Friday, January 29, 2010

Snow & Ashes

came back from my first class today and found a the ominous message from my Mom on facebook: "House On Fire! Call home!". I tried and the call didn't go through... you can imagine I felt just great after that. I eventually got a hold of them though, and there was indeed a house on fire, fortunately not the one we live in, but the Inn (as we affectionately called the old building up the street). It's a property that my Dad bought about ten years ago when the last neighbors moved out. He first used it as an office, then as a guest house, then a crazy artist lived there, and then some Church friends lived there for a year, and then the daughter of another friend and her family. Most recently it had been vacant until my Dad started trying to rent his office in Mansfield out and moved all his office stuff back into it. I wasn't there, so rather than tell the story second hand, I'll just refer you to my sisters blog.

There were some roomers this morning of a major winter storm to the North, but nobody seemed to think it would hit this far down the state. Several hours about it started snowing though, and to everyone's amazement kept snowing. At first people just stood around the dorms watching and throwing snowballs at eachother, but after the first two or three inches fell, most of the group moved out toward the soccer fields and started sledding down the steep banks on trays from the cafeteria.

I've talked to a couple people who are seniors now, and they say this is the first time they've ever seen anything like this. I sure didn't expect to see it... not in Tennessee.

The flowers weren't expecting this I'm afraid.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

So There!

In the past week I have advanced academically from freshman to junior. How did this happen? Well, I was accepted to Bryan so late that I didn't pursue having my transcripts beyond the first one from Mansfield sent. Thus, I arrived on campus before most of my credits did and spent the first week being a freshman with only 24 credits. Soon my 2nd transcript from Mansfield arrived though, giving me my 12 credits from last semester. This coincided with the arrival of my 12 AP History credits from high school, pushing me up to a Sophomore. Today, my official transcript from Saints Bible Institute was processed with 18 more credits, making me, at least by most conventions, a Junior. So there. How do you like me now?

I'm sorry, that sounded terrible, but I just couldn't resist. I wanted to say it on twitter, but I restrained myself to saying it here where I can at least apologize afterwords. I'm sorry.

Classes are going well so far. There's only one that I hate, and there are three or four that I'm enjoying.

I've been thinking a lot about the State Department lately. I had never really considered what it even was before, but then, the other day, I started wondering who works in the dozens of embassies that our country has all over the world. It's the State Department. And I thought that that would be a really cool thing to work for... doing something for the government overseas, but not in the military.

I've been researching it online, and of course, where they want people these days is in the Middle-East... but I've always been interested in that... even if it is one of the 'less safe' parts of the world. So I would really like to find someway to get some experience with Arab culture... and one of the languages... Arabic or Farsi.

That's all just thought at this point of course... but it's something I may look at more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seeing Myself In an Old Cigarette Salesman's Critique of the World

A few weeks ago I asked if things were worth doing if your only reason for doing them was that you were afraid of not doing anything. I haven't really answered the question, but apparently I'm not the only one dealing with it:

The old man looked as if he had noticed the sudden stop and understood it; but he did not start discussing it; he said, instead, "I don't like what's happened to people, Miss Taggart."
"I don't know. But I've watched them here for twenty years and I've seen the change. They used to rush through here, and it was wonderful to watch, it was the hurry of men who knew where they were going and were eager to get there. Now they're just hurrying because they are afraid. It's not a purpose that drives them, it's fear. They're not going anywhere, they're escaping. And I don't think they know what it is that they want to escape."

- from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, page 65.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Topography Shrugged

Today is Saturday, and since I didn't have much else to do (besides reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which I spent much of the morning + the last 45 minutes doing) I decided to go out and take some pictures around campus. Here is Latimer Center, the building that houses that cafeteria and bookstore among other things:

Walking on one of the little backroads that leads up the hill from Dayton:

It's fun living in a new state, because all the plants are different. Here there is ivy all over the place. Besides that and the fact that their are different tree species, it all looks very much like home. The actual topography of the hills is almost identical to Northern Pennsylvania. I guess it is all really the same mountain range though technically.

Last night I went to a Party at the home of Dr. Clauson, my political science and international relations professor. I ended up leaving early as people weren't doing much but playing cards, but it was cool to go somewhere off of campus.

Today I found out that a friend of mine from back home, Eden, is coming to visit Bryan in a little while, which is really cool.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Darn MLK Day

Shortly after my last post in which I talked about taking someone who was sick to the hospital, I myself became quite ill. It was last Sunday that it started. I woke up feeling less than good. However, I'd promised my friend Abram I would go to church with him in Chattanooga, and so I did. It was a beautiful building, high up on top of a steep, boulder strewn mountain overlooking the city (although that morning it was rainy and thus not overlooking anything but fog). The church itself was one of the most imposingly beautiful buildings I've ever been in (this side of the Atlantic at least). It was a sprawling structure all made of thick stone with beautiful landscaping and a carved oak interior. It was apparently a rather affluent community. I guess could be for this reason that it all felt strangely alien me. Or maybe the fact that it has been so many years since I actually went to a church-church.

Anyhow, by that night I had a fever and chills and just felt crummy all the way around. My roommate had left for the weekend, which was probably a good thing for both of us, so I just slept for a long time... well into the morning of MLK day.

I woke up to find that everyone had left for the 'Bryan College MLK Community Service Day'... which I had not signed up for as I had just arrived. Seeing as I was sick, I didn't really care because I probably couldn't have gone anyhow. What did bother me was the fact that the cafeteria was not serving breakfast. I went back to my dorm and bought a poptart from the vending machine. A few hours later, I found out that the caf was not open for lunch either.... so I ended up going 24 hours on only a poptart and a rice crispy bar. At one point I tried walking down into Dayton, but I realized that the way I had gone I would probably have to cross a freeway, and I was still feeling pretty weak, so I just went back to my dorm again.

So the week started a little bit rough. It got better though. On Tuesday my books arrived, which was a relief. Yesterday I took a challenge test to try and get out of being forced to tak remedial math for the second time in my college career. It was so stressful that I went out and ran four miles immediately afterword... the farthest I've gone since summer. And today, I got word that I passed the test, and will not be forced to endure two hours a week of torture + the $125 text book. And I got into a class with Palmer, in which I will do very little but watch interesting movies. So that's all almost makes up for spending Martin Luther King day in a state of sickness and malnutrition.... which really doesn't even qualify as either compared to what people are going through in Haiti right now.

I felt compelled last night to get in touch with Ange, a friend of mine from Mansfield. While taking a course few semesters ago called Medicine In Society in which we read Mountains Beyond Mountains, a book about Paul Farmers humanitarian work in Haiti, I learned that Ange was in fact Haitian, and her family had emigrated relatively recently. I hadn't spoken with her since sometime last semester, but I just felt like I should ask how her family was doing. She replied that while they were mostly alive, they were reduced to living on the streets, and some people on her Mom's side were unaccounted for completely. So, along with the Haiti in general, if you could pray for Ange's family specifically it would be great.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dropping Like Flies

Last night I had a really, really strange experience.

It was open dorm night, and Cami had invited a number of people over to the 4th floor lounge in Robertson to watch a movie. Afterwords, we sat around talking, and Bryan and Lauren and Ryan and I ended up reminiscing about Italy. Ryan had just had the bug that had been going around campus, and didn't look all that great. The guy sitting next to me also remarked on how he looked, and said he almost wished he would just get it so that he could stop worrying about it. And this is why I am always careful what I wish for.

After about twenty minutes of talking, some people, including the guy I was next to, got up and took the elevator downstairs to leave. About two minutes after that, a girl came running back up the stairs and said that as they were getting out of the elevator, the guy had just collapsed and gone unconscious. We all ran down the stairs, and sure enough, he was lying on his side, with a significant amount of blood splattered on the floor around his head.

Fortunately, my friend Bryan who I traveled in Italy with was there, and took control of the situation, getting the guy a pillow and making sure he didn't try to roll over and calling his Dad, who's a doctor, while some of the girls called 911. The strangeness was only beginning though.

As we waited for the ambulance to arrive, another guy went to the front door to make sure the paramedics knew where to come in. All of a sudden, he just fell over backwards, half in the door and half outside and didn't move. We carefully pulled him inside, and put a blanket on him too. At this point we decided that everyone should probably sit down in order to avoid getting hurt if they suddenly inexplicably passed out (that sounds kind of obsessive as I write it now, but at the time it seemed like the only logical thing to do, and everyone did).

It seemed almost like something from a horror movies or something... and flue going around on a college campus, and suddenly it turns into something worse and in the middle of the night people start falling over and going unconscious.... Anyhow, when the medics arrived, the girls thought that Bryan should follow them to the hospital in case the guy who got injured needed something. Bryan agreed, but he asked me to come with him, because he was feeling a little weird (not to mention we were all still paranoid that we might be the next person to go down).

It was kind of funny, because Bryan and I had been planning on hanging out some time, but, as I told him later, I wasn't planning on doing it in these circumstances! We ended up waiting in the ER for an hour or two until two of the guys friends got there. So we were able to catch up with some of what had happened in our lives since Italy, even if it was a somewhat strange situation.

As of when we left, it sounded like the guys injury wasn't that bad, and they had both just coincidentally fainted because they had the stomach bug.

So that was an interesting evening.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The First Week

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. It wasn't until this afternoon that the IT department was able to get my computer online. It seems there was some fluke in how my account was set up after I paid my initial deposit (only last Saturday) and it took a number of meetings with them to get the problem figured out.

The couple days on campus were a little rough. There was so much stuff that needed to be set up with financial aid and getting into classes, plus none of my friends from SBI had arrived on campus yet, and I was going through internet withdrawal. Things have steadily improved since then. I went out to eat with Ryan and Lauren and a few of their friends the first night they arrived at a really great Mexican restaurant. Other than that I've been eating at the cafeteria, which has actually been pretty good for the most part.

Classes started this Wednesday, and all of them have gone pretty well. I'm really enjoying one called International Relations, which is a political science class.

I've also met a number of the professors that I had in Italy, including Palmer, who invited me out for coffee sometime after I'm settled in.

It was quite cold the day we arrived, which was a little disappointing, but now it must be up in the fifties at least, and sunny, which is great. I'll be able to start running again much sooner here.

One of the best things so far has definitely been the Engage conference that the school put on. The speaker was Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making. He was one of the most dynamic speakers I've ever heard (not to mention a great musician).

So things are going well, and now that I have internet access, they should be much easier.

All for now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


After hearing that I was accepted to Bryan College ten minutes after 5 o'clock the Friday before classes started, I had a quick discussion with my parents, and we decided we would do it.

I hardly had a chance to say goodbye to anyone except my Grandma and Grandpa Wilber, and my Papa T, who came up to wish me luck the day before I left. Thus, I'm probably going to have some explaining to do to friends and other family over the next couple weeks.

All my friends at Bryan that I've called or fbooked so far are really happy though, and surprised, as I had told them that I doubted it would work out this semester.

We decided that my parents would drive me down this time, and I would attempt to go the first semester hear without a car, which could be interesting, but I think it should work out.

Tonight we are in Knoxville, the capital of Tennessee. It seems like a cool city, if almost completely empty tonight.

Tomorrow we are leaving around six to arrive in Dayton at eight to start getting things started at Bryan.

So that's all for now.

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Horizons

My Dad and several contractors spent most of the day today installing the Verner, a biomass furnace, in our garage. This was a messy endeavor, and to make matters worse, my room sits directly above the garage, and was filled with smoke from the burning grain as they tested it that carried an odd aroma that several people were only able to compare to weed. So basically, myself, my room, and most everything that I own now smells like it... which could be awkward.

More importantly though, while I my Dad was preoccupied with the installation, I ended up grilling chicken outside for supper. After turning it once or twice, I stepped in out of the cold and snow and ended up checking my facebook on my itouch. What I saw almost knocked me over. There was a wall post from an admissions counselor at Bryan College congratulating me on my acceptance!

Now, yes, I had applied, and really wanted to get in. However, after several delays, some due to procrastination, and others completely beyond my control, I had given up hope of getting in this semester. Classes start next week! But there it was. I dashed across the driveway to my smoke laden room and checked my email, and there it was: and acceptance letter! Aside from telling me that I was accepted, Christopher, my admissions counselor told me just to show up there at 8:00am this Monday morning and we would get all the details figured out.

Now, the next couple days are bound to be a bit of an adventure, mainly considering that there are 700 some miles of space between me and Monday morning in Dayton TN. I'm exited though. More exited that I've been about anything in a while really, and really thankful that it worked out, even if it was as late as it possibly could have been. I have had many people tell me that God does things that way.... Now I always personally hoped that it wouldn't be that way for me, but it's still good. So yeah... going to Tennessee.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

To Fear Nothing Is Not As Great As It Sounds

Is something worth doing if the only reason you're doing it is that you're afraid of doing nothing?

That is the question I have been pondering lately. I've actually been asking it for the last few years, but now is one of those times when it ceases to be theoretical and becomes a choice.

I'm not going to go into specifics, but it is a questions that has been weighing rather heavily on me, and if you have any thoughts, answers, alternative answers, or even non-answers, please let me know in a comment. :)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Unimaginable Wealth, Or Your Lawn Could Catch On Fire For Ever

As I mentioned in a number of earlier posts, gas wells have been popping up around here faster than I can keep track of any more. It seems like I can't go for a drive without seeing a new one, and it seldom really gets dark anymore because of the flashing plumes of flame that come out when they burn off excess gasses in the drilling process.

It's not much of a surprise since this summer our whole little area was practically swarmed with trucks, testing crews, and helicopters. I have to say we were more than a little exited when we saw all of it start to happen. We have been watching the approach of the drilling since it started up in New York a couple years ago. My Dad was banking on it happening a long time before most people around here even new it was a possibility. Having a well on your land is often like winning the lottery. We know people with as little as ten acres with gas well who now make around $18,000... a month.

Of course, a well doesn't always turn out. Sometimes it will be dry. Other times it will pollute the ground water, and you won't be able to drink it anymore (this happened to some other people we know). Or, in the worst case scenario, it could trigger a subterranean fire that would in the words of my Uncle Tom: "Set your lawn on fire for ever."

Well, for better or worse, Fortuna, the drilling company that we lease our land to just notified my grandparents this morning that they intend to drill. Not just one, and possibly as many as eight wells right in the middle of my Grandparent's, my Uncle, and our land.

So, everyone is extremely, if guardedly exited. It's really know secret that we have been hovering on the edge of financial disaster for the last few years, and it has only gotten worse since my Dad got sick and the recession caused our business to all but fail. So maybe this is the big break that we have been praying for.
We could (could) be rich next year... or our lawn could catch on fire for a hundred years. Either way, I can't wait for them to start drilling. I hear a lot of people complain about how loud and disruptive the process is. Not this guy. Loud noises 24/7. Bright florescent lights in the middle of the night. Bring it on!

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Tundra

It's been ridiculously cold the last few days. We're talking single digits, and negative with the wind chill. My little sisters have been enjoying it though as you can see.

I believe that I already blogged about getting my iPod Touch, but I've been using it a lot lately. I have finally discovered the wonderful world of Apps, and have downloaded several already. The games are amazing. Between the touch screen and the accelerometer you can all but control the game without even thinking about it.

One of the main reasons I have been using it more is because I finally got this awesome protective case. I bought it, not because it's Skull Candy, but because it was the only thing at target that had a good screen protector (which is important to me). Target may be more expensive than Walmart, but it is the only place that I ever end up paying less than the price on the shelf. My case said that it was 29.99, but they only charged me 25.99. That's nothing though compared to a couple years ago when I bought my sister a case for her iPod. It was going to be twenty something, but they only charged $4!

One unexpected benefit of the touch is that it has me spending at least slightly less time in front of the computer. Since it can browse the internet over our network, I've ended up using it to keep up with twitter and facebook and check the news, and all the menial repetative stuff that I normally would have to use my computer for. So that's good.

Friday, January 01, 2010

2010 - Hooray! Now On To The 20's

Above is pictured last night's New Years Eve celebration at our house with long time friends, the Spanos. It was a good time.

I can remember back in the 90's thinking: "Wow, someday it's going to be the year 2000." A New Millennium (yes-yes, it really was 2001). Now we are a whole decade in! Hard to believe! I don't know if it really feels like ten years. But then, I haven't lived through too many periods of ten years to really be an authority on the subject. Maybe it feels like longer.

What are we going to call this decade? We still haven't reached a consensus on what to call this past decade yet! I have no idea for that one, but this one I think should be the tweens, for 'twenty' and 'teen'. I have to tell you though, I'm psyched about the next decade ten years from now. It will be the roaring 20's again! If I'm alive and Western civilzation persists, I am totally throwing a Great Gatsby themed party, replete with 20's garb, decor, and lot's of bootlegged cocktail drinks! And you are invited! Yes. You, right there in front of the computer screen.

For now though, we shall have to survive the tweens. And if you think of all the crazy stuff that happened in the last decade, I'm fairly confident that it won't be boring.

Happy New Year!