Friday, April 20, 2007

South Park Caricatures

My friend Susan Haarman showed me some caricatures she did of friends on this website. I just laughed and laughed because they were so good. I then, of course, went and made replicas of my entire family. Just thought I'd share it with you. Here's what the Elek family would look like, if we were in a South Park episode.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre

People have been talking about Virginia Tech all day. I am totally stunned, and I've been having so, so many thoughts. My mind has been screaming all day long "How many people died... We kicked students out of the building after they threatened to do the same thing here... Could that really happen at WJU... Is it wrong for me to want to watch the news... Where is God... What do I say to people who ask me where God is... Why do I feel like I have to watch the news right now... Is it a good thing that we all have access to this... Why don't we get this upset when suicide bombers kill thirty people in Jerusalem... How long will it be until this story gets buried beneath the next days news... Why would someone do this... Who is responsible for this... Why didn't they close school sooner... 30,000 people starved to death today and we don't care... What would we do if this happened here... Am I insensative for thinking about myself... I wish he hadn't killed himself... Part of me wishes someone else would have killed him... Horrible ... ... ..."

I don't know what to think. I don't know what to say, and I'm pretty sure there isn't anything appropriate to say. I don't know why I'm even bothering to write any of this, but I did feel like I should say something.

It's horrible.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Washington DC and Richmond VA

Rachel and I went to my brother Jim's house for Easter this year. Rather than just drive the straight 6 (or 8) hours down to Jim's house, we decided to make a pitstop in Washington DC for the night. So, we drove into DC and stayed with my friend Cristin Kellogg for a day. Then, we drove on out to Richmond.

Let me first say that Washington DC is one of my favorite cities in the US. (Or at least, it's my favorite of the cities I've been to.) But, when we got there, DC was formidable. It was absolutely freezing outside compared to the eighty or so degrees it had been two days ago. Even though it was freezing cold, Rachel walked with me from the Capitol building, all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial. I know it doesn't sound all that far, and I don't remember those two buildings being that far apart, but it took us a good hour and a half to make the walk. Even though it was freezing cold, it was still nice for me to get to see the city, and to hear the people walking by speaking in different accents and languages. I really enjoyed it. Here's some pictures from that part of the trip.

After DC, Rachel and I drove into Richmond VA to meet my brother. It was wonderful to see him again, and the house they live in is beautiful. The whole street is really pretty... it reminds me of some Leave it to Beaver street. We got in late, and hung out a little bit. Jim told us all about his job, and I can't imagine doing what he's doing. He works in an innercity private school for students with severe behavioral issues. Most of the students the school works with are on medicaid, so I know these aren't just spoiled brats. At any rate, he told us several stories about being called a "***** Honky White Mother ******" and all sorts of other things. He told us stories about the regular restraint situations he finds himself in. (One time he said he picked up a student who was beating up a girl, tossed the kid on his shoulder and the kid fell down on the ground.) I can't imagine being in Jim's situation. Apparently the physical restraint is in their contract, but still. If I even tell a kid that he's mean, his mom calls the University and yells at my boss. I can't imagine being in Jim's shoes. I definately don't think I would survive.

On Friday Jim went to work, so I engaged in the age-old holy Friday observation by playing Def Jam Icon for about six hours straight. Good game Tim... I really enjoyed it, but the first person part is really freakin' hard!

Jim got back and we went to the store. He made dinner... holy freakin' cow... it was good. (Parmesean crusted tilapia, fresh mozarella and roma tomatoes, pasta w/ alfredo sauce, and marinated chicken in a spinach and greens salad with raspberries walnuts and some raspberry balsamic glaze. Mmmmm....) After dinner we played Settlers a bunch of times, and just hung out till late. Jim and I stayed up late and played Def Jam Icon and Fight Night until our eyes were about to fall out of our heads, and we went to bed around 2:30. (Though Rachel said she got up at 3:00 and I wasn't in bed... so I could be wrong about the time.)

Saturday we went into the city and drove around looking at the architecture. Richmond is a very pretty city, almost everything is in the colonial style. (I think that's what it is at least.) It was fun to see the old homes and think about Paul Revere and what not. We stopped at some great big house that was apparently a European Castle that they moved to Richmond. We didn't go on the tour of the castle itself becuase Jim said it took a long, long time. Instead, we walked through the gardens, and that was very pretty. (It was cold again, so we didn't stay too too long.)

This is the outside of the Castle that was moved from Europe. It looks to be in pretty good shape.

Just a little gate on the building. Thought it looked neat.

Jim with his camera at the ready...

This is the first thing you see when you walk into the gardens.
Walk past Jim Char and Rach, turn left at the middle, go through those hedges. Face left, and this is what you see:

Turn around, and this is what you'll see:


A little further in, they had these bee hives in a corner somewhere... very cool. But no bees. Thankfully.

I think this was the more functional part. They had cabbages growing somewhere in there. This was designed by a spanish colonist who went to America and took plants that were grown here and brought them back to Europe. I guess he would plant them in European style gardens to see how they would mesh with the gardens in Europe before bringing them back.

This was a little gardener's room they had set up like it would have looked back then.

This little trail takes you down to the Amazing Maze!

Another pathway on the way to the Amazing Maze!

Close up of the flowers growing out of the wall on the way to the Amazing Maze!

THE AMAZING MAZE! Jim said they had signs posted the last time he was there for "The Amazing Maze!" This is what I pictured the maze would look like.

But I was wrong. This is what the Amazing Maze! looked like in real life. Pretty big let down, but the gardens were still pretty.

After that, we went to this place in Richmond called Maysomethingorother. They had some great big barn, and a "zoo" housing rescued animals, and some amazing gardens. The first half of the gardens looked like some kind of reinterpretation scaled down version of the hanging gardens of babylon. (Though no one has ever seen the hanging gardens of babylong, but picture them, then squish it down. That's what they looked like to me.) But just beyond that was the most beautiful garden I think I have ever been in. It was all designed in a Japanese style, and man, it was gorgeous. I seriously felt like I was in a different part of the world. The whole Japanese garden is sunk down and you can't see any structures or anything else other than the garden. (Except for one spot where you can see the road.) But when I was down there, I was just enthralled. I'm having trouble painting the image with my words, so I'll just let you look at the pictures.

This is what I mean by the reinterpretation of a scaled down version of the hanging gardens of Babylon.

Just past that, is a little walkway. If you take the dirt path through these bamboo plants, you'll come to the Japanese Garden.

Here's the first glimpse of the Japanese Gardens. Jim's in the picture to give you a feel for the scale. If you look closely, you can see the bridge just to the left of Jim under the red maple.

Stand on that bridge and face Jim, this is what you'll see.^

Turn around again on the bridge, and you'll see another little bridge. This one is moss grown with a small litte tree hanging next to it.

To the left of the mossy bridge is a walkway that leads you to this pond.

This stepping stone bridge takes you across the pond to the other side.

We found this on the other side. Not really sure what it is, but Jim thought it was a Bath. I kind of agree with him.

This was the last tree we saw before we left the gardens and went out toward the zoo.

If you want to go back up, you can take these stairs, but we weren't really sure where they would take us, so we took the paved road out to the zoo.

Here's a fox in the zoo. I liked this little guy. Jim and I must have snapped about forty pictures of him, not really sure why he grabbed our fancy so much. It was cool to see though. I also took pictures of a black bear they had, but the pictures didn't come out because I can't zoom on my camera after dropping it in New Orleans. Oh well... Jim will probably post pictures of the bear on his blog.

Jim really wanted to ride this bull. I told him no. I said the bull would kill him. He decided not to. So we just watched the bull eat grass instead.

Then we saw this pelican peacock. It was HUGE! Jim wanted to try to get it to mate with him so that the peacock would stick his feathers up. I told him he was lucky Char wanted to do that, and shouldn't press his luck with a peacock. He resorted to throwing a stick at it. That didn't do anything so we left.

After that, we ate at a restaurant in the Fan District. Then, we went home and hung out and talked for a long time.

On Easter Sunday we took a very relaxed day and just spent time with one another. I made sweet potato chips and brussel sprouts for lunch, and we watched most of the Masters tournament. (During which I kept saying that Zachary Taylor(?) looked cocky. He went on to win the Masters and apparently the announcers kept talking about what a great guy he is and how he's one of the best liked guys on the tour and he dedicated the win to his faith and his new born daughter... guess you really can't judge a book by the cover. Oops...)

It finally came time for us to leave, and reluctantly we packed up, and drove back to Wheeling WV. It's not that I don't like Wheeling, it's just that it was nice to see my brother and my sister-in-law, and it was really nice to just be quiet, to sit in silence for a while, and not worry about someone knocking on your door to tell you that Second Long smells like pot. But, now I'm back, and we had dinner with some friends last night, and I'm glad to be back.

It was a really nice trip.

I just want to give a shout out and say I love my wife.
She's great.

That's all for now.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Daylight Savings... Round Two

So, I have a Motorola Q. I like the phone... it has it's ups and downs.

Anyway, my Q didn't change time when it was supposed to. I could have plugged it into my computer, and it would have updated itself, but the last time I plugged my phone into my computer, it erased every phone number I had. So, I'm a little gun shy.

So, for the past six weeks, I've been walking around with a phone that's an hour slow, and a watch that's correct. It worked out okay. Every morning, I would look at my phone, and see that it said 6:45 and I knew that meant 7:45.

So (you know where this is going) this morning I woke up to a student calling me. Not unusual. I looked at the phone and saw that it said 7:20 which meant 8:20. I had to be in the office this morning at 9:00, so I lay in bed for a few more minutes. I then yanked myself out of the sheets, and went to the bathroom where I did my morning routine. (Except this morning I saw that one of my sideburns was a lot lower than the other, so I had to do some trimming.)

I looked at my phone which told me that the time was 7:45 which meant 8:45, so I walked to the Kiosk to get a cup of coffee and a yogurt. (That's my traditional breakfast here on campus.)

The Kiosk was pretty dead, but that's not entirely unusual. So, I got my coffee and my yogurt, and I went to the office. When I got into the building that has my office in it, the door to the stairwell was closed. That's pretty out of the ordinary. I've never actually seen that door closed before, but whatever. Not outside the realm of possibility.

Then, when I got into the hallway that leads to the housing office I saw that the housing office door was closed. Now that I've never seen. (Well not during normal business hours at least.) I glanced up at the clock hanging on the wall and realized that it was telling me the time was 7:59. Which meant 7:59. I looked at my watch: 8:02, which meant 8:02. Then, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my slim little phone: 7:57, which-now-means, 7:57. My phone had changed times in the middle of the night, and I was totally unaware. I was an hour early to work.

So, I decided I would make the most of it, and let you all know what a fun morning this was for me. I sat down for a bit outside, ate my yogurt, drank my coffee and listened to the birds that have returned look for one another in the trees. Then, I came up here and typed it all out for you.