Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30th, outsourced

You need to read GFY's recap of the Miss Universe national costumes, which includes the drama of Miss Lebanon, Miss Israel, and a selfie.

The Onion: "I don't vaccinate my child because it's my right to decide what eliminated diseases come roaring back." [HT Scott]

Assignment: Yemen - about the US ambassador to Yemen. [HT Margaret, his daughter]

I linked to the 24-hour self-destructing book ploy last week. Here is an account of someone who tried it (clean except for an f-bomb in an excerpt from the book, toward the end of the article). [HT Ashi]

Why a generation of adoptees is returning to South Korea. Wow. I was really moved by this story and I learned a lot about the complicated emotions some of these grown-up adoptees are now feeling.

When we lived in Ithaca, during the winter, we kept the thermostat at a chilly 61 degrees, so I really appreciated (and laughted while reading) this article. [HT Jeremy]

Disney princesses with realistic hair.

Honestly, this new theory about Serial makes as much sense as anything I've heard up until now, including the story that has been presented as the truth. [HT Ashi]

Leading causes of lost years of life (early death) around the world.

I will probably never get tired of these "reconstructing old baby photos as adults" lists. Never. [HT Trina]

On Michelle Obama: The Economist explains the Saudi dress code, and the NYT talks about the bold stand she didn't actually take.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Knock-off candy bars in Syria

I was thinking tonight about some of the knock-off candy bars we used to eat in Syria. They were myriad, and mostly awful. Some were even knock-offs of knock-offs.

There was Coco-Binti, which was like Bounty (that's Mounds to you USers, but Bounty is legions tastier). It cost 5 lira, which at the time was 10 US cents. (For comparison, a Bounty probably cost more like 35 lira.) What's more, it was manufactured by the government and was, I believe, on the list of price-controlled items like bread and milk. So you never had to worry about the price of your Coco-Binti skyrocketing. And it tasted OK. I mean, it would do in a pinch, when you really needed coconut and chocolate together, with overtones of wax.

(Now that I think about it, I think Coco-Binti was actually a knock-off of Hum Hum, which was the knock-off of Bounty. Hum Hum was probably 10 lira but I recall liking Coco-Binti better.)

Then there was Metro. I had assumed Metro was of the same ilk as Coco-Binti, but I found out later that Metro is from a legit Turkish brand called Ulker. Metro was kind of like Mars, but waxier (there is a definite wax theme with these knock-off bars). In some ways, I like it better than Mars - Mars is overwhelmingly saccharine, you know? (Do they even have Mars in the US? I can't remember now. Mars in the Middle East is like Milky Way in the US, and Milky Way is like Three Musketeers. There is no actual Three Musketeers here. So does that mean that Mars and Milky Way are the same in the US?) Metro took the sweetness down a notch but still filled the caramel/nougat/chocolate need. It cost around 10 lira, while a Mars, if they were even available, would have been more like 35 lira.

JEXY. Ah, Jexy. Jexy was fake Snickers, and man, you had to be desperate to actually eat one. When you eat a Snickers, it's usually as a meal replacement (right?), and so you can't skimp. You could actually taste the wax in a Jexy. Just now, I asked Jeremy if he remembered Jexy, and he said, "oh yeah, I loved those." I said, "no, you didn't. You're thinking of Metro." And he said, "oh yeah, I am thinking of Metro. I loved those. Jexy were gross."

We also used to eat Oreo-ish things called Dance. They were only really Oreo-like in that they were a chocolate biscuit sandwich with cream in the middle, but less chocolatey. They were consistently good and we ate them throughout our time in Syria. (When we were on vacation there in 2010, we ate Dance again and they really weren't half bad.) There were also more realistic fake Oreos called Romba, and another brand called Boreos (maybe Borios). Yes.

There was Ruby, which was kind of like Kit Kat, but not actual fake Kit Kat. Actual fake Kit Kat was called Katakit.

Anyway. There were so many more knock-off candy bars but I can't remember their names. Every once in a while, I see a Metro in the stores here and I remember the days of Coco-Bintis and Jexy and Dance.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Downton Abbey 5.4 (SPOILERS)

Don't tell Dr. Clarkson, but THAT is how you propose to Isobel Crawley - none of that getting sloshed at the village fair and making vague insinuations from Season 3 or whichever. I think she tried to stop him back then with a "are you sure you won't regret what you're about to say?" too. Lord Merton is made of stronger stuff, it seems.

Let it be pointed out that Lord Grantham did not even put down his newspaper at first when Edith came in and said that there might be news of Michael. DID NOT EVEN PUT DOWN HIS NEWSPAPER. In addition to the show forgetting about Michael Gregson, the family has forgotten about him, too!

Oh my gosh, Anna and Bates are so doomed. The music, the angst, the hiding stuff and sneaking around for Lady Mary. If the business with Mr. Green doesn't finish them, then the hidden condom surely will. Fate has it out for these two and they are oblivious to the train wreck that must be coming their way.

I TOLD you Lord Gillingham was a skeezeball!!! UGH, the slime was practically dripping off of him when he told Mary this was just something they had to "get through" together. I mean, I understand what he was trying to say, but getting all possessive and rage-y is not the tack to try in this situation in my opinion. The stage is set for Charles Blake or, preferably, Evelyn Napier. Somehow.

I promise I try to find different ways of saying this every single week, but Sarah Bunting is THE WORST. But THE BEST? - Lord Grantham's outburst at the table, because he was saying the words that I already scream in my head whenever Miss Bunting comes on screen. And Branson's face! Priceless!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Other ways of being bilingual

When you live overseas, there are more things you need to become bilingual in besides actual languages. In my everyday life here, I am constantly switching back and forth between my native "language" and second "language" of the following areas.

Shoe and clothing sizes. Yes, there's small, medium, and large, but there's also UK, US, and Euro. They are all different. Over time, I've become fluent in my own sizes, but it is almost beyond me to keep up with the kids' sizes, especially in shoes. Some clothing stores (like H&M) list all the sizes on the inner tag. I treat this as my dictionary.

Currency. We've lived here long enough that I consider myself truly bilingual in both dollars and dirhams. For most things, I don't have to convert at all. In fact, at the grocery store in the US, every once in a while I have to convert the dollars to dirhams because that's what I'm used to seeing at the weekly shopping trip.

Temperature. Jeremy and the kids and I routinely discuss temperature in Celsius. But I get a little foggy around the colder temperatures because we never have those there.

Distance. I learned kilometers at an early age, thanks to running track and cross-country in high school (we were on the 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m system there). So it's been easy to pick up kilometers/meters/etc. here. (The metric system is better, y'all. Just sayin'.)

Islamic calendar. It is really helpful to be able to know when Ramadan will be next year, or which week you're going to get off for Eid al-Adha. If you speak Islamic calendar, you can do this in your head (shift everything earlier about 10 days a year).

Time zones. The US-based credit card customer service center is only open M-F, 8a-5p, EST. Quick, what are your available windows of time for reaching them from the UAE? Don't forget to carry the one/account for the Friday/Saturday weekend in the UAE vs. the Saturday/Sunday weekend in the US. I have to hack this stuff out practically with pen and paper every time. Except for half the year when Oregon is 12h behind us. That makes it niiiice and easy.

I know I said these aren't actual languages, but sometimes they are. You also have to be bilingual in every English accent there is. And some of them are pretty tough to wade through. Sometimes you smile and nod...and then smile and nod some more.

Friday, January 23, 2015

January 23rd, outsourced

How to tell if you are in a Henry James novel ("You’ve done something in a piazza that renders you unfit for polite company").

The Packers are obsessed with Settlers of Catan.

This food diagrams thing is going around fb. I clicked on it, and the first few were great. The next few I was like "there is no way I will look at all 24." But then I couldn't stop. They were just too interesting. And pretty.

This. guy. He got in a car wreck and was crushed between two semis...and he lived. THE PICTURES. [HT Suzanne]

Those of you who read Escape from Camp 14 might be interested in knowing that doubts have been raised about part of the story's authenticity. [HT Jennifer]

Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes. Gimmicky headline, but I love the idea of giving all moms a box of goodies to help them get started with their little one. [HT Sharon]

Have a closer look at a super-high resolution image of Andromeda, why don't you! [HT Kathy]

A vacuum salesman made the birthday of an autistic boy super special. So precious. [HT Jen]

You have plenty of time to love them later. This is my new favorite essay on parenting. [HT Amanda]

Self-destructing book gives you 24 hours to finish reading. I wish more publishers would do stunts like this, because I could get so many books for free. [HT Ashi]

I am not done reading this yet (Oregon was founded as a utopia for racists), but is it possible that everything I learned about my state in elementary school was wrong?? [HT Liz]

Speaking of things that I KNEW were true until this morning: your family's name was not changed at Ellis Island. !?!??!?!

Epic football/soccer stretcher fail compilation. Just 'cuz.

I've read Goodnight Moon to one or another of my kids every night for what probably adds up to years. So I shared so many of this woman's issues with the bedroom in that book. [HT Lindsay]

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I recommend...

...that you watch Broadchurch. Now. It's on Netflix (at last!). Jessie will be blessed in heaven for recommending it a few months back. I have never been so moved by a crime drama. I don't even think "crime drama" describes what this show is. It's therapeutic, somehow. Plus, it overcame a barrier that I thought was insurmountable. Early on, I said to Jeremy, "if [such and such happens], then I hate this show." Well, such and such happened and I still LOVED the show. Wow.

...that you make and eat zucchini gratin. Maybe it's not zucchini season where you live, but I think it's eternally zucchini season here. Our weekly CSA box is always brimming with it (actually marrow, but it's mostly the same thing). Zucchini gratin is perfect.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Notes from a semester of accompanying

The voice students had their jury performances (like a final exam performance) this afternoon, which meant it was my last time accompanying them this semester. In the time since I started as accompanist here, I've learned 16 pieces (listed below), though two of them never made it to a performance. I played for two master classes and five performances of two different concerts.

My page turner was Miriam for all the major performances, but Magdalena helped out for a few of the dress rehearsals.

The shortest interval I had between seeing the music for the first time and performing it was around 24 hours...and it was four pieces all at once. My hands were so sore.

The most stressful time on the job was the night of one performance last week. Jeremy was away on his challenging 140km race, and I was trying to get three kids fed and fit for the babysitter, and myself ready for the show. Sterling had a bad case of The Snot Nose (as well as The Clings), and I purposely waited until the last minute to change into my black clothes because you know how snotty babies are - they come up to you and they slime you. So I changed five minutes before walking out the door and he STILL got me, right on the shoulder. I wiped it off and hoped for the best. Oh, and since he had been so clingy, I didn't get to so much as warm up on the piano before, you know, PERFORMING. And he cried when the babysitter came and most of the time I was gone. So glamorous, the life of an accompanist. Yep.

Here are a few tips I've picked up in the past few months.

1. Always practice with the singer(s), at least once. It might be an easy piece, and you might both know it well, but even one run-through will help you get a much better sense of what needs to happen at the performance.

2. Listen to a few versions of the song on youtube, if possible. This is especially helpful for very difficult pieces. It's easier to dive in and learn a technical accompaniment if you have a good understanding of the overall oomph of it.

3. Tape (or glue or paste onto contact paper) your sheet music in longer stretches to cut down on page turns, being sure to...

4. attention to logical page-turn opportunities. A division of two pages and four pages might make more sense than three and three, for example. And if you find it's not working, change it! During the final rehearsals last week, I ended up changing the page-turning points for two of the pieces.

5. But if you can, get a page-turner. The truth is that with some pieces it's just impossible to turn pages by yourself, at least not when you can't risk making a mistake and derailing someone else's big performance. (Now where are the pianos with built-in screens and a button by your feet to advance the pages??? Why does this not exist yet?)

6. Remember that if a piece is too difficult, you don't have to play every note as it's written. With practice (and getting a good sense of the song on youtube) comes an understanding of which parts of the accompaniment are essential and give the most support to the performance. The first time I looked at/listened to Hello! Oh, Margaret, It's You I was, no, cannot, no way. But I performed it today without a problem and in fact, with my personal modifications to make it a little easier (and tons of practice), it became one of my less challenging pieces.

7. Consider investing in lots of all-black outfits. I certainly wished I had more.

In closing, here are the sixteen pieces I learned this semester, including the two (marked with an asterisk) that never made it to a performance.

The Vagabond, by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Il Mio Bel Foco, by Benedetto Marcello

Geduld, by Richard Strauss

The Daisies, by Samuel Barber

Heidenroeslein, by Franz Schubert

The Flower Duet, by Leo Delibes

Wie Melodien Zieht Es Mir, by Johannes Brahms

Verdi Prati*, by Handel

Widmung*, by Schumann

Imagine, by John Lennon

Happy, by Pharrell

Requiem, by Eliza Gilkyson. We sang it faster than in that video and it was divine. You try playing a song for a group of students from places like Palestine and Syria, with lyrics like "all our homes are gone, our loved ones taken." YEAH. You can't not feel it in your soul. I will never forget the first time I played this for the choir.

Hello! Oh, Margaret, It's You

song with a really long Italian name that I'm too lazy to go look up right now. I can literally see the music folder from where I am sitting but...nope.

Journey to the Past. Like, from Anastasia! For sheer nostalgia, this one was my favorite.

I Feel Pretty. Like, from West Side Story! This was my girls' favorite. They learned all the words and danced around the house singing it all the time.

Ah, what a great semester for music it's been!

Friday, January 16, 2015

January 16th, outsourced

Why language exceptions remain the rule (like went instead of goed). [HT Kaylee]

Adorably confused baby meets twins.

Why Michigan? This is an amazing story about a Mormon man serving his mission and finding an interesting connection to the place years later.

Shannon Hale on the financial feasibility of book signings/appearances, especially for authors who must also pay for childcare.

The many epiphanies of Jessica Fletcher (Murder, She Wrote).

13 amazing food and life hacks you need to know RIGHT NOW. (They're not what you think.) [HT Ashi]

Should you buy a selfie stick? [HT Andrew]

How much should you pay the babysitter? The rate around here is 25dhs/hr (about $6.80/hr), though if I find a good babysitter, I try to pay more like 30dhs/hr. However, I liked my friend Jen's comment of setting out a lump sum for each babysitting engagement - that way you can take into account the intensity of the duties the babysitter will be responsible for.

Due to the language warning, I'm afraid to click on the actual company's website (this link is ok), but you can now send glitter to your enemies. Brilliant!

Duke University said they would broadcast the call to prayer from the campus chapel, but then had to cancel it because of stupid people.

Utah has an interesting way of dealing with homeless people. I love how Pendleton interacted with the interviewer in this clip. Hilarious. [HT Kathy]

Thursday, January 15, 2015

140km, finished

Sorry to leave you hanging - Jeremy ran his 140km race over Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and finished sixth overall. Words cannot express how proud we are of him!

We met him at the finish line...about 15 minutes after he finished. Before he started the race, he told me his estimated finish time - 4 or 5pm on Saturday. So that's when I planned to show up there (it's about 45 minutes away).

But as I followed the race page's live updates on fb, I was alarmed to see that people were starting to finish around 1pm. So I threw the kids in the car and sped to the finish line, just in time to get a "I finished please bring me some clean clothes" text when we were still about 15 minutes away. (Fortunately, I had thought to bring the clothes.)

Even though we missed the big moment, it was so precious to hang out with a stinky, exhausted Jeremy and meet some of his stinky, exhausted co-racers (it looked a bit like a stretchy pants convention for grown-ups). It was a long weekend without him, but we enjoyed seeing updates on the race page and cheering him on from afar.

Also, I bet Jeremy was the only runner to come home to a welcome/congratulations banner with sparkly purple ponies on it, signed by neighborhood children!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The ER, twice in one day

Today, I took two of my children to the ER within an hour of each other.

Magdalena split open her chin on Sunday when she slipped on the monkey bars. We left the ER with four stitches and instructions to come back on Tuesday to check the healing progress.

This afternoon, I took her in and they checked the wound, re-dressed it, and sent us on our way with instructions to come again on Thursday.

An hour later, I was on my way back to the ER, this time with Sterling. He was running with salad tongs (SALAD TONGS) and somehow fell on them and impaled himself in the eye. It was so bloody that I couldn't even stand to look at it closely. Jeremy wiped him off a little bit and said I should probably take him in to make sure there was no damage to the eye itself, and to take care of the deep cut across his eyebrow and down to his tear duct.

The parking spot I had vacated earlier was still open, so I parked there. The same guy checked us in. Sterling sat on the same bed in the same triage room that Magdalena had been on an hour before. It was surreal.

Poor baby will be fine. The eye itself is unhurt, thank goodness, and the cut could use some stitches but since he's 15 months old (CANNOT SIT STILL NO NOT EVER) and it's so near his eye, it's not possible. So they glued and taped it shut (not with, like, Elmer's and Scotch, but with medical stuff) and sent us home with instructions to come back on Thursday to check the healing progress. Which I already had plans to do, with Magdalena! So thanks for making my life that much easier, ER.

Two endnotes:

1. When I say ER, I do mean the literal ER, but it's not quite as emergency-y as the ones in the US. There is no Urgent Care here, so if you don't have an appointment with a doctor but you need to be seen right away, you can go to the ER. For us, the cost is the same as if we had an appointment with a regular doctor.

2. Looking back, I cannot recall ever going to the ER as a young child, or any of my siblings going, at least not for stuff like this. Either we were just lucky, or maybe we had these injuries but our parents didn't take us in??

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2014 Stats

Here are some blog stats for your review/entertainment (2013 stats here).

Bridget of Arabia 2014 Stats

Total posts: 247 (one more than last year)

Total number of comments: don't know.

Number of subscribers: I have no earthly idea. Let us all continue to mourn Google Reader. Amen.

Most-discussed posts:
  • bridget of arabia
  • bridget palmer blog
  • myadventuresintucson
  • weekly calendar template
  • my adventures in tucson
  • zinedine zidane religion
  • "abish ain't one"
  • book club recommendations 2014
  • grammar book
  • flying at 34 weeks pregnant
2014 Visitor Overview
  • Visits: 62,627
  • Absolutely unique visitors: 27,682 (I think - Analytics is different this year)
  • Pageviews: 108,376
  • Average visit duration: 2 min 21 sec
Top Referring Sites
About 70% of visits to this blog comes from referring sites.
  • Sterling's private blog
Top Cities/Countries

  • United States (63% of total blog visits)
  • United Arab Emirates (10%)
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • India
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Tunisia
  • Pakistan
Top States

  • Utah
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Virginia
  • Texas
  • Arizona
  • New York
  • Wisconsin
  • Massachussetts
  • Florida

Friday, January 09, 2015

January 9th, outsourced

Even though they found out that the guy this girl looked so humiliated to be caught with was her boyfriend, I still think this video gets funnier each time you watch it. [HT Jessie]

Pediatrician: vaccinate your kids, or get out of my office. [HT Jason]

I loved these realistic family portraits. [HT...someone]

An Emirati graduate of Stanford is going to take an unpaid leave from his job to be a schoolteacher in Abu Dhabi, just to be a good example.

The subtext of this Indian jewelry ad is very interesting - a second marriage for the bride, acknowledgement that she has a child from the previous marriage, and "dusky" skin. (For context on that last item, here is an ad for Fair & Lovely face-whitening cream, and it's not even the most egregious one I've seen.)

Speaking of context, I don't have any for this interesting chart that my brother sent me. It's people's answer to "are you in the prime of your life?" according to their age. I pity those 18-year-olds who think their prime is already past! [HT Steven]

How had I never heard this story about four rock climbers who were kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan in 2000???

I'm waiting for the perfect time to introduce my kids to the original 1990 version of the Oregon Trail computer game, which you can now play online! [HT Suzanne]

I found this video of Nicole Kidman and Jimmy Fallon discussing a missed dating opportunity so cringe-y, hilarious, and relatable that I can't stop watching it. It's very high school.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A challenging 140km race

This piece about Jeremy ran on the AUS blog today: AUS professor to compete in challenging 140km race.

I have to say, I love the use of "challenging" here. Because 140km doesn't make it obvious enough.

Speaking of obvious, obviously I am very proud of Jeremy and I can't wait to hear how it all goes as he runs tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

In the article, it quotes Jeremy as saying that while he stays away from sweets, he does occasionally eat chocolate, peanut butter, and ice cream. What he actually said was that he occasionally eats chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I am so sad that there is an editor out there who doesn't know that chocolate peanut butter ice cream is a thing! I hope s/he encounters it someday soon.

Happy racing!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Downton Abbey 5.1 (SPOILERS)

Mondays will be Downton Abbey Season 5 around here for the next few weeks! I'll post my thoughts on each episode and you can chime in with yours. If you need to brush up on pre-Season 5 stuff, I recommend GFY's recap.

Speaking of needing to brush up, raise your hand if you, like me, completely forgot that Edith has a child!!! Village mum is going to be on to her soon, though - rich lady from the house doting on a foundling child. Yeah, seems legit.

I'm so glad the womance between the Dowager Countess and Mrs. Crawley is going strong. (Later on in the episode: OR MAYBE NOT. But how much do I love that we're getting a love triangle/square for the over-50 set? So much!)

Fanny from the 1996 Sense & Sensibility!

"I'm going upstairs to take off my hat" (a la Mary) is a sentence I need to work in to my everyday parlance. Also: "I've been looking into crop rotation and grain sales."

Rose and her meddling. UGH. Miss Bunting and her dinnertime rudeness. UGH.

Caroline Bingley from the 1995 Pride & Prejudice!

Are we never to know what happened to Michael Gregson? Are we just to assume pre-NAZIS? Sometimes it's hard to tell if a show's neglect of a certain storyline is purposeful or not. Did the actor have to leave the show for personal reasons? Or is there more about Michael Gregson coming later in the season? At this point, it's just plain weird that he's still missing.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Books 2014 + Book Stats

My favorite books of 2014 are here.

Here are some interesting (?) stats about the books I read in 2014.

The books I read in 2014 were:

66% fiction and 34% non-fiction. This is a slightly higher percentage of fiction compared to last year.

Furthermore, 78% of the fiction was Young Adult/Juvenile. This is a lot higher than last year, so I am reading more fiction, and more of that fiction is YA.

Overall, 51% of the books I read were Young Adult/Juvenile.

Ten of the 74 books I read in 2014 were non-first-time reads.

Eight books from 2014's reading list were books that Jeremy has also read, whether it was this year or previously.

I read 8% of the books in their physical, hard-copy format. This is an all-time low, compared to last year's previous all-time low of 20%.

I read 85% of the books in Kindle format. One of the books (A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson) I read online.

I only read four audiobooks this year, and one of them I also had the Kindle version of (The Raven Boys). I listened to the audiobook occasionally only because the reader is so awesome. I could listen to his pronunciation of "Aglionby" all day long.

(If the percentages don't seem to tally quite right, that's because a few books I had in both Kindle and hard copy formats.)

82% of the books were checked out from the library. The rest I either own/bought or were borrowed from a friend or family member. The library percentage includes books I checked out from the library in the Kindle format.

The longest stretch between completion of a book was nineteen days in November/December, between Jackaby and The Lady in the Tower. I was busy playing the piano a lot.

I had three streaks of four YA books each. To avoid listing each of those separately, I'll call my longest YA stretch the time I read three YA (The Knife of Never Letting Go, Shadow and Bone, and Siege and Storm), then the heavy memoir A House in the Sky, then four YA (Skellig, Across a Star-Swept Sea, The Tyrant's Daughter, and Life After Theft).

It was hard to pick out a most productive period of reading this year. July was good, as always - I read 11 books that month.

Hooray for reading! Here is the complete Goodreads graphic of the 74 books I read this year - that includes four books I read enough of to include on my list but ultimately marked as DNF (did not finish; they are The Eye of Minds, The Queen of the Tearling, The Tipping Point, and Storm Siren).

(For some reason, the graphic is only showing 73 books, which means I must have mis-shelved one somewhere along the way. Oh well.)

(Edited to add: also for some reason, it's showing up as a single-column list instead of a pretty grid that is clickable. UGH GOODREADS WHY CAN'T YOU JUST BE PRETTY. Maybe I can fix it.)

Books 2014

The Queen of the Tearling
Siege and Storm
Bellweather Rhapsody
Greek Mythology
The Thief
The Friendship Doll
City of Lost Souls
The Boleyn Inheritance
The Queen of Attolia
Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes
Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America
The Tyrant's Daughter
The Knife of Never Letting Go
A Narrative Of The Captivity Of Mrs. Johnson
Rebel Belle
The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition

Bridget's favorite books »

Friday, January 02, 2015

January 2nd, outsourced

Who killed Lois Duncan's daughter? An article about the investigation of the murder of a young woman who happens to be the daughter of the woman who wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer.

This is what happens when you order ridiculously cheap clothing from Singapore.

Christmas in Qamishli, (Kurdish) Syria.

I loved this interview with Steven Pinker about grammar, and how it gets heated to the point where he calls someone else an ignoramus.

Workplaces need more walls, not fewer. [HT Jeremy]

Your deepest, darkest fears, illustrated. [HT Jessie]

In case you missed the Dubai NYE fireworks show, here's a video!

The best places to be born in 2013.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

In the newspaper in the UAE

Two weeks ago, I had an exhausting week of work during the day and rehearsals or performances every night, for seven days straight (excluding the intervening Friday). The light at the end of the tunnel was Thursday the 19th, when I had a brief breather of no work or performance, with only my church congregational Christmas devotional program to worry about on the 20th (I'm the music director of our congregation and I had prepared and organized a music/spoken word Christmas program for that day). But compared to the gauntlet of performances I had just run, the Christmas program was minor and I figured the pressure was off.

Then the bishop called me and said, oh, by the way, a reporter and photographer from The National will be at church to watch the Christmas program and research an article about how Mormons celebrate Christmas in the UAE. And the pressure was back on!

Fortunately, everything went well. All the narrators showed up, including one person who took a taxi to get there on time since his family was running behind. God bless people like that! I had to last-minute sub out a musical number - like, announce it to the performers over the mic as they walked up to perform - because I thought they didn't have the music. They took it like champs, even though it turned out after the fact that they did have their music and I just didn't know it.

Afterward, since Sterling and I were roaming the halls, we had our picture taken by the photographer many, many times. I talked to the reporter for a while, mostly about how I chose the music and speeches for the program. Then I went home and took a NAP.

Here is the resulting article. No picture of Sterling and me, but that's fine. I am quoted at the end and I'm grateful she did not include some of the more inane things I said, though "December is only four weeks long" comes close, and that was even cleaned up. I'm pretty sure I actually said that Christmas is only four weeks long. I was just trying to say that there are only so many Fridays that are suitable for Christmas music, so I wanted to give the congregation a chance to sing as many songs as possible during the program rather than feature a lot of musical numbers. Because singing is awesome.

And so were the concerts, by the way! I was nervous every night. It was so precious to have my daughters with me, though. Miriam got to go onstage as my page-turner, and I think she had as many butterflies in her tummy as I did. There is something so special about being involved in a performance - rehearsals, whispering in the green room, stretching your jitters out backstage, and then going onstage and giving it your best. I'm playing a few songs at the dance concert next week, so the fun isn't over yet!


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