Monthly Archives: March, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: Vol. 168

— 1 —

It’s been three weeks since my last Quick Takes, and about a week of that is reserved for a future post, so I apologize if I’m more scattered than usual this time. First of all, I went to Nicaragua for spring break, which was fantastic and will require longer than a Quick Take to appropriately recap. I’ll come link it after I’ve written it.

— 2 —

I discovered as I was doing my laundry the week after I got back that I never should have waited that long to wash so many very dirty clothes. I will have to tuck away that tidbit for future mom usage: Hard work stinks.

— 3 —

My parents’ 30th anniversary is on Tuesday! Wow. My lack of having been alive for thirty years notwithstanding, I can’t imagine what it takes to get that far. I can only hope my future marriage lasts for thirty years…or more. (Women in my family tend to live to be very old.)

At the Hallmark Store this evening, I discovered that thirty is not a popular card-sending anniversary. Twenty-five, sure. Fifty. But not thirty. Thirty gets a gemstone, pearl, so it is so much to ask for a nice, store-printed card with pearls on it?

This looks super generic. Those pearls could be for anything.

More generic. Photoshop only goes so far.

This one is incredibly beautiful, but clearly handmade.

I’ll work on a better plan for thirty-five. Hopefully it will be one that doesn’t involve a Friday night trip to the post office drop box.

— 4 —

This weekend only, the code HITUMBLR will get you a $2 credit for free mp3s at Amazon MP3. (They just started an Amazon Music Tumblr.) I highly recommend Amazon MP3. It has great deals like free credits (I’ve cashed in so many codes over the last year!); it offers 100 CDs in various genres for $5 each each month; and some of the individual songs are not available in iTunes, are the same price, or are cheaper. You do have to download a small piece of software to purchase albums, but not individual songs, and of course, mp3s play on computers and any portable digital music device (including iDevices). Go check it out—for free!

— 5 —

I didn’t take any good Instagram photos this week. The Texas wildflowers are out, but I only see them when I’m driving, and trying to take photos while driving is almost asking for an awful accident. I did catch the most beautiful glimpse of Jupiter and Venus framing the crescent moon on my way out of work on Monday night, though. It was so breathtaking.

I took that mostly to capture the moment. Downtown lights ruin photos, and although phone cameras have come very far, they’re not perfect.

— 6 —

I haven’t seen the Hunger Games movie yet, but I will after Easter. I’ve been getting a ton of extra hits here for people looking for Catholic reviews, though. ACNM had the same result. I hope I inspired at least some of those visitors to read the book(s), and that they weren’t too disappointed. Unless they have extra time and money to toss my way, they’re going to have to wait. Small-time reviewers like me don’t get advance screenings of big films like that. Yet.

In the meantime, isn’t this shirt awesome? HP and HG fans unite!

Your odds of being awesome for wearing this shirt are very, very high.

— 7 —

Just when I was thinking, what could possibly top off my Quick Takes better than HP+HG?

Click for full-size glory!

Oh, that’s right: Maryland and Quidditch! Meet the Maryland Marauders, making an awesome school and an awesome flag even more awesome.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Booking Through Thursday: Relating

Ted and Sarah both asked similar questions about relating to characters:

Ted asks:

Are there any fictional characters whom you have emulated (or tried to)? Who and why?

Bookish Sarah asks an interesting assortment of questions:

What literary character do you feel is most like you personality-wise (explain)?

I don’t think I’ve ever purposely tried to be like a fictional character. There are aspects of characters I’ve wanted to imitate (Jamie’s open heart for Landon in A Walk to Remember, for example), but I’ve never even dressed up like a book character before. Maybe next Halloween.

I share some characteristics or experiences with almost all the YA protagonists I read about. I think that’s why I love YA so much. I was never a wild kid, but I had angst and stress and worry. I’m pretty sure I still have all of that!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Play Hooky With

One of the great things about my job is that I do many things I used to do (and still do sometimes) for free: talk about Jesus, go on retreats, pray. I also get to do a lot of spiritual reading. In my (rare) moments of downtime, I’ve been known to bust out an encyclical or Catholic website article. The line between personal growth and professional development is so very thin.

But some books just aren’t work-appropriate, so I have to save them for lunchtime. There are a few books I would duck out of work for. I have too much vacation time, so that’d actually make my business manager pleased, come to think of it.

Top Ten Books I’d Take Time Off from Work to Read

I wouldn’t play hooky in its strictest sense because I like my job and don’t want to lose it, and it seems so counterfeit to skip work at a church.

  1. Harry Potter: Unlike the original poster, I have actually read the whole series, the schoolbooks, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. That said, I would absolutely take the day off work if J.K. Rowling wrote another book set in the Potterverse. I think that’s why they always released them on Saturdays. I read a statistic that children’s emergency room visits always dropped the weekend a new Harry Potter book came out. Coincidence? I think not.
  2. Whatever J.K. Rowling is working on now: Even though she has said it’s not about Harry Potter, she’ll still sell a billion copies, and I’m pretty sure it will still be awesome.
  3. Thumped: That’s so sad, isn’t it? I loved Bumped so much that I don’t know if I’ll be able to put Thumped down.
  4. The Hunger Games and
  5. Catching Fire: But not Mockingjay. Such a letdown. This was almost my actual experience. I was so captivated by the first two books that I spent dedicated time at home plowing into them. Mockingjay was so pale in comparison that it took me (comparatively) forever to finish.
  6. No Man Is an Island: I already reviewed it for Austin Catholic New Media, but (shh) I haven’t actually finished it. I’m reading the ebook version I checked out from the library, so I’ve had to re-download it to my phone twice already, and I am so ready to be finished with it that I’d want to put it ahead of work. It’s fantastic and I’m enjoying it, but with spring break behind me and Easter approaching, I don’t have the time to dive in.
  7. Theology for Beginners: See notes on previous book. This is another great one I reviewed that I haven’t yet finished. It’s been bouncing around in my bag for probably two months. I have never attempted to read this many books at once. It’s insane!
  8. Sinner: I already promised to review this one for my next ACNM post on Tuesday, but I haven’t started the book yet! Five books at once is even more insane!

Eight is going to have to be enough for this week. The thought of my needing to read so many books is making me upset and, ironically, I have to go to work now.

Friday Five: Seasons

Let the record show that I was all prepared to post this on, well, Saturday, but my blog server was down. Anna had it under control, though, and I should be set. Uptime is good news, since I’ve got two big posts in the works.

  1. What is your favorite season?I like winter. It smells so fresh and clean. Anything that would be smelly or rotten is dead or frozen. Problem? Solution.
  2. Do you do anything special to acknowledge the change of seasons? Ideally, I would change out seasonal clothes, but I don’t have many summer or winter clothes, so I tend to just let them all stay mixed together. It does keep anything from getting musty, so maybe there’s something to my lack of a method.
  3. Planning to do any spring cleaning this year? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an interrogative sentence fragment before. I will flip my mattress, but other than that, I’m just keeping up my regular every-other-week cleaning schedule.
  4. What is your favorite plant and why? I don’t really have one. I loved the way the lavender smelled earlier this month. I drew some tulips in high school that turned out fantastically well. I tend to prefer flowers that are less popular but therefore more interesting than roses.
  5. How[‘]s about a poem? C’mon, it can be about anything you like. Poems are nice. Frost is my favorite poet, but I don’t see what this has to do with spring.

I was thinking recently about how translation doesn’t work well for poetry, and I was reminded of studying “Puedo escribir” by Neruda when I was in college. At the time, I didn’t quite know enough Spanish to really understand, but the consensus was that the translator didn’t do a very good job. If you read Spanish, you can decide for yourself.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Escribir, por ejemplo: “La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos.”

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Read the rest, and be enchanted.

Booking Through Thursday: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

A while ago, I interviewed my readers for a change, and my final question was, “What question have I NOT asked at BTT that you’d love me to ask?” I got some great responses and will be picking out some of the questions from time to time to ask the rest of you. Like now.

Patricia asks a particularly insightful question:

Ever read a book you thought you could have written better yourself?

Well, that would be presumptuous, wouldn’t it? Like many Harry Potter fans, I think Order of the Phoenix could have been shorter. Unlike some of those critics, I have no idea what I would have cut. As a unit, it’s all so brilliant; why mess with a good thing? Regarding OotP, I think that if she wanted readers to love Sirius Black the way a small pocket of people intensely do, she should have made him more likeable.

Enough Harry Potter. (Ha. Like there’s such a thing.) I definitely wasn’t satisfied with the end of the Hunger Games trilogy. When you write a strong character, keep her strong! Don’t let her wilt like an old flower! Character development I understand. Complete shifts in who a character has been developed to me indicate inconsistent writing. I’m not sure how I would have ended it, but not like that.

One good thing: answering this week’s BTT has made me realize that I’ve been so disenchanted with my reading lately because I’m not reading enough fiction. My literary life needs more Westing Game and less Theology for Beginners (but, as those titles indicate, no less awesomeness).

On Moral Relativism

At work today, I either had an idea for a post I ought to write tonight or just the idea that I ought to post tonight. I can’t remember which.

In the meantime, I’m continuing my journey through the “I should blog about that!” backlog. Today we have an old Catholic Education Resource Center article, “Don’t Impose Your Morality on Me!” by the wonderful Dr. Ted Sri, currently of the Augustine Institute in Colorado. In it, Dr. Sri notes the logical fallacy that, if you believe all truth is subjective and there is no absolute morality, you’ve just admitted that you believe one thing is absolutely true: there is no absolute truth. I gave a whole speech in Spanish in college about how I believe truth is objective. Not everyone agreed with me, but my Spanish was good enough, and at least I have a real opinion.

The key to the prevalence of moral relativism, Sri writes, is that it has become the default. Personal preferences are so important that it seems unfair to deny people the right to believe and do whatever they want. Yet most people would tell you that rape and murder are wrong—but if nothing is really “wrong,” how do they know that?

Finally, Sri draws in just one of the brilliant arguments from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (a book I love). Lewis compares living morally to sailing a fleet of ships. Two things must be true for the fleet to sail successfully: they have to stay in formation and they have to be able to stay in formation. The first requirement concerns social relationships: the “don’t hurt people” aspect. The second is just as important, though: don’t hurt yourself. If you can’t control your ship, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the fleet is doing; you’ll never be able to even attempt to stay in formation. Similarly, if you are lazy, selfish, and short-sighted, not hurting other people is going to be a lot harder.

Dr. Sri possesses the gift of the modern apologist: the ability to speak the truth profoundly, accessibly, and concisely. I can only hope to achieve the same for myself someday.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Spring TBR List

The original poster over at The Broke and the Bookish this week narrowed this down to books coming out during the season of spring. I am never quite that interested in new releases, so I’m going to list instead my

Top Ten Books To Be Read (TBR) This Spring

  1. Sinner, by Lino Rulli, the Catholic Guy: This one’s easy, because I already have the book in hand, and I already said I’d be reading it in my review for ACNM today. I haven’t listened to much of Lino’s show because I haven’t had satellite radio since I got my iPhone, but I did enjoy it.
  2. Style, Sex, and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter, edited by Hallie Lord of Betty Beguiles: I just bought this one, too. I only recently started reading Hallie’s blog (and contributor Jen Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary), but I love them so much that I knew I had to get this book. Between Hallie and Jen, I’ve read excerpts from about half of the essays, and I’m so excited to read the rest!
  3. The Thrill of the Chaste, by Dawn Eden: I used to read Dawn’s blog, and I enjoyed her take on the Christopher West pre-sabbatical debacle. She also completed a theology degree from the Dominican House of Studies, a place that will always be dear to me because so many of the holiest people I know either love it or are studying there. I definitely know I need to broaden my exposure to people who write on the theology of the body, and this seemed like a good way to do it (plus the bonus of getting a book out of my Amazon “save for later” shopping cart and free shipping besides).
  4. Thumped, by Megan McCafferty: It’s coming out on April 24, and I am so excited! Bumped blew my mind, and even though the premise leaves me a little confused and uneasy, I’m still going to devour it.
  5. Alice on Board, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: I’m committed, guys, and I’m in until the bitter end, which is only two books away. This will be the penultimate book about the girl who systematically experiences every possible teen problem. I’m almost ready to throw her a party just to celebrate finally growing up!
  6. Messenger, by Lois Lowry: After re-reading The Giver last year, I definitely want to finish its sequels, since it’s such a short series. And as I write this post, I have just found out that there’s a fourth Giver book coming out in the fall! How epic! I’ll also have to re-read Gathering Blue in the meantime.
  7. The Church and New Media, edited by Brandon Vogt: This will also be a future ACNM-aimed read. Jen Fulwiler wrote a chapter, as did Marcel LeJeune, a campus ministry colleague of mine. I’m not sure I’d be interested if not for ACNM, but that’s as good a reason as any.
  8. Charmed Thirds,
  9. Fourth Comings,
  10. and Perfect Fifths, all also by Megan McCafferty: These are just three of the books on my “must finish these series!” mental reading list. I like being finished with things, and although these will require re-reading Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, that’s a plunge I’m willing to take. Just like with Alice, I have to know what happens to Jessica “Notso” Darling.

That last section was three books, but otherwise I actually got ten in this week, and just before midnight! Hooray!

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