Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Me and Lamont

This past weekend my family went to Lake Placid again. I stayed behind this time, first because I had an unnerving amount of homework to do, second, because it has been a few years since I really enjoyed traveling with my whole family that much... so it was just Lamont and I. He is my sisters pet fish. He is Chinese, but she is into French things, thus his name. There is also Bella, our dog that the Slacks left us, who somehow ended up living with me, I being the only one who hadn't been in favor or adopting her from our neighbors in the first place. She was formerly Baily, but my sisters decided it was to masculine and changed it to Bella... which is also French. Then there is Mansie... the cat, who was formerly Tansie, but my sisters decided that was too feminine... so they changed it too.


We have a little snow on the ground (above).
I went up with Derrick from work to a football game in Corning. I ended up hanging out with some old friends from our church that we used to go too. Most of them I hadn't talked to since then... so it was good catch up.

Saturday my Grandma and Grandpa invited me down for supper since my parents were gone. I talked with them about my going to Italy and all that. It's moving forward pretty well now... I got my paperwork. I'm going to get my medical stuff together tomorrow and my parents are looking into the plane tickets and all that. Hopefully I will be able to get a new passport... it's not expired, but I look like a different person than the picture on it (I had hair over my eyes and down to my shoulders back then). I still haven't told to many people at Mansfield... except for my adviser, as I had to explain why I won't be registering for any courses for next semester. He was really cool about it once I explained. He had actually been through the town where I'm going before (he's a cultural anthropologist like I would like to be someday, and he's been all over the world). I still haven't told the people in the Social Science Club, which is going to be hard, as I'm their treasurer. So I'm waiting for a good opportunity to do that. We will hopefully be going on a trip to a Museum in Harrisburg in a few weeks. I'm in charge of orchestrating all the funding and paperwork. That has been (and will continue to be) a little adventure in bureaucracy... hopefully it will all come together.

So back to my Grandparents. After Italy, and eating, the conversation drifted as it usually does to politics. They are very adamant McCain supporters, which always vexes me because of my Grandpas unhappy history with McCain in Vietnam (google Walter Wilber and John McCain if you care to find out)... you know, I just realized this is going to be too big a subject of confine to the end of this post. I will have to do another one devoted to it....

to be continued


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Snow, Unorthodox Grading Techniques, and An Old Friend

Last night as I was headed home from Mansfield I began to notice the rain falling horizontally instead of vertically, which, I thought was somewhat strange. Sure enough, upon arriving home, there was a fine dusting of snow on the deck. Now this morning I can see flurries. So it is first snow!

Quote of the day, the week, perhaps even the month: "I got your exam essays back. I'm sorry if my notes are illegible, I did it late last night, and I may have not had enough sleep. I may also have had too many glasses of wine...."

- One of my professors

So he may have been slightly stoned, but he gave a good critique of my papers, and an A, so you know, to them that's theirs.

I have two tests this morning. I'm not too worried about either of them... which could be a bad sign, but I think it will be fine, the professor in my Oral Comm class said the test would be easy, and in Social Stratification it may not be easy, but I got 100 on the first one just by looking at which of the answers best supported conflict theory and choosing it. I don't know what the average grade was for that test, so maybe he will make this one harder, or maybe I'm just really good at it... but who knows.

I got all my papers for SBI, so now I can start filling them out, and getting ready.

Last night I bumped into an old friend at Walmart... Kayla, we had been in Karate together back in the day. It's funny how running into someone like that, who even if you weren't very involved with personally, was part of an environment that you were very involved in, and then all of a sudden weren't, can bring back a lot of memories and make you think, it did for us at least. So that was cool.

God Bless,


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Social Stratification and Poverty Today In the U.S.

"Social Stratification in the United States Chart Analysis

Andrew Wilber

The American Profile Poster paints a picture of U.S. Society as a steeply tapered pyramid with the bulk of the population sitting in the lower and middle regions below $60,000 dollars income and becoming narrower from there on up with the final grouping (were it possible to include) consisting of only a few individuals and being more than three stories high! One primary factor in this stratification is occupation. While Administrative and professional jobs are fairly well distributed throughout the different income levels, they become disproportionately dense at the highest bracket. The mid levels are composed rather evenly of professional, clerical and blue-collar workers. In the lower area, under $30,000, we begin to see the administrative jobs all but disappear, the body of the chart now swelling with unskilled blue-collar workers and retired individuals. The lowest level is composed largely of the jobless living on public assistance along with some unskilled-blue collar workers and retirees. At this bottom level we see Africans and ethnic minorities over-represented, bringing race into the equation. People down here are also predominately single, often with dependents."

Today, is (just barely) Oct. 15, which means it is Blog Action Team Day. This year the subject is poverty. For a Sociology class I'm taking I just completed an assignment in which I had to analyze The American Profile Poster by Stephen J. Rose and Dennis Livingston. It is a graphical display of the Social Stratification (how much money is made by how many people and how does it affect how they see themselves and each other) in the United States. It was a short assignment, only about a paragraph, but could have easily been a book (and in fact has been... several books). What it shows is rather sad. That although there are some really wealthy people in our country, there are even more living in abject poverty. So anyhow... I always sign up to do this Blog Action Team thing... but I thought that since I was just doing this to night, and this year is poverty, I would post it up hear.

So, thanks for taking the time to read : )


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Animation : )

Last spring over my break I started teaching myself (via a wiki tutorial) to use the 3D modeling and animation program blender http://www.blender.org/. I got to be ok at the modeling part, and could make some pretty cool landscapes and things, but I've never been able to make anything move. Now it's fall break, and I spent all of yesterday pouring over the animation section of the wiki - trying to apply it to the program - failing - and then, at about 10:00 or 11:00 pm, it all came together:

So, it's not much, but I was ecstatic when it finally started to work. I already have some more complex and dressed up versions of it... and now I hope to start applying it to some of my old still models to actually make some real scenes.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Saints Bible Institute

Ok, Saints Bible Institute is a Bible School in San Lorenzo, which is in North Eastern Italy. It was started by the Moody Bible Institute as a mission outreach.

I had been wanting to travel... soon... and my Mon read about this in a magazine with a list of other schools. It sounded cool, and so I applied (I think I actually posted a little blurb about it on here, but nothing much). It took me a long time to get all the appropriate paper work together and I hit a minor road block or two, but in the end it worked.

So I will (God willing... more certainly than before, but still God willing) be going there this spring for almost three months. The way it works is like normal college throughout the week, and then on the weekends you have the option to travel around to different cities and historical and archaeological sites (I intend to do this as much as possible).

I'll be taking some theology or evangelism courses, as it is a Bible school after all, and also intro to Italian, and (a big reason this interested me) intercultural communication.

So that's really about all I know about it myself at this point... I haven't even told to many people about it yet... but I'm happy I got in, because as I was kind of alluding to before, I have been wanting to do something different for a while.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


I got accepted at Saints Bible Institute in Lorenzo Italy today! I had been applying for the last five months or so... and today, I finally got in! I'm at work and don't have time to say much about it... but I got accepted!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

John Brown's Body

Last weekend we went to Lake Placid again for a stove delivery, and while we were there we toured the Grave and Farm of Abolitionist John Brown... who was hanged after attempting to start a slave uprising in the South and is often attributed with expediting the onslaught of the Civil War:

Here is his tomb stone:

Here are the buildings he lived in:

Here is my brother seeing how they would have carried their water:

This week went well. My Oral Comm Presentation turned out very well especially I thought. This past Thursday I the Social Science Club hosted a Guitar Hero Tournament, and I went, being the treasurer and all. I don't really care to much for the game myself (I think the fact that I play guitar in real life would make it harder for me) and since money was on the line I figured it wasn't the best time to learn how to play.... It was still fun though, and we had more of turnout than we were expecting as we had scheduled it on the same night that a bunch of Greek Clubs were holding their initiation rights. Here are Bill and Tiffany setting up:

This Friday night I took my brother to our cousins for a "Guys night" and we played xbox in their barn. Unfortunately it's not heated up there at all... Daniel and I brought in a big old kerosene heater and that was the only warm spot. The heater made so much smoke though (either it was really, really dirty, or what Daniel thought was kerosene was actually something else) that eventual we had to turn it off:

The next day we drove to Wegmans in Corning and met up with the rest of our family and some other people and went grape picking up in the finger lakes:

So that was the last week and a half or so....

And I am learning how to play Knights of Cydonia, which is a rocking song.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Warning: Big Logical Circle Alert

Well... it's been a kind of crazy day. Oral Comm speeches are getting to be due... and I volunteered to go on the first available day (Friday) thinking that I was almost ready and that I should get it out of the way quickly before I really had time to get nervous. Unfortunately I had a lot more to do than I realized this morning when I somewhat compulsively raised my hand... and the rest of the day was spent frantically outlining and looking up sources, and finally rehearsing the speech that is due in about 48 hours and that I hadn't even started writing yet (aside from in my brain). I have the outline just about done now though, and I think it will be just perfectly under the time limit (I'm a little worried about that, because it's a fairly complex topic for a five minute speech and you get an automatic D if you go too far over time.) so now I'm sitting back and taking my first real breath since 9: 35 this morning when I momentarily lost my sanity and volunteered to do this in the first place.

So I've been reflecting... looking over blog posts of what I was doing this time last year... and it amazed me how much things have changed... and I've changed. But then again, looking at how I thought about things then, I haven't changed as much as perhaps I had thought... and yes, my circumstances have changed drastically in some ways since then... and yet really they haven't changed that much. I was thinking about that the other day as I walked from one of the outer commuter parking lots at Mansfield... how I've really had a remarkably stable life... almost bizarrely... I've lived in more or less the same place for my entire life. My parents are together. My Grandparents are all alive and live close. Things have stayed almost frozen in time in some ways.
And yet there has been so much chaos... I've lived through two big church splits (and several small ones) and lost almost all the friends involved both times; my Dad has started more businesses than I can name here... all starting with so much excitement and yet so much panic... I can remember a year when about every week he would come home and say it was all over, and this was the worst it's ever been, and we are going bankrupt. There was a crazy artist that I thought was my friend... and a football team... and several rock stars (not that I met any of them), and lots of surreal events that make me look back and think "Wow... that actually happened?" I started life as an only child... and now I have five siblings! One of them is from China. Go and figure. We were farmers... we were loggers, we were glass craftsmen. My Dad had a stroke and almost died... but he didn't. If we had a fortune for every business plan that culminated in one in the last five years, I would be rich. But we're not. If we had folded once for every time that we were sure it was over the magnitude of our crisis would rival that of the one on Wall Street right now (though I doubt the government would he bailing us out). But we haven't... which brings me back to the point of things not really changing... like I'm watching all of this from behind a screen... like the LCD screens that I spend so much of my time behind... and rant, and sympathize, and kill and flirt and die... but in the end I'm still just sitting here behind the screen and everything around me is really the same as it was before.
Now, there is a superstitious side of me that almost thinks I should stop this post, and delete it, because I'm somehow asking for things to change in a way that I won't like....

Then, it should also be a time to realize how much Grace God has had on me and my family, that disaster had been so close so many times, and has miraculously been averted... on the other had, it seems like crazy success has been so close... but it never happened either? I suppose that's another question I probably shouldn't ask, because I'm grateful for all the mercy that I've been shown... and all this is really nothing in the end compared to how much mercy I was shown in God not having eternal wrath on me for being such a neurotic sinner... and on all of us for falling. But then... I've always wondered... why did we have to fall in the first place? I used to torture myself over that a lot... (after I first read the Westminster Catechism in 8th grade especially). So maybe I'm just asking maybe I'm just getting back to the same questions that I asked five years ago when I was thirteen... it was on a theoretical level then... but now just applying it to reality. Why are things as good as they are? Why aren't they better?

So that's actually why I have had this blog titled the floating world... because of not knowing if I'm moving forward or backward or just in a state of equilibrium....

So, that was random... or abstract... but I think only to the extent that everything is abstract... and now I've made the full circle in my feeble mind... and everything from here will just be smaller circles, so I better sign off before it becomes [more] apparent that I'm just a bombastic idiot with no real solutions.

So... it is always interesting to look back at posts from the year before, or even earlier. Just not to often, as it usually precipitates this kind of nonsense. Perhaps next year I'll look back at this one... and perhaps I will have to change the name of this blog, because 'The floating world' in light of events that have transpired, will seem as inaccurate as it probably truly is. I hope and pray that they will be good changes... or that I'll be given the right frame of mind to be at peace with them at the time.

God Bless,