Thursday, July 10, 2008

All This For Lousy Corn

The ground is worked over thoroughly in preparation for the last frost of the year. At the mentioned date the seeds are carefully placed in the ground - not too deep, but not too shallow. Then comes the wait for water and warmth, which cause the seeds to sprout up through the fertile soil, showing life and vigor.

In order for the corn not to be choked off by itself it must be appropriately thinned, ridding the extraneous and retaining the necessary. This is followed by fertilization with the ever important element nitrogen.

As the corn grows higher and higher it requires even more attention and work. Watering must be adequate to counter the intense heat in July and August and if pollination does not occur the end product will be an empty cob.

After the watering, the weeding, and the waiting comes the harvest, which is no simple task either. The corn must be removed from the stalk at the right time or the produce will begin to deteriorate in quality, and thus quantity.

Once removed from the stalk, the husk must be shucked and the corn prepared in some manner suitable to be consumed (raw corn is edible, but not very appealing).

All in all, the work and energy that is required to eat corn on the cob is quite extensive and sometimes the result is simply lousy corn despite the effort.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Beyond Being

I should probably be sitting on the commode instead of striking the letters on this keyboard because my thoughts are rather slim - once I was told to clear the bowels as a means to ameliorate writer's block (sorry Grandma, this is probably not appropriate material to write about on the web).

It is extremely difficult to create an enduring message that will move people from simply "being" towards a sense of "purpose." I chiefly believe this is because it has to be a process that I essentially arrive at on my own - I have to create my own message.

That is not to say that others will not contribute significantly towards defining my purpose, but it is not my purpose if someone hands it to me in a nicely packaged bundle. It will not come from a movie, or a book, or a great speaker, but through hard work, frustration, and patience.

I really feel generic and am unsure of what I wrote above, I just know that I want a reason to be different and do things differently, but I try to shortcut the process. Whatever.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

De Motu Cordis

Within us we possess an amazingly simple yet powerful and efficient pump that delivers our life sustaining blood. Many of us are familiar with its basic architecture and understand the general principles concerning its function, and all of us are aware of the consequence if it stops performing its vital task.

Surprisingly, it was not so long ago (1628) that we did not understand that the heart receives "used" blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs to dispose of waste products and acquire precious oxygen, followed by a return to the heart, and then onto the body to complete the cycle over and over.

In my Medical Classics course I just read the book which elucidated these basic principles, as well as several others regarding the heart and our circulatory system. It was such an enjoyable read because the author uses basic observations, with equally basic descriptions, to elaborate on a seemingly complex process. I have to believe that he knew the text would not be well received if he did not write and explain things in this manner, it had to be intentional.

As with any situation similar to the one above, his detractors had reason to refute his findings because many of his ideas flew in the face of what had previously been known, and there is no doubt that William Harvey fanned these flames by essentially saying " dummies, just look and you will see."

Where this ultimately leads me is towards a curiosity about what I am proclaiming now that will be proven incorrect in the next couple of centuries. What is it that people will chuckle about when they read what I thought to be true? I know the earth is round and that my heart is responsible for pumping blood through my body, but something will have to go, what it is I do not know.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Born in a Different Era

Do you ever feel as though you were born in the wrong era?

I do not necessarily feel as though I was born in the wrong era, but there are definitely moments I wish I was born in a different era. The moments that I wish I was born in a different era usually revolve around the selfish desire of discovering something for myself - a new piece of land, and new cure, a new people.

Additionally, I think that life use to be less complex and governed more by necessity rather than desire, like the adage says - Desire is the mother of invention. Wait that does not sound quite right.

I realize though this is probably just a removed fanciful perspective and most people regardless of the era in which they live are trying to look for ways to make life easier and more efficient.

Please do not arrive at the impression that I am ungrateful for the advances and conveniences that are afforded me due to living in the current era, because I engage in almost all of them in some capacity. And, there are still new horizons to be discovered and life can be simplified, it just seems to take considerably more effort or maybe it just requires a change in how I look at things.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Thanks to Above Average People

Recently I have had the fortunate experience of casual conversation with several individuals who were quite impressed with their own current standing in society. They were not hesitant to divulge their achievements and were internally and externally impressed with themselves. Initially, I was slightly baffled by their seemingly absent inhibition, but then I realized this was essentially due to a lack of previous exposure to people of this nature.

I do not necessarily believe these people were going on about themselves intentionally or as a mechanism to elevate their own personal status, they were simply doing what they have probably been doing since they could communicate. It has become a part of who they are, just as much as it is a part of who I am, in not doing it.

However, just because I do not openly discuss my achievements with partial strangers does not mean I am innocent, I simply gloat to myself. My perception of self is strong and I am definitely feeding the same beast, I just do not make others swallow it too.

This works really well for me because I am chiefly concerned with my own self perception, more so than I am concerned with others' perception of me. I do not mean to disappoint, but I do not really care what you think about me, I care about what I think about me. But do we not all share in this conflict, I would imagine so?

The real point of writing about my encounter with these interesting people though was to thank them for reminding me of my enjoyment of being average. This is not to indicate that complacency is desirable, because I am a strong advocate of exercising our potential, but rather to realize that struggling through the obstacles of being a high achiever is a lot of work and not a battle to which we are all called. I really do not mind being in the hump, it is not a bad place to be, as long as I am using my capabilities and doing what is asked of me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

To Me the Hypocrite

i no u can peice together what im tryin to say and comunicatxn is possable thru many difrent rowts with da ultmate gole bing understandng, but plz take the time two pruf reed ur mesagz b/c how u right on BB reflex ur tension to detale. i dont expect Fillingane precision, but leven out intire _ _ _ _ _ n makin comon misteaks does knot reflect well on u oar are profesion. obviosly this is a exadgeration , but lettuce step it up plz.

Initially I was going to post this on my school's on-line Discussion Board, but several of my more discerning friends felt it would not accomplish much and would only aggravate my sensitive classmates. They were right and I begrudgingly kept the message in my Drafts folder of my e-mail until now.

I am fully aware that my grammar, spelling, and writing are not perfect by any standard, but it is important that I try to maintain a certain level of professionalism in my communication so that it does not deteriorate to a discrediting level. Consequently I put myself out there to be evaluated and will probably be proven a hypocrite by some grammar fiend, but that is my intention.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Different People in Different Places

We are all the product of our environment and who we are is manifest by how we interact with our surroundings. Therefore it would follow that as we change from one environment to the next so shall we accordingly change.

Am I a different person in Colorado than I am in Kansas City or Rome? Should it really matter where I am or is that simply an excuse?

But what part of us changes? Is it merely that we occupy our time with different things in different places? Or, are we fundamentally different people in different places? Do we have a sense of place built in to who we are?

Once again many questions with not so many answers (very cliche I know and really just a front for laziness).

Considering environment as just a place though will quickly reveal that we are chiefly the same person in different places. We get into the same ruts, we do the same things, and we essentially become who we have always been. Yet, when environment incorporates relationship, purpose, vision, and encouragement then we are different people in different places.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Lot to Learn

I stumble, I pause, I improvise, and only get it right about half of the time, but this does wonders for motivation.

Currently my father is not feeling well and we are uncertain of the causative agent, thus leading to a handful of questions, many of which I try to answer. Some of the answers I know and some I do not, still some I think I know but in fact do not.

Consequently, I go to resources that will help me learn so that next time I am asked the question I will be able to answer correctly. Strangely though, I am not convinced of the motive f
or searching out the answer. Obviously, I am going to say that it is two fold 1.) I want to know the answer to be able to help the next person who asks, and 2.) I do not want to look like an idiot. The convincing aspect that I have yet to decide is - Which is the stronger motivator?

Of course, I should be striving for motive number one, but only I know the truth and the truth might possibly be that my ego is more powerful than my altruism. Many people would be exercising self-deception if they did not agree that they are in the same boat with paddle in hand.

Is this bad? It definitely has the potential, but that potential does not have to become kinetic.

Additionally, we are presented with the universal question of whether the end justifies the means. Does it matter why I learn if the end result is helping others? My answer is yes, but I know the end will not be reached solely from a helping heart. Fortunately, I have people who help to keep me in check because it is impossible to achieve on my own.

Lastly, one thing for which I am certain regardless of the motive, when the day comes that I do not go look something up I need to retire.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Would Rodin Attend?

For a little over a decade individuals have been paying quite handsomely to observe deceased human bodies that have been impressively dissected. People come away from the exhibits saying, "I cannot believe all that is in there...," and "It is remarkable that more things do no go awry with us." My hope is that as people realize how amazing our bodies truly are they will start to take care of them more diligently.

However, of more intrigue to me is the process by which this transformation took place. In the not so recent past it would have been unacceptable, disgusting, and disrespectful to publicly view the dissected remains of other human beings. Yet, today everyone from children to grandparents are lining up with their $24 in hand to obtain a more intimate window into our internal machinery. Why?

Another example that was possibly of a different magnitude, but nonetheless in the same vein, was the common practice of public executions. Up until 1936 droves of people would put on their Sunday best to witness the execution of complete strangers, almost as a form of entertainment. I cannot fathom this in 2008, but without much doubt I anticipate I would have been in attendance had I lived during a different time period.

What do you think moves something from unacceptable to acceptable? Still the additional question is - What do you think will be next? Detailed study of the above examples would assuredly provide insight into the patterns and indicators that predict these transitions, but this is not for me to tackle at this juncture; however, I am very interested in the matter and if anyone would like to share their insight I would be more than willing to listen.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Culmination of Two Years

Can I get a designated bubble filler? I hate filling those things, it is the absolute worst part about taking exams. Fortunately, I just finished taking my last bubble filling final for quite some time. Granted I still have several more important exams in my near and distant future but they are computer based, so I will leave my Number 2 at home without any grumbling.

The reality that two years of great importance in my future career are completed is strangely anticlimactic. I guess it just fits somewhere on the continuum of the overall goal, a necessary step not to be confused with the end result.

It has been a lot of fun and challenging, but not in the ways that I anticipated before I started. I thank all who have contributed thus far and I am excited about the upcoming aspect of my training. My wife has been patient and understanding, but would definitely admit that it has not always been easy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Head Fake by Randy Pausch

It was my initial intention to rebut the hype surrounding Randy Pausch, but he definitely pulled a head fake on me and I am thankful.

If you are unfamiliar with the story I will provide a brief overview. Randy Pausch is a 47 year old professor at Carnegie Mellon University where he teaches Computer Science. In September of 2006 he was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer, a very unfavorable prognosis. Knowing that his remaining time was limited he prepared his "Last Lecture" and presented it to his students. The lecture was received with much praise and became an overnight phenomenon. He subsequently signed a $6.7 million deal to write a book, has appeared on Oprah, was featured in a special by Diane Sawyer, and will have a small role in the upcoming Star Trek movie.

This is all very well, but at first it did not set right with me. Will I waste time on trivial matters and take things for granted if the evidence points to the fact that tomorrow might be my last? The answer is no. I will be more reflective, more appreciative, and more keenly aware that time is precious and not to be wasted.

Therefore, I wondered why Dr. Pausch was receiving so much credit for doing what many of us would do given the circumstance. Before I investigated the situation my supposition was that it included factors such as him having a doctorate degree and his employment at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, which to be honest frustrated me.

However, upon investigation of his story and listening to his lectures Dr. Pausch pulled a head fake on me, which he describes in his Last Lecture. I was intending to find grounds to solidify my rebuttal, but what I found was that he had been living life with passion and vigor, reflection and appreciation, purposefully and intentionally, long before he was diagnosed with cancer. The Last Lecture was a reflection on how he has lived, not on how he would have liked to live, or what he is doing now because of his diagnosis. It is evident that the man has had a lot of fun living and will do so until he takes his last breath, this is why his story is impressive.

I am not sure if I could approach my last days of life with as much enthusiasm as Randy, but I do know that I will approach tomorrow with more appreciation and enthusiasm because of him.
For more information Google his name or visit

Possession of Clive

On my bookshelf are a dozen or so books by C.S. Lewis - some of his imaginatively enduring fiction, several of his resounding apologetic pieces, and a smattering of compilations that include myriad topics for as many different audiences.

My familiarity with the books is at best average and I have yet to study any of them with much rigor, but I still have this sense of ownership, as if C.S. Lewis is my author. Surprisingly, and somewhat to my dismay, there are 3,247,891 other individuals who also claim ownership of "Jack," which is how you refer to him if you indeed are one of his owners.

My quandary is this - Why do readers of C.S. Lewis feel as though they discovered him, and are subsequently entitled to declare him as their author? I would anticipate that most of us were lead to C.S. Lewis by someone else, but strangely we forget this basic concept and assume that we stumbled upon this transcendental author individually.

There is no doubt that this is due in part to Jack's ability to demystify complex issues in a manner that allows us to feel as though we now understand. This not only provides crucial understanding, but more importantly, at least for many of us, allows us to project this understanding onto others, usually without giving due credit. Essentially, we use Jack's brilliance to elevate our ego. Ironically though, we garner a degree of the previously mentioned ownership by convincing ourselves that we gleaned the truths from the text through our own faculties, and thus are relating to Lewis on a colleaguesque level, when indeed it was Jack who just unraveled the complexity so that we could understand.

Obviously, there are more reasons than the one above, and the chief reason if probably because Lewis's writings have changed the lives of people in a way that they will never forget, but I still find it interesting that a strong sense of ownership seems to exist regarding C.S. Lewis.