Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A fish dies

So the day I was dreading came yesterday. One of my fish died (or more accurately, my sister's fish). It was the fish I liked the most, Molly, the balloon-bellied molly. I had deemed her the extrovert of the group, since she (he?) was always first to appear at the surface of the water when I dropped in the fish food. She seemed like a friendly fish, if you can say such a thing about a fish.

Anyway, I saw the fish body floating in one place for too long a time. My fear was confirmed when I looked in at the tank. I told Mom and she watched as I scooped her up in the green net. I wrapped the body in a few layers of toilet paper and flushed.

I think this is the worst part of having fish, not cleaning the tank or buying new filters. I haven't gotten a hold of my sister, I don't want to tell her the bad news. Not like I cried but it is sad.
My favorite observation from today's visit: "She said Obama smelled of subtle cologne when he hugged her."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lazy Saturday/book review

I had the best intentions today of dusting and vacuuming the whole house. That didn't happen. I did manage to do my laundry, pay some bills online and return my two-weeks overdue library books. One of the books had a section falling out of it that was not falling out when I checked out the book. I felt horribly guilty about this and confessed to it at the checkout counter rather than just dropping the book in the bookdrop.

The now falling-apart book I read was called Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris. From the Publisher's Weekly review:
When poet Norris (The Cloister Walk) found her way back into church in the early 1980s, she was unsettled by what she calls the "vaguely threatening and dauntingly abstract" vocabulary of the church. Many of the words, like "Christ," seemed to her code words churchgoers used out of convenience when they could not find other words to use. Other words?like "salvation," "conversion," and "dogma"?seemed to Norris to be too abstract to reflect meaningfully her own experience. In this "vocabulary of faith," Norris draws upon her considerable poetic skills to refashion the vocabulary of the church into her own religious vocabulary. In each of these meditations, Norris uses anecdotes and humor to invest these words with fresh meanings.
It's a fantastic idea for a book, though I think Norris is uneven in her execution of it. She sometimes follows through to perfection, and other times seems to miss the mark with chapters that seem way too short, offering anecdotes that seem too lightweight given the immense baggage attached to some of these words.

Still, I enjoyed the tone of this book versus one written by a clergy member or professor, in the way it combines academic knowledge with personal reflection. She often delves into Greek word origins and into the spirituality of Benedictine monks, with whom she has apparently spent a lot of time. Hmm, interesting. Norris also acknowledges doubt and her agnostic past, which I think is brave.

Yeah, it's really too bad that this book is so battered up for the next person.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One day I will write a real blog post again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Video: Two dogs

Something new for me: I recorded my own video. I'm taking care of my dad's two dogs, Maggie and Auggie, for the week. Maggie is the large wolf-like one, Auggie is the small poodle-like one. I didn't know Maggie's crunching would come through so loud.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eat Pray Love the movie

There were plenty of people at the 10:30 a.m. showing of "Eat Pray Love," many of them women who traveled to the theater alone, just like me. I kind of wished we could form an impromptu discussion group after the movie was over.

I was divided over the book, enjoying it as a travelogue enough to overcome my philosophical differences with the author, namely that I can't really applaud a story that involves walking away from a marriage, going on a solo journey to find yourself, then at the end, well, falling in love with another guy. It does seem like a very Hollywood story in that way, that the end of every journey must involve falling in love. But who says you have to be in perfect sync with the author's worldview to enjoy a book?

Anyway, getting back to the movie...I did think Julia Roberts looked the part of the smart, likeable author and played miserable and exuberant equally well. And as much as I hate to admit it, the movie was much more effective than the book at transporting me to plates of delicious Italian food, the floors of an ashram in India, and finally to the beaches of Bali.

I do wish Hollywood could do as much justice to the "pray" part as it does to the "eat" and "love" parts. It mostly just shows her being frustrated with it and making some friends at the ashram, skipping the electric sort of meditation experience she has in the book. I wonder why. Are moviegoeers that uncomfortable with spirituality?

No, a movie can't possibly match the intimacy of a book. And no, they didn't rewrite the story to my liking. Still, I'll take a beautiful-looking movie about self-discovery over an action flick any time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Dry Land at the Plaza

Yesterday I got to see a screening of "The Dry Land" at the Plaza Theatre. I originally bought the tickets because, well, America Ferrera was going to be there! I've admired her work ever since "Real Women Have Curves." Second I like to see projects that talented current or former El Pasoans are doing. The director, Ryan Piers Williams, graduated from Hanks High School, and I remembered that last year parts of the movie were filmed here. Yay for El Paso.

But as for the movie itself, I didn't know what to expect. I knew it was about post-traumatic stress disorder, but I didn't expect it to be quite so jarring. There are scenes so brutal I know they would never make it into a mainstream movie. A woman in the row in front of me wiped tears from her eyes a few times. The man sitting next to me covered his ears whenever a shotgun blast seemed imminent (which was a few times).

I thought about the thousands of soldiers stationed at Fort Bliss, and some of the scary situations that have made headlines lately. Sometimes I forget the power of film to educate and raise awareness, not merely entertain. I've browsed through many articles like this over the past few years, but I think this film finally made the issue of PTSD personal and three-dimensional.

I was impressed that the director really seemed to have his heart in the right place with this film. During the Q&A he said five years of research went into the film, and I think it shows in the details of the settings, the characters, and the portrayal of the symptoms of PTSD and how the characters react to it.

"The Dry Land," go see it if you can.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

So what day is it again? As I was leaving work I was happy thinking I had just completed my Wednesday.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

This is pretty cool:

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

There is a world beyond the computer...


I made combination brownie-chocolate chip cookie bars last night. So delicious, my gosh:

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Interview with UnivisiĆ³n anchor Jorge Ramos: "The U.S. is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, with the exception of Mexico. It means — and I am completely convinced of this — that the first Hispanic President has already been born."

Monday, August 02, 2010

- I'm trying to decide if I should shell out the money for Microsoft Office since my trial version is about to expire. I downloaded OpenOffice and it seems to work pretty well. I think I could live without Microsoft Word, but I do want to have PowerPoint around just in case I ever have to do a presentation. But how often does that happen?

- I'm unusually happy for a Monday night since I don't have to work tomorrow. Two days off, one day working, two more days off. Now there's a schedule. Maybe I can write another post tomorrow instead of being a blog slacker?