figure.

Why is this important? Well, because today was the "Get to Know Everyone" Classics party. And one of the people I talked to had this He'Brew beer. So I had to try it. And bring the bottle home for photographic evidence. Here's what the label says:
HE'BREW (That W really is a shin in Hebrew FYI.)
The Chosen Beer
A Rich and Robust Dark Brown Ale
Messiah Bold
L'Chaim! To Life!
It's the beer you've been waiting for.
Oh jeez, don't I love good messianic prophecy jokes. Oh wait! It was "conceived" in San Francisco and brewed in New York. What do you want to bet that it was only brewed in New York because of the tax census? (NERD JOKE! NERD JOKE! JUDEO-CHRISTIAN NERD JOKE!)

This bottle is so going by my Sin Boldly "pencil holder" from Old Lutheran (because you can't sell beer on the internet). It's sadly no longer available, but the quote comes from Martin Luther who wrote to Philip Melchanthon to "Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly." Hence, don't obsess over sin, believe you're forgiven and live your life as best you can. (Okay that's a bit flippant, but for someone with a guilt complex it's great!)

I do need to figure out the light tent a bit more. I probably need a stronger bulb and two light sources. (The pictures are still pretty dark.) And if I could figure out a way to stabilize the base while turning the tent 90 degrees so I could get the metal legs out of the glare, that would be good too. Oh yeah! I also need to not set the tent up on a chair... Definitely need more flat space in the apartment. Sigh.

Oh but the background is IKEA craft paper.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ecclesiastical Embroidery Part 2

My husband is trained to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and we're hoping someday soon that he'll be called to be a pastor. It's tricky business though because it's one of those crossings of spirituality and practicality, but I'm not going to get into it. Anyway, once he gets a called, he gets ordained which means he can officially do things like consecrate Communion and baptize people and stuff. It's pretty cool. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It's a big deal. Ordained pastors are marked by wearing stoles over their white robes (albs). And so when Mike decided to trained for pastoral ministry, one of the ladies of his congregation painted him this beautiful watercolor stole. (See left.) It has the Holy Spirit coming down. It's have the flames of fire coming down on people's head. It's just amazing (if not officially liturgically correct because it's not totally red--I got over that). However, the thing I didn't get over is that it make Mike look tiny. And since he already gets the "What? Are you still in high school?" looks when he guest preaches, we don't want that. Okay, okay I don't want that.

So I did a google search and found this website on liturgical vestment making and emailed Elizabeth who has put everything together. She sent a really nice email back explaining the process and recommending her stole kit. So when I started crafting back in November, it was one of my purchases. (Yeah, I've been planning this project for years.) The stole kit sat on my desk for a very long time. I finally cut out the patterns in July and realized that I could use that pattern to get all the details of the stole. So I went on a stole hunt. Fortunately, our pastor has like 4 different types of stoles. So I traced out the shape on the one Mike liked the best and will be using that pattern for adapting the stole. Last week I finally cut out the pattern and then realized what I really need to do is make a little stencil thing so I can see how the pattern frames the design. Sigh. So that was one of my weekend projects. We took the above picture of the stole in its full glory, and then I set to ripping out the stitches. Fortunately, I had the last six episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to watch. (PS Buffy the Vampire Slayer is amazing. I never saw the series finale, and it's amazing! Post coming soon.) So several hours and many passes with the steam iron later, I have the designs ready to frame.

The dove side is easy because the head is centered and small enough that it's okay to trim the sides. However, our little pentacostal people pose a problem because there is this cute kiddo with a flame on his head and he's adorable and very much needs to stay on the stole, but the original stole was curved at the neck and the pattern doesn't curve. I might not have enough seam allowance to do the set back method (which wraps the face fabric around the interfacing so the lining doesn't show). I think I can do it the normal way, but I'm slightly mourning the delay of the set-back method. However, it's assuaged by the fact that I'm currently watching Surf Ninjas.

(--We seek something money can't buy--the knives of Kwantzu. --Oh yeah, cause we all know money can't buy knives. Once I went to a cutlery store and said "Here's $100,000. Can I buy a knife?" And the store owner said, "No money can't buy knives!")

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I've already told you how much I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's a happy high school memory. But when I got to college, I stopped watching Buffy quite so much due to the weird schedule, the switch to UPN and the fact that it got kind of weird. I started watching again with a friend in college, but I would watch the episodes she was watching which led to a haphazard fill in. So when I finally watched Season 5-7 in their entirety, things began to make sense.

FYI There are going to be spoilers now. If you want an undiluted Buffy watching experience, you should stop reading now.

Don't get me wrong; there was still a lot of weirdness and some of the weekly resolutions didn't make a lot of sense, but I finally got the overall arc. I was going to be content with an average fill in the blanks series finale, but it wasn't. Buffy's been in a lot of epic battles, and I wasn't really sure how they were going to pull off yet another one--they've done it all, right? Wrong!

Willow who hasn't been using magic that much because the ultimate evil, the First Evil, pollutes it manages to find/create a spell that imbues all the potential slayers with the actual Slayer power. There is this wonderful montage of girls all over the world discovering this power to do little things like hit the game winning homerun to fight off an abusive grown-up. It makes me wonder about the girls who are too old to be slayers. I'd like to see a slayer grandma kick the crap out of a hoodlum who's stealing her purse. Anyway... So all the girls they've collected get Slayer power and start kicking uber-vamp butt. It's pretty cool, but there are still thousands of vamps and less 50 girls so some vamps start getting through. So the civilians have to fight. Nothing too shocking except when Anya--selfish, capitalist Anya--steps in front of Andrew, the sole remaining and semi-reformed member of the evil Geek Trio, only to get slashed in half. So we have substitutionary atonement going on.

And then my theology radar really starts squeeling because Angel has given Buffy an amulet that has to be worn by a demon with a sole, but not Buffy so Spike says he'll wear it. It's his job. It's what he has to do. It turns out that this amulet channels sunlight (which kills the uber-vamps) into the cavern. It kills all the uber-vamps and completely crushs the Hellmouth so nothing ever comes out of it again. It's the ultimate salvation for the world, but it destroys Spike in the process. Spike, the most fearsome vampire who has killed 2 slayers, but he's regained his soul because he loves Buffy so much and now he saves her and the rest of the world. Spike would probably view it as his just reward. He deserved to die a thousand deaths for all the mayhem and disaster he caused, and if his death helped make the world a better place that so be it. But the one for all motif is in direct parallel to Jesus' death on the cross. It's just that Spike wasn't perfect (which by the way none of the literary figures who do this sort of thing are perfect, it just makes everything more poignant). So my vampire obsession finds its way back to my theology love and the world makes sense once again. It's so good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Expect the Unexpected

Hurricane Ike fiercely ravaged huge portions of the United States, and Cincinnati was no exception. Due to the wind (no rain from Ike), the area experienced its worst power outage ever with half a million people powerless.* Grocery stores left with rotting food due to lack of refrigeration. All the major universities, except UC, were closed Monday. There are still grade school closings today. Fortunately we didn't lose power. I didn't get my afternoon by the pool and our tomato plants were blown in half before I thought to bring them inside. Minor in big picture; sad in little picture. We thought that would be the end of new little tomatoes especially for the plant that had a really big kink in its stem. But I restaked them, we keep watering them, and today I found this on our menopausal plant:

Little tomato flowers ready to produce little green tomatoes that will ripen into slightly larger red tomatoes. Eek! It's a happy day.

*Coincidentally this is my second freak, wind-related, catastrophic power outage in 2 1/2 years. St. Louis had what amounted to an atmospheric sinkhole in July of 2006 which took out power to even more people. My apartment did lose power that time for about 4 days.

To Do List Holder

Like any good "J" (see Myers Briggs post), I'm a bit compulsive when it comes to list making. Sometimes that compulsion comes in the form of numerous lists or obsessively re-writing lists in better order or adding things to my list just so I can cross them off; Other times it comes in the medium of the list itself, like my PDA grocery list, Remember the Milk with google calendar, only using post-its, and this gorgeous little To Do List Holder. The idea and tutorial came from A Little Hut. You will surely notice the ubiquitous fabric selection. (The navy thread is almost out! Ack!) I did add that little bit of sewing detail to stabilize the fabric because I'm not sure Patricia managed to keep everything so neat. I'm also not quite sure how she secured the fabric, but I used hot glue. The first incarnation of the project (which got ripped apart before pictures could be taken) ended up with bumpy hot glue which was a major factor in it's being torn apart. (It has got to feel nice.) But as I was hot gluing the second time, I realized that I could smooth out the bumpy glue with a hot iron if I took care to keep the glue from coming into direct contact with the iron plate. Wow that could have saved my project, but I think this second incarnation is a nicer product overall.

The pocket detail on the back was mentioned in the variations and comments. I'm not totally sure what I would use it for; too much strain will probably do bad things to the glue and I tend to stuff pockets. But it was fun to play with the fabric and figure out how to make this pocket look nice.

So here was my major revelation: Iron really helps. The sewing books all say ironing is necessary in seemingly unnecessary detail and endless repetition, but it's true. It was much easier to sew a straight line when my line had already been pressed straight. It was easier to glue when the fabric just flipped over the glue where it was supposed to go and I didn't have to stick my fingers in hot glue. :-) Plus I have a brand new iron which among the other truly useful features has a retractable cord which makes it that much more fun to take out and put away. So if you work with fabric, iron it multiple times during your project.

PS I'm totally in love with my hardwood floors right now. Yeah, they've been improperly finished a few too many times so that flecks of peeling varnish stick to your feet and while the apartment complex would be willing to fix it, that would require moving your thousands of books, but don't they look pretty in the morning light with the shadow?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crime and Punishment Part 2

Hey so the summer of reading classic literature and blogging about it changed into the summer of reading the Chronicles of Narnia (okay not bad), Twilight (new and sparkly), Wuthering Heights (Hey that's a classic!), Gossip Girl (eh... at least I'm reading???), and Harry Potter once again (ALWAYS AND FOREVER YAY!!!!) and blogging about other things. Not so hot on the Russian literature front. But fortunately I respond very well to guilt and goals especially of the self-proscribed variety, so I picked up my dusty volume of C&P and dug in once more.

So when we left our anti-hero, he had just murdered the cruel old pawn lady and her sister and narrowly escaped. In part 2, (now I read the beginning of part 2 back in June and I didn't take the notes I did for part 1 so you'll have to bear with me) he takes off from the old lady's apartment, disposes of the evidence and then goes out drinking? I think there's another visit to a local pub there, but it strikes me as odd now and I guess it struck me as odd then. All is not well with our anti-hero. Then he gets called down to the police stations. Gasp! But it's not for that it's just to pay back this IOU he gave to his land lady for a huge amount. (My rubles to dollars conversion is non-existent; I'm just comparing to it to the random monetary statements made in the book). But while at the police station he overhears the officers talking about the murder and faints. This episode is just the beginning of a "prolonged" (2-3 days?) "illness" (really? he's sick?) that takes up the rest of Part 2. Oh! but somewhere in there he takes the stuff he stole from the pawn lady and hides it in a hole under a stone in an alley (yeah, he's crazy, not sick) and cuts (CUTS!) the blood stains off his cuffs and tries to hide them. The perfect crime it is not.

So technically our beloved R. is sick. His friend TOR (The Other R--Ramuzkin? ah Razumikhin--thanks Wikipedia, TOR is an oblique reference to An Abundance of Katherines FYI.) takes care of him. Oh yeah he goes and visits TOR after the hiding the stolen goods just cause he happens to be in the area. Dumb! Anyway, fortunately TOR takes very good care of R because he really is sick. Murder must lead to "psychosomatic symptoms difficult to endure involving the eyes, the ears, the nose and the throat." (Guys and Dolls?) And a bunch of people keep visiting him while he's sick and talking about the murder--his sister's fiance (whom he hates), the police officer investigating Zamyotov (we'll call him Z), the beautiful and mysterious Natashya (actually probably not; I just always think of Rocky and Bullwinkle--see why I've had trouble getting through this book? I keep getting side-tracked), and the doctor Zossimov (Dr. Z). The doctor blames his sickness on the lack of nutrition and stress of poor student life. R doesn't really believe he's actually sick, but then again he's delusional. He also mildly freaks out whenever these people talk about the murder of the pawn lady. In his semi-recovered state, he sneaks out to go on a walkabout, finds Z in a pub and procedes to tell him how R would carry out the crime (how he in fact did carry out the crime--dumb, dumb, DUMB!!!). However, Z says it's obviously the job of an amatuer because otherwise they would have found the extreme amounts of cash she had (Doh! Ha!). Walking back from the pub he stumbles across and accident which just happens to involve the crushed face of his other pub friend Marmeladov (I almost spelled that correctly). So he leads the onlookers to M's apartment where M dies and he gives his widow all the money TOR magically came up with to buy him food and clothes (Doh! Can we say guilt much?). When he gets back to his apartment, he finds his mother and sister who haven't seen him in 3 years and promptly gets rid of them.

In sum, I'm feeling no love for R. He was impetuous and weak. If you're going to pull off the perfect crime, figure out what you're going to do afterward. He didn't even have a good hiding spot for the loot! Dumb! Maybe he couldn't anticipate the sickness, but then don't go explain your whole theory to the investigating officer. All this dumbness is why it took me 3 months to get through this part. However, I have finished Part 3 and it was quite good. I will post about it soon with hopefully more thoughtful commentary instead of random links to things C&P remind me of.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ecclesiastical Embroidery

Once upon a time when I was still going to work in the church directing education programs, I met with a prof. about going to the Seminary one day to get a Master's degree in Theology. And she told this story about how when she wanted to take classes back in the day the Sem told her that she couldn't register for any of the "real" classes, but she could take Ecclesiastical Embroidery. Ha, ha, ha. Women can only do womanly things to benefit the church. Ha, ha, ha. I hope it's changed. Ha, ha, ha! I'll never do that. Sigh.

Fast forward to my actual Master's program at the Sem. They still have these Seminary Women's Association (actually its name changed from the Seminary WIVES Association), and one of the classes they offered on Tuesday nights is Ecclesiastical Embroidery (though they also offer classes on Revelation and Two Kinds of Righteousness that are quite a bit like the for-credit equivalents). Lots of Sem wives take the class to learn how to decorate stoles for their husbands wear during services. In grade school and high school, I was really big into cross stitch. I always wanted to like "graduate" to embroidery, but I never got the chance. So I found myself really wanting to enroll in this class that I made fun of in undergrad. Fortunately, one of my graduate program friends had no such dilemma and was willing to enroll with me. This was the result:

Actually that was the result that I just finished two hours ago. I think at the end of the 6 week class I had the red cross and the green Trinity symbol done. I finished the purple cross last fall when I thought about the fact that Mike's going to need stoles someday. And then I finished the grain symbol two hours ago. I took the class 3 years ago. Sigh.

Really though? Yay! Because I've just managed to cross off an item on the "crafts to be finished" list. There's more point to this story, but I've got that post set to publish later in the week. Until then... to be continued.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sweater Reconstruction

So this is my sweater reconstruction รก la Alli_Lucy. I bought the sweater for $3 at an outlet mall when I needed something to cover my shoulders in the movie theater (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II btw). It was hardly the best fit, but I'd been wanting a sweater I wouldn't feel bad about cutting up. So this was my experiment. I had no bias tape so I used ribbon. Not the best idea because the ribbon was slippery and in combination with the stretchy sweater looks rumbly. But the sweater feels really nice, and the ribbon is silky. It's a good cuddly sweater. Thanks for the tut, Alli_Lucy!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!

Not to me. To my friend Kristina. Her birthday was this week, and we went out for a celebratory movie last night. She's a grad student with Mike and has been looking for a book holder for a while--well, since our IKEA trip anyway. I found one through one of the student workers at the Law Library and thought it would be perfect for my practically-minded friend. One of its advertised features was the clear vinyl case it came it that had holes so you can put it in your notebook. A cool idea, but not very pretty. I knew I could do better. So I adapted the idea from my laptop cover to make a bookholder pouch.

The outer fabric is buttercup yellow satin from a bridesmaid dress (well thus far just the shawl), and the inner fabric was a thrifted pillowcase, but evidently a couple friends (including Kristina) had the floral set as children so it has a cute little nostalgia factor for the birthday girl. (Hey, did you know that nostalgia comes from the Latin word for homecoming? I learned that on All Things Considered. Now all my Classics friends are shaking their heads in dismay...) I used flannel for the interfacing as suggested in Bend-the-Rules Sewing, and the whole combination (though you can't see the flannel it matches amazingly well) was so cute I think I need to make some elements of this wellness bag.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ah Perspective

So Hebrew's been a little rough--not rough like I really can't do this, but rough like not warm and fuzzy. Yesterday, I read my first little bit of Hebrew outloud before people who can rattle it off like no one's business. The verdict: I put em-PHA-sis on the wrong sy-LA-ble. (See View from the Top trailer--sorry I could only find a non-English trailer). Sigh.

However here's a link that put it's all in perspective (HT PaleoJudaica). At least I know better than to transliterate English into Hebrew when there's a perfectly reasonable (and more succinct) alternative. And at least I can tell when my computer copies my Accordance searches left to right instead of right to left (same HT).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Life Lessons: Thick Skin

I'm not known for my thick skin. I'd like to say I have a sensitive artistic soul, but really I just have a problem with not being perfect and a mind like a steel trap when it comes to criticism. ("Your enthusiasm can sometimes be perceived as ditziness.")

I've always kind of known that being an academic would require the ability to take and then let go of criticism. I mean people are supposed to rip apart your articles and the like. Even if I've kind of been through a couple "weeder systems", they seemed half-hearted and generally people still wanted you to succeed. I read Ph.D. and laugh at the sarcasm. I've heard the horror stories. But like most high-academic achievers who succeed in grade school, high school, and even college and a stepping-stone grad school, I don't think I'm prepared for the reality.

And I don't know how one prepares for such a reality. Adopting a general feeling of hopelessness seems pointless. Laughing at it through comics seems to be an okay strategy if not totally fulfilling. I don't think most schools want to grind you into the ground as much as they don't want to coddle you. They want to produce good, self-sustaining academics that cast a good reputation on them. So I guess learning to suck it up would be helpful. Learning to let go of unnecessarily harsh criticism while retaining any worthwhile tips for improvement would help.

Eh... So that's what I've got. I'll try to employ a bit of it this fall, and hopefully I can use more next fall in an actual program.

Myers Briggs: An Introduction to Me

WARNING: This is a rather narcissitic post. (What? Aren't they all?) Okay it's more forthright than most. If you just want to learn about Myers Briggs go to this website, take the test, and read about the personalities. Then make your own narcissitic post. (FYI If I was writing this in Biblical Hebrew I would have just use a condition followed by imperative, imperative, imperative, followed by the waw-conjunctive plus perfect.)

I'm an INFJ. For many people that means nothing (though I think very few of those people read this blog), but for others it is incredibly significant.

It means I get tired of people sometimes. I never really understood how social gatherings could wear me out so much until I learned from Myers Brigs that I was an Introvert. I always assumed that because I liked people I was an extrovert. Not true. I still like people; I just take better care of myself so that I can continue to like people.

It means I'll almost always think big picture like (iNtuitive). I can do some detail work, but only if I see it in the big picture. I sometimes miss all the trees looking at the forest. I'll always struggle to put my grandiose ideas into concrete words for my sensory-based husband.

It means I'll almost always react with my Feelings before I react with my thoughts. I worked very hard to become a Thinker once, and I did turn out as one on a test I took, but it's not true. I might be able to process through my feelings very quickly, but they're still there to be dealt with first and foremost.

It means, finally, that I'll never be good with loose plans. I like them well-defined ahead of time (Judging). As one of the tests put it I prefer deals signed in pen rather than sealed with a handshake. I work to deadlines whether external or internal. If I don't have structure, I tend to create it. I like routines even if I don't like being held to them. I just like that they exist. :-) I like organizaton. (Hence half my obsession with Ikea.) I really like finishing my blog reader everyday.

I find it incredibly interesting that I share three out of four personality traits with my mom (ENFJ), dad (INTJ), brother (INFP), and husband (ISTJ) and none of those people are the same personality. It shapes the way I talk to people (favoring details with my husband and letting my brother ramble where he will). It defines what I expect of people and of myself. I no longer expect myself to enjoy all day people events and make sure to schedule in alone time. I don't expect the Thinkers in my life to automatically get what I'm feeling and so it's worth it to spend sometime explaining my feelings. I value people for the differences they bring to the table and the perspectives they provide. And I understand why I click better with some people than others.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Oddity of Bible Reading

So I have this Bible blog I follow that gives four chapters from four books of the Bible. Theoretically, in a year I will have read the whole Bible (and astonishing thing from a Hebrew bible scholar, I know). Technically, however, I will have read Psalms and the New Testament twice. Anyway, most of the time it's all the Bible; things kind of flow together. But then there are days that are just jarring. Like today:
  • First we start in II Samuel 2, with David trying to defeat Ish-Bosheth and the battle is described thus: "And each caught his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side, so they fell down together."
  • Then we move to I Corinthians 13--the Love chapter as it is commonly known.
  • Then we go back to the OT, to Ezekiel 11, for some classic "Judgment on Wicked Counselors"
  • And we end with some Jesus stuff (John 12 for those who care).
War, love, judgment, Jesus.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wheel of Morality

My brother and I watched almost every episode of Animanics when we were little. They weren't the best role models, but they were hilarious and utterly quotable. So when I bought a lazy susan at IKEA, Yakko's words popped into my head "Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn. Tell us the lesson that we should learn." And then it kept running through my head during it's inagural Scrabble game last night--until I became obsessed with making my own wheel of morality. I sketched it out with pencil, had some fun with acrylic paint, and then used sharpie for the words because my line painting is not so good. No little clicker, no really cool printer to give us today's lesson, but that keeps it working as our Scrabble turntable. It might get some modification. I'm not totally happy about the numbers. But then I have some varnish for fixing acrylic. Until then, some lovely youtuber put together a compilation of Wheel of Morality clips.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Would You Look at That?

Hey you know that really cool old Hebrew typewriter I posted earlier this week? The Freakonomics blog used a picture by the same flickr user! Yeah way! the Freakonomics guys and I have the same taste in creative commons material. Amazing!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Naming Harry Potter Style (Part XI)

Hey it must be school time because that was the last time I posted about naming, and here I am thinking about it again. It's been about a year since I read the Harry Potter series. I can't remember if I reread the series after I read Book 7 or what happened. Oh there were some audiobooks in there. Hmm. This is where rereading gets you... Long tangents.

Anyway, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (book 1 for the uninitiated; SS for the fanatics; PS (Philosopher's) for the diehard Anglo-philes). As Harry is adjusting to life in the wizarding world he is faced with this odd habit of referring to Lord Voldemort as You-Know-Who. The wizarding world doesn't like to hear the name so they obfuscate it. Also I believe we find out in later books that there is a location charm on saying the name so it kind of makes sense. But anyway, once Harry goes through everything including near-death at the hands of Quirrel/Voldy, he talks to Prof. Dumbledore using the phrase "You-Know-Who" to which Dumbledore replies:
"Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself." (Pg. 298)
It's reminiscent of FDR's "Only thing we have to fear is fear itself" which is probably what makes Dumbledore awesome. But I wonder how applicable it is to everyday life. What do I fear which I refuse to name? I name a lot of things, talking through problems until the angsty feelings resolve. I make lists when I'm overwhelmed both to make a plan of action and to quantify what needs to be done so it's less vague and scary. I guess I generally subscribe to the theory by choosing to name everything and go with it.

Oh but this is interesting: So I'm taking this class at Hebrew Union which is obviously Jewish and so there's the whole tetragrammaton issue.* Do you pronounce the four letters referring to God's personal name or do you gloss over them with "the Lord" or "HaShem" (the name)? One of my flimsy reasons for taking Hebrew was to determine is YHWH really referred to God or not so I tend to side on saying it, but for the weaker brother (oh yeah way to use Christian references to support Jewish traditions) I've been training myself to say Adonai.

The Jewish tradition comes out of reverence, a holy type of fear. "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all thing." But can it devolve into hocus pocus (which also has Christian roots BTW) fear of incurring wrath and judgment? I'd say so. Balance in all things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself. Certainly a healthy dose of "fear" is smart in the face of the Almighty, but then there's the whole Jesus/Abba/Papa/intercession thing that pretty much pwns fear. "Perfect love drives out fear." I John 4:18.

*Though I have read this argument that says if the early Jews were so worried about being reverent and not saying the tetragrammaton it wouldn't be ALL OVER the scriptures. And that makes a lot of sense.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Saga of the Curtains

I have been a tad bit obsessed about curtains. See in my first apartment I had cute little lacy curtains in my bathroom that used to be my great grandma's, and I also had a big floral curtains in my large bedroom window. Both sets were free; both sets just kind of made the apartment more homey and I loved them in their own special ways. (Paint also helped, but my old landlord let me deduct the expense of paint from the rent...)

So I've been looking for curtains for the two windows and the sliding glass door of our new apartment and with my new-found love of sewing I've thought about making curtains. But Ikea didn't really have curtains that matched, and the actual expense of buy the exact fabric I wanted would match the cost of most curtains. And then I really really fell in love with those big grommets that have been used as curtain rings so I set myself to finding curtains on sale in a store. Target was going to be my first choice, but I was shopping for a good iron at Bed, Bath and Beyond (Why didn't I put an iron on our wedding registry?), and lo and behold, an angel of the Lord directed me to chocolate curtains with grommets at clearance price. But did I buy them? No. I thought I needed to think about them because they had stripes on them. So I did. I thought about those curtains all weekend and became convinced they were the curtains for me.

So two days later I returned to Bed, Bath and Beyond to find my curtains. I walked past a display and recognized my curtains and realized they matched the little stripes on my pillow and my bedroom art. So I hurried over to the last place I saw them and the display curtains were there but the packages were gone. I became frantic. I looked in the aisles were they usually put the clearance stuff, nothing. I looked in the bedroom clearance, nothing. I looked in the sheet clearance, nothing. And then I found the curtain clearance! But there was nothing. Despair! Defeat, but wait some of the taupe-striped curtains were tucked behind the display curtains above the clearance section. Could it be that there were more hidden clearance curtains? As a matter of fact there were more hidden clearance curtains, but mine were buried on the bottom shelf behind a row. (Don't they WANT to sell these curtains?) I squealed; the woman shopping next to me thought I was a missing little girl, but then I explained my search to her and she smiled indulgently. And then I rushed to the front of the store to buy my curtains that were 50% off with my 20% off coupons (I love BBB for allowing expired coupons on clearance items) and I explained my story to the store clerk who was about as excited for me as a clerk can be. And then I forgot to use the last little bit on my wedding gift cards. But still I got my curtains for so much less than I hoped. AND their purchase required me to go to Ikea to get a curtain rod which I did (79"--it was huge). And I had to use my drill to make holes in the drywall and use drywall screws. And I should have used a tape measure. (Darn!) But the curtains are up. Mike and I are sleeping later because we don't realize when the sun goes up. (Good or bad?) And I have cute curtains that match my bedding. Overall, a success.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New School

Photo by Miss Pupik
So last week, I started a class at Hebrew Union College. How it happened was rather complicated, but I'm in the class nonetheless and translating Ruth. And figuring out how to read aloud Biblical Hebrew like I've been hearing at Temple for most of my life. (Though I just learned that most of the Jewish liturgy is Aramaic not Hebrew. Shock!) And learning and relearning Accordance and Bibleworks software. (I'm now better at complex searches than Mike!) And trying to feel okay with my status as a visiting student and not a PhD student. I'm not quite as rusty at the pic would indicate, but it's certainly an adjustment. Mostly it's very fun. It feels good to be back in the learning environment. It feels good to talk about the narrative preterit versus the imperfect plus waw consecutive. And while it's a huge adjustment, I just have to keep my head in the game until Succoth and then I have two weeks off! Gotta love those Jewish holidays.