Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More TV

We were watching Back to the Future III on Sunday - yes, we are very cultured - and I hit the "info" button on my remote to see what time it was. Naturally, in addition to the time and date, the description of the movie popped up:

"A young man takes a Delorean time machine to the old west where his inventor friend is courting a schoolmarm."


Monday, January 29, 2007

Inspired by Television - and a Weekend Recap

It has been an interesting weekend. Actually, just Sunday was very interesting. Saturday, I was too distracted with the Illinois Certification process. I took the Basic Skills Test at Harper College - the first step towards becoming a teacher. I had to be at the testing center at 7:30 am, which wasn't too bad, since I'm about 20 minutes away from Harper college. However, this is an important test and they said if you show up after 7:30, there's a chance they wouldn't let you in. I had to pick up some #2 pencils before I got there, so I got up early. 5:45. In. The. Morning. This was not entirely by choice. I mean, I set the alarm and stuff, but I almost didn't need it. Whenever I HAVE to be somewhere very early in the morning, I worry so much about oversleeping that I basically don't sleep at all. So, I was really fast after I woke up, decided not to make breakfast and instead grabbed a granola bar. I ended up leaving my house at about five after six. By the time I went to Walgreens and got on the road, it was about 6:15. I decided to treat myself to an Egg McMuffin (no cheese) and coffee from McDonald's. I got to Harper at about 6:40, and ate in my car. As I pulled in, I totally thought I'd be the first person there. I was not. There were at least three other people sitting in their cars. Around 7, I went to the school where I ran into a sign informing me that they would not be opening the doors until about 7:20.


That's ten minutes before the time they said we would not be allowed in to take the test. It's January and kind of cold outside. So, you have a group of people who have to take this test (or some other very important test, related to teaching). If you were at Harper on Saturday, it was either to be able to perform your chosen profession or to move forward in your career. And these are teachers, people who tend to follow the rules and come prepared. By 7:05, there were 25 people standing outside in the cold. By 7:10, there were at least forty. I'm not exaggerating either. I was standing out in the cold, I didn't have much to do, so I counted. It was ridiculous.

Anyway, so that was my Saturday. I was done with the test around 11:30, but the day was sort of wasted. Three and a half hours of tests involving scantrons wear a girl out.

So, Sunday.

Sunday started well. Hank let me sleep in. I got to eat breakfast in my pj's - a luxury I rarely get anymore because Hank generally needs a walk before I eat breakfast. I decided to take a shower before Mr and I took Hank for his morning walk. I shower, Mr does some laundry. He comes up from the basement and sees water. In the living room. Coming from the ceiling.

When we first saw the house, we saw the water mark in the living room ceiling, under the tub. We were assured that it was old damage, that the problem had been solved when the previous owner (before the people we bought it from) remodeled the bathroom. But, here we were, watching water pour into our previously dry living room.


So, I'm home. It's Monday morning at 8am and I should be at work, but instead I'm waiting for the plumber. Thankfully, Plumber should be here in about half an hour so I might be able to get in to work.

Hopefully it won't be a big problem to solve. On the upside, Mr has now agreed to remodel the bathroom.

So, TV. As I was sitting here, waiting for the call from Roto-Rooter, I was watching the Today Show. Bill Gates was on, touting Windows Vista. Now, I like Meredith Viera. I think she's pretty good and generally avoids Katie Couric's interview approach, where she seemed to know nothing about anything. However. I can't stand when people are all "Oh, I don't understand computers. It's a big mystery." Which she did. She also asked if you had to buy a new computer to get the new operating system. Gah. You're an idiot.

She asked Bill Gates about Apple's competition, and how much of a threat they are, or if Vista is a response to Apple's growing popularity. First of all, it has been a while since Microsoft released Windows XP. It's time for a totally upgraded system. Secondly, Apple is making huge strides outside of the personal computer market. I use a MacBook and I love it. But I'm in the minority. Most people own Microsoft computers. However, Gates said that 90% of the market (I don't know if that's in the US or world-wide) uses Microsoft. That seems high to me. I know they're the overwhelming majority, but I'm surprised to hear 90%. I know a lot of people with Macs.

Meredith ended the interview by asking Gates if he'd help her install it. Because she's not very good with that "stuff." Come on. Have you ever installed something from Microsoft? You put in the disc and the "wizard" walks you through the process. You don't need to do anything. He said to give him a call if she had any trouble.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bits 'n Pieces

1. We booked a photographer for the wedding. Yes! I got to book the guy I wanted, who is definitely on the expensive end of things, but I know that I love his work. Once the day itself is over, the photography will be all we have, so I think it is totally worth it to "splurge" on the photography. Not that we couldn't have found a more expensive photographer, because they're out there. This guy is expensive for wedding photographers, but by no means is he at the top of the price range. Plus, I really like him and I think that's important, too.

2. We ordered my desk! We are turning one of the spare rooms in our house into my office, so that I have a place to go to study. Mr has done nearly all of the actual work, save for a little sanding, and I helped apply the skim coat to the walls. But he has done the majority of the sanding, all of the priming, ceiling and trim painting and he's going to paint it tomorrow night. Because of school (why I need the office) I can't help much. He's really handy to have around. To top it all off, for Christmas, he said I could order the desk I really want from Pottery Barn, even though it is pricey as hell. Thankfully, I found a chair that matches at Target for considerably less, so I was able to save him a little cash there. I'll post pictures soon.

3. Speaking of pictures, I realized that I didn't take any pictures of the awful, blood-red walls that used to be in our bedroom. I took a little tour of the room after we skim-coated, but I don't know how to post video. We'll see if I can figure that out later.

4. I can't find one of my old friends. I realized that I haven't spoken to her in a while and made a note to email her today. Oops, I don't have her email. Her cell phone number now belongs to a guy with a Spanish accent, and she no longer works at the job that I had for her. According to the guy I talked to, she moved to New Orleans about six months ago. I spent a good part of the morning looking for her online, to no avail. I'll have to look up her parents' and call them. Is it weird that I still feel it is important to invite her to my wedding? We don't keep in touch anymore but when we do we have a lovely time. We'll see if I can get a hold of her.

5. Hank's sick. He woke us up at 3am last night to go ... well, he needed to go out. I used to be annoyed that it was always my job to walk him in the mornings. Now that we've moved, I have to get up by 5:30 to walk him, or I'll be late for work. Mr's commute has shrank since we moved, yet I still walk Hank. This morning at 3am though? I remembered why I don't complain about walking him. Because sick in the middle of the night is Mr's job. Poor puppy apparently puked this morning, too. Hopefully whatever strange thing he ate has gotten out and he's ok. If he's still sick tonight, I'll have to take him to the vet. Again.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm a Nerd

I want this shirt:

I have seen variants all over, but I think it is mostly made by One Horse Shy

If you wanted to buy it (size: large) for me, I would be your friend forever.

The mug ain't bad either.

Reawakening the Philosopher in Me

I was reading Mano's blog and followed her link to Kottke, which I had never visited. Boy was I missing out. Today, they have a little link to Science Musings which asks the question:

Which of the following works would you choose to be lost, if only three could be saved: Michelangelo's Pieta, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Mozart's Don Giovanni, or Einstein's 1905 paper on relativity.

They say Einstein's 1905 paper on relativity because (and I'm really baselining here, their argument is more sophisticated) Einstein's discovery is scientific fact and therefore would have been discovered and articulated by someone eventually. Michelangelo, Shakespeare and Mozart are artistic geniuses who created works singularly to them - things that could not have been created by anyone else.

This really got me thinking, and seems to have woken up a part of my brain that has been snoozing away since I graduated college, more or less. Since no one I talk to on a daily basis gives a crap about my philosophical musings, I'm just going to post them here.

Anyway, the underlying assumption to the author's conclusion is that art is completely subjective and unique and science is completely objective. That there is a concrete truth out there in the universe, just waiting to be discovered. Couldn't art be a part of that truth? Or science require a unique creativity to discover what might be out there? I know other scientists at the time were working on similar theories, but maybe Einstein had a unique creativity that allowed him to see it. Maybe Shakespeare was tapping into psychological facts that were just out there, waiting to be expressed.

It's an interesting premise to consider. Michelangelo's Pieta is a breathtakingly beautiful recreation of Mary cradling her dead son. But it is a scene taken directly from the Bible. Who's to say that some other talented sculptor of the age couldn't have created the same thing? There are certainly numerous copies of Michelangelo's work all over the world (heck, a tiny David is in my bathroom right now. He's not quite the same, being about 1/100th the size of the original and, for reasons beyond to me, at some point he acquired a gauze diaper, but it is recognizably the David).

Similarly, Shakespeare's Hamlet is also based on facts that were already out there at the time he wrote it. The first known version of Hamlet's story was written in the 13th century. And, though Mozart's version is considered the best, Don Giovanni is one of many operas based on the life of Don Juan.

So, it would actually seem that of the four options, Einstein's work is actually the only one not based on previously published information.

Chet Raymo at Science Musings concludes that because any scientist could have discovered relativity (or group of scientists, and the discovery could be any landmark one - penicillin, DNA etc), the world can do with the loss of any one scientist. But art is the result of one individual mind and could not possibly be conceived and executed by more than one person. So, we can do without Einstein, but not without Shakespeare, Mozart or Michelangelo. While I agree that the world would be a sad place had those men not lived, he's shifted the argument here in a way that I can't support. The question was about which work could be lost, not which creator of that work.

I think I disagree with the core of his argument, too, that only scientific discoveries are objectively out there, in the world, just waiting to be grabbed, and artistic creations are formed whole-cloth out of one unique mind. There are (and I hesitate to use the word, but.. I can't think of another) universal themes that have been utilised and reworked repeatedly throughout history. Works of art share inspirations - from past works of art, the Bible, and life. People, regardless of race, religion, or nationality connect on certain levels that transcend those differences. Couldn't art be out there, objectively speaking, just waiting to inspire someone?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

It's 2007. Mr and I rang in the new year with Mexican food and a friendly game of Settlers of Catan which was apparently named game of the year by someone, though I'm not sure who, even though it came out (in Germany) in 1995. It's kind of like Risk, except slightly more complex. It turned out to be kind of fun, but figuring out how to set it up and play was not fun. Here's what I learned: Never try to learn a new complicated game after a pitcher of margaritas. It's just frustrating.

After that, we watched the WGN countdown. Their clock was off by ten seconds. It was live at an XRT concert and Lin Brehmer must have been using some official clock. When the screen said there were 20 seconds left, Brehmer started the countdown from 10. We switched to NYC to see that Brehmer was right. So there were kisses and hugs all around and then we settled down to play MarioKart and Rampage on our friends' Wii. Yes. We're very cool. It's ok to be jealous.

We also played bowling on the Wii, which was... odd. (I was going to say "wiierd" but figured that was a little lame). The Wii uses a wireless remote and you use it like you're actually bowling. It was kind of cool in a "hey, that's neat" sort of way, but the novelty wore off really fast.

It was a good night. Kind of laid-back, not terribly exciting, but good. Unlike Mano and her sister, I do not have a bad feeling about 2007, but maybe they're more in tune with the universe. In any case, I hope 2007 will be good for everyone. I haven't really made any official resolutions, I almost never do. But, I have rededicated myself to my diet. Since it has only been a day, it's going pretty well. I'm hoping I really stick to it this time. I'm getting married in 2007 and, vain though it is, I do not want to hate the way I look in the wedding pictures. Hopefully, this will be motivation enough to eat right and figure out a way to fit exercise into my life.