Archive for March, 1995


31 March 1995 at 3:41 pm
by Jonah

Things here are wet. After threatening to storm for a couple of days, the heavens finally rent and emptied themselves on our backyard. Before that happened, however, Nathan shot two snakes swimming in our lake with the .22 rifle we bought from him at Christmas. He shot another one a couple of days ago. We decided that they were all harmless water snakes. But when they’re swimming, it’s hard to tell the difference between them and water moccasins. I haven’t seen heard anything about the beavers recently. They may have moved on. Stephanie and Nathan found a live trap a few weeks ago out in a field. It’s big enough to hold a beaver should the beast wander into it and trip the plate so that the doors on either end snap shut. They set it up on a beaten path leading up from the lake and put sticks around it so that the only way to the other side was through the trap. A couple of days later, Stephanie went out in the morning to check the trap. As she approached, she noticed that something was inside! It caught something! Getting nearer, she saw that whatever it was had white on it. Puzzled, she hurried forward to find our cat meowing inside. The poor thing had left the barn to hunt but had her adventure cut short on the way to get a drink. After a week or so and no results, other than the trapped cat, Nathan and Stephanie got a tip from a former forester in our church about how to catch a beaver. They soaked bark stripped from the trees the beavers especially seem to like in sugar water overnight and placed the bait in the trap. The trapped has stayed there, however, and caught nothing. Not even the cat.

My grandmother came home today. She requires almost constant care if she’s not asleep. Mom spent the whole day fetching prescriptions, helping her practice speaking, etc… When Mom was gone, Stephanie and I took turns keeping an eye on my grandmother. It’s going to be different. But at least now we have a reason for telling Benjamin to shut up.

The name I made up for my Russian history test was Mecheck or something. I think I was trying to say Malevich, so I’m afraid spelling isn’t going to help me on this one. It should elsewhere, though. I misspelled Trotsky’s name two different ways.

We seem to cover everything so quickly in class. Our professor lectures for an hour and a half or so on Tuesday and then we have “discussion” on Thursday. That’s when she asks people to talk about what she taught Tuesday and then cuts them off and adds whatever else she wants to say.
That can be good if you can’t answer her questions. Sometimes we watch documentaries. It’s neat to see on t.v. what we’ve been reading about and listening to.

The NEP was interesting. It reminds me of Stolypin’s policy. Whenever they enacted some capitalistic emergency type programs and started making economic and agricultural progress, they’d cut it short to make way for something “better”. The most interesting thing I’ve learned is that
farmland has almost always been collective, first in the peasant communes and then in Stalin’s state farms.

I listened to The Last Tsar, a biography of Nicholas II on tape. It was very interesting. A lot of it was taken from his diary. Right now I’m reading Children of the Arbat. It begins during the first five year plan under Stalin. It’s amazing that everyone loved him so much and thought that communism was good when all around people were being arrested, tortured, killed, starved, or just having an all around bad time of it. I just started it and have to have it finished by the end of spring break. Ack.

I don’t think I’ll be skipping any school. For one thing, I wouldn’t want to. For another, I don’t want to pay the price. It’s much easier if I just stay in school. I don’t have any plans for the summer yet. Dad was talking to me about it the other day. He said something to the effect that I probably wasn’t going to have that many free summers anymore, so I might want to take advantage of this one. Mom won’t be able to come out for CBA’s convention in Denver like she did last year because she has to take care of my grandmother. Nathan and Stephanie are planning to come out for at least camp. Nathan’s family might even come to Colorado for a vacation. Staying out for most of the summer sounds appealing to me. If I’m guaranteed a camping trip, I’ll come.

I like to tear off the cards they have on flyers posted to the bulletin boards in the hallways at school and send them off to wherever they came from to get mail. I got one from the University of Miami in Ohio (don’t ask, I haven’t figured it out myself) from the political science department. I especially looked over the part about tuition being wavered and stipends being paid. That would be really cool, to be able to study somewhere for free and let the school take care of living expenses. Be a professional student. I like that idea.

Brief Recap

15 March 1995 at 2:37 pm
by Jonah

March, 1995

While reading a book recently, I discovered that there are two kinds of people. (Actually, there are numerous ways you can divide the world’s inhabitants into halves. The idea of this particular book was that by dividing everyone up into one of two camps on several questions, you could derive a fairly accurate personality type picture for an individual in question.) Anyway, there are two types of people: those who like closure and those who prefer to keep their options open. For example, some people feel uncomfortable having any decisions left unmade. Others feel unduly confined if they have to makedecisions right away and usually don’t make any until the last possible moment.

For a long time I’ve wondered why people make up their minds before they have all the facts or when I know that they are aware that circumstances are likely to change. I much prefer leaving things unsettled and unsolved till the deadline for deciding has come. That way I won
t have to change my mind. Yet now I understand that others can feel very uncomfortable unless they’ve already made a decision or constructed plans far in advance of the fact.

Anyhow, here’s a recent record of my activities.

For Christmas, my parents gave me a leather jacket, which has measurably increased my self worth, and a trip to Colorado Springs. I left and got there Christmas night, smuggling along an arsenal of fireworks in my luggage and on my person. Being out there was great, even if the weather was being uncooperatively beautiful. I get enough of that here. I wanted snow. In the meantime, I had a great time being with the Bremers, going country dancing (I got tagged and branded on my way in the bar since I was a couple months shy of twenty-one), trail riding (relaxing, since Max was riding good ol’ Studdly after freaky Flashdance proved himself too difficult to catch; that would have made the ride exciting but not relaxing), movies at the dollar theater (complete with Chinese fire drills on the way home), and get togethers with friends from the old Wings Like Eaglesdays (the first time there have been that many of us from that first year’s camp together in five years). Finally it snowed, and I got to go skiing (first time in aboutfour years). It was a blast. Max went back to the Air Force Academy quite unwillingly after his winter vacation, but Michele and I tried to make it a bit more bearable by enrolling him in the Pie of the Night Club and sneaking a different variety of pie into his dorm every evening.

While I was having a great time being out there and learning how to make a raincoat, Mom called one night and said that my grandmothe
r (her mother Dottie Staples) had a stroke while sitting at our kitchen table. We were planning on the rest of my family minus Dad picking me up in Atlanta on my return trip and then continuing on up to Highlands, NC to spend some winter time at my grandfather
s house in the mountains. Since that was now unfeasible, I stayed out at the Bremers for a longer period of time than originally intended. It turned out that my grandfather was able to pickme up later in Atlanta and drive down to Mobile. By then my grandmother had been moved out of intensive care, beyond a normal room, and was then staying at a long term hospital were she could undergo therapy. When I first visited her, the only forms of communication she possessed weresignaling yes, by extending two fingers on her left hand (her right side was totally paralyzed), and no, by making a fist. In the weeks that have followed, she’s been able to feed herself, move around in a wheelchair, learn to walk again for limited distances, and finally talk. Mom was spending almost all day at the hospital everyday before my grandmother was discharged on Tuesday. Now she’s in Benjamin’s old room (Ben’s been removed to the living room). She still has trouble getting the words that she wants out, she uses the wheelchair almost all the time except walking into the bathroom with a cane. It’s different having her here. I can’t decide whether it was more hectic when Mom was gone all the time or now that she’s home all day. If Mom leaves, Stephanie or I have to be here to watch my grandmother and helpher go to the bathroom and stuff, although she is making progress in doing things like that forherself. We’ll see.

On top of making meals, carting Ben to swim team and drum lessons, and visiting my grandmother at the hospital, I’ve been taking 19 hours this semester. Classes have been going pretty good. Well, actually more than good. It’s great. I love all the courses I’m taking this semester. At least, I did before the reality check midterms hit me with. Here’s sort of a brief description of my classes.

Introduction to Sociology. My sociology professor is a commie lib., but that’s just because he’s just a really compassionate guy (plus the fact that he’s resentful that he doesn’t get paid more than he does). I’ve been reluctant to get in any arguments with him because he seem so unsure of himself, but we have had a couple of good discussions. I’ve decided that I’m a functionalist capitalist, so if you want to label me anytime in the near future, you’ll know what terms to use.

Chemistry 101. On our first test in Chemistry, I got the third highest grade in a class of about forty, and I got a B. Chemistry has been a doozy, even though I got 98 on my midterm (only because it was out of a possible 111 points). I’ve been listening to The Origin of Species (abridged) by Charles Darwin and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and some other essays by him on tape. It’s great because, while I was finding the result of a positron emission in Chemistry, I was learning what a positron IS from Hawking. Chemistry lab is pretty fun (although I’m breaking a cardinal rule by wearing contact lenses). We’ve done all sorts of chemical reactions with a penny, found the chemical composition of unknownsolutions by performing tests on them, and put together models of molecules. It’s cool. What chemistry lab should be, except, alas, with no explosions. Unfortunately, my lab partner and I were unaware that our first lab report was to be turned in, and the professor lost our second lab report. We have to do BOTH make up labs which stinks, even though it is kind of fun playing with chemicals.

Studies in the Mission and Message of Jesus. Religion is okay. We’re going through the synoptic gospels. It’s as if the class is just a big Bible study. As academic as my professor was last semester, this one is exceedingly conservative, a real fundamentalist. I like it. The other day he made the statement that angels have emotions. I asked him after class what scripture he could use to back that claim up. The next class period, he had a list of references for me.

English 202. English, as ever, is cool, even though Nathan, the guy we brought to Colorado last summer, isn’t in there like he has been for the last three semesters. We did some William Faulkner, Billy Budd by Herman Melville, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich. I just finished reading The Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka. It’s about a guy who wakes up one morning to find he has become a big, brown beetle. Dr. Allums is trying to persuade me to become an English major. Actually, double major. I told him, yeah right.

Philosophy, Theology, and Literature. Philosophy is fun. It’s a discussion class, so that usually makes it interesting. We studied the Orestia and Who Needs God? by Harold Kushner (he wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People). We were going to read a book called Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, but the administration made Dr. Mashburn pull it in the middle of the semester. He also removed Beloved from our required reading list. He says that he doesn’t agree with a lot of the stuff in these books and doesn’t expect us to either but that they contain some issues that must be addressed. Now I guess we’ll have to do it on our own.

History and Politics of Modern Russia. This class is great. Right now we’re at studying Stalin. One day I stayed after and another student and I talked with the instructor (a 44 year old woman from Russia) for over an hour and a half! It was great. She expressed the difficulty it is for her to adjust to a new way of thinking after years of believing that socialism was the best way. It’s fascinating to gain her perspective and understand why people accepted communism for so long. We only have midterm exam, our final, and class participation to determine the grade, so I was a bit nervous during my midterm test. But once I picked up my pencil and started writing an essay on the October revolution and the civil war following it, the story flowed on for almost three pages of notebook paper. Hopefully, she’ll like what I wrote for the essay and all the questions. I didn’t have a clue for the bonus (three contributors to the Silver Age), so I just made up some names. She said spelling didn’t count, so maybe I came close.

I just got my midterm grades in the mail. All A’s! That was quite a relief after what I’ve been through in Chemistry.

People keep asking me, “Political science? What are you going to do with a political science major? Become a politician?”

And I say, “I hope not.”

Yet now it looks as if my hopes are about to be dashed. I’m running for vice president of the Junior Class. It’s the sophomore class right now, but the election is for next semester. Cris Hyatt, the first person I met on campus, was vice president this year and became really frustrated with it. I encouraged her to run for president, but she didn’t want to. It took up too much time, and she seemed to be the only interested in talkin
~g about the business at hand at student government meetings. I am just about the only person who shows up for sophomore class meetings (including class officers), and that’s only if I find out about them. During the last one, I suggested that we have class meetings on days that we don
t have chapel (and therefore almost everyone is free) at 11:00. Cris talked to a guy about it who accosted me in the library the next day and tried to talk me into running for office. I told him that I was reluctant to since I lived so far away off campus. He said the Student Government Association needed commuters on it and I would be great at it. Like the crow who was flattered by the fox into singing and thereby letting the piece of cheese in her mouth drop to the forest floor, I squawked. I met Cris a while later and asked her about running. A girl named Robyn was sitting next to her. Cris said that Robyn could run with us.

“No way,” said Robin. “You’ll just make me do all the hard work like phone people.”

“Hey,” I said looking at Cris, “That’s not a bad idea.”

So Cris is running for president, I’m running for vice president, and Robyn for secretary/treasurer (we’re not really sure why there
s a position called treasurer; there isn’t any money involved). So far we’re running unopposed. That seems to be typical. Sometimes they even have to appoint officers. I still don’t even really know who the officers are. But now I’m running, and I won’t have many free Tuesday nights next year. Hopefully. I keep telling myself that it looks good on a resume.

Spring Break!

15 March 1995 at 8:07 am
by Jonah

Spring Break is here! AAAaaaaaa!!!!! I’m excited. I’m happy. I’M STAYING UP TILL 3 A.M.!!!

It’s been crazy. I had six tests this week. Count them. Six. And most of them required studying.

To start of the week was chemistry. I struggled all weekend with homework trying to balance a double replacement chemical equation, but it just wouldn’t work no matter how I (and whoever I could get to help me) tried. Finally, I just added some oxygen on the right side, which seemed to work. Before class I asked one of the girls waiting outside what she had. She had down 1 and 4 on each side, and it worked! I couldn’t believe it was that simple. She couldn’t explain to me how she’d gotten it, however, since Dr. Gerdom helped her. I quickly changed my answer and went in to take the test. I finished it in 40 minutes, which I thought was really good considering it took me about the whole hour last time. I went back and worked on this one single replacement equation that I couldn’t seem to get (that’s because I was putting anions together. Duh.). I got the homework back on Wednesday; everything was okay. I got the test today; a 98! Out of 111 points, I made a bunch of mistakes, most of them stupid stuff, but he counted the 98 points I got right as the score. I’m happy. I may just be able to pull an A out of this class after all.

One of the things I’m doing to help matters was to go to make up lab today. I usually have English at 1 when the lab started, but Dr. Allums let me take the test during my free hour at 11 instead. Because my lab partner and I didn’t turn in our lab reports the first day (we were unaware that we were supposed to since he had already graded them in class) and our lab reports for the second lab got lost (not our fault), we have to do BOTH make up labs, of which today’s was the first. It was fairly complex. I was there till 4:30 and probably the last person to leave the classroom building with everyone leaving for spring break. It was kind of fun, though, to mix chemicals and stuff to see what my unknown solution had in it. While we were working, for some reason Dr. Gerdom held up a square shaped bottle and said, “So Joanna, is that Zima stuff any good?”

“Yeah,” I said. Everyone in the room gasped. You don’t talk about stuff like that on a Baptist campus. At least not in front of everyone. “Well,” I qualified, “I mean for an alcoholic beverage.”

Later while he was helping one of the students find a missing solution, Dr. Gerdom exclaimed, “Why, there it is. This person’s been hoarding it because it tastes so good.”

“Like Zima,” I added loud enough for the people around me to hear. One girl involuntarily broke out laughing.

Tuesday was our President’s Day holiday. I know, President’s Day comes a week before on most colanders, but at the University of Mobile it coincidentally falls on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent when everyone gets drunk and goes to parades for Mardi Gras. Nothing is open on Fat Tuesday. Not even the hospital operating room is open, except for emergencies. All the schools are out Monday, Tuesday, and Ash Wednesday. A Baptist college like the University of Mobile would never celebrate Mardi Gras. Instead we name it after the school president, President Magnoli’s Day.

On Wednesday a few people were walking around with gray crosses on their foreheads. I had a religion test. I studied pretty hard for it. He gives us the questions (some of which we choose from), but then our professor expects us to write an essay recreating the notes we took in class. I memorized a bunch of stuff, even making an acronym for the different ideas on the unforgivable sin. I wrote fast and finished in the 50 minutes he gave us. Well, I thought I had finished. In reality, I misread one portion as saying “answer one of two” when it actually said “answer two.”
Just because all the other sections had been that way, I assumed this one would be too. I got the test back today. Everything else was okay, and I got the bonus, so my score was 95. Not bad at all.

Thursday I had two tests: philosophy and Russian history. Philosophy was on Harold Kushner’s book Who Needs God? He also wrote When Bad Things Happen to Good People. His book that we read should have been called Who Needs Religion? because that’s what he was stressing. As a rather liberal Jewish rabbi he has a lot of good things to say but comes at it from the wrong premise. He says that religion is good because it helps us. I say that, because we need help, we need God. The test wasn’t too hard. I hope. But as a philosophy teacher, Dr. Mashburn gives credit for almost everything, so I’m not worried.

Following directly after that was our Russian history midterm. We only have this, our final, and class participation to determine the grade, so I was a bit nervous. But once I picked up my pencil and started writing an essay on the October revolution and the civil war following it, the story flowed on for almost three pages of notebook paper. Hopefully, she’ll like what I wrote for the essay and all the questions. I didn’t have a clue for the bonus (three contributors to the Silver Age), so I just made up some names. She said spelling didn’t count, so maybe I came close.

Today was fairly straight forward. First was my sociology test. I’m afraid I put down the correct answers according to my teacher instead of putting down what was true in a couple of places, but that’s the way it is. I just don’t feel that invigorated engaging in debate at 9 in the morning.

Later today was the aforementioned English test. Easy.

Along with tests, this week has also been filled with visiting with guests. The Bennetts are old friends of ours from Columbus, Georgia where we lived before we moved to Colorado and then here. Cliff Bennett, the father, was our pastor for a while before we moved. He and my dad are close friends as are the moms. They have four kids: Andrew 18, Jenifer 15, Stephen 13, and Jeanetta 7. We all get along pretty good. Andrew and I usually hang out while Stephanie and Jenifer goof off and Benjamin and Stephen get into trouble. Jeanetta goes around annoying people. Andrew and I stayed up till 3 on Monday night (since I didn’t have to go to school the next day) watching Tombstone and Schindler’s List. Andrew had to go back early and take the G.E.D. on Thursday (since he homeschools). Coincidentally, Stephanie took her G.E.D. today (Friday). Andrew wants to do physical therapy and get the Air Force ROTC to pay for it down here at the University of Southern Alabama, which has the best physical therapy department in the area. That’d be neat having him around. Nathan talked Jenifer into coming out to Colorado with us this spring and helping out with camp. I’m still trying to convince people around here to attend Summit.

My grandmother is scheduled to leave the hospital and come live with us this coming Tuesday. A lot of changes are in store for us. Ben has moved out of his room and into the living room. We’re going to have to make the bathrooms handicapped accessible and put ramps to the doors. My mom won’t be able to travel anywhere until my grandmother leaves or something, so she won’t be coming out this summer for the Christian Bookseller’s Convention in Denver and stuff. My grandmother will probably want to move back some place in Richmond, Virginia at some point because that is where all her friends are.

Stephanie’s birthday is tomorrow. She’s 18, no longer a minor.