Monday, December 28, 2009


Do you suppose that the dirt on Mars is called "mars?" Or, do you think that if something has a smell that brings you back to nature that it is said to have a "marsy" smell?

I thought I was for sure done blogging in 2009, but I couldn't resist.

Best vs Favorite

A few years back, in an intro to film class, we had an assignment/exercise where we were to make a list of what we considered to be the top ten best movies, and another list of our top ten favorite movies. Upon first hearing this, I thought, these lists will be identical. I was really lofty in thinking that those movies that were my favorites were also the best, award-winning movies. After some thought though, I realized that even though The Princess Bride is easily a favorite, it is not the "best" movie when it comes to technical stuff about being a movie. Did it win a ton of awards or critical acclaim?

I don't remember what my lists were, and I'm sure my tastes have evolved a little bit since then, and more movies have come out, etc. Good thing this isn't exactly what this post is about.

But it is about something that I have been thinking about lately, which has a little bit to do with "best" vs "favorite."

It all started out when I couldn't find my favorite sweater. It isn't the best sweater in the world, it is only moderately warm, and moderately fashionable. But it is my favorite. I just really like the way it fits. Anyway, I stood on a chair and looked in the farthest corners of the closet, and could not find it. I could not remember the last time I had worn it, so therefore couldn't remember if I had left it behind somewhere (unlikely, but I couldn't explain why I couldn't find the sweater).

We had been doing laundry off the top of the hamper for months, so I assumed that the sweater was at the bottom of the pile with other clothes I had forgotten about. While looking through the closet, I found several sweaters that I didn't wear anymore, or that didn't fit well, and donated them to the Salvation Army. I figured someone else could benefit from them by wearing them more than I did.

There is one sweater that I would say is up there among my favorites, but moreso, it is one of the best sweaters I own. It is thick, warm, stylish, and fits well. I don't wear it often in the winter because it is so thick that my winter coat doesn't fit well over the top of it. But it is perfect for autumn and spring, when you don't need a winter coat, but still need to be warm. I decided not to donate that one, because I felt that I still would use it often. For whatever reason, I felt a little convicted, like, why is it so easy to donate the old, unused, too small, sweaters, but not your best ones? Shouldn't we give what is our best, and not just the leftovers?

And then of course my mind went to Cain and Able, in Genesis 4:2b-5a, When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift.

I told the Lord I would think about it, and moved on with my day. Fast forward to a day or two before we left for Tallinn. We were working on making sure everything was clean before we left, catching up on dishes and laundry, and eating all the food in the fridge. After completing all the laundry, I was reminded that I still hadn't found my favorite sweater, and that it wasn't in the bottom of the laundry pile after all. I searched my mind to see if I could think of where it might be. I had a startling thought: maybe I accidentally gave it to the Salvation Army! It was startling for two reasons. The first being, "What a shame. I accidentally gave my favorite sweater away." The second being, "What a shame that I hold on to my possessions so much!"

Which got me thinking. I know that God wants us to give of ourselves. And not just our leftovers all the time, but things that are meaningful.

But which is better? To give of our favorite things, or of our best things? Or should we aim to live in such a way that our favorite things are also the best things?

I wish I could say that this story ends nobly. It really doesn't. I ended up doing a more thorough cleaning of my closet, and found my favorite sweater in the farthest back corner of the closet underneath another sweater. I packed it up and it went to Tallinn with us. The other sweater, the "best" one, still sits in the closet, undonated.

Hopefully in 2010, I will be a better giver, and a also a better housekeeper (so if I finally am able to give up my favorite and best things, I can find them).

Hello, oh ten.

These are off the top of my head, but here is what I would like to accomplish in the coming year:

(ten things)

1. Relearn the guitar.
2. Take a full load of classes in the Fall.
3. Take on a grown-up's schedule and routine (waking up and going to bed at a decent hour, doing dishes and laundry on a regular basis, eating meals at consistent times, etc).
4. Find a job that doesn't require a "work email" or checking it often.
5. Blog whenever I feel like it, about whatever I want, with no patterns or self-imposed rules and guidelines.
6. Read my Bible as often as I brush my teeth.
7. Sing more. Laugh more. Be myself more.
8. Grow my hair long
9. Print and frame and hang some pictures
10. Give away things I never use

Goodbye, 2009.

Remember last January when I had a different blog and made up some new year's resolutions? Well, it's time for a progress report, so that I can go into 2010 with a clear conscious and a new list of things to accomplish.

Here is the list for this year, with my current thoughts in Italics.

1. Start and complete a 500-1000 piece jig-saw puzzle (This will be difficult. Challenging. And I may have to start now if I want to finish by the end of the year. I am not good at jig-saw puzzles).
Completed this last January. Have not done a puzzle since. Am ok with that.

2. Work my way up to eating 5 servings of fruit per day (I've learned that I can't start cold-turkey. Mmmm.....turkey).
Not even close to that. But I have tried to eat more fruit than usual for me (no fruit is usual). Instead of trying to eat things I don't like, I ate the few fruits I do like...apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, and orange juice.

3. Reduce more, Recycle more, Reuse more (not because it's green, but because it's what I've been taught since childhood)
I can't say for sure if I've done this more, but I still try to do this consistently, and whenever possible. I'm glad "green" is not really a trendy term anymore (or maybe it still is, and I am out of touch?).

4. Continue to try to like tea. Learn more about the different kinds enough to have an educated conversation about tea with someone who loves it.
Not there yet. It is a shame that I only drink tea when it is cold and there is no coffee available. Otherwise I could've maybe had this one. I did try some Albanian mountain tea, and also drank my weight in chai tea latte mix....which probably doesn't count for much, being sugar is the main ingredient in those mixes (the Albanian tea does count for a lot though).

5. Practice Lithuanian
I have done this! I am still not a very good speaker, but I am getting to be a better hearer of Lithuanian.

6. Learn the Russian alphabet, and some words
I did learn the alphabet last spring, and have practiced reading every chance I get...but I think I've forgotten about a fourth of the letters. And I still know about the same amount of words.

7. Read the manual for our camera
Did this a little bit on a train in Sweden, but not nearly enough. This might be a goal for oh ten.

8. Stop touching facial blemishes
I'm trying to get better, I really am. Not there yet.

9. Learn more about the church calendar
Still want to do this. Completely forgot about this goal. Maybe next year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I like this song.

Aimee Mann - Reason to Believe

Aimee Mann and Michael Penn's cover of Bruce Springsteen's Reason to Believe

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Anti-tribute to Ben Harper

When I am sitting in my office, I like to listen to a little internet radio. Now I don't have the luxury of listening to Pandora, because they only let you listen from the United States. I'm over it.
Last year, Yahoo Music had a lot of the same features, you could rate the music, and it would remember what kind of music to play and suggest based on your ratings. Then suddenly they stopped that, apparently it was too likeable and easy to use. So now Yahoo music is only mediocre to listen to. You can rate songs, but it is pretty meaningless. They don't even ask me to sign in. So they don't remember any playlists or anything like that.

Oh well. It is instinctual for me to try to find a loophole, so lately I've been typing in a particular artist, and they will play similar sounding music. And you can still skip songs that you don't want to listen to. So it's ok, I guess.

Anyway, I've been noticing that every single time I feel compelled to stop what I am doing and skip a song, lately, it is a song by Ben Harper. I don't know what it is. Just can't listen to it. Just can't tune it out. Must. Skip.

And the weird thing is, there isn't one particular song that gets me. It is every song. By him. That Yahoo music will play.

Anyway, here is a nice picture of him. I am sorry that I skip you all the time Mr. Harper. I can't really describe why I can't make it through one of your songs.

Does anyone know of a song by him that is tolerable? I would like to develop a taste...or at least a tolerance (so as to be able to tune it out without having to stop everything and hit skip). I need this skill, because Yahoo music plays him a. lot.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Psalm 19

The place where the sun sets in the winter. This picture was taken at about 2pm or so.

Friday, December 11, 2009

oh man oh man oh man. procrastination at its finest.

My final paper is due in 6.5 hours.

It needs to be 3000-4000 words.

Instead of writing the paper I sit here and blog about writing the paper.

It is technically due "Friday at midnight" which is Saturday at 8am my time.

And I'm milking it for all its worth.

Not too old for an all-nighter...yet.

Ask me how I'm doing tomorrow though.

If I survive, I will post a picture of the sky that I took on Thursday. It was amazing. The sky. The sun made an appearance. My letters worked!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Letter 2

Dear the Thick Clouds,
Thank you for being magnificent on the days when there are only a few of you. You really make for some nice sunsets. But lately, you haven't been working well together. Lately, Thick Clouds, you have been stealing the Sun's thunder and upstaging it big time. Please consider working out a schedule that allows you to all be around only at night, and the sun can be out only during the day. Exceptions: nights with a full moon, and nights with meteor showers.
Thank you for your consideration,

Winter Letter 1

Dear the Sun,
Where are you? Even though I try to stay positive and tell myself that it is a gift to be able to watch you both rise and set within one workday, it is difficult when you don't even show your face. Now I know you can't really help that there are very thick clouds everywhere, and I will write them a letter too. But could you please try harder? I need my vitamin D, and it is so tiring when it is dark all day and all night.
Thanks and Sincerely,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

seek and ye shall find!

Song in my head.

Ok, so when we got here, there were some tall ship races going on. As we stood in the harbor watching the ships parade away, one ship (MIR, I think) had the most beautiful exit song. I don't know the name of it, except that it is a majestic sounding, familiar opera. That evening, with the song fresh in my head, I tried to figure out the name of it. No such luck.

Fast forward to today, I am sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch, and this same song is playing on the radio. Now I am determined to figure it out!

Here are some clues that I can come up with:
A duet sung by a man and a woman
Familiar tune

Then I went online to a virtual piano (I'm in my office, no actual piano in here), and plunked around until I could figure out the notes to the most familiar part...matched with paint brush, here is what I could come up with:

I don't know what time or key the song is in. Sorry.
In case my artwork is hard to read, here are the notes:

GBACBG...and then up an octave...GF#DGF#DBD

Anyone? Anyone? Help me out, I'm losing my mind!

PS: Aunt Linda, send me an email if you know it!
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