Monday, February 26, 2007

Rock and roll

Know what I got Cat for Valentine's Day? I got her a CD by Santana. Now this was surprising, not to her but to me. I was surprised several weeks ago when we were at a basketball game. Jonboy, the commentator, put on "Oye Como Va" during a timeout and Cat asked, "What's the name of that?" I told her and she said that she had always wanted a Santana album. Who knew??? So that went straight onto the list of "what to get her for the next occasion." We have an anniversay coming up next month (our 37th) and now I have to discover something else she has always wanted. (Cat, if you are reading this, drop some clues, OK?)

Here's another rock photo. It's a somewhat small geode. What fascinates me is the shape. Does it look like the outline of a fish to you? I have no recollection of where we got this one. We have a dozen or so geodes with a variety of interiors. One of them was sawn in two for me by a teacher in my university's science department. But not this one. Just don't remember.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Zebra stone

OK, I promised some rock pictures (and I am not talking about Mick). Here is an unusual stone from Western Australia. It is called zebra stone for obvious reasons. The red stripes contain iron, but geologists are uncertain regarding the process of formation. I bought this from a Frenchman who had lived in Australia for twenty years. We had a pleasant little conversation (in French) and he made me a nice deal on this rock and another. I only regret that I didn't buy a piece of opal from him.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Where in the world? Please comment.

Have you seen the map over there to your left? Click on it to see it bigger. It records the locations from which people view this blogsite. Now I recognize a number of the dots: Annie in Louisiana; Patti in NY; Mindy, Jonboy, and Rachel in West Texas. But who are those other viewers scattered around the world? Paul is in the Netherlands, but who looked at this site from China or western Africa or eastern Europe?

If you are visiting this site, please, just this once, at least, leave a comment telling where you are in the world. Even if you leave an anonymous note, where are you? Je peux parler fran├žais, but I am no good in Chinese or Swahili, so I hope you speak English.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Antique--Photo Hunters posting

When I first thought about the antiques that I might photograph, I went to our shelves in the living room where we have all kinds of stuff displayed. Here is a shelf with a couple of little figures that we bought in France over 25 years ago. But they are not antiques. The bowl behind them is. It is a Rosewood piece that was given to my parents for a wedding gift. It is one of the few ceramic pieces that I inherited which does not have a chip in it.

Then I remembered that we have something really antique. The statuette was given to us by a friend from Mexico who lives in Hawaii. She described it as pre-Columbian. Well, I have not done any research on it. Maybe it is that old. Or maybe it's just made out of concrete. But it looks old.

While I was pondering this, it struck me that we have some undeniably ancient items in our display shelf. I mean what is older than rocks? This geode has a wonderful sparkle to it. I think that I will feature some of our rocks in upcoming postings. We have a few that are rather unusual (got 'em in Australia).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Becoming cyborgs

Have you thought about how dependent we are becoming on technology? A human who depends on mechanical devices for some physiological functions is called a cyborg. Are we all becoming cyborgs?

One day I went to the dry cleaners to pick up a quilt we had left there. The young lady who fetched the quilt told me the cost of the cleaning--$14.60. I handed her a $20-dollar bill and she apologized because the cash registers were not working. "We'll have to do this the old-fashioned way," she said as she reached for a pocket calculator. "No, the old-fashioned way would be to do it in your head," I replied. She laughed and said, "Yeah, right!"

Yes, we have become increasingly dependent on technology in the last century. But that has been true of human development from the beginning. Who in the industrialized world can look up at the stars at night and know immediately what direction is north? Out of a hundred Westerners, who can weave a bowl out of reeds tight enough to carry liquids?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Broken--A Photo Hunters posting

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember this photo from a previous posting. I have started to participate in Photo Hunters and the required photo for this week must relate to the theme "Broken." This piece of pottery qualifies. It is the wick spout of a first-century Jewish oil lamp which was dug up in the Jerusalem area. I like to think, even though the chances are remote, that Jesus or his disciples might have handled this lamp.

Friday, February 09, 2007

How my dad influenced me

When I was about 14 or 15 years old, our family experienced an upsetting event. We came home from a church meeting on a Wednesday night and were confused by the arrangement of objects inside our house. What was the television doing on the couch? Why were the closet doors open? And why was the dog barking so furiously in the back yard?

Then it sunk in; we had been burglarized. A quick check revealed that, among other things, the suit my mom had just bought me that week was missing. When the policeman arrived, he used the clues to suggest that the burglar(s) probably ran out the back door while we were pulling into the garage. That's why the dog was barking.

The policeman made a list as we discovered what was missing. He opined that the chances of catching the burglar(s) were minimal. He did not call in a team to dust for fingerprints. In fact he wasn't all that investigative. Mom lost some jewelry, but we apparently interrupted the process early enough to prevent a great loss.

Somewhere along the way, my dad got tickled by something, maybe the randomness of the objects taken. Anyway the policeman didn't understand. "How can you laugh when you have just been victimized?"

"You cannot help what happens to you," Dad said. "You can only control how you react. I choose to laugh."

In many ways, we were lucky. The bad guy didn't get away with much. He didn't shoot our dog. He wasn't hiding in a closet with a loaded gun held in a shaking hand. Most importantly, he was not able to steal my dad's integrity. Thanks, Dad. It was a wonderful lesson for me.

Me and Dad when I was 13 years old and he was younger than I am now. Dad enjoyed camping with us Boy Scouts. A banker by trade, he reveled in the opportunities to get out in the woods or off to the beach. I wonder what he would think about what we are doing to the environment these days?

If you have not seen An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore, you owe it to yourself to rent the video and watch. I makes me mad that he got cheated out of the election.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sunny days

This photo is from several months ago, but the sun is starting to return to Fake Cow Town and the snow is melting. We still have about three inches of ice on our sidewalk (the part that stays in the shade), but the temperature is now warm enough that the roofers can come replace our roof. We discovered a leak when we were putting away our Christmas decorations. Yes, it has taken that long for the weather to be decent enough for the roofers.

I saw robins and a blue jay today. We will have to start putting out seed for the jays. It was a pleasant relief from the hordes of grackles that have plagued our fair city. Between them and the migrating geese, you have to watch your step in some areas. Yuck.

Today I participated in an online conference. There were several hundred people in the live audience and almost 200 logged into the synchronous presentation. The presentation concerned education and how it is changing, particularly due to technological innovations. An idea that came out was the need for teachers to be more transparent about the process of learning. We teachers are losing our role as providers of content since our students have remarkable access to information. We have to help them learn how to evaluate the information so as to make use of it. And we have to help them learn how to learn.

Did any of your teachers ever say, "Here's how I learned this concept" or "Read my journal so you will get a sense of what I go through"? I don't really remember that happening much in my education. There have been a few times when I have handed out a chart explaining that I had to put it together in order to organize the material so that I could understand it. But I have not consciously thought about letting students know how I learn things. Just think--if all your teachers in high school and college had told (or, even better, showed) you how they learned, you would have been exposed to almost 100 approaches to learning. Surely you and I would be more adept at learning if we had had that kind of education.

So I am planning on being more transparent with the biblical interpretation class that I will start teaching in about three weeks. Maybe I will invite them to read this blog site. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Numbers and randomness

Here I go again with the chaos/order quandary. As you can see, my PWT Saturn rolled all the way to one hundred twenty-three thousand four hundred fifty-six miles. And I had my camera in the car. And I thought it was sufficiently significant to take the picture and post it. Now I have a series of photos of this odometer. So what?

The other day I was playing ping-pong with Jonboy and the student minister came in and asked if I would say the prayer at the women's basketball game that night. (I work for a Baptist university, so we say prayers at the games.) What do you pray for? I thanked God for the energy and enthusiasm of the students and asked him to keep everyone safe and that the game would be an example of good sportmanship. Afterwards, Jonboy said, "Sportsmanship?!" And a long-time staff member told me at halftime, "You shoulda prayed that we would beat the hell out of them!" Our team lost miserably. Answered prayer?

snow leafI took this photo because I admired the leaf. It lies there valiantly day in and day out absorbing what little heat there is in the air and warming the ice below. Maybe just the slow act of deteriorating is generating heat. Making a difference even on the way out. I should learn something from this leaf.