Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Religious freedom, or lack thereof

Each day I read about the Park51 in the news. And each day I become more worried. Not because it's being built, but because of the opposition to it.

I have a few comments on the subject:

1) There's another mosque nearby. Why aren't people complaining about that one? Why are they picking on this one?
2) Not all Muslims are terrorists. The terrorists just get all the attention because they are noisy and get noticed, unlike the well behaved Muslims, who by the way far outnumber the terrorists.
3) Why should we judge all Muslims by the actions of a few? If that's the new policy, then why don't we judge all Christians by the few who torture and murder people accused of witchcraft? And don't tell me that witch hunts are a thing of the past, because they do still happen in some parts of the world. (And it is an unfortunate fact that some Pagans do judge all Christians by the witch hunters.)
4) I'm pretty sure that the mosque will be part of a multi-faith center. Aren't multi-faith centers good? Shouldn't we want more of them around?
5) The fuss about the Park51 endangers the religious freedom of everyone in the United States of America.

Yep, you read that correctly: our freedom is being endangered. Because if Muslims are told that they can't build a mosque in a particular location because they are being insensitive to the feelings of others, who's to say that that argument won't be used again in another place? And what if, *deep breath*, that argument is used by numerous people in numerous locations, so that it is difficult to find a place to build? And I'm not just talking about discrimination against Muslims anymore. Because if people discriminate against Muslims, they can discriminate against others.

But first, since the issue at hand is a mosque, I would like to share evidence that the anger about Park51 is being directed at Muslims in general, not just those who are building a mosque near Ground Zero.


(And OMG I just discovered that my spell checker does not like Quran! This is infuriating...it's irritating enough when it doesn't like Pagan words...but at least we're a minority, not a major religion...grr...)

2) Last week a Taxi cab driver in NYC was asked "Are you Muslim?" After answering yes, the cab driver was attacked with a knife.
3) On Saturday there was a fire at a location in Tennessee where there were plans to build a mosque (the second one in the area). The case is still under investigation, but arson is suspected. Additionally, some of the locals are concerned that "people will learn jihad inside the mosque's walls."

Evidence #1 is to take place in less than two weeks. Evidence #2 and #3 both took place within the last week. I think this is proof enough that the religion of Islam is being attacked.

So, we have a religion under attack in a country that is all about religious freedom. Do you see something wrong with this picture?

I long for the day when we have true religious freedom. That will be when people can practice their faith without fear of being attacked (either with words or physically) for their beliefs. And I would like to remind you, again, that a threat to one person's religious freedom is a threat to everyone's religious freedom.

....I hope I've written this all out in a way that makes sense. I'm tired and I have a headache. I think I'll write more on this subject another time, and if there's anything confusing I've written here I can clarify it. Last but not least, I'd like to share an essay that Ed Hubbarb wrote about why the Park51 debate should matter to people belonging to minority religions. Specifically he focuses on Pagans since he's a Pagan himself, but I think it's relevant to everyone.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cultural differences

I've been reading Shogun by James Clavell. Let's just say, it's a book in which an English man finds himself in feudal Japan (this is the 1600s), and the reader gets to watch the English guy figure out Japanese culture while the Japanese are perplexed by him. Of course there's more to the plot than that, but the plot is beside the point here.

And the point is cultural differences. What happens when people from one culture run into people from another culture, and their ways are different? Sometimes the results can be good, but sometimes not so good. Whether things end up good or not so good often depends on how accepting of differences the people involved are. As I'm typing this, an example of people not accepting each others differences comes to mind: the fuss about a mosque near Ground Zero. But more on that later. I'll probably devote a post just to that subject.

This evening my family watched Riverdance. No, this is not an abrupt change of topic. lol Riverdance tells the story of Irish immigrants coming to the USA, and of course, they bring their own culture with them. There's one particular dance scene where the Irish discover how the locals dance, and they aren't quite sure what to make of it. I found it on YouTube, and have shared it below.

I'd say it's an example of something good happening when people from different cultures meet.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tartans and Scottish heritage

This is shocking -- I went through the entire Highland Games season without ever explaining the background of my blog!

Those of you who were with me last year may remember that it is the Oregon tartan. I've adopted the Oregon tartan as my own because even though I was born in Louisiana, I have grown up in Oregon and consider myself an Oregonian. And yes, every USA state has its own official tartan.

(It might interest you to know that Tall One's personal kilt is Douglas tartan. He chose it because the Douglas fir tree is the official tree of Oregon, and it was named after someone from clan Douglas. So we have two different tartans, but we chose them for pretty similar reasons.)

"But Sarita," you might say, "Don't you have Scottish heritage? Why don't you and Tall One wear the tartan that your ancestors wore?" Good point, except for two tiny little details.

Detail #1) Our branch of the family was disinherited about five or seven generations ago because our ancestor stowed away on a ship to the USA and refused to return home. He even changed his last name, cutting ties from his clan. Though I'm not sure if he changed his name before or after he was disinherited.

Detail #2) Sometime after this wayward ancestor alienated his clan, the clan was disbanded by the king for treason. Some nobles who were outside of Scotland survived, so there are still branches of the family in existence (in addition to our own disinherited branch), but kilt makers generally don't have the tartan on hand since the clan officially doesn't exist anymore. Even if they did, we'd choose another tartan.

Given this history, we figure that it's a good idea to find a tartan to adopt, rather than wear the tartan of the clan that our ancestor ran away from. And since Tall One was born in Oregon and I've spent 20 years of my life in Oregon, we both chose tartans that reflect where we are from.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Growing stuff

On July 15th I shared a photo of an avocado seed that I was growing. Well, I am back with more photos of the avocado...along with photos of a second avocado, and two ginger plants.

I did have three avocados at one point. Yeah, I know it's a bunch...but a friend gave me a second one, and later when I was making some guacamole I discovered an avocado seed that was ready to grow. Unfortunately the one that my friend gave me died (I think it was a mistake to put it in soil so quickly...) so now I only have two.

And I've got the ginger because a ginger root that I got to make tea with started sprouting. Surprised the heck out of me.


My little tree is sprouting leaves! Aren't they adorable? :D


I'm not sure what this ginger plants is doing, but it's also cute.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Of insomnia, donuts, and coffee

One word: insomnia.

Last night I went to bed at about 1am. I should have gotten to bed slightly earlier I guess, but oh well. I'm a night bird.

A couple hours later I was still awake, and finally figuring out that I had a problem. I was not happy.

Why couldn't insomnia hit me on a night when I have to stay up late to finish an essay?? Why did it have to strike on a night when I want my sleep??? If I'd been trying to finish up a school assignment I would have welcomed it! But no, that's not how insomnia works. *pout*

By the way, I have had trouble with insomnia in the past. I'll go through times when I need meds to get to sleep at a reasonable time, and times when I don't. It's been quite some time since my last case of insomnia, however, and I can't even remember when it was.

Anyways, I gave up trying to sleep at 4am, and got up. I showered, read, finally started getting tired at about 5:30am, went to bed, and was asleep by 6am. Incidentally, 6am is when the sun rose. Then mom woke me up at about 10:30am.

FOUR hours of sleep. There's been one other time when I was awake for the sunrise due to insomnia, and I would have preferred to keep to my record of once.

Fortunately my day started getting better when I got out of bed.

Yesterday I'd suggested that we get donuts for breakfast today, and it was because of that suggestion that mom got me out of bed. She drove me over to the local donut place and gave me money.

I got a dozen donuts, priced at $9.50. This place likes to throw in donut holes for free, but this time they also gave me an extra donut, saying that it was some kind of special. Then when I gave them $10 in payment, I received $1.10 in change. I was rather surprised, but figured that the donut guy must be in a good mood. Or he thought I was good looking. :)

Moral of the story: support your local donut shop.

On the way home mom and I stopped someplace for coffee. I didn't pay attention to what my mom ordered, instead trying to find a particular cold coffee drink on the menu. When I couldn't find it I just went with my regular (small vanilla latte) and figured that I'd get what I'd wanted another time.

Then when they handed us our drinks mom and I each made a discovery -- I discovered that she'd ordered for herself what I'd wanted, and she discovered that they'd put whip cream on it. Mom likes whip cream but her stomach can't take it anymore, so she requested that they remake it without the whip cream. Practical me, I suggested that we just trade drinks. Everyone won that way. They didn't have to remake the drink, I got what I wanted, and mom discovered that she likes vanilla lattes.

I guess that the moral of the coffee story is that you should go for coffee when you get donuts, because good things will happen.

Maybe the overall moral of the post is that if you have a bad case of insomnia you should go for donuts and coffee the next morning, and you'll be cheered up.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Interesting travel experience

Have you ever noticed that when you travel, people like to ask where you're from when they notice you're not from their town?

My answer to this question is usually simple: Portland. Whenever I go to a Highland Game or to the Oregon coast, this is all the answer I need to give, because people immediately know where I'm talking about. And yes, people at the Highland Games know where Portland is even when we're in Seattle or all the way up in Canada.

But of course if I travel to some places, I need to specify what state Portland is in. That's to be expected when I travel far from home, like to Hawai'i. But I don't expect it in my own state!

This is something that I didn't share about my trip to Ashland. I guess I didn't share it because there was so much to share and I preferred to share other stuff. But right now there isn't enough to write about, and this still seems funny, so I've finally gotten around to it.

Ashland isn't shown on this map. This particular map only shows the big cities in Oregon and Washington, and I chose it because all the other maps were confusing to look at...at least, they seemed that way to me. Anyways, Ashland is in the southwest corner of Oregon. More south and more west than Crater Lake.

So now that you know the lay of the land, let me add in this extra detail: roughly half of the population of Oregon is concentrated in the general Portland area. So I don't think I'm being conceited when I expect all Oregonians to know about Portland.

And yet, when I told the people in Ashland that I'm from Portland, they asked "Portland? Where's that?" The two words "northern Oregon" were all they needed to hear to suddenly remember Portland, but I was still weirded out.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Too funny...

This is too funny. Even if you aren't a drinker, watch it. Even if you can't stand the taste of beer (like me), you can still laugh over this.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

iThingies are cool

I had to take my mom's iPhone away from her at the dinner table.

Don't parents generally take their kids' phones away from them at dinner, not the other way around??

And while I'm on the subject of iThingies...

Tall One got an iPad yesterday. It's really neat. There's one game in it that I like: Dizzypad.

You can play it single player, but there's also a battle version of it that's two player. That's how I've played it -- two player, against Tall One. And a little against mom, though she isn't as hard to beat as Tall One.

Each person controls a frog, and by tapping your side of the screen you can make your frog hop. (Tapping your opponents side of the screen makes their frog jump, but I don't recommend trying that if your opponent is like my brother.) The Lily pads that the frogs sit on spin at varying speeds, and all you have to do to change direction is wait for the frog to point where you want to go. And the goal of the game? To eat the other person's frog by jumping on the same Lily pad that they're on. The frogs even get reincarnated, so you can eat your opponent's frog multiple times! And each time you eat the other person's frog, your own frog gets bigger. :]

It's really cute, and fun. Tall One and I even started naming the frogs. The two in this picture that I found online are Chocolate and Frogs Legs. I think you can figure out which is which.

I haven't done anything else with Tall One's iPad, but I know he's having fun with the other stuff on it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I love ginger tea

Just giving a heads up -- in this post I'll be talking about some rather feminine problems. If anyone would prefer to skip this post, I'll understand.

A few months ago Magaly over at
Pagan Culture told about how she used to suffer from crippling menstrual cramps, but not anymore. Her secret? Ginger tea.

I virtually always have menstrual cramps with my periods, and since they can be quite nasty at times I decided to give ginger tea a try. I started drinking ginger tea daily (which may be more often than really necessary), and lo and behold! My next couple or so periods were cramp free. Is that awesome, or what?

Then, I guess due to forgetfulness, I stopped drinking the tea. The result is that today I am suffering from menstrual cramps, and am promising myself to fix ginger tea when I get home from my local library, which is where I'm writing this post.

In case anyone is curious, here's how I make the tea.

Ingredients:

*Approx 1/2 inch of ginger root, sliced into thin pieces
*Small handful of mint leaves (optional)

Instructions:

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Place the ginger and any other herbs in the water. Turn the heat down, and simmer for 28 minutes. You can drink some immediately, and store the rest in the fridge.

You can experiment with adding other herbs to the tea, just like I like to add mint. One you might like to try is lemon thyme, which compliments the ginger nicely. But I prefer the mint. :)


Do you have any tricks of your own to deal with menstrual cramps? Or if you're a guy, do you know what the women in your lives do to ward off the cramps?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bagpipes

The world pipe band championships was today. I wish I could say that I attended it, but unfortunately I don't quite have the money to travel to Scotland. However...

...the good news is that it was it was broad casted live via web cam!

The bad news is that the competitions started at about 1am my time.

Originally I wasn't got to stay up late to watch. But then I started playing with my spinning wheel, and didn't feel like going to bed. So I listened to the first couple hours of competition before going to bed at 3:30am. (And I spun a ball of yarn.)

Tall One, on the other hand, stayed up and watched the entire competition, which lasted about 11 hours -- until noon hour time. And then he didn't go to bed until 9:30 this evening. Mom watched most of it with Tall One, but she did actually nap before and after (and during) the web cast.

There are three pipe bands I'd like to talk about.


Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band

They are from British Columbia in Canada. Despite them being from a different country, they're considered to be sort of one of the local bands because they attend all the same Highland Games that my family does. They're a grade one band, which is the highest level that any band can get.

They competed three times during the course of the day, the first time being just an hour into the competition. So I did get to see them. They played well, and took 12th overall.

I haven't tended to pay much attention to this band (I've sort of favored Portland Metro Pipe Band and Simon Frazer) but they are darned good.


Simon Frazer University Pipe Band

This band took first for the last two years at the worlds championship. This year they took fourth. I hate to say it, but I sort of wonder if they sabotaged themselves.

They're another "local" pipe band -- also from BC, Canada -- and I've seen them compete. Well, at the Seattle Games just three weeks ago, their drum core took second place (Triumph Street's drum core took first) on the first day of competition, even though the band took first overall. That sometimes happens, that the drum core takes second but the pipes do so well that the band takes first.

Instead of saying "Ok, we could have done better, but we still did really well. Now, let's work on the drumming!" the guy in charge of the band started balling out individual musicians in public. I didn't see it myself, but I got it from people I trust.

Maybe this had nothing to do with them taking fourth this year. I can't help but wonder, though.

And...

I hadn't known, but there's another competition for drum majors. SFU's drum major won that this year, at the world championships. That's an award for an individual, not the band, but I think they'll still be happy to know that their drum major is the best.


St. Laurence O'Tool Pipe Band

This is one that I hadn't heard of until today, when Tall One told me (when I finally got out of bed this afternoon) that they had taken first.

They're from Ireland, and this year marks the 100th year that they have been in existence. Apparently they celebrated their 100th birthday by partying for three days.

I guess the Irish really know how to have fun.

And my guess would be that they're partying right now, since they're the new world champions.

:)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Random things

You know the phrase "sharing is caring"? That doesn't apply to germs, viruses, etc.

My mom had an upset gut a couple days ago, Tall One's gut was upset yesterday, and now it's my turn. Agh.

It's actually not that bad, though, so long as I sit still. And judging from how it was for mom and Tall One, it should go away pretty quickly.

....................

I have a question for my Pagan followers, concerning my new Etsy shop.

I'd like Dragonfly's Laughter to be a shop that Pagans might go to for Pagan stuff, in addition to all the other stuff I've already got. With that in mind, I'd like to ask the following questions:

1) Do you have recommendations for where I can buy beads or charms that are Pagan themed? They would be helpful in making Pagan jewelry.

2) Anything in particular you'd like to see in my shop? Ideally it would involve using a skill that I already have, like needlework or crochet.

By the way, if non-Pagans also want to make suggestions, I'm open to those too. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Photos from the Games

I haven't been online much recently, which means that I haven't been blogging (or reading your blogs) much recently. But I am here today, and I would like to share some photos from the Seattle Highland Games, which were also the last games of the Highland season.


Simon Frazer University Pipe Band, practicing.

They were named the best pipe band in the whole entire world the last two years running. And I'm lucky enough to have them competing in my neighborhood! ("My neighborhood" meaning The Great Northwest in this case -- they're actually from Canada, so they are hardly in my neighborhood in the usual sense of the word.)

Sports in the foreground, bagpipeing in the background.


The ancient game of shinty. Unless I'm mistaken (which I could be) it originated in Scotland.


And here we have people lining up for massed bands.

The people in front of the band holding the big sticks (Tall One says they're called maces, but I like "big sticks" better) are the drum majors. They march in front of the band, and use their big sticks like a conductor uses a conducting baton...but obviously not the the same way. They raise and lower the big sticks over their heads so that the band knows the tempo, and they hold the big sticks at an angle to signal that the song is about to end. They also do other stuff with the big sticks that I think are just for show, like what you'll see in the next photo.

I had to share this photo because the drum major in training is a cute kid. Unfortunately he has some trouble...


...because his legs are so short. But time should fix that problem.


I was playing with angle here.

This is the massed band, and it stretches from one side of the photo to the other.


One of the youth bands (I forget which one) did this. I thought it was neat.


This was one of the many performers at the Seattle Games.

Just look at her guitar! Isn't it beautiful?


I found this rather amusing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Haggis

I realized today that I haven't reported on whether or not I ate haggis at the last Highland Games, and if so, what I thought of it.

I did try haggis, and it was good. A little unusual, and somewhat spicy, but definitely good. I expect that I'll seek it out again at future Highland Games...if the long lines for it don't deter me. *groan* I guess it's a popular lunch at the Games, because the lines for it tended to be long.

And while I'm on the subject of haggis, I just wanted to share a photo of the tips jar at the booth I got it from.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Life

I'm not sure where I want to go in my life, what I want to do with my life, and I feel like I'm sort of floundering. But I guess that everyone flounders at some point or other. Isn't it normal?

I came within an inch of leaving Marylhurst and returning to PCC. I actually sit down today to e-mail my advisor in the English program telling her about my decision, but found that I couldn't. Yeah, I really liked the idea of going to PCC and getting a degree -- or a certificate, one or the other -- that would allow me to be a library assistant, but I found I couldn't. Rather than write that e-mail, I went outside to sit in the grass and think.

I'm still not sure what I'm going to do. There is a part of me that wants to return to PCC and get that certificate (or degree) that would allow me to be a library assistant, since I do love libraries. For reasons I'd rather not post on this blog, I feel like that would be my safer option.

But I also love Marylhurst, and I want to remain an English major there.

I'll talk to my advisor. Perhaps that will give me an idea of what I want to do. At the moment I'm leaning towards staying at Marylhurst, but this morning I was convinced that I would be returning to PCC.

We'll see.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yummy

I just randomly wanted to share a cake that Tall One made this evening. I've said before that he's a good cook, but I'll say it again. :)




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A new favorite singer

I have a new favorite singer: Colin Grant-Adams. I discovered him this weekend because he was performing at the Highland Games I was attending. I think I may want to get a couple of his CDs (fortunately I think I can get them cheap second hand on Amazon.com!) but I also found him on YouTube, and I'd like to share a couple of his songs here.

The first one, The Lone Piper, is a true story: a bagpiper promised his best friend to play for him on his birthday, but then the friend went off to war and was killed. The piper kept his promise despite the fact that his friend was dead -- he went to the graveyard and played on the friend's birthday. In fact, he did this year after year.




Did you know that Scotland the Brave has lyrics to it? I did, but I'd never heard a singer perform the song until this weekend.