24 October 2011

Weekend Random Post

I'm filing this under Friday Five, even though it's not Friday, because it still counts if it's still the weekend, right?

Remember when Candace did the "10 Day You Challenge", those series of posts on her blog? With answering different questions that counted down from 10 and all that? I tried to do it for one post, and half-heartedly at that, and I didn't do any more of those posts, mostly because I couldn't figure out enough stuff to write about myself. I just wasn't up to the challenge. Dear readers, I had to confront the fact that I'm not that interesting a person. I know lots of interesting people and a fair number of interesting facts, but I myself am the sort of individual who is paralyzed when required to make small talk, so I end up staring awkwardly at the walls and wishing the floor would open up and swallow me. Sigh.

But anyway, one of the challenges in the 10 Day You Challenge was 10 Secrets. Now obviously, if I posted ten secrets about myself, or even just one secret, on my blog, then it would be automatically self-negating because as soon as I pushed the Publish button, the information would cease to be secret. But I thought it might be a reasonable approximation to post a few items about myself that are not actually secrets but some things that people might not know. I couldn't think of ten, so here are five.

1. I was switched at birth. No, really. It's a somewhat long and involved story and my mother tells the best version of it (I myself cannot even recall the events in question), but the gist of it is that due to a logistical error, the hospital brought two babies each to the other's mother on the day when I was born. The other infant in question was Hispanic and male, so the mix-up was readily discovered and corrected, but it does make one wonder how often those mistakes could happen without being detected.

2. I have super powers! Just kidding, my powers are pretty much useless so I'm more of a simple freak of nature. I'm a synesthete, specifically possessing grapheme-to-color synesthesia. It means that I see individual letters in particular colors. It's not a useful skill.

3. I'm extremely clumsy. This is an odd confession for a graceful dancer to make, but the truth is that I have a habit of dropping things, tripping over things, bumping or walking into them... I'm notorious for hurting myself in bizarre ways (I've sustained more than one umbrella-opening-related injury). I suspect that most of my klutziness is rooted in absentmindedness, as I always have my head in the clouds and forget to pay attention to my physical surroundings. Dancing is easy: You have steps you've learned and choreographed routines that you've practiced, and as long as your stage isn't so small that you can't move, you should be fine. Life, on the other hand, is difficult and dangerous: You never know what could be coming at you at any given moment.

4. I consider myself to be an Asian-Pacific-Islander-American. It's no secret, nor is it particularly complicated, but many people don't understand this. I am a citizen of the USA and live in the good old Midwest, but was raised in Indonesia and New Guinea. I have identity issues, I guess.

5. I'm becoming more beautiful as I get older. I've thought this for many years, and it seems to just keep getting truer and truer. I'm definitely a late bloomer, a proverbial ugly duckling. I always felt plain in high school and college, and my experience with the opposite sex didn't build my confidence at all, but now that I'm 15-20 years older, I get a lot of attention based on my looks. I'm not convinced that my metamorphosis is related to any actual physical improvement, except perhaps the cliche about someone "growing into her looks", but rather I think that many people improve with age because we become more and more comfortable with who we are and who God has made us to be. We become lovelier because we love ourselves more in the sense of accepting the self that God loves, redeems, and sanctifies day by day.

21 October 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears FOR REAL

YOU GUYS! It seems as though my plan to input Animal Control as a saved contact on my phone was utterly prescient. As everyone on the planet now knows, there were wild animals (including, yes, lions and tigers and bears) on the loose in central Ohio the very week after I wrote that, some miles west of my house.
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/20/us/ohio-animals-on-loose/?hpt=us_c2 [Please ignore all the idiots posting in the comments section. This event ended up as a tragedy, but it is pretty obvious to any rational observer that it would have ended as a tragedy no matter what the outcome, because it was tragic to begin with.]

I was in California during the time when this whole thing went down, which is probably good, all things considered. I just wanted to post this to remind everyone that it's okay to be wary and alert, and bears (even black bears) DO get aggressive and try to attack people.

13 October 2011

Speaking of Sharks


Golf with sharks! But what I really want to know is, are these bull sharks now adapted to freshwater living? They washed up in a river and live in a lake. I must investigate further...

11 October 2011

Sharks (The Bears of the Deep)

For some reason, yesterday's post about encountering terrifying beasts in the great outdoors sparked in my mind a memory of reading somewhere (interview? Twitter feed? I don't remember) a comment from Mark Hoppus to the effect that surfers are the most hardcore athletes because they always have to be wary of sharks while doing their thing. Surfing, he says, is the only sport where monsters try to eat you while you participate. [I guess he's implying that World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons don't count as sports. Oh well.]

Now, I know that the actual percentage of surfers and other aquatic athletes who have been attacked by sharks is actually very low. But for the sake of comparison, I'd like to point out that the percentage of people who have been attacked by sharks while watching TV in their living rooms is approximately zero.

10 October 2011

BEARS!! (Forget the Lions and Tigers)

[Speaking of lions, tigers, and bears, those are all names of sports teams. I just noticed that! And they're all in Great Lakes states. Crazy.]

When I was a little girl (so, some decades ago now) my family used to sing a song that started out "The other day, I met a bear, up in the woods, away up there". Now, thank God, I have never actually met a bear up in any woods; all my bear-related experiences have been confined to zoos, except for this one time that I'm pretty sure I heard a bear getting into the garbage can at the cabin up in Three Rivers at Sequoia National Park, but since I didn't actually see the bear, I can't claim to have met it. I don't have anything against bears qua bears, but I just like them in their place, and their place is as far away from me as possible. I don't have a lot of fears (though the ones I do possess tend to have a paralyzing effect on me, but that's another story) and I'm really not a big "outdoorsy" person, but I have what I would term a "healthy respect" for Nature, particularly with regard to things that can kill and/or eat me. This plays into my unenthusiastic attitude toward camping, among other things. I'm not a citified wuss; I have jungle cred. It's just that I'm really not interested in leaving the comforts of civilization, if it means I have to sleep outside with only a thin sheet of synthetic fabric separating me from vicious hungry predators such as grizzly bears and mountain lions. WHO THINKS THIS IS A GOOD IDEA? But I digress.

Today's story is not about me. I've been seeing, for a few months, a very nice young man who happens to be native to Ohio, more specifically to a small town in Coshocton County. He (the Significant Other, or SO) invited us (the Little Bug and me) to join him at a family event at his ancestral home (his parents still live in the house where his father grew up). So yesterday evening, we hopped in the car and drove east on the freeway (through the city of Coshocton itself, which happens to have a Walmrt, and it's THE ONLY WALMART IN THE WHOLE COUNTY, which tells you a lot about this general region, i.e. IT'S RURAL OHIO, i.e. IT'S AWESOME), got onto a country road, drove a while longer, passed a little country church with some hilarious signs (one said "THE ONLY GHOST HERE IS HOLY", which immediately begs all kinds of questions about that church), then turned onto a rather narrow unmarked road that began to wind back and forth up a hill through a forest, and at that point, I started to wonder exactly how far back into the woods we were going to go. Not too much later, though, we pulled up to a house with several cars parked outside, and I figured that had to be the party place. And when we got out, we saw an old tractor under a tree. AWESOME!! The Little Bug wanted to play on it (because IT'S A REAL LIVE TRACTOR) but my SO said it wasn't safe because there were probably bees in it. Bummer. But still: TRACTOR BEES. Awesome, right? Then we were met by a coterie of nephews and nieces bearing tales of paintball shooting and black bear sighting. The bear story seemed rather doubtful, but the paintball story was real, and it was taking place on the far edge of the rather large yard, but I had the Bug with me, so I had to be diligent about keeping him away and I couldn't partake myself, though I might have wanted to otherwise. I glanced at my phone, though, and saw that I had no signal.
Me (to my SO): I don't have any cell phone signal!
SO: Yeah, me neither.
Me: I'm pretty sure almost every horror movie starts this way.
SO: Now you know the story of every day of my life growing up.
But with a couple dozen people milling around, most of them tiny tykes with energy to spare, there was little time to contemplate our severance from the outside world. Inside the house, we were greeted by hot dogs, birthday cake, and (apparently) a Waltons TV show marathon. I found this fascinating because I'd heard of something called The Waltons but never seen it before, and it is (apparently) about a big family that lives in a big old house on a hill out in the woods, and also it's (apparently) my SO's dad's favorite show. COINCIDENCE? I think not. But I digress (again).

After dinner, we toured the garden on the slope behind the house (very nice, if slightly grown over now that it's autumn), admired a mysterious fossil that the SO's dad had found while digging in the garden, and played some Scrabble. All too soon, it was late in the evening and high time for our return to our upscale metropolitan life. We said our goodbyes and headed out to the car, accompanied by a very large, very old German shepherd (I saw his food dish--it was the size of one of those big tin washtubs we used back in the old country). We were met outside by two older nephews who had been amusing themselves by wandering through the woods in the pitch blackness, and they told us, "Hey, you should go up and check out this deer carcass we found. It's just over there." We demurred, and I pointed out that if there really was a rotting dead carcass, I would prefer to stay away from it rather than seek it out. Also: WHAT IF THE DEER HAD BEEN KILLED BY A BEAR? I buckled the Bug in his car seat, jumped in the car post-haste, and was ready to head out as soon as possible. In reality, though, we had to creep back down the hill at about 20 miles per hour because it was that windy road and there were no lights anywhere.

On the journey down, I asked my SO if he thought there was a bear killing deer by his parents' house.
SO: There's any number of reasons why there would be a dead deer around, but probably not a bear. If a bear kills a deer, it eats it and doesn't leave much to be found.
Me: So there are too many people up there for the bears to stay around?
SO: Oh, there's black bears up there for sure. I've seen one.
Me: !!!!!
SO: That bear's gone now. It got captured and put down. Someone started feeding the bear, so it became dangerous.* It learned to expect the food and it would go up to houses expecting to be fed. So it came up and opened the kitchen door--
Me: Wait, it opened YOUR kitchen door?
SO: Yeah. That kitchen you were sitting in? It pushed open the door right there.
Me: A bear came in your house?!
SO: It didn't come inside. It just popped open the door because the door didn't latch. If it had come in, that would have been a problem.
Me: ?!?!?!
SO: My mom slammed the door shut really fast, and she and my dad shoved some furniture, I think a pot-bellied stove, in front of the door. And then my dad grabbed his camera to try and get some pictures. I was there in the house when it happened so I saw the bear.
Me: At least the bear just opened the door, and didn't come in. That was pretty polite, considering it was a bear.
SO: Well, it would've been nice if it had knocked first.**
SO: And can you believe it? Our dog didn't even bark once.

YOU GUYS. It was a long, roundabout way to get to the point, but this kind of thing is the reason why I live in a fairly populated area. Somewhere, less than an hour's drive from my home, a bear tried to go into someone's house. A BEAR. I always had a sense that if you were in a house, you were at least kind of safe, but it turns out that isn't necessarily true. I don't want to go into my kitchen one morning and find that I need to slam the door in some bear's face and barricade it with my kitchen table. What if the bear got mad? What if it wouldn't go away, like it was trying to make quota selling cookies or magazine subscriptions? Living in a house up in the woods really IS like living in a horror movie (no cell phone signal!) except that you don't need a serial killer with an axe or a chainsaw. The local wildlife can handle the murdering duties with no problem whatsoever. And while I do live within city limits, the thing is, there are miles and miles of wooded hills and empty fields all around this area. I am SO putting Animal Control as a contact in my phone, plus I'm planning on spending the vast majority of my lifetime in a place where I get four full bars.

Excuse me, I have to go hyperventilate now.

*Editor's note: Why would someone feed a bear? You can feed little puppies and kitties who've lost their mommies. You can even feed the birds (tuppence a bag) if you are so inclined. But you don't need to feed a bear. Bears are KILLING MACHINES, plus they are omnivores, so they can eat plants and nuts and berries and stuff, as well as innocent slaughtered animals and people. The bears can get their own dang food, is what I'm saying, so you don't need to feed them.
**Hilarious! I love his sense of humor.

06 October 2011

The Adventure Continues

Note: I wrote this at Christmas time, when I was with my family and we were watching Lord of the Rings, as we are wont to do. Somehow, this never got posted. I have no idea why. Maybe I wanted to edit it, or expand on some of the ideas. If so, I've forgotten now what I planned to do, so I'll just post it and if I have additional thoughts, I'll post with follow-up.

The LOTR film odyssey has proceeded apace through The Two Towers. I find a bit less faithfulness to the book in this adaptation, and it never fails to bother me. My father agrees with me that Jackson's most disappointing departure is a sheer misfire, a true detriment to the film version of this story: the total ruination of the character of Faramir.

In the book, Faramir is possibly the most truly and essentially noble character, not least because he is given many reasons and many opportunities to be less than noble and he rises above them all. Frodo is the central character of the story and Aragorn the standard epic hero born to greatness, and they offer many nuances to the trilogy. Like Sam (the courageous and noble everyman, or rather, everyhobbit), however, Faramir is relatable and provides lessons on rising above adversity and consciously choosing good over evil. Tolkien's view and his created world are essentially medieval, and a reverence for the code of chivalry and the feudal system is absolutely implicit in his writing. A titled but not royal character, Faramir represents every aspect of the ideal knight: a natural leader who inspires courage and faithfulness in followers both human and animal; a skilled administrator and commander; a great but humble warrior; a loyal subject; a devoted son and brother; a brilliant and disciplined scholar and student; a gentleman with consideration and respect for women and for people (and hobbits) that others might consider lesser and unworthy of regard. He is one of the few individuals who is able to resist the lure of the Ring, this being all the more remarkable because his own brother falls prey to that weakness. He is secure enough and wise enough that he accepts his father's injustice toward him and partiality toward Boromir, and dedicates himself to the service of Gondor. And he ends up marrying a strong woman whose fame and courage may exceed even his own, and he admires rather than resents her abilities.

In the movie, Faramir is unfortunately shown as a weakling who cannot resist the Ring, and he is rather whiny and petty, to boot. Ultimately, he makes the right choice after a series of wrong choices, but the damage to his character's integrity is substantial. I guess we just have to return to reading the books to enjoy the true essence of the greatest Captain of Gondor.