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Archive for April, 2011

No post yesterday due to no electricity in the house, but today the power is back on.   It’s been a long week, but it was nice getting to spend time with my parents and my son.  The bad news, as far as school is concerned, is that my week of review for the AP Chemistry test just disappeared and the test is Monday morning.  Hopefully my students will take it upon themselves to work through the review sheets I gave them today.

I did get a chance to take a few pictures around Beebe.  If you’re curious what it looked like around town the day after the storm, here you go.

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We had a lot of help Tuesday morning cutting up and removing our trees. They’d probably still be sitting in the backyard without Robbie, Todd, Jack, Bethany, Cody, and Chad. Thanks to them for all of their help. The good news for Beebe is that while some of our trees, vehicles, and homes were damaged, our people weren’t. The town of Vilonia, and a huge swath of Mississippi, Georgia, and especially Alabama weren’t so fortunate, and those are the folks who could really use our prayers and our help right about now.

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So this brings us up to a total of nine days off from school for weather.  Tomorrow will make number ten.  Barring some sort of Dept. of Education waiver, I think we’ll now be going to school until the fourth of July.  If Beebe had it in their plans to switch to a year-round schedule sometime in the future, we may as well do it now.  Just give me the second week of June off.  I’m supposed to be going on vacation.

Hopefully, power will be returned to my home tomorrow and I’ll be able to write a better post.  If you’re not busy tomorrow, go carry some tree pieces to the road for someone.  There’s plenty around.

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This is the most days out for weather that I can remember.  I don’t like missing this close to the end.  We’re all doing fine, and I hope everyone out there is too.  We had a couple of Bradford Pear trees down in our backyard from the storms Monday night, but we got them taken care of today.  We’re staying at my parents tonight – they have electricity and we still don’t – so I’m not sure what my yard is going to look like tomorrow.  I’ll have a larger post with pictures if my electricity comes back on tomorrow.

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I was asked in class a few days ago what poetry I liked.  I don’t read much poetry, so while some people love poetry and can quote their favorite verses on the spot or continuously post snippets as their Facebook status, I can’t really name a poet that I love to just sit and read.  My answer was J. R. R. Tolkien, mostly because he’s always my answer to ‘What’s your favorite ________________?’ when discussing anything literary.  Even so, I maintain that it is a good answer, and I think the following poem is evidence of that.  Incidentally, I initially wanted to name my dog Lúthien, but my wife vetoed it.  We settled on Zelda.  

The Story of Beren and Lúthien as told by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings  

by J. R. R. Tolkien

The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled,
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.

Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.

He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-leaves,
And one by one with sighing sound,
Whispering fell the beechen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.

He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.

When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again,
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.

Again she fled, but swift he came.
Tinuviel! Tinuviel!
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice lay on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinuviel
That in his arms lay glistening.

As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinuviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.

Long was the way that fate them bore,
O’er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.


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I read Shirley Jackson‘s The Lottery in high school and loved it, but for some reason I’ve never gotten around to reading anything else she wrote.  Well, I’ve fixed that.  I just finished reading The Haunting of Hill House, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite horror books.  Jackson is a master of terror.  The “ghostly” manifestations in the house are described in vague, abstract ways – and you’re never sure if the house is generating the visions or one of the guests.  The prose is concise and poetic.  The book has one of the best opening paragraphs I’ve ever read.  Read this and tell my your not curious to read more:

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.  Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.  Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

How brilliant is that?  It perfectly sets the ominous tone, it immediately establishes the house as a presence looming over the rest of the story, and it personifies the house by naming it and describing its abnormal personality.   In one paragraph she has given you a sense of fear and unease towards this place without mentioning a single specific occurrence.  She never mentions any ghosts or ancient burial grounds or long-ago murders, and yet you already realize it is no sort of place you would want to go.  It’s a fantastic book.  I highly recommend it, and I’m going to be sure to read more of her books.  Maybe next I’ll read We Have Always Lived in the Castle because I think it has a wonderful and intriguing title.

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The idea of someone adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is exciting, but the fact that HBO is doing it just makes my anticipation level skyrocket.  HBO’s original shows are compelling television, and better than just about anything else out there.  Neil Gaiman is a brilliant author, and one of my favorites.  The pairing of these two is almost too exciting to believe.  If you’ve never read any Gaiman, you should start now.  Get anything – novels, young adult novels, short story collections, comics – it doesn’t matter, they’re all worth it.

Now wouldn’t it be cool if HBO were doing a Sandman series?

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It’s time for your weekly dose of enlightenment.  The subject of this week’s random Wikipedia article is:

Howard Caine.

It’s amazing to me that as an actor this guy is able to become a “master of 32 foreign and American dialects”.  I’ve seen lots of movies where American actors weren’t able to master one dialect, but it didn’t stop them from playing British characters.

But Howard Caine wasn’t just an actor, he was an award winning banjo picker.  Which reminds me of one of my current favorite newspaper comic strips, Cul-de-Sac.

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