In the name of God, here's looking forward to a single, unified Orthodox Church of the United States.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autobiography of Mark Twain

The first volume of the Autobiography of Mark Twain was released yesterday, 100 years after the death of the author, as per his wishes. I'm only 39 pages into Clemens' actual writings (the first thirty or so are Introduction) and, so far, there hasn't been a page on which I've found nothing to be amazed at. Just the first-hand glimpses of historical matters makes it worth it. I also had no idea that Samuel Clemens became so close to the Grant family (as in General Ulysses S. Grant) and I'm finding his writings concerning the man, their friendship, and interactions fascinating. It's made me want to read Grant's memoirs, too.

I'm really looking forward to finishing this book. Clemen's prose is so nearly perfect (not necessarily dotting 'i's and crossing 't's, but how he says what needs to be said) that, in some places, I have to stop and marvel.

Here are some quotes I found to be oh so blissfully Twainian:
[Early Years in Florida, Missouri]
Most of the houses were of logs - all of them, indeed, except three or four; these latter were frame ones. There were none of brick, and none of stone. There was a log church, with a puncheon floor and slab benches. A puncheon floor is made of logs who upper surfaces have been chipped flat with the adze. The cracks between the logs were not filled; there was no carpet; consequently, if you dropped anything smaller than a peach, it was likely to go through. The church was perched upon short sections of logs, which elevated it two or three feet from the ground. Hogs slept under there, and whenever the dogs got after them during services, the minister had to wait till the disturbance was over. In winter there was always a refreshing breeze up through the puncheon floor; in summer there were fleas enough for all. (p. 64)
...
[About General Grant's Memoirs]
[The General] told what I have before related about the robberies perpetrated upon him and upon all the Grant connection by this man Ward [that story is just one of the fascinating vignettes in the book], whom he had so thoroughly trusted, but he never uttered a phrase concerning Ward which an outraged adult might not have uttered concerning an offending child. He spoke as a man speaks who has been deeply wronged and humiliated and betrayed; but he never used a venomous expression or one of a vengeful nature.

As for myself I was inwardly boiling all the time; I was scalping Ward, flaying him alive, breaking him on the wheel, pounding him to jelly, and cursing him with all the profanity known to the one language that I am acquainted with, and helping it out in times of difficulty and distress with odds and ends of profanity drawn from the two other languages of which I have a limited knowledge

[Grant] told his story with deep feeling in his voice, but with no betrayal upon his countenance of what was going on in his heart. He could depend upon that countenance of his in all emergencies. It always stood by him. It never betrayed him. (pp. 82-83)

...

[About His Relationship with the Sculptor Karl Gerhardt]
I may as well say here and be done with it that my connection with Gerhardt had very little sentiment in it, from my side of the house, and no romance. ... I told him in the first place that if the time should ever come when he could pay back to me the money expended upon him and pay it without inconvenience to himself, I should expect it at his hands, ... that that act would leave him free from any obligation to me. It was well all round that things had taken that shape in the beginning and had kept it, for, if the foundation had been sentiment, that sentiment would have grown sour when I saw that he did not want to work for a living in outside ways when art had no living to offer. It had saved me from applying in his case a maxim of mine that whenever a man preferred being fed by any other man to starving in independence he ought to be shot.
(p. 87)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh, Sweet Rapture!

My kitchen is actually clean...

I keep looking over at it disbelievingly. Is it real? Are the countertops really clear? The dishes all washed and put away? The floor really swept? Even my adjacent living room looks somewhat put together.

Which stars aligned to create this happiness?

Alas, EJ doesn't work today; it shall not last...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Don't Envy Him

Looks like that Canadian, socialist, idiotic piece of disaster called Granholm's 12-year reign of driving Michigan into the dirt is finally over - not that I know anything about the person replacing her, other than that he's a Republican and a man. It doesn't matter. This is the first time since turning 18 that I didn't vote. I missed the absentee deadline and, quite honestly, just didn't really care. Republicans are Democrat-lite (as a favorite blogger likes to say) and, though gaining some ground, the Libertarian and Constitution party candidates just don't have the sway right now to get into enough important offices, so it's not like any of my candidates would have won anything.

I'm just glad "The Most Important Election Evaar!" is finally behind us and we can get on with our lives.

Monday, November 1, 2010

He's a Big Softie =)

I tried embedding the video directly into this post, but it only showed half the screen, so, I beg you, go watch this video of a teenage boy and his rescued baby hummingbird:

My Baby Hummingbird

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Early 50's Comedy

Never Wave at a WAC (1953)

Totally cute movie about a vapid, devorcee who enlists in the Army thinking she was receiving a commission as an officer - and gets more than she bargained for!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Christa Taylor Dresses Review

After being tipped off by Cam over at "A Woman's Place...", I purchased two dresses from Christa Taylor at ridiculously discounted prices. I've known about the store for years now, but the prices always kept me at "wistfully longing for" rather than "actually buying something", so I jumped at the chance to finally get the black Lucy Dress and the bright blue Best Friend Dress I've been eying for a while. They came in the mail today and I couldn't try them on fast enough.

At first, I was disappointed with the Lucy, because I thought they hadn't included the belt and, without anything to cinch in my waist, it rather hung on me like a sack. Honestly, the first thing I thought of upon seeing myself in the mirror was "airline stewardess" ... and not in a good way. Also, the V-neck plunges quite a bit lower than I thought it would and the button area tends to "poof" open, leaving little to the imagination; this means I'll have no choice but to wear a shirt underneath, to avoid exposing myself to all and sundry. However, once I found the belt (blending in with the whiteness of the packaging) it made all the difference in the world! I'll still have to wear an under shirt, and I wouldn't say the dress lives up to the website's claim of being "slimming", but, overall, I'm not disappointed with it's cutesy, retro feel.

After the few minutes of emotional turmoil I went through with the Lucy , the Best Friend was like a cool drink on a hot day. Right from the start it was such a cute, fun piece. It has a built in sash to cinch in that waist and it's so simple and refreshing. I feel like I could go anywhere in it; there's literally nothing I don't like about it. The big buttons are easier to handle that the tiny Lucy buttons and the side zipper makes slipping the dress over your head a breeze. And it's far more forgiving of my bodily flaws than the Lucy.

Here here to the first new non-work-related clothes I've bought in almost three years!! =D

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cutting Back

I'm going to cut back. I'm not talking about money, or any of the usual suspects. I'm going to cut back on dishes. "You mean washing them?" You may ask. The answer to that is: yes and no. I've already described ad nauseum on this blog how I have a powerful case of The Lazy and that my housekeeping has suffered tremendously as a result. The only way I can think of to keep the pile of dirty dishes in my sink from mutating into a living being and taking over the kitchen is to cut back drastically on how many of them we keep out and available. Fewer dishes means less mess and washing. If we run out of dishes faster, we'll have to clean them more. Come tomorrow, I'm going to take some boxes home from work and pack up our excess cups, plates, and bowls, leaving behind only two or three of each. I'll keep the boxes in a relatively accessible place, in case we have company, but I'm just sick and tired of fighting with the never ending mountain of dishes that piles up between just me and my husband.

Onward!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kill Your Children, Daddy Government Says It's for the Best

China's Thirty Years War Against its own People Slated to Continue
...I was in China when the one-child policy began 30 years ago.

What I saw then, living in an agricultural commune in rural Guangdong, rivals anything that happened in Nazi Germany. One day in 1980 several hundred young mothers, all pregnancy with second or higher-order children, were ordered to attend population control meetings. There they were told that they would all have to abort their pregnancies. Those who refused were arrested for the "crime" of being pregnant and locked up until they, too, buckled under the pressure and submitted to an abortion.

...

Everything that I witnessed then, from the forced abortions of women in the third trimester of pregnancy to government-sanctioned infanticide, is still happening now.
Being told I'd have to kill my baby for the good of the state is something I can't even fathom. For all its loosening of its economics policy, people don't realize just how brutal China still is.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The language of Nebakanezer

Ancient Babylonian poetry, recorded and available for listening, free.

This language is thousands of years old and hasn't been spoken for the majority of that time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

You know...

...it gets really frustrating when I want to live more rusticly, but I can't do something as basic as grow a tomato plant or get ink out of EJ's uniform.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I can do this

Practice makes permanent, so I'd better practice well:

For Children, the Four Bows
If we are honest with ourselves, we should lament our inattention to God, our weak and inconstant prayer, our false priorities, the time we waste on things that are not effectual for our salvation. We are weak creatures, driven by habit, and many of these habits are sinful and destructive. So many of our activities are thieves - they steal time from prayer.

...
Our hearts are like coal, which is cold, but may be lit with persistent effort. Coal lights very slowly, and much care must be taken to tend it, even when it is burning. Our prayer is like blowing on the coal, which gradually becomes warmer, and eventually a hot fire, but only after much persistence on our part. The key is persistence, and not to lose heart. Even a small effort is rewarded by God, if we are persistent.

...

The Four Bows

Upon arising in the morning, before anything else, direct your heart and mind towards God, and face your icons, or face East and with compunction, and without haste, make four bows, or better, four prostrations. Do this with hope in God, and the sure belief that He will receive your prayer, as He received the widow's two mites, and protect you during the day, even if you fall into inattention and these prayers are the last you will say for the entire day.

Making the sign of the cross, with a bow of prostration during each prayer say:

  1. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.
  2. Most Holy Theotokos, save us.
  3. Holy Saint ___________ (your patron saint), pray to God for me.
  4. Holy Angel of God, my guardian, pray to God for me.

After these prayers, it is best to continue with your morning prayers, and then turn your attentions to the cares of the day.

Read on here...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oh, Great

FDA Panel Decision to OK New Abortion Drug Ella Panned by Pro-Life Groups

Exerpts:
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) - A unanimous decision Thursday by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committe to recommend for approval a new abortion drug called ells is not setting well with pro-life groups. They are also upset that mainstream media outlets are falsely presenting the drug as an improved morning after pill.

The advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs cast two 11-0 votes saying women could use the drug to prevent pregnancy when taken up to five days after intercourse.

The panel said the "investigational emergency contraceptive pill" known as ulipristal, that would potentially be sold under the name Ella in the United States, is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy.

Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America who testified before the committee yesterday, expanded on her initial comments to LifeNews.com.

She said members of the panel ignored the fact that the dug [sic] clearly works as an abortion pill by terminating the life of a newly-conceived human being.

...

Wright said the FDA panel wouldn't even go as far as considering publishing a warning label on the drug to inform women about potential problems or its abortifacient properties.

"Members voted for no negative info on the drug label because it would bias people against the drug. They even argued against doing studies on whether surviving babies have brith defects because, as one member said, negative outcomes are more likely to be reported than positive," she said.

...

At the same time, Erin Gainer, CEO of HRA Pharma, the maker of the Ulipristal abortion drug, applauded the decision.

"HRA Pharma is pleased with the outcome of the Advisory Committee's votes on the safety and effectiveness of ulipristal acetate," she said. "We look forward to working the the FDA to obtain approval for this new drug and offering a next-generation emergency contraceptive to women in the U.S."

...

But Wright said ella subjects women to problems after sexual assault as men obtain it in an attempt to cover their tracks by stopping the pregnancy.

...

Anna Glasier, of NHS Lothian in Edinburgh, led a study of more than 5,500 women in the UK published online in The Lanet medical journal. It found fewer pregnancies among those women given the ellaOne drug within five days of intervourse.

And for women who took the drug between 3-5 days after having sex, only women taking the traditional morning after pill became pregnant. They's [sic] because all of the women using ulipristal during that time period had abortions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No 'Poo Update

My hair feels amazing! I'm shocked at how quickly it returned to normal. It helps that I have wavy hair, but, seriously, I was so pessimistic.

I'm going to continue my twice weekly schedule through the end of May, then I'll cut it down to once weekly - probably on Sunday mornings. I may have to go through another period of adjustment, but it shouldn't be too bad.

After that, I'll just keep on keeping on until my shampoo runs out, then I'll start using baking soda. I'm still unsure if I want to give up commercial conditioner for apple cider vinegar, though. My hair tangles so easily when it's wet. I think that'll be my next experiment.

Peace

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Seven Samurai"

There comes a time in one's movie-viewing existence when one knows one has seen greatness. While I watched "Seven Samurai" (directed by Akira Kurosawa) I knew I'd reached that point. Without giving away too much, there was very little about this movie I didn't like. The story is set in Japan in 1587/88 and begins with a poor peasant farmer accidentally overhearing a gang of bandits deciding whether to attack his village. Some of the bandits want to attack it right away, but the leader remembers that they had already stolen all these peasants' rice last year, so it would be more productive to wait until the barley is harvested and threshed before attacking it again. When the peasants learn of this, they are terrified and angry; some want to fight, others want to beg the bandits for mercy when they come. The village elder decides in favor of fighting, since losing their barley would almost certainly mean starvation. Thus, four of the peasants must go to the city to find "hungry samurai", who will put their pride away and defend them for nothing but food - a difficult task in an age when honor meant everything to the samurai. The story goes on from there to include them finding the warriors and defending the village.

The acting is impeccable. I found Kikuchiyo's (played by Toshiro Mifune) performance to be particularly stunning. The director spared no expense with the set, either. An entire mountain village was actually built in the mountains for authenticity's sake. The peasants have their dirty clothes and grovelling manners, while the samurai stand tall and proud. Like I said, there is very little I didn't love about this movie.

Points:
  • Be aware that the movie is three hours long. I didn't realize it was so lengthy and had to stop at intermission (oh yes, it has an intermission), while I went out to do laundry, or it wouldn't have gotten done.
  • There are also some cultural differences which audiences may find uncomfortable, such as the classic Japanese underwear - there were no boxer shorts anywhere in 1587 - which displays most of the buttocks. Kikuchiyo has many scenes in which the majority of his costume is only a breastplate and this underwear - as well as one in which he wears no breast plate. I would have to say, though, that it's entirely cultural, there was nothing gratuitous or distasteful about it, that just seemed to be part of their common dress. Parents, it's up to you to decide if you think it's appropriate for young children.
  • A few swear words, nothing major, may also have to be reviewed by parents. Either there were no movie censors in Japan equivalent to ours at the time, or the translators took liberties with the subtitles.
  • Near the end, it is implied that one of the village girls loses her virginity to the youngest samurai and her father makes a huge scene when he finds out, calling her names like "slut" and "tramp". On the flip side, the other samurai joke with their young comrade, telling him that "Last night, you became a real man". Another parental review point.
  • As for the violence, I found that to be the usual '50s style: no visible wounds, no blood, several people are shot with arrows, but, overall, entirely palatable.
Overall, this is a move about honor and integrity. I give it a full five stars, something I never do lightly.

The trailor:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Japanese St. Michael

I know iconography isn't about the art itself, but this has got to be one of the coolest renditions of St. Michael defeating the dragon ever. I love traditional Japanese art.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Praying for the World"

This post by Father Stephen is particularly appropriate for my current emotional and spiritual situation, my fear of dependence, and my fear and hatred of the corruption of power. I literally cannot pray (at least, with any sincerity) for certain people or groups right now because my hatred of them is so great. The most I can hope to achieve at this point is a lessening of that hatred and a growth in understanding and compassion.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Hairy Decision

I hate puns. It won't happen again...

Anyhoodle, I've been doing an experiment of sorts, essentially cutting my hair-washing schedule down to twice a week. I only began this a few weeks ago and, so far, have seen a dramatic improvement in the itchiness of my scalp - which is weird, because I thought the extra oil would make it worse. In fact, that fear is the sole reason I didn't do this sooner; I kept reading all the accounts which say your hair goes through a period of adjustment wherein it'll be extra-super oily and gross and I was afraid that, with my luck, that "adjustment period" would be around six months and that my dandruff would just explode. My hair will probably become much more oily once I stop using shampoo altogether, but, until then, my (admittedly limited) experience has bolstered my confidence enough to someday take that next step.

Aside: EJ just asked me what I was writing and, when I told him, wondered what was so blog-worthy about it. "I never use shampoo, ever," he said. "What's the big deal?"

Then again, EJ has the kind of luscious, dark-gold hair that Hesiod could write line after line about, so he doesn't really count...

The Bradford City Football Fires

On May 11, 1985, the worst sports disaster in English history occurred. Gaby Logan was 12 years old that day and here she recounts her memories or the horrific event.

Gaby Logan: How Mum's Decision to Leave Early Saved us from Fatal Bradford FC Fire

By Antonia Hoyle

It was supposed to be a day of celebration. Bradford City Football Club were playing their last game of the season against mid-table Lincoln City.

It was a formality – Bradford were runaway leaders of the old-style Third Division and the trophy had been presented to the team before they had even set foot on the pitch.

The sun was shining, promotion was assured and the 11,076 supporters packed into the club’s Valley Parade ground were so jubilant that, as the first half progressed, they hardly noticed the billows of smoke that started to spiral up from beneath the seats in stand G.

Read Rest of Article Here

Sunday, April 11, 2010

China's Gendercide

I've often heard it said - and repeated it myself - that the government ruins everything it touches. Nowhere is this more apparent than China's attempt to control its population growth. We've all heard of China's looming gender imbalance, but this beautiful and well-written post from Peter Hitchens (who is, I believe, the brother (and polar opposite) of famed atheist Christopher Hitchens) puts a personal touch on the matter.

Gendercide: China's shameful massacre of unborn girls means there will soon be 30m more men than women
By Peter Hitchens
In the cruel old China, baby girls were often left to die in the gutters. In the cruel modern China, they are aborted by the tens of millions, using all the latest technology.

There is an ugly new word for this mass slaughter: gendercide.

Thanks to a state policy which has limited many families to one child since 1979, combined with an ancient and ruthless prejudice in favour of sons, the world's new superpower is beginning the century of its supremecy with an alarming surplus of males.

By the year 2020, there will be 30 million more men than women of marriageable age in this giant empire, so large and so different (its current population is 1,336,410,000) that it often feels more like a separate planet than just another country. Nothing like this has ever happened to any civilisation before.

The nearest we can come to it is the sad shortage of men after the First World War in Britain, France, Russia and Germany, and the many women denied the chance of family life and motherhood as a result.

It is possible that the effects of that imbalance are still with us, in the shape of the radical feminist movement which found ready recruits among the husbandless teachers and other professionals of the Twenties and Thirties.

But men without women are altogether more troublesome than women without men, especially when they are young.
Read entire article here...

This one child policy would only work if there were absolutely no differences between men and women. Though the article disparages the "perceived differences" between men and women in China, the facts of the matter are, the people choosing to abort their daughters in favor of sons are, to some extent, correct in their perception of who will better care for them in old age. Even in today's ultra-feminist paradise, women in general choose lower-paying careers than men, more often opt to stay home either part- or full-time with their children, and there's no guarantee the son-in-law won't choose his own parents over his wife's. So, in a society which still depends on children caring for parents once they can no longer care for themselves, boys really do make the most sense. Of course, all of this could have been avoided had China just decided not to institute this policy at all. Just goes to show you that, yet again, egalitarianism on paper mean nothing to reality.

Granted, other articles I've read have commented on the sorry state of parenting among one-child families in China, so it remains to be seen if many of these spoiled/neglected "little princes" will have been successful enough in life to provide for, or will want to so burden themselves with, elderly parents when the time comes. No matter what, it seems that China has really dropped the ball on this one. Yay, Communism! (/sarcasm)

"East Meets English"

From the archives of Touchstone magazine, this article on English translations of the Divine Liturgy and Occasional Services both provides interesting background on the subject and showcases the oft frustrating, ever confusing mish-mash of styles, ideas, and opinions of those in charge of such matters. Unlike other Orthodox countries in the east, the U.S. (and, I believe, Australia) did not have the Faith brought by missionaries (Alaska being the exception), but by settlers. Those settlers came from everywhere and founded their own parishes connected to their own countries. Thus, in some places we have Russian, Antiochian, and Greek parishes side by side, overlapping in the same city, each with their own languages and "small-t" traditions. The article gives suggestions about what to focus on, what has helped, and what has hindered, and points out that, even if the clergy within each ethnicity were finally able to settle their differences and appoint one single translation, the people of each parish, having become accustomed to their own way of doing things, might very well revolt. Such obstacles can't be overcome in a night and there is simply no way to please everyone.

But, the faith has survived for over 2,000 years. It will survive this. Praise God now and ever and unto the ages of ages!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"One Night with King"

"One Night with the King", a movie about the Biblical story of Esther, is a visually beautiful piece of work, but lacks talent among the actors, as well as its writers. The first thing I noticed (being me) was the lack of historical accuracy. Now, I don't mind some theatrical fudging as long as the plot and characters make me care about them more than historical exactness ("Braveheart", anyone?), but this was not such a movie. The excellent performances of the ever-awesome John Rhys-Davies, who played Mordecai, as well as Omar Sharif and John Noble (Princes Memucan and Admantha, respectively) failed to balance out the the other three main characters. Tiffany Dupont was the worst. While certainly pretty, she lent a very Americanized air to the character of Hadassah/Esther and I grew increasingly irritated by her jerky movements and less-than-smooth voice. Luke Goss was slightly better as King Xerxes, but his makeup was so distracting; he was so clearly a white man bronzed (and then laquered, I think), that I almost couldn't concentrate on his performance. Finally, James Callis, as Haman, did fairly well with what he'd been given, but had such a rough voice that I sometimes couldn't understanding him. And whoever wrote his part literally crafted him into a B.C. Nazi - giving his ancestry as the reason he wanted to kill the Jews, not his great pride.

So, all in all, I really wanted to like this movie, but the fly-in-your-face inaccuracies, as well as the writing and acting, kept me from fully doing so. Overall, I'd give it three out of five stars. Watchable, if for no other reason than to see Gimli and Denethor butt heads once more, (or if you like really pretty costumes =D ), but that's about it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Leaving Country

With the government take-over of health care, collapse is now inevitable. The U.S. is already spending hundreds of billions more than it makes per year, so spending yet more isn't going to do anything but hasten the end. Right now I'm looking at Chile as a viable option for expatriation: homeschooling is legal, their gun laws, despite being stricter than we're used to, aren't as bad as some places, and their economy is growing.

I'm not going to fight any more. The people have spoken. Despite cries of "They don't represent us!" from the conservative end of the spectrum, the majority of voters found these men and women worthy of their vote. Even if Republicans do route the Democrats in the next election, nothing will change. They spend just as profligately as their more "progressive" counterparts (who introduced the first bailout again?) and some are now saying they won't challenge the new law at all. The country has spoken. In a democracy full of people of these caliber, there's nothing left to do but not be here when the foundations finally crumble.

I was worried, for a time, about finding the freest country in the world to move to, but, honestly, the two freest are both mostly urban and the next freest is going to lose its freedom once the Lisbon treaty takes effect. Chile seems like a fairly good choice for our family, so that's what I'm concentrating on. I like what Vox Day has to say on the matter of leaving the country:
The point isn't to look for freedom. It doesn't exist. The point is not to be where the collapse is going to mark a descent into chaos. There is no one correct answer, there is only a series of probabilities that vary depending upon your personal circumstances. ...

The most important thing is to live around good people in a place where the government isn't particularly interested in controlling every aspect of people's lives. In general, the more openly corrupt the government, the better. But most Americans can't deal with that because they're all so accustomed to being good little statists and complaining to the authorities if a dog barks too loudly.
The fact that EJ isn't just dismissing this with an eye-roll is quite encouraging. Before he gets out of the Marines, I can get my teaching certificate, some experience, and be all set to teach English as a second language down there while EJ finds a job and we get on our feet.

Sweet, I'm liking this idea better and better. =D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Russia's Wooden Churches

Here's a site with pictures of some of Russia's wooden churches. They're old (some of them very old) and weathered and yet still manage to be beautiful and haunting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shirt Folding Machine

Have I posted a video of one of these things before? I think I'm going to ask to take home a big empty food box at work to make one of these. I tend to let the dirty laundry build up and build up (because I'm lazy and it's a pain having to walk to the apartment laundry facilities), so when I do do laundry, it's usually most of our clothes all at once. Those clothes then need folding and, even though I'm a fast, precise shirt folder as it is, EJ has so many t-shirts that if this handy-dandy little machine could shave a few seconds off of each one, it may cumulatively save me several minutes over-all.

Besides, it just looks fun. =)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I just got off the phone with my allergist and he said all of my labs for Hereditary Angioedema came back negative!! There's no way I could have the disease!!!!

I never thought I'd be so happy to have allergies - but I am, because it means that my angioedema is eminently more treatable now that we know they're caused by something external, rather than by my immune system.

And I think the family doctor I've been seeing needs to just stop practicing medicine or something, because this was such an easy fix. He not only read the labs ordered by the ER docs incorrectly, he was then willing to just let me "live with" the disease, with no help or treatment, for the rest of my life (remember, he actually tried to talk me out of seeking treatment, saying there was nothing they could do). Also, remember that I practically had to beg him to write me a referral to an immunologist/allergist for a second opinion. Usually, I'm totally on the doctor's side, having grown up with a doctor father and having worked in two hospitals, but this guy is just unbelievable. Clearly, he needs to rethink a few things about his place in the medical profession.

But, whatever, that's all behind us. Now, with the help of a specialist who actually took the time to do his job, we can focus on treating the problem. =D =D =D

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Laziness

I've noticed lately that I've become disturbingly lazy. I've always had a penchant for sitting on my rear, but in the past few weeks, I just haven't wanted to do anything. More convenience foods are being bought and the apartment is messier than ever. Why? I could blame my job, but, the truth is, I really don't know.

However, there's no real excuse for my laziness. It's unacceptable - both for myself and my husband. I can't be a good wife or mother if I don't do anything. Motivation and will power have always been issues with me, but I can't make excuses any longer. I need to do something, anything, to get myself going again.

*sigh* Now, how to begin?

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Thinking Housewife

I've known about The Thinking Housewife for quite some time now, I may have even linked to some of her articles in the past. But, for some reason I can't explain, I never bookmarked her site or added to it to my regular reading list.

That is all about to change. A while ago I went back to the beginning of her archives and began reading - let me tell you, she is one of my new favorites. She speaks with the force, not just of conviction, but of truth on so many different matters related to femininity and masculinity through popular culture, history, etc. She is a human being and thus fallible, I do disagree with her on a very few points, but, for the most part, her pieces aren't just "Well, I think..." pieces, they are true.

She has now been added to my "Favorite Blogs" list (which I finally went through and cleaned up yesterday) and I look forward to more of her insights in the days to come.

P.S. I love her posts on Sarah Palin.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Silliness

Oh my gosh.

I want this.

I'd almost be willing to save up for it.

I'd have a baby just to get it. =P

(No, no, I'm not expecting.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

More of what we already knew. =)

Women Really Want Abstinence Based Empowerment, not NOW and Casual Sex

Excerpt:
On the same day the Penn researcher's study came out, President Barack Obama released his 2011 budget proposal. It zeroes out funding for abstinence education while creating a $179 million comprehensive sex-ed program -- the very kind the Penn study show to be ineffective. Add that to more than $600 million a year already spent by the Department of Health and Human Services on pregnancy and STD prevention programs and "family planning" services for teens.

The Obama administration's plans not only fly in the face of the research, they ignore the real needs of young women. Teen girls say they want to hear the abstinence message. More and more young women who have braved the casual-sex culture say they still haven't found what they're looking for.

If we want to empower these women, let's teach abstinence.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

IT SNOWED!!!!!!

I know the good folks in Maryland and Washington D.C. might like for nothing better than to see the white stuff go, but down where I am, it never snows - and especially not 5 1/2" deep!!

When I saw the snow coming down last night, I almost cried, it reminded me so much of home. Not content to simply watch it out of the window, either, I put on my flimsy shoes and walked around the entire apartment complex just to experience it.

Ah, what a glorious night.

But we're probably going to have zero customers at the sub shop today. lol. I may very well be bored out of my mind. (>.<)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Great Lent

Wow, Lent is coming up and coming up fast (no pun intended). To be honest, I'm not in the least ready. I tried too much too soon during the Nativity Fast and it ended up draining me of any motivation. So, in the wake of that disaster, I've decided to scale my fasting waaaaaay back for this, my first Great Lent alone with EJ. I'll be "Orthodox vegan" Wednesdays and Thursdays, as I already am, vegetarian for the other days of the week, except for Friday, when I'll allow myself some meat (because that's the day we always have people over, and, since I'm the only Christian in my little group of acquaintances, barring my friend Maria, it'll be less stressful this way).

Comparing this plan to what I did for the Nativity Fast and for Great Lent last year, while I was in school, I feel rather guilty. However, I have to remind myself that this will be entirely on me. EJ's not going to help me out at all (and during the Nativty Fast, that caused a lot of tension), there's no school meal plan to limit temptation, so I've got to use baby steps for awhile, while I figure out just how to make this work with my distinctly non-Orthodox life.

Most importantly of all, though I have to remember that this is not about punishing myself - it's not about me at all. Everything the Church does, it does to the glory of God. This is supposed to help me focus on our Savior and less on myself.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The abortionists at work

I saw a commercial on the television at work today for the local abortion clinic. I only caught the end of it, so I don't know if it actually marketed itself as an abortion provider, or if it just emphasized its other services, but I felt shivers go down my spine seeing the name of the clinic and knowing that they were advertising their services. When I got home, I looked up the clinic online for a better understanding of what it was about and saw that they not only abort babies, but deliver them, as well as providing gynecological and other "family planning" services (such as birth control and sterilization). How those people are able to work with women and babies on a regular basis and still believe that the eight inches-or-so of birth canal is where a "fetus" magically becomes a "person" is beyond me. It defies all logic.

The owner of the clinic is a powerful man - he served on Hillary Clinton's "Health Task Force" in 1993 [1] - and holds a lot of power in our city. From what I understand, no one really dares cross him. It's been more than a pain for the local Right to Life group, which I joined a few months back, to find an area, either public or private, to protest outside the clinic, since no one is willing to cooperate, whether from fear or loyalty is unknown.

The reason I wrote this post, though, is because, through their website, I followed a link to the "Abortion Clinics OnLine", a website which provides information on thousands of "reputable abortion providers". Clicking through their "Choice Links", one sees all the organizations which have connected themselves in some way to the Pro-Choice cause: the CDC, the Guttmacher Institute (which actually has some fascinating statistics on abortions from around the world), the WHO, Population Connection (an organization promoting zero population growth), etc. Basically, if you're not sure if you should be working with or donating to an organization, check and see if they're linked to on this site.

[1] Source

Sad Panda

Gen Y "embarrassed" by breastfeeding
The mums and dads of the future don't fully grasp the benefits of breastfeeding and are unlikely to do it in public because it's embarrassing, a new study says.

The survey of Generation Y adults, who are likely to have children in the next five to 10 years, has sparked calls for a new campaign to promote breastfeeding as culturally acceptable.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saving yourself ... it really works

"Mom and Dad Really Do Know Best: Abstinence only education: "Science has finally caught up with logic"

A quote from the article:
"What we should learn from this experience is that while science itself is objective, scientists themselves can be biased and can mislead the public and policy makers," Stevens said.

He said it's just logical that "equipping teens to abstain from sexual activity is an effective way to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why, they look just like you and me!

A fantastic video of London in 1927 - in color. The history nerd in me melts at the thought. Seeing it in color makes it seem that much closer. When one is so used to seeing pictures, videos, etc. from that era in black/sepia and white, one begins associating that era with those colors. It becomes something other and foreign. But this little glimpse through a color lens makes it that much more recognizable. It's just so freaking cool.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Another one bites the dust!

I loved perusing Hope Chest Legacy every now and then just for fun, but, guess what, the CPSIA got that one , too. Good freaking job, legislators.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Holy Wow

I just read this post over on Vox Day's blog: Even an atheist knows better.

Vox quotes this damning excerpt from an interview between Christopher Hitchens and "Unitarian Minister" Marilyn Sewell:
Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I'm a liberal Christian, and I don't take the stories from the scripture literally. I don't believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus dies for our sins, for example). Do you make and [sic] distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Hitchens:
I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
When even one of the wildly popular "New Atheists" can tell the difference between a real Christian and a "liberal" Christian (and, seriously, if you read the entire article, you'll see just how intellectually dishonest Hitchens is), you know you're in trouble.

Warning: I haven't read all of the comments on Vox's post. Proceed at your own risk.

Yet another HAE adventure...or two

So I went to my family doctor Tuesday to get a referral for an immunologist. To say he wasn't too happy to see me would be an understatement. Before he even came into the room, he stood right outside the door (or so it seemed) and complained about how I'd waited to make a follow-up appointment to my ER visit until almost a month afterward (if he'd bothered to ask, that was due to some confusion on my part). When he did come in, he listened to my request and then basically tried to talk me out of seeking more treatment for my disease. "There's nothing that can be done," he kept saying, "that's all the immunologist will tell you, too." When I mentioned that there were three drugs out there (well, one will be coming out, soon) to treat the symptoms, he then tried to talk me out of using them "because many drugs have side effects worse then the disease."

Umm, excuse me? This condition could kill me within the day and you're worried about side effects???

During my defense of why I wanted to see an immunologist, I made the mistake of mentioning that my father is a doctor and that made him even more uninterested in having anything else to do with me. He actually picked up my chart and said, "Well, then, your father can treat you," and continued talking about the potential side effects of many medications. I tried to explain that my dad doesn't live in this state, so, no, he can't treat me, but the doc just wouldn't stop talking; and as he was talking, he was walking right out the door. Clearly, this "consultation" was over.

I got my referral, though, so hopefully the immunologist will be more understanding and/or knowledgeable.

My second HAE adventure came yesterday when my top lip swelled up so badly that I looked like the offspring of a duck and an alien. Then, just when that swelling began to go down, my cheeks began puffing up, along with my lower lip. So now, I look like a chipmunk crossed with the offspring of a duck and Tim Robbins. Fun stuff. =P

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fallen Being

What has been one of the hardest things for me to understand on my journey to Orthodoxy is the difference between being a fallen being and having a fallen nature. In my protestant incarnation, I was raised to believe that humans are essentially evil, our natures are corrupted, and we can never hope to approach perfection. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, rejects that belief. Instead of butchering things by explaining it myself (because this concept seems to still be eluding my me on a basic level), I'll let the ever-wise Father Stephen take it away:

A Nature that is Less than Obvious

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one day late

Infanticide is nothing new. People have been killing their babies and children almost since the dawn of time. They sacrificed them to various gods and notions: wealth, honor, poverty, greed. Middle Easterners gave children (both their own and others') to appease Moloch's insatiable hunger, Aztecs used children as part of their human sacrifices, and the post-Homerian Spartans disposed of any baby that looked defective.

Killing babies in the womb also has a long and ignoble history. Women did it for many of the reasons listed above, and they still do it for those same reasons today. The only difference for them was that, before the advent of modern medicine, abortion was much more likely to end in the death of the mother as well as the child.

Human beings are no more or less charitable in contemporary society than they were centuries ago. If abortion were outlawed today, women would still find ways to kill their babies, albeit in smaller numbers, in or out of the womb. That is why the legal system can only do so much without changing people's hearts and minds (to use the old cliche). Outlawing abortion is one goal, but ending abortion is what we ultimately strive for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tattoo, and my first blog picture ever

Well, I gone and done it; I got myself a tattoo.

A simple cross on my wrist.

I've been wanting a tattoo for years, but was never satisfied with the designs I thought up. A unicorn on my ankle might be temporarily adorable, but would I really want it for the rest of my life? If I was going to permanently ink a part of myself, I wanted it to mean something. I didn't want a tattoo just to have one, so it's kind of funny that the simplest design can have the most lasting and meaningful significance.

For the last year or so, the biggest thing holding me back was the fact that it would be an easily identifiable symbol on my body. In a world in which Christianity already is, or is quickly becoming, a hated minority, having something on me - anything - which would make it easier for the government or those in control to identify me could have dangerous, or even deadly ramifications. However, once I gave my fingerprint to the plasma center, I figured, what the heck, I sold my identity for $200 a month, why on earth shouldn't I do this?

Besides, this tattoo isn't merely for decoration, it's a physical reminder of the way I'm supposed to act. When others see that mark on my skin, they'll automatically judge my behavior based on what they observe. It forces me to stop and consider every action.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Changing my name

When I joined the Church, in keeping with tradition, I took a new name: Monica. I've now changed my Blogger user name to reflect this.

I chose Monica after the mother of St. Augustine, whom I've felt close to since even before I began investigating Orthodoxy.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I probably shouldn't be admitting this, but...

...I've been playing Super Mario Brothers from the original Nintendo since I was seven and have never beaten it. So, this kind of blew my mind:



5 MINUTES, people. Five! That just ... I can't .... I'd never even seen level 8-4 before watching this video!

Haiti Relief Links

International Orthodox Christian Charities has some links on how to help:

Urgent Action Appeal

Health Kits

Emergency Clean-Up Kits

Prayers

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"I must blog about this..."

North Korea has its own website.

Seriously.

It's basically one big, collective grovel to Kim Jong Il and his father, just the way they like it, I'm sure. Here's a direct quote from the "News and Articles" section:

Chairman Kim Jong Il of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a broadminded statesman.

His politics mirrors his broadmindedness as it is. He administers the benevolent politics and all-embracing politics which make no discrimination among all members of society, irrespective of their origin, past career, political view and religious belief.

His politics rallied the popular masses from all walks of life including workers, peasants and intellectuals, into a socio-political force. Such wonderful reality as the single-minded unity of the whole society in the DPRK is wholly attributable to his all-embracing politics.

His broadmindedness is not confined only to the DPRK. Many Koreans in the south and abroad are admiring his generosity.

For real. You cannot make this stuff up.

EDIT: Awww, if you were planning on traveling there to celebrate the anniversary of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, you can forget it if you have a U.S. Passport.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No longer a catechumen

Last night I became an official member of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Finally, I don't feel like an outsider, anymore.

God be praised!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Not Always Right

I love sites like this: www.notalwaysright.com

This is one of my favorites.

Christmas is all Pope & Circumstance
Me: "Good afternoon, thank you for calling [church's name]. How can I help you?"

Customer:
"Yes, I'd like to know why the time of the Christmas Eve mass was changed."

Me:
"There was a scheduling conflict with the Christmas Carol Concert. I'm sorry if it's caused an inconvenience for you."

Customer:
"It has. Many of them."

Me:
"I'm so sorry."

Customer:
"You'll change it back, then?"

Me:
"Um, no. See, there's still the scheduling conflict."

Customer:
"But I have plans at the mass' new time! I need you to change it back!"

Me:
"Ma'am, I'm really not in charge of that decision."

Customer:
"I am not getting off the phone until you change it back."

Me:
"There really isn't anything I can do for you. I'm sorry."

Customer:
"Have you called the Pope and told him about this? Call the Pope and tell him that your priests have changed the mass time. He'll fix it."

Me:
"I actually don't have his number on me."

Customer:
"I'll hold."
And, sadly, this following "Customer" would have been me. EJ had to explain to me what an ISP was after I read this:

It's Going to be a Long Day
Me: "What type of internet do you have?"

Customer: "Internet Explorer."

Me: "No, sorry, I meant what type of internet, like your ISP?"

Customer: "Internet."

Me: "No, what type."

Customer: "Uh...modem?"

Me: "What kind of modem?"

Customer: "Black."

Me: "Is it plugged into a phone cable or a coaxial cable? Like a cable you'd plug into your TV."

Customer: "It's plugged in to ... the wall."

Friday, January 1, 2010

An Unexpected Twist

Following up on my last post, EJ and I decided it would be best if I went to the ER rather than wait for the regular clinic to open. Amazingly, there was no wait and, when the nurse took me back to a bed, I was surprised to see an actual team waiting there: vitals, IV, the whole nine yards. I went in expecting them to be as unworried as my general practitioner, but when they began checking my airways and asking if I had any trouble swallowing or breathing, I realized it was probably a very good thing that I came to the ER.

Long story short, I spent the night in the ICU for observation because they believe I have adult onset hereditary angioedema. Neither I nor they know what triggered it - or even if I actually have it. The labs they sent out won't be back for about a week, after that, they'll be able to confirm or disprove it.

The prognosis for this disease, according to Google health, is basically that "Hereditary angioedema can be life threatening and treatment options are limited. How well a person does depends on the individual's specific symptoms." Awesome.

I know I ask for prayer here a lot, but I'm asking for it once more, prayer for strength, peace, and a different diagnosis; I do not want this disease. I'm scared. Hereditary angioedema can cause your airways to swell shut and doesn't respond to epi-pens, the only way to help a patient breathe is intubation and time.

Praise God, though, no matter what.