Monday, 24 December 2007

Lazarus in a Giggle Fit

Cock your head to the side and enjoy...

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

So Little Time

I'm always looking for a good book to read, so I thought I'd share some of the books I've been reading this semester, in case anyone else is also looking.

Magyk and Flyte by Angie Sage: So-so. Rip-offs of Harry Potter, but still amusing and distracting.
Noah's Ark by Peter Spier: Excellent. Always a good read (or look).
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Very good. This was my second time through, and I enjoyed it much more this time. I think the fact that I was hyped up on post-partum hormones the first time I read it made me overly harsh towards poor J.K. Now I'm cooking up a paper that uses the character of Severus Snape to explore Bonhoeffer's ideas on guilt, responsibility, and true heroism.

General Fiction
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards: Very interesting story dealing with memory, loss, and hidden betrayal. Also chronicles what it is like to watch your child grow up, which took on a new meaning for me with Z here now.
The Cape Ann by Faith Sullivan: Engaging writer but not much of a story. Doesn't really seem to go anywhere or develop characters much.
Ysabelle by Guy Gavriel Kay: Kay is always good, and this book is no exception, although I wouldn't call it his best.
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay: This is what I'd call his best! I've read this book before, but I'd forgotten how good it is. It has all the right elements of a great tragedy as Kay explores the difficulties of love and loyalty in a world that is broken. If you want to start reading Kay, I'd say start here. The Fionavar Trilogy is also great.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: Bizarre plot but surprisingly good!

Tudor England
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory: Chronicles Katherine of Aragon's story, from her first marriage to Prince Arthur to her second to King Henry VIII
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory: Chronicles the story of Mary Boleyn, one-time mistress of Henry VIII and sister to Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife and mother of Queen Elizabeth I
The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory: Chronicles the story of the first two years of Elizabeth I's rule
The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory: Follows fictional character named Hannah Green, "holy fool" to Queen Mary
The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn by Anne Warnecke: Non-fictional study of, yes, the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. Makes the interesting hypothesis that the catalyst for her execution was the miscarriage of a deformed baby boy, giving rise to charges of witchcraft and sexual misconduct. Helpful companion reading for all the above fiction.

Theology and Philosophy
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco: I suppose this could be filed under general fiction, but it has whole sections dealing explicitly with philosophical issues and questions. Nathan tells me this is the first truly postmodern novel. A medieval mystery, it explores the nature of reality, of truth, and of religion.
The World's Religions by Huston Smith: If you're interested in a brief overview of the main world religions, this is a good place to start. Smith emphasizes ideas and themes over facts and figures and tries to allow each religion to put its best foot forward.
A History of the World's Religions by David Noss: Not nearly as interesting as Smith's book, but very informative. Heavy on the facts and figures.
Witness: Systematic Theology Vol. 3 by James McClendon, Jr.: Still working on this one, but so far, very intertesting. His interest is in a theology of culture, so he explores themes related to religion, science, art, and philosophy, among others. If you decide to read it, I must tell you to pay special attention to his section on John Steuart Curry who grew up in Kansas in a "Scottish Presbyterian" family. For those of you who don't know, this is a reference to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, which is also my heritage (as is the Kansas childhood).

Well, I guess that's a good enough review for now. If you've read an interesting book lately, please let me know! I'm always on the prowl!

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Eating, eating, eating . . . at the pocketbook

For those of you griping at the cost of fuel these days, let us sober you with the kinds of prices you'd also be paying for food if you lived in the UK. We've made a list of the more eggregious examples by way of price comparison with the US, translated into USD.

2 pieces corn on the cob (US) = $.89

2 pieces corn on the cob (UK) = $3.10

12 large eggs (US) = $.95

12 large eggs (UK) = $4.18

Chicken breasts, per pound (US) = $3.49

Chicken breasts, per pound (UK) = $5.20

Deluxe chips, 10 oz. (US) = $2.99

Deluxe chips, 5oz x 2 (UK) = $6.40

Grated parmesan, 6 oz (US) = $2.99

Grated parmesan, 2 oz x 3 (UK) = $9.35

Ben and Jerry's pint (US) = $4.00

Ben and Jerry's pint (UK) = $8.99

Hershey's chocolate chips, 9 oz. (US) = $2.29

Premium chocolate chips, 3 oz. x 3 (UK) = $18.00

Kid you not. Of course, we also get access to cheap haggis and blood pudding, so that makes up for it, right?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Friday, 7 December 2007


Ok, I need help from all the experienced mothers out there who are reading this. Z, who has always been a very good sleeper, has decided to rebel against that pattern. A few weeks ago he started sleeping for shorter lengths of time at night, but not enough to throw things off badly. But this past week, it's been getting out of control. He's barely sleeping 4 hours at stretch now, and only a few weeks ago he was sleeping 7-9 hours at a stretch. His sleeping pattern a month ago looked like this:

6:30-7:00 - eat
7:30 - go to bed
Somewhere betwteen 2:30-4:30 - wake up, eat, back to sleep
7:30 or 8:00 - wake up

Now his sleeping pattern looks like this:

6:30-7:00 - eat
7:30 - go to bed
11:30 - wake up, eat, back to sleep
3:00 or 3:30 - wake up, eat, back to sleep
6:30 or 7:00 - wake up

I feel like we've regressed about 3 months! Any suggestions, tips or advice is very welcome! In case the information is helpful, he'll be 5 months next week.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

In the Ditch

We have discovered a network of paths that run all over Edinburgh. They are set just below street level and are very woodsy and mostly quiet, and they lead to lots of important places in Edinburgh (like the City Centre, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the grocery store!). So they make getting to these places much more pleasant than walking alongside very busy and noisy streets.

Last Friday we decided to go to the store and do some grocery shopping. It was a rainy day, so we all had our rain gear on, including Z in his stroller. It was also a little chilly, but we got to the store just fine and got our shopping done.

On the walk home, the rain had let up, which was nice, but it was still pretty cold. We were strolling along discussing 19th century Protestant theology when I happened to glance by the side of the path and saw what looked like a human hand lying in the water, just a few feet ahead of us. My first thought was, "Oh no! We're about to find a dead body!" quickly followed by, "Oh my goodness, don't be so silly! It's probably just an old paper bag." However, as we got closer, I saw another hand, and then legs, and I said, out loud this time, "Oh no!" Nathan, immersed in his thoughts on Schleiermacher, looked at me curiously and said, "What is it?" I pointed up ahead and whispered, "I think there's a person in the ditch."

We crept forward and peered into the ditch. And there he was, lying in about six inches of water -- a man lying in the ditch, unconscious but breathing. He was dressed in jeans and a jacket, and his breathing was very labored, almost like snoring. Nathan and I looked from the man to each other, and then back at the man again. What in the world had happened, and what should we do? We both immediately thought that he must be drunk, but it was obvious he needed help. At first we thought we should go find a phone and call for help, but that seemed likely to take too long. Then Nathan suggested that he stay and try to help him while I went and looked for a phone. I didn't like that idea much. Fortunately, just at that moment we saw a group of people coming down the path towards us -- a woman with a bunch of little kids. We decided to ask the woman if she had a cell phone.

We left the man lying in the ditch and went to meet this small group of people. When we got there, we quickly and quietly summarized the situation, and asked the woman if she had a cell phone. Not only did she have a phone, but she was also a nurse, so while she and Nathan went to see if the man was all right, and to call for an ambulance, I stayed with the kids where we were, so that they would not get too close to the scene.

As soon as Nathan and the woman went off to the man, the kids burst into questions. "Is he dead?!? Is the man dead?!?" eight little voices all shrieked at once. I very calmly assured them that he was not dead, but had just fallen down. One little boy seemed particularly anxious and excited about the whole thing. He was wearing a very sleek, calf length coat which was neatly belted at the waist. His hands were tucked into the fur-lined pockets and his face peeked anxiously out from the fur-trimmed hood, tied securely with strings ending in faux-fur pom-poms. He looked very cute, if slightly emasculated. (I discovered that he and one of the little girls had decided to trade coats for the day.) He peered up at me and said, "Are you sure he's not dead?" "I'm sure," I said, "I could see him breathing. He's definitely alive. I think he just tripped and fell." He clapped his hands to his head and yelled out, "Is there blood everywhere??" Stifling my desire to laugh, I said no, there was no blood at all. That seemed to relieve him somewhat, and he went back to his little friends, who were all straining to see what was happening to the man.

Meanwhile, Nathan and the woman had called the ambulance. After that was taken care of, the woman realized that she recognized the man from her school days. She called his name loudly several times, and finally he opened his eyes, but was very confused and befuddled. After a few moments, he was able to sit up, and finally they were able to drag him out of the ditch and out of the cold water. He sat down on the path, leaning against Nathan, to wait for the ambulance. He did not appear to be drunk, and told Nathan and the woman that he had been walking down the path, and that was the last thing he could remember. He had been on his way to visit his fiancee.

All of this took 20 or 30 minutes, and the whole time I was trying to keep the kids occupied and away from the man and the scene of the accident. When the man sat up, all the kids shrieked at once, and one little girl screamed, "He's sitting up!!" Another boy took one look and yelled, "Where's his head? Where's his head?" and the little boy in the fur-lined coat threw his hands over his eyes and groaned, "I can't look. I just can't look."

Fortunately, very soon after that, the ambulance arrived. The man was taken away, and seemed to be well on his way to recovery. However, I'm not sure we can say the same for the little boy in the girl's coat.