Mis Raices Estan Allí

3 05 2006

When the light dances across the wind swept mesa, I delight in what I see. The uncommon beauty in the middle of poverty is breathtaking. It’s difficult to comprehend why people long to escape from this place and even more difficult to comprehend why I long to be there. Pictures cannot capture the sounds. They cannot capture the smells or the wind. Yet they take me back to a place so far from home, but so close to what home really is.

I think the sounds are what makes the visual so appealing. Without them, the color fades to black and white. They alert the visual but they fail to bring the entire picture.

The days spent there have a pace so different from here. Sometimes the pace seems slower, but that is not the best way to describe it. Calling it different may be enough. Perhaps it is not even so much the pace that changes as the priorities. The former priorities still come to the forefront of the mind, but they are quickly replaced by ones that are of utmost importance. It is hard to be worried about the superficial things when the ones that have urgency are there.

Attachment is a funny thing. It makes you do things that you wouldn’t normally do. It changes you. What is most spectacular is when it brings you close to people of the most improbable sort. Perhaps even stranger is when it provides a definitive experience in which to view things in an unmistakable light.

I won’t go back for the light playing softly on the hillside. I won’t go back for beauty of the earth. I won’t go back for the fun. I won’t go back because it’s a good thing to do.

I will go back because of the laughter and the dirty faces, for the pain and the strife. I will go back for the relationships and for the hope that comes with the sun every morning. I will go back because I am called back. I will go back because it is where I belong.

Is it there that I belong? Maybe, but maybe not. It is the idea of there that is the place where I belong. But my roots are buried there. Mis raices estain allí . It is hard to describe that.

Maybe I’ll be somewhere else when I discover that I am there. It’s hard for me to say. It may be another continent or a place so close that I can see it. But I know that I have roots and I know that they will cause growth. Knowing where you are and where you came from can just about get you to where you are going.

Mis raices estain allí.

Polyphasic Sleep vs. Early Riser vs. All Nighter

4 04 2006

Here I am, 5:41 AM. It’s still black outside. The wind is blowing from the west and the temperature has dropped back down to the freezing ranges. My eyes are heavy and I almost nodded off a few minutes ago. I’m entering my 25th hour of consciousness.

The past 14 hours have been full of work: heat transfer, design of machine components, and Pro/E. I have again found it to be true that if I didn’t have to sleep I would get so much more done. I have been productive the last 14 hours. I can tell that I have lost my edge now, but until around 4:30 AM I was perfectly fine. Since then, I have noticed that my depth perception and my quickness of thought have decreased.

This leads us to the question on with of the three sleep approaches is the best. Although polyphasic sleeping sounds like the sweestest thing since sleep itself, it seems too hard to implement and too hard to maintain.

The all nighter can be used to step up production, but the problem always rests with recovery. Will I be able to function at 100% until the late evening tonight? Probably not.

So what is the solution? Again, we must point to the early riser. As I prepare to pack my things up here in the Gee, the first of the early risers will trickle in. They will be ready to tackle today. They’ll probably look with scorn on the few of us in here right now, eyes filled with a sleepless bleakness. As well they should…

Was the night here productive? Yes, I got a great deal of work done. However, increasing efficiency at other times would probably create and overall greater accomplishment.

At college, it is easy to drift off the early morning routine due to the phenomena where most college students stay up to ungodly hours. After break, the revolution begins. Everyone up at 6 AM and to bed by 10:30 PM. Call it the great sleep test or offer a comparison to Daniel and his request for vegetarian meals.

Looks like I’m the first one up today…

This Hour Has 22 Minutes

29 03 2006

1. Maybe Congress should stay away from the Capitol. Cythnia McKinney, a representative from Georgia, just assaulted a Capitol policeman. The officer went after her when she failed to pass through a metal detector. Congressmen do not have to pass through them, but he didn’t recognize her. Well, perhaps if she came to work a little more…

2. If you disagreed with my article on “lazy lawmakers”, check out the comments left on that post. Someone who knows more about it than me has sided with you.

3. At the University of Memphis, a law professor has banned laptops from her classroom. Students are in an uproar because they can’t take notes. Golly, how did your grandpap ever make it through law school? It brings to mind the story of a guy named Neuch who was once playing a level of a game in class that he had never been to before when the professor walked up behind him. Neuch reasoned that there was no way he was closing this level and he continued to play while the professor stood behind him and lectured. Yes, we need our laptops to take notes. I swear. We’re not playing games, chatting online, or surfing the internet. Really. We’re not.

4. Since the post on being an early riser, that article has been the biggest draw of outsiders to this blog. It’s kind of interesting that people from all over the world are seeking to get up earlier.

5. Congress has a major problem on its hands with immigration. America has an even bigger problem. This past weekend, thousands of illegal immigrants were marching in the city streets demanding citizenship, healthcare, and education. Only in America do we have criminals, and now felons, marching in the streets.

6. Stephen Harper and the Canadian government have cut off relations and aid to the Palestinian government after the election of Hamas. While I applaud the Canadians for their stance against a group that refused to even acknowledge that Israel is a nation, Palestinian leaders wondered where Canada even was.

7. Perhaps you’ve seen the sculpture of Britney Spears giving birth. Daniel Edwards has managed to infuriate PETA for having the sculpture on a bearskin rug and both pro-lifers and pro-choicers. Pro-lifers are mad that Britney Spears is representing them and pro-choicers are mad that she’s not with them. Little do they know that Daniel Edwards has neither met nor talked to Spears and just did the sculpture based off photographs, including an alleged sex video. I’m not sure this piece of artwork will inspire you to keep your unborn child, but I do want to abort the image of the sculpture from my brain.

8. Do you remember when that heinous criminal, Slobodan Milosevic, died in his cell before judgment could be meted out? No? Well, I guess we didn’t care about bringing justice to all the people he killed afterall. Here’s a message to all those who committ crimes against humanity: “No worries, you can die from a heart attack in a prison cell. Carry on.”

9. Well, do you remember Randal McCloy, Jr.? He was the only survivor of the Sago Mine accident in January. He’s returning home this week from the hospital he has been recovering at. Now that we’ve forgotten about him and the ones that died that day in the mine, I wonder how much is being done to improve mine safety or to at least be honest about the hazards miners face.

10. New Orleans is selling (on eBay) the unsalvageable buses that were damaged in Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps Ray Nagin should repair these vehicles and send them to Houston to pick up all the refugees that have been increasing the crime rate and clogging the city’s infrastructure. The residents there are quite tired of increased crime and the strain on city’s services.

edit 04/05/2006: Right now, this page is the #7 result for searching for “Cythnia McKinney” on Google.

Lazy Lawmakers and Peace for the Middle East

20 03 2006

The “Do-Nothing” Congress is back. According to an article in the USA Today, the House of Representatives has been in session for 19 days through Friday. Based on their current schedule, the House will be in session for 97 days this year. However, in the first two months of this year, House members have logged a mere 47 hours in the Capitol. Most Americans work 47 hours in a week.If this pace keeps up, most of the people in the House will garner themselves a hefty $200 an hour in compensation for this year. Add in the kickbacks, lobbyist paid dinners, free yachts, and vacations and you have yourself one sweet deal.

Obviously, the time lawmakers spend in the Capitol is not the only time they are working. There are committee and subcommittee meetings to attend, but Norman Orstein has noted that these have increased by 50% over the past years. What exactly are the members of Congress doing?

Some who are in favor of a smaller government are pleased that lawmakers are spending less time legislating and more time flying home to their districts and meeting with lobbyists. This type of attitude is quite silly. The taxpayers are paying someone to be a full time employee and they are attempting to cram all their work into 2 1/2 days so they can go home. Would your boss allow you to do this? Unfortunately, these people are not cutting your lawn. The legislation that they pass changes the country and impacts the world. Not having Congress in the Capitol means that Congressional leadership can manipulate the voting times and committee meetings. They could be pushing all sorts of things to the floor without any sort of oversight. You cannot possibly cram the business of this country into 71 days allotted for voting this year on Capitol Hill, with 26 more days having no votes before 6:30 PM. I’m sure that’s in case lunch goes long.

This country has major problems: Social Security, education reform, out of control debt, a war in Iraq, Medicare, and Homeland Security. We have elected people to deal with these issues and they have not showed up to work. When a matter arises, say the Dubai ports deal, people are thrown into a panic and are suddenly lost without direction because they haven’t been on Capitol Hill to actually find out what is going on. Each of these representatives is then at the mercy of their staffers and interns who have hopefully done their homework and briefed them on what is happening on the floor.

I don’t think it matters what party is in control. Over the past years, I really don’t see how it has made a difference who controls Congress. Neither party is working for the people, because neither party is in Washington.

Today, President Bush told the world that he would use military force to protect Israel from Iran. You can be sure that if it comes to that, members of Congress will be squawking that they had no say in the matter and that Bush is doing what ever he pleases. Bush, though accused of being on vacation more than any other President, is still on the job whether in Crawford or Washington and that is more than can be said for Congress. How can lawmakers actually say they care about peace for the Middle East if they aren’t going to work for it? How can they even claim to be working on the Patriot Act, Social Security Reform, or anything else that they harp about if they aren’t in Washington? Sharon Stone just went to the Middle East on a highly publicized trip. She’s doing more for peace than my Congressman.

It seems that every election cycle, one party accuses the other party of not doing what they said they were going to do and not getting anything done. I can’t see how anyone can get anything done if they’re not at work. A sure formula for success would be to show up and get something done instead of showing up and going home.

It can be best summed up by Norman J. Ornstein, one more eloquent than myself:

A part-time Congress in a country with a $13 trillion economy and federal budget near $3 trillion, in a globalized, technologically sophisticated world, is itself a danger to the checks and balances built into American democracy, and to high-quality, careful policymaking and oversight. It’s not too much to ask Congress to commit to spending at least half the year — 26 weeks — working full-time, five days a week, thus providing at least a measure of the deliberation and attention to detail that are so lacking now.

What do you think?

A Letter to the Editor

17 03 2006

Walczak’s Article

Today, in the Grove City College Collegian, I had a letter to the editor published. Before you read my response below, the above image(click to enlarge) is the article that I wrote my letter in reply to. You should read that before you read my response.

Jared Walczak’s column, “Bring the ‘old time religion’ to Chapel,” is full of inaccuracies because he has missed the point of the chapel program at the College. In the column, he attempts to justify his narrow-minded view of the “correct” practice of Christianity, and, though I lack the time and space to respond to all of his claims, I will reply to several.

First, Mr. Walczak claims that speakers do not take chapel seriously. On what does he base this? His personal boredom or the disconnection he experiences in chapel? Has he spent any significant time with any of the speakers during his time here at Grove City? For the past year as a member of the chapel staff, I have shared breakfast and a time of prayer with almost every speaker that has stood in the chapel pulpit, and I cannot think of one who took the responsibility to address the students here lightly.

Mr. Walczak also writes that speakers do not try to touch upon matters of lasting value in their 17 minutes. Perhaps Mr. Walczak could give us the proper length for a sermon. Could it be the time it takes to climb Mount Pisgah? I would ask Mr. Walczak to turn to Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, and to Acts 2, where Peter preaches during Pentecost. Reading either of those sermons aloud will take much less than 17 minutes. I wonder if Mr. Walczak believes their shortness robs them of anything of “lasting value.”

Finally, Mr. Walczak is showing us how he thinks that church should be. It’s fine for him to present his views on the church, but he confuses the College’s chapel with church. Chapel is not meant to replace church. Mr. Walczak shows us throughout his column what he wants his church to be like—full of traditional songs and lacking contemporary ones—and attempts to discredit worship in any other way. But what if he was born before 1758, when “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was written? Would he still raise his Ebenezer or would he have said that it was a “popular praise song?” What happened to the thousands of hymns that Charles Wesley wrote if he was penning for the ages?

Mr. Walczak, if you wish to be challenged, provoked, or inspired, climb down from your close-minded steeple and take a seat in chapel with the realization that it is there to expose you to different faith backgrounds. You might be surprised what you’ll hear when you begin to listen.

Any thoughts? Perhaps you are just shocked that I posted two days in a row.