Saturday, December 01, 2007

Adventure #1: Blues Dancing

First thing's first...this Wikipedia article attempts to explain what Blues dancing is. Trying to explain it myself made me feel like a dork. There's a certain degree to which you just have to see the dance. (If you decide to YouTube something, you shouldn't automatically assume I'm dancing at the same distance as those people...Just thought I'd clear myself right now on that one.) Last Tuesday I went out blues dancing with some people from the Swing club. It was pretty awesome. It took about a total of 5 hours, from leaving from UP to returning.

When we got there, there was about an hourlong lesson followed by about three hours of dance.
I got to dance with some people I hadn't ever even met yet, which was actually not the best experience in the world. From one of those dances, I'm convinced that I'd rather have someone say they don't want to dance with me if they don't want to, because I had someone agree to dance, and then make it really obvious that they weren't 'into it' (my phrasing) which made it not really fun for me either. So yeah. But there was another person I danced with a couple of times and she was pretty chill.

I was however appreciative of the people I came with, as far as dancing goes. I learned, a little bit, how to "dip" a follow, which was cool. I'm still not very practiced at it, but I'm all for learning new moves. I also pulled off a move I didn't quite expect to pull with someone from Swing club; I'm not sure quite how to describe it here, but if you're reading this there's a good chance I'll... Oh yes. I just remembered I have MS Paint on this computer.

Okay, hopefully that gives you a better idea. On the left is the connection (two-handed connection) I started with, the right is where I went with it. It might not look like much but I think it might be a little harder to communicate than it looks, or maybe I just felt really hardcore for nothing special. Whatever.

Anyway, I learned a lot, and it was a fun experience, and I am definitely glad for the people I went with because it's easier to try new things with people you know than with people you don't.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blues-Dancing was the Adventure

I decided I'm going to be more adventurous from here on out. I counted off-campus Blues-Dancing as my adventure this week because it was my first time going.

I'll post something more awesome about it in a...well, I'll probably post on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Best. Shower. Ever.

Dan's recipe for cold shower appreciation:

1) Stay up all night working on Modern Algebra and Computer Science.
2) Begin losing steam around 6:00 AM.
3) Take freaking cold shower around 7:15 AM, preferably with peppy Christian rock stuck in brain (Tree 63 was my example.) Just dive in. Don't be a wimp.

You might think I'm joking, and I'm probably a little high on lack of sleep, but that is seriously better than any other recent shower I've had.

This is easily going to be the best day ever. Oh, also, I don't stand a chance of finishing that book, but I do intend to read the first half and skim the rest. However I did get my CS done, and my Modern Algebra is to the point where the test won't kick my...hindquarters nearly as much as the first time. Anyway, it'll be breakfast time soon. Bye!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


This could be just about one of the coolest things to come out of science in a long time. Looks like it'll be kosher for pretty much anyone for whom medicine is kosher, too. I don't even know where to file this. I guess under religion/theology is closest, but seriously. Science stuff doesn't get mentioned by me often enough for its own tab.

Hat tip goes to the Curt Jester.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Do You All Hate me a Little Bit More?

After next semester I will only need a combined total of 21 credits to graduate (taking both majors into account.) For those of you playing at home, that means that--assuming I take a standard 15 each semester still--I have 9 credits to just play around with next year. I mean, if I can convince myself it won't just be really bad for my work ethic (at present, I'm convinced it will, so I'm leaning towards 15 credits a semester) I might even take one of those semesters at the minimum full-time 12.

Of course, that also means I must work hard. And I'm going to do my absolute best to make sure I get my Liturgy requirement for Theology out of the way next Fall so I don't have it hanging over my head in the Spring. And this is seriously the biggest possible threat to my Theology major.

Still, though. Considering how disparate my majors are in terms of requirement and how...I'm just amazed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Music Painting Pictures in my Mind

I'm going to talk about music.

I've listened to this song many a time in the last three-four days. I think it's a good example of that genre of electronic music often called "jungle"--which is either the same thing or very closely related to drum'n'bass. Check out this link and locate the "play now" button right below the description to get a sample. By far not all drum and bass sounds like this, but it's stuff like this that doesn't leave me any wonder as to why the genre is so closely related to something called "jungle." The groove just paints a picture in my mind. I recommend listening either a) in headphones or b) at a decent volume for the full effect of the awesomely fun bassline. You may have to get past the initial wall of sound to understand what I'm talking about but I hope you're willing to make the effort. The sample only goes 2 minutes anyway.

Also, while that song's not one of them, let it be known that I'll be bringing home a good portion of the jungle genre's "disco" subgenre with me this winter break.

(For the record I've been listening to the whole song.)

Enjoy, and God bless.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What the Hetts?! #18: This Person Does not Know Me

Facebook applications have gotten way out of hand. I can deal with all the invitations to become a zombie and bite people, or the invitations to join the Jedi in their fight against the Sith or the ninjas in their battle with the pirates. I definitely do use a few of these applications (not so much the "battling" ones, unless Office trivia qualifies.) But...

Someone just sent me an invitation to some wingman application that showed up on my "home-page" thing as a "freecondoms" invitation.

Granted that the person in question doesn't know me ultra-well (we were in separate graduating classes in high school) I'm still sort of at a loss. Almost everything else I've been invited to I might conceivably join. But this just proves that someone being on your friend list really has no relation to whether they know you at all.

I'm going to file this under "What the Hetts?!"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Hope You Guys Have Seen This

Stephen Colbert is running for President. Here's hoping his...quite over-the-top social commentary has something awesome to tell us about the state of American politics, or at least something funny.

Also, here's an article about a Facebook group started in response to two previous groups: "Barack Obama: One Million Strong for Barack and "Stop Hilary Clinton '08: One Million Strong AGAINST Hilary". These people started one for Colbert and they're almost to 1,000,000 members as of today (as in, I'm looking at the group page a few seconds ago.) I just checked again--and within the last few minutes the group grew 2,000 members.

Granted that nobody's taking the Colbert group or their membership therein quite as seriously as they would with the Obama or Clinton groups, it's still pretty funny that, well, check this quotation from the Colbert group guy:
It's taken Obama's 1,000,000 Strong Group more than 9 months to get 381,000 [384,272 as of my last check] members, We beat it in less than 5 days! We overtook them at 2:25 PM (EST)

Furthermore, It has taken the "Stop Hillary Clinton: (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)" more than 8 months to get over 488,000 [as of my last check, 501,675] members. We beat this within 6 days!
That makes me happy. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does. Your thoughts? For the record, the Colbert group we're talking about hasn't even been up for a whole month yet, so far as I know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fun with Theology

I had a fun thought today about one of Thich Nhat Hanh's fourteen precepts of the Order of Interbeing. This happened in my Biblical Spirituality class. I will quote the precept as follows. If you can guess what I did to it, please do. At the end of the post you'll see whether you guessed right! This is from the book Peace is Every Step.
2. Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
Now, laying aside the fact that I actually have a fair amount of agreement with the "truth is found in life" part, and I do actually respect the idea of dialog between viewpoints and worldviews (though not necessarily Nhat Hanh's idea of dialog), I felt like being mean today, so I wrote something in my book that I'll share at the end.

I'm also going to complain about ridiculously epic course titles in theology.

"Poets/Prophets/Divas/Divines." Name for a course being taught next semester on, I believe, the prophetic and wisdom traditions in the Old Testament. Compare with the NT course offered, "Jesus' Ministry in Gospels."

"Revelation, Reason, Reform: 800-1600." Name for a course going right now about the reformation. For the record I've taken two classes from this professor already, and he's awesome--but his class titles have all contained at least one colon.

"Sages, Singers and Songwriters."
"The Life and Work of Augustine of Hippo." Same guy as R,R,R. I don't remember what but there was more in this title.
"The Drama of Modern Christianity." There was more in this title too.
"Biblical Spirituality: Saints and Sinners on a Journey with God."

Anyway, I'm not putting down any of these professors as professors. They're all what I like to call "smart people." Their class titles are just so epic.

Anyway, here's what I did to poor Mr. Nhat Hanh. I should probably feel bad about this, but I don't.
2. Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. [Except math.] Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
Now I'm going to do some more.
2. Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. [Except math.] Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. [Except when your present view is that you shouldn't be bound to your present view.] Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. [Unless those others' viewpoints are that you should be attached.] Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. [As said before, I like this. I agree with this.] Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.[I agree with this too. Maybe not quite the way it's meant, but I do agree.]
This is me getting out the stuff that I hold inside, for the most part, during class. Also, since when did nonviolence in all circumstances actually become a realistic moral goal?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Rundown

Here's all the stuff (at least, all the stuff currently in my eyesight) that I ought to get done in order to be academically "on track" for part two of the semester.


* The Ball and the Cross (latter half of the book)
* The Power and the Glory (whole of the book)
* Stories of God (getting a start, at least)


* Library.doc (computer science assignment)
* Modern Algebra? (The Nord said there'd be an assignment but has yet to post it)
* Research for Dempsey Midterm (due I think November 5th, but I ought to get a start on it.)

And of course I have plenty planned socially, as if plenty hasn't already happened. I also should get to a church sometime this week, because I missed on Sunday morning. That or I just let it go and move on, and make sure to go next Sunday morning.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two Midterms Down

One to go! Computer Science is tomorrow; I'll be doing a bit of studying and making a "cheat sheet" (we're allowed one side of an 8x11 paper!)

Then comes Fall Break--there's not even a Biblical Spirituality class tomorrow, which means my break starts when the CS midterm ends. Over break I've got a fair amount of work to do, and I plan to hang out with some people.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Theological Pet Peeves; also, a Rejection of my Earlier Thinking

First, a little bit of personal stuff from me, about the softening of one of my pet peeves (and thus its rephrasing on the list, to exclude the item I'm about to discuss. In all honesty this began with my annoyance of the notion of something being treated as a very specifically interpretable mandate when in fact it seemed to me a more general principle. I speak of the interpretation of the phrase "no unwholesome talk" as meaning "never ever ever cuss or swear," with which I take serious issue based on the fact that words are unwholesome dependent only on context. And, if you look at the verse as a whole it seems to point more to the notion of how we treat each other rather than the notion of what words we're using.

Partly using my reinterpretation of this verse (which, by the way, I do not take as a "license to cuss all the time" so much as the thought that we are allowed to in some circumstances and in others should not.) But essentially I took it way too far; now I ought to bring it back. I violated one of the Big Ten, and if you're following this story you know exactly which one I mean.

This is not a concession to those viewpoints which take that verse as a mandate never to use a word that has been defined as "bad" by society. This is however a concession that, perhaps, that has more to do with things than I would like to believe--and that based on my experience I ought to rethink exactly what ethical implications such a verse has for our lives.

So I'm making a list of theological pet peeves. Here's the two big ones:
* A piece of moral code being treated as if it were a Scriptural mandate when in fact it is in truth derived from tradition and not from Scripture.
* The notion that, if good doctrine isn't absolute necessity for Salvation, we ought not to really care all that much about it.
What are your religious/theological pet peeves?

Whoohoo. Time to go do some math.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


This was pretty awesome. Happened just yesterday, too!

Warning: Includes one "that's what she said" remark, if you care about young ears hearing that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ready for The Office?

Starts this Thursday.

I'm actually not watching it then; the plan is to watch with Tyler sometime this weekend.

I'm psyched.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I didn't get the Differential Equations done for today. BUT as tomorrow goes, I only have left to read The Ball and the Cross for tomorrow's Literary Catholicism, I'm set up to study Modern Algebra (for Friday, no less!) tomorrow afternoon. So academically I'm looking forward to this being a more-than-mediocre week for math and a better-than-average week for the other subjects. So the ideal is that by the time classes start tomorrow I'll have read most or all of TBATC and will have done a little more work on Modern Algebra (that's right, I already started!)

This makes me happy, and by this I mean not feeling completely and utterly behind on everything academically. Next week's DiffEq starts on Friday. Thursday night if I'm feeling especially adventurous.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two Monks

Dr. Gallegos told me a story once while we were in Morelia. I don't remember the exact context but I think he was trying to help me with some mental stupidity of my own doing that I was trying to get past. It's actually a Buddhist story, but I though (and I think still) that the principle illustrated is useful for Christian practice as well. Don't try and figure out why I'm posting about this; I've sort of wanted to for a long time.
Two Buddhist monks are walking alongside each other on a path through the country. One is younger, and one is quite old. As they walk they pass a beautiful woman.

A couple of hours later, the younger monk turns to the older. "Say, when we were back there, did you have any...thoughts about the woman that we saw?"

The older monk looks back at him, and replies, "Yes. But I left my thoughts back there, and you have obviously carried yours with you."
At the risk that I should misinterpret the story, I'll let it say what it says, independent of what it says to me.

I'll post something about the clubbing experience later tonight or tomorrow sometime.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Going to FX tonight with Matthew and Stephanie. Plus a friend of each, and some friends of one of those friends. Apparently. A couple of friends of mine have each heard that it is "sketch." Another friend, Christopher Bonebrake, has actually been. He did not like it.

X is an under-21 club in Portland. It's sort of funny; I may have to wait until I am 21 till I can go someplace that satisfies my more conservative sensibilities as far as atmosphere and type of dancing involved (or even type of music involved.) Of course, none of this has been confirmed. I will have to see for myself just how "sketch" everything is.

Anticipating electronica/hip-hop mixture of some kind and a lot of dirty dancing. No, I will not take part in the dirty dancing. But if the groove is solid enough I may dance, period. For now, enjoy this video. It might look like it's going in a "sketch" direction. It isn't. It's just funny--and horrifying. It's the video for a song by a band called Pendulum called "Slam."

Any drum'n'bass band willing to pull this as their video has to have balls. Though a friend of mine pointed out to me that it may be a parody of another band's more serious video. Either way.

Also, 100% on my first Computer Science Exam. Hooray!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Airships Involved

Nana got that song right, via e-mail. It's Jars of Clay's "Portrait of an Apology."

I finished my first book for a class, which was Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. I thoroughly enjoyed the book; its characterization was masterful and the story was told in a fun style, though I would very much hesitate to call it at all a "fun" story. I've got some less-fun reading to do this weekend, such as this guy named John Shea writing about spirituality and storytelling (what I've read of it isn't actually a bad book; I did a little reading before coming to school.) I also am starting to read Chesterton's The Ball and the Cross today. An airship is involved. Also, I have to do some math this weekend, or die, basically.

I really hope I get a guard-rail soon. I might just start sleeping on the loft anyway, as I'm sick of having this mattress on the floor and I sort of doubt I'm going to fall off of it. Plus, then I'd have room for this chair that apparently my parents have that I can have...or something like that.

I got to play some Smash Brothers last night, with my cousins and then with some college people. That was pretty fun. I plan on visiting with some people tonight and maybe playing Capture the Flag. If I do CTF, it's going to be one of those massive campus-wide events. I'm really not sure how badly I want to play CTF, especially in that massive format, and I think the answer might be "not as badly as I thought I might want to earlier."

Also, I'm going clubbing next weekend with some people. Hopefully there will be straight people and good music there, but the likelihood of getting both may be low, especially given that we're in the under-21 crowd. :/ Oh well. It'll be fun anyway.

Lastly, here's a
song I worked on before the start of the school year called "Something Ventured." Let me know what you guys think--constructive criticism is definitely welcome.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I try to explain the way that the frame doesn't quite fit the edge

I had a conversation with a guy named Andy (who's the first-floor RA in Christie) earlier this weekend, and I'm still echoing the sentiment of that conversation between myself and him:

Me: "Do you ever think that God brings good things out of our idiocy?"
Andy: "More often than I'd like."

I'm going to try doing RCIA this year. While I do that I'll be reading A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. So yeah, you can feel free to spread the word that I may be going Catholic. If you hear I am, please think and pray long and hard before automatically coming and telling me not to. (Those who have cautioned me I trust done so in love and in only the best of intentions--and I'm thinking of cautioning as different from simply telling me not to.)

I'm at an interesting place in my life. It's...a weird place, to say the least. I'm thankful for good friends and for good company, and for those people who fall under both categories. Jars of Clay is really good music for times like these. My theology classes could not have been better-timed.

Don't expect to see too much more of the "blargrequeafd" label. I may have to pull it out at random just for fun.

If you can actually tell me what song I got the title of this post from, I can totally give you a point.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Guys, Guys

10 years ago it was 1997.

Holy crap, what's happening?

I don't even know how to file this. That's how bad it is.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yay, School

Funny news story:

This is pretty much the ultimate prank, and pretty awesome for a high school student. How do you guys feel about the punishment given? I almost think it was a little bit harsh.

Update on School:

Classes are going. That's about all I can really say about them right now, is they're going. Not badly or well, necessarily. I haven't missed any homework (which reminds me, I need to read Jonah for tomorrow) and I'm adjusting to the three-class block I have Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I also like my Thursdays (just Differential Equations, nothing more!)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Got My Books

Yes, I do. I've got a crap-load of them, too. Abstract Algebra, Differential Equations, Java (Computer Science intro class), a bunch of books for Literary Catholicism (including Chesterton's The Ball and the Cross, O'Connor's Wise Blood, and Greene's The End of the Affair and The Power and the Glory!) and a bunch of books for Biblical Spirituality (various commentaries and books on spirituality and the St. Mary's Press College Study Bible, which is a New American Bible for those wanting the translation used.)

"'Do you know who Graham Greene is?'
'I think we have all seen "Bonanza."'"

That quotation just kinda came to mind. Bonus points if you know where from.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What the Hetts?! #17: God by any Other Name...

Well, an article here has a Roman Catholic bishop suggesting that Christians use the name Allah to refer to God.

"What the Hetts?!"

I'd be more comfortable of this if I were convinced that Christians and Muslims worshiped the same God...and I'm not convinced of such a thing. For purposes of philosophy of religion we could certainly talk about the Judeo-Christian-Islamic concept of God (all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving/benevolent), but when the rubber hits the road I think there are some decent differences. And I don't mean differences like Calvinists/Arminians arguing over a few verses in Paul. I mean differences between systems that are more fundamentally about grace and systems more fundamentally about works.

Also, since this is a news site--and I no longer rely on those to keep articles up for years and years--I'm providing a link to the Google-cached version of the article at this location.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Granted, the Relevance of this is Fading, but the Relevance of this Other Thing Isn't

This probably would've been a much more relevant thing to link a few years ago, but it hadn't exactly been written then. So here it is now. This is a Christian's literary defense of the Harry Potter series of books. There's also some decent Chesterton quoting in the article. I don't really look down on people who refuse to read it for whatever reason, but I guess I do take slight issue with people condemning it as evil. (Does anyone of note do this anymore?) I'm not quite settled on all the "moral problems" that have been raised with it by some of those people but I don't think they're insurmountable. It's an interesting defense to say the least.

Also, I saw a link to this movement on a different blog and found it quite refreshing that the UMC has this movement. I guess I do feel a little bit irritated that they're calling for unity under their beliefs, but if their beliefs are the official beliefs of the UMC (as I am inclined to believe) then that is nothing but reasonable. Also, it's a lot better than calling for unity even when fundamental beliefs are ridiculously different.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What the Hetts?! #16b: BONUS: Reincarnation and the Chinese Government

Ran across this post by the Dispatches from the Culture Wars guy, Ed Brayton, about a newspaper article which informs us that, apparently, Buddhist monks are not allowed to reincarnate without the permission of the Chinese government. Okay, so it's really just living Buddhas, which if I remember my World Religions (and I probably don't) is a smaller set. But they may have meant monks. Brayton used it as an opportunity to compare reincarnation to transubstantiation and "turning someone into a newt." Honestly I can't quite say I appreciate that, but I'm still glad he posted the article. It's proof that there's actual religious oppression in the world not being perpetrated by religious people. And no, I'm not going to deny past realities of Christendom or even current realities (if there are any of any substance), or the reality of many Middle-Eastern governments. But it's good that this stuff makes the news so it'll be known. A government trying to regulate not just a religious practice, but something which is, really, supernatural and which may not even actually exist--that's crazy. Then again it does make some sense. Buddhism is, in some ways, a threat to China. And I'm going to stop now because at this point I'm just ranting.

Original article is here. Disfrutalo.

"What the Hetts?!"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What the Hetts?! #16: Pencil, Brain

Ho-ly snap. Also, a What the Hetts?! on Tuesday. Guess I'm on a new schedule now.

Woman with pencil in brain. For YEARS. Caused some nosebleeds and headaches.

Hat tip to Pure Pedantry.

Pure Pedantry, for me, is general recommended reading. Not always appropriate but when the articles are on issues of science they tend to be pretty educational.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Wrapping Up Morelia

The last week in Morelia was pretty cool, and I'm very, very, very glad to be home.


Had to write my final paper for the culture class this day, and get some journals done.


Got the paper done in time for the class, and enough studying done to make the grade. Journals not done. I'm a slacker, I know. But thankfully Dr. Gallegos didn't show up to collect them Tuesday.


Did get journals done in time for the actual collection on Wednesday. Found out I got I think a B or B+ on the test and an A- in the course, a full letter grade higher than my current Spanish average! Until about five seconds ago, when I decided I'd definitely update this blog-thing, and when I found out I got an A in the social work course! This brings my Spanish GPA up to about a 3.29#. I stopped doing the division when I got there because that was a fine enough estimate for me.


We flew back home! It was so beautiful. I got to have Burgerville as my first meal once back in Portland, and had some Subway at the Houston airport before that. Oh my goodness, it was beautiful. Also, I can drink tapwater again. This might not seem a great privilege to you all but you'd be amazed how much being in a country that actually needs bottled water can make you grateful for the privilege, yes, it is a privilege, of being able to drink water from the tap that hasn't been treated somehow.

All The Rest of the Days Up to and Including Today

I've been enjoying being back home and talking with people on the phone and all that other good stuff.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. That story I promised that I couldn't tell earlier.

On the way back from the Skye club, one friend of mine was stopped by corrupt cops. He had been quite inebriated and was attempting to walk it off, hence why he was walking at 4 AM instead of taking a taxi. The cops found a 4 and 1/2 inch knife on his person, apparently half an inch larger than allowed, and gave him the option of paying them the rough equivalent of $100USD or going to jail. He paid the $100, and they drove him to an ATM in the opposite direction of the way he was walking in order to get the money. He came out of the experience $100 shorter. Thankfully they let him keep his knife, at least, but the knife was very obviously not the point to begin with.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Whole Other Bunch of Stuff I Don't Remember Well, A.K.A. Another Week in Morelia


...Virtually no memory of anything today. It was either this day or Tuesday that we went to a domestic violence shelter for women and their sons/daughters who had been in abusive relationships.


...Virtually no memory of anything today either, but...yeah.


We didn't go anywhere today because we were going over our assignments for the practicas, or days we were to be in the community learning more firsthand about the various sites we'd visited.


My group went to Casa Hogar de Buen Pastor, a children's home. But we didn't really, because nobody was there. Well, we went, but nobody was there, so we went to the domestic violence shelter where we helped by organizing some clothing and playing with the kids.


Two of the former Casa Hogar group went with the one person who had actaully signed up, to an old folks' home; I was one of those two. I don't mean to sound bitter or anything though, the old folks themselves of course are people too and were pretty nice. We talked with them for about a half an hour and then helped mass-prepare various enchilada-big-dinner related items. Note that when I say big dinner I mean the big meal of the day in Mexico, usually around 2-3 but I think perhaps a little earlier for these folks.

Later that day a bunch of our group went to Casa Esperanza to do a bit of hands-on manual labor. Casa Esperanza is another children's home, for girls who've been in difficult and dangerous situations. We leveled some dirt for about two and a half hours, then we dispersed to shower and whatnot. We reunited at the home of the family of a classmate, as we'd planned on going to Skye, or to Ego again Friday, because it was ladies' night at Ego.

We wound up going to Skye in a series of events that would take too long to explain. It was pretty bumpin', the grooves were pretty solid. As usual I left early but for the second time tied for first-person-going-home-from-club instead of taking first place. One thing that was kind of fun was that at least the Skye people got dolled up, so at least in my opinion we looked pretty awesome, but I was an idiot and didn't take a camera to capture how awesome.

Some other people went back to San Pancho, the place where we had a $10 cover which covered everything under $10 and most people got decently buzzed due to us having $5 each left by the time we'd ordered our food. However as said I was at Skye.

There's one other thing I want to share, but I prefer to wait till I get back to the states to share don't let me forget, okay, guys? Don't worry, I didn't do anything illegal.


Excursion to...dangit, I forgot the name of it already. But we were going to some ruins near a volcano. It was a freaking long walk. Not quite sure if it was worth it as my nose was incessantly runny and involuntarily letting snot drip. Not pleasant.

I elected not to go into town later, even though I missed out on seeing a church or something, because I was tired (I'd gotten on a writing spree Friday night on top of being home around 1:15 AM, so I got a little above two hours of sleep.)


Mini-excursions to a beautiful national park in the town I forgot the name of, as well as a waterfall area where we had to climb down a bunch of steps and then back up them. Someone in our group tried to count the steps as we descended, but she got interrupted.

Eventually I got back here (to Morelia of course, not the internet cafe.) And then I came to use the internet and type this up. I've got some shopping to do tomorrow as well as review for my paper-test for the culture class. Presentations on Wednesday will not be a problem. Then Thursday I fly back and get to see people from the States once more!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Odds and Ends

Welp, this post is basically odds and ends. Essentially it's me being bored...the stuff with actual stories is coming, as usual, on Sunday or if I'm especially tied up a couple of days late.


I'm making a list of things to do before I die. So far:

* One more season of soccer. I need to be somewhat in shape this year, so I'm thinking I'm going to go out for intramural next semester.
* Eat a Burgerville meal alone on a park bench. It's odd, and I'm pretty sure it's a basic concept I saw romanticized by the opening sequence to the old "Odd Couple" TV series, though I can't remember if the guy was eating his burger alone or not. At any rate, I'm going to do this one.
* Try cow tongue on purpose. I say on purpose because as some people know I once went to a more authentic Mexican place with my parents and accidentally got served the cow tongue instead of beef. My father ordered the cow tongue. Neither of us got the beef.
* Go clubbing in Portland. I want to see what it's like compared to where I've been in Mexico. Certain clubs will have to be avoided though, for various reasons.
* Stop being ashamed of my beliefs. As a Christian I sometimes find myself too afraid to offend someone to really speak my mind. This is more a lingering problem than a looming obstacle.
* Also, find a church I can live with and join it. I don't feel a Christian should drift between churches forever, which is sort of what I'm doing now.
* Dialogue with a Buddhist community. I want to do this because I want to be open to learning about other faiths and I feel this is an appropriate way to do it. I also want to learn more specifically about Buddhism because it seems to be a more naturally open/broad/accepting sort of faith. Note that I don't necessarily think all those terms in the theological sense are really that good, though I do with respect to people...Sometimes I hate nuance.
* Figure out what political party I belong with and why. I'm a Democrat right now but that's mostly if not completely family tradition. None of them really appeal to me much.
* See a non-American electronic music artist live. I'm an electronica fan. I'd love to see someone from Europe live or, heck, even someone from Mexico.

It might seem kind of morbid but I was bored on the bus one day. Number two is my favorite for humor so far. I know it's sort of a random list, sort of short, too. But I'm only 20 so I've got a bit more time to make and fulfill this list. Also, there's one or two things on there I don't really want to put on the internet, but I'd happily tell any of you my family people in person.


I'm also making a list of books to read. This is a complementary list to the first and falls under a more general life goal that's less specifically fulfilled, which is just to get more educated and read more stuff.

* The Cider House Rules. John Irving, apparently made a decent movie out of the book. I'll read it eventually.
* Los hijos de la luz (Children of the idea if it's orignally Spanish or not, but apparently the author was born in Madrid)
* Pilgrim's Progress. I'm not sure I'd feel complete as a Christian without reading it. Just kidding, but to a degree, speaking culturally, not really.
* The Harry Potter series. I read the first three. That'd leave me four more to go, assuming I don't care about remembering what the heck happened in the second and third books (I went back and re-read the first awhile back.)
* The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm not sure I'd feel complete as someone who's lived in my wing of Christie Hall without at least having a goal of reading this.
* The Truth (part of the Discworld series, one of the same guys who did Good Omens). If it's anything like Mort it should be really funny.
* Dune. One of those books people tell me to read.
* Godel, Escher, Bach. It'll make me feel smarter.
* Living Buddha, Living Christ. I started it and haven't finished. Should finish this.
* The Lovely Bones. People have piqued my interest.
* Where is that in the Bible? A Catholic scriptural apologetic.

Odds and Ends

Pedestrians have, like, no rights in Morelia. If I could disbelieve my friends' stories about drivers actively speeding up, seemingly to try and hit them, this might not disturb me so much. But in a lot of ways I actually think the US system is better for protection of people overall than Morelia's system of organized chaos and opportunistic everyone-on-their-feet-or-in-a-car-or-existing. Oh, and bicyclists are just as annoying and probably breaking the law if not moreso than in Portland. There's a certain morality to the order in the chaos, somewhere, but it seems there's a good amount of people who can't be trusted to have it.

Did I mention Mexico, systematically, sucks at recycling? I know a few exceptions, and I've said this before, I think, but I'm not going to try in a country that isn't willing to make the effort to make the process sane. On that note, if anyone can point me to a recycling center within Morelia and in reasonable distance of where I live, I'll give it a shot. 20 minutes' travel time or less.

I'm going to be glad when I'm back in a country that has root beer. I'm also going to be glad to have more than twentysomething of my "American" songs to listen to (quotations because a good few of them are from other countries) and not to have to be at an internet cafe to listen to them.

I'm really looking forward to next semester at UP. It's going to rock socially and academically is looking up too, as I actually have people to study things with this year. If I can actually manage those two things while keeping in shape and not worrying about girls, this will be my best semester yet. Okay, those things probably won't all happen, but I'll drop the second (academics) only when it prevents me from breathing, okay? I still think it could be my best semester ever.

I'd love to do a survey and find out how much of the world in some fashion or another subscribes to universal reconcilation. I just don't see that happening probabilistically, if the Bible is to be taken as any sort of good authority on the issue.

Oh yeah, I'm learning things. For instance, the verb marear means "to make sick" and the verb "ensangrentar" means "to cover with blood," and lastly the verb "sumir" means "to plunge someone into." You can thank Jorge Luis Borges and the story of his I'm on now, "The Circular Ruins," for those. I still have pretty much no idea what's going on in the story, but it's good for my vocabulary.

The End of the Odds and Ends

There's a few odds and ends for you. As promised there weren't really any anecdotes unless you count the two or three minor event-like things I mentioned. Anecdotes are coming later, as in Sunday, assuming they're any good.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Belanova and Other Odds and Ends this Last Week...Also, How Everything is a Blur

Everything's getting to be a freakin' blur these days. Seriously.


Excursion to Juanzanito I think it was called, an island outside of Patzcuaro. Boatse were involved...of course, that makes sense. There will be yet another Patzcuaro excursion this coming Tuesday to see a traditional healer. Apparently on one of the traditional healer trips with a group of nursing students someone got cured of a curse but didn't believe it afterwards. I have no idea, but if so, it creates some interesting theological implications.


I forget what the hetts we did today, except that I did bug a friend to see if she could watch on Facebook when I changed my relationship status from undeclared to single (undeclared status doesn't show at all on your profile...) Basically, I wasn't declared as single before, and wasn't even declared as straight until a few months ago. But I heard a rumor that if people see you going single in their news-feed on Facebook, even if you weren't in a relationship before, it still shows up as a broken heart. I'm going to make you wait for the result of the experiment because it's only two sections down.


The same thing here, for the daytime.

I'm going to talk about Belanova, which is an electro-pop musical group that Christian, a guy who works at the Central Universitario de Michaocan, recommended to me. At the time of this writing I am digesting the track "Te Quedas O Te Vas" (You Stay or You Go) which has a freaking amazing bassline. As in, to Uncle Scott, if you're reading: I think you'll dig this track, and to everyone else: I think Uncle Scott, and possibly you, will dig this track. Technically Belanova is electro-pop, but this is definitely a disco-house track, in my opinion. So it's the the electronic music that the generation of my parents is probably most likely to enjoy. The only thing is I translated the lyrics and they're sort of depressing. As in, here's the first part in English:

I think that time will resolve this (calmly or indifferently, I think is the word)
Don't spend your life crying for yourself
The world will spin
With or without you it goes
I don't think you want to stay here and die

Which if not for the song's amazingly awesome funky bassline and fun fun fun strings and...frankly, the singer has an awesome voice, too...if not for all the great groove elements the song would be quite depressing.

Friday night I went to this place called the Re (um-lauts on the e) Bar which was having a three-DJ concert. Each DJ played some trance, with it getting progressively more energetic and less relaxation-style. It was all pretty good, though, with the exception of an overly abrasive synth here and there. The place also had good atmosphere.


Saturday morning I went to the school insanely early because we were leaving at seven in the morning to go to...dangit, now I've forgotten the name of the town! But miners were involved, as were key figures in Mexican independence. Apparently four of them were beheaded, and their heads hung in one of the museums we visited, for ten years!

But anyway, Saturday morning I went to the school insanely early and actually met the friend who helped me with my Facebook experiment. She told me the feed had indeed shown a broken heart, which made me insanely happy. That's got to be one of the funniest things ever. As a refresher, it's funny because it systematically assumed someone declaring their status as single is leaving a relationship, even when (as in my case) there's no relationship to leave.

Anyway, we did lots of other stuff. A couple of other museums (including one of more naturally "mummified" corpses, and another which was actually the house of Diego Riviera.) The corpses were cool but sort of frightening. Some of them had it seemed been buried alive and I think Dr. Gallegos confirmed this.

A bunch of us went to a restaurant in...Guanajuato, that was it! And we had a wonderful discussion about relationship problems. We'd had another variation of that discussion at a restaurant a few weeks before, San Pancho, and this one was just as fun. The basic argument of the discussion, I'll outline a bit later.

At a restaurant/bar we went to later that night we had another discussion which was related tangentially to the first. This is your warning to cover your little ones' eyes.

A few people were discussing sexual experiences that they had had on one side of me. I wasn't involved in that so much but I was involved in the closely related discussion right next to it. I had shared that I planned on saving myself for marriage and had used the bases analogy to do so. Basically I said I'd stay off third and fourth bases as those are the things I believe constitute sex, and I would probably avoid second as well (first is kissing...I hope you can fill in the blanks) because the farther you go the easier it is to go farther.

The discussion was actually quite humorous and we actually agreed there should be five bases to accomodate other, erm, acts that didn't really belong on any of the established bases. My absolute rule, for the record, remained to stay off third or higher and preferably (for your assurance, my family, that's just short of being an absolute rule) off of second. Christian also explained to some of us the Mexican slang that has gone into discussion of sex, which was funny.

Actually, I'm just going to say, it's a rule for me, it's where my standards are going to be set. Partly because I'm not comfortable with grey areas and partly because I'm especially not comfortable with grey areas that could compromise me morally.

Anyway, the really awesome thing that happened was that one of the other guys at the table, who was in on my discussion, wished me good luck with saving myself for marriage. After a bit of discussion on that comment (I defended it; it's not like it'll be easy to do) he told me that seriously, he wished me good luck. I really appreciated what he had to say about that.

After that place, which had some pretty nice acoustic-guitar-ish music, we went to a club called the Capitolio which was pretty nice. It was sort of in-between Ego and Carlos and Charlie's in atmosphere and "nice-ness." I left way early, as did my roommate for the weekend. It was alright, but I preferred the other places. Maybe because more people went and there were, as such, more people I felt comfortable dancing with.

One other thing about Saturday: I read two chapters of the book of James in Spanish. It's Spanish Spanish, so it uses the vosotros (you plural) tense, instead of a contextual usage of third-person plural with a designated noun Ustedes, but it was qutie readable and knowing the book made it easier. Saturday night I took an opportunity after getting home way early (as usual) from the discoteque to walk around the hotel a bit and pray. I'm glad I did because I'm finally getting past some things that have been bugging me for ranges of weeks to months to a over a year now. I'm glad because it's looking like this could be a time of spiritual renewal for me which was one of the things I sort of wanted to do going into the experience of Morelia to begin with.

Also, I started reading Borges' Ficciones again. Enjoying it again. Restarted the story I was on, though.


Pretty much the biggest event was me sitting down to type this. I also had a fun religious discussion with a friend on the way back from Guanajuato.

Everything Else

That's pretty much it for this week. Everything's a blur because stuff's stopped going slowly and started going quickly. Can't wait to be back in the states.

Oh yeah, the romance debate (hoping for comments on this):

Can a man and a woman be very good friends (as in, just short of or best friends) without one person or the other having an attraction (not merely physical) to the other?

Can this sort of friendship even occur unless at some point there has been such an attraction on one or both sides?

Is it ethical for one party in such a friendship to maintain the friendship at its level if the other party is interested in the one romantically?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

One Long Week(end)

Well, here's the rundown of stuff. There's one thing that could be difficult for some of you, but rest assured it's nothing inherently wrong.


Dance class. The Merengue. Actually quite a fun dance. I'm observing however that lots of dances, however romantic, have some more sexualized elements. Not incredibly so, but somewhat, yes. However it was still a lot of fun. Not that I really remember any of it at all.


Got a call from the parents, which was good. I honestly have no memory of what the heck we studied in class that day.


We went to the old folks' home. The accommodations looked okay, but not absolutely wonderful. There was a guy who I think may have been a Priest or studying to be one who led worship for them, a couple of songs that we were there for.


We went to a DIF place for what I think were at-risk youths. DIF in Mexico, in my understanding, is sort of like Department of Human Services is in Oregon. At night we went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. Despite my being completely out of the loop on Harry Potter, I found it enjoyable.


We went to the beach. We were going to go to Señor Frog's (bar/disco/restaurant) because it was no-cover, but it turned out there was a $10 cover. So we stayed at the tavern we were at when we got the news (I will contend that "Beer Planet," the name of said tavern, is the best bar name ever.) Unsure at this point how I felt about drinking in Mexico I let it rest on the verity of a rumor that at the next hotel we were staying at there would be an open bar. I told two people about this.


We went to the beach again today. My wallet had an adventure! It went into the ocean mistakenly and came back short only 200 cash pesos (roughly $20USD.) All the cards, everything but those 200, all that is safe! …And the open bar rumor got confirmed.


I had my first drink Sunday. It was pretty light, as in I'm not even sure if I was really affected. For further explanation I feel I should quote the e-mail I sent Dad:

Honestly I wasn't ready. If it's possible I think I pressured myself too much to "fit in" and as a consequence I made a bad experience out of what should've been a positive rite of passage, if that makes any sense.

And I'd love to blame other people to. I'd love to say my parents put too much pressure on me not to drink or that my friends put too much pressure on me to drink. But the fact is by the time I actually did,

a) However intentional your pressure was, I'm the one who has to choose how much stock I put in it
b) My friends' pressure may have been quasi-intentional, but when I explain more of that to you (and I will) you'll know I really can't call it peer pressure, and a couple people made it explicitly clear shouldn't if I didn't want to

Which brings me to the bottom line, which is I really didn't want to, or at least not that badly. Whatever I might say about pressures one way or the other, I chose to be an idiot and do the opposite of what I wanted. So it's my bad. Following this, I'm probably just going to be on refrescos (edit: soft-drinks) for the remainder of the trip (never had the 2nd drink yesterday) and as such won't be drinking again till my 21st (but won't then if I discover I'm still not ready, because the psychological effect wasn't worth it.)

End of e-mail quotation. For the record, I talked with one of the people beforehand that I`d made my stupid "promise" to and they basically said not to drink if I didn't want to. One other person also made that blatantly clear and I'm thankful to both of them for it. I'm sure the other "promised" person would've understood if I'd just said I wasn't ready and wanted to wait for the 21st. And while I'm not as sure here, I'm fairly certain the same would be true of the one person I actually felt at all pressured by—and even then it was probably just me overblowing things. I take responsibility because I chose to drink. And I'm feeling regret for it now because I wasn't ready and I'll never be able to redo it. And for the remainder of my time in Mexico I decided that I'm going to continue getting water and refrescos at the bars.

One last thing. I talked with my Dad and it's his understanding that I made no promise not to drink. But to the extent that I raised that expectation and then failed to follow through, I apologize.

Sunday night got better, though. We went to a place called Carlos and Charlie's, which is a sister business of Señor Frog's. The music was good and I really enjoyed the dancing, what there was of it. Also, there was a program "sexy man" contest. I didn't enter, but one of my classmates became the gringo from Michoacan and brought the house all the way down. As in, he completely annihilated the competition—the local competition. As in, if America had kicked butt in Iraq and continued to do so the way that he did on the stage, people wouldn't be complaining about our military situation there. (Let's just not get into the morality of the war to begin with.) That's a lie--they'd still be complaining--but not as many of them and not as much. I'll admit, I was pretty impressed. I'm not one for doing stripteases myself, though.

This club was considerably more, um, basic than Ego. Still dancing, though, and still fun. And the music was bumpin´! Actually, one of the guides on our trip, Christian, is also a fan of electronica. We're actually going to a bar this Friday to hear some local stuff. He also recommended some Mexican electronica I could check out. I'd say I'm going to miss having electronica be not the most ostracized form of music where I am, except taht I'm going back to Christie where, in my wing, it's quite popular.

Also, honestly, obviously not for alcohol but for the musical aspect, I'm going to miss being able to go to taverns.


We stayed at the hotel some after check-out. I went to the worst internet café in existence. The hourly price was roughly $8USD an hour. On the way home I encountered one of the better Morelia taxi drivers. Why was he better? Because instead of charging a full extra 30 pesos for an extra distance of about 20-30 blocks he only charged me 20. I was prepared to pay thirty, too.

I also ate some Domino´s Pizza for lunch on Monday. Bad for me, and heavily American, I know. But so good.


Return to the Casa Hogar de Buen Pastor, the home for girls who'd been in difficult situations. Got to sit and watch presentations; I didn't have to give any!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More of the time in Morelia

Okay, here's another rundown, from Monday to today.

Monday: School as usual. Dance class at night. We "learned" the Merengue which means if we get another chance to go out dancing I might remember about 20 seconds' worth of it. The others might do better. Hopefully if I ever try dancing it with someone, they'll remember the same 20 seconds.

Tuesday: School as usual again. I didn't go to the arts and crafts class at night but we got together for someone's birthday to go to the park and play some soccer with the locals. That was a load of fun.

Wednesday: Field trip to a home for formerly massively impovershed and/or abused girls, some of whom have even apparently been in prostitution...They were all so young and full of life. It's kind of sad to think of any of them having been in those situations. In the evening most of us went on a short downtown tour, dinner with our trip's professor (who paid), and some of us went to a party that one person's host family threw, which was pretty cool.

Thursday: Field trip to the Red Cross. Soccer in the evening.

Friday: Went to a restaurant called San Pancho. Pretty nice place, and good food.

Saturday: The school trip was to Patzcuaro and then to Santa Clara. We bought some things. I got some OVEN MITTS for the family back in the USA.

Sunday: Pretty much just this session at the internet cafe for me, although some friends went to the zoo and were gonna watch the Mexico-Paraguay game.

Also, a friend told a story on the way back from Thursday's soccer about a game of would you rather that involved this question: "Would you rather roll around in a pile of dog crap or small fart for the rest of your life?"

Well, which would you rather?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

¡Estoy en Mexico!

So here´s the rundown of what has happened:

Day 1: Took two planes--to Houston and then to Morelia. We arrived at the Centro Universitario de Michoacan, and met our host families. The guy who picked me up did so in a Taxi and was my host brother Abraham. I´m enjoying my host family. There´s been lots of good food. Not all what you´d call "traditional" but people and places rarely live up to stereotypes. My host family''s all awesome, though. My host mom cooks good food and I'm able to practice my Spanish a lot during meals with her and my host dad. With Abraham it's usually Spanglish of a mostly-English variety, but I often take the intiative and speak Spanish anyway.

Day 2: We have our orientation at the school and I begin to be scared of my class on Mexican Health Systems and social work. The class is a combination of actual service experience / site visits and various lectures in Spanish designed to kill me. We had a walking tour with one of the women who runs the school.

We went to the mass at the Cathedral at 6pm, too. That was pretty awesome. I feel the need to let people know that we carried the tradition of holding hands during the Our Father down to the Mexican mass where it does not belong. I'm not mad about this; at the time and in retrospect I found/find it rather comical. I also thought crossing my arms would indicate "soy un protestante, no communion para mi" but no. My classmates reminded me that this might have been because in Mexico Catholic communion is directly to the mouth, and so the symbol is to put one's two fingers (as in a closed peace sign) over one's mouth. I actually did attempt to explain to the priest (bishop or archbishop, we think, actually) that "era un protestante" (the wrong tense, for those who don't know Spanish.) This left me not knowing whether to be more embarassed that I'd had to turn down a Bishop's communion or that I'd used the wrong verb tense to explain it.

Day 3 (Thursday, so you know): First class on the history and culture of Mexico, specifically Michoacan. I'm thinking this will actually be the easier of the two. The professor is easier to understand than either the main or guest speakers in the other class (in fairness I think she may be American.) This was the day I think I'd shifted out of what-did-I-get-myself-into mode...of course that day was also the day I shifted right back in again.

Day 4: Classes. I felt better about them on this day. At night we went to a restaurant called the Cafe Santa Fe, where a live band was playing. That was pretty cool. This was actually a semi-official outing. If you're ever in Morelia, and at the Cafe Santa Fe, the fajitas are pretty freakin' good. Stay away from the lemonade. I think the "drinks" drinks were alright, from what my friends were saying.

Day 5: We went to the waterpark yesterday. I slid down a slide that if you know me is big for me. I got massive sunburn, too. I'll make sure I get a picture of some of that. At night (this was one of the less-official outings) we went to a discoteqa (club). I didn't drink, but I think pretty much everyone else did. It was still fun though, and after awhile I loosened up a bit and began to enjoy myself. Also, lots of house music. So I declare that the DJs had better taste than those at my high school dances. Also, EGO (the discoteqa) had an awesome view of Morelia at night, what with all the city lights and everything.

Also, before we went to the waterpark, I had a fun theological discussion with some classmates about Catholics praying to saints. I sided in defense of the practice, for the record. One of my classmates, one of those who was involved in the debate, is a very strongly Protestant Christian. He's pretty much awesome just like the rest of them.

Day 6: By Morelia standards I slept in--till 10:00! Pancakes for breakfast, a little reading, too much TV (mostly subtitled Without a Trace with a little bit of dubbed cartoonage.)

I'm not entirely sure I actually want to be here for the next five weeks, honestly. But I'm having a good enough time and I think it'll get better once I get more comfortable around my classmates and get a little more social--mind, parental units, that I'll be doing so without sacrificing my homework. But I'm happy for the opporunity to--and looking forward to--getting to know the pretty awesome group of people who I'm here studying with.

If I can find the time and an internet cafe that lets me I'm going to break out the MegaZeux sometime. Probably not for a couple of weeks, though.

Also, books read: this last week I read Mort. It's about a kid named Mort who becomes Death's apprentice. Before I left I finished Good Omens, which contains some pretty interesting notions. For anyone in my family reading it, don't expect your theology to be taken seriously. Do expect to laugh. Many times.

Now I'm reading Borges' Ficciones and am enjoying it, when I can understand it. I found out the lady who took us on our walking tour reads Borges. She told me it's pretty difficult reading even if you're a native speaker, which was good to know, because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't understand Borges in Spanish or in English.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I'll be there for the next five weeks! I'm going to try and post something every week I'm there.

Maybe I'll even get around to posting those responses to post comments I said I'd get around to like five weeks ago.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tetris, Sort Of

This video is interesting, to say the least...


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What the Hetts?! #15: This is...Sparta?; also, CostCo

I'd recommend you take a second before reading to remember that I'm about to link you to an article that's purporting the facts. Not opinion or conjecture or conspiracy theory--no, facts. As in if this isn't true, someone owes the world a big explanation. And if it is true--which it seems to be--well, I guess the Pentagon's already done its explaining. I can't guarantee any of these links will be child-safe reading, but they could be at least entertaining. A couple of the comments on Dispatches are funny, at least. I saw this linked first in this DigitalMZX thread, and secondly linked on Dispatches from the Culture Wars. I'm not kidding you on this. The third link is the link to the article--it's found here. So there you have it...our government apparently conspired to change the sexual orientation of enemy soldiers.

"What the Hetts?!"

Also, I've been discussing Ron Paul, politics, theology, and a whole host of other things recently with Andy, a friend from UP who is actually going to be one of my RAs next year...Something fun came up in our conversation just tonight that I'll post here:

[11:04:14 PM] KKairos> i think if i ever actually get into education i'm going to do my best to try and cut down on the spending that has to come from my school
[11:04:17 PM] KKairos> whether it's public or private
[11:04:33 PM] KKairos> other words i'll be getting a costco membership and doing my supplies shopping there
[11:04:35 PM] Andy> cool man, that will take you far, i think
[11:04:39 PM] Andy> haha, nice
[11:04:52 PM] KKairos> that's what they should really do, is get costco memberships for public schools
[11:05:01 PM] KKairos> if they haven't already
[11:05:20 PM] Andy> hmm, that's a good idea, i don't know if they do or not
[11:05:24 PM] KKairos> $100 worth of pencils will last them like 10 years
[11:05:32 PM] KKairos> perhaps that's a bit extreme, but you get the idea
[11:05:46 PM] Andy> until they go out of style, but yep i got your drift

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hamas and Education; also, books

So, here's an interesting article on CNN about the state of education in Palestinian schools. Let's not get into any controversy about the surrounding situation, here. The stuff I'm worried about is the idea of ideological bias in schools. I know that in general that should be bad enough, but here we're talking about Hamas getting more and more power over education in Palestine.

Among the causes for concern, are Hamas' desire to use textbooks that are less just-the-facts than those of their much more moderate counterpart, the Fatah movement (at least, I've never heard Fatah called a terrorist group), allegations of Holocaust denial in the histories Hamas wants to teach, and the allegation that many open government positions are being filled by Hamas candidates who are far from the most qualified for the job. Religious indoctrination is not necessarily more of a concern than before, although there has been in at least one area an added religion class per week--and a couple of female students reported being hassled and pressured to wear traditional women's Muslim garb. So in my opinion, it could be.

The original article is quite long, but I seriously recommend the read.

What do you guys think?

Also, books:

Finished Neuromancer and The Fountainhead. Now on to Good Omens, then Ficci
ónes while I'm in Mexico. Then when I get back I'm going to try and tackle Gődel, Escher, Bach before school starts again. If I still have time after GEB, then I read Dune. If I actually get through Dune, I'll have gotten my reading list completed. Either way it'll be an accomplishment by the standards of someone who's never actually forced himself to read five books in a summer before.

Friday, June 01, 2007

What the Hetts?! #14: Specialty Cows

Okay, so this isn't quite as much of an odd news thing, but it is a bit odd and it's entertaining. And it tells us things about cows that we didn't know before.

An interesting article on Scienceblogs's "pure pedantry" describes how cows have been discovered that have the ability to produce skim milk. As in, milk without fat. Coming straight out the cow. That's pretty sweet--and apparently it's not the result of human interference but is actually naturally present in some cows already. At least, from what I can tell.

AND, one cow has been identified as being able to produce milk that will give butter that will be easier to spread straight from the fridge. Again, as I understand it, this is the cow's natural ability.

Check out the cow-related awesomeness at this link.

"What the Hetts?!"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What the Hetts?! #13: A Double Whammy

Yes, yes...As the result of my having found two stories thus far today, there will be not just one but TWO stories for this week's "What the Hetts?!" To get the original story click on the header.

1) Internet Taxes

The story came through Slashdot. Apparently there are some over in Washington who feel that it would be a good idea to tax the internet. So our internet connections and what we shop for online could become susceptible to various taxes...Actually, it seems as though depending on where we live, we may be intended to voluntarily cough up cash for stuff we buy online--at least according to this article we are. And this would make that essentially voluntary taxation an enforced thing.

The other aspect of this debate is that some in Congress want to enable the government to tax internet access; here I think they mean mostly broadband. One member of our wonderful Congress even claims we could see taxes on e-mail. I'm a bit irked.

"What the Hetts?!"

2) UK School Ignoring the Holocaust

This one also came from Slashdot. Apparently there's a history department in the UK that's ignoring the Holocaust. It's because it's afraid of encountering anti-Israel sensibility in certain segments of its Muslim student population. Apparently there's been some "resistance" (from the article) over the teaching of the Crusades, which are covered by local mosques differently from how they're covered in the classroom. Lastly there was even a bit of resistance from Christian parents who wanted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict taught a certain way.

It's good to note that, as Snopes points out, this isn't a UK-wide ban on Holocaust teaching and it's only one history department. Still, it's sort of scary.

"What the Hetts?!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Playing Games in Spanish

So some of you may know that partly in preparation for Mexico I've been running things in Spanish. This means my G-Mail account is set to run in Spanish, so while the e-mails are English, the interface isn't. Which is good. I'm also running a strategy game, The Battle for Wesnoth in Spanish instead of English. It's got a fantasy theme so the usefulness of the vocabulary may be debatable. Still, anything helps, I say. The screenshot above is an orc talking about the player's Spanish. This is great. What makes it even better is that some of the dialogue's untranslated, so the characters speak Spanish, then English, then Spanish again. Quite humorous.

The translation: Look! I see a boat! Humans are coming! We can squash them! (I actually had to look up aplastarlos, the word which translated as "squash them."

Click on it to get a larger (more readable) version.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tetris Attack for the WIN

So, anyone in the family who remembers how we used to rock at Tetris Attack, I present to you this clip. It isn't Tetris Attack; it's what Tetris Attack was in Japan before it got the Yoshi theme put on it for American shores (for the record the title of this game is Panel de Pon, but gameplay-wise it's exactly the same. And the people playing it are...amazing, to say the least. I recomment watching at least two minutes of this to get the idea of how awesome these people are. I'm pretty sure they'd beat me into the ground any day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What the Hetts?! #12: Pee Where You Will?

A man was recently electrocuted. That's not so unusual, but here's how he did it: he peed on his Playstation 2 gaming system while it was still plugged into the wall! Apparently it also rendered him unconscious about ten seconds. I guess it's not exactly what I'd have done or the outcome I'd have seen coming, but it's still rather unusual. Why on earth you'd pee on your game system is beyond me. The original story, which I believe was linked from Kotaku, can be found at Fox News.

"What the Hetts?!"

Well, that piece is back now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Swing of Things

In an effort to get back in the swing of things with this blog I'm going to try and do two regulars: 1) What the Hetts?! on Thursdays. I've got a couple that could appear tomorrow. 2) Christian Theology Board Game on Sundays.

Hopefully I can establish a decent habit for this stuff before I go to Mexico. Once I get there the second may not be so realistic but I might still manage the first. If need be I could probably shift What the Hetts?! temporarily to a weekend day. I've basically been gaming, lazing around and (somewhat) reading this summer, having finished Neuromancer and moved on to The Fountainhead. I just passed page 200 in that book, so I've got a little under 500 to go. Neuromancer is good if you like a science-fiction caper. It won, like, three big science fiction awards, and is quite well-written. I'm not sure I caught every detail of the plot, or exactly what was going on everywhere, but it's quite an enjoyable ride.

As for The Fountainhead, I know it's supposed to be in part a distilling of Ayn Rand's philosophy, though she apparently doesn't intend it to be primarily that, at least from what I hear...At any rate it appears to be about architects and their lives and careers, and it's at least pretty well-written so far. Not sure how much of her philosophy I'm going to agree with in the end. I already know it partly involves rejection of the supernatural, so pending the revelation that God is not supernatural I'll have to disagree with that part. But some elements of it I might agree with.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Finals Are Over

Hooray. Also, there's a game now in development which looks to be an awesome piece of freeware, entitled The Underside. It's sort of like Cave Story (which is a game pretty much anyone reading this could play, and their kids could play it too in my opinion.) However it plays a bit differently, despite stylistic similarities, and emits a much quirkier and offbeat sort of atmosphere. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Here's a trailer video from the author, courtesy of YouTube:


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

There's $20 I Didn't Know I Had

Tonight is the last night of finals--after 10:00 tomorrow morning I hope to have everything that I need to do for finals done and over with. I just got done re-reading the philosophy of the philosophy of religion paper I'm writing and I'll be starting either that or history backlog reading at 9:10. It might have to be the latter, as blowout hour starts in seven minutes and I'm not exactly hankering to write an essay while five different hip-hop songs invade my room at once.

Also, when I applied to be on team for Fall 2007 Encounter retreat, I had to turn in $20 to help cover expenses. But I got rejected for the team for Fall '07, so there was an e-mail from Fr. Jim reminding the rejects to pick up their $20. So now I have $20 that I forgot I had. Yay. I'm guessing the Encounter people wouldn't use terminology like rejects, and I don't really mean it in the really negative sense; I'm using it purely in the actual realistic sense--I didn't make the team. It's all well and good though as I'm not really sure at least at this point that I should be serving on team anyway. (You already know this probably, but don't post anything that could spoil anything about Encounter.)

Also, I had a conversation with someone the other day about the experience of seeing my Bible, saying "I should read that" and then not reading it. And how that happens on a ridiculously frequent basis. Then I had another conversation with another friend about it. Then I got fed up. So I'm trying to read it more.

I can hear blow-out hour beginning. Time to visit the Cove, then start whatever I decide to start.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Dead Week and I'm Alive 2

Awesome things about Dead Week so Far, with additions:

1) I've got my big theology projects for the semester done.
2) Last history paper is done.
3) The Concert Band / Jazz Band concert. A friend named C.J. pulled of what I believe to be the most amazing drum-work I've ever seen live. For the record he was doing the long drum solo from a rearrangement of West Side Story by Bill Redie. It involved craploads of crazy-awesome stuff.

The old #1 on the list got cancelled because the weather wasn't as good yesterday as it was Monday. The "to do" list remains the same, but adding packing.

I'm thinking about what I have to read this summer. So far, in alphabetical order (excluding articles like "an" and "the", the list is:

The Fountainhead

Gödel, Escher, Bach
Good Omens

If anyone's got any suggestions, please let me know. Also, I know I actually managed to generate some feedback with a couple of posts a couple of posts ago; that said I'll answer to it sometime in the next couple of weeks. Also, look for the theology cards to start happening again the Sunday after finals.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's Dead Week and I'm Alive

Awesome things about Dead Week so far:

1) The weather so far is gorgeous just like last year, which was awesome awesome weather.
2) I've got my big theology projects for the semester done.

Things yet to do:

1) Survive homework, which if teachers follow regulations, apparently can't be assigned this week. I'll probably get something due on Thursday or Friday anyway. The biggest thing here is a small paper (assigned before this week) that's due Wednesday.
2) Survive finals. Basically I'm going to start putting together my studying / not getting killed by finals binder tonight. It's also going to involve a lot of backlogged reading.

Also, I really enjoy that feeling I get when I've just turned in a big term paper and get to go drop off my sources at the library, and be rid of them for, well, however long the break is, at least.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Good People

Partly as a matter of theology and partly as a matter of experience, I stopped believing in good people a long time ago. A short while after I discovered this, I no longer believe in bad people. I do, however, believe in sinful people.

The theology: Original sin, and the notion of "who can be good but God alone?" seems to cancel out the notion of good people. Coupled with the experience of what I know of myself versus having been the 'good kid' at various points in my life, this pretty much destroys my belief in the idea of an inherently good human nature.

Believing in bad people: Things get a bit more nuanced here. I don't think people are neutral either, but I don't think they're bad. At least, we cannot really speak of 'bad persons' anymore than we can speak of a 'bad humanity', or a 'bad human nature.' Essentially, as far as words like 'good' or 'bad' go, we're all one or all the other. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." So to single out 'bad people' aside from the whole human race would seem arbitrary at best.

Believing in sinful people: If all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we may accurately speak of our state as one that needs redemption, but across the board. We may accurately say that without grace we would certainly be, as it were, screwed.