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Saturday, July 26, 2008

How to Serve Leftover Memories:

1. Place on back burner and allow to simmer
2. Add a dash of exaggeration and a pinch of hyperbole
3. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly
4. Empty into bowls, making sure to keep chronological order
5. Serve at room temperature

The Robbery

In Oxford, there are more bikes than people and more bike thefts than, um, well…more bike thefts than there are in most other places. So I wasn’t at all surprised when Dane’s (my housemate) unlocked bike was stolen from our unlocked shed. After all, my family has had more than a few bikes stolen from our garage when it was left open. Dane and Will, however, being from smaller towns than Orlando, were a little uneasy about the idea of someone having been on our property without us knowing. But, life went on and there were no more thefts…as least for a few weeks.

A little while after this, around 1:30 in the morning, I was asleep in bed, wearing a t-shirt and pyjama pants as usual. Because the only doors with locks in our house were the bathroom doors, there was a tacit agreement that a shut door was a locked a door. So I was surprised to be woken up by someone knocking outside my room. I turned on my lamp.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Will.”

I got up and a pulled a sweatshirt on over my t-shirt. “Will? What’s wrong?” I opened the door and blinked as my eyes adjusted to the light in the hallway.

“I think someone’s trying to steal our bikes. Listen.” He and I were both silent for a minute. Suddenly, there was a thump-thump from the side of the house, where Will and I kept our bikes. I jumped.

“See?” Will said. “I could hear it in my room. And I saw lights outside the window. I called the police,” he added, matter-of-factly.

“How long ago?”

“Just a few minutes. I was wondering if they might have a car out front. We could see if they leave.”

I nodded, and we both walked over to my window, which overlooked the street in front of our house.

“I don’t see anything,” I whispered.

“Me either.” There was another thump-thump from outside, startling us.

“Did the police say they were coming?”

Will nodded. “Yeah.”

We stood looking out the window for a little while longer.

“They must be pretty determined thieves, to still be out there,” I observed.

“Yeah, but the lock are those big U ones. They probably take a while to cut through.”

“Still, it seems stupid for a thief to stay outside one house for so long.”

There was another thump-thump. “Maybe I should go outside and look?” Will mused.

“That’s a bad idea. What if they’re armed?”

“I could take the big knife from the kitchen.”

“Will, don’t be stupid.”

We stood at the window a little longer.

Finally, Will walked back out to the hall. “I’m going to call the police again.”

A few minutes later, I saw a police car pull up in front of the house. Two officers got out and knocked on the door. Will and I both walked out to the landing on the staircase. Will started to head downstairs to open the door.

“You stay inside,” he bravely told me. I rolled my eyes.

“Do you think we should tell Dane what’s going on?”

Will made a face that clearly said that an atomic bomb could land on our roof without Dane waking up, then went outside with the police officers. I watched from the window while Will showed around to the side of the house and then disappeared out the back, to look at the shed. A few minutes later, the officers got back into their car and drove away. Will came inside, looking rather sheepish.

“No one there, huh?” I asked.

Will shook his head. “No. And I don’t think the police noticed, but while we were outside, I heard the noise again…it was the wind rattling the door on the shed.”

I laughed.

“But I did see lights” Will insisted, turning to the hall window.

I followed his gaze to window, and sure enough, there were three coloured lights blinking outside. Or were they? Will and I figured it out at the same time, turning from the window, and looking at the internet box down the hall. The internet box that had three blinking lights, which were reflected in the window.

The End

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poem

A Haiku:

Stationary bike.
A torture machine that goes
Nowhere very fast.
______________________

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Technical Difficulties

On Sunday, I did an afternoon run. I ran 3 miles in about 32 minutes, but unfortunately I have no proof of this, because it was raining when I left. Which meant I couldn’t wear my iPod.

It should have been a wonderful run. There’d been a cloud cover all day, which meant cooler temperatures, and as I was getting ready leave, there was a light, steady drizzle, perfect makeings for a cool run. I was still excited about my PR (personal record) on Thursday of 29:15, and with such great weather conditions, I thought I might be able to break it.

I stretched, and began my run. I had scarcely left my neighbourhood though when the rain stopped, and the sun came out in full force. I could see dark clouds behind me, however, and figured I would get a nice drenching before my run was over.

So, I kept plodding along humming to myself to replace my running music, and composing this blog entry in my head (in case you ever wondered, most of my blog entries are composed either while I’m running, or while walking to places – most of my essays too). The whole time I could see the rainclouds at my back, but I was still in the sun.

…An interruption for a brief lesson on sweat…

Sweat (or perspiration, if we want to be all smart-like), is the body’s way of cooling down. When water undergoes a phase change, it absorbs latent heat. So when the drops of sweat on your skin evaporate, heat is absorbed by the water to allow it to turn into gas. And when that heat is absorbed, your body cools down. My scientifically inaccurate image is to picture that each drop of sweat pulls away a little spot of heat from your body.

…Back to the original post…

Because it had already been raining, the air was super-saturated, or in other words, very, very humid. About as humid as you can get without it actually raining. This means instead of nicely evaporating and cooling me off, my sweat stayed on my body, like an extra layer of insulation. My not-so-nice definitely non-scientific image is of boiling alive in your own perspiration. Which pretty accurately describes how I felt. I could still see the hopeful clouds closing in on me, so I pushed on.

As I ran, I deliberately ran into low hanging branches so the water left on them from the last rain would brush against my face. These occasional splashes of water were like gasps of air to drowning swimmer (yes, I do like to use exaggerated images – why do you ask?). My shoes and socks were wet by this time, from running through puddles, and it was altogether a miserable run.

I finally turned into my neighbourhood, did my cool down, and hauled myself through the front door of my house. My mom, hearing me come in, called out, “Do you need a towel?”

“Why would I?” I asked, “It didn’t rain.”

“Really?” replied my mom. “It poured here.”


Random Thought for the Day: It’s hard to floss your teeth when you have the hiccups.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hybrid Runner

With this many wires, I should have my own sci-fi show
Running, my parents tell me, used to be a much simpler thing. Back in their days, you ran barefoot and didn’t complain about it, because if you slowed down, you’d be eaten by a dinosaur (I may not have been paying much attention).

But in all honesty, while the basic goal of running has remained the same (get from point A to point B as fast as possible), the equipment has come a long way from shoes with soles made on a waffle iron (I’m not joking). As long as I’ve been running, I’ve always had technical running shoes and moisture-wicking tops. The only electrical equipment I used, however, was a basic stopwatch. But times are changing, and today I went running with my iPod Nano and Nike+ iPod.

For those of you who don’t know, the Nike+ is a transmitter that can be inserted into many new Nike shoes, or attached in a velcro pouch to your regular shoe. The transmitter measures the speed and distance you run, and then sends the information either to your iPod Nano or a Nike Sports band (I swear I’m not being paid by Nike to write all this). Anyways, since I had gotten a Nano last Christmas, I decided to get the Nike+ iPod and try it out.

I started by velcroing the transmitter to my shoe, and attaching the receiver to my iPod. Then the first problem occurred to me…I already had an arm-strap for running with my iPod. How would I get the iPod to fit in it with the receiver attached? I looked at the back of the strap and saw it had to bands of velcro, one at the perfect height for my modified iPod. Perfect, I thought, its like it was made for it. I looked closer. There on the strap it said, “for NIKE+iPod”. Oh well. iPod one, me zero.

I set my iPod to play my running playlist, made sure the volume was low enough that could hear what was going on around me, and set out. Feeling very high-tech, I started the interval timer on my watch (it beeps at three and one minutes intervals alternately, telling me when to walk and run), my stopwatch, and my iPod. With all my clocks running, I started to jog down the street. But there was a problem. No music. I twisted my arm so I could see my iPod screen. Everything looked right. I stopped and turned the volume up and down. Still no music. After about 30 seconds of fiddling around, I realized my ear-phones weren’t plugged in. I plugged them in and was treated to a blaring blast of music, having left the volume turned all the way up. iPod two, me zero.

With all systems go, my run really got under way. I love running to music, especially anything with a fast rhythm. A remnant of my marching band days, I still feel the urge to run in time with the music, so the faster the songs, the faster I run. After about two running intervals, a slower song came on just as my walk break started. I slowed down, paying attention to my breathing. As I did so, I glanced down and saw the transmitter on my shoe. It just sat there, taunting me. I know you’re walking, it seemed to say, and I’m recording ever step you take. I sped up. iPod three, me zero.

As always, I sprinted the last bit of my run, stopping the timer on my watch as soon as I hit the finish line. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had only read the section on starting the Nike+ and not the one on stopping it. I hit a few buttons, and a voice announced in my ear, 31minutes, 21 seconds. I must have jumped 10 feet into the air. iPod four, me zero.

I figured out how to stop the iPod, and after my cool down and a big glass of water, I uploaded my results to the computer. I knew had run just under 3 miles at just over 10 minute mile pace, but my iPod apparently thought I had run 3.14 miles at 9:57 pace, which is considerably faster. Hmmm. Looks like I managed to beat the thing after all.

P.S. If you want to see the times for my runs, scroll down to the bottom of the page. I figure now my mom and dad can know if I’m staying on my running schedule even when I’m back at school.

P.P.S. A shameless plug: all my running equipment, from my shoes up, came from Track Shack (except the iPod Nano). Both the Nike+iPod for the Nano and the Nike+Sports band can be bought there.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wekiva Run

“If you have ever come on a dense wood of ancient trees that have risen to an exceptional height, shutting out all sight of the sky with one thick screen of branches upon another, the loftiness of the forest, the seclusion of the spot, your sense of wonderment at finding so deep and unbroken a gloom out of doors, will persuade you of the presence of a deity.” Seneca, Letter 41

Today, my family skipped church. Or perhaps, to put it better, we exchanged one church for another. A church of bricks for a church of wood. A church with walls for a church with sky. Our worship music was pounding feet and beating hearts, our prayers were gasping breaths and drops of sweat.

Okay, I know that first paragraph probably sounds a little cheesy, but I did mean it. There is something religious about being out in nature, and Wekiva Springs is one of the few places in Florida where nature is still around. When you drive to the park, you’re greeted by the motto “this is the real Florida”. Sadly, the motto is a lie. “Real” Florida is made up of developments and theme parks, not nature preserves. But it is a kind of Florida – the Florida that used to be. And it’s a wonderful reminder of the beauty of a state best known for Disney and being hot.

The run took us through wooded areas, where the trail was bordered by pine trees, palms, and creeping vines. At some places, the trail is washed away, a reminder that nature can win out over progress. Other parts of the trail go through Florida brush lands, a unique kind of habitat that is home to several threatened and endangered species that can’t live anywhere else.

The best part of running at Wekiva is, of course, the spring itself. Always an even 72F (22 C), the spring is cool in the summer and warm in the winter, making a plunge into it the perfect way to end a run.

So, for those of you wondering why I wasn’t at church today, now you know. After all, as the semi-nomadic congregation of OCC knows, God’s church is wherever His people happen to be.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Country ‘tis of Thee

A day late, here are some of the reasons America is such a great place to live. I can’t guarantee the veracity of all these facts, because I found them online.

13 facts for the 13 colonies

13.No star on the flag represents any one state.

12.The crookedest street in the world is Snake Alley, located in Burlington, Iowa

11.The largest underground cave in the world, at 300 miles long, is the Mammoth-Flint Cave system in Kentucky

10.The largest meteorite crater in the world is in Winslow, Arizona. 4,150 feet across and 150 feet deep.

9.Approximately 35 million Americans are linked by blood to one (or more) of the 102 pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower in 1620

8.The most telescopes in the world are located in Tucson, Arizona

7.According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 140 towns and cities in the U.S. that have the word "Christmas" in their names.

6. 98% of the world's crayfish can be found in Louisiana

5.The first electric traffic lights were invented and installed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914

4.Iced tea was first served at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. A British businessman wanted to increase tea sales in America

3.Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi

2.One in every 4 Americans has appeared on television.

And the number one reason America is a great place to live...

1. Peanut butter was invented here by George Washington Carver

Sources: http://www.theholidayspot.com/july4/facts.htm, http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0770175.html, http://www.stephencarr.com/facts.html

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mini Sermon: Part 2&3 of 3

Why Being a Christian is like Being a Study Abroad Student

2. Enjoying a Temporary Life

“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:16-17
There is something about living in another country that is somewhat surreal. As my friend once commented to me, even the money seems like play-money.

I had a choice in Oxford. I knew even before I arrived that my stay was something temporary. I was a visitor, albeit a very long-term one. It would have been easy then not to make an attempt to make Oxford my home. To avoid making friends, for example. But that would have made my stay rather miserable. Instead, I made friends, I found a home church, I got a library card, and even an English sim-card for my phone. Oxford truly became a second home, and I enjoyed my time there.
Our time here on earth is equally temporary, and we have the same decisions to make. We can make this home, a place we love, a place we find comfort and joy, or we can reject everything of the earth and live only for what comes after death. I don’t believe the former is the right choice. The earth is a gift, as is our time upon it. We are not meant to reject it, but simply to acknowledge that it is temporary, that it is not all there is. So yes, go ahead and eat, drink, and be merry. As C.S. Lewis said, God likes wine. He made it.
3. This is not my Home
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” Philippians 3:20-21
I
don’t really have anything new to say in this section. This is simply meant to remind you that this is not our home. Knowing that Oxford was not my home was, many times, a comfort. Whenever I was felt lost or left out, I could remind myself that such feelings were natural. After all, Oxford wasn’t my home. And all those days when you feel depressed, or abandoned, or rejected, I encourage you to remember the same thing. This is not our home. In our home, we will never feel depressed, abandoned, or reject. Because when we are home, we will be where we belong.