I'm taking a class just for fun this semester, because its title nerd-sniped me in an instant: The Future of the Book.  So far, we've read a motley of opinion pieces and delved into technophilosophy, which is a word I just made up.  I've discovered that I am a bit of a luddite, or rather, I've discovered how much of a luddite I really am.  I'll give up my bound paper books when my ashes are mingled with N's under an oak tree.

Of more general interest than ashes, I read two articles that resonated with me, and I thought I'd share them.  The first, The Future of the Book, shares several topics with those mentioned in my class.  There's a lot to discuss about the future of books, libraries, the privilege inherent in the shift to digital media, expectations of society as that shift happens, how much things will change and how fast, what one's ideal future look like, and how to contribute to or shape that future.  But since I'm thoroughly opinionated in class, I think I won't bother to rehash everything here, at least not right now.

The second, Is Google Making Us Stupid? talks about the digital age more generally.  Carr writes, "what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation," and I feel it as well.  Ironically enough, I couldn't even finish the article on the first go-round.  I have a hard time reading novels just sitting down at home--it's much easier when I'm on a bus or walking somewhere.  My prayers are generally shorter and less meditative.  Certainly not everything can be blamed on the Internet, but no matter: there's nothing wrong with culling the excess time spent online.  At the very least it makes more time for those other things.

I've committed to spending less time online in lots of different ways over the past few years.  My first year out of college, I had no internet at home, which was amazing.   I've put restrictive apps on my browsers, made mutual promises with N, intentionally left my laptop off or at home for extended periods of time, but the Internet still calls.  It's like sugar for the brain.

So with that, I'll turn off my computer for the night.

a new tune

I love music, but I'm not one of those folks who can rattle off the names of bands or tunes or talk about music with any kind of eloquence. I prefer to just sing along, and usually I don't share what I think or like because my opinions are nothing special.  And while my opinions are still nothing special, Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People is, at least to me.  I've only heard it twice on the radio, but it still rattles inside my head, gives me a great tune to whistle, runs away right when I want to remember it, sobers me with its lyrics, and then when I wake up, it slips to me from a dream and I literally rise up singing.


useful knowledge and respect

Last week, in the second lecture of my AI class, there were a host of undergrad students jabbering annoyingly during the lecture.  I almost pulled out my scolding matron voice, but decided against it.  Upon being dismissed (or rather, upon dismissing themselves since most of the students can't sit still a minute after the official end time, even when the professor still has things to say), these students continued to gab disrespectfully.  We were covering breadth-first and other uninformed/naïve searches, and the students were complaining along the lines of "If we're never going to use it, why is he teaching us about it?"  Second lecture material guys, seriously?  Also, if you're putting merit on stuff you're going to use, go get an apprenticeship somewhere or take a cooking class.  In my experience, undergraduate education is more about developing the mind in general than about acquiring stores of practical knowledge.  I know that in some ways I'm being just as arrogant and pretentious as they were, but... I don't know.  I guess I think there's some honor in defending the respect of a professor, especially an excellent one.  But perhaps I've been reading A Game of Thrones too much recently and am overly caught up in the concept of honor.


my first quilt

I just finished (as in two weekends ago) my first quilt! [1]  Finally, today I mailed it off to my sister-in-law (via her mother, since they live in Chile and California, respectively) for her baby that's due next month.  Aside from the propensity of the project to completely consume our living room, it was a blast and I look forward to gettin' me some more quiltin' love.  ...At some future point.  For now, the semester:me::quilt:living room.

[1] Not including the group quilts we made in the YW program growing up, for which I tied yarn through pre-sandwiched quilts.


a reasonable pride with an elaborate aside

Yesterday church was on a funny schedule: an hour earlier than usual and a half-hour service instad of the regular three hour block.  Why?  They were encouraging everyone to get out and help people with homes damaged from the hurricane and resulting floods.  Logistically, it was crazy; a friend of our compared it to organizing troops for war....there were some four hundred folk (many in yellow, the Mormon service icon color) milling around at one building while assignments were dished out.

I was proud that so many people cared and it restored some of my faith in the community.  It's nice to see that leaders and members are willing to choose helping people in need over maintaining regular services.  Basically, instead of talking about charity, we acted charitably.  And I think it's reasonable to be proud of that choice.

But on the other hand, some people might need church, so one could argue against essentially canceling church for community service.  Additionally, physical service could be done every Sunday instead of religious activity.  Why did we choose this date?  Why this particular need?  I think this instance makes sense because we were responding to the repercussions of a natural disaster.  People were distraught over how to deal with their homes, many of which were full of water-logged possessions.  It was a time-sensitive and required a large host of people to handle it.  If it had been any of our homes, we would have wanted the same help we gave.

N suggested we do similar service once every three months, but I can't help but ask a million questions in response.  Are there needs to be met in the area that could be addressed by this particular form?  If so, what are they?  Could our community support that frequency?  Why replace church?  Why not?  Why three months, or whatever time period?  I could think of several advantages of such a system, not the least of which is a community which has been trained for organized emergency response.  However, my hunch is that there would be resistance to this being a regular occurrence.  How else could you get equally strong participation, or will enthusiasm inherently dwindle?



I'm not much for celebrity following or red carpet fashion, but I do read some photography blogs, and this image brought to my attention a beautiful (and exorbitantly expensive) dress and I wanted to see more of it.  I've been keen on wide necks for a while: they're elegant, but can still be modest (in more than just the LDS sense).  I also like chiffon, and I've been trying to come up with a way to use both in a dress design for a while; I might just end up copying this to some extent.  Beading can be kind of showy, but in this case it's what pulls the two elements I like together, and it's also what takes a simple, comfortable dress and makes it red-carpet material.  Not like I'll be needing red-carpet worthy clothing any time soon.  Anyway, I've made it a goal to design and sew a dress by the end of next summer; we'll see if this influences that design.  Or if I actually accomplish the goal, for that matter.


twas the first day of classes

My first day of grad classes: nothing special except a back ache from not getting to class early enough (sitting on stairs = ow).

In other news: inspired by Anna Garforth, I've been collecting various species of moss.  I don't like the idea of using a blender to propagate it, as many "recipes" online call for, so we'll see if I can get it to grow without that.  The method so far: quarter-sized moss pieces in sugar water.  I might add buttermilk--we'll see. (Unless N throws them out the window.)

In other other news: I got a new computer at the office.  Given that it's a shiny-shiny iMac, it makes me want to redecorate the office.  I imagine a minimalist look (all papers, pens, etc. being put away) and having a few nice decorative things: a sheepskin rug, a single-stem white orchid, and a huge 4'x4' painting of a pastel sky with an eight inch wide white frame.  I can do this fairly economically, especially if I make and frame the painting myself, but there are still several problems with doing this, most of them stemming from the fact that doing so would be very atypical behavior for someone in my office.  It might be viewed as excessive or simply odd, and I might feel guilty for caring about my environment.  In our office of five, nobody really has anything personal at their desks.'s to change!


at the end of the week

I almost wish it were a headache; at least that way I could take an ibuprofen and be done with it.  Instead, there’s a dull ache in my jaw from a set of teeth that would churn the world into butter overnight, if they had the chance.  The idea is to keep eating pretzels until it goes away, but it might not be as simple as that.  These pearly whites, or at least chocolate-stained creams, also set themselves against a deck of psychological desires, and not least of all the desire for purpose.  There are no pretzels for that. 

So I sit at the window and lust for the past.  I certainly don’t have enough money to create such a fantasy for myself--an elaborate historical reenactment--but nor do I have so little as to be driven to action by need; there’s an odd blessing in poverty. Sometimes it feels like the entire world is static, frozen in one moment for all time, and everyone reaching simultaneously, no one satisfied.  But then I emerge from my narrow view as if God pressed the play button in my brain, only to realize that it’s not one moment but several, playing indefinitely, over and over again.  I could probably make some kind of connection to the frame rate of this eternal moving picture, but the analogy is stretched already and I need to sweep up the pile of salt that has accumulated.

What I would really love is a farm: acres and acres for fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers; chickens, waterfowl, and sheep.  (I’d still import my chocolate, vanilla, and sugar; there’s only so much you can do on your own.)  I’d love to wear wool and make wooden furniture; bake bread and press cheese.  I want to do it now, I don’t want to wait until I’m no longer able physically.  But I won’t be financially able for a while.  Owning land is no trivial business, it seems.  I also want to go to grad school.  I love what I’m studying.  Is it odd to want to be two different people at once?  Don’t tell me, I know I need to find the balance between the two. But I'll keeping coming back to the impossible dream and repeating myself as long as the balance is still off.

deep breath

Alright, now that that’s out of my system, I can go clean the house.  Maybe I was just trying to find the motivation to do that. It's all just a mind game sometimes. The whole lot of it.

tomatillos on parade

Lots of tomatillos coming in from the garden, including one of the biggest ones I've ever seen.


glass worth shattering?

BBC listed 10 glass ceilings yet to be shattered, and while many of the positions listed were important and worth breaking, I wouldn't really consider others particularly worthy of note.  Being the head writer for The Simpsons, for example is something incredibly specific: if we have to stretch that far to identify glass ceilings, I think it's a sign of good progress.  That said, I'd still like to see 1:1 salaries for men and women of equal ability.

Boys and Girls and God

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the LDS Faith in God handbook for boys and for girls.  I've marked stuff that appears in the boy manual in blue and the girl manual in red.  The boy manual had some typos that I didn't include.  I'm a little torn: if women can't have the priesthood, is it nicer to make a separate manual so you don't have to see the differences, or does that cause a bigger rift between the genders?  I can see it go either way; on the one hand separation allows each gender to be strengthened as much as possible...there's something to be said for forgetting about issues until they essentially disappear.  On the other hand, separation perpetuates the problem of inequality; if we have to deal with it, it might get fixed faster.

Entertain young children with songs or games you have learned or made yourself. Show that you know how to care for and protect/nurture a young child.  Saw that one comin'.

Learn how to budget and save money. Discuss why it is important to faithfully pay our tithing and how Heavenly Father blesses us when we do (see 3 Nephi 24:10–11). Pay your tithing and begin saving for a mission/an education.  I'm glad it's not a hope chest for the girls.  In all seriousness, though, this seems a little unfair to the guys.  Were we not moving away from the mentality that every man must serve a mission?

“The Priesthood of Aaron … is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances.”/“Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come.”

Complete the following activities while you are 11 years old. They will help you prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and become a righteous young man/to become a righteous young woman and to participate in the Young Women Personal Progress program.  Calling first, little gents.

Learn about the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood (see D&C 13,D&C 107:20, and Joseph Smith—History 1:68–73).

After studying the thirteenth article of faith, make a list of things that are uplifting and virtuous. Discuss with a parent or leader how you can seek after these things.  Is this just filling in the blank page where the Priesthood stuff goes or is it saying something about differing expectations for the virtue of females?

Read D&C 20:57–60 and Aaronic Priesthood: Fulfilling Our Duty to God [Deacon], page 7. Discuss with a parent or leader the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and what it means to do your duty to God.

Talk with the Beehive class presidency or a member of the Young Women presidency about the purpose and importance of the Young Women program.

Talk with the deacons quorum presidency about the role of the deacons quorum. Write in your journal how you can serve the Lord as a member of a deacons quorum/you stand for truth and righteousness.  'Cause guys just stand for the Man.

Read D&C 88:77–80, 118 and D&C 130:19. Discuss with a parent or Primary leader how important a good education is and how it can help strengthen you as a priesthood holder in your home and family and in the Church.  Men are strengthened by education.  Women strengthen their families.  Hmm...

Children who complete the requirements in the guidebook can earn the Faith in God Award.   Whatever.

In countries where Scouting is part of the Church program, boys work on Faith in God along with Cub Scouting. Many of the Cub Scout activities can fulfill requirements for the Faith in God Award. Completion of all activities in this guidebook marked with a Œ qualifies a boy for the Scouting Religious Square Knot patch.  This makes some sense.  I mean, I still wish that girls did the scouting stuff, but whatever.

Parents may help their sons and daughters complete the activities in the guidebooks/this guidebook, especially where it is difficult for children to gather for Primary activity days.  Guys can do everything.  Girls can only be girls.

Each year, the bishopric meets with all 11-year-old boys and their parents to help them understand the importance of the priesthood and strengthen their commitment to prepare to receive it. Members of the Primary presidency also attend the meeting.  
We do?  Good to know.


tiny gratitude list

There are obviously many more wonderful and important things out there, but I was feeling particularly appreciative of the following things this week.

- my mom's old blue bandana, which is wonderfully soft and can keep my hair pulled back for more than eleven seconds
Newman's Own organic pretzels
- HBO's Game of Thrones (I've been trying to get my hands on the first book, but I need to get on the library wait list.  The university doesn't have a copy (I'm trying ILL) and the local library has 5 reservations and 3 copies.  Sigh.)
- my dad's willingness to help out with re-registering the car when I mucked up and didn't renew the registration (it's registered in CA, but we're in NJ, so that's problematic.  And yes, I know we should register it here, but to do so we have to get new DLs and a new title before we can register it, and then we'll likely change address in two years.  Double sigh.)
- a functional laptop charger (finally ordered a replacement after the old one was borderline functional for many moons)


shorter days

I present to you a bouquet of late summer wildflowers harvested from the weeds that have been choking the garden all season.  It's dual-purpose: beautifying our home and preventing proliferation.

I also harvested a bunch of marigold seed pods today and am breaking them to dry--there's a lot of them, so I'm doing it in batches.  I'm not betting on anything, though, since they were likely hybrids.  Even if I get one more season out of them, I doubt I'll be abe to get a steady strain, but here's to hoping!  Maybe next year I'll be able to try my hand at saving vegetable seeds.