Treehouse

Being back is weird. It wasn’t weird for the first couple of days, but then reality actually set in and I went into damage control mode. I don’t know if you would term it ‘culture shock’ or not, but it’s just a very subtle feeling that I’ve changed, other people have changed, and the rules have changed, but I don’t know exactly how. I guess I’m just trying to fit back into the hole that I ripped myself out of nine months ago, but the geometry of the hole has shifted.

When I actually stop and try to think about this, I realize that I turn into quite an emotional mess – insofar as I am capable – see anybody whom I lived with for commentary on my emotional limitations – and the point is that I’m really trying to avoid thinking about this. I’m going to have to face it at some point, but I’m actually a wimp.

I officially finished unpacking this afternoon, when I set my printer up. I even took pictures, because my desk is (!!!!) clean, but Flickr is not behaving, so you’ll have to wait on pictures. The apartment is tiny, but when everything is put away it doesn’t look cluttered. I tried to avoid putting too much up on the walls, but there were a few posters I just had to have up. Yeah F-22s. It feels like living in a treehouse. I just hope the stairs will stay intact for five months.

Yesterday was packed pretty full, even though I didn’t have class. I touched a disc for the first time in nine months (okay, a competition-weight disc) and made a fool of myself playing ultimate in the Acabowl. I’m still getting over being sick and trying not to bust up my knee again, but those are pretty lame excuses. Immediately after I went an info session for Boston Consulting Group – in the interests of a summer job, mainly – which was a button-up shirt affair. Which proved slightly difficult when I spread mud all over my pants in the (muddy) Acabowl. Seriously, the stuff is thick and black and at least four inches deep in some places. The nice thing about having a sister at the same college is that you can request (demand) clothes at short notice, so the mud issue didn’t become major. And then Bible study and CRU awesomeness, and then a movie with some awesome sophomores. And watching Ingrid put massive amounts of butter on her rice.

I should go read Heat Transfer now – I’ve been saying that for the past two days – and try not to fall asleep, but I’ll probably end up fooling around with the video clips I took in Israel. I have a small margin for procrastination, so I think I’ll enjoy it while I can. I really have to review Mech 311 stuff though, because McStravick is throwing a “Stress Quiz” at us in late January, and all I can remember is that Mohr’s Circle relates stress and strain. I can’t remember any equations or anything – akk. I’m rusty.

Random quotes of the day: (in class) “You can come and leave whenever you want, as long as you don’t generate white noise.” “I know exactly what I’m going to be talking about, even though I will look aloof.” – Dr. Pol D. Spanos, Mech 412: Vibrations

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I’m Still Alive, in Case You Were Wondering

See above. Although it feels like my esophagus has been replaced with a tube of 40-grit sandpaper, I’m still kicking. I also have to finish finals.

I think I’m posting to validate the inordinate amount of time I just spent trying to get my new phone plan together. The website ran me through the whole selection/billing fiasco, and then announce that there was an error and I should see the nearest dealer. Of which there aren’t any in Israel.

I was also wasting time and looking at some of my first blog posts from way back when, and my style has changed quite a lot. I think I’ve lost my touch, reduced to merely recounting events. See this one, for example.

All right, I really should get these essays out of the way. Oh, and Happy New Year!

Inside Story

I thought that I might as well post this, since I went to the trouble of writing it. This was my “paper” that I presented in my Middle Eastern Media class.

Joining the Club

Middle East Perspectives on a Nuclear Iran

Introduction

The Iranian nuclear program was initiated in 1957 with the Iran-United States Agreement for Cooperation concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy, as part of the United States’ “Atoms for Peace” program. Backed by the Shah, it continued steadily through the next twenty years, including an extensive nuclear purchase program that was supervised by Western powers. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 put a halt to development, as it was not a priority for the new administration. However, the mid-1980s and 1990s saw cooperation with both North Korea and China, and the birth of nuclear weapons suspicion. In 2002, Russia began construction of a contracted reactor at Bushehr, under IAEA safeguards, followed by the official unveiling of enrichment activities by Iran in 2003. Through the next three years, the Islamic Republic scuffled with the IAEA, suspending and resuming its enrichment program until 11 April 2006, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that laboratory samples of uranium had successfully been enriched to the 3.5% reactor-grade level.

The significance of this issue may be simplistically classed under two themes: control and potential. If Iran had the ability to produce nuclear fuel from uranium ore, its dependence upon outside sources would be vastly lessened, in turn depleting the amount of control the outside world has upon Iran’s program. The country’s accountability for the internal supply and use of enriched uranium would be greatly reduced. Reactor-grade uranium needs only to be additionally cycled through centrifuge cascades to reach the 90% weapons-grade level. This potential, along with the possible actions of a nuclear-armed Iran, engenders concern in both the region and the international community. This media watch project evaluated reactions from mainly Iranian sources to the 11 April announcement, and their general views on a nuclear Islamic Republic.

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Christmas is …

Walking through the streets of Jerusalem, not exactly sure where you’re going
Riding in an Arab bus beside concrete shield walls, two stories high and angled at the top to protect cars on the road from falling blast debris and bullets
Conversing with a cab driver in Hebrew
Being warned by above driver to speak only English in the West Bank
Following the sounds of brass Christmas carols to Manger Square
Standing in the middle of a concert audience with absolutely no room to move

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Cue Procrastination

I’ve been staring at my spiffy new layout for over three hours now, trying to whip myself into actually writing this extremely short paper for my Middle Eastern Media class. I really should be able to do it in, say, an hour, as I have all the outlines and notes – I gave the presentation this past Thursday, complete with PowerPoint – but I can’t seem to get enthusiastic about it. How does one sum up the nuclear history of Iran in a single paragraph? And explain the significance of the 11 April 2006 announcement in another single paragraph? And come up with something that doesn’t sound like a fifth-grader wrote it?

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Petra in (Some) Pictures

I took over three hundred photos and videos in and around Petra – I’m not sure how many of them are worth looking at, but I’ve picked a sample.

I went down with a few other folks on Friday morning to Eilat, which is the southernmost city in Israel. If you go any further south, you get into the Red Sea, so no cities there. It’s a six or seven hour ride from Tel Aviv, stopping over at Be’er Sheva and continuing down the Arava valley on the east side of the Negev.

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Four Loaves and Some Bologna (Pictures)

These have been an interesting past … three weekends. Wow, it has been three weekends. Tiberias, Petra, and some hiking in the Negev … good stuff. I haven’t transferred the Negev pictures yet, but as you can see an entire week’s worth of pictures from my bike trip, I’m not too worried. I did put those up, didn’t I? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I did.

Tiberias, known as Tiveriah in Hebrew, is an old Roman town on the Sea of Galilee, or the Kinneret (everything around here has at least two names. If it doesn’t, it’s not legit.) It gets a bit of scene time in the New Testament, particulary in the five loaves and two fishes episode. The town itself is noticeably divided into two: the waterfront touristy part – mostly Israeli tourists, actually, as Tiberias is one of the four holy cities, and is just a good, unhurried weekend getaway (I ran into my Hebrew teacher there, taking some time with her husband away from the kids) – and (wow, long sentence) the slightly grungier part of town where people actually live. I’m really sorry about the excessive sentence length. I’ve been hanging around too many Germans lately. Among other things, I’ve learned that a half-page long sentence is completely acceptable in the language. And they capitalize every single noun.

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