Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Technology To Rival Kindle!

Check it out!

The Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device!

Man, I gotta get me one of these!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A.I.N.O. ?

Anglican in Name Only?

So, Pope Benedict has offered a free trip across the Tiber to Anglicans. It's an astounding thing. But as I've said before, I'm Anglican, not Catholic. (Boy, I sound like a broken record, don't I?)

An Anglican scholar, Roberta Bayer (who serves on the Prayer Book Society) has written a very straightforward response to the proceedings. She makes several good points. The first and foremost (to me) is her statement "To move to Rome with this ordinariate may be to remain Anglican in name only." To a layperson, Anglican and Catholic worship may seem quite similar. To this Anglican, they are very, very different. And while I may not agree with much going on in the Anglican Communion these days, to move to Rome would be to abandon the spiritual practices I hold dear.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Signage, or a sign of the end of the world?

Well, this may be a first. No, I take that back. It IS a first. The philosopher and I may actually be planning to attend a protest rally. (I'll wait until you reclaim your jaw from the floor...) It's not official yet, but it's probable. Atlanta, November 9. The Tea Party Express II.

Now, I know my readers (all three of you) may not agree with my politics, or my preference in cats over dogs, or my decision to wear fluffy pink socks on the weekends. But setting that aside ::grin:: wouldn't you agree that it's our right as American citizens to be able to stand up peaceably and say "I PROTEST"?

Well, I protest. I protest the Republicans and Democrats in Congress who are heck-bent on increasing our taxes. I protest the Republicans and Democrats in Congress who have forgotten that THEY work for US, not the other way around. And I protest the Republicans and Democrats in Congress who have forgotten that we have a Constitution, and that it actually means something.

So, if I attend this protest next month, will I carry a sign? Perhaps. If I do, it will say either "Spread my work ethic, not my wealth!" or simply "We the People". And I will no longer ignore my duty as a citizen to be informed and make wise decisions when I step into the voting booth. Because America is a precious thing, and we who live here are blessed to be part of it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Literary Oddities

For all my bibliophile friends out there, you probably know about ABE Books, an excellent source for used and out-of-print tomes. Their slogan is "A Passion for Books" and I thoroughly approve of their mission to sell those many dusty volumes to people who can give them loving homes.

Anyway, they have recently instituted a special room of books (if you can follow my imagination as I consider their website to be an old Victorian house converted to a used bookstore) most likely tucked away in their dusty attic. But isn't that where you always find the best stuff, when you're perusing through a used bookstore or a "junque-store" or a funky antique mall? If there's an upstairs, THAT'S where you go to find the oddities!

Anyway, their attic room is called the Weird Book Room, and it most definitely full of, well, weird books. Books you would find in an attic, in other words! Indeed, when you peruse some of the off-beat titles, you wonder How On Earth someone ever A) came up with that idea, and B) sold that idea to a publisher! You've got titles like Toilet Paper Origami, 50 Sad Chairs, The Great Pantyhose Craft Book, and my personal favorite The Pop-Up Book of Phobias. So hie thee hence, check out their attic room, and ponder the absurdities that our presses have conjured up.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Salubrious Perambulation

Healthy Walking.

Yup, that's what we did on Sunday. We went for a five-mile hike on the Pinhoti Trail, this time from the Cheaha Trailhead to the Blue Mountain shelter (PT mile 79.1 to 81.2 and back). The Cheaha Trailhead is absolutely astounding...

Most trailheads are gravelly parking areas with a slightly wider spot at the start of the trail, and maybe a covered map-and-announcement board. This one... a beautiful stone and iron construction, with imprints of local flora and fauna in the rock, as well as numerous hiking boot and turkey footprints. If I remember correctly, it was a project done by several local groups in honor of Alabama's many hiking opportunities. This trailhead actually connects to a number of trails: the Pinhoti, Cave Creek Trail, Odum Scout Trail, and Nubbin Creek Trail. We've been on parts of each, but have not yet explored their myriad creeks and waterfalls, ridges and valleys.

We traversed the main ridge of Horseblock Mountain, and skirted just below the summit of Mount Cheaha which at 2400 feet is the highest point in Alabama. (Can you say "thigh-burner"? I knew you could!) Cheaha State Park is nestled inside the Talladega National Forest, and the Pinhoti Trail follows a wandering north-south path through both areas.

This is a view from one of the ridges about a mile or so north of the trailhead, looking roughly east. It being October and all, the leaves are just starting to change. We've had such a rainy fall that I hope we have some beautiful foliage in the coming weeks. We haven't seen any color in our neck of the woods, but at this elevation the oranges and reds are starting to peep through the green.

The philosopher is looking very... philosophical... as he catches his breath. We'd just ascended an unpleasantly steep part of the trail, leaning heavily on our hiking poles! You can see it drop off dramatically in the background - it looks like the ground just swallowed it up.

All in all, it was an excellent afternoon. We were able to escape and clear our heads, and get some great exercise to boot. Yay, God, for beautiful places and natural wonders!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On Friendship

I have a dear friend (let's call her "J") who lives far away... we only see each other rarely, and that is a Sad Thing. But fortunately, the wonders of modern technology allow us to keep in touch through email and chat software (and yes, Facebook too). We were chatting one afternoon about friendship. How on earth did we become friends in the first place? I love college football... she, not so much. She's a scientist. I'm an English major-librarian. And the list goes on. We became friends because of the Farm - the philosopher and I bought a share in a community-supported-agriculture farm and we split the share with J. So every weekend we'd go to the farm to pick the produce of the week, and we talked. She and I would talk about things light and deep, and she and the philosopher would talk about... well... philosophy and education and the nature of Man. (And I gotta say I admire her because who else do I know that is a brilliant scientist and likes to read Augustine??) So not only are she and I good friends, she is also friends with my husband - and that makes it doubly wonderful!

She recently moved to a new city, and we are both (still) struggling with the notion of making "local friends." We're both introverted, which only makes the process that much more daunting. How do you develop friendships? How do you connect with those with whom you have a common interest? Being a librarian, I decided to do some research. (Heh.) Here are some thoughts I've gleaned...

C. S. Lewis, in The Four Loves, says: "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one!" He goes on: "The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends... There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice."

Aristotle (my philosopher's favorite philosopher - he will be so proud!) says this in the Nichomachean Ethics of "Perfect Friendship": "That such friendships are rare is natural, because men of this kind are few. And in addition they need time and intimacy; for as the saying goes, you cannot get to know each other until you have eaten the proverbial quantity of salt together. Nor can one man accept another, or the two become friends, until each has proved to the other that he is worthy of love, and so won his trust. Those who are quick to make friendly advances to each other have the desire to be friends, but they are not unless they are worthy of love and know it. The wish for friendship develops rapidly, but friendship does not."

Ah, that last is the key, I think, for me. "The wish for friendship develops rapidly, but the friendship does not." Just because you seek friendship, doesn't mean it will happen overnight. You can't "force" a friendship. As I said to J during our conversation: "Friendship is an art, not a science." There's not a magic formula you can follow, like the book title says, to "win friends and influence people". There's a lot of commentary out there about what friendship is, but not a lot about how to develop friendships. And that's because it is by its nature different for every person.

This is why the G.S.E. has been so important. We, the philosopher and I, need to find a church where we can meet people and get to know them. (That's why small groups are near the top of the list of things we hope to find.) You can't walk into a room and think "I'll be friends with that person over there" and then go over and introduce yourself. You meet people, you talk, you get to know each other, and finally you find that person and say, like C.S. Lewis, "I thought I was the only one!"

So for you, my far-away friends, I give thanks to God every day. Your friendship continues to sustain me as the philosopher and I seek the path God has planned for us. So I offer up two prayers from the Book of Common Prayer:

One for guidance
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And one for our far-away friends
O God, whose fatherly care reacheth to the uttermost parts of the earth: We humbly beseech thee graciously to behold and bless those whom we love, now absent from us. Defend them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both they and we, drawing nearer to thee, may be bound together by thy love in the communion of thy Holy Spirit, and in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.