Thursday, December 31, 2009

If it's Cool, You Win?

The video below is of a young man who will explain in three to four minutes how social media really works on the web. So why do you care? Well, he's explaining the shift in the nexus of ideas. The nexus or core is no longer rooted as much in places like the university classroom but moving towards the web with its quick transmission of memes (pieces of cultural information or thoughts). The often fast and furious transmission brings a kind of high that is not necessarily bad because it can be inspirational. That many ideas floating around bouncing into each other is bound to encourage something significant.

But there is a shallowness to it. The medium may have changed and now facilitates some ideas that possibly never would have occurred in our lifetimes. But the impetus of people hasn't changed one whit. They are not necessarily driven by what's best but sometimes by what's cool. For me the real question is whether or not the volume of their exchange inspires more depth. I have thoughts on that as well, but I'll save it for another post.

Hope you take a look at the video.

In case the intro blipped by too fast or you didn't see the ending, "TedTalks" which he refers to is a series of videos designed to spread great ideas. These are fascinating, and I highly recommend taking a look at them if you're interested in what you and others, and probably especially your kids, are going to be seeing and hearing and influenced by.

As for reddit, it's also fascinating, and "fast and furious" is sometimes not sufficient to describe what goes on there. At times I think of it like the trading pit at the NYSE.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Your Momma's in a Cloud

and she's probably not coming down.

Lots of mommas around my age (fifty) give or take 30 years or so, are discovering at a head spinning rate the joys of being online -- a lot. They get to talk to each other and share pictures and videos and find all sorts of nifty articles about the best way to make banana bread not to mention that great write-up on how to apply for college grants.

Okay, forget those other mommas. This momma is really enjoying the ease of use of services to manipulate my mail, to manipulate my music, to manipulate my pictures, but not, unfortunately, to manipulate my husband. He DOES NOT like the internet although he loves that expensive word processor (laptop) he's got.

If I could just get him in the cloud with me, then we might be a little closer to heaven. Seriously, I would love it if he would learn to utilize some of the wonderful features available to him on the web. It would be so much easier and take less time for him to communicate via a social media site or even to e-mail more often. But hey, I do appreciate that he calls people and actually writes letters -- on paper. He will never stop doing that and part of me is glad. But some things are better left to e-mail.

He's starting to use Photobucket, so I shouldn't complain.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let it be so!

and it was and is. "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me..."(Isaiah 65:1a)

I hope the Lord makes Himself plain to you. Many blessings and merry Christmas.

BTW, I can't post this video without saying that I "lifted" it from my friend Jack. So glad there are people like Jack who give lie to the notion that the Lord makes you bourgeois and boring. :D

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And now for something...

a little different. Bossa Nova, the Latin version of swing. This piece was originally titled Águas de Março (uh, Portugese for Waters of March).

A while back my brother told me about seeing Jane Monheit. I had never heard of her, and he said there was one song in particular that was fantastic. I didn't realize at the time that it was a song I already loved which had been recorded by the talented but tragic Susannah McCorkle. I love both versions now but feel free to compare.

and if you're really into it, you can listen to the version by the talented but tragic Elis Regina. Wonder if this song is cursed? Hopefully, Jane is third time lucky.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free indeed

I tend toward snarky, and I've justified its frequent use by mentally trotting out the Apostle Paul's sarcasm to the Galatians or the Corinthians or even the Lord Himself laying it on Job. But the truth is that I don't feel snarky at all when I think of what the Lord has done in my life.

I come from a long line of people who have battled mental illness to the point that several have been institutionalized and a few have committed suicide or tried to. But hey, our family has developed a pretty good sense of humor about these things. Where do you think the snark came from? At get togethers we've made jokes about our family crest being a couple of guys wearing straight jackets or wondering if Uncle Ray* was still alive 'cause no one has seen him outside his house for 15 years or being amused that Aunt Sheila*, a nurse, was doing pretty good these days 'cause she only had Munchausen and not, thank God, by proxy.

And all of this was a regular laugh riot until one day a year or so after I became a parent, my husband asked me, "Have you ever been happy?" To which I replied, "Yes," and he wasn't satisfied with that answer. "When was that? And how long do you think that lasted?" I actually had to think about it. "The day our daughter was born, and it lasted about an hour or two."

Oh, I knew I wasn't Miss Sanguine and frankly, I was proud of that. I cloaked myself in pensiveness as a way of giving great meaning to being so darn serious all the time. But serious all the time is boring -- not just to everyone around me but to me as well. It's one thing to bore others; it's another to bore yourself. So it was only natural that I developed a sense of humor with an edge as I was learning to deal with the world.

Surely, laughter is great medicine, but only to a point. Thankfully, the Lord has shown me another way, and my husband was instrumental in making me realize what I was missing. I've now had many days of happiness and more importantly am understanding the nature of joy. The Lord has shown me what it means to be joyful beyond explanation. Uh, I would explain it, but, oh never mind. :D Suffice to say that John 8:32 is dead on. I know first hand that's real. Thank you, Lord! So I just don't want to laugh out of contempt. I want to remember the grace I have and continually realize I'm overflowing with enough to go 'round. Thankfully, the Lord is in me, and He doesn't let me forget -- hence this post.

Oh, I may veer off at times and say something I think is funny but in reality is spiteful. Ultimately the Lord will keep me from that bondage. May He always keep me from being full of myself so that I don't become the thing I despise -- cute meanness. Oh, please keep me from cute meanness masquerading as cleverness. Let me remember there's no life in it beyond a few moments, and all that remains is the sour after-taste of self-righteousness.

* Heck yeah the names were changed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

XX=Abortion Supporter?

Why is it that if you're a female you are a supporter of a woman's right to have an abortion on demand? Oh, wait, you have to be educated too. Okay, I get it. Those women who do not support abortion on demand just need more education and maybe a female with an unwanted pregnancy in their family. If that would just happen, then they would understand how very necessary it is to preserve a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. What they absolutely should know is that if this ability is taken away then countless young women will have their lives ruined by carrying a pregnancy to delivery. Got it.

But what about all of these women I've met over the years who had an abortion and now grapple with depression (sometimes debilitating depression) because they believed getting an abortion (yes, I know it's not a pleasant choice ever) would make their lives better than it would have been? Oh, they have been messed with by the religious right or are too much a part of the out dated patriarchal view to understand how good this choice was?

I might heed that point, but these women come from all sorts of backgrounds and beliefs. Some actually come from women who also had abortions themselves and don't seem to have any remorse. In other words, they have been duly educated on the benefits of abortion on demand by both word and deed. So why do they feel bad? Why is this something that just won't go away?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh yeah

this is what I like.

I guess when you're fifty you're supposed to like this stuff, but I've liked it since I was oh, about eight years old.

I can remember about second grade trying to pick out a Duke Ellington tune on the piano -- Satin doll. Still adore this tune. There was just something about swing that called to me and still does. Maybe because I've got that swing rhythm going on all the time. Don't know if some are born with it, but I really don't remember not having that beat permeate my body.

When I was in college, I finally got a chance to really talk about jazz and swing in particular. There were actually other kids who didn't think I was nuts to listen to hours of Duke Ellington, and there was one guy, David, in the music department who was a few years older than the rest of us, and I really loved talking to him. He's the one who gave me a much broader perspective of jazz and turned me onto Dave Bruebeck, Joe Pass and I don't even remember who else. He even took me to see a jazz concert that featured Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Brown and Joe Pass. I can still hear it. What a treat. David also had great stories about his time on the road as a jazz drummer, and he could play any instrument and well. I didn't know anyone other than my dad who really could do that, so David was pretty special in my eyes.

But what I really spent time doing was playing jazz. I probably played at least four hours a day, and it was tough to get that time in when I was going to school and working and had a lousy piano at home. So I used to sneak into the practice rooms at school until a music major would kick me out. Most of the time they didn't care if I was in there doing the odd hours that no one wanted, and I didn't mind weird hours if it meant I got to play those concert grands.

And now, thirty plus years have passed, and I haven't played so much the last few, but I'm being inspired by, of all things, YouTube. Yes, I have loved listening to Mel, and Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk and on and on. But I've been inspired to play by 7notemode, davebeeboss, lot2learn and several others. They have made me think about playing in a way that I only dreamed about in my 20s. Thank you, guys!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I should be...

cleaning or baking some sort of masterpiece for Christmas (in my dreams) or listening to my child read. What am I doing? Listening for the phone. I'm such a gadget freak that I have all sorts of ringtones for family and friends, and then there's the ringtone for those I don't know (or at least don't know their numbers). I keep listening for that one to know if I do or don't have a job. So it rang a few minutes ago, and when I sprinted (uh, moved really fast :D) to pick it up, on the line was a pleasant voice saying: Congratulations, You've won either a trip to the Caribbean or... [click]

My husband, God Bless that wonderful man, will actually listen to sales people on the phone and respond politely. I guess I'm not nearly as polite. I used to be (a hundred years ago), but now I guess I've gone the way of so many who have had one too many jarring moments and all for what? Someone who pesters people for a living. Maybe I'll get back my joy of considering someone's humanity no matter how I'm presented with it. I envy Doug's ability to remain joyful in the face of even a telemarketer's call though I used to think he was naive. No, he's just really nice.

If I'm candid with myself, having time to write this blog of complaint could have been spent listening to some person on the phone who's just trying to get by -- even if sometimes they're involved in a scam for a living? I would love to be that nice again.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is Green Godly?

Well, you might think so considering how some Christians act. They become hushed and smug looking if someone is not observing the appropriate homage to the planet -- ala this idea that man really has the ability to save the planet? :D Oh, granted Christians are called to be good stewards of what God has given us, and too often that doesn't happen as it should -- just like lots of other things we're called to do don't happen as they should.

But once again a single issue is being elevated to the gold standard for determining good character. If you are not "green" (whatever that means to whomever you're talking to at the time, and it usually means you should be trying to save the planet), then your Christian character is very questionable and the doubt eclipses almost everything else about you. Oh, you cheat on your spouse but you recycle faithfully? No problem. At least this is the sense I'm getting from a lot of college age and twenty something Christians I know.

I guess I'm old (nix that, I am old), and my old, jaded self sees that dupes are had in every age, and the green movement will produce an abundance. The harvest of green is going to be enormous, and I'm not talking about good little recyclers banking CO2; I'm talkin' cash. Yep, the green movement may be the biggest cash cow(gasp)since, uh, well, since Bernie Madoff first pitched an investment. I can see it now -- those who will be buying up fluorescent bulbs with a superior gleam in their eyes while a cadre of the really superior will be laughing on the way to the bank! LOL! (note to me: hope my kids listened when I told them to buy "green" stocks never mind that fluorescent bulbs may actually do more damage to the environment given the difficulty of their disposal.)

Are we so stupid that we don't see what's going on? Uh, yeah, I guess we are since Christians are jumping on this bandwagon so quickly the wheels are threatening to buckle. Are we so desperate that we have to embrace something extra-Biblical to prove we're good little Christians? Do we have to embrace "saving the planet" to be relevant?

Let's see. In my lifetime I've been told I needed to cater to almost every whim of my husband to be relevant. I've been told I needed to be a career woman to be relevant. I've been told I needed to be thin to be relevant. I've been told I needed to be intellectual to be relevant. I've been told I needed to be financially independent to be relevant. I've even been told I should be a non-smoker to be relevant, and now I need to be a master recycler too!?

But let me answer what's really on your mind. Yes, I recycle! Are you happy now? :D

Friday, December 11, 2009

We will sell no wine before its time

When we were younger, that's what I used to say to Doug, my husband. Not too spiritual sounding, but hey, it does have a basis in scripture. There were a host of people in scripture who had to wait, and that time spent waiting was certainly not a waste. The Lord was molding them for His purpose, and how glorious to be molded for the Lord‘s purpose! We know He makes the best wine. :D That's what’s happening in our situation, and I'm so glad Doug had the wisdom not to jump the gun before he was ready for pastoring and before I was ready -- even though it was not always very pleasant to wait. Now he's reaping the reward of that and so are many to whom he ministers.

One of the biggest advantages is that he knows how to wait, how to wait out a storm or a dry spell. We’re dying to see this in people, but honestly, most of us don’t like how it’s formed. It’s not pretty and sometimes it seems downright boring. When great wine is made, it’s not a pretty process, and most of it is about sitting around in barrels. I’m so glad my husband submitted and is submitting to the process because it has made him a very fine person who does not shuck and run at the first, second, or even fiftieth sign of trouble (oh that it would stop at 50). He has a tenacity that is not of this world, and he doesn’t just try to be patient, he is patient. The Lord does such good work! If we will just listen to Him. He has made it plain that it's all about staying focused on what He wants, about His will being done, which the scriptures make abundantly clear what that is, and if that entails waiting until you're 95 for some things or never having them, then so be it. Ultimately, it’s not about what we want and it never has been no matter how good our desires appear to be. The Lord wants the best, so we can relax.

I'm so glad Doug trusted the Lord with his life and with me. When I was reluctant to go into full-time ministry, he gave me over to the Lord and left it there. This was no easy feat, but he did it, and it was probably the most significant thing he’s done in our marriage. He recognized that he had to trust the Lord -- even with his ministry. LOL! This meant that some of my fears had to be worked out between me and the Lord and no amount of talking or strong arming was going to deal with it. It was the Lord’s to deal with directly. Doug also heard what I was saying and then had the wisdom to seek the Lord to weigh it. Some things that I said he dismissed and some he heeded. Always, it was about doing what brought glory to the Lord and not to ourselves or about gaining comfort for ourselves. You know I Timothy 3:5 is not in scripture for nothing. LOL! Frankly, it’s childish to think that if someone does not know how to minister to their family, that they will know how to minister to the church. If there is anything that Doug has learned, it‘s how to minister to his family. He has children of whom he can be so very proud, and who by their very lives are ministering to others, and certainly, his wife has benefited from his shepherding in the Lord.

Pardon the clumsy use of metaphor, but I think I made my point.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

In Response to Vulpes Libris' Thursday Soapbox: The Perfect Bookstore

see Vulpes Libris

I adored Half-Price Books when it first started in an old laundromat in Dallas, Texas. Can't remember if the washers and dryers were still there, but the folding counters and clothes carts were, and they were covered and filled with books. There were also various and sundry crates used for books -- milk crates, fruit crates, etc. -- and there was no rhyme nor reason as to which containers were used where. As for chairs, there was everything from old chaise lounges with no backs to recliners (ala Frazier's dad's) to bean bag chairs, which meant that no one cared if someone was sprawled every which way reading a book.

A few years after this they opened a store about four or five miles to the south in an old strip shop across the street from one of the first Dr. Pepper plants. My husband and I thought we had died and gone to heaven since this place was enormous -- about half the size of a Wal-Mart but the ceilings were low slung and gave an intimate feel. Plus, the owners had really classed it up by having matching crates for each category. The arts section had milk crates, the records section (yeah, they added a wonderful old record section) had peach crates, and the history section was really up-town with brand new wooden shelves (no beveling mind you; just some lumber slapped together) and on and on.

We frequently spent several hours there on Saturday mornings (this was before kids' sports dominated our lives) and then topped it with lunch at a great old Italian restaurant next door so we could take our grocery bags full of books and sit and ooh and aah over our finds. I remember us envying the clerks at the bookstore and wishing we could have worked there to get first dibs on the really great stuff. The clerks definitely weren't there for the money, and everyone of them were readers and passionate about discussing books.

Then Half-Price had to go and make a chain and slick it up, which was fine for a few years, but it's never been what it was. Same thing happened with Tattered Cover in Denver, which is close to where I live now. Had to spiff it up and lose its charm and that wonderful invitation to explore without being intimidated by some kid who can run a computer but who looks at you like you have another head if you ask for an anthology of Chekhov never mind asking for Ambrose Bierce. As for the furniture, I'm a mutt, so the furniture is way too fine for me to ever relax.

Having said all of this, I admit I'm a big time Amazon user, but I still feel guilty when I buy a book there. I guess my old 70s brown crushed velvet love seat, which I'm sitting on as I type this, is my attempt to revisit the days of the tacky old bookstores, and Vulpes Libris serves as manna for book discussions so I can escape the sometimes mundane thinking in my little town (Think Dibley here, oh, and you would be really close to imagining my life. :D)

See what happens when you name something soapbox.