Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another redirect

This one I hope will be final. I love LJ's custom filters, so I'm going to be posting over here from now on. Hopefully this will mean more posts since I'm not going to agonize over each post, trying to be careful about my words.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wanna be in my school project? Bonus: Driving a brand new Passat!

This quarter I'm taking a usability class and I need test participants! We are testing the usability of controls on a 2007 VW Passat. If we can use you for our project, you'd get to drive a brand spankin' new Passat! Basically, we are looking for someone who already has some (5 hours or more) experience driving VWs that were made 1990 or later. The questions below are the screening questions I'll be asking when I do the offical screener.

- Do you have a valid driver's license and proof of insurance?

- Have you driven a late model (1990 or newer) Volkswagen? (If so, how many hours approximately have you driven it and how recently was it?)

- Do you have any experience using steering wheel controls (on any car) to adjust the car's stereo system?

- How much driving experience do you have?

- Do you regularly listen to a variety of music and/or other types audio entertainment while driving?

Let me know if you can help out, it will be a fun project to be a part of! The time commitment is about 2 hours, and the test will most likely be held on Saturday 11/18 if that works for our participants.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th, baby.

Friday the 13th, baby.
Originally uploaded by arielmeow.

The Organizer of My Dreams

WOW. I just signed up for a beta account. I hope they make it for Mac someday.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mein Fuß hat grossen Schmerz, and Mars Hill Part 2

Remember high school, when you were first learning a foreign language, and you knew just enough to make bad sentences? “Mein Fuß hat grossen Schmerz” was my friend Phil’s very, very bad German for “my foot has a big hurt” when we were 15. For some reason I remember it.

Anyway, since my last post I sprained and bruised my foot badly during a random walking accident. Oh yes, I’m injured because I’m a klutz. I’m finally in a manageable amount of pain and can write again.

So. Mars Hill.

First I’d like to relate how scared I was to go. When the idea was originally floated I hadn’t yet read the Salon article. I was expecting the same brand of evangelical Christianity I’d experienced in high school and college (In my quest to broaden my horizons and gather information firsthand before judging, I periodically attended services and bible studies with born-again friends). It was mild stuff. Sure, they were really zealous about getting me to accept Jesus as my personal savior, but most of what they believed was palatable. When I distilled it down to core concepts, it was a basically harmless and fairly decent moral code. But after I read the Salon article about Mars Hill I realized that this church is not just a fundamentalist church - it’s a cult (Charismatic leader with all the power? Check. Financial and familial isolation? Check.) I was very frightened, and I’m not entirely sure why. All I know is that I felt exactly like I did when I was 17 and took a wrong exit and landed in a creepy, dark part of Philadelphia and couldn’t find my way back to the freeway and had to ask a very cracked out prostitute for directions.

Each of us had our reasons to be afraid, but we overcame them. We walked arm in arm up the to front door, went in, and sat down. Despite my fear I tried really really hard to bring my characteristic openness to the experience. At first I listened carefully to find places where I could, at least conceptually, jive with what Pastor Mark was saying. He mispronounced a few words and his logic made no sense to me, so I was unimpressed from the get go, but while he was going on about the rules for a church service I did a pretty good job of staying neutral. I saw no real harm in turning to the bible for guidance on how to maintain order in a growing community, even if the stories there applied to life many hundreds of years ago. Even though I wasn't yet appalled, I was keenly aware of a weird vibe from the audience, something I felt myself. It was as if we were children who had done something very bad. Obedience was clearly being reinforced here.

The pastor says that he’s simply the messenger, teaching the bible exactly as it is written – but he’s actually a leader whose explanations of the text prescribe a moral code that goes well beyond anything the bible has to say, and this is where I moved from being unimpressed to being completely shocked. Like Ariel, I’m pretty sure I looked like a fish throughout the latter half of the service, my mouth was open so wide. Sure he defamed feminism, and that is bad enough, but the way he did it was what made me truly livid. It was through his characterization of women as frivolous, chatty creatures that he justified their second-class role within the church and within the family. The way Mark Driscoll talks about women, we are not the brightest bulbs, but we’re awfully cute and we are necessary as mothers, so men should put up with us gratefully. Apparently we can’t figure out problems for ourselves, either. As a woman, if I have a question, I should be taking it to my husband. Pastor Mark described a scene in his own home in which he and his wife were talking about scripture, and he seemed to think had to draw her a diagram to explain it. The tone in his voice was the same as I would expect if he were relating a story of how he taught a second-grader how to do multiplication.

The one good thing I think Pastor Mark did is to exhort the men in the congregation to take responsibility for their lives to stop holding on to being children forever and freeloading off of successful women. This seems timely to me. I have definitely noticed a trend among men in my generation to avoid growing up and taking charge of their lives for as long as possible. This can mean remaining in a state of teenagerhood indefinitely, or entering into a relationship with a responsible partner who will make up for their lack of motivation. As a (mostly) straight adult woman, it's been rather disappointing to date within this pool, so when Pastor Mark gave the direction men in his flock to step up and be adults, I really appreciated it. Unfortunately, it was wrapped up in macho dominance and the idea that the man is closer to God than the woman. To me, stepping up means being a whole and complete human being who brings his consciousness and integrity to the table, in his work and in his relationships. Unfortunately, the Mars Hill message did not make this differentiation. I suppose what Pastor Mark is saying speaks to the men in his congregation, but it made me sad. The one good thing I could find in the sermon was dressed in the ugly clothes of dominance and oppression.

This is my experience of Mars Hill Church. I'm glad we went; our trip helped me humanize the scary "other", but it also reminded me how susceptible people are to power and pretty shiny things and someone else to do the hard work of critical self-awareness.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mars Hill Part 1

I’ve always been interested in religion, at least from an academic standpoint. I was raised in an atheist household. My parents valued logic, proof, and the power of intellectual inquiry, and I was taught to question anything dogmatic in nature. Even though they had clearly defined for themselves that there is no such thing as a god, and science explains the entirety of our life experience, my parents encouraged me to experience things for myself and to draw my own conclusions. They totally rocked this part of my upbringing.

In about the third grade I became curious about religion, and so my parents allowed me to go to church with friends’ families. I made one ill-fated trip to a fire-and-brimstone Southern Baptist church with my neighbor Sydney. The preacher bellowed and huffed and scared me so badly that I was in tears during the service. Most likely in response to that horrific experience, my parents took me several times to an Episcopalian church that was much more serene, and I even did a round of Sunday School there. I was very young, but even then I just couldn’t buy into the whole thing. I didn’t understand why I was supposed to love a dead person, or sing reverent songs about someone I didn’t know.

Women in Habayas

Not buying into the whole thing followed me throughout the rest of my life as I lived within and Islamic culture (Saudi Arabia) and, in high school, struggled with how to handle pressure from friends who were recruited into youth groups and other church communities with varying levels of fundamentalism. One particularly poignant experience was when my closest friend Lori, who had recently been “saved,” broke down crying with fear that if I didn’t get saved myself, I would go to hell. If I remember correctly, this was in response to me bringing wine coolers to a beach gathering – even though two weeks prior, I’m pretty sure it was Lori who had been the one toting the alcohol down the long winding path so we could all get drunk.

Needless to say my early life experiences led to quite a bit of though on the subject of religion, and especially about how all of these people I loved – the scientists, the yelling Baptists, the fervent Muslims, the born-again Protestants – experienced their faith. I clearly didn’t fit in with any of them, but I needed to understand them. What it came down to for me was that these were all wonderful human beings with widely varying belief systems that ultimately all came down to a deep human need to explain the world. I could offer my love and acceptance to people from all faiths if I could translate their dogma into the core elements I saw underlying all religions, such as a sense that we’re all connected.

Mars Hill kind of jostled that general acceptance of all religions. I got a little long winded and it’s late so I must close with this cliffhanger: Mars Hill seriously pissed me off. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mars Hill Field Trip: Still Reeling

On Sunday night I went on a field trip with my friends Ariel and Dawn to Mars Hill Church, a "hipster fundamentalist church" in Ballard.

Wow. It was intense, and I'm still reeling from the experience. Thank the god(dess)(es) I had A & D with me. I am writing up my reaction and will post it soon, but in the meantime, do check out Ariel's and Dawn's writeups!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Me at the IA Institute

Me at the IA Institute
Originally uploaded by arielmeow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Discovery: I Like Mornings!

I've always had a hard time getting up in the morning, so I thought I was just not a morning person. I've wanted to be a morning person, but I get to bed later than I should, end up short on sleep hours, and wake up feeling tired. If I'm tired upon waking, i.e., at the part of my day I should feel most refreshed, it doesn't bode well. I'm a mess when I'm tired! I get cranky, ineffectual, unproductive, pissy... Needless to say, waking up has some negative experience imprinted on it.

I've been on a healthy kick lately, though, and have committed to getting in a yoga class three times a week. Since I'm in the IA Institute all day and night this week, that means doing an early morning class. So, this morning I woke up at 5:00 to finish some reading, shower, and made a 7:00 yoga class. After that I ate a super healthy breakfast with fresh fruit and had tea instead of coffee, and lo and behold, here I am 4 hours later feeling GREAT, on only 5 hours of sleep. Amazing! This is a positive imprint, and I'm hoping it reinforces sticking to the healthy path, because functioning this well on so little sleep would be a huge boon for making it through my last year of grad school. And being more pleasant to others for those 6 months.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Repost of something from work

Updated: I originally reposted the text of an entry I wrote about the nascent stages of my process in redesigning the my company's website, but instead I'm just going to direct you to the post on our company blog. Why? Well, One, it's a work post and belongs on my work blog. The beauty of the internet is that we don't need to republish, we can LINK to things! And two, my company's blog is neat and you should go there and check it out.