Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 7

A picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you:



Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 6

Favorite superhero and why:


I am not really into superheroes... But if I had to pick a favorite, it'd be Batman. Because he is cool and has nifty gadgets.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 5

A picture of somewhere you've been:


Las Vegas (the water show at the Bellagio)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This Page is in Chinese

... I don't think so, Tim.

Day 4

A habit you wish you didn't have:


I wish I didn't love chips so much. I prefer salty snacks to sweet ones, and I eat things like Cheetos way too much.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lucky

You know, I have a hard job. Taking care of two one-year-old babies for eight or nine hours a day isn't always easy. But there are times when I feel really lucky to have the job I do... Like when said babies wake up from their naps but are still feeling snuggly, so they climb into my lap, one on each side of me, and just lay their heads down on my chest. It usually doesn't last very long, but sometimes we've even taken a nap that way (obviously before naptime, on those occasions). It's pretty great, and it sure makes the crappy times easier.

Day 2

The meaning behind your blog name:


Through the Looking-Glass is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, in which Alice discovers that the looking-glass in her play room is a window to another world. I thought this was a good name for a blog. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Thing I Will Do.

I always seem to get these things from Lindsey, which leads me to wonder where she is getting them. (You'd think I would just ask...)


Anyway. This is what the thing is:


day 1- recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself
day 2- the meaning behind your blog name
day 3- a picture of you and your friends
day 4- a habit that you wish you didn’t have
day 5- a picture of somewhere you've been to
day 6- favorite super hero and why
day 7- a picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you
day 8- short term goals for this month and why
day 9- something you're proud of in the past few days
day 10- songs you listen to when you are happy, sad, bored, hyped, mad
day 11- another picture of you and your friends
day 12- how you found out about blogger and why you have one
day 13- a letter to someone
day 14- a picture of you and your family
day 15- put your ipod on shuffle: first 10 songs that play
day 16- another picture of yourself
day 17- someone you would want to switch lives with for one day and why
day 18- plans/dreams/goals you have
day 19- nicknames you have and why you have them
day 20- someone you love
day 21- a picture of something that makes you happy
day 22- what makes you different from everyone else
day 23- something you crave for a lot
day 24- your last five facebook statuses
day 25- what I would find in your bag
day 26- what do you think about your friends
day 27- why are you doing this 30 day challenge
day 28- a picture of you from last year and now, how have you changed since then?


Since today is day one...
A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself:
1. I played the violin in fourth grade, and wish I hadn't given it up. 
2. I really want to play the cello. 
3. I don't like Apple.
4. I used to hate winter and love summer, but that's kind of switched.
5. It annoys me that I have lighter skin than my mom and some of my siblings, especially because they are oblivious and always point it out.
6. I don't like to use big words because people always make fun of me when I do. 
7. I was a gorilla for Halloween. 
8. I've tasted beer, sake, and mulled wine, and didn't like any of them (the mulled wine was the best because it tasted like apple cider). 
9. I really want to drink coffee, but don't. 
10. I've easily read over 100 books this year, and yet I might not finish my 10/10/10 challenge.
11. I really love classical music. 
12. I have a hard time remembering the names and composers of pieces I love because I first listened to them as a child, and didn't know the names then.
13. I really miss playing the bass clarinet and wish I could 1) buy one and 2) play in an orchestra. 
14. I've totaled two cars.
15. But actually I'm a good driver. I haven't had a ticket in six years.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Growing Concern

I know a lot of girls who've had miscarriages, myself included. Off the top of my head, I can think of seven, all in their early twenties, who have had at least one in the last two or three years--and I know there have been others that I'm forgetting. Most were early on, but two of them were late in the pregnancy, very painful, and even life-endangering for the mother. Is anyone else continually surprised by how common this seems to be?


There are a lot of possible reasons for this. I'm concerned that one of them might be GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Unless we eat only organic food (and I know very few people who do), it is guaranteed that every one of us has been eating GMOs in our food for several years now.


If you've ever done research into this issue, you know that there are no definitive answers about what kind of health risks GMOs might pose. However, if you've researched you also know that there are significant and serious questions about the safety of GMOs--and for me, the existence of those questions is enough. 
U.S. consumers mistakenly believe that, unless the FDA had approved each and every GM food through rigorous, well designed, long-term studies, GM food ingredients would not be allowed in our food supply and certainly could not be omnipresent in prepared foods in the form of corn, soy, cottonseed and canola derivatives.
Reality is that the FDA has absolutely no GMO safety testing requirements, and GM ingredients are ubiquitous in prepared foods. Unless a processed food contains only organic ingredients, it is highly likely to contain GM ingredients. The “research” that supports GMO safety is voluntarily provided by companies on their own GM crops and has been described by critics as “meticulously designed to avoid finding problems”.


Genetically Modified Foods: Just Say "No"!
A preliminary study by the Russian National Academy of Sciences found that when rats were fed GM soy, more than half of their offspring died within three weeks, compared to 10 percent from mothers fed non-GM soy; in addition, the offspring from the mothers fed GM soy couldn't conceive. (State-of-the-Science on the Health Risks of GM Foods; pages 7 and 8 deal with reproductive issues).


From How Stuff Works: "In fact, there is almost zero published research concerning the effects long-term or short-term effects on humans." There is no "innocent until proven guilty" policy for our food, nor should there be when science is involved. Right now our food system is set up that way, though; there are no labeling requirements for GM foods, and in fact many attempts to get such regulations passed have failed. Until our government decides that people have the right to know whether or not the food they're eating has been genetically modified, the only way to avoid it is by eating organic. 


If you have never thought about this, I hope you'll look into it now. I am worried that the food we're eating is going to affect our ability to have children. There's so much we don't know about it, and it's the stuff we don't know that could end up really hurting.

Christmas List 2010: Third Edition

Remember, for Nathalie and other family members: There's a page in my left sidebar for this list, so you won't have to go back and look for this post. It's right under the "About Me" section.


These amazing books, some of which are available at Barnes and Noble.




 
   
But only if you can find it edited.

This is important, regarding all the Books of Bayern: I want the old covers, not the new ones with actual people on them! That's why I haven't bought them yet myself; the new covers are the easiest to find.


Seasons 2 and 3
Seasons 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8
Seasons 23458, and 9

Season 4

These Disney sing-alongs (doesn't matter if they're DVD or VHS): 


     
Also Standing Up and I Walked on the Moon

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A-Sweatering We Go

Today is a busy day!


First of all, the car situation means that I never sleep in anymore, even on my days off, because if I want to be able to go anywhere during the day I have to take Mike to work at 7. So this morning I woke up, got dressed, dropped him off, and went grocery shopping. Now I am at my parents' house, where I have spent an hour just hanging out with my parents, and now I'm going to make my mom help me alter my dress for the madrigal dinner that is coming up in a couple weeks. 


In about an hour I have to take Benjamin home with me, because a guy is coming from Fort Worth to buy our black couch from us, and Mike is at work (in Fort Worth, ironically) so I need someone to help the guy with the maneuvering of the couch. 


Then I have to go to Firewheel and shop for a friggin' bridesmaid dress already. Last night I was texting Megan and realized that I have been waiting for a time when it would actually be convenient for me to go shopping, and that that time will never some, so I need to just GO. (The no-internet situation, compounded as it is now by the no-car situation, has made shopping really difficult.) But I am determined to find something amazing. 


Then I have to go home and cook my contributions for our pre-Thanksgiving dinner tonight with Lori, Christian, Meredith, and Zach. And then Mike will get home and shower, and we will be off to our dinner.


Last night I bought this beautiful sweater for $16, thanks to my brother's friends-and-family coupon at Aeropostale (and the color is much more vibrant in person). And this morning I bought this sweater in aubergine heather, because 1) it's on sale for a surprisingly reasonable price considering the source, 2) I get a free scarf with the purchase, and 3) I super need sweaters this winter. My favorite one was mangled, if you recall, and I have yet to replace it. 


So! That is that. Now I'm off to be fitted. Cheerio!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden--9/10

When this movie came out, I had some random preconceived notions about it and didn't want to see it. As you might suspect, I also had no desire to read the book. So don't ask me why I picked it up and added it to the "Adapted to Movies" category of my 10/10/10 challenge--I really don't know. But I am thrilled that I did. 

You know I love Asian literature, particularly Amy Tan and Lisa See. This was one of my first trips to Japan, though--the others have mostly been in China, through no particular planning on my part. But from the very beginning, Memoirs of a Geisha turned out to be one that I didn't want to put down.


The story begins with Chiyo, a young girl whose mother is dying. She thinks that she and her sister are going to be adopted by a wealthy man in the town, but instead they are sold to him by their father, and the wealthy man in turn sells them to someone else. Chiyo is sent to an okiya, where--if she shows promise--she will be trained to become a geisha. Her sister is made into a prostitute in a nearby town. 


The details about geisha life were really fascinating to me, and Sayuri (her name after she becomes a geisha) is a strangely identifiable character despite the fact that, as a Japanese girl living in the years before World War II, she is part of a culture that is very hard for me to understand. The history is so interesting, and the story is compellingly written. I checked out the movie from the library before I was even finished with the book, and though I know I'll probably like the book better, I'm excited to watch it. If you're interested in a historical novel, this is a great one to try.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"You could read before bed... But why not watch four episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond instead?"

So I started volunteering at my local library. And as I've been shelving books for a month now, I've noticed trends. 

Janet Evanovich. Nora Roberts. J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts). Iris Johansen. Charlaine Harris. Danielle Steele. Gilbert Morris. Fern Michaels. Debbie Macomber. Luanne Rice. Linda Lael Miller. Karen Kingsbury. Julie Garwood. James Patterson. Laurell K. Hamilton. Mary Higgins Clark. Catherine Coulter. Heather Graham. Sue Grafton.


I only knew four or five of these names before I started this job, but in my one month at the library, I've become increasingly familiar with all of them. It turns out that books by these authors make up something like 50 to 70 percent of the books that get checked out from the adult fiction section. This sometimes makes me want to cry. 


Why do I care, you ask? Well, the simple truth is that I am a snob. I am one of those people who likes to read important books. I give books as presents on every occasion possible. I think that reading is one of the most important educational experiences there is, and that people who don't read are missing out on a huge chunk of life. I refuse to buy books with the Oprah sticker on them, because as much as I appreciate anyone who gets people to read, I really hate when classic literature is turned into the latest beach reading fad. 


And I hate cookie-cutter books, like those of the authors I mentioned above. Most of those authors have upwards of ten or fifteen books in their name sitting on the shelves, some significantly more (like Nora Roberts, who is so prolific that her publisher made her adopt a second name she could be published under, because they just couldn't publish things as quickly as she wrote them). These books all have titles and covers (and plots, I assume) that are just variations of each other.


Janet Evanovich
One for the Money; Two for the Dough; Three to Get Deadly; Four to Score; High Five; Hot Six; Seven Up; Hard Eight; and so on (all the way through sixteen, with a couple extras in the middle. That's just one of her series).


Nora Roberts

  • Born in Fire; Born in Ice; Born in Shame
  • Jewels of the Sun; Tears of the Moon; Heart of the Sea
  • Key of Light; Key of Knowledge; Key of Valor
  • Blue Dahlia; Black Rose; Red Lily
  • Sea Swept; Rising Tides; Inner Harbor; Chesapeake Blue
  • Daring to Dream; Holding the Dream; Finding the Dream

And so on, with over 160 books (that was the most recent count I could find without going through and counting them myself, which I refuse to do because it would take years of my life that I'm not willing to spend--if you want to see her entire booklist on her website, you have to download a PDF file). 


Linda Lael Miller
  • the Montana Creeds series (A Creed in Stone Creek; Creed's Honor; The Creed Legacy; A Creed Country Christmas; Montana Creeds: Tyler; Montana Creeds: Dylan; Montana Creeds: Logan)
  • the Springwater series (Springwater Wedding; A Springwater Christmas; Springwater Seasons: Jessica (and Miranda and Savannah and Rachel))
  • the Vampire series (Tonight and Always; Time Without End; For All Eternity; Forever and the Night). And several other series that follow the same trends.
You see what I mean. These kinds of books are romances, murder/crime novels, or "romantic adventures"--which are basically a combination of the two genres. Or something. 


I'm not saying that these books are bad. I understand perfectly well that people have different tastes, and that every now and then a completely frivolous read is just necessary. The thing that makes me sad is the proportion, the fact that these books--combined with the actual Harlequin romances-- are by far the majority of books being checked out at my library. There just seem to be so few people who read actual meaningful literature anymore, and it's tragic how much people are missing.


(In case you're wondering about the title... I heard it in a TV commercial, and of course it annoyed me so much that I saved it in my blog drafts for six months knowing I'd eventually use it for something. Obviously this post is not about television, but to me the attitude is basically the same.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore--8/10

This book was in my recommended category, and was suggested by my friend Lori. It's a memoir of two men who actually live in Fort Worth, about an hour from where I live--Ron Hall, an international art dealer, and Denver Moore, a man who grew up in the slavery of sharecropping and spent his adult life homeless. 


This story is incredibly touching, and I definitely cried for a space of four or five chapters toward the end. The descriptions of Denver's life are shocking considering that it took place so recently, and Ron Hall's growth throughout the book is inspirational. If you're looking for a good memoir to read, this one is uplifting.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Strep

While I am not surprised by the arrival of my annual fall sickness, I am a little bummed that instead of my normal cold, it appears to be strep throat. Yesterday morning I woke up with a random sore throat; it went away for much of the day, and then came back with a vengeance in the evening. It was not fun. 


Overnight was awful--I was in bed for eight hours, but slept for about three. I woke up at 12:15, 1:30, 2:30, 3:45, 5 something, and 6:15, and each time took anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to fall back asleep. I spent half an hour on the floor in the bathroom because I thought I was going to throw up--and of course, there I fell asleep. I'm pretty sure I had a fever, because I started out under my normal thick blanket wearing sweatpants, socks, a Snuggie, and was still cold to the point of convulsive shivering; then a couple hours later I was soaked in sweat and dying of heat, even after having taken off the socks, the Snuggie, and the blanket. And, I had to pee at least five times, which was ridiculous because I was not drinking anything during the night (because my throat hurt far too much to swallow). My whole body was aching and weak and generally feeling like junk. 


In the morning Mike took amazing care of me, fed me chicken soup for breakfast, and stuffed vitamin C, echinacea, ibuprofen, and aloe vera juice down my throat. He also made me the hot water/lemon/honey drink that we both grew up drinking for sore throats. I'm not sure which of those things it was, but after taking them all and then a half hour nap, I woke up feeling much better. I could actually swallow with hardly any pain at all, which was amazing. In the afternoon the pain got stronger again, but it's still not the agony it was during the night, so I'll take it. 


Called in sick for work tomorrow, obviously. So I will be resting at home, hopefully doing some mad recovering, and probably going through my entire BBC collection on DVD. Perhaps this isn't such a bad thing after all...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Plea

The thing that depresses me about what I'm about to write is that I will, for a few short moments, be agreeing with something Laura Ingraham said. Please don't judge me--I promise I'll explain.

A few days ago, on Good Morning America, Ingraham told George Stephanopoulos that a comment President Obama made was un-presidential. This is the comment, made on a Univision radio program:

"If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, we're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's gonna be harder and that's why I think it's so important that people focus on voting on November 2."

I agree with Ingraham (*cringe*). I have been pretty bugged by the way President Obama campaigned in the weeks preceding yesterday's election. It was incredibly partisan, and focused a lot on talking about what the Republicans are going to do if we let them take power, and how we have to prevent it. I don't disagree with that view--but I do think the president shouldn't be espousing it. Like Ingraham said, “I know that everyone is rough and tumble in this campaign. But he is still the president."

You can breathe again now--here is where I stop agreeing. The next thing Laura Ingraham said was this: “The fact of the matter is there is a national revolt going on against many of the policies that he and Nancy Pelosi pushed through against the will of the people, number one health care reform. That is not an enemy of the country; those are the people of the country.”

Unfortunately, Laura, the actual fact of the matter is that there is not a national revolt--there is a partisan revolt, and the people who are revolting are conservatives. (Bahahaha... That was not intentional. Sorry guys.) President Obama and Nancy Pelosi did not push anything through against the will of the people--they pushed it through against the will of some of the people, and completely according to the will of others. 

You see, this is the thing that makes me want to smack any and every person who has been saying nonsense like "We've had enough," or "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore," or--worst of all--"We're taking our country back." You have got to be kidding me, Tea Partiers. Just who exactly do you think you're taking "your" country back from?! Us, that's who! The other half of the American people, the ones who don't want the same things as you! But what you don't seem to understand is that we have just as much right to this country as you do. While Bush was president, we weren't getting the things we wanted; now that Obama is president, you're not. That's just how things go. 

Don't get me wrong, that's not how they should go. But the unbelievably sad truth is that we as a country have not yet been able to rise above this selfish playground mentality in which everyone who isn't the same as us is an enemy. We should all know this by now.

I lied before when I said that I was done agreeing with Laura Ingraham. (Sorry.) There's one more thing she said that I wholeheartedly want to repeat. "That is not an enemy of the country," she said. "Those are the people of the country.” Well, Laura Ingraham, you are right--and now I want you to turn around and direct that phrase at yourself. 

What I wish my politically conservative friends and family could understand is that liberals are not the enemy. They are not "Hollywood" and "society." They are not "the world"; they are not Sodom and Gomorrah. In many cases they are your family and friends (as is the case with everyone who is reading this post, because you are all obviously connected to me in some way). In all cases they are Americans. And they have the same rights you do. America does not have a state religion. And we do not allow one religion to control others. Conservatives, your religion does not give you political supremacy. 

What it does give you is societal responsibility. If you consider yourself a Christian, you are commanded to "love thy neighbor as thyself." You are told to "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." And you are told not to judge. In the realm of politics, this means that you do not call liberals names. You do not question their standing as members of their church, whatever church it is. You do not condemn people, either publicly or in your own mind, for having different political beliefs. Obviously this goes both ways. 

So if I may, I would like to make a request of every person who reads this. If you are a conservative, and if we are friends on Facebook, please send me a message. (If not, go to my profile and send me an email.) Ask me what my political beliefs are, and ask me why. Let me explain them to you, and make an effort to look past your current assumptions. I promise you will be surprised. 

The Bright Side

Looking at our results optimistically, here is what we have:


Republicans took control of the House; Democrats still have the majority in the Senate. At least both parties have an advantage in one place.

I actually don't hate Rick Perry, although on my list he was tied for last out of four. He's been the governor of Texas for ten years, so I'm not sure why people are under the impression that they'll get "change" this way--but it's okay, I can live with it. An unfortunate development is that I have just learned that Texas is one of the fourteen states with no term limits for the gubernatorial office... Yikes. But hey, Bill White didn't lose by a ton yesterday, so maybe next time.

Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell, two of the most ridiculous people currently in any facet of the public eye, did not win their races. I feel immense gratitude for this.

Yesterday I talked to a friend from church who told me that although she never thought she'd vote for a Democrat, she found herself liking Bill White better than Rick Perry. Can I tell you how thrilled I am to talk to a person who doesn't just see the words "Republican" and "Democrat" and let that decide it for her? In the national scheme of things, insanity seems to be spreading; but somehow, in my personal life, it's the opposite. Slowly--oh so very slowly, like waiting-for-that-very-last-drop-of-shampoo-to-make-its-way-down-the-bottle slowly--rationality is spreading. There are now at least eleven people in my life who I know will actually research candidates, who will look past meaningless stereotypes and narrow-minded stubbornness and vote for a person, not convention. Oh, this makes me happy. 

And finally, although I am severely depressed that I was not able to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive, I have eased my anguish a little by browsing through pictures of some of the amazing signs people had there.





And, my very favorite...

You know, there are times when it is a good thing that I don't have the internet at my fingertips--like when I'm listening to the news in the morning. Because when I listen to the news, I hear so much that makes me want to pull my hair out or give someone a really solid kick in the shins. You may not realize how lucky you are, my friends, that there is a great deal on my mind that I don't say. :) 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Have YOU Voted?

I voted this morning! It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, although I was disappointed that there were no booths with curtains like I'd always imagined. This was my first time at the polls--I was in Utah for the last two elections, so I voted absentee. It only took about half an hour, with maybe 25 minutes standing in line, and Lana and I both had a book to read so we didn't mind. 


If you haven't voted yet, I hope you're planning on going later in the day! It really is easy and it's the only way we can ever hope to make things better in this country. Frankly, if you don't vote, you've got no business complaining--and we all know we love to complain!


But can I make one request? Please, please don't just vote straight party. Take a few minutes, maybe half an hour, and look up some of the candidates, particularly the ones you haven't heard of. I can promise that you'll be surprised, and maybe even change your mind on a few; I was pretty sure who I was going to vote for for governor, but after doing some research on his opponents I ended up going another way. You really have to check them out online though--you absolutely can't make your decision based solely on those nonsense television and radio ads.


There's a website called Project Vote Smart that can make this really easy. It appears to be down right now, and I'm hoping that it's not shut down on election day or something--but if it does work for you, look up your candidates and click on the link under their picture that says something about the Political Courage Test. This is a survey that they give each candidate that makes it really easy to see where they stand on all the important issues. 


If you don't have time to research all the candidates--which I didn't, to be honest, because there are so many--try just looking up the most important ones, like your House Representative and governor and Supreme Court justices. Then you can vote party on the district judges and whatever, or just not vote on them at all. But get out and vote, get your foot in the water, and next time you can be more prepared and it'll be that much easier.

Monday, November 1, 2010

No Spring nor Summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one Autumnal face.

Do you suppose, now that it's November, we might actually get to see fall? This summer has held on far too long. 


"Listen...
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break free from the trees
And fall."


Adelaide Crapsey, November Night