Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A poem in honor of IPad Announcement Eve:

'Twas the night before Apple

held the Great Event.

All the bloggers were blogging

predictions rampant.

The fanboys and fangirls

sat up in their beds,

Whilst visions of Mac tablets

danced in their heads.

And Steve, in his turtleneck

pressed his remote,

And practiced the timing

for his new Keynote.

The press oohed and aahed

at the Tablet displayed

The Internet twittered

"We want it! We'll pay!"

Sir Steve merely smiled

and then he did state,

"I give you my tablet

My best work to date."

"Go now, one and all!

To the Apple Store--fly!

The iPad is here!

New world order is nigh!

By Susan Pigott

Saturday, March 28, 2009

OCTD: Obsessive Compulsive Twittering Disorder


I have a new problem.

I discovered Twitter. This is a bad thing. Because, even though I really don't understand Twitter or why anyone uses it, I've come down with OCTD: Obsessive Compulsive Twittering Disorder.

It started innocently enough. I signed up for Twitter (for the second time; I gave up in puzzlement the first time), and I offered my first update. No big deal.

Then I updated again, and I noted I felt a little rush, sort of like the first draw on a cigarette (not that I smoke--except for once, with my cousin Janelle, who taught me how to do it outside a Pizza Hut in Raytown, MO, but that's another story). I felt a rush upon hitting the update button; a little spike of happiness that caused a mini-endorphine party in my brain. Nice!

Twitter asks you, "What are you doing?" It's an open-ended question that calls to me like a Siren. "What are you doing?" Well, right now I am . . .

And so I update again. And again. And again.

The reality is that, hardly anyone is following me, and I sincerely doubt that those six people are interested in the fact that I am waiting with anticipation for my new DSi or that I watched a movie.

But, strangely, it doesn't matter! That's because each time I update, I am rewarded with undeniable satisfaction that I am actually doing something! Ah! Affirmation! Productivity! I'm alive!!!

Now twittering is like a food craving that I must satisfy. I can't stop thinking about updating until I offer another tweet. Then, ten minutes later, the urge comes again and I can barely restrain myself. Indeed, the only thing that keeps me from giving in completely to my obsession is the fear of annoying my six loyal followers with relentless, inane tweets.

Even as I am typing this, though, my mind is happily dancing toward the moment when I can update Twitter with "I just posted a new entry in my blog!" Blog schmog. I just wanna tweet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dog Poetry

Well, I'm giving my blog a go again and trying out a new blog program called Marsedit. I decided that for this post I'd just publish some silly poems I wrote for the Nathaniel News, my son's newspaper he publishes occasionally for our family. These poems are by Calvin and Hobbes, our Labradors.

Squirrel PopsicleDSC_0784.JPG.jpg
Morning time.

The daddy lets me out--where’s Mama? I pout!

Run, run, smash into the door.

I pushes me out--I go out before.

(Hobbes is not the Alpha Male!)

Sniff, smell. Whoa! Dead--something dead!


I crunches it in my mouth!

A squirrel popsicle! Oh most YUM! My mouth drips goo!



The daddy grabbed my prize.

He throws it over the fence. How dense!

My crunchy squirrel’s demise . . . .

Goodbye, my popsicle.

Good bye.

--by Calvin

Mousey: A PoemDSC_0750.JPG.jpg

Sticky. Dead. A Mouse.

I take. I hold in my mouth.

The Mama grabs--she holds a biscuit out.

I bite. I swallow.

Mouse and biscuit whole.


--by Hobbes

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Dobson 2012 Letter and the Reality of the Bush Administration's Abuses

I've been absent from blogging for awhile due to my day job (which I sort of have to do) and a writing project (which is now complete).

I don't have much time to do my own writing today, but I thought it intriguing to post two items which, in juxtaposition to one another, are quite striking.  The first is James Dobson's "Letter from 2012" in which he posits an apocalyptic vision of America under an Obama presidency.  The second is a NYT article detailing some of the actual abuses of the Bush administration.  The irony is that Dobson foresees a vision of an America where civil liberties are abused by a "Liberal Leftist" government, and, yet, the NYT article displays the reality of an America where civil liberties have been jettisoned by the current administration.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stupid Bible Tricks # 1

I’ve been a professor of Old Testament for sixteen years now, and in my profession you run into some very strange and, often, ridiculous interpretations of the Bible. I decided I would do a series called “Stupid Bible Tricks” to highlight several of these low moments in hermeneutics. Some are simply silly. Others are downright outrageous. Still others are becoming increasingly dangerous as their popularity spreads, and common sense is replaced by a mechanistic and almost magical view of scripture.

The first Stupid Bible Trick I want to consider is what I’ll call “The Alef-Tav Sermon.” It falls into the downright outrageous category as it is based on huge jumps of (ill) logic and disregard for how language works. I first heard this sermon in a church where Kelly was on staff but was not the pastor. I was in seminary at the time, working on my Ph.D. The pastor was aware that I was specializing in Old Testament and that I knew Hebrew.

It was Sunday morning, and I was seated behind the pulpit along with the other choir members. We had done all the typical Baptist preliminaries of worship in preparation for the highlight of the service: the sermon. As we sat down, the pastor arose, walked to the pulpit, and announced that he was going to preach a series of sermons called “Jesus in Genesis.” I groaned inwardly, because I knew that meant he would be christologizing the OT (i.e. inserting Christian ideas into the OT text in order to make the it seem more relevant). But I had no idea what he was going to do when he said, “And today, I will preach on Jesus Christ in Genesis chapter 1, verse 1.”

I’m sure there were a few introductory illustrations and other content that allowed the sermon to extend to the mandatory 25 minutes, but what I remember of the sermon was this. The preacher read the text, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Then he said, “Now, in between the word ‘created’ and the words ‘the heavens’ there’s a little Hebrew word called ‘et.’ He turned toward me, seated unsuspecting in the choir, and asked, ”Isn’t there, Susan?“ Shocked that I was being addressed at all during the sermon, and knowing that there was, indeed, that little word, I nodded. Smiling smugly, he turned back to the congregation and launched into what has to be the most appalling misuse of Hebrew I’ve ever heard.

”Now,“ he said in his best Texas-preacher voice, ”that little word, ‘et,’ isn’t translated, so you can’t see it in your English Bible. But, it’s there, and here’s the amazing thing: it’s spelled alef tav. Now, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is alef. The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is tav.“ His face began to turn red with excitement. The jugular veins were bulging as his voice grew louder. And, wiping the sweat beads from his forehead, he said profoundly: ”Alef and tav, the first and the last, the Alpha, the Omega! Jesus Christ in Genesis 1:1!!!!“

My jaw dropped, and I’m certain I turned scarlet red. He had just pulled off an incredibly stupid Bible trick, and he had used me to substantiate it. Of course I couldn’t just stand up in the choir loft and rebut him. No, there was nothing I could do but follow the other choir members out of the loft,. Bubbling with fury, I waited for my husband to return to the little trailer we called home. I busted forth with righteous indignation the moment he entered, declaring my intent to confront the preacher Monday morning and teach him a thing or two about Hebrew.

But, Kelly’s calmer mind prevailed, and, in spite of the injustice, he counseled me to remain silent. Maintaining a good relationship with the pastor was pretty important if Kelly was going to keep his job, after all.

So, I never got my moment in the pastor’s office, but each fall, with every new group of Hebrew students, I tell this story as an example of how not to use Hebrew. That little word, ”et,“ which functions as the sign of the direct object in Hebrew appears thousands of times in the Old Testament. If one claims that ”et“ in Genesis 1 refers to Jesus Christ, then wouldn’t one have to claim the same for every verse in which this little word appears? So what, then, does one do when the OT reads, ”And Adam knew “et” his wife, Eve“? Is Jesus right there in the middle? Oooo, a bit awkward, isn’t it?

The sad thing is that I’m not the only one who has heard this sermon (though I doubt the other preachers had an unsuspecting Hebrew dupe in their churches). Indeed, apparently this is a ”stock“ sermon that came out of an institution of ”higher“ learning located in Dallas. Said institution has spawned many preachers who have regurgitated the Alef Tav sermon to their unwitting congregations. And so, this stupid Bible trick is propagated, while stalwart Hebrew teachers, wielding their grammars and lexicons, doggedly call their students to higher standards of interpretation.

And so, the Alef Tav sermon earns the special distinction of being the first Stupid Bible Trick to make my list.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Sister the Sister

My sister is a Sister, that is, a nun. And not just any kind of nun. She’s a full-blown habit-bedecked cloister-enclosed sort of nun.

It’s kind of odd that Sister Mary Giovanna of the Sacred Stigmata P.C.C. (formerly Karen Lynn Day) came out of my family. We weren’t Catholic, you see. My parents, former Methodists, stopped attending church after a few disheartening episodes of church bullying (more on that later). Thus, Sundays were for sleeping late, reading the comics, and watching Dad mow the lawn in his Bermuda shorts and allergy mask.

But something mysterious took root in my sister’s heart when she was a high school student. Her social studies class took a field trip to different churches in Albuquerque as part of a unit on religion. My sister said that when the group visited the Catholic church, she sensed God there.

She decided to visit a Catholic church for real, so she called her friend Cindy, who was a Catholic, and asked if she could go with her to Mass the next Sunday. “Why?” Cindy asked, baffled. “Because I want to,” my sister replied.” “But, why?” Cindy repeated, incredulous that anyone should want to go to Mass voluntarily.

But my sister did go voluntarily, and soon she was attending--religiously.

None of us in the family really understood the extent to which Karen loved Catholicism. I suspect my parents thought it was a faze that she would eventually outgrow. Oh, but it wasn’t a faze.

I remember the night she revealed to me her ultimate dreams, swearing me to secrecy. “Susan,” she said, her voice quivering with excitement. “I’m going to become a nun.” “Why?” I asked. “Because I want to do something that will allow me to pray and to sing and to play music all day long for God.” “Oh,” I said simply. I didn’t understand it completely, but I could sense her happiness. Besides, being a nun suited her.

My parents, however, were crushed. In their view, she was throwing her life away, her potential locked up with a bunch of old maids who thought they were married to Jesus. As far as they were concerned, she might as well have joined a cult.

But, they let her go even though it broke their hearts. She joined the Poor Clare Nuns, a Franciscan order. Happily, there was a monastery only four hours from Albuquerque, in Roswell, home of UFOs and about forty nuns.

Over time, my folks learned to accept Karen’s choice, and, as she blossomed in the fertile soil of contemplative living, they even grew to celebrate it.

Many people are quite curious when they find out my sister’s a nun. “What on earth does she do all day?” they wonder. “Doesn’t she want to get married?” others ask, mystified. “You mean she stays in that monastery all the time and doesn’t come out?” still others demand. And, there’s always the Evangelical who wants to know, “But, is she saved?”

In response: (1) she prays for the world all day and in the middle of the night, too. (2) She considers herself married to Jesus, and I’ve heard he’s quite the bridegroom. (3) Yes, except for doctor’s appointments and medical emergencies. (4) She loves Jesus with her soul and has devoted her life entirely to God. What do you think?

My sister’s Catholic; I’m Protestant. And, while we don’t always approach spirituality the same way, we’re both on the same journey.

Personally, I think it’s pretty cool having a sister who’s a Sister.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Favorite Mac Software (So Far)

I’ve owned my Macbook for almost two months now, and I’ve added a bunch of software that has been just terrific. I thought I would compile a list of software I have found to be the most helpful along with a “wish list” of things I hope to add in the future. As an academic, most of these programs relate to my job as an educator, but some are simply helpful things to have on a Mac. I’ve noted when the programs offer an educational discount to students and/or professors.

Applications I Own

Adium Instant messaging application. Adium has a highly customizable interface which makes it more fun to use than iChat. Unfortunately you can’t do video chat with it, but since I don’t know many people who do video chat anyway, that isn’t a problem. Free. http://www.adiumx.com/

AppZapper An application that completely removes other applications you no longer want on your Mac. Since I’ve been experimenting with lots of new programs, it’s nice to have something that gets rid of all the extraneous, hidden files when you delete an application off your computer. $12.95. http://www.appzapper.com/

Bookpedia A terrific program that allows you to catalog your library. The best part is that you can use your iSight camera to read the barcodes on books--then all the information on the book is automatically loaded into the application. If you can’t find the cover art for a book, you can use the iSight camera to photograph the book itself (the program automatically provides a grid so you can place the book cover properly). A free iPhone version is available so that you can carry your library with you everywhere. Note: Bookpedia is substantially cheaper than the better-known Delicious Library (which is $40.00), and while Delicious might have more “bells and whistles,” if it does, I couldn’t figure out what made it so much more expensive. $18.00. http://www.bruji.com/bookpedia/

Circus Ponies Notebook Note taking software that utilizes a notebook metaphor. I initially purchased this as a replacement for the Windows-only One Note, and while I may continue using it for note taking, I’m seriously considering Scrivener (see below) which seems more suited to the kind of research and writing I do. Nevertheless, I have found a wonderful application for this program. I have converted a textbook I wrote into Notebook format. For the past ten years, or so, I’ve printed this textbook through our university printshop and asked students to purchase it through our bookstore. With Circus Ponies Notebook, however, I’ve turned the text into an Internet-based document (you can export the notebook in HTML). Now, students can click on weblinks and go directly to those pages. I’ve been able to add numerous illustrations, links within the document itself, and images. It’s completely transformed my book into something dynamic and interactive. Plus, it will be much easier to update and revise than the printed version I used to produce. $49.95; academic license $29.95. http://www.circusponies.com/

Eaglefiler A database filing system. Eaglefiler provides a place to file all your digital detritus (or, as the case may be, all your important digital stuff). You can put almost anything in Eaglefiler, including PDFs, web archives, pictures, sound files, etc. One of the best features of Eaglefiler is its hot key function, which allows you to set up a key combination to save web pages as web archives. You needn’t leave Safari or whatever web browser you’re in to use the hot key. Eaglefiler also has a drop box function that you can set up, but thus far I haven’t figured out how to use it efficiently. It’s really nice to have a place to put old email (you can archive your Mac inbox in Eaglefiler), store web pages and PDFs, and accumulate research materials. I wavered between Eaglefiler and Devonthink Pro for a long time, but the simplicity of Eaglefiler is what won me over. That, and the price. Devonthink Pro was considerably more expensive and its interface wasn’t user friendly. $40; educational discount 33% = $26.80. http://c-command.com/eaglefiler/

EazyDraw An illustration program. I’m using this to create illustrations for my Old Testament Overview textbook (see Notebook above). In spite of the name, I’ve found this program anything but easy to use. The interface is somewhat clunky (but that may be because I’m still figuring out how to use it). Nevertheless, I’ve been able to create some pretty cool illustrations with it. $95 (but you can have full use of the program for 9 months for $20). http://www.eazydraw.net/

Growl A notification program that integrates with Adium, Gmail, NetNewsWire, Shovebox, Macjournal and many other programs. Offers an unobtrusive pop-up window which is configurable. Free. http://growl.info/

LaunchBar Easily launch applications and other things using the keyboard rather than mouse. $20. http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/index.html

MacJournal Journal writing software with easy export to blog. I chose this one because I preferred its UI over other journaling programs. One feature I especially like is full screen mode, which gives you a dark screen, green type (which is surprisingly easy on the eyes), and hides all other distractions. I use this feature quite often when I want to focus only on writing. $34.95 with a 25% off discount for educators making it $26.21. http://www.marinersoftware.com/sitepage.php?page=85

NetNewsWire RSS reader. I tried Google Reader, but it was just overkill--too much on one page all at once. I love the interface of NetNewsWire. It’s simple; it sits in my dock and lets me know if it’s downloaded anything, and there’s an iPhone version. Free. http://www.newsgator.com/INDIVIDUALS/NETNEWSWIRE/

Novamind Pro Mindmapping software. I downloaded the trial version of this and was instantly hooked. I’ve discovered that I am not a linear thinker, and mind mapping allows me to think in all directions at once. Novamind’s program is easy to use (though I’ve only scratched the surface of all that it’s capable of doing, so there is a learning curve), colorful, professional looking, and great for brainstorming, creating visuals of concepts, and even for diagrams. I’ve been using it for almost everything I do, from planning a garage sale to planning classes. Even though it’s by far the most expensive program I’ve purchased, it’s worth every penny, and I highly recommend it. $149; with the educational discount, $104.  http://www.novamind.com/

Shovebox Quick note program with filing capabilities. I tried Sidenote, but it drove me crazy--it would pop out when I really didn’t want it to. Shovebox sits quietly in your menubar. You can drag things straight to the menubar, highlight text in another application and set a hotkey that will past it into Shovebox, and you can set up a hotkey for “Quickjot” whenever you need to write a note or reminder but don’t want to leave the application you’re in. You can easily drag URLs, pictures, web archives--anything to Shovebox for later filing. Very handy. $24.95; with 40% student discount, $14.97. http://www.wonderwarp.com/shovebox/

SplashID Secure storage of data. I started using SplashID when I had a Treo 600. It’s an excellent program for filing any secure information. I have the iPhone desktop version, so I can sync the data on my Mac with my iPhone so I always have it with me. This program has saved me multiple times, because I can’t remember user names and passwords. Plus, for online shopping it’s very handy because you can store credit card information on it. The best feature, in my view, is the quick copy button. On the right side of any fill-in information is a little clipboard. You click that once to copy your credit card number, password, etc. That way, none of your keystrokes can be copied by identity thieves. What I don’t like about this software is that it still looks just like Treo software. It’s inelegant and kind of clunky. I have eWallet on my iPhone as well, and it has a beautiful interface. When they come out with a desktop version, I’ll probably switch to eWallet. Desktop version: $19.95; iPhone only version $9.99. http://www.splashdata.com/splashid/iphone/index.htm

TextExpander Create snippets to make typing faster. This is a great little program that I’m only beginning to use effectively. You can create rules for snippets that you have to type often. For example, I’ve created a snippet for my work signature, so when I type w-k-s-i-g I get my name, title, address, phone number, and email address in a flash. You can use it to quick insert dates and other information. You can even create rules for words you frequently misspell. You can download snippet databases, such as one for words with diacritical marks and one for frequently misspelled words. I need to sit down and come up with more snippets. The more snippets you create, the more helpful the program is. A timesaver, for sure. $29.95, with educational discount it is $20.96. http://www.smileonmymac.com/TextExpander/

Things To do program with a simple, fresh interface. I’ve tried and tried to do “Getting Things Done,” but it gets so complicated that I wind up giving up. Things can be used for the GTD approach, but it offers a simplified interface that makes keeping a To Do list much easier and less cluttered. Things divides tasks into three sections: collect, focus, and organize. Collect is your inbox where you put everything first. Next, you can place your todos into “Today,” “Next,” “Someday,” and “Scheduled,” as a means of ordering tasks’ priorities. Then, you can organize your todos into categories, give them tags, set dates, etc. Hardcore GTD-ers might not like Things because it doesn’t follow the GTD principles verbatim. For that you can get Omnifocus (see below). But for me, Things is perfect. There’s an iPhone version as well, and the developer is hard at work to make the desktop and iPhone versions syncable. Free (for now, but will cost $49.00 in the future; if you sign up for their newsletter you’ll be able to buy it for $39.00). http://www.culturedcode.com/things/

Applications I’m Considering

Bookends Bookends is a reference database. It’s made for academic types who want a place to deposit all their resources from research. It can generate bibliographies and footnotes in a whole host of styles, including Turabian. You can export to Word, but from what I’ve read, there are still some bugs to work out there. The program works best in conjunction with Mellel (see below). The developer of this program is very active and helpful. $99.00. There is a student discount which brings the price down to $69.00 but faculty aren’t eligible for that. You can buy Bookends together with Mellel for $109.00 (students $89), which seems to be the best deal. http://www.sonnysoftware.com/

Mellel A sophisticated word processor designed for academics with support for multiple languages and right-to-left typing (great for Hebrew). I haven’t played around with this program much yet, and there seems to be a pretty high learning curve. Nevertheless, I can see its potential, especially in conjunction with Bookends (above). You can export Mellel docs as Word docs, so you can communicate with the rest of this Microsoft-based world, but I’m hesitant as of yet to commit to a non-Word word processor after finally converting to Word from WordPerfect. $49.00; educational discount $35.00. http://www.redlers.com/bigdiscount.html

Scrivener A writing program with a cork-board/index card interface. This is a unique, very intriguing program. It is designed for writers of all types--academic, fiction, screenwriters, etc. It’s sort of like a data repository, organizer, writing center all in one. But it’s not a word processor. Once you’ve gotten your draft like you want it, you are supposed to export from Scrivener into your word processor of choice for final editing and formatting. One of the coolest features is the split screen where you can work on two different documents at once--useful if you’re using a PDF article as a source and you want to do a direct quote, or if you want to compare different sections of your own document. Like MacJournal, Scrivener also offers a full-screen, focus on writing only mode. The cork board is really interesting--it’s basically like having your old index cards from the olden days in digital form. You can edit and rearrange them at will. Since I’m a visual learner/writer, this aspect alone is very satisfying. $39.95; educational discount $34.99. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.html