Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ending Words



For my last blog I wanted to share something with everyone. When I found this poem, I was at my younger brothers eighth grade graduation, and I kept it because it meant alot to me. I want everyone to know what has molded me so far into the person that I am. I hope that it can touch just one person like it has touched me. Anyway, here it is.

"If" For Boys
by Rudyard Kipling
----
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting, too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting;
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies;
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating;
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
----
If you can dream and not make dreams your master;
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat these two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools;
Or, watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build them up with worn-out tools;
----
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk on the turn of a pitch-and-toss;
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothin in you,
Except the will which says to them, "Hold on;"
----
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or, walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If all men count on you, but not too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth
and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son.
----
There is one for girls, but, because I'm not a girl, it doesn't mean as much to me. I hope everyone has a safe summer, and to Ms. Ashley, thank you for expanding our writing and giving us as much information as humanly possible. Thank you.

Friendship For Life


I don't really know what to talk about right now. I'm fresh out of ideas and nothing is really on my mind but finals. I feel drained, totally. This semester has been an emotional and physical roller-coaster. I've been tired to the point of delirium. I've been down to the point giving up. I've been pressing and pressing for help from SGA officers here at school, but it never comes. All in all, it seems this semester was one of the best times of my life, I never want to have again.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." What a powerful statement. As college students, we want to change everything around us. We live in an environment that stresses changes. We are encouraged everyday to change ourselves for the better, and to become better people. I think that changing yourself starts with you realizing whats wrong with the world. Knowing your surroundings is one of the most powerful tools you can ever have, and no one can ever take away from you.

Change, as we have all heard millions upon millions of times, is a good thing. I think we may have heard it so much that it's just like everything else we do, breathing "make a change", blinking "change the world", moving "see a change, make a differnce." But stop and think. If you held on to your cup for a few extra minutes and actually found a trashcan, someone wouldn't have to pick it up again. If you dropped everything you were doing just to help a friend, wouldn't that make them more grateful. If you were quiet for two minutes and listened to the world around you, do you think you would appreciate everthing that has happened?

Making a change in yourself can alter the world. Lets help one another make changes in this world. Lets commit to a life full of change. Lets make friends with the world for life, it only makes logical sense. Lets make friends, and changes, for life.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Building


So this past weekend I was building all these structures for my fraternities big spring party. We built about five different stages in our backyard some of them connected by wooden walk-ways. We put sand in our backyard and put up a volleyball net. We also built a tower that was ten feet tall, but put a person six feet off of the ground. It was also connected to a stage. We had tiki lights set up all around the "volleyball court" and a string of lights around the entire walk-way. It was an awesome set up.

The party is call Riverboat Gamblers (no riverboat this year, and no gambling either), so we had to do our best to make it seem like we were on a riverboat of sorts. We had a ton of people come and three really good bands come and play in our band room. It was amazing.

While we were building all of our structures, I couldn't help but think of building houses for Habitat. We cut wood at odd angles, just like for the roofing planks. We had to get exact lengths for boards to stand on and the correct support system underneath so they wouldn't collapse when people stood on them (although we did have one raise walk-way collapse, no one was hurt). We marked off wood and nailed down boards. We even put tin roofing on some of our stages (which was good because it rained a few times).

All in all, I think the party was a success. Alot of people working on building one thing correctly works out. It doesn't take long at all, and it actually can be alot of fun while you are doing it. I think it brought me closer to some of the guys in my fraternity, and I think Habitat works the same way. I think it can pull strangers together to work on houses and form bonds between people. What a great organization.

P.S. But i'm still not cool with them cause they won't send me any information.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Weekend


I read something this weekend that reminded me of my project. I was reading in the commercial appeal about all the new buildings going up and coming down and about all the houses being demolished and I thought about Habitat.

In a city in which Habitat is so active, there is still a great need for housing. Many people in Memphis are homeless, jobless, and hungry. They need help. Habitat is supposed to be doing that in the area, but it seems that they've hit a wall. They must need more wood, or more volunteers.

If they are as hard to deal with in Memphis as they are in Tuscaloosa, I can see why they aren't being as helpful as they are supposed to be. I still need the information from them, but I dont see it coming anytime soon. I've been badgering them constantly, but they say that it would be easier for me to drive to them, than for them to send something in the mail to me. I still don't see the logic in that.

My point is, Habitat, in all it's good and helpful ways, still has a downside, as does every philanthropic group. I don't mean to bad mouth them everyday that I get on here and write, but it's just frustrating. I see things that need to be done, that aren't hidden from anyones sight. Things can be done, but they must have hit some sort of wall, because I haven't seen any progress, here or in Memphis.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

In the Strawberry Fields


A great short, explanitory essay. It highlights the troubles of an illegal strawberry field worker in Orange County, California. It makes you think twice about what you have.

Reading about Francisco, an 18 year old Mixtec from a village in San Sebastian Tecomaxtlahuaca, who works in the feilds for about $5 a day and sends all of his saving to his parents, was inspiring to say the least. Francisco gave up a bed and dry shelter to come here and live, in hiding and sleep on the dirt under a roof that leaks when it rains. What does he have to say about it? "I have a good blanket." What an amazing answer.

And yet, the people of Orange County complain that so many illegal immigrants come over and lower their property values. All they care about is the country clubs and tennis courts in their area. Why are people so mean to eachother? The possibility for framworkers housing is available, but not possible, because "permanent fixtures in the area would lower property values beyond belief." I'm sorry, are we placing the price of land in a higher position than the lives of HUMAN BEINGS?

Is that really a ligit answer? Can we be so cruel? Or maybe the better question, Why are we so cruel to eachother?

Robotic Iguanas


Julia Corbett, an environmental communications professor at the University of Utah, has written a combination restaurant review/plea for environmental awareness, which I never thought was possible. She ties the two in beautifully and very vividly.

I have been to the restaurent "The Mayan" that Julia is describing in the paper. The three levels are confusing to navigate. The lighting is of no help, and a patron would be lucky to find their way to and from the restroom without asking for help several times. The food is mediocre with a service to match. The show is directed to all audiences with a few hidden messages for the adults. The divers are amazing, but their lack of fabric may make you loose your appetite (if the food doesn't first).

The wait-staff's uniform is colorful and flashy, which is nothing to say for their attitude. If you want to talk to someone, don't come here. The show lasts your entire meal and is loud, i.e. prepare to be distracted.

The surroundings suggest a rainforest, with tiki huts over registers and sometimes tables. With wooden poles supporting the levels, and with wicker chairs. The entire restaurant is made up to be similar to the outdoors, but is sufficeintly air-conditioned. The place is like something you'd see on TV.

Which is exactly Julia Corbetts' point. We are a people set on TV, fast food, and cool air. We want predictable rain, cold fronts, and warm weather. We want easy money, easy women, and easy thrills. We want plastic cups and fake plants. We want greasy chicken, a soft heated chair, and a big screen TV.

We don't want to work. We don't want real deer, unprocessed meat, or an overgrown lawn. We don't want to go to the gym to lose weight (we'd rather take the pill). We don't want to worry about nature so we buy big cars and spend thousands of dollars on gas to kill it faster. We don't want anything real, we want everything fake and easy.

Nature is the most humbling experience. To know that your existance to the world can be as minisucle as a rock, or as important as air is unexplainable. To keep yourself intune with something that is so big, and so important, yet so taken for granted is amazing. We need to understand that we are loosing ourselves in a high powered world that is concerned only with fast cars, fast food, and fast service. Get back in touch America, and lets stay away from robotic iguanas.

Teach For America


So, we had to read these three articles out of our book, and the first is called, Teach For America. It's basically about this lady who went to Princeton and is in her senior year and searching for something to do with her life (a little late to be deciding on that). She worries and worries about it and finally comes up with this idea about starting a national teaching corps.

I think the idea is very noble and is very, very much needed, but I don't see many people being for it. I mean, teaching seems to be just one of those jobs that not alot of people do simply because of the pay. I mean, alot of people want to teach, and probably would, if it paid better. Not to many people, coming out of college (alot of money out) wanting to teach (basically no money coming in).

I would imagine being a teacher is an all around tough job. I couldn't even begin to imagine how a teacher makes it in the world. I just can't wrap my head around the finaces. They are very noble people. And there is a great need for them. I wouldn't mind teaching, I think I would have alot to offer kids, I think that I could be a great influence on them. All of my teachers have influenced me, I think I've taken certain traits from each of my teachers and molded myself to accept them, or never be them. I think I would enjoy that job, more simply because I want to mean something to someone in my life. I want to be the reason someone is the way they are. I think it would be amazing to know that I was as big an influence on someone, as my teachers were on me. I don't, however, want to get paid $25,000 a year to do it. I couldn't live. It just wouldn't happen.

All in all, teachers are great. Everyone needs one, everyone is one. I think a national teachers corps would be a great idea, but I'm not sure just how many people would be as enthusiastic as Wendy Kopp (the author) about teaching.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Autism Article


We read this article about a woman in New Mexico that had a kid that is superbly smart. I don't know the title of the article but it had to have been one of the best articles that I have read in a long, long time.

The article starts off with this woman talking about her genius baby. Alex, her child, was speaking at 7 months, but was not walking before 18 months. It was amazing to read her story. Alex, was naming (more than 200 at a time) and making replicas of dinosaurs out of Legos when all the other kids were still playing with blocks and riding big wheels. He wasn't interacting with the other children his age though.

Remarkably, his parents saw nothing wrong with this, they were still spoon feeding him "past the point he was able to feed himself." Alex was more focused, and more interested in grown-up things around him than in the children on his block or in his school classes. He became extremely interested in sprinkler sysytems by the time he was 3, and was taking it up out of the yard and tearing it apart to see how it all worked.

His interaction problem with kids and his slow learning of walking, first caused his parents to doubt their child's genius status. He was tested, and diagnosed with autism. What followed was disaster. Suicide attempts, classes, crying, depression. But one day Alex's mom researched her son's disease on the internet. She found that Alex's diagnoses is often confused with that of a child that exhibits signs of being extremely smart.

She took him in to be tested, and it turned out that Alex was indeed a genius and not Autistic. He was able to feel empathy and love. He understood everything that happened around him. His only problem was that his parents had babied him to the point of absolute insanity. An example was given that while being tested, Alex took his fathers wallet and dropped a credit card out of it, to which both of his parents jumped up to get the card so Alex, sitting right next to it, didn't have to pick it up. The "doctor" immediatly knew the problem and told the parents to chill out, and let Alex do things for himself.

Alex simply rebelled the only way he knew possible, by making his parents do everything for him, because that was the only thing he knew. From the time the session was over, to the next morning, Alex had changed. After a few corrections from his parents, he quickly picked up on the fact that he needed to change, so he made the change.

I think it's ironic that such a small child can understand that his parents are spoiling him, and take it to the next level. He was so smart that he rebelled in a way that no one could see as a rebellion. It was impossible for anyone to see that Alex was completely normal, but extremely smart. The kid is a genius.

"Red is not a color. Red is a word to describe a color." -Alex

Monday, April 03, 2006

Narrative Essay


Luckily the paper we just turned in had little to do with Habitat for Humanity. I've tried and tried again to get them to send me information in a packet but they are stubborn and not willing to help.

When I picked this organization I felt that it would be the most willing out of all of them to send me information and create a relationship with anyone interested in trying to help. So far the only thing i've gotten from them is a relationship, and it's not so hot. The lady that I have sent emails to continuously tells me that it is easier for them to not send things and for me to come in. I feel differently, I mean how hard is it exactly? All you have to do is gather up some brochuers from around the office, put them in an envelope, and send it on over to my P.O. box on campus. It's not hard.

Not true. It's a lot easier for me to take time out of my day to find the office downtown, get out into university traffic, use my gas and money (which i'm running low on), talk to people, and then turn around and get right back into the mix of crazy tuscaloosa drivers. Yeah right. Mailing something, even if it does take a couple of days, is alot easier because those people do it for a living. I don't want to waste time out of my day trying to find the office. Trying to get around in this traffic. Trying to put more money back into my car which I want to stay out of anyway.

I wish they would just send the information because now, believe it or not, I have a project due which requires information that they could have sent me at the beginning of the semester and been through with. I have a collage due at the end of the semester and I need brochures on Habitat for Humanity. How hard is it to send brochures? Pretty hard, evidently.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Working Back Into It


SO, I just realized that I am supposed to be doing these blog posts like once a week. I did not know that at all, so I guess you guys will be hearing a lot more from me now.

Lately I've been trying to figure out what needs to get done around me (thus this and the journal entries to follow). I've noticed that i've kinda gotten behind in school, which isn't a surprise seeing as how all my time is dedicated to pledging and going to work. I need to get a time set out for me when I can do work (homework, research, studying). It's kind of getting to me. For instance I got about 4 hours of sleep last night (March 29th-30). It's working on me.

This, plus my allergies are getting to me. I didn't even know I had allergies. I hate it though. All this pollen in the air is making my eyes itch like crazy, I sneeze at random times throughout the day for like 5 minutes straight. It's ridiculous. I need to find something that is going to help me. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I need some big time. I dont even know where to start.

Life is hard. I need alot of sleep to catch up, but I need money, and I need good grades. I need to figure out my situation and get a schedule set up. Oh, by the way, I haven't been to the gym in ages. I feel sluggish, and unhealthy. I really wish this semester was over, it would be a blessing.