Saturday, December 27, 2008

My First Tag

A fellow blogger (Billy Ockham) tagged me. It's something I've assudiously avoided until now, but what the heck. ::grin:: I may not be able to come up with SIX PEOPLE to tag myself (who wouldn't shoot me dead if they saw me later) so I'll have to ponder that very carefully.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you. (Done, above.)
2. Post the rules on your blog. (You're reading them!)
3. Write six random things about yourself. (Look below)
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. (Look even farther below.)
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Random bits:
1. I really love to build things with Lego - Notre Dame Cathedral is my crowning achievement to date.
2. The only time my husband and I talk about philosophy is when we go on long walks or hikes.
3. My favorite coffee is Barnies' Cinnamon Butter Cookie.
4. I once climbed a water tower, just because it was there.
5. I saw Pope John Paul II when I was in Rome in 2000.
6. My husband is a college football widower every fall. (Go Seminoles!)

And I will tag....
1. Blondie
2. Frick
3. Librarian
4. the Jones
5. Gratia Domini
6. Jenny

Monday, December 15, 2008

Prayer Request!

The philosopher in my life just found out he has a job interview for a tenure-track position at a small liberal arts college! Please pray for him as he prepares for the interview, that he may clearly present himself and his abilities. Pray for the interviewers' discernment. Pray for safe travels to Philadelphia, as the interview will take place at the Eastern APA meeting on December 30. Finally, pray that we follow God's plan - not ours - and that if this is meant to be the path forward becomes clear.

I'm trying not to be too excited, because I know that this is just one step among many. But the field of philosophy is very competitive right now, and going from one-in-300 to one-in-ten is a huge step forward.

Blessed Advent!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My name is Alabama, and I am schizophrenic.

It's Alabama. It's December. As the saying goes: if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes!

Well today we're waiting, and watching, and praying. Tonight severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are predicted. (Yes, Alabama actually has TWO severe weather seasons: one in the spring and one in late fall.) Double the pleasure, double the fun! Dewpoints are in the 60s, and so are the temperatures. Other weather-nerd info says that winds aloft are very high, which is another indicator of a possible severe weather outbreak. My favorite weatherman (and his station) go to 24/7 uninterrupted coverage if there is a tornado warning in the tv coverage area. And for a weather junkie like me, that is way cool. I always learn a lot (if I'm not cowering in the laundry room!)

We don't actually have a weather radio, but the news station set up a weather text alert that will go to your cell phone. You pick the county, and you'll get a text message as soon at the National Weather Service announces the alert. Often my cell phone goes off before we hear the sirens! So even though the professor laughs when I tuck my cell phone under my pillow on those potentially nasty nights, I know that if a tornado is coming I can make sure we go to a safe place.

Tomorrow should be blustery and damp, unpleasant, but not alarming. Then on Thursday, temperatures will drop dramatically and SNOW is predicted Thursday night. Snow. Give Me a Break. Well, as long as it holds off until I get home from work I can live with it.

Hello, my name is Alabama, and I am schizophrenic!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eucatastrophe

Last night in Wheaton, Illinois, a group of orthodox Anglicans laid the foundation for a provisional Anglican Church in North America. My small little corner of the Anglican alphabet soup is not a part of this (yet?), but it gives me hope. It gives me hope that Biblically-based Anglican Christianity is still alive and well in America, and will continue with the Great Commission. It gives me hope that our fractured world does have the ability to come together and begin to heal - if us raucous Anglicans can agree to disagree on things like women's ordination and which prayer book is appropriate, just think what might happen in other areas where we live and work.

Do you see what I mean? We are so used to getting our own way in today's society. It's "me, me, me, me" everywhere you go. Here's an example of folks willing to set aside the "me" and work for the better of "we." The quote "preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words," is attrbuted to St. Francis, and it applies to us. Regardless of where we are and what venue we are functioning in, our actions are visible to those around us. So now maybe a town council, or a Baptist church, or a board of directors will see how this group of Anglicans set aside their differences to work together for the greater good. Indeed, maybe some of the Anglicans involved in this new province WORK in some of those other groups, and will not only impact the "group dynamics" but bring souls to Christ at the same time.

It's not a solution to all life's problems - of course not. We are fallen human beings and will continue to struggle with sin for the rest of our lives. But at this part of the story, we are experiencing our own eucatastrophe. And I will weep and rejoice as I watch the events unfold.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's a fiesta (without the radioactivity)!

No, actually we're not having a non-nuclear party. ::grin:: (Well, dad and I are having one this Saturday for the SEC Championship game, and that might go nuclear, but that's another thing entirely.)

My mom has had some dinnerware in storage that I've coveted for years. Some of the pieces were my great-grandmother's, even. She'd already passed on her Lenox china (saying she never used it) so I didn't want to ask for anything else. But this Thanksgiving the opportunity arose... I was helping her clear out some cabinets and such, and she asked me if there was anything I wanted. So I mentioned the boxes of Fiestaware stored in the attic. It's a mixed assortment - cinnabar dinner plates, ivory salad plates, shamrock dessert bowls, some random serving pieces, and a gazillion small coffee cups/saucers in two different colors. (OK, that's an exaggeration. There's more like 14, but everything else is in multiples of 8, so that counts as a gazillion in dish-math.) Our "walmart china" was on its last legs, so this gift/early inheritance was a boon to our pocketbook too. Thanks, mom!!

Aesthetically, it will take some getting used to - I'm all about things matching, and now none of our dishes match. But there's a wierd freedom to that too. Our stone cottage in Virginia had a definite "Italian" theme going, with olive colored dishes and such. With the Fiesta, we are no longer tied to keeping up a color theme. The philosopher is going to build a display shelf for some of the pieces - a beautiful evergreen platter, the sugar/creamer set (blue and... er... pink-ish, I think) and the small disk pitcher, which is bright yellow. It also goes well with our new kitchen, which has light, neutral wood/tile tones. So the new dishes add a bit of spark that our Italian-color pieces didn't quite do.

Some of the pieces, like the sugar/creamer and yellow coffee cups, were my great-grandmother's (bought when they first came out in the 30s). Mother added some of the other pieces when the line was re-introduced in the 70s. So not only do I have some excellent dinnerware now, I have a little piece of my family history too. As an only child, that's really important to me (and thanks go here to my hubby for understanding that!) I have some furniture from my father's parents - a walnut dining room table and a bedroom suite - and a rocking chair from my mother's mother. Now I have something from one of my "greats," so how cool is that?

Now, those of you who are familiar with Fiestaware have heard about the radioactive red plates from the mid-20th century. You know, the ones where the red color came from depleted (or natural!) uranium. Fortunately, we don't have any of the "radioactive red," so you are completely safe if you come to have dinner with us!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks (in a heffalumps sort of way)

Things I'm thankful for (in no particular order):

Google Images has now added the entire photo collection of LIFE magazine to its digital archives, many that have never been published before.

Florida State's first-string safety Myron Rolle was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship - he wants to be a neurosurgeon. How cool is it that there are college football players who are also excellent college students?

Along the same lines, the philosopher and I are thankful to be visiting friends this weekend in Memphis to watch the Florida State/Florida game. (I will be even more thankful if FSU doesn't embarass itself!)

The Common Cause Partnership is meeting in Wheaton, IL to discuss creating a formal orthodox Anglican province.

The philosopher starts teaching symbolic logic and metaphysics at Samford University in January.

Dewey: The Small-town Library Cat Who Touched the World is being made into a movie.

New Years plans are set with our favorite biologist, who will be visiting us and escaping the frigid climes of West Virginia.

And of course, I'm thankful for family and friends, and all the good things God has provided this year. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, y'all!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fog - or a rip in the space-time continuum?

FOG
by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

We've had some creepy fog here in northeast Alabama recently. Last week as I was driving to work, the air and skies were perfectly clear in our little hollow between the hills. As I went through the gap into the next valley, I drove into a veritable WALL of fog. As I was moving towards it, I could see cars emerging, and once I entered it was akin to being trapped inside a giant ping pong ball. I went to school at Sewanee, so I have lots of experience with fog. Usually you'll see what appears to be dense fog ahead, then as you drive through you realize the density was an optical illusion. The air in your immediate area always seems to be a little more clear than the air ahead or behind. Not this fog bank. It was like a knife-sharp delineation between the clear air and the fog, and did not seem to disappate as I drove through. I kept thinking of the Stephen King short story "The Mist" (also made into an absolutely terrible movie). The goverment was performing bizarre atmospheric experiments and ripped the fabric of our space-time continuum, releasing hordes of monsters into a small Maine town. The monsters were preceeded, and subsequently hidden from view, by an unpenetrable fog. Yikes! Fortunately for me, there were no monsters in my fog bank, and I arrived at work with only a short delay.

Two nights ago, I was driving home from work (do you sense a theme here?) It was a clear night, and I could see both Venus and Jupiter near the cresent moon. As I drove through the countryside (very, very dark now that the time has changed) I noticed some tendrils of fog creeping out of the lowlands. Then I saw a sheet of fog, parallel to the road, but very thin. It spanned completely across the road, and as far to the left and right as my headlights could illuminate. And it continued on for over half a mile. So what did my active imagination immediately conjur up? The movie Alien. And that sharp line of mist that hovered over the alien eggs. When you're driving in the dark, through the country with no houses or distant glow of streetlights... well, you get my point. I was driving on a slightly raised roadbed, with the densely wooded land falling off on both sides. There were no fog-tendrils below or above this sharp demarcation that hovered about at the level of my windshield. As I passed through this odd fog formation, I almost screamed (a very girly scream) when the eyes of a deer, reflecting my headlights, glowed through the trees.

I love my job, and I've even learned to appreciate my commute most of the time. But I can do without creepy atmospheric conditions on dark nights!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Michael Crichton, RIP

A great author passed away today: Michael Crichton. Probably his most memorable book was Jurassic Park, because of the movie, but many of his other books (also turned into movies, with much less success) were even better. Congo. Sphere. Andromeda Strain. Timeline. The list goes on. Though one title the linked article mentions is actually incorrect. It's State of Fear, not State of Favor. May God's peace be with his family during this time. He will be missed by many.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Heart of Anglican Bible Study

Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, gave a talk at the Lambeth Conference that went relatively uncommented-on over the last few months. Fulcrum has finally put the text up here. I want to highlight a tiny portion - though certainly his talk was much farther ranging and insightful than this small bit - that really struck me.

All this is of course nurtured by the straightforward but deeply powerful tradition of the daily offices, with the great narratives of scripture read through day by day, preferably on a lectio continua basis, so that ‘living prayerfully within the story’ is the most formative thing, next to the Eucharist itself, which Anglicans do. Classic mattins and evensong, in fact, are basically showcases for scripture, and the point of reading Old and New Testaments like that is not so much to ‘remind ourselves of that bit of the Bible’, as to use that small selection as a window through which we can see, with the eyes of mind and heart, the entire sweep of the whole Bible, so that our ‘telling of the story’ is not actually aimed primarily at informing or reminding one another but rather at praising God for his mighty acts, and acquiring the habit of living within the story of them as we do so. That, I suggest, is the heart of Anglican Bible study.

I've always read the Bible to "learn that bit"... It didn't really occur to me to take it in a broader context of the whole Story (and, yes, I will capitalize Story here!) I've been disappointed with our Sunday School classes at church recently because we've been reading books about the Bible, or about Christianity. And I think this is why I've been disappointed, but I didn't really know or understand why until I finished reading this article. I want to go to Sunday School (and every night in between) and READ the Bible - not to memorize specific vignettes, but to read and worship God in awe of his might and power. I want to talk about the Scriptures with other Christians, and see what they think, and see how they may fit the passages we read into the larger fabric of the Story. As we see the Story come to life, and as we see how we fit into the story, we also revel in the Glory of God.

Of course, I'm reminded of Tolkien here (I should've used an obscure Tolkien reference in my blog name, shouldn't I?) where Sam and Frodo are talking about the story, and how they are taking their place in it. Sam says, "Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?" (From Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol") But I think Bishop Wright is making the same case - we ARE part of that great Biblical Story, and it's still going on. And it's up to us to see our part through as best we can, with God's help.

(Tip o' the Tinfoil Hat to Stand Firm)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fame Junkies?

I am currently reading a book called Fame Junkies by Jake Halpern. It looks closely at the obsession (yes, that is the word he uses) that Americans have with celebrity. It's a depressing book, but an excellent look into what he calls the three subcultures of fame: the wanna-be-famous, the celebrity assistants (and hangers on) and the die-hard fans.

I was telling a friend about it, and we digressed into a discussion of "news". The book points out that more people watch "American Idol" than the nightly news. Why is that? Even worse was this: on January 7, 2005, there were five important stories. A breakthrough in AIDS research, a Bush pension insurance rescue plan, an opposition plan to thwart a social security proposal, an investigation report into the UN's oil-for-food scandal, and a mistress of an FBI agent arrested for stealing national secrets. On the tv headlines were "Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt have split up." A later word-count analysis of CNN's transcripts revealed that they gave this last story more coverage than ALL FIVE of the other news stories put together. Or how about the fact that the three major news networks devoted 26 minutes of airtime to the Darfur tragedy and 130 minutes to the Martha Stewart scandal? (p. 193-194) Ouch. What in the world does this say about our priorities?

So what is "news" supposed to be these days? Is it any information on recent events - the more lurid the better? Is it whatever fad is whizzing around the internet? Or does it have a more vaporous, yet deeper, meaning? Something like, "unbiased facts that deal with serious topics and events"? I favor the latter, but that's just me. Here's my beef, though: Why is it that I can only watch the first three minutes of CNN Headline News - after that it becomes a mishmash of ambulance chasing, scare tactics and stupid celebrity tricks? But I can then go on BBC News online and discover that India has launched a moon mission! A MOON mission! (On the CNN homepage? "Chimp takes Segway for a ride." India's moon mission is buried as a third level entry under "tech".) Now, I understand the need for "feel-good" stories. But I don't understand replacing stories of actual consequence with the lady who built a shed to live in because she's allergic to everything. (BTW, How many Americans knew that Venezuela persona non grata'd our Ambassador in early September?)

I could also go on a rant about the media bias today, but because Orson Scott Card does it so much better I will let him speak for himself. Go here to read his article Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On The Lights? If you're a sci-fi/fantasy fan, he's the author of Ender's Game and the Alvin Maker series. (He also wrote a fabulous novelization of the movie Abyss!) Regardless of what his faith is (He's LDS) and regardless of his political leanings (he's a Democrat) he is not afraid to point out that the emperor has no clothes. And that is amazingly refreshing these days.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Can an antelope be a document?

This is a nerdy, librarian-type post. Consider yourself warned. ::grin::

Suzanne Briet, one of the founding presences behind modern day imformation studies programs, once posed the question, "Can an antelope be a document?" in her article/pamphlet called What is Documentation?. I won't go into all the gory details, but that argument has stayed with me since I read it at FSU. She is essentially stating that a document is evidence in support of a fact. Paul Otlet, writing slightly before Briet, said that you can have information (documentation) about objects, but the objects themselves become documents if you are informed by observing them. So... if you have a map, can it be a document? (Yes.) If you have a photograph can it be a document? (Definitely.) If you have a dinosaur bone, is that a document... does that inform us? (Yes, ask any museum curator!) Well, if a dinosaur bone is a document, can an animal in a zoo, say... an antelope.. be one? (If the zoo = the museum, then doesn't the antelope = the dinosaur bone?) If you're really interested in this, I recommend Michael Buckland's treatment of the argument here which he calls "information-as-thing."

I find this incredibly intriguing, and for 1951, it was amazingly farsighted. We catalog things now that don't even exist in the real "brick and mortar" world - electronic resources and video and all kinds of stuff. And we do that because we are informed by these bits and bytes that flash across our computer screen. So I was deeply reminded of Otlet and Briet's arguments when I saw this story on Wired's website: Browse the Artifacts of Geek History. There are books, of course, but they're covered in precious gems. And there's a Sputnik rocket. Dinosaur skeletons. An Enigma machine. Escher-like woodwork. A hand-painted book on dwarves, embellished with gold and silver. I could spend weeks in this library and never be bored!

But it got me thinking. In the library field, they're known as "realia." Which is quite a dry and dusty term for all these amazing objects that you can see and touch and manipulate. For Briet and Otlet, these items speak for themselves. We can have - and should have - books and papers telling us about each one (and many in this collection have just that!) I can read all about the Soviet Sputnik program, and how the Germans used the Enigma machine to send coded messages to their submarines in World War II. I can look at books of anatomy and physiology about dinosaurs and human brains. I can even read a book about rare books (doesn't that seem like a contradiction?), hand painted and studded with jewels. But all of those resources - however valuable - simply pales in comparison to being in a place where you can touch a skeleton. And hold a meteorite. And tap a code into a machine. And feel the rubies and brush strokes of a 16th century book on jousting.

What does that say about me? I'm not really sure, but I think I'd prefer antelopes to electrons any day!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Heebie Jeebie Alert

We live in the country. I've always known that on some level, but it really became clear this weekend. The professor had been out doing some yard work when he came barreling in the back door, rushed to the study, then headed outside again with camera in hand. I was doing laundry, thusly it didn't take much to distract me from that tedious chore and follow him out the door, intensely curious. I knew one of his hobbies was taking nature photos - hummingbirds, interesting flowers, creepy insects, bizarre cloud formations - so I assumed he'd found something curious to photograph.


I should've stayed in the house. Because now I'm afraid to venture into the yard for fear I'll tumble into something like THIS:



Now I know, for-sure-without-a-doubt, that We. Live. In. The. Country. And I also know without a doubt that pure evil exists, and it takes the form of arachnids with skull-like yellow markings on its seemingly armoured abdomen. The web itself was beautiful, perfectly formed and about four feet across. And there's the real problem. It was spanning two trees. In a place where I sometimes walk. AAaaarrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh.

Now, here's the real question... what kind of spider is it? I have no clue. We couldn't find it in the library's Spiders and Insects book. I am positively convinced of its poisonous lethality, razor sharp pincers, and affinity for humans as an after-dinner delicacy. (That cricket in its web was just for show, I am sure.) So if you know what it is, let me know. And then I can have those warning and caution signs printed for our back gate!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

50 Greatest Villains in Literature

You just never know what you're going to find when you walk out the door in the morning. Or as Bilbo Baggins once said, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Metaphorically speaking (of course) that can be applied to a few minutes of internet browsing combined with a hefty dose of serendipity. Today, while doing something completely different, I landed on an article that made my literature-major-antennae perk up and take notice.

The Telegraph (A London paper) got a few literary critics together and compiled a list of the 50 Greatest Villains in Literature. The article begins:

Compiling a list of the 50 Greatest Villains in Literature, without too much recourse to comics and children's books, proved trickier than we'd imagined - but gosh it was fun.

It's perhaps the nature of grown-up literature that it doesn't all that often have villains, in the sense of coal-black embodiments of the principle of evil. And even when it does, it's not always so easy to tell who they are. Is God the baddie, or Satan?Ahab, or the white whale?

Yet even writers as subtle as Vladimir Nabokov have spiced their work with a fiend or two. And here they are. We hope you'll furnish a few more we missed. These are the best of the worst: bloodsuckers, pederasts, cannibals, Old Etonians...the dastardliest dastards ever to have lashed damsel to track and waited for a through train.


So check it out. See where villains like Voldemort, the White Witch, Iago, Milton's Satan, Moriarty, and Sauron fall in the grand scheme of things. I'm still considering who I think was seriously overlooked. Certainly some Stephen King bad guys are missing - Randall Flagg and Annie Wilkes, and non-human characters like Cujo (who probably contributed to my deep-seated fear of large dogs!).

And the authors bring up a good question. Why is it that adult literature often has really distorted villains, such that we are never really sure they're a bad guy at all? And kids' books just nail it - you know exactly who the villain is and you rejoice in his ultimate downfall. Indeed, because you KNOW he's the villain you know, just KNOW, he will never triumph in his nefarious plans. Is it because the books for children have, as part of their structure, "life lessons" in the form of good guys and bad guys? With the implicit (or explicit) encouragement to be like the ones wearing white? And if so, is that really the ultimate purpose of literature? Should a book be read as an example of good and evil, a teaching tool for right belief, a way to discern and build upon a particular worldview?

Or, on the other hand, is literature simply a way to build upon more prosaic endeavours - the more you read the more you learn about good writing, the more you learn about good writing the better you write, the better you write, the better a student you become and so on and so on. The characters are interesting because if they weren't no one would read and ... well, you get the idea. (I'm not saying I have an answer here - it's an honest question.)

Well, I suppose I do have an ulterior motive, if not any kind of answer. The philospher is working on a book about classical education, and we've been having conversations about whether or not literature should be included as part of the trivium. And if it should be included... why? This summer we spent a large part of a West Virginia vacation with our favorite biologist debating this very question. We were talking about higher education, but the question applies equally well, I think, to juvenile literature. The philosopher managed to shoot down both of the theories I mentioned above, using his well-trained philosophic craft and deep understanding of the underlying issues. If I had a brain for that kind of thing I'd happily relate his conclusions, but I only vaguely understood him then and now that several months have passed the rhetoric is even more muddled in my mind. He tells me that he's come up with an excellent argument for the inclusion of literature in the classical trivium now, but I have yet to hear his exposition on that particular case.

So anyway, what do y'all think? Did you see any glaring holes in the villains list? And if you're so inclined to stretch your brain along the lines of my other train of thought, do you think there's a good argument for including the study of literature in the trivium?

Monday, September 22, 2008

[Enter 1000 Words Here]



The professor, my dad, and I went to Florida this weekend. Friday night we stayed at a hotel in Marianna (a very non-descript, hotel-at-an-interstate-exit sort of place). We drove over to Tallahassee Saturday morning. The professor headed for FSU's Strozier library, where he planned to spend the entire day working on his book about "the philosophic life and classical education" (the newest subtitle for his cranky book about philosophy).



My dad and I, on the other hand, headed down to St. Marks Lighthouse. It was absolutely stunning. It's right on the gulf at the headwaters of the St. Marks River, and offers a beautiful panorama of marsh, bayou, and coastline. As I stood looking out at this desolate landscape, I was in awe of God's creation. It is desolate at first glance, but as you stand quietly and watch, you see the grasses and palmettos blowing in the breeze, and then you start to notice the wildlife moving about - dozens of species of birds, and even a gator or two. The area is also a national wildlife preserve, and serves as a roost for over 250 species of birds. I wish I'd brought my binoculars, because we saw - I think - an ibis, a snowy egret, and a blue heron. There were many others, but they moved to fast to identify. Water birds are easy, because, well, they stand still near the water's edge for long periods of time!



As an aside, I won't really talk about the swarms of love bugs. There were so many at the lighthouse proper that dad and I only stayed a few minutes. They would land by the dozens all over your back and legs. If you stamped your feet they would fly about six inches away and land again. And our new car was positively covered in the things by the time we got back home. EEEEW.


Afer our jaunt to the coast, we headed back to Tallahassee for the REAL reason for our Florida Vacation. Dad and I had tickets to the FSU/Wake Forest football game. I won't go into detail. Dad's comment? "Wake wanted to lose this game. FSU wanted to lose MORE!" Still, we had good seats and we got to see Chief Osceola with Renegade and the Marching Chiefs. So it wasn't a total loss. (OK, the GAME was a total loss, but the trip wasn't!)




Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do you sense a disturbance in the Force?

Over in Switzerland yesterday, they cranked up the largest supercollider in the known universe (I say "known" universe, because who knows what the little green men in other universes have done thus far!) CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) has assured the world's population that it is perfectly safe - the galaxy has been doing this for "Billions and Billions" of years so no need to worry that we're doing it underground in Switzerland. The skeptics, on the other hand, started wailing about miniature, invisible black holes and other destructive anomalies (though you'd think they could come up with a better name than "strangelets") consuming the earth and destroying all matter in its matrix.

Well, I've read that story already. It's by Stephen King, called The Langoliers. I'm not thinking so much about the time travel aspects of the story, but it's the description of the Langoliers themselves that strike a common cord. And if you saw that BAD made-for-tv version of this some years ago, visually they looked like black masses with teeth eating the world. (Yikes - now I sound like the cult of Cuthulu!) So these fearful folk should come up with a better description, otherwise King could sue them for infringement on his intellectual property!

Anyway, I thought of something much more practical and of real concern.... did you sense a disturbance in the Force yesterday? Could these "strangelets" actually be midi-chlorians, destined to overwhelm the world and create uber-Jedi? >(As an aside, in the linked article, doesn't the image of the Kennewick Man look at lot like Patrick Stewart??) So that, I think, should be our real locus of worry. I can see it now. There's going to be a huge influx of uber-Sith and uber-Jedi, fighting for supremacy in Manhattan, and - like Predator vs. Alien - we unfortunate commoners will be caught in the middle! Aaaah!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Meet Sterling...

I don't often post "silly" stuff, but after almost nine years the philosopher and I have purchased an (almost) new car. It's not quite like a member of the family, but still, we're happy.

Since he'll be teaching over an hour away this spring, it made sense to downgrade the aqua-blue '95 Dodge Dakota pickup (aka "Bismarck") to "local use only" and get another commuter car. We drove the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corrolla and the Hyundai Elantra and the Mazda 3 (zoom zoom!), but ultimately we decided to get a brother of our 2000 Focus (named "Fuzzy") and bought a 2007 Ford Focus. (I must say, though, that the professor really liked the idea of getting a Mazda. My worry was that he would say "zoom zoom" every single time we got in, for the next ten years. And I'm just not sure I could've handled that.)

So meet "Sterling", my friends! He has some features that we've never had in a car before, like automatic locks and power windows... and Cruise Control. Wow. I drove Sterling to work for the first time today, and it was quite nice. May he serve us as well as his older brother. (And another aside... for some reason all our cars have had boy names. What does that say about us?? And I'm not even going there about the fact that we name our cars at all!)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pimp My Booktruck

The coolest comic about a library (OK, the *only* comic about a library) has a yearly contest called "Pimp My Booktruck." I have a really beat-up book cart here at my library. It could really use some ... unique ... detailing. But my creative juices are at a low ebb right now, so I thought I'd solicit some ideas from my friends, family, and other assorted blog visitors. You can visit the site linked above and see this year's entries so far, and can look at the winners from past years. I don't think I stand a chance against some of the carts I saw but, heck, it could be fun anyway!

Some key points:

It should be literary, in some vague form or fashion. It should be really funny. And it should remain family-friendly. I keep trying to come up with a "Helm's Deep" or a "Orthanc" or a "Monster Book of Monsters" cart, though it's entirely inconceivable to me how to pull something like that off. So above all, it should be do-able by a librarian working alone on ten-hour days. Who isn't really gifted in the area of arts and crafts (unless my graphics arts designer sister-in-law comes up for a weekend?) Most winners have been public or high school libraries. We in higher education should stand up and be noticed! Who's with me??!?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Suicidal Wildlife

I have to drive about 15 miles through the country to get to work. It's a lovely drive in the morning, with lots of beautiful scenery and farms and fields and forests. In the evening it's an altogether different story. Right now my homeward route takes me on the road right at dusk, and I must say that fifteen miles seems like fifty when you're dealing with all manner of suicidal wildlife!

You expect the crazy animals (yes, I'm anthorpomorphizing here... endulge me, ok?) like the squirrels to play their game of chicken. You know what I'm talking about - they stand in the middle of the road and stare you down until you are about to plow over them, then they dart to one side (and hopefully NOT the side you're swerving towards to avoid the animal in the first place!) You even expect that with the larger critters like groundhogs and possums. And unfortunately for them, they are neither as quick nor as canny as the squirrels. And they're also LARGER, which means you, the driver, are more likely to swerve to avoid having to clean your vehicle's undercarriage. The frogs are a bit more challenging - you can sometimes see them hopping across the tarmac, but more often you only hear a tiny "squimph" as you careen over their squished bodies. And really, there's no way to avoid those anyway.

Then there are the deer. Bambi also has a death wish. Fortunately for me (because I drive a tiny Ford Focus) they prefer to wait, poised on the side of the road, for that F350 to zoom by before making their leap. Unfortunately for me, there are a lot of them. And I worry continually that Faline will someday consider it a challenge and see just how Ford-tough my car really is.

The bugs, of course, have plastered themselves so thickly on my front grille and windshield that I really should wash my car every day. And it's the bugs that bring my greatest problem during my dusky commute. The BATS.

Bats are supposed to be smart, right? They have that sonar thing going for them. They can fly, for crying out loud. So I can only conclude that they wish to commit suicide in the most thrill-seeking way possible - by colliding with my car. I counted at least a hundred bats on my drive home last night. What, you say? Bats are small, so how could I possibly count them while driving at 50 miles an hour? Ahh. That's simple. They were flying so close that they were getting caught in my slipstream!

These close encounters with the natural kind brought to mind a disturbing story I read many years ago. It's one by Stephen King called Mrs. Todd's Shortcut. In the story the main character (who appears to be taking "short cuts" through worlds not our own) finds on the front of her car a startling animal after one of her "jaunts" through the back woods. A dangerous-looking animal. One with teeth. One that would probably scare the bejeebers out of me if I saw something like what King describes. After considering my plight concerning terrestrial animals (stupid, suicidal ones, yes, but terrestrial nonetheless) I will be thankful that I find nothing but moths, dragonflies and the occasional bat on my front grille.

Finally, I must not neglect to mention the cattle. I pass several cattle farms, ones where the fences are right up against the road. Almost every night, all those creatures will be close to the fence, as though they were rubberneckers of an accident waiting to happen. I am reminded again of something I read, this time Gary Larson's "The Far Side". There's a particular comic about "what cows do when no one's looking" where you see in the first pane cows standing (on two legs, mind you) in a field next to the fence reading the paper, playing cards, smoking, drinking a beer. The next pane shows a cow (apparently on lookout) yell "CAR!" The last pane has a car driving by, with all the cows down on all fours, looking suspiciously normal.

So that's it, then. The cows are watching the road while playing poker and relaxing with a nightcap, taking bets on which fellow creatures will manage to smash themselves into the next poor slob that drives by. Let's just hope it's not me!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Little Good News

As you probably know, the professor and I have been in our current locale for almost exactly a year (in fact, we closed on our house here last August 31, so we can consider it an anniversary of sorts!) He has been working on what he jokingly calls "a cranky book about education and philosophy" while continuing to look for another permanent teaching post somewhere. Since I'm comfortably employed, I have encouraged him in this sabbatical. His research and writing is very important to him, and to me, and we are blessed to be at a time in our lives where this opportunity is even an option. We're close to family here, and that has been an even larger blessing because of his family's trials and my mom's recent cancer scare.

But, after 12 months, he is a bit restless. He wants to get back into the classroom and teach again. (I finally realized the depth of his desperation when he applied as an adjunct to the local community college. Alas, classical philosophy is not a sought-after field in the CC/JC world these days.) A friend from our "previous life" told him about a possible one-semester adjunct opening at a Christian university about an hour from here, and after some research about the school he applied. We didn't hear anything over the summer, until last week when they called him for an interview. He went down yesterday and had an exceptional meeting with the department head and the dean. (Usually you don't interview one-time-only adjuncts for two hours!)

Today. He. Has. A. Job. Teaching two upper division philosophy courses to majors. God is good! And to make it better, there were hints during the interview that the professor he is replacing (who's on sabbatical) may not be returning. If so, the extended interview becomes more meaningful. We want to stay in the south, and from everything we know and have learned about this school, it would be an excellent fit (for both of us, even). So, my friends, I ask for your prayers. For guidance and His will, of course, but also (in the spirit of Matthew 21) that He may bless us in our faith and trust that we will come to the place where He needs us to be and where we hope to be.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Day in the Life

Well, here I am. All set up in the brand new library in the brand new building on the brand new branch campus of the college where I work. Fancy new computers and StarBoards in every classroom, new furniture and bookshelves.... and books from the main campus library dating back 30 years or more. Sigh. They didn't plan for a book budget for the library, so I had to go through the main branch and pull "copy twos" to transfer up here. At least my stacks are not completely empty! Though, perhaps, it is a good thing that I don't have many books. They only sent me 15 sections of library shelving. I was supposed to get 28. So the library has a good bit of echo in it, as I rattle around in the empty room. ::heh::

As if setting up a new facility isn't enough, I also agreed to teach two 10-week classes. Those of you who know me, please pick your jaw up off the floor. Yes, I am Teaching. Two. Classes. Thinking about a roomful of thirty students expecting me to know what I'm doing has stirred up the butterflies quite fiercely. And it's not even a library instruction class - it's two sections of "Orientation to College", something akin to a Freshman Seminar teaching good study habits and time management and where the buisness office is. I try to think of it as a way to connect with some of the students, many who will come before my desk in the library at some point desperately seeking help on a research project, or at least asking me to show them how to use the catalog.

I have the shiny new laptop here on my desk, which I will soon have to take down the hall to my classroom and hook it up to the StarBoard. The Board was only installed this morning, so no one is quite sure if it even works properly. I don't plan to use it for anything, but I have to run the laptop through it if I want to connect to the internet. And if I want to show my students the new Blackboard interface for our online coursework, I need to connect to the internet. Otherwise I will have to stand there and say, "Close your eyes. Invision a computer screen!" Right now the gallumphing butterflies in my belly are convincing me without a doubt that this is exactly what is going to happen.

I never thought of myself as a teacher. I am far too self-depreciating, and nowhere near thick-skinned enough to deal with cranky students on a daily basis. I watch my professor husband with awe as he (seemingly) effortlessly works on his classes. I say "seemingly", because really, he put huge amounts of effort into every class he's ever taught, both in preparation and grading as well as student interaction. My objectives are nowhere near as lofty as his, and for that I am insanely grateful.

So my "first day of class" continues, and I look forward to the end of my first ten-hour day with joy and abandon. I plan to go home, kick off the shoes, have a cup of tea and some tomato soup, and watch some meaningless television. Heck, I may even watch GhostHunters!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Goldberry's Washing Day

Yesterday and last night we had the most glorious rain here in north Alabama. It was an all-day event - a soft, gentle shower that watered thirsty gardens and lawns but left no damage in its wake. In the last few weeks, we've had some torrential downpours - over an inch in half and hour - with hail and high winds. So this fall-like weather was a blessed reprieve from the thunderstorm warnings.

My new job takes me about 30 minutes north of where we live, and my route takes me though the country. Driving home last night I beheld a scene that reminded me deeply of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry (from Fellowship of the Ring). As I passed through a dense area of trees, the road suddenly opens up onto farmland. But the road is elevated somewhat, as though on an earthen dam or dike, so my car is raised above the crops growing below. (My guess is it's either cotton or soybeans, but I haven't decided which yet.) The rain was coming down, and there was a blanket of mist hanging low over the fields. I just imagined Goldberry singing for rain on a hilltop somewhere and the plants drinking deeply, giving thanks.

Anyway, random thoughts this morning. Now the sun is shining and I'm sure we'll be back to the sultry Alabama summer soon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Vocabularian

I find this immensely fascinating. So much so that I really want to read his book. I don't want to read the OED, but I would love to read ABOUT him reading the OED. So I suppose that does not make me a vocabularian, but neither do I think his endeavor was quisquilious.

So there you go - and remember - eschew obsfucation!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cats in the belfry...

Check this out...

I wonder how many community college libraries have a friendly feline? I couldn't bring MY cat (spawn of Satan that she is, she would shred patrons' socks and cough up hairballs in the reference department) but a nice sweet kitty like the one in this article would be just perfect!

Hm. Now, how do I pitch this to my boss?? ::grin::

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Episcopal/Anglican Border crossing

First off, let me preface this ... rant ... by saying I'm not an historian. I also have little insight into the Anglican Communion's seemingly schizophrenic attitude to so-called "Boundary Crossing". I do know, however, that TEC is pitching a hissy because foreign bishops are coming in and setting up ANGLICAN churches in the same geographical areas which also encompass Episcopal dioceses. OK. Someone on a Stand Firm thread asked a very salient point:

Did TEC establish their overseas (European and otherwise) dioceses before there were non-TEC Anglican provinces in those countries? If not, how can TEC accuse Southern Cone and African provinces of violating historic precedent/polity?


Well, being a librarian, I thought I'd do a little research. Europe seemed like a good place to start. The Church of England has been around a while - long before TEC popped onto the scene, so let's see what's going on. The CoE has something called The Diocese in Europe. Looks like it's been around since, oh, around 1633. The TEC has something called The Convocation of American Churches in Europe. And it's been around since, oh, about 1994. Indeed, from the CACE website:
Delegates addressed a letter to the 1998 Lambeth Conference reiterating their commitment to resolve the anomaly of parallel Anglican jurisdictions and their belief that the future would involve the establishment of an Anglican Province in Continental Europe. The Lambeth bishops adopted a resolution encouraging ‘continued exploration towards appropriate provincial structures for Anglican Continental Europe in partnership with other Churches in the service of the common mission of the Church’.


Hmm. Umm. Hmm. Now, CANA (oddly enough the name has a slightly familiar ring to it: Convocation of Anglicans in North America) is doing the same thing, yes? It's planting appropriate (read that: orthodox, Bible-believing, Jesus-professing churches) in North America, and it certainly serves the common mission of the Anglican Communion (that whole Great Commission thing, I think).

I don't think I will say any more. But it's just something to think about. And if someone has deeper knowledge of the polity and structure of provincial systems and can explain to me why it works for the US to go to Europe but not for Africa or the Southern Cone to come to the US, I'd be happy to hear it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vegetable bribery?

Well - this is a first. Today during my library shift I helped this very nice lady find some books on nutrition. She was very energetic, and excited that we had a large selection (we have a nursing program so most of what we have is more technically-oriented than for a layman's consumption). She had a very thick accent, and so it was a bit of struggle for both of us at first to figure out what each other was saying. Finally, we got to the section she was looking for, and I had to leave her there because I was the only one working the front desk and had someone else waiting.

She came down with an armload of books, ranging from a juicing guide to a nursing-and-nutrition title. She thanked me profusely and headed out the door. Just minutes later she popped back in with a bag, and proceeded to hand me some tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. "I have a garden, and I have enough to share! Thank you so much! I will bring you more when I bring back your books!" I gave her my heartfelt thanks and told her it really wasn't necessary to bring more vegetables, but she said "No, you helped me! I will bring more!" So how do you handle a patron who insists on bribing you with fresh vegetables??!? ::haha::

Our college has a very strict policy about accepting gifts from vendors and other "people of influence", but I don't think patrons count. And on the whole I thought it would be quite rude to turn down this kind lady's offer, and I must admit if she brings some zucchini I couldn't say no to that either. 8-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Prayer for Anglicans

This is from the July/August edition of the Mandate, the bi-monthly publication of the Prayer Book Society. I thought it very appropriate as Lambeth kicks off tomorrow.

Prayers for the people of the Anglican Way in North America:

Gracious heavenly Father, who hast blessed the peoples of North America in countless ways, and who hast caused to be planted here the Anglican branch of thy holy, catholic and apostolic Church: Look mercifully, we pray, upon the people of the Anglican Way in Canada and the U.S.A., troubled as they are by numerous problems; Grant to them, we beseech thee, the inspiration, guidance and strengthening of thy Holy Spirit that they may aspire and work truly to be the Household of Faith, the Body of Christ, and the holy People of God, united in love and truth as they follow the Lord Jesus Christ. And, by thy saving power and perpetual providence, be pleased to graft in their hearts the fear and love of thy Name; to increase in them true devotion and piety; to nourish them in all goodness; to make them tranquil in anxiety; and, in thy mercy, to keep them surely in the same; through the merits of Jesus Christ, thy Son and our Savior. Amen.

Amen indeed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Simple Desultory Philippic

Stand Firm has a lovely post on three of Simon and Garfunkel's most beautiful love songs. That post inspired me, you might say, to write my own lyrics to a lesser-known but also poignant S&G ditty: A Simple Desultory Philippic With apologies to Paul Simon, here it is:

A Simple Desultory Philippic
(Or How I Was Rowan William'd into Submission)

I been Jefferts Schori’d, Susan Russell’d
I been Rowan Williamed, Frank Griswald’d
I been Bishop Lee’d and Kearon’d till I’m blind
I been Michael Ingham’d, and I’m branded
Conservative, but on Christ I’m standing
That’s the way to salvation, in my mind

I been “Jesus wasn’t resurrected”
I been John Chane’d, Gene ordained
Well I paid all the tithes I want to pay
And I learned the truth from the Episcopal Church
That all my wealth will buy me health
And I can drink some koolaid every day

I knew a man, his brain was so small,
He couldn't think of nothing at all.
He's not the same as you and me.
He doesn’t dig orthodoxy, He’s so unchurched that
When you say St. Peter, he thinks you’re talking about Peter Rabbit
Whoever he was.
The man ain’t got no religion
But it's alright, ma,
Buddha is the way to God!

I been Shelby Spong’d and Righter wronged
Bishop Moore, won’t you please come home?
I been “mother, child, wombed” - unfathomed
Been John Pike’d and Howard-babbled
I just discovered ECUSA’s tapped my phone

I lost my Communion, Rowan

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Prayer for a Little Church?

"ALMIGHTY God, whose compassions fail not, and whose loving-kindness reacheth unto the world’s end; We give thee humble thanks for opening heathen lands to the light of thy truth; for making paths in the deep waters and highways in the desert; and for planting thy Church in all the earth. Grant, we beseech thee, unto us thy servants, that with lively faith we may labour abundantly to make known to all men thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Our little mission church is potentially at a crossroads. As I posted earlier, we lost a goodly portion of our congregation when some of our families moved to far-away locales. Now we found out that we will no longer be able to meet in the school where we've been meeting the last two years. The principal left a note on the door for us this Sunday, saying that some parents and some members of the board of trustees didn't want us meeting there anymore. We suspect - though we have no concrete evidence, only compelling circumstantial evidence - that the members of the local Episcopal Church are the ones behind the action. How sad is that??

Our other issue, of course, is two-fold: where do we meet starting August 1, and what kind of location should we be seeking? Some members argue for us to purchase land and build. Others want to buy a small house or a church for sale. And others (myself included) favor a storefront rental, or a storefront rent-to-own situation. My hubby is on the vestry - he and I believe we don't really have the money in the building fund for an outright purchase, and it would be poor stewardship to squander what we do have on a purchase we might not be able to maintain. Also, a house out in the country (where the cheap ones with land usually are found) are not very visible to the community. On the other hand, a rental situation might cost a bit more every month, but the owners would be responsible for any die-hard building problems. And we'd be in a business area where there's lots more traffic, with more people to see us and hopefully stop by to check us out.

I suppose this suprise by the school board is not all bad. We were pretty complacent using their facilities, and not really motivated to start the long discussions about where to "set up shop." I can only pray that God's hand is on this, to shake us into action and get us off our duffs. As with anything, change is never fun, but if it's what we're meant to do then we can't complain (too much, anyway!) ::grin::

So, to quote Shakespeare, "we few, we happy few" must decide what to do together - and just like in the larger communion, sacrifices must be made by each of us. Yeah, sure - I want stained glass and an organ, but is that a good decision at this time? Probably not. But having somewhere we can set up our altar and our chairs and not have to move them after church, we can all agree that is a Good Thing!

So anyway, pray for us. Pray for solid words of guidance from our priest, and that God would lay a clear direction and path for us. And for all of us, pray that God will move in our hearts to seek the best for our church, this little part of the Body of Christ.

::UPDATE::
Storefront rentals are WAY out of our price range, we've discovered. Wow. But we've found a possible option - it's an old farmhouse on 3 acres. The owner is willing to be the lienholder, and perhaps set up a rent-to-own situation with a discount/lower price/tax write off because we're a church. By removing a wall we could have a space for a small sanctuary. Still, it needs lots of "sweat equity," which inevitably requires money as well. So more prayers for clear direction and a firm commitment from all of us. The vestry will meet in two weeks to decide what to do.

The Jerusalem Declaration...

What does this mean for those of us with boots on the ground? There's a link to the statement here at the GAFCON website. In case you don't know what GAFCON is, a quick summary would say something like this: a group of orthodox (little "o") Anglicans who got together to stand up against the apostacy and heresy emanating from so many traditional Anglican groups around the world (like the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church of Canada). Basically the GAFCON statement said (as a commenter at Stand Firm rendered so eloquently) "Dear Archbishop of Canterbury, we don't think you're a victim - you're a part of the problem. And by the way, you don't have on any clothes!" Anyway, now on to what I was actually going to say.... what was it? Oh, yes.

I live in an area of the country where Baptists rule. You'll find one or two Epsicopal churches, maybe one Catholic church, in any given large-ish city. Baptist churches are on every street corner. But alas, I am not a Baptist. I am an Anglican - or as my little mission church proudly proclaims on its bumper stickers: "Biblical Christianity, Anglican Worship". We drive over 30 minutes one way to get to our little Episcopal Missionary Church parish, and that's the closest orthodox Anglican church we could find. We also drive past four Episcopal Churches, but those are not really options for us. You know, it's that whole "Biblical Christianity" thing again. Before we moved back to the deep South, we lived in northern Virginia, which is also in the news much these days, and which also has a much higher concentration of liturgical churches. But I digress. Again.

Anyway...

Now that GAFCON has released its statements and the Jerusalem Declaration, what does this mean for my church, as a part of the Episcopal Missionary Church (our bishop was in Jerusalem) and what does this mean for those orthodox, conservative parishes (and individuals) still a part of TEC? For the EMC it's easy. We don't have to fight an apostate leadership. We can loudly and joyfully proclaim God's greatness and participate in the GAFCON movement with no recriminations. Praise God!

For those still in TEC - parishes and individuals alike - I wonder. It won't be easy, that's for sure. GAFCON isn't going to come in guns a'blazin' and rescue all the orthodox and their buildings. That's the grump I heard when I got to work this morning... "they had this big meeting and now they're not going to do anything to help us??!?" Well, to put it bluntly, no. Not in those terms, anyway. They will help plant churches for individuals to join (remember, America is a mission field now!) but I imagine those individuals will need to take some initiative in terms of organization and building those missions. GAFCON will offer help - a Bishop, a confessional statement, any number of other things - to congregations who make the decision to leave. But those congregations will have to decide, and go through the difficult steps of separation from TEC. And they may or may not be able to keep their property. But they will have to step forward in faith, trusting in God and the Gospel to lead them out of the desert. Passivity will not cut it - if you want to be a part of the GAFCON movement you will be welcomed with open arms. But the initiative is yours, and your parish's. As Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, "if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."

When we moved here a year ago, we made the hard decision to commute to an orthodox, liturgical church. We decided it was critical to be part of an orthodox, liturgical parish. We're not Baptists, or Methodists, or even Lutherans. We are ANGLICANS. And because we are Anglicans, we needed to be part of an Anglican community. Our sacrifice of a long drive (with $4+ gas!) might be slight compared to someone leaving a liberal TEC parish that their great-grandparents helped build. But, ultimately, it's about your spiritual health and the spiritual health of your family. Buildings and property and even chalices and prayer books can be replaced. Compared to the pure joy of living as part of the body of Christ, how can they even compare?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yes, it is different!

When I was a child, I rearranged my room constantly, trying for that *perfect* organization of bed, dresser and bookcase. As an adult, my husband will attest that I still have that compulsion. The couch and the entertainment center, and sometimes even the bedroom furniture, will be mysteriously relocated when he arrives home from work on occasion.

Alas, it seems to have spilled over into my blogging. Fourtunately for my back, though, this requires much less heavy lifting. I liked the whimsical dots that I used previously, but it did not really seem to fit the tenor of most of my posts. So tonight I played around with the blogger settings, and found this template. I still have my picture of Pooh and Christopher Robin (and I'm still looking for an image of Arnold the pygmy puff) but I think I like the look of this layout better. And besides, several folks I know used the "dots" template.... and that just won't do!

::grin::

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The word of the day: "diversity"

It's not a word I'm paticularly fond of - indeed, I think it has been much overused and abused in today's world. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines it thusly: "1. A state of difference; dissimilitude; unlikeness. 2. Multiplicity of difference; multiformity; variety." OK so far - I can agree with that as a definition. So diversity in an organization, or a school, or a church, or a business would necessarily - by definition - include people that are different from one another. But these days the very people screaming for "diversity" in whatever public arena they function in seem to forget what the word means. Instead of working with the differences each person brings to the table (or school desk, or podium, or altar) it seems to me that they want to purge those who are different - especially those who hold different beliefs - from their ranks completely.

It should be obvious to anyone who visits my site that I am an Anglican. Nowhere is this convoluted idea so prominent than in the churches of the Anglican Communion all over the world. (And I will not go into sordid details here - the Stand Firm and T1:9 links to the left will do that topic far more justice than I can!) One brief illustration, however, would not be amiss. The pro-gay members of the Episcopal Church are screaming for inclusion, for the welcoming of diversity in the church, for the acceptance of them for who they are. And as far as that goes, that works for me. (For an even better treatment of this, see the article here.) But as they slowly gain access to leadership positions in the church, they have been ... "persecuting" is perhaps not too blunt a term ... the orthodox. So out the window goes their cry for diversity. Yes, you can be diverse, just so long as you're not one of them.

It's not just happening in the Anglican Communion, either. Our beloved local weatherman has found himself embroiled in another controversial arena - that of global warming. Indeed, some proponents of global warming said they believed someone's AMS (American Meterological Society) certification should be revoked if they didn't agree that global warming was caused by CO2 emissions or other human activities. (You can read a summary here.) So, regardless of what is actually causing global warming, some meterologists want to ban others for asking if it could be a naturally-occurring event. Hmm. Yes, lots of diversity here, too.

In the academic community - especially in higher education - it's even worse. Faculty have been denied tenure, fired, demoted, for a whole variety of diverse issues. Are you a biologist who believes in Creationism? Don't try to get a job at a state-run university. Are you a philosopher who wants to return to the classical model of education and instruction and wants to teach Plato and Aristotle somewhere? Forget about it. Ben Stein's controversial film Expelled does a good job talking about this in terms of scientists who support intelligent design and how they're treated in their university positions. (A brief tidbit about that is here, or you can go to the Expelled website.) Yup, universities want a broad range, nay... a Diverse ... group of faculty teaching their students, but you can't believe *that*!

A final example, one that hits closer to home in terms of my chosen profession, is the issue an Ohio public library made about a seminar to be held in one of the library's meeting rooms. The article in the local paper describes the situation thusly: a group wanted to have a Bible-based financial planning seminar and was denied. The group lodged a complaint, and instead of negotiating, the library - the publically-funded library - decided to close its public meeting rooms to the public. The American Library Association has as part of its Code of Ethics "[W]e are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations." (emphasis mine) No diversity issues here, huh?

Sigh. I really don't want this post degenerating into a diatriabe for or against any of these issues. What I want is a semantic difference, semantic diversity, if you will. If you want diversity, you must accept it in all its forms. If you want something else - "I want to include everyone who agrees with me and phooey on those who don't" - pick a different word! It becomes at that point something completely different from the meaning of "diversity." I'm reminded of the movie American President with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning. Near the end Douglas says, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."

We live in a free society. But that freedom comes at a price. We cannot simply shut down, dictator-like, those who believe things contrary to our own beliefs. Unfortunately, it seems that in many arenas of our daily life, that is just exactly what is happening.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Website Certification

I admit, this is another of those dry, dusty librarian posts. But - if you've ever tried to find reliable information on the web - this just might interest you too!

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article called "Certifying Online Research" on June 6, 2008. It initially talks about faculty members seeking tenure with a publication record consisting mainly of work done online (rather than in the typical scholarly print journals). The author (a dean at Illinois State University) suggests a voluntary certification process for scholars who publish their research in website form. It would require that major professional organizations in each academic discipline form a review committee where, for a nominal fee, scholars can send their site to be scrutinized and vetted. Then if it meets the appropriate standards, it can display a certification symbol assigned by the organzation.

Thinking beyond faculty tenure, if a plan like this were broadly implemented then it could actually change the way we academic librarians view the internet. We see it as an evil, for the most part, encouraging students to attend to scholarly databases and other sources for valid and verifiable information. But if students could Google "Aristotle's Ethics" and be rewarded with sites certified by the American Philosophical Society, that would be just as valid as digging up dusty copies of Phronesis or the Journal of the History of Philosophy.

Cool, huh??

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

An Anglican Revival?

I’m not actually completely comfortable writing this piece, but I think it’s something I need to do, so here goes nothing. First some background: Last fall my husband and I joined a small mission church – it was actually the only orthodox Anglican church within driving distance, about 30 minutes from home. (Despite that, I really do think we are exactly where we’re supposed to be.) The congregation started up about 2 years ago, and had an average of 20-25 or so each Sunday. Then two of our founding families moved away (one to Georgia and one to Singapore!). So now we’re down to 10-12 a Sunday. We meet in the library of a school, and until we lost half the congregation we were contemplating trying to secure a space of our own. That’s on the back burner now because we want to be good stewards with the money in our building fund and not go into debt. The philosopher is on the vestry and teaching Sunday school this summer – on the Anglican Formularies, no less, and I’m on the altar guild. Somehow, after less than a year, we have become one of the “core families.”

We are having a Vision Summit in two weeks, hoping to outline some plans for the coming years in terms of outreach, ministry and growth. I’ve always been a part of established churches and I have no clue what I can offer in this situation. Our rector wants to focus on the nearby areas for outreach, which makes sense. But that means, since we don’t live nearby, that the old “invite your neighbor to church” plan wouldn’t really work. Folks in our area, unless highly motivated like we were to find an orthodox Anglican church, probably wouldn’t be willing to travel half an hour on Sunday morning. And here’s where the discomfort for me comes in… we’re really homebodies. We live out in the country with no real neighbors to speak of anyway. I work in a state-run institution of higher education (not much religious discussion there!) and my husband works in a 3-man cabinet shop. I just don’t know what to do.

Yes, I know – that sounds really wimpy and weak and pathetic. But I promise, I’m not trying to be whiny. I am really searching for suggestions on how to turn my limits to an advantage. But sometimes, I suppose, one gets too close to the problem and can’t see the solution. And that’s where I am now. I trust that God has great plans for our church – we are in an area with two declining Episcopal churches, yet most of our congregation members were not Episcopalians before they found us. So that means we’re not made up of disaffected TECers plotting the overthrow of 815, but we’re a group of people attracted to Anglicanism for a myriad of reasons. That being said, I think we can really be a safe, Biblically based, Christ-centered haven for folks who feel it necessary to leave TEC. (This area of the world still has its head in the sand regarding the “Anglican Crisis,” so I wonder what will happen here after Lambeth and GAFCON, and more importantly after the 2009 General Convention?) Regardless, we want to be a place for anyone seeking a liturgically-based Christianity, not just those who’ve never heard of TEC or those trying to escape it.

So, my friends, do you have any suggestions for us and our church? I know some of you have recent experience with church planting, and I know some of you have a deep passion for evangelism. And I know some of you know others who might have really good ideas and advice. So I’m trying to cast a wide net, and see what I can catch. Thank you!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It is done.




As promised, here are the before and after photos of the exterior of our house. It almost doesn't look like the same house, does it?






And here's the after, for comparison...


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So what exactly does this say about me?

blog readability test

Check it out. Rank your favorite blogs. What a hoot!

But more seriously, I wonder what dynamic digital permutations they use in order to get this "reading level"? Is it the words themselves? The sentence structure? It would be very interesting to find out exactly what they base their scoring on.

I ran several other blogs (and other sites) through its machinations, and agreed with the outcome (for the most part). The Anglican curmudgeon was College Postgrad level, and Stand Firm was College Undergrad. But I feel like I'm in good company, because Mere Comments and T19 are also High School.

UPDATE:
I've done some research, and it looks like there are a couple of algorithmic possibilities, the Gunning-Fog Index being the most likely. I found another site that does roughly the same thing (though without the cool cut-and-paste graphic thingie!

Interpreting the Results
This service analyses the readability of all rendered content. Unfortunately, this will include navigation items, and other short items of content that do not make up the part of the page that is intended to be the subject of the readability test. These items are likely to skew the results. The difference will be minimal in situations where the copy content is much larger than the navigation items, but documents with little content but lots of navigation items will return results that aren't correct.

Readability Results
The following table contains the readability results for http://pygmypuffsandheffalumps.blogspot.com/ .

Reading Level Results
Summary
Value
Total sentences 546
Total words 3674
Average words per Sentence 6.73
Words with 1 Syllable 2278
Words with 2 Syllables 681
Words with 3 Syllables 318
Words with 4 or more Syllables 397
% of word with three+ syllables 19.46%
Average Syllables per Word 1.68
Gunning Fog Index 10.48
Flesch Reading Ease 57.65
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 6.89

Gunning-Fog Index
The following is the algorithm to determine the Gunning-Fog index.
Calculate the average number of words you use per sentence.
Calculate the percentage of difficult words in the sample (words with three or more syllables).
Add the totals together, and multiply the sum by 0.4.
Algorithm: (average_words_sentence + number_words_three_syllables_plus) * 0.4
The result is your Gunning-Fog index, which is a rough measure of how many years of schooling it would take someone to understand the content. The lower the number, the more understandable the content will be to your visitors. Results over seventeen are reported as seventeen, where seventeen is considered post-graduate level.

Typical Fog Index Scores
6 - Resources
8 - TV guides, The Bible, Mark Twain
8-10 - Reader's Digest
10 - Most popular novels
11 - Time, Newsweek
14 - Wall Street Journal
15-20 - The Times, The Guardian
15-20 - Academic papers
Over 20 - Only government sites can get away with this, because you can't ignore them.
Over 30 - The government is covering something up

UPDATE AGAIN:
Because I was bored, I checked my Blog Readability again on June 24. Maybe it was the post I did on diversity, but now I rank at "College Undergrad" level! WooHoo!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Books and Movies

Frederica Mathewes-Green (A sometimes-contributor to Touchstone Magazine) has produced a list of movies which she considers better than the books on which they were based. You can see her article here. I will list her top ten, but definitely hop over to her article which expounds on her rationale.

1. Gone with the Wind
2. The Godfather
3. The Wizard of Oz
4. The Princess Bride
5. Jaws
6. Forrest Gump
7. Blade Runner
8. The Lord of the Rings (series)
9. Harry Potter (series)
10. Adaptation

Indeed, I agree with her on the top 7. (And I haven't seen or read #10.) I've seen the movies and I've read the books. I might quibble with #4, because the book was written not merely as a novel. But the movie stands on its own quite well, so I won't quibble too much!

Ah, but the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I take decided umbrage with that (no pun intended!) Say what you will about the Potter series, but the movies cannot - by the simple expedient that you cannot fit all the details of a 900 page novel into a 2-hour film - match the depth and breadth of the books. Regardless of whether you think Harry Potter is a load of tripe or deeply meaningful or merely a smashing story, the books have the value of detail and character building and so much else that you cannot capture on screen.

The same is true, though even more potently, with the Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson turned out a beautiful series of films, but some of the glaring omissions, additions and horrible changes to characters and events make the movies pale by comparison. I could talk about the revision of Faramir's character, or the weakness of Elijah Wood's Frodo, or the reduction of Saruman's insidiousness in his destruction of the Shire. And yes, I could also talk about the stunning music and scenery that brings Middle Earth to brilliant, shining life and the tremendous fearfulness of the portrayal of the orcs, but the positives here just cannot outweigh the negatives.

But since the topic has been dealt with admirably in her article, I have a poser of my own: Are there any books out there - written after the movie was released - that can hold up as a story on their own? Admittedly, most novelizations are dry and boring, and only enjoyable if you like to re-live the screenplay in print rather than, well, on-screen. There have been some notable exceptions, though. I'm thinking here of Orson Scott Card's stunning novelization of the blockbuster movie The Abyss. Card brings to life the backstory, this history, of the main characters: Bud, Lindsey, Coffey, and the NTIs themselves. Coffey is not a mere villian, so after reading his story you become sympathetic to his plight deep underwater. You have a deeper understanding of what make Bud and Lindsey tick, and their interactions become more clear and understandable. Especially, though, you learn about the NTIs, where they came from and why they decide to "interfere" with the events on the surface. (And despite the additions in the director's cut, that is still quite vague in the movie version!) Did you like the movie? The definitely hope over to your local library and check out the book!

So, any other nominations for the (presumably short) list?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Us

The philosopher and I are celebrating our 14th anniversary today.

::big, cheezy grin::

He bought me an old fashioned Galileo thermometer and glass liquid barometer set (much like this one). It's a Good Thing to be married to your best friend, who knows all your quirks and all the odd things you'll find endearing (even though most folks would say, "What a geek!") What did I give him, you ask? A bottle of wine and a potted purple violet (even though I swore when we bought his telescope that he would receive no gifts for any occasion until Christmas!). But I couldn't stand it, and thought a bottle of Italian chianti would be perfect. He thought so too. 8-) Now THAT is nerdy.

We're still deeply in love, and that too is a Good Thing.

"Years ago You took two selfish, self-centered people and taught us to put You at the center of our hearts and marriage. You taught us to take our problems to Your first, then each other. You taught us the delight of putting our mate's needs over our own.You taught us to serve one another in love. Your taught us that sharing disappointments and pain was another side of sharing our love. We have experienced the sweetness that together we're stronger than either one alone. From the wellsprings of my heart, thank You, Lord." (from here)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Do Not Feed the Librarian

I'm a librarian trapped in a circulation desk clerk's body. Most days I mindlessly check books out and reshelve those books that students have returned. Apparently being seated at the circulation desk places a visible-only-to-students sign over my head that reads "Do not feed. Do not ask reference questions." So not only do I receive no share of anyone's tasty treats (and what it is about finals that prompts students to bring in cookies by the truckload?) but I also rarely get to answer any interesting questions aside from "How much does it cost to print?" and "Where are the bathrooms?" At the Reference Desk at my former library job there was a badge that read "Ask me! Human Search Engine!" Although I hope the students here don't treat me like a computer, it is rather nice when I do get asked a question that actually requires me to put the gray matter to some use.

This is all about to change. I am being transferred (at my request, lest ye start to worry) to the new branch campus that is opening this fall. Brand new building. Brand new library. I don't know what my official title will be (other than "E-Schedule Staff") but I will be, to put it bluntly, in charge. I will no longer be "the circulation clerk". I will be the Librarian (for all intents and purposes). The college isn't promoting me (yet) to actual faculty status, though if we stay in the area for a couple of years I have no doubt that it will happen (due to SACS regulations regarding number of students requiring a full time librarian).

So what is actually happening is that I'm willing to be "taken advantage of" financially in order to be a branch director. Of course, it's all a matter of semantics. I'm a librarian now. Got the Masters on the wall to prove it. But here at the main branch I'm "low man on the totem pole". I work evenings. I haven't been here twenty years, so how can I possibly have any notion of what it means to work in a library? [off sarcasm] At the Cherokee Campus I will be the Librarian. I will get asked the questions. And assist students with their research. And order the books. (Alas, no cataloging - that will still be done on the main campus). The best part, you ask? It's a four-day work week. ::grin::

One of the evening part-timers and I will often chat when I get back from dinner. She gave me some good advice (if advice is what you call it). She told me that these months working here at the main branch are God's way of humbling me. Reminding me that I should look for no praise or glory on this world; that my reward will come in heaven. That ultimately whatever degree or position I have is not that important as long as I do my job well. And that when I am the "old timer" many years from now, I can use this time as a negative example. And you know what? She's right. If I ever have a staff of folks working for me, I know what kind of work environment is not conducive to a happy staff and getting things accomplished. So I've learned a lot about myself and about management styles (but that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it!) And I also know that God's refining fire will continue to burn as I struggle to follow the path set for me. And I have to think that this transfer is part of that plan, and that's a Good Thing.

Some folks around here like to joke that getting transferred to a branch campus is equivalent to being banished. If so, I'm really looking forward to Banishment Day!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Feelings, nothing more than fe-e-e-lings

I was chatting with someone the other day (isn’t this how all my thoughtful blog posts usually start?) about bias in the media. That’s not what the conversation started out with, but nonetheless that is where it ended up, and where I am tonight. And as I always do, my disclaimer is that I claim no special revelation here – it is merely a blog post by a bear with very little brain.

So…bias in the media. Conservatives rage about the liberal media, and liberals get equally vituperative about conservative news outlets. The impetus for the discussion started out about the “rice crisis” and the fact that Sam’s Wholesale Club had started putting limits on how many bags of rice each customer could purchase.

Food prices in general have been rising, due to a number of issues including the falling dollar and the rising cost of oil. But I’m not here to talk about food prices – I’m here to talk about how the media talks about food prices! The media has several divergent goals – put forth news stories that people will be interested in, sell advertising space (either through commercials or sidebar ads or old fashioned columnar print), and finally broadcast information … NEWS … that ordinary folks need to know. So, take CNN Headline News for example. It’s what, a 30 minute format with maybe… 15 minutes of commercials? So how do they decide what to report in the remaining 15 minutes? They want to air segments that sell ads and evoke emotion in the viewers. Since I’m using broadcast news as my example, I’ll stick with broadcast news language – substitute “online articles” and “readers” if it makes you feel better! So, depending on who they perceive as their viewers, that’s how they choose their stories because that’s how they get the viewers and thus the ad time.

Anyway, some media offerings are merely sensational: cue car chases and Britany stories and the current “who killed Diana” theories; some go for the granola stories: seas rising in Fiji because of cow methane, Earth Day events, and the hole in the ozone; others try the social justice angle: oppressed African Americans, open borders, and immigration issues; and yet others appeal to the conservative: Homeland security, economics, and homeschooling legislation. Each of these is designed to elicit an emotional response from viewers. Once you understand which emotion a particular story is aimed at, then you can view it with an eye for the tidbit of actual *news* ensconced within.

And any single news story can be spun to fit any number of emotional groups. So you watch a segment on the recent riots in Haiti on two different stations. One calls it a riot of hungry people sparked by the shortage of food, another calls it a protest against rising food prices. The first media outlet is geared to the social justice crowd, and the latter perhaps favors the typical conservative tendencies. So as Nietzsche might posit, there is really no such thing as an “objective” point of view. Knowing that, it makes watching the news a bit more palatable for me. Less like a root canal and more like…hmm…fingernails on a chalkboard?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Outhouse Conversion

We are nearing the end of the home renovations. We're still within our budget, as long as we don't encounter any other bizarre problems. If I were a betting woman I'd say that sometime this summer we'll need to replace/repair the heat pump, but I've just decided not to worry about that right now! Our most recent triumph was converting the guest bathroom (which we not-so-lovingly called "the Outhouse") into something resembling a small but inviting bathroom that guests may use without fear of things lurking in dark corners. As you can see, the Outhouse had raw redwood siding (the same that was in the guest bedroom - don't ask me, I just don't know why). We sledgehammered the orange sink and the almond toilet (which you can see peeking out from behind the shower) and replaced it with a small pedestal sink and a white toilet. We also raised the ceiling of the "toilet nook" and added a vent fan, removing the bare bulb which was there before. Instead of ripping out the siding and putting in drywall (which we did in the bedroom) we sanded the planks and caulked the seams, and then painted the entire mess. We also removed the foul parquet floors (I know, I know - some would say it's sacrilege to remove real parquet, but this was growing all kinds of ... goo ... between and underneath the pieces.) Since we want our guests to have a healthy and happy experience visiting us, removing the offending substances seemed the way to go. As a final touch, the oh-so-seventies vanity light was unceremoniously chunked and replaced with a light fixture that actually illuminates the room. So as you can see, the bathroom is fresh and clean! Hurray! And as a bonus, we were able to use the leftover vinyl from the kitchen, so we saved some money there too. The problem came when we
(I say "we", but I really mean "the philosopher") tried to install the new sink. The previous homeowner(the guy who built the house 35 years ago) owned a heating/cooling business. So he used pipes for heating and cooling purposes rather than buying true plumbing pipework. So ALL the pipe had to be ripped out and replaced. After some muttering and grumbling and climbing-under-the-house vituperative comments, we finally got a plumber-friend-of-my-dad's to help us with the last bit, because the only way it could be done (without tons of extra expense) was slightly off from what the code book says. Since we live in the country, city codes and inspections don't apply, and it's better code-wise than it was, so we don't feel too bad.

Anyway, our last project - painting the exterior - is almost done. When that is complete I'll post final before-and-after shots and we will rejoice and be glad!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Springing into action...

Spring and winter have been vying for northern Alabama the last few weeks. Cold air from the north and warm air from the south have been battling it out in thunderstorms off and on for several weeks. We've escaped any really alarming weather thus far, and are praying for continued blessings on that front (haha - no pun intended).


But, the beauty of early spring is abundant on our patio.



My blueberry bushes are blooming, and the first zucchini I planted has finally established itself quite well in our little container garden. We're still waiting to plant the tomato and pepper seedings - they are, alas, not nearly as healthy as the squash. In fact, the zucchini seedlings had so completely outgrown their starter peat-pots that their roots had burst through the sides and were attaching themselves to the plastic tray under the grow lamp!


So I am savoring these first days of spring, despite the abundant pollen from the pines and sweetgums in our yard!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Have Issues

OK, this is a really nerdy cataloger/librarian post. If any nerdy catalogers (like me) read this and have answers, I'm all ears! And if you're not a nerdy cataloger, I welcome your opinions too - if you can slog thru my jargon, which I'll try to keep to a minimum. I have two issues with assigning call numbers in the Library of Congress classification scheme. (That's the scheme most college and university libraries use.) I probably have way more issues than just two, but two is all I will talk about tonight.

First Issue: The LC scheme typically cutters a fiction series by author then title, not by author then volume number. Which means the books end up on the shelves in alphabetical order, not in the order the series should be read. If you're familiar with the way a call number looks, you have the first letters and numbers (before the decimal) which sends you to the correct subject. The second part (the first group after the decimal) is usually the cutter number for the author (it's based on a table, and allows a cataloger to assign a set number for every author's name). Then, for fiction, the last group is the cutter for the title. The first set of numbers below are ones I created. The second set are existing numbers for a different series of books. Now, as a patron, would you know which book to read first if you were interested in the two series below???

PZ7 .R79835 Har v. 1
PZ7 .R79835 Har v. 2


PS3562 .A315 A56
PS3562 .A315 L44

I rest my case. Though I should admit that there is a lot of disparity in the way fiction series are done - I've just shelved a lot recently that have numbers like the second set above and it drives me to distraction. (Yes, I know. Short trip!)

Second Issue: This one's more complicated. As far as I can tell, books written in foreign languages are ???!!!?? classed in the general area where texts about that language go. And oftentimes if that book is TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH, that English translation keeps the same call number. So a diary written in German about life in Germany during WWII is shelved with language books. HUH???????? In a mostly-English library (where we don't have many foreign language titles) that is just kooky (for many, many reasons). I think the translation - at the very least - should be reclassed where it goes as a subject.

Here's my example:
PC2064.K5 A3213 2003 This is the call number (ascribed by a national cataloging entity) for a book called The Lesser Evil, a diary of Victor Klemperer who was a Jew in Nazi Germany. If you look up on the "official" Library of Congress classification guide, that range of numbers (PC2001 to PC2600) is listed as Romanic Languages: French OK. The original book was written in GERMAN. There are three volumes in the diary series, and they're ALL listed in that class. Hello? Does anyone else think this is nuts? In fact, if you browse PC2064 by call number in the LoC catalog, you'll find books in several different languages... French (at least that makes sense!), Japanese, and German. I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

So, why wouldn't you:
a) if you're going to class the book by the original language, at least class it with the CORRECT language? (Germanic languages go under PD) and,
b) when it's translated into English, place it with the subject; in this case DS135, European History: Germany.

So, any catalogers out there have an answer for me? Any armchair librarians out there have an opinion? As a side note, I have two friends who are catalogers at the Library of Congress. I've emailed them to see what they think, and if they respond I'll let you know what they say.

UPDATE
So, here's the update. The book should go in History! It's only LITERATURE books that are classed with the original language. So books of or about literature originally written in French stay classed in the same place when they are translated into other languages. Which at least makes more sense than my initial supposition. The Library of Congress has the three volume set of Klemperer's book (as a single record, rather than the three separate records I listed above) classed in DS. Though apparently it's still a mystery how the separate volumes got stuck in the PCs. Another update will be forthcoming if a solution is ever presented!