Random musings on several things.

30 04 2007

Sorry I’ve been so lax about posting lately, classes are getting hectic, since this is the last week before reading period.  I don’t have a lot of time to be writing things that arn’t for class, and I hate the idea of writing junk just so I have something to post.  Hopefully I’ll have more interesting things to say later this week.  🙂  

One of my closest friends at college is a lapsed Catholic, religion major. He’s wonderful to talk to about religion (for me at least) because we can talk about it on both a personal “I believe this” level, and on an academic, intellectual level. 

We had a really interesting discussion the other day prompted by this video:

Ok, yes, it’s sort of going for cheap jokes, but it brings up a good point.  Yes, the are plenty of horrible, evil things in the world, and we can think about that, and wish it weren’t so all day long.  However, as Larry said “We’ve decided that they can’t hurt each other with just their thoughts.”  There are evils that could exist, but don’t.  A line was drawn somewhere, and yes, it could have been further along, but it could also have allowed so much more.  As another one of my friends (who, rather impressively wants to be a pediatric oncologist) put it, if we want to be able to live and grow, we need cells that divide, and with that, sometimes we will have cells that don’t know when to stop dividing.  Cancer is the price we pay for being alive, and being able to grow.  Evil, people making bad choices, is the price we pay to be able to make any choices.  Yes, it is horrible that people kill other people, but better that than we have been created without any empathy, better that than we be created unable to love and care about others.  I’m not going to go so far as to say, as Candide did, that all things are for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds, but things are not always for the worst.  We have the power to make things better, to improve our situation, even the things that seem so clearly to be “Acts of G-d.”  We can now build buildings that will stay up in major earthquakes, earthquakes that used to, and in some parts of the world still do, flatten whole cities.  We can treat cancer, we can vaccinate children against childhood illnesses.  It’s now the norm, the vast vast majority of children will reach adulthood.  Our concern is no longer will our children live, it’s how to give them the best education.  How amazing is that?  We are fixing the world, not quickly, no, and we have a long way to go, but when you look back and see how far we’ve come?  It’s an amazing journey.  True evil would be if we couldn’t do that.  This world is not inherently evil, not by a long shot.  It’s not perfect, but it is far from evil. 

I also talked to another person who asked me why I know so much about different religions.  Honestly, it was never really something I considered, but it is perhaps an odd thing to know about.  Having a reasonably deep and broad knowledge of various religions is certainly unusual.  Having thought about it, I’ve realized that at the root, religion is people at their most basic, at the deepest level.  It is what people hold dearest about the world, and what they believe most strongly.  Atheist, agnostic, or religious, whatever you choose to believe, you are playing for the highest possible stakes.  What motivates people on that level fascinates me.  What people believe, why they believe it, what they do because of those beliefs.  Especially at a time when people with increasingly radical beliefs are gaining more and more power, understanding where they are coming from matters.  If we can’t see what is  similar between their believes and our own, we can’t hope to communicate with them, we can’t hope to change things, and to change their perspective.  What could matter more than that? Religion is about what makes us the most human.  How can anyone not be interested by the fact that the 4 largest theistic religions currently being practiced are all (internally) monotheistic, that almost every culture has some flood story.  So cool. 

In an only slightly related subject, I saw a really wonderful production of King Lear the other night.  It was Lear as the deconstruction of the American Dream.  Brilliantly staged, a fascinating, and intelligible interpretation of the text, and some wonderful performances by the actors.  Shakespeare really did an amazing job of writing stories that speak to all of us, in whatever context they are placed in.  What a genius.

And now for some shameless bragging(Feel free to stop reading here): I had my voice jury for lessons.  Basically, it’s where you stand up in front of all the secondary lesson teachers, and sing for them, and they judge you and decide if you’re good enough to continue taking lessons.  It’s not that big a deal for secondary lessons, since if you’re making any sort of progress at all, you’ll get lessons, and my teacher doesn’t care about the jury for our grade, but it’s still nerve wracking for me since I hate performing, and having people judging me makes it that much worse.  Anyway, this year was the first time I’ve really felt that I did well at my jury. I came out of it feeling like I had done my best, and that I was happy with how I had done, regardless of what the jury sheets said.  Well, the good news is that I got my jury sheets back, and they were so incredibly flattering it was almost embarrassing to sit there while my teacher went over them.  The head of the voice dept at the conservatory (one of the top ranked music schools in the country) said I lovely clean voice, and that this semester showed I’d done “Fine work!!” (as my teacher pointed out, with TWO exclamation points!  TWO!! EEEE!!)  Anyway, it’s really exciting, since for the first time I really believe that I am actually talented at singing, rather than just having it be something I enjoy, but am not that good at.  🙂  Finally, years of work are really paying off.  Yay! 

Anyway, have a good week, and I’ll try to post a bit more regularly. 


Sunny Sunny Weather!!! :)

22 04 2007

So, the weather is beautiful out now.  🙂  Yay for spring finally being here.

I have a couple papers to write this week, and my voice jury on Tuesday (eek!), so I havn’t got the time to write too much right now. 

For now, go check out the JIB’s.  It looks like there’s some good stuff to look through there, far more interesting than I have time to be tonight!

Hope you’re all enjoying weather as nice as mine is this week!  I’ll see you all tomorrow.

Thoughts about the VT massacre

19 04 2007
  • First off, Liviu Librescu is a true hero, in every way.  In the midst of a tragedy, his actions stand out as a bright spot of the goodness there still is in people.  Hopefully that knowledge will help comfort his family.  (Chabad is passing on condolences to his family here.)
  • VT is being attacked from lots of angles by people saying that they should have done more, that this is their fault, that they were somehow responsible.  Speaking as someone living on a college campus, I’m not sure what else they could have done.  Yes, his teachers found him disturbing, but you can’t force someone to get psychiatric care.  It just doesn’t do any good if you don’t want it.  Could the school have notified students after the first shooting?  Yes, but I’m not sure it would have helped.  Most students don’t check their university email first thing in the morning.  A general email sent out saying “There’s been a shooting in one of the dorms” wouldn’t have given anyone useful information.  Even if I had gotten the email, which is doubtful, would I have stayed in my dorm room after having heard that there was a shooting in a dorm? No, sorry.  People have also said that they should have locked down the buildings, but if they thought it was a student, that wouldn’t help, since students have key card access everywhere anyway.  I live on a much smaller campus than VT (a little more than 1/10th the size) and even on my campus, it’s too spread out and too open to effectively keep someone from bringing a gun onto campus.  He had planned this for a long time.  He bought the gun a month ago, the fact that he killed about 2/3 of the people he shot shows that he knew what he was doing.  He didn’t wake up one morning and decide to do this, he planned it out, and he was determined.  There is realistically very little that can be done to stop someone who really wants to kill lots of people.  Honestly, I think the only thing that could have stopped him was if someone else had been carrying a gun and had shot him first.  It sucks, but it’s true.  I know people want someone to blame, but really the only one to blame here is the murder who did this.
  • Which brings me to my next point.  NBC is coming under fire for airing the photos and videos  sent to them by Cho Seung-Hui.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  Part of me feels like people in general want to know why this happened, and showing these videos can help give people at least some sense of that.  That said, I also feel like by showing the videos they’re giving him a platform to air his views, and giving him what he wanted.  Perhaps a better response would have been to just let him be forgotten.  I don’t know.  Goodness, this is complicated… 

Edited to add:  I thought this was clear, but apperently this subject attracts trolls.  If you post something that is written in an inflamatory manner, which offers nothing constructive to the discussion, and use an obviously fake email to post it under, I will take it down.  That is not to say that I will take down all posts I disagree with, since I have no interest in censoring people, but I will not tolerate unsubstantiated attacks on the news media, the US, or any other party.  If you have facts to back up what you’re saying, or even reasoned opinions I’m happy to let you post them, but I will not tolerate the online equivalant of propaganda, on either side.  Thank you.

What brings you joy?

19 04 2007

Saw this at Sweet Rose Ramblings who got it from Jack.  I have real things to write, and I will get back to writing them soon, but for now, I think this will do.

Things that bring me joy(in no particular order):

  1. Mountains
  2. Looking at the ocean, in any weather
  3. The smell of evergreen trees
  4. Bread fresh out of the oven
  5. Thunderstorms (Playing in the rain and puddle jumping!)
  6. Curling up in a blanket with Hot Chocolate, and a good book
  7. A friend trusting me enough to talk to me about problems
  8. The smell of coffee (or lattes…. Lattes are good…)
  9. Finding (kosher!) jelly beans on sale for dirt cheap after Easter.
  10. Finally being able to really sing well (rather than just carry a tune)
  11. The Theater
  12. Long intellectual discussions about religion with people who understand what I’m saying, but still aren’t afraid to question me
  13. Puppies (of all ages)
  14. That I have at least one friend who will never ever leave me, no matter how bitchy I am to her, and another who I can go months without talking to, and years without seeing, and yet, we’re still close. 
  15. My brother. 
  16. The rest of my family too
  17. Hiking trips in the dessert, where we follow a damp spot in the sand all the way until it becomes a huge river
  18. Rock arches
  19. Watching House/British television with friends
  20. Reading Hebrew homework and realizing that I’ve just been understanding it, not translating
  21. Hugs from little kids
  22. My stuffed animals (Yep.  I’m 21, and I still love them.)
  23. Learning something fascinating
  24. The moment when you can see a child make the connection between something you’ve just taught them and their world, and you know that in some small way you made a difference to them
  25. Knitting and blocking knit shawls (When you wash them, and then stretch them out as much as you can and pin them that way until they’re dry.  They go from being heavy and lumpy looking, to open and airy and really beautiful.)
  26. Wearing hand knit socks
  27. Swishy skirts
  28. My “happy music” playlist
  29. Reading outside on bright sunny days
  30. New fallen snow, before it gets old and grey
  31. Watching Disney musicals and singing along
  32. Wandering around campus singing musicals with friends (We did all of La Vie Boheme from RENT once.  Strangely, this makes people think you’re drunk.  Who knew?)
  33. That my friends are crazy without any sort of substances.  🙂 
  34. My basil plant.  It sits by my window, and smells nice.  And makes good pesto. 
  35. Lighting candles (For Shabbat and Holidays, or just in general.  Fire is fun!)
  36. Star gazing, when you’re far enought away from a city to see all of the stars, and you realize that the night sky isn’t really all that dark after all

🙂  Have a good evening everyone!

Sometimes people do listen to me!

17 04 2007

So, a couple weeks ago, I said that Disney needed to market more Disney Princess clothes to adults?  Well, they’ve done it!  It’s not quite as good as Disney Princess underwear, but it’s considerably classier.  That’s right, Disney Princess wedding dresses!  Woot!  It took some looking, but I did find pictures of the dresses

I like this one best:

142437263_belle02.jpg  142437293_belle03.jpg

🙂 And they’re looking at doing lots of other stuff too!  This is just the sort of news I needed today.  Nothing like a good dose of fantasy to help deal with the horrible reality of yesterday. 

In other news, the weather is disgusting.  It’s sleeting rain, and so so icky out.   Blech.  (And this is from someone who loves the rain.  This isn’t nice rain, it’s gross, dirty rain.)  I want spring back. 

Also, my voice jury is in a week.  I thought I had a month left.   At least this way I only have a week to panic about it?  Hopefully?  We’ll see…..

There are no words

17 04 2007

So I really was planning on writing something today, but the tragedy in Virginia sort of made anything I might say seem silly. 

Is it just that I’m becoming more aware of the insanity, and tragedy in the world as I get older, or is the world genuinely becoming a scarier place?  Where does this ever stop?  It seems like the whole world just keeps falling apart.  So tragic. 

Also, I’d just like to point out that no good can come from politicising this now.  It has nothing to do with Iraq, it had nothing to do with George Bush.  Can’t we just all mourn without turning this tragedy into a soapbox to yell about abortion, or the need for more concealed carry permits, or the horrors of television?  Can’t we all just mourn this, without trying to force our meaning onto it? 

Anyway, in an attempt to combat the seemingly endless bad news, a friend and I have started a new blog The Daily Happiness.  We plan to have at least one happy news story posted every day.  There are three so far, and I’m thinking this will be quite a lot of fun.  Nothing like stories of returned dogs to combat all the horrible news in the world.

I’m back! (sort of)

12 04 2007

Nothing makes you appreciate bread like 8 days without it, let me tell you. 

My passover was wonderful.  I spent most of the week at Chabad, which was actually really fun.  Playing with the three year old and the fridge magnets was more fun than I’ve had in a while 🙂  Yes, I’m basically a toddler.  Or at least about that mature. 

Anyway, things will be crazy for the next couple days, what with playing catch up and all, but hopefully I will be back to posting by Monday! 

Hope you all had a great holiday!