Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I Did This Summer

I have to post some pictures of my summer projects. First up, a bunch of rocks:

After my neighbors put in their retaining wall last summer, this area was a pile of dirt about the height of that little white fence. All those little blue rocks were mixed in with the dirt. Also, the retaining wall project necessitated my taking down my limestone rock wall.

So I dug out all the dirt, rebuilt my rock wall, and separated all the rocks from the dirt. Now, it's just rock. I like rocks. Dig it:

So that took a long time, mostly because I didn't go outside during July. Too hot to sit down, much less work with rocks. But I needed to do something to feed my middle-age-onset OCD while I sweated in the house. Pinterest has been a big help for that. And that's where I learned to do this:

A purse! Made out of chip bags! Mostly Cheetos! Isn't it shiny and pretty? Well, I like it. Plus, the endless cutting and folding is very satisfying.

I know you all are too healthy to eat chips on the regular, but if you have a moment of weakness, save the bag for me, will ya? Feed the Beast!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Farewell Concert

If you are having a hard time at work, here are a few songs to sing really loud and dramatically (possibly while picturing your boss squirming with shame at his own incompetence).

The Silver Fox!:

Flaco Jimenez on the accordian!:

And for when you want to shout obscenities to a very catchy tune!:

Nothing like a good kiss off song.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What He Said

For the first time ever, I own me a cell phone. Had to have a number to put on my resume, so any potential employers can get ahold of me at any time.

I'm considering this song for my ring tone.

Too obvious?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Suburban Malaise

Revolutionary RoadRevolutionary Road by Richard Yates

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just got the DVD of the first season of Mad Men, and the timing is odd. The show and this book seem to have a lot in common. It's about a young couple in the '50s, living in Connecticut and he works in Manhattan. The book has the same sort of underlying feeling of menace as the show. The same anxieties are apparent in the characters. The experience of WWII looms. The uncomfortable gender roles chafe everyone.

The central couple in the book seem to match Don and Betty Draper in outward charm and attractiveness, but their self-delusions run very deep. They seem to have drifted into a suburban lifestyle, despite their (outward, at least) contempt for it. They are often enumerating the ways that they are different than their neighbors, to make it clear (to themselves, at least) how they are more worldly or less conventional. They are desperate for something meaningful, but can't admit to their desperation. Their inability to be honest with themselves or anybody else means they are not likable characters, but they are pitiable. It's a fairly depressing read.

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A Familiar Place

Downtown Owl: A NovelDowntown Owl: A Novel by Chuck Klosterman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is amazing. I wasn't sure what to expect from fiction and Klosterman. I read Fargo Rock City and I'd faulted him for an Aspergers-like lack of empathy in that book.

But he is certainly aware of the people in his hometown. (I assume this is mostly drawn from his childhood, since it's about a small town in North Dakota.) He nailed it. We spend most of our time with three characters, and they are all authentic and believable. As are all the supporting characters. His descriptions could have been of the town where I grew up, and many of his observations felt like things I'd thought before. It'd be interesting to hear what a reader without that background would think of the story -- whether it would be just as compelling for them.

I especially liked his theme of the "universal" knowledge of a small community. His characters are always describing the history or character of some person, place, or thing, and saying, "Everybody knows this." He even compares what "everybody knows" to Orwell's 1984 and the idea of the thought police. A high schooler wonders how Orwell's world of everyone being forced to think the same thing was different from living in Owl, North Dakota. Good times!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

There are Four, Dammit!

The Three Musketeers (Bantam Classics)The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well that's over. It took a long time to get this book read for bookclub, partly because of an injury that makes reading a bit uncomfortable. But the book wasn't helping. Shallow melodrama isn't really my cup of tea. It's like the script for a really long cartoon. Everyone's either wicked or honorable, with no middle ground, and why they might be good or bad is not delved into. They seemingly fall in love at the drop of a hat, but express it in the most overwrought language. The wicked people are ultimately more interesting than the honorable, but it's hard to care about any of them.

And anyway, there are four musketeers! And the fourth is essentially the lead character! Whatever dude-mas.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rogue Scribes

Misquoting JesusMisquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd prefer to give this book 3.5 stars or something. The writing is super pedantic and repetitive. I listened to the audiobook and it was fairly easy to space out and not lose the thread because of his writing style. While the book might be disturbing for those who take the Bible literally and believe all of it is the inerrant word of God, for the rest of us, it's interesting as a history of the actual text of the Bible. Ehrman describes what we know about how the books of the Bible were written, which ones were chosen to be part of the New Testament, and how they came down to us, since the original manuscripts are unavailable. He goes into great detail about how the Bible was transcribed before the invention of the printing press, how the text was translated and changed over the centuries, and what kinds of variations can be found among the various early manuscripts. As a scholar, his goal has always been to try to recreate the original writings -- to the degree that's possible.

The variations and changes made by the scribes who copied the early manuscripts of the New Testament are not insignificant, but mostly related to matters of doctrine, it seems. I don't think they would change most people's main conceptions about Jesus and how he lived. But the book offers a great broad perspective on how Christianity grew from a Jewish sect into a major religion. And it gives important historical context for the compilation of what must be the most influential book in history.

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