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Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.
Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)
Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!
My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])
The Economist daily news analysis
Global Higher Ed blog
Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.
There is a Chapter II.
Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA
Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.
Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.
Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.
Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.
Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.
Harpers Ferry Omnibus
Tuesday, 31 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
Harpers Ferry was.... Wow. I was so glad Kyle Kopko and I decided to come as we drove to Williamsburg (listening to audio of The DaVinci Code on the road).
So I'll let the photos, audio, and brief text tell the story.
(The founding of Harpers Ferry)
Beautiful. Wow. Beautiful. Even Jefferson liked this place. He wrote the following words while sitting on this rock:
(Jefferson Visits Harpers Ferry)
Just below the rock is St. Peter's Catholic Church:
(The survival of St. Peter's Catholic Church)
One of my favorite places was Storer College. This was one of the first integrated colleges in the United States. Andrew Johnson created a great piece of poetic justice when he granted the United States Armory at Harpers Ferry to the Storer College. Thus, the site of John Brown's last stand became a classroom in a multicultural, multiracial institution of higher education.
I had to pose for a picture.
Information on Storer College can be found on the National Park Service Website. Frederick Douglass gave a speech in May, 1881, on the 14th anniversary of the founding of the college.
Naturally, lots of fun. We had our initial orientation with the American Institute of Parliamentarians. Sessions start tomorrow. My lecture is on Thursday at 4:30. My certification test is Sunday morning. I'm looking forward to a great week. Hopefully, I'll be able to post some pictures during the week.
Attending the Riddick Practicum
Sunday, 29 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
After a brisk bicycle ride with Andrew Mead & Friends, I will be departing on Monday evening for the home of Kyle Casimir Kopko. The next morning, we leave for Williamsburg, Virginia, where we will be attending the Floyd M. Riddick Practicum in Parliamentary Procedure. I'll be giving a talk and taking my parliamentary certification exam.
I'm looking forward to a great week with Kyle, but I'm also looking forward to an awesome time with other members of the AIP. The Riddick Practicum is intensely educational, immensely insiprational, and incredibly enjoyable.
It's going to be a fun week.
I'll see you when I get back.
Farewell, David Walker
Sunday, 29 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
You will be missed.
I can't imagine public radio classical music without your friendly voice. Alas. And so even great things come to an end. Thanks, David Walker.
A Hermitage of One
Wednesday, 25 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
As many of you know, I will be taking my test to become a Certified Parliamentarian very soon. In preparation, I am once again going into mild information blackout. I will still probably be available for contact, but I am reducing my hours and won't be doing much outside of work and study for the next few days.
A List of Good News
Tuesday, 24 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
- I graduated last weekend (almost). I don't finish classes until December, but I was allowed to participate in graduation. Note: The multicolored sash represents my two countries of lineage: Guatemala and the United States. The red and black cords represent the International English Honors Society. Too small to see are a small green ribbon representing the Graduation Pledge, and a small pin from the Hershey Foods Honors Program. The medallion also notes involvement in the honors program, though it will only be on my transcript once I complete the nonfiction project related to Philadelphia Fullerine.
- I upgraded to Tinderbox 2.4 today. I'm already feeling the love. I hope to explore its new features soon.
- My baccalaureate speech went very, very well. I will be posting the full text soon, hopefully with video.
- I was voted "best student" by the class of 2005. I was definitely not expecting that. My friend Benjamin Osterhout was voted "most likely to appear on The Apprentice," and my friend Kyle Kopko was voted "most likely to be a millionaire."
- My presentation proposal on "Nurturing Independent Scholarship in Honors" was accepted for the 2005 National Collegiate Honors Conference, in St. Louis, MI. I was placed in a double session, which gave me 15 more minutes than most presenters.
- In a few weeks, I will be giving a cameo presentation at the Floyd M. Riddick Practicum on Parliamentary Procedure, at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg Virginia.
- My analysis of my hypertext sculpture project Philadelphia Fullerine has been accepted for presentation at the 16th ACM conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia, in Salzburg, Austria. To be honest, I'm scared to death, but I'm also very enthusiastic, excited, and encouraged. I am very confident that I will do my best. I hope to learn much and also provide some good food for thought for others. I was made to feel very much at home during my time at WWW@10, and armed with tips for conference-attending, I know I'll be fine.
Conferences are like battles, except with better parties.
- I survived commencement with only one mishap! Yay! (I was unexpectedly hit on the back of the head with a beachball during the processional)
(I think this is the best photo taken of me during my college years. It is certainly a special one, since that's college president Theodore Long posing with me.)
- I'm playing the trumpet at a wedding in a few weeks!
- I'm playing the trumpet for Memorial day in my town park!
Sorry for the hodgepodge, but I had built up so much stuff, I couldn't keep it in. Don't worry, there's more where that came from.
(What's become of that crispy bacon we had before the war?)
The Metaphysical Semester
Saturday, 21 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
This photo is of one of my favorite memories of Elizabethtown College. (the camera lost the later, less blurry photo, but this will do). It is a photograph of the last class I took in my major, English Literature. I had studied Medieval literature, 19th century literature, and much 20th century literature, but this course on Metaphysical Poetry was a revelation. The topic was fascinating and the poetry was amazing. Since there were only 5 students in the class, we were able to participate, discuss, argue, and share food. One time, we even brought our own materials, hijacked the class from Dr. Martin, and taught part of the class ourselves.
The other students were among the best studying English; I was happy for the opportunity to study with them. I was not disappointed.
Amy Rawcliffe was in a class with me during my very first semester; Medieval poetry. Her unorthodox comments always bring something new to the table. Often, she mentions something that nobody would naturally notice, something fresh and insightful. She's not afraid to speak her mind. Kudos Amy! I wish you well after graduation.
Although I didn't meet Rebecca Shaffer until this class, I am glad I did. Also not afraid to speak her mind when the time merited. One time, she Amy, and Jamie decided that Waller's "Apologie for Having Loved Before" was not really an apology, but just the flattery of an unfaithful lover. Dr. Martin defended the poem with all the effort his pluralistic, unconfrontational style could allow. But when I weighed in on the girls' side, the balance tipped, and he had to concede defeat.
Jamie Hudzik is a very special. She is one of the first people I met as a student. Over the years, we have been in many classes together, since she is also a student of English Literature in the Honors program. Jamie also majors in Psychology. Jamie is one of the pillars of the Honors program at Elizabethtown. We were both in the group that went to the NCHC national conference in the fall of 2004, during which I got to know her more closely outside the classroom. Jamie is one of the few students I most highly look up to, and we have been involved for years in the Honors Council and other activities. Her involvement in the Metaphysical Poetry class made the course fun and thought-provoking. She would bring in many useful references to other works from throughout the ages of Western tradition. Her analyses are impeccable. More than that, she's a good friend.
I will miss you Jamie. Best wishes for your future life. Feel free to chuckle when you notice the metaphysical elements in my Baccalaureate speech :-).
Dr. Martin is the man. If I could become half the teacher he is, I would be infinitely pleased. Soft-spoken, well-prepared, Dr. Martin is the king of discussion classes. He is awesome at encouraging positive discussion, planning syllabi, and his paper assignments are the best. It was Dr. Martin who first set me on an academic path by suggesting I submit a Medieval Literature paper to a conference. I would need a whole month of blog posts to describe the grattitude and respect I have for Dr. Martin. Willing to share a word of encouragement or a peanut butter sandwich, Dr. Martin is caring, patient, and always positive. His classes have an unvarying reputation among students: the hardest, most interesting class you will ever take, the class where you will learn the most possible about the topic while growing to understand life more as well. Although my friendship with Dr. Martin is not the same kind as friendship with a student, he has been one of my greatest and best friends at Elizabethtown College. He is an example to us all.
I am glad I was part of the class. Without me, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.
Brian Hess was the first person I met as a student at Elizabethtown College. He was a good friend of my neighbors, and I was to look him up. At Convocation in 2002, I saw a guy sitting all by himself. Since I try to look out for such people, I sat down next to him. We then found out that we were supposed to be looking for each other. Brian is a really neat person; I have been very glad to get to know him well. Always able and willing to speak about Christ, Brian is a strong intellectual, an idealist, and a great guy to hang out with. This past semester, Brian and I drove together on research trips to area libraries. These times were absolutely precious.
Brian's contribution to a class is outstandingly solid. He also knows how to laugh and have fun. I'll miss being in class with him. He's an awesome student and a warm friend.
Raku post updated
Thursday, 19 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
I just updated my post on the Raku firing process with information about the Raku firing process.
Saturday, 14 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
Over the next week, I will be posting photographs from my time at Elizabethtown college. Although I don't complete my studies until December, I will be part of this May's graduation ceremonies. I'll even be speaking at Baccalaureate!
So, in honor of those who I have been fortunate to know, I will be posting photographs from my time at Elizabethtown. This effort has shown me how few photgraphs I have taken of my good friends. But I will do my best with what I have...
Melissa St. Clair is a cross-country All-American who has since gone on to win many track and cross-country meets. She is captain of our cross-country team. A communications major, she will be pursuing theological studies after graduation. I was in the Honors Leadership Development class with her last semester. Her focus and dedication are inspiring. As a fellow member of the Academic Integrity Committee, I knew I could count on her. May God go with you, Melissa.
Kyle Casimir Kopko. What can I say? Focused, caring, and intelligent, Kyle is the most reliable person I have ever met. We have done so much together -- trips to the National Collegiate Honors Conference; bowling class; Honors Leadership Development; coffeeshop runs; cooperation on the Academic Integrity Committee. Kyle is the one person I have known at E-Town who has been willing and able to talk seriously about life and the world around. When I first met Kyle, his love for politics turned me away; I called him a used car salesman. I was wrong. Kopko runs deep. Now, I am looking forward to driving to Williamsburg with Kyle in June. We both have received scholarships to attend the Floyd M. Riddick Practicum in Parliamentary Procedure, held by the American Institute of Parliamentarians.
After our weekend, Kyle is going to spend his summer in Washington D.C., after which he will be attending Ohio State University to study Judicial Policy.
I'll miss you, Kyle.
** * **
I could say so much about these two. *sigh* Partings are such sweet sorrow, a time to remember and rejoice, and a time be sad. But these are two people whose lives look bright, so I will not be too sad.
Clothe Yourself in Honor
Friday, 13 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
Yesterday, Brianna Lynch and I got together to make some new posters promoting integrity on campus. Existing poster designs are on my website. Brianna is a wonderful person; a college scholar, she is a dedicated student and a caring person. Her engraving artwork has won awards here on campus; I have a beautiful print of hers in my room.
Brianna is graduating this year. So many people great people pass on so constantly here; it's like life I suppose. But it's still sad. We have had some good times.
Yesterday afternoon, Brianna helped me pick quotes and photography for these posters, which I designed.
** * **
Weblogs and the Recital: Your Permanent Record
Thursday, 12 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
Jill recently posted on the problems with requiring students to write a public weblog. She worries that not only are people less forgiving online, but that mistakes may become part of one's permanent record.
Thinking aloud, she says, "perhaps we should be protecting our students rather than forcing them to expose themselves in public."
The post also goes into the higher level of trust and respect that she has for the blogs of other academics over the trust she holds for students.
** * **
Two initial thoughts:
- I once made a colossal mistake online. In my early years as a person enthusiastic about open source software, I blew the whistle on a company that had a great open source product they were taking closed-source. Other, wiser people, had just sat on the information. But I was excited. I had a chance to fork the software and make a better open source version. I became maintainer of the fork (w00t!), and wrote to Slashdot. It was exhilarating to be slashdotted. But the fork died, since at the time I had neither the time nor the experience to properly maintain a software project. The company that made the product is now gone, disappeared. I still feel horrible about it. I was wrong.
It's on my permanent record.
- Notice how Jill is groups people into colleagues and students. This is natural in the academic world, since Jill is used to teaching students and collaborating with colleagues. Online, however, it's hard to know credentials unless people announce them. Even then, the Web has been claimed to bring some sort of egalitarian sense -- if your ideas are good, if your comments are valid, then it doesn't matter who you are, what color you are, how old you are, etc.. In computing at least, it is not unheard of to have very young high school students outsmart professionals in the field. The Web helps this happen by putting up a barrier to prejudice. Look at Espy Klecker. He was a young guy. He made a difference on the Debian project for years. He died at 21. I'm glad he wasn't discriminated against because he didn't hold an advanced degree or because he was bedridden from a terminal illness. I'm also glad his contributions and life are on the permanent record.
Credibility is still important, but if you're going to differentiate people, Jill, try to do so based on usefulness and insightfulness rather than solely credentials. This good practice seems to be your common practice, which is what seems to have gotten you in trouble with other academics. Don't let it discourage you from rewarding and discoursing with good material.
** * **
Other things go on the permanent record. Jill talks about music and recitals.
there are other kinds of learning where public performance is an important part of that learning. If you’re learning to play a musical instrument, for instance, you’ll be given a lot of opportunities to perform in public from a very young age. Opting out is pretty much unheard of.
While young musicians perform in concerts that are open to anyone in principle, in practice only their families turn up.
Jill is right of course, to a point. While there are few penalties for mistakes he's just a student, mistakes are forgivable, this is not actually the case. The phrase, "he's just a student," is another nail in the coffin of one's musical career. No one blames you for doing poorly, but no one rewards you either. Usually, the people organizing such recitals and concerts are the same people who must be impressed for you to get more opportunities to play.
Mark Bernstein mentions this in his reply to Jill:
Jill talks about music students and their recitals; with small audiences, time heals blunders. But time doesn't heal everything: if you melt down at the Rachmaninoff, well, that's it. If you miss the ball at the wrong moment in some silly schoolyard game, you don't make the team and there goes that dream of someday standing in The Stadium or at Lord's or whatever.
Besides, you never know who will show up at that recital. A month ago, Jean Marie Donley, of the Lancaster County Musical Arts Society came to my senior trumpet recital. After hearing me once more play a piece I played 9 years ago at a Junior Orchestra concert, she invited me to perform at the 40th anniversary of the Lancaster County Musical Arts Society. Unknown to me, Louise Baugher Black was a the recital -- she was the person who had endowed the writing award I just won. In retrospect, I'm glad I played very well on Sunday. She had a reason to be doubly pleased.
You never know what will be noted or who will show up when you play music. The careful performer (child, student, or professional) keeps this in mind when preparing and performing. To the mature player of any age or skill, this attitude leads one to do one's best no matter the situation.
** * **
Jill's comments are, of course, valid. As a teacher, you want to encourage students to freely express themselves within the confines of the assignments and purpose. Some people may not be comfortable doing so in a public setting. Offering a private blog is a possibility, but it loses much of the value of discourse in blogging. A psuedonym works, unless you want it to be part of your public record later on.
There's a third option. Label the blog carefully with the indication that this is a student, and that the work is for a class. Give them the option to use a psuedonym, but allow them to use their real name if they wish. By labeling their work as student work, exceptional thinking gives them greater advantage (wow! that's great! and she is only a student!), while softening the blow of mistakes (well, he's only a student).
The identity you construct online is a big part of the blogging experience(from jill/txt). Considerations about who reads (and will read) the blog are part of what make each blog unique. Scott Price, the author of Textuality.org, waited until his website became accepted to post information about his identity:
(from an email)
I'd left my 'about' section vague while I was developing the site, hoping to avoid having a construction site associated with my actual name, but the t.org cat is out of the bag. It was time to take ownership of it. At your prompt, I've fleshed out my bio.
(oddly, his failure to post personal info got onto the permanent record. I share Mark's annoyance at being unable to find the identity of bloggers.)
This is perfectly acceptable. But Scott is not a student. Jill would probably consider Scott to be a peer. And yet Scott was also thinking carefully about what would be on his permanent record.
** * **
I agree with Jill. Don't force students into anything. Don't force them to use their identity if they feel uncomfortable, but don't take away an important part of the blogging experience by forcing them to use a psuedonym. But do talk about issues of identity in bloggin and online efforts.
Besides, one's psuedonym can also become part of the permanent record. Why do you think I use rubberpaw.com?
40th Anniversary of the Lancaster County Musical Arts Society
Monday, 9 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
Last Sunday, I performed a trumpet solo at the 40th anniversary of the Lancaster County Musical Arts Society.
Although long, the event was marvelous. I was able to finally perform in public with my old teacher, Curtis Palmer, who now owns Seacat Music. Elizabethtown College piano professor Debra Ronning played a beautiful arrangement of music from The Wizard of Oz. Carolyn Black-Sotir performed a fun selection of vocal music. Gene Clark, a fellow trumpet player who I played with in the Lancaster Junior Orchestra many years ago.
It looks like Gene is doing well these days. It's so exciting to see people grow up and do neat things. Here's a press release from 2004, noting Gene's accomplishments at Franklin & Marshall College:
Gene Clark, a sophomore business, organizations, and society major and film and media studies minor, was named a recipient of the Nolt Award for Musical Excellence, a grant that enables Franklin & Marshall student musicians to undertake musically enriching projects. Clark, an Honors List student, has also participated in the jazz ensemble and orchestra. A 2003 graduate of Conestoga Valley High School, he is the son of Fred and Beth Clark, Lancaster.
(if you see this blog post, email me Gene. Awesome playing on Sunday.)
** * **
My solo went very well. I was very pleased with how the expression flowed. My accompianist Ruth DeLeon has a talent with expression that can make a Handel harpsichord piece something flowing and lyrical. It was a magical performance. Ruth is a teacher at the Lancaster Conservatory of Music. She's interested in blogging -- I need to get her a blog sometime.
** * **
The most amazing, exciting occurrence of the day came after the performance. I was packing up my music and instrument when a woman walked up to me.
Without introducing herself, she said,
"Did you recently receive an award from the Elizabethtown College English Department?"
I was taken aback. "I did receive the Wenger award....for excellence in English studies."
She wasn't satisfied. "Did you receive anything else?"
"Well, I won the Louise Baugher-Black prize for nonfiction writing," I replied.
She looked at me and smiled.
"I am Louise Baugher Black," she beamed.
I hugged her. This was too exciting! We talked for a while about music and English and Elizabethtown College. Her daughter is Carolyn Black-Sotir, former runner-up in the Miss America contest and acclaimed opera/broadway singer. Her father was a president of Elizabethtown College. And Louise was a well-loved professor of English during her time at Elizabethtown.
You never know who will be in the audience. It pays to perform well at all times.
** * **
I hope my music brought joy to Professor Baugher-Black. Her husband died this April, after they were married for 60 years. I'm glad I was part of a performance that surrounded her Mother's Day with beautiful music instead silent loneliness and an empty place at the table.
Celebrations and Accolades
Tuesday, 3 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
They came in a rush, mostly last week.
- Best of show, E-Town College student art show.
- Distinguished Senior award, 2005 (awarded to 6 graduating seniors).
- Louise Baugher Black Nonfiction Writing Award
- Wenger Award for Excellence in English studies (awarded to 1 graduating senior).
Friends of mine won other awards at Etown at college events.
- The excellent and distinguished Kyle Kopko won an award for being the most active, helpful non-Senate member to take interest in the campus community. Kopko is my closest collaborator at Etown. He is also a great friend. A fellow chair of the Academic Integrity Committee, Kyle is a great student and a dedicated listener. He was a Finnegan scholar in 2004. I am proud to know him. Kyle received a great opportunity to study judicial policy, and perhaps also law, at Ohio State University.
- Benjamin Osterhout won the Omnia award, for being good in all things. He also won the award for being the best Resident Assistant. Finally, Ben was a fellow recipient of the Distinguished Senior award. Ben has been a leader in Elizabethtown's chapter of Students in Free Enterprise, Circle K, and the Hershey Foods Honors Program. He is a multiple-year Ridge Scholar. It took some time and patience to get to know Ben, but I'm glad I did. Ben is the other great friend of my college experience.
I often think of Kyle, Ben, and I as the three musketeers of the Hershey Foods Honors Program.
- Jeremy Ebersole won an award for dedication to responsible, religious life on campus. Jeremy is one of the best people at E-Town. A dedicated student, Jeremy has contributed to the campus in so many ways. He knows how to have fun, but he knows how to be serious. He's never satisfied with believing good dreams but always acts to make a difference. Jeremy is hoping to work in film, where I know he will not only make great art, but will also do great things.
- My friend Valerie Reed, president of the Honors Council, was a co-recipient of the award for best Freshman writing in the 2003/4 academic year.
- My friend Amanda Straw won second place in the non-fiction writing competition.
- Many others friends won awards. I am proud to be listed among such auspicious company.
** * **
** * **
I have never really won awards, so I didn't know what it would feel like to win a number of top awards at my college.
It doesn't feel any different that before.
When I eat a hot pepper, I chop it up and disperse it in my salad rather than downing it whole with much fanfare. I seek to enjoy the pepper; the recognition matters much less than the experience. I'm glad I didn't seek the honor, but rather decided to live honorably.
I hope I can stay that way. I hope that recognition and respect never become the motivators or goals of any of my actions.
** * **
It is sometimes a challenge to remember, amidst the blessings middle class life and the rewards of hard work, that the best of life is not fundamentally comprised of great opportunities, marvelous fun, or even simple pleasures. Rather, the greatest opportunities, most marvelous fun, and deepest pleasures are most fundamentally derived from living the best life. This is the only way to be certainly happy.
I am trying to learn how to truly live for others in Christ. This is the greatest challenge, the most assured outcome, the highest blessing.
For what can be more positively self-aggrandizing than losing one's self in the divine nature?
What is cooler than Christ turning our flawed best into his righteousness?
Milt and the Firing Furnace
Monday, 2 May 2005 :-: ["Permalink"]
The technique demonstrated is called Raku.
** * **
See The Kiln.
With Raku firing, ceramics are covered in special glaze then superheated until glowing hot.
** * **
See Milt pull ceramics from The Kiln.
** * **
The glowing ceramics are then pulled from the kiln and dropped into barrels of un-ignited sawshavings. Upon contact with the glowing-hot ceramics, the shavings burst into flame.
See Oil Barrel. (see budget)
** * **
See Milt put orange-hot ceramics into oil barrel of sawshavings.
** * **
Smoke, barrel. Smoke.
A lid causes reduction of oxygen. In seeking oxygen to combust, the fire then pulls oxygen from the clay and glazes, resulting in a unique effect in Raku.
** * **
I have too much fun hanging on the coattails of the art department. More information on Raku is available on this Interesting Thing of the Day page, the Raku Museum website, and of course, Wikipedia's entry on Raku. A page on Wada Tozan's Raku art is also interesting.