Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow and Hiking

No, not at the same time. Two weekends ago, we had snow. This past weekend, it was almost 70 degrees and warm enough for a hike. That's life in the deep south - if you don't like the weather, just wait until tomorrow!

SNOW

We did get a dusting of some snow several weeks ago, but this most recent storm was a little more serious about sticking to the ground.


The day after the snow, the sun came up over the house and I snapped the first pic through the living room window. It was beautiful, but I commented to the philosopher that I was SO READY for spring. (This global warming stuff really stinks, huh?)

SUN

Then this weekend was absolutely glorious - truly an answer to prayers! Highs in the 60s, beautiful blue sky and sunshine. AAAAAHHHhhhhhh.

We decided to head off to the Pinhoti trail once more, this time driving north to the Burns Trailhead and hiking south towards the Choccolocco Watershed and the Choccolocco WMA. We heard a couple of hunters (but since deer season ended in January, we had to wonder what they were shooting at), and met several other couples out on the trail enjoying the day.


The philosopher is standing at the edge of "20 Foot Creek" in the first shot - posing diligently while I tried to get a good picture. The middle photo is Choccolocco Watershed, taken from the dam looking back east. The final one is also at the watershed (taken from the far right corner of the lake if you're looking at the middle pic). The wind was perfectly still, allowing me to get a decent shot of the sky and trees reflecting in the water.

All in all it was a fabulous journey! Many of the plants - especially the oak leaf hydrangeas and the dogwoods - were starting to bud out, and we saw a few stray flowers growing through the leaf debris. So take heart, my friends. Spring is coming!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A True Southerner Knows....

I received this via email almost a decade ago. But I think it contains enough good Southern wisdom to repeat it here. If you're a Southerner, feel free to laugh out loud. If you're a northerner, well then.... bless your heart! ::GRIN::

(And abject apologies for "all caps" - it just wasn't worth it to retype!)

1.) ONLY A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HISSIE FIT AND A CONNIPTION, AND THAT YOU DON'T "HAVE" THEM, -- YOU "PITCH" THEM.

2.) ONLY A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS HOW MANY FISH, COLLARD GREENS,TURNIP GREENS, PEAS, BEANS, ETC. MAKE UP "A MESS."

3.) ONLY A TRUE SOUTHERNER CAN SHOW OR POINT OUT TO YOU THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF "YONDER."

4.) ONLY A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS EXACTLY HOW LONG "DIRECTLY" IS - AS IN:"GOING TO TOWN, BE BACK DIRECTLY."

5.) ALL TRUE SOUTHERNERS, EVEN BABIES, KNOW THAT "GIMME SOME SUGAR" IS NOT A REQUEST FOR THE WHITE, GRANULAR SWEET SUBSTANCE THAT SITS IN A PRETTY LITTLE BOWL ON THE MIDDLE OF THE TABLE.

6.) ALL TRUE SOUTHERNERS KNOW EXACTLY WHEN "BY AND BY" IS. THEY MIGHT NOT USE THE TERM, BUT THEY KNOW THE CONCEPT WELL.

7.) ONLY A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS INSTINCTIVELY THAT THE BEST GESTURE OF SOLACE FOR A NEIGHBOR WHO'S GOT TROUBLE IS A PLATE OF HOT FRIED CHICKEN AND A BIG BOWL OF COLD POTATO SALAD. (IF THE NEIGHBOR'S TROUBLE IS A REAL CRISIS, THEY ALSO KNOW TO ADD A LARGE BANANA PUDDIN'!)

8.) ONLY TRUE SOUTHERNERS GROW UP KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "RIGHT NEAR" AND "A RIGHT FAR PIECE." THEY ALSO KNOW THAT "JUST DOWN THE ROAD" CAN BE 1 MILE OR 20.

9.) ONLY A TRUE SOUTHERNER BOTH KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REDNECK, A GOOD OL' BOY, AND PO' WHITE TRASH.

10.) NO TRUE SOUTHERNER WOULD EVER ASSUME THAT THE CAR WITH THE FLASHING TURN SIGNAL IS ACTUALLY GOING TO MAKE A TURN.

11.) A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS THAT "FIXIN'" CAN BE USED AS A NOUN, A VERB, OR AN ADVERB.

12.) ONLY A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS THAT THE TERM "BOOGER" CAN BE A RESIDENT OF THE NOSE, A DESCRIPTIVE, AS IN "THAT OL' BOOGER," A FIRST NAME OR SOMETHING THAT JUMPS OUT AT YOU IN THE DARK AND SCARES YOU SENSELESS.

13.) ONLY TRUE SOUTHERNERS MAKE FRIENDS WHILE STANDING IN LINES. WE DON'T DO "QUEUES", WE DO "LINES," AND WHEN WE'RE "IN LINE," WE TALK TO EVERYBODY!

14.) PUT 100 TRUE SOUTHERNERS IN A ROOM AND HALF OF THEM WILL DISCOVER THEY'RE RELATED, EVEN IF ONLY BY MARRIAGE.

15.) TRUE SOUTHERNERS NEVER REFER TO ONE PERSON AS "Y'ALL."

16.) TRUE SOUTHERNERS KNOW GRITS COME FROM CORN AND HOW TO EAT THEM.

17.) EVERY TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS TOMATOES WITH EGGS, BACON, GRITS, AND COFFEE ARE PERFECTLY WONDERFUL; THAT REDEYE GRAVY IS ALSO A BREAKFAST FOOD; AND THAT FRIED GREEN TOMATOES ARE NOT A BREAKFAST FOOD.

18.) WHEN YOU HEAR SOMEONE SAY, "WELL, I CAUGHT MYSELF LOOKIN' .. ," YOU KNOW YOU ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF A GENUINE SOUTHERNER!

19.) ONLY TRUE SOUTHERNERS SAY "SWEET TEA" AND "SWEET MILK." SWEET TEA INDICATES THE NEED FOR SUGAR AND LOTS OF IT - WE DO NOT LIKE OUR TEA UNSWEETENED. "SWEET MILK" MEANS YOU DON'T WANT BUTTERMILK.

20.) A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS THAT IF YOU ARE WITH A COUPLE OF FRIENDS YOU,YOU COULD BE WITH 2 OR 10. THE NUMBER DOESN'T MATTER.

21.) AND A TRUE SOUTHERNER KNOWS YOU DON'T SCREAM OBSCENITIES AT LITTLE OLD LADIES WHO DRIVE 30 MPH ON THE FREEWAY. YOU JUST SAY, "BLESS HER HEART" AND GO YOUR OWN WAY.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Am I a Luddite?

This may turn out to be a deep, cranky post. Or not.

I just attended a webinar. (I hate that word.) It was an overview of a presentation at a library conference I couldn't attend, so I suppose I should be glad I could get the content at all. I just wish they'd come up with a better word!

Anyway, it was called Tech Trends 2010... about new and emerging technologies and how libraries can tap into them. There was a lot of talk about iPhone apps, and smart phone apps, and mobile apps, and .... well. Apps. There were phrases like "augmented reality" and "you can annotate the physical world, virtually" and "you can log in to the place where you are." And of course there was talk about ebooks and ereaders and twitter and hulu and netflix and ... yeah.

I was one of about 50 folks participating. We were logged into GoToMeeting with a mike and a headset, watching powerpoint presentations and listening to the speakers and making comments and asking questions in a chat box. All good. Without this technology, I never would've gotten this content.

All four speakers automatically assumed that we all had smart phones, and spent hours a day with our eyes glued to the tiny little screen. They talked about being in the mall and having the ability to look up where the nearest libraries are and search their catalogs and see if they have a book. They talked about this application called Foursquare, where you tell your friends in Foursquare when you go somewhere with your iPhone. And win badges (which I suppose you look at and say, "I have this badge now!"). I think I agree with another participant - sounds like something a stalker would use! There's this other thing where you can take real photographs and add digital content (like a real picture of Abbey Road with a digital pic of the Beatles walking across it).

Here's where they lost me. How do these bits of technology actually improve my life? If I want to go to a library and check out a book, I'll go to the library. And I really don't want my "friends" to know that I've just gone into Piggly Wiggly. If I want to jump rope, I'll get a jumprope and, well, jump rope. I don't need a Wii to do that. I have a nice cell phone where I can call people and talk to them. I think it even has an alarm clock. But if I want to go online, I have a computer at home for that. Someone said recently that cell phone developers are all 20-year-olds. They must be, because they definitely don't take my 40-year-old eyes into account! Sorry.... that almost devolved into a rant. ::ahem::

But since I'm on a roll, I don't get Twitter, either. Though I do have a blog (obviously). Does that mean I just like stuff that gives me more than 140 characters to say what I want to say? And I have some other social media connections, like Facebook , and LibraryThing, and my newest favorite Delicious. But they all serve a practical purpose. I've reconnected with several good friends lost long ago on Facebook (though I draw the line at apps and games). I used LibraryThing to catalog our entire book collection (complete with call numbers). And I use Delicious to create a moveable, usable, portable list of bookmarks so I can log in and use it on any computer. So I embrace technology, at least the stuff that seems sensible and reasonable and practical and, well.... useful.

I spend ten or more hours a day in front of a computer at work. I don't one strapped to my hip the rest of my waking life. I want to be able to unplug on the weekends, and in the evening. So does this schizophrenic attitude towards technology and web 2.0 make me a Luddite?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Following God's Will

A priest that I respect deeply (even though we've never met) had some wise words posted on his church's blog recently. I reproduce them here - they were a comfort to me and I hope they will resonate with you as well.

Hearing God's Voice--how do you know what God wants you to do?

Knowing God's will when making a decision is not always easy, but here are some general questions to ask yourself and things to do that I find helpful in discerning what God would have me do.

1. In prayer, share your desire with God, and commit do what he desires first and foremost even if it means not doing what you planned to do.

2. Be sure that what you hope to do is consistent with God's revealed will in scripture. Would changing careers, for example, mean that you forego any higher calling or responsibility God has given you? Would it require you to do or act in a way that is inconsistent with the principles and purposes God sets out for his people in the bible?

3. Ask God to make the matter plain to you by either 1. opening doors in the direction you would like to go or 2. giving you a clear discernable answer in the form of closed doors, impossible progress, or just a very clear sense in your heart that you should not proceed.

4. Listen and attend carefully to the four primary means through which God communicates to his people: Scripture, Prayer, Church (sermons, class, fellowship), Circumstances...to see whether God gives you any guidance through them.

5. If you have asked God to guide you with a willingness to do what he wants you do do, see nothing in scripture contrary to your plans, have listened to and attended the four primary ways God speaks to his people, and circumstances have left the way open to proceed...the do it with joy and peace.

I generally find that even when I make the wrong decision...if I have faithfully sought his will and followed the steps above that God graciously blesses what I have done.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dante's Inferno - the Game

I kid you not.

From About this Game:
"Inspired by the real Dante Alighieri, but adapted for a new generation and a new medium, the hero of the game is a soldier who defies death and fights for love against impossible odds. The Italian mercenary Dante returns home from the wars to find that his beloved Beatrice has been murdered, and her soul pulled down into Hell by a dark force. He gives chase, and vows to get her back. For weapons, he wields Death's soul-reaping scythe, and commands holy powers of the cross, given to him by Beatrice."

And then it goes on to say:
"At the midpoint on the journey of life, I found myself in a dark forest, for the clear path was lost" (opening line of The Divine Comedy). In the game, Dante goes on a spectacular journey through the afterlife to save his beloved Beatrice from the clutches of evil. But what starts out as a rescue mission quickly changes into a redemption story, where Dante must confront his own dark past and the sins he carries with him into Hell. He faces the epic inhospitable terrain of the underworld, huge monsters and guardians, sinister demons, the people and sins of his past, and the ultimate traitor: Lucifer himself."

OK. So let me get this straight. EA Games has released a video game based on Dante? And apparently Dante fights creatures and kills Lucifer? And they thought it was a good idea? I am appalled on so many levels I just don't know where to begin. He's not there to save Beatrice... here's there to save HIMSELF. And he certainly doesn't wield a scythe.

::she sputters with indignation::

This is a work that is full of political and religious allegory and allusion. It's not an action adventure story like you'd find in Robert Jordan or Tom Clancy or Douglas Preston. The Divine Comedy is a Christian story - a Catholic story - steeped in St. Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. As Dorothy Sayers put it:
We must also be prepared, while we are reading Dante, to accept the Christian and Catholic view of ourselves as responsible rational beings. We must abandon any idea that we are the slaves of chance, or environment, or our subconscious; any vague notion that good and evil are merely relative terms, or that conduct and opinion do not really matter; any comfortable persuasion that, however shiftlessly we muddle through life, it will somehow or other all come right on the night. We must try to believe that man's will is free, that he can consciously exercise choice, and that his choice can be decisive to all eternity. For The Divine Comedy is precisely the drama of the soul's choice. It is not a fairy-story, but a great Christian allegory, deriving its power from the terror and splendour of the Christian revelation. Clear, hard thought went to its making: its beauty is of that solid and indestructible sort that is built upon a framework of nobly proportioned bones. If we ignore the theological structure, and merely browse about in it for detached purple passages and poetic bits and pieces we shall be disappointed, and never see the architectural grandeur of the poem as a whole.*
So the game creators expect us to leave this vast richness behind, and treat Dante like we would any two-bit crappy author, ready for conversion to an action adventure movie and a video game and action figures??!? Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

*From the introduction to her translation of The Divine Comedy.

Read the Printed Word

Read the Printed Word!

There's a group out there that is standing up and saying "We support books! Real printed matter! Ink-and-paper!"

And yeah. So do I.