Thursday, July 31, 2008

A revelation

Today, I attended another teaching-related workshop at UNC Chapel Hill. This time, it was an Introduction to Faculty Careers, which was facilitated by two professors from NC State University, Rebecca Brent and Richard Felder. Some excellent tips on what to do and typical "newbie" mistakes to avoid were presented. I thought it was quite helpful.

As I sat there, digesting the information, I came to the realisation that through my graduate student and postdoctoral fellow career, I was being groomed for a position in academia. Okay, nothing earth-shattering there. Naturally, one might assume that if you were to follow the same path I took (go to graduate school to get the Ph.D., and then immediately after obtaining said degree, or even slightly before, go get a postdoctoral fellowship or two), you would be heading for a career as a professor in a university whose primary goals are research and teaching (more emphasis probably on the former than the latter).

I'll admit that I had been muddling through all steps. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I just had some nebulous idea when I was in high school that I wanted to help find a cure to cancer and AIDS. At that point, what did I know about how to go about doing the things needed to fulfill that ambition? I suppose all along the way, I happened to have met the right people who would have helped me meet the goals I thought I had. After a shaky start, I managed to finish my degree and get a few postdoctoral positions. I'd be lying if I were to say it was all peaches and creme - it wasn't. I met some wonderful people along the way, and some not-so-wonderful people in addition. Somehow, I managed to publish some papers and a couple of book chapters, made presentations at conferences, had the opportunity to network with researchers in the fields I was studying at the moment ... I was even given the opportunity to write, and successfully obtain funding from an outside source (in my case, the National Institute on Drug Abuse).

I started thinking about all of this when we were discussing strategies for preparing for an academic career. In the "Next-Stage approach", we were encouraged to think, look, and act ahead of the stage we were currently occupying (in most of our cases, that would be graduate student or post-doc) to the one we would be hoping to occupy (most likely, faculty position at a university or college). A list of possible activites was given, and it was after having looked at this list that I had my realisation. Perhaps I should have known it all along; I will admit that this is the first time I really became aware of it. (I suppose that makes me Queen Dunderhead for not understanding this from the beginning.)

  • Technical reviewing. I was given the opportunity to review a paper before it was published. My advisor gets requests all the time, and she passed one of those requests along to me as she felt the subject discussed fell closer to my area of expertise. I wasn't sure I was up to that challenge, but accepted the request to review the paper. I made my suggestions, returned the paper with my comments to the publisher, and a few months later, noticed that after the paper came out in print, my suggestions were incorporated. That made me feel good. In addition, we were encouraged to proof-read any papers, grant proposals, etc. that were generated from the lab, which gave great experience in being able to improve our technical writing, as the more we did this, the more we would have an idea what to write and how to write it as efficiently as possible.

  • Proposal writing. As I mentioned above, I was given the opportunity to write a proposal for extramural funding through a postdoctoral fellowship with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. I will admit that I never expected it would be funded on the first go, but sure enough, it was, and I received the second-best score out of all the proposals that were received and reviewed at that time. I received funding for three years to carry out the research I proposed, in addition to time for me to further my professional development in hopes of being able to find that faculty position.

  • Supervision of other students. I had the opportunity to do this as well. Actually, come to think of it, I started on this whilst in graduate school. We had the occasional undergraduate student who wanted research experience, and my thesis advisor would assign one of the graduate students to mentor that undergrad student, and in some cases, supervise them on their research. I essentially had an assistant one year. By the end of the academic year, we were able to present her work in a poster that was presented at an undergraduate research conference on campus. My mentoring of students continued through my postdoctoral career. At RTI International, I mentored a couple of students from North Carolina Central University. After I moved to NCCU, I was mentoring high school students as they were carrying out their summer research. (I had the pleasure of meeting one of them recently - she completed her bachelor's degree at Campbell University, and is continuing there as a graduate student in their Pharmacy program.) After moving to UNC, I didn't mentor students in an official capacity, but I did tutor a couple of friends in their General and Organic Chemistry courses. Of course, as a graduate student, I had to supervise students as a TA in organic chemistry lab courses.

  • Publishing. I published a couple of first-author papers as a graduate student, and had a few papers and book chapters as a post-doc. I know that publishing is very important as a research academic - it's the way the funding agencies would be able to keep track of your work, and future funding is contingent on how much progress you've made. What better way to notice this than to track the papers you've published on your research!

  • Conference presentations. I never had this opportunity as a graduate student. It wasn't really emphasized or encouraged. However, I was given the opportunity to present my research within the first 6 months of my first post-doctoral appointment. I was encouraged to do this at least once a year, or more often as the research warrants. It's a great way to meet others in the field, and I've made some wonderful friends via this route..

  • Relations with industry. This is the one area I did not do. Yes, I know people who work at some of the pharmaceutical firms, but that's more because of where I live more than my actively seeking to network with people who work there.

  • Teaching. I had heaps of experience teaching (well, really more TA'ing labs) as a graduate student. I am getting lots of experience now as an Adjunct Professor at Campbell University. And, I find I am enjoying this very much. This has made me realise that perhaps my future does lie in teaching, but I will admit that if I were to follow this route, I would prefer to do mainly teaching, and preferably at the college level.

Hence, my spending the time to attend these workshops. I suppose I needed the time away from the lab to realise what it is I wanted to do. Writing my thoughts down like this is helping.

So I'll go and think about this more, and put together a Philosophy of Teaching statement. At least if I start working on this now, when an opportunity comes up, I'll have something ready, and most of my agonising over what to write will have passed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Catholic Carnival 183

It is time for another Catholic Carnival. This week, I received many interesting submissions, and I thank you all for that. It has taken me quite a while to go through them, and I beg your forgiveness for the tardiness of this Carnival. With that said, please sit back, relax, and enjoy the rides. It is sure to be an interesting one.

The year 1968 was, according to author Mark Kurlansky, the year that rocked the world. It was the year Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Major world events included the Vietnam War and the Tet offensive, the My Lai massacre, and the Prague Spring and its backlash. More relevant to this Catholic Carnival, 1968 was also the year that Pope Paul VI issued his controversial encyclical, Humanae Vitae. The fortieth anniversary of its release was 25 July. Because of the large amount of posts I received on Humanae Vitae and its impact today, I decided to focus on this document. Not to worry: the other submissions I received will still be covered.

What is Humanae Vitae? It is an encyclical that was written by Pope Paul VI that affirms the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church regarding issues pertaining to human life, most notably those having to do with marriage and family life, but receiving far more attention are the issues pertaining to sex within marriage, abortion, and contraception. It is a controversial document, and has elicited much debate. Interestingly it was described as "prophetic" by those who believe its predictions about the effects of contraception on modern society were accurate, as illustrated by an article that ran in the (Philippine) Inquirer, by Francisco S. Tatad. Not long after it was released, opposition to this encyclical was expressed by some Cardinals, bishops, and priests in Western Europe and the United States, and many lay Catholics expressed disagreement with the prohibition on artificial birth control. In fact, open dissent about teachings of the church was voiced widely and publicly.

Forty years later, the debate still rages on. Of late, laypersons including Janet E. Smith, Kimberly Hahn, Christopher West, and Mary Shivanandan have written extensively in support of the teaching, and on the reasons behind it. In addition, organisations such as Couple to Couple League and the Creighton Model FertilityCare System actively provide instruction and support for the natural methods of family planning and fertility awareness.

With that out of the way, here are the submissions that dealt specifically with themes and issues related to Humanae Vitae.

Evann's blog, Homeschool Goodies provided a list of news stories that covered the impact of Humanae Vitae 40 years after its release. Click here for that list.

Marcel, who is part of Texas A&M's St. Mary's Catholic Centre, blogged on Mary Eberstadt's article, The Vindication of Humanae Vitae. It is an extensive discussion of her article and the arguments contained therein. It is a well-researched article.

Kerri at Journal of a Nobody hopes to plant a seed into peoples' thoughts concerning the ecological benefits of using Natural Family Planning. She explains the benefits of NFP and encourages people to have an open mind as far as it's concerned. Read her post here and learn more about it.

Christine brought in a guest blogger at Domestic Vocation to discuss and defend Humanae Vitae. Her friend, Misty, wrote Razing the Arguments for Dissent from the point of view of a Natural Family Planning instructor, as well as someone who has lived with the consequences of contraception for many years.

Heidi at the Extraordinary Moms Network gave a list of posts she made on her other blog, Mommy Monsters Inc. which reflects what she considers to be the highlights of Humanae Vitae.

Heidi also posted at Behold Your Mother on St. Joseph and the sacrifices he may have made being the husband of Mary. Her reflection was based on a quote from Humanae Vitae that had to do with the "conjugal act" and the circumstances upon which it is not considered a true act of love. Confused? Read Heidi's post. She also reflects that priestly celibacy mirrors St. Joseph's sacrificial self-giving.

Speaking of sacrificial self-giving: Elena at My Domestic Church reflects on the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and childbirth. She appreciates the view of a male blogger, and quotes his reflections on pregnancy in her entry. She saves the rest of her reflection on a Catholic woman who has had an abortion in the past, and her change in perspective as to what a pregnant woman offers to God. Bottom line: "the scriptures tell us to make our bodies a living sacrifice". And that is how a woman's pregnancy is akin to giving glory to God.

Admittedly, one of the more difficult issues stemming from this document is abortion. Posted on Ὁι Λόγοι is a counter-argument to the justification of abortions in the case of rape. Der Wolfanwalt wrote:
Arguing that the unborn child is an innocent party to the rape, I create an analogy to a scenario wherein I am morally justified in killing a restaurant owner because he accepted payment for a meal bought with money stolen from me by a mugger.
Much discussion was generated from this post, which led to a separate dialogue. Follow the twists and turns of this post here.

Christine at A Catholic View discussed a South Dakota law that went into effect a couple of weeks ago that states that their physicians must tell any woman seeking an abortion that they are "terminating the life of a whole separate, unique living human being".

Whew! We are 33% along the way.

Another common theme had to do with art, whether it be in life or within the liturgy. Soul Pockets submitted two posts with this in mind. Her first post discussed ways to get children involved with their communities and also in giving to various charities by having them do arts and crafts projects, such as colouring pictures, making hats and other knit items, making cards, drawings, goodie bags, etc. It's a good way to encourage children's creativity for a good cause.

Her second post at ..professio.. asserts that the greatest form of art is the Liturgy of the Catholic Mass. Read this beautiful post and allow the vivid descriptions to move you. It certainly moved me.

This lovely piece Christ in the house of His parents, painted by Sir John Everett Millais, was the subject of a reflection by Margaret on her blog The Earthly Paradise. She discusses the rich symbolism found in this painting.

Moving from paintings to books: Sister Spitfire gives a very hearty recommendation of Christopher West's soon-to-be-released book Heaven's Song. It is an exploration of some talks on the Theology of the Body, which were recently discovered in the Vatican archives. It promises to be a very fascinating read.

The next three submissions have to do with historical figures, with posts including poetry and other thoughts on these people.

Jason at Executed Today wrote about three women of the Noailles family, who were guillotined in Paris on 22 July 1794. From his post:
They are noteworthy of themselves because their courageous Catholic confessor, one Abbe Carrichon, made good a promise to accompany them to the very shadow of the blade to give them absolution and left to us in a description of these pious ladies’ nerve-wracking journey on the tumbrils one of the surprisingly few first-hand narrative descriptions of the Terror’s guillotine at work.
Along with a brief description of one of the Noailles women, Adrienne (Madame de Lafayette) and the reason for sparing her the guillotine, the rest of this post contains the Abbe Carrichon’s account of the women's last moments, including his giving them absolution and their deaths by guillotine.

Hilary at Long-Skirts provided a poem praising St. John Bosco, who was a priest and teacher known for employing teaching methods based on love rather than on punishment.

Peter at Utter Muttering discusses St. Peter and how, according to Mt. 16:18, is intended to be the Head of the Church ("[a]nd so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it"). He then offers a different twist on the ages-old translation issue of the two forms of the word "rock" and show a link between David with a stone and Jesus with Peter, and the rest of us by association. It is, indeed, very interesting reading.

With that, we move on to other reflections based on the Gospel. The next two posts are reflections on Mt. 13:44-52, and continuing on the parables about the Kingdom.

Denise at Catholic Mom discusses the homily her parish priest delivered at Mass last Sunday and relates how the themes of the fish and the net thrown in the sea apply in her life, as far as caring for our own souls, as well as being mindful of the souls around us is concerned. Money quote: "If I trust God’s mercy will save me from my own sins, I must also trust that his mercy is also available to everyone else no matter how great their offenses. They only need the grace to accept this mercy and repent. So I have a responsibility to pray that they receive that grace". She pledges to continue swimming along to stay mindful of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Meanwhile, Kevin at Heart, Mind and Strength discusses not only what was found in the Gospel reading, but also ties in themes from the first two readings (1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12; Solomon's request; Rom 8:28-30). A quote from his post: "Living for the Kingdom may involve sacrifice, but it is indeed infinitely more than worthwhile". He then explores what the choice of the Kingdom means concretely.

Owen at luminousmiseries shares with us a "personal revelation" or realisation regarding how one should receive Holy Communion. It's an issue that has been long debated: do you receive on the tongue or in the hand? He received on the tongue for the first time and shared his feelings on that.

For me: I've done both. If I know I will be receiving from a priest (and admittedly for me, most especially from a Filipino priest), then I will receive on the tongue. I know they will not question me on that; I make every indication that I wish to receive on the tongue and they comply. If I'm receiving from an EEM, then I will receive in the hand. Of course, there are some (and yes, this also includes a few priests) who I've noticed will not raise the host whilst saying, "The Body of Christ" as they will just say that as they are placing the host in the communicant's hand. In that situation, I understand I'm not given a choice. But meek me, I just (internally) shrug and go along with it.

Of course, I'm generally rising from a rather deep bow at that point (and there is the insistence that you are bowing reverently as the person in front of you is receiving).

Ebeth from Catholic Mum Climbing the Pillars sent in a post concerning one of my pet peeves as far as the Mass is concerned: applause during the Mass. An icon depicts Pope Benedict XVI's views on applause during the Mass. Money quote: "It is a sure sign that the essence of Liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment". Those of you who have followed my musings know that I've whinged and wailed about applause at Mass. Glad to know that His Holiness feels the same way I do about this issue.

Well, ladies and gentlemen: we are now 74% complete. We now come to the Personal Reflections corner of the Carnival.

Fellow chemist and blogger Michelle at Quantum Theology wrote about the trials and tribulations of raising teen-aged boys. She illustrated one "battle of wills" in particular with one of her sons, to whom she referred as "Barnacle Boy". They both go to Mass, and whilst singing the Litany of the Saints, both mother and son make a discovery of sorts. Read on here for more of this story.

In the meantime, Lisa at A Life of Benevolence wrote an eloquent post about how to make room for God. Her proposal includes her story about decluttering her life and gave a couple of book recommendations, including one book from which her title derived: S.K. Rowland's Making Room for God: Clearing Out the Clutter.

On the other hand, Jane at Building the Ark managed to find God in the garbage. Sounds unusual, doesn't it? She lives in a community that mandates the size and type of garbage can that must be used. She had some extra cans which did not match the size the bureaucrats mandated, so she sent a message, offering to give them away for free. Read the rest of the post to see what happened to those extra cans. It's a nice story.

Sarah at just another day of Catholic pondering reflected on that lovely item that can be as high as an elephant's eye (yes, I've got Oklahoma on the brain for the moment): corn. As the tassels whisper to her, she finds the pull of nature, and the hug of God.

Another eloquent post comes from Cathy at From the Field of Blue Children. She blogs on the art of disappointment. She doesn't give the details over what caused her disappointment, but instead offers a reflection on how she deals with it: by accepting it, and offering her acceptance of it to God.

Kathleen at Daily Awareness shares an example on how God’s delays are not being God’s denials. She shared the story of Queen Emily, who is a single mother of three children. She had dreams and aspirations of being a singer. Read her story and see how her dream unfolds.

And finally, last but not least, we have a wonderful idea by Sean at Catholic New Media Roundup. He first attracted my attention when he hosted Catholic Carnival 168 when he posted that as a podcast simulcast. I thought it was a novel new way to publish the Carnivals. Now, he wants to help you get the word out. He wants you, those of you who have blogs, podcasts, and other related media with Catholic themes, to send in your promos. Click here to download his promo. There, he gives information on how to contact him so you can send your promo to him.

And now we come to the end of another edition of the Catholic Carnival. Thanks again everyone for your wonderful submissions. This I'll have to admit was the most difficult Carnival for me to put together, mainly because of the heavy reading that went along with it. (Gotta give this science geek something different to read from time to time, yes?) Until next time ... peace and love to you all.

I've discerned that these Carnivals can only be as good as the entries you bring to the party. Please feel free to submit your thoughts to future Carnivals. A handy-dandy form may be found by clicking here. In addition, a list of past and future Carnivals may be obtained by clicking here.

Note: Carnival art print by Catherine Jones, at

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Prayer Request

I just received a phone call from a friend of mine. His father is dying; was removed from life support today, and has a morphine drip to ease the pain he must be feeling. He is ca. 78 years old; was in a car accident several months ago in which he suffered some serious injuries, including fractured ribs and a punctured lung.

Please pray that he may have a peaceful passing.

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love for this life and the life to come, knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for. Help us, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe in the communion of saints, the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Me? Boring?

The Meme Sheep strikes again! This meme, and the sheep idea were stolen from JunoMagic.

Bold the ones that are true for you …

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars
21. Changed a baby’s diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse
30. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
31. Asked out a stranger
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can (Primal Screams at UCSD, of course!)
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
40. Seen a total eclipse
41. Ridden a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer
50. Loved your job for all accounts
51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe
58. Taken a road-trip
59. Rock climbing
60. Lied to foreign government’s official in that country to avoid notice
61. Midnight walk on the beach (If I didn't do that, then how can I say I grew up in San Diego???)
62. Sky diving
63. Visited Ireland
64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Bench pressed your own weight
68. Milked a cow
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero
71. Sung karaoke (What kind of a Filipino am I if I haven't done this???)
72. Lounged around in bed all day
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving
75. Got it on to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theatre
80. Done something you should regret, but don’t regret it
81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who’s not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favour of something better (I wish!)
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87. Taken a martial arts class
88. Sword fought for the honour of a woman
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn’t have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch (All the time.)
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Ridden a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo (Only a henna one. <-- same as Juno; did that when an ex-roommate got married, and we were "henna'ing" each others' hands)
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
105. Got flowers for no reason (It's a given since I work at a church)
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don’t remember anything
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas (Too many times whilst growing up.)
111. Recorded music (with Chapel of the Cross' awesome choirs)
112. Eaten shark (does Shark Fin soup count??)
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live (I wish!!!)
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a check
124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read - and understood - your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favourite childhood toy
128. Followed your favourite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your Member of Congress
132a. Had them write back
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. … more than once?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
140. Wrote articles for a large publication (You do that when you submit your papers to the major research journals.)
141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone’s heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a TV game show
149. Broken a bone (You try playing the organ pedals with a cast on your foot.)
150. Killed a human being
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Ridden a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100mph
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Ridden a horse
158. Had major surgery
159. Had sex on a moving train
160. Had a snake as a pet
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than US states
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi (Love it! Sashimi's good, too)
171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes (Honey, I live in the South. Of course, I've eaten them!)
180. Read “The Iliad” (School assignment.)
181. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them
183. … and gotten 86′ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196. Dyed your hair (Do purple highlights count?)
197. Been a DJ
198. Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal/Blogger/Wordpress/etc.
199. Written your own role playing game
200. Been arrested

27 July - 11th Sunday After Pentecost - Proper 12

Here are my usual lists. I played two services yesterday.

St. Joseph's Episcopal Church - numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982.

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist: Rite II
Prelude: Echo Fantasia 6 (Ionian; attr. J. Sweelinck)
Pro: 9, Not here for high and holy things (MORNING SONG)
Trisagion: S-100 (New Plainsong Mass; Hurd)
Psalm: Ps 128 (Guimont)
Seq: 615, Thy kingdom come! on bended knee (ST FLAVIAN)
Off: 447, The Christ who died but rose again (ST MAGNUS)
Sanctus: S-130, Deutsche Messe (Schubert)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Fraction Anthem: S-169, My flesh is food indeed (Urwin)
Comm: 711, Seek ye first the kingdom of God (SEEK YE FIRST)
Re: 195, Jesus lives! thy terrors now (MOWSLEY)
Postlude: Prelude and Fugue in g minor (attr. J.S. Bach)

A most interesting comment came my way after the service yesterday: a couple of people approached me and said they really enjoyed my prelude piece. They said it came from a movie, but could not recall which one ... so if anyone out there knows which film this piece was played, I'd be very appreciative if you could mention it in the combox. If you click on the link, it will take you to a nice site (Virtually Baroque) where you can hear it. Hopefully this will ring a few bells out of the movie-goers amongst you?

Service #2: Carol Woods. Services there are organised by Chapel of the Cross. This was a simple service, really resembling the 8.00 am summer morning Rite I services at Chapel of the Cross, with a few omissions, depending upon the Presider of the Day. I've agreed to serve as the service pianist for the whole of the summer, up until my services at the Episcopal Centre at Duke University are required again shortly before Labour Day.

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist: Rite I
Prelude: Half of Echo Fantasia 6 (Ionian; attr. J. Sweelinck)
Pro: 447, The Christ who died but rose again (ST MAGNUS)
Off: 635, If thou but trust in God to guide thee (WER NUR DEN LIEBEN GOTT)*
Comm: The other half of Sweelinck's Ionian Echo Fantasia 6
Re: 594, God of grace and God of glory (CWM RHONDDA)
Postlude: Praeludium in F ("Ionian"; Sweelinck)

*Interestingly enough, I had considered this hymn for offertory at St. Joe's, but decided against it because it only had 2 verses, and I'm rubbish at improvisation (bows deeply to David Arcus and Van Quinn, both of whom are brilliant at it). For the Carol Woods service, I decided as introduction to try my hand at improvisation in the form of a very heavily ornamented chorale. This lot is used to it if they've gone to services at Chapel of the Cross when they were younger. It's very similar in style to Van's improv, and in fact, I did it really in homage to him. I'm sure the Presider of the Day (Rev'd. Stephen Elkins-Williams) recognised it!

I am so very much enjoying playing for these folks; I shall miss them when I return to Duke come 31 August.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Thoughts on Teaching

Day Two of a workshop on how to write a Teaching Portfolio. We're learning more on how to integrate different ideas and skills into teaching.

Technology was one of the ideas visited today, and specifically mentioned was VoiceThread which is an interesting idea of integrating technology and teaching. Just a quick glance at the website, plus brief descriptions given during the workshop indicated it was a way to introduce a more interactive experience for the student.

This leads to another theme I discerned: interaction. After my teaching experience at Campbell, I am getting to realise just how important being able to interact with the students is. And, I found that the students who did make the effort to interact with me more tended to be the ones who were more successful in my classes.

Thinking back to my initial experiences as an Adjunct faculty member at Campbell, one of the first things I realised was that my approach to lecturing needed an adjustment if I had any hope of being able to relate to the students. Whilst delivering my first lecture in Intro to Forensic Science, I realised that I had lost them, in addition to the Primary Instructor (who is a police officer with one of the local police departments) within the first ten minutes.

After the class, the primary instructor asked me what my impressions of my first lecture was, and I responded, "Well, it's nothing like TA'ing a lab, that's for sure." I also mentioned that I had the feeling I lost the students pretty quickly. He seemed to have agreed with that assessment. I then added that when giving a lecture, I was quite used to speaking within the context of giving a seminar to a group of people as opposed to giving a lecture with the intent of teaching students. Sharing information versus teaching information. After making that realisation, I knew then that I had to change my approach, otherwise, I would not be an effective teacher. I thought, with a little bit of dread, that I became what my friends and I used to poke fun at: the droning professor who couldn't teach his way out of a paper bag.

Considering my position now, I also have to remember that most of the students I'll be dealing with are non-traditional undergraduate students. Most have full-time jobs and families to deal with. As a graduate student TA, I gained a reputation for being rather strict with deadlines and the like. I was merciless when it came to tardy assignments and lab reports - automatic points off. With this lot, I've had to learn to be more flexible. Yes, they have other commitments pertaining to Real Life. They are not like the typical undergraduate student who doesn't have other responsibilities outside of studying for classes. I've had to adjust my policies - as long as they've done the work, it's fine with me, just as long as they're able to perform in exams, as well as carry out their experiments in the lab safely and efficiently.

Naturally, using Blackboard as a tool to develop a "Blended Course" allows me the chance to be more interactive with the students outside of class time. It's a great place for me to refer students to external links I might find interesting or helpful and relevant to the course materials. It's a great place for me to upload files and the like, such as Powerpoint presentations, old exams, etc. that will help the students learn the materials. The Discussion Board application is another great way to continue the Interaction theme, although I'll have to admit - it's worked quite well with Forensic Science, but not so well with my Chemistry classes.

Students responded very well to the offers of exam reviews for the final. The lure of food helped as well - I had great turnouts for both of my Chemistry courses when I offered this option, which allowed for more interaction between the students and me, and I really got the chance to have a sense of where the students were as far as their understanding of the materials was concerned. In a couple of cases, it also enabled me to adjust the exam so I can ensure the questions were at a level that they can answer, but will still challenge them sufficiently that they'd have to work to get the answer.

Back to the workshop. We were given some questions to consider. I'll answer some of those questions here. Feel free to comment on my answers in the combox or contact me by email.

Why do you like teaching?
I believe I've answered this question in some of my teaching related musings on this blog. Just click on the Teaching label below this post to get a list of other teaching-related posts I've made. I'm sure the answer is buried in there somewhere.

What kinds of teaching do you do?
Most of my teaching experience lies in being a Teaching Assistant in the lab. My most recent teaching experience lies in the classroom.

How has your teaching changed over the years?
I believe it is too early to tell at this point. The main change: I am now in charge, as opposed to following someone else's directives.

How do you think students best learn the subject that you teach?
I believe they learn through hands-on experience. I can tell them to do problems until I'm blue in the face. Put them in the lab, and the subject material becomes alive to them.

Also too - the last time Intro to Forensic Science was taught, I suggested to my fellow instructors that perhaps we should consider arranging for a field trip to the State's forensic labs so that the students will have the chance to see those in the field in action. The Principal Instructor arranged for two field trips to the SBI and the CCBI in Raleigh, and both trips were very well received by the students. It was another way to make the subject matter come alive for the students.

How do you motivate students to learn?
You have to love what you are teaching. If you are lukewarm to apathetic, your students sense this, and they will act accordingly. Believe it or not, I am speaking from experience - one of my undergrad classes (I will not identify which one, or which professor) was very much like this. The professor obviously did not show much interest, and even said so (reading between the lines, this sentiment came out very loudly and clearly). Consequently, the students did not show much interest or care in the course. The abysmal average marks on the midterm exams (generally in the high 20s, low 30s out of 100) was reflective of this. And this was out of a class of approximately 70-80 students.

What are the barriers to student learning and how do you try to overcome them?
Of late, I've been teaching non-traditional students. I'd need to make the subject matter interesting; otherwise, they won't do the work, intead favouring to spend time with their other Real Life commitments.

In what ways are students "different" when they have completed your courses?
I would hope they'd gain an appreciation of the beauty and art that is Chemistry and not fear it as "the hard" or "scary" science.

In terms of student learning, what are the most important outcomes from your teaching?
If the students can learn Chemistry without fearing it, then I've done my job. Appreciating it is the cherry on top.

Which of your courses is the most successful? Why?

I believe it is too soon to tell. My General Chemistry students seemed to have appreciated the course, based on the thank you cards and Facebook friend requests I've received since the course ended.

What innovations hae you tried in your teaching and what were the results?
The main innovation is teaching both Elementary Chemistry and General Chemistry courses as Blended Courses, which means 50% or greater of the course material is delivered to the students on-line. I was lucky to have had self-motivated students who were willing to put in the work as most of the course, excepting lab practicals, was administered on-line.

I was initially uncomfortable about this set-up, however. How could the students hope to survive this course and its subject materials if their only face-to-face time with me was spent in lab? I'm not even required to keep office hours, but I emphasise to my students that they can contact me anytime via email. When discussing the syllabus on the first day, I tell the students that if they download the Powerpoint presentations, read the chapters in their textbooks, understand the concepts presented therein, and do the homework, all that work will guarantee them at least a C grade. If they want something higher than that, they'd have to work harder. Setting the bar high like that enabled the students to meet it, and exceed it in many cases.

In general, I've not been disappointed. I've had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest students I've come across. It's a privilege to work with them, and I am humbled when I realise that I have the chance to shape these minds whilst helping them to reach their ultimate goals.

I suppose that may answer the first question above: why do you like teaching? Certainly, it will be a new adventure with every class I encounter. I just hope I can help make their journeys through my classes easier to bear.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Some thoughts on teaching

This morning, I attended a workshop on how to develop and write a teaching statement, which was given by Donna Bailey of UNC's Center for Teaching and Learning. It was a very helpful session, indeed.

Those of you who know me know that at this point, I am still in a discerning process, trying to decide what I want to do for the rest of my career. For the moment, I am an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Campbell University, based at their Morrisville campus. When I'm not teaching, I am the Organist/Choirmaster at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church in Durham, in addition to serving as Organist for the Episcopal Center at Duke University.

With all that out of the way ... it is indeed a good thing that I am gaining teaching experience with the Campbell position. I am enjoying teaching, and believe that this is where my future lies. I'm not really sure I'd want to go back to research, however - after a year and a half away from the lab, I can honestly say I don't miss it. At all. I miss the camaraderie I shared with fellow scientists, both near and far, and I miss seeing my scientist friends I met whilst attending conferences, most notably those from the ICRS.

At this point, I am forging my own path. I am asked to design a Chemistry course that can be taught mostly on-line. What I have been doing with my 101 and 111 courses is utilizing Blackboard by placing lots of resources and Powerpoint presentations containing the book material on-line. Face-to-face class time has been reserved for hands-on practical experience in the lab with experiments designed to compliment the concepts being taught in the course. I have received a lot of help from the Chemistry professors at the Main Campus, most notably Dr. Lin Coker and Dr. James Jung. It seems to be working - the students I have taught thus far have responded positively to this approach.

As far as the actual writing of a Teaching Statement is concerned: this is where I run into difficulty. Sure, I can expand on my silly little plot bunnies that have been running circles around my head and biting my ankles, but having to put my thoughts about teaching, and my goals concerning it is a different thing altogether. Some very interesting thoughts came about from today's session: in one way or another, we all have been teachers, whether one teaches Sunday School in church, or teaches a child how to do things around the house, or even at play. So it made me think, what have I done as far as teaching others is concerned?

I have extensive experience as a Teaching Assistant in Organic Chemistry from my days as a graduate student at Clark University as I've had to TA almost every semester I was there. This experience was very useful as I set up the lab portion of the two Chemistry courses, as well as the Chemistry component of the Forensic Science course I team-taught. I tutored a couple of friends when they were taking their General and Organic Chemistry courses. I also mentored high school students from the NC School of Science and Math whilst a post-doc at North Carolina Central University. Going further back, when I was a post-doc at RTI International, I was mentoring undergrad students from NCCU, mostly teaching them about how methods in computational chemistry can be applied toward the design of drugs for medicinal purposes.

My non-science teaching lie mostly in the music fields: teaching a lab-mate's daughter how to play the piano, for example. She was seven years old at the time, and very keen to learn. She made so much progress in a year, I was quite sorry to see her go as her father, who was a fellow post-doc, obtained an academic position in Tennessee. I encouraged her to continue her piano studies, and hope that she is doing so. I believe she would be about 14 or 15 years old now. Zuki - wherever you are, I hope you're doing well.

Of course, with my church organist job, I am also working with my choristers and other musicians. It's definitely a leadership position, one that I never thought I'd be in, especially after seeing my friends Allen, Richard, Ben, Van, and Tim in action with their own choirs. There is teaching involved with that position as well - teaching my choristers new songs and such. They received quite a sense of accomplishment after having worked on Richard Proulx' arrangement of Boyce's Alleluia Round. I am also expanding the congregation's hymn repertoire as well. I was told they stuck to the old familiar hymns with little variation. I learnt through my experience singing with St. Stephen's and Chapel of the Cross' choirs that learning new hymns needn't be a difficult experience. Most of the hymns have enough verses that with repetition, the congregation will be able to pick it up well enough, particularly with strong leadership from both the organist and the choir. And of late, I have received compliments from the congregation about the hymns that I've chosen, and how they were appreciative at having the chance to sing new hymns they hadn't sung before.

So I suppose taken together, all of what I've written thus far can be somehow pulled into a statement of my teaching experiences. As far as my goals are concerned: that I'll have to think about. I can say that it has given me pleasure to know that I have imparted knowledge to people who are willing to receive it. I will be one of the first to admit that Chemistry is not an easy subject to learn - in some respects, it's almost like learning a different language, or even a different way of thinking altogether. However, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is quite rewarding when a student comes to understand and appreciate a topic s/he has been struggling with, and most especially, with my 101 students, that they appreciate Chemistry for what it is, instead of fearing it because "it's too hard" or "there's too many things about Chemistry that scare the living daylights out of me."

If I can get through to students like that, as far as I'm concerned, I've done my job, and all is well with the world.

Finite Incantatem

The "Wacky" Fantasia in a minor, BWV 922

I came across this one whilst clearing out my mbox of the voluminous amounts of email I allowed to accumulate. This comes courtesy of Dr. Bradley Lehman via the PIPORG-L listserv.

Dr. Lehman posted a video of his performance of the little-performed Bach Fantasia in a minor, which he recorded in 2005 at Goshen College, Goshen Indiana USA. The organ is the Taylor & Boody Opus 41.

Here is what he says about this recording, lifted from the descriptions from the YouTube video:
The recording was part of the sessions for the 3-CD set A Joy Forever, but eventually we decided the set was already full enough without it. It is published here as an informal video, with a scrolling score.

Bach wrote this music in his late 20s.

Organists don't find this piece in their handy volumes of "Bach organ music" because of the artificial division that happened more than 100 years ago between Bach "organ" and "keyboard" pieces. The pedal part here is at the player's initiative and discretion.

In most of the ways that harpsichordists tune, the triads of B, F#, and C# majors sound rough ... and this piece uses enough of them that it turns into an ugly mess.

Some sections of the piece are long and repetitive, with little happening beyond some adventurous modulations (akin to those of the f# minor toccata, BWV 910). In the equal temperament of pianos and most organs, it is difficult to make much of this without being merely dull.

The piece is arguably too big and boisterous for the clavichord.

What is left but to leave it mostly unplayed? However, it deserves better!

Details about the tuning, and purchase information for the CD set and the related harpsichord solo CD may be found here.
I'm listening to this right now, and it is pretty neat. The video is embedded below; enjoy!

Catholic Carnival #183 ...

... will be hosted here for the week of July 29.

I am already receiving submissions for this Carnival. I haven't yet decided on a theme, but then again, it would also depend very much on the submissions I receive.

As it's been a while since I last posted this, click here for a reminder of what the Catholic Carnival is, courtesy of the Carnival Keeper, Jay at Living Catholicism. A handy-dandy submissions form may be found by clicking here. In addition, a list of past and future Carnivals may be obtained by clicking here.

I look forward to reading your submissions!

Note: Carnival art print by Catherine Jones, at

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Usual Sunday Lists

I played the 5.30 pm Vigil Mass at Immaculate Conception Saturday evening, and cantored the 7.45 am Mass the next morning.

Here are the music lists. As usual, the numbers come out of GIA's Gather Comprehensive 1994 (green cover):

Saturday 5.30 pm Vigil Mass: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gloria: 176 (Andrews)
Gospel Acclamation: 262 Joyful Alleluia (Hughes)
Sanctus, Mem. Accl., Amen: (gag, cough, splutter) St. Louis Jesuits Mass
Agnus Dei: 314 Holy Cross Mass (Isele)

Prelude: Prelude in C Major (BWV 846a; J. S. Bach)
Pro: 744, Gather us in (GATHER US IN)
Psalm: 81, Psalm 86 (Guimont)
Off: 615, Seek ye first (SEEK YE FIRST)
Comm: 821, Bread of life, hope of the world (B. Farrell)
Re: 690, Anthem (T. Conry)
Postlude: Ayre of Four Parts (J. Dowland)

As you can see, all winners. (Not.) I ended up sight-reading a few of these, faking it for the St. Louis Jebbies stuff on the organ because I could chord along ... saving the Opening and Closing "songs" for the piano, whilst holding down the bile. Sigh. In a way, I'm glad I ended up sight-reading these things, that way I can "type" out the music, and then forget about it. (So there, I've shown my true colours as far as Liturgical Music is concerned.)

I came back the next morning to cantor the 7.45 am Mass. I'm not sure what the organist played for her voluntary pieces, but they sounded suspiciously like Bach. Perhaps some selections out of the Orgelbüchlein?

Sunday 7.45 am Mass: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gloria: 254 (Lee)
Gospel Acclamation: 261, Murray; verse chanted to tone VIII-g
Sanctus, Mem. Accl., Amen, Agnus Dei: Mass of Creation, with my "doctoring" of the Agnus Dei, essentially undoing the language faux-pas Haugen inflicted upon it in the first place ...

Pro: 606, How firm a foundation (FOUNDATION)
Psalm: 81, Psalm 86 (Guimont)
Off: 840, Shepherd of souls (ST. AGNES)
Comm: Organist's Voluntary
Re: 642, Jesus, lead the way (ROCHELLE)

Ah. Music sanity. Bliss.

Right after that Mass (and chatting with Jane, the organist, who encouraged me to consider auditioning for one of the abfab Rodney Wynkoop's choral groups (most likely the Choral Society of Durham) come Labour Day), I rushed over to St. Joseph's Episcopal Church where I played my usual 10.30 am service. As usual, numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982.

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist: Rite II
Prelude: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (J. S. Bach)
Pro: 453, As Jacob with travel was weary one day (MORNING HYMN)
Trisagion: S-100 (New Plainsong Mass; Hurd)
Psalm: Psalm 139 (Barrett)
Seq: 424, For the fruit of all creation (EAST ACKLAM)
Off: 665, All my hope on God is founded (MICHAEL)
Sanctus: S-130, Deutsche Messe (Schubert)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Fraction Anthem: S-169, My flesh is food indeed (Urwin)
Comm: WLP 747, God the sculptor of the mountains (URBS BEATA; Sarum Plainsong Mode II)
Re: 336, Come with us, O blessed Jesus (WERDE MUNTER)
Postlude: Voluntary in D Major: Adagio ("Trumpet"; Op. 6, No. 5; Stanley)

Yes, THE Stanley Trumpet Voluntary. Badly played, but there it was. Click on the link, and you'll be taken to a YouTube video where the young, 20-year-old organist, Rob, played the arrangement I muddled through much much better.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Two-Word Meme

Stolen from Nick and Jason P. over at MySpace.

Remember you can only use 2 words!

1. Where is your cell phone? haven't any

2. Your significant other? haven't one

3. Your hair? very long

4. Your brother? in SD

5. Your sister? haven't one

6. Your favorite thing? laptop computer

7. Your dream last night? don't remember

8. Your favorite beverage? flavoured water

9. Your dream/goal? good job

10. The room you're in? dining room

11. Your ex? ex what?

12. Your fear? who's afraid?

13. Where do you want to be in 10 years? happy place

14. Where were you last night? At home

15. What you're not? sentimental sap

16. Muffins? are delicious

17. One of your wish list items? good book

18. Where you grew up? SD, CA

19. The last thing you did? graded papers

20. What are you wearing? shirt shorts

21. Your TV? been silent

22. Your pets? pet cemetary

23. Your computer? working fine

24. Your life? just okay

25. Your mood? just okay

26. Missing someone? maybe so

27. Your car? works fine

28. Something you're not wearing? hair net

29. Favorite Place? Duke Chapel

30. Your summer? busy teaching

31. Love someone? my mum

32. Your favorite color? black blue

33. Last time you laughed last night

34. Last time you cried? don't remember

35. Who will repost this? who knows

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another term done ...

Today was the last face-to-face meeting with my Chemistry 111/111L class (General Chemistry) for the Summer Term 2008. I've had eight weeks with these students, and for me, it was quite rewarding. I can honestly say that if these students were thrown in with a larger class, they would be amongst the top of the class. They were that good. They may not have thought they were doing as well, but honestly, I don't see a C amongst this lot. Those who may have been struggling actually pulled themselves up with excellent performances on their finals. They really did it on their own - this was a "blended" course, so they received at least 50% of their instruction on-line. The onus was on them to download the Powerpoint presentations and do their homework. I gave them weekly quizzes to keep them on their toes. If they didn't have a quiz on "Virtual Class Days," they had a Midterm Exam. Our only face-to-face class time came with the labs on Wednesdays. And this lot generally completed their labs faster than expected.

So it's just hitting me now that I won't see this group again ... but I certainly wish them all the best with their future endeavours.

13 July - 9th Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 10

Here are my usual lists. I played three services last Sunday. I ended up going with voluntary pieces I knew well, mainly because of the crush of finals writing, as well as having to review some concepts very well before a Review Session I gave to my students shortly after my last service of the day. So I wore both my Church Musician and my Teacher's hats last Sunday. It was a busy day indeed.

St. Joseph's Episcopal Church - numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982.

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist: Rite II
Prelude: Prelude in B-flat Major (attr. J. S. Bach, from Eight Little Preludes and Fugues)
Pro: 440, Blessed Jesus, at thy word (LIEBSTER JESU)
Trisagion: S-100 (New Plainsong Mass; Hurd)
Psalm: Ps 119 (Plainsong, Tone 8, from Gradual Psalms for the RCL, ed. B. Ford)
Seq: 512, Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly Dove (MENDON)
Off: 593, Lord, make us servants of your peace (DICKINSON COLLEGE)
Sanctus: S-130, Deutsche Messe (Schubert)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Fraction Anthem: S-169, My flesh is food indeed (Urwin)
Comm: Abba, Father, send your Spirit (ABBA, FATHER)
Re: 530, Spread, O spread, thou mighty word (GOTT SEI DANK)
Postlude: Fugue in B-flat Major (attr. Bach)

A couple of comments: the Offertory hymn is the text of the prayer attributed to St. Francis. I decided to try the tune that was in The Hymnal 1982 a go. People didn't seem very familiar with it. After the service, I was told that the version people at St. Joseph's were more familiar with was the version that was played at Princess Diana's funeral. Well, a little research revealed that version to be the one most Catholics are familiar with: the Sebastian Temple setting. The Communion song was from the in-house hymnal that I felt obligated to use. I will be honest - I really dislike most of what's in there. But I understand that the songs contained therein was the glue that held the parish together through thick and thin, so for pastoral reasons, I do my level best to include songs from there. I just grit, bear it, and then listen to the compliments after the service from those who are happy I am using it as a resource for the parish.

Service #2: Carol Woods. Services there are organised by Chapel of the Cross. This was a simple service, really resembling the 8.00 am summer morning Rite I services at Chapel of the Cross, with a few omissions, depending upon the Presider of the Day. I've agreed to serve as the service pianist for the whole of the summer, up until my services at the Episcopal Centre at Duke University are required again shortly before Labour Day.

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist: Rite I
Prelude: Introductory Voluntary (F. Linley)
Pro: 47, On this day, the first of days (GOTT SEI DANK)
Off: 302, Father, we thank thee who hast planted (RENDEZ À DIEU)
Comm: Prelude in C Major (BWV 846a; J. S. Bach); Adagio (Anonymous); Cantabile (C. Zeuner)
Re: 537, Christ for the world we sing! (MOSCOW)
Postlude: Ayre of Four Parts (J. Dowland)

Service #3: I agreed to sub for a friend at the 5.15 pm service at the Chapel of the Cross. They are reading a different set of Old and New Testament readings than St. Joseph's, as well as a different Psalm. Apparently, within the Revised Common Lectionary, there are two tracks that one may follow. I just noticed it as the "SC Track" and the "GR Track." St. Joseph's are following the former whilst Chapel of the Cross is following the latter. So naturally, the hymns chosen would, in all likelihood, be quite different than those I've picked out for St. Joseph's.

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist: Rite II
Prelude: Prelude in B-flat Major (attr. J. S. Bach, from Eight Little Preludes and Fugues)
Pro: 47, On this day, the first of days (GOTT SEI DANK)
Psalm: Ps 65 (recited)
Seq: 512, Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly Dove (MENDON)
Off: 302, Father, we thank thee who hast planted (RENDEZ À DIEU)
Sanctus: S-125, Community Mass (Proulx)
Comm: Echo Fantasia 6 (Ionian; attr. J. Sweelinck)
Re: 537, Christ for the world we sing! (MOSCOW)
Postlude: Fugue in B-flat Major (attr. Bach)

And once this was done, I left immediately to conduct a review session for my students. It was a busy day, indeed.

This is the way to use modern technology ...

Reading a story about Pope Benedict XVI in Australia, this bit caught my eye: Pilgrims also received the second of daily mobile phone text messages from Benedict: "The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles and gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! - BXVI."

Who'd have thought that one would receive such a message via modern technology? Frankly speaking, it shouldn't be much of a surprise. I get the impression the Holy Father knows how to use modern technology as a tool to reach the masses in the 21st century. I subscribe to one of the Vatican podcast feeds via iTunes, which delivers snippets from his weekly General Audiences, as well as from Angelus prayers, generally conducted at St. Peter's. Naturally, most of those are in Italian, although His Holiness also gives his messages in other languages (French, English, German, Spanish, Polish, etc.).

(Photo credit: L'Osservatore Romano, via AP)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Perfect Fifth

H/T to K.S. via the Anglican Music listserv.

He gave a link to an episode to a very funny French TV series, Kaamelott. Its aim is to make the Arthurian Legend ... unlegendary, for lack of a better term.

In this particular episode, the characters are discussing Sacred Music and its "strict codes."

This is hilarious! It is in French with subtitles, but if you can understand the French, you will be able to catch all the humour.

Catholic Carnival 181 at Frank, in a Sense & Mirth

Catholic Carnival 181 is up and running at Frank, in a Sense & Mirth. I didn't provide a post this time around, but felt compelled to advertise this edition of the Catholic Carnival. Alexa is another first-time hostess, and is a creative one at that. She took the Carnival theme and went with it, designing a template to match. Go check it out before she switches the template back to her usual.

I've discerned that these Carnivals can only be as good as the entries you bring to the party. Please feel free to submit your thoughts to future Carnivals. A handy-dandy form may be found by clicking here. In addition, a list of past and future Carnivals may be obtained by clicking here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

'Tis rewarding, this teaching thing ...

I've been monitoring my students for the better part of the day, and noticed that one of them, who has been struggling, but improving, over the course of the semester just completed the final exam under the time allotted.

After having marked the exam, I noticed that this person aced it with a greater than 90% score! I was so happy for this person. I'm pretty sure the final marks will be something that will bring a smile to this person's face.

So it's things like that which make me realise how rewarding teaching is. It's really a nice feeling to see someone understand a concept after having explained it to them.

Now I can smile for the rest of the evening whilst waiting for my other students to begin and complete their finals.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Finals ... Finals ... Finals ... @.@

... trying to get the lecture final completed and posted before I go to sleep tonight ... and then I'll have to start writing up the lab final tomorrow because a couple of students asked for and received permission to take their lab finals a couple of days early.

Music lists will be posted tomorrow.

(Whimsical drawing borrowed from Daniel Rowe.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

How not to use the ATM machine

... or as my old college buddy, Jeff used to call it, the "Bank in the Box." H/T to Tyler for this brief video.

How Not To Use The Drive Through ATM - Watch more free videos

Friday, July 11, 2008

I admit it ...

... I'm a nerd. says I'm a Cool High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

How about you?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Old Folk Rhyming Poems

I stumbled upon a neat set of rhyming poems. What brought this on: I was IM'ing a friend, and just like the irritating creature I can be, whenever "I see" appeared on the screen, I would immediately follow that up with, "said the blind man to the deaf-mute." (Kind of like another friend's propensity to say, "But a well is a hole in the ground," whenever I start off with, "Well ...." Cute at first, but gets rather irritating after a while.)

So I decided to do a Google search on the phrase, "I see said the blind man to the deaf-mute."

One of the hits yielded this. I thought it was really cool, starting off with:

"One bright day, in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight [...]"

Of course, here was the bit I was most interested in:

And the narrator, with his story untold,
Meekly whispered, loud and bold,
The beginning words, to the meeting's end,
You, my enemy, are now my friend,
Oh, now I see said the blind man, to the deaf mute.
As he picked up a hammer and saw
He called his wife on the disconnected telephone to see if it was raining
(They lived on the corner, in the middle of the block,
On the second floor of a vacant lot.)
She stuck her wooden arm through the knot hole in the brick wall

Hmmm. Seems incomplete to me though. But, that is where it ends.

Cool stuff.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Church organ ruined in raid

H/T to John H. from the PIPORG-L listserv.

The thieves are getting desperate. They stole lead from the roof of St. Michael and All Angels C of E Church in Wolverhampton, UK. This caused rainwater to go down into the pipes and the leatherwork of the organ, rendering it virtually unplayable.

Why steal the lead one may ask? With the prices increasing on scrap metal, it's no surprise that thieves would be cashing in on their thefts. It's kind of like the thieves capitalising on the theft of used vegetable oil in these days of soaring gas prices ...

Back to this story: the sad thing is that they just spent £10K in routine maintenance, and all for naught. Repairs to the roof are estimated to cost £80K, and damage to the organ was estimated at £30K.

The story did not specify what kind of organ it was, or its specs. It only made reference to the landmark organ, and the fact that it is no longer available for weddings and services.

More information can be obtained here.

(Photo credit: Express & Star. I am assuming that is the Rev'd Margaret Mattocks next to the damaged organ.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Catholic Carnival 180 at Adrienne's Catholic Corner

Catholic Carnival 180 is up and running at Adrienne's Catholic Corner. The post I provided was that on the Prêtres Academy, which followed the day-to-day lives of three young priests from the Diocese of Besançon in France. Go check it out - Adrienne was a very gracious hostess in her first time hosting the Carnival, and there are a variety of interesting posts.

I've discerned that these Carnivals can only be as good as the entries you bring to the party. Please feel free to submit your thoughts to future Carnivals. A handy-dandy form may be found by clicking here. In addition, a list of past and future Carnivals may be obtained by clicking here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Organ-ic Humour

H/T to Ken and Ed from the PIPORG-L listserv.

This is just too good to keep to myself. Organists of the world ... erm ... well, you'll see.

C, E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says: "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and the G is out flat. An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me, I'll just be a second." Then an A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor.

Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and exclaims, "Get out now. You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight."

The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next night in a 3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender (who used to have a nice corporate job until his company downsized) says, "You're looking sharp tonight, come on in! This could be a major development."

This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and everything else, and stands there au natural.

Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary are bassless.

Of course, Ed's answer to all that:

This is really swell, great and very positive; just not good for pedalling around.


Some random thoughts

I am in the midst of exam writing. I've got three to write in the span of a week: one midterm, which must be deployed tomorrow, one final exam for the lecture portion of the course, which will be deployed Monday week, and one final exam for the lab portion of the course, which will be deployed Friday week ... unless a couple of students wish for me to deploy it a little earlier, like shortly after their last lab practical Wednesday week.

So I've been writing on and off and taking breaks here and there. Some random thoughts as I've been taking my breaks:
  • It is the third day in a row in which the rain has come during the evening hours. It spoiled the 4th of July fireworks displays around here, but as far as I'm concerned, it's all fine - we need the rain, and it is quite nice that we register a surplus as opposed to a deficit as far as rainfall totals for the year are concerned.
  • I've been tinkering around with my Project Playlist music playlist. It can hold a maximum of 100 songs, and after having discovered some 80s era bands I had forgotten, I added some songs, and removed a few broken links, and before I knew it, I reached 100 songs. It's been nice to have it in the background as I'm writing. I've also had a couple of friends play my playlist as well and compliment me on its diversity. It shuffles the songs on my MySpace page, and you don't need to friend me to access that page.
  • I took the plunge and participated in the weekly WIKTT Yahoo group chats. I met some really lovely people there and bounced off my plot bunnies. It seemed to be pretty well-received. They particularly liked my latest bunny - a twist on Harry Potter's trip to King's Cross Station. Of all my unfinished strands of stories, this one is the one that seems to be the most well-developed. It is a short story, and I anticipate approximately 5 chapters, give or take a couple. I'm still sitting on the Snape/Lily one-shot story. I actually had a look at it yesterday for the first time in a couple of months, and realised I liked the ending, but I need to streamline the chatter and make Lily much less preachy. My teaching obligation ends 19th July, and I'm sure my marking and such should be completed by then, so I would be able to devote more attention to feeding my Muses.
  • Mmmmm. Rice. I haven't had rice for at least a week or so. I had a lovely meal at George's Garage with Gail and Mick, and that was enough to tide me over until now. I know I've got some furikake someplace ... that would be so lovely to sprinkle on top of the rice right now. I'm also dreaming of loco moco as well. I suppose I'll get off the computer, have some dinner, and then resume the exam writing.

Wizard Rock ... in the Triangle!

A bit of idle Sunday afternoon news reading revealed this story in today's Raleigh News and Observer: Wizard Rock comes to the Triangle. The picture at the left shows Harry and the Potters performing at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro. In the meantime, Draco and the Malfoys will be in Apex this afternoon, playing at the Eva Perry Regional Library.

I will admit - I've never really been into Wizard Rock. I tried listening to Spinners Cast, but the roughness of the bands just put me off of it. I guess I'm too much of a music snob that I cringe when I hear voices strained or off-key (or both, as the case may be). That's just me.

But despite my biases ... I still thought it was neat that this piece of Harry Potter Fandom is making its way to the Triangle Area.

(Photo Credit: Jason Arthurs, News and Observer)

6 July - Eighth Sunday After Pentecost - Proper 9

I have just one list today as I only had one service to play. The voluntary music I played were from early American composers. Barbara Owen had edited a wonderful collection of music called A Century of American Organ Music, 1776 - 1876, and much of today's music was drawn from this collection.

St. Joseph's Episcopal Church - numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982.

The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist: Rite II
Prelude: Preludes from Early American Composers:
  • Adagio (Anonymous)
  • Ayre of Four Parts (J. Dowland)
  • Cantabile (C. Zeuner)
  • Introductory Voluntary (F. Linley)
Pro: 11, Awake, my soul, and with the sun (MORNING HYMN)
Trisagion: S-100 (New Plainsong Mass; Hurd)
Psalm: Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (recited)
Seq: Gather Comprehensive 646, I heard the voice of Jesus say (KINGSFOLD)
Off: 457, Thou art the Way, to thee alone (ST. JAMES)
Sanctus: S-130, Deutsche Messe (Schubert)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Fraction Anthem: S-169, My flesh is food indeed (Urwin)
Comm: 325, Let us break bread together on our knees (LET US BREAK BREAD); 301, Father, we thank thee who hast planted (RENDEZ À DIEU)
Re: 482, Lord of all hopefulness (SLANE)
Postlude: Voluntary in D Major (Wm. Selby)