Friday, April 30, 2010

Penn State

I applied to a few Comparative Literature Ph.D programs (in order of preference: Penn State, Chapel Hill, and UPenn) last fall and spent my time daydreaming about the acceptance letters pouring in. UPenn sent a rejection notice early on, but that didn't phase me much. After all, I'm not a huge fan of Philly.

But I learned yesterday that I, unfortunately, was not accepted to Penn State either. It's not as sad as I thought it would be; on the plus side, chances are I will live in the DC2 ward and teach community college for another year. And I do love my fellow ward members and students.

I, currently waitlisted, am still waiting to hear from Chapel Hill. I'll probably visit them if they accept me to see how I feel about the town, campus, and department. (Road trip!) But right now I'm leaning toward waiting a year and trying for Penn State again. They have the best Comp Lit program for me.

Who knows what the future holds? I still might find myself at Penn State someday.

Monday, April 26, 2010

All Is Love

While watching Where The Wild Things Are recently, I was impressed with the soundtrack. It also smacked of something very familiar. Turns out the tracks were sung by the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. See what happens when an indie rock artist tries her hand at children's music:

Friday, April 23, 2010

In My Opinion, No. 3: Space Exploration

What value is there in exploring the vacuum of space?

Though I detest the Metro Express newspaper, I occasionally read it when I forget to bring a book with me. This week one poll asked a very similar question to the one above, eliciting this response from a reader named "Steve":

No. Sending humans into space to explore Mars or any more of the solar system or beyond is an incredible waste of time and money. We should continue only with unmanned space exploration until such time as we find some new technology to send humans very cheaply[...].
This argument is problematic for two reasons: First, "Steve" does not understand economics very well. We do not improve a technology, if not through its constant use. The technology to send a human farther than the moon will never become inexpensive except through experimentation, trial, and refinement. We do not build a better bicycle by thinking about bikes. We test what is available, make possible improvements, test the new prototype, correct for errors, ad infinitum. If there was one good thing to come out of the Cold War, it was the money poured into NASA and the technology that developed as a result. And I'm not talking about the technology that only rocket scientists use. Next time "Steve" uses his cell phone to make a long-distance call, he should think about whether this technology would even exist today had Russia not been innovative enough to launch Sputnik.

The second reason Steve's comment bothers me is because it dismisses space exploration, calling it an incredible waste. The attitude strikes me as very utilitarian. What's in it for me? he asks. Moon rocks are worthless; therefore, exploring the moon is worthless. This sentiment is uninspired, to say the least.

I contest that exploration has intrinsic worth, and its value, then, is immeasurable. While I am well aware that Columbus' expedition was at least partly fueled by commercial interests and certainly led to cross-cultural complications, I admire his guts and attitude. Sure, he could have stayed in Europe. And Latter-day Saints could have stayed in the Salt Lake Valley. And Hagoth could have stayed in Bountiful. Lehi could have stayed in the Arabian peninsula. The Israelites could have stayed in Egypt. Adam and Eve could have stayed in Eden. And we could have stayed with God in heaven and never come here. And really, that's all we would ever do without exploration, sit in the bottom of a valley and believe the sun revolves around us. The attitude to leave things be, lead a sedentary lifestyle or run in the same course we always have, is not only uninspiring, it's damning.

Earth is our home, and I hope we always feel that way, no matter where we go or what happens. But it is the tiniest of blips in the cosmos. Aren't any of us still the least bit curious? And don't we want our grandchildren to see a little more of it firsthand? Looking at postcards of France or actually traveling there: I choose the latter.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's a Date: The Right Stuff

So, let's imagine you've been dating a variety of LDS women and you find yourself wondering exactly what is it you should be evaluating. How can you tell if one is more right for you than another? "Of course she should be attractive to you, [but] one good yardstick as to whether a person might be the right one for you is this: in her presence, do you think your noblest thoughts, do you aspire to your finest deeds, do you wish you were better than you are?" (Ezra Taft Benson, May 1988).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"And, of course, moderates!"

For many years now I've identified myself as politically moderate. But John Cleese makes this very convincing case for an entirely different political stance:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's a Date: Live in the Moment

Today's dating tip is almost a direct quote from Sister Oaks. The idea Courage Wolf, in all his ferocity, wants to impress on you is that you don't want to pin your happiness on some event on the horizon, but to enjoy life taking advantage of today's dating opportunities. A bunch of tomorrows lead to empty yesterdays.

Sister Oaks: "Many of you are in singles wards. [...] in this environment of possible future mates and with only a short window of time, some singles focus almost all their energy in a frenetic search for a husband or wife. Instead of enjoying this unique time to meet others in a similar single situation, they become preoccupied with a nagging fear that marriage is escaping them. They become frustrated with their single condition."

President Uchtdorf addresses this very concern: "[...] do not wait for someone else to make your life complete. [...] Instead, seek to reach your potential as a child of God."

In short, carpe diem. What you do with the "diem" once you've "carpe-d" it is up to you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Statistics": A Poem

For an FHE activity last night, we wrote poems using only the words found in assorted magazine and newspaper articles. I liked mine, so I thought I'd post it here. It's tentatively titled "Statistics":

Presents, staggering, were not ready;
the numbers reportedly are serious;
10 minutes,
10 questions,
10 years;
significantly higher, contrary to perceptions;
panelists, programs, presentation, puzzlement;
spend less, get more;
too little, too late.

A number noted, know names;
new national need to work more closely;
a supermajority in research and service
says a survey of reconciliation,
reception, perceptions, referendum, information;
demographics should not be dismissed but determined.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Gasp! Another Nephew?

I know what you're thinking: I just had a new nephew a couple of months ago! Well, eat your hearts out, because, that's right, I've been blessed with yet another. My sister gave birth last Wednesday to a handsome little boy. His name is Madsen Kevin Whittier. Welcome to the world, man.

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's a Date: Up to Bat

Today is Friday and that means it's date night. Working up the courage to ask someone out (which should be done at least 48 hours in advance) can be difficult and daunting. So here's an inspiring poster, brought to you by Courage Wolf, to all single men everywhere:
(Actual results may vary)