Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Greeting: Then and Now

We found a poem written by my great great grandfather, Adoniram Judson Holt, for the year 1922.  After reading it, my teary eyes saw my life flash before them.  It's funny how from the eve of 1922 to eve 2012, we still wish for the same things for our friends and for ourselves.  I hope this finds you well.

Again I am sending my greeting,
To the friends who have brightened my way;
Who along with the years that are fleeting,
Unselfishly have been repeating,
Their kindness, despite my depleting;
Thus sweetly extending my stay.

This world would be dreary and cheerless
Were it not for the friends who abide,
When dangers impending, are fearless,
When sorrows assail, are not tearless,
When needed are present and peerless,
Who have proven both truly and tried.

What a comfort to have a great Brother,
Who while Savior and Kind, is our Friend,
When trials assail, will ever prevail,
When others deride will ever abide,
More constant than even a mother,
Our Advocate unto the end.

So over the year that is ending,
And across the days coming to me,
A heart-throb of love I am sending,
And praying for mercies unending,
God's grace all-sufficient defending
'Till sunset shall smile upon thee.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Thoughts--Converting a Scrooge, one Day at a Time

I'm working my way through an Advent devotional, designed to stop and make me think about all the aspects of Advent that I normally miss.  I've spent so long being a scrooge against the commercialization of Christmas, that I missed celebrating the fullness of the true meaning of Christmas.  While the devotional ( is sometimes simple, it really has been an exercise in making me think about the true reason for the season, and the fact that yes, sometimes the Christmas season does start  before the end of November...sigh.  The first Sunday of Advent was the 27th of November this year.  But Advent is celebrated in its entirety for a reason, so I'm trying to focus on that instead of the secular foolishness that makes me scroogy.
Below is an excerpt from one of my journalings for the devotional.

I think the thing to remember is our creation doesn't stop at our birth, or at the end of all of our growth spurts (when we look like adults).  God forms us, in our mother's womb, before she even knew us (Psalm 139).  He gives us a body, gives us a life, and then ushers us through it, giving us blessings and hardships along the way.  Through our life experiences, he continues to create who we are in Him; that is, if we surrender to him and let him work in us.  God's salvation didn't come at the birth of Jesus.  His perfect plan was only made complete upon the sacrifice of his Son.  The Advent season is about celebrating the coming of the Savior, but not the saving of the people.  The Advent season is about the beginning of our salvation, but not the completion.  Just like we must continually be tweaked and shaped and touched up to really become the men and women of God, so did Jesus, until he had completed the work God laid out for him.  It wasn't until he was resurrected from the dead that our salvation was created, and it isn't until the day we see that Savior, really, that we are fully created to be who God intended.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Turbulence: a Hindrance or a Necessity?

It's been a while since I've blogged.  It wasn't intentional to start something and not finish it...or not keep up with it, but apparently that's how my life works sometimes.  Right now I'm looking out of my stale apartment's windows, staring at a very gray, windy, rainy, miserable day.  Funny how the weather reflects our moods so often.

Or is it the other way around?

The turbulent winds outside mirror the turbulent thoughts in my head.  No, I'm not rainy or teary, but the finals A.D.D. is definitely kicking in, with thoughts and emotions racing around, making the windows of my soul whistle, like the wind outside does to 202's.
Why is it that in the moments you need to focus most, the wind picks up?  It's a peculiar phenomenon, sparked by the turbulent powers of the world, this I know.  I would have hoped by now that I would be impervious to these powers, or at least wind-proof.  Alas, the whipping wind always finds the cracks, the chinks, the loose seals.  It finds the places you haven't locked up tight, the places you're still vulnerable.

Vulnerable.  What a scary word. says it means:
1. Capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.
2. Open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.
3. (Of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend.
It's formed from the Latin words that mean "to wound" and "-ble."  Par for the course, since we spend our entire lives trying to lock up tight--keep every breeze out--become an impenetrable fortress--nothing gets through to hurt me.  Funny how it doesn't work.

...such is the human condition...

We can strive and rant and rail and rage against the world, the wind, the sun and the rain, and yet...we still find ourselves with wind-chills down our backs at the most inconvenient of times.  Seems pretty futile, if you ask me.

I look out the window again just now, and it's sunny.  The sun has broken through those gray clouds, kissing the autumn-dead leaves, making them look copper, not dead and brittle as they did five minutes ago.
To be wind-proof, you really need to be weather-proof.  To be weather proof, you need to live underground, in a cement bunker.  The problem with living in a cement bunker is you can't see the copper, sun-kissed leaves that come with the poignant beauty of a turbulent autumn day.  The problem with a cement bunker, is you don't see the jewel-like rain drops trapped on a window screen, you don't see the blue stripes in the sky, you don't hear the power of the wind ripping through those copper leaves.

Is it the same with our own bodily bunker?  The world tells us to lock ourselves up tight: don't let anyone or anything in without your permission, without you opening that cement bunker of a heart.  Is that really what I want?  Do I want to be life-proof?  Some days, when the wind is whipping, the leaves are brittle, the sky is dark, and my mood mirrors it all, yes, I do want to be life-proof.  But it never fails that something, a little ray of sunshine, a little stripe of blue, a glint of copper, a jeweled raindrop is given to me by the Ultimate Bunker.  I wouldn't have noticed all those little beauties, had it not been for the miserably gray weather from earlier. it is gray again, windy and wicked.  Again, my windows are vulnerable to the sharp winds.  Seems like we'll never win: cement and life-proof, or glass and vulnerable.  One ensures protection from everything, the other offers the chance of seeing beauty, even if it only one glimpse at a time.

Conundrum.  It's quite the catch-22, it seems.  We each have a decision to make: are we going to be solid, cemented, impenetrable fortresses, or are we going to have with drafty windows that are bejeweled with raindrops?  If I'd asked myself this question before now, I would have quickly answered "impenetrable" without a second thought.  Now, I would argue that I wouldn't have really had a first thought then either.  Now, I'd choose the drafty windows.  How do you know you're alive if you can't feel that wind leaking in to your home?  I'll take the gray days, the racing thoughts, the A.D.D., the icy wind, if it means I can have the beautiful, crunchy copper, the brilliant blue stripes, and the roaring power of the wind.

Vulnerability isn't just about being available for hurt or discomfort or frustration.  It's about being available for those glances of beauty and moments of triumph and those hidden blessings that only the icy wind can bring.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The End is the Beginning

As a senior, I rule the school.  I’ve conquered freshman stupidity, sophomoric attitude, junior slump and the summers in between with no major incident.  I have arrived.  The end is almost in sight. For some, that's a sad thing--they can't bear to leave our beloved Athens. For me, it's kind of exciting...A new place to explore and call home!
But I can’t shake the feeling that this year is very reminiscent of freshman year.  Sure, as seniors we’re smarter, better adjusted, and older, but I’d venture to say that seniors cut loose just as much as freshies--we just do it legally ;)
No, it’s not the cliche “I feel young again,” because typical seniors in college aren’t exactly’s more of a feeling of everything coming full circle.  Seniors are on the brink of change, about to venture out of the fun, exciting microcosm of Athens (or another college town) and into the grind.
Because of this, we slam as much as possible into our days--and nights--to stuff our memories with time in DT Athens, football weekends, camping excursions, frisbee Fridays, too frat to care Tuesdays, house parties, and more...So we can say, one day, in truth that college was the most fun time in our life.  In reality, Freshman and Senior years are the best times in our lives, sophomore and junior years we just trudge through to get here.  
Moreover...allow me to wax philosophical for a moment: perhaps Senior year is reminiscent of freshman year because we spend so much time reminiscing on that time and (hopefully) considering how far we’ve come.
Yes, self reflection is egocentric, too pensive, and sometimes misty-eyed.
But it has occurred to me that if you have no period of self reflection on your life and your past then you have not solidified within your attitudes and values the lessons you’ve learned.
Without at time of self reflection to think and talk about how much you’ve grown, you cannot actually grow.  You must be able to objectively examine your experience, mistakes, and adventures and pick out things that have made you who you are as a big, bad senior.  Without these realizations, you’ll do the big bad senior thing, but you’ll just be a big old freshman at heart.
If you don’t realize what lessons you’ve learned, it never becomes a part of who you are.  Why?  Because if you can’t think or talk about the lessons you’ve learned and how they've changed you...then you haven’t learned them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trying my hand at Psalm writing

1Praise the LORD,
   Maker of the Universe, defender of his creations.
2Praise the LORD, who created
   the birds, the mice, the moss, the flowers;
who created the oceans, the mountains, the tigers, the elephants.
3Praise the LORD,
   whose power and whose creations are never ending.
   4The birds of the sky have none of the same feathers.
   The fish of the seas have none of the same scales.
   5No two striped, spotted, splotched or patterned beasts are the same.
   No two men are alike, from
fingerprints to eyelashes, they are different.
   6Each creation on this earth has a place, has a purpose,
            has a father.
7Praise the LORD, O the Earth.
Praise the LORD.
   8You brought each creature into this world.
   You provide each hair, feather, and scale.
   9You feed all living things with air, minerals, water, plants, and meat.
   You give everything life.
10You know each bird of paradise by name.
   You recognize each mountain as your own.
11You know when the platypus and the echidna lay their eggs
            and give their milk.
   You cool the desert creatures by night,
            and enlighten them by day.
12You buoy the sea otters as they eat.
   You hold up the sequoias and the redwoods,
            like your cedars of Lebanon.
13You give the laughter to the streams and the hyenas.
14You hold the koalas as they slumber, and you hold the
            colugos and squirrels as they fly.
15You are the reason the wolves howl and the auroras dance.
16Praise the LORD, O the Earth!
Praise the LORD of life!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Procrastination: aka Stopping to Smell the Roses

Why is it that only when you are swamped with work do you find time to stop and smell the roses...or as it is in this case...stop and write a blog post?  Don't I have more important things to do right now?  Undoubtedly, yes, I do.  Don't I have deadlines coming up of both the school-imposed and self-imposed varieties?  Yes.  So what's the deal?  Why am I "wasting my time" writing about seemingly unimportant things?
Maybe that's why I'm writing: because I don't know the answer to that question, and I'm not entirely convinced this is an unimportant writing.
I think the better question here is: why do I not always make time to stop and smell the roses?  We just returned from a retreat to Emily's (my best friend/sister/heterosexual life mate) family farm in Alabama this weekend, where we had mandatory "manna before manna" every morning...requiring us to get up, take a walk, get into the spiritual manna before we were allowed breakfast.  I cannot begin to describe how calming it is to watch the mist  rise over rolling hills, watch the sun burn through the night's leftover haze, listen to the birds awaken and start singing praises, listen to the soft crunch of grass and pine needles under my feet, and breathe in the beautiful morning air.  And I'm not even a morning person...
We were forced to stop and smell the roses...or the grass, as it were...each morning this weekend, and yet when we came back here, I immediately fell willingly back into the grind of packing every moment with schoolwork or meaningless facebooking!  (And yes, spell check, facebooking is a verb...time for you to play catch-up.)  Do I have to flee the city and stay in an old farmhouse to relish waking up with the sun every morning?  Do I have to abandon my schoolwork to take the time to take a walk?  Sure, I walk every morning...from my parking deck, across two streets, down several sidewalks, and up cement stairs into my building, where I happily (or unhappily...depending on the day) remain.  But I'm always rushing, always thinking of what car might hit me as I jaywalk, struggling to remember which level of the deck my car is on, where my keys are, and always always making sure I don't spill my morning coffee.
Not exactly smelling the roses, or crape myrtles lining the sidewalks.
I guess I just needed to sort out what it is that is so refreshing about a morning walk, a calm, quiet time before the world bustles awake...It's that sense of quiet companionship that I think all of us crave in one form or another.  For some, a book and a cup of tea is perfect; for others, it's a dog; for more it's a date with someone special; for me, it's a walk alone in Creation with my Creator.
So here's the fun part: I want to see if you'll do this with me:  I dare you to wake up before you have to and talk a walk, around your apartment complex, down your street, into a forest, wherever you are.  If you're not so sure about the Creator bit, that's fine, just take the time to appreciate the morning.  And I ask you to dare me to do the same.  This means that I'll have to go to bed earlier than normal if I'm to walk before my 8am.  Bad dare on my part?  Somehow I still don't think so.
Maybe it's my procrastinator's spirit coming out, but I wish I took the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses more often than I do...because, really, they smell pretty dern good.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Naturalist

I learned something cool today!  Well, I learn something cool a lot of days, and I learn lots of cool things every day.  But anyways, during my high-speed devotional for the day, while my computer was booting up so I could finish my homework...I read 1 Kings 4-5.  Once I'd waded through all the "he appointed all these people to do one set of things and he appointed this set of people to do another set of things," I got to the coolest lines of the night: in chapter 4: 29- 34: "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.  He was wiser than any other man...And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations.  He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five.  He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the walls.  He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.  Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom."
In case you missed that...Solomon, the Wise King, son of David, was a naturalist.  He was gifted with insight into the natural world by the God of Creation.  How AWESOME!
The God.  Of the Universe.  The One that created all this stuff.  Is telling.  Solomon.  About how He did it.  WHAT?
Solomon, did you write this stuff down?  Because I'm praying you did, I'm praying that your writings are in some ancient library somewhere, that they didn't get burned with the library of Alexandria.  I know this is totally a thin limb I'm standing on...but from a purely scientific standpoint....This is a discovery that would change everything we know now.  It would change our entire timeline of scientific discovery.
Juss' sayin'.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Passion and Purity--Achievable Today?

Just finished reading a book by Elisabeth Elliot called Passion and Purity. It's about her journey with God and with her eventual husband, Jim Elliot. They were in and out of contact, sure of their love for one another for around 5 years before marrying. The closest they came to "dating" was the letters they began writing to each other after he confessed his love for her and his assurance that God had, at least for a time, called him to remain single.

I'd venture to say that everyone who reads this book knows that it was written by an older woman, steeped in traditions that are not common traditions of today. Indeed, Elisabeth and Jim were married in 1953, which means he confessed his love for her in 1948. Yes, she is an older woman. Yes she is steeped in traditions that are no longer common. Many would write off this book--I am tempted to do so, myself--as antiquated and...well...antiquated. Elisabeth--"Bett," to her beloved Jim--knew this would be the thought, even as she wrote the book. She constantly assured me, as I turned page after page, that this life she led/leads is doable for all who wish to answer the call.

Talk about stopping you in your tracks. In this book, their diligence to the letter of God's calling, and her frank attitude about it all, is quite unlike anything I've encountered before. How can they so both so matter-of-fact-ly accept that--though they have an undeniable, deep, and abiding love for one another--they may never marry each other or anyone else? How? The world, and everyone else, always talks about how man and woman are made for each other. This is true, we were made to be compatible, to fit.

But that is not the design that Elisabeth and Jim focus on. Instead, they choose to answer the call put out in the New Testament: -Mathew 19:12: "For while some are incapable of marriage because they were born so, or were made so by me, there are others who have themselves renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let those accept it who can." -1 Corinthians 7:34-35: "The unmarried or celibate woman cares for the Lord's business; her aim is to be dedicated to him in body as in spirit; but the married woman cares for worldly things; her aim is to please her husband. In saying this I have no wish to keep you on a tight reign. I am thinking simply of your own good, of what is seemly, and of your freedom to wait upon the Lord without distraction."

Would I be willing to make that call, if it were placed on my heart? It hasn't, as of yet, but if it does...what then? Do I accept my fate quietly, like the turning of a page? I know the correct answer: "Yes." I know my heart's answer: "It would be nigh impossible." I know better than to worry about that now: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble on its own." (Mathew 6:34).

Returning to the unanswered question (which is also tied to the single-life question): Is Elisabeth and Jim Elliot's path of yesteryear achievable in the here and now? If we are to listen to Elisabeth, the answer is a resounding "YES." If we are to listen to any other source, the answer could be "maybe," or "no," or "who cares?" I think what it comes down to is a couple of things: 1) Do you care enough to try? and 2) Wherein does your hope lie? If the answer to #1 is "no," I will still tell you to hear me out 'till the end. If your answer to #1 is "yes," proceed to question #2. If you do not know the answer to #2, spend some time with yourself, honestly considering the potential answers.

I think the place, person, or idea in which you place your hope is key in determining whether or not this kind of life you can achieve. For Elisabeth, her hope was in God, her Creator. She knew, by faith, that her Creator knew better than she, knew that He had grander plans than she could imagine, knew that He was the only one who saw the entire picture, while she (and the rest of us) are like near-sighted horses with blinders on. Because of all of that, she could be at peace, knowing that if she was denied this great pleasure, He would still be her God, and she would be His beloved daughter, heir to the kingdom.

Elisabeth even wrote a "leaflet" to this effect, which I will copy here:

Be still and know that He is God. When you are lonely, too much stillness is exactly the thing that seems to be laying waste your soul. Use that stillness to quiet your heart before God. Get to know Him. If He is God, He is still in charge.

Remember that you are not alone. "The Lord, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee neither forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage (Deut. 31:8). Jesus promised His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20). Never mind if you cannot feel His presence. He is there, never for one moment forgetting you.

Give thanks. In times of my greatest loneliness I have been lifted up by the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not o the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen." This is something to thank God for. This loneliness itself, which seems a weight, will be far outweighed by glory.

Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.

Accept your loneliness. It is one stage, and only one stage, on a journey that brings you to God. It will not always last.

Offer up your loneliness to God, as the little boy offered to Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. God can transform it for the good of others,

Do something for somebody else. No matter who or where you are, there is something you can do, somebody who needs you. Pray that you may be an instrument of God's peace, that where there is loneliness you may bring joy.

Yes, the loneliness she speaks of is a life without marriage, but it is also applicable to the loneliness in living a life of purity...because, let's face it, in today's world, it's a fairly lonely life. But, if Elisabeth is to be believed, and I think she is, then it's a full life: full of hope, of love (deeper, even, than love between a married couple), of strength, and of eternality.

Here's to striving for a full life, one that's worth the wait and the heartache.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Major Nerd

So, I know the last time I posted something about a
N E R D A L E R T,
it was about liking field guides. Well folks, it gets worse...

We went to Hard Labor Creek State Park yesterday with some FUN volunteers and their families. Inside the park is an observatory run by the Georgia State astronomy program ( They have a deal with the park, that if they hold open house once a month--and more often in the summer--they can own that tiny bit of the park, and use it for research. We're lucky enough that Kristy's (our boss's) husband, Nole, is working on his PhD at GSU for Astronomy. He's pretty legit...not only does he study big stars, he just got approved for Hubble TIME! That means he can use the HUBBLE TELESCOPE FOR HIS RESEARCH! This is awesome, not only because it's the Hubble, but because the Hubble is an old man, and it won't be around for much longer (sad).
Anyways, I digress again. We, Kristy, Reid, Nole, and I trekked out to the park and set up for night of trivia and spying on the stars. We bribed Nole's astronomer pals with Papa John's (free food will motivate most scientists...for the record), and so the night began. A lot of the volunteers either couldn't come or didn't show up, probably because it rained in Atlanta yesterday. The weird thing is, Rutledge, GA, has a weather shield that prevents it from acting like the rest of Georgia when there is bad weather. It was sunny all day! Speaking of sun, while it was up, we brought out a sun-scope to look at the sun...I got to see Prominences! That means flamey things that stick out off the surface of the sun! You could watch them flame-up! It was awesome!
Once the rest of the students got there, we started trivia, which, to be honest, was a hot mess. But, we managed to power through it, give moon-pies as prizes to the winners (clever...we know), and start up the telescopes. Now, this is not the tube that you stick your eye in, these telescopes are GIANT. Well, to the layman anyway.
The astronomers (who were a trip, by the way), showed us the Hercules Cluster Galaxy (looks like a big splat of stars), the Swan Nebula (looks like a fuzzy line), the Ring Nebula (looks like...a ring), Saturn (we saw it through a little telescope, then through the 20in telescope, where you could even see the atmosphere!!!!!!! THE ATMOSPHERE). It was, in case you haven't figured it out, AWESOME.
I kept getting so excited I squealed. No kidding, I squealed. If you need help understanding why it was so awesome, look up the stuff I listed--do a Google image search. We didn't see fancy colors, everything was black and white (to my eyes anyway), but it was amazing. To think that you are actually looking at light that traveled from so far away, you're looking into the past...because that light left the nebula or star or planet years and years was unbelievable.
I'm sure I embarrassed myself by being way overzealous, but I don't care. Finally getting a chance to see some of God's most beautiful creations was worth the potential embarrassment. Had I gotten into a spiritual debate, I would have been alone in that excitement, but it still doesn't dampen my enthusiasm. "Right-wing nut-jobs" might be kooky, but who cares? If my God can produce something that is that beautiful that "left-wing whatever-they-call-themselves" want to dedicate their lives to studying it...that's totally fine with me.
Woops, I didn't mean to get political there.
At any rate, last night was amazing. It was totally worth the sweat and the late night and the bug bites. We got to see some neat stuff, and then when all the kids left, we got to watch the astronomers work for a little while. Nole is studying a set of binary stars (stars that orbit each other and swap mass on occasion) that just had an upset in their orbit. The smaller star hit a disc of matter (think Saturn's rings, except an extension of the star) from the bigger star and changed the shape of the disc. Apparently, this has never happened before, even though they've been orbiting each other for quite some this is exciting for Nole. They take pictures through something called a spectrometer, which takes a picture of a certain portion of the light spectrum and separates the wavelengths. Through this process, they can determine where the majority of the mass/energy/whatever of the star resides. This is apparently important for something. The spectrometer photos we watched only took two minutes each, but sometimes they take pictures that last 1 hour!
Okay, so maybe I don't get everything about astronomy. Why do these stars matter to humans? Not entirely sure, since our Sun isn't a binary star...but who cares? It's still neat to watch professionals get really excited about their research, even if I can't understand it.

Speaking of research, it's time to get back to preliminary research for my senior thesis.

N E R D A L E R T # 2

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pirates at Fernbank? Best Day EVER!

So, when I was little, I'm pretty sure I always preferred pirates to princesses. If not back then, I do now! We had around 30 "professional" pirates from the Atlanta Pirate and Wench Guild (timeout, WHAT? We have a Pirate guild in Atlanta??, and we had a princess and a knight from Medieval Times. But, I'm getting ahead of day began long before the pirates and wenches and royalty...It began around 9am.

First, we brought up box after box of newspaper for our recyclable pirate hats and princess crowns...yes, my fingers were hours of playing with newspaper.

Then, we had to blow up the inflatable pirate ship...and test it!

Yes, that’s Tim (top photo), our Mr. Fix-it, who always jingles with keys, always has a coffee mug, and can fix anything, from exhibits to squeaky paper cutters. And that’s Reid, frolicking on the ship. Yes, they’re both grown men grinning like 6 year olds!

Then...the people came. We had lots of princesses wanting crowns:

And pirates wanting captain’s hats:

And crazy boating pirates:

And shy pirates:

And tattoo artists:

And precious daddy-princess pairs:

And pirate families seeking quiet overlooks:

And did I mention people??

And little pirates with big pirates:

And did I mention lots of pirates??

Who brought their own pirate photographer:

Anyways, that’s kind of how my day looked. Except all these shots of single people don’t really capture the fact that by 12 noon, there were roughly 1200 people in the museum already. By the way…the museum opens at 10 am.

By 2pm, our fingers were blackened, our booted feet were hurting, but we were all still having a good time:

As the event wrapped up, we put the hats away, and the tattoos away, and the ship away, and the tables away…but the music kept beckoning, and the pirates kept dancing. The pirates and wenches are the types to have fun wherever they go, even if it’s a kids’ event at a natural history museum. For all I know, the pirates are still partying under the dinosaurs. Best part of the afternoon?

The pirate guild invited me out to the pubs to find the rum …

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Field Guides

So, I've always liked writing, but I never thought I'd try my hand at writing a "field guide." At work we're working on cataloging every specimen, egg, pelt, feather, etc that is in a room used for weekend education activities. I call it the "Weekend Wonders" room, but really it's "Lab A," or something like that. Reid and I are going through everything by "category:" birds, dinos/fossils/ancient stuff, mammals, ocean stuff, reptiles/amphibians, rocks/plants.
I've worked my way through the birds, being sure to cite my sources and include range maps for everything. I thought it'd be pretty easy, and boring, having taken Vertebrate Natural History...but lo and behold, I learned the coolest stuff!
Did you know that there are actually three species of peafowl?? Peafowl is the correct term for the entire species, male and female. Don't laugh, I'm about to cite Wikipedia (which, I promise, I did refrain from citing in the guide). We have the Congo Peafowl ( found in Africa, the India Peafowl, which is characterized by a blue chest (, and the Javan Peafowl, which is not coffee colored like I'd hoped, but is characterized by a green chest ( Sweet. There are three species of peafowl! Not to mention all the colors people choose to breed into the birds (including...PURPLE!).
Did you also know that Indigo Buntings have different songs according to where they're from geographically? And that they defend their territory from Indigo Buntings with different dialects? We're not that different...we have accents, and some might even say we're defensive toward people from different parts of the country (c'mon Southerners...think about all those Yankee jokes...and vice versa). Weird.
Anyways, I wish I had Microsoft Publisher on my laptop so I could work on it in my spare time...that's how much fun I'm having with this project!

Besides that, nothing much is new. We're watching the first Harry Potter movie and I'm reminded of how much I like this one. In this movie, Hogwarts is such a novelty, the thrill of magic is so new for Harry and all the rest, that it takes me back to when the series was new to all of us. I'm excited for the conclusion coming up soon, though I have to say I am also excited for it to be finally finished. The newness and excitement has worn off, eight movies over the course of several years will do that to anyone. Although, I will say, I look forward to reading these books with my kids one day, when they become old enough, as my parents did with me. There are many valuable lessons to be learned in these books, lessons even Muggles can learn. My favorites, and always relevant, will always remain: "We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are." And, to paraphrase "There comes a time when we must choose between what is right and what is easy." Oh, and by the way, I'm pretty sure all those were said by Dumbledore. 'Cuz he's awesome.
That is all.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Learning Doesn't Stop Outside of Class

Okay, so…I’ve never done this before. I made my own website when I was like…10 and went to one of those sweet Discovery camps, but I’ve never blogged. It can’t be that hard, it’s like a journal on the internet. I guess I’ll learn as I go! This is private because Fernbank would have to approve anything I say as an employee, so I’m hoping to loophole this since it’s a personal, private thing. Because really, I want to share this with you, and I don’t want to do it as a representative of the Museum, I want to do it as your friend and/or family member.

We’ve (Reid—fellow intern—and I) been doing this for over a month, and I’ve already learned more in June than I thought I would! Lucky for me, my majors in school focus on mammals and other primarily terrestrial animals. However, here at Fernbank, the focus is on mollusks, ancient animals, and kids. Yes, I link all three of those together as if they are all in the same category, because…let’s face it, they are. ;) The kids that visit are, for the most part, well behaved, intelligent, small people. But kids-r-kids, and some are really…well…kid like. Frankly, my dog listens better than some of these children. It happens, I know I wasn’t an angel when I was three either. I’m just sayin’.

So, back to my original point, I’m thankful that the information I’m learning here is not a constant repeat of the information I’m learning at Warnell. It’s nice to step away from school and still learn new things. But it's nice to be in the "real world" too, instead of taking more classes. Learning outside the classroom is just as, if not more beneficial to developing yourself..or I think so anyway. I'm learning not only natural resource information, but also people skills, diplomacy, respect, teaching skills, and I'm learning more about who I want to become.

People are hard to deal with. Let's face it. Even the most easygoing person out there isn't going to be pleased all the time. And the biggest thing is (this is where diplomacy comes into play), you can't just say what you want to say when you want to say it. Being in the public eye, and being a part of a big organization makes you double-check yourself before saying anything. It's hard to learn when to keep my mouth shut--thanks, Omi, I come by that honestly--but keeping your mouth shut and being diplomatic is SO important in a public-eye-job like this. For example...ever seen kid-leashes? I have. Even hand-cuff leashes with retractable know, like those dog leashes? Yeah. Mama, Daddy, did you ever want to put me on a leash? Maybe you, as parents, can shed some light on this trend? Please feel free to comment on this post if you have some insight.

But, I haven't bitten anyone...I haven't even considered it. Although, speaking of biting, my favorite question I've ever received from anyone at the museum is...."Does it bite?" This question occurs when I am helping with animal walkarounds (we take an animal or two out onto the museum floor so people can see them and kids 4+ can touch them...don't get me started on 4- kids that like to grab). So here I am, holding a leopard gecko (which by the way, isn't more than 8inches long, including it's fat tail), and I get asks if it bites. My usual response is..."can you bite?" "uh..yes?" "Well, so can it!" I then say something like, "If someone stuck their hand in my face or squeezed me or was mean to me, I'd consider biting them too." Is this scary for 6-year-olds? I'm trying to help them realize that yes, everything bites, but, I wouldn't let them touch this animal if I knew it was calm, and when correctly handled, wouldn't freak. Let me know if I shouldn't say that. I'm working on my patience, but I know that sometimes I can be blunt, and I don't want that to affect someone's museum visits.

Anyways, I think that's all for me, for now. I look forward to hopefully getting some comments! If not, that's cool too :)