Monthly Archives: February 2010

Mon brother, Mr. Goat, is starting a blog

Help him along. . .he is looking for a blog name!

He is whining that we are forcing him start a blog when he didn’t want to start one (too much). Yes, he said the too much. That’s why we’re making him. Feel free to join in!!

(He is forever striving to achieve the green burp he once saw a goat do.)

Younger brothers’ opinions to the contrary, “goniometry” is not even a remotely scandalous word. And “humeral” is too a word. And IP is not a statement on one’s urinary habits, but rather an abbreviation for “inter-phalangeal”.

We shoveled snow this morning and it was nice. It was just the right temperature, the birds were singing, the snow wasn’t too heavy.

Then I took a nap for the rest of the morning, and that was even nicer.

Then I studied bio all afternoon, and it made my eyes cross.

I had been hoping to get all my studying done before the weekend, but I do still have some stuff I should probably do tomorrow. . .but at least I think I’m ready for my bio exam now.

Listening to brothers’ commentaries on only family photos may be dangerous to your health. Only brothers would say of a younger sibling “Man, he looks so fat, we should have put him through a meat-grinder and made him into a sausage!!” or “He was always so wet, he was like a frog.” or “Look it him! He doesn’t know where his brain is, and he doesn’t think it’s a problem!!”

This is what snow days look like around here. Pretty much like normal days, but with even more crazy people running around.

Beat your head against the wall; repeat until the problem goes away or you lose consciousness, which ever comes first.

This storm was predicted to be the storm of the winter.

The roads were awful this morning, but school wasn’t closed.

Usually I ride in with the boys, but we were all betting the school would close, if not soon than half-way through the day. So that wasn’t going to work. The boys called home when they got to work and said the roads were really bad and has the school closed yet, and what is wrong with them anyway?

This was not an encouraging report, and besides, several people had told me that the teacher had said if the roads were bad, she was going to cancel lecture even if the school didn’t close.

So I stayed home.

She had lecture; half the class showed up and half didn’t.

Now half of us are behind the other half. (And I’m in the wrong half!)

Then they closed the school at 1:30.

Stuff like this makes me want to beat my head against the wall and say “why? why? why? why?” Everyone has to commute to that school; the roads were expectedly, undeniably bad. If you know at least half of your students can’t or won’t make it in, why keep the school open?

While I’m indulging in complaining. . .while I’m glad that I do not have any teachers that make me emotionally or psychologically upset this semester, I still managed to get a doozy. She does not seem to be competent for the post; we ask questions and she says she doesn’t know. We are confused, and she says she is, too. She tells us to cross things off our learning packet because she doesn’t understand them. She hasn’t read our books and doesn’t know what’s in them. The only thing she can do is read slides aloud, but, no offense, I learned how to read a long, long, long, looooong time ago. Even if I am only 24.

I mean, yes. It is a hobby of mine to try to stump the teacher. They all say “I don’t know” at some point or another. But, for one thing, these questions I’m stumping her with are not obscure questions; they’re very basic. For another, I’m not the only one doing it. And it’s chronic on her part. Finally, she some how manages to come into every class seemingly more abundantly under-prepared than her students. And I know we’re a pretty brilliant, driven bunch of students, but still. You’re out-preforming your students in under-preforming? And I’m paying you? Not funny.

She did not make any more friends when she administered her first test, which was poorly written. And then poorly graded. I got points off because I listed “eye protection” as a protective barrier against bacteria. (It was fill-in-the-blank.)

“But it is a protective barrier, right?”

“Well, yes, but not what I was looking for. I was only looking for gown, gloves or mask. That wasn’t in my notes.”

“So it doesn’t matter if it’s true, as long as it’s in your notes?”

“Well, it does have to be true, but it does have to be my notes.”

Whatever. I was disgusted, but since reasonable conversation didn’t resolve the issue, I didn’t see any reason to create animosity at the beginning of a semester over 2 points. (Classmates felt otherwise; they looked up, found it in her notes, and demanded I go and get my 2 points. Confronted with her own notes, she did cede the points, but that’s not the point. The point is, if you are fighting with the part of your class that is well-behaved, responsible, on-time, attentive and producing a high level of work, you’re in trouble: that’s usually the last segment to revolt.)

We’ve been told we should go respectfully and diplomatically to talk to the dean. The problem is trying to discuss the problem without sounding like we’re whining. How does one go about saying “Um, I’m wasting my tuition on this teacher.” without sounding like a prima dona?

Smile!

Two things that made me smile today:

In the first scenario, a classmate had asked me if I knew anyone who knew how to knit or crochet.

“Yeah. Me.”

So apparently her daughter had a pair of crocheted slipper-socks type things, which she referred to as her “skates”. She had worn holes in them, and needed them repaired. I agreed to do it; she attempted to talk her daughter into allowing it to be done. Her daughter was very suspicious that they would not be returned and she would never see them again, but she finally gave in. I fixed them.

Today I was told how happy she was not only because they were actually returned, but also because they no longer had holes. After expressing her delight, she’d went back into her bedroom and come out with a small canister of Play-doh.

“Here, give this to the girl at school who fixed my skates!”

“Um . . .okay. Play-doh?” her mother asked.

“Everyone loves Play-doh!”

🙂

In the second scenario, Mr. Quarterback & Buddy where ruthlessly pretending to admire the ripped muscles of a guy in class who was, um, not as large as Mr. Quarterback. A little while later, one of the girls asked him (Not-as-Ripped) to open something.

“Ask Mr. Quarterback,” he says. “He’s the strong one.”

“If you can’t open it, I’ll open for you,” I tell him.

He opened it.

🙂

Hal-le-lu-jah. . .

Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah!

Sometimes this seems like the only thing worth saying.

I would like, right about now, to whine, rant, complain, moan, and generally bewail the entire state of the universe. Unfortunately, I seem to have discovered that whining is like drinking. . .once you start, it’s hard to stop, and it’s altogether too easy to get a lot more caught up in it than you meant to. Not that I know much about drinking, except by hearsay, but I have a good deal more personal experience in whining.

It’s not that life is always a bed of roses. . .not that that’s a particularly grand metaphor, but still. It isn’t that there aren’t things that are whine-worthy (to say nothing of true, grounded and valid complaints); it’s just that whining and complaining rarely makes anything better, usually makes it worse, and generally leads one to sense of self-entitlement, -justification and -absorption. In other words, it’s a really, really bad habit to get into, and it’s rather difficult to do by halves—it has more of a snowballing effect, growing and growing wildly out of control.

But still.

Sometimes it looks awfully tempting anyway.

Petty grievances and annoyances fester, spurred on by stress and expectations (self and otherwise), pool in self-pity—-until it seems that anything in the world that is not perfectly inline with the chosen view of perfection is nothing short of a personal onslaught: the entire universe conspiring against one person, in a gleeful attempt to break them.

Over-dramatic? Maybe; so is a lot of whining.

Sometimes I think that maybe be the reason why we’re inclined to think the universe is conspiring against us is because we’re even more offended by the thought that the universe plain doesn’t care. That it’s impassive, and you utterly don’t matter. We rather like to think we’re more important than that, so we’re more willing to think that it’s us against the world than that the world doesn’t care.

The universe doesn’t care. It cannot care.

What about God?

Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah!

You never know what you will find on the dining room table.

gathering1

gathering2

What is it?

gathering3

Is it, like, some scene from The Lion King?

gathering4

Wait. I don’t think there were dinosaurs in The Lion King.

gathering5

Maybe it’s a Noah’s Ark re-enactment. . .

gathering6

You know, gathering all the animals.

gathering10

We’ve got the horses, and the cows, and the goats, and the pigs. . .

two by two

. . . and the, ah,. . .hmm. Well, they’re coming two-by-two, anyway.

gathering8

I’d like to call these guys cute, but they look like the sorts of animals to take offense at that. They seem to think they’re big stuff.

gathering11

And that’s the problem, really. If I wasn’t such a girl, I would have realized straight off.

gathering15

It’s a massive army assembled to destroy the enemy base in the other room! Duh!

gathering12

They tell me it’s been strategically arranged. Not quite so sure about the strategy of putting a very hungry looking dinosaur behind a bunch of fat little porkers.

piggies

Then again, maybe that’s why the piggies are strategically circling the wagons, so to speak.

gathering9

I guess these are the, um, “irregulars” being held in reserve back here. . .

gathering16

It’s not clear to me what the strategic purpose is of sending the sea creatures on ahead of the zebra, triceratops and horses. Better minds than mine have figured this out, I’m sure.

gathering14

Note the regiment of chickens there in the upper left. . .that arrangement, at least, is logic my mind can grasp. It’s pretty hard to get chickens to lead the army out.

gathering13

But I really, really, really think that whole dinosaur/pig thing is not going to end pretty.

gathering7

This concludes our review of the troops. We hope you’ve been duly impressed!

Wish you were here, vol. 1

let them eat cake 2

Let them eat cake.

The Good Old Days are Sepia Toned. Everyone Knows That.

The Good Old Days are sepia toned. Everyone knows that.

My sister took this pictures, and I futzed with them in Picnik. Due to poor lighting (darn fluorescents!!) and the fact that everyone was moving (I could have titled either of them “Duck! The barbarians are coming!” or “Like vultures over road-kill. . .”) the pictures themselves weren’t so great. . .but I loved them anyway, for the feelings the captured, and that’s what I tried to bring out. (My youngest sister either knows the camera is there, or always acts like there is a camera. Not sure which.)

And I know this will make some of you cringe, but I like seeing them bigger, even though my side bar does run over them like credits at the end (or before) a movie:

let them eat cake 2

The Good Old Days are Sepia Toned. Everyone Knows That.

Grief

Grief is different than I expected. I am not quite sure what I expected, but it is different. I guess I expected it to be more acute, with more uncontrollable sobbing in the beginning and then, like an earthquake with it’s after-shocks, ever lessening. I did not expect that I would sit through my classes more or less numb the week that Grandpa died. I did not expect that now, almost 6 months later, I would find myself on the verge of breaking down completely in the middle of class, seriously contemplating walking out of the class.

I guess I cannot actually say I feel worse now than I did then. . .just different. I can’t even tell you why I cry; I have no discernible statement behind it. I just do. I could make excuses—well, it was at this point last semester that he died, and besides we were in the processes of learning what left hemisphere brain damage was, and it was basically a long list that accurately described many of his symptoms—but the fact is, I plain old don’t like to cry, and try rather hard not to.

I expected that I would cry more, especially in the beginning. I expected, too, that crying would make me feel worse. I didn’t expect it to be so hard to talk about. And I didn’t expect that both crying about it and talking about it would actually make me feel better. I didn’t expect that crying would be part of the healing process, not part of the hurting process.

I expected that I would want to write about it; that writing about it would be part of the way I processed it. That I would be writing reams and reams of Grandpa posts until everyone was so thoroughly sick of it they wouldn’t be bothered to read them. I was wrong. I don’t even want to think about it, never mind write about it.

I thought I was going to write more about it tonight, but I was wrong about that, too.

Oh, sweet home of love and peace
Where pilgrims tired and troubled rest
Into the hope of Zion lean
Where in Jesus’ arms we will fall at last

Oh, lift up your head
For the day is near
And we have no abiding city here. . .

A city filled with hope and light
God the builder and the architect
When our faith is turned to sight
Oh, I cannot imagine it

Oh, lift up your head
For the day is near
And we have no abiding city here. . .

Sandra McCracken, No Abiding City

Caught in our own webs

I was going to say I had an artistic temperament. . .and then I looked it up. It was very fascinating, but not what I was trying to say. Well, maybe I have an artistic temperament, but what I was trying to say is that I can get very obsessive about striving for the best, or at the very least excellence.

I did this with sewing for a while, but I couldn’t escape this one nagging aspect: although my character demanded that if I was to learn it, I must learn it well (and well, meaning, of course, as close to perfect as humanly possible), the other part of my character said that I simply didn’t care that much about how I looked. Clothes are a rather passing and vanishing thing with very little true importance caught up in them.

This was one of the things that led me to the health-care field. It was worthless, pointless of me to expend myself, my inward drive for perfection, on something that I felt was as meaningless as something like clothes. The goal was to find something I would not regret striving for perfection upon. Now, I do know that there is no escaping futility and non-excellent practices, not in the health care field or anywhere else. But I felt (and feel) that I wouldn’t not, could not, regret trying to help people heal.

This leaves my sewing in a little muddle. I’ve trained my thinking that I must pursue it to the highest level, even while I honestly don’t care. That means I’m tying myself in knots—all I want to do is bang out sewing projects and enjoy the results while they last and maybe recycle them into something else if they don’t last or I don’t like them. Emphasis on bang. It’s not really enjoyable stressing out over every last detail, and I don’t really want it perfect anyway. I just like sewing because I just like making things.

But I spent years ingraining myself with this attitude toward sewing, and now I’m having trouble getting out of it. Part of it, I think, is precisely because I did spend years in it. Now I feel like I have to justify those years, show how wonderful I got at it. Every time my work seems something less than wonderful, I feel something like it’s a discretization of my ability to teach myself and do good work. It’s not about the sewing any more, it’s my invisible reputation with myself.

I want to tell myself to get over myself, but myself is rather reluctant to let go. But I’m determined to take my sewing down to the level of my knitting or baking or various other pursuits—where it rightfully belongs. This doesn’t mean that I no longer want to do good work. . .but that I don’t take it so seriously (too seriously!). That I enjoy it more and am more focused on the end result than on doing everything the “right” way. I fudge my knitting like crazy sometimes. . .usually when I’m making something up on the fly. But I’m happy with the results. Somehow I feel guilty if I’m not precise in my sewing, and that’s just ridiculous. It must change.

It’s no one’s fault but my own; but I feel like I have to “re-claim” sewing. Somehow it became something it shouldn’t be, and in doing so, it alienated me. I’ve been doing some avoiding of sewing, even though I like to sew and want to sew. But there’s too much baggage on it right now, and it needs to be stripped down to what it truly is: a hand-craft. An artistic outlet. Fun. Not a test. A way to take something formless and give it a form. I never get tired of watching that, watching the pieces come together and “something” taking a previously untold shape.

But at the moment, it’s an uphill battle to do a lot of types of sewing. I’m still stumbling over mythological perfection.

No one is good; no, not one.

Today I read somebody writing about that verse (Rom. 3:10). I knew that there was a lot of people who didn’t like that verse, who insisted they were “good people.” But I’d never seen someone think of it exactly like this before. She felt that it was taken out of context (I disagree, but I digress), but most strikingly, she felt that if this verse meant exactly what it meant, that she could not be loved. That those who used the verse to mean, bluntly, what it said, were turning God into a bogey-man instead of a loving God.

This stunned me a little, because I’ve always felt the exact opposite: that this verse has always been a huge comfort, and helps to show the width and length and depth and height of the love of Christ (Eph. 3:18).

I realize that is not how it was used in her life, especially in her youth. She was raised in guilt, shame, fear and disapproval—constantly—and she can only equate “not good” with “not loved”. I find it very sad, because, essentially, it seems she does not yet understand love.

The release of this verse is that my being loved does not depend on my being good enough, that no one is better than me and I’m the only wicked one failing, that I cannot make Him stop loving me. That, indeed, while we were yet sinners, He loved us anyway. There is great comfort and abolishment of fear in that. It also informs us how to love, for we are no better than anyone else, either; we have all, without exception, sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

She thinks it was taken out of context; I don’t think it was. Jesus told the rich young man, “Why do you call me good? There is no one good but God.” Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors, not the “good” Pharisees. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus told the parable of the very good Sadducee and the repentant sinner. Jesus was looking for those in need of a doctor, not those who thought they were well.

To agree with God that He alone is good and holy is to honor Him and recognize how far above us He is. To comprehend that, in spite of our general sin-nature and specific sins, He wholly loves us anyway is to know peace. There is no fear in it.

She writes that “I grew up with a theology that told me I was a bad person. . .And because I thought this way about myself, I felt undeserving of love.” She doesn’t agree with where that leaves her—unloved—and so she wishes to banish it all. I don’t agree with where it leaves her, but I think she simply hasn’t taken it far enough: inherently, intrinsically evil, undeserving of love—and YET! Loved anyway. Unconditionally and unfailingly and relentlessly. Not because any of us is good enough, or deserves it, but because God’s love is a love that knows no bounds.

Her response to her son’s questioning is to “love him unconditionally”, and so banish his fears of not being good enough. But the fear that springs from not being good enough is the fear that love is not truly unconditional. Oh, that she would find her Father does an even better job of loving her unconditionally than she could ever, because of human limitation, unconditionally love her son.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11)

Don’t be afraid, my friend. Remember Paul, if you’re not quite sure: He went around killing off as many of Christ’s followers as he could, and God took him in anyway. He loves, He is merciful, and He made a way in spite of our fallenness. That’s the Good News, is it not?

1. Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

* Refrain:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

2. Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

3. Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

4. View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

5. Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

6. Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

I like research

I do. I have fun looking stuff up and connecting the dots. I like figuring stuff out.

I do not like memorizing stuff.

This semester we have do a good deal more in the way of research. Unfortunately, we still have to do a fair amount of memorization, which is yucky.

Our group has picked Parkinson’s as our research project, and honestly, I just want to ditch all the other schoolwork and work on the research and presentation. It’s not that the stuff we have to memorize is unuseful; it’s just that it’s more boring than figuring things out. Some people seem to like it when they just have a list to memorize; they just have to look at it and file it away–easy! Well, first off, it isn’t so easy to me, as unconditioned as I am to memorizing, but it’s boring. Not only is it boring, I find it very unreliable. When you figure things out and understand them, you have a frame work. You can figure things out and double check yourself, and know that you’ve remembered it correctly. If you just memorize it, you could have memorized the wrong thing or have been confused or plumb forgot. There’s no way to double check yourself.

I don’t really want facts just handed to me, pre-chewed, with the instructions to swallow. It’s almost more fun to just have a bit of a hint dangled in front of me and a dare to find out. . .It’s more fun when there isn’t an exam to find out if you found all the things you need to find, but an invitation to explore. Somehow, that’s become an exception, not a standard theory. Nowadays, to “learn” you’re expected to have to be “taught”. Such dependence. Somehow, it never occurred to me before, so I’m still struggle to adapt to this new norm. I don’t think I’ll ever like it, but I do have to work with it.