Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sweet Ol' Dog

Mitzi, who I've just called "Sweet Ol' Dog" for the last year or so, was my Aunt's dog, eventually moved in with my grandparents for a couple years, and then in with my family in Dallas over the summer.

She is by far my favorite dog ever, ever sweet and patient and happy to see you.

After weeks of visits to the pet ER and discomfort for her, we've let her go.  As my Dad put it, she's sleeping at God's feet tonight.

Miss you, Mitz.

If I Were This Guy's Wife, I'd KILL Him

...but since I'm not, it's awesome.

Explanation: At about 100 meters from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger, Bruce McCandless II was farther out than anyone had ever been before. Guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), astronaut McCandless, pictured above, was floating free in space. McCandless and fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an "untethered space walk" during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984. The MMU works by shooting jets of nitrogen and has since been used to help deploy and retrieve satellites. With a mass over 140 kilograms, an MMU is heavy on Earth, but, like everything, is weightless when drifting in orbit. The MMU was replaced with the SAFER backpack propulsion unit. 

THAT'S What I've Been Trying to Say!

I just love when someone articulates something I've been thinking forever! 

It's so exciting.

I knew this much: those who say the Catholic Church makes women subjects and/or renders us irreleant are utterly wrong.  Women, not only by virtue of their status as human beings and God's children but by virtue of their particular status as women, have a critical, vital role in Christ's salvific work.

Sadly, while I have always intuitively understood that -- so much so that I am always somewhat baffled by such arguments -- I have never been able to explain well why.

Which is why I was excited about this article, which begins with three false premises:

  1. It is commonly believed, even among those who are not feminist, that power and authority is something intrinsically tied solely to formal public office.

  2. In order for women to have religious power and authority they somehow must be identified with divinity. It seems that men have more status because God is called "Father" and not "Mother."

  3. It is believed, again even among those who are not feminist, that authentic authority is a legal-juridical category. Here authority is confused with power -- essentially the power to set policies and order other people around.

And continues with all sorts of sound, logical, brilliance.  Read it.

Multimedia message

Rediscovering my love of libraries... And grading huge piles of essays.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Mini Rant at Pandora

(Because sometimes you just have to yell at the internet.)
I've had this station for about six months now.  Generally wonderful and great to work to.
Except, I must wonder...
Every.  Single.  One.
Take a hint, Pandora! 
Whew!  Feels good to get that off my chest!

A Teacher's Quasi-Rant on Poetry and a Glance Towards God

"Poetry without rhyme is like tennis without a net."
- Robert Frost

I have a confession to make, before God and all.  I, an English teacher and one deeply enamoured of her subject matter, hated poetry for much of my life and still feel a great deal of contempt for large swaths of the stuff.  It is often silly, banal, syrupy stuff by which mediocre writers find justification to puff themselves up and act superior, because they are poets, darnnit, and if you don't like it, you just don't get it.

Bollocks and hogwash, say I.  Be a man, fess up: you just don't know how to clearly and articulately make a point, so you are obscure and call it art.

(This, incidentally, is nearly identical to my argument against and condemnation of much modern art.)

In college, I finally found a poet I liked -- loved, even.  Then came the "click" that Shakespeare was in fact all poet and only partly playwright.  I had to give the genre another shot.  What I discovered was that I loved the play of words and how great poets, rather than string together random thoughts in whatever self-satisfied format they darn well please, work within the constraints of a class of poem and make it sound good.

I showed my 8th graders Willy's Sonnet #18 yesterday.  When I told them they'd be reading and understanding Shakespeare by the end of the period, I theatrically asked them, "Do you believe this?!"

In one resounding, monotone voice of utter disinterest, they replied, "No."

But understand it they did, and some of the girls were just beaming and squeeing at the unadulterated romance of it.  One boy asked, "Why doesn't he just tell her she's hot?", and before I even opened my mouth to respond, a girl called out, "He could have, but he has to work to make it all fit like that and sound so good, so she's obviously going to like it better."

Yes, exactly.  Forcing thoughts and words into specific parameters forces us to think, to find the best possible way to say aloud what lies in our hearts.  The results are downright magical sometimes, enough so that this formerly adamant opponent of the genre now gives some of it a respectful nod -- and even an occasional read.

It goes back to my fascination -- yes, perhaps even obsession -- with language and how it functions.  I like prose because it is utterly flexible, allowing everything from one word statements to sentences like the one I just read in One Hundred Years of Solitude that literally went on for two pages without an endmark, but poetry obliges deeper consideration.  And, like almost everything, it echoes how God gives us both limitless freedom and unmovable boundaries.

You had to know I would bring this back to the whole "theophany" thing, didn't you?

As a reader, I'm still not crazy about poetry, but as a teacher, I'm trying to give my students some appreciation of form's potential to reveal Truth, because that same potential lies in all writing. 

Apprently, it starts with getting my girls to go all mushy over a summer's day and my boys to envy Willy's abilitty to make the girls go all mushy. 

You take what you can get.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

God Made Laughter

...and while He was at it, He gave some of us the uncanny ability to point out the absurd and get us to laugh at ourselves.

That's a whole lotta funny right there.  Three of my favorite celebrity men, bear hugging in a mind-bending stew of satire and hilarity.

Let's just take a moment and drink it in.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Little Baby Ansels

To the shock and surprise of absolutely no one, I joyfully accepted my principals suggestion I teach a photography elective this year.  Equally shocking, I got all geeked up about it and made a photoblog for them.  I'll update it weekly with their newest work. 

My kids might get pretty geeked up if they get a few comments (hint, hint, nudge...)

Watch out, Lange.  Your legacy may soon be overshadowed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Multimedia message

Lying on the concrete at the high school waiting for one of my roommates. Not a bad view.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hubble Gets a Tune Up, We Get Glimpses of Infinity.

Pretty amazing, not only that these sorts of things exist -- which deserves a prolonged standing ovation by itself -- but that we teeny little things have figured out how to look at it.

The same God who made this:

...also made this:

...and, while we're at it, this:

While I don't think I could phrase it rationally if my life depended on it, I look at these things and can't help but think, how could you not believe?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nine Eleven

There isn't much for me to say about today.  Eight years after I wandered dazed through the halls of my high school wondering why no one else looked the way I felt, I think I have sort of integrated the event into my life.  I find in my heart a hollow spot, like a mausoleum or a memorial, where the sorrow is as deep as ever, but had to be scarred over to be able to get on with life.  My memories of those days will never fade, I think.  I remember, and I pray, and I always, always will.

What I am more concerned with how to handle today with my students.  They were 5 and 6 when it happened; it is an impression for them, a vivid dream they're not sure really happened.  And, more bizarre to me, as the years go on my students will of course have been even younger.  I a few years, they won't have even been alive.

Which, to me, underscores the importance of remembering it myself.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My New Year's Plans

A phone conversation between Brownsville and Dallas on a Monday afternoon.

Me: So, Mom, quick question.
Mama: Yeah?
Me: How do you feel about me missing the second half of Christmas break?  Like, from right after Christmas to right after New Year's?
Mama: (Her voice exhibits a quick and unmistakable shift from casual chatting to a mix of disappointment and disapproval) Well, it certainly would be a shame.  What do you need to do?
Me: Go to the Holy Land.
Mama: Oh!  Well, I think that would be understandable.

Talked to the priest in charge.  It's official.  I'm going to Jerusalem.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Is that what we're calling it now?

I've believed for years that words are vastly important and critically under-regarded.  The words we choose have meaning; ending a marriage is not as smooth and peaceful as dissolving a sugar cube in hot tea.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

God love you, Michelle Duggar.

Baby 19 is one the way.

She runs a household of 19 people, homeschools a more kids than I have in my 3rd period class, appears to be the most patient human ever to walk the American continent, found the time to do Weight Watchers after Baby 18, has a grandbaby on the way, and says she is "thrilled".  That, Dear Readers, is divine intervention.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"The only thing Thomas will ever know of this world is love."

This is both truly gut-wrenching and breathtakingly beautiful.  How much good did this little boy bring into the world in his brief time?  What would have been missed if his parents had taken the easy way out instead of standing firm on a Truth so often ignored?

"We didn't choose not to terminate based on some hope of a medical mistake or a medical miracle.  We did it because he's our son."

(H/T to CAEI)