Graduation from Yale Divinity School (or rather, walking and a degree IOU)

Family and friends

For the terminal days of my New Haven time in life, my parents and brother were able to make it out from our home in northeast Ohio (my sister was on week 3 of her new job, her first salaried gig after graduating college, so she rightfully stayed home and kept her new job!).  My parents took a few days of work off, and drove down with a U-Haul trailer to whisk away most of my crap to the house, for my later perusal.

My parents and I

My parents and I

My brother actually participated in the Tough Mudder on Sunday in Ohio, at which point he got the mohawk to help raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project that shall be seen below:

Steven with his Tough Mudder haircut, and I

Steven with his Tough Mudder haircut, and I

I owe my parents a lot for the entirety of my life and their support throughout; and my brother for his friendship and then being willing to walk up and down the big hill with the Divinity School, to take photos with my camera (even though he was rather banged up from the Mudder)!  More generally, it was just fantastic to be with my family again after having last been home in March – and so with their arrival Sunday night, it was officially time to Gradumicate.

Marching down town for the Overall Yale Event

Preparing for the march down the hill do the Old Campus

Preparing for the march down the hill do the Old Campus

The first event of the day was the gathering of all of Yale’s various undergrad and grad schools, to the largest quad on Old Campus, to have the deans each approach the president of Yale to get the Yale Corporation’s approval for the graduating process to come.  The Divinity School processed down the hill, led by some sort of elderly hippies with drums and tamborines, and the intended joyous spirit (which caught up some of our peers) also looked really unprofessional and out of place at Yale’s graduation to outsiders:

The hippie folk who played loud drums in front of our procession and further tarnished the reputation of YDS in the eyes of the rest of Yale, yay!

The hippie folk who played loud drums in front of our procession and further tarnished the reputation of YDS in the eyes of the rest of Yale, yay!

Thankfully, I walked with friends like Chris, who share a very suspicious opinion (at best) of the sorts of choices like the above, made by many of our peers from YDS in representing YDS.

Instead, Chris and I are of the church of the Batman:

My good friend, Bruce "Chris P" Wayne

My good friend, Bruce “Chris P” Wayne

We were seated on the quad according to when each school was founded – and given that Yale was founded as a seminary, we had the best seats in the house – both for the actual stage and then for the largest screen in the quad, so we could see details of the Yale-King’s actions:

The Yale-King used his Yale Scepter and officially made the Divinity School graduate.

The Yale-King used his Yale Scepter and officially made the Divinity School graduate.

The best part of the whole experience down town, in my opinion, was when an honorary doctorate was given to Ralph Stanley, a very frail elderly man who was a key player in the development of bluegrass in this country for some 50 years.  As the president reached the end of his brief bio, the School of Music players and their dean began to softly play on a banjo and accompanying music, and the volume got louder for a brief bit of time – and it really seemed to touch Stanley’s heart, and had a similar effect on the assembled crowd.

Our seatmates behind us were school of architecture folk, who had all sorts of angry atheist things to say when there was an invocation, benediction, and three separate hymns sung – but as the school is older than the United States, it is unlikely those traditions will change any time soon.

The Divinity School’s smaller gradumacashun

We hiked our way back up the hill (with some of our peers and indeed the faculty stopping at the ubiquitous food carts to get food prior to the next event), and eventually processed up to the chairs set out in the quad before the Marquand Chapel.

Processing up to the seating in the Sterling Quad, for the final graduation event

Processing up to the seating in the Sterling Quad, for the final graduation event

We were rather blessed to have such lovely weather, albeit slightly windy – but it made a beautiful setting for a much-anticipated end to this chapter of my life.

The good dean, dean'ing on the gorgeous day we had

The good dean, dean’ing on the gorgeous day we had

Eventually, I got to walk my way up those steps and shake hands with the dean, to get my photo taken and have officially walked at Commencement #313 for Yale…

I officially got a thing...

I officially got a thing…

… but, given that my summer of 2014 will be spent doing my internship requirement for the Master of Divinity degree (as the Fall 2013/Spring 2014 internship I had set up ended up falling apart because of my shoulder injury and the accompanying surgeries and healing), I got a slightly different piece of paper in my sleek Yale-branded folder:

... but as you can likely tell, I still have the summer 2014 internship ahead of me, prior to fully graduating.

… but as you can likely tell, I still have the summer 2014 internship ahead of me, prior to fully graduating.

Can you tell which one is mine, above, if you didn’t read the names?? 🙂

A lovely day, all told

As the afternoon deepened, I realized how exhausted I was, and I knew my family was as well from their trip – and we were also all rather hungry!

Matt, myself, and Chris - the three Lutherans who did a Visiting Student Day over 3 years ago, and we made it through the experience only partially scathed!

Matt, myself, and Chris – the three Lutherans who did a Visiting Student Day over 3 years ago, and we made it through the experience only partially scathed!

I said some goodbyes to my closest friends of the past three years, and slowly made my way down to the sidewalk and thus towards the car.

My good friend Emma and I doing a non-acted "this is how we really feel about this place" photo, for posterity.

My good friend Emma and I doing a non-acted “this is how we really feel about this place” photo, for posterity.

I wanted to take my family to Plan B Burger in Milford, a place I have referenced here before, and we went forth and had a delicious meal indeed.  During the course of the meal, the 2 months without a break finally hit me and I realized – the afternoon spent packing my remaining belongings I had planned was simply not viable.

My dad and I, on our way off the quad and towards a celebratory meal

My dad and I, on our way off the quad and towards a celebratory meal

What did the House of Repas do, then?

We had a great meal, and all vacated New Haven for their hotel, wherein we all passed out by 6:45pm and slept through until 7am or so, to prepare us for the (longer than expected, it turned out) day of packing ahead.

My mug shot made the wall, so it is official (even if I have an internship yet to do, to fully finish the degree)

My mug shot made the wall, so it is official (even if I have an internship yet to do, to fully finish the degree)

All told,  then, I am very thankful to have had the opportunities I had and the like, but (as I shall explore in the post after this one), the school and town alike were not especially good fits for me – so graduation day, even if only to get my official-looking Yale Divinity School IOU “degree,” was a happy day indeed – a day to celebrate the good things received and learned over three years, but especially to celebrate the end of one chapter of life and the start of the next!

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Amping up my quest for improved household air quality – plants upstairs and down

Having spent time the other day replacing the house furnace and my own little box fan/filter with new and higher end filters, I got to considering: I am of the opinion that replacing those filters is ENTIRELY worth the money, but to some degree it bothers me that the old ones are just thrown away.

And it bothers me that I have to keep paying, as well, to be quite honest.

So I started doing a skill I have had for years (and honed to masterclass while one-armed healing from surgery): namely, searching Google for abstract ideas and project desires I have, and finding those unrelated searches coalescing into a real plan.

In this case, I eventually found out that NASA of all groups did a study on the possibilies offered to internal building air quality improvement by the use of certain plants.

As a science fiction nerd, this already was cool in my mind – the whole “spaceship with self contained oxygen garden” idea always fascinated me, and now I get to do it with my house!!

The plants I got include a peace lilly; a mother in law’s tongue; three small pots with rosemary seeded; a money plant; and a golden pothos vine – all combine their efforts to turn carbon dioxide into the freshest oxygen, but they will also better regulate the humidity of my bedroom; the rosemary will make the air smell pleasant AND give me some of the health benefits of rosemary oil AND allow me to brew fresh tea whenever I would like; the peace lilly and a few others actually EAT carbon monoxide and formaldehyde and other nastiness out of the air; and so all things considered, I should probably actually sleep better (both from the knowledge of cleaner air, but honestly from increased ease of breathing)!!!

Welcome to the jungle

Welcome to the jungle

All told, the desk’s transition to THAT much greenery will be temporary, as some of the plants need less sun and will be moved atop the dresser on the left.  Even still, given that I ordered areca palm seeds (which easily sprout up to shoulder height and then SPEW fresh oxygen), its not like I even have enough space in my bedroom for all the plants I’d like.

As with so much else in the house, I consider this another test run of something important to me for my eventual house of my own.

As time, I will perhaps post updates of how effective this seems to be (and given I have a housemate with two guinea pigs next door to my bedroom and the associated smells, I will QUICKLY be able to detect changes I should think).

The final academic showdown: the last semester

Academics, nearly defeated

Reptilian possibilies for the future...

Reptilian possibilities for the near future…

So here we are, the final spring semester (or really, ANY semester) of my academic career.  I am almost as tired as the above leopard geckos, when it comes to school and its crap.

At least for the foreseeable future.  Perhaps one day, I will be dumb enough to go for a PhD of some sort and again give up my ability to enjoy myself and the people in my life due to asinine assignments and abnormal hours spent working.

Even still, the class lineup for this spring is as follows:

1) Southeast Asian Christianities – merely a requirement, the Non-Christian requirement, to be fulfilled here (not too many other options are offered, so a LOT of people take this course).  Taught by Chloe Starr, a scholar focused closely on that area, it will hopefully be interesting to examine issues of native Korean and Japanese religion, and how those tend to interplay with the rise of Christian presence in those lands over time.  Given it will be a strongly historical course, I am thinking it will be pretty good.

2) Introduction to Christian Ethics II – this is one of those courses where you surprisingly don’t have to take the first portion of the content first, or at all – this class will focus heavily on differing notions of social gospel; and more contemporary developments in Christian ethical thoughts.  Taught by Frederick Simmons, a very very very very intelligent man, the class will be a good closing experience for the slew of ethical this and ethical that I have taken over the years.  In a peculiar way, I have taken several courses at YDS with “ethics” in the title… but none of them, I have discovered, actually counted for the “ethics” requirement.  Discerning the difference between “ethics” and “ethics” apparently being some kind of master final exam of ethical prowess, I just took this class to satisfy the requirement.

3) MLK, Religion, and Civil Rights – taught by Clarence Hardy, this course ought to be a very interesting look at the Civil Rights movement; more on this as the course develops.

4) the Lutheran student colloquium, on the final topic of “random things the professor wants to teach” – I just enjoy spending time with some of my closest friends from and at YDS, in the Lutheran student contingent.  Not 100% clear on what will be taught, by former bishop of New England Margaret Payne, but it should at least be fun to sit in with friends.

Sadly, of course, I will have to do a damnable internship over this coming summer (with the associated 6 credit hour course, thankfully which takes place over 2 full days in May in New Haven in person, and then solely via Internet communications… so I will be free to escape New Haven VERY soon).

Games galore, sweet baby Jesus

So the job with managing the researchers for the French Resistance project has been lucrative enough to pay for car upgrades, cover some cost of living stuff… and thus left enough for more games to be added to the collection, including:

3 of the new games, gotten for 50% off and brand new in box (via BGG)

3 of the new games, gotten for 50% off and brand new in box (via BGG)

Android: Netrunner: a two player assymetrical card game, pitting the big evil megacorporation of the cyberpunk future versus the lone hacker, this game is surprisingly easy to play once you work through the odd language choices for many of the components of the game. And highly addictive. Highly.  I bought more of the expansions for it than I am comfortable admitting.
A Few Acres of Snow: a two player board game, the core mechanic of which is drawn from Dominion (namely, deck building during the game), this game involves the French and British battling for the American provinces during the French and Indian War.  Also addictive and awesome.
1989 Dawn of Freedom: a 2 player game which pits the Communist against the Democrat in Eastern Europe in the eponymous year, the game revolves around using your sides tools (communist uses repression and arrests; democrat uses intellectuals and protest marches) to try and sway the opinion of each sub area on the map to your side.  Interesting that the Communist player starts in control of the entire map, and gains points for maintaining as much control as possible over time, whereas the Democrat scores for gains.
Galactic Emperor: Quite honestly, not a game I was aware of… but the guy who sold me 1989 and Tzolk’in was willing to toss it in for 50% off the list price of $60 brand new in the box, so sure!  A quick paced and small board to battle for control of the galaxy (oddly enough, given the title)
Tzolk’in – The Mayan Calendar: this game has a series of plastic cogs built into the board upon which each player places worker tokens… and then the gears move and thus the “calendar” represents time moving them about.  Heard great things, got 50% off as well.
Ticket to Ride Marklin Edition: got this over Christmas, but its the quintessential railroading intro game for non-gamers, but the map is of Germany (and the trains are all Marklin model trains).
Bora Bora: a German game about settling and expanding in the Polynesian part of the world, the game balances economy building with propitiating the Gods, and seems to be really quite interesting to play with the full 4 players based on scarcity of space and resources.
The End of the Triumvirate: one of the few three player games out there, its Caesar vs Pompey vs Cassius, and its SO much fun, forcing players to watch both political and military gains of their rivals.
Glory to Rome: a card game with somewhat tongue-in-cheek art, the core mechanic is apparently around gaining and then profiting off the resale of materials to rebuild Rome after a fire, and involves all manner of delightful screwing with other players
Pandemic On The Brink expansion: another expansion purchased over break, it makes a tough game damned near impossible to win 😀

Making my own billiards table lighting, for $48 less

Billiards table, but not lit well enough :(

Billiards table, but not lit well enough 😦

The fact of the matter remains, the basement is not well-lit enough for my tastes.  I suppose, to be fair, my tastes are known to widely vary, as most of the time I prefer no light at all; but when gaming or working on a project, I want to see everything in great detail.

Exterior fixture, ready to be installed

Exterior fixture, ready to be installed

The basic idea was: buy light fixture, don’t break the bank, and install it.  Then, Home Despot decided to dislike offering decent deals on lights suitable for the unfinished ceiling in the basement (with exposed rafters, not much space existed to connect fixtures).  So their offerings were in the $60-$80 range, which is to say: way too goddamned expensive.  Not being especially interested in that, I looked in other aisles and found an exterior flood light fixture with third socket for a total of $14… bought a simple extension cord, rigged it up, and now have more light in the basement than I know what to do with!

The lights, lit

The lights, lit

As a matter of fact, I am so pleased with that on-demand light above the billiards table that I have decided to now use it as the gaming table; this also have the nice side effect of reducing time spent dissassembling or setting up the projector on the circular table, which IS a big deal, given my having infected my friend Kelli with an addiction to Battlestar Galactica!!

Fabricating LED stairwell lighting for the basement

Prepping the low cost LED fixtures for the stairs...

Prepping the low cost LED fixtures for the stairs…

The other aspect of basement lighting which needed some help was the stairs – painted dark brown by “choice” (namely, that is what the landlord had on hand for free), it is a hell of a contrast from the super bright projector on the white screen… so restroom breaks during screenings are precarious at times.  Being disinterested in spending lots of money on assembly or powering it, I came up with and fabricated 6 modules with 2 LEDs apiece, on every other stair.

One fixture working and in place

One fixture working and in place

At the time of this writing, between 1 and 3 of the modules work.  Looks like I have VERY selectively flaky soldered connections somewhere in the lines, and will have to go back through to sort  that out.  Even still, I happen to think it looks pretty awesome (and more importantly: provides enough light to see the stair edges without making the ambient light in the basement during a screening increase)!!

The exciting spring ahead: non-school related things galore 😀

As much as it pains me to say (and to be clear, it is actually my genuine pleasure to admit this), I am going to have to do as little as possible school-related this spring.  Spring break will be mostly spent daring to rent a trailer and move home to OH most of my belongings, to make my May escape quick and painless.  The weekends I won’t be board gaming or screening television and movies with friends, I will be restarting this past summer’s New England Camping Experiences (NECE), starting probably at the end of this month.  The big one will be most of a week in February to Acadia National Park in Maine, to be there at the point where the sun first (also?) rises on these United States.

Stay tuned, the blog should have lots of awesome photos this semester.

Finally, a sneak peak of the new glasses I have ordered and am awaiting

Finally, a sneak peak of the new glasses I have ordered and am awaiting

Giving Thanks, 2013: a very lengthy list of causes for gratitude

A couple weeks after Thanksgiving, I am now in the clear from school and work alike, and wanted to sit down and do a prolonged examination of the sizeable pile of blessings I have really gained deepened appreciation for, particularly over the course of surgery and healing from it.

This particular Thanksigiving, a good number of my friends have reached their parents’ homes, or their relative’s homes, or the hearth and hearts with whom they will be spending this holiday instituted by the good General Washington, to give thanks unto Almighty God.  Atypically for me, I was here in New Haven and not with my immediate family in Ohio, due to the continuing healing process from my shoulder surgery in September (combination of being disallowed to drive my efficient car yet; not be willing or able to afford the huge costs of driving my borrowed Jeep all the way to Cleveland; and not having the money or the capacity to sit on AMTRAK seats for 17+ hours, given that my arm is still finicky).  My good friend Andrea, from krav maga, has not only let me park my VW at her house since Sept 16 – she has also allowed me to borrow her Jeep.  But as if that weren’t enough, she ALSO invited me to be with her family on Thanksgiving. I was welcomed into her dad’s home on Thanksgiving itself; and into her mom’s home on the day after (and given that her mom remarried and converted to Judaism, and it was shabbat + Thanksgiving + Chanukah dinner, I ate a *lot*).  I have also become very good friends with my classmate Kelli, and have fully addicted her to both Battlestar Galactica and board- and card-gaming of all sorts, which has been a lot of fun over the course of this fall.  So for one, I am deeply thankful for the good friends, friends to last a lifetime, I have made while here in CT.

The lack of posts over the months since surgery has been in large part due to the unenviable difficulties of typing with only one hand… at least up until recently, when the surgeon cleared me for “active daily living.”  This sounds a lot further along than it really is – I am allowed to brush my teeth or comb my hair with my right arm, but am not to open doors, drive my stick shift, or really do ANY pushing or pulling involving any sort of weight with my right arm.  Even still, given that the surgeon completely lacerated and then reattached the ligaments between my right arm and torso on September 17… I am pretty damned pleased with this high level of progress (and lack of any complications, thus far).  The physical therapy moved from 3 times per week down to 2, as I was able to regain nearly the full range of motion far, far more quickly than they were able to predict or realistically expect.  So these days, they have me working with ever-growing weights (read: 3 or 4 pounds, still VERY light), in order to get the muscles and ligaments working in sync again.  So for healing and in fact the prolonged forced period of heavy resting I was required to do (and would never ever do voluntarily otherwise, due to thriving on being productive), I am deeply thankful.

One part of why I am finishing the composition of this post several days after Thanksgiving itself is because I wanted to fully finish my academic requirements and not allow any distractions to prolong that experience.  The fact that I only took three courses this semester (because my planned internship with the Yale Chaplain’s Office was not viable with the surgery, so I didn’t do the internship course as my 4th) was instrumental in my healing properly and being able to rest as much as my body needed.  Even still, as those close to me have heard time and again (and perhaps too often, as complaining ain’t do nobody no good anyhow), I am quite, quite, quite ready to be done with school.  That is, to be frank, too polite and concise a way of explaining how I feel – I am deeply struggling with the sensation of being stuck in a holding pattern, forced to accrue debt and listen to some classmates (most, if not all, of whom have great intentions) prattle on and on about things they have no idea about, having come to YDS without much in the way of practical life experience.  It would be one thing to discuss practical concerns if all parties were versed in the way the world actually works; it is another, and quite frankly corrosive, thing to be subjected to pontification by the unexperienced.  So, I am thankful for the things I have learned and experienced while at Yale, but I am very thankful that I am nearly done with school for a long time to come (this disclaimer allows me to go get a PhD in 20 years, to be clear).

Another outcome from shoulder surgery was that I had to quit work at the Law School – not being able to use my right arm for 3 months (but immediately after surgery, having no idea whatsoever of the actual timing of when I would be able to use it), I realized the honorable and indeed wise choice was to tender my resignation – it was neither fair to them to be put on indefinite hold, nor to me to pressure myself at all to return to work, as my dominant right arm needs 110% of my focus to heal.  That said, the whole three months without pay was a problem for my fall finances, as it turns out.  So a few weeks ago, I was panicked and looking for work online that would be viable with mostly one arm (this was prior to being cleared for two handed typing by the doc).  Figuring I would not have success, I decided to check the Yale student jobs postings, and was amazed to find a perfect fit – a research project on the French Resistance, which is at a stage where some 170,000 cards, each detailing an event during the resistance against the Germans during WWII, needs to be categorized and potentially entered into a spreadsheet.  Being fluent in French and pretty good with computers in general, I have not only secured that job; I have been promoted to managing researcher, supervising 10 research assistants while doing some coding of cards myself.  This has been a wonderful development; for the obvious financial reasons, but also because I was going more than a little stir crazy after three months of enforced nothing.  So, I am thankful for the great job I had at the Law School in the past, and the great job I have with the international program now.

Finally, I am thankful for the fact that I have done a great deal of soul-searching and careful thinking on what I would like to do as the next stage in my life.  Again, as per the last several posts here where I have discussed options, this is only an option (and many of the other ones are still live) – but more and more over time, I have begun to lean towards the possibility of moving back to northeast Ohio, probably even to my parents’ house, in order to save on rent and food; at the same time, snag a job at Cleveland Clinic or University Health or Metro Health, possibly even doing IT – I am disinterested in pursuing a career in helping people if I am unable to afford my cost of living plus loan payments, and would rather work a handful of years in a good job like that to fully pay down debt, and THEN work to get a job in the career I want; and if I play my cards right, I will squirrel away enough money so that I can buy the piece of land I want so badly, to start turning into an agrarian paradise, at the same time as pursuing that career job.  We shall, as they say, see… but nevertheless, I am thankful to be able to consider options before jumping into anything.

What blog post would be complete without Ike?  Especially Christmas tree Ike.

What blog post would be complete without Ike? Especially Christmas tree Ike.

The Good, the Bad, and the (final) Fall (semester)

Classes, for the second last time

This post is later than intended, as I was busy doing prep for surgery on my shoulder.  Even still, a quick rundown of my coursework for my final fall semester (thank God):

1) Practices and Principles of Preaching – This is a required course, taught by Rev Dr Thomas Troeger and Rev DrNora Tubbs Tisdale, and it is a whirlwind of lectures approaching the theory of homiletics, paired with twice-weekly section meetings wherein the students get to try their hands at the craft of preaching, while critiquing and listening to others preach.  A course I saved for my final year, to be better able to enjoy it, and I am glad I did so.

2) Preaching and the Next Great Awakening – This course is taught by the visiting Rev. James Forbes, and is interested in the possibility that the US is getting closer to another spiritual revival… and wants to focus on what the dominant preaching style(s) during such an event might look like.  Thus far an interesting experience.

3) Lutheran Polity – To complete my series of Lutheranische coursen taught by the Rev Dr William Rusch, I enrolled in Lutheran Polity this semester, which is an interesting notion for a class.  Polity examines proper church structure… which isn’t an especially Lutheran concern.  The tradition only wants Christians to have sound theology (secondary) and be based upon the Gospels (primary) – probably why the Lutheran church has more agreements recognizing other denominations than any other in the US.

Do not get me wrong, I am deeply grateful and thankful for the educational opportunities I have had, but I have found an important distinction in my life: I am fed up with the BS that comes with “education” but positively love “learning” and seek to do this for the rest of my life.  So, it will be a long fall, but I am striving to focus on wellness and prepping for the post-Yale.

Projects, temporarily on hold

This is due to the shoulder surgeries I have to have this semester (see the next blog post).  MAYBE I will try and finish the soldering on the IkeHaus electronics… though this will be months from now, once I can use my right arm again.

Liam and Lilit, new housemates

Liam and Lilit, new housemates

Blazing a trail to an internship

Specifically,  I am hoping to avoid previous internship experiences (namely, doing a bunch of things I don’t particularly care to do, and only intermittently learning new things; and making no money).  As previous posts here have aimed at, I am seeking to be involved with planning out and living a self-sufficient and environmentally positive agrarian homestead of some sort.  Though nothing is in stone yet, I am seeking opportunities that will allow me to try out the lifestyle I am hoping to live, while learning useful leadership skills at the same time.  Stay tuned for updates on this.

The sun sets, on my academic career and my garden alike

The sun sets, on my academic career and my garden alike

An academic inauguration – Spring 2013, the 4th semester at Yale Div

Ever onwards, ever upwards

So, after the whirlwind Christmas and Gettysburg experiences over the past month, I find myself back in the ‘Haven, facing a series of upcoming challenges and tasks, and even a handful of triumphs tossed in as well.  To follow the pattern of previous semester, methinks I will go for a state of/intentions for model, looking at all the most important areas of my life:

Health

Intentionally listed first, I am pleased to report that although I didn’t get NEARLY enough sleep over the past 5 weeks and was in fact sickly while at home, I only gained 3 pounds since I departed New Haven in December.  Given Christmas time diet and then two weeks at Gettysburg Seminary (a *Lutheran* institution in the *heart* of Pennsylvania Dutch territory… makes for a LOT of cream of mushroom soup-based meals, quite the rich diet), this is nothing less that the REAL Christmas miracle.  As I compose this post, I stand at my desk stretching and feeling like a million bucks (or, adjusting for inflation and fiat currency, 100 billion bucks) as tonight marked the first time I got to krav maga in almost exactly a month.  My body has been YELLING at me in its own way, for having not been able to go for so long, and it is congratulating me (by means of endorphins and soreness) for having restarted the fall’s five-attendances-per-week insanity properly.  Additionally, my food plan remains somewhat similar (protein shake for breakfast, lunch from a Yale dining location so I can use my meal points, dinner after krav being the DELICIOUS heated buffalo chicken and garlic cheddar sammich with hummus), and this is conducive to saving money while also eating healthy.  All told, this is shaping up to be another EXTREMELY busy and often stressful semester, but during which I am truly committed to health first.

This is the distance (and comparative geographic size) I walked in 2012 while wearing my Fitibit.

This is the distance (and comparative geographic size) I walked in 2012 while wearing my Fitibit.

Academics

Although less important according to the New Mike Repas Hierarchy of Priorities (TM), I am too much of a perfectionist and academic to not put work into my courses!  The list of what I will take, with short explanations, is as follows:

New Testament Interpretation II: taught by Adela Collins, just like the first course in the progression this past fall, this class will examine the Pauline epistles at length, while also considering other writings (like Revelations). As Adela is now my advisor for coursework, I am excited for another excellent foundational bit of coursework with her!
Pastoral Leadership and Church Administration: a sort of “visiting professor,” Martha Highsmith, she is actually one of the Vice Presidents of Yale!  She comes to the Divinity School to help impart her extensive knowledge of the intricacies of administrating complex organizations (and, as people everywhere know, churches are often the MOST complicated of organizations).  The syllabus for this class looks absolutely delightful!
Theological Predication and the Divine Attributes: Taught by John Pittard, a lecturer at YDS who taught the fascinating “Does God Exist?” course in the fall, I am looking forward to this class as well, as it looks into the viability of different sorts of attributes being attributed to God, why they are allowable, and in fact why they are more reasonable/compelling/viable than other options.  Abstract as all hell? Yes.  Exciting? Yes!
Rationality and Christian Belief: also taught by John Pittard, this should be an informative experience – for half of the class with him last year, I thought I had pegged him as an atheist based on the way he spoke about things, but then I ended up seeing him in chapel and asked him later… and found he was a Christian!  Given that he is in the Philosophy of Religion, and deals with rather formal proofs and the like, I am excited to see him teach something of his own approach to the religious texts and beliefs of the Christian faith through this course.
Lutheran Student Colloquium: to be entirely honest, I actually do not yet know the topic of this colloquium, but I am looking forward to time spent with many of my best friends at the Divinity School, fellow Lutherans, once a week on Tuesdays. [Edit: taught by Dr. Audrey West, the colloquium will be looking at the Social Statements of the ELCA.  Should be interesting indeed.]

A busy schedule, yes, but a good one, I should think.  Finally, this is the beginning of the second half of my education at YDS, so I will have a “mid-degree consultation” with professors, pastors, and the like in April.  That should be an interesting experience, as it is meant to bring together people who know me well and do not know each other, to try and elucidate better how/why/to what end I fit into the faith, and what that might mean in terms of my career and the like.

Professional

Continuing the previous half year of rather enjoyable work for Yale Law School IT, I am again employed at the Student Help Desk… but have the chops and trust of my bosses to go and help faculty and staff, as well.  What this translates into is a completely unpredictable set of shifts during the week, 20 hours total, which will be a combination of lots of walking and heavy lifting (extra exercise!) alongside lengthy periods of helping students at the desk itself… and then long periods of downtime in between, to be able to work on schoolwork.  Last semester saw me set up a server in my house, and one of the most useful things to come of it has been my own secure network storage (Google Documents is nice, but also they have my content on their servers, and being an untrusting SOB, I am, well, untrusting).  Finally, given my probable need for a car come August (when Ryan moves out IF he doesn’t get into the Yale PhD program and/or gets into a different PhD, and takes his car/my only means to get to krav maga with him), I am going to be working as many hours as humanly possible… and then some, into the realm of the unhealthy (here’s looking at you, final month of Fall 2012), in order to try and save up for a used Volkswagen Passat station wagon I have my eye on….  More on that as it develops.

Fun

Last and certainly not least, I must speak to the continuing War on Funlessness.  Last semester saw the atrophying of Game Nights and instead the slow screening of Game of Thrones (our housemate Nicole is not a big gamer), and while we loved the show, the lack of active participation in screening GoT definitely got to us.  To that end, this spring shall see Saturday nights set aside for gaming sans drinking, to ensure everyone is competitive, and then Sunday nights shall see the screening of GoT and/or other shows and movies.  Given that Ryan is no longer applying to PhD programs, and my stress over applying to the School of Management is gone (having not gotten in), this spring could use the overdose of fun that the fall saw eaten away.  Unrelated to those, Ike the Bearded Dragon continues to grow in appetite, size, and cuteness.  I am looking forward to setting aside some time in the near future to get the damned sensors talking to the light controllers, a project that has been on hold due to time constraints for MANY moons.  Beyond that, I have my eye on some really awesome aquaponics projects that I would like to eventually implement in a home I own (perhaps in Virginia… though that too is a story for a later date).  Towards that end, I will try and dedicate some of my sparse free time to getting more involved at the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, to learn and/or hone the skillsets needed to make my own aquaponics setup a reality, some day.  All told, the spring should be a good time.

Photos

No photographs were taken to pair with this post… but this image simply felt right, in a way:

Soon.

Soon.

A dream long held – visiting the Eisenhower Farm, Gettysburg PA

An old dream – seeing the Eisenhower Farm

Having spent a great deal of my sophomore year doing a lengthy paper on President Dwight David Eisenhower, I have always read excellent works about his life and thought that ended with the same theme – “after a lifetime of public service and sacrifice, Ike [like Washington, Jefferson, and other great American heroes] finally got the life he wanted and retired onto a farm and thrived there.”  As one can imagine, I have always wanted the chance to visit such a place.  Being in Gettysburg PA this week for a Lutheran church event (more information on that in the next post here),I quickly realized I would spend the majority of my full day off getting to and touring the Farm.

Walking a couple of miles out of town down to the main Gettysburg battlefield museum, I purchased a bus ticket and was driven onto the Farm.  189 acres, the tour focused on the main house and grounds around it, as well as the Farm #2 as its called, the closest of 4 farms on the property to the main house.  The house itself was a fantastic character piece on the Eisenhowers as a couple – the living room was a sort of necessary trophy case, an overly formal place stuffed with the accolades offered to the presiding victor over Europe in WWII and a 2 term president who oversaw (amongst many other accomplishments) the beginning of racial equality in the Federal government and 0 (zero) wartime deaths.  From the original White House fireplace (bought from a private collector by the White House staff as a 38th wedding anniversary gift to the Eisenhowers), to the $20,000 Persian rug (a gift from the re-instated Shah of Iran to Ike), and much more besides, the Eisenhowers actually rather hated their living room.  The remainder of their house they loved dearly, and this is reflected in its furnishings – extremely modest and functional, but kept with love and care to demonstrate the pride of the couple in their waning years.  Check out the photos below, for a better sense of the locale!

The park’s website is rather informative, so if ever you intend on visiting, I would suggest giving it a look!

Photos

A photo gallery of the fun and games to be had checking out the Eisenhower Farm: