Friday, November 20, 2009

there's sweat on our hands

So. In one of my classes, we were discussing counterfeits and sweatshops. Here is how it goes. The price of clothes has gone down, while everything else has gone up (inflation). Why? Because we, consumers, you and me, refuse to pay market price. It is not primarily the fault of the manufacturer, for paying less than a living wage. If he does not respond to the retailer's demand, he won't survive. It is NOT, as we would like to think, the retailer's fault, for ripping us off. No. Demand is the problem here. We want clothes of good quality, cheaply, and we want the stock to change every month. In no other market does that happen, and it cannot happen without a sweatshop-type system.
Here's why: The most negotiable part of manufacturing costs is labor. Fabric, shipping, shoplifting, those things are hard to change. It is much easier to find someone desperate enough to work for nearly nothing, in terrible conditions, and thus keep the prices lower than they logically should be. I am not saying the retailers and manufacturers are blameless, just that the majority of responsibility lies with consumers. That is how capitalism works, and it can work for good as well as evil.
Here is the uncomfortable truth. If you have ever handed over money to Wal-mart, Target, Kohls, T.J. Maxx,a dollar store, or any comparable business, your bucks supported the sort of slave-like system we would like to think doesn't exist. Be grateful you're at the top of the food chain, because there are thousands who aren't.
I've done this. So have you. There's sweat on our hands. Our money matters.
So having said all that depressing business, what are you supposed to do? Research. Sorry. That's all there is to it. Know. Inform yourself. And for pete's sake rethink whether or not you NEED new stuff every two weeks. I know, funny coming from me. Thrift stores my friend. If I didn't have to run off, I would write an emotional, economic ode to a thrift store. Hmmm. maybe later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


learning to appreciate being on the outside.

because you're never really on the inside in this world.

or at least very rarely.

And the sensation of being on the outside

makes finding people of your own ilk

a million times more delightful.

Sometimes when I'm walking across the bridge, particularly on days so sharp and beautiful they could cut cardboard, I stop. And lean over the railing. And remember why I like Minnesota.

The last while

I've been discovering

Things again.

like art, and why I want to do it for the rest of my life.

That I can't not do it


I like making things way too much

I've been

keeping up my love affair with music

And listening to Vitas on Halloween.

Forgive my randomness

but im about to do homework, and that always makes me random.

It's been a good little-more-than-half-a-semester.

Friday, July 17, 2009

the disgracefully neglectful blog owner returns

So I was driving the other day. It was rainy and chilly and cozy.I was listening to Bright Eyes, and thinking that whoever put car rides and music together has preserved much sanity, Lord bless him. When I listen to music in the car, it's like the speed and sound combine to clean all the junk out of my brain. The big messy world becomes less frightening. This reminded me of Micaela's post on music in the car, and how much I love reading my friends' blogs. When the posts are thoughtful and well-written, it is very encouraging, especially when they describe God's grace working in their lives.

Now, sometimes life becomes too hectic to blog, sometimes you get month-long writers block, sometimes things and thoughts simply belong on paper, and not on the internet. I guess my point is that blogging is not a worthless endeavor as some folks like to think. It is simply the power of the pen in a different form. The words and truths and feelings and thoughts are the same as those expressed thousands of years ago. To quote Gandalf: "And that is an encouraging thought."

Monday, June 1, 2009

The last Titanic survivor died today. She was an infant when the ship went down, and she lived to be 98. I'm sure she doesn't remember it, but it brings up a point. What happens to history when all the witnesses are gone? What will happen when everyone who witnessed 9/11 is dead? History is important, for if we ignore it, it repeats itself, and not in a good way. It made me want to be certain my children, or whoever, knows what happened before they existed, and know its immense impact.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I think something God taught me this year is the utter foolishness of judging people by appearance. I haven't got it down by any means, but I think I've been observing the havoc that mistake can wreak. A few incidents underlined it.
My grandpa is just about the cutest old man I have ever seen. He has glasses, pure white hair, and a perfectly curly, groomed mustache. He looks harmless. Yet when he was in Italy with my grandma, and someone tried to pick his pocket, he grabbed the guy by the thumb and threw him over his shoulder to the ground.
For Mall Madness with Bethlehem, I went goth. As I was walking around the mall, looking terrifying and getting my fair share of stares, it struck me again how much of a person's self goes on completely and utterly unknown and unseen, regardless of their appearance.
And, as you may know, I adore people-watching. I have learned one major thing from it. People. Are. All. Alike. Yes, they are unique too. But every single one cares about something. They are searching for something to love. To worship. The places we look are endless, yet we are all looking. There is only One who can satisfy desire.
So in view of eternity, your appearance is not life or death. When you look at people, see what God sees. A tall order, I know. But a worthwhile one. Remember that he formed every face, every eye, every sense of style, every build. He placed the freckles and colored the hair. He painted our skin a thousand different shades. Every single human is a masterpiece, a walking, living,breathing work of art. Eight billion of them. Not one is wasted, or without beauty, whether inner or outer. I wish there were a word in English to communicate the fact that as you come to know someone, even if they are plain at first sight, if their soul and mind and heart are beautiful, it colors your vision when you look at them. As C.S. Lewis said, "There are no ordinary people."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

STALKER! or, The Universalness of Water

As I walked past the school drinking fountains this morning, I was suddenly possessed with a desire to rig a camera to take a picture of them every time someone pushed the button for a drink. What would you see?
I have stalker tendencies. I will (sort of) inconspicuously follow an interesting person for no other reason than to observe them. Cities make me happy because they provide an endless wealth of people to observe. I DO NOT DO THIS MALICIOUSLY. I have a nosy, inquisitive desire to see at least a tiny sliver of other people's lives, of their thoughts. Now you tell me, is this a bad thing or a good thing? COMMENT. I don't usually demand comments, but this time I want to know. I have an opinion, but it isn't coming out of the bag till I get some feedback.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

And you thought history was boring(Reading in the bathroom)

As I was reading the American Patriot's Almanac in the bathroom this morning,I came across the advertisements used to recruit riders for the Pony Express,(the beginnings of express mail...)It reads like this "Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to face death daily. Orphans preferred." Chew on that a minute. There are stories hiding in that sentence.

P.S. it just struck me that history is just that. Stories. His Story. History.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


i am sitting in the library, being a good kid, and all of a sudden i get a major bloody nose. I was not picking it, I swear. This is the third time this has happened to me. Ok, i'm done. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

that one day somewhere in march when you know winter is dead....

I walked out of school after play practice a week ago, and the moment air entered my lungs I knew. You know how the air just smells different...smells like earth, like life? That knifish bite you dread in January is gone, and something releases or resurrects or both inside of you.
That one breath carried with it riding with the windows down and the music up and not having to get up for school and lying in the sunshine outside and sandals and light....light that lingers. Light that does not disappear sharply at dinnertime, but slowly, deliciously fades.

P.S. I realize that this is slightly funny seeing that the windchill yesterday was -24. Oh well. IT HAPPENED. and I skipped all the way to the car because of it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Catharsis of Being Minnesotan

So. It is the middle of February. I am walking into a snazzy little coffeeshop in uptown with my brother and Heidi Brinkmann.(Anyone else have sibling-friends? A delightful invention.:) We parked three blocks away, and it's about twelve degrees plus windchill. I decide to get a smoothie. As I pay, I realize I forgot to feed the meter. After procuring a quarter, I set out, wearing a t-shirt and thinnish leather jacket.
I get about halfway there when it hits me. I am walking down the street inadequately clothed (for the weather) slurping my twenty ounces of fruity ice. I do not think this is odd. What could be more normal? Maybe the cold does something to our brains. That explains why Al Franken "won"......

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So yes, they do speak English....

I recently found my journal I had used in Northern Ireland, and in it a three-page lists of the differences in words that delighted me there. So, for the amusement of whoever may stumble across this, here they are.
Fanny pack= bum bag
elevator = lift
hamburger bun = bap
escalator = elevator
cookies = biscuits
bathroom = toilet
truck/semi = lorry
pop = lemonade/Sprite
ibuprofen = cupofen
ride = lift/leaving someone home
Doin' fine = tickety-boo
ten-thirty = half-ten
cool = klass/grand/brilliant/beezer
pound (money) = quid
flyer = leaflet
cupcake = bun
university = uni
trailer = caravan
pants = trousers/jeans
underwear = pants (many embarrassments from this)
hair bandie = hair bob/bobble
fun = craic (pronounced "crack")
parking lot = car park
little = wee
sidewalk = footpath
trash = rubbish
you all/you guys = youse/yous/use
sweatpants = track bottoms
paper bag = rucksack
hood (of car) = bonnet
trunk = boot
sunscreen = suncream
whining = whinging
exhausted = whacked/shattered/wrecked
broom = brush
walk = dander (take a wee dander down to the beach..)
What's up? = How's craic
scotch tape = cello tape
popsicles = ice lollies
crush on = fancy
figured out = sorted
ditch = shough
vacation = holiday/hols
two weeks = fortnight
dear = pet
fool = gull
keep going = keep 'er lit
picture = photo
And my favorite difference: They will use lovely to describe someone, and they are not talking about their looks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

C.S.Lewis and Anberlin.....

So. Perhaps you know both of the names in that title. I am very fond of both. C.S. Lewis has the most wonderful knack for putting unshakable truth into simple, yet deep words. Anberlin has been a favorite of mine for almost as long as Lewis. I enjoy their honest, poetic songwriting, how each song tells a story, and each time I listen to them, I notice something that escaped me before, whether musical or lyrical. Oddly enough, I almost never like their CDs the first time around, but by the third or fourth listen, it has grown on me immensely, worked itself irrevocably into my brain.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called Surprised By Joy, about how earnestly we seek for joy, not just happiness, not a thrill, but the bittersweet ache you get when a beautiful scene creeps up on you, or when a song or book strikes some deep vein. I forget what hymn it's from, but "Deep calling to deep" describes it pretty well. He talked about how we chase these glimpses, and the medium they come through, hoping to be satisfied, only to find when we look so hard, the joy is gone. I can identify with that, having been enchanted with many things in looking for joy, only to be let down. Lewis points out that when we find Jesus, the source of all joy, these glimpses are put perfectly in perspective because we finally know where they come from. What does this have to do with Anberlin I hear you thinking....(just kidding. I can't read thoughts or even broad hints)

I saw them at First Ave not too long ago, and besides the noise-happy adrenaline I've lately been deprived of, not having gone to a concert in months, I came away soberly encouraged by several of their songs. I am not sure what it was that made the meanings stand out, except that perhaps when a song is sung with others, with a band, it gains some dimension not found when you listen to your IPod or sing in the car. Maybe you know the songs, maybe not. Here they are.

-Hello Alone, from Cities.
This is at first listen a depressing song. Honest, but depressing. Yet a few of the lines struck me. Singing "Are you ever coming home?" resounded with the desire I sometimes have that Jesus would just come now, conquer, end all the darkness that sometimes seems overwhelming. ""Do you care at all/do you care at all/DO YOU CARE AT ALL?" suddenly revealed itself to be a central question. You cannot be a Christian unless, by the grace of God, you care. Apathy is not an option, though we all fall into it. Caring what happens to eternal souls is one notch below caring about God, though I often forget it. Lastly, the ending line "From a lesser known I'm here, and there's hope/There's hope" was immensely encouraging. Belief in God may be scarce in some places, yet that does not change the fact that he exists, and he is good, even when alone seems to be the only thing greeting you.
-The Unwinding Cable Car, also from Cities
This one speaks for itself. "This is the correlation between salvation and love/Don't drop your arms/With quiet words I'll lead you/In and out of the dark....Don't soon forget/Grace marks your heart." It was lovely to be reminded I am loved. By the Creator of the universe, no less.
-Inevitable, Cities (just a stellar album...)
Beautiful song. "I want to be your last first kiss....Lying here beside you with arms and eyes open wide.." Not staring at each other. Lying side by side staring at something greater. Monogamy is not the boredom or fundamentalism our culture wishes to convince us it is. It encouraged me to hear 400 people sing this song whole-heartedly, even if not all of them fully understand or accept its meaning. I was suddenly very grateful that Anberlin wrote such a song.
-The Resistance, from New Surrender
This was all the more powerful seeing that it was the night before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. "Speak for yourself/You paper tigers/ Too late to make demands/When you've got a riot on your hands....Voice for the voiceless/With every common man engaged" It has been said countless times, but truth bears repeating. We live in a world full of injustice and pain, whether inflicted openly in the genocide of civil war or dictatorship, in reducing people to animals through quiet discrimination and ostracism, or under cover of pretty-sounding words in the name of women's rights. The abundance of it does not give one an excuse not to fight it, rather the opposite. In the end, it is a paper tiger, and it will fall, in this world or the next.

P.S. Stats on abortion I didn't know. Since 1973, 50 million children are dead in the United States alone, over 1 billion worldwide. Minority women make up a fourth of the women in the U.S., yet 57% of abortions are minorities. For every four people that exist, one does not, due to abortion. Forgive me if I harp on this. People are killed in all stages of life, in war, disease, murder, whatever else, and it is no less wrong. Yet it rankles in my brain that people would have us believe it should be legal to kill our children.
P.P.S. Oh yeah, and thank you Anberlin for so faithfully giving glimpses of truth and beauty in the dark. Methinks Clive Staples (is that not a wonderful middle name? No wonder he wanted to be called Jack...) would have liked you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"lalala CHICKENS!"

I have no idea why, but I have a terribly hard time blogging about anything that isn't serious. They say you write the way you think, but I think about silly, nonsensical, random, weird things all the time. But as some wise and probably dead person said " A little nonsense benefits even the wisest of men" And seeing that I am not the wisest of men (duh I'm a woman :) or even a relatively wise woman, I think I probably need more nonsense. So here goes.
-It is unspoken law in the Biros household that "CHICKENS!" is a decently acceptable answer to almost anything. Or " lalala".
My chickenish mother just called me and lovingly admonished me to get my butt off blogging and do my geometry. They say if you hated algebra, you will love geometry. So here goes. Perhaps more nonsense later. This was fun maybe I'll make a habit of it. -Chickie Baby (That is one of my many nicknames)