Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Iris's Sure Fire At Home Work-Out
For the busy Nun with designs on a certain yellow polka-dot bikini..

Courtesy of MSN.com, Swimsuit Shape-up
by Lisa Kovalovich
ThirdAge.com

Walking Lunge (for legs and butt)
Begin by taking a giant step forward with your right foot. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Push off with your left foot, and take a giant step forward with that leg. Lower your body again until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Repeat the sequence as many times as you can, "walking" down a hall, across your living room or in your backyard.

Squat (for butt)
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, abs pulled in. Slowly bend your legs and lower your butt as if you were sitting in a chair. Your knees should remain directly over your feet as you do this. Go down as far as you can, with the ultimate goal of getting your thighs parallel to the ground. Hold for three counts, then return to standing. Repeat as many times as you can.

Push-up (for chest, arms and back)
Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Keeping your knees on the ground, walk your hands forward until your body forms a straight line from your head to your knees. Be sure your hands are directly below your shoulders. Slowly lower your chest toward the floor, then return to your starting position. Repeat as many times as you can.

Mini-crunch (for abs)
Lie on your back, hands behind your head, elbows out to the sides. Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the ground. Using your abdominal muscles, lift your shoulders one inch (only one inch!) off the ground. Hold for two counts, then lower. Repeat as many times as you can.

Okay I go to a class every week, and this is basically our routine, only without the middle-aged women, weights and super-fast dance beat versions of pop music. I see results. I suppose if I did this every day, I would see even more results.

I will be in Virginia for a week, just to let everyone know.

Monday, April 14, 2003

I went to teen sensitivity training at the library today. It was fine.

(I'm practicing my typical teen response, was it effective?)
The speaker was from a neighboring city in the state, and specialized in setting up youth groups at libraries. Lets just say the reception was warm for the man, but a little cool for the message. Older librarians really aren't crazy about the low income, under-priveliged teenagers that come into the library, sometimes to hang out or do homework, at other times to wait for the bus, or engage in a little mischief.

Being the youngest, and most teen-like among the staff attending, I felt concious of the fact that I was supposed to be the most knowledgeable about teens. In some ways I might be less capable of dealing with teens a little younger than me, since they wouldn't respect my presence as a staff member quite as much as they might with an older woman or man. But I do have a leg up when it comes to knowing the material. I read youth literature more than adult lit now that I'm out of college, and let me tell you its such a relief to be able to find a plot and stay with it. I'm currently reading Lloyd Alexander, which I never had a chance to touch as a kid, and I'm thoroughly hooked.

I have to go work on my little brother's film screenplay now.. I've decided its going to be about a washed up espionage agent with a briefcase cuffed to his wrist. I'll try my hand at emulating Graham Greene in ten minutes flat. ;)

Random fact of the day, in keeping with the previous genital theme: Vagina is actually the Latin word for "scabbard". I discovered this while trying to decipher a manuscript fragment from the Vulgate of John 18. Jesus tells Peter, Mitto gladium tuum in vaginam. I thought this was rather unnecessarily violent (or at the very least, unnecessarily phallic!) for Jesus, telling his apostle to stick his sword in the... but apparently not.

I bet this blog will be blocked by most web filters now. We were only talking about scabbards! And Latin vocabulary! Really!

New nuns are good. We like to initiate people into our order. And never let them leave!

The matzos are invading this side of the pond as well. Unlike you, Sister Niki, I actually have to eat the vile substance... what a lovely religion Judaism is. Sometimes we eat greasy fried potato blobs, sometimes we eat the True and Original Chicken Soup, sometimes we eat pulverized cardboard, and sometimes we don't eat at all... By the way, the "Mishenichnas our door marbim besimcha" is an evil, evil pun. The original phrase is "Mishenichnas Adar...", which means something close to "Let's celebrate [the month of] Adar [that's the one with Purim] and rejoice."

I don't know about the "confused schizophrenic moderns" thing. The moderns who lack grounding, in my experience, really don't care about the past. The three of us, being academics or sometime academics on temporary hiatus, are unusual in our love for artifacts. And as far as nationalists valuing the past as a link to previous greatness... most of those nationalists recreate the past in order to imagine the greatness they feel they ought to have had. They're usually wrong about quite a number of the actual historical facts.

I'm not quite sure where that gets us.

Help the giant matzos are out to get me ( and other nightmares..)

Dear Nuns,
Pardon me for not being around for the last many days. In these increasingly holy days I have been avoiding the computer room...and forgot my Blog password. My mind has been confined within the ivory tower - hence I have amnesia when it comes to passwords and other worldly things.

However, the ivory tower has yielded a few gems......among them this...: From Inventing Eastern Europe : Eastern Europe in the Enlightenment Mind, Larry Wolff states how Gibbons in his The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire ( 1770s) 'narrated the dramatic defeat of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus in 811, by the Bulgarian khan Krum....'
The Krum family has since moved its battles to the Quidditch pitch I suppose....

This morning on the underground I read a long newspaper article on the previous week in Bagdad and found myself in tears. Not so much for the lost artefacts (though I admit, being an anthropologist nun this is a highly touchy subject and i am prone to utter rather politically incorrect statements such as 'primitives, they should be hung by the their....' etc after reading about such articles), but for all the casualties of bombs, accidental shootings, violence af all kinds. I had an urge to drop everything and head on out there to volunteer ( regardless of the hysterical throes it would put my mother, not to mention Tim, in). But of course, it took no more than a few seconds for me to realise that it was but a fantasy.

Gynocentric religions and pyramid underwear schemes....I have been missing all the action. Spent the weekend with Zuzana who is leaving for Slovakia, swapping intellectual knowledge, taking walks, baking and going to parties. I think we have another candidate for the nunnery, do I have permission to initiate her ?

I think the general idea is that one is upset by the loss of Very Old Things because they mean a loss of 'Heritage' whatever that means. At least that is what most main stream literature on history, heritage, nationalism and material culture tells us. The usual line says we are confused, schizophrenic moderns who lack grounding and therefore preserve and value the past because it is all we feel we have got. I am not sure how far this goes to explain our feelings of loss. In fact I am sure the majority of the population doesn't give a damn whether archeological finds in the Iraqi museums are going to be lost or not ( but they might if it was their local museum...).So do we conclude that academics are simply more schizo than the rest. I leave this open to discussion......

Matzos have taken over Golders Green. Waitrose has suddenly turned into a nightmare, huge piles of plain matzos, chocolate covered matzos, cinnamon matzos looming form every corner, stuffed in the most unlikely places, waiting to jump out at you. Meanwhile they are fighting with every concievable chocolate or candy Easter Egg, piled high on shelves, threatening to collapse on top of you as you wheel past with your shopping cart innocently shopping. Help!! Moshe's, my local kosher supermarket,has become a veritable hot bed of activity....I usually sneak in to get a bag or two of Haribo sweets or some cakes ( because they sell the same sort of cakes my mother makes at home...).Fishing around for my Wolff quote, I found a reciept for a bag of Haribo sweets saying.....MISHENICHAS OUR DOOR MARBIM BESIMCHA FOR YOMTOV BARGINS NOT TO BE MISSED WAIT TILL YOU SEE MOSHE'S PESACH LIST. Can't wait. Maybe i'll get two for one poppy seed cakes...???!!!

Promise to be a better blogger in the future..

Hmmm, I just read an exploration of social dynamics, identity and gender in an online community that might interest someone I know.

Fair warning: You have to click through a fairly tedious ad to read it, but then the ad goes away.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Also depressed by the looting in the Iraqi museums, and wondering why it is that I am always more upset by the loss of Things (usually Very Old Things...) than the deaths of People. Perhaps it is that ancient artifacts have already lasted so long, and have the potential to last so much longer. Humans and civilizations may die but the evidence that tells us about their lives can be immortal.

On a more cheerful note, Vagina-shaped goddesses? I can't think of any offhand, although there are those statues of ancient fertility goddesses with huge breasts and bellies. Now, I am told that the cultures who worshiped these goddesses were highly gynocentric. I reserve judgment on this subject, mainly because I know that supposed medieval gynocentric religions are all modern inventions, and The Mists of Avalon is fiction, people, fiction!

Women as confusing mistakes by god? I'm not sure I'd put it that way, exactly. Various writers are less fond of women than others, but no one suggests that God was wrong to make them. The thought in the (Christian) Middle Ages is that even if Eve brought the universe into sin, Mary gave it the potential to return to perfection. Of course, this is a summary of hundreds of different authors who all have slightly different views, so there are certainly more and less misogynistic thinkers, but you get the idea.