Monday, February 28, 2011

Old Days

Candle light is often perceived as romantic, and perhaps it is. But when the power goes out, as it did this weekend in Sheridan where I was, it reminded me of history and the movies I have seen when they had no electric lights. Even when there was power but I could not find a flashlight, I took a candle and lit it to walk by outside.

But when the power went out on Saturday it was all candle-light. I enjoyed it. It meant spending time without electronics (or at least the ability to recharge them after they drained). We spent the time (that would have been eating dinner and probably watching TV) playing a non-electronic game: Farkle, by candle-light.

It was to dim to read by because the candles were mostly "smell-good" candles not meant for light. But it took my imagination to the old days. We were in the middle of no where, without electricity. I imagined the metal candle holder with a handle to cary it around for light.

I also thought that, although it will probably never happen, one of my future homes I would like to be in a rural area. I would like it to be semi-rustic. It would have all the modern things such as electric lights, bathrooms, and all that, but also have it set up for candles. Candles last a long time, especially the ones that when they melt, re-harden after they cool. So when a lot of light is not necessary I could use candles instead and save energy. It was an interesting thought and an interesting weekend. Weekends are always too short!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Solving World Hunger One Small Step at a Time

I often complain about the food served in the cafeteria at my school because I don't like the taste or way it is prepared. But while I complain about the food I have in front of me, people all around the world suffer and even die because they do not have food. They would love to have even a small piece of what I have in front of me.

As I was checking my Yahoo! account a headline caught my attention, "Earth Could be 'Unrecognizable' by 2050." I had to check it out. When I did, I was surprised by my own reactions; yet I also felt a little motivation. It struck me that although I am one person, I can do a little bit to help fight the increase in world hunger.

According to the article, by 2050 there will be an estimated 9 billion people on the planet. That is almost 2.5 billion more people than now and we already have a shortage in food. I have heard that the shortage is even worse this year with droughts and flooding throughout the world. But in 2050 there will be more people and less food per person. Reading a little further I saw that it took about seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. That struck my curiosity.

I went to Google to find out the average weight of a cow that is raised for beef. I found a list of different cows and their weight at birth, final weight and average weight gain. The document on the Virginia Tech website listed 11 different types of beef cattle. I averaged their average weight gain per day together and came up with 2.7 pounds per day. Then I multiplied that by seven pounds of grain and came up with 18.8 pounds.

Then I thought, almost 19 pounds of grains used in one day for one cow. If redistributed from the original growing locations, that could feed more than 19 people in a day. One meal is better than no meal, not to mention, most people in these starving nations probably would not eat a pound of grain in one sitting.

The article stated as income goes up, the consumption of meat also goes up. Wages are expected to more than double and even quadruple in some places by 2050.

The article quotes Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund as saying, "We will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000." It later quotes him, "By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable."

So, all of that and my mind began spinning. What can we do? My goal is to consume less farm-raised meat. I will continue to eat my normal portions of wild game, and maybe fish that my family or I have caught, but I want to consume less meat products. I won't be a vegetarian, but by consuming less, maybe in a year or two it will have some effect, although it may be negligible. But if everyone cut back on their meat consumption, what kind of difference could we make?

Of course, my mind didn't stop thinking after that. It continued on thinking of things that I could do. Then I remembered 30 hour famine, an event by World Vision, in which I helped last year. During the event, the youth group and adult leaders went without food for 30 hours. During that time we participated in fund raising, food collection and raising awareness about world hunger. Then I got an email from the local chapter of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars asking if anyone had ideas for service projects. I responded with the 30 hour famine.

I think I lost an hour, if not more, on my homework because I was thinking about this. Other organizations such as Heifer International, UNICEF and many others also help in their own ways and often need volunteers. Before I graduate, I would really like to get involved and help some how. So, step one: eat less meat.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Diference in papers

I was just thinking how funny it was the papers I wrote my freshman year of college vs. the papers I write now.

Freshman year paper:

The Matrix, with its many computer generated images and action packed plot, is a highly entertaining work, but it goes deeper than mere entertainment. On the first level, the movie tells the story of Neo, as he escapes the world he once perceived as reality. If one looks carefully at some of the characterization and scenes and the movie they actually go much deeper, on into a second level. Choosing the pill to take, being disconnected from “the matrix” and the characterization of Agent Smith can all be viewed as religious metaphors.
When Neo first meets Morpheus he is given a choice to make. Morpheus holds out his hand and tells Neo he can choose the blue pill and go back to living like he was, in ignorance, or the red pill and learn what the real world is like, a world disconnected from “the matrix.” This choice is a lot like a choice people in our world have to make, to accept Christ or not. To take the blue pill would be like rejecting Christ, and returning to all of the old ways of living. Taking the red pill would be like accepting him and learning a complete new way of life.
In another scene, not long after Neo makes his choice to take the red pill, he is disconnected from the matrix. The scene shows him waking up in a chamber with many chords attached to his body. Around him were many other bodies in other chambers, and he realized that everything was true. Everyone who was in the world he had perceived were not really experiencing life, they were puppets of “the matrix.” In this scene Neo is detached and joins the group of people that have been disconnected. Again, similar to the choice humans have to make. After accepting Christ, one is no longer bound by this world. One is no longer a part of the flesh, being controlled by the things of the world. Those disconnected from “the matrix” were no longer living a life as puppets in an imaginary world.
Finally, the characterization of Agent Smith is another of the metaphors in the movie. Smith is the bad guy. Whenever those that have been freed, such as Neo, return into the program (“the matrix”), Smith is sure to show up to try to stop them from taking others out of the program. Smith can easily be compared to the devil in Christianity because they indeed play the same type of role. The devil will use many kinds of tricks and lies to try and keep a hold of people in the world so they do not make the right choice, the choice to be freed. He may come in any form, just like Smith. In many scenes, Agent Smith transforms a person still attached to “the matrix” into Smith clones. Both will go to extreme measures in order to keep people attached, whether to “the matrix” or to the world.
Whether the screen writers of The Matrix thought about these metaphors when writing scripts or not, these three aspects definitely have a religious metaphor clinging to them. Choosing the pill, being disconnected from “the matrix” and Agent Smith all display these characteristics. Though The Matrix is a highly entertaining movie because of graphics and its action packed plot, it takes one more step up in importance because of the deeper meaning.

And the now:

Dinero, Dinero, Dinero: A quien le culpa la violencia en Latinoamérica
Más gente han muertos en la guerra contra drogas desde 2005 que los soldados americanos luchando en el medio oriente en las guerras del Golfo Pérsico, Operación de Iraquí Libertad, y Operación de Libertad Duradera[i]. Los muertos son ciudadanos, extranjeros, las policías, y los militares. El gran problema de violencia en los países latinoamericanos vine de muchos problemas como la pobreza, las drogas, y la corrupción. La cuestión es, ¿Cómo pueden dejar de la violencia? Con mucha gente a culpar, los gobiernos de todos países tienen que hacer mucho para resolver el problema.
Dinero. La mayoría de gente quiere más. En un mundo donde el dinero está alabado, la pobreza es un gran problema. Mucha gente no le importa la manera, solo que ellos reciben más dinero. La criminalidad sigue después ideas como esos. Ladrones roban a la gente quien ha trabajado mucho para su dinero. Mucha gente vive su vida, trabajando muchas horas, aunque nunca reciben mucho dinero. Otros quien no pueden encontrar trabajo traen un problema nuevo: los narcotráficos y las drogas.
Los quien no pueden encontrar trabajo muchas veces trabajan para los narcos. Obviamente es ilegal y por eso la violencia sigue. Para traer las drogas a sus destinaciones, los narcos tienen que hacer miedo la gente, el gobierno, la policía y otros grupos de narco. Su contesta es la violencia. Asesinan a cualquier persona está entre su y “su” dinero y manera de vida. Como si la situación ya no había suficiente, muchos del miembros deben ser luchando contra el problema.
Algunos de la policía y el gobierno también toman parte en la violencia. Muchas veces ellos también, solo de miedo o a veces de corrupción, ayudan a los narcos. En un ejemplo, un grupo le culpan la policía de ayudando otro grupo[ii]. Si no ayudan los narcos, muchas veces no intentan a quitar de la violencia de los narcos.   
Si quieran resolver los problemas de violencia en los países latinoamericanos, primero tienen que resolver los problemas de la pobreza, las drogas y la corrupción. Después de resolverlos, una participación global es necesaria. Con un mercado de drogas grande en Los Estados Unidos, no van a dejar del hecho de drogas. Hay mucho dinero en el mercado porque los precios son muy altos. Un paso muy importante es para reducir la demanda para las drogas. Si no habría demanda, no habría una fuente. Sin los narcos la violencia bajará. Pero también para bajar el problema, el gobierno necesita hacer algo para crear trabajos para los ciudadanos y crecer la economía. Con una economía más fuerte, habría más de trabajos y menos de la pobreza. Entonces no es necesario para trabajar para los narcos. Si los países no resuelven los problemas de la pobreza, los narcos y la corrupción, no van a resolver la violencia.

[ii] Página 9 de “CRS Report for Congress.”

The difference is an entire language! There are still some English paper's I write in my Journalism classes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This weekend was amazing! We missed several people this year, but many new people came. The bonfire had been planned for New Years Eve but was canceled because of rain. We rescheduled for this past weekend and had a lot of fun.
(Left to right: [ Yi Chen (squatted), Ashley Handcock, Derrick Brockman, Duane Johnson, Asuka Morimoto, CG]

We left campus around 1:30 on Saturday and headed to Sheridan. Once we arrived we unloaded the cars into the spare bedroom. In the process of getting the firewood to the park area, several of the non-drivers got to drive my mom's fourwheeler which is a lot like a car. Later we went on a tour of the property, before returning to the fire for dinner and s'mores.
Dusty holding a s'more

After a nice time around the fire, and a few marshmallow fights later, we went inside for a night of karaoke.
(From left to right: CG, Ashley Handcock, Dusty Johnson (green), Derrick Brockman, Yi Chen (Red) and Mizuki Ueno open up the Karaoke with Lady Gaga's Poker Face.)
Later we all made a recording of Hallelujah (the one from Shrek).

We had an amazing break from school work. We returned to Jonesboro Sunday evening and had dinner at the Hibachi Grill.

Thank you to my mom for letting me use her photos in the blog. I was a bad journalist and forgot my camera!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Well, I may get in trouble for writing this blog if SHE finds it. I guess I really embarassed someone today but I am happy and I think she is too.

It has been building for a while. I have liked her for a lot longer than she has liked me but we both like each other. We tried to be just friends but it didn't work. Finally I had to have the talk that lead to the best Valentines Day ever!

I asked her if she wanted to try actually dating; afterall, we were basically dating without calling it that anyway. Most people already thought we were dating.

So I took her and let her choose a gift. I had the idea of letter her choose the chocolates she liked best, but instead she chose a bear. And then I told her to go do her shopping while I got a surprise card. After that we went to the bank and finally we went to the local park and took a walk around the lake.

Then to finish the day we went to the cafeteria (this was the one day it was worth paying to get in) and to the library. It was probably one of the best school days of the year!

I look forward to being able to call her by girlfriend and spending time with her. With it being in the public and not "hidden" I really hope not only does it help her and I, but some of my friendships that have been hurting lately. Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Again, thanks to my mom for the photos.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Two dislikes equals one like?

One of the perks of living in Collegiate over the traditional dorms is the kitchen. This semester I only get 80 meals in the cafeteria. I made that decision at the end of last year. I pay about $1,500 less this semester than last. And I am not missing much other than socializing.

The food in the cafeteria was usually pretty bad. Not to mention they would serve the same thing over and over week to week. I can do that on my own, in my own room, and make it taste better. So I decided to sacrifice a little social time (which means I see a lot less of many of my friends this year unfortunately), and eat in the cafeteria for dinner on Monday through Friday. So far it has worked well. I cook on the weekends and have leftovers during the week, or make a sandwich for lunch. Every now and then I skip a day's meal in the cafeteria and it allows me to go on the weekend or for lunch or something. I also half wonder if there is a correlation between me not having nearly the stress and not having the meal plan? It seems I waste a little less time.

Tonight I used my time to try something new. I find it funny how I can mix two things I do not like and make something I do like. For example, I do not like peanut butter. I do not like apples. But when I combine the two it makes for a healthy snack that actually tastes pretty good. Tonight I tried peanut butter and celery. (I don't like celery.) After the first couple of chews it tasted pretty good. Then of course, I am not a big fan of peas, onions or carrots either but I made vegetable soup (no meat).

The broth of the soup was onion soup. Then the rest of the ingredients were carrots, green beans, peas, corn, celery and tomatoes. I like green beans, tomatoes and corn. I actually liked the soup too.I had four friends to help me eat it tonight and everyone agreed it was good. I still have left-overs and probably enough that if I am the only one eating it, I would have lunch and dinner for the next week and a half.