Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Half a Year

Kate is six-months old today! I can't believe it has been half a year already. It seems to have flown by, and yet I barely remember what life was like before she was born! Life is so much busier, and yet so much more joyful and meaningful.

We'll take her six month Marcel photo tonight, and find out her stats at the doctor tomorrow, but for now, let me share what our little Katemonster is up to these days:

Kate has become a total wiggle-worm on the changing table, to the extent it often takes two people to hold her down during a change. It's like wrestling an alligator, if alligators wore jumpers with tiny buttons.

She hated being on her tummy until she learned to roll over herself (around four months) and now, she seems to prefer it, flipping over the moment we lay her down. That's how you go places, she's learned! I just don't want her to "go" over the edge of the dresser!

Kate loves her paci, and though we have at least six of the style she currently uses, they often get lost--scattered around the house or fallen behind the crib, where we have to lay flat on our bellies and/or use a yard stick to retrieve them. Mom gave us a Bella Tunno Binky Strap a few weeks ago, and it's very handy for day care and at night (solving the aforementioned behind-the-crib problem, except when I have to change her leaked-upon jammies in the middle of the night and pop the paci in her mouth but forget to attach the clip to her fresh jammies so the paci AND the strap end up lost behind the crib for me to retrieve as I'm running out the door, which certainly did NOT happen to me this morning. :0)

The strap also keeps the paci close enough for Kate to grab and put back in her mouth if it falls out. Unfortunately, she can't seem to figure out which end of the paci goes in the mouth, so she'll end up nomming on the side of the thing.

She's recently decided she loves paper--crinkling it, grabbing it, and putting it in her mouth. She destroyed my handout in Sunday school the other day, making a lot of noise in the process, before our accompanist handed her a small maraca she keeps on her keychain. Here she is attempting to destroy the church's insurance documents. Fabulous!

She has also recently become fascinated with the cat, always wanting to reach out and pet MowMow, grab her tail, eat her paw, etc. If Charlotte so much as walks by, Kate is rapt with attention. Once Kate is really on the move, I imagine there will be some mad chases going on, and once Charlotte learns how to leap over them, baby gates will be her best friend.

In the past two weeks, Kate moved up to size "1-2" diapers, and started day care, solid foods, and creeping. She's just starting to wear some 6-9 month clothes, but plenty of 3-6 month things still fit her and I only just retired some 0-3 month things. She's kind of petite, I guess, but we're always blown away by her strength. She's a strong and smart little girl. Her coordination and dexterity are increasing by leaps and bounds.
When she was really small, I wanted her to stay my tiny baby forever. Every new stage, however, brings delights of its own. The next half year is going to bring so many more changes, and I relish every moment.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Six Month Photos

I took Kate for her 6-month portraits on Saturday. They turned out pretty well, I think, though I prefer a non-studio style. (Mom enrolled us in the JCPenney Portrait Club, and especially if you combine it with one of the coupons JCP puts out, it's an incredible deal!) Kate wouldn't flash us any of her really big smiles (even with the iPod and Old MacDonald--two of the strongest tricks in our make-baby-happy bag). Still, I think she looks pretty cute. What do you think?

Also, these pics have an extra-special twist in that the dress was the dress I wore in my 6-month professional photos! Check it out:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Feeding Frenzy

Why is this formerly half-bare cabinet now full?
Because it is now half-full of baby food!

Yes, Kate started solids this past week. First with whole wheat cereal once a day, just to learn and practice. Rice cereal is typically the first solid because it is the least likely to cause allergies, but I read a piece in Parents magazine ("The Right Menu for Every Age," June 2009) that said one should feel free to try a different grain.

Kate has definitely shown signs of being ready for solids (and not a moment too soon, since the AAP recommends waiting til 6 months to start), being interested in what we're eating, even to the point of grabbing food off my plate, and seeming hungry more often. So, she was eager to try the spoon, and opened her mouth wide, leaning forward to meet the spoon, but once the food was in her mouth, she'd get a slightly sour expression like she didn't know what to do with it.

After a week of practice, however, she seems to like not just the concept of eating but the food itself. We started applesauce in addition to the wheat cereal today, and she enjoyed that too. Since you're supposed to start only one new food at a time (so you can identify the cause of any allergies right away) I guess we'll stick to wheat and applesauce for the next day or two before adding a veggie.

Anyone have any advice on what foods to try and which ones to avoid or postpone? If your kids have allergies, how did you identify them and when?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bouncy, Bouncy

Thursday and Friday are supposed to be Daddy-Daughter-Days, since Kate is only in day care three days a week, but what with the church fire, Matt has had too many un-child-friendly meetings and things to attend to this past week. So, my in-laws are keeping Kate again for part of today, and Granna was nice enough to send me these pics of Kate enjoying her Baby Einstein stationary jumper (the safe alternative to walkers, nowadays) at their house. I thought I'd share since I've been delinquent about getting new pics of Kate up lately. Matt has had custody of the camera lately, and so all the photos have ended up on his Mac and he hasn't uploaded them to Kodakgallery yet, so I'm picture-less!!

Kate will be 6 months old on Tuesday, and I'll do a big "here's what she's doing now" update then. Can't believe she's half a year old already!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do You Read the Milk Carton?

Rarely does a book cause us to substantively change our behavior. After Etan, however, did just that for me. It's a new book about a famous missing child case from 1979 that changed the way missing child searches were conducted. It reads like an episode of Law & Order, so if you're a fan of what Matt calls "CPCDs" (cliche procedural crime dramas), you probably wouldn't be able to put this book down (as I wasn't).

It was after reading just a couple chapters of this book that I decided I would never again just throw away those "missing child" flyers one gets in the mail, or change the channel when an Amber Alert is announced. From now on, I decided, I will always read the (metaphorical) milk carton.
I won't get your hopes up about Etan. Despite the thousands of posters distributed about him, the mystery was not solved that way--but the book did bring to life for me the sheer terror a parent must feel when their child goes missing, and getting that child's picture out there is huge in tracking where the child might be. If--God forbid--something like that were to happen to Kate, you can bet I would be begging people to memorize her face and be aware of the children around them so they could recognize her if they saw her. Wouldn't you, if it were your child?

This morning, I saw this tweet: "From WSMV-TV: Child Found After Amber Alert Issued: A 14-year-old boy was found safe early Thursday.. http://bit.ly/17LY8c " Missing children can be found. In this case, the staff or guests at a hotel saw the teen when his non-custodial parent and her boyfriend checked in with him.
I urge you, if this is not already your practice: take a minute to read those flyers, tv news bulletins, and highway signs. Look for something distinctive about that child's appearance, and commit it to memory. You could save a child's life and be a parent's hero forever.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Selective Paranoia

It's funny what I fret about. I'm terrified of snakes but have no problem with spiders or other bugs. I'm nervous on bridges but okay with heights so long as they're over land.

During my pregnancy, I worried about it being ectopic until I saw that first ultrasound, and I feared the possibility of a prolapsed cord in the final days. Other potential complications, though--ones with a higher statistical probability--I barely gave a second thought.

Now as the mother of an infant, I am bombarded by messages of what is good and bad for a child, what is life-threatening and what is crucial to development. Some mothers, I imagine, take it all to heart and are freaking out every second of every day. Others are so chill that they may border on negligent.

Me? I have selective paranoia. I am terrified of SIDS (like most every new parent, I imagine) and so I am very strict about the no-blankets-no-bumpers rule. (When my mom picked Kate up at day care last week and they requested a blanket for her naptime, Mom hesitated to tell me, for fear I would pull Kate out of the school immediately. I didn't, but I just sent a small lovey instead.) I keep the thermostat below 73, as recommended, and I keep a fan going to keep air circulating over the crib. (I hate feeling drafty, so I wasn't a fan--no pun intended--of that idea at first, but it is the most current recommendation for preventing SIDS.)

On the other hand, I am not near as conscientious as people think I should be about keeping Kate warm. I rarely put socks on her, even in March, and I rarely used the fleece sleep sack my grandmother got for Kate. Come to think of it, that's actually the same hand, since it all comes down to the principle "too cool won't kill her; too warm will." (too cool within reason, of course.) So, hmm... am I more paranoid than not?

I am thrilled to feed Kate exclusively with breastmilk, because of all the purported benefits for health, immunity, and IQ. I read somewhere, though, that it's not necessary to heat bottles--that heating bottles just "spoils" babies into always wanting their milk warm. That sounds harsh, and some people think I'm crazy, but seriously, Kate is just fine taking her bottles straight out of the fridge (when she can't have the frshly pumped stuff).

In the same vein, we don't rock Kate to sleep. She goes down and falls asleep on her own. This may just be luck and Kate's own disposition, but I'm sure that if we'd started out always rocking her to sleep, she would always need it. We are lucky, in that we never really even had to let her "cry it out." So long as she has her paci (which is another good SIDS-preventer, by the way) she will fall asleep--or back asleep, if she wakes in the night. She's been sleeping through the night since two months, really. For a while, we woke her for a "dream feed" at 11 or 12, but stopped that when we realized she could go ten hours without it. Since our vacation to the cabins mid-June, she's been waking around 4 or 5, but a quick change, paci-replacement, or (at most) a move to the soothing center (swing) will get her back to sleep until I rise at 5:30 or 6.

My in-laws are amazed at how easily Kate goes down. "Relaxed parents, relaxed baby," they say. I know they had to rock Matt to sleep every night, though!

We all pick our battles, I guess. Chill in some things, OCD in others. TV, sweets, there are many other issues to come. What things are you paranoid about as a parent?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Buried Treasure

While we were out at the site on Saturday, some of us crossed the sheriff’s “DANGER” tape in order to look through the rubble. I especially hoped to find the one item of personal sentimental value Matt and I lost: a pectoral cross that I bought for Matt in the SPCK shop in Salisbury, England, when we were there on our Wesleyan pilgrimage in May 2005. Matt had little hope of finding it, but I was sure it had survived, given all the other metal items that were in (horrendous but) recognizable condition—folding tables and chairs, file cabinets, and even communion trays.

Matt wore this cross for worship every week, and it hung in the closet with his robes and stoles. We could tell where the closet had been, and started digging in that area. It seems the falling ash formed an insulating barrier for the closet’s contents, as we found choir robes and Mardi Gras (excuse me, “Shrove Tuesday”) decorations in reasonably good condition (for what they’d been through) and, digging deeper, even uncovered a section of hardwood floor, looking shiny and polished! We found the remnants of Matt’s two robes and knew it had to be right there, since the cross hung around the hanger of whichever robe he’d worn most recently. The fabric had several large chunks of melted plastic from the hanger stuck to it, and Matt examined the chunks briefly before tossing the robe aside. I picked it up to examine more closely, and saw a bit of pewter jutting out of the blobby black mass. “Found it!” I exclaimed. “Yep—that’s it,” Matt concurred.
The silver edge and engraved alpha on the crossbar made its identity clear, but we could not manage to free the cross from its plastic and fabric encasement. Finally, we cut that section away from the rest of the robe so it would be more manageable, and the church member who had helped us dig suggested that a gentle blow-torching might melt the plastic away.

Sure enough, that did the trick, and our buried treasure was restored to us. The finish is blackened in places, but the detail is all there.

On the front: Alpha and Omega, a dove, a chalice and wafer, and two fish. On the back: “Tertium Millenium,” signifying the beginning of the Church’s third millennium.
Here's to the third millenium of Christ's Church, and to the third century (well, almost) of Bethlehem UMC. May we follow God's calling wherever it may lead.

News Briefs

Needless to say, the church fire has dominated much of our time and thoughts these past several days (for Matt even more so than me, of course). Matt has been keeping his blog and the church website updated with news and information, but outside of our family members, I don’t think we have too much overlap in our blog readership, so I’ll give some updates and links here as well.

The Clarksville paper and Nashville-area TV stations came out to the church property on Thursday to cover the aftermath of the fire. I was interviewed for a couple stations but they didn’t use any of it. Church members’ emotional reactions and recollections were much more important for the story, and the Clarksville mayor said pretty much what I did anyway. For coverage of the fire, visit these sites:

Leaf Chronicle article and photos
News 2 WKRN
Channel 4 WSMV
Channel 5

Matt arrived back in Nashville around 9:00 pm Thursday, and set to work Friday on logistics for Sunday and beyond, and on offering much-needed pastoral care to long-time church members who were most distressed by the loss of their church building. Saturday, Matt and some other men from the church built a “wailing wall” from the bricks of a toppled chimney, and Matt finalized arrangements for Sunday’s outdoor service at the site.

Yesterday’s service was essentially a funeral for the building, and a time for grieving and mourning before beginning the hard work of rebuilding and re-envisioning the future of Bethlehem UMC. We sang hymns attesting to God’s faithfulness throughout all circumstances, offered prayers for healing and unity, and received communion in celebration of God’s grace and provision.

Again, there was media coverage, and those pieces are accessible here:

News 2 WKRN
Fox 17
Leaf Chronicle article and photos

I don't know if these links will stay active long-term, but I'm listing them all here as sort of a record anyway. It's been kind of a surreal time. Matt's face was the first thing shown on the 5:00 news Sunday night (ch. 2) and it's all just kind of crazy. There's such a long road to recovery for this congregation, and we are so appreciative of everyone's prayers and support.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Through the Fire

If you haven't yet heard the news through The Leaf-Chronicle or Facebook, Bethlehem UMC, of which Matt is pastor, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground last night.

Matt has been in Costa Rica on a mission trip since Saturday, but is flying back today. The congregation is devastated, as you can imagine. This historic building was church-home to several generations of some members' families, and holds a very special place in the hearts of its members and many in the community who enjoyed its beautiful sanctuary for weddings and other events. It was also featured recently in the video for Trace Adkins' song, Muddy Water. (It's a lovely song, and shows the church as we'd prefer to remember it, not engulfed as it is in the Leaf Chronicle photos and as it is burned into the memories of the members who went to the church in the middle of the night.)

As evidenced in that last sentence, I keep finding myself stumbling over the distinction between "church" and "church building." Though I keep reminding people that "the church is the people, not the building," I still catch myself saying "the church burned down," etc. "The site" and "the structure" sound so cold, but it really is important to remember that the church has not been destroyed--only its building. The church community is very strong and will go on serving God and loving one another. While this was a place where many people experienced God each week, we must remember that God cannot be contained in a physical structure. He is with us wherever we are and wherever we worship.

I went to the site this morning, where many Bethlehem members are holding vigil, coping with the shock and rallying together in the love and camaraderie this faith community is known for. The rubble was still smoldering, and there seems to be little that can be salvaged, though the "1836" cornerstone (from the first building, which burned in the 1880s), some of the diamond-shaped stained glass pieces from the windows, and some songbooks open to the song "Great is Our God" had been pulled out and laid on the sidewalk.

Matt and I (and the whole Bethlehem community) are thankful for your prayers, and pray that God will show us a good, new way forward. We will be holding worship on the grounds this Sunday at 10am, and all are welcome.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Twitter Experiment: Wrap-Up

Better late than never, I want to give a little wrap up on my experience with Twitter so far. After ten days on Twitter, I've gotten over my early frustrations and chilled out a bit. As I said, the big stressor for me was just the sheer busy-ness and buzzy-ness of it all. I felt like I was in a big convention hall where I was expected to be chatty and engaging and cool--and those situations drive me insane!

After chilling out, though, I realized something that gives Twitter an advantage over the Introvert's Nightmare: in this "convention hall," you can become invisible whenever you have nothing interesting to say. Even if I'm silent for a whole day, there's no auto-tweet going out saying "hey! look at Jessica! she's awkward and nervous and needs to get her a$$ into Toastmasters ASAP!"

I separated my Twitter and Facebook after just a couple days (even though their integration had been one of my incentives for starting!) because I like having my Facebook status just be little slices of life, while Twitter is best for sharing articles and recommending resources, etc. Now that I don't have to worry about inadvertantly updating my Facebook status with every random tweet, I've been able to enjoy the medium for what it is a little more. I've found my tweets generally fall into one of three categories:
  • Work-related updates. This was the main reason I joined anyway--to generate interest for Circuit Rider and books I'm working on. I love my work and it's fun to share news like "#wasabigospel just arrived from the printer!" or "great line from @erikrees' upcoming book..."
  • Links to articles, blogs, and websites that are interesting (re-tweeting or original). This includes linking to my own blog posts occasionally. I linked to two posts in tweets last week, and Google analytics shows those each got a few direct hits (fewer than ten each, but with only 60-something followers at the time, that's not a terrible percentage).
  • Facebook-style updates with random commentary about Kate or other stuff. This was my most common type of tweet over the weekend, when work was out of sight and out of mind.

I have 70 followers, and am following 146 people now: authors, churches, news feeds, bloggers I like, and other cool people.

Final verdict: I'll keep it up at a moderate pace. I may download Tweetdeck, since that is purported to be the best way to use Twitter.* I'd recommend getting on board if professional networking is important to you, if you like blogs (not just anonymously reading them, but interacting with people through them), and/or if the Internet has warped your mind to the point that you prefer to communicate in tiny soundbites.

*Jay Baer, on the social media consulting site Convince and Convert, comments on how ridiculous it is that all these non-Twitter sites have popped up to help you use Twitter better. If you were interested enough in this post to read to this point, go ahead and read Jay's post: "Why Twitter Needs Its Bottom Spanked." Jay says the same thing I did about signing up for Twitter--the site just dumps you out with very little guidance for how to get started. If I hadn't been familiar with the concept and lingo already, I might really have been lost. It helped me find people in my gmail address book who were on Twitter, but otherwise I had to figure out how to find people and set up my profile just by exploring the site. Fortunately, I'm comfortable enough on the web to just do that, but some other late-adopters aren't. I was teasing my mom earlier today that when she's online, she's like a man in the shampoo aisle of a grocery store: she can't find the link she's looking for unless it is right in her line of vision, with big blinking arrows pointing it out. (just teasing, Mom. I love you.)

Wordless Wednesday -- Kate and Marcel

"Watch Me Grow!" pics with Marcel the Monkey, months 1-5.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy 95th, Grandpa!

Today is my grandfather's 95th birthday.

Ever since I was in elementary school, he's been saying "well, I probably won't be around to see you graduate high school/graduate college/get married"--the fill in the blank kept changing as he saw each of those milestones pass. I don't think he ever dreamed he'd see me have kids of my own, but he's got some amazing longevity, obviously. He developed type II diabetes in his forties and was told he wouldn't live past sixty. He continued to drink whole milk and eat pickled pigs feet and sweets, and he's still here. That doctor probably died decades ago.

Grandpa was born in 1914 in Warren, Ohio. He was in and out of the Navy several years before WWII even started. He and my grandmother were married in 1937, so they are going on 73 years of marriage. They met at a dance hall called The Majestic, in Long Beach, California, when he was on shore leave. He worked for General Electric for many years and has now been retired longer than he worked.
I will always remember the time he found a baby bunny in the backyard and brought it in for me to hold. I remember when he killed a snake in the yard because it scared me. I remember when he told me not to eat his Butterfinger because it would "break my teeth." Years later, when I had a Butterfinger for the first time, I was surprised at how easily it crunched, and came to the conclusion he just didn't want to share his candy. (Did I mention his sweet tooth?)

I'll remember how he pronounces "gums" as "gooms" and always insists you don't have enough light to read or do whatever other task you are working on. I'll remember how mechanical he was and how he fixed things out on his workbench and built bookcases and other things for my family. I'll remember the stories he told about the Navy and about G.E.--the same stories over and over again. I'll remember how he would stare at me, smiling with love, and say "you look like a movie star."

I love you, Grandpa! Have a very happy birthday!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Family Treasure

This photo is quite a treasure in our family: four generations of Barry women in 1924.
The oldest lady is Emily Barry Davis, born in 1844 to the Barrys of Washington, D.C. (who have some fascinating connections to both Washington and Lincoln). On the right is her daughter, Frances "Fannie" Davis Fields, and standing in the middle is Frances' daughter Emily Barry Fields Connor. The baby is Emily Barry Connor Miller--my father's mother--at age two.

I've long thought our sweet Katharine Barry looks "very Barry," especially resembling my Granny.

What do you think?

Starting "School"

You may have noticed (though I doubt you were upset!) that I never finished the Twitter Experiment series of posts. As you surely gathered from the first four days of it, I was getting pretty stressed out by it. But, as I said, "Twitter was made for man, not man for Twitter" (this philosophy works for many things, not just the Sabbath or the breast pump) so I decided to let myself off the hook and chill out about this silly technology that somehow, suddenly took over my life. I'll write a short wrap up post about days 5-7 over lunch, if I think about it.

In the meantime, Kate is now a schoolgirl. After three months with Mommy on maternity leave and two months with Daddy as a SAHD (and full-time pastor with a home office) Kate finally started day care today. Though even six months ago, I never would have thought I would be--I'm feeling okay about it.

For many years, I felt very opposed to day care for my kids. Until I started my current position two years ago, I dreamed of quitting work and being a SAHM (stay at home mom, if you didn't figure that out already) when I had kids. But, I found a career path that I love and I want to find a way to balance work and motherhood. Even until the point I returned from maternity leave, though, I was hoping to work it out to work from home some of the time. That didn't work out, and frankly, I'm glad it didn't. While working some from home during maternity leave, I often felt torn, like I wasn't paying enough attention to Kate AND wasn't being as productive as I could be on my work. Now, when I'm at work, I'm at work, and when I'm home, I'm home. That's a good thing.

Daddy's in Costa Rica right now on a mission trip, so we've got grandparents helping out this week in addition to day care. Theoretically, of course, she could stay at day care the whole time I'm at work all week, but since our normal arrangement will have Daddy picking her up in the early afternoon, it's nice to have family looking after her part of the day this week too (especially since it's her first week and including my commute, that would be a long day for her).

She's not to the point of having separation anxiety yet, so she plopped down in an Exersaucer and went to town playing happily. When another child cried at her mom's leaving, Kate started to cry too (how empathetic!) but she was easily distracted from that by watching an older baby crawl around. So, I think she'll have a great day, and I'm very thankful to have found a really great center that I can feel good about keeping my daughter.

And, because there have been way too few Kate-pics on this blog lately, here's a few of Kate and Daddy, playing in the baby pool in our backyard. (Doesn't Daddy look buff and hot?)

We miss you, Daddy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kate Fix

I miss my baby. I'm excited for the weekend to spend with her. Just two more hours til the weekend, but I need a Kate fix. I thought you might too, since I have been too preoccupied with this Twitter stuff to post cute baby pictures this week.

So here's a pic of our sweet girl.

She's five months old now, and on the verge of crawling and sitting up. She's interested in solid food (she grabbed a pizza crust right off my plate the other night and stuck it in her mouth!) but I'm holding out a couple more weeks.

I love my girl.

Nowhere to Hide

I have an hour-long commute each way to and from work every day, so I have a lot of time alone with my thoughts. (While I don’t like living so far away, I do enjoy the alone time—as I said, I’m quite the introvert.) These thoughts are generally a jumble of mental to-do lists, blog posts in progress, talking to myself, and freeform prayer.

Sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit) I’ll be talking to myself and/or to God, and then chastise myself for the thought I’ve expressed, realizing that it’s not a very healthy or holy thought to have. In moments like that, I find myself trying to backtrack or make excuses, thinking I can explain myself to God.

I’ve been realizing lately how futile and even ridiculous that is—that God knew my true feelings before I even put them into words, and that God hears every word of my attempt to “reframe” the judgmental or unloving thought.

While it is a more painful process to dwell in my wickedness a while, walking through and analyzing my thoughts and feelings brings hope of positive growth and improvement that denial cannot. I ask God: “Why do I feel that way?” “How can I work through this?” “How can I do better?” The answer is never clear—or not easy, at least—but I’m always trying.

The point, I suppose, is being more honest with myself.
I wasn’t fooling God anyway.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Twitter Experiment: Day 4

I disconnected my Twitter from my Facebook. Tweets and status updates are NOT the same thing. Yes, they can be, but to really participate in the Twitter community, replies and retweets are expected, and such things do not make for good Facebook status updates. (In my humble opinion.)

I only wrote two tweets today. Pretty sad, I guess, but I'm seriously not liking this medium. For whatever reason, I just feel so much stress and pressure over it. Any advice?

Daily summary
I am following 132 people
61 people are following me

Tomorrow's goal
Man was not made for Twitter, but Twitter for man.

Who needs publishers?

The conversation about e-books and online resources as a way to save college students buckets of money on textbooks is nothing new. Read this article if you are interested in that subject.

What is fascinating, and horrifying, though, are the comments people left on that article (the small, orange type). Even though these people apparently read The Chronicle of Higher Education, and so theoretically appreciate the value of academia, some of these folks apparently think higher education is just about getting your diploma and the passing on of static knowledge, and not about the advancement of knowledge and learning to think! So first,

Down go professors!

“Why have ten chemistry professors when we could have one, who could address hundreds or thousands of students at a time? … Instead of having an expensive department of tenured faculty, a university could have an ‘electronic professor’ who could live on the server alongside the texts (the Holodoc comes to mind, for Star Trek fans). Or, why have multiple universities when one big one, on a server, would suffice? Instead of five or ten Cal States, with expensive departments and expensive real estate, one big university could live on a server, and residents could tap those resources at will, like the Univ. of Phoenix.”

So, basically, we just need one national expert in each field. Then,

Down go textbooks!

“Professors ought to write about a single topic that they know and care about, then make them available for free download. The instructor of a given course could put together different readings as he wishes.”

Another person said we don’t need textbooks by “a cult of experts” at all because “it’s all common knowledge.”

So, if you don’t need books,
Down go publishers!

“I would be interested in hearing why the publishing companies are the only ones capable of putting together a textbook.”

Fortunately, there was one commenter who understood that publishers are not simply printers or distributors—yes, digital technology can easily replace those functions, and if you happen to want a printed copy of your book, there are companies out there that will run it through the printer for you quickly and cheaply. Editorial input is hard to replace, however. Not just one voice, but two or more (I used to think I was a good copyeditor until I met real copyeditors who do the fine detail work development editors like me cannot!) This guy said it far more wittily than I could, though, so I’ll leave it to him…

“People who think they don’t need publishers are people who don’t know what publishers do. Among other things, publishers do their level best to prevent authors from embarrassing themselves in public. While we’re at it, let’s do away with the parasitic clothing industry as well. Everyone can just make their own clothes, and we’ll all be better off for the unleashed creativity . . . until you find your stitches coming loose. There are people who wouldn’t mind appearing nude in public. There are people who wouldn’t mind having their unreviewed, unedited, unproofread brilliance exposed to public view. Enjoy.”

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Twitter Experiment: Day 3

I am exhausted, and Twitter is the culprit. I am a classic introvert--large gatherings stress me out, agitate me, and zap me of all my energy. Somehow, it seems, blogging and facebook are more like sitting down and writing a letter, or sitting with a friend (albeit a friend you haven't seen in eight years) on the couch and looking at their photo album. Twitter, on the other hand, feels like a buzzing convention center full of people with whom you are supposed to mingle and network--and it's driving me crazy.

I feel pressure to "speak," pressure to interact, and it's really draining me. I'm not blogging about anything interesting, I'm not interacting in the fun and comfortable world of facebook, and even my conversations with my husband have been reducecd to "so did you see so-and-so's tweet about such-and-such?"

So, it's 8:49 and I'm ready for bed, but I will say it has been fun to see all the buzz today about Shawn Wood's upcoming Wasabi Gospel: The Startling Message of Jesus. Today was the Amazon book bomb, in which one urges people to go buy (preorder) the book on the same day so that the book rises in the rankings. Wasabi rose to somewhere in the 2000s of all books on Amazon, and #1 and #3 in several subcategories of Christian books! Today was also the first half of Shawn's blog tour, so many of his interviewers tweeted about their blog posts featuring Shawn and the book as well.

The book delivered from the printer today, too, so it was a big day for Wasabi! I should have had sushi for lunch in honor of it. Find out more about the book (and watch a fun cartoon-rendition of the Introduction) at http://www.wasabigospel.com/.

Today I learned
(1) the terms "blogorrhea" and "twitterrhea"--conditions in which one spews more content than is pleasant or necessary
(2) how to unfollow people who appear to have those diseases, clogging up my home page with their incessant blathering

Summary stats
I'm following 133 people
55 people are following me.

I connected with a couple authors and potential authors today, so I'm making progress in leveraging Twitter professionally. Personally, however, I'm quite disenchanted.

Wordless Wednesday -- Monkey Family

[a the Louisville Zoo]

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Angry Convos" Lead to Fruitful Convos

One of the highlights of my two days on Twitter has been a little exchange with Susan Isaacs, the author of Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir, which some young adults from our church are reading together on Monday nights.

Last night being Monday, I tweeted that we were about to start our book group meeting. Right around that time, I started "following" Susan Isaacs (AKA "@angryconvos"). She replied "oh my! let me know how it goes." So, I did, but limited to 140 characters as I was, I did not get to express to her how great the book is for young adult discussion.

So, why not do it here? (After all, it's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to... crap, now I'll have "It's My Party" stuck in my head for hours, like I did on my birthday Saturday, only then it was "It's my party and I'll drink another glass of sangria if I want to," but I digress.)

I've written before about anger and authenticity, inspired by this book, but that's only one of the pull-able threads Isaacs offers. The book is so perfect for discussion because it touches on so many issues pertinent to young adults: dating, sex, career, calling, parents, and the nature of God. Here are just a few of the questions that have come up:
  • What would God say he loves about you, and what would he say hurts him?
  • Do you pray to God (the father) or to Jesus?
  • How did your parents or childhood pastor influence how you see God?
  • Do you agree that "people love rules?"
  • To what extent can we blame God for the hurtful actions of his people?
  • What makes sex "healthy" or "unhealthy"?
  • Can two people of the same faith still be "unequally yoked"?
  • How do we know what God wants us to do with our lives?

Lots of fodder for discussion. And if that doesn't convince you, maybe this gem from p. 25 will:

"If women ran the UN, it would be brutal. 'That beeotch didn't invite me to her summit. I am so vetoing her ass.'"


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