Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Next Two Weeks

The next two weeks will see fewer and fewer posts on here, so be patient. Rachel and I are heading off to CCO training land in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. We will be staying with the entire CCO staff at Geneva College taking classes, and playing lots and lots of racquette ball, bocci ball, ultimate frisbee, etc... etc... etc...

I'll post every now and then if I can. More than likely however, this will be my last post until June or so. In the meantime, I would love it if you guys could all help me. I am looking for a new car. (They towed my ol' and busted out of here a few days ago.) Rach and I have found a Nissan Maxima that we might be able to afford, but I'm not sure the dealer is going to come down on his price enough for us to get it. If you guys and gals have any suggestions on cars, it would be mighty helpful.

Well, I'm off to shave now. We're getting ready for church. We just got back from having a sleep over at Phil and Allie's!!! Complete with a movie, brownies, and ice cream sundaes! Man I LOVE growing up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Post 101 - The Transparency Conundrum...

So I'm thinking about transparency. I just deleted the post I was about to write that had to do with my views on a topic that is particularly hot in my head right now. Instead, I now have a bunch of questions about transparency.

I tend to be a very transparent person. My theory goes something like this:
  • We all have secrets that we don't want anyone to know about us.
  • These secrets make us feel pretty badly about ourselves because we think we are the only people with these secrets.
  • If we all talked about our secrets, we would realize we all have the same secrets
  • Then we wouldn't hate ourselves so much, and we could get on to forgiving ourselves.
The thing is, I don't know if this theory holds any water. I try to not have any secrets, and do a pretty good job at it. I tend to be a really transparent person as well, and I struggle with this a lot. Sometimes I think it's a good thing that I'm transparent, sometimes I think it's a bad thing. Sometimes it makes people respect me, sometimes it makes people think I don't know when to shut up. (Which, let's be honest, I don't.)

I guess the question is, am I right? Is it okay to be transparent? Or should I start keeping a few more secrets? Should I start living a life that's a bit more obtuse, a bit more closed? Or should I continue being an open book? I just don't know.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Best of Me Things

First, Happy mother's day. I can't call you because my phone is dead, so I have to say it here. Sorry. Happy Mother's day Mom!!!

Moving on...

Well, this is officially my one hundredth post. Rather than trying to come up with something amazing to say for my Centennial post, I figured I would just give you what I consider the best of Me Things. The following entries are what I think were the best things I've written on here in the past two years. Some of them are long, some are short. Some are rants, some are stories, some are neither. They are listed here in chronological order.

Go ahead and take your time.

Virgin Post
The Coolest thing I've ever done
The Early Dogwood
La la la
Septic Systems are Racist
Broken Finger
New Orleans
Free Air

Friday, May 12, 2006

Week is turning around

Well, things are looking up. My car is going to be totalled... which I guess is a good thing. That means they're just going to send me a check. Now, I just have to hope that they give me enough money to get a half-way decent car.

And, my phone mysteriously started working again today! Yippee!!

The end.

Deporting Arabs

President Bush was questioned heavily yesterday about his administration collecting phone records from millions of Americans. Bush's reply went like this:

"We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans... Our efforts are focused on links to Al Qaeda and their known affiliates."

I have a resident from Syria named Joseph. Jospeph lived here with his uncle and some relatives. He, and his whole family, are pretty staunch Catholics. Early last year, men in black business suits showed up at his door, and arrested Joseph's Uncle and other relatives. No one in the family knew what was going on, the men who showed up just presented identification cards, and put Joseph's Uncle and two cousins in the back of a black car and drove away.

Three weeks later, one of Joseph's cousin was brought back home and told his family this:

He had been questioned by some people who work with the FBI, or CIA or something, he wasn't sure. At any rate, they asked him why he and his Uncle and two other cousins said the name "Allah" so frequently on the phone. They told him that his family only speaks Arabic over the phone, and that they said the words "Allah" "Allah is good" and "Praise Allah" a total of four hundred and something times in five months. Joseph's cousin tried to explain that his whole family speaks Arabic over the phone because it is their native tongue, and in Arabic, the word "Allah" is a catch phrase of sorts. When questioned about his religion, Joseph's cousin told the questioners that he, and his family, are all staunch Catholics. And, that many people from his town in Syria are staunch Catholics. They actually live in the shadow of a huge monestary. (I've seen pictures of it, it's beautiful.)

Joseph's other two cousins came home a few days later and told the same story. Joseph's Uncle did not return. He was deported back to Syria becuase his Visa expired during his three weeks in questioning.

Thank you Mr. Bush, for saving me from these terrorist Catholics from Syria. I'm ever so comforted that you are only checking the phone lines of people with known links to Al Qaeda, and I see that this would never infringe on the liberties of the average person. Like Joseph. And his Uncle.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Kid in the Coffee Shop

This week has sucked. I'm not going to go into all the details, but if you are a person who prays, please do. I'm at my wits ends and ready to snap... I really need a break from WJU.

Anyway, Rachel was right when she said it was best to leave this stuff alone for a day or two. I can't change any of it now, and it's not a good idea to wallow in the frustration. Instead, I'll tell you another story. (This one's not all that funny.)

I was sitting in the coffee shop yesterday and this little kid walked in. As soon as he saw me he said "Hey, what's that?" He wasn't pointing at anything in particular, so I picked up my external hard drive and figured I'd confuse him a bit. "It's a 40 GB external Hard Drive." I said.

"A what-what-what?" (Amazing the way parent's things will come out of children's mouths...)

"A 40 GB external hard drive." I said. "It remembers everything I tell it to. See, you can feel it working." I then held out the hard drive, and he grabbed it. You can feel the little disk spinning around if you grab on to it.

" whoah... "

He put the hard drive down on the table and just looked at me. I looked back and smiled and then he asked, "Can you draw on it?"

"Can I draw on it?"

"Yeah. You know, like, draw?"

"Well, I can draw on here" pointing to the monitor "and then it will remember what I drew."

" oh nuh uh..."

"Yeah, sure. Here watch." Then I drew a picture for him in Gimp. (Thanks Tim.)

"Oh No Way!" He shouted.

"Yeah!" I said back.

"Uh uh... give 'im spikey hair." So I gave him spikey hair. "Make a tree" and I made a tree. "

"What color should his shirt be?" Then he proceeded to tell me what color to make everything.

"Make a surf board!" And I said,

"Why don't you draw a surf board?"

" oh, nuh uh... "

"Yeah sure, here just like this." And I showed him how to hold the button down with one finger, and draw with the other. (On my laptop.) So he drew a surf board. (A.)

"What else do you want to draw?" I asked.

"OH! KILLER BEES!" He said.

"Go for it."

Killer Bees. (B)

"Anything else?" I asked.

Then, those little lights that power the mind of a child starting turning on. You could tell he absolutely slipped into his mind and forgot everything but the computer, and the surfer kid on the screen. "Look out! There's a shark!" And he drew a shark. (C.) Then I just let him go, and he went nuts. By the time his mom told him to leave me alone, he had drawn:

The Sun - (D)

A bird eating an apple - (E)

A gun - (F) [we had a long talk afterward about how violence isn't the answer.]

and a Jet Ski - (G) [?]

He really didn't want to quit drawing but his mom was calling him so I said, "Don't worry... the 40 GB hard drive will remember everything you drew."

"Oh yeah! He screamed and I saved the picture.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Free Air

My brother Tim describes me as: "The only guy I know who can have a deep philosophical discussion with you and then go to set his cup down and drop it because there's no table there."

My mother always tells me: "It's great that you don't care that much about material possessions, but you have got to be a better steward of things."

With that in mind... the tires on my car were low. They needed air. (Are you cringing yet Mom?) I have been looking around casually for a place that gives free air because I'm too cheap to spend fifty cents on it. The tires have been getting increasingly lower because I'm sure I have a slow leak in the front passenger tire. Everywhere I look though, it costs fifty cents to get air. I refuse to pay fifty cents for air, so I just kept driving around with the tires getting lower and lower. Today, as I was driving around, I passed by Sheetz. I saw a sign the other day advertising surcharge free ATMs at Sheetz and I thought to myself: "They are trying to get more people in the door with free ATMs, maybe they are offering free air as well."

So, I drove into Sheetz looking for free air. At first I didn't see the air compressor, and started snaking my way through the parking lot. Then, to my left I saw the air compressor with the words "FREE! FREE! FREE! FREE! FREE!" plastered across it. I thought to myself, "How strange that in this culture where we have so many things, a gas station is actually trying to gain customers by providing them with free air. Air! Something which should be free any-"

Then bang. I drove into the gas pump.

The woman outside was sweeping the parkinglot when I hit the red poles they put in front of the gas pumps. I stopped the car and saw bits and pieces of shattered things flying through the air. (I was only going about five miles an hour but *sheesh*) The lady who was sweeping now stopped everything. She looked up and watched me as I sighed, put the car in gear, and drove the last twenty feet to the air pump. I got out of the car, walked over, gathered my shattered turn signal and other broken bits of my car, and threw them away. Then I went back to my car to look at the damage. The passenger side wheel well was ripped up and the metal was folded in on itself. The bumper was hanging down and the plastic wheel well casing was pushed up against the tire. The whole mess was smeared in red paint with deep black gouges in the steel. I tried to open the passenger door, but the front panel was pushed too far toward the back of the car, and I couldn't open it. So, I yanked on the jagged metal pulling the panel back toward the front of the car and I opened the door. (I can't open it all the way, but it's enough for someone to get in.) Then I stood back, took another look at the twisted mangled front end of my car. The lady who was sweeping the parking lot was now standing fifteen feet away, holding her broom staring at the whole thing. She didn't laugh, she didn't turn away, she didn't pretend nothing was happening. She just stood there, mouth hanging open, staring like a little kid watching her first scary movie. Then, with nothing left to do, I shrugged my shoulders, filled my tires with air and drove to Second Cup.

My mother is going nuts right about now.

Two early morning puzzles:

Okay, so I woke up early this morning, and couldn't sleep. I sat awake in bed for two hours during which I thought of two more fun little codes for Jeremy to break. I think these are a little more difficult, but who knows (it was five o'clock in the morning when I thought them up) Maybe he'll get these right away. Anyway, here's two stumpers(?) for ya Jer:

Code One:
Wdto to lyp0 ayq Syyp vyqctcs.

Code Two:

I wish I could say I did something better than that with the two extra hours I had this morning, but I didn't. Instead, I poured them into this vacuous hole I call blogging.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

This One's for Jeremy

Hey Jer:

Here's a fun contest to remind you of our younger days: You get to try to decode this post before anyone else can! If anyone else decodes this before Jeremy, they have my permission to kick him in the teeth when they next see him.

Here goes:

BIeb wraGnat ebthoe btjewl 5leby Tozuebaebs 7trour 8yebanb Gofuy teBaebg Xu6yEb w lhkoebs ql padpap Fesd Ebaeb DcuSr Wax n vg boebi9n eb Troq wdp Req khae BK 4 aun Rswa CsE.

Ok Jer... have at it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Zacarias Moussaoui's Life

Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison today. It was expected that he should be sentenced to death because of the role he played in the attacks. Instead, he is being sent to solitary confinement in Colorado for the rest of his life.

Moussaoui was in prison during the 9/11 attacks. I think he was sent to jail for violating some immigration laws or something. He was in on planning the attacks, and could have told police about them in time for police to stop them. He chose not to, and has plead guilty to his role in them. His only regrets about the attacks are that more people didn't die. He even went so far as to call victims and survivors "disgusting" and said he wants them to feel more pain.

When I first learned about this I wrote a great big blog entry about it. But, being a pacifist, I think everyone here probably knows how I feel. So I deleted my first entry, and now, I'm just wondering what other people think.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fat Bellied Buddha Plant Update

So there have been some interesting developments in the life of my fat bellied buddha plant lately!

Here goes:

April 24 (am)

April 25th (am)

April 26th (am)

April 26th (pm)

April 27th (am)

April 28th (am)

April 28th (midday)

April 29th (am)

April 29th (pm)

April 30 (am)

May 1 (am)

May 1 (pm)

May 2 (am)

May 2 (pm)

May 3 (am)

Isn't that neat?! It certainly doesn't look like a worm any more. I was so surprised on the 2nd when it just burst out of the little casing into two great big leaves. I really enjoyed germinating the seed, and I'm going to pland a couple more. I just hope the coffee seeds will sprout eventually. (I'm somewhat skeptical though, I hear it takes up to six months to get them to grow.)

Oh... and another exciting thing! My Mom and Dad are blogging now too!!!! What fun!!!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Elek Holler, Second Cup and Third Place

My brothers and sister have all started doing blogs now, which means the Elek clan is able to keep in touch, no matter how far apart we are. Don't worry, I'm sure we all still plan to end make the Elek Holler on a tobacco plantation somewhere in southern Kentucky during our golden years.

But this latest development in the classic Elek social ineptitude has led me to think more about an idea people are calling the theory of Third Place. The idea is that There is something called the Theory of Third Place. Essentially what it means is that people need to visit a place which is neither home nor work. The Third Place. For some, this is a coffee shop, for some it's a library, or a park, or a bar. It doesn't matter what the third place is, it's just a place you like to go that is neither home nor work.

Third places do a lot for society. According to Ray Oldenburg (one of the founders of the idea), "they make the citizen feel at home, they nourish relationships and a diversity of human contact, they help create a sense of place and community, they invoke a sense of civic pride, they provide numerous opportunities for serendipity, they promote companionship, they allow people to relax and unwind after a long day at work.." And he goes on.

The problem is, in our culture, third places are on the demise. Coffee shops that used to be places where people could go and sit down to talk about things, are now flashy places with two comfortable chairs and a whole slew of iron wooden chairs and teetering tables with drive-thru windows in the back. Bars that used to be places for the neighborhood Joe to go unwind at the end of the week are now thumping and pulsing cavernous seas of sweaty people shouting to hear anything over the speakers. Libraries are all but forgotten in society, and parks are being crowded out by buildings.

For me, my third place is Second Cup Cafe on 8th and Market. I love that little shop and used to go there at least three to four times a week. (Then I gave up coffee for lent.) Since lent, I have been back only once. What happened? I changed my third place. During Lent, because it made no sense to go to the coffee shop, I started blogging instead. And now that my family is blogging as well, Blogs have become my third place.

Seeing as the Third Place that Oldenburg talked about is dramatically different from this one, I wonder if I should maybe slow down a bit on the blogging.

But then again, I could just go to Second Cup and blog from there... they have free Wi-Fi.