Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Song List

So, Rachel and I are not using a DJ for the wedding for two reasons:

1. They are too expensive.

2. Almost every DJ I know now, is using priated music. That bugs me.

Instead, we are going to just make a playlist of songs to play at the reception, and we're going to power it through some speakers. I am buying songs off of iTunes, and putting together a whole list that will be fun to dance to. I would welcome any suggestions you guys might have. Some blasts from the past would be nice, but I'm more looking to get a dance party together. I don't want to play "YMCA" and "We are Family" and "The Electric Slide" and all that crap.

I would love to put in some songs that were featured at any of our house dance parties on 17th Street, if anyone can remember any...

Anyway... any ideas?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

US Lost

The US just lost against Ghana in the world cup today, which means they're out of the tournament. Ghana on the other hand is moving along and (I think) plays Brazil in round two. I had a severe conflict of conscience watching the game. I was rooting for the US for sure, but part of me wanted Ghana to win. It's the first time the little country has made it into the World Cup, and they are so excited that today was a national holiday in Ghana. Everyone took off to watch the game. They even went so far as to restrict the gold mines, forcing them to produce less today, so that there would be enough electricity to power the televisions people would be using to watch the game. I can't imagine what a tragedy it would have been for the US to disappoint the entire small nation, when over half of the people in our country probably didn't even know there was a game today.

Anyway, the US is out, and the patriot in me is sad. But the human being in me is very happy to see Ghana move on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Guantanamo Bay Suicides: Update

Navy-Rear Admiral Harry Harris is the commander in charge of the Guantanamo Prison base. What did he have to say about the fact that three men committed suicide on his watch?

"They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

I'm disgusted.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

There's Probably a Bug in Your Brain that Wants a Lion to Eat You.

On average I have one hundred visitors to my blog each week. Of those, fifty of them are infected by a parasite called Toxoplasma. And boy is this an interesting little bug.

It is a cellular parasite which, surprisingly, infects half of the world population. Fortunately for us, it is a benign parasite and does little to no damage to us. Basically, it works like this: you introduce the parasite into your body through your digestive tract, and the parasite is absorbed into your blood stream. Once it gets into your blood stream it is found by your immunity cells. When an immunity cell gets close, the Toxoplasm cell jumps on its back. The immunity cell goes "Hey what are you doing there?" And buries himself, hibernating so that he doesn't go off infecting the whole body. Eventually this becomes a benign cyst, and the host never notices anything wrong. The parasite can infect us in pretty much any organ, but it especially likes to make a home in our brains. But don't worry, if you are a host, and the chances are pretty good that you are, you'll probably never know.

So, what's the interesting thing? Well, Toxoplasma is only able to make babies in the intestines of cats. That means in order to procreate, the parasite needs to somehow get inside of cats. But, cats don't eat their own feces, so the parasite won't propogate if it stays in the cat's feces. Mice do eat cat dung however, and cats eat mice. So, the parasite works itself to stay alive inside of mice until a cat eats the mouse. Trouble is: cats don't eat dead things. So, if the parasite kills the mouse, the cat won't eat it and the parasite won't procreate. Instead, the parasite lives inside the mouse (or any other animal) without killing it, waiting for a cat to come by and eat the live, infected mouse. But that's not all. If you think the parasite is clever for living benignly inside of the food that cats eat... wait for this. Here comes the interesting thing: when the parasite is found in mice and rats, they become attracted to the smell of cats!

That's right. Scientists have studied infected mice and rats and have found that infected mice and rats, which instinctually run from the smell of cats, start actually running toward the smell! They don't loose their fear of dogs, and they don't gain fear of rabbits or anything like that. Only their fear of cats is affected by the parasite. It appears as though there is a place in the brain where mice and rats store their instinct to run from cats. Somehow, the parasite seeks out that place and becomes a cyst on that part of the brain. Rats and mice then become attracted to the smell, meaning cats come and eat the infected rat or mouse. The cat then becomes infected, and now the little guys can finally make babies in the cat that caught the mouse that ate the pooh.

It's a pretty complicated but incredibly interesting life cycle if you ask me. And seeing as you are probably infected by the little bugger, I figured I'd let you know about it. Afterall, to the parasite, you're nothing but a big, big mouse. Remember, tigers and lions are cats, and the parasite will procreate just as well inside of tigers and lions. And, tigers and lions both eat people. I guess that means that half of the people in the world have a little bug in their brains that's trying to feed them to the loins...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekend in Pittspuke

Rachel and I got to spend the weekend together in Pittsburgh again. We had another wedding this weekend, only this time, we didn't have to do anything for it. On Friday night we got together and Rachel made dinner for me. (Teriaki and Mandarin Orange marinaded grilled chicken with asparagus... YUM!) Then we went to see Cars. I loved the movie. At first, I didn't think I was going to like it, but when they finally got to the small town, I started to fall in love with the movie. It was really well done, and I would highly recommend it to people, because the volume was so loud in the theater that she couldn't sleep.

The next day we went to the wedding. It was really quite beautiful. We had a lot of fun at the wedding primarily because we didn't have to do anything. After the wedding we went downtown, and made a stop at the West End overlook. This is the one thing that I really love about Pittsburgh. There are some really beautiful overlooks there in the city, and (inspired by Tim) I took the following picture which required some stitching together. I don't have any fancy software to use, so this is the best I could do with Powerpoint.Here it is. I can't think of a way to make it bigger, but if you click on it, it should be pretty big.

This is Rach and I at the overlook. Boy was the sun in our eyes...

I took a shot of Hines Field for Dave Bindewald and Chris White, should they ever see my blog.
Here's where the magic happens boys.

For you Cleveland fans, I think if you park your car full of explosives under that second pillar,
you should be able to knock the whole thing over.

Pittsburgh has more bridges per person over five feet long than any other city in the world.

Then, we went to Dave and Erin's house to watch a movie while their daughter slept. We ended up watching a movie called "In the Eye of the Beholder" starring Ewan McGregor and that lady from Double Jeopardy. It was easily the single worst movie I have seen since Tim brought home that movie set in the fifties about the guys trying to get people out of the town before it was flooded. I do not recommend that anyone, under any circumstances, try to watch this movie. In it, there are several elements that would be really cool elements of a movie, if they were only made a part of the movie. On the whole, it's abysmal. And that's being generous.

The next day, Rach and I got up and went to Church. Then, she had to work on a paper for a while. I was pretty bored, so Rach went to the library, and I went to Phil and Allie's. There I watched "Clear and Present Danger" which is awesome. I love Harrison Ford, and I really wish that there was someone around today who could do action movies with the same sort of dignity that Harrison Ford has. There really is no gentleman hero in film today, and that's a shame. (Though I did hear that they are making a new sequel to the Indiana Jones trilogy.)

After that, Rachel came by and I bought her dinner at a restaurant on Mount Washington. It was really beautiful up there, and I really enjoyed my time. It was nice to just sit and have a quiet date with each other. During dinner we saw this little guy on the hillside underneath us. I think it's a beaver, Rach thinks it's a ground hog. I'm not sure that it's a beaver, but that's my best guess. Rach thinks it's tail is too thin. What do you think?

Rach and I at the table in the restaurant on Mount Washington.

Then, we went to Frank Curto Park which is right by Bigelow Boulevard. We have driven past the park at sixty miles an hour about seventy thousand times, and it was nice to finally go. Though, there isn't much to say about the park.

Then, we went back and I hit the sack. On Monday, I went to the CCO office and talked to Sarah Landini about trying to get my support raising up. Right now, I'm not doing so hot, and she gave me some hints on how to improve. I'll be working on that stuff this week.

Then, it took me two hours to drive back to Pittsburgh. Ugh. Now, I'm home and I'm ready for bed. It was a very nice weekend.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Non-Political: Terrarium

For those of you who don't like the Political Posts:

I built a little indoor greenhouse yesterday! I don't know if you remember, but a while back, I tried to germinate some coffee seeds. The seeds ended up rotting. (I overwatered them, and the temperature was too cold to germinate them.) I decided yesterday to try to germinate some seeds again, so I built this little terrarium out of bass wood and a drop cloth. It's not a wonder of carpentry or anything, but I'm proud of it. Hopefully, the little seeds will end up sprouting, and I'll be able to grow some coffee beans!

Political Post: Guantanamo Bay

I just heard that three prisoners committed suicide at the Guantanamo Bay prison. I am frightened by this for two reasons:

When I heard the report, my first response was: "Did they reallycommit suicide? Or did we torture them to death, and now we are trying to cover it up by saying they committed suicide?" Just the fact that I thought this is frightening. A few years ago, I never would have thought the US capable of doing such a thing. But now I know that our Attorney General supports torturing terrorist suspects because he does not think they are protected by the Geneva Convention treaty (you know, the thing we signed after the holocaust to stop that from ever happening again.) And I know that we are torturing inmates in Guantanamo Bay. So when I hear that two inmates committed suicide, it's easy for me to think, maybe the US killed them and we aren't owning up to it. This is made even easier for me to believe when I hear that one of the inmates was scheduled to be released in three days. Maybe the US soldiers were just trying a little harder than usual to get him to release information before he was released, and went too far.

The second reason I'm worried is because if the three suicides were in fact suicides, that means that conditions are so bad in the prison, that people would rather die than continue on in them. Either way, the fact is, Guantanamo Bay is an awful place, and something should be done.

Whether or not the US killed these men will probably never be known. (They are not releasing the bodies as of yet.) But we cannot debate that the deaths of these men signal the world to look more closely at our practices in Guantanamo Bay. The US should start being a little more ashamed of this base... maybe it's time we did something about it. Maybe it's time we let someone take a look down there.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Allie's Wedding Weekend

This past weekend, Rachel appeared at the altar next to her best friend Allie. Allie and Phil had their wedding at a place in Pittsburgh called the Union Project. It is an old church that was in severe disrepair before some folks bought it and started fixing it up. The church is not yet finished being restored, but it is close, and is now being used as a community center of sorts. During the restoration, the owners gave classes on how to restore stained glass. In these classes, the students made the windows needed for the church. Now nearly all of the windows have been restored, and the church is quite beautiful. They are still working on installing lights, and pews. Instead of big church chandeliers, they have two strings of construction lights going from the altar to the back of the church. Instead of pews, they have a slew of mismatched chairs that were donated from area coffee shops. The result is a very artsy looking church with a personality found no where else. Allie and Phil are the very kind of people to have a wedding in a setting like this. While it might have taken a good bit of courage to hold a wedding in a half finished church, with Allie's artistic eye, the result was amazing. They asked me to take candid pictures for the wedding. Out of the over 600 pictures I snapped during the two days before the wedding and the day of, I only kept 416. Of those, these are the keepers.
On Thursday night, a bunch of the Pittsburgh friends hung out on Mt. Washington.

A picture of the additional lighting Phil and Allie used and a view of the restored windows.

Phil and Allie after the rehearsal. I know it's blurry, but for some reason, I really like this photo.

Phil and Allie horsing around at the rehearsal dinner.

On Friday night Dave, Phil's best man, took all the guys out on Pittsburgh's three rivers in a charter boat.

Allie's beautiful dress. I love the green ribbon around the waist.

Rach looked SO good. I didn't realize until I looked at this picture what a wrinkled mess my tie was.

Mia Buren, the flower girl smells a bouquet with her mom.

A shot of the service. The tables were covered in multi-colored table cloths.
You can see the construction lights that hang somehow beautifully in the middle of the church.

Phil and Allie just after they walked down the aisle.

The only two dancers at the reception. (It was a non-dancing reception, but they were just so cute.)

Phil and Allie on their way to the car.

Phil and Allie driving off the hotel.

Rach and I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday together. We had some wonderful times walking the dog to the local coffee shop, and addressing envelopes. (The wedding invitations should be out later this week.) Then, last night, I spent the evening on "The Veranda" at my boss KTT's house. She is a great boss, and occasionally invites friends over to spend time on her little porch next to her house. I'm not sure porch is the right word really, it's more like a fenced off alleyway with an old busted air conditioning unit rusting in the back corner. But, she strung up some lights, found a make-shift bar in one of the buildings here at WJU, and set up a table. Now we have "The Veranda." And it makes for a really wonderful weekend. We have had a few parties out there lately. We cut up some cheese, break open a bottle of wine or two (the front half of her house is a wine store), throw some LPs on the record player, and talk and laugh for a long, long time. Usually it's after midnight before we head inside. I found it quite exciting when we broke uncorked a $60 bottle of dessert wine that Dominick (The store owner) was offering for people to taste. We all poured ourselves just enough to get a flavor on our lips, and tore open a box of Little Debbie's Swiss Cake Rolls. We sipped ever so slowly at the expensive wine, and peeled the chocolate off of the swiss cake rolls. It was wonderful.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I figured something out last night: Today is two days after yesterday was tomorrow.

I think that's neat.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I'm Back.

Ghyszmeaoux is doing fine.

I'm back, and I'm well. It was a wonderful two weeks with Rach and the rest of the CCO. I really enjoyed myself and learned a whole lot about myself, about Phillipians, and about support raising. Which is all good.

Rach and I bought a car. We ended up getting a 2001 Nissan Sentra that has 40K miles on it. It is a great little car, and was in really great shape. We got a great deal on it, though I'm not sure it was one of those amazing deals where you can turn around and sell it for more than you purchased it. In the end, it was a fair deal, and its an affordable, very reliable car. That's what we needed. Thanks for all the suggestions though, and thanks especially to Alex who was willing to give her car to me. Amazing. I am bowled over by generosity like that Alex, it was a HUGE encouragement to me to read that someone would be willing to give me something like that. I only wish Rachel and I hadn't already purchased a car before I got your email.

We got to spend some time with the McCowins, and Rach had her first Bridal Shower. (Again, I'm bowled over by the generosity people display. We got loads of stuff... I just can't believe it. I am seriously amazed at how much people are willing to give.) Rach and I got to baby sit her neice Cora for a bit on Tuesday of last week. She is just an amazing joy, and she made my second favorite photo from the past two weeks. (Below.)

CCO stuff was great. My favorite day was last Thursday. I went to class until noon. Then, I ate lunch. After lunch, I played Ultimate Frisbee for two hours, and then we played football for an hour. After that, we played Bocce for an hour, and then we set up a court and played soccer for an hour. Then we went to dinner and after that I played racquet ball for an hour. Then I went to Karaoke for a few hours and drank dollar Yeunglings. It was a fabulous day.

That should pretty much update you guys on what happened the past two weeks. Thanks for all the comments while I was gone, and I'm sorry that I couldn't post until now.

Now for the picture of Cora. Apparently she's starting what will be a wonderful career as a talk show host.

Oh, and if you are on the lookout for further evidence that Cora is the cutest thing this side of Ghyszmeaoux, just watch her give the "Uh-oh!" face in the video I shot. Enjoy!