Sunday, October 25, 2009

I think I'd like a quiverful of children, myself

Psalms 127:4-5
As arrows are in the hand of a might man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Contest with prize!

Dear readers,

I purchased Sufjan Steven's new DVD The BQE recently, and it came with 3 downloads of the film (iphone-sized). My last download will go to the winner of this contest (I will e-mail him/her the access code).

Here is the contest: Make a one-panel comic including chestnuts. It can be in the dialog, in the background, as a character, a prop - whatever. E-mail submissions to me by midnight on the 30th, and I'll decide the winner on Halloween (and post the submissions, unless I get weird ones). Scanners are available in the HBLL (the copier ones are easier to use than ever - you can even have them e-mail it to you). Most of you know my address; if you don't know me, just use my Board address:

Okay, have fun! Even if you're not crazy about Sufjan I would encourage you to participate, because, it will be kind of hilarious.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

another epistle

Dear cute guy at RMMLA,

I was too shy to talk to you, and I thought you were a professor, but now that I've used my creepy data mining skills it looks like you are a fellow graduate student in North Carolina. I am loving the plaid sport coat, but Faulkner? Seriously? Don't we have enough Faulkloreists in the world?

your snobby once-proximal,


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Amazon stat

Have you seen the new feature where you can look at the readability stats of the book? This book by my aesthetics teacher is harder to read than 97% of other books, while Infinite Jest is only harder to read than 35% of other books (though it's longer than 99% of the books on Amazon). McCarthy's Border trilogy is amazingly easy to read in comparison, with a Flesch-Kincaid level of 4.4 (meaning a 4th grader could read it). And, of course, Proust has longer sentences than 99% of other books (36.8). Unfortunately this feature is only available to the books for which the publisher has consented to have the "look inside!" feature available, which isn't all of them... but fun times! I wonder if the stats include children's books.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

the postmodern self

In a weird Wikipedia chain (Baudrillard-Zizek-Lacan) I found myself looking into Self-Relations in the Psychotherapy Process, a book my former semi-retired boss wanted to get rid of. It has a chapter on "Understanding and Treating the Postmodern Self." At first I'm skeptical, but oddly enough, I found myself identifying with their case study:
One wants to join the cynic, who seems so smart and invulnerable. Then the earnest and innocent self is left behind, ridiculed and humiliated. The innocent self becomes a kind of "hot potato" to be passed back and forth, no one wishing to be the final receptacle of such vulnerability. [...] One might say that Henry [the case study] lacks just such a capacity for transitional experiencing, a place between the fixedness of self as "really this" or "really that." What Henry has not fully appreciated is that no one is "really" a banker in some transcendent sense, nor is anyone really not a banker; if one looks closely enough, one finds that there is really no such thing as a banker in a Platonic or essentialist sense.

I find myself also feeling that cynicism is a safe place for me - where I can blame other institutions for my failures, or at least something I can't change. I also often complain that I can't really be a graduate student, or that I'm "becoming one of them." But there isn't going to be some day where I wake up and I'm "really" an academic intellectual or I'm "really" someone who knows what she wants to do with her life. Anyway, I wish I could scan the whole chapter and send it to you. Well, I guess I can, if you're interested. Let me know.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Top five most useful presents I have ever received or given myself

Okay, I was thinking about gifts lately, and which ones I have found the most useful and have lasted the longest. Thus a small list:

1. REI Backpack
My freshman year of high school, my parents bought me this backpack for my birthday. I whined because it was pretty much my only present that year, but nine years later I am still using it five days a week. My sister still uses hers, too.

2. IBM Thinkpad Laptop
My dad gave me his old laptop when I graduated from high school. It lasted me three years, and he bought it used. I used it almost every day, and when the motherboard finally fried I was able to live without it for the summer, but I really missed it?

3. Sony Portable Cassette Player
I think my parents bought me this tape player when I was around 9 years old for Christmas. I used it to listen to my tapes all the time up through high school, and I think my mom still uses it to take to church and play music for her lessons sometimes.

4. Grado SR60 headphones
I bought these for myself about two years ago when all the cords of other cheap earbuds kept getting crushed when I put my mp3 player in my pocket. I use them all the time, with my laptop especially, and it's a better listening experience than just using my laptop's speakers. Every once in a while when I'm trying to watch a movie with someone I wish I had another pair and one of those dual-headphone output plugs.

5. Seagate 150 GB External Hard Drive
Another Christmas present from... about four years ago. I use it a few times every week to store huge files and listen to music. It's the old-school style, which looks like that droid tank from Star Wars V, but I think that it's a stable design, which is really what I go for in external drive design.

Honorable Mentions: My Land's End rain jacket (used every winter since around '04), my American Heritage Dictionary, my typewriter (more useful than you might initially suspect!), my 1 GB mp3 player, the portfolio thing I bought from the BYU bookstore to hold all my papers, and the green sport coat I bought at Thriftown for $7.

Looking back on this post, I'm like "wow maybe I am a materialist," but this is stuff that has really made a difference in the quality of my life, I think.