Barbara's Random Thoughts

Wednesday, March 31, 2004


There is a new boy in my life.

More specifically, a new nephew, who arrived this morning at 2:17 a.m., sharing MY birthday. So he's gotta be a cool kid. =)

Comments from his sisters:
Emily: "He's cute, even if he is a boy."
Hannah (apparently repeatedly): "Can I hold my brudder again?"
Rebekah: Had a LOT to say, as always, and I didn't catch half of it, since I was on the freeway driving to work. Love that kid.
| posted by Barbara | 7:15 PM |

Happy Day

Happy birthday to me!

Send birthday greetings my way!
| posted by Barbara | 7:08 PM |

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Time for another quiz....

What Wonder of the Ancient World Are You?

You are the Tomb of King Maussollos!

Private and reclusive, you just want to be left alone. Although you do enjoy good conversation, you tend to avoid confrontations and keep an emotional distance. As the Tomb of Maussollos, you are very precise in your work and daily living and strive to keep out of other peoples business. Youre a good listener, and you strive to find logical solutions to your own and other persons problems. Very indecisive, you tend to analyze yourself into inactivity.

What Wonder of the Ancient World are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
| posted by Barbara | 7:05 PM |

Guess what Wednesday is?

Yes, yes, I know it's Descartes' birthday. But what else is on Wednesday?

No, really, guess. I want to feel loved. =)
| posted by Barbara | 2:24 AM |

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

What year is it again?

Heh heh. Take a look at my March 16th post below. Specifically at the words "copier battle of 2006." I knew this was going to happen sometime, I just hadn't realized I'd already done it in writing. Because of our editorial schedule, I'm constantly 2 years ahead. Right now, we're reviewing and revising books for the 2006 copyright year. The books I'm sending into production now are our books for 2005. I frequently have to stop and think about what year it is, because 2004 sounds so...two years ago.

One of these days I'm going to write a check and date it 2006 without even thinking. I can just see myself trying to explain that one to my credit card company.
| posted by Barbara | 12:27 AM |

Where to live...

I've been randomly browsing apartment listings today. My 6-month lease will be up soon (can it really have been that long?!), and I'm suffering from the grass-is-greener syndrome. Plus, I went to a friend's apartment in Mountain View last night and I'm jealous now. For things like a patio and a garbage disposal and more room for bookshelves.

Anyway, check these out. For only $795/month, I could rent an apartment with "new pain." How great is that? Or, I could live on a boat in Half Moon Bay! Seriously, the whole living on a boat thing has a certain charm. The commute to work would suck, driving across the peninsula from Half Moon Bay every morning would not be fun. But when people asked me where I lived, I could say, "On a boat." And that has infinite conversation value. But alas, where would I put all my books?
| posted by Barbara | 12:08 AM |

Monday, March 22, 2004

Scary Department Page

Confession: I ripped off this link from my coworker, Anne, who just sent it to me with the following comment:

"is she lady macbeth? or is she just another disgruntled carroll college student?"

You decide.
| posted by Barbara | 9:29 PM |

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Two Poems

Heather said something a while ago that I've been turning over in the back of my head recently: "I wish there was just one thing that I was really good at." That really resonated for me, because I SO often feel that way. Like I'm mediocre at a lot of things. Like I'm not good enough at any one thing, and therefore, just flat out not good enough.

That line of thought reminded me of the first of these poems. I looked it up tonight, in this blank book I used throughout jr. high and high school to write down poems that meant a lot to me. I discovered that right after it, I had copied in the Naomi Shihab Nye poem "Famous." I didn't intend it at the time, but it's a rather apt pairing. In any case, it reminded me tonight of what's really important, especially when I feel like I'm not good enough.

"A Hot Property"
Ronald Wallace

I am not. I am
an also-ran,
a bridesmaid, a finalist,
a second-best bed. I am
the one they could have just
as easily given it to
but didn't.
I'm a near miss, a close second,
an understudy, a runner-up.
I'm the one who was just
edged, shaded, bested, nosed out.
I made the final cut,
the short list,
the long deliberation.
I'm good, very good,
but I'm not good enough.
I'm an alternate, a back-up,
a very close decision,
a red ribbon, a handshake,
a glowing commendation.
You don't know me.
I've a dozen names,
all honorably mentioned.
I could be anybody.

Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence
is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous
to the one who carries it
and not at all famous
to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous
in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole,
not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot
what it could do.

Both poems originally taken from The Place My Words Are Looking For.
| posted by Barbara | 9:19 AM |

Friday, March 19, 2004

Fill in the blank...

They're doing this over at the I Love Books message board, something I've recently gotten hooked on. I think I'm actually going to send this out as one of those email surveys to a bunch of people (gasp!), but I finished it up last night and thought I'd post it here first.

1. I'm currently reading: So Many Books, So Little Time
2. Next I'll read: Probably The Tale of Despereaux or Tunneling. Although tonight for some odd reason I began craving some chick lit a la Coffee and Kung Fu.
3. The best book I read in the past year was: Definitely East of Eden. Disclaimer: I'm taking this to mean so far in 2004, because to go back a full year would just give me too many options!
4. The book I'm most looking forward to reading is: the next Harry Potter! (It's an addiction, I tell you!) A little closer on the horizon--the next Jasper Fforde: Something Rotten, due out Aug. 2004.
5. My favorite author is: This is so difficult. It's almost as bad as asking: "What's your favorite book?" Across the board, maybe Madeleine L'Engle. But I have a soft spot for L.M. Montgomery and Roald Dahl. And while I'm in children's lit, Katherine Paterson and Lois Lowry. And of course, J.R.R. Tolkien. I love Jasper Fforde, but don't know if I can pin "favorite" on him yet. Then there's Wilde and Dickens and George Eliot and...yeah. Like I said, hard question.
6. My favorite book from childhood is: The BFG, or the Ramona books.
7. My favorite book from when I was a teenager is: The whole Anne of Green Gables series.
8. The first western I read was: I don't think I've ever read a western. Unless perhaps I can count Indian in the Cupboard as a western?
9. The first romance I read was: Probably something cheesy and young adult that was completely forgettable. Which is why I can't come up with a title.
10. The first mystery I read was: I read a lot of mysteries as a kid, but I totally don't remember titles or authors. No Nancy Drew, though.
11. The first coming-of-age story I read was: Oh, gosh, I don't know what the first one was. I'll just go with favorite coming-of-age story...Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. Man, these "first" questions are killing me. I need to browse in the children's section of either the library at Lakenheath AFB or the City of Ely public library, then maybe I could refresh my memory.
12. The first "ethnic" writer I read was: Maybe Mildred D. Taylor and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry? I'm not sure. I guess it depends on your definition of "ethnic." There was a book I distinctly remember reading at a very young age about a little girl in Africa, but I can't for the life of me remember the name of it, or even the name of the little girl in the book. It was red, though, and it was a small cloth covered hardback, with a worn, threadbare cover. I can remember the exact look of the book and the illustrations in it, and I kind of think the girl's name started with a K. But that's all I remember. Funny the memories that come flooding back!
13. The first science-fiction/fantasy book I read was: Chronicles of Narnia, or maybe something by E. Nesbit, I don't remember which I read first.
14. I wish I spent more time reading: non-fiction.
15. The book I think was the greatest waste of my time to read was: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne.
16. The person who most encouraged me to read was: Frances Bright, childhood best friend and fellow bookworm. Or my mother, who taught me to read so early on that I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't know how to read.
17. The book I'm embarrassed to admit I liked is: The entire collected works of Janette Oke--cheesy Christian romances I read in jr. high/high school and totally loved at the time. More recently: Bridget Jones' Diary, but I'm not too embarrassed by that, really.
18. I think people could be encouraged to read through: Movies. Seriously. It sounds like a travesty to say it! But people are often much more willing to read the book either before, or right after they watch the movie version. Also, I think recommending just the right book (and having it actually get read) is one of the best ways to get someone reading in the future.
19. My current favorite genre is: Oh, goodness. Whatever I'm reading at the time, if I'm enjoying it, so right now: books about reading books.
20. The one book that I'd recommend to almost anyone is: To Kill a Mockingbird
| posted by Barbara | 7:47 PM |

Small mind…

...simple pleasures.

I rearranged my cubicle at work yesterday. Well, as much as you can really rearrange a cubicle...I moved a bookshelf. Still, it made me happy! I even swiped a chair from the humanities conference room, since I now have room for one. It looks much homier in here now!

And, yesterday afternoon I had to photocopy a partial manuscript. Since our lame copier here in the humanities wing seems determined to jam every 10 or 20 pages, I had to stand there and babysit the copier. But I brought a book and snuck in another chapter of So Many Books, So Little Time while I did my copying. Whee!
| posted by Barbara | 6:47 PM |

Thoughts on East of Eden

I don't quite know how to even summarize this book. It really is the story of one man's life--but it's a sprawling story. It follows the life story of Adam Trask and his family, and interweaves the stories of the people who shape Adam and his children throughout their lives. Can I just say--if you're gonna read it, don't read the reviews on Amazon that give a synopsis of the main events in the book!! Grrr. (That's what you get when you click on the Oprah's Book Club version of the title...not the only reason I link elsewhere...) I went into my reading having heard people say they'd really enjoyed the book, but not knowing much about it. And really, that's enough. There's not a huge plot hook to draw you in, but East of Eden is a really, really good book.

What stands out to me is the way the main characters are so fully developed. Yet Steinbeck does this so slowly throughout the course of the narrative, that I didn't think about it until I finished the book and realized how well I knew each of the characters. I loved so many of them--Lee, Adam, Aron, Abra, Cal. Often, I was frustrated with them and yet I felt like I loved and understood them at the same time. There are so many parallels in the family relationships--between brothers and fathers and sons--and yet each relationship is very much distinct and different.

Anna (one of our assistant editors) asked me if it was depressing...classic question for a Steinbeck novel...and I have to say no very emphatically. If I gave a run-down of some of the many horrible things that happen throughout the novel, I guess you might think it was depressing, but the book is by no means heavy in tone. I felt like it was overwhelmingly hopeful.

Yes, there are parallels to be made between the generations of Adam's family and the family of the biblical Adam...there are themes of good and evil...but what interested me the most was the recurring idea of growth, formation, and influence--who and what a man can become, and why. "Timshel--thou mayest!"
| posted by Barbara | 12:27 AM |

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Lots of Weekend Stuff

On Friday, I left work at about 2:30 and headed to LA for the weekend. I left about an hour earlier than planned, thanks to my very nice boss, but no thanks to the idiotic copiers (count them, FOUR!!!!) that were determined to jam, refuse to copy, skew, blur, and otherwise mangle the documents I had to get copied before leaving. Anyway, after the copier battle of 2006, I was off for a nice long 6 ½ hour drive to my parents' house. I kept myself amused by listening to all three LOTR soundtracks in succession, and with phone calls from Heather, Laurie Winkler (formerly Irwin), and David Seruyange.

David & Dianna came up from San Diego as well, so we just had a big family bash on Saturday, celebrating my mom’s birthday, Hannah’s birthday, and my birthday. Saturday night, Heather came over and joined my family for games, and we had a great time playing Apples to Apples for about three hours! I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.

The main reason I headed home for the weekend was to be part of the 25th anniversary celebration for Paul Krake at Green Hills. Church on Sunday was a great time of remembering fun Paul memories (and hairstyles) and thinking back on how much he and his family mean to me. Because it was Paul’s anniversary, there were not only the regular church folks, but also quite a few old-time members visiting from out of town. It was so great to see everyone!! Green Hills really is home for me, and I really miss my church family there.

Fun stories about people’s changed appearance:
-Heather looks AMAZING!!! She seriously has lost a "small child" in weight….and she looks SO great. What struck me when I first saw her on Saturday was that she looked skinnier than her sister Allison. Woohoo! (Just don’t tell Allison I said that…)
-My 3-year-old niece Hannah has a mullet. No joke. She did it herself! She took scissors to the whole front half of her hair, and it's now WAY short from the ears forward. When Nancy described it to me, I was picturing much worse, as in actual bald patches…but no, it's just a bona fide redneck mullet she's got going on. I got her a hat for her birthday, helpful aunt that I am.

Post-weekend goodies:
-I got home Sunday night to find a bonus check from work in my mailbox
-Yesterday, my federal tax refund arrived
-My latest order from Amazon also arrived yesterday (So Many Books, So Little Time and The Tale of Despereaux)
-Last night, I watched my tape of the new ALIAS from Sunday night!
| posted by Barbara | 8:15 PM |

Happy 3rd Birthday, Hannah!

Today, my niece Hannah turns three years old. She's absolutely adorable, in spite of her new self-inflicted haircut. This is the last year that she will be the youngest child in her family, because in another 2 or 3 weeks, Nancy will have another baby!
| posted by Barbara | 8:11 PM |

Monday, March 15, 2004


I'll post about my weekend later, when I'm not so tired. For now, here's a random quiz.

girl next door
You are the Girl Next Door. You're the sweet one.
The quiet one. The one that he doesn't realize
he's got until you're gone.

What Type Of Retro Gal Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Is is just me, or does the picture look just a little too sexy for the "Girl Next Door"? (Insert requisite boring/sexy joke here.)
| posted by Barbara | 9:42 PM |

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


I finished East of Eden last night. (Please note: the non-Oprah’s-Book-Club version.) Absolutely wonderful book! I'm still processing my thoughts on it, and will post more about it later.

I couldn't decide what to read next, and after glancing through a couple different options, I picked up The Soloist by Mark Salzman. I've had this book for a while but have never picked it up to actually read. I started reading the first few pages to decide if I was in the mood for it, and I got hooked. I read half the book last night. It's about a cellist who was a child prodigy, but lost his "gift" at age 18. His sense of pitch became so acute that he would be distracted during performances by any slight variations in tone. Anyway, this excerpt really amused me & I thought I'd share:
"I told her about how my sense of pitch was so strong that if even mechanical sounds were out of tune it annoyed me.
'What do you mean, mechanical sounds? You mean machines?'
'Right. If a blender is a little flat, or the neighbor's lawn mower is a little sharp, it's actually physically painful for me.'
'I guess you don't make margaritas at home that much, huh?'
'Actually, I can. I found a blender that mixes at F-sharp.'"
| posted by Barbara | 9:30 PM |

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Happy Uppity Women Day

Yes, here we go again with the random "Guess what day it is?" announcements. Today is supposedly Uppity Women Day. I thought I would acknowledge it because a few weeks ago, Lee (assistant editor) called me uppity for correcting Steve's (boss) spelling of "soiree" in an email. What made me laugh the hardest about that particular email exchange was that Lee misspelled uppity. And then Anna (other assistant editor) came back with the suggestion that Steve should consult this site for help with his French. Man, I love my team. These people are great.
| posted by Barbara | 2:44 AM |

Monday, March 08, 2004

The Weekend Summary

This was a good weekend. I feel like I got a lot done, and I also did fun stuff!

-I opened a bank account up here
-Jude called me on Saturday (woohoo!)
-I was adventurous and had sushi on Saturday night (and successfully used chopsticks for the entire meal)
-I went to a piano concert with people from church
-I actually had people to talk to between worship & Bible study at church
-I signed up for a small group Bible study
-I went to my first church choir rehearsal
-I got a CD player for my car, just in time for my trip home this coming weekend
-I spent a nice Sunday afternoon sitting in the sun, eating Baskin-Robbins Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream and reading East of Eden
-I wrote up a little thing for the memory book Bill's putting together for Paul's anniversary
-There was a new episode of ALIAS on last night!

Oh, and this wasn't over the weekend, but I want to add it anyway: last week, two of our new books arrived from the bindery—the first ones to have my name on the copyright page under Editorial Assistant! Ah, the vanity of seeing my own name in print. =)
| posted by Barbara | 9:12 PM |

Friday, March 05, 2004

Jesus in our image

I get daily book reviews from Powell's, and today's was particularly interesting: it's on a book called American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, and the review is titled The Fashion of the Christ. The review is long, but thought-provoking; it actually covers another book in its second half, but it's the first half that made me stop and think. I found it sadly correct in many ways as the early part of the article described what Jesus has been reduced to in American culture as a whole:

"The latter-day Jesus is an American optimist: good-tempered and informal, a generous Jesus sympathetic to the desires of this world."

"The amiable savior, not only personal but also personable, has pushed the traditional Father, merciful and mighty, off center stage, and with Him the formal elements of Protestant worship. Pop-inspired music for easy listening has ousted gorgeous hymns dating back to the fifteenth century; leisure wear and sneakers have supplanted Sunday best; ministerial raps have edged out liturgy."

Arguments of worship style and church attire aside, this guy’s got a point (whether we’re talking author or reviewer at this point). The book traces the way American Christianity’s view of Jesus has changed according to cultural trends in the Christian community:

“As popular culture exploded, so did the possibilities for Jesus makeovers.”

"The savior chronicled by Prothero is not a spirit whose powers ever outstrip the culture's -- although you would think that would be a job description for any divinity. Far from transcendent, Jesus is 'more a pawn than a king, pushed around in a complex game of cultural (and countercultural) chess, sacrificed here for this cause and there for another.'"

I'm intrigued and saddened by this penchant we have for serving a Jesus of our own making: "American Jesus is interested in the country's singular mix of whimsy, obliviousness to theological complexity, and spiritual lust that has created a Son able to serve many -- 'the man that nobody hates' in Prothero's phrase." I know I myself am guilty of this—of creating my own version of Jesus rather than earnestly seeking who He really is.

I don't want to fall into making Jesus into my own image—of using the name of Christ to justify my own agenda. I don’t want to serve an idea I have of Jesus, a Jesus I create; I want the real Jesus.

This all brings me back to a sentence prayed at a church I recently visited: "May we seek Your will, instead of seeking that You bless our will."
| posted by Barbara | 3:19 AM |

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Ffordian Ffun

I can't believe I forgot to mention this in my earlier round-up of random events I hadn't discussed--I went to a Jasper Fforde reading & signing on Saturday in San Mateo! It totally made my weekend. Fforde's books are like extended inside jokes for the well-read. They're hilariously packed with so many literary references that I feel like I need to read more books just to get all the stuff I didn't catch the first time around! His writing is incredibly clever and creative, and he's the same in person. I had a great time hearing him talk about his writing, his books, and other random tangents.

What I love about his writing is one of the things he talked about—being intrigued with the idea of making connections between books. He does this in so many ways—using characters from classic literature in his own stories, making references to other classic books, and actually writing material to fill in bits of other books: like writing the context for some of the Cheshire cat's non sequiturs or answering the Mad Hatter's question of "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?" (The answer being "Because there's a B in both.")

There's a passage in The Well of Lost Plots where Thursday uses the footnoterphone to try and communicate with one of the characters in a book she’s currently reading, A Dark and Stormy Night. Fforde said that someday he's going to publish that book, and on page 200, that character will randomly say, "Did someone call my name?" and there will be a footnote of Thursday, calling his name. I love this stuff.

Kristy currently has my copies of Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots, and some bookstores are weird about people bringing in books to be signed (they want you to buy THEIR copies…), so I stupidly left my lone Fforde (The Eyre Affair) at home. But at the end of his talk, Jasper (can I call him Jasper?!) said "I'm happy to sign anything you've brought!" And, he had mentioned some of the updates he made to the US edition (including a bonus extra chapter)…so I gave in and bought the US edition of WLP for Kristy, and had it signed. For Kristy, that is. I then explained that Kristy had borrowed my copies, and told him I would try to get her to come to the LA signing to get my copies signed! It was so cool, his girlfriend was standing there, and she said, "Ok, we'll have to remember that…Kristy is bringing books to be signed for Barbara!" Kristy made the trek to San Diego yesterday to go to a signing in La Jolla, so I shall get my signed book yet. I still have to check and see if Jasper remembered me when Kristy handed over my book to be signed!

After the weekend and being reminded of how much fun Fforde's books are, I've become obsessed yet again. I need to re-read all three! After I finish East of Eden, that is...
| posted by Barbara | 12:12 AM |

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Overdue blogging...

I haven’t blogged in ages. My life has been really busy for the last week and a half, both at home and at work, so I just haven’t done anything on here! Um, let’s see. Various updates, not necessarily in chronological order!

Two weekends ago:
I had dinner with a couple of girls who were English majors at Biola a little while before I transferred there. It was cool to compare Biola English department stories and have some good book conversation. After dinner, I rushed off to the YAF Retreat with PBC. I went into it knowing hardly anybody, but I met a lot of great people over the weekend. It’s really a fun group of people! They'll be forming some new small groups in the coming weeks, so I feel like the timing is really right for me to jump in with this group. I'm looking forward to getting more involved, since YAF's pretty large.

Fun stuff: the retreat of course included the requisite dumb skits and opportunities to look stupid in front of large groups of people. Most elaborate of these was the YAF version of American Idol. It was hilarious, they had a host calling himself Ryan Piecrust and the judges were Peter Abdullah (who gave everyone a score of 10), "Simone" (female, you see), and guest judge William "Hunk" of "She Bangs" fame. The rest of us were in teams and each team had to pick a song to perform, complete with dance moves. Our team, consisting of three girls and 6 guys, did “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and the guys got totally into it. Kinda scary. But not as scary as the other team who stole our song…they had guys in makeup. With purses. Singing falsetto. THAT was scary.

It's funny, because my main purpose for the weekend was to get to know people, rather than any spiritual reason. Not that I didn't expect to hear from God, it's just that I didn't go looking for any deep revelations. But Sunday was really a wonderful time of worship and God speaking to me about some things that I've been struggling with for a while—about missions and what role that will play in my future, and the tension I feel between the now of publishing and the desire to serve in overseas missions at some point.

What else…
The Oscars were fun on Sunday. Go LOTR!! I got together with some coworkers to watch and we had fun making fun of some of the fashions as well as predicting winners. I didn’t do so well on that. Darn documentary categories. I made Heather’s vacuum cleaner bars for the event, and they were a bit hit. We had some interesting conversations about politics during the course of the afternoon. They were blown away by the fact that I’m a Republican. Laryssa commented “I don’t think I’ve ever met a real live Republican before!” And Anne said, “It makes sense, though, cause you’re really Christian, right?” Hee hee. Then Laryssa asked me what my views were on gay marriage. It's funny, because my beliefs are really SO very different from theirs, and it's weird to have so little common ground to start from to discuss some of these things. It was a good conversation, though, and it’s been good to share a bit of who I am and what I believe as I get to be closer friends with these girls.

A while ago, but I didn’t mention it here:
I got the time off to go to Wales this summer with the team from Green Hills!! I’ve even booked my flight, since I found an amazing deal on the web…the internet is a wonderful thing. I’m really looking forward to this trip. I know it’ll be a bit of stretching for me this year, since my mom has asked me to teach a group of my own rather than just co-teaching with her. Kinda scares me, but it’ll be good.

This is getting hella long. Hee hee! I had an elaborate discussion with some people at retreat about the word “hella,” apparently widely used by San Jose high school students. So using it myself makes me laugh. Anyway. Enough of this; I’m off!
| posted by Barbara | 10:02 PM |