Of course, I can tell from your accent.

I found this website an excellent way to procrastinate today.


It all started because I saw on tv that Hugh Laurie had won a golden globe. So I did an internet search for Hugh Laurie and came across a site which stated many Americans think he does a great job at an American accent and many British think he does a poor job of it.

And somewhere from there I wound up at the site above.

People are often surprised that I was born on Long Island, and spent most of my life around New York City. They tell me I don't sound like I come from New York City. I think this because of these variables: I was homeschooled and my parents were from the west coast.

Can people guess where you were born by how you talk?

Do Sins Change?

I work at a university, and recently I over heard a teacher talking about plagiarism. The teacher was saying that in the late 1800s books used ideas and words from authors by mentioning the authors name, but not citing them as quotes as we would do today. The teacher said that in those days plagiarism was not viewed in the same way as it is now. And then the teacher said the following line that really stuck out to me "Today, plagiarism is not only a sin, it can land you in a lot of problems."

This statement prompted the following question:
Do actions change from not being a sin to being a sin, or is it once a sin, always a sin?

628 editions! Everyone loved my book

I heard a teacher say to their class today: "it must have been a good book to have gone through four editions." Also I heard: "this is the second edition which means the first edition was in high demand."

My first thought when I heard this was that I didn't necessarily agree with those statements. What does the number of editions have to do with how good a book is? Can you really draw the conclusion that a second edition was published because the first edition was in high demand?

When I was an undergraduate in university I thought books came out with new editions because previous editions had mistakes that needed to be fixed or that the situation in that genre had changed so much that updates were needed. I think I got this idea from trying to use previous editions of textbooks in classes with varying results. Sometimes formatting reflowed text and the paging was different. Other times the content had really changed. Also feeding this idea was being frustrated when I couldn't sell my textbook back to the campus bookstore because a new edition had come out.

I think what bothered me most about the teacher's statements was that little other justification was given for calling the book good other than the number of editions that it had gone through. When I go to a bookstore I am more prone to look at the reviews on the back cover than to look to see how many editions a book has gone through.

What do you think? Should the teacher have used the number of editions of the textbook as judge of its worth?

Death Be Not A Stranger

When my grandmother Parks died in 1988 I was nine. She had breast cancer, but I didn't find that out until my Mom died and it was mentioned as we developed a life story for my Mom's funeral program. We had traveled to the west coast from the east coast because we knew it would be soon. My Mom had been there for several months already. My brother Ben was in the room when she died. I wasn't. I overhead the a description of her death, "she reached out her arm, and kept asking for someone to help her."

It is a tragic image that has stayed with me ever since. My grandmother was never heavy to begin with. The cancer had turned her face into a gaunt hollowed eyed shadow of her former self. I pictured the frail arm dressed in the pale blue flowered print reaching out to those standing by her hospital-style bed. Her pleading eyes moving from one face to another. Her tortured cries for help. I wondered why she asked for help. Was it the pain? Was she afraid to die?

A few weeks earlier she had asked for some fried chicken. My grandmother hadn't eaten chicken in decades. My little vegetarian soul was shocked at this. When she became a vegetarian was it only to prolong her life? Did dying negate the vegetarian vow? Why had my parents raised me a vegetarian?

At the funeral home they had a separate room for the family to sit. There was a window we could look out and see the casket and the others attending the funeral. When we left we all walked by the casket. Her face looked caked with makeup.

My Mom had her camera with her. She took pictures of the flowers at the funeral home. She took pictures of my grandmother in the casket. She took pictures at the graveside. At the time, I thought it was strange. At my own mothers funeral though, I took pictures also. Following in her footsteps. I didn't really see any of it then. The pictures helped me to see it later.

I wished I could have stayed longer in the room where they first brought us in to see my Mom in the casket. There was a lot going on at the time. Subplots with in-laws and well wishers. I did what I thought best. I stood close to my Dad. I appreciated my friends who dropped everything to come be with me. Yet had I really come to terms with death? I never touched her. Was it better that way? I don't know.

I held my guinea pig when he died. Poor thing was really having a rough time of it. I felt like I should be sadder than I was. Truth was, I had never grown as attached to him as I felt would be proper. When my hamster died my brother Ben told me that if it was his hamster he would have cried. He didn't think I was as sad as I should have been. I held my guinea pig's small body in my hands and marveled at how one moment he had been alive, and the next he was dead.

I once heard death explained by using the analogy of darkness being the absence of light, death is the absence of life.

What do you think?

Name That Paint Color

Where do they come up with the names for paint colors? Have you every really studied paint swatches? During my painting experience I noticed there are five bazillion colors of white: Eggshell, Antique White, Dogwood Petal etc. Do you think they try and create some sort of emotional connection with the names to get people to buy them? Would you buy a paint color called garlic skin? How about Frivolous Berry? What exactly makes a berry frivolous? As I discussed this with a few friends it occured to me that naming paint colors could be a really fun job. Especially since sometimes there seemed to be so little connection between the name of the paint and its color.

Can you match the paint color with its name?

1) Earth Mover
2) Hit The Jackpot
3) Daisy Dew
4) Secluded Wood
5) Frivolous Berry
6) Sewing Bee
7) Flaming Torch

White Like Me

I googled a random search, as I sometimes do when bored, "white like me" returned this interview with the author of a book of the same name. It also returned this article from the National Review Online.

The author of the article, John Derbyshire, shared a test that is being promoted in "whiteness studies" in American universities. It is called the " Privilege Walk ". "Students stand shoulder to shoulder in a line across the room. Then each student either takes a step back, or a step forward, or stays put, in response to sentences read out by the instructor."

I thought I would try my hand at answering the sentences for myself as he had done. Here are the sentences. I have appended my own responses in parentheses after each sentence: plus one for a step forward, minus one for a step backward, zero for staying put. I have also added any comments that occurred to me.

1. If your ancestors were forced to come to the U.S.A. not by choice, take one step back. (0. Of the ancestors that I can trace their arival in this country, no it was not forced. Robert Parke , was as far as I know the first ancestor on my mother's side to come to the colonies.

2. If your primary ethnic identity is American, take one step forward. (0. I get disturbed when the fact that America refers to Canada, Mexico and all of South America too, and not just the United States. But a United Stateese, just doesn't have the same ring.)

3. If you were ever called names because of your race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (-1. Who hasn't been called names?)

4. If there were people of color who worked in your household as servants, gardeners, etc., take one step forward. (0.)

5. If you were ever ashamed or embarrassed of your clothes, house, car, etc. take one step back. (-1. Yep, I probably should be ashamed of what I'm wearing now... dress code goes against the jeans and t-shirt I would prefer unfortunately.)

6. If your parents were professionals: doctors, lawyers, etc. take one step forward. (0. My father was a Pastor (briefly a middle-school teacher), and Mother was an elemtary school teacher (though for much of my childhood she did not work, but homeschooled my brother and myself) and later after I left home she taught english to speakers of other languages, and gave bible studies.)

7. If you were raised in an area where there was prostitution, drug activity, etc., take one step back. (0. I grew up New York City. What contitutes "area". The area where I _knew_ these things took place was probably five to ten minutes away. Although, come to think of it, I did hear of the guy on the corner who was arrested becuase he was growing marijuana in his yard behind the brickwalls he had errected around his property.)

8. If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to avoid being judged or ridiculed, take one step back. (-1. Yes, I had three older brothers, and I wanted to be like them. I also tried to be like the other kids in my youth group at church.)

9. If you studied the culture of your ancestors in elementary school, take one step forward. (+1. Social Studies, and later History was always one of my favorite subjects.)

10. If you went to school speaking a language other than English, take one step back. (0. Unfortunately I did not learn any other languages.)

11. If there were more than 50 books in your house when you grew up, take one step forward. (+1. There were probably 5,000 books in my house--and still not enough. *grin*)

12. If you ever had to skip a meal or were hungry because there was not enough money to buy food when you were growing up, take one step back. (-1. It was never for very long, but sometimes my dad's paycheck were streached pretty thin. My brothers and I got quite creative when the food supplies got low. My sister-in-law likes to tease us about when we lived on onions for a week (she's exagerating of course))

13. If you were taken to art galleries or plays by your parents, take one step forward. (+1. I went to the Natural History Museum in New York several times, I loved the rocks and precious gems section (which my dad couldn't understand how I could spend so much time in that section. I acted in plays, but I never went to any.)

14. If one of your parents was unemployed or laid off, not by choice, take one step back. (0. My mother didn't work for many years, but I wouldn't say she was unemployed necessarily.)

15. If you attended private school or summer camp, take one step forward. (+1. Both. Summer camp was dissapointing (I really wanted to do archery, but they didn't have it, even though their flyer advertized it). The private schools were 10th through 12th grade of high school, and college (and currently grad school).)

16. If your family ever had to move because they could not afford the rent, take one step back. (0. We had to move lots of other reasons, but not for that reason.)

17. If you were told that you were beautiful, smart, and capable by your parents, take one step forward. (+1. Some of my most cherished memories of my parents, are from when they told me such things).

18. If you were ever discouraged from academics or jobs because of race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (0. )

19. If you were encouraged to attend college by your parents, take one step forward. (+1. It was more expected than encouraged. It was the next step.)

20. If you were raised in a single parent household, take one step back. (0.)

21. If your family owned the house where you grew up, take one step forward. (0.)

22. If you saw members of your race, ethnic group, gender, or sexual orientation portrayed on television in degrading roles, take one step back. (0. I didn't watch tv often, and when I did, most of the time it was Star Trek)

23. If you were ever offered a good job because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward. (+1. I was stopped in the hallway during my last week of college, and offered an interview because one of my teacher's had reccomended me. The teacher is of a different race than me, does that make a difference?)

24. If you were ever denied employment because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (0. I haven't applied for many jobs.)

25. If you were paid less, treated unfairly because of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (0. I was told I couldn't dress up as Robin Hood for a costume party at school becuase it would be cross-dressing, but I don't think this is exactly what the question is addressing. (though I was quite sad).)

26. If you were ever accused of cheating or lying because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (0.)

27. If you ever inherited money or property, take one step forward. (0. My father gave me many things when my mother died. A kitchen table. Some books. A family heirloom. You get the idea.)

28. If you had to rely primarily on public transportation, take one step back. (-1. When I lived in New York City, it was the best way to get anywhere.)

29. If you were ever stopped or questioned by the police because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (0. I was stopped by the Police when I was speeding on a backroad in Massachussetts. (back roads are vicious in Mass). My mom was in the car and we had been talking, and I lost track of how fast I had been going. It was my first offense so the officer let me go with a warning.)

30. If you were ever afraid of violence because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (0. I have never really been afraid of suffering violence. I have probably been in danger of it, but other things tend to scare me more.)

31. If you were generally able to avoid places that were dangerous, take one step forward. (0.)

32. If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke related to your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back. (-1. I remember distinctly as a young girl a joke being made about female anatomy and being very uncomfortable and unsure of how to respond.)

33. If you were ever the victim of violence related to your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back. (0.)

34. If your parents did not grow up in the United States, take one step back. (0.)

35. If your parents told you you could be anything you wanted to be, take one step forward. (+1. It wasn't true though. I got very dissapointed when I found out I was too old to be a child prodigy.)

My total adds up to: two steps forward with 14 steps taken.

Tell me why we should have a fence between the USA and Mexico?

Thousands of Africans die every year trying to cross the border into the European Union. They have two fences and surounding forests filled with people hoping to get to the EU. Find out more about it on the BBC news here . The fence separates Melilla - and the European Union - from Morocco and the many migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who gather there. People flock to the forests near Melilla from across West Africa, hoping to
leave poverty behind...

Tell me again why we want to build a fence between Mexico and the USA?

A documentary called Fortress Europe goes in-depth into the illegal immigrant situation in Europe.

Do good fences really make good neighbors? If that is true, why don't we have a fence between Canada and the USA?

We have a strange policy of bombing a country like Iraq, rebuilding its infrastructure (water distribution etc.), meanwhile neglecting our neighbor to the south, who has been very friendly and could use much of the same development monies.

Read about US foreign aid

Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976 . In 2005 the USA gave Israel billions in aid (2.56 billion dollars).

It seems to me that if Mexico were better developed Mexicans wouldn't feel their only hope for their future is to work in the USA.


Hello. Mr. Bush, sir?

Um, yes, well I just wanted to ask you a few questions.

I"ll try and be brief sir.

Tell me again why we are building a fence between Mexico and the USA?

Small Talk

When my Mom and I were in China, we met a man and his son on the bus tour to Jiuzhaigou. His name was Qian. I asked Qian what he did for a living. I saw him pause, and seem to be taken aback. And then he told me he was a manager of a factory that made mats that the Japanese like to use. At the time I didn't know what might have caused him to respond this way. When I got back form China, I continued to read the travel book I bought before I left. I read that Chinese people would rather know about your relationships. They think who you know is more important than what you do. Anyone can have skills, but your character is really shown in your relationships with your family and friends. So the tradition is when you meet someone, you discuss family, not what
you do.

So I found I had possibly offended my new Chinese acquaintance in two ways. I had asked him what he did at work, and he had to tell me he manufactured products for the Japanese. The Chinese have a strong dislike for the Japanese because of the history between the two countries.

When you meet someone for the first time, do you ask first what they do, or do you ask them about their family?

I am Down with the Profound

My brothers-in-law’s name is Tim. I’ll recount our conversation below.

Tim: “I thought of something profound the other day.”

Me: “Oh yeah, what was that?”

Tim: “What do Heaven and Hell both have in common?”

Me: “They both begin with the letter ‘H’?”

Tim: *laughter* “No, I said it was something profound.” *rolls his eyes
and mumbles under his breath “both start with the letter ‘H’”*

Me: “I don’t know. What was it?”

Tim: “They are both mercy for the sinner.”

Me: *flash of insight brightens my eyes as the light bulb goes off in
my head* “You’re right that is profound”. *I nod my head in

Media, Mayhem, and Money Part 4 (and a little Moses thrown in for good measure)

Rob Johnston, professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, said something that triggered me thinking about what kind of media Christians should be producing. “Christians have given up on the power of story,” he said. “We are really good at three-point sermons, and five steps to a better marriage, but if one friend asks you to go to a Bible study on Friday night, and another friend asks you to go and see a movie, which one makes your heart jump?”

I love a good story. I've read and watched stories for all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes it has been to escape from a boring or depressing environment. Other times it is to learn about a person's experience. I think people's stories give credibility to their statements. They may say something is so-and-so. But if they share an experience of how they learned that it was that way it means more to me.

Johnston's quote is also an interesting segway into my next paragraph. Today is Friday yes?

Tonight I went to a Communication club worship/supper get-together thing. We were going around reading verses about the life of Moses and studying to see how God led in his life. I volunteered to read a verse. I heard the leader say "Exodus chapter forty verses ten through twelve" so I read "You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar, so that the altar may become most holy. You shall also anoint the basin and its stand, and consecrate it. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water".

I was trying really hard to read it with emphasis and enunciate. I mean, I was in a room full of Communication students. I wanted to do a good job. Too bad that it had totally nothing to do with what we were talking about. People started to laugh. They made jokes about how "can't say the bible doesn't say anything about not taking a bath. Now we know what verse to use on the stinky people".

I was so embarrassed. I should have read the verse over first, but all I did was look to see what the verse numbers were and verify I had the right ones. It wasn't until later I realized that I was supposed to read Exodus 4:10-12.

I had purposely avoided reading a bible verse--to give the students a chance to read and whatever, but no one was volunteering so I did. Hopefully I won't make a fool of myself at my husband's company get-together tomorrow night.

So, what embarrassing thing have you done this week?