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Sunday, January 30, 2005

SUCCESS!!!



It was a long, hard road to the Iraqi elections, but we've seen success. The scattered violence was regrettable but expected, and now, people who have never had free elections before have now voted for their leadership council. It's inspiring and proof that our hard work overseas is paying off. Bringing freedom to those who want it is a cause well worth fighting for.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY

"Busy, busy, busy" is one of my new favorite sayings - rather a muttering to myself. I just read Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and the made-up religious sect in the book marvels at the complexities of God's ultimate plan. Whenever they spot a conspicuous interchange of impossible events, the "Bokononists" will mutter to themselves, "busy, busy, busy", meaning that they understand God is one busy character and we've got no idea what He's got going on. Bokononism may be a made-up religion, but there are shreds of truth to be found in it.

One of my favorite scenes involves an Episcopalian woman who often makes known that she understands exactly what God has got planned for the world, and as she's telling an architect about her great understanding, she spots one of his blueprints. She tells him that it is Greek to her and that she could never hope to understand it. Ironic, then, that she claims to understand the complex designs of God!

Vonnegut's book was excellent; it was ultimately about the futility of war, mainly arms races, and our obsession with having better and better technology. In a way, it was also anti-science, as it condemned scientists who invent devastating technologies without considering their consequences. I don't exactly fall in line with the major themes of the book, but Vonnegut wrote a really engrossing novel. I finished it in a day.

I was reading it for a new class that I'm in: Great Books. I got a call from Diane, who I used to work with in the Deans' office, and she had been checking over my graduation application. It seemed that the English class - argumentative writing - that I had been enrolled in did not fill my literary and rhetorical arts requirement. It was still so early in the semester that I decided to enroll in something else and drop the writing class. I think I'll be very glad that I did. The reading load is much heavier - ten books - but I think I'll get a lot out of it.

Along with writing and drawing for the Collegian, my seminar in history will keep me busy. It was changed again at the last minute. Originally (when I enrolled last semester) I was to be studying the Crusades, but that class was switched to Wednesday evenings. I really didn't want an evening course, so I switched into the one that was offered on Wednesday afternoons. I changed to it rather reluctantly, since it was going to be in Abilene at the Eisenhower Library, but as time went on, I started looking forward to studying the Eisenhower presidency. I'd even bought my books for the course, when on the first day we discovered we had a new professor. Dr. Holl was very sick in Texas and would be unable to teach. Dr. Sanders (with as much south in his mouth as a person could possibly have) has taken over the course, and it is now dealing with "history and myth", specifically in the study of 19th century events. The Civil War is his specialty, and American history (outside of 20th century presidential and cultural history) is definitely not my specialty. So, this could be a learning experience. I definitely don't know much about the material we're studying right now - Custer's Last Stand. For my research topics, I've chosen two events that I'm a little more familiar with and that are closer to the 20th century; the sinking of the Maine and the Battle of San Juan Hill. I'll get my assigned topic later this week.

In my music class, there is a rope that only I can see dangling from the ceiling, begging me to hang myself. It's a dreadfully easy class, which translates into boring and a waste of three hours of my time each week. There's just no way to make kindergarten-level music interesting to a 22-year-old undergraduate senior with several years of choir and band experience.

I worked at the dairy today for the first time in a couple of weeks. I'll be there again tomorrow. We had some new workers in the crew, a set of twins amongst them. For a while, I didn't know whether I was talking to Tanner or Shiloh, but I eventually got them figured out. Initially, I was caught off guard by them; I know I'm not real good with faces, but I thought I was going crazy when I thought they looked so much alike. They're two good guys who have been all over the place - KU, Garden City (where they played football), Benedictine (also where they played football), and now KSU. One is interested in political science, the other in history. Good choices...

Working for the Collegian is one of the best things I've been able to do at KSU so far. I've given the paper a hard time in the past, but I've got a different perspective now that I'm working there. The feel of the paper is a little different each semester since the staff changes. I think there have been a lot of good changes and upgrades this time around. Both my editor and the editor-in-chief are great to work with, and I've met a lot of people through being in the newsroom itself. As a columnist and artist, I wouldn't have to do any more than e-mail my art and writing in to my editor, but I get a lot more out of actually being in the newsroom. Keep reading: http://www.kstatecollegian.com.

Class keeps me busy. Work, in whatever form it takes, keeps me busy. Volunteering at the Church keeps me busy. So does homework, cooking, paying bills, having meetings, checking on applications, and occasionally sleeping. Mr. Marsh gave me a hard time on Thursday. I had several e-mails from him from around 6:00am, then another a few hours later demanding a reply! Thursdays are my days off, and I had slept in. Busy, busy, busy.

Congratulations to George Bush on his victory and inauguration to a second term. I wanted to be there to see it. It was great four years ago. I missed out this time, but I have a feeling I'll be in Washington again. Busy, busy, busy.

Well, there's a lot to do tomorrow, so I'd better get a few hours of sleep. I usually plan my Sundays around Church, but work is interfering with that tomorrow. Luckily, St. Isidore's has Mass at 9:30am, 11:00am, 4:30pm, and 6:00pm. I'll probably be able to make it one of those times!

Friday, January 14, 2005

IT'S ABOUT TIME FOR AN UPDATE

Shooting from the Lip has been up and running for over a year, but I've certainly been lax in providing any good updates since...oh, about the time of the election. Trust me, it's not because I don't want to put them up, but I just get sidetracked with a lot of other things that take precedence. To fill you in: Thanksgiving was good, Christmas was good, New Years was good, and now school has started again!

And with classes, I feel like I'm in junior high all over again. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I jump from English to biology to music. That's right: music. See, I'm finishing up my general education requirements that most people finish their in sophomore year, so the only "real" class that I've got is History 586, the advanced seminar in history that is required for that major. I suppose the other classes are real, too, but they just feel very juvenile compared to what I have been doing for several semesters.

English should be a breeze. The class is based on argumentative writing, which shouldn't be a problem for me. Biology is actually a physical anthropology class based mostly on human evolution and physiology. I actually find that branch of science really, really interesting, so this shouldn't be a tough course. I read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel last year, and it is about socio-cultural anthropology. This course will cover the more "hard science" aspects of anthropology.

Music is going to be easy; too easy. On Wednesday, we started by learning how to clap along with beats and rhythms. Today, as I sat there and the professor was explaining the difference between whole notes and half notes, I wondered if there was a way to quiz out. I know that there are definitely some people out there who are completely music illiterate, and this is the class that would be able to help them. With seven years of band and eight years of choir under my belt, I feel a little out of place in there for right now. Like I said: it'll be easy, and it is a requirement for graduation (not that class in particular, but a fine arts credit in general).

I headed out to my English class this morning, running a little late. I made it through the freezing weather to Eisenhower Hall and got up to the classroom just a few minutes before 10:30am only to see this sign on the door: "ENGL 300 AT 10:30 AND 11:30 HAS BEEN CANCELLED TODAY, 1/14/05, DUE TO INSTRUCTOR ILLNESS". I have an 11:30 class, so I was in one of those situations where I couldn't do much except go sit in my apartment for a few minutes before biology.

I was walking back and this car rolled up beside me in an alley, the window rolled down, and this absolutely drop-dead gorgeous girl looked out, asking me for directions. And I honestly don't remember what I said. She was looking for a place to park and then needed to find the biology building, so I think I told her she could park up ahead with her visitor's pass and that the biology building was too the north. I started walking back to my apartment, but I stopped and thought, "what the heck, I've got nothing to do for an hour, I should see if she needs a tour guide." So I started walking back, and by that time she was pulling back out of the alley. I told her that my class was cancelled and that I'd be happy to help her find a place to park. She evidently wasn't from a city, because she cleared off her passenger seat and let me in.

Come to find out she was from South Dakota and is transferring to KSU next semester. She's in journalism (coincidence) and political science (another coincidence), and KSU seemed like a really big school to her; evidently the University of South Dakota only has 8,000 students. But this girl was better looking than anyone at K-State by far, which I suppose is the reason I went back to help her in the first place. So we finally found her a place to park, and I called the Deans' office (the number is still in my head from when I worked there) and asked which building she was looking for - plant pathology specifically, because she had an uncle that worked in there. So I showed her a bit of campus and got her going to where she needed to go, freezing my butt off the whole time. I'd been outside for about 45 minutes by then, and had my brain been warm and thinking straight, I would have given her my number and told her to call me later so we could get something to eat. But I'll chalk my brain-lag up to the cold weather, because she thanked me for the help and we went separate ways.

Damn this weather anyway.

I've had quite a few things in the Kansas State Collegian this week: a column on Tuesday along with two drawings, a drawing on Wednesday, and another one today. My columns run on Tuesdays and I should usually have two pieces of artwork featured per week. It's been a lot of fun so far.

I got some professors squared away on writing letters of recommendation to the schools that I've applied to. That's really the only thing that is left, except I still have some things to send on to Notre Dame. That's the next big step: moving on to grad school.

Our apartment gets a little bit chilly at nights since we keep the heat at 65. Actually, it's just my room that gets cold, since it's the farthest away from the thermostat, so I brought back a little space heater from home. I think at least two of my roommates are staying here next year, and that's the smartest thing to do. These apartments are a little bit higher on rent, but you simply can't beat their location: right across the street from campus. I don't have to walk over five minutes to any class or pay for an on-campus parking permit. If I were going to be at KSU next year, I'd stay here. One roommate has been insistent on moving out and getting a house; I really can't imagine why, but another roommate is pretty sure it's for party purposes only, which is kind of pathetic. I went through a phase where I went out a lot and drank as much as anybody else, but for one reason or another, I grew out of that. In all actuality, I really couldn't care less where my roommates end up, since I'll hopefully be 1000 miles away. Just so long as they have the lease to this place resigned on time if they want it again, I'll be happy.

The Incredibles is playing at the Union this weekend, and I'm probably going to go to it again. The Union only charges $2.00 for the movies they show, so you really can't beat that. Otherwise, I've got plenty of stuff I can work on around here. I haven't driven since I got back on Tuesday, since our parking lots are just a solid sheet of ice.

Damn this weather anyway!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

MY CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO MYSELF

I'd been wanting a stereo for a while, and finally got myself one the other day; I guess you could say it was my Christmas present to myself. It doesn't have a CD player on it. It doesn't have a tape deck, either. The radio won't even work until I get an antenna hooked up. Or maybe the tubes need tested...I'm not sure.

It's old. I can't date it because I can't find the exact model on the internet anywhere, but I'm guessing it's from the late-1940s or early-1950s; it's an RCA Victrola combination radio-phonograph, and it looks roughly similar to the two pictures posted below:



Those are two different models but look similar to the one that I have. I don't know why I wanted a record player. I just think it's interesting technology that you can't find anymore. I don't know too many people with tape decks, either. CDs (among college students, burned CDs) are the way to go, and MP3s are going to replace them before long, I imagine. So it's different to have a piece of old technology. I'm listening to the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever on it right now.

The whole thing was in really good shape. I'm not entirely sure how to use the record player, as in putting on more than one record and having the arm change them, but I can play one at a time. It might need some work, and the radio needs an antenna at least. Anyway, I think it is worth a lot more than I payed for it, and I'm getting a kick out of it. Isn't it strange that I'm more enamored with technology that is more than a half-century old when we're living in the age of iPods and burned CDs? It's like when you give a present to a baby and he'd rather play with the box than what's inside it...I can't explain it, but I'm happy with what I bought.

HAPPY NEW YEAR ~ STAY INSIDE!

Saying or writing "2005" just doesn't sound quite right. I'll grow into it, just like I've grown into every other new year, though. The year 1999 was mentioned on TV earlier today, and even though that sounds just like it was yesterday, it was six years ago. Since Manhattan is the "Little Apple", we had a ball drop in Aggieville on Friday night followed by a pretty impressive fireworks display. I ran into several of my classmates from EHS and missed the ball drop, but we stepped outside to watch the fireworks.

And with the new year has come new weather. Last week there were a couple of days that it was over 70 degrees. You wouldn't be able to tell that by looking outside now. It has been sleeting all day, and nearly everything in Manhattan is covered in a thick layer of ice. I heard an engine revving earlier today and looked outside; a Mustang was stranded in the intersection outside of my apartment. I ran outside and the passenger and I tried pushing to get it going. We didn't have much luck until a third person stopped to help. Then we got them rolling, the passenger jumped in, and they were on their way. It was so slick that we could hardly get any traction at all. I haven't heard that I-70 or I-135 are closed, but they very well may be. Radar showed that ice was covering the entire state.

I was supposed to have an interview at Manhattan High School today, but I didn't go - no one was there anyway. A meeting that I had at 7:30 tonight was cancelled, also. I managed to get a pretty good nap today; it was so cold and nasty out and so warm inside that I couldn't avoid it. Mom and Dad gave me a candle warmer for Christmas, and I use it all the time. You just set a scented candle (in a jar) on top of the warmer and it heats up, eventually turning completely to liquid wax; so you're burning the candle without actually burning any of the wax away. My room smells like Christmas all the time!

Sandra Bullock is one heck of a nice person. She donated $1 million to the American Red Cross to help in South Asia. Hannity and Colmes are discussing an interesting irony right now: many so-called Hollywood activists spent a ton of money to try to get John Kerry elected, but we haven't heard much from them now. George Soros? Michael Moore? Barbara Streisand? Where are they now? Perhaps they have donated some and just haven't publicized it; I hope so.

Rev. Franklin Graham was just on Hannity and Colmes as well. Sean Hannity was asking him why a loving God would allow such a tragedy to happen to the people of South Asia. I think that Graham is probably a really good guy, but he said something that I disagree with: I'm paraphrasing, of course, but he said that we are living in an age where Satan is now God, and since disasters and tragedies come from Satan, he is responsible for the tsunami. God, according to Rev. Graham, has given Satan control of the earth. I don't believe that for a minute. Why God lets events like this happen is a mystery to me, but I have no doubt that he is fully in control of them and lets them happen for a reason. And look at the immense charity and good will that is coming out of something like this. Every time a volunteer gives food to a homeless family, every time a volunteer doctor performs life-saving surgery, and every time we write a check to send overseas, God is revealing Himself through us. Tragedies like this are horrible but can be turned into a growing experience. Families can become stronger, faith can deepen, and the realization of God's true power can come to light. The devestation in South Asia did happen for a reason, and while we may not understand the motives, we can use this moment to become the people that God wants us to be and allow Him to show through our actions.

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