Friday, March 19, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Volume 9

(The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.)

This week has been filled with occasions to celebrate!


First, on Sunday, there was Pi Day.
Evidently this is a big thing among the geeky.

Yes, I count myself a part of that group, but I think I may need to turn in my membership card. Although I've memorized my 14-digit library card number, I have memorized pi only to the fifth decimal place. (Oh, the shame...)

As a former math tutor, I'm surprised I didn't know about this day until now. Back in my tutoring days, whenever I was helping a geometry student learn the formula for the area of a circle (πr²), I would tell them my pi joke:

Pie are not square.
Pie are round.
Cornbread are square!

(It helps to read it with a hick accent. It doesn't make it any funnier, but it sounds a little more believable.)


Monday was the Ides of March. Probably not a day that Julius Caesar celebrated, but a good day to read or recite Mark Antony's Friends, Romans, countrymen speech. Shakespeare had a great gift for irony (for Brutus is an honorable man!).


Tuesday was my birthday. I'm not telling you that to get presents. (OK, maybe I am.)

It was also the birthday of Erik Estrada, Jerry Lewis, Pat Nixon, and James Madison. And my mom. (I was her 30th birthday present!)

This isn't a big landmark year for me or anything, so there were no flamingos (or buzzards) in the lawn. But I'm not sure how much longer I can keep telling people I'm 31. Sooner or later, my 24-year-old son is going to spill the beans.

As it does every year, my birthday fell smack dab in between the Ides and...


St. Patrick's Day, Wednesday. Since I just did a post on St. Patrick, I won't talk about my wearing green by mistake that day and not realizing it until I went for a haircut in the afternoon and my stylist commented on it.

But I will tell you that we celebrated by mailing in our census form. (You may now be jealous of my exciting life.) It made me think of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?:

"My daddy taught me how to shoot!... I nicked the census man!"
"There's a good boy... is yer daddy about?"

(Now that you've got Delmar's accent in your head, you might want to go back up to take #1 and re-read the pi joke.)


Interestingly enough, the mallard pair that visits us every year chose Wednesday to return for their annual early spring vacation in our little fishpond. Of course, because we're a small family, we had several blank lines on our census form, so I suggested we add the ducks. (Yes, they have names. Because they come back every year, that's why.)

My husband's response: "They don't live in the house."


And speaking of celebrations, how about a wedding? On Thursday, a friend posted this awesome video on Facebook:

Fellow Princess Bride fans, did you catch the quote?


Today and Saturday, I'm attending class. It's the last weekend of my second course toward my addictions counselor certification (see take #7 here). This is the class with the eight-pound book. And let me just say, there will be much celebrating when it's done.

It probably won't involve any addictive substances.

But maybe there will be π.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green beer served here*

I'm not the least bit Irish that I know of.

I usually avoid wearing green on this day. (Long story.)

I think I've had green beer only once.

But isn't it cool how they dye the Chicago River green? Check out this stop-motion video of the process!

But really, St. Patrick's Day isn't about wearing green or parades or rivers or leprechauns or even green beer.

It's about a British teenager who was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland, and then... well, here's a rundown of the story from Relevant Magazine.

* And by "served," I mean if you bring the beer, I will drop some green food dye into it.


Friday, March 12, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Volume 8

(The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.)

Today's episode of 7 Quick Takes could be titled "A Few of My Favorite Things." And it has nothing to do with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.


If you're not familiar with Jessica Hagy's popular blog Indexed, you need to be. She draws graphs that will make you chuckle. Here's yesterday's, titled Fantasy League:

(I highly doubt a yeti could beat a centaur, but whatever.)


Another of my favorite giggle-inducing blogs is Cake Wrecks. If you liked The Twilight Zone, you'll appreciate Wednesday's post.


Of course, Jon Acuff's Stuff Christians Like is a great humor blog. Even his "Serious Wednesday" posts are filled with irony, so the "serious" part sorta sneaks up on you. Check out the most recent one and see if you don't agree.


This post from Antique Mommy has everything: humor, drama, suspense, love, blood, and an indestructible camera.


A few months ago, I discovered Pandora, the music site where you choose an artist and it finds and plays music similar to that artist's. Except when it doesn't. (For example, if I select any artist from the 70s or 80s, Pandora really wants me to listen to Fleetwood Mac. Sometimes it gets insistent on this point. But the Fleetwood Mac songs I like are very few, and they all have one thing in common: Stevie Nicks is not singing.)

More recently, a friend of my son's told me about Grooveshark. It's another music site where you choose the artist and songs you want to hear, and... it plays them! You can make your own mix, as narrow or diverse as you want.

Also, Pandora allows you 30 free hours per month; Grooveshark is completely free, indefinitely. (Both sites are ad-supported, or you can pay a small monthly fee to have the ads removed.)

Of course, it's nice being introduced to new music and new artists, so I'm not completely dumping Pandora. And Grooveshark doesn't give you lyrics and info on the album and the artist like Pandora does.

But sometimes, I'd like to listen to Jackson Browne without having to go through a Landslide. For those times, I'll choose Grooveshark.


It's been 28 years since TRON came out. We watched it again a few weeks ago, and the effects are still amazing — truly ahead of its time. Disney is releasing its sequel, Tron Legacy, late this year. Check out the two trailers.


And I think I need this print from MadeByGirl:


Friday, March 05, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Volume 7

(The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.)

Grab yourself a beverage and some popcorn — this week's 7 quick takes are all videos. And most of them have something to do with music.


Common household objects get new assignments in this music video by OK Go:


This little video features American Idol contestant Andrew Garcia, with Cathy Nguyen helping out on the vocals, doing a medley of Michael Jackson songs. I can listen to this over and over (and I'm not even an MJ fan):


You'll admire this pianist's virtuosity, but you'll be floored by his problem-solving skills:


Kerry Livgren, former lead guitarist and songwriter with Kansas, has a movie out called The Imposter. The soundtrack includes a new version of the classic song Carry On Wayward Son, featuring vocals by dcTalk's Kevin Max.

After listening to Livgren tell the story of his quest for truth in this interview, the philosophical tone of his songs suddenly makes so much sense.


Many musicians (like Kevin Max's character in The Imposter) become trapped in addictions. (How's that for a segue?)

This week, I've been viewing the HBO documentary Addiction. The professionals they interview take a very strong stance that addiction is a disease, which is a notion of some controversy. Even if you disagree with the disease model, the documentary is worth watching.

The full-length trailer is set to Johnny Cash singing Neil Young's The Needle and the Damage Done. Here's the shorter teaser:


For this daughter of the Arizona desert, living in the upper midwest means learning to appreciate (or at least tolerate) long, cold, sunlight-deprived winters. But for the few brave souls who live on Michigan's Mackinac Island year-round, winter is a whole different thing.

The documentary Ice Bridge: Mackinac Island's Hidden Season has nothing to do with music (unless you count that scary breaking-of-giant-guitar-strings sound the ice makes when you walk on it), but the trailer does have a nice accompaniment:


This final take has nothing to do with anything.

But it's the funniest commercial... makes me laugh every time I see it. And as the writers explain in this interview, it was all done in one shot!


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The surprising truth about women's history

"The early feminists, some of whose names are very familiar to you... were overwhelmingly pro-life." *


March is National Women's History Month.

I admit, I have mixed feelings about having a special month dedicated to the historic role of specific groups. (I had this very conversation with an African American friend just yesterday. We were talking about Black History Month, but all the same concerns apply.)

On the one hand, it's an opportunity to highlight the important contributions of people who have often been left out of history books.

On the other, it can come across as an insider's event, with all the exclusivity and divisiveness that implies.

It's that aspect, I think, that evokes a cynical response from those who don't feel included.

I could be wrong about that. But if I find myself reacting negatively to [Somegroup] History Month, I need to do a quick motive check. Is it possible my irritation stems from the fact that I'm not a part of [Somegroup], and [Mygroup] doesn't have its own History Month? (When I was little, in reaction to Mother's Day and Father's Day, I asked my parents when Children's Day was. Their response: "Every day of the year." Why don't we have a Euro-American Male History Month? Same reason.)

And at the same time, it bothers me that we can't seem to get outside ourselves enough to embrace the historic contributions of everyone, regardless of gender or ethnicity. I wish we could just make it one history. After all, women's history is our history. All of us. Not just women.

That said, I'm grateful for many of the American women who are the darlings of the women's movement. I'd like to highlight some of their opinions and activities that are less likely to be mentioned by today's feminists.

* Source: Feminists for Life

Susan B. Anthony - Well-known for her tireless efforts toward gaining the vote for women, Anthony also campaigned for abolition and temperance. And she was vocal in her opposition of abortion, seeing it as a violation of women themselves.

Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anthony published a weekly journal called The Revolution, which gave voice to early feminist thought and documented the anti-abortion consensus among early feminist leaders. They refused lucrative ads for abortifacients, and the revenue loss eventually caused the paper to shut down.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton - The mother of seven children, Stanton championed the rights of married women to own property and argued for women's voice to be equal to men's in the public arena. In a letter to Julia Ward Howe, the originator of Mother's Day, Stanton wrote:
When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.

Elizabeth Blackwell - The first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school, Blackwell was motivated to pursue that education by a desire to serve suffering women. Though initially resistant to the idea of becoming a doctor, Blackwell was finally convinced after reading a newspaper article on abortionist Madame Restell. She wrote in her diary,
That the honorable term “female physician” should be exclusively applied to those women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women.


Susan B. Anthony urged her fellow feminists to address the root causes that drive women to abortion. Her dream remains unfulfilled. The oppression and exploitation that lie at the root of abortion have taken on different faces over the years, but they are alive and well.

And if it takes a special-group-history-month to expose that root, so be it.