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Monday, April 26, 2004

Sailing in St. Mary's

On Saturday I went on an outing with The Navigators, which is a campus Christian group at University of Maryland. We took a trip down to St. Mary's County, to a family's house that has connections with our group. The house is situated on an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay.

We had a ton of fun. It takes about an hour and a half driving from College Park, MD. We began our day around 1PM playing volleyball on a grass court in the front yard. When the boats were ready, we all went down to the dock behind the house. Since there was limited room, I didn't get to go out on the first pass. One boat was a sail boat, which held about 17 people, and they went on a long cruise, which I'm told was a lot of fun. The other was a mid-sized motor boat, which took about 9 people on a shorter journey.

Part of the reason I stayed off, though, was that I really wanted to go canoeing. So I found a partner, Aaron, to go with me. We met up with a second canoe filled with three girls and had some splashing battles. We rowed around the whole inlet until we reached a line of buoys which indicated the beginning of high-speed traffic. Upon reaching that, we spun around, splashed the girls, and returned to the dock.

Soon after, the motor boat returned. The next trip would be for tubing. So I joined this group presently, although I had no spare clothes. Basically, a water skiing cable was attached to the back of the boat and an inner tube was tied to the end of it. A victim would climb onto the inner tube and wait to be dragged by the boat. The driver, Dennis, turned out to be extremely sadistic, and took much pleasure in going at full tilt in circles until the passenger in tow was flung off the inner tube! But this was a lot of fun, and a challenge to hang on. Everyone on the boat got their turn to be whipped around and tossed in the wake of the boat.

After everyone had taken their turn we started back, with me lounging out on the front of the boat, letting myself air dry. Back at the house, dinner was about to be served. We had dinner consisting of grilled chicken, various salads and pastas. A truly American meal. Then, we listened as two of the family spoke(Dennis, our boat driver, being one of them) about their lives and their faith. We had pie and cookies for dessert, and then watched Matt fire off his potato cannon(powered by propane). We played basketball, table tennis, and volleyball, for another hour or so, cleaned up a bit, said goodbye, and went back home.

A very nice day I must say. And yes, Rachel went too. She got to go on the sail boat cruise! Lucky her :-P People who haven't seen Blade Runner should see it. And I'm starting a new book, Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is the second book in his Mars series, which begins with Red Mars.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Beauty and Adventure in One Night!

I will tell you about my day after I skittered away from my office.

I took a nap until about 8:30.

I woke up and had a craving for a walk around the park. So I arranged to go with Rachel. We met and had some late night food at the South Campus Diner. We both had a belgian waffle with strawberry topping and whipped cream. YUMMY!!! We killed a styrofoam tree and sat outside to eat our food. After that we went to Lake Artemesia. It was dark and no one else was there. The lake is situated next to the DC metro and train tracks, so occasionally a Metro Green Liner will shoot across or a freight train will lug itself past the lake. It's very pretty though, and well-kept. Impressive for a place in Prince George's County.

The best part, though, was when we spotted two beavers working on their dam. They were collecting wood and we could hear them gnawing heartily at the wood they had obtained. They would nudge it around and then go off across the lake again, presumably to look for more wood. We stood there for a good fifteen minutes just watching.

After I dropped Rachel off back on campus, I headed home, and decided to get some gas at this really cheap station called University Gas(1.67 Unleaded). I filled up as normal. Then when I got in my car, it wouldn't start! ::grumble grumble:: ::kick tires:: I quickly realized that the problem must be with the battery, because the lights didn't work and the power locks didn't work.

First I asked someone to jump start my car. This worked initially, but as they left I turned on my lights and the car died again. Drats! So now I'm just at a loss. I open the hood again. Another stranger-patron inquires and then suggests more places to check. He diagnoses the problem as being the alternator malfunctioning, and to have the car towed. I get out my AAA Plus card and walk over to a pay phone across the little side road.

As I'm dialing a guy in a car asks if I need help. I did, quite obviously. So I direct him to my car. As he begins examining, another young man saunters up and begins to help out as well. These two concluded that the battery had too much corrosion which was causing problems with the connections. It seems to be standard practice to use Pepsi to clean a car battery's connectors, and so I bought a small bottle of Pepsi for them to use to clean the battery. They used odds and ends of tools and such to wipe out all the build-up. After they were satisfied with their work, they told me to try the starter. And BEHOLD! Everything worked! The first guy left almost immediately(his mother was waiting in his car).

The second guy needed some money. He had asked me in the middle of fixing the battery if I would buy a cell phone from him for $10. I told him at the time, "After we're finished." This was so I could get him to try his best to fix my car, and not do anything screwy. Since the car worked, and they saved me a lot of time and money, I gave him $15 for his service and took the phone(which I don't care about anyway). It seemed a fair price for what he did.

Oh yeah, did I mention: God saved the day!(again)

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Sunny Days

It has finally gotten sunny after about a week straight of rain. And there are hopes it will actually get to average at least for this time of year. YAY!!! :-)

I just finished If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, by William Faulkner. In proper Faulkner style and tradition, the last line of the book was:

"Women, shit," the tall convict said.

The book actually dealt with abortion quite a bit, but not in the story line about the tall convict(whose character I like a lot, btw). The main character, Harry Wilbourne, of the other story line(who I did not like) had extensive medical training, but was vehemently against performing abortions.

There was one situation in which he and his lover were living with a married couple and the woman became pregnant by the husband. As they were strapped financially, they did not want the burden of a baby, and so asked Wilbourne to perform an abortion on the woman. Harry repeatedly refused but then finally caved in and successfully performed the abortion. The couple left them pretty much directly afterwards, to go find work elsewhere.

The other situation was one in which Wilbourne's lover was impregnated by Wilbourne himself. This woman was very whimsical and impulsive rather like Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She wanted an abortion for many reasons, but the overarching reason was to be able to love Wilbourne to the fullest for the rest of her life. She had already had two children and abandoned them to go travel with and love Harry. She also made appeals to financials and the pain of giving birth. He was of course against performing this abortion as well. He suggested giving the baby up for adoption and such. He put off the issue as long as he could, hoping he could wait long enough that he could convince her it was too late to perform the operation. Eventually he is convinced to perform the operation and she dies from it.

In my opinion, it is selfishness to have an abortion. Especially in the second situation we can see that did not want children to intrude on her life. Even the ones she already had she pushed away in favor of a random restlessness moving around the country with a wayward almost-doctor. She did not care to love anyone else and refused to let her life-style slip through her fingers, and so she wanted the easy way out. In the same way, the married couple, though less overtly selfish, put themselves first and did not think of the baby inside of the wife as a separate person.

No matter when you consider sentient life to begin, you may look at the situation like this. We must love life. In doing so we also should love the potential for life. Even if you don't believe real life to begin until after birth, the love for the potential of this baby I would say could surpass even the love of the baby itself.

With this in mind, love has at its core a certain selflessness. If you love the life brewing in your body(if you're a female) or your wife's body(if you're male) then you by right and righteousness put aside your own feelings and bring the life into the world to thrive, no matter what your situation may be. Putting a child up for adoption is certainly the harder way to go if you cannot afford to raise a child because of the connection you have to your child, but this is the most selfless act some women may have available to them.

These are just some thoughts I have on the matter based on this book. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Rachel Got Into Grad Skoo!!

I'd like to congratulate my good friend Rachel on her admittance to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for an MFA in Painting/Art Studio. She's been very worried about her future plans and such, as she didn't expect to be admitted anywhere. If you talk to Rachel, tell her how awesome she is :-)

If you'd like to see some of Rachel's work, you can go to her UMD website. Don't know about you, but I'm a fan.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Research

Some research I worked on during my last year at UMD is being presented at the 14th annual meeting of the Society for Text & Discourse. I worked under a post-doc in the UMD Comp Sci department named Mike Anderson. The basic idea of the research was to determine the types and frequency of metalanguage, or talking about talking when you're talking ::goggle:: Here's the program for the conference.

This is the listing for our project in the conference program:

Tuesday, August 3rd
11:30 On the types and frequency of metalanguage
in conversation: A preliminary report

Michael L. Anderson, Andrew Fister,
Bryant Lee, Luwito Tardia &
Danny Wang

Friday, April 02, 2004

Why Someone Might Not Like Google Ads

I read this article on ZDNet about Google's up and coming email service, Gmail. The author, Charles Cooper, makes some interesting arguments as to why Google should not use their contextual ads from the standpoint of competing with Microsoft. Maybe Google should heed this advice, but maybe it's much ado about nothing. It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft and Yahoo respond.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Google Email

Google Email.

Discuss!

I personally have no problems with Google ads. I think they're cool. And this email service will far surpass the ones which are out there already, like Yahoo, which I use. I will switch to Google unless Yahoo really ramps up their service to compete with Google. This has got to piss off Yahoo and Microsoft :-P

Ghetto Mall

Last night I went shopping with Rachel at Prince George's Plaza Mall in Hyattsville. It is just about the oddest thing I've seen, I think. Maybe not, but in terms of odd malls, this one blows them all away. Well, the mall itself is alright. It's not very big, but it's fairly clean and has good security. When you go to a mall like this though, you have a ... err ... limited selection, shall we say.

I was looking for sandals since my previous ones are falling apart quite literally. So we walk around the whole mall walking into shoe stores, but none of them had sandals. They tended to be sportsy stores with shoes limited to basketball shoes and boots, it seemed. They also had a lot of uber-cool sporting apparel for men like jerseys and big basketball shorts.

The oddest thing by far was when we went to Hecht's. The whole first floor was nothing but women's apparel. I said, "Wouldn't it be funny if the whole store was women's stuff?" So we go up to the second floor, and sure enough, I'm viciously assaulted by panties and bras. A whole department store with no men's clothing! Besides that most of the other clothes stores were gaudy and flashy women's clothing stores.

The last store we hit finally had sandals. It was The Shoe Dept. Just a regular shoe store. No joke. They had a pair of Nunn Bush leather belt-strap sandals which I liked. So that's what I got.

Is this mall a statement about society? Sure. The mall tailored itself to its audience. Is there any wonder that the stereotypical black figure we see on TV is persisted constantly in real life? Black men are encouraged to shop pretty much solely at these sporting apparel stores, because that's what's closest. I know it's fashionable or whatever, but really, that mall was RIDICULOUS!