Sunday, October 30, 2005

Spooky Fun

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
...or as Fuzzy would say, Spooooooky fun...

Yes, we get our kicks from old timey seasonal traditions on Saturday nights. No shame, here, dear readers. Our dear friend Sean was in town for a visit, and we sat visiting for the afternoon for a much-needed catching up. We gutted the pumpkins, Katie made pumpkin soup, and my friend Brandon joined us later in the evening in time for the carving. And what splendid carvings they were, in my humble opinion. Mine is the skull, Sean's is the bat.

So once again, no costumes or crazy parties for Halloween this year, but once again, I have no complaints. Another good holiday with friends. And zombies. But I won't bore you with details about those things. Just a minor disruption in the evening, really.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Ectomorph's Lament

Oh Cruelest Season
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
A Series of Haiku Reflecting Upon the Changes of the Season...

Cold arrived quickly.
My thin limbs shudder and shake.
Bones hold heat poorly.

Really though, it's not
That cold, but still I'm freezing.
Oh please, make me warm.

What is the damn deal?
Colder in our house than out.
Where's the heat, people?

Why can't I warm up?
What cruel trick is this? Damn you,
Mississippi blood!

Oh Cruelest Season!
So lovely, yet so so harsh!

My Words Taste Delicious...

OK, I fully admit that I am now one of those people that I would formally pester about the infrequency of their blog posts. I was sitting in the library late last night, taking a moment's break from cramming a ton of facts into my skull for a test today (which I did well on, thanks for asking) and reflecting on how, relative to the norm, it had been a long while since I had seen Ms. Paula Randler. My thoughts then drifted to wondering what she had been up to lately, then to "Oh, I'll just check her blog...but oh wait, she hasn't posted anything much in days. I haven't either, really, its been at least a week, possibly close to two since I posted anyth-" "OH NO", I then realized- "I've become a Paula-poster!" How did this happen?!

So Paula, I take all the harassment back. And dear readers, I'll try harder. I promise.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reid Reunion 2005

Reid Reunion 2005
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
The main reason behind our whirlwind trip to MS this last weekend was to attend the 2005 Reid Family Reunion. We didn't make it to last year's reunion (because we had just beeen to MS in late September for my father's surgery), so it was nice to be there this year. As per usual, I visited with my Dad's siblings (Carl, Kyle, and Susan), hung out with the cousins, said hey to most folks, made it a point to speak to all dad's cousins, and kinda just waved at all the 2nd cousins and such. I really don't know them well, some have babies and spouses I've never met, and the younger ones are growing so fast that I don't even recognize them when I see them. So as long as I see that they're still alive, I'm good to go.

As always we played a rollicking good game of frisbee golf. Well, I should say a fun game, because I certainly didn't play well at all (but at least I didn't come in last- thanks, Katie!) So my eleven year old cousin Austin was MUCH better than I was, cousin Jamie had some extraordinary throws, Dad, Carl, and Kyle as usual played a really close competitive game, and Dad lost to Kyle by one throw.

Most shocking was that my "little" cousins have all grown up so much. Of course, little Rowdy is just a baby, Lace is 4 (and precious), but Jamie is now almost 17 and talking of joining the Air Force! Cameron is 18 and a freshman at MSU, Emily is now a freshman in high school(and quite pretty) and Austin, who was born after I was really out on my own and whom I have known the least, is now this clever little guy with a great sense of humor and a sharp wit. And though they weren't there, it is always worth noting that Joey, Carl's step-son Trey, and either Trent or Trey (2nd cousin twins that I can never keep straight) are all serving overseas in the military (Iraq). My oh my time does pass quickly.

The visits with the grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and cousins etc are always nice. And though I believe I am where I am supposed to be right now in my life, I do wish that I was at a place where I could see these people more often. They are my kinfolks, and they do mean a lot to me.

Schmeids and Schmoos

While in Mississippi this last weekend, I arranged for Katie, Dad, and me to rendezvous with Chris Blue (AKA Schmish Schmoo) and his family Martha and Joey (Scmartha and Schmoey- I think you're picking up on the trend here). Sadly, Mom was ill for most of the weekend and could not join us.

We met up at the MS State Fair (running concurrently with the SC State Fair, as it so happened) and we had a really good time. It was Katie's first time to meet the Schmoos, and only the second time I'd seen them in the last few years. We essentially walked around, watched the rides, ate some food, and enjoyed the company. The only one who really wanted to ride anything was the little jive-turkey Joey, who went to TOWN mackin' on some chick while he believed he was driving a small Mack truck. And yes, he's only two and is limited in his vocabulary, but nonetheless, he was undoubtedly pimpin'. You shoulda been there.

Sisters and Rock Stars

Yes, so this photo was taken by Fuzzy after the Mike Doughty show in Chicago this last Saturday night. It's my sister Erica, Mr. Mike Doughty (see one of my previous posts for a review of the Charleston show), and of course, the man himself, Andrew "Scrap" Livingston.

As per your requests...

So we've been out of town for a few days, so I hadn't even had a chance to post about my Peace Corps interview. Thanks for askin'...

So my interview went pretty good. It lasted for two hours, and I think I did a fair job of answering the questions the interviewer was asking. And there were alot of 'em. I was trying to give really deep, thoughtful answers- the kind that would bring a tear to the interviewer's eye and make her jot down in the margins of her notebook "THIS guy is PERFECT for Peace Corps!!" But had I known exactly how much she was gonna be asking, I would have realized how succinct I should have kept my answers. She actually asked me to make my answers shorter. HA HA. No surprise to anyone that knows me. But overall I was honest, I was myself, and if that is a hindrence to the process, then I am not meant to be in this program.

A few points of concern: My experiences relevant to the Peace Corps come primarily from three places: The Madison County Cultural Center (where I was Programs Coordinator for 2 years), Americarps*NCCC (1 year), and Americorps VISTA / Communities in Schools of the Midlands (where I was a VISTA for year one, and part-time employee for year two). She asked a few questions that I had a real problem coming up with experiences that sufficiently answered the questions in a manner that was what they were looking for. Second concern: the NCCC is comprised of 5 different and distinct experiences, and VISTA is also a unique program with an entirely different focus than other AmeriCorps programs. So in totality, these two years give me 6 unique experinces to pull from, yet I feel my interviewer was not differentiating the experiences. She kept asking for me to answer questions with experiences other than AmeriCorps, even though I was using many different examples of organizations with which I worked over the course of my time in the Corps. So I fear that what I consider to be my varied work / volunteer resume will not look so varied after she translates my answers onto whatever form they'll end up upon.

But again, I feel confident that I gave a good interview and that I'm still a competitive applicant. And by going first in the interviews, I'll be able to coach Katie a little on what to expect for HER interview, which will be this Friday. After that, we'll schedule a "couples interview" and then...we wait. It could be a while before we hear more, as they'll be looking at where our skill sets fit in order to make a match. (Hopefully, Africa somewhere. Say it with me: Africa Africa Africa...)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lots Going On (and Yet Not Much Blogging)

Hey, folks. Here's another quick point by point update of the major details of my life as of late ('cuz I know you lie awake at night wondering about my life. And I appreciate that a lot):

•Dad had another CAT scan this last Friday and the results are once again "No Change." Everyone was happy and relieved, especially seeing as Dad was recently having some pain and congestion in his chest which made us all fear for the worse. But he's OK and his chemo regimen will remain the same for now.

• This last Friday, Katie, Paula and I were "house-sitting" for a family who were out of town for a few days. They had four dogs to take care of, and within 10 minutes of our arrival, one of them bit me. Now, to be honest, it wasn't much of a bite- the only place that actually broke the skin and bled was a tiny spot where the dog's tooth scraped my finger. But the fact that the bite didn't break the skin was totally up to the dog (and whatever goes through a dog's mind), because I could've ended up in the emergency room if it had really chomped down. My whole thumb was in its mouth and I felt teeth on both sides of my hand. It was fast and it really freaked me out. Ultimately the dog was just spazzed out by strangers and became really sweet within a few hours.

• I spent 6 hours today coding data. What does that mean? It means I spent six hours typing something along these lines:

0 1 0 0 A A C B A 2 4 2 1 5...

Sounds terrible, but really wasn't that bad. But 6 hours was all I could take.

• Helped run 4 different experimental sessions this week, which translates into about 8-9 hours of lab time in two days. Very interesting learning experience.

• My Peace Corps interview is tomorrow at 11am.

• I am stressed about the future. So many unknowns, with Dad, and Africa, and Grad school...

• As does Sean, I love the fact that the news is reporting about the discovery of the existence of ancient Hobbit-like creatures. This world would be a better place if we had Hobbits. Preferably live ones, but I'll take what we can get.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Nose, meet Grindstone.

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Well, with the exception of the two posts from last night, I haven’t posted much since last week, so here is the week in review. Most of this week has been spent buried in the books, as I had two midterms this week that took lot of preparation. One was in Swahili, the other was in (Honors) Urban Sociology. For the sociology course, we’d covered a LOT of info in this class. The midterm was our first test, so everything up to now was testable. She gave us a review, I studied for a good 9 – 10 hours over the course of the week, and in the end it was the hardest test I had ever taken. Seriously. I felt pretty well prepared, and the test was still scary, but I felt that I should have done decently overall.

This week has been one of those times where I feel I was really a good student. Now those of you who know me well are now rolling your eyes and thinking of course he’s a good student- and yes, I make good grades- but this week I made an effort to really buckle down and study. Long hours, study groups, the library- It just feels like I did a really good job of learning and reinforcing all that I have been doing these last few weeks. That may sound funny, but it’s true. I have high standards for what makes a “good student”, and sometimes I don’t feel I personally make the cut. But this week, I can pat myself on the back a bit. And ultimately all the studying DID pay off. My group did well on the Swahili exam / performance (Mr. Maganda even applauded- though I think he was just being nice), and I saw my sociology teacher’s graduate assistant at the end of the day and she told me I made an A on the exam (which HAS to mean the teacher wasn’t grading so hard!)

Other things of note:
• I am a terrible bowler. Saturday night Katie and I went bowling with a bunch of my friends from school. It was fun. I suck at bowling (but I’m evidently pretty good at video bowling).
• Wednesdays in the lab evidently are cursed. Yet again, a SNAFU resulted in a screw-up on the day Rachel and I run the lab experiments for Willer. Luckily, this one solved itself pretty easily, and the post-experiment debriefing of the subjects that I led was actually fun.
• YACtoberfest at the Cendrowski’s Monday night was a success. I managed to make a rare appearance at the event. Food and company enjoyable.
• My sister was in the hospital last night with another kidney stone (poor thing- it’s supposed to be agonizing), my dad had a check-up today to see the status of his cancer (results Monday), and my mom thinks she might have had a heart attack. The Reids- strong in spirit, weak in flesh.
• I am now ALSO working for Professer Brent Simpson, coding data from his experiments.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Few Thought Provokers...

So here are a few snippets I have read lately that stuck in my mind and have rolled around in my brain. And yes, one is about Africa...

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
-Edmund Burke

In twenty years every aspect that defines Africa today will have undergone an alteration that cannot be foretold by our present means of analysis. The pessimism undeniably called for in the short term, then, cannot be validly extended to the longer term.
-Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, author

The eight blunders that lead to violence in society:
• Wealth without work
• Pleasure without conscience
• Knowledge without character
• Commerce without morality
• Science without humanity
• Worship without sacrifice
• Politics without principles
• Rights without responsibilities

- Gandhi

I want the freedom of my country so that other countries may learn something from my free country, so that the resources of my country might be utilized for the benefit of mankind. Just as the call of patriotism teaches us today that the individual has to die for the family, the family has to die for the village, the village for the district, the district for the province, the province for the country, even so a country has to be free in order that it may die if necessary for the benefit of the world. My love, therefore, of nationalism or my idea of nationalism, is that my country may become free, that if need be the whole country may die, so that the human race may live.


Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
OK, so I may be behind the times by a few years, but having just been loaned the Season One DVD's for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, I must say that Carl is one of the funniest cartoon characters ever.

Addendum: Though Carl cracks me up the most, the best line so far was when Shake responded to a suggestion from Meatwad with the simple phrase "I was not put on this earth to listen to MEAT."

Saturday, October 01, 2005

More Pictures of Scrap Livingston

Check out some more great band pics of Doughty and his crew, most notably Scrap on bass. (Sorry, rest of the band- I'm sure y'all are cool, too, but I gotta give my shout outs to my boy, Andy).

Click here to see 'em.

*Be sure to scroll up to the top of the page to see the first shot. For some reason when this page loads, it loads halfway down the page.

Bleeding from the Cutting Edge of Science

Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
Ok, so this week is over, and a bit of relaxation can now take place. But earlier this week, it was far from relaxing, most notably on Wednesday afternoon. I work for Prof. David Willer and help to run experiments testing several theories of Network Exchange. We use a web-based program in our lab that allows us to log on numerous subjects so that they can participate in the experiment. High tech, but pretty easy to use. Unless, of course, things go wrong.

Long story short- all those worst case scenarios that you know probably will never happen all happened at the same time. First, my partner Rachel and I couldn’t get one of the computers to log in. We waited and waited and nothing happened. So we tried to reload everything. But now the hall was filling up with our participants, dutifully arriving on time (early, actually) so we get nervous. Still nothing. Finally, I bite the bullet and go get the Professer. (These are of course NOT the type of things you want to bother your Professer about). So Willer and his PhD student / sidekick Pam come down and try to help, but nothin’s doing. Finally Pam gets it set up, but we’re now fully 15 minutes late in starting the study. But it’s OK, cuz everything’s ready to go- except that only 5 people showed up, and we need six to run the experiment. @#%*!!

Rachel must run around the building looking for someone to fill in the spot. Finally we find a willing Grad student, and all is ready to go…until the whole system crashes. Which means we have to shut down and bring up the program on all seven computers- in front of the subjects, who must think we’re absolute morons (cuz we must look like it). Finally, we do get the experiment up and running smoothly…until about a third of the way through when I realize that in the chaos of the moment, I logged the computers in in the wrong order and thusly realize that we have supplied a bunch of vital info to the wrong subjects. So we must run around and explain and correct the mistake, again looking very much the idiot. In the end, we got it running and- it ran OK. And Willer wasn’t annoyed at all. He was actually quite amused that so much went wrong at once. So all in all, it was fine. But damned if it wasn’t a bit stressful. Thanks, cutting edge of science. Could you get me a band-aid now?

Three Names to Know

Obasanjo and Mbeki
Originally uploaded by Waldie's World.
OK, so there are a lot of political players across the world affecting the state of global affairs. Thanks to a fair amount of coverage, we know the names of many of the major figures in current world events- Bush, Blair, Chirac, Shroeder, Karzai, Kim Jong Il, Chavez, Annan, etc… Seeing as how my area of interest is Africa, I thought I would post a quick description and links on three African politicians whom you should know, as they tend to be the major players in Africa.

Thabo Mbeki is the President of South Africa, the major poliical power on the African continent, which grants him a fair amount of leverage in African affairs. Though he has held some controversial stances during his time in office (especially on the AIDS virus), he is often involved in brokering peace deals and negotiations across the continent. He has received a fair amount of criticism as of late for his refusal to interfere in Zimbabwe’s destructive “clean-up” program.
Click here to read more on Mbeki.

Robert Mugabe is the President of Zimbabwe and the architect of the aforementioned Operation Murambatsvina (or "Drive Out Trash") and the disastrous land reform policies that have undermined the nation’s economy. Mugabe was a freedom fighter in Zimbabwe’s fight for independence and has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. He has seen the county go from one of the strongest and economically vibrant nations in Africa to a country racked with unemployment, inflation, and an inability to produce an adequate supply of food, and many point directly to him as the primary cause of this decline. He is widely considered a dictator who has remained in power by rigging elections.
Click here to read more on Mugabe.

Olusegun Obasanjo is President of Nigeria, and there are many reasons to learn to recognize his name. First off, he is the President of the most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 1 in every 5 black Africans live in Nigeria. Such a high population will undoubtedly lead to migrations, so look for Nigerian immigrants to become more visible in the next several years. Secondly, though he himself is regarded as an earnest (if inefective) opponent of governmental corruption, he is President of what is considered to be one of the most, if not THE most thoroughly corrupt governments in Africa (and that is saying something there, folks). Thirdly, and most importantly for us Americans- Nigeria has oil. Lots of oil. And it is causing lots of problems, from civil unrest, to rebels fighting for control of the supply, to outspoken advocates against multinational companies (Ken Sara-Wiwa vs. Shell) being executed as dissidents (possibly with Shell’s support). The US wants this oil, so watch for us to get increasingly involved in Nigerian politics.
Click here to read more on Obasanjo.