scottahill: (Default)
* The gospel in church today started with "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" and then progressed to "Love your enemies." As the priese pointed out, the Golden Rule is hardly new to Jesus, but the second is the surprise. It's part of a whole series, of course: "turn the other cheek", "sell all yu have and follow me", "you commit adultery if you lust after someone in your heart", etc. I think the overarching message is: don't be too complacent in your holiness, because there's always more to be done. Still, it seems that Jesus piles criterion upon criterion on us, leading to one of my favorite passages (Mk 10:25-27):
"'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, 'Then who can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.'"
It seems that this sums up all of these sayings: you're right, according to my rules it is impossible for you to be saved on your own merits-- you'll never be perfect. But it's not up to you. SO do your best, and We will save you in the end.

The priest brushed by "Do unto others" in the course of his homily-- he did bring up an interesting example of that annoying person you know, whom you might ignore in hopes that he will in turn ignore you! But "Do unto others" is hard enough by itself. Too often, for me, it's become "Do unto others before they do unto you" or "Do unto others what you expect them to do to you." I expect people to look at me with a critical eye, and so I am defensively critical in turn, always ready with a comeback. I expect them to grab that last seat on the bus, to demand their share of personal space, to take take take, so I take first lest I be left with nothing.

An example occurred to me in church: I've been going off an on to a local Byzantine-rite Catholic church, because it's closest to my house, and the liturgy involves a lot of standing, which does a number on my lower back. Towards the end of the service, I sat down a few times to stretch my back and relieve the tension and pain, and I hoped that people would not be offended by my doing so, that they might realize that it was because of discomfort and not disrespect or laziness. But would I do the same? When I'm in my own Roman rite I am Mr. Liturgical Correctness: hey, this prayer should be spoken, not sung! Hey, those are the wrong words! Hey, you're not supposed to be sitting during the consecration! Hey, you're not supposed to be walking around during the Gospel! Etc. Very little compassion. I have a lot of disagreements with the Catholic church, but I have been seriously thinking about leaving it recently, not so much because of politics, but because I am too much in love with the liturgy as I know it, and much too upset when people don't do it the Right Way. It's so distracting that it drains the spirit out of weekly Mass for me. The Byzantine rite might not be the right choice for me, but I do need to spend some more time in a scenario where I don't know what's going on, where I don't have strong emotional opinions about every little detail, and so can learn some humility.

* I've mentioned my wanting to keep pink out of Miriam's wardrobe, and I'm also rather anti-dress as well. I like to frame it in my mind as feminism and equality, but I need to be honest: it's just my own personal bias, maybe because I'm male, or maybe just due to my own personal taste. I like a girl (and I mean a child; I'm not talking romantically or anything) who is active and tough, who eschews the feminine stereotypes of dolls and frilliness and whatnot. Maybe most girls are like that anymore, I don't know. Maybe I'm fighting against stereotypes that aren't so relevant anymore. And of course, once Miriam is a few years older she will have her own ideas about what sort of girl she's going to be, and I hope that when that happens I'll have the grace to let her be herself, albeit with our moral guidance.

* I mentioned earlier that I was in Williamstown to give a talk to the Physics department. It was a very short visit, and because I hadn't finished my slides before I got there, I wasted too much time on Friday morning working on the talk instead of socializing with the faculty. Still, I talked to Bill a while which was good, and I talked to new professor Ward Lopes, whom I knew in graduate school. I have very little to do with the University of Chicago anymore, so it was interesting to chat with someone who had been there and knew everyone. I wanted to enjoy a bit of autumn as an escape from Dallas, but alas it was too early for more than a few leaves to have turned, and it rained all day Friday to boot. Ah well.
scottahill: (Default)
* Back in 1993 or 94, when I was a freshman in college, I started writing a setting of Edgar Allen Poe's The Bells for six-part choir. I wrote two or three of the four sections, but I began to fret that the piece didn't have thematic unity, that I was writing it in too serial a fashion, one line at a time. This opinion was probably due to the influence of the music department, because as time went on I decided that worrying about thematic unity was bogus, so long as it sounded good. So I pecked at it over the years, until finally, Friday morning, I had a completed draft, 15 years in the making. :) I won't say it's complete: I've put no dynamics and few accents in (I always left those for last, in my composition classes, even though I wasn't supposed to) and it might need tweaking. Still, having something complete which I can show around is awesome. I've set up a website with a PDF file of the score and an MP3 of Finale playing the music. I would love it if the musically-inclined folks here (i.e. almost all of you) would give it a listen. I would be ecstatic if anyone knew of a choir which might be willing to sing it. As is the case with most of my pieces, it's not simple: the third section "Hear the loud alarum bells" is fast and frantic, and I have the unfortunate habit of thinking that a low E is a perfectly reasonable note for basses.

I'm going to put more of my (older) music up on that website as I clean up the scores etc. I'm releasing it under a Creative Commons noncommercial share-alike license, which I think gives me all the protection I need: I don't care about making money off of small groups, but if for some reason one of my pieces makes it "big" I can get a piece of the action. (I'm not holding my breath, of course.) I'm also asking people to send recordings if they perform the piece, because I've never heard most of my work performed before, outside of Finale (which does not do it justice, to put it mildly).

*Car: The incredible battery saga )
We are going to get a new car ANY DAY NOW, preferably before the end of the year so we can take advantage of a Texas environmentally friendly deal where they give us $3000 for our car if we swap it for a newer model. Our car isn't worth $3000; it's a 1994 Ford Taurus and we got it for $1500 or so. So...ANY DAY NOW. :)

* Two weeks ago (or so), Miriam started taking a couple steps before falling down. NOW, Miriam can go all the way across the room while walking, even turn around, and she seems to prefer it to crawling (even though crawling is faster). Yay Miriam! She still walks as if she's on a tightrope; every once in a while she'll attempt a little "fast walk", which inevitably ends in her falling on her butt. (We were at the playground the other day and she decided that she could step down one of the steps without holding on...BANG! went her head. She's getting cocky. :) Fortunately she didn't actually fall so much as fall over, if you get my meaning: just banged her head.
Anyway, I'm very proud of my little yearling.

She had her 1-year doctor's appointment yesterday and passed with flying colors. She's actually 25% for height, a first for her to be below 50%: she apparently shot up and then has now tapered off a bit. Her weight is just fine so no problems. She had lots of shots and tests and stuff which made her very unhappy (it wasn't the poking so much as the being made to lie down bit, I think) but she's recovered. At her doctor's advice, Jen has been trying NOT to nurse her at night when she wakes up, and she says that it really does work: Miriam does stop crying after only a few minutes. Could this be the beginning of all-night sleeping for the women of the house? (It hasn't affected me: I sleep through anything. :)
scottahill: (Default)
Teaching class hs always been draining, but I've been particularly nervous this semester. I think my self-confidence is down (as I've mentioned) due to various inputs, along with lingering discouragement about my career. Add in the fact that I haven't taught in three months (not a big deal normally, but this is the first summer I've taken off in a couple of years). Also add in the fact that I've swapped around the usual order for this class, am starting with optics rather than electricity, and furthermore have started with interference and diffraction which are two subjects I don't know nearly enough about (normally they come at the very end and I handwave my way through them). Once I finish with optics and move onto electricity I may feel better.

On the plus side, I am rather proud of my website. It's barebones, but I've got it automated so I can adjust a line or two in a separate file and it will generate the HTML on the fly. I've also added a new RSS feed so that students can be notified when the site is updated: I especially like that idea. :)


In another note: one year ago today we packed up this little creature in her carseat and brought her home. Yes, Miriam is 1 year old today. We're having a party next weekend so we didn't do much today, but we did sing to her and gave her a cupcake. It occurred to us that we're the ones who should be celebrating: we've survived an entire year as parents, and Miriam has not only survived but flourished. Yay for us!

Heavy

Aug. 27th, 2008 12:52 am
scottahill: (sad)
I really should be asleep. At 8am tomorrow (more or less) I have to take Miriam off Jen's hands so she can go to work, and if I am sleepy (as I have been the past couple of days) I will have a hard time dealing with her when she's cranky (Miriam, that is). But for some reason I am very tense. I think it's knowing that I should be asleep.

Right now I have Miriam by myself from 8:30am through 6-7pm Monday-Friday, except for nine hours when the babysitter comes. She's mostly a very sweet child, quick to smile, independent, can entertain herself for long periods of time. But the responsibility of watching her alone really wears me down. She has no concept of the need for sleep, and might be able to stay awake all day if I left her to her own devices (although she'd be crying by the end of it). Putting her to sleep means taking her outside in the hot Texas weather and walking her around until her head slumps...not that this always works. I hate being responsible for her diet, because I have enough trouble with my own. She seems to eat so little (other than milk) that I worry I'm not doing something right, not giving her enough food, or not giving her the right foods that she needs/craves/whatever. And even when she's playing by herself or sleeping, I feel too distracted to do anything involving more than a handful of brain cells. Lots of TV watching, websurfing, article reading, game playing. Then, when I do get some time off, I feel the time ticking away: only three hours' free, etc. Or if it's nighttime like now: I really want to do something, but I need to sleep or I'll be miserable tomorrow.

Mind you, it is nighttime and I tend to be at my grayest when I'm tired, but I feel heavy with responsibility and guilt. I need to be "enlightened" but don't know how.

Next week I start teaching again, which means that Jen takes on a larger share of the childcare. I hope that this better mix will be a relief to me, although I have my doubts-- teaching brings its own share of responsibility and guilt (for missed deadlines or hurried lectures).

My usual dysthymic self.

Anyway, I think I'm tired enough to fall asleep now. G'night.
scottahill: (baby)
In honor of Miriam's 6-month birthday last Saturday:

THINGS MIRIAM CAN DO NOW

  • Sit up and play for long periods of time
  • Reach forward from a sitting position
  • Transfer objects from one hand to another
  • Pull herself to a kneeling position from a sitting position (she did this once in the crib)
  • Go from a sit to her tummy
  • "Army crawl on her tummy": puts her head down, squirms a bit and moves forward or backward, then looks up again
  • Hold herself in a standing position for maybe 30 seconds

THINGS SHE DOESN'T DO

  • Roll over; she did two months ago (back to tummy) but hasn't since (that we've seen)
  • Imitate our gestures or sounds (she's probably learning our gestures and sounds, but I rarely see her mimicking us directly).

OTHER THINGS

  • She loves to pull my hair and my beard; fortunately, both appear to be cemented solidly into my skull, and seem to lack pain receptors, so I don't mind really (I kind of like it because it's Our Thing). Chest hair, on the other hand.... (I now know why women (the breastfeeders) specifically do not have chest hair.)
  • On both Saturday and Sunday morning, Jen had her sitting on the bed while I was trying to sleep late, and she said "Daa!" as if to say "Dad, get up and play with me!"
  • When she is happy about something, she opens her mouth very wide like a Muppet, without making any sounds
  • She is ticklish under her ribcage (when she's in a good mood)
  • She likes peek-a-boo.
  • It's hard to test her for permanence, because if I cover a toy with a blanket, she might move the blanket just because she thinks blankets are interesting. She still seems to be "out of sight, out of mind"
  • As of yesterday's doctor's exam, she is 26.75" (that's almost 2 foot 3) and 16 pounds, 14 ounces. She's 90% for height, 70% for weight (and remember, she was born three weeks early!) She's a BIG girl (although taller than wide!)
  • She'll be getting her first solid food Saturday; my mother is going to watch via iChat and webcam. She's starting with cereal, then onto non-sweet vegetables, sweet vegetables, and then fruit.
  • Jen gave her an orange slice the other day, thinking she would throw it on the ground, but instead she started sucking on it...and sucking on it...and sucking on it. Guess she thought it was pretty good. :) I was rather surprised because every once in a while I've been tempted to give her a taste of something, only to think "No, Jen wants to do this in a specific order, I'd better wait."

In case I didn't post it here or you missed it, there are pictures of her (updated occasionally) at
http://picasaweb.google.com/ScottAHill

There are also pictures of our trip to Banff last month: Jen had a conference there, and so brought us along to babysit (I had to take a whole week off from work, because she had already bought the tickets and what could I do? :)

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September 2010

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