Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What My Furniture Says About Me, or Where have All the Men Gone?

Jacki wrote a post about her furniture today, so I thought I'd do the same. I was actually planning on writing about this particular piece of furniture, anyway, so now I can kill two birds with one stone . . .

This is my favorite piece of furniture and the one that I think represents me best:

It's my bookshelf, of course, and it's the dark brown version of Jacki's. I love, love, love it. (Please excuse the Swiffer box on far left, middle shelf . . .) The reason I love it is because it represents my love for learning EVERYTHING! I have reference books, science books, computer books, German books, religious books, creative fiction and non-fiction, and recipe books. All organized neatly. There are empty shelves for future growth, and everything's contained in a darkly stained wood, which is my favorite kind of stain. :)

Now, why the other title to this post? Well, it's a big shelf, and I needed help assembling it and anchoring it. Kevin helped me assemble it a long time ago, but it sat empty for a while because I didn't have it anchored to the wall. I didn't know how to anchor it, either. All I knew was that I probably needed a power drill. Every guy from church I asked, though, said he didn't have one. The guys also didn't know what kind of screws I needed to anchor it. So I had to find out on my own, screw them in myself, and wonder why I didn't know more masculine guys. In fact, after I anchored the thing, a couple of girlfriends said they had power drills. ??? (I know, I know -- I'm making stereotypical generalizations about what constitutes masculinity . . . Let's just skip the gender criticism for now.)

In all fairness, my friend Sam offered to help me last Sunday; he had just moved and finally had his power drill here in Georgia. But I told him it was too late. I had already finished the project myself. :)

Thing I'm thankful for: threaded drywall anchors. They're pretty neat!

Where has All the Gas Gone?

For those of you not experiencing a fuel deficit, let me show you what it looks like:

Here, you'll see that there is no fuel at this particular station. The station does know, however, that when they do have regular fuel, they'll charge at least four dollars. Atlanta gas had been around $3.79.

I remembered I had my camera too late, and by the time I took pictures, I was already reaching the limit on gas I could buy, so rather than anger a patient line of prospective customers with idling engines, I hastily took my snapshots. The result is that in the picture below, you can't really understand the full effect of this gas shortage. The line for the Citgo was spilling into the road—there were probably about 15–20 cars waiting for their turns.

Below, you can see that that the station only had one type of fuel. There was also a limit to the amount of gas you could buy—$40. Forty bucks bought me almost a full tank, which was pretty good. I was expecting less. I think the price per gallon was $4.29.

So that's what it's been like here in Atlanta for the last week and a half or so. Who knows when it'll let up? I'm hoping it's soon; I think it will be.

Oh, yeah—why the gas crunch, you ask? Hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf Coast . . . Read more: Atlanta Gas Crunch: 'We've Got No Gas Here' and Gas Shortage Makes Finding Fuel a Challenge.

Thing I'm thankful for: Well, lots of things, really. In light of this post, I'll just say that I'm thankful for fuel, the money to pay for it, a job, my family and friends, and my health. I'll be honest, I'm pretty anxious about life for a while—what with the economy the way it is and natural disasters abounding. Time to really live providently.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's National Punctuation Day!

I didn't know it when I woke up this morning, but it's National Punctuation Day. Yep, punctuation is celebrated every year on September 24th, and I never knew until today.

My roommate sent me an e-mail about it this afternoon. It was quite a humorous e-mail, too. See, Michelle just doesn't pay as much attention to grammar and punctuation as I do. That's fine by me. Well, maybe it's not the best thing, but I definitely don't think she's an idiot or a terrible person for misspellings and misplaced commas. I just think everyone needs an editor—probably in the same way that everyone needs a counselor. The funny thing is, no one ever admits to needing either! :)

Apparently people get a bit anxious to write anything to me. On several occasions, friends have written something similar to this in their e-mails: "Don't judge my writing, okay?" In fact, my roommate wrote this in her e-mail today: "To be in the presence of an editor when you have bad spelling is similar to facing God in your sins." Ha!

Well, Michelle, I'm not judging you or anyone else. Not usually, anyway. Sometimes people act pretty hoity-toity and pretentious, though, and I must admit, I do get a kick when I notice they use "your" instead of "you're," for example.

However, I did the same thing myself just the other day and felt like such a hypocrite . . . Oy.

Anyway, Michelle also asked me what my favorite punctuation mark is. The truth is, I'm not sure; although, if we're assuming that "favorite" is just another word for "most commonly used," then my favorite punctuation mark is the ellipsis. It's sometimes a very helpful way to end a sentence that you just don't know how to end. It's also used to indicate that you omitted something from a direct quotation, which is kind of fun. The serial comma is also great to use because it can clear a lot of things up.

It's so cliche, I know, but picking a favorite punctuation mark is like picking a favorite child! They're all so important in communicating ideas clearly. I don't know if I can ever express my absolute love for letters, words, syntax, and grammar. It's kind of a religion. :)

Anyway, if you want more information on National Punctuation Day and punctuation in general, check out these articles and Web sites:

And finally, here's a link to one of my favorite blogs: The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks." (It's on my permanent blogroll, too.)

Thing I'm thankful for: people who love proper punctuation and grammar as much as me!

Way to Go, Blake!

Congratulations on your newly published article!

For those of you who don't know, my brother writes about all things gaming. Video gaming, that is. Personally, I think his writing is extremely accessible—to gamers and non-gamers alike. It's a cleverly-written article and just a good read for anyone who is fascinated with pop culture. So check it out!

What's Behind the Add-On Phenomenon?

Thing I'm thankful for: cool and windy weather. With sunshine.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Does My Vote Count?

This is a question I have been asking myself for a while now. I didn't want to admit it because although I don't usually write about politics on my blog, they are somewhat important to me. I would say they are very important to me, but I feel guilty because I haven't been paying attention to important national issues at all, really. I definitely need to research each presidential candidate more, but honestly, I don't favor either one right now. I have a hard time believing that after personal study of the election and issues at hand, I'll have a solid decision on who to vote for. To be even more honest, I think the U.S. and the world at large is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I know plenty liberal Democrats and extreme conservative Republicans are scratching their heads and shaking their fingers at me, asking, "How can things get any worse?" Well, I think they can and will.

I've been wondering, too, whether my vote really does count. It's been a while since my last American Government class, and I'd forgotten how the election process works. So I started to give into the mentality that no, I can't change the direction of the vote. Thinking that way made me feel like a bad citizen—especially as a woman. Afterall, women in the early 1900s worked hard to gain suffrage.

So this afternoon during my lunch break, I searched for some information on whether or not my vote really does count. I found a site that easily explains the general election process and states that yes, individual votes do count. Yes, it's written for a young-ish audience, and yes, I can probably find sites with information about how individual votes don't count. But for me? I think I will end up voting this year. I have about a month and a half to figure it out; I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh, here's the site I mentioned: Does My Vote Count? Understanding the Electoral College.

Thing I'm thankful for: babies' smiles.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

21st-Century Education and Parental Expectations

Ahhh -- school. The great baby-sitter. The place we can send our children when we want time for ourselves. The place where other people will rear our kids for us. That great institution that ensures bright futures and secures successful careers. The key to our victory over smart, young Chinese prodigies.

And what would education be without also including after-school programs? No child can be really well-rounded without the best extracurricular facilities. Dancing? Soccer? Band? Football? Basketball? Gymnastics? Swimming? No, you can't pick just one or two! You have to do them all! Free time? Absolutely not! How will children learn time management, if they just sit around all day doing nothing?!?

Interestingly enough, they do. They learn much, much more than adults could probably ever imagine. They learn about what they are interested in, develop their imaginations, learn social behavior, and develop personal time management. Studies have increasingly shown the value of unstructured play and yes, even the value of not spending every waking moment in school. It seems, though, that parents are increasingly raising their expectations of what, exactly, education can and should do for children.

I recently discussed this topic with my sister Lexia, and we both agreed that parents nowadays expect schools -- and I'll extend this to the government -- to rear their children. American parents (and perhaps this phenomenon has no country limits; I don't know) expect schools and after-school programs to provide their children with all the correct principles of living: good manners and socially acceptable behavior, conscientious eating habits and a firm understanding of physical activity, the value of hard work, time management, how to read, how to write, and even how to think. What's more, parents believe that it's the government's responsibility to increase the schools' capacities to teach all of these things.

Now, here's the interesting thing to me: it seems that this parental expectation spans the entire economic line. That is, parents who don't have the time or the means to teach their children rely on schools to teach their children for them. Yet parents who have all the money (and probably time) in the world also rely on schools to teach their children all the things they need to know. They send them to top-notch, brand-name schools in the hopes that these schools will grant them access to a successful life.

Why? I think it's because putting responsibility on schools and the government is an easy way out. Parents are looking for an easy answer. When a child or young adult has problems, it's a lot easier to say that teachers and politicians are not living up to your expectations than to admit that you yourself are not. I believe that parents want the absolute best for their children, but somewhere in time, the "best" became getting kids involved in more and more activities and having schools cram information into them until their minds get completely overwhelmed! The "best" became the most prestigious and cultural. Whatever happened to teaching our own children -- spending time with them and helping them discover how to learn and be curious and independent? Sure, if you spend more time at home, then you spend less time at work. Less work is less money, and less money means not being able to give kids everything they want and everything you think they deserve. But what are the trade-offs?

These articles list some of the most important ones:

Sure, not all parents put the blame on others for their children's problems. Sure, I'm generalizing -- because I think it's a general American problem. It's also one of the most serious problems and one that deserves more attention than it gets. I hope, hope, hope I don't forget what I believe now when I'm a parent!

Thing I'm thankful for: my wonderful parents. They weren't perfect (and they probably spoiled me somewhat), but they did teach me to love learning and to govern myself based on the principles they taught. Thanks, mom and dad!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Did You Miss Me?

Hi, readers. (If there are any of you left!)

It's been over two months since I last blogged, and before that, my postings were still pretty sporadic. I've thought about things I wanted to blog about; I even took tons of pictures of nearly every event or party or interesting thing I've attended -- all with an eye of posting them on "Busy Nothings" for you. I guess I'm out of the writing habit, and I when it comes right down to it, I just didn't feel like sharing my thoughts. I miss writing, though, and blogging regularly forces me to write and write creatively. So I'm trying. Again.

Here are some of the things that have changed since I last wrote on here:
  1. Baby Jordyn was born. I love her. I love the intense faces she makes. I'd say the most common face I've seen her make is her thinking face. She often looks like she is thinking really hard. I can't wait until she can talk and tell us all what's going through her head.

  2. Lily turned 7. Wow. Has it been 7 years, really? Seven years ago, I was a sophomore in college. I was studying for a Biology II lab test the night Lily was being born. I was planning on being a surgeon or a medical illustrator or an endocrinologist.

  3. I quit working at CDC and started a new job at Habitat for Humanity. I don't quite know how to put my feelings about the switch into words. I'm happy at Habitat -- everyone is extremely nice and low-key, spiritually-minded, and family-oriented. It's a bit strange to start a new job, though; I'm still learning my roles and responsibilities and getting used to the fact that I am no longer a Web developer by profession. Oh, HTML, I never thought I'd see the day when I'd say, "I miss you!" I miss communicating technical development information to non-technical people and vice versa. I miss working with so many hardcore programmers. I miss MLA format. AP stinks. It's good, however, to be doing something new. I like what I do. I like the organization. I like my boss and my team. I like listening to NPR on my long way to work in the morning.

  4. My old roommate got married. Yep, Jackie now has a guy for a roommate. I miss her. The wedding was in Washington, D.C., and it was lovely. Congratulations, Jackie! I miss you!

  5. My new roommate moved in. Michelle is a tricky Irishwoman. She cheats at cards, and I know not what! She sings and laughs and jumps on my bed. She's carefree and just as busy as I am, so we spend a lot of time not seeing each other. Sometimes we have really long, meaningful chats, though, and I really like talking to her. She's also been my specimen of Irish accent study. I can now speak with an Irish accent. Who knows what's next? Scottish? Which leads me to my next number.

  6. Lauren moved to Scotland to be a nanny. For four months. Although she probably doesn't know it, I miss her, too. She's meant to explore, though, and I hope she has fun.

Other than those six things, tons of other stuff has happened, too -- some good and some not so good. Something I've learned in the last two months is that I've got to slow down. I've got to get organized, and I've got to get more sleep. I'd say I've learned more in the last year of my life than I have since I learned how to read at age four. The biggest lesson is probably that I know I can't live life by myself, and I know we're not meant to be alone. That is, God is very good to me. I have an extremely blessed life, despite the ignorant things I do to muck it up. And the incredible thing to me is that not only does God want us to know that we need Him, he also wants us to know that we need at least one other person in this world to help us when we're down, and that's why he started the world off in pairs. I guess John Donne was right: No man is an island.

And so.

Thing I am thankful for: people. Particularly my future husband. :)

P.S. I'll post pictures when I get around to it. :)