1.29.2005

January 30: Election Day



I'm up late (just because I always am) and just turned on Fox News. They are showing Iraqis voting; women smiling and men raising arms in victory and joy as they wait in line at the polls. I find myself with tears streaming down my face; I didn't expect this emotion. I've been praying for days that the election would go well, and now to watch the voting begin-- to watch the birth of a democracy-- is exhilarating. I pray the rest of the day goes well; I'm sure there will be violence at some point, but I hope it will be minimal.

God bless the many American and Iraqi (and Australian and British and other) troops who sacrificed their lives or health or time with their families to bring the gift of freedom to Iraqi men and women.

God bless President Bush and other leaders for having the vision to see that free elections in Iraq were possible and the courage to carry out a plan to bring this day about.

God bless the Iraqi men and women as they risk their lives to defy the insurgents and vote.


I feel like I'm being over emotional about this, but I know how frequently I thank God that I live in a nation that gives me the freedom to worship Him, and now Iraqi Christians are on their way to being able to do the same thing.


(photo via Powerline)

1.23.2005

Why both Islam and the mainstream media don't make sense:

Go read Tim Blair's report on The Night The Soldiers Came.

The Washington Post alerts us to the fact that American soldiers are behaving as "devils" in their dealings with a typical mild-mannered college-educated Iraqi. Is it typical for mild-mannered college-educated Iraqis to beat their mothers and own girlie mags?

1.21.2005

I wish I had read this when I was sixteen.

I may not have recognized its worth, though. Read this: What You'll Wish You'd Known by Paul Graham.

Then send the link to (or print it out for) every high schooler you know.

My favorite bit:

Curiosity

"And what's your real job supposed to be? Unless you're Mozart, your first task is to figure that out. What are the great things to work on? Where are the imaginative people? And most importantly, what are you interested in? The word "aptitude" is misleading, because it implies something innate. The most powerful sort of aptitude is a consuming interest in some question, and such interests are often acquired tastes.

A distorted version of this idea has filtered into popular culture under the name "passion." I recently saw an ad for waiters saying they wanted people with a "passion for service." The real thing is not something one could have for waiting on tables. And passion is a bad word for it. A better name would be curiosity.

Kids are curious, but the curiosity I mean has a different shape from kid curiosity. Kid curiosity is broad and shallow; they ask why at random about everything. In most adults this curiosity dries up entirely. It has to: you can't get anything done if you're always asking why about everything. But in ambitious adults, instead of drying up, curiosity becomes narrow and deep. The mud flat morphs into a well.

Curiosity turns work into play."

(via Instapundit.)

1.20.2005

I'm feeling the warmth of the fire of freedom.

My mom won't be happy to hear this, but I skipped class this morning to watch the inauguration. I planned on taping it and hoping to get back in time to catch the end of the speech, but I just couldn't drag myself away from the TV. The pomp and circumstance and historical significance- all those power players in one place- is like pure crack cocaine for a political junkie like myself. I'm glad I stayed and watched the whole thing live; I experienced all the highs a Bush supporter has come to expect from his greatest moments: a few tears of pride, chills at the recongnition of truth and goodness, and those split seconds of terror when protesters get out of hand. (Does anybody else panic when they hear that stupid NBC Special Report Music? NBC: "Bum-ba-ba-ba-baduh-duh-duh..." Me: "THE PRESIDENT IS DEAD!! Oh please let it just be an earthquake!" I know, that's terrible. It's usually just a stupid press conference, anyway.)

If you missed the speech, you can read the full text here or watch clips at c-span.org. My favorite bits:

- "From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world."

- "I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character."

- "When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom."

Go read the whole thing, as they say.

1.11.2005

Day Two of the Spring 2005 semester

CIS 260: Application Development I.
This class will be challenging, but it will also be one of the most useful I'm taking this semester. We'll be learning Java (a programming language, having nothing to do with coffee), so I'll be able to do cooler, more useful things on the websites I design. Maybe I'll even do something nifty with this site and get rid of this hastily-fiddled-with Blogger template.

ART 215: Drawing II.
I felt fifty times more confident on the first day of Drawing II than I did on the first day of Drawing I. I suppose that's normal, though. The instructor for this class didn't seem quite as friendly as my last drawing instructor, but she does seem to have a more structured plan for the class, which means a lot more to me than being nice. I hated never really being sure what I was supposed to be doing, and I don't think I'll have to worry about that this semester. Plus, a couple of people that were in my Drawing class last semester are in this section with me, so it's nice to know someone already and have someone who already knows my drawing ablities (and inabilities).

An explanation of why I'm taking all these 101 classes.
All this blogging is wearing me out. (If I had have read that sentence even a year and a half ago, I would have no idea what it meant. I probably would have thought it was naughty.) I'm going to keep this short. I have to take a lot of General Education classes because the Bachelor's degree I already hold is from a Bible college, and thefore it wasn't fully accredited. Lots of my classes did transfer, but many didn't. Therefore, I have to take a bunch of classes I either never took, or took, but weren't exactly the same as what SMSU requires. Sorry that was boring.

RIP Remington 1875

The best, most reliable small appliance I ever owned died today. I was getting ready for class this morning and my trusty Remington 1875 watt hair dryer went "pop!" and emitted a wisp of smoke. I almost cried. I've had that hair dryer for over five years and I loved it. It's been on every vacation I've been on since I got it; it went with me to England. It was so powerful that if I ever had to use anyone else's hair dryer, I felt like I just just holding an oscillating fan up to my head. If I let anyone else use it, they would often comment on its power. I've spent many a minute whilst drying my hair composing glowing letters of thanks to the Remington company for producing such a fine product. I had to take a picture so I might never forget my old friend. Behold the glory:



Notice the patina of years of loving use on the faux chrome finish, and the surge-protector-plug-thingy which protected me from death by electrocution. I can't bear to part with it, so I'm hoping to include it in one of my projects for 3D Design. If I do, I will of course post a picture of the sculpture.

I bought another Remington 1875 watt hair dryer at Target today, but this one has Ionic Conditioning. I can't imagine it could be any better than my old one, but I will certainly let you know how it performs.

1.10.2005

As promised, a report on the first day of classes...

ENG 215 - Creative Writing: Short Story.
Believe it or not, this is the first creative writing class I've ever taken. I'm a little worried because the professor (who also happens to be Jody Bilyeu of my favorite local band Big Smith) said that the only people who have problems in this class are the good essayists who like to "cleverly turn a phrase." As we all know, I'm nothing if not a fabulous essayist, master of cleverly turned phrases. (I hope you are all aware that my occasional boasting is tongue-in-cheek and I am actually compensating for my insecurities.) But, in fact, nearly all of my writing experience has been in composition classes, writing essays. I spent the whole semester last spring as a grad assistant pounding the importance of a thesis statement into the brains of college freshmen. Today I learned that contemporary short stories never have a thesis or an explicit moral lesson. Their purpose is to capture the complexities, and therefore the truth, of everyday contemporary life. My paradigms must shift.

ART 101 - Three Dimensional Design.
This will be a class full of new experiences, as I don't believe I have ever sculpted or built anything. We just went over the syllabus today, so it's hard to tell how the rest of the semester will actually go. I'll keep you updated.

HST 101 - History of Western Civilization I.
I'm looking forward to learning about Greek, Rome, and early European history. It will come in handy someday when I'm on Jeopardy! (Please note that the exclamation point is part of the actual name of the game. I normally wouldn't end such a sentence with an exclamation point.)

PLS 101 - American Democracy & Citizenship
This will be one of my favorite classes this semester; I know it already. If you know me at all, you know I love politics (or least the parts of it that can be loved). The professor is going to be great. He is definitely a Republican (or at least a conservative), and in just one lecture, I learned more about the need for Social Security reform than I have managed to pick up in months of news- and blog-reading (not that I ever really tried to learn too much about it.) I'll definitely have things to share with you from this class; I'm looking forward to actually learning what I think I already know.

Tomorrow: Application Development I and Drawing II and an explanation of why I'm taking all these 101 classes.

1.09.2005

A back-to-school lamentation in which I use too many cleverly-crafted hypenated adjectives

It was back-to-school beer 'n' notebooks night at Wal-Mart. I (foolishly) thought I could purchase one of my trusty Five Star college-ruled five subject notebooks at a store somewhere in Springfield. I made my first mistake when I passed on the last one at Target because it had a blue cover and there was dirt of some sort on the side of the pages. I thought, "I need to pick up a few groceries anyway, I'll just get one while I'm at Wal-Mart." The office supply aisle at Wal-Mart (actually, the whole store) was FULL of Coors-Light-toting frat boys and SMSU-hoodie-wearing messy-ponytailed dorm divas. And there were NO notebooks for any of them. None. I don't think there were even any pink and teal Lisa Franks left. I didn't even bother with the groceries, deciding to stop at the Price Cutter across the street from my apartment instead. There indeed were Five Star college-ruled five subject notebooks (even one with a nice neutral olive green cover!) at Price Cutter. FOR EIGHT DOLLARS! I didn't realize the price 'til the overly-chatty checkout boy scanned it. Eight bucks probably isn't that much more than I would have paid at Wal-Mart, but I panicked and told him I didn't want it after all. By this time, it was nearly 8:00 pm on a Sunday night, and all the office supply stores were closed. I resigned myself to a whole semester of inconsistent note-taking because I would spend the first day of class with a legal pad instead of the Official Notebook of the Spring 2005 Semester.

Before you start feeling too sorry for me, however, I found a little-used Five Star in my file cabinet from a handout-heavy semester which required me to abandon it for a more accomodating three-ring binder/looseleaf setup. I emptied it of its few written-upon pages, tucked it safely inside my bookbag, and I can now sleep soundly knowing I will be able to keep one semester's worth of notes in one high-quality, long-lasting notebook.

Tomorrow: a report on my first day of classes.

I like sleeping late and extra money.

My sister was supposed to babysit for some of my friends from Young Republicans last night. Unfortunately, she had/has a terrible cold, so I filled in for her. The baby slept most of the time, but did wake up and was fussy for a while. Of course, dealing with babies/kids always makes me think about what it would be like to have one of my very own. I decided that someday it might be nice to have one/some, but for right now, I'm really glad I don't.

I saw the comedienne Kathleen Madigan on TV the other night and she was talking about how she gets Christmas cards from her married friends with pictures of their cute kids and dogs. She said, "What am I supposed to send? Pictures of me sleeping late, with extra money?"

1.07.2005

Can you send a belated Christmas card?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my very few (but treasured) readers!

Sorry I haven't posted in so long; I was first busy with finals, then I was at my parents' house for the holidays, stuck in dial-up heck. It was too much of a pain to sign on and tie up the phone lines anytime anything brilliant came to mind.

Thanks for asking, yes, I did enjoy the break from school. I didn't do anything too exciting, just hung out with my family and friends. We had several game nights. I made two stunning last-minute comebacks to become the Trivial Pursuit AND Balderdash Champions of Christmas 2004. However, my dad absolutely crushed my mom and I in Scrabble on New Year's Eve. Yes, I spent New Year's Eve playing Scrabble with my parents. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to spend New Year's Eve 2005 with people who don't remember New Year's Eve 1979.

What is Christopher?

That was the question to the Jeopardy! answer, "Senator Kit Bond." The category was Nicknames; the point was to state the full name that belonged with the nickname.

I think that was the first time someone with whom I've shaken hands was the topic of a Jeopardy! question. Except maybe Glen Campbell.