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bad news, emily!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Don't tell God

"Don't tell God how big the storm is. Tell the storm how big God is."

But where's the explanation? How do we break it down? How do we sink our teeth into this and taste the raw challenge?
We read this quote and react with a wide range of thoughts and emotions. Some dismiss it as a Hallmark card meant to encourage someone who actually believes in that stuff. Some cling to it as though it were a knot at the end of their rope. Some will experience a renewed faith in God's awesome power to intervene. Some who do believe in that sort of thing will feel discouraged that they have yet to see that happen in their life.
If you've got some really tough things going on in your life, things that are out of your control, there are times when little encourages you beyond the words of people who themselves aren't struggling through things, and the vague promises that 1) God is in control, and (2) everything happens for a reason. What hollow comfort that is for someone whose world has been turned upside down. Does the reason point to our own shortcomings - our own failings and diminishing faith? It's easy to process it that way.
The ebb and flow of my own faith in God's power and willingness to heal invariably leads to a strange limbo, hovering between peace and hopelessness. Where did my faith go? It hardly resembles its past form. My response to this quote is not what it would have been at another point in time.

Handsome James

Another gorgeous baby - little James Marco Matta, born December 30, 2005.
It's so satisfying to know that there are children in the world who have wonderful and amazing parents who will raise them with unfailing love. It's incredibly satisfying to watch people I know and love and respect become parents and join the ranks of the heroes of this world.

I went out to CA in December to stay with Rachel (James' mom), my best friend from high school, in the last weeks of her pregnancy. If my plane ticket didn't expire in December, I would have held onto it so I could visit them after James was born.

In recent years, my friend Sarah and I have shared a heightened fascination with pregnancy and the birthing process. We used to watch those delivery room shows on the Discovery Channel, thumb through books at bookstores, and call our moms for answers to our questions.
When I was staying with Rachel, she went out of her way to add to my education. In addition to anecdotal information, she also checked "The Miracle of Life" and another, more graphic, birth DVD from the library. I watched, fascinated and horrified at the same time. I cringed and squirmed. I sat with my legs crossed. There was a point when I made my final decision: I'm going to adopt.
But then I look at Rachel and her new baby boy and see the beauty of it all. What an honor to be a woman and to have the ability to give birth to a child.


I'm sitting here wondering why I've got this strange tingling sensation when I hold my left thumb in a certain position. How could I have strained it? My use of the spacebar isn't particularly violent, so why am I feeling this pain?

Then I remember. I spent a significant amount of time this weekend playing Fuzion Frenzy with Krissy, Yurii & Linton.
It was really fun but really challenging for someone who averages about one video game a year and doesn't have the necessary XBox controller muscles. My left thumb had been cramping from the intensity with which I was trying to steer my character's body, tank, boat, jackhammer, cage ball, etc. out of harm's way, or simply to keep it from unintentionally falling off the edge even when no one else was around.

I think it's a great game because it's got so much variety. It's also a horrible game if you have low self-esteem. Because I lost almost every game in every round, I was assaulted by the other characters' tauntings of "What? Did you lose again?" and other lines that I can't remember now but was sure would haunt my dreams.

I gotta work on my moves.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Friends and Babies

I spent the weekend with some dear friends, and a brand new addition...
Nayarit Ella was just 13 days old when I came to meet her for the first time.

Proud parents Krissy & Yurii.
She's so little! And check out that wild dark hair.

proud "Aunt" Sarah

proud "Uncle" Linton

It's so amazing and wonderful and totally weird at the same time to see my friends reach new stages in their lives. It's all normal and predictable - we grow up and do normal grown-up things - but I remember when we were all still irresponsible and immature. Here is Krissy, one of my best friends from college who I've known for almost 10 years, and she has married a wonderful man and just gave birth to their first child. They own a house and a minivan and know all their neighbors. They have "arrived", in terms of adulthood. They are full-time parents now, and that's the best job anyone can ever have. They will be fantastic parents. Nayarit will grow up knowing that she is surrounded by people who cherish her, who believe in her, who celebrate her and support her in everything she does. As blessed as Krissy & Yurii are to have little Nayarit, she is equally blessed to have them for parents.

I was flipping through a little photo album from Nayarit's day of birth and first few days. The first picture in the book was of Krissy in all her gorgeous pregnantness, sportin' her mommabelly, the night before Nayarit was born. Inside one day and out in their arms the next day. Truly amazing.
The whole pregnancy/birth process is wonderous. I am having a difficult time imagining what it must be like to experience it all, but I'm learning little things here and there from friends who have travelled the road.

The beginning of a life - a truly wonderous thing.
Welcome to the world, Nayarit!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Don't trust your senses

A friend sent me an email with some of this guy, Julian Beever's sidewalk chalk drawings.
He draws them in such a way that from a specific angle the images look 3-D. Not just sort of 3-D, but really convincingly 3-D. Check out what I mean.

The view from that key viewpoint

The view from the "wrong" angle

(He's on his knees for this one)

This one was commissioned by a company called Procom


This guy has mind-boggling talent.

If you are a supermodel...

"The Muppets Tonight" was one of those great shows whose runs was tragically cut short. It's a real shame because it was an excellent show. Many characters returned from the original and eternally celebrated "The Muppet Show", as well as a number of new characters, including a new MC, Clifford the catfish.

One of my favorite scenes is from the episode when Cindy Crawford guest stars. She is backstage talking to Andy & Randy (Miss Piggy's mischievous nephews).

Hey Cindy Cindy. If you are a supermodel, what are your superpowers???
Cindy Crawford:
Well...I can do this! [zaps Andy/Randy with laser beams from her eyes]

They definitely need to release the show on DVD. They'd make a lot of people very happy.

Lazy Monday c/o the West Coast

Once again, KC has brought laughter to my day.
A true West Coast response to SNL's "Lazy Sunday" is this soon-to-be world famous, "Lazy Monday".

I appreciate that they point out that Red Vines are West Coast.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Now Playing: BarlowGirl

I just got this CD recently and it's my new fave.
Official BarlowGirl website
Their musical/vocal styles remind me, at different times, of various other artists & groups: Ginny Owens, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, The Cranberries...
(When I first heard of BarlowGirl I kept thinking that they were called "Barstow Girl" which I thought was funny because I never thought of Barstow, CA as the kind of place people would advertise.)

The song that hit something in me from the first time I heard it:

"I Need You To Love Me"

Why, why are You still here with me
Didn't You see what I've done?
In my shame I want to run and hide myself
But it's here I see the truth
I don't deserve You

But I need You to love me, and I
I won't keep my heart from You this time
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have
I need You to love me

I, I have wasted so much time
Pushing You away from me
I just never saw how You could cherish me
'Cause You're a God who has all things
And still You want me

Your love makes me forget what I have been
Your love makes me see who I really am
Your love makes me forget what I have been

When you really get honest with God, there's an element of desperation in your humility. However, in all that desperation, you know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel which is grace - God's acceptance when you want to be accepted.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fæder ure

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;
Si þin nama gehalgod
to becume þin rice
gewurþe ðin willa
on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg
and forgyf us ure gyltas
swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge
ac alys us of yfele soþlice.

*points to whoever knows what this says...KC?
Mad points to whoever can pronounce it.
Old English is awesome.

I want it that way

No shame, I'm TOTALLY mooching off KC's blog to share the excellent entertainment value in this video. Their expressions are priceless!

I kept waiting for the guy behind them to turn around and join in, or be like "what the heck are you guys doing!?!?

*********Update: I found these guys' blog TwoChineseBoys (in English) as well as their Chinese site.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Small, Medium, and Large Groups

I went to our Life Group last night after a loooong hiatus. It was good to be back. It was especially good to have just a few people there. No offense to the people who weren't there, but it just had a different feel to it.
I think that 5 is my magic number for social groups. In a group that small I actually took part in the discussion as much as everyone else. It was great. It made me feel like less of a social misfit.
To be honest, the growing size of our group played a role in my hesitation to go. I get uncomfortable in really large groups when everyone is sitting around looking at each other. My fear is to get called on and have to answer a question. It actually makes me feel physically ill.
But 5 was an excellent number. I felt comfortable sharing my thoughts, expressing my opinions, and asking questions. It didn't hurt that we talked about interesting and relevent things.

My little shoe

Sinterklaas Kapoentje,
gooi wat in mijn schoentje,
gooi wat in mijn laarsje,
dank je Sinterklaasje!

(this post is dedicated to... well, you know who you are)

Already tomorrow in Australia

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.
It's already tomorrow in Australia.

-Charles Schultz

A "Book"

Via "The Know-It-All", I learned that the United Nations defines a book as a "non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages, excluding covers."

Why is the United Nations defining things like "book"?
Doesn't it have better things to do with its time... like figuring out that whole world peace thing?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Know-It-All

My good friend KC gave me this book for Christmas and it's absolutely fantastic !

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
Catchy title, no?

The author, A. J. Jacobs, is charmingly, hindsightedly self-depricating, despite the child-like joy he finds in those moments when he thinks he might just be approaching unprecidented smartitude.*

I could write entries to pass on the trivia I have read from the pages of his book, but I don't feel like I have the freedom to mooch off his work. It would be like me writing my own book about my responses to the words, concepts and people he is reading about. He'd be doing all the work and I'd reap the convenience of his selection. To be honest, I want to write his book. I really really do. What a perfect thing to write about: my response to things I learn. Heck, I already do that sometimes, in my Word of the Day entries.
(Side note: the word that popped into my head at the bus stop this morning was bucolic. Again, another where-in-the-world-did-that-come-from word. I could certainly go for "a country life of arcadian contentment" where I could live in "rustic tranquility.")

*Language is dynamic.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Phrase of the Day: Government Cheese

I assumed that "Government cheese" referred to some kind of government assistance, but I didn't realize that the term is pejorative.

When I was thinking about it this morning I was reminded of an episode of "The West Wing" (season one) when the senior staff meets with various special interest groups who would otherwise never have an audience in the White House. They usually have wacky interests that they all end up laughing at - a highway for wolves, UFOs, cartographers who claim all maps are upside-down, etc. It's called "Big Cheese Day", with a reference to some president who used to put a huge block of cheese out for anyone to come and eat from it. I think that's how it goes.
Cheese. Government. That's why I thought of it.

Trivia: Martin Sheen(President Bartlet on "West Wing")'s birthname is Ramon Gerard Antonio Estevez. His dad was a Spanish Cuban and Sheen is a stage name. That explains why his kids have different last names (Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, etc.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Course Evaluations

I have the honor of making xerox copies of course evaluations, and therefore have the opportunity to read some of the comments that students have made about the classes and/or professors. Every semester I come across some really... constructive comments. This semester is no exception. Here's a little sampling (Smith = generic name for privacy reasons, of course):

"Impressed with colored chalk."
"Prof. Smith is the bomb."
"I (heart) Prof. Smith."
"This class sucked."
"Wheres [sic] great shirts."
"Professor Smith is hot."
"Rock on! (smiley face)"
"Yay econ."

"He's got moves like Jackie Chan."
"He rocks my face off."
"She also has an impeccable fashion sense."

Then there's the occasional doodle or drawing of stick figures.
And one was a full-page drawing of a cat with the caption "happy kitty."

Million Dollar Webpage

This morning on the radio (Bill & Sheri on Mix 101.5) I heard about this webpage: Milliondollarwebpage.com
Apparently there's this college kid out there who created a single webpage with 1,000,000 pixels that he is selling to people for $1 per pixel (minimum purchase 100 pixels) for people to advertise or do whatever with. You're buying a space to put an image that links to your webpage.
Brilliant! On the radio show they said that he's sold them all, but there really aren't many up there right now. Maybe buyers are still trying to decide what they want to put up or maybe it's just a lengthy process to get all the transactions completed and papers signed?

But it's brilliant.
I can imagine the moment when this guy thought to himself, "This is crazy... it's so crazy it just might work!"
And it totally did and this kid is rich. I heard he's going to start the Billion Dollar Webpage.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Time Zones & Daylight-Saving Measures

The whole time zone thing has always confused me. What if you've got friends that live close by but in another time zone? If you say "come over at 6:00pm", you'd have to add "my time" or "your time" to your invitation. And what about setting business hours?
Here are a couple of answers in an interesting CNN article about Indiana's recent time zone decision. I wouldn't have thought it would be "a highly emotional and divisive issue among residents."

Why is Arizona the rebel, I wonder.

I've also learned that starting in 2007, Daylight Saving Time* will be extended by four weeks in an effort to save energy nation-wide. I think it's a great idea. I love being able to come home from work and have some actual daylight hours left rather than stepping out of my office into darkness.
Go to the California Energy Commission's website to expand your knowledge. You'll be glad you did. It's a great 5-minute conversation topic for parties. Add in bits about rolling blackouts (which I remember from my CA days) and you'll have people leaning in and saying "really?" a lot.

My brother lived in New York City when there was that huge Northeast blackout in 2003. He had some great stories about his journey home from work that day. He stopped for dinner at a pizza place he knew that used brick ovens. My favorite anecdote was about seeing a businessman climb out of a manhole, suit and briefcase and all.

(*The correct spelling is Daylight Saving Time - no "s" and it's capitalized. I didn't know that.)

Gettin' Dirty

I have returned to the world of pottery.

I picked up my old tradition of grabbing dinner at Amante's next door to the studio while I waited for class to start. I was nervous with anticipation, unable to concentrate on the book I was trying to read.

The air in the studio is damp and rich, like the smell of earth, just like I remember it, and the clay is cold, just as I'd hoped it would be. I opened my new bag of 112 clay and I breathed it in. My spirit soared. This is my little slice of heaven.

I felt a strange sense of pressure, like I needed to hit the ground running because it all used to come so easily before. The class ended up moving slowly; the instructor showed all the beginners how to center their clay on the wheel. When I was working, the instructor came over and gave me a smile. "See," she said. "I told you it would come back to you."
It may be a cliche, but it really can be compared to riding a bike because physics is involved in both. Balance, pressure, gravity, angles, velocity. But whereas with riding a bike there are just a few ways to fail (tip over or hit something), with clay there are so many more variables. If the clay gets too wet, it will sag. If it dries out to quickly, it will crumble. If you try to pull up too quickly, it will wobble. If the wheel spins too quickly, it will fly off and hit the person next to you.

At the end of the evening, a sentimental smile spread across my face when I noticed that there were smudges of clay on my pants. After I finish my work, I have proof, in smudges and dust, that I am an artist.

It's fantastic.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Orange Cones

Orange cones are surprisingly heavy.
This morning I saw, next to the building I work in on campus, a large orange construction cone that had been placed atop a lamp post. It made me giggle. Probably the work of some frat boy or other mischievous student. As I was walking toward the work of art, I imagined how complicated it must have been to get it up there. First you've got to shimmy up the lamp post, which had no helpful texture to it, and then have your comrade pass the cone up to you. But the lamp post is tall and those orange cones are heavy. Very dense, not to mention awkward because you've either got to have the super hand gripping strength of professional road construction workers, or you've got to look silly and pick them up by the square base.

I know about orange cones.
In college, my friend Linton had a penchant for kidnapping orange cones from the road and placing them atop various statues on campus. Thomas Jefferson, James Blair, etc. It was great fun.

Which reminds me of another grand tradition Linton and some of his friends had: They'd dress up the statue of James Blair for holidays and such. One time his face was painted like the freaky guy in the band Kiss. The one I will never forget was Halloween when they (and I got to help on this one) used the hype from the movie "The Blair Witch Project" that had just come out and made him the "James Blair Witch". It was brilliant. I think the little symbols made of sticks that we hung in the trees really freaked people out the next day. It got in the paper and everyone was talking about it. I felt so proud.

That's so nice

I got 2 pieces of mail yesterday addressed to Zoe Henderson and Applejack Henderson. It was from Veterinary Pet Insurance and they sent a birthday card to each of them!
I laughed out loud for a long time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Letter of Freedom"

My brother is getting married in October.
He is getting married in a catholic church, though he isn't catholic.
I never thought about it (and honestly never had any reason to) but there are some complicated elements to having a non-catholic get married in a catholic church - or at least the one my brother is getting married in.

Certificate of baptism - I've recently gotten the impression that my dad is forging one because my brother doesn't have his official one from when he was baptised as a kid. Kind of ironic - to forge a document in order to prove you're "in" with God.

At the altar - it's my understanding that there are rules about where you are allowed to stand in relation to the altar during a wedding in a catholic church, depending on whether you are catholic or not.

My personal favorite has got to be the "Letter of Freedom" that my parents have to sign to assure the church that my brother is not already married to someone else and that there is no reason why he shouldn't be allowed to marry his fiancée. I guess it clears up potential "if anyone has reason to believe they should not be joined, speak now..." drama by getting it done ahead of time.

Contains Live & Active Cultures

It always weirded me out that manufacturers of yogurt write "Contains live & active cultures" on their containers.
Isn't that something you don't want to advertise? Your food has stuff in it that dances around on petri dishes?
Then one day (in the not too distant past) I came to learn that you really DO want live and active cultures.
So eat up!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pocket Fruit

This had been driving me crazy for days. I was trying to remember the name of these flat rectangular fruit snack things we used to eat when we were kids. They seemed more healthy than Fruit Roll-ups because their color actually looked like something found in nature... the fruit they were made from.
I remembered that the packaging looked like the pocket on a pair of jeans.

I worked my Google magic and found this ingenius site
"Food of the 80s"

and, scrolling down to the Ps, I found what I was looking for.
A chorus of angels sang as I read: "Pocket Fruit - 1/4 cm thick piece of a type of "fruit roll-up" that came in packaging with a denim jean pocket on the front. Not made by the same company as fruit roll ups, though. They were usually found in the Produce Dept. of any grocery store."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Napoleon Opening Theme

I'm sitting here in the front office of the music studio and my ears pick up a familiar tune. I strain to hear enough of it to identify it. What could that be?
Ah-HA!!! I knew I recognized the tune.
One of our guitar instructors is "da-di-da"-ing the song from the opening credits of "Napoleon Dynamite"! He's teaching his student the song on guitar!

And in an unlikely coincidence (but aren't they all)
I went googling for the lyrics to the song and came across this page on answers.com where it reads "The film follows the protagonist Napoleon Dynamite, a rather slow, dorky high school student with a penchant for "tots", drawing fantasy creatures, fishing for bass, and telling implausible stories."
Man. That cleared up any residual confusion I may have had about the word "penchant".

"A penchant for tots."

For anyone who wants to learn how to play the opening theme from "Napoleon Dynamite" on guitar, here you go.

Verb of the Day: To Bogart

Once again, a word that I can't remember ever actually using just popped into my head, this time in a complete sentence. I just finished eating the remaining crumbs of the Nacho Cheese Dorito chips that our boss keeps under her desk. I was starving and so I proceeded to scarf down what was left, despite the fact that I don't even really like Doritos. There just wasn't anything else to eat and I'm not going to be home for another hour or so.
So I'm sitting here, with fake orange cheese residue on my fingers, feeling slightly guilty and I think to myself "I hope she's not gonna be upset that I bogarted her chips."

What does it mean "to bogart" something? Was my usage appropriate? It felt pretty good. It's gotta be a reference to Humphrey Bogart.
So I'm off in search of an explanation.
Here we go...
To bogart: to take more than one's share; hog

So I left a post-it note that says: M- Sorry I bogarted your Doritos. -S
I've now officially used the word and I fully intend to work it into conversations.

Word of the Day: Penchant

I have words that pop into my head at strange times for no apparent reason.
Today, as I was walking to my car from the bus stop the word "penchant" materialized in my mind. Before I knew what I was doing, I was saying aloud "Penchant. Have a penchant for..." and I couldn't finish the sentence. "Penchant for... penchant for..." My gut told me it meant to have a predilection for something, but I didn't quite have the semantic confidence to finish my sentence. What if I was totally off on the usage? I became strangely self-conscious.
There was also a strong sense of deja vous. I think I've alighted the bus and had the word penchant pop into my head on previous occasions.

Penchant: A definite liking; a strong inclination

I was right.

Countdown to 24

4 days, 3 hours and 52 minutes until the beginning of Season 5 on Sunday, January 15, 8-10pm

Agent Jack Bauer is back! - and in more ways than one, after he faked his death in the last hour of Season 4. When the season ended, the Chinese government was trying to arrest him for killing a consulate. With the help of his friends at CTU, he faked his death and was forced to disappear completely from the world he knew.

This dude has had 4 really bad days so far, and chances are he is about to have the worst of them yet.

"24" is beyond a doubt my favorite show on TV right now. It's got all the great stuff: action, adventure, spies & conspiracies, undercover ops, dramatic rescues, and suspense like you wouldn't believe. It's totally addictive - just ask my friends who got together with me to watch all of Season 1 on DVD last year.

I found this other picture when I was looking for a good Jack Bauer "24" shot. If you can't read the caption it says "Can we do this interview later? I've been tortured by terrorists for the past five hours."

Yeah, this guy has had more than his share of bad days.

I just read something in an article that I'm going to have to do some more research on. (Yes, I know, it's very important research.) It claims that they are considering trying to create "24: The Movie", which would actually be 24 hours long. It might be cool in theory, but I think it would be hard to keep it from falling flat. As it stands, I think the suspense that builds up on TV week-to-week is part of what makes it exciting.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Happy Birthday to Zoe & Applejack!

They turned 1 year old on January 8, 2006.
Yes, I made a cake...
And a sign...
And I pretended their roommates Tucker & Carolina made the other sign.

I gave them lots and lots of their favoritest treats called Greenies in an attempt to get a good birthday picture of the two of them, but alas. I didn't get a single good shot.

But here's Applejack looking very handsome and grown up in his blue collar.

And Zoe lookin' pretty.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Google Logos

I think these are great so I decided to dedicate an entire post to Google holiday and anniversary logos from years past.

Independence Day - July 4, 2005

50th Anniversary of Understanding DNA - April 25, 2003

Google celebrates Einstein's birthday - March 14, 2003

The opening of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens

Anniversary of Lunar Landing - July 20, 2005

And I have no idea what this "holiday" is for, but I thought it looked cool.
World Water Day - March 22, 2005

VOTE - November 2, 2004

Google celebrates MC Escher's birthday - June 16, 2003