Saturday, September 22, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Vol 5

And for another take on Jen's brilliant quasi-cop-out!

I don't want to say too much, because the situation is only temporary, but... let's just say that I've got work enough to keep me in Atlanta for another couple months, at least. :)

Pleasant acquaintances from my parish threw a housewarming party last weekend. There were many high points of this party, but the cutest was definitely their four-month old, whom I got to hold for several hours. Apparently I have the "magic touch," because she doesn't fall asleep for people easily, but did for me twice... Her parents are thrilled to have a babysitter, and I'm thrilled to have both new friends and a baby to play with. They're really adorable at that age. :D

So one of the gals in my Bible Study group got an email several weeks ago from the Atlanta Botanical Garden, asking if her community organization wanted to participate in Scarecrows in the Garden this year. I think she said yes without even asking us, because seriously? How fun!

And it was indeed!

What scarecrow is complete without use of power tools?

Best snippet of conversation all evening:
     Guy 1: Do we have a staple gun?
     Guy 2: Yeah, I brought my staple gun, it's right here.
     Guy 3: Wait, we have a staple gun and we haven't been using it!?
Needless to say, the staple gun was used gratuitously from that point forward.

Kind of the anti-scarecrow, St Francis is...
Full story to follow via Dorothy's blog, but I just couldn't resist. I don't know how you spent your Tuesday night this week, but I'm quite certain mine was cooler. :D

Due to a passing idea mentioned by a friend, I am all set up for a brand-new batch of experimental brownies: Bursts of marshmallows! All the recipes I've found online are for a layer of marshmallows, but the challenge is to have them hidden throughout the brownie. I'd forgotten how relaxing yet exhilarating it is to explore making up a new dessert recipe, with a willing audience!

Someday, I will own this!

Okay, I was about to talk this fall being "a good year for lit majors," as Liz mentioned in an email, but Laura beat me to it, and did a much better job. So, for the three of you book nerds who aren't too lazy for an extra click, head on over to read a bit, and watch trailers.

However, I will say: Both Hobbit and Les Mis come out December 14. I'm only going to have a chance to reread one of them. The Hobbit is the one of the two that I remember better... but it's also about 1200 pages shorter than Les Mis...

Also: Just this minute discovered that I don't own the Hobbit. Really? How on earth did that happen? (Aside from, you know, having read my dad's copy years ago and then moved out of the house...)

Fortunately, ThriftBooks sells both books for $4 each and free shipping! (Perhaps by "fortunately," I mean "dangerously"...)

Got a freelance gig this week that actually makes good use of my collection of obsolete Magisterial documents! You know, the slightly-less-awesome-than-one-might-hope ones that came out after the Council  on subjects like architecture and liturgical music, and have since been replaced by better-even-if-still-not-ideal ones? Those! I'm actually searching for equivalent quotes in the new documents, for the second edition of a book. It pleases me much to report that the stranger and more touchy-feely parts of the old documents are quite absent in the new ones, which aren't so bad after all. :)

I probably won't do one of these next week, because I'll be leaving early Friday morning to visit my sister for her college's Family Weekend. By stating this now, I am officially dispensing myself from next week's obligation. Nag all you want, but ya' probably won't see me. Ciao!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Vol 4

So you know how the internet is full of addictive stupid games that provide no benefit whatsoever except perhaps some semblance of relaxation?

Enter For every question you answer correctly, 10 grains of rice are donated to hungry people. It's not a lot, but it's kind of a neat concept. My favorite game: Identify Countries on the Map. (It's my favorite because I'm absolutely terrible at it, and it's a real challenge. Seriously, just try it. If you get to 200 grains with no errors, I'm duly impressed. I usually get to about 30.)

Twice in the past month I've discovered that the lady with whom I was pleasantly chatting is either a minister or a seminarian. Having grown up in Jersey, where very nearly everyone I knew fit into one of four groups---cultural Catholic, practicing Catholic, non-Christian religion, or religiously apathetic---this is an unusual happening. And, having two degrees in Catholic theology myself, I have plenty of background to have an interesting discussion of theology with them.

And yet all I find myself wanting to ask is, But what do you study!? I can't wrap my mind around a degree in theology without the solid grounding in tradition that the Catholic Church has given me. Obviously, I can't ask that question because it's rude and probably disrespectful. Yet I'd be very interested to use these moments as an opportunity to learn about our Protestant brethren. Any suggestions on how I can use this curiosity and the commonality in our faiths to actually talk to people?

So this week I celebrated a birthday. There are birthday celebrations still to come (and most of my relatives haven't even put cards in the mail yet, I'm sure), but thus far I've gone out to dinner four times with different small groups of people: Mexican, American (pub), Thai, and Italian. AND one of my dearest friends down here bought me roses! My favorite kind, the yellow ones with pink around the edges - she could not possibly have known they were my favorite! (An aside: When I mentioned this to my mom, her response was, "Yes, you have always had a particular affection for those." Cracks me up.)


My taste in music has become significantly more indie folksy since I discovered Legal free downloads (donations requested but not required), and the only catch is they give the artist whose much you downloaded your name and zip code. I've picked up a few artists I'm really pleased with.

I found one today that's a really cool concept album. I'm not quite sure yet whether I like the guy, but I appreciate that each track is a tribute to a different C.S. Lewis book (you can listen to each full track without downloading, just click the Play arrow). He clearly has been influenced by many genres. I look forward to listening more closely and picking up the lyrics.

It's that time again! Arguably my favorite feast of the liturgical year: the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross! My annual tradition is to read the Anglo-Saxon epic poem The Dream of the Rood, and this year I'll even have friends with me to read it aloud, which is definitely my favorite way to celebrate!

This gentleman reads the first seventeen lines; I approve of both his pronunciation and his inflection, so though there's no translation on the screen, you can just listen to how high-class English sounded in the 7th century.

Arabian Nights: Update

I had mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm reading Arabian Nights via, and have been enjoying it. Well, based on some reader feedback, I thought I'd continue with some semblance of a book review with an eye to its usefulness as bedtime stories for a contemporary American Catholic family.

It would be easy enough to find a good place to stop each night, because it's a story within a story within a story within a story within a story (approximately), so there's constantly a new part either beginning or ending. The one constant in every single story is the presence of the supernatural--mostly genies, but sometimes ordinary enchantresses or giant magical animals. There is also a LOT of infidelity, which is always presented as a bad thing (and is usually punished); it's (nearly) always the woman who is unfaithful, which is a bit one-sided. It's set in a clearly Muslim society, which is a perk for things like the sanctity of marriage and the importance of prayer and family underrunning every story, but you still may want to wait until your kids are old enough to handle questions of Truth and different religions (for, of course, the Muslim religion is the true one, according to any character who speaks of it).

Still, it's been a very interesting read (I say this now, less than 1/6 of the way through), and I do recommend it to anyone who's curious.

Last but most certainly not least, the hands-down winner for best birthday card this year:

Apatosauruses love birthdays!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"So what's your favorite part of the new translation?"

I've been traveling in liturgical circles for a little while now. So while this new translation of the Missal didn't take effect until this past Advent, I've been familiar with quite a number of the texts since the fall of 2007.

Yet it still caught me completely off guard when I was catching up with a dear friend, then finishing her notiviate with the Carmelites, and she asked me what my favorite part was of the new translation. Well, I don't know. The whole thing, really. I'm a huge fan of this whole formal equivalence principle of translation, wherein the English kind of sounds like the Latin does, only, ya' know, in English. She, in response, had some incredibly profound reflection on how one particular phrase was a real testament to God's incredible love for us (unexpected profundity has always been one of her strong suits, but still).

I don't generally have "favorites" very often, of anything, yet her question stuck with me. And now, that I've been praying this translation day in and day out for months, I do have a favorite part: "poured out," during the consecration of the chalice.

take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the chalice of my blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
do this in memory of me.

We used to pray "which will be shed." Most (possibly all) of the English hand Missals printed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, used by parishioners to pray in English what Father prayed in Latin, translate that as "shed." Even hand Missals being produced now for the traditional Mass seem to all say "shed."

Part of the rationale given for the change was that "shed" is inferior because it only works for blood, not for wine (you can't really shed wine), so "poured out" is better because it's more symbolic and evocative and whatnot. That's all well and good, and entirely true, but still falls short of the fullness of the Latin original.

The Latin original of the word in question is effundetur. I'm no great Latinist, but they tell me effundetur means more than "shed," more even than "poured out." It means emptied out of every last drop. Think of when Our Lord was scourged, then crowned with thorns, then crucified, and even then, after He had died, the soldier pierced his heart with his lance, and more blood (and water) flowed out. He gave and gave and gave until he quite literally had nothing left to give, no blood that had not been spilled for our sake.

THAT is how we are called to love in His image: to give of ourselves, for the love of Him and of His children whom He has entrusted to us. We are to give and give and give -- and even when we're completely at the end of our rope and couldn't possibly give any more, to give just a little bit more. He'll be right there, giving us the strength to do it, just as He did on that Good Friday so many years ago.

You'll never read this, Sr Teresa Margaret, but I can now tell you: my favorite part of this beautiful new translation of the Roman Missal is that reminder of the fullness of His sacrifice -- literally to the last drop. Thank you for putting that question in the back of my mind all those months ago, and for your prayers which probably led me straight to this reflection. I only pray that each day I may pour myself out for Him half as lovingly as He did for me.

Sanguis Christi, in Cruce effusus, salva nos.

Cor Jesu, lancea perforatum, miserere nobis.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Seven Quick Takes, Vol 3

I started this blog as my own writing outlet, to keep my brain working. With the introduction of these Seven Quick Takes (h/t Jen), the accountability and friendliness of doing this with Liz and Sana has really begun to change the way I look at blogging. (Also, writing a post like this that's about my life takes less time and--more importantly--less mental energy than a complicated post about liturgical minutiae. Don't worry, I'm sure those will come back eventually. I start lots of such posts in my head...)

All that being said, thanks to you strange people who do bother to read! ("Strange" is quite an affectionate term, by me.) I'll do my best to act like a real blogger and actually reply to your comments and stuff. :)

This week, I discovered a website called DailyLit. You go through their catalog of books, and decide which ones you want to read (there are a lot of classics - yay for public domain! - and also a lot of P.G. Wodehouse), and they deliver you a small portion of the book each day. You can choose either email or RSS. The only downside I've found thus far is that I can't just click to go to the website and keep reading for hours on end...

Speaking of DailyLit, I've been using it to read Arabian Nights. Ya' know, one of those books you've heard about for years and years but don't know anyone who actually read it. Well, now I'm reading it, and it's pretty good. I may want to buy a physical copy eventually to use parts (not all!) for bedtime stories.

...and I've been waking up with that song stuck in my head for most of the week. Or occasionally Arabian Nights instead. I must have been exposed to more Middle Eastern culture than this as a child, right? Right?

You may have seen this someecard making the facebook rounds, and/or similar sentiments expressed in status updates:

Well. The ever-brilliant minds at Lifehacker posted a brilliant link today: How to Block Annoying Political Posts on Facebook. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is all of them.

The extension basically allows you to filter out statuses and links (though not pictures, unfortunately) based on a simple keyword search. Lest you get too excited, it didn't work perfectly, but it definitely seems to have done something...

Funny Confession Ecard: What my Facebook will look like after I hide all the political posts.
Not quite that bad, but surprisingly close.
I have found that going beyond complaining to use self-discipline and avoid reading even the headlines of anything political whatsoever has had the surprisingly calming affect of detoxing my experience of facebook. I do recommend it (the self-discipline for sure, the extension for maybe).

Bonus: Social Fixer allows you to permanently block certain elements of facebook, like the ads and the other sidebar things that try to get you to like random pages or friend people with whom you have one friend in common. Useful!

Whoever thought to make tiny O-shaped pasta in a generous proportion to tomato soup was brilliant. Seriously. Spaghetti-O's = delicious comfort food.


Randall Munroe is seriously a genius. The man makes a living drawing stick-figure comic strips three times a week. He once stated that he sometimes spends as little as ten minutes on each strip.

FYI: If you get curious and start trying to calculate the time adjustment function that minimizes the gap betwen the most-used and the least-used digit (for a representative sample of commonly used cooking times) without altering any time by more than 10%, and someone asks you what you're doing, it's easier just to lie.

Anyway, this strip hit home because, though I've never heard that simile, I've been using that method for years. 90 seconds for a minute and a half (what, saves a keystroke and uses an infrequently used button!)... Yes, I am weird. :)


In honor of the higher-than-usual proportion of dreams I've been having this week, I leave you with a brief poem by Bill Watterson, from The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes (unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the image online, so you'll have to click through to the Google Book for it).

At night my mind does not much care
If what it thinks is here or there.
It tells me stories it invents
And makes up things that don't make sense.
I don't know why it does this stuff.
The real world seems quite weird enough.

And that's a wrap! Time to eat my Spaghetti-O's. :D
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