Friday, July 26, 2013

The Star Maker Says, "It Ain't So Bad"

So, yeah this week. I've wanted to post a few other times this week, but then I was worried that I wouldn't have anything to post about Friday. Well, today's Friday, I think, Honestly I lose track during the summer, and I have multiple things to talk about.

A man I admire greatly, His Grace Bishop Daniel, visited Slickville this past Sunday. He came to elevate my father to the rank of Protopriest. He served with us all, and it was quite nice to hear him speak. I hope to have the video of his homily up eventually, but nevertheless it was quite a nice service.

Unlike the last time he came, he gave a week and a half's worth of notice, enough time to alert some presses, which packed our tiny church with about 50 people. Mind you, we only have 25 or so come on an average Sunday.

We (that was, my mother, father, and I) were discussing the night before the logistics of how it was all to work. Again, we had more notice, so they had the event catered, my father was able to tell a bunch of people, so we didn't exactly know who would come.

But then we realized that the building is alive. And no, I don't mean that in some "church in the woods is haunted oooohhh spooky" way or the feel-good metaphor of a lively parish, but rather the physical inside of the building appears to expand to fit as many people that show up. On a typical Sunday with 20 or so people, it feels full. And with 50 it feels full. It's extremely hard to describe, and I welcome whoever reads this to come out sometime and see it yourself.

So after everyone left, the pictures were taken and cleaned up and my father wrote an article. My mother decided that I should write it instead, but in reality what I did was play editor to his original. I added a lot of wording, condensed some stuff, and you can probably pick out the portions that are my style. You can read my frankenstiened version here:

So that got published on Tuesday. On Thursday we got our copy of the Signal Item, which is a local paper published weekly about the goings-on in originally Carnegie, but has expanded to the Carlynton/Chartiers-Valley area. And I read through and I find something that looks awfully familiar.

I took some pictures at the last flag ceremony for the mayor of Carnegie, and he was kind enough to have them published in my name by the Signal Item.

I love that they picked out my two favorite pictures to print. These flag ceremonies have certain elements to them that are extremely hard to capture, and are amazing to experience. In fact, one was published that I couldn't time right before. Those moments are the playing of taps, the lowering of the flag, folding of it, and the presentation to the family of the fallen. And the coolest part (at least to me) is that they present it to the family with the same words that it was originally presented at the funeral with.

And then the commander of the VFW salutes the family. This is the amazing moment captured. And I will tell you that this picture does no justice to how truly poignant that moment is.

This all, if you know me personally, you know I freak out anytime I see something I made being put someplace other than my blog. So this was quite pleasant.

Post-Script: Sorry this was so LONG. I didn't realize that, but usually I write 300 word posts, this is more like double that. Sorry :/

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Reading Adventure 2013 Part I: The Awakening

So one of the things that I'm required to do to keep in my honors level courses is read a book. Well, actually for English I need to read two books, write two rhetorical precis, two outlines, and two personal responses (one in each category due by July 15). For Social Studies I need to read a book, then read the first four chapters in my textbook and answer some questions.

So I test-drove the idea of book reviews last year with Withering Away Heights and I think I'm going to do it again. This contains plot spoilers, and may very well ruin the book for you. Sorry, but I am warning you now.

The first book I've read this summer was The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Where the heck do I start with this plot? It's about this woman who decides she is unhappy with her life as a married woman with children, and didn't marry for love, and wah.

It's set 19th century New Orleans and the whole aim of the piece is to highlight the lack of choices women had in the way of self expression, and what happens when they bow to social conventions and have to follow strict class expectations et cetera. 

The plotline follows Edna Pontellier experiencing a personal awakening that she didn't marry for love, and falls in love with a lovely younger gentleman named Robert. But, again: She is married to a guy already, and has two children. He loves her back, so he moves away to remove himself out of the equation.

I want to take a moment to appreciate the fact that her sons names are √Čtienne and Raoul. 

Anyway, she decides that she also wants to be an artist. Her husband is the breadwinner and she is expected by social conventions to serve as homemaker and loyal wife and downright dull stock character. So she sends her kids to her homeland of Kentucky, her husband off to make money in New York. And she moves out. And Robert comes back. 

And what Robert essentially tells her is: Lady, I love you, but I can't be with you because, you know, adultery and stuff. So what is the logical thing to do at this point. You guessed it - she commits suicide. The end. Because that 

Okay, so I get that class culture is something important here. So are gender roles, because together they essentially drive this Edna chick insane and she kills herself. But these are social constructs of the 1890s. 

I understand that gender gaps are still a thing. In fact, a much better (and expanded) argument can be viewed here: So we have a long way to go, but I am not sure I am getting out of this what I should. 

I saw gender roles, and Edna's struggle to be an artist to a world not kind to women wanting to be artists, not some tragic love story of a woman wanting what she cannot have. 

I think we've come a bit further than having to resort to suicide because your on the side lover wants to preserve the sacrament of the existing marriage. And I'm also trying to figure out its relevance to me personally. I guess it's cultural awareness of gender roles, but in the context of a 1890s tragedy. 

Honestly, I didn't like the book. I liked what I interpreted as the message, which really was only made clear through reading criticism. It was quite Dickens-y with the whole 'let's describe every detail of the dresses at parties' thing, but it's a short (200ish page) read. Wouldn't recommend it, but I would recommend this criticism on it. Which, I guess requires reading the book:


So this week I celebrated four years since the first post in 2009. I got bored and played with my image editor, and this happened (left)

But seriously, Thanks. No matter how long you've been reading, or if this is like the future and I'm in year like five or whatever, thanks for reading my nonsense week after week, despite how rambly these things get. 

Thanks for reading, because honestly, without people reading this, I would've stopped a long while back. 

Stay tuned for more (slightly comical, I hope) book reviews. Meh.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Home, Let Me Come Home Home Is Wherever I'm With You

So I keep track of my analytics, which are how many people come here, what they read, and that sort of thing. The mission is simple: see what people who read my blog like to read, and write more like that.

Honestly, I've been writing this blog pretty blindly for the past four years. And since my last post (yeah, I realize I'm slacking writing on a Tuesday of all days) this blog has reached 10,000 views. Wow. I mean, I realize that it's not unique views, but I reckon there are roughly 200 posts here, and if I do the math, that's roughly 50 people per post. That's crazy.

So first off, thank you. Whoever on earth you are, from whatever country, thank you for reading this blog. It really means a lot to me to know that someone somewhere is visiting. Okay, enough whit the nonsense gushy stuff.

This past weekend I spent up at camp, and saw firey flashes of AMERICA (fireworks) shot up at camp amongst other things. It was a lovely weekend despite the rain, and I learned about these paper lantern things.

They work off of the same principles as hot air balloons. A little candle is lit in them and using the heat inside them, they float up and are quite a sight to behold. Granted, every time I tried to take a picture they ended in blurs. But that led me to thinking...

After tweaking the settings on my camera, and playing with some America sparklers, I produced these pictures:
This was one of the lanterns

Matt and the America Sparklers

Me and the America Sparklers

Yeah, this didn't end too well...
Well, that's all I got. See you Friday.