Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Few Thousand Words


My new niece, Aryana.


Brother, Shawn; sister, Sharie; and Dad out playing pool.


My mother volunteering at the hospital I work at.


Me getting ready to go to a 50s theme party for our summer student volunteers at work.


My daughter, Erica.


My daughter, Shaena.

My Photo Album

Must Have Made An Impression

But not a good one. While I wasn't sure if Katie Joy and I had enough commonality of vision to build a long-term relationship, I still wanted to explore things. I am getting the impression that she is not interested, though. We went out last Saturday. I sent her a text message on Monday just saying "hi." She never responded. I called her yesterday. She did not answer and I left a message. She has not called me back. Yes, she is very busy, but she is not so busy that she couldn't make a brief phone call to say "hi" if she was interested in going any farther.

I'm a lot more secure and confident than I ever used to be so I'm not depressed or thinking I'm a loser because of this. Sometimes things don't work out and there are lots of other women out there. I wish she had called me to tell me how she feels. Actually, I am willing to bet that she will call me sometime in the next week or two but it won't be to go out again, but just to talk. Ah, well.

I suppose that means I'm in the market, as it were.

Moral High Ground

Susan Jacoby has an interesting post about politics and morality over at the Washington Post.

"Shouldn’t politicians stop talking about which party holds itself to some abstract “higher standard” and start talking about common sense, compassion, and fairness in political decisions inevitably circumscribed by inevitable human error?"


I agree with her that painting issues in a black and white manner cannot lead to good outcomes. Neither side of a conflict will be able to come together if they each view it through a lens of good and evil. Once you identify your opponent as evil, the only option then becomes totally destroying them. How can you settle for less when the stakes become that high? Unfortunately, we do not leave in a world of blacks and whites, but a spectrum of grays. That doesn't mean I believe in a wishy-washy moral relativism where I don't judge anyone's actions. It does mean that I believe the world is too complex to put everything into two neat, sharply divided categories such as black and white, good and evil.

Who Isn't al-Qaeda These Days?

Bush and the neocons have been attempting to frighten Americans with rhetoric about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here" and "if we leave, Iraq will turn into a haven for al-Qaeda." They have made much of AQI or al-Qaeda Iraq and how they are causing most of the problems for our troops in Iraq. Matthew Yglesias takes a look at this "fact" and finds it a myth.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Shock to the System

Britains are concerned about the spread of Tasers amongst their law enforcement officers. Here in America, Tasers are becoming very widespread amongst police and security forces. Our cultures are quite different when it comes to weapons, though, and I can see where the Taser would be a tougher sell there. It is an excellent tool, but it is easily abused and training needs to be rigorous and thorough for anyone carrying one.

As I wrote a few months back, I did get certified to carry a Taser since I occasionally pick up relief shifts for the security department at my hospital. Getting certified did include getting getting shot with the probes and taking the full five-second ride. I even have it on video.

video

Yes it is the most painful thing I have ever done. I will certainly be very cognizant of what will happen if I make the decision to draw and employ it.

And, though it is not funny if the Taser needs to be used in the course of the job, it can be very amusing to watch people volunteer to take a hit with it. More amusing than my jolt in the video above is this tough guy's valiant attempt to shotgun a beer before the Taser knocks him down. Comedy gold.

Boys Just Make a Mess of Things

An interesting new study says that single-sex schools are good for girls, but not as good for boys who do better in mixed classes. There hasn't been much scientific research in this area, so it is fascinating to see some hard data.

The question is, then, what to make of it? Obviously we can't send girls to girl-only schools and boys to mixed schools. It doesn't quite work out. An interesting compromise might be to have boys and girls on the same campus. In the morning they go to single-sex classes, but in the afternoon they go to classes together. I wonder how that might work out.

No More Batteries?

If this pans out, it could drastically alter our economy and our lives. The company's claims are rather spectacular and there hasn't been much in the way of hard proof, so I remain doubtful, but it is exciting nonetheless.

What Men Want

I love the headline for this story on CNN: Men Want Hot Women, Study Confirms. Similar to a story I linked to before about "fires" and "warming," I remain skeptical of this. It's going to take a lot evidence for me to buy into this outlandish theory.

Beyond the blindingly obvious, though, there are some interesting findings in the study.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Oh, the Drama...

Sometimes I almost feel like I'm drafting a soap opera when I'm writing about personal matters especially when it comes to dating. I suppose that's half the fun, though, right?

I went out with Katie Joy on Saturday. As I wrote before going to a movie turned into going to church, dinner and then the movie. Services started at 4:30, so I picked her up a few minutes after 4. She goes to Faith Chapel, a Four Square church and the largest church in town. There was upwards of 1000 people at the service we attended and construction is being done on a massive new worship center. I knew what to expect and I'll post more thoughts on the service and church in another post (especially since I went to another not so dissimilar church the next day), but suffice to say for now that I was completely disengaged on the level of worship and coming to know God. My interest during the service was focused on studying the church. What does the church look like? What sort of sermon does the pastor give? What kind of words does he use? What is the music like? It's one thing to read about these things, but it is another thing to actually be there. On that level, it was quite fascinating.

Her parents and siblings were there. I met them all on my first date with Katie Joy, but I wasn't expecting them to be there. Not only that, but she said her parents were going out to dinner after the service and she wanted to join them. With a silent groan, I said "okay" and we met them at JBs, a quiet little restaurant that I remember visiting frequently while young (often after church), but have visited maybe once in the last six or seven years. Katie Joy's siblings also came, but her sister left before too long to meet some friends.

This is the first time I have interacted much with her family. Her brother, Jeremy is a snot-nosed brat. If his parents hadn't been there, I likely would have punched him in the face. I kept telling myself that he is only fifteen, but still, a sound beating would do wonders for him. Her mother, Connie, is very nice. She seems to be a simple, quiet woman. Her father, Curt, was also nice and seemed intelligent. Somehow politics came up. How politics came up at my first dinner with her parents is beyond me, but I was sweating a bit. Katie Joy mentioned that September 2 was the anniversary of the longest filibuster in Senate history. In response to his questions, I was trying to explain to Jeremy what a filibuster was, who Strom Thurmond was, and why he was filibustering. Curt was quick to jump in a make a comment about Democrats also being racist and not supporting legislation for desegregation. I didn't know what to say for a second. I had not mentioned anything about conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, left, or right. I just said that Mr. Thurmond supported segregation and was trying to stop the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Thankfully it didn't go anywhere else. I enjoy talking about politics, but I didn't feel like getting into an argument with Katie Joy's father about it.

Next, we were off to the movie. We had decided to see Becoming Jane, a story about Jane Austen that attempts to fill in some blanks in her life. It was a very good movie. In the row in front of us was one of those people that feels a need to talk to the movie. At one point he hollered, "Make your move!" and it was all I could do not to laugh uncontrollably. Even more amusing later in the movie was a shout about "Germans." There was lots of muttering throughout, but those were the two funniest moments.

The crazy old man was not the only amusement during the movie. Part way through, I casually reach my hand over to hers and start to hold it. She giggles, pulls away, and whispers, "What are you doing?" If we hadn't been sitting in a movie theater, I would have said, "What the hell do you think I'm doing?" As it was, I just smiled and continued watching the movie. I couldn't help but think of Top Gun and Slider's remark, "Crash and burn, eh, Mav?" I didn't think holding hands on our third date was rushing things, but what do I know?

After the movie, I dropped her off at her car which was outside of the place she works. She said she had a good time and drove off. I had a good time, too, although I'm not sure if our relationship is going to go anywhere. No, not because she wouldn't let me hold her hand, but because I'm not sure we have similar visions for our futures. Maybe I'm wrong; I don't know. It's just a feeling.

Secret. Secret. I've Got a Secret

Postcard Image

PostSecret

I know some people who feel this way. It's sad that we are always harder on ourselves than other people because we fear their rejection. The people who truly love you won't judge you.

UPDATE: Fixed image problem. I need to preview more often before I post.

Clinton vs. Obama

Oooh...lots of matchups today. This one about Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's views on Cuba. Clinton thinks we need to maintain our current position on Cuba (trade embargo, travel restrictions, etc.) while Obama believes we need to change this because it has proven so effective. This seems to be a cornerstone of Clinton's campaign, a mindset that we don't need change, the old ways work just fine (as long as it's a Democrat at the helm, of course), and is one of the reasons I can't support her as President. Of all of the candidates so far, I think Obama is the best one to heal our nation after the disastrous Bush II presidency.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Breast Feeding vs. Bottle Feeding

It is stories like this one that make me jaded and cynical about politics. Money rules the day.

You have to register to read the link above. You can read about it here in a more colorful version.

"Makes you wonder, you know?"

Sting reflects on his career.

Space Invaders

Check out this video. Who knew Ronald Reagan was a closet Watchmen fan?

Religion vs. Science

It baffles me at times that people can so vigorously attack science because it doesn't jive with their religious beliefs. Michael Lemonick, science writer for Time, recently had a post on his blog about some recent fossil discoveries and what they may mean for our current understanding of evolution. It is not an earth-shattering discovery, but one that could mean a minor revision of the time line we have now. Of course this brings out the creationists in force. How people can be so ignorant in this day and age is perhaps something I will never completely understand. These people are no different from those who excommunicated Galileo for his heathen beliefs. In fact I'm reminded of the people in the following video. They both have about the same level of understanding of science.



There doesn't need to be a divide between science and religion. I happen to believe in God. I also believe that science is a wonderful tool for understanding this incredible world God has created. Most scientists will tell you they do not have all of the answers and are not trying to disprove the existence of God. I'm sure that dealing with some of these rabid fanatics makes them wish they could, though. Hell, I almost wish I could just to see the look on their faces, but, then I am feeling spiteful today.

The Future

While I've had a broad outline of my plans after I get my bachelor's degree - teach, work in a think tank/policy research center, get my graduate degree - I haven't thought too much about the fine details. That may have changed.

I recently read something about an organization called Teach for America. They recruit people, most commonly recent graduates, and send them into some of the most impoverished schools in America. The contract is for two years and the teachers earn scholarships for graduate school. This sounds fantastic. While it will probably be two years before I graduate, plenty of time to look at many opportunities, this one is going to be high on my list of choices.

Whither Have I Come?

Over the last year I have been thinking about my roots a lot. Where have I come from? What were my ancestors like? Where did they come from? My family has never been close to extended relatives. In fact, I barely know any outside my direct family. When I was younger it never seemed like a big deal, but lately I have felt a desire to know more and to be able to pass that on to my children.

Next year, with the money from my tax return I am going to buy a digital camcorder. I want to begin interviewing members of my family about their life, their memories. I also want to record an annual interview with my siblings, my children, and my nieces and nephews. I think I will do it around Christmas time since that seems to be the easiest time to get everyone together and the perfect time of year for such a project. I want to pass those movies down to my kids and their kids and their kids and so on. I think modern technology gives us a wonderful opportunity here.

I am also going to begin researching my family genealogy. My father has done some work on his family and he gave me the binder of materials he has collected. He has managed to trace a part of his mother's family back to the late 17th century. It is very exciting and I'm looking forward to this. It is a long term project, of course, but one that should prove fascinating.