Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Knowing that everybody loves great love songs, I pirated and compiled a list of the greatest love songs onto a CD for my mom. Well, apparently, she didn't like all the songs, so she made her own list which is almost fifty songs long! And my sister did the same thing with a good thirty songs. They demanded that I make them new CD sets of the greatest love songs (in their opinions). So I downloaded. And I created lists. Now I have to burn them. Wish me luck.
Turkey soup is good. Especially when I roasted the turkey myself, chopped it up, and then turned it into soup. Note to self: more pepper. Always more pepper. I'll be eating soup for a week, there is so much! And sooo tasty. Rachel loves it too.
Nothing new to report really... Christmas was good. My family spent the day at the coast since we previously celebrated with our important people. Took Dad Geocaching for the first time - I don't think he is too enthusiastic about the sport, but he may also be frustrated because the GPS signal was bouncy and we were working in an area with tree cover. Hopefully, I can get him out again and we will have more luck. I got a bunch of awesome stuff from my parents. Dad got me toys: giant microbes and pixel blocks. Mom got me practical gifts including new washcloths and hand towels, baking pans, a winter/rain coat, and shoes. Cabela's had a major sale, and I got brand new Merrell shoes (retail $90) for under $30! Cabela's has some awesome deals going on right now... check it out if you can.
So that's it for now. I am going to finish eating my kisses.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Blue Screen of Death: I was trying to figure out why my CD-RW drive wouldn't work when I received the Blue Screen of Death. Having never before seen the dread' Blue Screen, I was a bit concerned. When I saw, "All physical memory has been deleted," I was more than a bit concerned. I didn't know what to do! Logical course of action when the computer has gone wonky: shut it off. At least if it doesn't have power it can't fuck things up any worse, right? In theory, correct. I killed it and restarted it, praying the whole time my files would still be intact and that the Blue Screen of Death had not, in fact, destroyed my life's work. Somehow, miraculously, my computer started and opened everything correctly. Stupid Blue Screen of Death. Take that! In the end, I purchased a new DVD/CD+/-RW drive (after much research, price comparing, and careful delibration) and got a pretty reasonable deal after a rebate offer. So I had to install this new contraption, and remember, I'm fresh off the dread' Blue Screen attack. Opened the guts up, popped the old CD-RW drive out, slid the new one in, closed 'er up, and turned it on. No go. BIOS screen. Now being tech un-savvy, the BIOS screen means just as much to me as the Blue Screen of Death, but instead, it's black. Between the Blue Screen and the BIOS screen, I was at the end of my short rope. Called a friend who kindly came by and fixed me up. Apparently I had my drives backward, though installed technically correctly, or something, but in the end, I was wrong. Everything worked beautifully, and now I have a DVD burner. YAY! :D Until the screensaver died. I'm using a standard Windows screensaver, but it wouldn't come on like I wanted it to. Took me two days to solve that problem, but I did. As of this morning, my computer is finally working correctly again! *keyboard not found, press any key to continue*
Christmas: Saturday, December 17th was spent at my Aunt's house in NE Albany. Everybody was there! Grandma and Grandpa and all of their kids, their kids' spouses, their grandkids, and now two great-grandkids. We're a big bunch! And there was so much food... we all agreed to make snacky food, but everybody brought enough snacky food for everybody else... oh dear, there was so much food. Good food. A few presents, lots of laughter, lots of everybody simply being there. That's what the holiday was about for us - everybody was there. :)
Dates: So I've gone out on a couple dates recently and everybody wants to know about them. Yes, I had fun. No, I don't intend on exploring any sort of relationship with the boys I went on dates with. They are nice boys, but they are not the kinds of boys I'm looking for to date. I'm only 22, not in any rush to date or get married. OH! And if you haven't seen it, go see "Just Friends!" It is laugh-out-loud hilarious --- and coming from me, that says something!
So why have I been too busy to update my blog? Calendars! During finals week, Mom called me up and reminded me to get busy working on our family calendars and that I only had one week because we were celebrating the holiday a week earlier than normal this year. Shit. Panic. Cry. Moving on... :)
Calendars: These calendars are custom-made using Publisher. I've been creating them since 2000, and my mom did them on her computer starting (I think) around '97 (with a different program). Since I started creating them, they've solidified into a single format and style. Each year I simply have to update the changing dates and add/delete people as necessary (births, deaths, marriages, divorces, the usual stuff). I opened a new document this year, got everything set up, transferred my text as necessary, and then began the long and painful task of finding graphics online. I don't know what the files are called, but I need to find a place that provides small graphics without white edges or borders so that when I place the image on top of another picture, I don't have white spaces. Can anyone help with that? But anyway, instead of using Google to search for pictures, I've been taking pictures each time I go Geocaching. The 2006 calendars are about 90% original images I took myself with my Sony DSC-W5 digital camera. Yay me for thinking ahead! I printed 10 copies, Mom padded them with the thingy-do-hickey, Whitney wrapped them, everybody "ooh-ed" and "awe-ed" at them at Christmas. I hope everybody likes them. Sorry about the error in February, I think I missed Washington's Birthday or something minor. Oh well.
And then there is work. Working about 30 hours a week during the break, which isn't bad... I'm staying busy and keeping warm and out of trouble. Life could be worse. Hopefully I'll keep this blog more updated, but if nothing happens here, know that I'm okay and nothing exciting is happening.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
After shopping, we headed off to find some Geocaches! We had some trouble getting started... and only got sorta lost once or twice... but over the course of the afternoon, we managed to find three caches of the six we hoped to find. I'm convinced that two were simply missing, because when we went to find them, there was no place for them to be hiding and caches are never buried. Long story short, we got a few and that's good enough. I'm not out there for quantity, the fun is in the hunt and in the places we were able to see.
We did see a few interesting places:
Lunch by Devil's Lake in Lincoln City was awesome (and so cold!). Patrick, the lobster claw/arm is still going to get you, I promise. We stopped next to Siletz Bay to go caching, and ended up enjoying the view instead of finding the cache. Too bad the tide was in while we were there. And our last stop at Gleneden was simply beautiful. I'd already nabbed the cache at the wayside (and sadly, it has since been plundered), but we hung out on the cliff for a while watching the waves roll in. Some of them were a good two- or three-hundred yards long and so green... I'll try to get a picture up soon.
So the day wasn't perfect, but it was a wonderful and much-needed diversion from my paper writing and studying. 56 caches and counting!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
In attempting to research handwriting, I had some difficulty finding relevant sources and information. If I were seeking facts about writing in general, more sources could apply, but I tried to stick strictly to the art of handwriting. Contemporary information about handwriting abounds, especially due to the resurgence of calligraphy as a fine art, but historical information is spotty. If I researched for decades, I would never be able to write a full history of handwriting, and I shall not attempt to cover every aspect of handwriting or its history in this essay. Instead, I will try to answer two important questions: first, how did handwriting develop? Second, how have attitudes toward handwriting changed as other communication technologies have developed?
A Brief History of Handwriting
Handwriting has been around since man first picked up a stick and drew a symbol in the dirt to communicate with another human. Denis Baron wrote in his essay, From Pencils to Pixels, “We normally assume that writing was invited to transcribe speech, but that is not strictly correct. The earliest Sumerian inscriptions, dating from ca. 3500 BCE, recorded not conversations, incantations, or other sorts of oral utterances, but land sales, business transactions, and tax accounts” (Baron 19). An historical gap exists for handwriting between the Sumerians and the later Greeks and Romans. Few examples of handwritten (literally carved in stone) communication still survive. Mary Bellis wrote an article on about.com about the history of writing utensils. She said, “The earliest means of writing that approached pen and paper as we know them today was developed by the Greeks. They employed a writing stylus, made of metal, bone or ivory, to place marks upon wax-coated tablets. The tablets made in hinged pairs, closed to protect the scribe's notes. The first examples of handwriting (purely text messages made by hand) originated in Greece. The Grecian scholar, Cadmus invented the written letter—text messages on paper sent from one individual to another” (Bellis). She continued about the Chinese inventing ‘Indian Ink’ around 2700 BCE. The invention of ink in China (and other cultures with inks in different colors made from different materials) paralleled the invention of paper. “The early Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Hebrews, used papyrus and parchment papers. One of the oldest pieces of writing on papyrus known to us today is the Egyptian "Prisse Papyrus" which dates back to 2000 BCE” (Bellis). Only the most wealthy citizens of ancient societies were literate enough or had enough time to value and understand handwriting, so the skill was not widely known.
While ink made writing possible, the invention of the pencil probably changed handwriting more so than any other event. Baron continues, “Just as writing was not designed initially as a way of recording speech, the pencil was not invented to be a writing device. The ancient lead-pointed stylus was used to scribe lines—the lead made a faint pencil-like mark on a surface, suitable for marking off measurements but not for writing” (Baron 22). Modern pencils do not contain lead. All mechanical pencils and the vast majority of wooden pencils contain graphite instead of lead. The first pencils were made by joiners to scribe measurements in wood because they didn’t leave a permanent dent in the wood. The pencil was later adopted by note-takers, scientists, and others who needed to write, sketch, or take measurements in the field. “Early pencils had knobs at one end so that they could be fastened with string or chain to a notebook, creating the precursor to the laptop computer” (Baron 22).
Moving from quill pens to fountain pens also made handwriting an easier skill to master. Bellis writes, “The fountain pen's design came after a thousand years of using quill-pens. Early inventors observed the apparent natural ink reserve found in the hollow channel of a bird's feather and tried to produce a similar effect, with a man-made pen that would hold more ink and not require constant dipping into the ink well. However, a feather is not a pen, only a natural object modified to suit man's needs. Filling a long thin reservoir made of hard rubber with ink and sticking a metal 'nib' at the bottom was not enough to produce a smooth writing instrument. Lewis Waterman, an insurance salesman, was inspired to improve the early fountain pen designs after destroying a valuable sales contract with leaky-pen ink. Lewis Waterman's idea was to add an air hole in the nib and three grooves inside the feed mechanism” (Bellis). Knowing a few Waterman fountain pen owners for some time, I can attest to the design and functionality of his pens. I overheard a woman in a store once tell a saleswoman, “I couldn’t live without my Waterman so much that I bought four more just in case I lost the first one.”
Pencils and pens work well in the hand, but not all communication occurs now with the force of ink or graphite onto paper. Typewriters were the first transition to the world we know as typing. The Wikipedia article on typewriters recounts much of typing history. “In 1714, Henry Mill obtained a patent in Britain for a machine that from the patent sounds similar to a typewriter, but nothing further is known... Other early developers of writing machines include Pellegrino Turri (1808) who also invented carbon paper. Many of these earliest machines, including Turri's, were developed to allow the blind to write” (Wikipedia). The typewriter we know today was invented by Giuseppe Ravizza in 1855, however, typing speeds did not outpace traditional handwriting until after 1870. Electric typewriters debuted in the 1970’s.
The line between electronic typewriter and computer blurred toward the end of the 1980’s, and computers took the lead when it came to text production. I remember when my parents purchased our first computer. Dad told Mom the computer was simply a fancy calculator and would be phased out in favor of new technologies within the decade. Mom ignored him and got one anyway. Nearly twenty years later, Mom laughed at Dad last week when he was agonizing over which kind of processor to have Dell put in his brand new personal laptop. I should mention, though, that Dad had to correspond with Dell by hand. He refused to order his new laptop over the Internet (“Some thug will steal my credit card information and create a new identity.”) or over the phone (“The government is listening.”). And he didn’t buy a laptop to surf the Internet from his recliner, oh no. He physically ripped the Wireless Internet Card out of the laptop just in case somehow, the wireless signal bounced across the living room carpet magically into his computer where “thugs” could raid his personal data. Clearly, Dad prefers handwritten communication due to its security and formality. I don’t blame him.
The Value of Handwriting
In a study conducted by Pitney-Bowes, Inc., 66% of surveyed Americans trust their post office more than they trust their police department, Internet provider, school system, long distance carrier, the media, and the government. “Regular mail is considered to be the most private and secure form of communication with people” (Pitney-Bowes, Inc.). The USPS delivers mail rain or shine, but one never knows exactly where an e-mail is at any given point between sender and receiver. The study showed that, at the time of the survey, people preferred to use slower communication channels and handwritten messages for their most important correspondence.
Unlike 30 years ago, mail is not the primary form of communication for many people. According to the Report of the President’s Commission on the United States Postal Service, e-mailing is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to communicate, as is talking on the telephone with the advent of calling cards and “10-10-something-or-other” numbers (www.treas.gov). Instant messaging is another way of quick communication without cost. All of these forms of interaction are cheaper than physically writing a letter to someone and mailing it via “snail mail.” However, none of those forms support the intimacy and personality a handwritten letter provides. This paper was stolen from the internet without permission.
The real problem with handwriting today is the amount of time and skill it requires. Recounting his own handwriting learning process, Robert Klose commented, “Writing by hand is a slow process; the slower the better, actually. The physical act of slipping lines of wet ink onto paper is an almost organic connection between the writer and the word. And when one takes the time to emphasize shape, size, and proportion, one is lingering with those words, giving them time to percolate in the mind and settle in for the long haul. Using a computer gets the job done, but it is nothing like a meditative act. It's more like doing the dishes” (Klose). The simplicity of writing by hand allows one to think about the words and messages they are writing, thus making a handwritten letter the most intimate form of non-verbal communication available.
In addition to the intimate aspect, the value of handwritten letters goes almost unsaid. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington kept many letters and diaries that, without handwriting, would not exist. These personal diaries provide a window to the beginnings of the United States that books and official accounts cannot supply. Letters between soldiers and their wives at home during wars consist entirely of handwriting to this day. My friend Kevin commented in an Instant Messaging conversation, “While our soldiers are now able to instantaneously communicate with their families at home, nothing can replace the power and intimacy of a personally written letter. Should the worst befall a soldier on foreign soil far from home, that small scrap of paper with it's imperfect lettering and technique may be the only connection a widow or orphaned child may have to their loved one” (Perkins). My same friend later confessed, “I was good at [handwriting] and hated every minute of it. That kind of [stuff] is fine if you have a plethora of time, but when school years are cut short and test scores are in the toilet, it's time to refocus on the necessities” (Perkins). The academic, professional, and business worlds require typewritten documents, as they should. It would take too much time to write out a full inventory for a warehouse or a list of employees for a chain store. Furthermore, hand writing a twenty-page paper for class is not going to be much fun. Technology including spell-checkers, thesauruses, and other word processing advances allow people to type much faster and with greater accuracy than by traditional handwriting.
Handwriting uses have varied across every generation. Neanderthal man used his handwriting to communicate a great hunt or victory over an enemy. As above, the Sumerians used handwriting to seal business ventures. Likewise, Colonial Americans used handwriting for business and to correspond with one another when separated by a great distance. We, American twenty-somethings, use handwriting to jot down notes, to make a grocery list, and to simply leave someone a greeting. This paper was stolen from the internet without permission. However, we do not use handwriting as our most formal form of communication. I am forced to submit my term papers typewritten or electronically dropped off to my professor’s e-mail address. I often won’t even meet the person to which I correspond; they are nothing more than an e-mail address, no face or handshake necessary.
The demise of handwriting began well before technology intervened. Tamara Plakins Thornton writes in her book, Handwriting in America: A Cultural History, “In colonial America, the ability to read was treasured largely as the ability to gain direct access to Scripture. To ensure that children achieved Bible literacy, reading instruction took place at age six or seven, before the child assumed any substantial burden of work, in an informal, domestic (and therefore female) environment. Typically, children were taught by their mothers... Because reading and writing were understood to serve entirely different ends, instruction in one was divorced from instruction in the other. Reading was taught first, as a universal spiritual necessity; writing was taught second, and then only to some. That women were entrusted with reading instruction is just one indication that reading was perceived as an elementary skill, calling for no other abilities either to teach or to acquire it... The end product of this system of instruction was the ability to read the printed word, not to write—not even to read handwriting” (Thornton 5). Handwriting in colonial America was reserved for only the most wealthy families. The fact that so many people did learn to write is a testament to the value early Americans placed on handwriting skill and tradition.
The traditional styles of handwriting were abandoned from elementary school curricula in the 1920’s in favor of methods that produced a more fluid script and greater readability. Zaner-Bloser called this new style the “Palmer manuscript method” (Zaner-Bloser). As seen in Figure 1, the Palmer method incorporated two very simple strokes for early elementary students just learning to write; a ball shape and a stick shape were the only two strokes to master. In about third grade, a student was taught to slant their “sticks” to the right, to turn “balls” into ovals, and how to connect those two shapes into simple cursive handwriting. An example of the Zaner-Bloser script can be seen in Figure 2.
Newer forms of handwriting taught in classes across the country try to simplify cursive to a form hardly worthy of the name. “Monkey tails” and other odd terms are used to describe small hooks or loops added to the Palmer manuscript method to make it more complicated without decreasing speed or ease of writing. An example of the D’Nealian method is shown in Figure 3. The drawback to this new “D’Nealian” style is that students learn four strokes to print and then must learn four new strokes to write in cursive (Zaner-Bloser). My own sister learned the D’Nealian style of handwriting in elementary school, and then later learned the more traditional Zaner-Bloser method as her primary form of cursive because she thought it looked nicer and was easier to read. I learned the Zaner-Bloser method and use it for note-taking and general correspondence. For formal documents, I will sometimes even switch to the old Spencerian scripts of my grandparents.
The International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH), founded in 1949, is the oldest and largest penmanship association in the United States. IAMPETH's goals are to: “one, practice and teach the fine art of beautiful penmanship; two, restore the teaching of penmanship in schools; three, improve the handwriting of young people; four, honor the Master Penmen of today; and five, preserve and share with others the rich tradition of American Penmanship” (IAMPETH). The IAMPETH Master Penman Society was founded in 2001to recognize association members with exceptional handwriting ability. Clearly, the value of handwriting has not gone down even with the advent of computers. The greatest honor awarded to the Master Penman is the certificate: the Master must write his own. Figure 4 is one of many examples of such certificates (IAMPETH).
When handwriting became wide-spread, it was the fastest form of communication across great distances. This paper was stolen from the internet without permission. People valued handwriting for its permanency and beauty. Typewriters and computers threatened the age of handwriting, reducing and changing its use in modern society by many people. However, the fine art of handwriting remains a skill we each learn as children. Technology may have changed how we write and communicate with each other, but handwriting is still all around each of us. Every time we sign our names, send a letter, jot a note, pen out a grocery list, or simply scratch a reminder to ourselves, we employ the art of handwriting regardless of new technology. Handwriting is traditional. It is functional. And it is necessary.Works Cited
Baron, Denis. “From Pencils to Pixels.” Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies. Ed. Gail E. Hawisher and Cynthia L. Selfe. Logan, Utah, Utah State University Press, p15-33.
Bellis, Mary. “A Brief History of Writing Instruments.” 6 Dec 2005.
The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH). Dec. 2005. 6 Dec. 2005.
Perkins, Kevin. Trillian Instant Message Conversation to the author. 24 Nov. 2003. and 14 Mar. 2004.
Pitney-Bowes, Inc. “America’s Feelings about Mail.” May 2000. 6 Dec. 2005.
Thornton, Tamara Plakins. Handwriting in America: A Cultural History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Dec 2005. 6 Dec 2005.
www.treas.gov. “Embracing the Future: Making the Tough Choices to Preserve Universal Mail Service. A Report of the President’s Commission on the United States Postal Service.” 9 Mar. 2004. 6 Dec. 2005.
Zaner-Bloser Handwriting. Columbus, Ohio: Zaner-Bloser, Inc., 1993.
While the scientific facts are overwhelming, there are sociological factors that play into the acceptance of Darwin’s theory. Not believing in evolution in this culture can be socially unacceptable. I have friends who are deeply religious and do not completely buy into Darwin’s theory, but they do not say anything to anyone because they fear they will be openly chastised for their beliefs. They would rather have people think they believe in hard science facts than in God. Also, evolution and creation must be taught in schools (at least in Oregon) equally, but some teachers fear teaching creation due to the required separation of church and state.
Those who take the time to study the evidence find evolution convincing. Simply put, the facts point that evolution must have occurred. There are no alternatives to Darwinian evolution that fill the same gaps and prove so clearly how things change. Biology, without evolution, is simply life until life ends. Evolution represents, or rather signifies, the ability of life to change, and that suggests “future.”
Saturday, December 03, 2005
So the events unfolded thusly: I went, I saw, I conquered. My "date" (nor any of the other boys) paid a single compliment my direction, which, though I did not expect it, I am sorely disappointed in their lack of social grace. Focus was mostly small-talk, story swapping, "my fish was bigger than your fish" tales. For some reason, I didn't even set up any expectations before I went, just decided to go with whatever happened. I remained social throughout the evening, though almost entirely with people I already knew. Food was pretty good. I made a quiet comment to Emily (roommate was there too, thankfully!) that my steak tasted like french toast. That's good though, surprisingly, maple-y steak-like-meat-substance sorta works well. The mint chocolate chip cheesecake was a bit... sweet to say the least. Also, not bad. Ooh, my salad rant: salad does *NOT* consist of WEEDS! Spinach is good, lettuce is good, WEEDS ARE NOT GOOD. And olives? And cheese? Ooooh weird salad.
I managed to be social and not look too goofy most of the night. I'm not honestly sure yet if I had fun. I went, I saw, I conquered (fear of people, fear of being social). "Fun" just isn't quite the right word. "Trying" with a hint of "humorously bland" tossed in.
Going to bed. I can't take any more talking for one day.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
So last night, yesterday in fact, was horrible. I overslept (first time ever!) and was almost late to my student teaching job. Plus it was my last day, so I had to say good-bye to the students. I'm gonna miss those kids: they were so well-behaved and inquisitive. Then work was crazy and I got home a bit later than I wanted. I inhaled my dinner in anticipation of two different boys coming over (hehe, not like that, I wish!), but one was two hours later than I expected and the other stood me up entirely. If you say you're gonna call me back, call me back damnit. I'm also pretty pissed that a friend invited me earlier in the day to spend the evening with him then decided to go out with the guys instead. Not only that, but he didn't even go out with the guys. And while I was waiting at home for my two boys to show up, the evil boys from down the street came over and insulted me twice within the first minute they were here. Twice! Eventually they left, and my roommates were gone too. Bored and procrastinating, I went and got a movie, curled up on the couch near the fireplace, and watched "The Day After Tomorrow." Jake Gyllenhaal *swoon*
And today has not been much better. I let anger and a wrathful tongue get ahead of me this morning with a friend. The really sad part is that I don't regret it in the least. He will read this, and he knows he's had that coming for a very long time.
Today was my last English 495 class meeting... *sob.* They made me feel so welcome and accepted. For the first time in college, I knew everyones' name and a bit of info about them. I look forward to seeing them on campus in future terms and saying hi. --- The bad part about ENG495 is the KVAL broadcast about our class blog. They "quoted" one of my blog posts, but took my words entirely out of context. I'll copy my post here: ENG495 Blog Entry. They only showed the first two sentences! So now I look stupid and my words (if you read the rest of the post) were GOOD, not bad at all. I was just trying to be funny in a world of serious thought. Ouch. Lesson learned.
My roommates planned a girls' night. But they only invited my little sister. And she's blowing us off for a boy even though she said she'd come to our thing first.
I don't think having a pity party for yourself is wrong when it's completely validated. I'm still working through a bit of grief over losing my friend; I'm trying to understand where I fit into my friends' lives (obviously I'm not ranking very high); and boys... OOH! *smacks forehead*
Misery 1, Company 0.