Thursday, December 27, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Violets Are Blue,
I'm going to California to see the Illini in the Rose Bowl!!!
How about you?
Friday, November 30, 2007
"Thus, in a real sense, I am constantly writing autobiography but I have to turn it into fiction to give it credibility."
Some characters started off as patterns of people I know but many of them took on their own unique personalities throughout the story and ended up looking nowhere close to who I imagined them as. In a few scenes I found myself unintentionally paying homage to authors I admire - towards the end I found I had written shades of Edward Cullen and Boo Radley into two of my players. I borrowed some names from old friends, and have since reconnected with a few while offering my thanks (you rock, Tonya). Most of them are common enough to never be traced back to individuals but one of my challenges was creating believable names for the cast - though Clarissa and Pablo really had to be Clarissa and Pablo. And I butchered science. I didn't intend to, and I feel a little bad about doing so, but it made for a much more exciting story. That's why it's fiction, right? I'll be curious to see if the minor flubs are caught or if it's only through close technical knowledge that things appear ridiculously fake. I'm still pretty genre-less. I classified myself as Mainstream Fiction because there was no listing for Scificklysterymance (that's sci-fi meets chick-lit meets mystery meets romance. It's no coincidence that that describes my reading tastes too.
But the bottom line is - it's done! I finished! I wrote a novel! I won! As part of the NaNo celebration, once I validated my word count I got a pdf file of a winner's certificate. I like the description they give on it (emphases theirs):
This literary honor is bestowed but once a year upon the bravest, most dedicated, and GIFTED of writers who have achieved their creative potential in ONE absurdly challenging month. The bearer of this certificate shall forever occupy a revered place in the firmament of HIGH-VELOCITY NOVELISTS, and his or her work shall stand as an INSPIRING testament to what can happen when one courageous writer triumphs over the naysaying and self-critical voices that stymie the flow of ART AND MERRIMENT in the universe. Congratulations, novelist. The Office of Letters and Light salutes you.
Of course, I almost wish I had been able to read that piece of encouragement before I started. "absurdly challenging month...."; "Revered place in the firmament...."; "stymie the flow of art and merriment...."; those are some great noveling words... I might have to keep them in mind for November '08!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
"...remember that being published is not a necessary validation or a path everyone wants to take with their work. Writing---and finishing---a novel is a great thing in itself, whether or not the book is published or becomes widely-read or not.
"Finally, I think it’s always best to write the story that is currently strongest inside you, the one that won’t go away, regardless of its genre or marketability. If you are true to your inner vision, believe in the reality of your story and write the book you want, you will bring it to life."
It really answered my inner doubts about whether or not my story had any "readability" and also acts as a nice little answer to those who want me to seek editors and publishers immediately. I might not be a great writer. I might not even be a good writer. But I have a story to tell and I think I've done a pretty fair job at bringing that story to life.
Stay tuned for copious amounts of celebration and a plethora of joyous salutations when I hit the big 50K!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions, feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you only you can let it in
No one else, no one else can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
The rest is still unwritten.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
You're in the middle, a little past the half-way point. The glamour has faded, the magic has gone.... You don't know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you're pretty sure that even if you finish it it won't have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began---a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read---it falls so painfully short that you're pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.I'm still on the fence as to how much sharing of my work will be done. More on that to be discussed later, I'm sure. Until then I'm over 60% done... here's to pushing through to the end!
Welcome to the club.
That's how novels get written.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I sort of promised not to refer to it as my really crappy novel. I guess it's not entirely rubbish.... Sorry I haven't had more blogging time lately. Anyone craving lisa writing can follow the link above to my latest Novel Excerpt.
But in other news Pace Bus Services that were sure to be eliminated on November 4th are miraculously still running. The new threat is to eliminate them on January 1st, 2008. In the past month, many of you heard my passionate ranting on why many suburbs *coughcoughnapervillecoughcough* would be shooting themselves in the proverbial foot if these cuts were allowed. (And 400 extra drivers are supposed to park... ...WHERE?!?!) My new rant involves how annoying and distasteful I find the political pandering and scare tactics involved with approving budgets.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I had to share this story because it really made me think about God. Firstly because of the beauty in nature that I will ascribe only to His creation. There was something else though that really struck me. The pine cones on that path were a good analogy of God's presence in my life. So often I'm staring all around wondering where God is. Yet it's only when I slow down and reflect on my life (the path I'm walking) that I start to see evidence of Him all around (pine cones). I can get frustrated because I can't see Him (the pine trees). I'll even try to ascribe the good in my life to other things like luck or hard work (wind and animals). I can convince myself that God's far away and not really concerned with my everyday life, but like the trees high on the bluffs, He is always nearby. Just because I can't see Him directly doesn't mean that He's not surrounding me every step of the way.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Berkeley genetics professor Thomas Cline said Watson's lecture "crossed over the line'' from being provocative to being irresponsible because the senior scientist failed to separate fact from conjecture.
"If he wants to give a talk like this in his living room, that's his business, but to give it in a setting where it's supposed to be scientific is wrong,'' Cline said, adding that listening to Watson at the podium was "more embarrassing than having a creation scientist up there.''
Ah yes, the creationist is not as embarrassing as a racist. Score one for Intelligent Design? I probably shouldn't joke about that, but the comment did amuse me. It just goes to show that there's more to being "smart" than just IQ and it seems even in the scientific world, intelligence stands for little without compassion, sensitivity and - you might go so far to say - the whisperings of the heart.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
This year I'm going all in with NaNoWriMo. If that sounds like some alien language, I'll clue you in that it's actually an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to take the month of November and write approximately 1700 words every day and produce a 50,000 word novel (about 175 pages) by the end of the month. Bring on the Q & A:
Question: Lisa, why in the world would you undertake such nonsense?
Answer: I've had at least three people whose opinions I value tell me in the past month, "You're a really good writer". I appreciate the compliments but in truth, I don't believe it. I read A LOT and to me "good writer" classifies authors that are way out of my league. Yet at the same time, the only way to make myself a better writer - and possibly even someday ascribe the "good writer" title to myself - is to get some practice and actually write.
Question: What is your novel going to be about?
Answer: I'm still working on that but as the advice I've most often read for new writers is "write what you know" there's pretty good odds that it will at least take place in a lab and might even be marginally biographical. Probably a good mix of genres since that's my reading style too.
Question: Why are you announcing this now?
Answer: I figure there's a two prong advantage if I get the word out that I'm participating, first, some of you might be crazy enough to try it with me and second, this way if I put the expectation out in public I'll be less likely to chicken out like I did last year when my inklings to do this were all in my head.
Question: Does this mean that we'll all get to read your novel on December 1st?
Answer: Fat chance! I've never tried this before and haven't actually written fiction since end of high school/early college. That means that there's a very high probability of producing 50,000 words of garbage and the amount of readers I pass my work onto will be inversely proportionate to the level of crap that deem it. There's only two people right now that are guaranteed a peek at what I come up with (you know who you are!). Of course, I may add people to that list if they (1) attempt NaNoWriMo with me or (2) are extraordinarily supportive of my pursuits. No guarantees though.
Question: Is there I way I can check in throughout the month and see how much progress your making?
Answer: As of November 1st there will be (hopefully) daily word counts and maybe even an excerpt posted on my NaNoWriMo Profile page (user: elbakerone). I'll also try to blog occasionally and let y'all know how things are going and if I freak out and quit half way through I'll shamefacedly admit that here as well. Until then, wish me luck!
Question: What if I have more questions about NaNoWriMo?
Answer: They have their own Q&A site. Find all your answers here.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
He's a pretty funny guy too. The title of the book is Avoid Boring People - he goes on to explain that boring is both an adjective and a verb. When you're young, he told me, don't waste your time with people that aren't doing interesting work and when you're old he says to avoid being a bore by keeping yourself involved with the work young people are doing. Also cool was the fact that he held a Q&A session after his talk. It was weird because every other time I've been to a scientific lecture or conference one of the first few question askers usually says a quick thank you to the speaker (sometimes EVERY person asking a question thanks the speaker) but five or six people asked questions without thanking him so I got in line. I said something like "Dr. Watson, first off I'd just like to thank you for coming. It really is an honor to have you here. You mentioned that you always knew you wanted to go into science I'm curious about when you first decided to become a writer." (He's written eight or nine books now varying from biology texts to biographical work and some other stuff that's more stories from his labs.) Anyways, he went on and on in his answer and all my coworkers told me that I had the best question of the night. I think he was just happy to be thanked and I also figured it was maybe something that he didn't get asked a lot.
He had a lot of cool things to say and aside from one of his responses where he presented his EXTREMELY atheistic views on the importance of science over religion, I really enjoyed his talk. I'm not sure why so many top level researchers can't find a coexistence between faith and reason but the more time I spend in scientific circles the more I realize that following Christ places me in the minority among scientists. As much as that is a frustration, I also see it as something of a "reason why I'm here". As awesome as it is to explore pursuits of the mind, they mean little to me without the whisperings of my heart. :)
Again, this probably much cooler if you're a big nerd (like me) but it really was a great opportunity. Just take my word that James Watson is to Biology what Albert Einstein is to Physics!
Sunday, October 07, 2007
"There's Always Next Year" doesn't seem much comfort right now, but somehow the Bears beating the previously undefeated Packers does act as something of a balm on the current Cubbie heartache....
But still. *sigh* It's gonna be a long winter.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge is an insider's look at the past, present and future state of life, war and politics in Iraq. Parts of the book are highly critical of American foreign policy, yet Pepe Escobar focuses not on the US military, but on the Iraqi people. Stories are told of the leaders of the factions fighting for power as well as the heart-wrenching narratives from everyday people struggling to live within and around the war zone.And I should add the disclaimer too that I'm still learning the ropes for writing good book reviews. My style and format tend to vary a lot but any feedback or polite critiques that people want to provide is more than welcome.
Each brief chapter of the book presents a different point about the conflict or current Middle Eastern politics. I found this format to be a bit distracting, as I had expected a more cohesive account. Although he warns readers that he is writing the "Blues" about the horrid state of Iraq (and constantly reiterates the popular idea that US occupation in Iraq must come to an end), Escobar could have provided his own suggestions or solutions to restoring Baghdad to stability. With the opportunity to present his own editorial, he instead chooses to remain amid the dismal facts and offers no hope for Iraq's future. Perhaps his stance is best summed up in a quote from one of his interviews stating, "[s]ome think it's better for the Americans to stay, otherwise there will be civil war. Others think they should leave. There is no united opinion."
Escobar's writing provided thought-provoking insights with every turn of the page. I most enjoyed the human perspectives and reading the interviews that Escobar, at times, risked his life to conduct. Whether or not readers agree with Escobar's views, I would recommend this book to anyone strictly for the factual information about US foreign policy and the current state of the Middle East. Red Zone Blues is an intense but satisfying book and the straightforward journalistic style will cause many Americans to evaluate, and possibly re-evaluate, their views on the war.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
A ride on a CTA bus.
A 35 minute ride on a CTA bus.
A 35 minute ride on an overcrowded CTA bus.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride on an overcrowded CTA bus.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing on an overcrowded CTA bus.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning in 85 degree weather.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning in extremely muggy 85 degree weather.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning in extremely muggy 85 degree weather with seated men that don't offer their seats to ladies in high heels.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning in extremely muggy 85 degree weather with seated men that don't offer their seats to ladies in high heels and can't figure out how to open the windows.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning in extremely muggy 85 degree weather with seated men that don't offer their seats to ladies in high heels and can't figure out how to open the windows so that you feel dizzy by the time you get to work.
A very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning in extremely muggy 85 degree weather with seated men that don't offer their seats to ladies in high heels and can't figure out how to open the windows so that you feel dizzy by the time you get to work but you're simultaneously so glad to finally be done with the "very bumpy 35 minute ride standing in heels on an overcrowded CTA bus without air conditioning in extremely muggy 85 degree weather with seated men that don't offer their seats to ladies in high heels and can't figure out how to open the windows so that you feel dizzy by the time you get to work" that you're able to put the dizziness aside and get on with your day.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
This past week I've made an acquaintance with a new organization that's commonly referred to as LOL: Locks of Love. Many of you know that I've been growing my hair out for a few years in order to take part in an interesting form of charity - and this week marked the day I "made the cut". Locks of Love is a nonprofit group that accepts hair donations in order to make wigs for children with hair loss (most people assume it's only for chemotherapy patients but there are also many genetic diseases and auto-immune disorders that cause baldness in young people). The donation guidelines are a little strict in that at least 10 inches of hair are needed to make the wigs so you can imagine that it's a pretty drastic change in my hairstyle. My mom treated me to a cut and color with her favorite stylist at Zano salon which was a wonderful experience. Any haircut that includes a neck and shoulder massage gets a two thumbs up in my book! So far I like my new look and it's been met with pretty positive reviews (assuming that "Oh my gosh! I didn't recognize you!" can also be considered positive) from family, friends and coworkers. I'm still getting used to having a much chillier neck but there's great advantages to going from 40 to 4 minutes in my necessary use of a hairdryer. To anyone with long hair that's debating making the chop, I highly recommend the experience! Check out http://www.locksoflove.org for more information.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The other thing I should mention is that Lifetime Fitness does a really cool thing when the weather's nice - they have Yoga Under The Stars by the outdoor pool. It was a nice evening and I thought this feature would enhance the relaxation aspect of the class but a more accurate name for it would be Yoga Under the Stars Obscured By Light Pollution or even better Yoga With Our Friends the Mosquitoes! I was doing pretty good with some of the other crazy balance moves we tried except it's quite difficult to stand in a position like the triangle (at right) and try to focus on relaxing and breathing when a mosquito and three of it's buddies are feasting their way up your ankle and around the circumference of your elbows! And then, since the insects were out in full force their predators joined us too - and really is there anything more calming than staring at a sky filled with swarms of bats?!??? Every time we hit Upward Dog I found myself fearing a face-full of guano. *Eeeeuuughhhh* But the bats left us alone and I suppose I've done worse then sixteen mosquito bites in a night. I'll keep you all posted into my further ventures of human pretzel-hood in the future but for now all I can say is: Beware the Chaturanga!
Friday, August 24, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
In hearing about the mystery woman in white, my imagination took off and I was instantly formulating a Stardust meets Little Mermaid meets Princess Bride fantasy tale of mystery, lost love and high adventure. I should have struck while the iron was hot and written something but I missed my chance. Today I read the follow up article and it came as a not so pleasant reminder that reality is far too eager to dispel imagination. Real life always has an explanation.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Severus Snape - As far as the friend or foe debate goes I'm fully voting for the friend category. (Tony's betting foe so we have an official wager going) My evidence is that Dumbledore trusted him fully regardless of what anyone else said or did so if Snape really is evil you're basically saying that Dumbledore (the cleverest wizard in Rowling's universe) was fooled. I hate character inconsistencies like that so if Severus is a baddie I'm going to be more than a little miffed - plus I'll lose a bet. Also, Snape hated Harry's father which explains his animosity towards Harry but it's worth noting that in the final scene, Snape prevents Harry from performing unforgivable curses - if Snape was evil wouldn't he want Harry to join the dark side? Plus, Snape was also protecting Draco. Which leads me to my next speculation...
Draco Malfoy - Come on J.K. You've set the kid up to be entirely one dimensional with his Potter rivalry and Mudblood loathing. This might be too much wishful thinking but I'd love the final book to bring some sort of redemption or enlightenment to his character. Oddly enough we saw a caring side of Draco's mother in book 6 and even though Lucious is a total tool I think there could be a really cool story line involving the youngest Malfoy's conversion. And speaking of characters that will surprise me....
Regalus Black - If you haven't read the books lately you might not even remember the name Regalus, but he's the briefly mentioned brother of Harry's godfather Sirius. I'm pretty convinced that he's going to be important because at the end of Half-Blood Prince there's a note with the fake Horcrux signed "R.A.B" Anyone else catch that? This either refers to Regalus or to some yet-to-be-introduced new character, the former being the much less cheesy option. We're meant to assume that Regalus is dead but in the world of "If I were J.K. Rowling" he would be secretly hidden by the Order of the Phoenix - there's a bit of dialog between Dumbledore and Draco where Dumbledore talks about the Order's ability to hide people from Voldemort by making them appear to have died. It would be supremely cool if this was actually significant dialog and not just filler. But about not quite dead people....
Albus Dumbledore - Unfortunately I think he's really gone. I'd love to be wrong on this one but keep in mind that previous headmasters have spoken to Harry through their portraits before so even without a LOTR-ripoff Gandalf-style resurrection we can bet that Dumbledore will still be around to give Harry advice and guidance. So the main question is not who's not dead but who's going to die....
??? - I really don't know. Despite what rumors say I don't think it will be Harry. Or at least I really hope it's NOT Harry. Rowling's written some downer books but I can't see her ending the whole thing with the death of her hero. More likely I think the tragedy will strike Ron or Hermione (if I have to place a bet it's on Miss Granger - sad!) and I would suspect that some other minor characters might be leaving too (Hagrid? McGonagall? A Weasly brother?). If Harry and Ginny make it I think I'll be able to cope but dang it, Rowling, why ya gotta play it like this??!?
So there you have it. Let the record show that I'm writing all this down before the book release so that I can say "I saw that coming" or "WHAT?!?!!" with accurate honesty. Enjoy!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
On a side note, about Harry Potter (and this is really not a paragraph worth reading if you're not an HP fan) - it really bugs me that people keep calling the last book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows when in actuality it's Hallows. This leads to the instant debunking of the theory that Godric's Hollow has anything to do with the title. So to all the thirteen year olds that actively subscribe to and propagate that myth, I just want to say "You're wrong!!!" Okay, I really only want to say it to the junior high kids heatedly discussing the issue on the Metra last week but anyways.... *deep calming breaths* So what are the Deathly Hallows? Well, my suspicions are that if you consider "hallows" from the origin of "holy" we're talking about some sort of sacred (but deathly!) items or objects. Horcruxes, anyone? Oh well. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.
Happy reading to all and to all a book light!
Deathly Hallows Countdown:
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Even when you think you learned a lot about something in school, it's amazing how much you discover you didn't know. And because a day like that needed a more positive note.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
On the first day of our vacation Tony and I went here.
And also here.
And of course to a super awesome wedding - Congratulations Beth & Rob!!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The cross before me, the world behind. No turning back,
Raise the banner high - It's not for me, it's all for You.
Let the heavens shake and split the sky, let the people clap
their hands and cry - It's not for us, it's all for You.
Not to us, but to Your name be the glory.
Our hearts unfold before Your throne the only place
for those who know it's not for us, it's all for You.
Send Your holy fire on this offering let our worship burn
for the world to see - It's not for us it's, all for You.
Not to us, but to Your name be the glory.
The earth is shaking, the mountains shouting - It's all for You.
The waves are crashing, the sun is raging - It's all for You.
The universe is spinning and singing - It's all for You.
The children dancing, dancing, dancing - It's all for You.
My all for You.
Not to us, but to Your name be the glory.
~ Chris Tomlin, "Not To Us"
I first heard this song (performed by Chris Tomlin himself) at an i-life conference called ignite at the end of 2002. The lyrics are pretty self-explanitory as to why I would call it representative of my life but little did I know that two years after I heard it, it would come to mean even more. Tony and I picked this song as the recessional song at our wedding. After we were announced as Mr. & Mrs. the opening bars started up and Tony and I joined hands and turned to face our cheering friends and family. "The cross before me the world behind, No turning back" was a perfect phrase for that instant of starting our life together and I'm reminded of that moment every time I hear the song. As much as I like to think about our wedding as the ultimate party it was really an offering to God. Not about us, but rather about bringing glory to the one who gave us life and brought us together. So where the first song I picked was about living a life and relationship filled with prayer, this one is about living a life and relationship focused on worship*.
*Okay sidenot that I had to add: I'm always a little amused too when we sing this song at church and people at the service can be completely unemotional. Granted, I probably have more of an attachment to (and thus involvement in) the song than most people, but there's quite the juxtaposition to singing the phrase, "the children dancing, dancing, dancing" while standing stock still. I know there's no right or wrong way to worship but when it comes to God sending "holy fire on this offering" I much prefer the fireworks display rather than a simple tea light.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
"Tonight we walked under a sky hung with a million billion trillion stars, and a perfect crescent moon, and watched the constellations of fireflies blinking greenly and magically in the trees and hedgerows like a tiny magical cityscape. Other fireflies would fly up, and arch across the sky and come down like falling stars."It's the kind of description that just made me sigh pleasantly. His true genius though lies in following up a poetic piece of prose with something like this:
"I sang Stephin Merritt's song "I count it as a sign of literary greatness to bring me to an image of peaceful serenity and then make me laugh out loud. " as we walked, or all of it that I could remember. Dogs don't mind if you forget bits, and the fireflies were too busy flashing and floating and glowing and dreaming to care."
Monday, June 18, 2007
Not knowing how true it would come to be, I once told Tony that a song to describe our relationship should be Bon Jovi's "Livin' On a Prayer". Granted it's long held a place on my list of "Best Songs Ever Written" but in a sense it has come to describe Tony and I pretty well. See, we got in the habit of praying together - A lot. I don't say that to be some sort of uber-Christian boast, it's just a fact. Every morning when he drops me at the train station we pray for our upcoming days and every night we pray before bed thanking God for the day and both times we'll lift up friends and family too. We also do the usual praying before meals and at church but it's this morning and night routine that I know has strengthened our relationship to a huge degree. Before you roll your eyes or think that we're just weirdo religious people, think about 12-step programs. Anyone with addiction problems, grief or other life issues is encouraged to take the first step of Recognizing a Higher Power. Who among us can claim to have an issue free life? Everyone has "stuff" going on and even if you don't want to call yourself a Christ follower, hopefully you can see my view that there is benefit to connecting with something larger than oneself. It takes selfishness out of the relationship and we lift each other up and recognize that our marriage is about more than just us. But back to Jon Bon. For those unfamiliar with the song (go out and download it now, please!) the chorus goes:
We've got to hold on to what we've got.
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not.
We've got each other and that's a lot
For love - We'll give it a shot!
(Woah...) We're halfway there, (Woah-oh!) Livin' on a prayer.
Take my hand and we'll make it I swear:
(Woah-oh!) Livin' on a prayer!
And though I'm pretty sure it was never intended as a religious anthem there is some good stuff in there. "We've got to hold on to what we've got" in a sense could say that we need to cherish and value our friends and family and each other, knowing that it's the intangibles that make life so precious. "It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not" sounds morbid but in terms of eternal life, it's a way to recognize that this world is not all there is - we have life forever with God ahead of us. "We've got each other and that's a lot" speaks to the idea that valuing each other in our marriage is a way to glorify God so "for love we'll give it a shot" and try our best to emmulate Christ each and every day. So then to say that "we're halfway there" can mean that following God is a journey. Our ultimate goal is to see God's kingdom on Earth and although that's difficult to realize, we can make progress if we try to depend on God and be "livin' on a prayer". When there are difficult times to get through we can join hands in prayer and trust God to always see us through ("Take my hand and we'll make it I swear: Livin' on a prayer").
I'm going to save the second song for another blog because this got a little too long and probably a little too cheesy too. Stay tuned for the second song and please note that the picture above is over three years old but it's the only one I had handy right now.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
- I'd be silly not to start with my grandmother's health. She was in the hospital for most of last week but is back at home and quite a bit better. It just goes to show that there really is power in a praying family.
- I'm also done with classes and am soon to receive my "Professional Development Certificate in Forensic Science". *cue the CSI theme song* Hard to believe thirty weeks have gone by just like that. I've learned an immense amount of information, met some amazing people that I might never cross paths with again, taken four exams and written a term paper. Will the experience change my future career path? No comment. Or should I say stay tuned...
- And then there's the Cubs. I'm starting to think a winning streak is harder to find than good shocks on a CTA bus. But just when you want to write them off for the season they do something crazy like play well against the Astros.
- Finished a great book called Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. It's a really well written biography chronicling the life and times of Nelle Harper Lee author of To Kill A Mockingbird. Sort of makes me want to sit down and write a book that will change the world. Sort of.
- Also finally read Ptolemy's Gate, the last book in Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy. Really excellent YA fiction - fantasy blended well with humor, adventure and politics if that makes any sense at all. One of those books with the perfect ending that has everything you didn't want to happen but would not be a good book if it ended any other way. (LibraryThing is down otherwise I'd add cool links.)
- Gearing up for a much needed vacation, too. It's going to involve a minimum of four states - more likely six or eight - and an undisclosed number of stops and sights. Hardest thing about spontaneous road trips? Not planning them.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Seriously folks, I can ride the train ten or twelve times a week for eight months out of the year with naught but a minor impedance but once summer, or at least late spring, attacks say goodbye to being on time. Oh sure, it might be worth a minor complaint if trains were a few minutes off schedule once or twice in a week, but as I all too fondly recall the middle of June last year and the ever so insane Stearic Acid incident, I find that warm weather seems to incur multiple and increasingly lengthy (often half hour or more) alterations for expected arrival times.
Case in point this week. As I was taking the late night train home after class on Tuesday, we were less than ten minutes out of Chicago when the train stopped. It was the bad stop too. Ride the train long enough and you can tell the difference - the normal "good" stops are pre-announced where as the alternative are preceded by a distinct hiss of emergency breaks and generally occur without a station in sight. What made matters worse and exceptionally more frightening was the voice from the walkie-talkie of the nearest conductor that proceeded to tell everyone within earshot, "Looks like someone's laying on the tracks." Trust me, not the words you want to overhear especially when they're followed by the loudspeaker announcement of, "Sorry for the delay here, folks. We may have run over something... or someone. We're sending some officials to go check it out. Thank you for your patience." And I'm really not sure why they were thanking us for patience because really, what choice do we have other than to be patient when stranded between stations on a train that may or may not have just killed someone?? But regardless it was later discovered that the "someone" in question had fallen asleep on the middle track (there's a three track system inbound and outbound on the outer tracks with the middle for freight and transfers) and was perfectly fine with the exception of being startled at awakening to train conductors and railroad police asking if he/she was alright. It was later announced that the individual was "in no condition to be left alone" so the train backed up to allow the sleeper to board and then kindly dropped him/her off at the next station (to an awaiting ambulance and ERT). The story speaks volumes to the compassion and efficiency of Metra staff and I guess also proves that it's possible to hail a train instead of a taxi cab. It's by far the most interesting train story I've had all year but as it was followed yesterday by a train striking a car at a crossing (with an assumedly less happy ending) I have to wonder at the effect of the warmer weather on increasing the incidence of incidents.
So I guess what I have to say is don't be stupid around trains. Maybe when it's warm people think a stroll along the tracks - or even a little nap on the rails - is a good idea. Maybe in the summer rush they they think their car can make the crossing because it's hot and they don't want to wait. There's a reason though, that Metra has begun making the morning announcement, "Did you know a train hitting a car is the equivalent of your car running over a soda can? Look, Listen, Live!" Seriously, they say "soda", not pop. What's the deal with that? But seriously, seriously, it's not really something I should joke about. I hate being late to work but even more than that I hate the thought that summer brings out recklessness that leads to injuries or deaths. Be safe people.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"Just because you have a high level of integrity and are willing to do the spiritual work required by your beliefs, don't think you are better than everyone else. Be careful about self-righteousness; it will only isolate you from those you love. It's healthier to realize that everyone is on their own path and is exactly where they should be at this time."
Friday, May 18, 2007
On reading the book, I was far from new to the tale of the Pimpernel. Sometime in high school I watched the 1982 version of the film The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Anthony Andrews as the lead with supporting roles by a very young Jane Seymour and a dark haired Sir Ian McKellan. (I also saw the 1999 version that was on TV, but I think I liked the '82 film better. And no I haven't seen the musical but I'll jump at the chance to if it comes back to Chicago.) I can't say the I preferred the book or the movie - both are equally charming - but as I read the novel, I had a very clear picture of Anthony Andrews playing Percy. And it brought up some interesting thoughts of the Books vs. Movies debate. Would I have liked the book as much if I had never seen the movie? Would I have pictured a different Pimpernel without the preconceived notions I had in my head?
Generally, I'm a Read the Book Before Seeing the Movie type of person. Mostly because I would rather hate a movie that butchered a good book rather than being disappointed by a book that wasn't as good as it's on screen counterpart. Anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?
As a random side note, I have a "movie" tag in my LibraryThing library and it's interesting to see that over 40 of the books I've read lately have had movie tie-ins. Not sure if this means that my book choices are getting too Hollywood inspired or if screen writers are just getting kind of lazy.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Yeah, we're a weird church. Some people have taken the whole thing to be rather offensive and it's raised a bit of controversy but if you watch the whole series (and the video in the previous link) you get the point that people oftentimes have a negative association with the word Chrisitan. For further evidence, think about people's views of the late Jerry Fallwell. Here's a man who supposedly wanted to represent the kingdom of God in the politcal arena and yet few would aver that he had God's love at the forefront of his actions. Somehow a word which used to mean good, honest, loving people has become tainted into describing a hypocritical political party. When most people hear the word "Christian" they don't think about Jesus. They don't think about people who give their lives to missions in impoverished countries and they don't think about people who daily sacrifice for their neighbors. They don't picture the family that prays for each other through any type of crisis and draws strength from each other and God's love. But those are the Christ followers that I know, love, admire and emulate. And "Christian" just doesn't describe them accurately.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
But life has also been more than a little chaotic because my lab is gearing up to move at the end of the month. It's been craziness all around - I'll spare you the story of the four day old decomposing mouse flesh *ewww* - but things are especially nuts for me since I'm doing the job transition along with wrapping up my class work. I only have five more weeks of my Investigation of Death Scenes class and then I'll get my Forensics certificate. (Woohoo! Lord only knows what I'll do with it...) Overall, it's been a fun series of classes. I might actually miss the cool stuff we've been learning, but I will definitely NOT miss the very late nights.
Although last night - even with class - I was home in time to see the end of the Cubs game... that is, I was home in time to see innings 12, 13, 14, and 15 of the Cubs game. I shouldn't be surprised that they lost (of five extra inning games this year they've only won one) but with games like that you can't help holding on to hope. The highlight for me was when announcers Len Kasper and Bob Brenly decided to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame as a 14th inning stretch. Some may argue that they're not the most insightful commentators out there, but you have to hand it to them that they know how to have fun.
Not much else to say at present. Had a great weekend - saw Spiderman 3 (Good flick - my only complaint was that there seemed to be too many conflicts for one movie: Superhero v. Supervillain ; Superhero v. Self ; Superhero v. Former Best Friend ; Superhero v. Alien Life Form. Still entertaining though and if you liked 1 and 2 you'll probably enjoy it.) Also went to a really fun Cinco de Mayo party at my sister's house. Margaritas, games and karaoke but perhaps those should be stories for another time.