Thursday, July 31, 2008

Paradox of Self

I've been waxing philosophical lately about what I will coin, "the paradox of self." After a diversity seminar at work a few weeks ago, I realized that there exists a whole new dimension to stereotypes that I had never considered before. Individuals can define themselves by different groups, traits, and beliefs without being the whole of that group. That is obvious. That is the basis of faulty stereotypes and categorizations. The CIA Factbook can't tell you who a person of FILL IN NATIONALITY HERE truly is. I think that type of ridiculous stereotyping is easy to recognize (or at least ought to be).

However, individuals can also define themselves in seemingly opposing terms. Part of the essence of humanity rests within a paradox. Stereotyping is not just assuming that a person fits a bill because of one of their identifiers, but also that they can not identify with other traits on a conditional basis. I can be a religious feminist. A conservative humanitarian. A procrastinator go-getter. An intellectual idiot. An outgoing introvert. A dreamer and a realist. I can be one thing and the exact "opposite." Humans are composed of layers and layers of identities with varying levels of densities.

If people could figure this out, there would be a lot less misunderstanding in the world. Unfortunately, many groups or ideological followers expect fellow identifiers to believe or act the same as them. BUT, here's the news. This type of prejudice, faulty logic, stereotyping is wrong and detrimental to the exploration of human identity in both self and in others. The costs of refusing to recognize paradoxes are great.

It has taken me many years to recognize the paradox within myself and regarding others. I can be two things at once, and nobody can tell me that one part of me invalidates another part. Within all humans exist a paradox; and this paradox is a valid way of expressing and defining one's self, no matter the contradictory social messages that suggests otherwise.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...

I have finally made my Mac vs. PC decision that I was ruminating about earlier (thanks to all of you who contributed your advice). Drum roll please...

A Mac. I listened to the majority, and ultimately, my brother-in-law's enthusiasm for all things Mac convinced me in the end. I am hopeful that I will make the adjustment smoothly and painlessly. The MacBooks just seem so modern, reliable, and design-friendly. I am ready for the change.

However, as I added things to my shopping cart, it seemed like more and more unexpected costs kept popping up. For example: I was advised to purchase extra GBs of memory for $100. And if I am buying more memory, I might as well just get the faster processor for another $100. And if I don't want my laptop to get scratched, I should buy a cover which runs at 50 bucks. And if I spend that on just the cover, I ought to buy AppleCare to protect the machine itself which amounts to no small sum of $350. Sigh. It's the classic lesson that I learned in elementary school: If you give a mouse a cookie, he will ask for a glass of milk.

And then he'll ask for a straw. And then a napkin. Followed by a mirror, scissors, a broom, and well, you get the point. (You've got to the read the book by Laura Joffe Numeroff. It is a childhood classic). The point is that soon the mouse will be living with you and asking for cookies all the time. There is no end to the chain of requests, events, or costs resulting from a seemingly isolated incident. All things in the known world are attached to strings.

For all I know, my new MacBook could be a marionette. I'll own one of everything the Apple Store sells by next week.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

bella, the movie

I just watched the movie, bella, for the second time, and I think I liked it even more than the first time. It has the whole independent/foreign film feel to it. It was artful and emotional. The plot is simple but beautiful; the cinematography basic but insightful. My favorite scenes are when a blind man asks Nina to describe the day to him in exchange for one of his folded paper origami creations. See clip here. Another one of my favorites is when girls on the street compliment Nina's Mexican dress that they think Jose spent a fortune on, but really it was her waitressing uniform.

The casting was excellent. Eduardo Verástegui is a perfect soccer player turned mysterious chef, and Tammy Blanchard is a great down-and-out New York City waitress. Alejandro Sanz even put one of his songs into the film that infuses the soul of his music with the lives of the characters.

After watching this movie my heart feels heavy (in a good way). This is a film filled with humanity and brimming with a positive message despite seemingly overbearing hardships. You've got to watch this one.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nothing Says America Like Flags and Fairs

Remember my obsession with those flag photos, you know the ones that I've been posting over the the past year here, here, here, here, and here? Well, finally my obsession paid off.

My digitally enhanced photo won "Best of Show" in the photography section of the fair. I was surprised...I suppose pleasantly so. The judges just must have wanted a big slice of Americana. The majestic Washington monument, superimposed by a nighttime DC scene. Red, white, and blue flags. Let freedom ring. Proud to be an American. Yadda yadda yadda.

My other photos, painting and jewelry also pulled in a few firsts. All the money I won will go directly back into buying more beads and frames. In truth though, I hardly even won enough to cover what it took to print out the photos that I entered this year. At least there's the validation---yes, my art means something.

Plus, I get to share my photos with more people than just my lovely blog readers. But let's be honest, you guys are my *favoritest*!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Several days this week, I went to the fair with friends to catch up and eat artery-clogging food. This coming week I will be officially detoxing from all things fried and/or frozen.

Although, I have realized that the fair generally is less as exciting as I believe it should be, I do like spending time with people (or leaving them waiting in the stadium all alone for half an hour, sorry Tami). I do like the idea that SOMETHING is occurring in good ole Shippensburg as well. And as Emily C. said, "It's always going to be our hometown" (take that as you will).

After only stopping by the tractor pull at the fair for a few minutes, Emily W. and I about contracted black lung. The good earth had to have frowned upon the smoke that came out of those tractors. It was sort of like watching a coal mine explosion. I'm pretty sure I complained about the same thing last year... For some reason though, the tractor pull always pulls in a big crowd.

In better news, the girl scouts made super delicious thin mint chocolate milkshakes. Mmmmmm. Chocolate was dripping down the cup, onto my hands, down my mouth, and onto my feet. Ugh, perhaps too much chocolate.

We also petted the animals. They were cute. Especially the cows and goats.

We affectionately termed the goats, "the love goats." They liked taking naps on each others' backs.

Overall, I would say I had a fair-licious week.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Whispering Sweet Nothings to...My Water Bottle

Oh, beautiful water. Thank you. May you be blessed by kindness and peace. I wish you happiness.

Crazy? Well, Japanese scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto, claims that the structure of water molecules can change based on the thoughts of the humans observing them. He taped a bunch of positive and negative words onto different glasses of distilled water before freezing them and taking photos of the water crystals that formed. Via What the Bleep:
Dr. Masaru Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them. He found that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors.

Here's an example of two of his water crystal photos, one which he told to die and the other which he thanked. They certainly look different.

Honestly, I want to believe that human determination can affect the very structure of water, and I like flirting with the idea that the human mind could manifest realities. But let's be serious. I can't will it not to rain tomorrow. I can't will my car not to break down. Thoughts cannot transcend "fate." The human mind simply can't assume control over forces that are complete externalities (including water molecules).

For more info....

Detailed laudatory info at Life Enthusiast:
From Mr. Emoto's work we are provided with factual evidence, that human vibrational energy, thoughts, words, ideas and music, affect the molecular structure of water.

Detailed denigratory info at Is Masaru Emoto for Real?:
After the lengthy review of Emoto’s research methods and results, I have come to believe that Dr. Emoto is offering pseudoscience to the masses in the guise of defensible research.

Personally, I believe that exploring the idea of human possibilities is intriguing, even if the theories do fall short in the end.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where Did I Put the Magnifying Glass?

I especially like this one (from over there at indexed).

Why does it feel like I'm signing my life away? Do I really have to read all those those tiny ink blots?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What the Bleep Do We Know?

Perception is everything. The docu-drama film, What the Bleep Do We Know was interesting to say the least:
Starring Marlee Matlin and 14 Scientists and Mystics. Exploring the worlds of Quantum Physics, Neurology, and Molecular Biology in relation to the spheres of Spirituality, Metaphysics and Polish weddings.
The whole phenomenon expressed in this movie is likely pseudoscience, but many of the ideas considered are still worth thinking about. You should watch it if you are want a good "thinker."

My lingering thought after watching the film is that linking quantum mechanics with consciousness, is the modern day humanism. Think about it; the movement is shockingly similar to ideas that sparked humanism during the Italian/European Renaissance. God within the self. Connectedness--now termed "entanglement". Individual empowerment and actualization. Marriage of religion and science. Emphasis on human creation and the ability to affect one's world. Humanism has reinvented itself into post-modern thought.

Also, my thoughts on this docu-drama continue...maybe we need these whack ideas to push our society out of constructed thought. Sure, believers get excited and take their theories too far, but asking people to step beyond what they have always assumed is a healthy dose of perspective. I predict, that just like humanism, the collective idea will be debunked, but a few of the more coherent principles will prove to be likely.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Is It Supposed to Look Like That?

Oh no. My sister and I usually enter the Peqap Angel Food Cake Contest at the fair, but this year it did not happen. We woke up early. We baked a cake. It was all going smoothly.

And then, when we flipped it over to put it on the little doily thing, whadoodoodoop (you know, the cartoon sound made when a balloon is deflating). The entire cake slumped down and wrinkled. Nooooo.

We are sad. Our lemon butter-cream frosting even turned well. And the purple flowers added the perfect contrast.

We couldn't enter it though; not when it would be up against the perfect cakes of 90 year old prize winning professional baker grannies. Everyone would ask who baked that thing on the end? That sagging lumpy mess?

Sigh, all that effort for naught.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Tomorrow Museum

The Tomorrow Museum is a good blog that explores a different element of art that affects us in unseen ways.
The Tomorrow Museum is a collection of images and speculative essays exploring how technology, science, and economics are affecting the fine arts. We believe, as William Gibson has said, that the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.
Recent posts include:

Suburban Ruins and the Ethics of House Flipping ---Some people are holding on to their houses because they don't want to sell it to young whippersnappers who are going to 'flip' everything around. The article suggests a DC woman may not have any other choice, "gross remodeling may be its inevitable second life. For now, she’s still waiting for someone who will respect the design of the place." Her nostalgia is understandable, but really, can you stop modernization? And no matter how you answer that, you definitely can't control other people's decisions, house design-wise or not. At least buyers aren't pawing at her to rip her house down to make way for a shopping mall---that might just be a case for cardiac arrest.

Please don't leave a facebook comment on my birthday ---which I somewhat disagree with. Who doesn't like a little facebook love? Sure, a little one-on-one interaction would be nice, but it isn't always practical. I think a quick "happy b-day" is short and sweet.

A trip to the zoo Animals are smart. And (maybe?) nice to look at. Zoos are straying away from the museum mentality, you know the whole idea of looking at the creature with a "frame around it." Today they are going full out imitation. However, the question still remains the same, Is it wrong to keep Mr. Panda locked up in his pretend almost real natural habitat?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fair Time

It's FAIR week in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania!

Anyone who lives in a small town will understand this sentiment---Finally, there is something other to do than cow-tipping. Thank goodness.

This week will equate to the following: tractors, fried food, games, shows, barn animals, rides, contests, crafts, and muddy hills. Yeah, you gotta love the community fair.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Branches and Berries

I'm lovin' summer.

Everything about it. The sun, plants, colors, tastes, smells, views, sounds, water, weather, freedom, sky, and people.

It's probably good summer is only once a year; otherwise it might be sensory overload. I am thankful for the seasons (although I wish they could all be more like summer).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Regret: The Nature of Women and Men

I was browsing Neuroanthropology: Yes, as nerdy as it sounds. But interesting. Very interesting.

Most current article: Girls gone guilty: Evolutionary psych on sex #2 A recent journal publication argued:
that women are ‘ill adapted’ for promiscuity, that the ’sexual and feminist revolutions’ didn’t work because women couldn’t shake their inherent nature, which is to long for committed relationships and loathe themselves if they act like cheap floozies.
To which, gregdowney, whose paraphrase is above, repudiates:
That is, if you went in with a different framework for explanation — like, ‘too many guys in one-night stands don’t know how to satisfy women’ or ‘women are better at sex than men’ — you could construct another story around this data that was equally plausible — no, more plausible — than women are programmed to want long-term relationships.

I think I disagree with large portions of both viewpoints.

1. The feminist movement was not merely an attempt to allow women to have casual sex with ease. This seemed to be some sort of motive that got super-imposed upon the feminist revolution to make it seem more sinister and well, ridicule-able. I do believe it had more to do with equality and fairness.

2. I think that both men and women are programmed, as we shall call it, to desire stable long-term relationships.

3. However, the additional "programming" that influences women more so than men is the social conditioning of society rather than one's nature. Society tells women that they ought to be married and popping out babies (among other messages) in order to be successful. Also, a woman who is sexually promiscuous may be labelled a whore, whereas a man with similar habits is a stud.

My conclusion: Neither men nor women are naturally inclined to embrace the phenomenon of a one-night-stand as a self-fulfilling, emotionally satisfying way of life. Temporary physical relationships lead to loneliness and emptiness regardless whether there is bragging or hiding occurring the morning after.

Good or bad moral decisions, if you will, are always either punished with *eventual* remorse or rewarded with *underlying* self-affirmation. Depending on which path was taken, the notion of right or wrong always lingers and always catches up. Man or woman.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bird Brain? Oh, What a Compliment

Did you know that birds sing complex strains of notes? I find it intriguing. The (sometimes pesky) chirping you hear coming from the tree is actually beautiful music. When slowed down you can hear the melody. Click on Slowing Down the Song at Why Birds Sing. Shocking.

Apparently Mozart bought himself a pet starling from whom he (purportedly) stole his notes. He was deeply attached to his little starling. According to PBS, "Birdsong is so elegant it's inspired the great masters. Mozart borrowed these notes from his beloved starling. When his muse died, the distraught maestro even gave it a formal funeral and wrote a poem in its honor." Awww, poor Wolfgang.

Similarly, Beethoven stole the famous "dah dah dah daaah" in his Fifth Symphony from a wood wren. This is craziness!

Science NOVA Now explores the cutting edge research that is being developed based on the study of bird calls and corresponding brain activity. Researchers are hopeful that their findings will help to eliminate stuttering in human subjects.

Who knew birds were so smart?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sold Out (Literally)

Allmylifeforsale follows the project of one brave soul. A guy who sold everything he owned (in the most literal sense) on Ebay. He listed every item he owned on the popular auction site with a starting bid of 99 cents. I think he must've been slightly crazy or extremely sensible. It's hard to tell which of the two. The website says:
John Freyer catalogued and sold nearly everything that he owned, from his kitchen cutlery to his personal hygiene products, his Star Wars sheets and finally even the domain name itself....

To date he has sold more than 600 items including his false teeth, a full size office copier, personal photographs, and his winter coat (in the middle of the winter).

Soon his belongings were sold all over the world, with a bag of Porky's BBQ Pork Skins making its way to Japan, and a chair ending up in the Museum of Modern Art. With almost all the objects in his life now gone, he started the second phase of his journey: to visit his onetime possessions in their new homes.

Ummm? Crazy. I bet he didn't sell the $$$ in his bank account though. He had to make a killing off the revenue from his project. He got loads of publicity, and he has made a book about his misadventures too.

I still have lingering questions about his project. Like did he sell his sentimental possessions? Where did he live? What did he wear? How did he survive without, you know, stuff?

I guess that's the point though. His idea was inspired; not only as an art form, but also as a sociology study about the relationship between possessions and the self. Note my post on Pack Ratism as well as an excellent blog, The Unclutterer, for an exploration of these topics. I'm guessing Mr. Freyer is the proud owner of lots of new shiny THINGS now. I don't think it possible to not accumulate things in modern society...

Jib Jab On the Political Scene Again

While I generally dislike stupid humor, I admit that I had to laugh at JibJab's new 2008 election video. My favorite part, hands down, is Obama riding through the enchanted forest on a unicorn singing "the change we must change to the change we hold so dear. I really like change have I made myself clear?" I about lost it. Hahahaha.

And then he knocks over poor Hillary Clinton. Oh, satire.

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Can Freshmen Really Smell a Newbie a Mile Away? Let's Hope Not.

Whoo. I got my textbook in the mail for the class I will be teaching in the fall. *Furiously ripping off plastic wrap and flipping through pages.* Yes. Quite lovely.

As a first time TA, I will be teaching Oral Communication: Principles and Practices which will probably be filled with freshmen. I am so excited, not exactly about the freshman part, but definitely about the teaching part. I have heard that first year students are a lot like wild beasts; don't let them smell the fear and all will be well. Ha, ha.

I already have ideas for what to include in my syllabus. I want to turn my little prodigies into the best speech-givers ever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Idiots, Technology, and Dating

Assorted Links

How To Be The Perfect Girlfriend via Video Jug
---Even for the unattached, good stuff to know. Let him measure things. Ah, yes. This is why I'm single...

How to keep an idiot busy
---5 minutes of fun...or amusement...or frustration...or whatever. Note: There is a way to "win." Only not-idiots can figure it out. Oh, ouch.

---good blog for the tech-savvy, or those wanting to be.

Worst Phone Message Ever via Holy Taco
----I can't imagine why Olga didn't call Dmitri back?? This is when dating goes all wrong. Or...the attempt of it. He probably doesn't get many dates.

Did I mention that the 3 ingredients in the title somehow have a way of finding each other? Sort of like white bread, peanutbutter & jelly.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Arboretum Et Voila

Yesterday Nicole and I kidnapped Emily C. and carted her off to Washington DC for her birthday. First we visited the US National Arboretum which is basically a giant 446 acre garden. Whoah. Lot's of plants. We walked around the Asian collection and the "Wa"shington Youth Garden. We also drove past lots of other sections until we got kicked out. Yes, that's right, we got kicked out of an arboretum (It was closing time).

Then we took her to the French/Belgian restaurant Et Voila. The food was exquisite. Yeah, really good. And Emily loves all things French so it was great.

Unfortunately, we only got lost, what?, a hundred times? Let me tell you, I was really regretting my decision to "find it when we got there." What did humanity do before the creation of MapQuest and GoogleMaps? Trying to navigate through a city with a simple map is like trying to go scuba diving with a straw. It doesn't exactly work. At least there was good company in my car to ward off the insanity:) Although, if I never drive around another circle thing in my life, I will be happy.

The plants (and butterflies) at the arboretum were sooooo gorgeous.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Smiles Are Contagious; I Dare You Not to Smile at These

Check out Great Smiles - Happy Life - The Happiest Blog on Earth which features new smiles everyday. A great idea. People share their best smile photos with the site and they post a new one every day. I know some smilers. You know, people who smile even when the world is crashing and burning around them, but gosh darn it, they just can't wipe that smile off their face... The world needs more smilers.

And by the way, who can't smile at faces like these?

Come on. Don't fight it. I know you're smiling.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally, A Happy News Only Source

What a novel idea. is a news site that doesn't make you feel depressed after reading it (unless you are the Grinch or take pleasure in other's misfortune that is). This news source only publishes positive stories. I'd say it is a welcome relief. Finally, some news that helps to restore a little hope in humanity and happiness in our days.

Sometimes I get bogged down by the traditional negative news stories after negative news story, from violence, fires, hurricanes, war, corruption, poverty, to lying, stealing, cheating, terrorism, and dying. If I am watching TV and the local news pops on, I can hardly stand it. I have to go find the remote and change the channel (or go read a book). While I am a huge proponent of staying informed, following the news is sometimes just asking to much. And that is a sad truth about the condition of our world.

Enough with my diatribe though...add some HappyNews to your life.

Link courtesy of Jazz over at Jazz Spot Thanks.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

White and Nerdy

If you are white and nerdy (or neither), you'll like this blog, Stuff White People Like. It's a big list of, well, stuff white people tend to like. It's hilarious.

The list details the white person's obsession with (to name a few): coffee, bad memories of high school, Apple products, multi-lingual children, irony, music piracy, sweaters, and expensive sandwiches.

My personal favorite, Grammar:
Do not assume that white people will cast a blind eye to your grammar mistakes in email and official documents. They will judge you and make a general assessment about your intelligence after the first infraction. Fortunately, this situation can be improved if you ask a white person to proof read your work before you send it out. “Hey Jill, I’m sorry to do this, but I have a business degree and I’m a terrible writer. Can you look this over for me?” This deft maneuver will allow the white person to feel as though their liberal arts degree has a purpose and allow you to do something more interesting.

Don’t worry, it is impossible for a white person to turn down the opportunity to proofread.
----That's me. That's me. I am that person... Why do I get the feeling I am being mocked??

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I realized that I have never blogged about my beading obsession. What a shame.

It's about time you knew, blogosphere. My name is Jenn and I have a beading problem. "Hi, Jenn," you say (Ironically beading is a lot more like alcholism than you could imagine. It takes a lot of money, a lot of time, sometimes makes you happy, sometimes angry, and is highly addictive).

I have three very large, very full plastic containers filled with nothing other than beads and beading supplies. I love designing, creating, picking out beads for, and of course, wearing my jewelry. My particular 'kick' at this point is for the earrings. They are the quickest and classiest. Nice sterling silver finding and glass beads make a nice combo.

I suppose I envision myself selling all the stuff that I make, but I find that to be the worst part of being an artist/artisian. You want to focus on creation, not on business managment. Or in other words I want to make stuff and somehow magically be able to self-support my work. I want to create create create. Unfortunately that also means spend spend spending.

Oh the perils of being an artist.

Backyard Beauty

When I looked out the window yesterday, I was struck by how pretty it is outside. I think we take for granted how spectacular everyday things are.

I didn't realize it until I truly looked, but the the flowers in my backyard really are beautiful.

Is there is something outside your window that you've been missing out on? It could be almost anything. Another building? A tree? Your neighbor's car? Raindrops? Fog? Blue sky? A bunny? Kids jumping on a trampoline? Another apartment? Clothes on the line? Grass? A busy road? Whatever you see when you look out the window, there is beauty there. Just look.

Sometimes it's easy to forget, but beauty is all around us---even in that which seems ordinary.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Driving in a Little Yellow Car

Ohhhh, I am in car love.

My dad got a rental car because his went into the shop for repair (which is actually a funny story). His car got damaged by a rocket. And yes, I said rocket. Apparently, a high school physics class lost control of their "experiment" in the parking lot and they managed to send a missile right into my dad's car. He he. Needless to say, he wasn't too happy.

But on the bright side, the rental place gave him a bug to use for the week. A bright yellow VW bug (although maybe it's a beetle?? I don't really know the difference). Anyway, I have always said that yellow cars (except for iconic NYC taxi cabs) are hideous, but I have been proven wrong. A cute little Volks Wagon in yellow is about the most adorable thing ever. I'm not sure what Dad thinks though. He didn't take it to go golfing. He said it was because his clubs wouldn't fit in the trunk, but I think it was more what his golf buddies would say that worried him. Ha ha.

As for myself, I drove it a little bit yesterday, and now all I can think of is how far could I drive this thing away until the police caught wind of it and pulled me over for grand theft auto? I think I could make it least Tennessee, what do you think? Bah ha ha.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer Eatin'

Warning: the food discussed hereafter will make you salivate. Read post at your own risk.

At a picnic this week with my family, we had shish kabobs marinated in Hawaiian sauce. I chopped up everything from zucchini to broccoli and speared them onto wooden skewers.

Then for dessert we had grilled pineapple, because I thought it would be a good idea to take something I already love and throw it on the grill. I was right. Mmmmmmmm. The only thing as tasty as fresh pineapple is grilled pineapple.

Here's my recipe:

Honey Citrus Grilled Pineapple:
--Cut a fresh pineapple into flat slices
--Brush with mixture of 3 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, and a pinch of pepper
--Grill until golden brown

Oh, man. This is delicious; I guarantee it.