Friday, December 19, 2008


As of about 12:20 PM, my Fall 2008 Semester is over! I took my last final exam (Biochemistry) and all is well! I have sold back all but two of my books (interested parties should search for an Animal Behavior book and a History of American Popular Music book with CDs). I am currently in the process of packing up my stuff and heading home. Yay!

Since I know how much everyone misses me when I am home, I will make every attempt to give a little update every few days. I will be working every day until Christmas starting tomorrow, and will be taking a much-needed vacation to visit my dear family in Atlanta starting the 26th.

In case you are one of those dear family members to which I am referring, I'll see you soon!

To everyone else, who may still be dear friends and family members, I'll see you in blog world!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Let it be known to all blog buddies out there that a very important person has a birthday today! I am writing this post as a way of sharing my warmest wishes, since I did not send a gift or a card, or make a personal visit or phone call. (Some might call me a cheap you-know-what, but that's just fine.)

At any rate, Happy Birthday Grandpa! May your day be filled with every joy and blessing that you desire, and may you have many, many more to come!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Magnificat anima mea Dominum

Here's some more Latin for you!

This past Monday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holiday where the Church recognizes that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was born without the stain of original sin. I have to say it is my favorite Mary holiday, but then I might be a little bit biased. The church I was raised in is called Immaculate Conception, and that holiday is of course always a big deal over there.

A lot of people, mostly non-Catholics, are confused about the term "immaculate conception." I can admit that as a child I was also confused, but I have seen the light! Many people still believe (incorrectly) that the Immaculate Conception is the belief that Jesus was born to a virgin. That belief is in fact called the "virgin birth," which is also a dogma of the Church. So, the phrase "it must have been an immaculate conception" that is thrown around regarding unexpected pregnancies is totally false.

The Church proclaimed the Immaculate Conception as dogma in 1854, though this was definitely not the first time people believed in this. (Consequently, the first Catholic church in Knoxville came about just a few years later. Guess what it was called???) Until that time, people could believe what they wanted regarding the IC, only in 1854 it was established as a universal truth within the Church. To paraphrase something I have read, at this time the Church decided that in order for Mary to become the Mother of God, she had to be free from sin from the very moment of her own conception. This is not merely something that the Church came up with, but something that had been passed down for centuries through Tradition. Not to mention the allusions to this very fact that are found in Scripture. (Sorry that I don't have specific Scriptures to quote, for all you scholars out there. But believe me, they do exist!)

I have always felt a special devotion to the Blessed Mother in my own life. Don't get me wrong; I know very well that nothing can replace the worship and honor given to God the Father and God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. The Church clearly distinguishes honor given to God and honor given to Mary and the saints. To briefly go over this, there are three Latin terms for honor in the Church: latria, which is defined as worship (God only); dulia, which is honor for the saints; and hyperdulia, which is honor for Mary. As you can see, Mary is given the hyper- prefix, meaning she is given the greatest honor out of all the saints. God is still the only One that can be worshipped.

Back to my own life, since grade school I have felt a special connection to Mary. Perhaps this was due to the devotion a certain teacher of mine had for Mary. My fifth grade teacher was Sister Jolita (yes, a real religious sister), so of course her life was dedicated to God and living a life devoted to our Blessed Mother. To only further my own faith, my high school principal, Dr. Montgomery, had a very special devotion to Mary as well. Though she was not a member of the religious life, she often prayed for Mary's intercession in school events or world events, and that was always a comfort to me. Isn't it great to have a comforting motherly figure watching out for you? That is perhaps the greatest reason for a devotion to Mary. Now granted that God is both Father and Mother of us all, but putting a real live person as a mediator between us and God is always a good thing!

At any rate, that's really all I wanted to say about this subject. Oh wait, I didn't mention the meaning of the title! This line is taken from Luke 1:46 (yesss! Scripture citation!) from the Canticle of Mary commonly known as the Magnificat: "My soul proclaims the greatest of the Lord." Magnificat anima mea Dominum literally means "my soul magnifies the Lord." So there you have it! Your Latin and ecclesiastical lesson for the day!

Mary, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, pray for us...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Will Give Thanks, for I Am Thankful

This is getting here a little late, but Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there! I had a great time at home with friends and family for my holiday, and I hope everyone was able to enjoy that time with someone, food or no food.

When I pray at night, I always list some things that I am thankful for, just as a way to make my prayers not all about me me me and what I want/need. Most of the time these things are somewhat trivial, like doing well on a test, or having a nice day weather-wise, or just making it through a day of classes. However, I always try to be thankful for something in the "bigger picture." That's why today I wanted to blog about some of those big things that I am truly thankful for, especially now during Thanksgiving and the days leading up to Christmas.

I am thankful for the gift of life, and all it has to offer.

I am thankful for the gift of friends and family. They love me unconditionally and support me in whatever I do, even if they don't always agree with me. I show them love, and they show it right back to me, and that's just a great thing.

I am thankful for the gift of living in this great country. I could not imagine living anywhere else, and I am truly thankful for all the freedoms I enjoy here. I am especially thankful for everyone living and dead that have allowed me those freedoms.

I am thankful for the gift of a good education. I know that a college education will prepare me for the working world and ensure that I can be successful in life. I know that so many do not have this opportunity, and I am thankful that I was able to earn that education.

I am thankful for the gift of a comfortable place to live. Whether here at school or at home, I can be safe from the elements both in the summer heat and in the winter cold. I know that so many do not have that luxury, and I know how privileged I am in that regard.

Obviously there is an infinite number of things for which I am thankful, but that would take forever to list and explain them all. A statement I say every night in my prayers pretty much sums it all up though:

I thank you God for a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my belly, and love in my heart.

I pray that I will continue to be blessed with all these good things in my life. Given that I am also so very thankful to have all you blog buddies out there reading and commenting, I pray that you too will be blessed with every good thing you could ever need.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cogito ergo sum

Sorry, Uncle Tim, I had to put Descartes before the horse :-D

As I sit here about to start my eight-page paper for Philosophy class, many thoughts are going through my mind. Mostly those thoughts are about Rene Descartes... Hmm, could that be because that's one of the people that will be written into my paper??? Could be.

At any rate, anyone who has had a Philosophy class is probably familiar with the quote "Cogito ergo sum." My professor calls it a "cocktail party quote," since it is one of those things you can say at a party to impress people with your infinite knowledge of things (or so he thinks). I am not so convinced that I could use that at a party, but I digress.

For anyone who is not familiar with that quote in Latin, you are probably familiar with it in English: "I think, therefore, I am." Descartes is proving that we exist by the fact that we can think. We are immaterial thinking things; that which we believe makes us human (the human body) actually has very little to do with who we are. The mind is separate from the body, and we merely take the form of a body to be a part of the material world. This intellect separates us from the rocks, the plants, and the animals, since they only have material bodies and no mind/intellect. Descartes would say that therefore, we have dominion over all other things, paraphrasing Genesis: "to be masters and possessors of nature." Very powerful stuff, if you ask me, though I do not agree with it all.

From the way I have learned in many a Theology class, both here and in the past, nature was not created merely for our own use. Yes, I do believe that humans were made in God's image and likeness, and that we are the superior beings due to the intellect we have, but that doesn't mean everything in nature is ours to control. The Bible suggests that we have responsibility for the Earth, not necessarily that we have free reign over everything. Descartes would have us believe that all things were created simply for our sake, and not for those things in and of themselves. For example, the cow was made to give us food and milk, not to be a cow. The tree was made to give us shade and furniture from it's wood, not to grow and live as a tree. Et cetera, et cetera...

Why don't I believe in all of this? Let's just say I can't believe in a God that would create things just for us to exploit them. Yes, I enjoy eating meat and plants, and burning those fossil fuels in my car, and otherwise using nature to continue my life. However, not recognizing that those things that I am using were precious and good before I used them is just plain wrong. In that way, I tend to agree more with St. Thomas Aquinas, who coincidentally is also going to be in my paper. He would have us say that something is good before we use it for our own good. For example, "This is an oak tree, and it is good. Now I will make a table out of it." Or, "This is a cow, and it is good. Now I will make hamburgers out of it."

I think, therefore I am, disagreeing with Descartes on a couple things. He has a lot of good points that I would agree with, but this one just did not sit well with me. What do all the other masters and possessors out there think?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aunt Paulette

The beginning of November is always a special time in the Church. The first is All Saints' Day, which celebrates all men and women who are officially declared to be in heaven by the Church. The second is All Souls' Day, which celebrates the men and women who, though not officially declared saints, have gone before us into everlasting life. This includes those souls already in Heaven, those in purgatory, and even also we the living. It is, after all, ALL Souls' Day.

November is also the month that we remember in a special way those that have left our mortal realm in the last year. Naturally when I reflected on this, my mind shifted to Aunt Paulette. I made a point to write her name in the special book in the Chapel here at Xavier. I have been thinking about her a lot lately, and those thoughts have been both sad and comforting at the same time. Since I really didn't have a chance to reflect on her and her impact on my life in blog form, I decided this was as good a time as any to do so.

The first time I can actually recall meeting her (take into account that this is the only meeting I REMEMBER) was at my cousin Kelly's wedding about five or six years ago. We all made the trip to Jacksonville for this occasion, and it was going to be interesting to finally meet all of my Grandpa's brothers and sisters, who unbeknownst to me, I had probably already met. At any rate, Aunt Paulette instantly made an impact on me. I am not just saying that just to prove my point that I miss her, but because I can actually remember what the first thing she said to me was. Here is an exerpt of our conversation, more or less, as I remember it:

AP: (already in a conversation about being nice)
SM: Hi, I am Sean, Marcel's grandson.
AP: Well, are you nice, too?
SM: (uneasy) Umm, yes?
AP: Well, good, I'll get along well with you then.

Obviously you can tell that I wasn't ready for such a question, but we got over that awkward introduction. Later on it came out how I was the one that got left behind at Grandpa Beauregard's birthday party when I was three. Once that came out, Aunt Paulette knew exactly who I was. Unfortunately, I will always be infamously remembered that way by my extended family. It was a topic of humor during the course of the visit, and I have to say now it is quite funny to me as well. Of course, at the age of three, it was a horrific experience, and I can still remember it quite vividly. Well, that's a topic for another blog.

After that summer of getting to know her through discussion and games (and all of my grandfather's siblings for that matter), I was very intrigued and wanted to keep in touch with her. Unfortunately that only really started happening two or three years later when I got introduced to the blogging world. And as you know, once I started blogging, I got hooked on blogs in general. I was introduced to so many family members that I never even knew I had. It was truly refreshing to know that there were people out there that had interesting blogs, and who were genuinely interested in what I had to say.

Aunt Paulette was something else when it came to the blogging world. Not only did she post interesting things to her own blog, but she was a diligent commenter on everyone's blogs. This included mine. I could always count on her to post something on each and every one of my posts, or at least a majority of them. Even if she didn't agree with what I said, or even if the content was boring, she made a point to comment. I always enjoyed reading her comments. She posted praise, advice, information, personal anecdotes, jokes, and shared in my joy if I had something good to report. I was very glad I had found her through blogging.

On top of her comments, I thoroughly enjoyed reading her own blog. I went all the way back to the beginning of her blog (about 4-5 years prior to now) when I started reading blogs, and she was an excellent writer. I was amazed at what an awesome memory she had, being able to recall people's names and events from sixty years ago. What a woman! Not only did she remember what happened, but she remembered specific details, and could then use her storytelling skills to set the scene for all the rest of us. I especially liked her retrospective posts on her own childhood, and the posts on all her siblings as children (especially the ones about my own grandfather). I could not get enough of her blog, and I started checking it every day for new pearls of wisdom.

Unfortunately, my new-found blogging relationship did not last long enough. That saddens me to an extent, knowing that I won't suddenly find a new comment from paulettevanh. BUT, I know that she continues to live on through her family, and she will always be present on cyberspace. I still go to her blog to get to everyone else's; come on, she did have the most comprehensive list ever. Going to that blog every day, I start to think about those fond memories, and how thankful I was to get to know her. I do truly miss her, but I do hope to see her again sometime. God willing that won't be anytime soon, and I will live a long, healthy life in which I remember everything so vividly as she did.

Aunt Paulette, pray for us...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Who I Am

As per the request of some readers, and due to my overwhelming need to try to please everyone, I decided to write a post to tell you all who I am and what I believe. I know that no one agrees on everything, but this is what I believe, and I hope everyone can respect my decisions. Contrary to popular belief, young people do come about their own decisions without coercion of others, and that is the case with me. I don't believe in something just because that's what I am told to do; I weigh things very carefully and make decisions that best represent who I am and what I feel is right.

I am a Catholic.
I think this is one of the most important "I am" statements that I can make. I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, and I could not imagine living with any other faith tradition. Yes, I guess you could say I was more or less "forced" into believing these things as a child, but I have made my commitment to the Church by myself. It was I that chose to be confirmed as a senior in high school, and that is a decision I stand behind whole-heartedly. I love all the good things the Church stands for, and I defend her in her stances on things. I chose to attend a Jesuit Catholic college, not because someone told me to, but because that is what I wanted. I choose to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day not because someone tells me to, but because I want to. I believe that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, and that all that I am and do reflects Him in my words and actions. I believe in an everlasting reward in Heaven that hopefully I will achieve someday. I believe that all people are born with a common goodness and decency, only that we are corrupted by the sin and destruction of this world. That's not to say the whole world is corrupt; there is so much beauty in creation and God reveals Himself/Herself through all that we can see (and for that matter, things we can't see). I believe that all faiths are good ways of achieving the same end. I know that the Catholic faith is the right way for me, but I would not take away from any other faith and say it is less Godly than mine. Faith is that relationship with God; religion is only a way of expressing that faith in a structured environment. I believe in the equality of all people: rich or poor, old or young, black or white, gay or straight, educated or uneducated. These are my beliefs and who I am, and I stand behind that.

I am a Democrat.
Given the recent election, I think it is also important to make this statement. If you have looked in the Blogger world lately, you will probably see that quite a few of my relatives are Conservatives. Obviously, then, I did not choose to be a Democrat because someone told me to. In the same way, I did not choose to be a Democrat just to spite them; that's not who I am at all. I have always believed in certain things, but only in the last few years have determined that many of my views seem to fit in nicely with the Democrat way of thinking. However, that is not to say I don't hold some Conservative values and beliefs, only that I choose to align myself more with Democrats than I do with Republicans. First of all, I believe in our right to choose our own religion, and not to be a country of only Christians. I choose to be a Catholic, but that does not mean everyone else must make the same choice as I made. Our Constitution allows us to practice whatever religion we want, even if that entails not practicing one at all. I can respect any choice of religion, whether it be Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, any other organized religion, or even the choice of "no religion." I believe in a strong federal government that takes care of its citizens and looks out for their welfare. I believe that we need federal programs to help people find jobs, to help people get out of tough situations, to help people raise their families, to keep us safe at home and abroad, to help us keep our freedoms that we enjoy. That being said, I believe that these programs are under-supervised and under-regulated. People can easily take advantage of the system, and there should be more oversight in these avenues. There are many other things that I believe that correspond with the Democrat way, but I will leave you with just those few for now. These are my beliefs and who I am, and I stand behind that.

I am pro-life.
Some might say that a pro-life stance is contrary to the ways of a Democrat. I say that they are wrong. Being pr0-life encompasses much more than just the issue of abortion. Yes, maybe I disagree with my party on abortion rights, but in the same way, I am not sure I believe that the government should have a say in whether or not someone chooses to have one. That being said, I did march in Washington during one of the Right to Life Marches while in high school, and boy was that an awesome experience! I would just prefer someone choose life and to give their child life, even if that means adoption. I am pro-family, anti-death penalty, pro-gun control. All of these stances show a pro-life belief; all humans deserve the right to life. Yes, it is controversial to think that criminals deserve to live just as much as we non-criminals, but that is what I believe. The legal system sometimes has holes in it that keeps innocent people from being declared innocent (or i suppose "not guilty"), which means some innocent people end up dead by the hands of their government. I believe that convicted murderers should face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and that their lives should be confined to a small room with only necessary food and other provisions. I believe that gun control should exist to a greater extent. Think of Virgina Tech; that yahoo was able to buy guns even though he had obvious psychological problems. Yes, maybe the Constitution allows for us to "bear arms," but I believe that the greater good of our country depends on us not arming certain citizens with guns (felons, people with psychological histories, or people with non-felonious criminal histories). I believe that the family is the most important group in our country. I love my extended family more than life itself, and I would do anything to defend it. The family is the foundation on which this country is built, and I am prepared to stand behind those values. These are my beliefs and who I am, and a stand behind that.

I am a college student.
This is not a belief statement, but merely a major part of my life. I chose to come to Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I stand behind that decision. I wanted to have a college experience that was away from home, and yet comfortably close enough that I could easily make it home for holidays. I needed an experience that emphasized learning and growth in areas other than my major (which, by the way, is Biology). I am becoming more well-versed in Theology, History, Spanish, Philosophy, Music, English, and other subject areas that perhaps other colleges might not focus on as much. Yes, I am becoming very well-versed in Biology as well. I chose a Biology major because I wanted to pursue medical school in the future. Is this still my intended path? You betcha. I just know that for now, that is not in my immediate future. Perhaps after I finish undergraduate I will get a job in a medical or research field to build up a resume. Perhaps I will continue in my pursuit of knowledge and attend graduate school back home. Perhaps someday in the not-to-distant future I will decide to apply to medical school. But, I have ultimately decided that if medical school is not a reasonable possibility for me, I can live with that. There are so many more things that a Biology or science-minded person can do, and if medicine is not for me, I know that I can have a fulfilling career and life in something other than that. These are my beliefs and who I am, and I stand behind that.

I am "green."
Being pro-life and a Biology-minded individual, it should obviously follow that I believe in conservation and promoting a healthy world. I drive a very fuel-efficient car that on average gets 35 miles per gallon, and I therefore only buy gas every three weeks or so when I am driving a lot. Here at school I hardly do any driving, so I only buy gas when I am about to make trips home. I believe in reducing our carbon footprint and being good stewards of our earth and its resources. I try to reduce my energy usage both at school and at home whenever I can. If I don't need the light on, I leave it off. I turn off my computer and unplug other electronic gadgets that don't need electricity at night. We turn up our thermostat at home during the summer, and turn it down during the winter to not waste energy. I recycle anything that can be recycled; luckily the school provided me with a separate recycling can for this year. If you looked at my room right now, you would find cans, bottles, jars, plastic jugs, boxes, papers, newspapers, and other things waiting to be taken to the curb. "Waste not, want not" is a good motto for me, and I believe in making good use out of everything I own. These are my beliefs and who I am, and I stand behind that.

These are just a few things that describe who I am and what I believe. I encourage everyone to write about their own beliefs and who they are and why they believe/are that way. Also, I welcome opinions and comments on my belief systems; let's keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their opinions and that every opinion is a valid one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


It doesn't matter who you are or what your politics are. This is America, and we are one in our patriotism and our pursuit of liberty. Even if you don't like the man, you have to admit that President-Elect Obama is an eloquent speaker. In case you haven't seen it already, here is his victory speech from last night. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning watching all the coverage, and I have to admit, I had tears in my eyes from this speech. God Bless America!

Monday, November 03, 2008

One Last Time

Today was my final registration day here at Xavier. If you all have seen my previous posts about registration, you will know that this is a most rewarding day for me, as I will not have to do this again here at Xavier! I'd go into all the details of my registration woes again, but I'd pretty much be copying and pasting things that have already happened in the past. In that case, you can just check out the old blogs or simply ask if you are so curious.

At any rate, here are the classes I will be taking next semester:

Introductory Financial Accounting
Bacteriology Lab
Methods of Biological Research II
Microeconomics Principles
Philosophy of Religion

I decided since I needed a few electives to graduate that I would take some business classes, hence, the accounting and economics. I have not taken any college business classes, and they have always interested me. I took one semester of Economics in high school, but lack of an adequate teacher left me with little to no knowledge of that subject. As some of you already know, my job at the grocery store is as a bookkeeper; this is not the typical position one thinks of when the word "bookkeeper" is mentioned, but close enough. At any rate, I have become a whiz at our store accounting program, so I wanted to see if this class would elaborate more on what I was actually doing for the store. Plus, I'm sure the information found in those classes would have useful, real-world applications that I will deal with in the future.

As compared to past years, I would say this final registration went much more smoothly. Of course, no registration is without incidence, but I am used to it by now. I'm just glad to finally say, "Thank God it's the last time..."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who Went to the Zoo?

That's right, I went to the zoo!

For my Animal Behavior class, we were given a ticket to the Cincinnati Zoo in order to observe wild animals in captivity and study some of their behaviors. I went yesterday and took quite a few pictures of the animals I saw. I won't share my actual assignment today since loading these pictures is enough work by itself; today I'll just let you see my pictures and maybe I'll report on what I observed and comment on the pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Voted

That's right, I voted! Since I won't be in my home state for Election Day, I requested a by-mail absentee ballot. I received it on Wednesday, filled it out, and sent it off yesterday. I have to say, it was pretty exciting! This was my first time voting in a presidential election (not my first time voting, mind you), so that is a big deal.

On top of the presidential election, Tennessee is also electing one of our U.S. Senators; my area is also electing a U.S. Representative, a county commissioner, and a couple of other positions. Also, there were four or five Knox County charter amendments and a liquor referendum. Wow, so many things to consider! But I read over everything carefully and voted what I thought was right.

Okay, so now where's my "I Voted!" sticker???

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Twenty

Anyone that has talked to me in the last few days knows exactly what "the twenty" are. For all of those who feel out of the loop, did you think I wouldn't explain it to you, too???

As you probably already know, I am taking a class called Biochemistry. This is a class that is concerned with biomolecules (such as proteins) and their structures, functions, and importance to the organism in which they are found. The basic building blocks for proteins are the amino acids, of which there are twenty that are found in all life forms. Those amino acids are "the twenty" of which I speak; lucky me, I get to memorize them all! My first test in that class was on Friday, so it was my task to memorize all of the amino acids before then. Luckily I was able to do so, after making flash cards and practicing drawing them ad nauseum. For you curious readers out there, here they are, in all their glory! (Made possible through the contributions of my own pen, paper, and artist's hand.)

My favorite, if only for sheer enjoyment in drawing it, is tryptophan. And yes, that is the amino acid that you hear about at Thanksgiving time that is found more abundantly in turkey. Though, that is not really the reason why people get sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. Anyone want to conjecture why? (Or does anybody already know why?)

At any rate, I hope you enjoyed your little Biochemistry lesson for the day. If the interest is there, I may have another lesson some day. If there is no interest, you may see some more anyway!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No Words Necessary

Okay, so I needed to say something to go along with this. In case you have been living in a cave and for some reason haven't seen at least part of this clip, here it is for you. This is a skit from the season premiere of Saturday Night Live starring Tina Fey as Gov. Sarah Palin, and Amy Poehler as Sen. Hillary Clinton. This has to be the funniest thing I have ever seen on tv... Enjoy!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

Yesterday I did something that I had yet to do while here at Xavier: attend the Labor Day fireworks in Downtown Cincinnati. Boy, was I glad I went this year! I have been to fireworks shows in Knoxville, and a very cool laser/fireworks show at Stone Mountain in Georgia, but this was something else. These fireworks lasted approximately 40 minutes, and they were spectacular to say the least! I was fortunate that Xavier rented buses to take us Downtown, and very fortunate to find a great spot on the Riverfront that faced the fireworks. I took a few pictures, and here are the ones that turned out the best.

Unfortunately, my camera's batteries ran out before the Grand Finale, but that was definitely the best part. They pulled out all the stops on that one, shooting off rocket after rocket with brilliant colors everywhere. This was truly a remarkable experience that I will never forget.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Once Again, All Over Again

I am back once again, hopefully for good this time! I don't really have too much to blog about tonight, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I was back.

I have already completed a week of classes, and so far, so good. Here are the classes that I am taking this semester:

Animal Behavior
Methods of Biological Research
Studies in Fiction
Music: Now!
Theory of Knowledge

This semester is somewhat different from the past, since I don't have ANY 8:30 classes! My Tuesdays and Thursdays don't start until 10:00, and my MWFs don't start until 11:30... Ahhh, what a relief! Since I'm not really a morning person, I'd say this semester will go quite well.

The other difference this year is that I have a roommate in my apartment. It was by shear happenstance that I had the apartment to myself last year, so now it is the way it should be (apparently). So far, that is working out well, although it's been hard for me to get used to living in this place with another person. But as time goes by, that should become easier and easier to tolerate.

Other than that, I really don't have too much else to say tonight. I wanted to blog a little bit about my summer, since y'all haven't heard from me in almost four months! I think I'll take some time over my long weekend to do that, so look forward to that soon.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Do You Have What It Takes?

Whoopi Goldberg recently mentioned a practice Citizenship Test that contains some questions asked of citizens who wished to be naturalized in the United States. That piqued my curiosity, and I had to find out about this test for myself. Upon searching the Internet, I found one such test on the MSNBC site:

Not to brag or anything, but I did score a 100%! There are about 20 questions regarding the Constitution, national symbols, American history, and roles of elected officials. Go ahead and try it out, and feel free to post your scores as comments on this post. Seriously, it's fun! Would you pass the test and be allowed to become an American citizen???

Friday, May 02, 2008

Happy Easter!

Well, obviously today isn't Easter, but technically Easter lasts until Pentecost (this year, May 11th). As most of you know, I was home for Easter, and I got to spend some time with friends and family. I had a great time (after all, I got to be home for my birthday, Spring Break, and Easter...what a combo!), and really got to enjoy my time off and relax. I took just a couple pictures that I wanted to share, so here they are...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Part Two

As promised, here are my thoughts and explanations of the other parts of the "turn the other cheek" passage in Matthew's Gospel. Sorry that it has taken so long, but with finals and other school things going on, I haven't had as much free time as I would have liked...

The part about the coat and the cloak is again a cultural reference that the author is presenting. A coat, much like today, was a garment worn outside the rest of the clothes. If a person owed someone else a debt, it was a common practice for the person owed the debt to seize the coat of the one owing the debt. Sometimes this was a legal matter that involved a lawsuit, since the person who owed the debt may not have been forthcoming about paying up. However, Jesus throws in the notion of having the debtor sue for your cloak. To give up one's cloak at that time, when he already had given up his coat, would leave the person naked. Nudity at the time of Jesus was a huge no-no, and very shameful. Not so much shameful to the naked person, but shameful to the person who made that person naked. So in this case, the debtor would be the one shamed by everyone else. Jesus is saying this to show how greed and selfishness can lead to shame and humiliation.

Finally, the part about walking the extra mile is a reference to the Jews under Roman occupation. If a Roman soldier were to come upon a Jewish citizen and ask to have his things carried, the Jewish person had an obligation to carry the soldier's items for one mile. Upon completing that mile, the Jewish man had fulfilled his obligation and was free to go. In this instance, Jesus is saying that instead of going on their way after one mile of service, stay for another mile. Again, this is a cultural reference with which most of us are not familiar. For the Jewish man to take up the Roman's stuff for another mile, he was keeping another Jewish man from undergoing the same humiliation. Instead, the humiliation would fall on the Roman soldier, since it would seem as if he did not have "control" over the Jewish man as he should.

So, you see, what Jesus is saying in this passage is that no one is superior to another person in God's eyes. We are all equal, and there is no reason to feel entitled to something that others are not. What Jesus was doing in saying these things was giving hope to the people to whom he was speaking. At this time, the Jesus-believers were being persecuted by their Roman occupiers, and by the traditional Jews, so Jesus is saying this to give them hope. His use of these situations is a way of explaining this concept to the people of that time, in ways that they would understand. Sure, these people think they are hot stuff, but they will get their justice. He urges them, and us today, to be the bigger/better person, and just maybe those that were out to get us or make us look bad will get what's coming to them.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Turn the Other Cheek

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow."
--NAB Matthew 5:38-42

Most of us are familiar with the "turn the other cheek" statement. But does any of us truly understand what this means? The way I always interpreted it, and probably the way most people do, was that Jesus was telling us to be subordinate and not stand up for ourselves. Well, this isn't exactly true. Taking into account the context of the time, you might say that Jesus was the original proponent of nonviolent resistance.

Back in the days of Jesus, most people in that region were right-handed, or at least used their right hand for most tasks. The left hand was used almost exclusively for "bathroom duties." When a superior or some other antagonist set out to punish someone else, it would almost always take the form of a slap. And this was no ordinary slap; this was a back-handed slap on the face. Since people were right-handed and the left hand was only used for one purpose, the only way to slap someone with the back of the hand was to slap them across the right cheek. This was seen as the ultimate punishment to put someone "in their place."

For Jesus to say "turn the other cheek" was more controversial than it seems. If a person were to turn their left cheek to their superior, the superior would be unable to back-hand slap him with the right hand. Instead he would have to slap the subordinate with the palm of the hand. This, instead of signifying putting someone in his place, would signify that the subordinate was instead an equal. Equals slap each other with the palm of the hand. For a subordinate to turn his left cheek to the superior was seen as the ultimate insult, and the ultimate way to stand up for oneself without using violence. So, you see, Jesus was much more revolutionary than we sometimes give Him credit.

This was just one section of Matthew's Gospel that was recently explained to me in my Christian Scriptures class. I must say, this is all very interesting to me, since I have been hearing some of these stories all my life. I am now getting a better explanation about what they mean, and just how much we can benefit from learning the Scriptures in their original context. What a beautiful thing! In case you are still curious about the rest of this passage, I will give my explanation of the cloak part and the "walk two miles" part soon. And I will continue to share my new-found knowledge of these things for the rest of the semester, so look out!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Friday, March 07, 2008

Knee Deep

Well, not just yet. There is a massive snow storm that has been moving through Cincinnati since about 8:00 this morning, and it has a history of some major accumulations to the south. Classes starting at 12:30 or later were cancelled; this had no bearing on my schedule, since I am done by 11:30 on Fridays. But nonetheless, I will enjoy the snow.

As far as accumulation predictions, the meteorologists are using the B word: b-b-b-blizzard! They are calling for between 8-12 inches, with some areas even seeing 15 inches by Saturday afternoon. Being the snow lover, I, of course, am extremely excited about these high amounts of snow! I have nowhere to be this weekend, so I will just enjoy being toasty warm and getting some things done around here. Well, then again, I might take a little walk to survey the beauty around me (I know how much y'all love my pictures! haha)

One other thing I wanted to mention, I had the experience of driving around in the light snow this afternoon. By the time I got out of classes, we had already gotten an inch or two of snow. I always go to the grocery store on Fridays after classes, and today was going to be no different. Well, a little bit different. After spending ten minutes clearing off the windshields and getting everything warmed up, I slowly made my way to the store, which, by the way, was where everyone and his brother was this afternoon. I made it there and back safely, albeit with some minor problems along the way. Traction is an issue with snow on the ground, so I had a couple incidents with wheels turning and judging how to accelerate and brake. But, I think I now have a better understanding of how to navigate in snow: slow and steady wins the race, as they say.

Everyone keeps saying that Spring is just a couple weeks away. Kind of hard to believe given the Winter Wonderland outside. Oh well, this is life. Maybe if I get out tomorrow, I will take some pictures and share them with you fine people.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Y'all may be familiar with the "We Are the World" song that came out in the 80's. Well, this is a parody of that song that my Genetics professor Dr. Engle showed us last week. (My longtime readers may notice that this is the same professor that I had as a freshman. She was the one that said to thank your mitochondria!)

At any rate, the song parodies "We Are the World" on the subject of PCR, the polymerase chain reaction. PCR is a way of rapidly amplifying and replicating DNA, and we have been studying that in my Genetics class. It involves heating, cooling, and reheating until new strands of the desired DNA have been put together. While the video below is supposed to be humorous (oh, and it is!), it is still somewhat informative. So, I hope you can learn something! (Personally, my favorite part is the "who's the daddy" part...haha)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Paczki Are Baczki

C'est Mardi Gras!

Many of you may recall a blog by Aunt Cheryl a little over a year ago concerning the Polish doughnuts called paczki. They are traditionally made and eaten in large amounts for today, Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent. In keeping with that tradition, I recently bought a box of four paczki. Kroger just so happened to have them on sale last weekend. (Coincidence? I think not...) The ones I got were Bavarian creme-filled and have a chocolate icing on top. I have already eaten two of them, and let me just say, mmmmm. I saved the other two just for today, so that I can indulge and "get rid" of them before Ash Wednesday.

For those of you that thought my title was CLEVER, thank you, but the idea was not original. I mentioned in a comment on Aunt Cheryl's blog recently that a bakery close to Xavier was advertising paczki on their sign. Just a few days ago, they changed their message to the phrase, "Paczki Are Baczki," and that was just too clever to go unnoticed. Naturally, I couldn't resist using that as a title for this blog! So in case those kind people are reading this, I give credit to the Busken Bakery on Montgomery Road in Norwood, Ohio. Perhaps I'll stop by and get some fresh paczki before tomorrow???

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys their Mardi Gras, and be sure to eat some paczki if you can get your hands on them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Ringing in My Ears

Sorry that I've been away for so long, but I am back and better than ever! (You can judge for yourselves...)

This past Wednesday in my Physics Lab, we looked at sound waves. Well, we didn't really LOOK at them; sound waves are, after all, invisible. Ahh, but what technology we have! We can detect the sound waves using a microphone hooked up to a receiver, and look on the screen to see how strong the signals are. By changing the frequency or the distance the microphone is from the speaker, we can notice changes in waves. When the waves have the highest peak on the screen, we can tell how many sound waves are present in the closed chamber. After achieving these high peaks, we alter the frequency or distance again until the peaks appear again. Then we know that there is one more wave in the chamber.

At any rate, the title of my blog is very appropriate, since this experiment involved sound. The sound waves were emitted by a function generator, and believe me, it is not a silent procedure. In fact, the entire time the generator was producing sound waves into the chamber, a high pitched beep was heard throughout the room. One by itself was bad enough, but imagine 8-9 of these things going off all at the same time! I would equate it with being in the front row of a rock concert; yeah, it was that loud. Fortunately enough I only had to endure that for about an hour and a half, and once I got outside the ringing was finally gone.

You know what, this Physics stuff isn't that bad sometimes...