Monday, November 20, 2006

Unexpected Graces

The Lord knows how to plan, is all I know. I'm back at my alma mater for a brief stint. I've noticed that they've repainted the PAC walls, expanded Baldwin, and added a bakery. Plus there's 3/4 of a new building in front of the Science Hall! Other than that...

But I'm not here to write about architecture. What I really want to praise God for is that I saw Megan today. She's in med school in Chicago, but she has Thanksgiving week off, as well! What are the odds?

Of course, evolutionists aren't bothered by odds. And now I'm beginning to see that God isn't either -- though for an entirely different reason.

I just can't praise God enough for the brief reunion today! I praise you, God!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

You know you're a TA when...'ve learned the fine art of shrugs, grunts, and other advanced means
of communication... know what they're going to ask you when they pull out the 6N H2SO4,
and you know what you're going to tell them...'d like to have a read-aloud version of the lab manual to play for
students while they do their experiment, complete with a *ding* for page
turns... get a kick out of reading, "factors that would have caused the slope to be off included noise in the instrument"...

...when a student asks if they can use the bathroom, you don't ask them why
they're asking you that; you just smile and nod...

…you recognize the signs of LADSS (Lost and Disoriented Student Syndrome) and start an appropriate treatment promptly…. hear the term "TA data" and cringe...

...when a student copies paragraphs from the lab manual in their lab report,
you don't ask WHY?...

...when students mistake a buret for a Pasteur pipet, you smile and then take it away from them gently and quickly...'ve answered the question, "should I follow the lab manual?" at least 15 times... at least... know that the 30-mL test tubes for exp. 10 have not been mysteriously
snatched by a disgruntled student -- they're baking in the oven...

….when a student squirts copper sulfate on their neck, you don’t ask, “WHY?”… don't let students out of lab early because the fluorimeter lamp has
been on for over 2000 hrs...

…you’ve practiced the ancient art of evasion, and probed the mysteries of appearing to understand that which you have never heard before… know to stop a student who's about to analyze a "homogeneous solution" with undissolved crystals floating on top and a cm of sludge at the bottom...

...when students are running TLC plates that are 1 cm by 5 cm, you realize that you've forgotten to stock TLC plates and they’re recycling scraps...

…you realize that the root of all evil is to not read the lab manual…

...when a student comes in with a pair of Viking horns and a clock they want to wear
around their neck, you realize it's Halloween...

...when a student asks, "Where's the lead solution?" with panic in their
eyes, you nudge the cabinet with your foot and grunt...

...Of course, I've been on the other side of this as the student who did all
kinds of silly, inexplicable, and unreasonable things, so maybe I shouldn't be saying anything...


(I just sent this to the people I TA with!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This site's got potential

I just found a website that describes potential well.
I'm enthralled, and you can be too, if you visit this site.

Of course, another page on that website is worth visiting, too. It's all about chemical potentials, specifically.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Oh, Henry!

Say what you will, I like O. Henry. I just finished a book of some of his short stories. I marked one page that hit my funny bone:

"Look at you, all decent and unrioutous, and only fit to sit on juries and mend the wood-house door. You was a man once. I have hostility for all such acts. Why don't you go in the house and count the tidies or set the clock, and not stand out here in the atmosphere? A jack-rabbit might come along and bite you."

That's from "The Lonesome Road." The next story is from the perspective of a young man wooing a young lady. But there's competition from a millionaire. The young man has pretty much given up on trying to impress the girl, so he ends up telling her what he'd really like to do in life:

"I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to the south shore of Long Island and buy a small cottage I know there on the edge of the bay. And I'll buy a catboat and a rowboat and a shotgun and a yellow dog. I've got money enough to do it. And l'll smell the salt wind all day when it blows from the sea and the pine odor when it blows from the land, And of course, I'll write plays until I have trunk full of 'em on hand.

"And the next thing and the biggest thing I'll do will be to buy that duck-farm next door. Few people understand ducks. I can watch 'em for hours. They can march better than any company in the National Guard, and they can play 'follow my leader' better than the entire Democrate party. Their voices don't amount to much, but I like to hear 'em. They wake you up a dozen times a night, but there's a homely sound about the quacking that is more musical to me than the cry of 'Fresh straw ber-rees!' under your window in the morning when you want to sleep."

Do you think he gets the girl? Read "Rus in Urbe." I especially like the next-to-last sentence.

(All quotes are from Henry, O. "The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories." Pleasantville, NY: The Reader's Digest Assoc., 1987. The first quote is from p. 116; the second quote is from pp. 197-198.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Well, I shook hands on it yesterday. I'm officially in a lab. I have a desk, and little clue of what I'm doing. But I have some great friends in the lab, and I really respect the advisor. And I'm not a floating spirit anymore. One undergrad in the lab saw me with my papers spread out everywhere as I was grading. She asked me where I used to grade, and I said, "Random benches." That was true! One night I plopped down on a bench that happened to be in front of an elevator. Somebody came by and said, "Hi, my name's _________. You've been there for 2 hours!!!"

One girl felt sorry for me while I was sitting on another bench another day. She even offered to let me sit in their lab!

So, yes, I've entered my indentured servitude. Hopefully I'll be out before I'm in dentures.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Gotta pencil? I Think I'll Vote Tink.

(In case that title was inscrutable, this post is all about write-in candidates.)

The Secretary of State for Indiana has his own website. You can access general election information, info for poll workers, and a bunch of other things at this site. There's also a list of all the candidates, including write-in candidates: November 7, 2006 General Election Candidate Filings. The “write-ins” are labeled with the letters W/I.

The write-in candidates' names don't appear on the ballot. Instead, there's a line labeled "write-in." When you pencil in a valid write-in candidate's name, it counts. If you pencil in a name for someone who's not a valid write-in candidate (say, "Tinkerbell"), your vote doesn't count. Since no list or write-ins is provided at the polling booth, if you plan on voting for a write-in, write down their name (or memorize it) before you get to the voting booth.

For information on these candidates (and their opponents), see their own, personal websites.
Many of these are provided at this Radio Now

U.S. Senator Write-ins:
Jack H. Baldwin (no party listed on the write-in list, but identified as a Democrat at the Radio Now site; no website found)
Mark Pool (Independent)

Secretary of State Write-in:
Bill Stant (Green)

U.S. Representative, District 5 (mine)
John Miller (Independent)

U.S. Representative, District 7
John Leroy Plemons (Independent; no website found)

U.S. Representative, District 9
Donald W. Mantooth (Republican; no website found)

Also, I just found the official website of Dan Burton, so I will include it here.


I just received the following article in an email from the medical school:
Over the past several years, the completed suicide rate for graduate students on the ____ campus has been on the rise.  While our rates are still below that of other Top 10 universities, it is imperative we find a way to reverse this disturbing trend.

Suicide is rarely an impulsive decision.  It is very likely that the suicidal individual may offer clues to close friends, roommates, colleagues, classmates, teachers, etc. There is no one demographic that can help determine suicidality in an individual, though international graduate students present the highest rate of completed suicides to date in our student population.  This may be a result of cultural issues and stressors.  Students may also turn to drugs and alcohol in order to deal with these stressors.  It is extremely important for faculty, staff, and fellow students to take note of clues that are offered, and to be aware of the University's Suicide Prevention Program. Your awareness about suicide may save a life.

For warning signs and advice on this topic, see this link. As that site points out, many people do have thoughts about suicide. But I know that when the thought presents itself to me, it's important that I "take it captive." If suicide looks like an option to you, don't just accept the idea because it pops into your head. Ask: what kind of an option is it?

Have you ever been so entrenched in a project (a doctoral thesis, a piece or artwork, or a jigsaw puzzle) that even the most minor distraction felt as if it was stealing time from your project? If life is your project, then suicide is equivalent to looking at your project and saying, "Humph, it's not worth it!" Will you ever be given the option of taking up that project again?

Love life. Love God. Doing these two things doesn't necessarily mean that your thoughts will be positive at all times (and anyway, I'm not sure if that can be accomplished without medication). But when we begin marveling at God and, for those who are Christians, realizing that we are God's servants and workmanship, then we see that these lives aren't ours to end.

Monday, October 23, 2006


This was originally written as a letter to one of my friends

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Heaven, too. It's really been making me think. Especially since talking to some of the students here on campus, I think it's very important that I have a clear conception of what Heaven is. One student I was talking to pretty much saw Heaven as a frame of mind. The problem with that is, that Christ said He was returning to Heaven. So Heaven was more than a frame of mind -- it was a location that could be returned to.

One professor on the IWU campus gave a talk on how Heaven is not mentioned in the OT. But if the people in the OT didn't know about Heaven, how could they look forward to it? I just love how Hebrews 11 puts it: "13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a
distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. "

The "new heavens and the new earth" do imply there's a "first heaven and first earth." Might this be the heavens and the earth that God creates in Genesis 1? As Genesis 1 reads, "1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

So, I guess I see a "normal" noun -- heaven -- and a proper noun -- Heaven. (Note: while the NIV uses the lower case for both types of heaven, I'll use the lower case the and upper case to show which one I'm referring to) One noun refers to the sky and the atmosphere while the other refers to a distinct place which is perfect and where Jesus is preparing a place.
Sometimes the little-h heaven is plural ("heavens"), while I've only seen the capital-H Heaven in its singular form ("Heaven.") The capital "H" Heaven is beyond time: it existed before time was created. I don't know of any reference that talks about when God created this Heaven, but if it was created, it would have been done before the earth was created. I also see it as being distinct from earth.. One reason the two meanings of heaven are so related is that many of us consider both the sky and God to be "up there."

Interestingly, the first reference to Heaven I found is when God talks to Hagar: (Genesis 21:17) "God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, 'What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.'"

So, even though Heaven is separate from earth, God is still very much involved in what happens down here.

One picture of the connection between earth and Heaven is given in Jacob's dream: (Genesis 28:12) "He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it." So there is a way to travel from earth to Heaven (but not by a Babel tower like some of our ancestors thought up!).

Because God hears from Heaven, we can pray to Him: (1 Kings 8:43) "then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name."

Really, though, God is omnipresent (everywhere), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipotent (all-powerful). Psalm 103:19 "The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all." He "dwelt" in the tabernacle and in the temple that the Israelites built, but was He confined by those dinky structures? So even though we often pray to God as if He was only in Heaven, people through the ages have realized that God is in many places: (Deuteronomy 4:39) "Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other."

So God is transcendant and imminent. I believe He allows us to see glimpses of what Heaven must be like. C.S. Lewis in the book Pilgrim's Regress shows a boy who sometimes catches glimpses of a beautiful garden. Always, theses glimpses awaken a sense of longing in him: he wants to see more of that garden, to really enter it! Much of his life is spent in wandering in fake gardens. But sometimes there is the reminder -- here is a garden worth finding! Those moments wake him up and move him closer to the truly beautiful garden. Lewis also describes moments of “joy” in his life that “woke up” a desire for God at certain points in his life.

Still, while on earth we consider the physical world to be the major reality (though as believers we realize there's a spiritual realm), in Heaven, the spiritual realm is what defines reality. Paul explained this when he says, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Still, though, Heaven is separate from earth. That's why Jesus says, in John 14: "1Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."

If Heaven was on earth, why would Jesus need to be taken up into the clouds, through the heavens?

WARNING: This next part might sound goofy. In the movie "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy," some very unlikely people stumble upon a big secret: the world was designed for mice. When the first earth is destroyed catastrophically, the mice recommission a new earth to be made. While that's PROBABLY not too realistic, there is this grain of truth: this heaven (little "h") and this earth have been corrupted. But better than the story in Hitchiker's Guide, the actual designers are God and His Son.

This new heaven and new earth will, I believe, be added onto what Heaven is now (but does my time really apply to Heaven’s time? Is it really just 7 hours forward?).

Given the pictures in movies and books of “spirits” that aren’t much more than vapor, it’s hard for me to think of a world more solid than this physical one. But just how “solid” is it? Much of matter is empty space. But Jesus knows a lot more about real substance than I do! (John 20:26-28) A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

This God knows the ins and outs of Heaven and earth. And He’s willing to work through people as blind as me to bring about His Kingdom.

Jesus does refer to the "Kingdom of God," and uses parables to explain what the Kingdom is like.

I'm really glad that you mentioned this, because I have often wondered what the "Kingdom of Heaven" is! This is what I've been seeing... Looking back at Psalm 103:19 "The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all." Also, "[t]he earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it"(Psalm 24:1). God owns individual countries, as He owns all of the earth, but people don’t always like to acknowledge His ownership, His kingship, or His kingdom.

God's kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms. That's why the King came riding on a donkey instead of a horse. That's why He often appeals instead of commanding. It's not that He lacks force: it's that He is love. People in His kingdom are meek, are peacemakers, and are lovers of God. But they are not spineless: Jesus fully expected His disciples to know persecution as more than a stranger.

As Matthew 6:10 says: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Unlike many kingdoms where there’s constant in-fighting between the heads of state, in this Kingdom, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in perfect agreement. In this prayer, the Disciple’s or the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is speaking directly to the Father. It reminds me of God’s domain over both Heaven and earth, and God’s desire that all of His creation be reunited to Him. Man, is that a big heart!

Like Philips, Craig, and Dean sing, “One day every tongue will confess you are God, one day every knee will bow; still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose you now!” We are God’s people. While God created this world and retains the rights to it in its entirety, at this point He asks Will you follow me? When we decide to follow him, we become His subjects and realize that we live in His Kingdom. When we are meek and peacemakers, and persecuted, we show who we claim as King.

There are also those who do not see themselves as living in a world brought about by Christ. There are those who see the universe as the product of happy coincidence and blind forces. They don’t realize that they are living in a world commissioned, created, and sustained by God. Though they may live close to a person who realizes that the Kingdom is God’s, they might not even acknowledge the existence of God. For those who acknowledge Him, it’s often in a mocking way. This is like the tenants who worked a man’s vineyard while he was away (Matthew 21:33ff). The vineyard belonged to the OWNER. It was temporarily being cared for by the TENANTS. Whenever the owner sent someone to check on the tenants, the people were either sent away or beaten up. There was no sense of stewardship: only greed and self-serving. When the owner sent his son, they killed him. There the chapter closes, but the book continues.

For these people who have been given some portion of the world to steward, a day will come when they’ll be asked to show what they have produced. And “apart from me you can do nothing.” (from John 15:5). For people who lusted for more than stewardship and tried taking on the role of king themselves, this will be a dark day (as it was for the steward in J.R.R.’s “Return of the King.”)

But now is the time to be telling others – it doesn’t have to be a dark day. It can be a day of rejoicing. You can greet the King, the bridegroom, with lights instead of cowering in the shadows. He opens His arms now to all of us who call Him King! God reigns over all the earth, and we live in His kingdom. His throne is in Heaven, but He listens to the cry of His people!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

See What They Think

Who are you going to vote for? If you’re like me, you want to know who you’re supporting. So, here’s some resources to look at before you’re standing in the voting box with a pen clasped between two shaking fingers…

#1 The Indiana Family Institute has a voting guide available here. They asked insightful questions, and some candidates responded.

#2 See the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) website here. The NFIB is self-characterized as "The voice of small business." This site offers you a way to contact the candidate, and shows their background. If they have previously held office, it shows their voting record on slected business-related legislation.

#3 AdvanceAmerica has a voting record that shows how IN senators and representatives have been voting on some key issues. Click here.

#4 The National Organization for Women (NOW) has voting recommendations here. In Indiana, the NOW PAC (Political Action Committee) recommends Julia Carson (U.S. Congress District 7) and Sue Errington (State Senate District 26). Seeing who is doing the recommending may influence how you vote, if either of these candidates are on your ballot!

#5 Project Vote Smart has set up a website that shows how votes have been cast on various bills. As an example, a list of the Representatives are their votes on the bill "Information on Pain and Anesthetic for a Fetus" (HB 1172) is given here.
There is also an incredible volume of information available for candidates. For each candidate, there are the following links: Biographical, Issue Positions(NPAT), Campaign Finances, Interest Group Ratings, Voting Record, Speeches and Public Statements. The "NPAT" is the "2006 Congressional National Political Awareness Test." For example, they show the stance of incumbent Richard Lugar here. All of the Indiana Congressional candidates are listed here.

These are the questions asked by IFI:
1. Education – Should parental choice be expanded through tax credits or vouchers to allow children to attend any public, private, religious or home school?
2. Education – Should parents be allowed to home-school their children without additional state regulation?
3. Education – Should Indiana public school students be given mental health screenings?
4. Education – Do you support tax payer funded full-day kindergarten?
5. Health – Should embryonic stem cell research be legal in Indiana?
6. Health – Should physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients be legalized?
7. Gay Rights – Should government mandate that private business offer “domestic partners” (cohabiting homosexual individuals) the same health care and
employment benefits as married couples?
8. Gay Rights – Should civil rights law should be changed to protect an employee’s sexual orientation in the same way as race, religion, age, gender and ancestry are protected.?
9. Gay Adoption – Should the State of Indiana allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children?
10. Marriage – Should Indiana add covenant marriage as a voluntary option, which would require counseling before marriage, counseling before seeking a divorce, and a more stringent marital contract?
11. Marriage – Should the Indiana Constitution be amended to state that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman?
12. Abortion – Should abortion be prohibited by law, except when the life of the mother is in danger?
13. Abortion – Before having an abortion, should a woman be given written information stating that life begins at conception and that her baby can feel pain in the womb?
14. Taxes – Should the state increase taxes in order to provide more services?
15. Taxes – Should Indiana take steps to phase out and/or replace its property tax system?
16. Gambling – Should taxpayer money go towards subsidizing the gambling industry in Indiana?
17. Pornography – Should existing laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of obscene materials be aggressively enforced?

Here are the candidates responses for the IN Secretary of State race (Joe Pearson, the Democratic candidate, did not respond):

Mike Kole (L) Y Y N N Y Y N Y Y N N N N N Y N N
Todd Rokita (R) Y Y U U N N N N U Y Y Y Y N Y N Y

In Mr. Rokita's case, I'm wondering when exactly he will decide on questions three, four, and nine. As it is, I agreed with his stance on all but the issue of full-day kindergarten (#4) and adoption by homosexuals (#9). It is interesting to see the marked difference between Kole's views and Rokita's views! Does anyone out there have an insight in question #3 on mental health screenings?

I looked closely at the Republican candidates' positions. I would have looked closely at the other candidates' responses, but in the U.S. Senate, Secretary of State, Auditor of State, Treasurer of State, U.S. Representative, and State Representative races, there was a problem. While five of the six Republicans responded to the IFI survey, none of the four Democrats responded, and only one of the three libertarians responded. That made comparisons rather difficult. The one thing I did appreciate was that the candidates who responded at least considered the IFI survey worth their time.

The disagreements I had with Republican candidates are shown below:

Richard E. Mourdock (Treaurer of State) -- He is undecided on whether or not the state should increase taxes to provide more services. How about allowing citizens to decide where their own money goes?

Tim Berry (Auditor of State) -- He supports fullday kindergarten, and is undecided on the question of homosexual adoption. Plus, he gave no response on the phasing out of property tax.

Todd Rikita (Secretary of State) -- He is undecided on the issue of homosexual adoption, and he is also undecided on whether fullday kindergartens should be implemented or not.

Jim Buck and I agreed 100% on the questions shown above.
A slightly different set of questions was asked to U.S. Senators and Representatives. Dan Burton and I agreed 100%, though I didn't fully understand what one question on making tax legislation since 2000 permanent was driving at.
Jeff Drozda and Mike Pence (who represent others in Indiana) agreed, as well.

The questions posed to the Indiana Judical Candidates by IFI were:
1. Which of the following former U.S. Presidents best represents your political philosophy?
John F. Kennedy / Jimmy Carter / Ronald Reagan /George H. W. Bush
2. Which one of the current Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court most reflects your judicial philosophy?
Roberts / Stevens / Alito / Scalia /Kennedy / Thomas / Souter / Ginsburg / Breyer
3. Rate your judicial philosophy on a scale of 1-10 with originalist being a 10 and a living document approach being a 1.
4. Do you support / oppose / undecided a judge’s display of the Ten Commandments in his or her courtroom?
5. Should the code of Judicial Conduct for judges include protection of people on the basis of sexual orientation (Ind. Code of JudicialConduct, Con. 3, §3(5))? Y / N
6. What organizations in the last 10 years have you: been a member of, contributed money, volunteered time, been employed by, been endorsed by for a campaign, received money from for a campaign or had any other affiliation?

None of the judges that I have the opporunity to vote for (Sullivan, Friedlander, Kirsch, and Riley) responded to this survey.

Can I tell you what I find most ironic? I found Vote Smart -- which has the most information on the state and federal candidates –- as a link from the Planned Parenthood site. Of all places to find it! Their NPAT asks the candidates question related to:

Abortion Issues
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 1: Budget Priorities
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 2: Defense Spending
Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part 3: Taxes (A)
Budgetary, Spending, and Taxes, Part 3: Taxes (B)
Campaign Finance and Government Reform Issues
Crime Issues
Drug Issues
Education Issues
Employment and Affirmative Action Issues
Environment and Energy Issues
Gun Issues
Health Issues
Immigration Issues
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 1: International Aid
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 2: International Policy
International Aid, International Policy, and Trade Issues, Part 3: International Trade
National Security Issues
Social Security Issues
Technology and Communication Issues
Welfare and Poverty Issues
Legislative Priorities

The NPAT also includes personal comments from the candidates. I would highly recommend looking at this site, because some people who did not respond to the IFI survey did participate in the NPAT.

The Advance America gives the quickest overview of the votes that have been cast in the Indiana House and Senate, the IFI voting guide shows some of the differences between the candidates who chose to respond, the business website gives you glimpse of their personalities and views of business, but the Vote Smart site includes information on people who did not respond to other surveys (case in point, current senator Lugar who incidentally has held his current office since 1976.)

What I found when I scanned through Lugar's responses on the NPAT surprised me. I've listed some of the items I found pertinent as either "pro" in my view, or "con."

Lugar prohibits public funding of abortions, he's pro-vouchers, and he's in favor of establishing English as a national language. There are other topics that Lugar and I agree on. But, there's also the...

Lugar believes abortions should be legal if the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape. He provided no answer to the question, "Do you support a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman?" He's in favor of increasing the minimum wage, and he is in favor of maintaining or strengthening the current level of gun restrictions. Not only does he support stem cell research on existing cell lines, he is also in favor of allowing new stem cell lines to be developed for further research. He is in favor of developing a program to allow illegal aliens to work here legally.

I realize that my options here are limited; there are only two candidates for U.S. Senate. But because I do not agree with Lugar's stance on many different issues, I cannot in good conscience vote for him.

Ahhhh. I'd hoped to fill out my ballot tonight. But the fun has only begun! I still have practically no information on the county and township races. Maybe I'll finish it tomorrow! Good night!

On the Ballot, Election 2006

Howard County
Monroe Township

Straight Party
Republican (an eagle)
Democratic (a rooster)
Libertarian (the Statue of Liberty)

United States Senator
Vote for one (1) only
Richard G. Lugar (R)
Steve Osborn (L)

Secretary of State
Vote for one (1) only
Todd Rokita (R)
Joe Pearson (D)
Mike Kole (L)

Auditor of State
Vote for one (1) only
Tim Berry (R)
Judy Anderson (D)

Treasurer of State
Vote for one (1) only
Richard E. Mourdock (R)
Michael W. Griffin (D)

United States Representation in Congress
5th Congressional
Vote for one (1) only

Dan Burton (R)
Katherine Fox Carr (D)
Sheri Conover Sharlow (L)

State Representative
District 38
Vote for one (1) only

James (Jim) R. Buck (R)


Judge of the Superior Court 2
Vote for one (1) only
Stephen M. Jessup (R)

Judge of the Superior Court 4
Vote for one (1) only
George A. Hopkins (R)

Prosecuting Attorney
62nd Judicial Circuit
Vote for one (1) only

James R. Fleming (R)

Clerk of the Circuit Court 4
Vote for one (1) only
Mona L. Myers (R)

County Recorder
Vote for one (1) only
Linda J. Koontz (R)
Brenda Duncan (D)

County Sheriff
Vote for one (1) only
Marshal D. (Marty) Talbert (R)
Jon D. Zeck (D)

County Assessor
Vote for one (1) only
Jamie L. Shepherd (R)
Joe Milam (D)

County Commissioner
District 1
Vote for one (1) only

Dwight V. Singer, Jr. (R)
David A. Trine (D)

County Council Member
District 2
Vote for one (1) only

Paul G. Wyman (R)
Shawn P. Fain (D)

Township Trustee
Monroe Township
Vote for one (1) only

David M. Reser (R)

Township Board Member
Monroe Township
Vote for not more than three (3)
candidates in this office

Linda Johnston (R)


Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court
Shall Justice Frank Sullivan, Jr.
be retained in office?


Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals
Second District

Shall Judge Ezra H. Friedlander
be retained in office?


Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals
Second District

Shall Judge James S. Kirsch
be retained in office?


Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals
Fourth District

Shall Judge Patricia A. Riley
be retained in office?


Thursday, October 19, 2006


Tonight I opened up my inbox and saw quite a few emails on vaccines. It all started with someone forwarding an announcement from the Health Center to all the people on the Grad-IV list. It recommended that all students receive a flu shot. The following post shows some of the threads that have been going...

The original email, from Person One

_______encourages all students to get flu shots

Starting Monday, October 16th, McKinley will begin offering flu shots to all students 18 years or older on campus. Hours of availability will be Monday - Friday, 8:00am to 5:30pm. According to the CDC recommendations, October and November are the optimal months for influenza vaccination. Students under 18 will need an approved vaccine that has not yet arrived.

Shots will be provided for ... students at ______ Health Center beginning October 16th and other locations throughout campus as soon as October 18th. Visit the McKinley Calendar for a schedule of times and places - new locations will be listed as they are confirmed.

There is no charge for ______ students who have paid the Health Service Fee. A current ID must be presented and UIN known. If you have questions or concerns, call ____ -____. Also see: CDC Vaccination Information - 2006-07 Influenza Season Tips for Getting Through the Cold and Flu Season

Person Two's Reply

I know [Person 1 and the Health Center] may mean well, but I'd caution you all to think twice before getting a flu shot. The following article lists many of the dangers of flu vaccines and gives links to related articles. 1

In short, with the vaccine are preservatives and other toxic chemical additives which may include:

* Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
* Phenol, also known as carbolic acid (this is used as a disinfectant, dye)
* Formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent
* Aluminum, which is associated with Alzheimer's disease and seizures and also cancer producing in laboratory mice (it is used as an additive to promote antibody response)
* Thimerosal (a mercury disinfectant/preservative) can result in brain injury and autoimmune disease
* Neomycin and Streptomycin (used as antibiotics) have caused allergic reaction in some people. The vaccine itself hasn't proven to prevent people from getting the flu, and it's common for people to come down with the flu immediately after getting a flu shot. The vaccine itself is usually a weakened flu virus.

The proper way to avoid the flu is to nourish the body appropriately, following Biblical principles of health and nutrition to strengthen your immune system that God created to fight off every disease in existence.

Why do hospitals like to give flu shots then if they don't work? The pharmaceutical industry wants our money, and they don't care what they inject us with as long as they can convince us that it works. Pharma is run on greed and evolutionary principles, rather than good science and Scriptural principles, and we, as believers, need to stand up to their lies. OK, I'll get off my soap box now and have some organic tea.
[Person Two]

My two cents

Thanks for bringing up a good topic! Which evolutionary principles do you see Pharma running on? I guess there's the underlying trend that some evolutionists believe: the world is gradually improving over time.

One reason why flu shots often don't protect you from the flu is that there's so many different viruses that cause the flu. So to gear up for flu season, Pharma has to guess (or reason from past flu seasons) which strains might be most prevalent. Maybe they'll guess right for the majority of people, but maybe I'll be vaccinated for strain A and then get sneezed on by
someone infected with strain B. So it's basically a lottery, and people have variable immunity to begin with!

I guess I'll head down a rabbit trail... the other thing that complicates the vaccine question is this: Vaccinations are often political. When it's compulsory for kids entering school it can cause conflicts between parents who don't want their kids to be vaccinated, and school officials who do want them to be. There's also the question of money. The problem when
vaccinations become a political tool is that people's consciences get trampled.

The doom approach is -- if your kid isn't vaccinated for mumps, then pretty soon mumps is going to be a normal childhood disease again! But if vaccinations are 100% effective, then how would this be putting immunized kids at risk? Of course, vaccines can't possibly be 100% effective. So if kids with an active case of mumps showed up at school, then the child that got a shot but for some reason didn't develop an adequate level of immunity could come down with the mumps. But then, wasn't the shot just a false sense of security for that child?

Maybe in a perfect world
1) the family could decide whether or not their child needed a vaccination
2) when a person decided to be vaccinated, a few weeks later they would have a titer done to assess their level of immunity.

That way, if for any reason they hadn't mounted an adequate immune response and developed their own antibodies to the antigen they were exposed to, THEY'D KNOW IT.

For people who had a conscience-conflict with having a vaccine, they would realize the risks they were taking and take full responsibility. For people who went ahead with the vaccination, they would realize how much trust they were putting in Pharma. For better or worse they are allowing direct entry into their bloodstream.

But wait a minute -- there wouldn't be any need for vaccines in a perfect world! LOL!

Just on the science level, I think vaccinations are pretty neat. But (like my Mom says), there's still so much to be learned about them.

But I see your point with improving diet, too. I can't see God recommending the "take a pill (or get a shot), and forget the problem" approach. When He healed someone, He often gave them pointers on how to improve their walk. It wasn't just -- BAMMO -- you can see! Allright -- next patient. I think He cares about the entire person: body, spirit, soul. That's why He tells one guy just after healing him, "Now stop sinning or something worse will happen to you!"

Have a good night,
Hannah Ihms
Person Three's Comments

I know [Person Two] may mean well, but I'd caution anyone about trusting a website that requires you to enter an e-mail address just to look at it...

It's also kind of funny that you attack the pharmaceutical industry for making lots of money off people (no actual arguments with that proposition, though I think that most of them mean well most of the time), but in response you send us to a website whose primary purpose is to present alternative medical information AND SELL THE ASSOCIATED PRODUCTS. Almost every page I looked at has a number of links to Mercola's books or other products the site is selling. Make no mistake: this isn't an independent non-profit entity that has nothing but the public health in mind; this site exists, among other things, to make money.

Finally, I appreciate that there is at least some attempt to cite sources, but it only took me _one try_ to prove that this site at least sometimes misrepresents information in ways that would lower my Rhet students' grades significantly. On this page, one of the recommendations to fight cancer is this: "Have a tool to permanently erase the neurological short-circuiting that can activate cancer genes. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is caused by emotions." This last phrase provides a link (well, actually a series of two links) to a USA Today article, which states, "Up to 90% of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." Mercola takes a cautious and measured statement from the CDC that talks about "doctor's visits" being related to "stress-related illness" and turns it into the overconfident certainty of "diseases" being caused by "emotions." "Doctor's visits" does not equal separate cases of "disease," and "stress-related illness" does not equal "caused by emotions." In this paraphrase, Mercola is fundamentally changing what the CDC says (because after all, being cautious in your thinking doesn't help to sell books, but being confident and appearing to have all the answers does). Maybe the distinction between the two phrases would be lost on most of the general public, but I'd expect a doctor to know better. I'm sure it wouldn't take long to find other misrepresentations and half-truths...

And sometimes Mercola cites information correctly, but then just decides to disbelieve it, such as when he actually cites a JAMA article that suggests that flu shots _do indeed work_ when the flu strains are properly chosen:

As for the specific flu information given in [Person Two's] e-mail, I was unable to track down where the information he cites actually comes from, b/c the link on where the author supposedly got his information, from a group called Concerned Parents for Vaccine Safety, is dead, which is never a good sign. You can check it out yourself.

Just offering my own public service announcement.
[Person Three]

Person Four's Comments

I am writing a quick reply to {Person Two's} email. There are some risks associated with taking flu shots (e.g one study has shown one out of every million people who receive the vaccine have an increased risk of Guillain-Barr Syndrome).

However, I want to caution you about the website , and its founder Joseph Mercola. Mercola's misleading statements have led to more than one warning from the FDA (source: 1, 2.)

David E. Gumpert of Business Week Online reports:

While Mercola on his site seeks to identify with this image by distinguishing himself from "all the greed-motivated hype out there in health-care land," he is a master promoter, using every trick of traditional and Internet direct marketing to grow his business. (source: 1).

[Person Four]

P.S. Just saw [Person Three's] email, but I'd already written mine up.

Final remarks from Person Two

Last email from me. OK, so I forgot that required an email to let you read many of his articles, so I apologize for sending a bad link. Here's a better, though much longer, one. This article is excerpted from the book "The Vaccine Guide" by Randall Neustaedter OMD.

As for the responses blasting Dr. Mercola, I hope you all understand that the intent of my email wasn't to endorse Dr. Mercola, his products, or all of his information (I do disagree with a lot of what he says, but he is right on most of the time.), but to inform you of the dangers of flu vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry in general, while encouraging you all to seek proper nutrition that is Biblically based. That is the best flu prevention possible. One author I highly recommend is Dr. Jordan Rubin, author of The Maker's Diet. I should have mentioned it in my previous email as well. That book presents a model for Biblical health and nutrition, which is basically kosher (Lev. 11), organic, and all-natural (Gen. 1:31). God made us and told us how to best nourish our bodies, so we should listen to Him and do what He said. Anyway, that's all.

[Person Two]

Friday, October 13, 2006

Do you know what you're voting for?

(The following article was recently published in Citizen magazine):
On the ballot Amendment 2 would allow cloning of human embryos specifically for destruction in stem-cell research.  Bott Radio Network is donating air time worth several hundred thousand dollars to counter a $15 million campaign pushing the measure.
Voters need to know Amendment supporters misled the public by saying the amendment would ban human cloning.  Now research shows that once voters know they've been deceived - once they hear that buried deep in the measure, which would add five pages to the state Constitution, is a provision allowing cloining - they oppose the amendment.
Contact Missourians Against Human Cloning, phone 636-536-9877; email; Web

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bingo -- a billion times over

So you're playing Bingo. The caller says a number, and you have it. The caller says another number, and you have that one too. Pretty soon you stop worrying about whether or not you'll have the number -- you know you will. Bingo! In no time you're clearing out the kitty. Not only do you win the plastic prizes, you get the honor and glory of being a champ.

Is this possible? Is this probable? If this happened in real life, would you stop and wonder, "Was this a setup?"

For all the analyzing "we" scientists are known for (I put the "we" in quote marks, because my status as a scientist is at present extemely debatable), there's quite a few things taken at face value.

For instance, today I heard a practice talk on drug design. The presenter was making the point that often a good place to start when you're designing a drug library is -- Nature. Surprise! "Nature" has some pretty good drugs up "her" sleeve. (You would be amazed to hear the number of high-level researchers who refer to "Nature" as a "she." At least they're not calling her "Mother" yet. I take that back. A Nobel-laureate actually used that term a few weeks ago while he was speaking here. He talked about "returning to Mother." From the context of his talk, this meant looking back at Nature and "her" way of doing things.) Sure, we have synthesized analogs of penicillin such as ampicillin, but the original idea wasn't presented during a meeting of highbrows at Harvard -- the original idea came when a petri dish was fungally invaded by Nature. "Nature" has also inspired treatments for leprosy and burns. Many of the active ingredients in common medications were originally derived from natural products.

But doesn't this seem like a setup? Sure, it's convenient that so many natural compounds would have such beneficial effects, but what's the purely scientific explanation for so many "good" products being readily at our disposal? How could we even be guaranteed ONE such medically active compound? And where's the guarantee that this compound or any compound must have a beneficial effect?

With so many people bustling in their labs, synthesizing this and that modification of this and that naturally-inspired compound, does anyone ever stop and ask --


WHY is this medically beneficial compound present in nature?
WHY is it so convenient to get my hands on it?
WHY is there consistency in nature?
WHY is there consistency in chemistry?
WHY am I able to reason?
WHY am I alive?
WHY have I rejected the existence of God?

At the same time, I can ask myself --


WHY do I put any stock in purely naturalistic arguments?
WHY do I take the creation's consistency for granted?
WHY do I forget to thank God for His gifts, liberally sprinkled in His creation?
WHY am I silent when God has commanded me to speak?
WHY don't I stand in awe before my Creator?

Some say...

Some say... "Green Acres is the place for me."
Jesus said... "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Some say... "The Golden Rule: The one with the most gold wins."
Jesus said... ""Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Some say... "Don't get stuck on Heaven."
Paul said... "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."

(The following is from an email I sent to my parents tonight)

Hi, family!!!

THANKS for talking to me tonight! It's so good to hear from y'all! When I was hanging up, I was thinking -- if I didn't know better, I would think that somehow the phone links me to another universe...
It's just because I've used a phone so many times without thinking about how it works that I don't marvel at the WAY it works! Who would have ever guessed that radio waves could be "trained" to wander down wires?

One of the speakers who was here a few weeks ago made the point that ANYTHING can be interesting, once you start studying it. (I agree, to a point). As he said, you could spend a long time on -- peanut butter!

That's pretty close to what Carver did, though he started from the peanut. And look at all he could do with that!

Sometimes when Grandpa was sick I would wish I knew more about the disease, and could do SOMETHING to help him. He was so curious about anything and everything medical, so at one point I took my anatomy book up to the hospital and showed him some of the pictures out of it. It was a pretty good-sized book, but he propped it up and studied the diagrams of the lung very carefully! (I remember how strong his arms were!)

I really do miss Grandma and Grandpa. Sometimes something will remind me of Grandma or Grandpa, and I'll just start thinking about them. I AM SO GLAD that they are safe with Christ. This might sound silly, but if you think about the Aggravation game, it's a pretty good picture of life. You go through life, and it's hard to get started. It seems like you keep rolling the wrong number. It doesn't help that everyone around you seems to be rolling those right numbers and hop-skip-jumping their way to a career. Finally, you start your plugging. If you can get several things rolling at once, all the better, as long as you keep track of them! Then there's the star-path, which is doubly hard to get landed in! Just at the point when
you start making it somewhere, somebody lands on you and you're back at the start trying to get on a roll. But the best thing about this picture is that once you're finished, there is no reincarnation. Once your marble's made it all the way around the board (whether by the long plugging path or the quick star-path), you're finished. No one can land on you and send you
back to circle-one.

All that to say -- Grandma and Grandpa have finished their race. Now they're part of the "cloud of witnesses." Can you imagine the people they're able to meet now? Grandpa was calling or interested in calling some of the influential people on earth -- Rush Limbaugh, etc. But now he's meeting people face-to-face. He's meeting people like Moses and Francis
Schaeffer and Adam. Maybe they sit and talk, or maybe they talk while they build buildings. Or maybe they have an entirely different project, that's totally beyond what I can think of.

I don't know if there's crocheting in Heaven, but I can see Grandma making afghan squares. But maybe I'm not thinking big enough -- maybe she's designing tapestries to decorate some of Heaven's walls! Anyway -- she's not wearing her glasses anymore. She's not taking any insulin either. She MIGHT still have peppermints in her big black, purse, though. But are there purses in Heaven when there's not any money?

I wonder what it was like when Grandma got to meet Granny and Beth and Grandma Carrie again. It had to be so hard to say goodbye to them on this side, but it must be SO GLORIOUS to see them again when Christ is there and He has made ALL things new.

Grandpa is able to chat with Uncle Wilton. They can pull up a chair and talk to their mom and dad anytime.

Grandma, Grandpa, Granny -- they don't need an airplane anymore.

But as great as all THIS is (and I'm sure it's wonderful!), the greatest thing is that their KING is there. Instead of relying on letters that have been read, reread, circled, highlighted, and loved, they can talk to their king face-to-face. Grandma can see the One she loved so much. Grandpa can walk with the One who gave His all.

It must be Heavenly.


You are my lamp, O Lord;
the Lord turns my darkness into light.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

That sounds complex

It's been a week since I posted! Yikes!

Yesterday a student asked me about an ion. It was [Cu(OH2)6]2+, and I had never seen it before. Besides that, I never quite understood coordination chemistry. So, a Google search brought me to a page that said:

"Note: If you aren't happy about complex ions (including the way they are bonded and named), it would pay you to follow this link and explore the first couple of pages in the complex ions menu before you go on."

So I followed that advice and found this site:

Complex Ions

I thought I'd pass it on.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who said it?

(A) "We account the Scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy."

(B) "When the errant biological properties of human embryonic stem cells are considered, it is difficult to foresee them ever being used directly as cures in children or adults."

ANSWERS (no peeking!)

(A) Sir Isaac Newton -- he went on to say "I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever." (Henry M. Morris, Men of Science Men of God: Great Scientists of the Past Who Believed the Bible El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1990, p. 26.) Newton is known for his ground-breaking work in optics, gravitation, calculus, and energy conservation.

(B) Dr. James Sherley, MD, PhD at MIT. In an interview, Dr. Sherley was asked, "You seem pretty convinced that human embryos are human beings. Can you explain briefly why?"

"My answer is, 'What else could they be -- aliens?' Scientists who want to conduct experiments with human embryos are quick to say what human embryos are not. I challenge them to tell the public what human embryos are. There is only one answer to this question, 'living human beings.'"

(To see a further discussion of embryonic stem cell research, and specifically Amendment 2 in Missouri, click here.)

Image credits: Sir Isaac Newton -- 1
Dr. James Sherley -- 2

Friday, September 29, 2006

Conservation of Momentum

Today was a pretty good day. Except for on the trip home. I had one half hour left to work on my digital homework. I had worked on it earlier in the day, but then I had to go to a faculty meeting. Anyway, I usually pedal at a pretty conservative rate (it's hard to pedal with your left wing), but tonight I was booking it. So I crossed Lincoln, and did my nice little hand signal so I could turn right. I was watching traffic on the road I was turning OFF of, and not the traffic on the road I was turning ON to. WHAMMMOO! I slam into another bike! She was crossing the road and going from sidewalk to sidewalk while I was watching the people on the road. Because I was going so fast, I couldn't stop. The woman was incensed -- which is totally understandable because some airhead just collided with her! I felt horrible, and I started apologizing -- though how much is that worth? When I asked her if she was OK, she was like, "NO, I'M NOT. Do you drive a car like that? I'm so glad you weren't driving a car. I live on the street that Alicia Bandersnipe lives on." (I'm actually not sure which name she said, but I'd never heard of her). I probably looked like a carp with my mouth open, but I asked her, "Who's Alicia Bandersnipe?" Over her shoulder, she said, "The girl who was killed!" I knew she was still very angry with me, but as she biked down the sidewalk, I was at least glad that I hadn't knocked her off of her bike.

I started crying on the way home, and another biker who had been behind me stopped me and asked me if I was okay. Sure I was. I wasn't the one who'd been rammed! I felt so stupid. The rest of the way home I stopped a long time at each stop sign just to make sure no one was coming in either direction. My thought was, I can't even ride a bike right!

Given the fact that �accidents� such as that one can happen so quickly when both parties are sober, it�s no wonder that drunk driving is such a risk. I mean, as the above story goes to prove, I need all the brain function I can get! Besides affecting a person�s reaction time, alcohol can also lower a person�s inhibitions. As a believer, that�s going in the exact opposite direction.

There is going to be a "wine and cheese" party this weekend. I guess it's the IWUness in me, but I just can't get past the word "wine."

Why spend good money on decaying raisin juice?
Oh well. I guess you could describe cheese as "bacteria-ridden aged milk," and that doesn't sound very appetizing, either.

Anyhow, I have been kind of surprised at how much of a role drinking plays here. Even the College Republicans sponsor a "barcrawl," I think every week. Now doesn't THAT sound like fun!

I think I'm happy in my teetotaling ways. But there's plenty of other things to tempt me -- like chocolate-chip cookies ;-)

(Image source:

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This won't hurt a bit

Today I was browsing a medical school website, and I found this:

The Gentleness of Traditional Chinese medicine Acupuncture and Moxibustion (1992) 27 minutes

Acupuncture and moxibustion in China have recorded histories of several thousand years. They are effective medical treatments that are both convenient and safe. Many people regard acupuncture and moxibustion as one and the same thing. They are, in fact, two distinct treatments that are often used together. Acupuncture is a kind of corrective therapy. If an acupuncturist prescribes more than corrective therapy for a patient, then moxibustion is applied. Moxibustion is the burning of specific herbs on acupuncture points to bring healing relief.
The use of acupuncture and moxibustion is increasingly widespread and medically effective. The World Health Organization (WHO) has, therefore, acknowledged that acupuncture and moxibustion are appropriate treatments for 43 ailments such as headache, stomachache, and frozen shoulder. Due to the unique medical efficacy of acupuncture and moxibustion and to the sound systems for research, treatment, and development which have evolved in the scientific age, the teaching of acupuncture and moxibustion has modernized and many Western doctors have begun to study these healing arts in hopes of mastering additional approaches to treating patients.

Forgive me if I'm missing something. I've never understood how someone who's afraid to get a shot will consent to having small pieces of metal inserted into their bodies -- or having tiny fires started on their bodies. But, I'm reassured now: it's gentle.

Picture credit:

Saturday, September 16, 2006

All other ground...

Near the beginning of the school year, my university hosts various clubs and organizations for a day. They set up booths, blow up balloons, and put out sign-up sheets. Actually, I've already written about that! Lately, I've been going through the pamphelets I picked up that day.

The associate pastor of a Presbyterian church gave me a booklet entitled "Homosexuality and the Bible," by Walter Wink. "It's written by a Biblical scholar," she told me.

On his opening page, Mr. Wink says, "The issue of homosexuality
threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did one
hundred and fifty years ago. We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance
and find ourselves mired in interpretive quicksand. Is the Bible able to
speak to our confusion in this issue?
"The debate over homsexuality is a remarkable opportunity, because it
raises in an expecially acute way how we intepret the Bible, not in this
case only, but in numerous others as well. The real issue here, then, is
not simply homosexuality, but how Scripture inoforms our lives today. Some passages that have been advanced as pertinent to the issue of homsexuality are, in fact, irrelevant."

After that less than hopeful beginning, he goes on to explain why each
reference to homosexuality in Scripture (Gen. 19:1-29, Judges 19-21, Deut.
23:17-18, 1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10, Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Rom. 1:26) can't
possibly be interepreted as a warning from God not to engage in it.

After "winking" at sin, and offering a defense of homosexual activity, he concludes with: "I am deeply convinced of the rightness of what I have said in this essay. But I must acknowledge that it is not an airight case. You can find weaknesses in it, just as I can in others'. The truth is we are not given unequivocal guidance in either area, abotion or homosexuality,
Rather than tearing at each others' throats, therefore, we should humbly admit our limitations. How do I know I am correctly interpreting God's word for us today? How do you? Wouldn't it be wiser to Chritians to lower the decibels by 95 percent and quietly present our beliefs, knowing full well we might be wrong?"

His position could be described by the words of this hymn:
"On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand..."

Picture source:

Booker T.

"When war was begun between the North and the South, every slave on our plantation felt and knew that, though other issues were discussed, the primal one was that of slavery."

Usually when I think of U.S. History, I see episodes.

The Revolutionary war {space} The Civil War {space} WWI {space} WWII, etc.

But those "spaces" demand further inspection! One historic period that's often overlooked falls into that "space" between the Civil War and WWI. It's the Reconstruction. Until recently, I had no idea what happened during this reconstruction. If you want to hear about it from a first-hand source, I recommend reading Booker T. Washington.

Here's some quotes from his book, Up From Slavery:

"In addition to these openings, there was, in the lower right-hand corner of the room, the "cat-hole," a contrivance which almost every mansion or cabin in Virginia possessed during the ante-bellum period. The "cat-hole" was a square opening, about seven by eight inches, provided for the purpose of letting the cat pass in and out of the house at will during the night. In the case of our particular cabin I could never understand the necessity for this convenience since there were at least a half-dozen other places in the cabin that would have accommodated the cats." (p. 2)

"The early years of my life, which were spent in the little cabin, were not very different from those of thousands of other slaves. My mother, of course, had little time in which to give attention to the training of her children during the day. She snatched a few moments for our care in the early morning before her work began, and at night after the day's work was done. One of my earliest recollections is that of my mother cooking a chicken late at night, and awakening her children for the purpose of feeding them. How or where she got it I do not know. I presume, however, it was procured from our owner's farm. Some people may call this theft. If such a thing were to happen now, I should condemn this as left myself. But taking place at the time it did, and for the reason that it did, no one could ever make me believe that my mother was guilty of thieving. She was simply a victim of the system of slavery. I cannot remember having slept in a bed until after our family was declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation. Three children-John, my older brother, Amanda, my sister, and myself--had a pallet on the dirt floor, or to be more correct, we slept in and on a bundle of flighty rags laid upon the dirt floor." (p. 3)

"During the campaign when Lincoln was first a candidate for the Presidency, the slaves on our far-off plantation, miles from any railroad or large city or daily newspaper, knew what the issues involved were. When war was begun between the North and the South, every slave on our plantation felt and knew that, though other issues were discussed, the primal one was that of slavery. Even the most ignorant member of my race on the remote plantation felt in their hearts, wit a certainty that admitted of no doubt, that the freedom of the slaves would be the one great result of the war, if the Northern armies conquered." (p. 4)

"The most trying ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy, however, was the wearing of a flax shirt. In the portion of Virginia where I lived it was common to use flax as part of the clothing for the slaves. That part of the flax from which our clothing was made was largely the refuse, which of course was the cheapest and roughest part. I can scarcely imagine any torture, except, perhaps, the pulling of a tooth, that is equal to that caused by putting on a new flax shirt for the first time. It is almost equal to the feeling that one would experience if he had a dozen or more chestnut burrs, or a hundred small pin-points, in contact with his flesh. Even to this day I can recall accurately the tortures that I underwent when putting on one of these garments. The fact that my flesh was soft and tender added to the pain But I had no choice. I had to wear the flax shirt or none, and had it been left to me to choose, I should have chosen to wear no covering. In connection with the flax shirt, my brother John, who is several years older than I am, performed one of the most generous acts that I ever heard of one slave relative doing for another. On several occasions when I was being forced to wear a new flax shirt, he generously agreed to put it on in my stead and wear it for several days, till it was "broken in." (p. 6)

"One may get the idea, from what I have said, that there was bitter feeling toward the white people on the part of my race, because of the fact that most of the white population was away fighting in a war which would result in keeping the Negro in slavery if the South was successful. In the case of the slaves on our place this was not true, and it was not true of any large portion of the slave population in the South where the Negro was treated with anything like decency... This tenderness and sympathy on the part of those held in bondage was a result of their kindly and generous nature." (p. 6-7)

"As a rule, not only did the member of my race entertain no feeling of bitterness against the whites before and during the war, but there are many instances of Negroes tenderly caring for their former masters and mistresses who for some reason have become poor and dependent since the war. I know of instances where the former masters of slaves have for years been supplied with money by their former slaves to keep them from suffering. I have known of still other cases in which the former slaves have assisted in the education of the descendants of their former owners." (p. 7)

"I have said that there are few instances of a member of my race betraying a specific trust. One of the best illustrations of this which I know of is in the case of an ex-slave from Virginia whom I met not long ago in a little town in the state of Ohio. I found that this man had made a contract with his master, two or three years previous to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the effect that the slave was to be permitted to buy himself, by paying so much per year for his body; and while he was paying for himself, he was to be permitted to labour where and for whom he pleased. Finding that he could secure better wages in Ohio, he went there. When freedom came, he was still in debt to his master some three hundred dollars. Notwithstanding that the Emancipation Proclamation freed him from any obligation to his master, this black man walked the greater portion of the distance back to where his old master lived in Virginia, and placed the last dollar, with interest, in his hands. In talking to me about this, the man told me that he knew that he did not have to pay the debt, but that he had given his word to his master, and his word he had never broken. He felt that he could not enjoy his freedom till he had fulfilled his promise.
From some things that I have said one may get the idea that some of the slaves did not want freedom. This is not true. I have never seen one who did not want to be free, or one who would return to slavery.
I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get entangled in the net of slavery. I have long since ceased to cherish any spirit of bitterness against the Southern white people on account of the enslavement of my race. No one section of our country was wholly responsible for its introduction, and besides, it was recognized and protected for years by the General Government. Having once got its tentacles fastened on the economic and social life of the Republic, it was no easy matter for the country to relieve itself of the institution. Then, when we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten millions Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe. This is so to such an extent that Negroes in this country who themselves or whose fathers went thorough the school of slavery, are constantly returning to Africa as missionaries to enlighten those who remained in the fatherland. This I say, not to justify slavery -- on the other hand, I condemn it as an institution, as we all know that in American it was established for selfish and financial reasons, and not from a missionary motive -- but to call attention to a fact, and to show how Providence often uses men and institutions to accomplish a purpose. When persons ask me in these days how, in the midst of what sometimes seem hopelessly discouraging conditions, I can have such a faith in the future of my race in this country, I remind them of the wilderness through which and out of which, a good Providence has already led us." (p. 7-8)

"I am learning more and more each year that all worry simply consumes, and to no purpose, just so much physical and mental strength that might otherwise be given to effective work." (p. 88)

"My experience in getting money for Tuskegee has taught me to have no patience with those people who are always condemning the rich because they are rich, and because they do no give more to objects of charity." (p. 88)

"In order to be successful in any kind of undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself; that is, to lose himself in a great cause. In proportion as one loses himself in this way, in the same degree does he get the highest happiness out of his work." (p. 88)

"If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian. In a large degree it has been the pennies, the nickels and the dimes which have come from the Sunday-schools, the Christian Endeavour societies, and the missionary societies, as well as from the church proper, that have helped to elevate the Negro at so rapid a rate." (p. 94)

Text source: Washington, Booker T., Up From Slavery, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1995. This book was originally published in 1901.
Picture source:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

When your spoon has a beard, it's time to wash the dishes.

I hesitate to admit my shortcomings, because I don't want you to get the wrong idea. But yet, I did have a wooden spoon with a beard. Never fear -- if you come over for dinner, I won't be using a utensil with stubble. The poor thing went into the trash. Needless to say, I've started a New Years Resolution in September -- to wash dishes as soon after I use them as possible.

One thing I must say: TAing is helping my walk with God. As I was prepping the lab for the two experiments I'm in charge of, I was terrified. That probably sounds ridiculous, but I kept on running into problems. Then, a TA meeting would come and I wouldn't have done what I needed to have done.

Take experiment 8 for example! From the getgo, I wondered what water to use. Once again, that probably sounds ridiculous, EXCEPT that I was making up 20+ L of solution (I actually need to make more than that!), and if I needed Millipore water I would have to truck it in from a different building across the street! That question was answered: use DI water. I won't belabor the point and go into the clumpy KCl. Okay, I will! I opened up the first jar of KCl and discovered a uniform clump inside. From that point on, I became a percussionist. I would take a jar and beat it on something. I tried beating it on my leg, but obviously, I had better things to do than bruise myself with KCl. So I struck (ha ha) on a new idea -- which is why at 10:00 one night I could have been found beating quarter notes and eighth notes into the floor with a bottle of KCl in each hand. I was so afraid that a night watchman was going to walk into the lab and find a demented TA. Because I would have been that demented TA.

So the stock solutions were made. That was a plus, because the students had to use them! So I finished the stock solutions 10 minutes before the students came into lab last week. Last week was just an activity: a "meet and greet the instrumentation day." Basically, after shaking the UV'vis' hand and learning the Mass Spec's nickname, you went out the same door you came in -- if you were a student, that is. (Will they ever know the pain and suffering we TA's endure for their sake?).

This week was a different story: I needed to have the experimental solutions made up for two completely different experiments, run through 2 completely different experiments, and have data in hand for the two experiments in case someone's experiment failed. I actually had fun running the experiments -- it was just that I was going crazy. (Please note: I never, ever, in a million years, ever exaggerate!). Exp. 8 used a Ca-selective electrode, and Exp. 9 used a tiny liquid chromatography column, TLC, and then HPLC.

So... I was happy that the activity went well. One other TA, Ann, a veteran, had mentioned that the pH meters never seemed to settle on a certain value, but I wasn't too worried about that. After all, back when I was doing prep with a pH meter, the thing never could make up its mind what the pH was. I usually resorted to pH paper! (Which is like going from the Renaissance to the Ice Age, supposedly!).

So... I TA'd on Friday, then went to an incredible Grad-IV meeting. A doctor spoke on career choices (see my previous blog). That was EXCELLENT. Then we had ALGE -- an "After Large Group Event." That was the Cops and Robbers Game. I didn't have much time to work on lab prep after ALGE, because I talked to some of the Grad-IV people until about 1:30 in the morning. So by that time it was Saturday. I went home and slept until about 8:30. There was a chemistry picnic at 11:30 that day, and I thought about going in to work on the lab prep then, but I figured that by the time I hit my stride, pull out the parafilm and pack the place up. Basically I was lazy and skilled at rationalizing.

The picnic and the games (relay races, volleyball, watching football, and then tug-o-war) were incredible. Actually, I think it was the PEOPLE that made it so fun! Anyway, I dropped off my friend Jen at about 6:30, and then went to the store. I had been without a can opener and milk for over a week and I felt like I was deprived. Once again, I contemplated going to the lab, but seeing as how the sun sets around 7:30ish and it took me 2 hours to get "necessities," I skipped the "working in lab" idea.

This is why exactly at 2:00 on Sunday I was feeling slightly panicky. Tomorrow was the TA meeting when I would have to present the instrument and tell its life history. There was no more shaking of the hands and tipping the hat. But I had not run either experiment, and I had no clue how long it would take me to do so!

The long and short of it is, Exp. 9 went as smooth as silica (which was used in the experiment, by the way), and Exp. 8 was a headache with a toothache thrown in. That's why I said that Exp. 8 was improving my walk with God -- every step, it seemed to me, came with fresh difficulties. But God helped me at each one of those steps. Here's a list of mistakes I made:

1) No filling solution in the reference electrodes.
Believe it or not, for an entire day of the activity, I let the kids use dried-out reference electrodes. I figured that since it was sitting in buffer, it had all the hydration it needed! I just thought the electrodes looked grungy, because they had crystalline deposits coating the inside sleeve. After Ann told me about the electrodes jumping high and low, she mentioned that I might want to fill the electrodes. So I did. I looked online and found the electode’s manufacuring site. I printed the ref. electrode’s manual, which said the ref. electrode’s typical filling solution is Cat. No. 900001. But just getting the electrodes open almost proved too much for me. After heaving and howing on the caps for a good while, I gave up that and seized some pliers. When the run-of-the mill model failed, I went for the needle-nose variety (you must understand that I was acting out of desperation! I HAD to get the electrodes open – otherwise, life wouldn’t be worth living). Finally, the cap popped off. Seeing the force I had to apply to get the electrode open initially, I couldn’t believe the description of basically a gentle tug that the manual described. All I can figure is that when the electrode dried out, some of the solid accumulated near the O-ring on the electrode. I dismantled the electrodes, rinsed them out, and filled them with fresh solution #900001.

2) Wrong CaCl2.
I consulted with my dad on this one. Basically, the dihydrate form of calcium chloride is pretty unstable, and it likes to grab any and all water it can access. That’s fine as long as you’re not trying to make a concentration standard with it! I’ve made 3 different CaCl2 stock solutions so far: one with material from an old dihydrate CaCl2 bottle, one from material in an anhydrous CaCl2 bottle (which is made up of pellets designed for use with a dessicator), and one from a bottle of fresh CaCl2 dihydrate. I was going to make up a new solution of anhydrous CaCl2 that was reagent grade, but the Stores were closed, and my card wouldn’t scan me in. While my professor recommended the anhydrous form, I’m going to wait until I get a free moment to buy the anhydrous and compare the solution I make from that to the solution made with the new dihydrate form.

3) Wrong filling solution.
It was Monday night when I found this out. I had presented at the TA meeting earlier that day by describing Exp. 9 in full, and then blurting out, “But I haven’t run through Exp. 8 yet.” Then I added, “But I don’t anticipate any problems.” I can’t tell you how many times that phrase echoed through my head since then. Sometimes I wanted to laugh, when I thought, “I sure didn’t anticipate THIS problem!”

Back to Monday night. I had prepared the dilutions to measure. Firstly, I prepared two solutions to calibrate the electode. One solution was made up of 1mL of 0.1 M CaCl2 in 100 mL of water, and the other solution was made up of 11mL of 0.1 M CaCl2 in 100 mL of water. The instruction manual said that ideally there would be a difference of 25 to 30 mV between the electrode’s reading of these two solutions.

I think that the biggest difference I saw was an 8mV difference. I was comparing the two reference electrodes, and I found that reproducibility was nil. While the first time through the reading was –180 and –184 (approximately), the next time the reading might by 1020. Then the drift started. The meter would show a reading that would steadily decrease by 100 units in a few minutes. I was beginning to despair. I was writing an email in my head: “Dear Dr. ____, I know this is the eleventh hour. That is why I am writing. I have not been able to get Exp. 8 to work, and I need help. I realize that labs are supposed to start tomorrow, and I just wonder if there is another ISE that we can use instead of this one. Thanks, Hannah.”

Fortunately, it was never sent. Two different times it almost was! At 11:00 on Monday night, my failure was thick. That’s when I decided to look back at ISE manual. Lo and behold, I noticed something. It said NOT to use the solution shipped with the reference electrode, and instead to use solution #900011. I could have cried. One blooming number was ruining the readout. I had been using solution #900001! I rinsed the electrodes and filled them with the new solution.

Then I held my breath and made another measurement.

It was awful. I don’t think it had improved at all.

That’s when my list of suspects grew. If the reference electrodes weren’t changing the readout, then the culprit must be the ISE.

4) No ISE tip.
Then strange and wonderful gyrations started occuring. Several statements in the lab manual hadn’t made sense. Wasn’t there something about a grey/black boundary? There was only black on this electrode! I had rationalized this before, because there were no markings on the electrode identifiying it. I wasn’t sure that the electrode I was holding went with the instruction manual I’d found in the drawer. The second instruction that didn’t make sense was something like “don’t touch the membrane.” I actually penciled “What membrane” into my lab manual.

When I started groping around in one of the lab drawers, I found buried treasure: a tip. A tip that matched the picture in the book. The picture I hadn’t quite analyzed closely enough. You were supposed to let the thing soak for 1-2 hours, but I let it soak a healthy 1-2 minutes.

What I found was that the measurements weren’t improved in the least.
I decided to soak the tip for the prescribed 2 hours.
I found a second tip (I actually found a few of them), and let it soak in a separate, tiny beaker as well. Then I threw in the towel for the night.

Tuesday morning dawned light and fair, but I had to solve Exp. 8.

All I could think of was that – all those kids were doing their activity with HALF an electrode last week! HA!

As it turned out, I had 5) Used an old tip.

The new tip gave solid measurements (readings that didn’t trip up or down by a few hundred mV).

I took the measurements I needed and proceeded on to make interfering ion solutions (more solutions for the experiment that the students would make for themselves from the stock solutions I had already finished).

Lab started at 1:00. At 12:45 I was almost done preparing the interfering iron solutions. I realized there was no way I could take 5 measurements, letting the ISE soak for 3 minutes between each measurment (as the lab manual preached).

I left the interfering ion solutions, and gave the kids strict instructions NOT to dump them out!

I mentioned to the other TA that I had had the kids working with only half the electrode. He nodded his head and that was that. I guess I was expecting a bigger reaction. At least he didn’t report me.

So after lab was finished for the students, I finished taking my measurements.

Today when I graphed my concentrations versus potentials to obtain a working curve, I had a rude shock. The graph looked like a preschooler had dotted the graph at leisure. There was no straight line here, even if you examined the graph with a greased imagination.
I was a failure, and my work was for naught.

6) Wrong scale.

That’s the final mistake – for now. The original graph I was looking at was logarithmic, but I didn't recognize that!
It turns out (I cheated and looked at what older TA’s from past years had done on this lab), that if you graph the LOG of the concentration versus the potential, you obtain a BEAUTIFUL linear graph. And I mean BEAUTIFUL. I have never been so happy to see a line in all my born days!

I’ve saved that graph. I think it’s a work of art.

(Note: these two graphs are representative of the shape of my graphs, but the actual values were different.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memory

The following post is actually an email I received today.
It came from a student involved in Grad-IV:

Hi all (especially those whom I know personally),

Just want to express my sympathy in times when you are remembering the
9/11. No words will ever adequate to express it. Just know that many
people outside America share your grief. God loves you all.


God, please start in this heart of mine. Please turn my heart back to you.
Please guide each one of us that claim your name. Please help us to claim your cross.
Please help us who live in America to put our hopes and our fears in your hands.

You are our only hope, God.
I praise you and thank you for your mercy and love.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Three Men, Two Divergent Paths

I've come across a couple good websites, and I thought I'd share them with

1) A gallery of artwork by Dr. Frank Netter -- the "Michelangelo of Medicine."
2) An Overview of Biomedical Engineering -- which started with a pharoah
with a wooden toe!
3) Graduate InterVarsity Fellowship" -- a group of believers in medicine, history, physics, and a whole host of other departments.
4) A Med Student Blog -- by Karen Lo at UMich; she has some very good insights.

Recently, I've been able to hear 3 different speakers:

A professor
A Nobel Prize Winner
A neurologist

The first talk was with my professor. We discussed evolution, politics, and Christianity. What I found in our conversation was:
1) To him, evolution is a solid, unquestionable fact
2) The majority of people in the US currently are ignorant, and this explains their extreme gullability when it comes to anti-evolutionary speakers. He does not believe that people turn against evolution because of their own, scientific inquiry. Rather, they are told by someone else what they should believe about evolution, and then they obey complicity.
4) He belives that the Western church today knows nothing about what Jesus taught or said

The Nobel Prize winner described some of his recent designs in chemisty, but that's not what he talked most about. Even in the midst of his technical speech, he would throw in references to books he had just read and enjoyed. The one book he recommended that we all read is "Out of Control." He often referred to "going back to Mother," which is how he referred to Nature.

I was struck by the fact that this man who has had an extremely succesful career is still pursuing more than chemistry. He is searching for universal truth. Still, his talk was extremely rambly and patchy. Nevertheless, one statement of his that "stuck" with me is this (he was stressing the incredibly vastness of things to study in the universe): "We could all work on peanut butter and never get enough of it."

The last speaker I've recently heard was a neurologist at a local hospital.
Not only that, but he is a believer. He talked about career choices. Through his years as an undergrad, a medical student, a resident, an attending, a fledgling, and an established neurologist, he has tried to keep his priorities in this order: God, wife, medicine...

For example, instead of looking for the positions that would advance his career the most, at one point he took a position that made the most sense for his wife. He realized that he wouldn't be able to talk to her alot because of the work he would be doing, so he wanted her to be close to her family, for support.

At the end of his talk, he asked for questions. The question came up, "How do you share your faith?" He said that you can wear "Jesus" pens. He pointed out that in his clinic they're about 2 neurologists short, so they are backlogged about 2 months. If he took a lot of time to explain Scripture to each patient, that would be pretty much equal to stealing time from his colleagues. Sometimes, though, little things can provide openings. One incident he shared had happened recently. This neurologist puts a verse on his screensaver. At one point he was treating a Jewish patient, but the neurologist had to step out of the room. When he came back, the man made a comment about the "New Testament verse on your screen." The doctor looked at the screen and saw that it was Jeremiah 29:11. That wasn't any NT verse! But it gave the neurologist an opening to talk about something other than spasms and numbness.

Of the three speakers, one man is settled in his view, one man seems to be searching, and one man has found the ultimate source of all wisdom and knowledge. While some of the speakers were tangled in a web of secular humanism, one man had yielded himself to the ultimate God. His faith made a difference, and that difference showed in how he spoke, what he spoke about, and how he viewed his past and future.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Email stew

A while ago I went to the undergrad "Quad Day" and signed up for countless groups. I freely gave my email address out. Now, the groups have been emailing me like crazy. I did try out for the girls' a capella group (the Rip Chords), singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Sadly (or beneficially, depending on your viewpoint), I failed the audition. It probably didn't help that I used a piece of paper to doublecheck my words. Ha!

Let's get back on topic. What would you do if these emails were floating in your inbox?

1-----(from the School of Metaphysics)

Society for Intuitive Research Grand Meeting

Greetings all,

This is just a friendly reminder that we will be meeting this Thursday (9/7/06) at 7PM on the Quad-side steps of Foellinger Auditorium. If you trust in the weather forecast, it appears that it will be a beautifully sunny day.
And remember, come prepared with any strange/interesting dreams that you have been able to remember as of late.

Have an Admirable Day,

2-----(from an Israli Club)
Metallic Blues
Israeli Movie Night Premiere

Come to the first of many Israeli movies playing at
Hillel this semester!!!  

Metallic Blues is a road-movie about two Israeli car dealers who buy a
vintage American-made limousine hoping to get rich quick by selling it in Hamburg. What they encounter along the way are unexpected truths about friendship, reconciliation, and the ghosts of Germany’s dark past.

Would you go?