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Student Bloggers

55 It's not just a good idea, it's my age.

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

Yes, by coincidence the ends of the semester, of this session as a Student Blogger and the start of a new year for me have all come together today.  The title is a play on the slogan when the 55 mph speed limit was established in the 70s: "It's not just a Good Idea. It's the Law."  

Today started out as usual with getting the youngest up and ready for school and then down to catch his bus.  But the other two didn't have to go to the high school until about 10:45 A.M. since the H.S.A. tests were happening this week.   (The administrators prefer that students who aren't taking tests like the H.S.A. or finals not come in until the classes start. It makes finals week interesting; with more than one child on different test schedules it can make the D-Day Invasion look simple.)  So without having to get them going so early, I took a nap and it was very nice. Apparently a parent loses three years of sleep per child, so now that they're all 12 or older, I think it's ok for me to try and catch up a bit. 

Once the kids were dropped off, my husband called and asked if I would like to have lunch with him. We met at a favorite Chinese restaurant and had a very nice time.  Both my passport and my birth documents (I wrote about this a few weeks ago) arrived in the mail, so that's one more thing taken care of and I can get my non-Birth certificate put back in a safe place.  The rest of the day was full of going to the store, sorting and folding laundry, and trying to get parts of the house in order.  (One and a half pairs of teen shoes were found in the living room, for example). 

It feels odd to not have any assignments to do at the moment.  On the other hand I went to the public library and I've already finished one mystery, I'm about a third of the way into another one and I still have several more books in the stack. But it's not like I don't have anything to read.  We're starting to catalogue our books at a useful site called "LibraryThing". We're nearly to a 1000 and there's a long way to go.  "Books multiply like rabbits.  Bookshelves like elephants."

The next few weeks will be full of work and the end of the school year for the children, with the eldest graduating.  I hope that the summer isn't too gruesomely hot and that there is neither a major water pipe break nor a storm that knocks out the power for three days like last year.

I wish everyone a good summer and a bright year wherever you go, in school or out.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,



The Lost Art of Conversation

(Anne Schott) Permanent link

Finals are over. Summer is here. My nephew wants a puppy.

No, he’s not in 2nd grade. He’s in college. In truth, what he really wants is a girlfriend. Yet he has somehow convinced himself that adopting a puppy is the easiest way to achieve this goal. A girl is simply incapable of resisting the charms of a puppy, he says. His theory is that it has something to do with the female instinct to nurture. He claims that it power shifts into high gear at the mere sight of a cuddly, three-month-old, golden retriever puppy. And--here comes the part I don’t quite follow--somehow by extension the guy walking the puppy is included in this bubble of warmth and love.

I can hear my nephew in the next room discussing his theory and his plans for pet adoption with some guy friends. They all agree that puppies are the fastest way to a girl’s heart. That is, unless you’re willing to fake a physical injury. The panel of 21-year-old dating experts in the next room all seem to believe that the ultimate, number one method of attracting female attention is to receive some kind of bodily injury, especially one that requires crutches. The obvious downside being that hobbling around on crutches might limit one’s ability to actively participate in sports and fun activities. However, the guys agree that they’d be willing to forgo this temporarily if it means hooking up with a girl.

Then I hear one of the 21-year-old experts say that his older, married boss has confided in him that there is nothing that attracts women more than the sight of a guy carrying a baby. In an act of generosity, this older, married boss has even offered to lend him not only a Snugli baby carrier but a baby, his baby, to place inside the carrier. The boss has been encouraging him to take the baby out for a spin in the Snugli some afternoon, just to test his luck. 

As I think about this, it occurs to me that my nephew is missing the point. While it may be true that many women are drawn to cuddly puppies, guys on crutches, and cute babies, that’s only part of the story. I think what really appeals to my newphew and his friends is that by using these props they are relieved of the painful burden of approaching a girl and beginning a conversation: they run no risk of being shot down. After that first step has been taken, puppies, crutches, and babies supply instant, friendly, no-brainer topics for conversation. It's something that even the shyest 21-year-old guy can handle.

So, ladies, if you, too are looking for love this summer, this might be something to think about. It doesn't take more than a friendly smile and a quick hello to get the ball rolling.

Let me know how it goes.

The Epilogue

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

If I were Harry Potter, this would be the point in my life where the adventure winds down. Exams are over and You-Know-Who’s latest plot for immortality has been foiled by a combination of serendipity and the help of my brainier-than-me friend. (It’s all in a day’s work, folks).

            Judging by my dearth of lightning bolt-shaped scar (and embarrassing lack of magical powers), I am not Harry Potter, but, I am enjoying a rest after a wearying race (aka, this semester). Generally, an epilogue is meant to tie up loose ends, or pique your interest in the next installment. I have tons of loose ends, but no way to tie them up, so, I figured I’d give you a preview of coming attractions, things you might hear about if I blog next fall.

            First, I will no longer occupy the peculiar niche of ”freshman”. I have successfully completed my first year of college with minimal scarring. I am now halfway through my MC experience. (Makes you a little misty-eyed, doesn’t it?)

            Second, I will be taking on the role of ”traveling scholar”. In late June, my family and I will trek to Sitka, Alaska to visit family and enjoy the wildlife and ever-lasting sunshine. Then I’ll have a brief respite before journeying to Cambridge, England with my fellow Montgomery Scholars, where I will study history for two weeks. I’ll follow my formal studies with two weeks in Austria, Switzerland and France. I’ll return to my panicking cat and mother just in time to catch my breath for a few days before beginning school again.

            But, in the down time between adventures, I plan to unwind and do what I like best: write. Not the essays that I write for school (although that’s fun and a half in its own way), but fiction. Fiction goes something like this:


The three creatures had skin like a poorly peeled cucumber and eyes with white irises sunken into black sockets. They walked on stout legs with flat-footed gait, their bare feet slapping like dead fish on marble with every step. The dressed like barbarians in shaggy leathers and furs, with beads, shells, and feathers hanging from their thick necks, matted red hair, and pointed ears.

Based on the crown of poison ivy the one in the middle wore, Jacob guessed that she was some kind of chieftess.

 “We are Goblins,” said the chieftess proudly. “Goblins of the Zaubervald, at your humble service.”

“My lady,” hissed the Goblin to her right, “We’ve already promised our humble services to her, remember?”

“Oh,” the Goblin Chieftess furrowed her brow. “That’s troublesome.”

“But we only promised her our services on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday,” said the other Goblin.

“So what does that leave?” the chieftess said as she scratched her head with her spear - it must have itched terribly due to her crown.

“Wednesday and Saturday, my lady,” said the Goblin on her right.

“Ah, yes, of course you are right, Brittomart,” the chieftess said, turning back to the company of humans. “We are at your humble service on Wednesdays and Saturdays.”

Jacob raised his eyebrows, bemused. These idiots are what the Ubernaturlich were so worried about?



Stay tuned for the next episode: Sam Cameron, The Final Year…  

The week before exams

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

"Hit it! Hit it!" came the screams as I was running backwards in an attempt to hit the Scholars Ball.  A microsecond of stunned silence was followed by thunderous laughter. I got up to realize I was covered in mud.

Let me recap. One year ago, our Scholars class was gifted a Volley Ball at a picnic by the previous class. We just call it the Scholars Ball. We get in a circle and hit it whenever there are enough of us around (usually after Core). I'm fairly certain we made the rules up as we went along. In a nutshell the goal is to keep the ball up for as long as possible. Later on, we realized it was wise to keep it from hitting bystanders. 

As many of us noted over the past year, smacking a ball around is a fantastic way to cope with stress. I'm sure this has gone a long way in making Scholars Ball a popular pastime. Of course for people like me, Scholars Ball is as close to exercise we've gotten since starting Scholars (Can you sense the bitter tone now that I've been through exams?).

Anyway, the Amphitheater was our preferred location. But because of multiple run-ins with Campus Security, we had to migrate to the Athletic Fields. "Keeping the ball from hitting windows and doors" turned into "keeping the ball from rolling down the hill". And I guess after last week, "don't fall on the concrete will turn" into "don't fall in the mud". 

In case my vague description hasn't made it clear, I was running backwards trying to hit the Scholars Ball, tripped, and fell flat on my face and was soon covered in mud. The roaring laughter that followed from everyone, including yours truly, was incredibly cathartic - considering it was the week before final exams and all.

In retrospect, I'm not sure what I would have done if I hadn't laughed so much in the run up to final weeks. Frankly, the only thing that kept me going was repeating my English Professor reminding us that "sleep is relative".


It would have made so much more sense if I posted this the week before exams.

Until Next Time

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link


It's almost 5am and I just finished editing my official last blog entry of the semester. I should have been done hours ago

but my laptop was quite stubborn tonight. After curing the issue via the world wide web, Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you...

                                                                                        FRIDAY'S FINAL



Blast Off!

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link

I'm going to the moon! I'm going to the moon! I just booked my flight over Skype with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic! I'm so excited and cannot wait! Sure, I'll have to sell my truck, drums, guitars, and vinyl but it's so worth it! After selling all that stuff I'll be 1/1000 of the way there. Yay! Is two and a half minutes in space really worth $224,500? You bet it is!

......and I'm back.                                                                         

Dennis here, your trustworthy blogger full of keen insight and educational dedication. What a week last week was. I'm sure my fellow Monty readers are fully aware of just how nuts life has been recently. I studied, typed single-space, and consumed strong coffee for seven days straight. I love coffee. If coffee could hear I would tell her how much I truly love her. (Actually, I tell her anyways regardless of having ears or not). Besides the maximum caffeine intake allowed before being rushed to the ER, I also fell in love with chewy almond granola bars. Extremely satisfying in four bites, sometimes three.

For those of you who read last week's blog entry, I mentioned how unsure I was as to whether or not last week would be the last posting of the semester. It turns out that today is my last posting and if you really must know, Elvis is not alive kids (read last week). What really happened was a Safeway clerk told me that I had the persona of the king. I naturally thought it was because of my sideburns yet I guess Elvis does exist in some way, shape, or form according to certain cashiers of America.

For my last entry of what was an incredible semester full of great teachers and kind students, I decided to make a short film depicting my everyday occurrences last week, up until my final this past Friday. I'm about 25% done and shall continue to edit after work today and post it here for your viewing pleasure later tonight. I look forward to entertaining you via my acting skills as I have hopefully achieved this key objective already during my brief tenure as a blogger extraordinaire.

A loud shout-out goes to my readers, friends, family, better-half, and especially to the people who decided on making me a student blogger representing all things Montgomery College. Who would have guessed that my wacky thoughts would be available for all to read?


Has it been a year already?

(Sairam Nagulapalli) Permanent link

Firstly, like Besith I've lost count of how many posts I've missed. I think it was only last week's but I'm not entirely sure. With it being the final stretch of spring semester (almost wrote "spring break"), I was just a wee bit busy with paper writing and midnight studying.

Generally, I try to do anything and everything to avoid studying. I'm surprised I didn't write a blog post everyday for the past two weeks. I would have even offered to write other people's posts for them. This might be the first time in my life I actually have given academics precedence over extracurriculars. I think that's good...not sure...never been there (Hello 4-year colleges, I'm a good student. I swear!)

I didn't take high school all that seriously. Part of it is because I consistently overstretched myself in extracurriculars, but I also had some stuff going on in my personal life that weren't all helpful for my productivity. So when I choose to attend Montgomery College despite getting into some decent 4-year universities, I had to overcome a lot of skepticism. My friends and teachers were asking me if MC was really the right path. They said I wouldn't find enough intellectual stimulation or enough things to get involved with.

I can proudly say they were wrong. I like to think I've excelled. My GPA for this semester might beg to differ but I've grown both intellectually and a person. Frankly, after how rigorous RM's IB program was I thought MC would just be a breeze. I was a little surprised at how challenging the Scholars program was and at how many clubs and activities there are on campus. It's a little hard to top taking 7 college level classes and running a City Council campaign at once. But MC sure finds ways to surprise me - and I think that's mostly good.

There are actually so many things I'd like to get involved with but the amount of hours in a day (seriously...only 24?) made me really choosy with what I'd like to get involved in. The angry Facebook messages I get from a friend whose club I don't have time for and the awkward looks I get from MBI/SIFE people are a testament to that. And I get more than enough intellectual stimulation. Whether it is with conversations with MC (Em-See not "Mc") friends or professors, I'm really happy with the education I'm getting here. So if anyone out there is considering heading to MC, don't hesitate!

I must be contributing something back to MC too. I recently found out I'm getting the Paul Myron/Robert White Award and Edward McDowell Award on coming Wednesday's Awards Night.


(Besith Pineda) Permanent link

Very much like Denis below me, I am also extremely late in posting this week (last week? Where is the time going?); a combination of finals preparation, with familial reparations, actual finals week and extra hours at work. Life gets in the way ever so often. But the last two weeks have been splendid.

As some of you may recall, I participated in the MC Poetry Slam last month and I hope some of you were able to attend to witness the raw talent on display. The experience itself was a tad surreal as I foster a significant fear of performing in front of people (goodbye school plays, talent shows and kick-ass impromptu rock concerts) so that my decision to just sign my name and follow through with my commitment was a big step.

It was a great experience, however. Parents, friends and school faculty make a highly receptive audience; MC slammers deliver. There was a great feeling of solidarity among us, even though most of us had not met until that night, so that what was important was our participation, respect of each others’ work and willingness to listen attentively. The competition part? Not so much.

But for the sake of it… I grabbed third place with a poem titled “Bedroom Activism,” which utilized the continuous theme of sex to deconstruct same-sex relationships amidst a society that still does not allow same-sex couples to live completely openly and families that typically struggle to accept homosexual members. And so, for you out there, the outcast/outlier wondering if MC will be accepting enough of you: I cannot guarantee that it will be all of the time, but mark my words, it will be most of the time. The sheer diversity of its campuses solidify this fact. Fear not. :)

My semester is officially almost over; I still have some loose ends to tie before I update my Facebook status some summer related comment, which is the only way summer can be started, obviously.

Final comments next week on what it really means to done, and what a two year community college student does after, well, being at community college for two years.


"Summer is I-Comen In" or It's nearly time for "School's Out"

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 That's the first line of a very old song about this time of year.. It's the last bit of the semester. Final exams are nearly over. The professors will be going over things and then sending up the final grades. Some of us will be graduating (not me though, I'm still chugging along.) In a couple of weeks the MC campuses will be more quiet or at least less crazed. I'll bet that it will be easier to find a parking place sometimes. Oh, there are the summer session classes, but there aren't as many of them as during the regular semesters. I've taken some summer classes, but only on-line. With the children getting out of school in mid-June, taking a class in person then would have been an exercise in insanity.


This year I'm not taking a summer Distance Learning class since I now have a part time job. I'm also not sure at the moment what else I need to take to finish all of the requirements. I think that there's a requirement to take a Speech class, by that's the sort of subject that has to be taken in person. So I'll look into that for the fall. I also need to get the transcripts (in sealed envelopes) of a few classes that I took more than 25 years ago to the proper college official and find out which of them can be accepted. Right now they're in a Very Safe Place in the house. It's SO safe that I need to find it again. But if all of them are accepted and I get the Speech and any other requirements taken care of, maybe this time next year I'll be wearing a cap and gown and making plans for transferring to a four-year school.

Summer is coming in the weather as well. Right now I have the windows open and there's a wonderful light breeze. It's sunny and dry and I can hear a bird chirping loudly in the back yard. I couldn't about a hour ago because the elementary school near our house was having lunch recess and the children were making all kinds of exuberant and cheerful noises. I wish that summers around here could be like this all the time: not too hot, nor so humid that walking out the door feels like I've been wrapped in a heavy wool blanket that's just come out of the drier and is still damp. My husband tells me that if it didn't get hot then it would be bad for the tomatoes and peppers in general and in his garden patch in particular. Well, OK, I suppose that we do want sweet juicy tomatoes... but I still don't like it when the air is so soggy and thick that it needs to be chewed a bit before you can breathe it.

Here's a recording of the song, I hope that you like it

And a more recent song about the end of school


(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

The girl staring at me in the mirror is different from the one who occupied her place last year. She doesn’t look different... Still the same short reddish-blondish-brownish hair that doesn’t lie flat. Still the same greenish-bluish-greyish eyes that can’t decide what color to be. And she still makes funny faces at me whenever I see her.

            Yeah, she looks just like me, but the stuff that you can’t see - the stuff that’s going on behind her greenish-bluish-greyish eyes – has changed drastically in the last year. After sifting through my memories, this is the one that I think demonstrates my point the best…

            My parents couldn’t get me to wear nice clothes when I was in high school (they still have trouble with that). Considering the fact that almost all of my jeans are ripped and I seldom run a comb through my hair, I exude grunge. On one particular spring day last year, my parents persuaded me into attire more civilized than my typical raiment. The occasion? A tea for prospective Montgomery Scholars and their parents to meet each other.

            My mother had to extricate me from her arm and instruct me to quit being a wall-flower and go talk to the other kids. I protested, I groused, but she held firm and eventually I attached myself to a circle of other students who seemed to be having a good time.

            We were all high school seniors, somewhat jaded with teen angst and yearning for a new adventure. So there we stood, on the Provost’s porch, what Joseph Campbell might have called “the first threshold”. I was standing with the companions who would go on the adventure with me, but I didn’t know a thing about them.

            We made small talk: how are exams, what other schools did you get into, what movies do you like…

            Someone brought up James Cameron’s Avatar. I gasped and clutched my heart. “I love Avatar!” I gushed.

            “Eww, really?” asked a guy seated across from me. “I hate James Cameron!”

            I covered up my nametag. “Now’s probably not a good time to tell you my name,” I said.

            “Why?” he asked.

            “Because my last name is Cameron.”

            We clashed steel some and traded blows arguing about what makes a good movie. The encounter left me with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

            If I could get in a time machine, go back to that day, and inform my slightly younger self that a year later this same guy, fellow blogger Sairam Nagulapalli, would be one of my closest friends, I would not have believed myself.

            (To be fair to Sairam, I don’t remember precisely what he said that day, but it was something along those lines).

            Some things we still disagree on (James Cameron among them), but in other ways, we are just alike. My mind has been broadened enormously in only a year’s time, not just by my professors and my books, but also by my friends.

            The whole is the sum of its parts. Looking deeply into my own eyes in the mirror, I see my friends gazing back and smiling. I am them and they are me. 

Tomorrow Never Knows

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link

First and foremost, my apologies for posting so late. I cannot tell you how crazy the last week was. OK, you pulled my muscular arm. I'll give you the skinny on all things Dennis, Montgomery College, & work life. (My arms are really not that muscular. The most muscular possession I have is my brain.)

Work was super duper crazy last week. I worked 27 hours in a mere two days. Can you say "beyond nuts"? After coming home from work last Thursday morning when the sun came up, I was about to collapse upon entering my doorway. Let's also not forget the yodeling birds of Breezy Place. Thanks for your loud chirps which woke my mind up, thus creating a state of alertness as I put my key into the front door lock. The shoes came off as I attempted to go upstairs to something called a bed. Seven steps later I turned into a stegosaurus. Walking on four legs I moaned and crawled under the sheets. As I closed my eyes I could see Jeff Goldblum running away from me in the distance. Eventually, Spieldberg yelled "cut" and I swiftly passed out. What a day.

My brother graduated from Shenandoah University this past weekend with a Bachelor of Science in History. I'm so proud of you broseph. You shall continue to excel at East Stroudsburg University as you pursue your Masters. Don't forget about me when you become rich. (Hint: New York Jets season tickets with the appropriate travel accomodations.)

Throughout this semester I have been referring to our school simply as Monty. I tried to go for a female name but Monty seemed to stick. We've been through a lot this semester and it's truly not over yet. I'll see you in the summer, fall, & for a bit after that. I still have a couple of papers due this week as well as studying nutrition for Friday's final. Then I'll have two weeks off to drive my wife crazy with my wonderful antics. Perhaps I'll write a tune on guitar or maybe have a well deserved lazy Sunday. I'm not sure yet but I'll be thinking hard about that next weekend. I know! I'll hit Home Depot for the official colors of the NFL and paint my downstairs bathroom gang green! Thanks babe!

Lastly, it was quite extraordinary for me to get this blogging gig this semester. I love to write and it was super fun to type my insane thoughts on the world wide web for all to see. I've been so busy that I don't even know if this is my last post of this semester. If it is, live long and prosper my dear friends. May the road ahead be full of knowledge, kindness, and surprises. If it's not, I shall conclude my semester long gig next week with hopefully another witty yet resolute entry. If that's the case, maybe I'll tell you about my run-in with Elvis last week at the grocery store.

He's alive.

Glitter and Glue

(Anne Schott) Permanent link

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. My day. Or at least it should have been my day because I am a mother. But I've had final exams to worry about. All weekend long they've hung on the horizon like dark, threatening storm clouds. Instead of celebrating, I spent the day studying.

I guess that’s one of the reasons why my Mother’s Day looked nothing like the one portrayed in the many jewelry store TV commercials that have been airing ad nauseam for the past week: I did not enjoy a day of contented bliss while reclining on the sofa in an immaculately clean, sun-dappled living room surrounded by three beautiful children and an adoring husband. Nor did I fight to hold back tears of joy when opening my children’s handmade cards decorated with pink hearts and glitter. And, thankfully, I was never called upon to deliver an Oscar-worthy performance of feigned surprise while slowly unclasping a velvet jewelry box and discovering, nestled inside on a tiny pillow of white satin, a dazzling diamond ring.

Nope. Not for me. Nothing like that at all. I spent Mother's Day hunched over my computer in a cold sweat trying to remember how to calculate a mortgage with MS Excel.

These jewelry store commercials make me tense. For the seasoned caregiver it’s fairly easy to see that Perfect TV Mom is only a heartbeat away from freeing her handmade card from its envelope. And with that she will unknowingly release a fistful of excess glitter which will scatter into the folds of her cashmere sweater and into the creases of her designer sofa. Within minutes, the glitter will make its way up to her $200 haircut. Perfect TV Mom will be vacuuming glitter for the next six months.

I know this because the one thing I do have in common with Perfect TV Mom is that I’ve been lucky enough to receive a boatload of handmade cards from my own kids over the years. They’re safely tucked in a cardboard box at the bottom of my closet. They are all in there--the cards with the googly eyes and the dried macaroni and the plastic shapes and the shiny sequins and the bent pipe cleaners and the neon stickers and the misspelled words--every last one of them.

In a way, these cards represent my life’s work, what I did before I came to MC and began worrying about Excel. They represent the time I’ve spent with my kids when they were young teaching them to color, to paint, to glue, to share the scissors, to make rainbows, to form letters, and to stay within the lines. They also represent the times when everyone has run off to play, those seemingly endless hours spent vacuuming glitter off of floors and scratching glue from table tops and removing marker stains from clothes.

As my kids grew up, their cards changed and the work shifted. It became more about talking with them, helping them figure out what to write inside their beautiful cards: which knock-knock jokes are funny and which ones are mean, what makes a good “Roses are red” rhyme, and why it is important to remember to write “Reasons Why I Love You.”

My kids are older now; they’ve outgrown the glitter. The cards they gave me yesterday for Mother's Day were sweet. They were store bought, and some of them play music. In a week or two I will grow tired of hearing them, and I suspect they will be tossed before too long. The box at the bottom of my closet is almost full now, anyway. There really isn’t room for much more.

For Babette

Getting started, doing what should be done and nature sound alarm clocks

(Melissa Williamson) Permanent link

 I've been thinking about starting things in the last few days.  In particular, about people getting started to do things that they need to do or ought to do like get up in the morning, putting things away, cleaning up messes, that sort of thing.  You can probably tell that some of this pondering came about from family life and dealing with my children. 

I don't like getting up much in the morning.  I'm definitely not a "lark" as my older son's college dorm request form calls one type of roommate (the other being "owl"). But this semester I've had to do it six days a week: Monday through Friday our clock goes off a bit before 5:30 A.M. so that we can get our youngest (the one who is in a Special Ed. Program in Gaithersburg) up and fed and dressed and down to meet his bus by 6:30.  On Saturdays I have the lab at the Germantown campus which starts at 9, but it's a bit of a haul from over here in eastern MoCo.  So I do get to lie about until 7 or so, if I'm lucky.  Some days our small son is up by 6 anyway and racketing around cheerfully.  Waking up to Elmo on Sesame Street or, for something more eclectic some of the "Wallace and Grommit" or "Shaun the Sheep" videos from the brilliant Englishman, Nick Park, at about 75 decibels.

But the teenagers often need to be pried out of bed with crowbars.  They respond when we call them, but then they drop off again.  Or they get up and might wander about and then when it's time to leave have to get things like books or coats.  I've even heard cries of "Where're my shoes?!"  My standard reply, I'm afraid, is "I didn't wear them last."

So how do people learn to be "self-starting"?  Not just for getting up in the morning, but also for longer term things like doing homework, or writing a paper, or planning a trip or a move and what will be needed for things to work out?  Sometimes things can't be planned, of course, but we human beings have some ability to plot possible paths to the future and affect what happens to us in some ways.  Waiting to be told what to do or for something to happen all the time is putting our lives into the power of others.

I don't want to give the idea that my kids are like that all the time.  They can plan things that they like or when the importance of a situation is made plain to them.  But getting them up in the morning is getting very old.  I wonder if anyone makes "Nature Sound" alarm clocks that start with rippling streams and chirping birds and progress up to "Elephant Stampede".

In case anyone hasn't seen any of Nick Park's work before, I found out that he has put a channel up on YouTube.


The Persistence of Memory

(Sam Cameron) Permanent link

A door opens. A door closes. One electron spins. Another electron in the annals of space and time spins with it. Yesterday, one of the threads of my life spiraled to its end, yet the end is an illusion. A spiral never ends: it only starts to spin anew.

            The thread to which I refer is Core, a yearlong crash course in History, Music, Philosophy and Literature. Yesterday, I heard my last Core lectures. We discussed the labyrinthine short stories of Jorge Luis Borges, specifically Emma Zunz and The Garden of Forking Paths. After an hour of discussing the tantalizing spirals and word mazes Borges uses to portray time, my philosophy professor rose to discourse on Sheldrake’s theory of morphic fields.

            It blew my mind

            Really, blew my mind.

            Morphic fields are like vibrations or radio waves but they carry thoughts and memories. By Sheldrake’s theory, memory is not housed in your brain, but rather in your personal morphic field which is a part of your family’s morphic field, which is part of your community’s morphic field which is part of Humanity’s morphic field.

            So what’s that stuff between your ears for?

            Your brain is the radial that is sensitive to the fields and the changes in them.

            In physics the other day, my professor described how Celsius and Fahrenheit performed almost the exact same experiment on temperature scales within a brief span of time. They were not in contact with one another. Similarly, many mathematicians suddenly and independently of one another, developed non-Euclidean geometry within a ten-year period. Why does this kind of thing (also known as a paradigm shift) happen?

            According to Sheldrake, it’s because living creatures are receptive to shifts in their morphic fields: they literally resonate.

            Sheldrake also claims that the more times an action (such as a prayer) is repeated, the stronger a vibration it creates in the morphic field. Furthermore, the vibrations can heal physical afflictions and emotional wounds.

            This brings me to last night’s Holocaust commemoration. Every year, survivors, their families, their friends and other members of the human race gather in the Theatre Arts arena at MC to try and grasp the meaning of millions. Millions of people died in the Holocaust and not just Jews: Poles, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, homosexuals, Africans, intellectuals. Millions suffered.

This is an annual commemoration: it is something we are embedding into our morphic field. Why? For one thing, it is a healing mechanism. The scars on those who experienced the horrors firsthand are permanent. The cries still resonate so powerfully that even we three or four generations removed are deeply disturbed by them. I have often heard the sentiment that we must ensure “this never happens again”. As human beings, all of our actions and memories become a permanent part of the human morphic field. Every act of non-violence, every act against genocide is forever catalogued in our collective memory and increases the chance that future generations of humans will be kinder to one another.

One person can make a difference. One electron spins another. One thread spirals, and every thread in the tapestry spirals with it. 

Osama Bin Laden is Dead

(Dennis Radomski) Permanent link

Almost ten years ago, far away from the halls of Montgomery College, I was a twenty six year old college dropout. With no plans for the immediate future other than making it big with a rock and roll band, I really had no interest in the news or the world's affairs for that matter. On September 11, 2001 all of that changed. As I put on the television that fateful morning, the north tower of the World Trade Center was ablaze. Within seconds, I watched the second plane hit the south tower. Aghast, I leaned forward on my couch to see if what I was actually seeing was real.

On the way in to work I continually peeked out my car window, checking the blue sky above for planes. A report on the radio told of another plane hitting the Pentagon. I didn't stay at work long and nothing really hit home until day's end. I thought to myself how Manhattan's skyline will never be the same and the emptiness left from the rubble and ash will serve as an everyday reminder of loved one's past in New York, the district, and Pennsylvania. What a horrendous day.

And here we are in 2011. Less than two hours ago President Obama announced to the world that Bin Laden has been killed. What a glorious end to my weekend. My thoughts are with the families of 9/11 victims and with our armed forces across the globe. Our resiliency is what makes us great. This moment in time will be remembered forever.

Good night, good luck, and god bless the United States of America.



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