Monday, April 26, 2010

April in Pictures

This is what the sky did this evening after a fantastic clap of thunder and a vicious cloudburst. I love in-and-out rain. It is furious, it washes your car, it gets out while there is still light to dance in what's left of the clouds. Hooray spring!

So here are a couple of other pictures I took around town earlier in the month. They are pretty much reverse chronological.

on campus - sorry, no idea what kind of flowers these are...

a dogwood at the school

dogwoods near the school

a church near the school - my first couple of years teaching, back before I got good blinds on my windows, I would look at the steeple from my classroom, but let's face it: too much sun + too many windows generates too much heat to leave the blinds open for the sake of a pretty view!

Today's Song - April 26

So this one is for Cutest. I lurv yer guts.

Cat Stevens - Trouble

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thinking about Palestine

Something else I've been doing in the past month is watching a couple of films about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Netflix is great.) The renewed pique in my interest was probably sparked by the Israeli announcement of additional apartments in East Jerusalem when Biden went to visit, although I didn't think at the time, "Wow! I've got to watch more documentaries about that!" It's been more subconscious than that.

So the NY Times reported today on a march of about 70 far-right Israeli demonstrators going through East Jerusalem (where a lot of Arabs do live, and where the Arabs see the future capital of their independent state). The Arab residents of the area came out on their balconies and did a lot of pot-banging and shouting of their own. My favorite quote of the article came at the end, when a Fatah representative said, "Where else in the world would you need 2,000 armed, fully equipped police officers to secure a failed march of 70 of your own citizens in an area that you claim as your capital?"

Besides reading in the news, here are the films I've watched this month:

Paradise Now (2005) - yeah, I bought this one. I had been eying it since its release. Finally I got on Netflix and found that I could stream it - and then the stream was only dubbed in English. I stopped watching about 6 minutes in convinced that I would need the DVD but that it would be powerful enough I would need a copy. I wasn't disappointed in the least. The film follows two young Palestinians who have agreed to be suicide bombers.

Encounter Point (2006) - a documentary about people on both sides of the conflict with family members who had been killed by the other side, and about their decision to meet each other and discuss their losses rather than perpetuating the hatred. Very moving. Can we hope that their desire for peace above all will come to fruition?

Until When... (2004) - another documentary, this time only of the Palestinian side, but it focuses on the refugee settlements. In interviews with five individuals/families, you get a pretty keen feel for the way the constant conflict and the pursuant interruptions could get under your skin. Having to buy water because it's just not turned on often enough to be able to store up what is needed. The checkpoints. The constant shooting, and the shelling. The interviewer invites each person/family being interviewed to describe the homes they had to leave behind, either with the first wave of the establishment of Israel, or in the settlements that continue to crop up. They talk with such longing, they describe their trees and their gardens, and places where their dialect was spoken. The underlining theme was an argument for the right to return.

I've ordered The Lemon Tree to watch soon. I've also had a book by the same name sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read, which I'll have to try to get to sooner or later. They don't appear to be linked beyond their titles. The film will be a must-see just because of one of the actresses, Hiam Abbass, who was phenomenal in The Visitor and had supporting roles in Paradise Now, Amreeka (SUPERB!), The Limits of Control (one of the more cryptic films I've watched recently), and Munich. Anyway, Hiam Abbass is one to watch a movie for.

But back on topic. I don't know how anyone can objectively look at the situation and not feel that the Palestinians have the perpetual short end of the stick. I have nothing admiration for the people who live there who can force themselves to work for peace and a solution. So will there ever be peace? I hope so, but my hope feels small.

Today's Song - April 25

I've been bad and I have done some downloading today. Yes, I know it is bad to spend money downloading, especially when money could do so many other things, but over the past month I have kept coming back to OK Go, and today my willpower crumbled and I downloaded their albums.

Why do I keep coming back to them? Good percussion, sure, but a bunch of their songs keep coming with a dose of reality tempered with an attitude of the real reality: You've just got to live, so you might as well focus on the good part.

So here is today's anthem from that mindset:

OK Go - All Is Not Lost

Monday, April 19, 2010

I had no idea there was lightning

This is a must see - photographs of the volcano erupting in Iceland. Lightning in the eruptions. I had no idea.

From the depths of the Earth to Outer Space

I admit I watch the TV shopping networks when they're showing jewelry. Stone jewelry. Precious, semi-precious - I am amazed at the colors of rocks that come out of the earth. But tonight I had to laugh when the presenter was trying to figure out how much three payments on $90 would be - she was like "I know we have someone here who can just figure that out..."

That woman makes a lot more than I do, and she gets to wear lots of pretty jewelry. Just saying.

Another funny thing today. I was reading an op-ed in the New York Times from Iceland. It's worth reading, but my favorite part was a description of a couple of the jokes that are making the rounds there, since the bursting bubble of Iceland's economy has caused problems in Europe, and now their erupting volcano has thrown air traffic in Europe off for the better part of a week. My favorite line?

"It was the last wish of the Icelandic economy that its ashes be spread over Europe."

Yeah, I had to laugh at that one out loud.

So here is today's song. Why? I don't know. Something about "And all the science, I don't understand. It's just my job five days a week..." And I was thinking about how you just don't get popular songs about outer space any more. Are we so used to it, those of us who were born after the start of the space age? We interact with space every day, sending information bouncing around from satellite to satellite and back again, and looking at the cool colorized pictures that the Hubble telescope shoots back to us. But who dreams of going into space? Why don't we long for it and sing about it? Have we given that dream up to the robots? I don't know. Anyway. Here is the song.

Elton John - Rocket Man

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tonight's Song - April 18

I am awake. Terribly so. I am tired enough that I should be asleep, but I have been awake since about 2:30 this morning, and I only slept fitfully before that. I think I am nervous because I have to speak in Sacrament Meeting today. I am not looking forward to it, and I don't feel like I have had time to flesh out my ideas - it has been a crazy week, so much so that I didn't even wake up Thursday morning until my first class had been in session for about 40 minutes. So I don't feel so put together these days, and speaking in church is only worsening the sentiment.

Why is it that when you feel like this you always run into something about how you're not just judged by whether you do something, you are also judged on your heart and WHY you are doing it? I wonder if my heart will ever be right.

Anyway, so I am awake. I read for a while, but I spent most of yesterday reading, so that didn't last long. Then I re-read a lesson I'm giving today (the teacher development course), and I finally decided to look for some music to listen to. And I decided to listen to The Temper Trap. They are awesome. And they have tonight's song.

The Temper Trap - Soldier On

Monday, April 12, 2010

Today's Song - April 12

Found this one while figuring out who won the Sanremo Music Festival this year, as I'll be doing a reading on the festival with my 3rd year student this week. This guy won the best young artist award. I liked this song better than the winner of the overall prize, so this is the one we'll do a fill-in-the-blank exercise with. Oh, isn't it fun to make everything scholastic. :P

CHEEZY ol' video, though. Overly sentimental even by Italian standards, I would think.

Tony Maiello - Il linguaggio della resa (The language of surrender)

Friday, April 09, 2010

Today's Song, or Maybe Yesterday's?

I woke up with this one in my head. Does that mean it is mad at me for not posting it yesterday, or is it really today's song? I don't know. We'll have to see if another song comes along and takes over for today.

On an unrelated note, yesterday I did some cooking with coriander and fenugreek, and a little star anise and cinnamon, and today the house smells like bacon and maple syrup. Urgh. So I'm thinking I need to cook something with rosemary to drive that smell out. The smell of bacon should smell good to me, I know, but after working in the beef jerky factory years and years and years ago, it's just one of those smells that doesn't go away fast enough - especially when it's like today, smelling like bacon without ever really having been bacon.

Anyway. Here is today's song, or maybe yesterday's.

The Rosebuds - Silja Line

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Today's Song - April 6

Broken Bells - The Ghost Inside

Ok, so this is the live playing from Jimmy Fallon. Amilynne actually called me up a few weeks ago to tell me to download this, and I had done so a couple of days before. She likes it because of the "clap clap" percussion. I love the horn. Anyway, it's awesome.

4/18 update: the Jimmy Fallon performance was removed from YouTube, so here's the studio version.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Today's Song - April 5

Shearwater - On the Death of the Waters

There is something about the first song on an album that I love. So often, it is one of my very favorite tracks, more than just as an introduction. For this song, it is the screaming middle after the quiet intro - it was not this song that attracted me to the band, (maybe that one will be the song of the day on another day) but it is one of the songs I keep going back to. Agony and a reflection of the pain in life.

Cleaning Up the Blog

So I've made a couple of changes to the blog, upgrading to the new format, getting rid of old links that didn't work, changing the name to something that says a lot more about me. (For the history books, it used to be "Don't Feed the Bears" - which also said something about me, but a lot less than the current title.) Who knows. Maybe I'll go back, but there doesn't seem to be a reason to.

That and I'm trying to figure out a new picture to replace the one in my profile of me at a very young age. I love that picture, but certainly something more current and memorable has been captured in the last 15 years.

Or maybe not.

Anyway, it's spring break, which is just lovely. I slept in this morning, and read in bed later still. I am reading ...And Ladies of the Club, and I've been reading it since last summer. Once upon a time I would stop everything in my life to read a book, now it has to fit into everything else. I was never going to be that kind of an adult. Anyway, back on topic, I read the book the summer I turned 21, right before going on my mission. It was the last great read before novels became a no-no for a while. Fantastic book. It chronicles the "Waynesboro Women's Club" and its members in a small Ohio town from the end of the Civil War well into the 20th century. Anyway, this morning one of the main characters died, and so I put the book down and did some work, because I'm not ready to go on yet. And I'm only 2/3 of the way through the book (it's just under 1500 pages). So maybe I'll finish it in under a year.

After this, I have some serious reading to do. This weekend I started going through Jacques Barzun's series of lectures from 1973, The Use and Abuse of Art. I wonder how much I understood when I first read it as an undergrad, and I wonder if I understand more or less now. I like to think that my mental capacities are now broader than they were. But I wonder.

Here is what I need, though. In the intro to his lectures, Barzun states that he assumes his essays' title will bring to his listeners' minds the title of some work by Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History. So what I need is for the libraries of the world to be completely interconnected so that I can click on that title, read a brief synopsis, decide whether to read the whole thing, and then get right back into Barzun. Why are we not there yet? The iPad was released this week, and one would hope that we are getting closer, but one fears that the publishers will never let us get so interlinked with anything they are hoping to still profit from. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the world's knowledge were linked together like the synapses of an all-encompassing brain? Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to download understanding? But of course, it would take all of the work and effort out of it, and it would be absolutely defenseless against point-of-view and brainwashing...

But my undergrad years were wasted on me when I was young. Young, like in the profile picture. Does that person look like she gets it? Probably not. But oh, what a life ahead for her.