So I have a diploma now...

...but what do I do with it? It's not like I have an office wall on which to display it.

I temporarily hung my tassel from my disco ball (which in turn hangs from my ceiling fan), but it didn't really work. The "drab" color just doesn't work with my bedroom's decor. I'm not sure it would work on my car's mirror, either. For right now, it's dangling from the only trophy I've ever received in my entire life--it works better on the cheap plastic trophy than on the disco ball!



Some people are like Slinkies. Not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs. --Unknown


Answered prayer!

My scholarship grew! (By over $3000 per semester.)

Also, I have a roommate and a rental condo lined up.

I have to admit that I'm feeling ashamed for not praying like I should, and for worrying more than I should...


Illegals granted Social Security

I received this article in an email from one of my state's senators. (You'll probably be able to guess who that is, since I can't seem to get rid of the bold italics in one paragraph.)

I find it disturbing that so many elected officials don't seem to want to punish people who are breaking the law. (Of course, perhaps they have reasons for being able to sympathize with criminals? But I digress...) It seems like denying Social Security benefits that were earned through illegal employment would be an appropriate punishment for illegal immigrants while also helping to shore up the Social Security system a bit.

I will add, before anybody reading this figures out where I live, ;-) that I am in favor of immigration--as long as the immigrants are following our country's laws. (Perhaps the system needs to be reformed--I don't know enough about it to be able to comment intelligently on that topic--but regardless, if you want to be a citizen of our country, doesn't it make sense that you would obey its laws?)

Illegals granted Social Security
The Washington Times
By: Charles Hurt
May 19, 2006

The Senate voted yesterday to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security benefits based on past illegal employment -- even if the job was obtained through forged or stolen documents.

“There was a felony they were committing, and now they can’t be prosecuted. That sounds like amnesty to me,” said Sen. John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who offered the amendment yesterday to strip out those provisions of the immigration reform bill. “It just boggles the mind how people could be against this amendment.”

The Ensign amendment was defeated on a 50-49 vote.

“We all know that millions of undocumented immigrants pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for years and sometimes decades while they work to contribute to our economy,” said Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“The Ensign amendment would undermine the work of these people by preventing lawfully present immigrant workers from claiming Social Security benefits that they earned before they were authorized to work in our community,” he said. “If this amendment were enacted, the nest egg that these immigrants have worked hard for would be taken from them and their families.”

Mr. Ensign was among 44 Republicans and five Democrats who voted to block such payouts.

“It makes no sense to reward millions of illegal immigrants for criminal behavior while our Social Security system is already in crisis,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. “Why in the world would we endorse this criminal activity with federal benefits? The Senate missed a big opportunity to improve this bill, and I doubt American seniors will be pleased with the result.”

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said it would be unfair to deny illegals the benefits.

“We should not steal their funds or empty their Social Security accounts,” he said. “That is not fair. It does not reward their hard work or their financial contributions. It violates the trust that underlies the Social Security Trust Fund.”

Within hours, the vote had become an issue in this fall’s elections, raised by a Republican challenger to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat.

“Instead of protecting the retirement security of Americans who are earning an honest living and abiding by the laws of our country, Debbie Stabenow sided with people who are here illegally and abuse our Social Security system,” Oakland County, Mich., Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a press release. “Allowing illegal immigrants to use their illegal work history as credit towards receiving Social Security benefits shows that Debbie Stabenow has forgotten who she is supposed to be working for in the U.S. Senate.”

The Senate also yesterday approved an amendment to adopt English as the nation’s official language, while reversing course from the day before on protections for U.S. workers who will face new competition from unskilled immigrant labor under the Senate bill. In addition, senators voted last night to kill an amendment that would have specified that the guest-worker program will not provide visas that would provide a path to citizenship.

On Wednesday, senators narrowly approved an amendment to require a foreign worker to have a job lined up in the United States before applying for a green card. The purpose, supporters say, is to ensure that the job market isn’t flooded with foreign workers. Also, it prevents foreign workers from coming to the United States only to wind up unemployed and dependent on public assistance.

But yesterday, the Senate essentially gutted that amendment by allowing foreign workers to apply for permanent residency without having a job lined up.

“What that means is that up to 200,000 unskilled workers a year would become eligible for a green card, regardless of economic conditions, regardless of whether that worker has been actually employed for four years, and most importantly, regardless of whether there are unemployed U.S. workers available to fill those jobs,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.


Summer reading list update

Books I've completed recently:
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I'm now in the middle of The Magician's Nephew by Lewis. Somehow, I'm finding the fiction on my list easier to get through than the nonfiction! (Although I have read two or three additional chapters of The Gospel According to Jesus since my original summer reading list post.)

Pet Peeve of the Day

In case you were wondering, this store is open "from 8 a.m. in the morning 'til 10 p.m. at night." (As opposed to "from 8 a.m. at night 'til 10 p.m. in the morning"?)

Yes, I heard that repeated probably 20 times during my visit to the local Kohl's store this evening. I'm surprised I stayed long enough to buy anything!


To Kill a Mockingbird

There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rocked slowly, fanned gently, and drank cool water.

But I was more at home in my father's world. People like Mr. Heck Tate did not trap you with innocent questions to make fun of you; even Jem was not highly critical unless you said something stupid. Ladies seemed to live in faint horror of men, seemed unwilling to approve wholeheartedly of them. But I liked them. There was something about them, no matter how much they cussed and drank and gambled and chewed; no matter how undelectable they were, there was something about them that I instinctively liked . . . they weren't--

"Hypocrites, Mrs. Perkins, born hypocrites," Mrs. Merriweather was saying.

--from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Scout Finch has a point. Not that I think that all ladies are hypocrites, or catty, or conniving, or whatever, or that all men are the opposite. But, speaking as a woman, I'd have to admit that most of the time, large groups of women annoy me. (As a friend of mine once pointed out: when mixed groups of adults gather, the men congregate on one side of the room and "talk about cool stuff like politics and space exploration," while the women, on the other side of the room, "talk about candles and children.") My favorite female friends are the ones who act the least "girly." Not that I don't enjoy shopping or wearing make-up or getting my nails done, but typically, women are more emotional and more manipulative and sillier than men are, and those stereotypical women are super-annoying. I'm definitely thankful for my non-stereotypical-woman friends!

Well, enough about gender differences. (Monica, I hope you weren't too offended by anything I said about women.) =) I was really going to post and say that I've finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and that it's about to be added to my favorite books list. It manages to address a very serious topic while still keeping a good amount of humor. I have to admit that I love the way Scout Finch is perfectly willing to fight anybody who crosses her or who insults her father, the way she starts "cussin'" in an effort to avoid going to school, and the way she explains to her Uncle Jack just exactly what he doesn't understand about children. (Leading him to tell her father, "I shall never marry, Atticus." "Why?" "I might have children.")

It really ticked me off that the jury convicted Tom Robinson of rape when it seemed pretty clear that he hadn't done it. And of course they convicted him only because he was black and his accusor was white. It just amazes me that people would convict a man because of his skin color, but unfortunately, I'm sure it happened quite frequently. Maybe it still does--I don't know. I hope not.

To Kill a Mockingbird definitely opened my eyes to how horrible racism really is. Not that I didn't already think it was horrible, but it's harder to see as an abstract concept. The story made it more concrete; it made it easier to see the results of racism in the lives of individuals. Mockingbird would really be a miserable read if Harper Lee hadn't balanced out the awfulness of racism with touches of humor.


Summer Reading List

This is the stack of books that I've been working on during the past semester, and plan to continue working on through the summer and as time permits next semester. (A special thank you to my dad, for being a bit of a bookworm and for having boxes full of books in the attic to keep me busy!)

Books I've completed (not pictured):

  • Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" by C.S. Lewis
  • The Cost of Choice: Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion ed. Erika Bachiochi

Books I'm currently reading:

  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom
  • The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
  • Revival Fire by Charles G. Finney

Books on my reading list:

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Counted Righteous in Christ by John Piper
  • Better Thinking and Reasoning by Ron Tagliapietra
  • The Seven Wonders of the World by Ron Tagliapietra
  • The Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850 by David O. Beale
  • God's Passion for His Glory by John Piper
  • Hard to Believe by John MacArthur
  • Truth Matters by John MacArthur
  • A Survey of Christian Hymnody by David W. Music and Milburn Price
  • The Murder of Jesus by John MacArthur
  • Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Emma by Jane Austen
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (not pictured)
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (not pictured)
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (not pictured)

Booklets on my reading list:

  • The World Council of Churches by Edward Panosian
  • The New Evangelicalism by Charles Woodbridge
  • Reformed Evangelism by Morton H. Smith
  • Neo-Orthodoxy by Charles Caldwell Ryrie


Is something wrong with this picture?

Apparently somebody's library is missing a dictionary.

Ironically, I saw this sign outside the Main Branch of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (NC).


Wedding day nightmare...?

I just attended a wedding in which several members of the wedding party (including the bride) were suffering from a stomach bug. I guess there are worse things that could happen to a person on his/her wedding day, but this ranks pretty high on the list.

I'd love to post more tonight, but I've got to get some sleep. I'm planning to go with a group of friends to see the Dead Sea Scrolls tomorrow morning, and I need to leave my house shortly after 6 a.m. (Why are we going so early? Well, when my friends called to purchase tickets, the only times left for the exhibit were 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. So naturally, my friends chose... 9 a.m. Woohoo.)

Quote of the Day (May 11)

"You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it." -- C.H. Spurgeon

(HT: Google Quote of the Day)


"Children's" Literature

When I was a kid (probably 7 or 8 years old, but I really don't remember for sure), my dad used to read The Chronicles of Narnia aloud to me on Sunday afternoons. (He also made me iced tea and taught me to play chess; I don't remember anything about chess except the names of the pieces and which way the knights and the pawns are allowed to move, and I don't like tea.) Of course, at that age, I didn't really understand them. As I got older and occasionally tried to read The Chronicles myself, I didn't like them. I don't like the science fiction/fantasy genres, and the Chronicles scared me a bit.

I watched the Narnia movie a few weeks ago, however, and I was inspired to re-read the books. I'm just starting Book 4 (The Silver Chair), and I'm surprised at how much they've improved over the last decade.

It's always interesting to read "children's" books (at least, I've always considered the Chronicles to be children's literature, since I was first introduced to them when I was so young) as an adult, when you're able to see the author's worldview so clearly. For example, from The Silver Chair:

"I was wondering--I mean--could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to--to Somebody--it was a name I wouldn't know--and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open."

"You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you," said the Lion.


It's just too bad that C.S. Lewis had to end the Chronicles by letting a Tash worshipper into paradise...


I've been taking classes???

Last Friday, I decided to attend the Commencement Concert with my brother. He stopped in the post office to check his box before we went into the auditorium. I thought this would be a good opportunity to test my long-term memory, so I walked over to my old box and tried the combination. Surprisingly, I got it open on the first try (which is better than I did 80% of the time when I was still a student). Even more surprisingly, I had a piece of mail. Most surprising of all, however, was the fact that this piece of mail was a report card.

I was sort of wondering why I had received a report card when I hadn't taken any classes since first semester. Well, the report card informed me that I'd earned one credit for my music ensemble. (I guess that one semester of horn choir counted for something?)

How does your garden grow?

I've planted a little vegetable garden in the rocky soil of my backyard! I decided to try to grow some green beans to freeze and take to school with me. (I need some encouragement to eat my veggies sometimes; having some that I've grown and frozen myself might do the trick!)

I ended up planting green beans, peas, cucumbers, and sunflowers in the garden, and a tomato plant in a big pot on the back porch. I don't expect the peas to do well because I planted them too late (they don't like hot weather), and the sunflowers are an experiment--I tried them once
before, when I was a kid, and they never even sprouted. But my mom got a package of seeds for free as a gift with her purchase of two dresses at Dress Barn, so I figured, why not? They've already sprouted, as you can see in the first picture. Maybe I'll be able to add sunflower seeds to my diet in the fall!

This is my tomato plant. I'm surprised I haven't killed it yet by forgetting to water it. As you can see, it's already blossoming.

To the right is a picture of my little green bean plants. Aren't they cute? This picture was taken last Saturday; they're probably taller now. (I haven't gone to look at them since Saturday. I think there's something wrong with my nurturing instinct.)

I'm tentatively planning on chronicling my garden's life (however brief it may be!) on my blog. Stay tuned! (Yeah, I can tell all 2 of my faithful readers are about to burst with excitement. Try to contain yourselves.)

Graduation picture!

Sorry I'm posting only one; it's pretty much the only one I have that doesn't show my face. (I'm not too excited about posting pictures of myself on my blog, and I know my parents wouldn't be too excited about it!) So I apologize for posting only a picture of my "gold" (since when is orange a shade of gold?) ribbon. I'm not trying to brag about it (it was only by the grace of God!) but at least it's a picture of me that doesn't include my face!



I graduate from college Saturday, and I still don't really care. And I feel a bit guilty about it.

I guess it's because I finished classes in December--and that, I did care about. A lot. I could have told you last June how many days I had until I reached that milestone.

But unfortunately, my university doesn't award degrees in December, so I don't officially graduate until Saturday. I really thought about just having the school mail me my diploma, but I suspect that, a decade or two down the road, I'd regret not making the trip to campus to graduate. Besides, certain family members would probably be disappointed if I didn't participate in the ceremony.

It's been funny, though; you know how I said I was counting down the days until I finished classes? Well, last week I thought, "Isn't graduation soon? I guess I ought to look at my schedule and find out when I'm supposed to show up for rehearsal and stuff like that."

And just tonight I realized that I ought to lose five pounds and get my face cleared up before all the photo ops after the ceremony. And also, I haven't the slightest idea where either my digital or my "archaic" camera is, and I probably have neither batteries or film. I guess I ought to look into that...


Like father, like son?

FoxNews does not mention Chappaquiddick in this article. I suppose that, technically, it would be irrelevant...

But I have to admit that, as I walked through the lobby of my office building tonight and saw the headline on the TV that Ted Kennedy's son had wrecked his car, the first thought to cross my mind was, "What did he do, drive off a bridge and kill somebody?"

(I apologize to any Democratic-leaning readers that this blog may have; I really don't hate Democrats. And I don't necessarily like the Republicans all that much, most of the time.)


Jury "consultants"?

Interesting article in the April 2006 issue of Reader's Digest on "stacking" juries. It's the "That's Outrageous" feature, and it begins on page 41.

A quotation:

A recent guide published by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America warned lawyers about jurors who may show "personal responsibility bias." These jurors, the guide said, feel that "people must be accountable for their conduct." Now there's a chilling outlook! The guide advises: "The only solution is to exclude them from the jury." That is, get rid of anyone who might actually care about seeing justice done.

Obviously, the author doesn't mask his feelings on the issue. :) But he makes some interesting points. So, my "legal nerd" friends, what do you think? Does the jury system need reforming?

Cat food...

I went to check on my garden tonight (yes, I planted a vegetable garden! Now to see if anything will actually grow, seeing as the soil is more rocks than dirt) and, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a frog hop away from me through the too-long grass of the backyard.

I looked more closely, and realized that it was not a frog but a small bird. I think it was a baby, just a bit too young to be out of its nest. What I thought was hopping was actually its attempts at flight. It could barely get off the ground, and could relocate by only a foot or two.

Yes, I'm afraid the poor little thing is going to become dinner tonight.

Thanks a lot...

... to the co-worker who, this morning, announced that he had the "Mission Impossible" theme song stuck in his head, and proceeded to hum a bit of it. I really appreciated the opportunity to join you in humming it all day!


It's interesting...

... how shortly after I link to this site, I usually get at least one hit from this location. (Hi!)

I'm just glad there's not a correlation between my linking there and my getting a hit from the Pentagon!