Thursday, June 28, 2007

Minor Job Change

Well, my job is going to be a little different this coming year. For one, Rachel and I will be preparing to have our baby. Having a little one will significantly alter the manner and in some ways, the method of my ministry. (I don't think I'll be going to Denny's at midnight very often next year.) But the bigger change is actually going to surround some of my responsibilities.

My boss Tracy has accepted a position at a different University, and she'll be heading to her new job at the end of the week. I'm really excited for her and I think it's going to be a much better fit for her. She has taught me a lot about how to lead others, what reasonable expectations are, and how to hold people accountable without undermining them. She's been a great supervisor, and I'll miss her a lot. With Tracy gone, WJU will be going through the process of trying to replace her, but its something that will take a lot of time. In the mean-time, I'll be helping with taking over her duties, and that is where my "Minor Job Change" comes in. Tracy handles all of the judcial cases on campus. (When someone gets written up, she deals with it.) With Tracy gone, we will need someone to replace her. While I won't be doing all of the Student Conduct work, I will take over some of it. I am in the office at a desk for only 15 hours a week, and starting next year all 15 hours will be devoted to student conduct. Everything that I don't complete in those 15 hours will be completed by someone else in the office. Of course, that will mean that the things I was doing in the office during those 15 hours will have to be done by someone else, but I think it's manageable. Hopefully it won't result in a much stronger work load, but it's a change.

As I look back, I notice that my life has changed dramatically since I joined the CCO. In an effort to look back at all that change, I'm going to write down the "Timeline of Change" here for you.

1. Joined CCO.
2. Went to Geneva College for six weeks of training
3. Moved everything to Wheeling, West Virginia
4. Started work as Area Coordinator
5. Started dating Rachel McCowin
6. Started Bible Study on Campus
7. Got engaged to Rachel McCowin
8. Moved to McHugh Hall
9. Got married to Rachel
10. Took over additional responsibilities at WJU
11. Started new group on Campus
12. Found out Rachel and I were pregnant
14. Moved to Steenrod Hall
15. Added new responsibilities at WJU with Boss's departure
16. (Near Future) Move to Campion Hall
17. (Near Future) Bring home our New Baby!!!!

I went through the trouble of bolding the moves because, well they drive me nuts. Well that's it for now. Just wanted to post because it's been a while.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where's it's Rectum?

So this isn't your average post about what's going on in my life. I'm thinking today... I know this is a long post, but I really think it's interesting, and I tried to make it easy to read. If you have a minute, read it. If you don't come back when you do. I actually think it's pretty important.

I went to make coffee today. When I opened the lid to put in some grounds, I realized two things: 1. I hadn't made coffee in a long time. 2. I left the grounds in the coffee maker last time I made coffee. 3. There was mold all over the place. So naturally, I started thinking about the old notion of spontaneous generation. (What can I say, I'm a geek.)

If you're not familiar with the idea, it's pretty simple. Take a piece of meat, and put it in a bowl for two weeks and there will be maggots on it. Therefore, beef turns into maggots. The same thing works for hay. Leave a pile of hay in the corner, and some of it's going to turn into a mouse. Leave a piece of candy on the ground and it will turn into ants. It goes on and on.

The fascinating thing about this idea is that people believed in it for so long. Aristotle wrote about the readily observable truth that aphids rise from dew, and mice from hay back in 600 BCE. It wasn't until 1646, that some guy named Thomas Browne challenged the idea. But he wasn't taken very seriously, in fact, some other guy named Alexander Ross responded to his book saying "To question this [Spontaneous Generation] is to question reason, sense and experience." You could also read that: "Duh. Meat turns into maggots. Shut up."

The idea was so easy to observe, and so widely believed to be true, that we accepted such a ridiculous notion to be scientific fact, all the way up to Louis Pasteur in 1862. In other words, for at least two thousand, four hundred years people thought that meat turned into maggots, and hay turned into mice. I can laugh about that silly idea today, but really it makes a lot of sense. Scientifically, you could repeat the experiment again and again and again, and always come up with your hypothesis proven correct. Meat always turns into maggots. Every freaking time.

So, now I'm coming to my point. I started reading up on this silly idea of Spontaneous Generation. And I realized that people (including me) still believe in it. Of course, we don't think mice come from hay anymore. Today, we think if you mix up methane, ammonia, and sulfur, and then hit it with lightning, it will turn into bacteria. You've heard of it. "Primordial Soup." When someone talks about "Primordial Soup" they're saying that lighting, methane and ammonia turns into bacteria.

The funny thing is, this idea is everywhere, but we have absolutely no reason what so ever to believe in it. If I leave beef out, it will eventually crawl with maggots. So I can't blame humanity for believing that one for thousands of years. However, scientists have stirred up methane, ammonia and other such stuff and then zapped it with lightning a million times, but it's never turned into life. At best, the atoms will rearrange and maybe we'll have some organic looking molecules, but we never get genes, DNA, or something with a rectum. (Which some scientists say is the best measure for determining whether or not something is alive. Where's its rectum?)

So what am I saying? That scientists are wrong, and Creationists are right and God made a mud pie in Eden and that's where we came from? Not quite. I'm not a hard-core creationist in that sense. In fact, I very much believe that life came from that Primordial Soup. And, I think that life evolved slowly through the processes of mutation and inheritance and natural selection to eventually end up with some guy writing on his blog about it. But, I think none of that process was spontaneous at all. The whole thing was ushered along by God. He shifted the first few molecules when they were hit by lightning in such a way that they turned into life.

But lets not go any deeper into that. I have no scientific claim for that belief, and I never will. Sorry. What I really want to say is that this notion of Spontaneous Generation is all over science books without a shred of evidence backing it up. It's a theory that everyone (including me) accepts simply because there is no other theory. And, I'm not the only one who's starting to feel a bit jaded. There's this guy Hubert Yockey (who is not a Creationist by the way...) who wrote this:
The history of science shows that a paradigm, once it has achieved the status of acceptance (and is incorporated in textbooks) and regardless of its failures, is declared invalid only when a new paradigm is available to replace it. Nevertheless, in order to make progress in science, it is necessary to clear the decks, so to speak, of failed paradigms. This must be done even if this leaves the decks entirely clear and no paradigms survive... Belief in a primeval soup on the grounds that no other paradigm is available is an example of the logical fallacy of the false alternative. In science it is a virtue to acknowledge ignorance. This has been universally the case in the history of science as Kuhn (1970) has discussed in detail. There is no reason that this should be different in the research on the origin of life.
Note what he says: "In science it is a virtue to acknowledge ignorance." And he's right. Scientists still don't know what gravity really is, but it's totally okay to say "We don't really know what gravity is." It is not okay to say "Gravity is black space velcro." I totally agree, and yet we believe in in this notion of Spontaneous Generation even though our experiments keep telling us we're wrong. We're putting the beef on the counter, and no maggots are showing up, but we keep telling people "Truuust me, beef turns into maggots."

So, what should we do? Maybe this Yockey guy's right. When people ask "Where did life come from?" Maybe its time for science to finally fess up and just start saying "We don't know yet." I'm not saying they have to say "Okay fine. It came from God." I'm just saying they need to start saying "I don't know" instead of "From soup."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Moving Downstairs

So, this is me today.

This is me today, because yesterday I took everything out of the room that I'm sitting in. And almost every thing out of our storage room. And a few things from the other half of our apartment. Now, that wouldn't be a big deal, but you see, I moved everything down three three flights of stairs, up a half flight of stairs, and down a long hallway into a small dorm room, and it was very, very hot. So I sweat quite a bit while doing it. Well, I found out later... Sweat + Walking up and down stairs for six hours = Severe Diaper Rash.

So, today, I'm not moving anything. I'm just sitting in this chair with my new best friend "Cortizone-10" Tomorrow, I'll move the rest of our stuff.

Well... I thought it was funny.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods...

I know, I know, I know... it's been two weeks, and I haven't posted. I'm sorry. But you'll see why. Rachel and I have been very busy these past two weeks. We went from Wheeling to Chippewa to Geneva College to Chippewa to Canton to Chagrin Falls to Cleveland to Canton to Wheeling to Columbus to Springfield in the past two weeks. In order to help you get a visual for where we were and what we did, this post will largely be photographic in nature. I hope you enjoy! We sure did!

Wheeling, WV to Chippewa, PA

Our little niece Ellie was born on Wednesday, May 16th so we went to Chippewa to visit her. We spent a lot of time with family and held the baby for a long time... it was really fun for us.

Ellen "Ellie" Renee McCowin

Cora had Ice Cream and a lot lot of fun with all the guests and attention.

Chippewa, PA to Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA
Ok, so Geneva College is only like three miles away from Jarrod and Heathers... I'm still counting it as a stage in our travels.

I went to Geneva College for a week for training with the CCO. During training, we took two three hour classes each day, and then played lots and lots of Ultimate Frisbee in the evenings. (Usually till the sun went down and we couldn't see the disc any more.) Fortunately for me, I accidentally packed the Right foot of my White tennis shoes and the left foot of my grey tennis shoes, so I got some really bad blisters and my calf really locked up on me after the last day. Other than that it was amazing. I learned a ton, and can't wait to see some of my students so that I can start putting some of that stuff into practice. If you want to know more, ask me about one of the following next time I see you:

1. The college transition
2. The logic behind the order of Ice-Breaker Games
3. Songs on the Radio and Christianity's Cultural Relevance
4. The 5 dysfunctions of a group

We talked about many more things, but these were the most important to me and my learning. I also got to know some of the CCO new staff pretty well. It was a treat to room with Joel Harris, Dan Turis, Jeff Bergeson, Johnny Cagwin, and Chris Ansel. Hopefully Johnny Chris and I will make good on the "Dude's Night" we discussed.

After a week of training, we spent one more night in Chippewa with the fam.

Ok, sorry... I said I wouldn't talk much. Back to the pictures:

Chippewa, PA to Canton, OH
A two hour drive that Rach thinks most other people could do in an hour and a half.

The drive to Canton seemed to take forever to Rachel, but for me it went really quickly. Probably because I was busy listening to the Radio and recording what I thought the songs were about.

Jason "Lloyd" and Suzie Lantz's daughter Caris has grown soooo big. I showed her how to check the quality of a car by kicking the tires. Sorry Jason and Suzie.

After hanging out for a while, we went to Bab's house where we made stands for the Angleball poles. Those of you who have never heard of the game don't know what you're missing. It's super fun and a great workout.

I saw quite a few of my old Canton friends while I was in town. It was a good time. Not everyone was there, (we didn't get to see Matt & Mandy, and the rest of the Hoopers...) but there were a handful of people, and it was really nice to see who we saw. We started a fire at Bab's house after Angleball and sat around making smores and catching up on things. Great times.

This is the way most people see Cristin when there are more than three people in the same place.

Brandon rode his bike to Canton. Here he shows you how to catch a quick Junebug Happy Meal.


Canton, OH to Chagrin Falls, OH
The next morning we went to Chagrin Falls to catch the Blossom Festival.

The Giz tries to pick up a PVC pipe that's seven times larger than her. No wonder she has a hernia.

The crew on our way to the Blossom Festival.

Strangely enough, the path to the Blossom Festival was DANGER!ous

Heather, Ryan and Widget (Gizmo's sister).

Chagrin Falls, OH to Cleveland, OH
After the Blossom Festival, people came to my Mom and Dad's house for a bonfire. Again, not a long trip, but one leg of the two week's journey nonetheless.

Rachel, Gizmo, Molly, the Baby and I had a nice little picnic at the river on Memorial Day.

I spent another day at home playing with the dogs and catching up on MythBusters.

Cleveland, OH to Canton, OH
On Tuesday I went back into Canton to catch up with Babs, and Branden. I got to see a couple other folks as well, and the Cavs won game 4. Sorry, no pictures.

Canton, OH to Cleveland, OH
I left Canton and went back to Cleveland to hang out with my brother Tim, and to help him take down the wallpaper... my favorite.

Cleveland, OH to Wheeling, WV
On Thursday I drove from Cleveland to Wheeling to pick up Rachel. We left Wheeling at 5:00 for Columbus.

Wheeling, WV to Columbus, OH
We arrived in Columbus just in time for bed...

and we got to sleep on THE Craft-0-Matic Adjustable Bed!!! That's right! It vibrates, AND goes up and down. It's like Cedar Point in your sleep! I had every desire in the world to wake up in the middle of the night and start playing with the thing until Rach woke up, but fortunately I didn't do anything of the sort. Still, it was a sweet bed.

Columbus, OH to Springfield, OH
The next morning we got up and drove to Springfield to hang out with Sean and Julie. He said it was a half an hour drive... it took me an hour and fifteen minutes.

Sean and I played 18 at the nicest $15 golf course I've ever played on. It's probably the nicest $15 course I'll ever play on because there's no way I'll find a better course at that price. After Golf, we ate dinner (yum) and played a few games of Hearts. Then we watched "When College Hill Attacks" one of the best movies ever made, before we got in the car and drove back to Columbus.

Springfield, OH to Columbus, OH
Again, an hour and fifteen minutes. Not a half an hour...

Heather and Ryan were great hosts. Saturday morning was especially fun, we woke up and Heather made pancakes while Ryan unpacked Settlers of Catan. We had pancakes and Settlers for breakfast. Talk about FUN!

We went to the zoo on Sunday. I absolutely loved it. Columbus has one of the best zoos I've ever been to with TONS of stuff to see. This was from the Aquarium, we got there just in time to see the SCUBA diver feed the fish. Though the kids were just as fun to watch as the fish. But the Gorillas were by far my favorite.

Every time I see Gorillas or Chimps, I think about how human they look. I can't get over it, it's almost haunting.

At times, seeing the crowd gathered around the Gorilla, I couldn't help but wonder who was watching who. Here you get a good feel for the massive size of these animals. I have so much respect for them, and I wish we were doing more to protect them. Such beautiful creatures.

This big fella took a nap right up on the glass. I managed to snap a photo just before he opened one eye and looked right at me. It was a very strange experience. I could have sat and watched them for the whole day.

This big guy was especially fun to watch. He would sit behind the tree on the right there, and then when enough little girls came by, he would stand up, walk over and slap the glass as hard as he could and go running around the room. Every time the girls jumped and ducked and scurried away. It really made me think we were the ones being observed.

Rachel's favorite animal is the Elephant. She wants to decorate the nursery in Elephants, but I reminded her that we live in a college dorm and we can't decorate the nursery. Plus, we won't have a nursery so... oh well. At least we got to see some of these gentle giants.

They even did us the favor of taking a bath in the pond there while we watched. Very, very cool.

These guys were my second favorite. These are called Flying Foxes because they look a lot like a fox, and because they are almost as big as a fox. If you stick your arm straight out, and measure from the tip of your middle finger to the inside of your elbow, you'll get a feel for how big they are. Their wingspans can be over six feet long! But the best part of the flying foxes was the bat that's second in from the right.

They were all sleeping, when he woke up, reached up with his little bat hands and grabbed onto the cieling. Then, he dropped his feet so he was hanging right side up, and spread his wings way out. Then, while he was spread eagle in the air showing that thin black cape of wings, he peed right on the guy on the far right there. It was absolutely hilarious, he just spread his wings and peed right on the other guy's face. Poor fella woke up shaking his head with bat pee spraying at him like a hose. It went in his nose, in his ears... he couldn't do anything because he was hanging upside down, so he just shook his head a lot and started licking it off.

I'm really, really glad I'm not a bat.

Here's Heather and Ryan at the end of the day. It was a very fun day for me.

Here's Ryan at the last animal exhibit. They had PEOPLE! It was so cool... we just sat there and watched them interacting in their natural habitat. It was just so strange how much they look like gorillas.... I mean seriously... wierd.

After the zoo, we ate Hummus Crusted Chicken for dinner (YUM) and went home.

Columbus, OH to Wheeling, WV
It rained really hard on the drive. We got home around 11:00 and hit the sack. Monday was a big CCO picnic so we had to rest up. It was a great, great weekend.

To finish it all off, I'll show you my Fat-Bellied Buddha Plant as it looks now. I started this guy out as a seed last year, it's a slow growing plant, but it seems to be doing just fine in our window for now. It should start to flower in about three years.

One year ago it looked like this.

Now it looks like this.

Here's the whole trip. Two lines reflect two trips... We had an absolute blast the past two weeks. I can't think of a way to pack more fun into two weeks... My bad math adds up the drive time to 17 hours. The same amount of time it takes to get to New Orleans...