Monthly Archives: July, 2018

Sunday Style: Almost Made It

I had a great plan for making it to Mass on time, and then things didn’t go according to it. Oh, well.

Sunday Style for July 29

Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Target
Necklace and earrings: Charming Charlie

I wanted to wear this outfit last week, but it requires ironing, so that was a no-go then. I was thinking way ahead on Saturday night, though, so I managed to iron and get to bed at a reasonable hour. I woke up on time on Sunday, and then time got away from me and I rushed out the door at the last possible moment, wearing this outfit but obviously running late. I slipped into my pew moments before the processional hymn began. So I made it (just barely), and I wore this outfit. The plan was only partly successful.

My plan to always read the readings in advance just in case I don’t pay full attention during Mass worked, though. My tardiness threw my attention off for a while.

Our homilist was a visiting priest from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He spoke briefly about the readings, noting that Elisha had twenty loaves to feed 100 people compared to Jesus’ five loaves for 5000, and that although the second reading doesn’t fit that obvious Eucharistic theme, it does contain a strong reminder to remain faithful to our mission of evangelization. Then he described his diocese in the DRC and made a mission appeal. I’m not a fan of replacing the homily with a mission appeal. I get it, but I don’t like it.

Jesus came, so in that respect, Mass was fantastic. As far as the temporal trappings, it left a little to be desired. Have you ever left Mass feeling kind of “meh”? How do you keep that from getting you down?

This posted is linked up for Modest Monday at The Modest Mom Blog. Visit Caroline and say hello!

Sunday Style: Long Day, Long Dress

I initially chose this week’s church outfit based on not having time to iron, but it worked out well for the rest of my day, too. Here’s what I wore:

Sunday Style for July 22

Shirt: Target
Dress: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift
Earrings: Renaissance festival

I have no other clothes that match this necklace, and the necklace reminds me of the old friend who gave it to me, so I try to wear it as much as I can. I also read on Pinterest at some point that higher heels pair best with longer hemlines, so I decided to try these wedges (among my highest heels) with this, one of my longest dresses. The combo worked out fine. I was actually going to try a different pair of high wedges, but it was drizzling as I left for church, so I had to abandon that white fabric shoe plan. (These are shiny leather-like material, so they were fine for rain.)

After church, I changed into jeans to go grocery shopping (I keep my list on my phone, so I tuck my phone in my pocket while I’m pushing the cart), but then I changed back into this. I briefly had visitors, so I wanted to wear my non-shlubby clothes. This dress is so comfortable, though, that I kept wearing it for the rest of the evening. That’s the secret of long dresses: despite lacking pockets, they are almost like wearing a big blanket around.

Fr. P acknowledged the obvious shepherd theme of this week’s readings, but he focused his homily on the Word of God as food for us. The people want food, but Jesus teaches them instead of giving them food—not in a carrot/stick way of forcing them to listen before they got tangible food, but because the Word of God is food.

He further noted that Scripture turns the Word (as in Jesus) into words (as in language), just as the Incarnation turned the Word into flesh. Therefore, “God made the Word not just intelligible, but legible.” I loved the wordplay and the theological lesson.

How was church for you this week?

This posted is linked up for Modest Monday at The Modest Mom Blog. Visit Caroline and say hello!

7 Quick Takes on French Fry Corn Dogs, Racial Names, and Regular Dogs

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Confession: The Mel Gibson–Helen Hunt movie What Women Want is one of my guilty pleasures. Back in the day, when I had cable, I would always stop to watch that movie if it was on TV. (Before it came out, my “stop and watch” movie was Pleasantville.)

On a vaguely related note, I came across a pair of essays published by my favorite Catholic news aggregator, CERC, about what men want (which caught my eye immediately) and then what women want. Spoiler alert: they’re basically the same thing, and it centers around admiration. What do you think?

— 2 —

I dipped my toes back into the Pinterest black hole and discovered a new food that I now must try: a french-fry covered corn dog! Why is this Korean food? How could we let them take our food and make it so much better?

— 3 —

As a black woman who does not have a stereotypically black name, I think about the correlation between name and race a lot. I’m the only non-white Lindsay I’ve ever met, and I’ve caught more than one flicker of recognition when I meet people face-to-face who have only known me on paper. As a result, I enjoyed reading a short NPR story about a white man named Jamaal.

His story indicates that he and I have opposite experiences. People assume that he’s black; people assume that I’m white. He’s been told that he has a black man’s name; I’ve been told I have a white girl’s name (not by someone I ever spoke to again, thankfully). When he shows up, people expect racial diversity and don’t get it; when I show up, people who hadn’t expected racial diversity get it.

Then again, I get called “Ashley” so often that I’ve started to wonder about parallel universes.

— 4 —

Whenever I do link-ups, I always visit at least the post linked up before mine. In last week’s 7QT, I clicked on a blog I’ve never visited before, and the first take struck me. Like many moms, Katherine daydreams about the day when all of her littles are grown up. However, unlike most of the mom rhetoric I read, her post acknowledges that many of her good habits (like avoiding social media and trying not to yell at her kids) are the direct result of having those very kids underfoot.

It’s like the mom version of St. Ignatius’s reading the Bible and the lives of the saints because he didn’t have anything else to read while convalescing. Katherine’s conclusion is that she will need to work even harder to grow spiritually when she doesn’t have her kids basically forcing it on her, for better or for worse.

— 5 —

I turned lemons into lemonade in my West Coast Swing class this week. The studio I attend always does drop-in classes, so when there’s an intermediate class, there is a beginner class at the same time. This week, I arrived to find that there were only beginner classes, since most of the staff and intermediate students were away at a competition. I decided to practice my beginner basics, especially the technique tips I got in private lessons last month. Eventually, I rotated to an intermediate leader who expressed a desire to learn to follow, so I practiced my beginner leading skills with him!

Most of the other dancers were couples who had no interest in practicing with anyone else (which is a shame), so the social dancing was kind of a bust, but at least I was confident that I can nail my basics.

— 6 —

That’s all I’ve got this week, so I guess this is really only five takes.

— 7 —

This corgi is done, and so am I. So that’s six takes.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Books, el Oso, and Assumptions

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Yesterday, I went to the first evening of the Jane Austen Festival here in Louisville. (I have to fight the urge to spell it “Austin” because I lived in that city for so long!) I am not a huge Jane Austen fan, and she has no particular ties to Louisville, but some friends highly encouraged me to check it out, so I did. It was smaller than other festivals I’ve attended; I was spoiled by the massive Maryland Renaissance Festival, which is the second-largest in the country. The hat game was strong.

The main reason I attended was to see a staged reading of the latest adaptation of Persuasion. The playwright performed as Anne Elliot; she and several of the other actors sang original songs; and all the actors were delightful despite completely lacking costumes, props, and sets. They were losing the light very quickly as the play headed towards the end, but they persisted. I enjoyed it immensely.

I only knew a little about the story, but I found it pretty easy to follow. I did wonder why the main “villain” was supposed to be such a scoundrel. According to my companions, that storyline was cut for the adaptation. I guess that’s the risk of adapting a story to a different form: you have to decide what to leave out without affecting the story too much. That part probably should have stayed in.

— 2 —

Duolingo has been making some big changes in its language teaching pedagogy. The biggest one, for me, was adding a ton of new lower-level content to the Spanish course. I went from having covered everything except the last dozen skills to getting almost 60 new skills below the point I’d reached. So I went from reviewing future-tense conjugations (everything is review for me because I have a minor in Spanish) to things like “ballpoint pen” and “I have a blue shirt.”

The bright spot is that all of the new, low-level skills come with a way to test out quickly. I’ve been easily finishing a skill a day for the last several days. I’m not a fan of the new developments (especially Crowns), but I do like testing out of so many things.

— 3 —

I also still like Duolingo because of the crazy sentences, such as the ones in the video I shared a few weeks ago. One random sentence in Spanish is “el oso no cabe por la puerta,” which means, “the bear doesn’t fit through the door.” Whenever I get a weird sentence, I head to the discussion forums to see everyone else’s reactions.

When would I possibly need to say that the bear doesn’t fit through the door? My favorite was the scenario in which that sentence is followed by, “No, wait, the bear does fit through the door! Run!”

My second favorite was this gem of an illustration:

Winnie-the-Pooh can't get out of Rabbit's hole. Aww.

Silly old bear.

— 4 —

I worked as a teacher before I moved to Austin, and I’ve been working as a teacher since I left Austin. In the middle, I barely even thought about the mechanics of teaching. When I got back into it last summer, I wanted to go back to the style of lesson and unit planning I’d learned in grad school, but there was a catch. All my templates were Excel files, and after those interim years, I didn’t have access to Excel anymore. My solution was to semi-successfully convert the file to LibreOffice‘s spreadsheet file format and go from there.

That worked well since I used my personal laptop at school. I never wanted to have to bring my own computer to work, though, and I don’t have to anymore. My new school issued me a sweet Chromebook about five minutes after I showed up for my first faculty meeting. (The place is on point.)

This past week, I spent several distraught hours trying to figure out how to get my course plans from Excel or even LibreOffice into Google Sheets. There are a lot of really useful sheet-to-sheet links I didn’t want to give up. I patched together a plan that I thought might work… and it finally dawned on me: I can’t be the first person with this problem; I should just Google it. Lo and behold, sometime since I graduated, the files were made available in Google Sheets format. Crisis averted.

— 5 —

I checked out The Power and the Glory from the library since I almost never buy books anymore. (Then again, I did go on a mini-spree in the spring, but that was a fluke.) It was compelling, and I was excited to finish it when this happened (possible spoilers):

From page 164 to page 149? Oops.

I was very worried until I flipped through the duplicate pages and found that the story continued on just fine after the second instance of page 164:

This is how it’s supposed to go. This is how *numbers* go.

The last time I remember something that crazy happening in a book was when a bunch of copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were missing the last fifty pages. I think I also remember some copies of Deathly Hallows repeating pages just like that copy of The Power and the Glory, but I can’t find anything online about that right now.

For me personally, there was a big bug smashed into my copy of Half-Blood Prince. I was so into the book that I just scraped it out with a tissue really quickly so I could keep reading!

Since this misprint didn’t involve any missing pages or non-missing bugs, I guess I lucked out.

— 6 —

This week, I found a bunch of iBooks on my phone that I’d forgotten I own. This is not as exciting as getting new books, though, since they only live on my phone. #21stcenturyproblems

— 7 —

I read a lot about managing relationships of all kinds. I was particularly struck by an article about how to ask questions to figure out someone’s perspective. It’s so easy to assume that someone is being intentionally rude or is totally satisfied with a situation. It’s much more awkward to ask, but in my book, that beats assuming the wrong thing.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Sunday Style: Mostly In Season

I was very pleased with myself for getting dressed, accessorized, and to church on time this week. I’m still not arriving as early as I’d like to, but this week was a distinct improvement over previous ones.

Sunday Style for July 8

Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Famous Footwear
Necklace: Kohl’s
Earrings: Renaissance festival

I didn’t have a specific outfit plan in mind. I just wanted to make sure I wore this outfit before it went out of season again; I like it a lot. Wearing black left me a little hotter than I expected, but I have been staying in a lot this summer, so maybe I’ve just lost the hot-weather equivalent of my sea legs. Instead, I have morphea legs.

Fr. P spoke about where we find our faith. Although the people in Nazareth asked where Jesus “got all this,” we know: he got it from the Father. He had faith, and he could work miracles of healing for people who also had faith in God (and, by extension, in Jesus himself).

The people’s resistance to Jesus’ working miracles shows us that we can reject the grace that God offers to us, and faith is one of those graces. We can’t just will ourselves to have faith; it’s a gift. We can’t force other people to have faith, either. But we can accept the gift of faith that God offers to us, and we can demonstrate what it is like to have faith by the way we live our lives. People might reject us, but they rejected Jesus, too.

While I was taking my homily notes, I was also being amused and distracted by the small children in the row behind me. Maybe someday, God willing, all these homily notes will be useful for days when I’m at church but don’t hear a word because one of my tiny friends was crawling all over the place. Maybe someday.

This posted is linked up for Modest Monday at The Modest Mom Blog. Visit Caroline and say hello!

7 Quick Takes on Books, Computers, and Criticism

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Just a few weeks ago, I posted about finishing my 2017 Goodreads Challenge in October. Well, I’ve set a new record now:

I finished my 2018 challenge by reading 23 books!

I’m already done for 2018, and the year is only half over! Although I’m tempted to set my goal higher now, I think I’ll just call it a win and keep going. I’m aiming for a lifelong reading marathon, not a sprint.

— 2 —

I was saddened to read this NPR article about the rise in AI grading for standardized writing tests. The system can be gamed, of course, but it goes deeper than that.

On the one hand, I’ve been a human grader. It stinks. When I taught in Birmingham, I had to read hand-written standardized essays once. It was just me, a bunch of other English teachers, and a bunch of terrible handwriting. I’m pretty good at reading bad writing (both bad penmanship and poor skills, unfortunately), but one sample was so sloppy that I struggled mightily. I remember reaching the end of a sentence and realizing that I’d decoded all the words but had no idea what the sentence meant. I’m glad that was the closest I’ve come to experiencing any part of what it’s like to have a learning disability. I was working much too slowly for the volume of work set before us. So I get that human-grading of essays isn’t sustainable.

On the other hand, standardized writing doesn’t allow for much nuance anyway. I also understand the complaints of real graders who claim that computers can’t judge strong voice and elegant turns of phrase… but standardized scoring doesn’t give you very much credit for those things, anyway.

Overall, I’m just not ready to trust computers with interpreting writing. They’re phenomenal at transcribing speech, but those are just groups of sounds that need to be coded into letters. Dictation software still struggles with punctuation! Google might have an AI that can make me a hair appointment, but I’m not going to let it write my blog posts—or tell me how good they are.

— 3 —

Speaking of spooky computers, I came across this beautiful short film last year. It sent a chill down my spine.

— 4 —

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about criticism. The term “constructive criticism” has never sat well with me. After all, if there is a kind you can call “constructive,” then the default must be destructive, right? And it is. Putting “destructive” right next to “criticism” is a double whammy. I was never able to unpack my unease about so-called “constructive criticism” until today.

My first resource was the Gottman Institute. It’s been my best source for secular relationship advice for years. They identify criticism as one of the Four Horsemen of the relationship apocalypse. As one of the Gottman bloggers explains, criticism attacks a person’s character rather than actions and puts all the blame on the other. Instead of saying “you did a bad thing,” criticism says “you are a bad person.” The solution is to make a complaint about the way an action or statement makes you feel, as well as expressing what you need that’s different from what you’re getting. Those things are all about you, not about the other person.

So I was settled about what makes criticism feel so destructive sometimes (or a lot of the time), but something was missing. I didn’t see how criticism could ever be “constructive.”

— 5 —

I was listening to podcasts while doing my hair this morning, and I think I finally found the missing link to reconciling my dislike for “constructive criticism” with its alleged goal. It’s not just the feeling of destruction; it’s the total lack of construction.

Erik Fisher of Beyond the To-Do List (the podcast I’ve followed the longest) interviewed Jon Kolko about creativity and critique. Jon reiterated the Gottman principle that criticism can only be good when it focuses on someone’s work or actions instead of their character, but he also pointed out that, when giving a critique, you should offer advice for construction. That’s it! Don’t just tell someone what’s wrong with their work; tell them how to improve it. Then your criticism is constructive.

I think I get it now. And it works with work as well as in relationships.

— 6 —

For Independence Day, I went to visit a family I’ve befriended and a bunch of their friends. It was a little strange to walk into a house full of strangers, but how else will they become friends? We played some trivia games, the garlic butter green beans I’d brought seemed to be well received, and I got to watch some neighborhood fireworks.

Louisville is the first city I’ve lived in where fireworks are legal. We viewers stayed way back, I was only afraid for my hair a little bit (long hair and fire do not mix), and I was only a little distracted by the sight of continuing fireworks lighting up the night as I drove home.

— 7 —

The garlic butter green beans recipe I used was one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever followed. It was more complicated than just tossing some frozen cut green beans in the microwave, but they also tasted better. I might remember this one the next time I’m cooking for other people and want an easy side dish that’s as homemade and tasty as the entree.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Currently: July 2018

Currently at Lindsay Loves

Two months in a row! I’m not making any promises for the future, but it does feel great to be back in this space, even if it’s just for a little while.

Here’s what I am currently…

Celebrating: A few things, which is a lovely change! I have learned enough rumba that I felt confident about jumping in to assist my dance teacher when his usual partner was absent. St. Maria Goretti’s feast day is coming up on Friday, so I’ve been working on that novena. I finished my Goodreads challenge in just over six months.

Visiting: Many new friends. I’ve been making the most of my summer freedom by going out to meet people as much as I can. It’s much harder to get out during the school year, but I’m determined not to let school take over my life. I also visited a new-to-me branch of the Louisville Free Public Library for a Brat Pack movies event over the weekend.

Baking: A ton of casseroles. There’s no specific reason. I take advantage of weekends and other non-school days to cook dinner (which gives me leftovers for school nights). Summer is full of non-school days, and it turns out that more of my favorite meals to cook are casseroles than I realized. I am profligate with cheese, and so far my stomach and bakeware don’t mind.

Wearing: Lots of workout clothes. I’ve been taking a lot of dance classes. I had a gift certificate, I have the time, and I will otherwise sit around the house all day. Dance is my only exercise, and I really do enjoy it more when I have cute (and, let’s be real, sweat-wicking) outfits to wear. Maybe that’s superficial, but it works!

Loving: HQ Trivia, getting more sleep, and enjoying the slower speed of summer. I’ve been ramping things up a little to prepare for August, but I also have to enjoy my time while I have it.

Recapping: June

  • I celebrated my GTD anniversary.
  • I got a new job. Still teaching, still sixth through eighth grade, new Catholic school.
  • I learned to dance rumba and took private lessons in West Coast Swing.
  • I watched all of Freaks and Geeks.
  • I started playing HQ Trivia, and then I won!

So what’s new with you? What are you celebrating currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. This month’s guest co-host is Shelly of The Queen In Between. Won’t you join us?

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