Instant: Now You Know Me.

Today I present two quasi-profound thoughts fresh from my math professor:

“The proof for Taylor’s Theorem with Remainders is absolutely gorgeous.” I can’t comment on that one, not having taken calculus. The other one, however, is surprisingly true: “Stuff takes time. The slogan for your [the class’s] lives is ‘Instant!’.”

Instant. I feel lonely if I don’t see, or hear from, a friend every day. I feel slighted if I don’t get a reply to my emails within a day or so. And heaven forbid somebody ignore an IM! But there was a time when people spent years apart and exchanged letters every month or so. A letter – via what we consider “snail mail” because it takes so long. Too long, we say. It must be strange to be an adult who grew up before computers and all this immediate gratification. The world must seem to move awfully fast these days; kids don’t have time to just sit and talk or go for a walk – after all, we can talk on IM and I can get something else done simultaneously! In fact, Blogger offers an example: “Push button publishing for the people,” they say. Why should we want such a thing? Now people needn’t talk to me to find out about my life and what I’m thinking; all they need to do is check Semicircular Reasoning and voila! you know what’s up with me. But… but… is this all so good? I cannot deny that I enjoy being able to Christmas shop while simultaneously sitting on my duff and avoiding crowds; but is that better than going out with a friend and spending the day battling crowds, searching, and building a relationship? I cannot say that having lots of boxes from Amazon.com or ThinkGeek really beats a day out in the world.

I wonder if the day will come when the world is left to the nobodies and anybody who’s able will remain in their domiciles constantly. The outdoors becomes an anathema where only the losers spend time – the losers or kooks. It becomes so polluted and foul that the beauty of it vanishes: where’s the appeal then? Who wants to see mountains of garbage, miles of gray smog hanging over a city, and ghettos full of starving people picking through trash heaps? (Sounds like Third World countries today, doesn’t it?) It could happen, I think; but not soon because my generation still has such close ties to going Out. Not as badly as in Isaac Asimov’s Naked Sun in which people actually develop a fear, a paranoia, of human contact. I don’t think we could actually ever get to the point where people no longer desire to spend time with each other in person at all. We could, I think, get to the point where the Great Outdoors isn’t so great anymore, where it’s just dirty and icky and requires too much physical exertion. Why go out when you could stay in and play a game that provides a similar but less messy & exerting experience?

I, however, plan to go on a nice long walk as soon as possible. That outdoors is calling my name.

– KF –

Horror

I have mentioned my architecture class from time to time. Well, it turns out I somehow I accidentally enrolled in the Class From Hell, not Topics in -19th and 20th Century Architecture. Monday we take our midterm, which accounts for a disgustingly integral percentage of the grade, so I inquired quite innocently about a week ago about a study guide. Apparently several other students submitted the same inquiry to him, because today he came out with the Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. Oh, hold that; it’s our review sheet! I am utterly convinced that this prof expects to be able to rattle off an architect’s name, date, & house name and have us immutably connect those with the slide on the screen in our minds. I mean, he will say something like “Mies van der Rohe, Glass skyscrapers, 1921,” or “Gropius, design for Fagus Factory,” and flash a slide up. I bend my head down to write the name, date, building, etc, and when I look up I realize he’s already listed six other name/date combinations and I’ve missed them. This study guide clinches it: I shall not pursue the arts in that form. If this class doesn’t get credited for my AP, I will cry. And take Finger-Painting.

Aside from that class, everything’s going alright. It isn’t Friday yet, which disappoints me. Tomorrow Ian has to get up ridiculously early (5:00 am, early for anybody) to call their liason in London… at 6:15 am our time. I can see troubles with Ian and my communication if this is what we’ll have to do to talk while he is living there. I haven’t been able to sleep very well at all in general. Ian keeps having to get up at 8:00 or earlier, and I cannot sleep after he gets up.

Finally, a quick story: yesterday I was reading Modern Architecture Since 1900, by William J.R. Curtis. I hate that man. Anyway, I read that book from Chapter 1 through 17, skipping only Chapter 13 as instructed. About halfway through Chapter 16 I just had to rest my head on the book. Next thing I knew I woke up, quite disoriented, drool dribbling from my mouth and forming a lake on the slick page of the book. “I really need to stop drooling like that,” I thought to myself, and staggered over to my computer. It was only then that I realize I’d slept for an hour, a deep, restful, and slobbery sleep, and hadn’t been reading that whole time. I feel, frankly, that puddle of drool was all that Curtis deserved for spending so much time on boring men like Ralph Adams Cram, Louis Sullivan, and on the moist page 294, Bertram Goodhue and his ridiculous Nebraska State Capitol building.

I wish I could say something interesting has begun happening in my life; I cannot, however, so I’ll just plain stop talking.

– KF –

Death of a Family

I have never felt committed to a church in my life. Yes, I regularly attend Woodinville Alliance or Crossroads Bible(Baptist?) Church, but what connections have I there? I do not look forward to going, though I am happy to have the opportunity to worship my Creator; but I am not missed when I do not attend.

Crossroads Christian Fellowship was different. In that church we found family away from our homes, people willing to spend hours in the hospital with me, loving relationships, and a community (I can’t believe I used that word! But it’s true) of believers strong in their faith. This small group of people became our friends over the last year, supported us and “familied” us. We learned new East Coast worship songs there and grew greatly in our faith. They were more than happy to drive us places, to be pals with Ian, and to rush him home when he got ill over spring break. They mothered me and let me stay in their homes when I was too ill to take care of myself. I cannot express how comfortable I felt with the members of CCF: it really did feel like a family joining together each Sunday evening. For the first time in my life I began looking forward to church not only to worship, but as a time to worship with friends – a far, far more powerful experience than simply standing alone. In a phrase, I loved what the Lord lead Pastor David to do with Crossroads. I could continue forever, but the story moves on from there.

However, with the submission of this letter, things began falling apart for CCF. We kept meeting, and Johanna happily gave us a ride to the Wescott’s home while services were held there. Then we joined with Pleasant Street Baptist, which meets in the building we used last year. Much was left up in the air. Several weeks we met there, with the CCF attendance waxing and waning, but more waning. Today the leaders of the church sent out this email and left me – to my great surprise and sorrow – in tears.

“To the brothers and sisters in Christ of Crossroads Christian fellowship,

It is with great sadness that we, the leaders of CCF, together with the body of Christ within CCF, have determined that the time has come to formally dissolve our church organization, effective December 1, 2003. As God called our fellowship into being, so now He is calling each of us to other ministries toward building the greater Church and fulfilling the Great Commission.

As many of you know, our fellowship has recently been worshipping with the body of Pleasant Street Baptist Church in Worcester. There are tremendous ministry opportunities at this small church replant, and we believe that their newly called pastor Tramayne Dye will accomplish great things for Christ in this community. Some of you may feel called to continue your worship and ministries in this body in the heart of Worcester, and we encourage you to do so with God’s blessing. Others have already felt called to other ministry opportunities in our communities and we look forward to encouraging you in these new endeavors. And certainly, there are those among us who are as yet unsure as to where God will be calling us next; we will be in prayer for each of you that God will direct your path to His purposes. Regardless of where each of us ends up, we will always remain brothers and sisters in the greater body of Christ. It is an exciting beginning to see how God will commission this handful of believers to take what we have gained over the past 4 years at CCF to affect many other church bodies and communities. Let us all commit to go and be salt and light to a dying world.”

I did not understand until CCF what “church family” actually meant on a gut-level. Now I know, but the family has died. As Johanna has left for good, so everybody else will scatter to churches closer to home. I do not know what Ian and I will do in terms of church attendance. I know that right now, however, I am going to have a good cry into my all-absorbant pillow.

– kf –

Notes from the day

Today marks the first major bill Ian and I paid as a married couple: the $7,980-odd for next month’s Clark tuition. Of course, the bill should have gone to Kirkland first, and we’re not sure why it came to Ian’s box. Still, paid. Actually we’ve paid $1,000 a month rent for the last 6 months. Also speaking of bills, I got a notice in my mail box today from my insurance company. A few weeks ago I thought I was sick (wrong), but I went to talk to them anyway. Here’s what the bill says: “Your insurance carrier requires the following information for each accident or sickness claim submitted.” Blah blah blah… and then it says, “For: DOS 10/13/03 Billed Amt $7 for UMass Memorial.” What’s going on here? I went to Health Services at Clark and talked to them, peed in a cup, etc. No going to UMass Memorial involved here. The form asks me to explain the nature of my illness, but I was never ill – I never went! Some things in the adult world are just beyond me.

Another thing that’s beyond me: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Lesley, Elizabeth, and I watched it for a while this afternoon. The cut a guy’s hair and shaved off his beard, redecorated his house, bought him new clothes, the works. But here’s my question: if he was negligent enough to let his hair and beard grow really long in the first place, why would a one-day makeover make a difference? And OK, his walls are painted pretty colors now – by a gay guy, OK, so that’s a little cool – but will all the wood keep shining like there’s no tomorrow? Keeping up a house takes work (darn it all), and who’s going to polish all that wood all the time? The show amused us though, as did making snide remarks about the ads on TV. I have got to say: ads are terrible. Not just in the time-wasting aspect although that’s bad – but I mean the actual ads themselves. Why should seeing a random guy jump into an aquarium, swim around, and have a fish pulled out of his pocket make you go to Atlantis? Or the annoying guy shouting about the value of the OxyClean set he’s willing to give you for ONLY $19.99! VALUE OF $35.00! The list keeps going. Some of them are completely incomprehensible, and none of them make me want to buy that product (although I will admit the Ebay ads are amusing. Scary, but amusing).

Mom sent us a package in the mail, which we finally received. Disappointingly, it contained no food, but she had stuffed the box full of new clothes. Pyjamas, specifically. For me: red fuzzy stuff. Red is not my color at all, but they are pyjamas (I never have been clear on how to spell that word) after all. For Ian however… she bought red hot chili pepper PJ pants. I laughed so hard I cried when Ian told me what she’d sent. It’s great when moms just come through like that. Like the Christmas she gave me dried food, underwear, and stamps. As I recall, however, we gave her the Dave Barry Gift Guide book, which included 1 lb of real human fat shaped into a nice pudding with 1 LB on top, as well as a plethora of other wonderful gifts (think beer bottle slippers that made farting noises when you took a step). So all in all that Christmas felt quite even. I’m not sure what to do about the chili pepper pants though.

Also, a question: I have my margin for this blog set at 2.7% and it keeps bringing up a bottom scroll bar, which I don’t want. It’s at 2.7% because the scrollbar appeared at 3.0% but didn’t at 2.7% – so I just left it. Then it appeared at 2.7 so I took it down to 2.0% – and the bar stayed! Now I’m wondering a) what the heck would cause this; and b) can I just disable the bottom scroll bar somehow?

– KF –

US Postal Service Comes Through Again

Last week I ordered Fateful Harvest, by Duff Wilson, from Amazon.com affiliate ElephantBooks. I read it as a senior in high school in conjunction with my Independent Study Environmental Science class and enjoyed it very much; also now I found myself with the assignment of explaining potential hazards to water systems in Washington State and this book could have had some applicable sections. The book itself, used, cost $2.29; I paid approximately $6 additional to ship it second-day, so as to get it in time to incorporate the material into my paper. Unfortunately, it did not arrive yesterday as promised. I felt rather disgruntled about this, because I paid almost triple the price just to get it fast.

Well. Today I checked my mail; lo and behold! a pink slip sat happily in my box just waiting for me to retrieve it. Accordingly, I went to the window and presented my slip, signed it, and was queried as to the sender. This is not normal procedure; usually they simply request to see the student ID card and give you a pen to sign the slip. The attendant explained that “there was no last name, so we wanted to be sure it was the right person.” No last name? What was she talking about? Well, I got the package, and everything came clear. The address was as follows:

Katie

Po Box 1927

PO Box 1927

Worcester, MA 01610

No mention of Clark University (Mom, take note: no e on Clark), or 950 Main Street. Across the top, in ballpoint pen, somebody wrote: NEED LAST NAME! In big red marker across the bottom of the oversized envelope somebody had written NOT AT HOLY CROSS! Frankly, after seeing this, I am plain impressed by the US Postal Service and the mail room workers. It took some sleuthing to figure out where in zip code 01610 this Katie with PO Box 1927 might actually reside.

Note on life: Most excitingly, Dad got a letter to the editor published in the Seattle Times! Read the one by Joe Sullivan about 3/4 of the way down the page. In Massachusetts news, the MA Supreme Court ruled to legalize gay marriage. In my life news, Eight days until Jess and Tiffany come for Thanksgiving; between now and then, I will begin and end stressing about my Architecture midterm. He’s giving us a study guide, thank goodness. I hope Jess’s piercing goes OK, and that she doesn’t do her tongue. I don’t know if I could stand to talk w/her in person if I could see & hear a tongue piercing (they drive me nuts. Ick!)…

– KF –

I Think I Can

Two things to start with: 1) the post from Nov. 15, “Links to Everywhere,” has been taken down as per webmaster Ben’s request & all pics removed. Fair enough. 2) The following post was born from a snippet of conversation that took place between myself and Ernie earlier today. I cannot shake the conviction that I bore him, and nearly every one of the other few people I converse with. That said, here is what I wrote out by hand as I digested our conversation, as well as some new observations:

How strong is the power of thought? In his book The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams explains a phenomenon that he experienced but cannot explain: thoughts, and thoughts alone, changing the physical world. Now, I have a strange dual mix of beliefs, for on one hand I firmly – unshakeably – believe in the most basic Christian tenants in which God became a man, died for our sins, and rose again live and well after three days. On the other hand, I have passed through enough scientific training to have a healthy skepticism for inexplicable superstitions such as the idea that “thinking bad thoughts causes bad things to happen.” That is the constant dynamic struggle for the analytical-minded Christian: how to reconsile our desire for empirical evidence with our complete and simple faith in Christ? A knotty problem, surely.

Yet many people swear that what you think directly influences reality, and not just because you take action on your thoughts. Somehow, thinking a thing may make it happen, so don’t think of failing this exam! Scott Adams claims that through thinking positively, and with no major behavioral changes, he became a bestselling author and cartoonist. He offers other examples in which he believed that he would encounter high-payoff stocks, and lo and behold, the stocks he felt compelled to buy (but didn’t) suddenly increased drastically in price. Ernie told me that I shouldn’t ask what the worst possible thing that could happen to him was: it would cause something bad to happen.

Now, what to think of this firm belief? Perhaps he was just dodging my question (lots of people do that to me); but many people share that same firm – if irrational – conviction of something. In fact, I act exactly the same as everybody else, for what is Christianity but an irrational belief? Oh, we call it “faith,” a belief in that which you cannot see, believing without proof that Jesus is the Son of God and that he lives today. That we, His followers, have found the only door to heaven. Why, then, should Scott Adams’s power of thinking not exist also? Why not telekinesis, or teleportation, or mind-reading? I cannot say that none of those exist, but I do know that God created an ordered universe, and such things are not within the regular framework of His design – that we know of. How can I call the demand to think positively “superstitious” and still be consistent with my faith? Truthfully, I cannot answer my own question; but I can also set it aside and know that is part of who I am as a Christian and a quasi-scientist. So I still can say that Christianity is true, while other beliefs are not – are superstition.

On the other hand, if somebody across the room levitated my pencil, I might just have to rethink my views.

– KF –

Hooray!

Though the title implies happiness, in truth that state continues to elude me. I completed my Geology paper’s first draft, yet I feel as if I have completed nothing: the mountain of work looming over me remains as tall as ever. I shall not list the sorrows; only know that ten thousand of them oppress me and darken the world in my eyes.

Also, I admit to have perhaps read too much Kim and Arabian Nights. As a final thought, does it disturb anybody else that big companies can sell radioactive waste from Hanford to farmers and call it fertilizer? Or dump some 350 million gallons of radioactive waste into Eastern Washington – to eventually seep into groundwater and thence into the Columbia River – and have no reprecussions?

– KF –