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Monday, December 18, 2006

Halfway Done!

I'm halfway done with my PhD program! Yay!  
A week ago I deposited my qualifying papers. Now, I just have to defend my papers next semester, and if I pass, I get 
a Master's degree in Linguistics. Whew. 
I just graded my last HW set, so I'm completely done with the semester.

I'm going to Lexington, Kentucky, where I will spend Christmas with my girl Rachel and my Dad's side of the family. We stay at my Uncle Norb's, who with my Aunt Tammie are great hosts to Rachel and me. I love staying there.  

I'm also going to visit Nana and Aunt Debra in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area, for the New Year's time.  I'm looking forward to being in a tropical climate in the winter.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Worst Side Of A Man

Two things bring out the worst in a man. 
Inordinate power. Inordinate desperation

More than 100 Iraqis per day die in their streets.

Genocide occurs in Sudan.

The mob-like Russian and Eastern bloc governments assassinate dissenters.

These people in the world do what they wish not to do. Peace is far from the mind and conflict suffocates.

What power is held must be used, and weakness never shown or yielded... except through display of many dead bodies, or your own. The alternative is mutiny by those wolves that surround you, circling, drueling with dreams of your demise.

With no choice in the matter of survival, action must be taken. Become a thief, join a militia, prostitute yourself. Sell your body to the highest bidder, or disappear into the shadows. Your other choice is slavery, or death...probably both.

Religion is the excuse.

Religion is the solution.

Let's figure it out...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good Sandwich

I just made an excellent sandwich ^_^

Ingredients:
whole wheat bread, 2 slices
portabella mushroom, 1
cheddar cheese, 2 slices from a block
hummus, 2 tbsp
capers, 2 tsp
spinach, a few leaves

So what I do is take the head of a portabella mushroom.  Then I lightly oil and salt a frying pan and fry the mushroom. I spread some hummus on a slice of bread, and put some capers on the hummus.  Then I take the fried mushroom out of the pan and put it on the bread.  I cut a couple slices of cheddar cheese, and add that along with some fresh spinach leaves.  I put the whole thing in the frying pan and brown the bread.  I found that the spinach and cheese makes the sandwich unstable in the frying pan, so you might try adding it after frying the bread.

Enjoy! 

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

City Boxers

Sorry for the hiatus ^_^;

Hmm.

So I recently bought a couple pairs of boxers from City Boxers. I've worn each a few times and I do enjoy them quite a bit. Being a poor grad student, I bought from their bargain section, which really gets you some great prices that beat most store prices even with shipping. Here is a photo of one of the pairs I got. The flannel is really soft and the material is very high quality :-) And they're all made in the USA, to boot!

An attribute I look for in a company I purchase from is an evident passion for the product they produce. You can clearly see it throughout their website, from the front page description of the company, to the made-to-order customizability of all their boxers, to the forums where the owner answers questions and responds to comments enthusiastically. I expect I will be a repeat customer.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Father's Day, Wandafar, Ubuntu Linux

Last week I was deciding what to do for my Dad for Father's Day. I was looking at sending down some high quality beer(where he lives is in a "dry" county). The shipping was so expensive, though, that the idea came into my head that I could just go take something down to him myself, and pay him a visit over the weekend. And so I did. On Friday I stopped at the Walnut Street Tea Company and got him a variety of loose teas. Then I drove down to Glasgow, KY in about 6 hours and surprised my Dad with myself and the tea.

In case you didn't know, my Dad runs a one-man farming and wildlife preservation operation. He calls the place where he lives Wandafar. He's planted about 2500 trees in a huge field on the property to lend a hand to the banks of a creek running through. His focus in his agricultural production is to provide all the food he needs for himself, using as little unnaturally-provided resources as possible. That is to say, he wants to be completely self-sufficient. I admire his work and to visit him and see what he's doing is truly an impressive experience, one that you won't have almost anywhere else these days.

I'm slowly migrating my system over to Ubuntu Linux 6.06 presently. Linux is a major alternative to Windows, and is completely free and open. It is not owned by a particular company, and anyone can use and modify it, but some companies like Red Hat have built their own proprietary version of Linux that you can buy in most electronics stores these days. Even then, though, the Linux core remains open. Ubuntu is a version or "distribution"(aka distro) of Linux that is said to be the most userfriendly these days. It is a free and open source distribution, as are the many programs it is packaged with. I seem to like it well enough, once I got past the initial learning curve and difficulties with certain aspects of it.

Linux for years was designed primarily with the most tech savvy in mind, since the masses were assumed to be locked into Windows. So most Linux distributions are unfit for general use. Only in the past couple years with the rise of the free and open source Mozilla Foundation's Firefox as an alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer(boooo!) has there been a push to make Linux suitable for anyone to use. In my opinion Ubuntu is still not ready for anyone to use, but with some improvement it could be.

Why is it important for programs to be free and open source? Because it allows for a community to be created around a piece of software in which anyone can improve it and fit it to the community's needs. It also promotes an adherence to universal standards in software, which means you can use, for instance, any web browser that adheres to these standards to view web pages. Thus web pages can be created with just these standards in mind, and not two different standards, as is done now, between Microsoft, and everything else.

Friday, June 09, 2006

US Shoes

Everyday I wear a very old pair of Giorgio Brutini boat shoes(docksides, loafers, etc.). They've held up very well(maybe 10 years?), so I recommend this brand if you're looking for some nice shoes. The downside to this company's shoes is that they are made in China(or at least mine are). In fact, most shoes and clothes that people buy were made across seas. I think every piece of clothing I'm wearing at this moment was made overseas, and almost every article of clothing that I own.

So, I read this interesting piece on a person's quest to find US-made shoes. Actually, the shoes featured there aren't made in the US either anymore.

But the important point is that US companies are exploiting workers in many 3rd-world countries around the world in order to give us clothes at cheap prices and keep their profits maximized. These thoughts were prompted somewhat from a Bible study I had yesterday on Micah Chapter 2, which talks about the exploitation of the poor, and which I think applies to most people reading this post, including me.

Now they're generally not directly exploiting the workers, as they don't own any of the factories(like that absolves them). What they do is find business people in places like South Korea who own these factories in countries like China, Vietnam, the Phillipines, and Thailand, where all our clothes are made. These factory owners are the ones who work their employees for a standard 60 hours per week and mostly pay them minimum wage, which is so low in these 3rd world countries that working 60 hours at these wages doesn't even raise the workers above the poverty line of the country where the factories are located. They often live in barracks on the factory grounds and are not allowed to leave without permission, essentially making them slaves.

An exception is Cambodia, which I heard on an episode of This American Life is a leader among 3rd world nations in labor practices, but has a hard time competing with surrounding countries because they can't make the lowest bids for contracts since they pay decent wages.


So, I thought it would be nice to find shoe companies that do actually commit to making their shoes in the US. I found a cool website called US Stuff that has a shoes section that lists companies that have manufacturing operations in the US. Sometimes you can find companies with excellent prices, like Okabashi, which makes sandals. A popular company that makes casual/athletic shoes mostly in the US is New Balance.

I'm considering buying a pair of sandals from Chaco. And maybe if my Giorgio Brutinis ever fall apart I'll buy a new pair of boat shoes from B.A. Mason Shoes :-)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Information Superhighway?

I found this quote to be hilarious =D
Credit goes to a comment on Slashdot by the user spun.

"There it is again. Some clueless fool talking about the "Information Superhighway". They don't know didley about the Net. It's nothing like a superhighway. That's a rotten metaphor.

Suppose the metaphor ran in the other direction. Suppose the highways were like the net...

A highway hundreds of lanes wide. Most with pitfalls for potholes. Privately operated bridges and overpasses. No highway patrol. A couple of rent-a-cops on bicycles with broken whistles. 500 member vigilante posses with nuclear weapons. A minimum of 237 on ramps at every intersection.

No signs. Wanna get to Ensenada? Holler out the window at a passing truck to ask directions.

Ad hoc traffic laws. Some lanes would vote to make use by a single-occupant-vehicle a capital offense on Monday through Friday between 7:00 and 9:00. Other lanes would just shoot you without a trial for talking on a car phone.

AOL would be a giant diesel-smoking bus with hundreds of ebola victims on board throwing dead wombats and rotten cabbage at the other cars, most of which have been assembled at home from kits. Some are built around 2.5 horsepower lawn mower engines with a top speed of nine miles an hour. Others burn nitroglycerin and idle at 120.

No license plates. World War II bomber nose art instead. Terrifying paintings of huge teeth or vampire eagles. Bumper mounted machine guns. Flip somebody the finger on this highway and get a white phosphorus grenade up your tailpipe. Flatbed trucks cruise around with anti-aircraft missile batteries to shoot down the traffic helicopter. Little kids on tricycles with squirt guns filled with hydrochloric acid switch lanes without warning.

NO OFFRAMPS. None.

Now that's the way to run an Interstate Highway system.

Author (maybe, it's hard to track down sources on the Net): Jim Wiedman"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Martial Arts Podcasts

I have been listening extensively to a couple martial arts podcasts recently, and they have been very helpful and informative for me. The Applied Karate Show is hosted by Des Paroz, a very experienced and insightful karateka of the Shorinjiryu school, in Sydney, Australia. This show focuses primarily on master karate practitioners.

The second podcast is West Seattle Karate's Martial Secrets, hosted by Kris Wilder, the head instructor at this Goju-ryu karate school. This show interviews martial arts masters of all traditions, all around the world. He asks very good questions and he likes to interview people who can give a very particular insight that is different from what his previous guests could offer.

So check out a couple of these if you're interested in exploring the martial arts, its history, and what it means to practice and master the martial arts.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Switchfoot, Spring, Strawberry Mocha

On Tuesday night I saw Switchfoot in concert at Foellinger Auditorium, which is right in the middle of campus. I've listened to this band since 1999, but I hadn't seen them in concert yet. It was a very fun concert. A particularly memorable moment was when an audience member proclaimed his request for a song, "Only Hope". John, the lead singer, brought him and his friend on stage. He proceeded to play the song while one of the stage techs gave them a haircut! A song for a haircut. Fair trade, eh? I was very close to the stage with Ben, and we really got into the music. They are good performers and they had an amazing set, with lots of LED panels and lights set up.

Spring is the most amazing season. It makes everything come alive, including my mood. Illinois gets so much brighter during the warm weather. I took a walk around the arboretum on Sunday, talking to my good friend Drew, feeling tree trunks and digging my fingers into the ground.

I just bought a strawberry mocha at Espresso Royale because it's half price today, and I haven't had one before. But the coffee taste is there, which I don't like, and I don't think I can finish it. Does anyone want it?

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Note on Software Patents

A big issue discussed in the computer software world is the current patent system, and how they apply to software. The issue arises from the fact that large software companies are bombarding the US PTO(Patent and Trademark Office) with patent requests. As a result, they get a large number of patents made on everything they develop. By doing this, they can effectively push out competitors from developing the same sort of product, making a veritable intellectual monopoly.

This is a common topic discussed on Slashdot and the most recent one is based on an essay on the topic by Paul Graham.

I found a particularly good comment that struck me as the reason software patents are not as valid as patents on a new lawnmower or 3D glasses. Patents are not allowed to protect ideas or thoughts themselves, but the production of that idea into a profitable form. They are meant to encourage inventors to publish their secrets in exchange for a guarantee of government protection from copying, so the ideas don't get lost when the inventor dies.

Software is at once the description of a an idea as well as being the product itself. There is little cost to transforming working source code into a profitable form. You just compile it(sometimes) and put it on a website. Simple.

Contrast this with someone having a working idea for an anti-gravity machine. In order to make it profitable, they'll need to spend a ton of money on making prototypes and investing in manufacturing facilities and personnel. If someone were to get ahold of one of these and replicate it, the original inventor would have lost all that money not only on research and development(software companies also do), but also on being able to make enough of them to be profitable(which software doesn't have to deal with).

A common example of an absurd software patent is Amazon's one-click purchase function. Yes, they have a patent on that. No joke! If you make a function on your website whereby someone can make one click and have a purchase placed, you can be sued by Amazon!

Well, what do you think of that?

Friday, March 31, 2006

Google, V for Vendetta

So, last week I had a phone interview with Google for a summer internship position. Turns out I didn't get the position, but they seemed to like me even so. I've never gotten a job straight from an interview before, so it didn't surprise me very much. I always have gotten my jobs through contacts, and without having to compete for the position. I was really hoping to get this job, but I will accept this outcome as God's direction for my summer.

V for Vendetta is a movie I saw on Saturday with my roommate JT. I can describe the plot as a mix between Phantom of the Opera, 1984, and Zorro. The story follows a hero named V, who follows in the legacy of the famous Catholic legendary rebel who tried to blow up the parliament building in the 17th century. Being made by the same guys who made The Matrix, you expect a good deal from the movie. They deliver a great film with top-notch acting from Natalie Portman(in my opinion the most attractive actress in Hollywood) and Hugo Weaving as V.

An interesting aspect to me was that we never see V's face. His whole body was burned in a fire, so he would not want to take off his mask anyway. But in most movies with a masked hero you see his face at some point, even if it is hideous. I think the reason for this is they wanted to present V symbolically as an idea, rather than as a person, although his character is developed pretty well and he's very entertaining. In particular I liked his monologue near the beginning of the movie in which every other word he utters begins with V. Very clever :-)

The leftist rhetoric is over the top, and with some scrutiny does not hold water. But to me, Hollywood is what it is and one should take a lot of the messages from these films with a grain of salt. Still, there is some good expressed through the movie.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Blue Moon

Not only have I had beer twice within the space of a week(unheard of), but both times I've had someone buy for me(quite common, however), and both times I've had Blue Moon. The first time, it was ordered for me. The second time, I ordered it specifically. So, I like it. I like this beer because it's light(as in white, not as in low calorie), smooth and has a citrus flavor to it. I can actually drink it at a normal pace, which is unusual for me and beer. It's a Belgian white beer, and is served with an orange slice. So give it a try if you usually don't like beer but have an oppourtunity to order one.

I think now I'm going to make me a grilled cheese sandwich. So I'm going to tell you all the proper way to make one. Use whole wheat bread. Cut slices of some single vegetable. I like onions, or mushrooms, or zucchini. Fry the sliced vegetable in olive oil(I might try adding some red wine here) until it starts to brown. Place the vegetable on the bread. Cut some melting cheese(cheddar, mozzarella, colby, etc...) and place it on the vegetable and top it with the bread. Put the sandwich in the pan with some olive oil and let it fry on a medium heat until brown on both sides. That is one excellent sandwich :-)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Thara Thai

Thara Thai is a restaurant on Bloomington Road in Champaign, just west of Prospect Ave. I went there on Sunday with some graduate students, most of whom were in Linguistics, and I was likely the youngest one among the group, and the only native English speaker. The food there is quite good and very spicy, even if you order something to be mild. I could handle it, but my American-oriented sinuses were reacting rather violently to the spices. I wanted a dish with some seafood and our Thai friend who was with us recommended the red curry with shrimp, which was very spicy but tasted good.

It's spring break, but there's snow covering the ground. ::shakes fist at weather::

Monday, March 13, 2006

More Wine, Martial Arts School, Puzzle Crunch

On Thursday I went to Krannert Uncorked, which is a free wine tasting at the performing arts center here at the U of IL. They didn't give much wine, but it was enough to know what I liked. I liked the Cabernet Sauvignon the best, because its fruity flavor poured over my tongue in a way that I've rarely experienced. They also had a table full of snack foods including cheese and various kinds of crackers. I'll still take the wine tasting at Persimmon Grocery any day for $2, but this was fun, and I talked with a fellow Linguistics grad student. And it was free!

Directly after the wine tasting, I visited Best Academy School of Martial Arts in Champaign. I was quite impressed. The workouts were quite rigorous, the instructor was very knowledgable, and most importantly, the school is not very commercialized. I recognized similarities between this school and my Shotokan school in MD that made me impressed. I watched the Shudokan Karate class first. The kata in that karate are done with very high yang energy. It was interesting, but I don't know if I'd want to sustain that high yang energy throughout a whole style.

It's always a good sign if a martial arts school lets you train for free with them at least once. I participated in the mixed martial arts class, in which the black belt doing the warmup led us through 100 pushups in a row, and hard ones, not just regular pushups. So I couldn't keep up, but I did my best. I worked with the instructor on punching and kicking focus pads, and I almost fainted because of the wine dehydrating me. But I didn't say anything and I worked through it. Then we worked on sparring, at my request. He recommended slow sparring which I was impressed with. Slow sparring is very useful, and is a sign that someone is interested in applicability.

This school is not interested in tournaments, and they are probably reasonably priced. The instructor that I talked with, who has half the experience of the head instructor, has 20 years of experience. They have knowledge of pressure point fighting, various styles, high practicality, and philosophical/spiritual foundations of martial arts. He also claimed a school philosophy to not emphasize belt ranks. All of these are essential aspects of a good martial arts school. I think I may start attending this school to further my training.

On Saturday I took part in a puzzle competition called Puzzle Crunch. I was in a group of four and you can see the group if you go to the winners page and look at the 1st place team. Yes, we won! These puzzle competitions are very fun. They are meant for people with computer science or engineering-type backgrounds, and involve lots of logic, randomness, and looking in the right places. This competition involved a lot of running around campus finding clues and other puzzles, and interacting with the creators, even(we had to pickpocket one of them). We won about $800 in prizes, the biggest of which was an XBox 360 Platinum. We also got three games for it, a mug, a messenger bag, t-shirts, $200 Best Buy gift cards, and a pizza. If you want to help me with next semester's Puzzle Crack, you should contact me about it :-)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Error Message By Dialog Box

One of my pet peeves is the pop-up dialog box messages that programs often give you. To me, this is one of the worst UI decisions to make when writing a program. Since many programs that I run are actively internet dependent, and I travel with my computer most of the time, whenever I leave the range of a Wi-Fi hotspot all my programs give me dialog box error messages for want of an internet connection. Windows gives you these all the time as well, for any number of errors.

Why do I dislike these? Because I have to click "OK" on ALL of the dialog boxes in order to even use the programs that the errors originated from. From a user perspective, of course I want to be notified of errors, but I should not have to put up with error messages that completely bring to a halt my productivity until I click past them all.

For a good example of the right way to do error messages, look at the IM client called GAIM. When there's an error, it puts a notification directly on the client window, not blocking anything else, and only giving you a pop-up dialog box if you click on the error message. Otherwise it does not hinder you at all. If you resolve the error, the error message goes away without any sort of pop-up. More UI designers should follow the lead of the GAIM people.
</rant>

Monday, March 06, 2006

Cincinnati

Hey folks!
Just had a nice weekend in Cincinnati visiting my girl Rachel :-) So I thought I'd go over a few of the places I went and give them a proper review.

Cincinnati is a very simple place to get to from where I live. You see, the highway 74 runs straight through Champaign-Urbana, and hey, it also runs straight through Cincinnati! Actually, I think 74 begins in Cincinnati. So that's good for you to know, if you live in Champaign-Urbana. Just take 74 east and you'll hit Cincinnati eventually. It'll take you 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Cincinnati is a very cute town, in my opinion. Especially near the university. And Rachel enjoys living there very much. The first place we visited was the UC art gallery, where some of Rachel's professors and fellow students had some work displayed. The art gallery is actually downtown, apart from the university. The theme was "Bad Drawings". So there were all sorts of drawing displayed from the department. It was a fun time. Especially of note was the work of Rachel's favorite professor, Denise Burge, who specializes in drawing and fabric art/quilting. She put together an amazing fabric composition that was hung on a wall in the gallery. She basically made a painting with fabric cuts laid out over each other. Some of the designs were quite intricate.

The Krohn Conservatory is an excellent place to go and relax, especially when the sun is out. It's not as large as the US Botanical Garden, but the layout is basically the same. If you've never been to a plant conservatory you must go. It's like a zoo of plants. The Krohn Conservatory is peacefully situated on a hill near the pristine Eden Park. Particularly impressive at the Krohn Conservatory was the Orchid show going on while we were there. They had prize-winning orchids, bred to appear extremely beautiful, or delicate, or even bug-like and creepy.

The UC Campus Recreation Center was an interesting experience. As I've previously mentioned, I have an exercise/relaxation routine that I do every three days at one of the Illinois gyms. UC just opened their new rec center a few weeks ago so everything was all shiny. Well, as shiny as grey and black can be, which is the color that dominated the entire complex. The architecture was impressive, but I think not so conducive to an optimistic attitude while exercising and relaxing. You must understand that UC has the best architecture department in the whole country, hands down, and the architecture of the university is very interesting and creative than most universities I've been to. I think the person who designed this building might've been depressed, though. And the guest fee was $10. Compare to $7 for the UIUC gym. I did my routine as best I could. The facilities were very nice for the most part, but they still evidently did not check with the design of the UIUC gym. The lockers are all lockable only by having a combination lock of your own, which you must buy or bring. Compare with the UIUC gym's electronic combination locks that anyone can walk up and use with no additional hardware. Another problem was that the whirlpool's engine was placed too close to the whirlpool, so that it vibrated and made a sound like a subwoofer. But it was a nice experience being there with my girl and getting some exercise. I'm sure it will be very enjoyable for most people and a nice addition to the university.

While you're in Cincinnati, you may also want to visit Sitwell's on Ludlow Ave. It's a nice coffee shop that I've been to a couple times. They have good selection and better service than most coffee shops.

So, take that drive down 74E :-)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Chinese mothers, Chinatown, Dim-sum, Mute Math

Have you ever been treated for a couple days by a Taiwanese mother? On Friday and Saturday, I was. Geoffrey Herman's Mommy is a super sweet woman with a mix of New Yorker and Mandarin accents. JT and I went to the Herman household and had a wonderfully prepared traditional Chinese meal(better than anything you'll get in most restaurants). As I remember, there was the staple white rice, beef and broccoli, among other things. And after dinner, we had pork-filled dumplings for "dessert". At that point I started holding back a bit because I was full, but I still had a good share of dumplings.

On Saturday we didn't need to eat any breakfast. We went to Chinatown for lunch at Phoenix restaurant and had the best dim-sum in Chicago, so they say. It was quite good. If you've never had dim-sum I highly recommend you try it. But take someone who knows what they're ordering, and can explain it to you. They serve many Chinese delicacies and it is much different from your standard Chinese restaurant.

After that my body was quite done with food for the day. Literally. But it was great. We walked around Chinatown for some time, going in various shops. I bought some loose Pu-ehr tea, which is a fermented tea with a fruity flavor. I haven't tried it yet. We got some stuff from a bakery as well. We bought some desserts to take home. The fried dough with sugar and sponge cake cone were decent, but if I want Chinese dessert I'll get something with red bean ;-)

JT and I stopped by the Art Institute of Chicago Art Museum. We walked around looking at paintings for 45 minutes. There was some excellent stuff there. Picasso, Matisse, Ernst, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Monet were just some of what we saw. It's the best art museum in Chicago and I liked it a lot. I'd like to go back there another time, earlier in the day.

Finally, we went to Schuba's Tavern for a Mute Math concert. Mute Math is one of my favorite bands and they're on an album release tour. They're a Christian rock band but they are quite unique. Paul Meany is well-versed in all the popular styles: pop,rock, reggae, jazz, hip hop, rap, and electronica. They also are staying independent, as they are right now, especially from Christian labels that market their bands in a "nauseating" way, as the band would say. JT and I were in the second row. JT got to hold the drummer's bass pedal. I got to hold and play Paul Meany's custom-made instrument called the Atari, during the song Reset where he plays it. It was very awesome, and the best $10 I ever spent. One funny thing about Mute Math is that they tape everything. They use a ton of tape putting up their set. And best of all, the drummer Darren King duct tapes his headphones onto his head, like a bandage. Everyone cheered when he did that. This band does things like having everyone playing percussion, playing percussion with everything on their set. The guitarist sometimes plays by hitting the strings with a xylophone mallet, or hitting the body of the guitar with his knuckles. Paul also plays the keytar and an old school Rhodes keyboard. The bassist has his own bass drum set at shoulder height, as well as his guitar, and often plays it as an extension of his bass sound by hitting it with a mallet. Well, those are some of the cool things I saw at the concert.

Now, time to work on getting my PhD...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Culture of Life

I went to a lecture tonight in Newman Hall in which Monsignor Swetland of St. John's Catholic Chapel and Todd Daly of Urbana Theological Seminary spoke on promoting a culture of life in America. This was a finale to the week of prayer for Christian Unity. I enjoyed it very much.

Todd Daly spoke on Baconian philosophy of the body. Francis Bacon was one of the fathers of the scientific method, and in the 18th century, the idea of the body being the repository of the soul became prevalent. By studying the human body as a set of intertwined discrete organs and studying and performing medicine on them as you do to a machine that needs tuning. Mr. Daly and Msgr. Swetland both proposed that Christians should view the body and soul as one. That is, humans are essentially corporal as well as spiritual beings, and you cannot affect one without affecting the other.

Important points:
We should take care of the least in our society. Those who are helpless and possibly hopeless. This makes sure that they aren't exploited by those who would marginalize them.

We should evangelize our culture, and not just people. By finding your personal vocation from God, your purpose on this world, you can create a culture of life wherever you are, whatever you're doing. Also, if God is calling you to something that's risky or unprofitable monetarily, do not push out those thoughts because of impracticability.

We should vote. Many of us should become political leaders commited to a platform of a culture of life. Vote for leaders that will make for the most just society, and do not make your vote on a single issue. Do not vote for a candidate that will marginalize a particular age group, race, or religion.

Culture is a combination of how we grow our food, eat, and worship. As a practical matter every day, eating meals together with family and friends creates a culture of life because it strengthens community. Being an active member in a church community does this also. Make yourself a burden on others. Do not make yourself as autonomous as possible, relying on nobody. It creates division within the body of Christ if you do not let others support you. The way I personally think of this is that I always accept gifts without feeling the need to give anything in return. Likewise I give gifts without expecting anything in return.

These are some of the points as I remember them. Oh, and Msgr. Swetland made a funny when talking politics:

"We don't vote for the lesser of two evils. It's the evil of two lessers"

^_^

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Observations

On January 12, 1982 you were born at 102 Lawton Ave. in Brookline, MA.
Your mother had a hard time getting you out of the womb because of your
big head. Your head was so big compared to your long thin body that
sitting up was a comical task. Your center of gravity was in your head
instead of you belly until you were about 12 months old. One of your
favorite activities as an infant/toddler was stacking blocks. You would
sit on the floor, literally for hours, stacking, unstacking, stacking,
unstacking and it seemed to please you without end. You always had a
happy and pleasantly calm demeanor except for a few weeks after your
birth, when I would sit up at all hours of the night rocking you because
you wouldn't sleep and your mother had difficulty nursing you.

You loved school from the very beginning. Your participation in baseball
was admirable, not being particularly athletic, you did well, but most
importantly you were an excellent team player. You never seemed to be
upset or express complaints about anything...sometimes that bothered me,
but generally I also considered this to be your ability to cope with
adversity. You caught on to the difference between right and wrong and
have developed a keen discipline in keeping to a high standard of
morality (as far as I know). I know however, that no one is perfect, but
you appear to have a strong integrity. I have always been impressed by
your sticking to your goals for yourself.

I have always been proud that you are my son. So if a son could succeed
at being a son, you have, and it inspires me too. So remember, it is not
from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are, so strive for
humility first, before you strive for the praise from others. And as
Mother Theresa said...."We cannot do great things, we can only do small
things with great love."

Love You, and Happy Birthday,

Dad

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Wonders of Proper Relaxation

I've started a new routine this past week in which I go to the gym in the late afternoon, around 5:30, and I run for a couple miles around the indoor track, and perhaps do some free weight exercise or two. After that I get in the hot tub for about 10 minutes. Then I get in the pool for another 10 minutes. I then get out of the water, towel off, sit down, and read a book for 15-30 minutes. Then I leave. Tonight I saw some fellow graduate student navigators, Natalie and Joel, working out while I was running.

It is extremely beneficial to my body to do this routine. Given that my back is not in the best of shape(chiropractically speaking), it often gets sore very easily. Being in water helps a lot because it relieves the pressure to a large extent that gravity puts on my back. Both the hot tub and the pool have very strong jets that I can massage my back on. The gym I'm going to is right in the middle of the campus of University of Illinois, where I go to school. It was just opened last spring and it is quite luxurious.

--
Love is the greatest thing in the world, but we mostly settle for so much less.