Friday, September 24, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Volume 12

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


Normally, this blog is read by a handful of friends and family members. I don't usually get a lot of comments from people I don't know.

A couple of weeks ago, I was a little surprised to find a comment on a post from someone I didn't recognize. Later, I discovered that a friend who works for a publisher had linked to my post in one of his employer's blogs. Ah, that explained it. And then, I discovered another link to that post on the blog of an Anglican priest in South Africa.

While a few new visitors don't exactly make this blog Grand Central Station, that tiny uptick in traffic gives me a thrill. (Yeah, that person standing on the street corner holding a sign that reads "Will blog for attention"? That's me.)

So if you're here from Koinonia or Biblical Paths, welcome!


Last weekend, I was on facebook and this random pair of ads appeared on my home page:

I always feel like somebody's watchin' me...

Amusing, yet creepy.


This week, ArtPrize opened. This is the second year for the event, and it has expanded tremendously.

One of my favorite pieces from last year is Tracy VanDuinen's lively mosaic "Imagine That," a 100-foot long mural permanently installed on the outside of the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. (Of course, given the name of this blog, it should come as no surprise that I'd like a mosaic.)

This piece is a continual blessing to the city, and makes me smile every time I pass by.

Imagine That, by Tracy Van Duinen, Corey Van Duinen, and Todd Osborne


Something about this iPad cover reminds me of an old Dilbert cartoon:

If you give a mouse an iPad, she's going to want an Etch-a-Sketch cover for it...

Oh, yes... here it is. Beloved by people in tech support everywhere:


I follow several blogs. You can see some of them in the sidebar. (Odd combination, I know.)

And I've been using Bloglines to make that a little more efficient. But a couple of weeks ago, Bloglines announced it was pulling up stakes, folding its tent and leaving Blogville on October 1. Sigh.

So now, I'm getting used to Google Reader, and it has its pluses (much more consistent performance and no advertising)... but it's so... bland.

It's like when you move to a state that borders Canada after living nearly your entire life in states that border Mexico, and you go into a local restaurant in your new Canada-bordering location and order a burrito, and the side of salsa they bring you tastes as if it just came out of a can labeled Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes.

Not that I would know anything about that.


Oh, and speaking of bland. I've been told by a good friend that my blog needs a redesign.

This was pointed out in response to my thought that maybe, in light of the events recalled in take #1 above, I should step up my game, post more often, write better, and update the background. My friend agreed that yes, it's definitely time to change the background.

(Pam's Rule of Friendship: A good friend will tell you when the back of your dress is tucked into your underwear and you're unintentionally mooning the room. I hope you can see how this applies to blogging. If not, this little side-journey was just for me.)

So, rest assured, fair reader — efforts are underway. The background and graphics and whatnot will soon be different. (Hopefully better.)

But if you're reading this blog using Google Reader, you'll never know the difference.


Finally, here's a terrific little video, in case you haven't seen it:

I love how the actors are listed in the credits.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Carefully taught

Sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, I get a song stuck in my head.

I don't even need to hear the song to have it play over and over on my internal iPod. It's usually prompted by a conversation, something I've read, or a current event.

My latest earworm has been in my head for several days... since just before 9/11.

It's from the 1949 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific*, but it's not Bali Ha'i or I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.

It's You've Got To Be Carefully Taught, and it caused a bit of a stir when the musical toured the Southern states.


You've got to be taught to hate and fear,
You've got to be taught from year to year,
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
You've got to be carefully taught.


*The musical, which is currently enjoying a revival, was based on James Michener's 1947 bestseller Tales of the South Pacific. It was first adapted for the big screen in 1958. A television version (starring Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr.) was released in 2001. The show is now being adapted for the big screen once more.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why faith matters

In today's Parade Magazine, former British prime minister Tony Blair describes his journey to Christian faith despite his father's atheism, and makes a compelling case for involvement in interfaith relief efforts:

Sadly, religion can be distorted into violent extremism. Having spiritual beliefs has never rendered a person incapable of doing wrong or evil. But far more often, faith can be a force for good... We should not allow those who use religion as a divisive force to succeed. We can harness its power and common values to bring us together.
The full article is here.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

The haze on the Sistine ceiling

When Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, did he use bright colors or dim ones?

The Creation of Adam, restored

Until a few decades ago, experts and visitors alike thought it was the latter. The figures, while brilliantly executed, were not brilliantly colored, but rather grey and dingy. Many interpreted the colors as the artist's intentional choices, possibly selected to reflect the seriousness of the subject matter.

A composite image of The Fall and Expulsion of Adam and Eve.
The upper left is shown unrestored, the lower right is shown restored.

But between 1980 and 1994, restoration efforts uncovered a different palette. It seems the waxy smoke from years of candles (as well as windblown soot from the Roman streets and varnish from an earlier restoration) had muddied the artist's original work and created a grimy haze over the once-vibrant colors. A few small areas remain unrestored, to allow viewers to compare them with the remainder of the ceiling.

Daniel, before and after restoration

How easy it is to see a painting (or a Bible passage) through hundreds of years' worth of haze and think we're seeing the artist's (or author's) true intent.