Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 from Greenvale

Look who St. Nicholas dropped into our Christmas scene...

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Wishing anyone who reads my little blog a happy and safe holiday.

With love, from the Witek's

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When Worlds Collide

Tech world, meet Orthodoxy.

In this TEDx talk, "Re-creation of the Icon," iconographer Lynette Hull draws a compelling parallel between Steve Jobs' focus on the use of icons (the kind on our computing devices) and beauty of design, and the ancient Christian art of iconography. This talk is really good. Really, really good. Please watch it. You won't be disappointed. It's about 20 minutes long.


Ok, now that you've watched it, there are a lot of things I can say about Lynette's ideas in this talk.

Early step in an icon I wrote under expert tutelage, Spring 2010

For one, the simple fact that she's discovered such a valid and interesting analogy between the tech world and the Orthodox faith makes me feel less alone in the fact that I make sense out of things in the tech world using my faith, and things in my faith using things from the tech world, all the time. It's a constant mode of understanding the world around me that runs in my mind, and it's very cool to encounter another woman who sees things similarly in this respect.

Gold leaf added (though we didn't use clay as shown in video)

Second, the content of the talk is actually exactly what I'm writing my term paper on right now. More specifically, when Lynette talks about reason and rationality (as represented by the original IBM DOS computers) as opposed to our "noetic faculties" (which is what Jobs taps into when his company created the first GUI: graphical user interface), this is precisely the ratio/intellectus dichotomy I am exploring in my paper, as two different modes of knowing that together enable us to have knowledge. Furthermore, in my Masters thesis I will be using the ratio/intellectus framework (and its many other sibling-concepts, like work/rest, time/eternity, logos/nous, logic/love) to better understand the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. After watching this talk, I am already dreaming up ways of incorporating this TEDx talk into my thesis, likely as a way to relate these heady concepts to the everyday.

Finished Icon of the Mother of God "Sweet Kissing"
And third, when Lynette goes into the stuff about the different ways we learn, and the fact that logic is not necessarily what is deepest in us as humans, but rather (again) our "noetic faculties," I immediately thought of a parallel in the library world as well. Until the past decade, online library catalogs (OPACs) relied on what is called Boolean operators in order to build a search query that is focused and specific to the researcher's information need. More recently, though, the trend has moved away from Boolean searching and instead focused on---you guessed it---a more graphical, browsing-based search experience dubbed in the library world a "discovery" service, as opposed to a "search" query. We no longer search, we discover our information, or so the rhetoric goes. But if Lynette is correct, and I do believe she is, there is more than rhetoric involved in this move.

Can it be that discovery services in libraries are tapping into our noetic faculties?

Besides the fact that I get a real kick out of having just written that sentence, I think the answer may just be "Yes."

A lot more can be developed here, but since I have to go write that term paper, for now I need to end my response to the video here.

If you watched the video (and I hope you did!), what did you take from it?

H/T to Orthodox Arts Journal for the video.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Term Paper Progress/Process

Holy 8-page single-spaced color-coded outline of quotes, Batman!

Tonight's Progress

I am working on my Theology term paper (described here under the heading "Present"), with a goal to have it completed and turned in by the end of this week. It's late for the semester, but my prof is on board with me turning it in as I'm able, what with Bookie and all. He'll grade it when he gets it and change my "Incomplete" to a grade for the course, no problem. Such a blessing to both work and study in a family-friendly environment.

The end of last week and the beginning of this one saw me mining for relevant quotes the texts of my four main sources (with a fifth source waiting in the wings if needed) and copying them into outline-form. However, the quotes are organized by source, not by topic/point, so my next step was to organize the quotes according to what point each will help me make in the paper. 

Now, in the distant past that was my undergraduate years, what I would do to organize the "evidence" (that's the quotes I've collected) is to color code what I have. I'll admit that in grad school I got a little lazy and would often just start writing the paper at this point, hunting through my collection of quotes as I go. While it cut out a huge step (the color coding part), it lengthened my writing time in the long run because I'd often miss something super important, have to return to that part of the paper and insert the additional quote/point while attempting to make the insertion as organic-sounding as possible. I can write a decent paper that way, but for this class I really wanted to return to my more organized, slightly OCD way of writing a paper, in large part because this paper will be absorbed into my Masters Thesis, which I'll be writing much of next year. I figured, best to get my methodology back up to par before tackling the project that will be my Thesis.

Sample page of my "evidence"
...or the inner workings of the mind of a
madwoman? (Click to embiggen)
The Major Points I am capable of making
using said evidence

I'm posting this because I wanted to record where I'm at in the process. After putting in three hours of analog work with these texts, using nothing but colored pens and highlighters, and being able to say I can see the shape my paper is taking so very clearly now as a result... I feel so refreshed and ready to begin writing tomorrow. And that feels good. Oh so good.

Though, before I write, there is this that needs attending to...

What the heck do I want to say???

Ahem. Still a ways to go, but a few steps closer than I was. Time to go unwind with the hubs and Bookie, then tomorrow: begin again. 

Friday, December 7, 2012 Babywearing Giveaway

We interrupt your normally scheduled content from Donna the Librarian-Mama to announce a giveaway! Yes, I've succumbed to my first bit of giveaway madness, but the prizes are just too good to pass up: all babywearing-related. is an awesome website devoted to all-things-babywearing, and their Facebook Page just reached 10,000 Likes -- Congrats PAXmamas! To celebrate they are hosting a giveaway with ten great prizes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But seriously, if the thought of wearing your baby, now or in the future, appeals to you, or even just makes you curious, please check out to learn more. Even simply looking at photos and videos of mamas wearing their babies I find to be incredibly...fulfilling? Beautiful? Educational? All of the above. I have a post in draft about how babywearing has helped me be a better mama-who-works-outside-the-home, but more on that when I find the time to finish it (*ahem*). In the meantime, check out and their awesome giveaway! (And don't hesitate to ask me any questions that strike your fancy if you do decide to go learn more about babywearing.)