Other People’s Art: Philosophy Posters

From the site of designer Genis Carreras come these philosophy posters.  As a visual learner, I’m digging the distinct color and simple designs on each one.  I think they’d be quite helpful in keeping these concepts straight and remembering details.  My train of thought when recalling details off notecards during, say, an Art History test, went something like “Palazzo Medici Riccardi….I made a mistake in spelling the architect on the card…Michelozzo!  The cards were written in chronological order, so this is 1450s.  Aaaand, the bricks aren’t as yellow as that other building…..” and so on.  Anyway, I’m not sure what these were originally intended for, but I can definitely see some good uses.

Seventy-Two Hour Scarf

Like most knitters, I have a pretty sizable collection of in-process proojects at any given time.  I’ve been working on clearing that list, but a couple days ago I just needed to take a break from the seemingly never-ending lace sweater I’ve got on my needles.  Enter this pattern.  It was everything I needed: refreshingly simple, doable with yarn I already had, and highly satisfying in the end.  It took me just a few days of dedicated knitting.I love the leaf pattern that runs along one edge, and the garter stitch on the other edge and both ends keeps it nice and flat.The pattern makes a nice triangular shape; I’m guessing that’ll help with those gusts of wind that come from behind and get between the wraps of regular scarves.

Book Review: Just My Type

One of the first things I did when settling into my new office was to change the default on my computer from Calibri to Garamond. Why? Probably a combination of being slightly rebellious and wanting to look like I put a little thought into the aesthetics of my written documents (hey, that art degree comes with a reputation to uphold!). Yes, I’ll freely admit that I’m something of a typography nerd, so Simon Garfield’s book Just My Type caught my eye and I had it in my hands the next day.

Garfield presents a thorough and fascinating history of fonts, from Gutenberg’ Bible to the iPad. From processes and technical details to scandals and criticism, he covers it all in chapters with names like “Capital Offence” and “Can a font make me popular?” (the chapter on ampersands is a must-read. No, seriously). There’s a Hall of Shame and a whole chapter about the tragic history of a well-known, misunderstood font. One of the nicest touches, and what helped to keep the book interesting, was the printing of each font’s name in the font itself, as it is mentioned. This makes for the most informative and least intrusive illustration of a point I’ve ever seen (that is, the exact opposite of an endnote).

Given at this is a fairly recent book, the references Garfield makes to various online resources are still current, and I had fun with this gem. And for those who just want to use it to reference specific things, there’s a handy index in the back.

Entertaining and informative.  Oh, and my choice of Garamond?  “Respectable yet warm…a fine choice.”

7 Quick Takes Friday: Office Space Edition

1. I’ve never been a work-at-desk person, at least not when it comes to schoolwork.  Now, though, I have a desk that I’m finding it pretty easy to work at and keep clean.  I attribute this in part to the fact that it’s pretty spacious for my needs and also…

2. I have a lot of storage space.  I have roughly 6 file cabinet drawers, 6 other drawers, a coat closet, shelves, and 7 feet of overhead storage.  I could practically move in here and live comfortably, so it’s easy to find a place to stow all of my work-related papers and stuff.


3. Of course, it wouldn’t really be my space until I organized everything to within an inch of its life, so I spent an afternoon color-coding and relabeling all the files left by my predecessor.  I feel much more at home now.

4. I had time to do this because, well, I don’t have a lot going on at work yet.  I had my first committee meeting today, so hopefully assignments will start to pick up a little bit soon.  Right now, my calendar is (as you can see) pretty empty.

5. Count the post-it products in the photo above!  It was almost embarrassing how excited I was to discover the supply closet, with shelves upon shelves of post-its, paper products of various types, and other necessities of office life.  One thing that’s conspicuously absent is pens of any color besides black or red.  Not that I’m obsessed with color-coding or anything, but every so often a girl just needs a blue, green, or purple pen.

6. I’ve been searching for some piece of art to hang on the wall above my desk, with no great success yet.  I feel like this is a big decision, something on which I’ll be judged by everyone who walks by, and I don’t want to blow it with a Monet or an Ansel Adams or something.  Luckily, I think I’ve found something perfect: a Periodic Table of Typefaces poster.  I have no problem being identified as a nerd; it’s kitten-lover or inspirational-poster-hanger that I’m afraid of.

7. Hmm…one last thing.  I’m having trouble coming up with something.  Oh!  I know!  I have one of these at my desk.  Yes, it’s everything you could dream of and more.

Check out Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

A Little Trivia and Inspiration

Anyone who has read Cheaper by the Dozen was likely struck by the character of Lillian Gilbreth, mother of the title Dozen, who managed not only to remember all of her children’s names but also make a loving home while being a pioneer in the field of efficiency.  But did you know that she also earned a Ph.D. (the first one ever granted in Industrial Psychology) with seven children, received 23 honorary degrees, became the first woman accepted to the National Academy of Engineering, and was the first female psychologist to be on a postage stamp (and the second in the world, after Maria Montessori)?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel inspired to be more, ahem, efficient.

Book Review: Night of the Hunter

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

After reading Simcha Fisher’s recent review of the film Night of the Hunter, I was intrigued by the story but unsure if I wanted to take the plunge and watch what is, by all accounts, a truly creepy movie. I decided to check out the original novel first, and see if it’s really as great as people were making it out to be.

After reading the book, I’m quite glad that I didn’t watch the movie. It’s not that it wasn’t good; on the contrary, it was so good that I read the whole thing in under five hours last night. The commenters were right, though: this book gives one of the most convincing and terrifying portrayals of evil I’ve ever read.

The plot, in a nutshell: A Depression-era husband and father robs a bank out of desperation, killing two men. Before he is arrested, he hides the money and refuses to tell anyone where it is, though this means the different between life and death for him. After he is hanged, his cellmate, The Preacher, is released from prison and is determined to find the money, which he believes the man’s children can find. The Preacher, who has already gotten away with murder, haunts and terrorizes the children, especially young John.

The symbolism in this story is everywhere and striking.  Evil literally never sleeps.  The children are called “lambs” by both the wolves and the shepherd.  And though the Preacher perfectly perverts religion, his is not the only depiction of a “Christian” in the book.  (Minor spoiler alert) In the end, the one who saves the children is not the people who are overzealous in their condemnation of others and proclamation of their own virtue; rather, it is the character whose quiet faith is expressed as much in her actions as in her speech.  She is the one who is able to see through the Preacher’s deception.

I found this book to be highly effective and quite satisfying in the end.  There were a few scenes during which I found myself literally holding my breath, and the shadows as I left work last night seemed a little more sinister than usual.  I recommend it for anyone looking for a little American gothic.

Kicking butt and taking names?

What advice would you give to a newly appointed bishop? Herewith the results of that conversation.

I’ve had this article from Catholic Culture open in a browser tab for a few days while I tried to figure out what I thought about it.  (An aside: it’s always rubbed me a little the wrong way that their site only allows donors to comment.  It seems like there are better ways to moderate comments than to restrict them to those who agree with you enough to give money.  But it’s their site, so whatever.).

Working in a hypothetical situation of a good bishop appointed to an “average” Catholic diocese, Phil Lawler presents an extensive checklist of things that bishop should do immediately to clean things up.  It’s well worth reading, as a thought exercise at least.  I have to admit that many things on the list struck me as a little extreme (“Ask for resignations from everyone on the chancery staff”).  At the same time, though, I will say that I’ve never lived in a really bad diocese (Deo gratias), so my experience of average is different from, well, the average one.

Upon arrival, get rid of all paper shredders at the chancery and insist that no work be taken home in briefcases. Make friends with the maintenance man and the wash lady.

Many of his suggestions seem to be focused on immediately starting to eliminate deep-seated problems.  It would take someone with a big-picture view – willing to alienate or offend people in the short term – and willing to come in swinging and take no prisoners.  It’s probably a strategy that would serve many future bishop-elects well.  It’s an interesting list, and I encourage you to read the whole thing (it’s long, but makes quick reading.