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Confession time: I've been following the Vlogbrothers on YouTube since 2007. It's a video blog done collaboratively by two brothers and definitely aimed at a more teenagery audience than me, but I enjoy their videos.

One of the brothers is a fairly successful author of young adult fiction, and a couple weeks ago he released his latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars. The book is about a 16-year-old girl with terminal cancer and opens on the day that she meets a hot, albeit one-legged, 17-year-old boy at cancer support group.

It's definitely a much more entertaining book than that suggests, though, and contains many more madcap adventures than you'd expect a terminally ill girl to be having.

The teenagers in Green's novel definitely seem a little too smart and eloquent and witty to me -- I'm sure I wasn't as erudite as Hazel or Augustus when I was 16. Then again, I remember once reading Orson Scott Card defending Ender's Game against the same charge; he said (and I'm paraphrasing) that it always seems to be adults who feel the teenager characters are unrealistically smart; teenagers themselves find them to ring true. When I read that as a teenager I nodded my head sagely. So maybe all this really says is that the perennial gap of understanding between teenagers and non-teenagers hasn't gone away since I crossed to the grownup side.

My favorite quote from the book is this one, in which the narrator is remembering a memorable event:
I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn't see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.

Perhaps it doesn't mean as much out of context, but that really rang true to me. I have always been too easily derailed by nostalgia and what-ifs; it's easy to fall into thinking that life would be perfect if only x occurred. But really, when x occurs, all we end up doing is wishing it would happen slightly differently or would happen again or would keep happening forever. Yad aniccam tam dukkham -- what is impermanent is unsatisfactory. And everything is impermanent.
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My mother recently started a blog about books she's reading, and while I am not likely to write book reviews with that level of thoughtfulness, I thought I could use this heretofore underutilized blog to jot down notes on what I read.

My first books of the year were Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis. Both books are set in the same universe as one of my favorite books of all time, Doomsday Book -- which is to say, the world of c. 2060, in which Oxford grad students study history by making field trips using a time machine. While Doomsday Book is set mostly in the Middle Ages, Blackout/All Clear are set in World War II England.

I'd never though much about the Londoners who didn't evacuate during the Blitz. It's hard for me even to imagine the mindset that would allow you to wake up every morning and go in to work as a shopgirl on Oxford Street while every night your neighborhood is being bombed. Wouldn't you leave? Even if you didn't know anyone outside London or have a job lined up, wouldn't you try heading somewhere else and figure you might be homeless but at least you'd be alive? When I mentioned this to a friend he said, Staying in London wasn't brave; it was stupid. I hadn't actually suggested that it WAS brave; I don't have any idea what to consider it. I just think it's crazy that people are so adaptable we apparently get used to living in war zones.

The other notable thing about these books is that they're looooong. 1147 pages total. That's more than half the TOTAL number of pages I managed to read last year.* So I guess I'm off to a good start.

* At least, if the only books I read were the ones I read on my phone (i.e., The Remains of the Day; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; Hyperion; The Graveyard Book; Never Let Me Go; and Wicked). I may have read other ones on actual paper, but I don't remember.
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Over New Year's, Justin (and his parents) took charge of Zoe for a few days so I could meet up with friends in New York. I hadn't seen Doug in entirely too long, and I don't see as much of Andrew as I'd like, so it was a whole lot of fun.

New Year's in New York
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I break three months of LJ silence for the extraordinarily important news that I have created a Scott Pilgrim avatar.



Scott Pilgrim avatar creator.
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Here's an interview I did for The Valley Catholic way back in March 2001. Father Coyne is now retired as head of the Vatican Observatory. I enjoyed this interview and found the part about what the church can learn from the Galileo controversy particularly interesting.

Vatican Observatory director connects science, religion
By Marjorie Carlson


Jesuit Father George V. Coyne is the director of the Vatican Observatory, and astronomical research institute with headquarters in the pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolofo and a second research institute in Tucson, Ariz. Father Coyne's work takes him frequently back and forth between the two.

"I also have time to do my own research," Father Coyne said. "I have a doctorate in astronomy, so I try to keep up my interest in the field, doing research into binary stars. And I teach at the University of Arizona; I've been on the faculty there since before I went to the Vatican Observatory."

What drew you into the field of astronomy?

[Marjorie's note: as I recall, his first answer to this question was a guffaw and an explanation that a young Jesuit's field of study is chosen by the order, not by himself.]

As a young Jesuit I had a professor of Greek who also had a master's degree in mathematics, and he interested me in the sciences in general. Even in high school I leaned towards being interested in the sciences, but it was only in my first years of studies as a Jesuit that I developed that interest more. So the Jesuit superiors eventually sent me to study astronomy.

What is your interest in the relationship between science and religion?

It's rather natural for a Jesuit who's been trained through the seminary in philosophy and theology and then who does a doctorate in the sciences to have some interest in how all of these fields relate to one another. That comes naturally to someone with our education.

But for me, I particularly took an interest when I became director of the Vatican Observatory. I became director the same year Pope John Paul II became pope. (In fact, I was appointed by his predecessor, who only lived for a month and whom I never met, but who appointed me through Jesuit superiors.)

From the very beginning of his papacy, Pope John Paul II wanted to establish a vital and interesting dialogue between the world of science and the church. Within a few years he established a commission to investigate the Galileo affair. That stimulated my personal interest as well as the interest of the observatory.

As early as 1987 we started a series of conferences among scholars (not a layman's dialogue, though it has its influence on the life of lay people) to bring together scholars in philosophy, theology, and a particular field of science, to discuss issues that overlapped.

We discussed matters such as the beginning of the universe as scientists see it and as it is known from Scripture and theology; evolution; the nature of the human person and the neurosciences.

We had a series of five conferences over the past ten years concerning those topics, and there are five volumes that have been published as a result, containing papers by all of the participants.

What has been your involvement in the Galileo controversies?

The pope appointed a commission in 1988 to study the Galileo affair. I served on the group discussing the scientific and epistemological issues surrounding the controversy. I'm not a historian of science, but I became interested in the Galileo affair through that.

I did some study and organized some discussion groups with scholars in the area, and also served on the commission. We published a series of papers on Galileo: Galileo and the proofs for the heliocentric (or sun-centered) system, and so on.

What are some lessons the church of today could learn from the Galileo affair?

The lesson to be learned from the Galileo case is that there will be no productive dialogue between science and religion if ignorance dominates either one side or the other -- or both.

I think the church should learn, from the Galileo case and from other circumstances, that listening is as important as speaking. That is, hearing what scientists are really doing is as important as the church speaking out on many issues.

The church of those days was ignorant both of Scripture and of science, frankly. Galileo wrote his famous letter to the Duchess Christina, which anticipated by 400 years the church's statements on the interpretation of sacred Scripture: that Scripture is not a science textbook and that -- as Galileo said -- Scripture teaches us not how the heavens go but how to go to heaven.

The church should also learn from those circumstances to let scientific research mature before making a declaration about it. To declare that the heliocentric system was heretical because it contradicted Scripture was jumping ahead of the game.

What the church should have done in those days was nothing! No one knew enough to say anything yet.

There were no proofs for a sun-centered solar system, but Galileo was a renowned international scholar and he had persuasive evidence. Why not let it go on until conclusive evidence is found?

To cut off mature research being done by responsible and renowned intellectuals is wrong. There's a lesson the church can always learn: don't speak out when you don't have to speak out, and if you're going to speak out, base your doctrinal and moral statements upon good science rather than poor science.

What about scientific issues, such as genetic research, where there are ethical implications to what the scientific community is doing?

Those are much more difficult situations and I thank the Lord I'm not in them! Whether the universe is 15 billion or 12 billion years old has, I think, no ethical implications. But molecular evolutionary biology -- genetics -- certainly does.

The only general statement I can make, since I'm not in that field, is that the church should have people who can advise it on the best scientific knowledge available, so that ethical conclusions are based upon good science.

For instance, I think it is poor science to say that there is a magical moment when the human being comes to be. The generation of a human being is a continuous process, from conception through now. (Hopefully I'm still growing as a human being)

The whole process is sacred and a gift of God, from the faith standpoint. But scientifically, it's continuity. There is no magical moment when God steps in and says, "Now we have a human being."

The theological doctrine of God directly creating the human soul has to be rethought. I'm not saying denied or thrown overboard, but rethought in terms of modern science.

The meaning of God directly creating a human soul -- when that happens, if it happens -- they're difficult questions, but my point is that to do it ignorant of the best that science has to say is bound to create immense difficulties for the church.

[We then talked for a bit about their visiting scholars program -- irrelevant now.]

Why is it important for the church to be so involved in scientific research?

The church isn't "so" involved! It's a very minor involvement -- there are ten Jesuits involved. The observatory is unique; there's no other specific research institute sponsored by the Vatican. It's a tradition that has been established from the time of the reform of the calendar in the 16th century.

Why should the church do it? It may seem strange to say, this but because it has done it. The church has set up a long tradition of quality contributions to science, and that continues, in my estimation, to be a quality contribution. The observatory produces a great deal, both in science and in the dialogue between science and religion.

It's low cost, and it allows the church to be seen as seriously interested in the sciences, just as the Vatican museum shows that the church is seriously interested in the arts.

The church can't do everything -- it's a church! Its primary objective is to preach God's love and God's word. To the extent that we can share in that mission as scientists, I think it's a good thing to do.
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Hey Pittsburgh peeps, Cory Doctorow is doing a book signing tomorrow (Thursday) 2-5 at the CMU bookstore.
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DohaNews just posted a blog entry about Mohana Rajakumar's recent blog entry, Why You Don't Have Qatari Friends: Part One.

It's an interesting question, and one I pondered from time to time during my years in Qatar. Like many expats, I moved abroad with dreams of befriending locals, learning more about their culture and customs, and becoming a part of Qatari society, if only temporarily.

The reality is quite different. In six years in Qatar I made friends with Sudanese, Bangladeshi, Egyptian, Indian, Japanese, Turkish, French, Chinese, Pakistani and Iranian people, but I never made friends with a Qatari.

When we discuss what this phenomenon says about Qatari society, I think we forget something: it's not unique to Qatar. I studied abroad in London for a semester (I know, so exotic) and who did I hang out with? Americans. I lived and studied with Americans and I didn't go to pubs, so I never really met any locals. And that was London, where I spoke the language and knew the culture!

Mohana's right: people with strong roots in an area don't always have room in their social calendar for people who are going to go away again in a year. Certainly I know expats who've broken through this barrier (care to comment, Doug? Is it easier when there aren't a lot of other Westerners around, for example?) but frequently outsiders tend to remain, well, outsiders.

Now I think about it, even the exchange students in my high school often hung out with the other exchange students. Even though they were from different countries, they had something in common with each other that they didn't with us.

All expat parties end like this.
Eventually I reconciled myself to the reality of the situation. Insofar as I became part of a new culture in Qatar, it was not Qatari culture. It was transient expat culture, which has its own unique set of customs and mores. (Rule 37: Every party, whatever its original theme, will evolve into a bhangra party.) And that's fine. You don't have to make a token local friend to prove you're a legit expat.

The more serious question is, what is life like for non-expat immigrants? I'm talking here about the non-Qataris who live in Qatar not for 1- or 3-year contracts but indefinitely. There are a lot of people my age in Qatar who have lived there their whole lives, but who are not Qatari. If the main barrier to making Qatari friends is transience, I'd expect them to have Qatari friends. For the most part, in my experience, they did not. This may, of course, be selection bias: if some long-term immigrants become part of Qatari social circles, well then, they wouldn't be making friends with me. Looking at our students, though, I think that self-segregating by national origin and gender were more the rule than the exception. Walking through the common areas of CMU-Q you'd see groups of South Asian students, groups of Khaleeji students, groups of Egyptian and Palestinian students. You'd also see many mixed groups, but let's not pretend eyebrows weren't raised if a Qatari girl started hanging out with an Indian guy.

For this reason, I took issue with Doha News calling Qatar "a melting pot"; the melting pot analogy describes the ideal (flawed as it may be) of diverse people coming together and forming a common culture. It is debatable whether the US is -- or should be -- a melting pot, but when it comes to Qatar there is no question: it is not, and no one wants it to be. Qataris don't want non-Qataris to assimilate. There are no serious legal mechanisms for these immigrants I'm describing to gain permanent residency, let alone citizenship. So, while in some countries immigrants may become more and more a part of the fabric of society over time, in Qatar they are always held at arm's distance.

Then again, are things different in the US? Look around CMU-Pittsburgh for Korean students. How many of them are hanging out with non-Koreans? Unlike in Qatar, this self-segregation is generally seen as a negative thing, but we can hardly change the fact that newcomers have more in common with each other than with their host culture.

I don't know what our ideal should be. I don't think it's a melting pot. I love wandering through Chinatowns; I love that the butcher in my Jewish neighborhood has a sign out front letting us know what time the sun sets on Friday; I love that when I go to play with Zoe in the JCC I am surrounded by other moms talking to their babies in Japanese, Portuguese and Russian. I do not want American culture to become more homogenous, and am outraged by the xenophobic undercurrent in American politics that leads to things like the backlash against the "ground zero mosque." But at the same time, it makes me a little sad to think that people who might genuinely enjoy each other's company never become friends because they can't overcome the hurdle of cultural differences.

I am very curious to read Part 2 of Mohana's thoughts on not having Qatari friends!
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I still follow Qatar news, though I don't post it anymore, but three things seemed worth sharing this week.
  • Germany just expelled Bilal Philips, the imam who gave this talk at CMU. It's weird reading news like this and realizing you've met the dude involved. Bilal Philips is a Jamaican-Canadian convert to Islam, so before the talk one of our friends joked that the talk might consist of him standing up and saying, "Inshallah, mon, eh?"

    In fact, he gave one of the most well-organized and cogent talks on Islam that I heard in Qatar, although (and I didn't get into this in my original post) he seriously insulted a lot of his audience by saying that men are basically incapable of monogamy and that non-Muslim men are just dishonest about it. I was personally more offended by his hypocrisy on criminal justice. He said Western legal systems are wimpy for letting criminals evade responsibility by considering their life circumstances in sentencing. Then, ten minutes later, he said that instead of just condemning terrorists, we should seriously reflect on the root causes of terrorism and consider what it is about the state of the world that drives people to such extremes. More than a little cognitive dissonance there.

    For what it's worth, I don't agree with expelling someone from your country for hate speech. The standard in the US, established in Brandenburg v. Ohio, is that speech can only be curtailed if it is "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action." I think that's a good standard (although I recognize why Germany disagrees. Tangentially related article here.). Parenthetically, the "imminent lawless action" test overturned Schenck v. United States' "clear and present danger" test, which presumably means you CAN now shout fire in a crowded theater. Have fun with that.

  • A new draft law would actually regulate employment for maids. Huzzah, although it's impossible to enforce. When I posted this on Facebook, a former student (Persian, raised in UAE, lives in Qatar) replied, "Human rights issues in Qatar is will not be solved with laws. It will only be solved with a shift in Qatari's values and principles. This law will change nothing. Similar laws were 'enacted' in UAE, and the result was no change." Still, it's better than nothing.

  • The emir named the World Cup board of directors, and 6 of the 7 are Al-Thanis. I'm sure THAT is disspelling worries about hosting the World Cup in an autocratic Middle Eastern state.

Oops

Mar. 25th, 2011 11:27 pm
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Man, I thought LJ had been ridiculously quiet the last couple weeks. It turns out I just wasn't logged in, so I haven't seen any friends-locked posts. I guess I have a lot of reading to catch up on this weekend!
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Hey LJ, where do you back up your files online? We've been using Jungle Disk for years, but lately it's been weirdly unstable.
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I've just started scanning all the photos that I have in non-digital form, and just posted all my high school pictures on Facebook, if you'd like to giggle at high school Marjorie.
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Lately my Nexus One has been mysteriously "losing" applications. No big deal, I just redownload them through Market, the app that lets you find and download apps. Today, however, the phone mysteriously lost Market. Problem!

So, after dutifully backing up my data and recording the names of all my apps, I did a factory reset. It was ridiculously easy. Everything important, like contacts, is stored online anyway, so a reset makes no difference. Also, the reset doesn't affect data on the SD card, so my music and photos are still there. And I'd forgotten that Google backs up some basic settings by default, so as soon as I turned it back on, the phone connected to my wifi network and redownloaded all my apps for me.

I had to reenter a few passwords and drag the apps to where I want them on the screen, but other than that everything's back to normal. So far the only notable loss seems to be my high scores in Air Control. Alas!

Before I started I took pictures of my home screens so I could put everything back where I'm used to it. So, in case you're curious what apps I use all the time:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

(This one ^ is my home screen.)

Hmm, and now I've made it public that inviting Roman and Kelly over for dinner is on my to-do list today, I guess I'd better get on it. Hey Roman, wanna come over for dinner sometime? ;-)
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(Crossposted from Zoe's blog.)

One cool thing about having a baby is that it has given me a new perspective on people's willingness to help strangers.

The elevator up to the library was broken this morning, so I picked up Zoe and folded her stroller to schlep it up the stairs. A woman stopped to let me know I'd dropped my water bottle without noticing. Then, seeing I had my hands full, she ran down and retrieved it for me.

On the way home I was just going to bump the stroller down the stairs, but I only made it down three steps before a woman coming the other direction grabbed the other side of the stroller and carried it all the way down.

Those are little things, but they happen to us almost every day, from small gestures like holding doors open for the stroller to bigger ones like the woman who held Zoe for 20 minutes to keep her entertained on a long flight. Wherever I am, there is usually someone around who's willing to go out of their way to make my life easier.

This is something I notice more now that I'm a mom and more often could use a hand in public, but I don't think people are only helping me because I'm a mom. Before I'd even made it to the library this morning, I saw a man a block ahead of me take off his coat and hand it to the woman he was walking with. I was curious why, since it's not exactly shirtsleeves weather, but then I heard the sound of an engine turning over. A car had stalled at an intersection and the driver couldn't get it started. The man tapped on the back window of the car, motioned the driver to steer, and then started pushing the car out of the intersection.

You hear lots of stories of communities failing in this regard, of crowds ignoring assaults and passers-by failing to intervene in medical emergencies. Those things happen and are tragic statements about human nature. But it's nice to be reminded of the other side, too -- that most people, seeing a new mom struggling or a frazzled driver unable to start her car, will rush to help without a second thought.

Grrrrrrrrr

Jan. 11th, 2011 01:23 pm
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Had a new dishwasher delivered today. They would have taken the old one if I'd had it disconnected, but I was still working on it because the electrical box was still registering live even after I'd shut off power.

Me: "I've disconnected everything but the electricity. I'm having some problems with the electrical box."

Them: "Oh, you shouldn't try to do this yourself. There's complicated parts, like you have to disconnect the water."

Me: "Yeah, I did that, it's just this electrical box."

Them: "And you see, that's two parts, you have to disconnect the hot water and the drainage."

Me: "Yeah, I know, I did that."

Them: "There's a copper pipe and a hose, you have to do both."

Me: "I know, I did that part already. It's just the elec-"

Them: "And you might break it. So you should have someone else do it."

Me: "..."
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My freshman year of college, I went to England with my mother over Christmas break. We were staying at the guest room of my grandparents' retirement home. One evening I walked by a Christmas hymn sing in the retirement home common room; a dozen or so elderly people had just started singing "Away in the Manger." I stopped to listen for a minute, having always preferred the British version of that carol to the American one.

As I stood there, a woman who looked to be in her 80s rushed from the room, tears streaming down her cheeks.

She must have seen my look of concern, because she felt the need to explain her tears. "That was my mother's favorite carol," she told me. "She's been gone more than 20 years, and I still cry every time I hear it."

It never occurred to me before that even elderly people still miss their parents.
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Update to my post about baby songs with lots of verses: Zoe really, REALLY likes "A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

We're at 66 now. Only 5 minutes to bedtime! :-)
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Today I thought of something else kind of sad about the Qatari coverage of cablegate. The Qatari response was that the entire leak was a conspiracy to make the Iran and the GCC look bad. But outside of Qatar, nobody is talking about the GCC at all. People talk about Hilary spying on Iran, Pakistan's nuclear security, and the US's strategies for getting people to take Guantanamo prisoners; people talk about what Prince Andrew said about American education and what everyone says about Medvedev; people talk about that dude who escaped Iran on a freaking horse. Nobody's talking about Qatar. It doesn't even merit a bullet point on the rather extensive Wikipedia article on the leak.

It's sad that someone as normally levelheaded as Mozah Al Malki would go on record saying the US made this whole thing up as a ploy to discredit Iran and the GCC when really I had to dig to find what was said about the GCC at all.

I guess there's a lesson in there about how easy it is to think things revolve around oneself. Odds are they don't.
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The Peninsula has done a hilarous about-face on the Wikileaks "cablegate."

Yesterday, an editorial called No wicked leaks lauded Wikileaks, saying it "make[s] the world a better place to live by exposing the wrongdoings of the world’s superpower."

It's funny to hear the Peninsula pontificate about the value of independent journalism: "the media should not worry about the damage it can cause to Washington because it’s not their job to protect Washington from embarrassment." This from the paper that never prints anything that could embarrass anyone -- it won't even name restaurants closed by the health board, let alone embarrass the government. (The latter is, in fact, still illegal under the as-yet-unrepealed 1979 press law.)

When I read this glowing article about the wonders of Wikileaks, the first thing I thought is that the Peninsula had not yet read the cables that embarrass Qatar. You know, the ones where the Qatari emir briefs the US on how to get Hamas to make concessions, or the prime minister calls Ahmadinejad a liar. Or the ones where Bahrain and Egypt call Qatar a "sycophant to Tehran." Or the most publicized story about Qatar -- that it's lagging on counterterrorism.

Well, apparently between yesterday and today, the Peninsula found those cables. Suddenly, Wikileaks isn't God's gift to humanity anymore. Instead, according to the article Suspicions abound over WikiLeaks, it is now widely believed that the US government made up all those cables in an effort to discredit Arab leaders and turn them against Iran. Their logic is astounding:
"And the fact that the US administration, including the US Embassy in Doha, has instantly and sharply reacted to the entire drama to convince people around the world that the leaks are genuine, creates more suspicion of the whole thing being fake."
... Uh, yeah. I'm sure Hilary Clinton really wanted all those cables public.

Surprisingly, Al Jazeera has a thoughtful analysis of the conspiracy theories: What will the Arab public think?: WikiLeaks 'Embassy Files' reveal gulf between Arab leaders and their constituencies. According to Al Jazeera, while many Arabs are concerned about Israel's role in the region, political leaders are more concerned about Iran, as unlike Israel it "could mobilise Arab public support against their leaders." This seems a little too cynical to me -- Iran really does pose more of a threat to the Gulf states than Israel does -- but it's nice to see Al Jazeera tackling the issue.
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Now I have a baby, I understand why folk songs all have about 20 verses. When a particular song is soothing your baby, you really want the song to go on as long as possible. Zoe's favorite song can go on indefinitely with different animal noises, but I could use more verses to her second favorite song, Leatherwing Bat.

So if you've ever wanted to write a song verse about your romantic misdeeds and/or terrible dating advice, here's your chance!

The verses sung by Peter, Paul and Mary are these:

"I" said the little leatherwing bat,
"I'll tell to you the reason that
The reason that I fly by night
Is because I've lost my heart's delight."

"I" said the blackbird sitting on a chair,
"Once I courted a lady fair.
She proved fickle and turned her back
And ever since then I've dressed in black."

"I" said the woodpecker sitting on a fence,
"Once I courted a handsome wench.
She got scared and from me fled
And ever since then my head's been red."

"I" said the little turtledove,
"I'll tell you how to win her love.
Court her night and court her day
Never give her time to say o-neigh!"

"I" said the bluejay and away he flew,
"If I were a young man I'd have two.
If one were faithless and chanced to go
I'd add the other string to my bow."

Hobbies

Oct. 19th, 2010 09:56 am
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I think I need new kinds of hobbies.

If you told me I'd have a year off of work -- sans baby -- here are ways I might think of filling my time:
  • traveling, of course
  • getting serious about playing guitar
  • learning a new language
  • learning wet-fold origami
  • volunteering at the library
  • volunteering with the GED tutoring program at the county jail
  • taking up a new crafty thing, maybe pottery or knitting
  • learning how to cook better
  • writing
  • finding a Vipassana or Zen group to sit with
  • arguing with people who are wrong on the Internet
  • chatting with my far-flung friends


However, it turns out I have a year off avec baby, and that's really really different. I can still do a couple of those things, but I'm realizing that most of the things I'm interested in are things that are done quietly with lots of time by yourself. And guess what you don't have a lot of when you're taking care of a 10-week-old baby?

Instead I've been filling my time with baby-related things: play time Tuesdays, moms' group Wednesdays, library story time Thursdays, baby yoga Fridays. It's good for Zoe to get out of the house and see new things, and it's good for me to interact with grown-ups. However, I'm still basically interacting with grown-ups by talking about sleep schedules and poopy diapers, which is not really a step up.

I think my sister has this right. Her hobbies are things like sheep herding and Plantagenet events -- things that you can still do with a small baby in tow, but that don't actually revolve around babies.

However, there's no Plantagenets in Pittsburgh, and my dog isn't that keen on sheep. And those aren't really my hobbies, anyway. But somehow I feel like I need to find some hobbies that are more baby-friendly.

I've been thinking about this for a couple weeks and haven't come up with much, other than perhaps more day-hiking.

I'm open to suggestions!
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