Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boo!


The Jollyblogger has a good post on Halloween, complete with links to several good articles dispelling the persistent myths about its eeeeevil origins.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Irregularly Scheduled Sufjan Update

Important Programming Note: Sufjan Stevens will be on Austin City Limits this weekend.

Be sure to check your local listings and tune in. Sadly, Sufjan is one of two acts, so you'll only see 4 songs from him. But they are good ones:
"Jacksonville"
"Casimir Pulaski Day"
"The Dress Looks Nice on You"
"Oh Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head!"

All great songs, and "Detroit" sounded especially wonderful with the orchestral arrangement from this tour.

Regularly Scheduled GT Football Update


After last week's dismal pounding at the hands of Clemson, the Yellow Jackets bounced back on Saturday to beat Miami, 30-23. Despite a disastrous opening possession and an obviously-injured Reggie Ball, Tech rebounded and played a pretty good game overall. Just as in last year's victory over the Hurricanes, the Jacket defense stung QB Kyle Wright, this time holding Miami to a net 71 rushing yards, with six sacks. Offensively, GT's Tashard Choice became the first player this season to rush for over 100 yards against the Miami defense. Super-receiver Calvin Johnson bounced back from last week's no-catch sadness, with 5 receptions and 1 TD. And consistency-plagued kicker Travis Bell made all 3 of his field goal attempts. The best part, though, is that the Yellow Jackets are now sitting firmly atop the ACC Coastal Division. With only three weak conference opponents left on the schedule, Tech's chances of heading to Jacksonville for the ACC Championship are looking pretty good. Tech has also climbed a spot to Number 20 in this week's AP Top 25.

In other happy football news, the Dawgs fell to Florida, 14-21. Unranked Georgia is now 6-3, having lost 3 of their last 4 games.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fine Art Friday


Bendz, Wilhelm (1804 - 1832)
The Church of Ramsau, Austria
Painting, oil on paper
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halloween is Coming

Sorry for the decreased blog-output in recent weeks, and sadly, I don't have any new material for this post. But it is about time for an annual re-reading of James Jordan's comments on Christians and Halloween.

Halloween: A Distinctly Christian Holiday

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Mouse Tale Revisited

This morning, I entered my room to find yet another mouse-- this time the poor fella was already dead. It was a big mouse-- so big that another teacher mistook it for a rat, but it wasn't THAT big and didn't have any of the ratty qualities to go along with his misguided assumption. [Side note: we got to teach our English language learning Vietnamese janitor a new word today: rodent.] That evil rodent must have struggled because the trap was moved out from behind the file cabinet and so I didn't get anything done at my desk until the mouse had been disposed of (it was also hard to eat breakfast with it right there near my desk, so I left the room). I'm not sure if the mouse died of starvation or froze to death due to the frigid temperatures this weekend. Either way, I hope it will be the last one I will see for a while. Why do they have to show up in MY room? Why can't they end up in a trap in someone else's class?

Speaking of frigid temperatures-- the nightly low is going to be below freezing the rest of the week here in Atlanta. Only a week ago we reached 80 degrees in the afternoons! What happened to fall? Those other mice better watch out-- it they try to use any of my classroom handouts or papers for making a nice warm winter nest I'll be hunting them down myself!

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Mouse Tale

On Monday morning, I arrived in my classroom at school to find presents from some little rodent friend on my chair! Too small to be a rat... fresh little mouse poopings and peeings on my nice cloth computer chair! Ugh! (Apparently, another teacher had actually SEEN a mouse running through the heating and air system after it is turned off in the evenings, and a second teacher found droppings on her DESK the next day. Ew.) So, I promptly informed the correct authorities that we had a "visitor" and within a day there were two rodent glue traps near my desk. The custodial staff person told me, "If you come in and the traps are moved, just come get me." I never saw anything all week, and had almost forgotten the presence of the friendly little creature after hours-- until today.

Imagine my suprise, then, when I arrive in my room this morning to find not one, but TWO furry little brown mice stuck in the trap near the air conditioning. I promptly screamed (they were still alive and wriggling and looking at me with their beady little eyes and wiggling their tails), then turned around, walked out the door, and marched purposefully to the custodian's office. "Two mice. Not one. Two. In my room. Alive. You certainly caught them! Please come get them before students show up." He offered to give them to me as pets, and I replied, "No, thanks! The science department can have them, for all I care!"

I later learned that those are not humane traps (apparently they can try to chew their way out, swallow the glue, and suffocate) and I'm not really sure what happened to them after they were removed from my room (I didn't come back until they were gone.) But, I really don't want to know. Hopefully, that will be the end of any presents on my desk. I'll let you know Monday morning.

Fine Art Friday Triptych

(To make up for lost time, three of my faves from the BMA. See if you can find a theme...hint: look up vanitas)







1. Painting
Allegory of Charles I of England and Henrietta of France in a Vanitas Still Life, After 1669
Simon Renard de Saint-Andre (French, 1613-1677)
Oil on canvas

2. Sculpture
Crucifera IV, 1965
George Rickey (American, born 1907)
Stainless steel

3. Photograph
Store in Alabama, 1936
Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Gelatin silver print

Unexpectedly Intense Flavor



Wow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Narcissism

Indulge me. I've been thinking about blogging, wanting to post, thinking about posting, reading other people's blogs, but for a while now I just haven't made the time to write anything on here of any substance whatsoever. (And don't expect much this time.) I did want to say a little about what I've been up to the past two months with school, so you know that my silence has been for good reason. I am particularly ashamed that I just completely forgot about "Fine Art Fridays" for about 3 weeks, even though I think about what I want to post for days leading up to it. Maybe I can restart that this week.

First, a hindrance: This year, I can no longer access Blogger or Bloglines from school or post comments. So, that's cut down on my computer time. But it (hopefully) means I'm getting more things done that are school-related in the afternoons. However, some days I'm still staying until about 5:30 or 6 p.m. just to get things done, because I have additional responsibilities that have sometimes kept me much later than that.

Second, the highlights: This year, I'm part of a "Ninth Grade Academy" that meets during our lunch planning period (taking away some "productive" time), but getting to meet with 6-8 other teachers almost every day has been a great experience-- I don't feel so alone as I did my first year, when no one had time to discuss strategies or students or anything else. Also, seeing even small successes of interventions we've had with students who are struggling with the transition from middle school to high school has been a great motivator. Working with our new "Graduation Coach" has also been a plus-- she puts in triple effort with students in all grades who are struggling due to academic, behavioral, personal, or emotional issues. I've appreciated seeing the caring individuals that make up the sometimes monstrous industrial machine-like organization of the public school system.

Another positive note has been working with our Academic Team, which pretty much runs itself. Those are some bright kids, I tell ya. Last Wednesday, Gaines and I traveled downtown to the WSB studios to watch the kids pull out a close match against their opponent in the local High Q competition, a televised academic bowl that matches teams from all over the state. We both relived memories from times we participated in a similar competition at then Troy State University. (Ask Gaines' whose team won when my alma mater and his went head-to-head his senior year of high school...Mwahahaha!) It was a fun, though late evening.

Also, I am one of the 9th grade class sponsors, and a tradition at our school is for each class to decorate the halls thematically to be judged the Friday of Homecoming Week. (If I'm brave, I might share a photo Gaines took of me when I dressed up for "Tacky Day" -- I was hideous, but he had to capture the moment on our new digital.) Hall decorating makes for quite a few long days, and one LATE Thursday night. This year, though, we finished by 9:30 p.m. and the "Jungle Book" theme turned out to be one of the best freshman halls the school had ever seen (I only supervised, I swear!). However, I think I am still catching up from that one week of lost grading time. I will say, as well, that it might have been a bad idea to play "The Bear Necessities" and "I Wanna Be Like You" on repeat the morning of the judging. I've had those songs in my head ever since!

Finally, my World Literature class has just finished up a Mythology unit, and I was so inspired from reading "Cupid and Psyche" that I picked up Lewis' masterpiece 'Til We Have Faces: A Myth Retold for a second read. I finished tonight, and I'm still reeling from the beauty of the story. Perhaps I'll post more on that later. If you haven't yet read it, you should!

That's all for now. We're off to watch the latest installment of LOST. I can't wait!

Word and Table

Michael Horton wrote on the the importance of the Sacraments as "Mysteries of God and Means of Grace" in an old issue of Modern Reformation. I found this to be quite an enlightening article concerning church history and also a confirmation of what we've been learning over the last few years--about the importance of Communion and Baptism and their place in the local body of believers. Mostly, that both are instituted by God, are a means by which God provides for us and sustains us through Christ, and that they do not depend on the state of the recipient (In a sermon last Easter, I heard a minister comment that the front of the Table should be emblazoned with "For Sinners Only!"). But Horton says it much better than I. Go read the article--it'll make more sense.

I did like this quote: "In many conservative Reformed and Presbyterian circles, it is as if the prescribed forms for Baptism and the Supper were too high in their sacramental theology, so the minister feels compelled to counter its strong "means of grace" emphasis. In this way, the Sacraments die the death of a thousand qualifications."

HT to Barb. Thanks for pointing this out to those of us who hadn't seen it before!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals

Christianity Today had compiled a list of books written in the last 50 years that have -- for better or for worse -- impacted evangelical Christians the most.

Interesting.

The Squeaky Wheel Got Greased!

Sometimes, the man can be beaten. (or is that, "It can be stuck to the man"?) Check it out:

A couple of weeks ago, I went with some friends to see Georgia Tech's football game against Virginia. It was a Thursday night home game, and nationally televised, a combination that always makes for a lot of fun. Tech won big that night, but an otherwise enjoyable evening was marred by one slight nuisance. Because we had a group, we were able to take advantage of "Family Packs," which get you a block of tickets, plus hot dogs and drinks for a reasonable price. So far, so good. Now, the Family Pack also includes a couple of mysterious "premium items" -- mysterious to me, at least, because I had never before gotten to a game early enough to snag one. But for the UVA game, we had time to spare, so my friends and I were on a mission to get the goods.

But what an arduous task it would be! We had to wander around for a bit before finding out where the goods (T-shirts, we soon learned) were being distributed. When we found the Russell Athletics (an official sponsor of Georgia Tech Athletics) display, it was being packed up, and we were informed that there were no more T-shirts -- even though we saw a few unopened boxes of T-shirts being packed up. But we still had 20 minutes before kickoff! Most of our group decided to forego the loot and head on into the stadium. Not willing to admit defeat, my friend Gordon and I walked down the street to the ticket office to demand satisfaction, or at least to get some answers. After all, we had vouchers entitling us to premium items, dang it! I won't belabor all the details, but we definitely made another trip to the Russell display and back to the ticket office. (At one point, a Russell lady informed us that they would be shooting T-shirts into the crowd during the game, so we could try to get one then. Thanks a lot, lady!) After the second visit to the ticket office (the game had already started at this point, mind you), a helpful but exasperated employee took our vouchers and our addresses and said he'd take care of it. A minor victory, but Gordon and I weren't exactly holding our breath on that one, either.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. Upon arriving home, I noticed an odd box on the doorstep. I certainly wasn't expecting a package. Then I saw the memo line "GT Family Pack" on the address slip. I rushed to the kitchen and hacked into the box with some scissors. At the top of the box was a handwritten card from Russell, apologizing for the lack of T-shirts at the game. In addition to the two T-shirts I should have gotten at the game, they threw in a couple of Tech ball caps, too. Woo hoo! I later confirmed that Gordon had received an identical package yesterday. Talk about good customer service.

So the moral of the story, kids, is that being persistent and annoying occasionally pays off. And now you know.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Just Because It Looks Cool


(Shamelessly pulled from the internet.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lost

Season premiere tonight. Woo hoo!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Almost Perfect

This Weekend in College Football ...

  • Georgia Tech smacked-down Virginia Tech, 38-27.
  • Auburn eked out a 24-17 win over South Carolina on Thursday night.
  • Alabama lost to Florida, 13-28.

    Had U[sic]GA lost to Ole Miss (and the hated Dawgs barely scraped by, 14-9), it would have been a perfect college football weekend for Team Redd.

    GT did climb six spots in the AP poll, to No. 18.

    In Other News

    On Friday night, we drove up to Knoxville's New City Cafe to catch Andrew Peterson and Jill Phillips during their "Square Peg Tour 2006." Accompanying them were the inestimably-talented Ben Shive and Andy Gullahorn. Everyone sounded great, and the setlist was a fairly even split between Andrew and Jill, with a couple of solo numbers from Andy G. and even one by Ben. Plus, New City is always such a cool place to see a concert, largely due to the venue's ongoing support of artistic excellence. We caught the evening's second show (at 9:30 PM), which was apparently a bit more relaxed and intimate than the 7 PM one. This environment prompted Andrew et al to try out a number of new songs, which were great to hear. Andrew had one especially powerful one, about the complex nature of his relationship with his father, and the implications for his relationship with his own son. I love that Andrew can write songs with content that doesn't resolve neatly and easily; indeed, he isn't afraid to honestly yet hopefully capture aspects of life that are messy and uncertain. In fact, his shows usually embody this, with the amazing music punctuated by the occasional flubbed lyric, mid-show huddles to amend the setlist, and the frequent between-song ad-libs, whether humorous or serious. Some might view these as faults, but I enjoy these quirks which serve as a reminder that, as Jill's new album states, "Nobody's Got It All Together." Andrew (and Jill and Ben and Andy) make no apologies for clearly displaying their need for God's grace, and they then offer powerful glimpses of that very grace in their art.

    As always, if you have a chance to see any of these fine folks in concert, don't pass it up.