Maid Mirawyn's Photos Maid Mirawyn's Photos

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Acoustical Liberation...

Ever heard of LibriVox? It's sort of Project Gutenburg for audiobooks. The selection is still small, but it's varied. It includes Charles Dickens, the Grimm Brothers, Descartes, James Joyce, Shakespeare, and Joel Chandler Harris.

It's always a surprise. I've listened to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and some of the Grimm's Fairy Tales; the readers are all volunteers, and can change with each chapter. Some works are "solo recordings," and short works such as the individual fairy tale are recorded by one person. Though it can sometimes be a bit disconcerting to have the voice change with each chapter, all the readers I've heard have been good. (Surprisingly, the changing voices work for Alice...)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

got suno?

If you don't live in Atlanta or Korea, my condolences. No Suno for you! And life without Suno just isn't complete!

What's Suno, you ask? Well, they call it "shaved ice cream," but I think it's more like sweetened vanilla snow, topped with all sorts of wonderful stuff. Apparently it's a new twist on "Pappinsu," which is quite popular in Korea.

So far, I've had Ko Ko Koffee, with coffee syrup, coffee jellies, and "puddings," and Puddin' Pudding, with chocolate syrup and puddings. The puddings are incredible: tiny little flans, really. I'm not really sure what the PINK puddings are, but they are delicious, too. Ko Ko Koffee is my favorite.

So if you are in Atlanta, check out Suno. It's in front of Super H Mart on Pleasant Hill Road, in Duluth. And if you're of the female persuasion, stop by on a Wednesday night: 20% off for ladies!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

One show down, one to go...

Well, our first show was last night. Not too bad, really. We laughed, we cried, we danced with Nicola and random strangers.

I was serious about the crying, by the way. The tribute to Caroline went great, I think. It's the only time I have EVER danced without smiling and not gotten reprimanded. But it wasn't too serious, sappy, or sad, either, and Saroya and Sarah scheduled one of the beginner students with a really upbeat, light-hearted number right after us.

I really do a much better job dancing with props. We did fans, and it was so much less nerve-wracking than it would have been. Fans, swords, candles, tambourines, baskets, canes, veils...I love them all! Except zills. Zills are evil incarnate.

By the way, did you know you can practice double fan to White and Nerdy? Now you know...

Monday, October 23, 2006

I can't believe I'm doing this...

Well, my dance troop, Seshambeh Dance Company in Atlanta, is part of a twice-yearly show at Nicola's Restaurant in the Emory area. This year, we're doing a tribute to my friend Caroline Moulder as our group number. Did I mention we are each doing a very short solo as part of it?

Yeah, you heard me right. A...solo...ME. Sure, it's really, really short, but for me, it's still a miracle. Oh, and I left out the part where we do TWO shows this year! So I guess you know where I'll be December 4 and December 11. And in the MIDDLE of those is the church's Christmas show.

And it's too late to back out now! I have the tickets to sell and everything. And the group choreography is already broken into solo sections, so no backing out of that, either. Did I mention the part where I said I MIGHT do a solo—a REAL solo—in June? Yeah, I've done it now. But one performance at a time...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Knitting made easy

Really, really easy. My mother-in-law and I joined a knitting prayer group at my church. To get into it, I picked up a knitting loom, recommended by my friend Jenlar. It's called the Knifty Knitter, and it's so easy I can't believe it! Do you know what you do? You wrap the yarn around pegs. Then you use a pick to pull the bottom loops over the top loops. Then you wrap more yarn, and repeat.

Still not convinced? Well, get this! I started out on Sunday making a child's hat. I finished it Monday. On Tuesday, I started a lacy-looking scarf for someone who I can't name. I finished it tonight...all six feet of it! I have to add the fringe; that is IT!

I took photos, but it's late, so I'll have to add them later.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In Memory of Caroline Moulder

This is the saddest post I have ever made. It's been over a month, but I still don't know if I can get through this without crying, so bear with me.

On July 26, 2006, in Afghanistan, a very sweet, beautiful young woman named Caroline lost her life in a helicopter accident. She was traveling with her mother Darlene and her sister Bryn to visit her dad, a civilian contractor working on base in Afghanistan.

Caroline was a wonderful person and a true joy to know. She was always kind and always exhuberant. She and her mother and sister were active members of their church in Midtown Atlanta. Caroline had just graduated from Grady High School and would have started at the University of Georgia last month.

My fondest, clearest memories are of her and her best friend Kate joking around in class. Whenever we were working on a particularly difficult combination or routine, we could always count on them to remain upbeat. Together, they were a blast. The loss of Caroline makes me treasure Kate all the more.

Please pray for Kate and for Caroline's family, especially her dad. Perhaps it seems strange to ask that now, five weeks later, but I think now is when they need that prayer most. All around them life has returned to normal and settled into a new routine. But for those closest to them, the pain and emptiness left by the loss of the Moulder women won't disappear so soon.

Caroline, I can't wait to see you again. You know I'll look you up when I get to heaven.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Andy Goldsworthy, Nature, and Time

About three years ago, when I was finishing up my art degree, I took a sculpture class with Kyle Dillehay (who is definitely a very cool professor). He introduced our class to the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a truly intriguing artist.

Goldsworthy's work doesn't follow the usual course of things. He works with found natural materials, creating ephemeral works which are nevertheless breathtaking. They can be as small as a single stone, covered with petals, or a massive cairn constructed of stone. Some last only minutes; others withstand years of exposure to the elements.

I'm not entirely sure why his work so appeals to me. I love being outside, so I'm sure that's part of it. I just love God's creation; it reminds me of just how awesome He is, how far beyond us, and how blessed I am that He loves me. For me, the creative use of God's creation is truly inspiring, in a way nothing else can ever be.

The simplicity of the design is also appealing. Many of his pieces employ very basic techniques, such as stringing together leaves, sculpting sand, or stacking stones. It makes the work seem so approachable, inspiring an "I can do that!" response. I'm inspired to go outside and play, just to see what I can come up with.

But despite the simple forms, Andy Goldsworthy is a true master of design. "Simple" can mean many things; simplicity of form is not the same as "easy!" The example here uses only colored leaves, arranged in that most basic of forms, a circle. When there is so little to work with, real mastery of the principles of art is essential to create something so stunning.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

For book lovers: Read. Code. Find. Love.

Ever asked yourself, "What should I read next?" Well, so have the people at StoryCode. And this interesting little site goes far beyond the usual model to help you answer that burning question.

Yes, I know there are tons of places with user ratings for books and even user reviews. But a simple one to five rating is often pretty useless. Do I really care how many people who are totally unlike me dislike a book? No! I want to know what other people with similar tastes like! Yes, Amazon and others have "what other users like you like" feature, but it's not reliable enough.

User reviews can be more valueable, since they give more of the bigger picture. I especially love the eloquent, well-thought-out gems such as, "this book sucks, dont by it" or "this book is the best buy it now!" But really, are the six paragraph diatribes much better? It can take forever to get to the useful ones; you know, the ones that actually evaluate the book and provide you with the information necessary to make an informed decision.

So why is StoryCode better? StoryCode doesn't simply ask for a rating. Instead, the user answers a series of questions about the book, covering General Information, Genre, Characters, Plot, Plot Type, Morality ("How much does it deliver a moral message?"), Story Resolution, Setting, and Atmosphere. Typical questions are "How much is the story driven by the plot or the characters?"The last two sections are more about you : Recommendations and Demographics. (Before you stress over the demographics, it only asks age range and gender!)

StoryCode then looks at your "codes" for the book and compares your book to all the books in the database. Each book has an average value assigned to each question, which is then compared to your book. And up pops a list of similar books, complete with the average rating, a readibility rating, and the recommended minimum age!

Obviously the usefulness of StoryCode is limited by the number of codes for each title in the database. That's why you should go code some stories now!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Design help for the non-designer

It's horrible to say it, but so much of the desktop publishing I see makes me cringe! I should be easier on the non-designer forced to take on a job for which they were never trained, but it's an instinctive reaction. (After the initial cringe, though, I remember I would do at least as bad if I tried to do their jobs!)

But there is help! At Borders the other day, I spotted a great book for desktop pubishers: The Non-Designer's Design Book, by Robin Williams. (No, not THAT Robin williams; this one.)

The content is great. It reduces the principles of design to their very basics, making it approachable for someone who just does this stuff because they must. But the principles are sound, so the results are good. True, it won't turn you into a world-renowned designer, but it will make your Publisher and Word documents more professional-looking, easier to read, and more effective. (Wow, I type "Publisher" and "Word" with only the barest cringe...)

If you find yourself having to create stuff all the time, but you're never really happy with the results, head on over to Amazon and click "Look Inside." Theres' some good, useful stuff there.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Calling All Sword Angels!

Lady geeks, especially Christians, my friend Ishy has something just for you. Sword Angels, which began as a myspace group, is a wonderful site just for ladies like us. Our discussions are varied; we talk about life, being a Sword Angel, guy geeks (of course), and religion. We pray for each other and offer emotional support, but we always have time for laughs and silliness, too.

We're still a small group, but we enjoy ourselves anyway! We range in age from fourteen on up, and have both single and married members. So why not come say hey?

Friday, May 05, 2006

eLi pwnz!

I'm usually a procrastinator when it comes to my blog, but this is coming to you live from Higher Grounds Coffee House! (All right, maybe it's a bit pretentious, but it sounds better than, "I'm sitting in a coffeehouse writing this entry during the concert," doesn't it?)

My husband surprised me tonight by taking me to Higher Grounds to hear eLi perform. I've never heard him live (though he appears on the radio here often), but I'm glad we came. His songs are great–they're touching and thought-provoking, but he doesn't take himself too seriously. Plus he's absolutely hilarious!

These are some of the lyrics to my favorite song by eLi, "Things I Prayed For."

Things I prayed for when I was young
That my father would love me like his only son
That my mother would be patient with me
that my sister would not leave
And If my grandpa could see me beyond his grave
That he'd think his little man was so great
That my hair would not stick up in weird places
And I'd be someone someday

Years go by so easily that sometimes I forget
Years go by and make me see that there's no time for my regret
No time for my regret

Things I prayed for in my teens
That God would forgive all my evil deeds
That my father and my sister would come home
And mom could meet our needs
And If my grandpa could see me beyond his grave
That he'd say a prayer for his family's sake
That my hair would stick up in weird places
And I'd be someone someday

Things I pray for now in my twenties
That God would still love me and Dad would like his new family
That I could hug my sister that my mom could rest
That my wife would still melt every time we kiss
And if my grandpa has seen me beyond his grave
How cold and silent he has remained
That my hair would not fall out in weird places
And I'd be someone someday

Why did I say "eLi pwnz"? Well, let's just say I'm spending a bit too much time surrounded by male gamers these days...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Christian Gamers Alliance

SteveRacer at Fans for Christ pointed me to the Christian Gamers Alliance when I was looking for Christians to play Guild Wars with. And-yay!-I found a new guild: the Spirit of Elijah! (We're under "Guild Wars Forum", about halfway down the list of forums.)

Everyone is really nice; I've never gamed with such a generous, helpful group of people! My husband and I both play; we had been sharing an account ever since we bought Guild Wars. Well, we have so much fun doing stuff with our guild that we now have two accounts!

In case you can't tell, I love my guild! We're very active (but low pressure). For instance, last time I checked our guild list, thirty-nine guildees had logged in within the last twenty-four hours! Considering that Guild Wars limits each guild to one hundred members, including the officers, that's a lot! We're keeping a full enrollment of one hundred; right now, all our members have logged in within the past month. It's fun just to be on TeamSpeak and chat while we play, either together or separately.

But Christian Gamers Alliance has more than a Guild Wars guild. There are groups for World of Warcraft (of course), Counter-Strike, Age of Empires, Dark Age of Camelot, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life, Starcraft, Warhammer, and more. Plus general discussion and prayer and advice forum, among others. There's even a forum called "Lydia's Place," just for ladies (it's by invite only, to keep the guys out!)

So if you're a Christian interested in gaming, come one over! We would love to have you.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Podcasts for the Creative Spirit: CraftSanity

I'm ashamed to admit it now, but I ignored podcasts when they first came out. Yeah, I know, appalling for a gadget freak. But I've learned my lesson! Now I subscribe to nine of them and am reviewing a tenth.

My first podcast find was some really good Star Trek fan fic by Darker Projects, called The Section 31 Files (which I found pretty much by accident). That got me thinking about what else might be out there. So I went searching and found a couple of really great art/craft podcasts: CraftSanity and Crafty Chica.

CraftSanity's vision is really great. It's hosted by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, a journalists who relies on her creative projects to keep her sane. After successfully completing an art degree, I have come to the conclusion that art and craft don't have to be separate things. Well, I must not be as crazy as I thought (on this point at least...), because Jennifer and her guests feel the same way.

Speaking of guests, Jennifer has some great ones. I won't say that I agree with all of them on every point (and probably would disagree with them polically!), but that doesn't matter. Just listening to different artists discuss how they got where they are is incredibly inspiring–even if I have no plans to crochet an angry ear of corn or make a curse-your-boyfriend sweater (which wouldn't be my thing if I were single)! Few of these artists are working in a traditional medium, which is certainly encouraging to a book artist and wannabe weaver! (Oh, I miss my weaving class!)

By the way, most of her guests contribute a project to the site or provide a link to one. Anyone need to crochet an eyeball? Or just make a stupid sock creature, like I plan to do!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Full of 8bit geeky goodness!

I love 8bit Theatre! Some of my friends at Fans for Christ got me addicted. The first day, I read the first one hundred episodes. (So pathetic, I know.)

8bit Theatre takes a jab at everything gaming-geeky, but in a good-natured way. You name it, it's there. D&D? It's there? Trekkiedom? It's there, too. And of course the whole thing is inspired by Final Fantasy. So if you're a fan of the old 8 bit RPGs (and gaming in general) and you haven't read it, head over there right now!

By the way, my favorite character is White Mage. She's the only consciously good character in the bunch! Fighter is great, too, with his ridiculous fixation on swords and shinies. Black Mage is just so...not good (but eternally hilarious). And while Red Mage and Thief aren't evil, they definitely wouldn't be found on the good axis. Of course, they're just as neurotic as everyone else!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Fans for Christ: Christian Freaks Welcome Here!

New Year's Eve/Day I was at Galactic ConQuest II, a small con put together by Kyle Puttkammer, owner of my favorite comic and games shop. While there, one of the volunteers told be about Fans for Christ, a really great website for "Christian Freaks." I had been looking for just such a group, so I joined just a couple of days later, with the screenname "MaidMirawyn".

Well, I've had a blast. When my husband went out of town one Friday night in January, I found friends online who kept me company until 3 am, when I was way too tired to be lonely anymore.

Basically, we waged war on Jaws using a force of ninja gremlins, llamas in duct tape armor, penguins, gooseberries, tamed trains, and a hippo. And some stray alpacas I found wandering the beach. Oh, and two pygmy komodo dragons with kazoos. Did I mention the aquatic elves?

It seemed to make sense at the time.

But even more, people share what's going on in their lives. We have a prayer section and "God talk", plus arts and music. There are also forums for goths, gamers, RPGers, cosplayers, anime fans, and more.

If you're a Christian freak or just curious, stop on by! All we ask is that you be nice.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The US government: A great source for great photos?

Originally posted at my other blog: The Art of Books

Artists are always looking for new sources of images. I've long been aware of NASA's massive image libraries; I used some of their images in a printmaking project my senior year. But today, while searching for a photo of a sea otter to show a coworker, I came across NOAA's Photo Library. It's quite impressive; I recommend browsing by collection (click on "Navigating by Collection ' on the right side of the page) just to get a feel for what' available.

This got me thinking. How many other government agencies have images freely available on the web? A quick Google search answered my question. U.S Government Graphics and Photos is a directory of links for the image libraries of many federal agencies and departments. Not all of the images are public domain, nor do they all have high quality, high resolution images.(NOAA and NASA both do.) But it's still a great resource.

A few of interest:
Geological Service's Astrogeology Gallery
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Grand Canyon National Park Photos (image above is D_1258)
Hawaii Volcano Observatory (interesting photos; hard to navigate; lower resolution)
Public Domain Tornado Images (National Severe Storm Laboratory)

Some NASA image databases:
NASA Multimedia Gallery
Solar Eclipse Images
Visible Earth

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Most Amazing Origami I've Ever Seen

Wow. I've never seen anything even close to this! A coworker pointed me to this site featuring absolutely phenomonal origami by Hojyo Takashi. Wow. Just…wow.

If only I could read the text on the site…


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! Why not take this opportunity to do something nice for someone you love, be it friend, family, or signifigant other? Go out and make someone feel special!


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Better Box Office Chart

The traditional box office charts have always seemed to miss the "big picture." A really big older movie is always being replaced by a so-so recent movie. Look at Titanic (number one) and Gone With The Wind (number sixty-six)! I know Titanic was big, but bigger than Gone With The Wind and E.T.? I don't think so.

The deck is stacked against older movies. I was in elementary school when E.T. came out—I know tickets were much less then (an average of $2.94)! And Gone With The Wind? Try $.24 for a ticket in 1939! Today's ticket prices include more than that in tax! (A $6 matinee ticket in Metro Atlanta includes about $.40 in tax.)

Well, guess what? At Box Office Mojo, I found an box office chart using adjusted ticket prices! Compare the top ten from the two lists:

Unadjusted Box Office Chart
1. Titanic; 2. Star Wars; 3. Shrek 2; 4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; 5. Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace; 6. Spider-Man; 7. Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith; 8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; 9. Spider-Man 2; 10. The Passion of the Christ

Adjusted Box Office Chart
1. Gone with the Wind; 2. Star Wars; 3. The Sound of Music; 4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial; 5. The Ten Commandments; 6. Titanic; 7. Jaws; 8. Doctor Zhivago; 9. The Exorcist; 10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I bet the adjusted chart, though imperfect, much more closely reflects the "biggest" movies! (Though the standard chart accurately reflects what big industry movies are today!) Some of my favorites dropped down (the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies and The Passion, for example), and some of the biggies aren't "me" (like Dr. Zhivago). But that list seems fairer, somehow, as does Titanic's spot at number six.

Number twenty (Fantasia) on the adjusted list has an adjusted gross of $531,478,300, so the top twenty isn't likely to change soon. The bottom of the list, however, could change, since number one hundred, Saving Private Ryan, comes in at $292,781,300. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, for example, is already at $224,839,000, so current and future movies could certainly break into the top one hundred.