Monday, April 26, 2010

Full Circle

It's hard for me not to think about the fact that soon I'll be heading home-- back to the place where this journey began eight months ago.  When I left Delaware, I had no idea where the winds would take me, nor did I know how long the journey was to last.  I went to Europe, the Middle East (Asia), and Africa.  I visited Germany, Holland, Czech, Austria, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and South Africa.  It's been an amazing time!

On May 10th, I'll board a plane, and seventeen hours later, I will touch down in New York City's JFK airport.  My journey will not be over once I land, as I'll have to board a "Chinatown Bus" and trek another three hours to Delaware (such are the pains of a gal trying to save a buck.  Flying into Philadelphia would have been so much easier, but just not as cheap).

The question I keep getting from friends and acquaintances alike it, "Are you excited to be going home?"  My initial response is no.  I am not homesick, nor do I do not miss the United States.  I'm having too grand of an adventure to want to go home.  Additionally, going home for me means returning to my parent's house in the suburbs (since I'm homeless), where I lack transportation (I don't have a car), have very few friends (they all moved away eons ago), and no prospects at work (not much modeling going on in Delaware!).  It's not much to look forward to.

But, my answer needs to be a little more nuanced than that.  You see, my very best friend in the world also happens to live with my parents (my twin sis, Erin).  I adore my parents, and there was a time in my life where they probably thought they'd never see me go (As a child, I once famously declared, "When I grow up, I'm going to marry Mom and Daddy, so I can live with them forever!").  I miss my sewing machine, and my dressform, and the myriad of projects I have sitting at home waiting for me to complete.  I miss shopping for vintage clothes, and the little shop I set up on Etsy to sell some of my finds.  I miss my violin.  I miss the promise of potential friendships that have never been permitted to develop due to my lengthy absences (such as with Randy and Becca and Heidi and others).  I look forward to using a desktop computer again, with a large monitor, and with a scanner and printer attached.  I look forward to seeing my closet full of clothes that will appear as new to me (Can you imagine?  I've been wearing the same few clothes for almost eight months?  I've lived out of a suitcase with three pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans, and a handful of dresses.)  I hear Netflix calling my name, and I can't wait for my mom's southern cooking and sweet tea.  And I miss late afternoon naps on my parent's couch with three of my best friends curled up next to me (as pictured above.  A fourth, Lillie, isn't pictured, as she tends to be Miss Independent, but she's welcome to join the slumber party as well!). Finally, I'm looking forward to quality time spent with a precocious and sometimes bratty niece who is very dear to my heart.

Am I excited to be going home?  I guess I am.  But I'm sure gonna miss it here!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Volcanoes

I suppose depending upon where you live, this volcano thing has completely affected your life, or maybe it hasn't at all.  I imagine for my family in Delaware, it doesn't have much impact, but here in Dubai (yes, I've bid adieu to Africa and returned to the Middle East) there are over 11,000 crew that fly with Emirates Airlines.  In addition to that, 80% of the people who live in Dubai are ex-pats, which means they're not from here.  I know quite a few people who have been affected by this whole thing.

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 

But while most people are complaining, I found this great article at the New York Times about a volcano in Java that changed the world in 1883.  Simon Winchester writes, "Where Iceland has caused shock, Java resulted in awe. And where Eyjafjalla’s ashes seem to have cost millions in lost business, Krakatoa’s dust left the world not just a remarkable legacy of unforgettable art but also spurred a vital discovery in atmospheric science."

Winchester continues:

The skies in the fall of 1883 became weirdly changed. The moon turned blue, or sometimes green. Firefighters in New York and elsewhere thought they saw distant fires, caused by clouds of boiling dust. The vivid ash-tinged sunsets, and the post-sunset horizon rainbows of purple and passion fruit and salmon-red, were said to be the most memorable.
Painters in particular did their best to capture what they saw. An obscure Londoner named William Ascroft, astonished by the nightly light show along the Thames, turned out a watercolor every 10 minutes, night after night, working like a human camera. More than 500 Krakatoa paintings survive him. “Blood afterglow,” he jotted down on one canvas, noting the magic done by refractive crystals of dust; “Amber afterglow,” on another.
Grander artists, like Frederic Church of the Hudson River School, were spurred to action too. In December, four months after the Javanese blast, Church hurried up from Olana, his Moorish castle near Poughkeepsie, to Lake Ontario, and one perfect evening caught the vivid crepuscular purples over the ice on Chaumont Bay, knowing full well — as science already did — that it was a volcano 10,000 miles away that had painted the sky for him.
And one even more famous painting speaks of Krakatoa as well: recent research suggests that Edvard Munch a decade later painted “The Scream” while remembering a night in Oslo that had been much affected by the volcanic dust. Indeed, the climatic records show that the swirling orange skies behind the terror-stricken face match perfectly those recorded that winter in southern Norway.

How cool is that?  But wait, there's more.  "It left a lasting effect on science as well.

The heavier dust from Krakatoa slowly fell to earth, coating ships and cities thousands of miles away. But the micron-sized particles from the volcano’s mouth did not fall back at all. Instead, they were carried ever upward, and ended up floating around the world for years, on streams of globe-girdling winds that were not then even known to exist. 

Weather-watchers, carefully noting just when certain skies in certain cities were inflamed and colored by the passing high-altitude dust clouds, produced a map showing just how these wind currents moved around the world. The first name they used for the phenomenon was the “equatorial smoke stream.” Today it is, of course, the jet stream — a discovery that remains perhaps the most important legacy of Krakatoa.

I'm curious to see how this volcano will effect things on the global scale, but in the meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the sunsets.  And, I'm reminded that God is in control.



Saturday, April 10, 2010

#1Random: How to Escape from Quicksand

I am a Googler.  I'm not sure if that is a word, but for my purposes it means "one who Googles."  I really love having knowledge at my fingertips, and any time I have a question, I research it on the internet.  If I see someone reading a book I've never heard of, I Google it.  And if I hear someone quoting a "fact" that doesn't make any logical sense to me (i.e., drinking hot beverages will cool you down, or chewing gum stays in your stomach for seven years), I just look it up to satisfy myself on the true answer.


Do you remember the scene in "The Princess Bride" where Buttercup steps into the "snow sand" and Wesley has to jump in and rescue her?  She disappears immediately in the quicksand, and Wesley dives in after her.  That, and many other movies, depict quicksand as a pit where one quickly sinks to the bottom, suffocating in the sand.

Well, according to this article at National Geographic, the most a person would sink, even while struggling, is to about waist deep.  The danger lies not in suffocation, but in getting stuck, so that when the tide comes in, you could drown.

So, how does one escape if stuck in quicksand?   Do not have someone pull you; the researchers suggest that if friends tried to pull you out, they'd only succeed in pulling you "into two pieces if [they] try hard to pull [you] out."  Instead, he continues, "The way to do it is to wriggle your legs around. This creates a space between the legs and the quicksand through which water can flow down to dilate [loosen] the sand.  You can get out using this technique, if you do it slowly and progressively."

Now you know. And if you don't believe me, you can Google it.


BTW, for those non-Americans out there who have not seen this film, you really should.  It is an American classic that children of my generation (Gen X or the Millennial Generation-- I think straddle both), were weened on.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

His Wounds Have Paid My Ransom

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Love These!



Designed by my supremely talented friends, Charl and Donna.  

If you're in Cape Town, VOX City Church is a new church community starting up in the City Bowl of Cape Town.  You can visit their website here for more information.

Please note: Friday's service has changed locations to Baran's Restaurant in Green Market Square.