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Books; sweet Lord it's been a long time since I've posted

Oct. 19th, 2007 | 05:28 pm

The quick sum up with a yadda, yadda, yadda here & there: was a mathematics major this semester until last week about; have switched back to the English lit. because I decided I didn't want a career in math (not that a math B.S. would require that, of course, but you know..)  I'm taking my math and physics courses in stride now that they'll be counting as mere electives.    

It's been getting cooler (and pleasant to begin with), and I've been wearing long sleeves to superstitiously coax the weather along.

My workload (& extra curricular obligations) has helped me to avoid reading or hearing about the upcoming presidential race; I think it's a really interesting election (unlike, say.. Dole v. Clinton (if you're my age, try to think of Dole's VP/running-mate..)), I just don't think I have a great personal interest in it.  I don't have a set opinion on so many of the 'key' issues, and not because I'm not informed but precisely because I am informed (and I don't mean that in a cynical way).  Another reason to avoid all of it for the time being is that despite all the chatter and movin' & shakin'.. nothing is going on.  It's more or less like a soccer match.  There's a lot of jogging, there're some penalties, there are some last minute substitutions & then one team wins, often 1-0.  And arguably it's their win because their team has the money to afford the best players (why the Irish never have good clubs; all the promising micks go abroad for the check), arguably.  Come to think of it, watching the networks on an election night is a lot like watching a good sporting event, just more epic: it tilts one way, it tilts another, passions are flying all over, you've got Tim Russert with his play board over here, you've got assistant coaches for one of the teams over there, people who support the same team get together and watch and yell.  I think most people who are really committed to one political side/ideology or another have made a decision of faith in their team.  Now, when the time comes, I will in fact have to decide who I think will be the best head of the executive branch for our nation and the world (because, no, I don't believe in not voting (though it is a tempting belief)).  I'll have to make a more in depth political post/think some more in depth political thoughts in the days to come to clarify because I'm not as cynical as all this lets on. 

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authentic Colbert

Jun. 28th, 2007 | 12:58 am

Was just watching him interview an author, David Gilbert, about happiness, and Gilbert said that those who don't have children are generally happier than those who do - the audience really cheered at this one - but the real Colbert himself came out and got defensive; he said something along that lines that the sublime feeling that comes with children is better than happiness. It's interesting that while Colbert certainly has a lot in common with his studio audiences (liberal/Democratic politics), there are these sorts of gulfs that come up.

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Jun. 6th, 2007 | 12:12 am

Towery city and branchy between towers;

Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmed, lark-charmed, rook-racked, river-rounded;

The dapple-eared lily below thee; that country and town did

Once encounter in, here coped and poised powers;

Thou hast a base and brickish skirt there, sours

Best in; graceless growth, thou hast confounded

Rural rural keeping - folk, flocks and flowers.

Yet ah! this air I gather and I release

He lived on; these weeds and waters, these walls are what

He haunted who of all men most sways my spirits to peace;

Of realty the rarest-veined unraveller; a not

Rivalled insight, be rival Italy or Greece;

Who fired France for Mary without spot.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins's "Dun Scotus's Oxford"

It turns out that I miss Linux a lot. So I'm downloading the ISOs now, and I'll partition about half of my free space off for the latest openSUSE. This is what has driven me to update, for the first time since the snow: that I'm sitting, waiting for the download to finish with nothing much to do.

It also turns out that I do love mathematics, so I'll be pursuing it in formal education and beyond. Who would have thought? I emailed my professor about my change of heart, my crisis of vocation, and she was so pleased that I imagine I nearly sent her into an early labor (she was rather pregnant all semester). And this has really been the missing piece of the puzzle - my puzzle - because no other 'calling' matches up so well with my past tendencies toward consummative social awkwardness.

Actually, I don't really know why I'm waiting for the downloads: I don't believe I have blank CDs on hand which I can burn the installation files on.

Edit I: I went looking in my car for blank CDs. It wasn't easy because I haven't yet unpacked the car, then that fact frustrated me away from spending a substantial amount of time out in the humidity. No luck.
I'm a bit sad now because I've been very excited about using Linux again. The best thing about it for me is that it can turn the most rote computer/web tasks into learning situations. And, free software altogether engenders itself to entertaining Teilhardian ideas, which is what I want when it comes to computing.
"Here I am thinking of those astonishing electronic machines (the starting-point and hope of the young science of cybernetics), by which our mental capacity to calculate and combine is reinforced and multiplied..." - Teilhard de Chardin, in 1949. "A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain," a 12 year old Wired article on the man.

All this Teilhard talk makes me think about the new chapel my university is planning on building, because it sounds like its design plan and conception aesthetically fits in what we (or I) make of his schema. From an alumni newsletter: "[Rick] Joy's goal is to create a space that is 'calming, serene and quiet, where a sensory ‘tuning in’ occurs.' To accomplish that, he is collaborating with an expert from Norway to integrate natural light into the building. He also plans to emphasize water - a poignant religious symbol - both inside and out. And he'll juxtapose the inner sanctuary with an outdoor one that includes quiet tree-covered nooks."

Here's a photo I found of Joy's Tucson studio:

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Snow day in Austin, Texas?

Jan. 16th, 2007 | 07:34 pm


Classes were cancelled and the rest. So we sledded down our hill, drank much tea, and had an otherwise wasteful, irresponsible and jolly old day.

And, no, it doesn't take much snow to shut the city down. Today is my first time to see real snow in Texas; it's taken fifteen years.

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Se mo laoch, mo Ghile Mear

Jan. 8th, 2007 | 06:20 pm

I had my first day of classes today: there're only seven other people in my Intro to Literary Studies class which is very good; Environmental Science will be a lot of fun because the prof. is a character, very intense; The American Experience will be great because Prof. Farrall is basically exactly what a professor should be.

My two other ones will be tomorrow.

My holiday was very nice; very relaxing. Did some reading. Of particular note is that Molly and I saw The Chieftains with the Houston Symphony this past Friday; it was really fantastic - the C's especially and then the symphony, and the very impressive stepdancers (as a likely non-Chieftain's fan but Symphony subscriber said in the lobby after the concert, "Boy! I could just watch all that jiggin' any old time"). They played a few familiar songs, and some fun inventive stuff, like "Planxty Mozart".

Anyway, it's very good to be back in Austin. I forgot how much I do appreciate it. Upon simply arriving in the city limits (distinguishable by certain landmarks), I felt better; it might be the trees and their general layout. More later, perhaps!

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Spring schedule, Christmas in Camelot

Nov. 16th, 2006 | 05:25 pm
location: Basil Moreau Hall
music: Austin classical radio

Environmental Science on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a professor I've heard is good if difficult.

Math for Liberal Arts Majors on Tuesday and Thursday . . .

The American Experience (Cultural Foundations req'd course) on Monday and Wednesday with Molly's Sociology professor who is good if difficult.

Introduction to Literary Studies on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a professor I don't know a thing about; this is for my major.

Rhetoric & Composition II on Tuesday and Thursday.


Concerning the extra-curricular:

This morning I slept in and read 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,' Burton Raffel's translation; I love it, so I made a library trip to get Tolkien's translation which I imagine I'll love even more. In Tolkien's letters, I remember a Raffel mention - I'm gonna go find that to share -- well, I couldn't find it; it wasn't indexed. Maybe later.

From the Raffel version,

"With the New Year drawing close, courtiers
And ladies sat to a double feast;
Mass had been sung in the chapel, the king
And his knights came to the hall, and priests
And laymen called "Noel! Noel!"
And shouted and sang, and nobles ran
With New Year's presents in their hands, noisily
Passing in a crowd, calling "Presents!
Presents!" and loudly disputing gifts,
While ladies laughed when kisses were lost
(And whoever won them found it hard to weep),
And till dinnertime came they ran and laughed;
Then they washed and sat at that stately table,
The noblest nearest their lord, and his queen,
Guenevere the gay, seated in their midst:
Arranged around that priceless table
Fringed with silk, with silk hung
Over their heads, and behind them velvet
Carpets, embroidered rugs, studded
With jewels as rich as an emperor's ransom--
                                                          And the queen
                  Watching with shining
                  Gray eyes, seemed
                  As beautiful a lady
                  As a man could have seen."

Edit seven p.m.  -

Note in the bit from S. G. G. K. above that the mass was 'sung'. Doesn't that sound much more wonderful than 'said' or celebrated or anything else? Besides the ring of it, I imagine it's a literal phrase as well and that reminds me how much more I prefer the more 'sung' mass. Singing is much more suitable to what the mass is, the type of thing it is; and that's to say, for one, that beauty is a priority. At the cathedral more is in song; the pater noster, for instance. Agnus Dei is actually Agnus Dei (in the latin, I mean), and it's sung as well (but I believe that's much more common). Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
                                 "And Gawain's gear shone rich, the smallest
                                 Laces and loops glowing with gold.
                                 Ready in armor, he stood at the altar
                                 For mass to be chanted, then came to the king
                                 And the assembled knights of Arthur's court,
                                 And took courteous leave of lords and ladies,
                                 Who kissed him, commended him to Christ, then
                                     walked him
                                 There where Gringolet stood ready..."

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Wittgenstein in Ireland

Nov. 3rd, 2006 | 04:31 pm

The subject of this post is the title of a book I bought three days ago. It's an interesting idea for a book, for sure (why I bought it). The author has these nice little digressions into things Irish; for instance, he (Richard Wall) takes a few pages to defend the dramatist Sean O'Casey simply because Wittgenstein once commented to his friend (concerning one of O'Casey's plays), "No one ever talked this sort of language."

Wittgenstein talking to his primary Irish friend, Con Drury, "Isn't it remarkable that, in spite of their professed materialism, the Russian's have gone to such trouble to preserve Lenin's body in perpetuity; and to visit his tomb. You know I don't think much of modern architecture, but that tomb in the Kremlin is well designed."

Tonight I receive my first and greatest birthday gift (my birthday's in December): Molly got us tickets for Jerry Seinfeld. I was completely surprised by this when she first told me, but I can't think of a better way to consummate my relationship with the man or the show, and I'm rather excited about it. I do wonder what his new material is like, but he could do old stuff from the show and I'd love it.

Tomorrow we drive up to New Braunfels for Wurstfest: beer, sausage and Goldens. The good life, in other words.

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All Souls

Nov. 3rd, 2006 | 01:46 am

Yesterday, Molly and I woke for the 8:15 mass at the Cathedral, and luckily it turned out to be the one the Cathedral school attended, i.e., the kids participated with lectoring and singing and so forth; it was ultra cute and Molly's now convicted she ought to open a Catholic orphanage.

Today was very nice weather-wise; we did some homework on the lower part of the hill (sitting upon a big oriental looking quilt) until it got too windy and cold. I love it here, I do.

I intend to switch my major from Philosophy to English Literature; I can't help myself. I hate identity problems and I love 'Beowulf'.

I gave a speech today on the Irish Easter Rising of 1916 for my Communications class; I've found that I enjoy speaking like that in front of a class, just not for an allotted amount of time on an allotted day and with no chance of exchange. In other words, I'd enjoy the prof. style (or at least the style my professors take).

I have this idea that when my Logic professor writes the form of a standard contradiction on the board he is going after the Western Church: he always uses R&~R, and he's very much Orthodox. I've taken it upon myself to use C&~C in my quizzes.

I'll be voting for Chris Bell on the 7th. I watched the debate: Kinky doesn't know much (and honestly, he has become such a character (take the damn hat off during the debate)), Grandma was just painful to watch, our beloved incumbent Good Hair declined to participate in the other five debates that were supposed to happen and then after this one that he finally agrees to, he snuck out the back of the venue before the press could interview him like they did the others: his people stayed behind, however, to declare an Orwellian 'decisive victory' and so forth. So, I urge my Texans to consider Bell, please, for governor. As Jake Bernstein at the Texas Observer asks, Why the Bell Not?

Molly's a bit ill and I wish she weren't; please pray for her.

"The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it: all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside!" - Thomas Merton in Raids on the Unspeakable

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Sep. 28th, 2006 | 04:31 pm

I'm going to try and visit an Orthodox parish, St. Elias on 11th & Trinity, for Vespers on Saturday; see what it's like and so forth, to complement my reading. I've been really considering 'moving East' actually and finally. I imagine it'd be different if I were already confirmed; I'm not, so I have the leeway to honestly look at the pertinent matters and weigh the claims.

The strangest thing for me would be the married priests; celibacy is 'optional' and in reality it's an option only five to eight percent (?) of Orthodox priests choose. If I were called to enter the priesthood, I'd for sure want to be celibate. Fr Andrew Greeley, generally lib, is very contra doing away with the Western tradition of celibacy, and that's telling. Priests with families, I don't know.

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de Benedict's speech

Sep. 18th, 2006 | 10:15 pm

Someone said it somewhere, that it's a bloody shame that the one thing fundie Islam seems to've inherited from the West is the Culture of Offense.

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