Thursday, March 27, 2008

You know what I ate for lunch just now

They are round and green and rhyme with "bees."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


A week ago to the day, I read an article in my local newspaper about a visit to the local university by "distinguished" speaker, Richard Dawkins, a scientist and author. Dawkins, an atheist, wrote the book The God Delusion in which he "asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society."

Honestly, I am not threatened by atheism or Dawkins's suggestion that belief in God is irrational. The truth of the matter is, in part, that belief in something intangible requires faith, and faith is, essentially, belief not based on factual proof. Although many can make - and have made - sound arguments for logical proof that God does exist, the fact of the matter is that even at the core of scientific theory itself there is a faith element. A theory, after all, is a person's best "speculation" of what is factual.

What disturbs me about Dawkins's assertion is the implications his thought process has on art and literature. I applaud science and all that has been done in the field, including biology, to expand the collective intelligence of the people. However, science is not the end all be all authority on judging the worth or value of all that exists - tangible and intangible. Neither does science have the final word on all that exists.

Take love, for example. I suppose one could scientifically explain the chemical reaction in a human body - or in any animal - regarding the phenomenon of physical attraction. But science cannot successfully predict physical attraction. If that were the case, then matchmaking web programs such as e-harmony and the like would work for everyone. Most likely, we all know people for which a scientifically made match has not worked. On the other end of the spectrum, there are probably cousins in Kentucky who are at this very moment consummating their love. "Cousin love" seems to go against "nature" and works against natural selection (although one could easily argue the converse - cousin love is natural selection in its finest moment).

My point is this: although I applaud the scientific movement, there is danger in attempting to reduce all phenomena into tiny pieces for scientific examination. The scientific method works to explain the tangible, but it is not the best method to explain what is intangible. And plenty of intangible is out there that I, for one, don't want subjected to the scientific method. A poem can be dissected into stanzas, lines, rhymes, rhythm, feet, syllables, morphemes, phonemes - but all of those elements must come together to construct meaning - meaning that says something about a time, a place, a society and can simultaneously speak to an individual in various ways to various degrees. Or meaning might be elusive and inaccessible to the everyone but the creator. Nevertheless, that doesn't make the creation less valid or worthy of being created. I find intense meaning in a poem written by e.e. cummings while others might only see nonsense when they read one of his poems. The scientific method fails to construct meaning in this respect, and neither do I crave the dissection of love, beauty, or art in order to find meaning. But this argument isn't new. It's simply Pater vs. Arnold revisited.

Nevertheless, the implications of such a movement, to scientize all that is seen and unseen (or to eliminate all that cannot be scientifically deduced), didn't work at the turn of the 20th century, and there is nothing new in the movement that suggests extreme scientization will work now. What kind of art - or happiness - was birthed out of Communism, a society that successfully eradicated God and all meaning that was not connected with purpose for the betterment of the people? I would argue that art created under the thumb of Communism was a reaction to being "under the thumb" rather than in celebration of the philosophy.

Do not throw out the scientific method and logic; do not throw out the possibility of God or create a formula for "good art" either.

These are my ruminations cultivated by Dawkins's dogma. I thought about all that I've poorly articulated here as I fell asleep that night. Then I had a dream.

In my dream, I was a little fish that befriended a big shark. We were standing on a beach discussing my friend's dilemma: the shark was on some type of quest - a life or death quest - and there were other sharks that wanted to destroy him. It was decided that we needed to swim somewhere regardless of the inherent danger. Together, we dove into a protected cove and made our way to the ocean. As we swam through the water, I was on the lookout for sharks that might want to attack my noticeably frightened friend.

What do you think that means?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Birthday Month Update

Birthday month is really exceeding my expectations.

I spent 10 days in Oregon. (Thank you Ch@ndy for being such a lovely hostess for the few days I was able to visit with you. The "birthday" homemade Mexican feast was delicious!) The flight to and from Oregon was practically uneventful (my favorite kind of travel = uneventful). Although there was that one flight where Poetroad inadvertently had to entertain/watch over someone else's 8 year old boy...that would not stop talking...the entire 3 hour flight...and who almost barfed but ended up hyper-ventilating into the barf bag instead... And we did have the unexpected pleasure of changing planes - and concourses - in San Jose. If you've flown through San Jose, you know what I'm talking about here. Deplane, run 1/2 mile or so to the bus, travel to the next concourse, go through security again with your four children in tow all the while - do that in a little less than an hour. The excitement never ends with this family!

Then, last weekend, CJ and family drove over from Houston and stayed the night with us. The next morning, we took a hike through the nature preserve that is about a block from our house. I tainted her oldest child by allowing my children to go wading in the creek with their shoes and clothes on. All of our children jumped off of rocks, fell into the water, played in a little waterfall, and got muddy. I thought my friend and her husband would die from anxiety. It was good for them. Every kid needs to play with abandon every once in a while. Can you believe I am saying this? Thankfully, I have friends who have already taught me that precious life lesson.

Also, I got the final official report this week: I passed both tests that I took for Texas Teacher Certification. Just in time for me to move to California! Not bad considering that I only studied for the tests during the two days preceding the test date. To be fair, the tests covered situations and knowledge with which any seasoned teacher would be familiar.

[Side note: I realize that I never told you all about that whole experience. It is worth mentioning that test takers had five hours to finish each test. The multiple choice section of the test took me approximately 90 minutes to answer all 90 questions - this was true for both tests. That's right - I zipped through the tests because I kept thinking, "Hey, I'm moving to another state anyway," coupled with the assurance, "I can miss at least up to 20 questions and still pass the test!" So if I happened upon a test question that I didn't know the answer to, I guessed the answer and tried to keep track of how many questions fell under the "I can miss up to 20 questions" clause. What killed me - time wise - was the essay portion for the English test. Writing the essay was not difficult, but it was definitely time consuming. It took me 3 1/2 hours to write one essay, and not because what they asked us to do was difficult but because I am anal about writing. Basically, given two passages from two different novels - one written at the beginning of the 20th century and one written around 1960 - the test taker was expected to identify, compare, and contrast, and note how literary devices were used in each passage to develop the theme of the work. Of course I couldn't do just that. You know I couldn't! After brainstorming and outlining for an hour, I proceeded to write a 6 page feminist critique(a complete essay with a fully developed introduction, body, and conclusion) of the two passages. My thesis went something like this: "Both the passage from "X novel" and "Y novel" explore perception versus reality in an effort to speak to the disillusionment with expected social-norms for women in a given society." Or something such as that... Anyway, I noted that other people only wrote about a page and a half - and spent about an hour writing that darned essay. But not me. Overkill - my fatal flaw. I sincerely thought it would be my undoing, too. People have to read these stupid essays. And grade them. Who wants to waste 10 minutes of their life reading a stupid feminist critique when all I needed to do was note how literary devices were used to develop the theme of each passage? There was a strong possibility that I could have received a "no grade" and "off topic" note in the comment box, I thought. Mercy me, I earned a "4" out of "4" on that essay. The guy who took an hour to write a page and a half probably did too. Ah well, I passed! I passed!]

Speaking of tests, I took a class and aced another test this month. Okay, it wasn't actually a class to earn credits as much as it was a way to save 200 dollars. Remember that speeding ticket I got last fall? Last Friday, I successfully completed 6 hours of defensive driving training. Today, I'll drive around town gathering and turning in the necessary documents so that I can get that ticket expunged from my record. Yay!

Finally, I got a call yesterday from a friend I haven't talked with for more than a decade. This friend lives across town. Now that I'm leaving, she found a reason to call. Actually, she was calling to get Ch@ndy's phone number. Hey, at least she called! Life is funny that way.

Today is Tuesday, and birthday month is quickly coming to an end. This month has already been so full! I wonder what the rest of the month has in store?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Where did that week go?

Well, here is the dish - bullet points for efficiency as I am working on dial-up here in Oregon:

*Last weekend, Poetroad and I were in Sacramento checking out a job offer.

*Returned on Monday.

*Took my mom to the airport on Tuesday.

*Did things and stuff from Tuesday through Saturday.

*Poetroad, family, and I decided that it would be best for us to move to Sacramento. Poetroad accepted the job on Saturday night. (Yay, pjd and Maria! We will be there in June.)

*Spent all of Monday flying to Oregon. Visiting friends and family here, and so far it has been a fairly relaxing visit.

*P.S. I haven't heard anything from FLVS, but perhaps that is best. It should not be too difficult to find some type of teaching job in California.

*P.P.S. March is officially "Birthday Month" - hence the profile pic of me on birthday number 6. I figure that I should get to celebrate as many days of the month as I am old; I took over the entire month long ago. Soon enough, I'll suggest that I'll need to commandeer part of February and April to accommodate my age.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I am out of town...

but I'll chat with you all on Tuesday! :)