Tuesday, October 30

If This One Laptop Per Child Thing Works...

...I hope that someone will teach the children how to blog about their lives. Then, perhaps, we'll hear their voices louder than before. (With the help of a few nice translators, of course.)

I think that a child's words over wires from distant lands could really change some things.

The big idea is to put laptops in the hands of impoverished children around the world. Originally introduced as the $100 laptop, it now sounds as if it'll be $200:

The laptop features a keyboard that switches languages, a video camera, wireless connectivity and Linux software.

(Photo of the alleged $100 laptop prototype by DCMetblogger)

Monday, October 29

Wax Words, Give Rice

Sweet procrastination candy! FreeRice, people! Now you can work out your vocabulary-biceps while simultaneously helping fight World Hunger. For every word you choose correctly, the corporate folk donate 10 grains of rice through the U.N. food programme.

This is an addictive little site. Especially if you oddly enjoyed the vocabulary exercises during your SAT days. The words get more difficult if you keep getting correct answers. The highest I could reach was level 41. But I donated 800 grains of rice. I'm sure you can beat me. Get over there, you.

I'm home safe in Pasadena. Still scratching my head about those live crickets, though.

(HT: Until Translucent)

I Fly With Crickets

I am on a flight heading west, and I'm blogging from my phone, like a silly star trek girl. I'm in Houston on stopover watching a strange sight from my plane window. The baggage people are loading six, no, seven large boxes of live crickets into the cargo hold. Hmmm.

In Review

I'm flying back to California this morning, after a nice it's-almost-my-birthday weekend with my family. My Mama (yet again) made me more carrot cake than I could eat. I wish I could share it with you.

Last night I ended up chatting with Rosie Thomas, in the most unsuspecting of places. I was washing my hands in the girls' room, and she was there. I asked, "Are you Rosie? I like you." And she proceeded to spill out the horrendous story of how they'd gotten two-hours lost in Washington, D.C., but since her tour van was filled with boys (she tours with her brother, even!), no one would pull off the road to ask for directions. Classic.

"I need some girls with me on my tour! And...I need a hug!"

I could, at least, hug her.

Over the Rhine was more splendid than I expected. It was of the best shows I've ever seen. It was Linford's birthday, and Karin sang her little heart out for him. Their percussionist was absolutely unreal, as we surmised by the outrageously expensive recording mic set to his snare and the six other microphones surrounding his set. And oh! I love that upright bass. When they played "The Trumpet Child" I didn't just cry, I borderline wept.

At the final song, the entire music house lept in a standing ovation. Now, I do not give my standing o's away easily. (I just don't give in to peer pressure if I don't think it was really merited. Snarky, I know.) I think I can count on one hand how many times I've given a standing o. But last night was one of them. Over the Rhine is more superb than they've ever been, after all these years. Rosie was delicately wonderful, too. Her nervous banter in between songs made us giggle so much!

See you on the left coast. Happy Monday.

(Airport seats by Flyzipper)

Sunday, October 28

Mobile Upload 2 @ OTR

Karin Berquist's lungs plus Linford Detweiler's piano plus one upright bass plus an amazing percussionist equals one happy Nelly.

Mobile Upload 1 @ OTR

I cried when they played "The Trumpet Child." For the record.

[This is a Test of the Mobile Broadcasting System]

Dear, this is only a test. Go go mobile blogging! Me driving through the mountains of California.

The Meek and Mild Grow Strangely Bold

On this Sunday eve I'll enjoy the live lush melodies of Over the Rhine and Rosie Thomas. I'm in the process of writing Karin and Linford a letter on my weird recycled stationary, so I'm hoping to finally put my words in their hands. I've only been meaning to write to them for about eight years. (Yes, I move slowly.) I ought to tell them what their art has meant to my tired heart since I discovered them in an old CD player in Rome.

Rosie's records have been soothing my heart for the last six months, so I dorkily cheered aloud when I found she was opening for OTR on their Trumpet Child tour. I'd like to have the chance to chat with her, too, like Mel did at a recent show.

I've just figured out how to post through my mobile phone, so maybe I'll send you some photos along the way.

(Lovely photo and Trumpet Child lyrical creation by Arianna, gentle dove.)

Saturday, October 27

Love and Cookies Save the Day

It's barely tinged with punk and splintered with a soundtrack ruled by Spoon, the lovely post-punk-rockers. And Will Ferrell! Sweet Will! He surprises me with the depth of this role: Stranger than Fiction is to Will Ferrell as Punch Drunk Love is to Adam Sandler.

This movie perfectly plays the "Would you rather" game, mocking all literary geeks along the way. (Ahem.) Would you rather: Die poetically, or, Live a boorish life?

Harold: "You're asking me to knowingly face my death?"

Pompous Professor: "It's the nature of all tragedies! The hero dies, but the story lives on forever." I'm sorry Harold, but, you'll have to die.

The whole thing is enfolded with outstanding dramatic irony. Our hero, Harold, reads the pre-written story of his life while riding on the MTA bus. The journey goes from beginning to end, and then end to beginning. And he reads it.

We've all asked the question: Is an outside Hand writing our lives? And to what extent is this Writer compassionate?

The film likewise enforces the deceptive opinion that the most brilliant writers are whack-jobs with British accents. And it makes a fine argument that love and cookies can save the day. Of course, anomalies and nuances exist to save our lives.

If I were leading a bible study right now (which I am not), I would use this movie as an introduction to Matthew. Behold, Jesus loveth the tax collector, and even they can become heroes.

[The Nelly gives it 4 stars.]

Thursday, October 25

Percolating Dreams - Part Two

I made 100 business cards two score and seven days ago that read:
Fresh Green Writing / Freelance Writing and Editing
with my name and cellular phone and email laced along the bottom. I spent the thirty dollars on the little stack because I have it in my mind to start using my enjoyment of words in some constructive way. So I decided I’d start my own little business doing odd-editing jobs or writing fresh copy for businesses or non-profit companies.
I haven’t yet officially started, though there are some dreams percolating.

For one thing, I don’t think I just want to do this alone. I want to start a company that will be a small circus of creativity. We would do lots and lots of different things, but they'd all focus on helping others communicate with greater clarity.

I want to help collect a network of writers and artists who will work on projects together, in some wild dialogic way. (I think that the extensive monologues in our lives are all boring us fairly well, thank you.) We might not need to be centralized at one location. (But if we have to, there will be good espresso and excellent food.) We could likely be highly networked through the internetting.

We could do all sorts of things to make the written and spoken word more intelligible. We could help edit term papers and books and pamphlets. We could help churches in simple conflict resolution. We could help companies better communicate their ideas in their mailings and newsletters and even make their boring manuals readable and interesting. We could do workshops at schools helping tired teachers stir the creativity of their bored students. We could tutor international students in using English effectively. Who knows what else?

We will have to be expert communicators, dripping with creativity, and willing to adapt. We could become innovators for creative communication in English, the same way 3M has become innovators in solving problems with new technologies.

I don’t know, I am just announcing dreams. But it will be fun, if it happens.

(Image by Monettenriquez)

Wednesday, October 24

Streams: Percolating Dreams

post script.
I am safe from the fires in California. Some of you have emailed or called, and that makes me feel loved, but there's no need to worry about me. You could ask God to send rain, though. They had to evacuate so many people from their homes that it is as if the whole city of San Francisco had to be evacuated.

Thursday, October 18

The Majors: God's Theater

I've been reading through the major and minor prophets since summertime. I have some observations on the bigguns, the majors. I've scribbled them in my journal. (Feel free to add or subtract.)

What I Notice in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel:

1. God is willing to put the prophets on a stage and write them rated-R scripts in order to get the audience's attention.
2. Obedience ushers in life and rescue.
3. The prophet boys experienced some measure of astral-travel in their mystic encounters with God.
4. Exile was a gift of mercy to Israel.
5. God empowers sign, symbol, and metaphor.
6. The role of prophet includes being both a Watchperson and a Warner in order to persuade the people to turn towards God.
7. God has a special concern for his holiness being shown to the nations.
8. There is so much grace in God's wrath, particularly in his relenting.
9. God really likes palm trees as decorations!
10. God allows us to reap what we sow.
11. More often than not, God chooses to speak through some artistic devices or metaphor. I like that.

(Theater photo by Abbyladybug.)

Tuesday, October 16

The Beatles Needed a Black Man

I saw Across the Universe in the cinema this weekend. It's a psychedelic trip through the 1960's, a mediocre love story, and it's all strung together by a wild assortment of Beatles tunes. The film is a musical, but not with a plateful of cheese, as I find most musicals. Across the Universe is spectacular in the artful bleeding of image and song. Think Moulin Rouge on LSD, with a far better soundtrack, but milking a weaker story.

If you like the Beatles (and you should, mind you), it's worth the trip to the theater just for the scene where a Hendrix-like Martin Luther McCoy emerges as he covers "Come Together." It was pretty much magnificent. As I left the theater, lamenting the weak love story, I mumbled aloud, "The Beatles needed a black man."

If you could care less about the Beatles, but you love U2, it's also worth a trip out to see Bono play an American shaman-dude and hear him cover "I am the Walrus."

Although the (all you need is) love story is weak, this is a film worth seeing on the big screen. It is so cliche and overdone to do another film about the '60's, but to use the Beatles as the primary script is a creative feat.

I give it 3.5 stars out of 5. Evan Rachel Wood was the wrong voice for the lead "Lucy" role. Her performance disappointed me, but was carried along by the strength of Jim Sturgess (hey "Jude"), Martin Luther McCoy (Jo-Jo), and Joe Anderson (Max).

I'm a sucker for a good soundtrack and taking chances. And the filmmakers took a big chance on this one. So I say Across the Universe is worth seeing in the big-girl theater, the one with the big-boy speakers.

Monday, October 15

Streams: Narcissism, Pauses, Selah

I am (traditionally) a day late and a dollar short, I know. I know.

Saturday, October 13

Dirty Mexitalian Eggs, A Recipe

There is a wild buzz in the Klein house this Saturday afternoon. Mackenzie is blaming it on the rain. (I bit my tongue from calling her Milli or Vanilli.) She claims the rain "makes everyone a little more passionate." There are fresh cinnamon rolls being baked in the oven, and twelve year old Allie is leafing through fancy cookbooks to make something passionate for dinner.

I made a quasi-omelet for lunch that we devoured like frenzied hawks. I wish I had a photo of it, but all that remains is a lonely griddle. I'll leave you the recipe.

Dirty Mexitalian Eggs

2 tablespoons butter
1 piece of garlic, chopped
1/3 red onion, chopped
1/2 of a fresh zucchini, halved and chopped
1/2 cup of salsa
3 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup of milk
salt and pepper, to taste
thinly sliced pepper jack and cheddar cheese
small handful of pepperoni
1 handful of fresh spinach
warm tortillas
chopped lettuce
sour cream

1. Saute zucchini in a hot pan with 1 tbs butter.
2. Add onions and garlic after a few minutes. (These burn too easily. Be delicate!)
3. Lower to low-medium heat.
3.5 Heat oven to 350.
4. Add in salsa, simmer with a lid.
5. Add 1 tbs butter, stir around edges.
6. Add beaten eggs/milk, cover until the edges begin to stiffen.
7. In a separate pan, saute spinach with a smidge of butter and water.
8. Add spinach, cheese, and pepperoni to the eggs, add salt and pepper
9. Put in oven for about 10 minutes.
10. Carefully flip, if desired, or serve as is with warm tortillas, lettuce, and sour cream.

I also added chopped cooked potatoes, but that's just because we had them hanging around. My "careful flip" was not so careful, and so I decided that we were eating dirty mexitalian eggs. Quickly disappearing.

(Italy, or Mexico photo by Ancawonka)

Phone Photo Upload

[From last night at the Central library]

The Art-walk took us all around town. My personal favorite was the trip to the Pasadena Conservatory where I learned how to do "body percussion." Clapping, snapping, and hitting various flabby to muscular body parts creates different rhythmic melodies!

Improvisational music retains many kind metaphors to the rhythm of relationships and to the Church universal.

It is nice to become more acquainted with your city with a group of new friends.

Friday, October 12

Salsa in the Reference Section

Old books make me high. Tonight there's this crazy four-hour art tour that starts at the Pasadena Central Library, and goes all around old-town. This is the same library that took my breath away as I first approached its welcoming old European fountain a few days ago.

The children's corridor is large and magnificent enough to do cartwheels through. If one should desire to do such a thing.

I like free Friday night happenings.

Rumor has it that there will be many surprises tonight for the art-tour. I heard that there will be free Salsa lessons in the Reference section of the library. Dancing in the Reference section!

(Photo of Pasadena Library by Libraryman.)

Thursday, October 11

Oh, Oh My!

Things That Caused Me to Feel Terribly Loved. This Weekend In Review:

1. Getting to hug dear Elise, Sarah, and Katrina as they drove up to Pasadena from Westmont.
2. Seeing Trevor B. leap out of Sarah's trunk to surprise me with more huggies. (Embraces, not diapers.) The sneaker boy!
3. Sue Klein's chocolate chip banana bread. Served warm with butter.
4. Lucky Boy's breakfast burritos the size of small infants.
5. Riding next to Trevor on the train back to Santa Barbara.
6. Arianna welcoming me with a handful of orchids! I've never received orchids! I must say, they are most perfumalovely.
7. When some aeroplane drew me a big heart in the morning Montecito sky.
8. Taking a nap on Carpinteria's ("world's safest") Beach.
9. The dolphins that played in the super-shallow Pacific waves.
10. Experiencing the 21st annual Avocado Festival.
11. Watching my brothers Jesse and Trevor do the wild eagle dance at the drum circle on Santa Barbara's beach.
12. Artful coffee with Cari, Northwest java connoisseur.
13. A wild African dinner party of 20 at Carly's. Cooked by Jesse!
14. Me learning how to make chapatis at said party!
15. The hysterical post-dinner dance party, and dance-off.
16. Arriving back at the Klein house into the running-to-me hugs of little Bruce and Emily.

I think that Arianna's photo on the side of (an excitedly-painted) truck says it best. Oh, oh my. We are blessed!

Wednesday, October 10

Rock the Vote

In my sad failure to update my blog this week, I hereby offer you this small opportunity to intercept my life decisions. I need a part-time job while I'm taking classes, and while I'm continuing to raise support. All of the following are actual, real, and no-nonsense options I've unearthed. No animals were harmed during the unearthing. Please vote for my future.

And when you're done, you should see what Mel in South Carolina just did to lure me back into the fangs of blogdom. It is making me blush and giggle. Here it is: Oh Nelly Where Art Thou?

Thursday, October 4

Ride Bike, Get Happy

I think that everyone should ditch their cars and ride bikes. We'd all be a happier bunch. And the Earth would be, too.

I am having such a nice time riding from Altadena to Pasadena on the bike. I've been trekking up and down the hill for the last three days and feel like the richest kid on the planet. There's time to breathe the air, to wave to grandmas, to talk to God, to count the palm trees on Mar Vista Avenue.

This morning I packed a skirt in my backpack and rode down to Fuller for an interview at the Writing Center. I arrived early and stealthily changed out of my sweaty clothes and put on something more interview-esque. I even had time to stick my nose in the roses near Stephan Hall. (They smell great, but desperately need water.)

I got the job. You may now call me an honorable "On-Call Editorial Assistant." I feel like I deserve a beeper.

My new boss said it was very European of me to bike to my interview. That made me happy.

(Hand signals from Bike Miami Valley)

Wednesday, October 3

The First Days

I flew into Burbank on Monday and found the lovely Kleins waiting to hug me. Going from airport to airport, I arrived just in time to find a seat in Dr. Kraft's (somewhat infamous) class at Fuller. (And I've got the picture to prove it.) Smiling with me is Amy G. She's been in my MAGL online cohort, too. Cute that she commemorated my goofy-I've-just-arrived-to-California excitement. And God saw that it was good. The evening and the morning, the first day.

On Tuesday's morning I borrowed a bike from nice Morgan Klein, and happily learned that the ride to school is all downhill. It's about a half-hour joyride through palm-laced streets. I waved to approximately 4.5 grandpas and some smiling children in strollers.

Laying aside my bratty disdain for ugly libraries, I got acquainted with Fuller's antiquated shelves. (The library from my undergrad uni, UMBC, was 7-floors high, filled with light, and immaculate. Beauty makes it easier to study, I say.) Happy as a clam, I checked out a gorgeous old copy of Elizabeth B. Brownings' complete poetical works, inscribed to Sophia (with love) on September 26, 1913. Old Elizabeth's sonnets are so thick. And she knew my Italy very well.

On the one hour evening ride home from Fuller I surmised why they call it Altadena. I will conquer that hill in better time, I will. But all the sweat reminds me that I'm alive. The evening and the morning, the second day.