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Moved! March 28, 2006

Posted by nebulon in Uncategorized.
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Since Mark has help me set up hosting my domain, I have moved to
http://thenebulonfry.com please go there!

The best things in life are … March 26, 2006

Posted by nebulon in paradox, personal.
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 This picture-taken with my mobile phone and its built effects function-is the embodiment of my car’s ultimate purpose: infant slumber chamber. Those of you with children will undoubtedly know what I am talking about. My wife was getting a haircut, and the kids were finally fast asleep after the prerequisite 20 minute drive to no particular destination. In this luxurious moment of respite, I sat there wondering what I would write this evening. Would I have to post the empty post of my empty mind? Although I thank Michael for the warm welcome, I can’t help but feel that I’ve been erroneously called up from triple A by an absent minded scout. I suppose this betrays a certain conceit that someone is actually at the ball park watching the game…
I think the best thing I can do right now is share this feeling with one of my good friends, Hamish Parker. Hamish, welcome a bored. aboard.

My neighbor returned from a long trip to the US. He brought back an excellent gift, the complete Chronicles of Narnia in one large tome. My family and his went to see the movie together a few months ago and he knew that these were very special books for me. My step-dad gave me a set when I was 10 and they made me love reading. I read them over and over again, something I have rarely done.
I have another friend, Kevin, with whom I had a discussion about the apparent Christian subtext in this work by Lewis. Kevin sent me an article by Jessica Seigel of The New York Times. This is how she closes:

While critics today call it “fallacy” to interpret a work by citing the author’s intentions, Lewis left a road map for us marked with special instructions for not annoying children. In his essay “Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to Be Said,” he denounced as “moonshine” the idea that he wrote the Narnia chronicles to proselytize the young. The lion Aslan, he wrote, bounded into his imagination from his experience as a Christian, coming to him naturally as should all good writing.
“Let the pictures tell you their own moral,” he advised in “On Three Ways of Writing for Children.” “If they don’t show you a moral, don’t put one in.”
In keeping with that advice, the Narnia chronicles don’t beat you on the head – nor does the faithful movie adaptation. If everyone stays on his own level – the surface for adventurers, and the depths for believers – we can all enjoy, so long as the advertisers stay out of the way.

I happen to share Ms. Siegel’s perspective. Anyway, back to my excellent gift, and excellent neighbor. Here is the inscription he wrote inside:
“To Patrick, my very good friend in hope that he really enjoys the series. By the way (italics mine) Aslan is coming back and that this fantasy very real. Your friend, _____”
My good friend is a born again minister, of course. And he is a very good friend. He is one of the kindest, warmhearted people I know. I like to be around him, even when he tries to sell me stuff I don’t want to buy. I have seen him on a few occasions diffuse a volatile or tense situation with less than 20 words. I truly admire that.
But he thinks I am going to rot in hell. Yet he loves me. The depth of his conviction requires that he try to help me, if he can. On so many levels, I find this deeply troubling. We’ve talked about it before, without actually getting anywhere substantive. I wasn’t trying to put a chink in his armor, either. That would also have been arrogant, which brings me to the point of that particular discussion. I asked him if it were possible for him to be in a relationship with me without feeling sorry for me, without pitying me, without condescending to me. As a child, I was deeply and negatively affected by certain members of my family who are born again and I don’t feel like going to the same place ever again. He assured me that it was possible, but from a logical point of view, I don’t see how it is.
But his actions towards my family and I, his genuine kindness, and the way I feel around him all point to this paradoxical conclusion: My friend loves me, believes I will burn unless I accept Christ as my one true savior, will continue to softly point me in the right direction all the while accepting me as I am.
Ceci n’est pas une pipe.

dang formatting March 24, 2006

Posted by nebulon in Uncategorized.
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I appologize for the bad breaks in the post below. I cant seem to get things to work naturally and intuitively. I type and sometimes it will return by itself, sometimes not. I then have to post and see where things get cut off and then try to put in returns in the right places.  It’s doing it now, see? ughh!

Ceci n’est pas un blog post! March 23, 2006

Posted by nebulon in Uncategorized.
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I fell in love with this piece when I first saw it in an art book at my uncle Jean Marie’s house. I must have been10 or 11. The unavoidable cognitive tension it produced sent me into a fit of giggles. I certainly wasn’t able to put it into words at the time, but it was as clear then as it is now. The painting invites us, quite abruptly, to deal with our perception of reality, the “genuineness” of it, the hierarchy of it. Which is more real? The painting? The meaning of the words? Or is it the idea of “pipe” in our minds? We are, most of us, predisposed to a certain arrogance concerning the real. This painting does what LSD should do, except better. It’s subtle and doesn’t leave that horrible metallic after-taste in your mouth while you grind your teeth for hours.
I am not at all sure what made me think of this tonight as I was getting ready to comment
on Mark’s last post and further developments on my side of things. Yes, I care about my work, which is something I didn’t do for many years. I feel like I’ve got some catch-up to do which explains why sometimes I do things with a certain…fever. A fever which is rarely shared by my co-workers. I try to put myself in their shoes, but they never quite fit.
Last week, the other teacher who has some CALL classes (I am the coordinator for this department) came up with a good assignment for 2nd year students: A PowerPoint presentation on one or more environmental issues. This will be the 2nd PowerPoint presentation this year. I immediately thought it would be an even better idea if the presentation by the students is done during one of their ESL classes.
The students use up precious CALL class time over the next 3 weeks–which is only 1 class a week–to get it all done, then use up 2 of the 6 weekly ESL hours some time in the future to do it in the swank audiovisual room, with a big screen,mike and dim lights. All the ESL teacher has to do is sit there and give them a grade. They can use it as their oral grade, which counts for 10% of some portion of their final grade (for a class whose grades everyone knows are meaningless, but my CALL class grades are even more meaningless…) This way, the kids will be motivated 10% instead of their usual 5%, and the teachers wont have to do those meaningless passage readings masquerading as an oral test.
Well, the grumbling that ensued. Even the teacher who thought up the assignment grumbled, thinking she would get “stuck” having to help the other teachers set up in the audiovisual room. But, to give her credit, she did come round and help me “sell” the idea at our weekly staff meeting. So, as you can see, I am far from reaching my goal of implementing anything, except, it would seem, a hot poker up my co-workers’ pipe.
Just like in the painting.