December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I'm spending time with those I love, I hope that you are having the chance to do so as well.

(And once again, I forgot to take pictures when people can to visit.)

Posted by Michelle at 07:20 PM | TrackBack

December 23, 2003

Sabriel

‘Sabriel’ by Garth Nix

Although this is classified as “young adult” it can be found in the fantasy section of some bookstores. (Our local Waldenbooks stocks some YA books in the Fantasy section.) I’m not sure if this crossover is due to the quality of the books or the Harry Potter phenomenon, but whatever the reason, I’m always glad to read good fantasy.

READ MORE about Sabriel...

Posted by Michelle at 11:56 AM | | TrackBack

Bodies Politic

While wrapping Christmas presents the other day (any activity that keeps my hands busy and my mind free is a dangerous one), I started wondering about politics and the entertainment industry. Specifically the venom that is spilled on entertainers like the Dixie Chicks and Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

There are a variety of reasons behind my confusion, but it’s more everything taken together that frustrates me.

First, I have for many years, listened to the constant whine from the right, about today’s entertainers being horrible role models for youth. Well, here we have people who are doing something that the young should be strongly encouraged to do (insert rant about the rate at which people vote, here) which is becoming engaged in the political process. What more could we want? They are not drinking and doing drugs and having home movies of sexual encounters spread across the internet, but are instead researching topics of importance and becoming involved. What, precisely, is wrong with this?

Secondly, there are plenty of stars who campaign for right wing causes, and I don’t see them being lambasted by the right for speaking out on topics about which they know nothing—Ted Nuget comes to mind, and I clearly remember seeing a variety of bumper stickers during the 90s which proclaimed “My president is Charlton Heston”. And there is also the matter of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We also have entertainers who are involved in more political neutral activities, like Paul McCartney and land mines, Willie Nelson and farmers, Bono and human rights…

So.

It doesn’t really seem to be that the right has a problem with entertainers speaking up about important topics of the day, it seems as if they only have a problem when those entertainers speak against their agenda. Or have I missed something here? Are the fringe on the right who break Dixie Chicks CDs also crushing their Ted Nuget albums and refusing to watch Charlton Heston movies? Or is there something about being a republican that gives Arnold and Reagan an authority to speak and act in political matters that Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon don’t have?

From where I’m sitting, it looks like hypocrisy, plain and simple.

As far as I am concerned, I’m glad to see people anywhere on the spectrum get involved in politics and real life, and encouraging others to become involved. If we claim that the actions of actors and musicians can influence children for the worse, then should we not be lauding individuals like Ted Nuget and Tim Robbins who get involved in politics and encourage others to do so as well?

Posted by Michelle at 09:01 AM | | TrackBack

December 22, 2003

Correction

I heard this on All Things Considered last week, but couldn't find the story at the time. Here is the correction, run by the Virginian-Pilot, just under 100 years after the initial story of the Wright Brother's historic flight.

Posted by Michelle at 01:04 PM | | TrackBack

Baked

So, amidst everything else, I got at least a little Christmas baking done this weekend. Made the dough for Sugar cookies from my Alice Medrich 'Cookies and Brownies' book. It looks very good, but then with a tablespoon of vanilla, how could it be bad? From the same book I also made shortbread, which I had not made before. This I actually baked last night, and I am now wondering why I never made shortbread before (okay, other than the fact the recipe uses half a cup of butter). We picked up the ingredients for lemon bars, which I will make tomorrow or Wednesday. Lemon bars are another thing I've never made, but I love lemon, so I'm hoping they turn out well.

The Joy of Cooking supplied me with the recipe for Rugelach. I made these two years ago, from the 'Baking with Julia Child' cookbook, and they were delicious, but very unattractive and a headache to make, so I'm going to see if this recipe turns out better, then next year I may try to merge the two.

Still to be made is Amaretto cake, which my mom especially requested, and pumpkin bread (the pumpkin pies will wait until Wednesday) as well as peanut butter balls, which Michael loves. I'm considering dipping some of them in chocolate, but that will be dependant upon time I think.

Last night we also re-rolled the bourbon balls, which had gotten smooshed, and the powdered sugar/cocoa coating needed to be redone. We took this opportunity to make each of the balls into two, because Michael got a little carried away with the size last month (He made the bourbon balls while I was making Thanksgiving pies). We did test them over the weekend, however, and they were very delicious, even if they were deformed and unattractive. Now they are reformed and look good, although they're made for taste, not for looks.

Plus, in the fridge I have dough for peanut butter kiss cookies, and pumpkin spice cookies. I LOVE the pumpkin spice cookies, although I really think I need to tweak the recipe a bit, because the cookies are very sticky. Very delicious though, and also a health food! Pumpkins and raisins are fruit, oatmeal is very good for you, and walnuts are a health food! What more could you want?

I also picked up sweet potatoes, and I'm going to try another sweet potato pie. Hopefully this will turn out better than the one I made for Thanksgiving. If anyone has a recommended recipe, please send it along!

And that should be able it for the Christmas baking. You've all been informed, so feel free to stop by for the next week or so and have some delicious holiday baked goods!

Posted by Michelle at 10:00 AM | | TrackBack

I'm Not Really Surprised


Find Your Warped Personality
this quiz was made by mysti

Posted by Michelle at 08:49 AM | | TrackBack

December 19, 2003

December 18, 2003

I'm Not Exactly A Bouncy Sunshine...

you are yellowgreen
#9ACD32

Your dominant hues are green and yellow. There's no doubt about the fact that you think with your head, but you don't want to be seen as boring and want people to know about your adventurous streak now and again.

Your saturation level is higher than average - You know what you want, but sometimes know not to tell everyone. You value accomplishments and know you can get the job done, so don't be afraid to run out and make things happen.

Your outlook on life is brighter than most people's. You like the idea of influencing things for the better and find hope in situations where others might give up. You're not exactly a bouncy sunshine but things in your world generally look up.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

Posted by Michelle at 10:49 AM | | TrackBack

Way to Go!

Jason, at Negro Please, finally ran the AIDS Marathon in Hawaii, and has written a beautiful post about running the marathon.

Congratulations Jason!

Posted by Michelle at 09:11 AM | | TrackBack

December 17, 2003

Boredom, Aging and Death

I have done nothing and read nothing of interest. Sorry.

We have, however, finished watching 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Season 3 (Thanks Erin!), purchased and set up (although not decorated) our Christmas tree) and today I converted two of my gerontology papers to HTML and added them to my writing section. The subject of both papers is aging and death, one a general overview and the other the sociology of aging and death. Despite the dry sounding subjects, they were (in my opinion anyway) interesting papers, on an important subject.

Regardless of whether you read the papers, it is an important subject to consider, after all, most of us are going to get old, and all of us are going to die. We didn't have control over our birth, but with foresight and luck, we can have some control over our death.

Posted by Michelle at 04:50 PM | | TrackBack

December 16, 2003

7 Sector 7

7 Sector 7 by David Wiesner

This is an absolutely beautiful book, that I picked up twice to give to our nephew (the second time I brought it home to put in the closet with all the other Christmas gifts, only to realize there was already a copy there.)

Read More about 7 Sector 7

Posted by Michelle at 04:00 PM | | TrackBack

Pictures and Such

Picture of the Christmas visit to Akron.

And also a picture of Michael wearing his new glasses! (Isn't he cute?)

MGlasses.jpg

Posted by Michelle at 10:56 AM | | TrackBack

Congratulations!

Congratulations Andy and Heather!


Congratulations to Andy and Heather, who were engaged last week!

No date is set, but when it is, I'm there, because this is something I will have to witness for myself, lest I not truly believe it happened.

This is delightful news and it makes me extremely happy that Andy has found someone to make him happy. Absolutely wonderful!

Posted by Michelle at 07:33 AM | | TrackBack

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Mom!


Posted by Michelle at 07:32 AM | | TrackBack

December 15, 2003

Guess They Really Are Watching

I started reading this article because I was interested in how a homebound woman became exposted to anthrax, but the following statement disturbed me for entirely an entirely different reason.

USPS data from the Southern Connecticut PDC showed that eight first-class letters, only one of which was recovered, had been sent to her address during October 9 to November 13, 2001. All eight originated in Connecticut and were canceled at the Southern Connecticut PDC.
Why does our government need the ability to track how many letters we receive, and from where those letters came? Is this why mail delivery takes so long? Why is it that I learn of this only reading about a completely unrelated subject? I've heard discussion of the post office tracking our mail, but those discussions were always theoretical. Does the post office already have that capability and have just been quiet about it? Is it in my personal record somewhere that I write at least three letters every week, and is it noted with interest when those three letters are not sent? Or when an extra letter is added?

Creepy. On so many levels.

Posted by Michelle at 12:45 PM | | TrackBack

The Death of Alexander the Great

According to research published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Alexander the Great may have died of West Nile encephelitis.

Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 BC. His death at age 32 followed a 2-week febrile illness. Speculated causes of death have included poisoning, assassination, and a number of infectious diseases. One incident, mentioned by Plutarch but not considered by previous investigators, may shed light on the cause of Alexander’s death. The incident, which occurred as he entered Babylon, involved a flock of ravens exhibiting unusual behavior and subsequently dying at his feet. The inexplicable behavior of ravens is reminiscent of avian illness and death weeks before the first human cases of West Nile virus infection were identified in the United States. We posit that Alexander may have died of West Nile virus encephalitis.
Okay, I know it's extra geeky, but I love things like this. It an amalgamation of history and medicine to determine a forensic mystery that simply fascinates me. No body, no medical records, just what was set down by historians, yet from this a diagnosis can be hypothesized. Things like this are what are made interested me in science, so perhaps this story will fascinate some young geek and get them interested as well.

Posted by Michelle at 12:18 PM | | TrackBack

December 14, 2003

Driven

Yes, not only does holiday travel mean writing long, unimportant missives to relieve the boredom of the interstate, but it also means: Driving Music! It is that time when I unabashedly pull out all my 80s favorites and car dance. (You think I’m kidding about the car dancing, but I’m not. My favorite memory of my ex-roommate Steve was putting in one of my 80s mix tapes and getting him to car dance—the song was Wham ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’—and then a car-full of college girls pulled up beside us.)

So car dancing is a long and glorious tradition with me, and one that continued with this trip. You’ll notice that most of these albums are of the ‘Greatest Hits’ variety. That’s because I am too cheap to convert all my tapes into CDs. Regardless, here is what we listened to on our trip to Arkon (accounting for the fact that I skipped through every single ballad, so we actually listened to less than half the Madonna album):

Madonna ‘The Immaculate Collection’
Abba Gold ‘Greatest Hits’
Tine Turner ‘Simply the Best’
Yes ‘90125’
Duran Duran ‘Decade’

Now I’m going to have to spend the rest of the week listening to Nine Inch Nails and Ministry as my musical repentance.

Posted by Michelle at 02:43 PM | | TrackBack

Merry Merovingian

It's Christmas break, which means travel. Here are some thoughts on the Matrix movies that staved off the boredom of the road.

Okay, the Merovingian....

Historically, the Merovingians were a dynasty of French kings who were eventually ousted by the Carolingian line. The Merovingians were initially strong kings, but they broke up the kingdom into small inherited fiefdoms, occasionally bringing the kingdom back under one ruler. They lost power when Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer) who was essentially the right hand man for the king, led the troops to battle instead of the king. (An interesting commentary upon war then versus war now, since it is nearly impossible to imagine a modern world leader actually leading the troops.) A persistent rumor about the Merovingian line was that they were descended from Mary Magdalene and Jesus, although another theory traced their lineage back to the tribes of Israel, while another theory traces the lineage back to ancient Romans. All three lineage lines are fascinating, but historical truth of any is debatable.

So how does the character of the Merovingian fit into this? Fitting him into the Christian mythos as the child of Mary Magdalene and Jesus would support the theory that the Merovingian was either a previous One, or descended from a previous One. This could be seen as supported by the comment by Persephone that the Merovingian was once like Neo. I am not, however, convinced of this theory.

The actions of the Merovingian are very interesting to consider. He comes across as a bad or evil character, and is quite definitely self-absorbed. But is it not possible that his actions in bringing rogue programs—more importantly “innocent” rogue programs—into the Matrix are more than a simple, selfish “what’s in it for me?” The Merovingian, regardless of his history, may have as reason to keep Neo from resetting or upsetting the system, since that would interfere with his world. Who knows what havoc the system reset would play upon his kingdom—his haven for programs that were to be terminated by the system. Or it could be that the Merovingian simply doesn’t like change and doesn’t like to relinquish control. Hard to say however, since his character, despite the long speech in ‘Reloaded’, is hard to understand (besides his current self-absorption). But he can’t be all bad, can he? Persephone claims he was once like Neo, and that the love that Trinity and Neo share is the reason she will help them. (Well, revenge plays a small part) Doesn’t that mean that he was not always so bad and self-absorbed? After all, Persephone remains with him, and keeping the heart of the queen of Hell is no small feat.

The history of the Merovingians would seem to reflect the weakness of the Merovingian, in that despite his façade of control and power, he does not in fact have complete power over his kingdom. Persephone’s betrayal (in response to the Merovingian’s blatant personal betrayal) allows Neo to escape with the Keymaker. I also believe it was Persephone who allowed Trinity to rescue Neo from Limbo. If the Trainman had absolute power in the train station, then Persephone should have had absolute power in Hell. I am reminded briefly of Valerie in the Princess Bride, talking Miracle Max into reviving Wesley “True Love! He said true love!” Perhaps it was true love, and her memories of it, that made her decided to help Neo and Trinity. Regardless of the why, I don’t think that they would have succeeded without her help.

Where does the Merovingian fit into this? I’m still not sure. I think that the history of the Merovingian line tells us something about why he failed, twice, to keep Neo and Trinity from their goals, for the Merovingians were weak kings who, towards the end, were kept in power by those who theoretically served them.

Posted by Michelle at 02:07 PM | | TrackBack

December 12, 2003

Free Will Revolutions

Now that the semester is over and I actually have time to do things like go to the movies and talk endlessly, ‘Matrix: Revolutions’ has moved on and I’ll probably have to wait until it comes out on DVD to see it again. Which is frustrating, because there were things that I did want to see again.

As to why I liked the movie... It was not any one thing. All things considered, I should have hated it, since there were many action scenes that made me motion sick, and it’s science fiction, which I generally don’t like. But despite all that, I liked it. Then again, Andy always said one of the strange things about me was my ability to take things (like music) that just seemed okay, and say “but listen to that bass line! (or whatever) it’s perfect!” so I suppose that may have something to do with it.

So what was it about the movies? First of all, as a trilogy I thought it worked well, and some of the things about which other people complained I thought were important and integral. There was a shift from movie one to movie three in the amount of time spent in the Matrix as compared to the “real world” with more and more time being spent in the real world and less time being spent in the Matrix. This made sense because Neo and the other characters were shifting away from the Matrix and into the real world, not just physically, but emotionally as well. And I think this also signifies the diminishing importance of the Matrix. We hope that as peace blossoms between the humans and the machines, they will be able to work together to create a world where the Matrix is unnecessary, although one where humans can ‘plug in’ to interact with the machines as they so desire. (For as we see in ‘Reloaded’ and ‘Revolutions’ the humans are able to use this technology to their advantage in many ways, which would remain important even after the peace.)

It also made sense that Morpheus was less prominent of a character as the movies continued, for as the lord of dreams, or as the prophet, his time was passing. The Messiah had arrived, people were awakening in greater number from the dream of the Matrix. But just as the Matrix was to continue, so must Morpheus.

As I discussed previously, but fully deserving of another mention, is the resolution of the conflict. One of the things that I focused on in ‘Reloaded’ was the talk between Neo and Councilor Hamann, where Councilor Hamann was obliquely trying to tell Neo that destroying the machines wasn’t going to solve anything, but Neo didn’t get it. “The difference is that we can turn these machines off.” Well yes, you could turn off those machines, but then you’d be dead. Not the greatest compromise. Learning this lesson, as well as the ‘humanity’ of the machines, was the point of Neo’s time in Limbo/the train station, and his interactions with the two programs who were attempting to save their daughter. He had to realize that there simply destroying the machines was no solution and would not make everything better. There were, as mentioned in the first movie, millions who would be unable to accept being unplugged, this destroying the Matrix would in destroy these humans. And there would be people like Cypher who would not want to live outside the Matrix, who would not want to live in reality. If that is the choice, then they should be allowed to make it. Keeping Zion from being destroyed was important, but just as important was keeping this millions still trapped in the Matrix alive. Allowing them to live and make the choice whether they wanted to live in the real world or in Zion. And we must consider the free will and rights of the machines. They are not simply creatures to be turned off and on at our will. They have self-awareness and free will, and thus must be treated with the same rights that humans would be treated. Not realizing this was the mistake that the humans made initially (as was shown in ‘The Renaissance Parts I & II’ in the ‘Animatrix’)

Free will is something that extends not just to those who escaped to Zion, but also to those who remain trapped in the Matrix, as well as to the programs that populate the Matrix, and the machines the populate the real world.

It was this ability to live up to the ideas of free will, and to extend them to the machines that made me so happy with the ending of ‘Revolutions’. As John Donne said "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent."

Posted by Michelle at 01:53 PM | | TrackBack

December 11, 2003

Hi, I'm A Doofus

Managed today, while Gina and I were heading out to walk in circles during lunch, to accidentally back into not one, but two different people.

I think the it takes a special level of skill to be this damned clumsy.

I also suppose it means this is not a good day to play with chainsaws.

I'm starting to wonder whether I need a t-shirt or something, with the message: "Warning! Klutz! Liable to stumble for no apparent reason!"

Of course if I did that, then I should also get a t-shirt with the message: "Warning! Geek!" Though this one should have an arrow pointing to the right saying "Him too!"

Posted by Michelle at 04:40 PM | | TrackBack

December 10, 2003

Lawyers and Doctors and Accountants, Oh My!

There is a very interesting piece today in FindLaw on civil lawsuits, and how to deal with people who continually use the law to deal with matters that should be settled out of court.

The piece stems from the woman who is suing WalMart of being trampled in a Christmas holiday sale, which sounds like a terrible enough thing until you hear that this would be the tenth suit she had made against WalMart.

Which brings us to the point of the article, which is what do you do with people who seemingly abuse the system by continually filing, or threatening to file, lawsuits? As he says, " In principle, no rational person would bring a lawsuit that is frivolous in the sense that it has no realistic chance of yielding a verdict for the plaintiff. No lawyer should, in theory, file such a suit."

Yet it happens all the time and is one of the reasons lawyers have such a poor reputation in this country (well, the fact that many politicians are lawyers doesn't help either). But is there anything we can do?

As is obvious to anyone who has health insurance or goes to the doctor, health care costs are skyrocketing, and part of that reason seems to be ever increasing malpractice insurance, that comes from the fact that Americans seem willing to sue at the drop of the hat, even when every reasonable precaution has been made. In other words, we expect--nay demand--absolute perfection from the medical profession, in a way that we do not demand perfection from even ourselves.

This doesn't mean that incompetent doctors should not be punished. They should. But it seems to me we have created a system designed to fail, and by that, I mean we are eviscerating the medical support system, with constant nursing shortages, and the financial inability to keep good nursing and support staff. After all, anyone who has been in the hospital knows that it is the nurses and support staff who do all the work and have all the patient interaction, yet these are the lowest paid and most overworked members of the health care system.

As I said, it seems like we have designed the system for failure.

But back to lawsuits, things there are not much better. People demand inexpensive products, and then have a fit when those products fail. We can't have it both ways. You can have quality, or you can have cheap, you can't have both. And that, for me, sums up the heart of the problem: we are unwilling to take responsibility for the system that we created.

The buck stops here.

Posted by Michelle at 09:28 AM | | TrackBack

Pop Up

You can make your own pop-up book!

(Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday)

Posted by Michelle at 09:05 AM | | TrackBack

Ruben Gonzalez

Ruben Gonzalez has died.

My friend Zapp used to talk about Ry Cooder frequently and how much he liked his music, so when I heard about the Buena Vista Social Club, I decided it would be worth a listen, and I was right.

After Compay Segundo died this summer, there seemed to be a brief resurgence of Cuban music, that seemd to immediately disappear. If it happens again, I suggest you take advantage of the opportunity to listen.

Posted by Michelle at 08:56 AM | | TrackBack

Great

Cancer (June 21 - July 22)

You'll feel like you can't do anything right today. Unfortunately, it turns out you're right...

Posted by Michelle at 08:27 AM | | TrackBack

December 09, 2003

New News We Knew

Materialism Isn't the Way to Happiness

"(T)hose who celebrate the original, Christian, meaning of Christmas are, on the whole, happier than those who primarily celebrate the festive season with consumer gifts."
...
"What seems to be important is living your life in a way that emphasises the importance of being involved in your community and caring for people, and Christmas is a reminder to us all of this message."

Which is why we were always told "money can't buy happiness"

But Lets Go Ahead and Reduce Phys Ed Classes in School

"Adolescent body mass index and changes in physical activity between adolescence and adulthood are good predictors of BMI in adulthood, according to an article in the December issue of The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals."

Again, I remember reading about this years ago, perhaps even in high school health class.

But Before You Throw in the Towel

"(O)bese adults who lost just 7 percent of their weight – or 16 pounds in a 220-pound, 5'5" tall woman – and did moderate-intensity physical exercise for six months improved their major blood vessel function by approximately 80 percent"

So anytime is almost always a good time to start to exercise.

Distress and Dementia

"(T)hose who most often experience negative emotions like depression and anxiety were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as those who were least prone to experience negative emotions."

I think this may have been the study about which we read in my Gerontology class, only this is later research (obviously) than the article we read. What was so fascinating about it, was that they autopsied a woman who was quite old, but also quite sharp cognitively when they started the study, and through to the end of her life, yet the autopsy found that her brain was full of Alzheimer's tangles and plaques. I'll see if I can find it and cite it.

This article seems to point in a similar direction, that there may be things we can do to control dementia, and those things are not necessarily medical treatments as much as they are exercising our brains and keeping a positive attitude.

Pregnancy and Delinquency

"(T)here is little connection between receiving welfare and delinquency among young girls. But girls who got pregnant were more likely to come from homes where at least one parent received welfare or from families that were not intact. This background of family structure and economic disadvantage may partially explain the higher rates of problem behavior among pregnant adolescents."
...
"Girls who kept their babies were especially likely to quit smoking and to stop using marijuana. Our findings support the notion that adolescent pregnancy is linked to a complex array of problem behaviors, but the nature of those links depends upon the outcome of the pregnancy."

This leads to all sorts of interesting questions about maturity and sexual activity and whether the modern idea of extending childhood into young adulthood is as much a problem as a solution.

Most children should not be given penicillin for a sore throat

Let me just repeat that one more time:
"Most children should not be given penicillin for a sore throat.
...
The authors advocate prudent prescription behaviour with respect to penicillin. General practitioners should treat children with an acute sore throat only when they are severely ill or are at high risk of developing serious complications"

That goes just as much for all you adults who go to the doctor and then whine when you aren't given antibiotics.

Overuse of antibiotics is BAD! You're not helping yourself, you're only making yourself a breeding ground for nasty more resistant bugs.

Say it with me now, "I don't need antibiotics for a cold." Everyone got that?

Good.

Posted by Michelle at 04:29 PM | | TrackBack

And Other Protective Clothing

sawblades.JPG

Posted by Michelle at 03:18 PM | | TrackBack

R & R (Reading and Relaxation)

Unsurprisingly, I feel much more relaxed today. I did have that drink last night, but didn't start a new book, I instead watched the first four episodes of Season Three of 'Buffy' (Thanks to Erin)

We went through Seasons One and Two at the end of the summer before school started, and I just didn't want to start Season Three, lest I accomplish nothing else before I finished it. (Very likely in my case.)

A very pleasant way to wind up the semester, especially since Michael is still studying for his last final. (Which is somehow redundant, yet not.)

Looking ahead, I want to re-read the 'Sandman' series, so I can catch all the things I missed the first time around, and there are several books I want to read, including 'Paper Mage' by I think, Leah Cutter, and I'm considering starting the newest Steven Brust, although the series isn't all out yet, and I usually really regret it when I do that. I have a couple of new books of folktales to read, and several fantasy anthologies that look very good, including the current 'Years Best in Fantasy and Horror' by Datlow and Windling, although I might save those, since they are short stories.

Plus the rest of Buffy to watch, presuming I can borrow it from Erin.

And then all that family and traveling and Christmas stuff. That'll all have to fit in there somewhere.

But mostly, I think I'll read.

Posted by Michelle at 08:13 AM | | TrackBack

December 08, 2003

Done!

Done HA HA! I'm done!

(bounces around gleefully)

Just submitted my last final. E-mailed it to myself as well as my professor, and my copy came back, so I'm DONE!

Just in time to start making Christmas cookies...

...tomorrow.

For now, I might go make myself a drink and perhaps start a book.

oooOO! Reading books for FUN! I can't WAIT!

(dances off)

Posted by Michelle at 07:20 PM | | TrackBack

Look At Me Study!

Eclectic, randomly updated, but amusing, The Braxtonian has been in rare form recently.

Posted by Michelle at 12:43 PM | | TrackBack

Music. Men. Mmm……

So today’s musical selection was Toadies ‘Rubberneck’, which is an album I bought solely because of the song ‘Possum Kingdom.’ I have to say that ‘Possum Kingdom’ is one of those songs that I immediately adored and when I play it, I usually have to listen to the song several times (in fact, I listened to it three times while I was walking). I was trying to figure out what it is about some songs that makes me immediately love them, and want to listen to them again and again. ‘Love You 'Til The Day I Die’ by Crowded House, ‘Salisbury Hill’ by Peter Gabriel, ‘Sunspots’ by Bob Mould (okay, the entirety of ‘Workbook’) ‘Taste the Pain’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Cherub Rock’ by Smashing Pumpkins…. Mmm... ‘Cherub Rock’ I loved this song when I first heard it, and thinking of it reminds me of dancing with M when I was in college...

Here’s a hint guys: Learn how to dance.

I kid you not. A guy that can dance really well, makes me weak in the knees and sets my stomach tumbling. One of my favorite things to do (and one that I rarely got to do) was to go dancing. There’s something about a fantastic song that hits just the right spot in my psyche that it makes me ecstatically happy when I’m free to dance. Everything else disappears, and it’s just me and the song—or, me and the song and my dance partner if I have one. No problems, no worries, nothing but the music.

Now I want to go dancing ...

Posted by Michelle at 12:37 PM | | TrackBack

Protesting Reformation

Something that has never been clear to me, is the source of the Protestant Reformation.

Yes, I know that Luther was the first to make the split, although that was not his intention. What has never been clear to me is whether Luther was the first, and the rest of the Reformation followed his lead, or whether it was only an accident of timing that he was first, and that the Reformation was going to happen, regardless of who made the first move.

The intellectual climate in Europe had been steadily changing, which is what led me to believe that the Reformation would have happened whether Luther was around or not, but we also need to consider the fact that for centuries there had really only been one major split that survived, and that was between the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, and that split stemmed from doctrinal difference that had been inherent from the beginning. This makes the Protestant Reformation very different from the Orthodox/Catholic split.

I suppose it might be a more valid question to ask whether it was simply that the time was right for the split to last. After all, there had been plenty of differing groups within Christianity, such as the Gnostics, but these groups ended up disappearing or coming back into the mainstream Christianity.

So perhaps that is the answer—revolutionaries had existed all along, but it was not until the 16th century that the political and sociological climate was right for the revolution to spread.

But I’m not entirely convinced this is so, and am willing to be convinced otherwise.

Posted by Michelle at 08:15 AM | | TrackBack

December 07, 2003

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. In 1941, Japanese planes made a surprise attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 and wounding 1,178. Twenty-one ships were sunk or damaged, including the USS Arizona, which remains on the harbor floor, and the USS West Virginia, which was eventually refloated, repaired, and rejoined the fleet towards the end of the war.

The following websites may be of interest:

For information about the Pearl Harbor Attack, including ships lost and damaged and casualties, as well as other resources.
Pearl Harbor Remembered, including survivor's remembrances.
The official US Navy Pearl Harbor website.
Information about the attack at Pearl Harbor, including images of the dispatch sent by Commander in Chief Pacific (CINCPAC).
A site about the USS West Virginia, including pictures of the ship from the 20s through the "mothballing" of the ship in the 1950s (She was later broken up and sold for scrap).
Website for the USS Arizona, from the University of Arizona, including a brief hisotry and online exhibits.
Here you can find the text and excerpts of the audio of President Roosevelt's speech in response to Pearl Harbor, and the other attacks that day, calling for war.

Posted by Michelle at 10:11 AM | | TrackBack

December 06, 2003

AVAST!

We just had my parents over to watch 'Pirates of the Carribean' because they had not seen it, and we needed an excuse to buy a copy (and to not study).

I really like that movie.

I'm also really glad they didn't end it on the kissing parts (ew) but ended it on Captain Jack Sparrow. (Huzzah!)

I am not, however, going to watch it again, or go through the second DVD.

I'm going to be good, and study.

Really.

Posted by Michelle at 10:37 PM | | TrackBack

Come Spring the Fence Goes Across the Whole Damn Yard

tiretrak.jpg

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December 05, 2003

I'm Studying! I'm Studying!

3 Characteristics of classical Christian liberalism: 1) Showing tolerance towards diverging opinions 2) Desire to free religion from creedal statements and from outmoded tradition 3) Emphasis on freedom of choice and humanity's innate capacity to do good

Liberalism could then argue that sin is really only an error in judgment, an error that proper education of morals or improvement in social conditions could eliminate. Everyone should seek to follow or mimic Jesus' example and work to eliminate social ills.
(somewhat edited for brevity)

What is interesting is that these characteristics describe political liberalism, yet it is political conservatives who are most associated with Christianity.

I’ve read and hear commentary saying that the right wing has, in essence, hijacked Christianity in using it for the political process, but it didn’t really strike home until reading what I considered ‘political’ liberalism described as ‘Christian’ liberalism. If anything, tolerance towards diverging opinions and freedom of choice are associated more with ideals that are ridiculed by conservatives. I know I have read/heard the statement ‘Godless liberals’ used with the same tone that used to apply to ‘Godless Communists’, yet these liberal policies were developed from Christian theology and doctrine.

How did this happen?

It’s strange, I took this class in the hopes that it would answer many of the questions I had about the development of the American political system, but it instead only created more questions. I’m beginning to wonder whether there are in fact any answers to these questions, or if I instead will spend my entire life reading and searching for those answers. I guess it will end up being a search.

So much for easy answers.

Posted by Michelle at 12:09 PM | | TrackBack

Nice Hat

fruithead.JPG

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December 04, 2003

I'm Thomas Paine! (but not really)

A fun AND historical quiz!

Which Founding Father Are You?

ADDENDUM the First
If you're interested:
Andy is George Washington
Ivy is Alexander Hamilton
Gina is Alexander Hamilton
Michael is George Washington
Erin is Alexander Hamilton

ADDENDUM the Second
Apparently I have surrounded myself with pessimists, except for the men in my life who are keeping in contact with my enemies.

Posted by Michelle at 04:46 PM | | TrackBack

I'm Losing Education

Just got this in the mail:

Good afternoon Michelle:

Thank you for your interest in WVU Extended Learning courses.

I cannot register you for English 302 for the Spring term. You do not
meet the prerequisites English 102. If you feel this is in error,
please contact the Call Center

Alas, does my Bachelor's Degree mean NOTHING?

I called and they immediately fixed it. But JEESH!

And for the curious, English 302 is 'Editing' I wanted also to take 'Scientific and Technical Writing', but that will have to wait for another semester.

Posted by Michelle at 04:38 PM | | TrackBack

What's Another Word?

I used the word 'aged' about fifty times in a row in my paper, (as in: costs for the tests and treatments are paid not just by the aged and their families, but by society at large, principally through the Medicare and Medicaid programs) and was looking for another word.

Word helpfully supplied 'ripened'.

Posted by Michelle at 02:01 PM | | TrackBack

Why Study? (When You Can Read Making Light)

Apparently I should be reading Making Light to study for my American Religious History final.

In one of those instances of bizarre timing, Teresa Nielsen Hayden has posted a link to a reading of James Edwards' 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' which kinda kick-started the Great Awakening.

And to top it off is the fact that US News has a long article on evangelicals which starts out discussing Edwards.

I liked the comment on the SUVs and Minivans, which strikes me as a subtle commentary on consumerism and Christianity, but then I'm likely to read anything about Urban Attack Vehicles as an insult, so there you go.

The Great Awakening is, of course, one of the things covered in my American Religious History class, although I have to say that I personally found the Enlightenment more to my liking.

It is interesting, however, the tremendous difference between the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment. My class didn't really detail the interplay between the two as far as what came first and how they influenced one another, other than to say that many 'old lights' reacted to the Great Awakening with rationalism, and mentioned Charles Chauncey and Unitarianism as a response. But I would be interested to know much more about how the two influenced one another and then interplay between them.

Because I don't already have a big enough reading backlog...

Posted by Michelle at 11:34 AM | | TrackBack

December 03, 2003

Browsing Browsers

When I made changes to my website, I realized when I checked my site in different browsers, that I should probably update to the newest versions of each, excluding Netscape 4.7, which remains just so I can see the worst possible scenario for how things will look.

I now have (at home and at work):
Mozilla 1.5
Firebird 0.7
IE 6.0.2 (at home. Should probably upgrade. Ugh. Who wants the phone line tied up for hours for a Microsoft Product?!))
Netscape 7.1
Opera 7.23
and
Netscape 4.77

Of those, I use Mozilla constantly, and IE when necessary (drat those people who write website just for IE! Drat them to HECK!)

Michael is partial to Firebird, because he says it loads faster, but I have not noticed much of a difference. The layout is much more IE than Netscape I think.

I haven't played with Opera since 5, and I hated it then. Wasn't really pleased with what I saw of the new version (could they make it any busier? Gak!) but will have to look some more.

Netscape 7.1 really is Mozilla, except that it doesn't have the cool fire breathing monster logo, and it places stupid ads for AOL on the desktop when you install it, which is a definite minus right there.

Results? For now, I'll keep Mozilla thank you very much.

And that's probably enough of a paper writing break I think.

Posted by Michelle at 08:41 PM | | TrackBack

Aphasia

Aphasia

Literally:
Loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words usually resulting from brain damage.

More commonly:
Used to describe the "I've got it on the tip of my tongue" condition.

Posted by Michelle at 04:27 PM | | TrackBack

December 02, 2003

Finals

Sadly, last night was my final Gerontology class. I have really enjoyed the discussion and debate and am sorry to see it end. Although the beginning of the class was a not exciting look at Medicare and Medicaid, the second half of the class we discussed self-neglect. Although it doesn't sound that interesting, it brings up the question of at what point is it right for the state to step into an elder's living situation and take control? Does the 'community' have the right to make an elder take medication, clean their home, or get rid of pets?

In theory you would say no, but what if the elder is placing themself at danger? What if they are placing someone else at danger?

My answer was (unsurprisingly) the my-fist-your-nose answer: An elder has the right to do as they please as long as they are not harming someone else. But if they have 50 cats and are not caring for them, we have the right to remove those cats to a safer environment. If their house is such a mess as to become a hazard to anyone who would need to visit/assist them, than the state has the right to step in. The medication is a little easier, in that I don't believe that we as a society have the right to forcibly medicate someone with the possible exception of antipsychotics if the patient is a danger to others. But there would have to be a clear and present danger to others, first.

As I said, it was a very interesting discussion, and one that delved deeply into the ideas of free will and choice--always favorite subjects. It wasn't quite as contentious as the discussion on end of life care, where we discussed Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthenasia, but it was still good.

The other thing was that we recived our final, thus I need to step away from the internet, and get down to doing my final, so I can turn it in and be done with it.

Posted by Michelle at 06:42 PM | | TrackBack

December 01, 2003

Which Is Heavier?

Wednesday night I was making pies for Thanksgiving, one Pumpkin and one Sweet Potato, and I decided to try a different receipe for the Sweet Potato pie. (I didn't like it, everyone else said it was okay.)

This receipe called for a prebaked pie crust, and I'd never made a pre-baked pie crust before, thus, I didn't have pie weights. So I ran off to Bi-Lo to get a package of beans, because dried beans can be used as pie weights.

Seeing as how I'd never done this before, I wasn't sure what type of beans to get, so I looked through the assortment, and picked up a bag of Split Peas and a bag of great Northern Beans. Holding one in each hand, I decided to base my decision upon which was heavier.

Then I looked at the bags. Split Peas 16 oz. Great Northern Beans 16oz.

(sigh)

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