Laughs & Giggles Bragbook Pages

Good morning, y’all.  Look at what I have for you to play with today:

Eight bragbook pages, 800 x 600 pixels (2.667 x 2 inches) each.  A couple of them are based on layouts I did of my nephew, Brady.  Some of them are birthday themed, some aren’t.  One is “unbirthday” themed!

Also, I’ve included a separate PNG file for one of the pages to more easily insert the pictures (the one with the graph paper background).  Just copy and past the template layer onto the page then send to bottom so that the black border doesn’t show.

All papers and elements come from my Laugh! and Birthday Giggles kits, and my Doodled Circle Frames.

The fonts used are “Pea Faith Dots” from Kevin and Amanda and KR Butterfly by Kat’s Fun Fonts from Search Free Fonts.

Download:  mediafire

Doodled Circle Frames

You know it’s been hot when 90° is a cooldown.  For the first time in about a week, we are not under a Heat Advisory or Excessive Heat Warning.  Actually, 90° is just about normal for this time of year.  Hot?  Yeah, but it’s better than the 118° heat index we had the other day.

Here’s a set of 9 circle frames I was playing around with this morning.  I just got bored and started doodling with my PSP.  They are 616 pixels in diameter.  That’s just a little over 2 inches.

Download:  mediafire

Tinkers by Paul Harding

I don’t know what to think about this book.  It is powerful, definitely.  Filled with deep thoughts about the inner workings of things.  Clocks.  The epileptic brain.  The soul.  The imagery is sometimes odd, even surreal.  Who looks at trees at sunset and sees giant brains with arterial limbs?  Not a pleasant mental image, but, nonetheless, strangely apt.  

Tinkers is, at times, disturbing, but, also, richly nourishing.  It is sad, amusing, and thought-provoking.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to read it again during the winter, just to see and experience it in its natural setting.

Thinking about it, reading over what I’ve just written, I guess I liked this book.  Maybe more than I now realize. 

Rating:  4.75 out of 5 stars

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

The history of language, and of the various languages current and extinct, fascinates me.  The evolution and spread of a language can tell us much about the history of the language and its speakers.  Ancient, even primeval, mysteries are embedded within words.  For example, I learned from this book that the word “Albion”, usually referring to Scotland, is probably pre-Indo-European coming from the same root as “Alba” and “Alps”.  The original meaning was probably something like “highlands” or “high place”. 

Empires of the Word isn’t really about the history of individual languages, except as background information, but about the history of language spread and the interaction between languages and language groups.  It is the story of the diverse lingua franca that have been spoken, and written, over the millennia.  We hear the story of Akkadian, the first such language, and its relationship with its contemporaries Sumerian and Elamite, and its successors (and sisters) Aramaic and Arabic.  And on through other parts of the world, and other centuries.

I learned many things while reading this book:

  • There were actually two dialects of Sumerian, one of them spoken only by women.
  • Even after Akkadian had been displaced as both a written language and a spoken one in Elam, it continued to be used to write curses.  I wonder if this was an insult to the Babylonians and Assyrians, or a backhanded compliment to the power of the language?
  • Before the arrival of the Chinese from the Yellow River valley, the language spoken along the Yangtze was related to modern Vietnamese.  This should have been a duh, but I’d never actually thought about it.

On the negative end of things, I was rather disappointed that there was no mention of nü-shu, even as dialects of Chinese were discussed.

Also, I think Ostler completely missed the point when discussing why Egyptian was displaced by Arabic and no other language, despite several centuries under various foreign rulers.  He danced around it rather nimbly at times, but continued not to see it.  To the Egyptians, their writing was sacred. 

The elegant and exact pictorial symbols familiar from Egyptian monuments were called (by the Greeks) hieroglyphs, ‘sacred carvings’, translating the Egyptian term …, maduww nātsar, ‘words of god’ (the phrase also used for Ptah’s creative words… (132).

In one of Egypt’s creation myths, Ptah created everything by speaking its name.  The written word had the same power.  By some strange alchemy, if a thing was written, it became.   Egypt made no effort to export its language or its writing system because, I think, it would give foreigners too much power over events.  

Christianity, with its characteristic linguistic flexibility in the name of winning converts, adopted Egyptian, in the form of Coptic, in order to convert the Egyptians.  And also to differentiate themselves, linguistically, from Egypt’s Jews who spoke and wrote in Greek.  Palestinian Jews used Aramaic.  Coptic used a Greek derived alphabet instead of hieroglyphics.  Arabic, on the other hand, was another sacred language:

Arabic established itself as the language of religion,wherever Islam was accepted, or imposed.  In the sphere of the holy, there was never any contest, since Islam unlike Christianity did not look for vernacular understanding, or seek translation into other languages.  The revelation was simple, and expressed only in Arabic.  Furthermore, Islam was a religion that insisted on public rituals of prayer in the language, and where the muezzin’s call of the faithful to prayer, in Arabic, has always punctuated everyone’s day.  Allah akbar, “God is greater”  (96).

Sure, there were other, economic and political, reasons for ambitious Egyptians to learn Arabic, but the reason Arabic completely replaced Egyptian, I believe, was because of religion.  Jehovah may have replaced Ptah and Isis, but at least his followers spoke Egyptian.  Allah’s did not.

Incidentally, and forgive my ignorance, I was not aware that the followers of Zarathustra (corrupted by the Greeks as Zoroaster) were considered “People of the Book.”  Why weren’t the Vedas and the Upanishads granted the same status as the Avesta, I wonder?

Anyway, getting off my soapbox and stepping away from the lectern …

Empires of the Word is a fascinating, informative read, though more than a little dry in places.  The end was especially snore inducing.  Nevertheless, I give it:

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Brady’s First Birthday

I got pictures!  Unfortunately, the cake wasn’t chocolate, so he didn’t get as wonderfully messy as I would have liked, but he had fun.  He’s just so cute.  🙂

I used my Birthday Giggles kit, and a few things from Laugh! (the alpha and curled ribbons).  The font is peafaithdots from Kevin and Amanda.

Here’s another layout with a picture taken on their visit here for Mother’s Day.  I used the same kits, and the layout is based on Template No. 52 at M Originals.

Birthday Giggles

We have two birthday boys in  our family this month.  Brady will turn one on the sixteenth and Danny will be three on the twentieth.  So, hopefully, I’ll have lots of pictures to play with.   So, I decided to make a birthday kit.  Birthday Giggles is bright, cheerful, and warm.  It also coordinates perfectly with my Laugh! kit.  I loved the color palette so much that I reused it for this kit.  So, download them both for a huge megakit.

Birthday Giggles contains:

  • 13 papers
  • 16 frames (simple, crumpled paper frames)
  • 11 birthday candles
  • 11 balloons
  • 6 glitter tiles
  • 4 cupcakes
  • 3 party hats
  • 2 wordart overlays
  • 1 happy birthday sign
  • 1 alpha (lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols)

Both Birthday Giggles and Laugh! are 800 x 800 pixels.

The fonts used for the alpha are:  Vintage Vacation and RM Playtime Solid.  You can get both at dafont.com.

As always, I’m grateful for all of those wonderful tutorials so generously offered around the net.  The ones used, if only as a template in some cases, in creating this kit are:

I also used Shawna’s balloon shapes.  You can get them here.

Download:  mediafire

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

I liked this book despite myself.  Or itself.  I’m not really sure which.  The Good Earth is an interesting character study that, oddly enough, assumes its readers have a brain.  Nothing is ever explained.  The whys and wherefores of Chinese culture and religion are not layed out before us in encyclopedic detail.  Or any detail.  Though, I will admit, it would have been nice as an Author’s Note at the end.  I was especially intrigued by the gods in the field.

The people in this book are ordinary people with flaws and foibles.  No one is absolutely good, nor completely bad (with the possible exception of the uncle’s son). 

Buck’s missionary upbringing is vividly displayed in the pages not by what is written, but by how it is written.  Many of the passages, in their rhythm, had me thinking, vaguely, of the Book of Genesis.

There is one thing that I do not understand.  Perhaps someone can explain it to me.  For those of you who have yet to read The Good Earth

Spoiler Alert!

The woman Cuckoo.  She starts out as the sharp-tongued concubine of the Old Lord.  After the Old Lord dies, she builds a luxurious teahouse in town, which is obviously very successful.  And profitable.  But, when Wang Lung buys Lotus, Cuckoo comes as her servant.  If Cuckoo owns a profitable business in town, why is she anyone’s servant?  Especially the servant of the second wife of a despised farmer, all be it a wealthy one.  I don’t understand that at all.  I know the book never actually says Cuckoo owns the teahouse, but isn’t it heavily implied by the uncle’s wife when Wang Lung asks her to arrange everything?  After that, I found myself baffled and irritated for the rest of the book. 

Rating:  4.25 out of 5 stars

The Secrets of Jin-shei by Alma Alexander

A few years I ago, I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See and was fascinated by Nü-shu, the secret writing system passed down from mother to daughter.  From woman to woman.  Also in Snow Flower, we learn about sworn sisters.

In The Secrets of Jin-shei, Alexander creates an imaginary China-like kingdom, Syai, where the imperial succession is passed through the female line.  And where the Empress chooses her Emperor.  Unfortunately, he’s also allowed to have concubines, and the daughters of the concubines are adopted by the Empress and are eligible to succeed.  Even an ordinary woman can propose marriage!  And there are women in the Imperial Guard.  Very un-China-like.

Anyway, women have their own script, jin-ashu.  And they have sworn sisters, or, as they call them, jin-shei-bao.  Sisters of the heart.  This book is about the ties and obligations of the members of one jin-shei circle.  In this circle are an Empress, a poetess/seamstress, a healer, a Teacher, a Guard, a mage, a Guard’s daughter, and a Traveller.  The ties are intricate, complicated, and overlapping. 

This fantasy kingdom is very richly described in its customs and culture, though, in other aspects it’s a little too fantastical.  I’m referring to a certain mage and a couple of Sages.  That little subplot seemed a little too far out there to me.  It didn’t really fit in with the rest of it.  Way too evil-mad-scientist.

I liked this book very much.  Alma Alexander built a beautiful, vivid world.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Stars and Stripes Glitter Alpha and Elements

Happy 4th!  I hope all of you had lots of fun.  Here’s an alpha I made with a few matching elements.

The font is headthinker.  You can get it here.  The size is 125 pt, which translates into about 520 pixels.

Elements:  8 stars, 3 glitter tiles, and a glitter flag.

Download:  mediafire