Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Alfred and Welsh

Since Kimberly has resorted to begging, I decided I'd go ahead and post a new entry so everyone can see the source of the last quote. It was a toughie -- I only know one person who would have gotten it, and she doesn't read my blog -- which is why I gave it such a high point-value. It was Elder David A. Bednar, during a BYU devotional entitled "Quick to Observe."

I have taken a deep interest in King Alfred. After translating a short passage of his writings from Old English into Modern English last semester, I was deeply impressed with his personal morality. This semester, in a medieval literature class, we are reading several of the important sources on Alfred, both those written by him and those written about him by others. For tonight's class, we're supposed to write a character sketch of him, with references to the sources, and I just can't help but be more and more impressed by him. He was a warrior, inventor, statesman, innovator, scholar, translator, philosopher, hunter, supporter of the arts -- and above all, a deeply pious man. A true renaissance man if ever there was one, and he lived a good half-century before the Renaissance even took place. I will be very excited to meet him in the next life.

Another recent interest is the Welsh language. I've thought for years that Welsh would be fun to learn, and I really wanted to do so at BYU, but never managed to fit it into my schedule. The BBC has some Welsh language webpages, designed for teaching basic Welsh to both children and parents (and particularly to help parents keep up with their children, as there is a big Welsh-instruction movement on in the schools these days). They'll do, but they're certainly not the best language instruction activities. In the meantime, I did find a page on Omniglot all about Welsh pronunciation, which cleared up a lot of confusion I'd been having. Like the fact that Ioan Gruffudd's name is not pronounced "grufud" or even "grufuth," as I had been saying it, but "grifith" (with a voiced 'th' at the end) -- in fact, Ioan Central has a sound clip of him saying his own name, which makes me wish that it was much easier to find clips of him speaking with his lovely Welsh accent. *sigh* The poor Welsh really get overlooked, you know.
So if you've a date in Constantinople, she'll be waiting in Istanbul. (15 points)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Amazing Grace

Margo and I went to see the movie "Amazing Grace" yesterday. We went largely so we could see Ioan in period costume again (which was well worthwhile), and it turned out that Rufus Sewell was also in it (which made me all the happier, especially since he was one of the good guys). Personally, I thought it was ... well, amazing. I very nearly cried about five times, I kept wanting to clap or cheer out loud in the theater, and when they showed the Scots Royal Dragoon Guards playing the song in front of Westminster Abbey at the end of the film, I just about bawled like a baby. The film was not quite what I had been expecting, and it wasn't the best film I've ever seen, but it certainly was moving, at least to me. I told Margo I now want to name a son William Wilberforce. (Joking, joking ... but I have planned on William for some time, so why not just throw in the Wilberforce while we're at it?)

The film made me remember one of my own personal experiences with the song "Amazing Grace." When I was living in Switzerland as a 14-year-old, we had mandatory choir classes, and one day when I was bored, I got looking through our choir book, just to see what else was there. "Amazing Grace" was in it (in English, should you be wondering), and so I took a few minutes to memorize some of the verses. I wasn't particularly familiar with it at the time, but one verse in particular struck me at the time. It's one of the few verses I actually know, although I never hear it sung, apparently since it wasn't originally written by John Newton, but was added later by another author. I tried googling the verse yesterday, and didn't find it online anywhere either -- though I did find one brief allusion to it -- so I wanted to post it here:
Shall Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for everyone,
And there's a cross for me.

Since yesterday, I have purchased about five different versions of the song from iTunes, partially in hopes of finding the same version that was used at the end of the film (no luck yet). Again, that's just what I do. :)

The last quote was, indeed, from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (I think you spelled it right, Kimberly -- at least I hope so, since I spelled it the same way). And, yes, that means that I've started re-reading them. Well, at least Book 6, that is. I'm not sure whether I'll really have time for all of them before July -- I know I don't have time for the chapter-a-day strategy espoused by wahlee and susy_gwen. But I would at least like to re-read HBP. The other day, I got thinking about the profundity of Dumbledore's remark, but from the reverse angle. That is, I was intrigued by the thought of how terrifying something is when we don't have a name for it. So, we give it names -- the Boogie-Man, the darkness, Satan, Nessie -- and somehow things are easier to get hold of that way, easier to fend off from our rampant imaginations.
The issue was not the earrings. (125 points)

Friday, February 23, 2007

huzzah! & grrr!

Huzzah! Margo is here visiting. Good luck on comps, Margo.

Grrr! Erin didn't make it after all. I have no idea when I'll see her again. (Sniff!)

The last quote, which so many of you astutely and accurately identified, was from "While You Were Sleeping," a personal favorite of mine.
Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself. (17 points)

Friday, February 9, 2007

more stories

Before starting, I want to mention that I wasted most of the day today, and the little book The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker was of great help in that accomplishment. I read it in about four hours (though not until after watching Jeopardy! -- which, unfortunately, is currently in their Teen Tournament). It was cute, though I couldn't help thinking how fun it would be to re-write the thing as an adult novel. That's one of the results of my Scholarly Writing class, I think. I also woke this morning with dream-memories about revising a paper ... a paper I've never written in real life.

Dr. Pepper at Goodyear
I finally took Harold (my white Buick Century) in for a check-up today -- got his oil changed, his brakes inspected, his windshield wipers changed, his tires filled and rotated. While there, I watched the Travel Channel on the TV in the waiting area. Shortly after I got there, a woman brought in her three small sons to wait with her. I'm certain they were no older than 3, 5, and 7 years old. She herded them over to the waiting area, informed them that she would allow each to have a soda from the soda machine, and then read them their choices. They each chose a Dr. Pepper. And then they proceeded to sit on the other end of the bench from me and pump their little bodies full of sugar and caffeine. And I thought to myself, "Oh yeah, this is a good idea." Clearly somebody didn't think something through. By the time they had finished sipping from their cans, they were crawling all over each other, vying for each others' positions on the bench, tearing pages out of the complimentary reading material, pushing their hands up into the candy vending machine. At one point, I heard a tinkling noise of water in water coming from behind me, and only realized what was going on when the mother turned her head and hissed, "Shut the door!" When her son reappeared a few minutes later, she hissed at him again, "Go back there and flush the toilet and wash your hands!" Her exasperation increased in proportion to their rambunctiousness. As did mine.

Loch Ness
In the meantime, I found myself watching a show on the TV about the Loch Ness monster. I was surprised at how strongly the show affected me, resurrecting in me the uneasy feelings I had when I visited Loch Ness in 2005. While there, I went for a hike to the top of a hill, situated a mile or so from the village where I was staying, armed with only a tourist-map of the trails around the hill. The hill, Craigmonie, is supposed to have been the site of a major battle between a Viking warrior, Monie, and the Scots. Monie was killed in the battle, and there is still a monument to him there. The trails were not marked particularly well, on the map or on the ground, but I managed to make it to the top. After I'd been there about 2 minutes, it began to rain, so I headed back down. Unfortunately, I didn't find the right trail, and I began to worry. Here I was, all alone in the back-woods of Scotland, without even someone who knew where I was, no cell phone, and on the wrong trail. The hill is in the Balmacaan Wood, which only added to the eerie feeling I had, and since I was on the far side of the hill, I couldn't even see the village I was trying to reach. I remember seeing some cows grazing in a field a mile or two further away from the village and thinking that at least that meant there were people living nearby. Hoping to cheer myself, I tried to sing "The Lord is My Light" to myself, but I couldn't even remember all the words. "The Lord is my light, then why should I fear? Hmm hm-mm hm-hm hm-mm hmm hm-mm hm-hm hmmm ..." Eventually, the path I was on merged with the path I had meant to be on, and it wasn't long before I was around the hill far enough that I could see the village, which relieved me considerably. But it's amazing how strong those uneasy, queasy feelings still are for me.

Getting Hit by a Car in Switzerland
The other night I went to IWA (which I usually avoid, but decided to give it a try), and while there I got to tell one my favorite personal stories, about the time I got hit by a car in Switzerland. I thought that, since I'm telling stories tonight anyway, I would go ahead and throw this one in -- after all, it is one of my favorite personal stories. But it's late, and I've decided I'll have to keep it for another day.

The last quote was, indeed, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. For reasons beyond my own comprehension, I adore that movie. The following quote is one that's been on my mind a lot lately, since I've been investigating and dreaming about apartments in Chicago, and several of them indicate that they're close to the Blue line or the Yellow line of the El.
Believe me, I work at the El, I know. (21 points)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

some stories

The other day, as I was heading toward the library to do some research, I found a woman standing by the door of the building where my office is. I was about to go out the door, but she stopped me by asking whether I had a phone she could use. So I let her use my phone, and tried to focus on the music coming through my iPod and pretend that I wasn't listening to her conversation. But of course, I was. After some time, she finally seemed to reach a real person. She asked about a traffic ticket she had received in 1983, and then whether she would be allowed to come in and do her time in jail for that, instead of paying the fine. And that was the whole conversation. She gave me back the phone matter-of-factly, and I went to do my research.

My research these days includes text mining, characterization through verbs, characterization through reference, the creation of personal identity through reference, and the concept of a nation in the Anglo-Saxon period. It gets frustrating, because there's so much to do, and so much I want to do, and very little time to do it in. I would love to be able to spend a few hours a day in library for research, but I just can't afford the time. Oh yes, along with everything else, I'm trying to translate Wulfstan's Sermon of the Wolf in my "spare" time. Just one more thing I want to do but don't really have the time for. I've pretty well made up my mind that I'm not going to be able to do my own personal reading this semester -- I'm doing well if I can finish my reading assignments for my classes every week.

In the meantime, though, I'm really enjoying my classes this semester. Scholarly Writing is turning out to be very useful; it reminds me of how much I love writing, and of how much more I should be doing to write well. Medieval Literature is also interesting -- even if it does require a lot more reading than I can usually cover in one week. We just finished reading Bede's Ecclesiastical History, and are now about to start on Asser's Life of Alfred. Reading Bede has given me a whole new perspective on the early Christian church in Western Europe. I have a new respect for the men and women who were involved in church affairs.

I recently bought several three-ring binders so that I can organize all the papers I have. There's a whole binder just for Haj and the handouts I get every time I talk to him. And I've got a rainbow array of binders for all the articles I copy in my research. They're pretty empty for the time being, but I expect to fill them most of the way before the end of this semester.

Hmm ... So I really didn't intend for this to turn into a rant about how much I have to do this semester. It's just that that's what I think about these days. Here's something else for you --

I found out the other day that Muse is supposed to be coming to the US on tour this spring, supporting My Chemical Romance in their Black Parade tour. (And a lot of fans are really ticked about that; they hate MCR, most of them, can't believe that Muse have to be a support band for anyone else, and many are upset about them getting "more exposure" in the States -- since that makes it harder to see them here -- and playing such large venues.) Assuming this is true, they should be playing in San Antonio and Houston, as well as Dallas for the Edgefest concert. However, I can't find any confirmed information about any of this. When I found out the other day, I just about hyperventilated, trying to figure out how to get tickets. I finally asked NM, since she and her man frequently attend concerts like this, and I thought she'd have a better idea. Neither she nor her man could find anything more concrete than what I had. But, she did mention that her man is quite good at getting scalped tickets for a really good price (say, 1/4 of the regular price), so if we find out that they really are coming, she suggested that we just go and let him do his thing to get us in. That thought has me grinning foolishly even now.

Oh, and along with everything else I'm doing, I've been working on converting my protected music files so that they're just plain old MP3s. Sometimes that's quite fun, others it's just tedious.

The last quote was from "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" by Cake. Congrats to Erin.

So much time, so little to do. (Pause.) Strike that -- reverse it. (42 points)